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It Bites - The Tall Ships CD (album) cover


It Bites


Crossover Prog

3.86 | 176 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars In My Not So Humble Opinion:

"The Tall Ships" by It Bites is a fun CD.

So, I absolutely adore Milliontown by Frost*, particularly the guitar work of one John Mitchell. Last summer, I heard that there was going to be an interview with him on my favorite podcast, "The Rogues Gallery" by Franz Keylard (The Dividing Line Broadcasting Network). Of course I was going to listen to that to see if he'd drop any new knowledge about the upcoming Frost* CD (which turned out to be Experiments in Mass Appeal). In the process of listening to the podcast and interview, I realized that I was really enjoying the It Bites songs that Franz was playing.

"The Tall Ships" is full of great songs, great vocals and . . . well . . . a big eighties sound, though the strong attention to detail and subtle time signature shifts does throw this one firmly into Crossover land. Make no mistake; it is poppy, outrageously catchy and melodic.

Take the opener, "Oh My God"; it starts off with the arpeggiated vocal chant decrying "I got your words I got your words I got your words" and immediately the harmonies of John Mitchell, John Beck and Bob Dalton make me smile. The song leaps along with the boundless energy of a two year old featuring just enough schmoltz and cheese to make even a cynical codger like myself smile. "Ghosts" features more of John Beck's strong work on the keys, the patches that he uses sound like updated versions of eighties patches. A classic sound, yet modern and updated. "Playground" and "Memory of Water" continue along in the same venue of the first two. A strong lush eighties sound with strong vocal harmonies and more of John Mitchell smoking on the guitar.

Ironically, the title track, "The Tall Ships" is one of the weaker tracks on the CD. It's a somewhat wistful ballad, it's decent, I don't skip it, but by the same token, I don't feel an overwhelming sense of sadness when I'm deprived from it . . .

. . . as opposed to "The Wind That Shakes the Barley". I do feel sadness when deprived from this one. Now, oddly enough, this piece didn't sink in quite as quickly as some of the other songs, but after a few listens I realized that this may be the proggiest song on the CD. This is a nice eight minute piece that goes through at least three different time signatures and is a great example of what the John Mitchell led "It Bites" is capable of. Great arrangements, fantastic vocals and great interplay between all three of them.

"Great Disasters" is another terribly fun song, this one sounds vaguely like "Tarzan Boy" by Baltimora with it's random oh and aahs. No no no, don't laugh, this is a good thing, it sounds infinitely better. "Farenheit" is the other weaker track on the CD, and by weaker, I mean not as good as the rest, it's still not a bad track. "Safekeeping" is a nice ballad, featuring John Mitchell's soulful lyrics and a guitar solo worthy of Joe Perry's best arena work. Personally, I love "Lights" it would be the perfect closing track for a John Hughes film. Finally, "This is England" morphs through a variety of styles from a soft ballad to an almost funky rocker to a punkish bit then finally a classical long drawn out 'Supper's Ending'.

All in all, if you love eighties music and prog, this is a fantastically fun fusion of the two (try saying that five times fast). I give it four stars, probably a four point three with only the lack of any spine-tingling moments preventing it from gaining a perfect five stars. Enjoy this one.

Roland113 | 4/5 |


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