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Golden Earring - To The Hilt CD (album) cover

TO THE HILT

Golden Earring

 

Prog Related

3.11 | 45 ratings

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TCat
3 stars Because of some releases that were only available in certain countries, it can be a question as to the number of releases before this album, but I think it's pretty safe to say that as far as official studio albums, this one numbers #11. Up to this point, it was pretty well established that Golden Earring had moved from their pop radio friendly sound to a more progressive sound, and had already felt some success with 'Radar Love' and the excellent 'Moontan' album. They had found their niche, but they seemed to have a problem locating their position in that niche. Releases were a bit unsteady as they tried to replay the success of that album. So, in their discography, several albums would be released that were somewhat uneven, containing some great tracks, and several mediocre ones. However, through their career, they definitely made some excellent songs that can't be ignored. It's too bad they couldn't be more consistent.

The 11th album, 'To the Hilt' is no exception. There are some great progressive tracks here, and there are some mediocre ones. They had their album success, but they had a hard time finding that 'single' success between 'Radar Love' and 'Twilight Zone'. But, there were many progressive classics in the meantime, namely in this album, they were 'Nomad' and 'Violins'.

The album starts off with what looks like a classic prog track at over 7 minutes. 'Why Me?' kicks right into gear with an upbeat rock track. But while they attempt to get a hook out of the somewhat simple rock melody, it just doesn't come up with anything that catches your attention. The song itself isn't bad though with its somewhat funky vibe. As it moves into the instrumental break, the background groove quiets down as a synth solo plays in a subdued manner before pushing back to the main theme. After another verse, the original riff returns before another synth solo plays out the track. Unfortunately, the synth is mixed low, so it's almost hard to tell anything it going on other than the supporting foundation.

'Facedancer' uses an acoustic riff that isn't bad, but it is utilized wrong to make something out of it. While the riff generates a bit of excitement, there is no real delivery or pay off. I do admit that it is nice to hear the acoustic guitar take the lead and have a synth solo included in there, but, again, you wonder where the pay off is. The title track 'To the Hilt' tries to take an almost hoe-down, inspired vocal to a danceable, toe-tapper, but ends up falling flat. It sounds a lot like 'The Who' without the enthusiasm.

'Nomad' starts with a funky kind of swing that makes for a catchier tune. The synth is mixed much better this time. It also shares solos with the guitar and the vocal melody is more complex with progressive rhythms. After a return to the vocal melody finishes, the music travels into psychedelic territory with some odd effects. This soon builds into a nice, floating instrumental with a jazzy melodic line provided by an electric piano when the rhythm kicks back in. Later, as it intensifies, it paves the way for a great guitar/keyboard improvisation until it returns to the main vocal theme, but it ends rather abruptly.

'Sleepwalkin'' tries for an upbeat style this time that leans more towards a standard rock backbeat similar to the 'Radar Love' vibe, but not as interesting. There is a decent sax solo thrown in. 'Latin Lightning' is much more catchy with a return to a funk fusion style. The track has got a good rocking style with a bit of complexity to keep it interesting, plus there is more sax also, plus a surprisingly rousing guitar solo later.

'Violins' is the main 10 minute headliner for the album. It starts out as the same funky styles as have been prevalent on this album, and is a good enough song for the first half, but turns into a nice orchestrated and upbeat song for the 2nd half. It's not as much of a progressive track per se, but it has that happy 'ELO around El Dorado era' vibe to it, so it's kind of fun.

So, overall, it's not a terrible album, but it's not near as good as 'Moontan' either. It does help to be somewhat of a fan, and to also know that the music is somewhat funky. It isn't quite as consistent progressively, but it is still fun. It's a good album, just not really essential however.

TCat | 3/5 |

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