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Eclectic Prog

4.11 | 601 ratings

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5 stars When I ordered this 8-track from Columbia House, I had no idea what it was. I have always loved taking risks because I have found that I discover a lot of great bands that way. The description of this album in the Columbia House catelog said it was "jazz-rock" and that of course is what sold me on it. When the 8-track came in the mail, I had just got home from a hard days work and was very tired. I stuck the 8-track into the stereo and laid down on my bed and went on a trip I never forgot. With my eyes close, I could see the music. I fell in love with this band and it was later that I discovered the real pedigree that made up the line- up for this amazing band. Yes, I was listening to U.K. before I even listened to King Crimson, and it opened the door to so much for me in the way of music.

The first three tracks are a suite. In the Dead of Night is the first movement and a great introduction to the music that follows, somewhat moderate in tempo, but attention-grabbing all the same. By the Light of Day follows immediately after and slows down the tempo and Eddie Jobson gets to show off here with some extremely beautiful swirling music which works in counterpoint with John Wettons vocals. The third movement is Presto Vivace and Reprise which is exactly what it is: Presto (very fast) Vivace (Lively) and Reprise of the original theme. Talk about technical beauty, this is where you really get to hear for the first time just how technically amazing John, Bill, Eddie and Allan really are and believe me, you will hear it many more times throughout the album.

The next track is Thirty Years. This one starts out very symphonic sounding. Expansive and beautiful, the instruments take you to a distant land and the vocals seem to plead of long, lost freedom that may never be obtained. The music takes a sharp turn which will catch you off guard, and the foursome gets to show off their technical prowress once again.

Alaska/Time to Kill make up the next two tracks and these songs are interconnected. Alaska is instrumental and starts out with a cool ambience that makes you think of being in the middle of a wind blown frozen expanse even if you don't know the title of the track. I love this one for the way it carries the listener away. Again the music takes a sudden turn and It almost seems like you have been picked up and thrown flying across the landscape and you are watching it speed past underneath you. The following track starts in immediately with probably the most commercial track on the album that is if you can consider any of this commercial at all. The nice thing about this track is during the instrumental break and how it builds up to screeching and screaming as the final chorus brings all the chaos back down to ground level again.

Nevermore. What a beauty of a track. This is the best one of the bunch. Probably the closest thing to jazz freeform on the album, but simply amazing. Technically wonderful. Almost beyond words. And so full of surprises throughout the entire track. You just have to listen to it and be amazed. Enough said, this one speaks for itself.

The last track is Mental Medication. I never really liked the vocals in this one, but the instrumentals in this one are similar to the instrumentals in Nevermore, but less freeform and broken up into three major rhythm changes. This redeems the song quite nicely. Unfortunately the last verse of the vocals ends the album quite quickly and for me it gives the album a weak ending. However, even that can not take away from the masterpiece that this album is. This is essential for a prog rock library. If you don't have this album (and the follow up album "Danger Money") or have never heard it, you are missing a major part of the essential prog library. Get your hands on this, you will not be sorry.

TCat | 5/5 |


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