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Strangers On A Train - The Key, Part I  - The Prophecy CD (album) cover


Strangers On A Train



2.96 | 46 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A new platform for the music of Clive Nolan

One of Clive Nolan's lesser known projects is this (to date) two album trio formed in the early 1990's. Consisting of Nolan on keyboards, Karl Groom (who also worked with Nolan in Shadowland) on guitars, and Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq) on vocals, Strangers on a Train was formed to record a concept piece entitled "The key" in three parts over three albums. Parts one and two were released in 1990 and 1993, but despite repeated good natured prodding, Clive has not completed the set with the release of part 3 to date.

While Nolan's involvement in the bands he is most associated with (Pendragon, Arena) is that of contributing band member, Strangers on a Train sees him taking on the role of "driver" (pun intended!), writing all the songs and co-producing the album (with Groom). The concept is simplistically described as being about a "parallel dimension", the fourteen separate tracks running to just over an hour. The album's underlying musical theme is introduced on the opening "Arrival", recurring thereafter from time to time throughout the rest of the album.

Hitchings stage musical vocals are as strong as they are captivating, complementing Groom's emotion charged lead guitar interludes and Nolan's swathes of keyboards. The keyboard's featured alternate between massed synths and piano which then ranges from the percussive to the beautiful.

Notionally described by the band themselves at the time of the album's release as "Chamber rock", the absence of drums or percussion will mean that this album is not to everyone's taste. The quality of the song-writing and the exemplary performances however give the album the underlying power that renders their absence academic.

Among the highlights are the three consecutive instrumentals "Silent companion", "Crossing the wasteland" and "Perchance to dream" which form a 10+ minute mini-epic cumulating in the "Great gig in the sky" style vocalising on "Perchance to dream". "Occam's tears" is an 8 minute prog suite with some wonderful colours and moods.

While the music here has only a casual relationship with that of Arena or Pendragon, those who have been impressed with his ambitious Caamora releases will be interested to learn that Strangers on a Train was clearly a source of the inspiration for that project.

The Strangers on a Train albums have become increasingly hard to find in recent years, with Part 1 being especially rare. It is pleasing then to report that both the albums have been remastered and re-released by Metal Mind Productions and are currently readily available.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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