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Empire - Mark I CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

2.72 | 17 ratings

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RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars If the imprinting that Peter Banks has given to the Yes music is somewhat present also in Empire, I don't understand why he hasn't influenced the album sleeves at all. The side projects of Peter Banks after YES feature some of the worst album covers ever seen.

Luckily what the picture on the album front seems to promise is not maintained. When Peter's guitar is left free the music can be as good as what Howe was doing in Yes, but some parts are just too cheesy, and it's a pity because everything happens inside the same song: good guitar riffs, pieces of songs which could feature on Going For The One and boring unexpressive melodic parts that it would have been beteer be left to ABBA or other pop bands. Not that I dislike Abba when I voluntarily listen to that kind of music, but when I listen to supposed prog, this is not what I expect.

Out of Yes and (not very) commercial Pop, it's interesting how good Sidney Foxx sounds when she can sing what is probably her natural genre, the soft jazz-blues of Someone Who Cares, while she sounds almost inexpressive on other tracks. Not her fault for sure. She sounds good also on "For A Lifetime", it's the song that's so cheesy that I don't think I've ever listened to its entirety without skipping it. Imagine if it has an excellent final that I have missed... "Hear My Voice On The Radio" is not better. It's like Aniie Haslam's solo works, the kind of things which has caused the Renaissance's voice to be rejected from PA.

But there's also a 12 minutes track which starts like Wakeman and Squire are playing. It's still a kind of radio-friendly melodic song, not helped by the vocals. Sydney is an excellent vocalist, but singing those things is not her pot. Unfortunately the song looses quickly its progressive potential. We are in the same situation of the first two tracks: good moments, sometimes excellent, jeopardized by trivial and cheesy melodies. Again, it's not Sydney's fault if what they write for her is so bad. The instrumental parts are so good,sometimes, that's really a pity. The influence of Genesis, other than the obvious YES appears clearly in the second half of this song, probably brought in by the guest appearance of Phil Collins. A missed opportunity for a masterpiece totally ruined by the sung parts.

On the last track Banks shows that he could play both as Howe and Hackett, something that I think he doesn't need to demonstrate as I think he was one of the best rock guitarists ever. On this song, which is mainly acoustic and based on classical guitar, Sydney's voice is perfect. Between a jazz performer in a smoky club and Annie Haslam's slow songs with Renaissance, this song is the only very good one but not enough to save the album. Its second part has again something of Genesis and Renaissance. There's room for some very good guitar before returning to the initial theme.

One very good song is not enough to suggest an album that's for collectors (of Peter Banks) only.

octopus-4 | 2/5 |


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