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Shadowland - Ring Of Roses CD (album) cover

RING OF ROSES

Shadowland

 

Neo-Prog

3.57 | 82 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars From out of the shadows comes Clive the vocalist

Anyone in those parts who does not recognise the name Clive Nolan is clearly an imposter or is just stepping out in their journey through this great genre. Clive is a prog workaholic, who writes, produces, and plays keyboards for great bands such as Arena, Pendragon, Nolan and Wakeman, etc.

While his commitment to each of these bands is total, Shadowland is his baby. Here, Clive steps out from behind the keyboards to assume the role of front man and vocalist. He is joined in the band by Threshold guitarist Karl Groom, Arena bassist Ian Salmon, and Threshold drummer Nick Harradence.

Released in 1992 to a favourable reaction, "Ring of Roses" was the band's d├ębut album. Clive plays all the keyboard parts but for obvious reasons he brought in a second keyboard player when the band performed live.

Even if we take into account the fine pedigree of Clive and Karl, "Ring of roses" is a quite astonishing first release. Naturally, the music is rooted in neo prog, but at the same time it is totally unique. The balance of lead guitar and keyboards is spot on, the lead guitar sound being of the type commonly referred to as David Gilmour like. There's no question of a Pink Floyd sound to the music though, indeed the only real comparison I can come up with is with the earlier days of Nolan's erstwhile band Arena. Lyrically, the songs resemble those of Fish era Marillion, songs such as "Jigsaw" being verbose with often complex vocal arrangements.

We open with "The whistle-blower", an upbeat number clearly designed to stimulate a live audience. At its core is a highly effective contrasting guitar motif. I am sure Clive himself would readily admit that there are more accomplished singers around (and indeed many who are less accomplished!), but his voice seems to fit the overall sound of the band well.

"Hall of mirrors" is one of the few places where the band display their influences on their collective sleeves, and even then only briefly. There is a short instrumental section with a rhythm very similar to the distinctive "Apocalypse" section of Genesis' "Supper's ready" (or is it "Grendel"?!).

Having for no excusable reason allowed Shadowland to generally escape my attention until recently, I have to express my delight at discovering such wonderful music. When Karl Groom and Clive Nolan get together, there is clear a magic at work which inspires them to create magnificent albums. Recommended.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |

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