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The Samurai Of Prog - Undercover CD (album) cover

UNDERCOVER

The Samurai Of Prog

Crossover Prog


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J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The Samurai of Prog is - yes, you've guessed it - a progressive rock act, and Undercover is their debut full-length studio album. Despite only being a trio at their core, the band recruits genre-veterans like Roine Stolt, Guy LeBanc, Michael Manring, Jon Davison, Jonas Reingold, as well as many others to help flesh out this album that mainly consists of cover tunes. Prog rock fans should have their interest immediately piqued by some of the guest musicians, but the track listing which includes covers of songs from Genesis, Yes, Marillion, ELP, Pink Floyd, and many others should make many fans of the genre track down Undercover immediately. The trio plays all of the songs with convincing power and execution, and The Samurai of Prog are clearly an extremely gifted ensemble. Undercover may be more of a novelty than an actual artistic statement, but as far as cover albums go, this is one of the best options out there for fans of progressive rock. Consider this one highly recommended!

For better or for worse, every one of the covers here does a remarkable job of sounding extremely similar to the original act. The trio does mix up a few songs - particularly on their rendition of Pink Floyd's "Dogs" - but their versions of "Starship Trooper", "The Lamia", and "Assassing" sound especially like their respective originators. Everything from the vocal arrangements to the clever uses of instrumentation sound remarkable similar to the original acts, even though The Samurai of Prog does put their own unique twist every now and again on all of the tracks. And even if they didn't, the musicianship is so impressive that the covers are remarkable either way. The sleek, modern production also suits the music perfectly.

Undercover doesn't exactly re-invent the wheel, but if you're looking for an absolutely top- notch album of progressive rock cover tunes it's hard to go wrong with this one. The Samurai of Prog have proven that they are an extremely talented ensemble with this debut effort, and I'll be keeping a close eye on them in the coming years. It's rare to come across albums with this level of finesse contained within the musicianship and arrangements, and the choice of cover tunes should easily turn the heads of prog fans worldwide. 3.5 stars seem fair for this impressive effort. Undercover may not be an entirely independent artistic statement, but it's a damn good one nonetheless!

Report this review (#531193)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars UNDERCOVER is the debut album of an interesting project,musical project called THE SAMURAI OF PROG,where we find some extremelly talented musicians,as you can see in the presentation of the band above!The core of the bandBERNARD,UNRUH and PORSTI is helped by a bunch of other top musicians and the final result is more than astonishing!What we find here are some superbe tracks from famous progressive bands ,played in the manner of the guys from THE SAMURAI OF PROG-and this cover tracks are really excellently performed ,with the help of the modern technology and recording technique!Great variety of the tracks selected-from GENESIS to PINK FROYD or YES and ELP-we talk here about some icons of prog music-passing by MARILLION and THE FLOWER KINGS and the Italian monument in prog called ARTI e MESTIERI!As bonus ,we have 4 tracks as tribute for the band ELECTROSHOCK -Marco Bernard's first band in the 70's!All the 3 guys in THE SAMURAI OF PROG are very talented and professional musicians-and the result is simply wonderful!What is even more attractive about this album,is the cohesion and the clever choice made by the guys about the songs!All fits perfectly well with the message of the album!The new versions of the songs get another dimension in 2011,and it seems that the wide range of expression for progressive music is endless and timeless!Hard to say which track looks to be the highlight of the album,all are excellent and this album is an excellent opportunity for all prog music lovers to discover what real prog music means!MARCO BERNARD,STEVE UNRUH and KIMMO PORSTI seem to have a real common passion for the treasure that progressive music means,and their collaboration and alchemy-give to the prog music lovers a little pearl-this excellent album!Just look in the future for what BERNARD is doing in collaboration with MUSEA-he offers constantly to the prog community excellent albums with different themes and that's wonderful!4 STARS for an album based on covers-but what about an album of original compositions in the future?!?!Then will be 100 % a 5 stars album!Congratulations and thank you for the music!
Report this review (#532040)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars One of the best (top quality) cover-albums I have ever heard in my life. All the songs have their own twist to them, and they sound professionally recorded. Great to hear Roine Stolt and Michael Manring providing great guest appearances. My favorite tracks are "Starship Trooper" by YES, with the ending section "Würm" standing out as a great performance from all the envolved musicians, "Dogs" by Pink Floyd, was a very close runner-up, I liked how it had it's own feeling to it. Finally, "Stranger" performed by Resistors, has been the cherry on the cake! Although, far from the progressive standards of un-commerciality. I strongly recommend this CD to all Prog/Rock afficionados.
Report this review (#550599)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This is a prog cover album released by Musea Records - with four bonus tracks by Resistor, Costa & Mariotti, Roz Vitalis and Contrarian. A bit peculiar solution, why not the same idea for the whole album? On the other hand it's nice to hear four bands new to me. The cover band consists of Marco Bernard (bass), Steve Unruh (vocals, guitars, flute, violin) and Kimmo Pörsti (drums, percussion). The list of guest musicians is long. The music covered is by the prog greats such as GENESIS, YES, ELP, PINK FLOYD, MARILLION and FLOWER KINGS, and the performances are excellent, if not too close to the originals.

It starts beautifully with a 2-minute piano solo (David Myers) from the theme of 'The Lamia' which directly follows it. Wonderful, melancholic choice from the classic Genesis! Steve Unruh proves to be a very flexible singer who captures the spirit of each band he covers. 'Starship Trooper' is sung by Jon Davison who sounds a lot like Jon Anderson. Then comes a fusion- like instrumental 'World Of Adventures' from FK's debut album. Faultless! 'Assassing' is IMHO a bit bad choice from Marillion though it's performed with energy. 'Jerusalem' follows closely the overblown grandiosity of ELP.

'Dogs' is a highlight, and I give extra points for editing it anew: the latter half of the PF original gives way to a new instrumental section and it works really well. (Oh Yes, also 'Starship Trooper' differs slightly from the original in the end, which saves it from being a carbon copy.) Fine instrumental long track 'The Promise' is the only new composition - by a Finn (saxophonist Risto Salmi if I remember correctly. Sorry if I don't.)

A brief introductory text accompanies each cover track, and the thick leaflet features other memorabilia too. The lay-out is pretty good-looking. As a cover album this is very good (hmm, maybe the choices are too oriented to the best known prog bands; some more stylistic variety would have been nice!). 3½ stars. Most of the music on this CD is easily worth four stars but this cover album is not really that necessary product.

Report this review (#556636)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars THE SAMURAI OF PROG is a multinational band based around the core trio of Marco Bernard, Kimmo Porsti and Steve Unruh. Following a few years of contributions to various CDs in the Colossus series of theme albums, they released their full-length debut "Undercover" in 2011 through Musea Records.

The aptly named "Undercover" is a debut disc that doesn't tell us much about the quality of The Samurai of Prog as a musical unit. The sheer number of cover tracks at hand and the plethora of guest musicians result in a disc that feels like a project to a much greater extent than a band effort as such. As far as recommendations go, those with an interest in good quality cover versions featuring excellent instrumental performances within a high quality mix and production framework would appear to be the main audience: In particular if you enjoy the majority of the originals covered or have an interest in the musicians performing them.

Report this review (#605498)
Posted Sunday, January 8, 2012 | Review Permalink
Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars The Samurai were considered to be the fiercest warriors of the Japanese military class of their time. Does this band warrant the title?

Primarily, this album is a tribute to some of the classic prog bands of the seventies and beyond, with cover versions of songs by ELP, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and more. It's a grand concept, and one that this band pulls off with style.

These samurai tread a fine line, showing that they are able to retain the spirit of the original pieces while adding their own flair. They especially succeed on Yes' Starship Trooper, where they really go off on a great jam in the Wurm section, and Pink Floyd's Dogs.

I'm disappointed in their choice of a Genesis song to cover. The Lamia was never one of my favorites, even though it came from Genesis' most progressive period. Although I suppose they chose ot because of pianist David Myers' Tony Banks tribute, Before The Lamia, which opens the album.

Where these samurai fall on their swords in in the original pieces, most of which are tracks that the primary band members played on with earlier groups. By comparison, these songs don't match the intensity of the covers, and feel out of place on the collection (to be fair, most are billed as "bonus tracks").

Without the originals, this album would rate a solid four stars. But those bonus track pull almost a full star from the score.

Report this review (#613439)
Posted Thursday, January 19, 2012 | Review Permalink

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