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3 - 3.2: The Rules Have Changed CD (album) cover

3.2: THE RULES HAVE CHANGED

3

Crossover Prog


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5 stars I'm not going to get into a history lesson, you know the band 3 (much maligned by hardcore ELP fans, but with a bit of a cult following, etc). It may have taken 30 years, but here is the follow up 3.2 project spearheaded by multi instrumentalist, musician, producer, Robert Berry. With interest from Keith after the release of 3, Live in Boston, Robert began working on this 3.2 project with his friend and mentor, only to have everything come crashing down at Emerson's untimely death. But, a few years later, the project was finished. With vintage synth sounds, leftover '87 recording tracks, new ideas and shared music, the Japanese release is in hand, and I find it refreshing, nostalgic, and downright brilliant. What Robert Berry has crafted is next to genius, using just a few Emerson snippets and conceptual ideas. It opens with "One by One," probably the most progressive rock track. The concept was outlined by Keith and Robert, but all instruments recorded by Robert. Berry throws every stereotypical prog rock trick including the kitchen sink at your ears, and yet still hooks you with the melody and lyric bouncing around the brain hours later. "One by One" was an arrangement sketched out with Emerson, from the Edward Grieg piano idea, to the Roland D50 sounds, Berry stitched it all together. "Powerful Man," the second single to be released and first official video is also a strong track with deep emotions and symbolism. Perhaps the most AOR track, hearkening back to the original 3 sound (you know what I'm Talkin 'Bout), it's a great song to listen to. The video might be cheesy, but I like me some nice vintage 1988 cheese (ew!), and those synths are here, premium cheese (yay!). Although no Emerson input on Powerful Man, his influence and his sound is rich within this track. "The Rules Have Changed" has a very modernistic prog sound and arranging without Emerson input. There may be no Carl Palmer here either, but Robert Berry really shows off some impressive drumming chops, ripping guitar solos, and and epic battle between synth and electric guitar toward the end. "Our bond" is a very emotional tribute written after the death of Keith Emerson. Originally released as a piano and vocal track, this updated version here is much more powerful. The added strings, synth and drum flourishes add much more depth. Hear Robert quote America, Fanfare for the Common Man, Hoedown, Tarkus, Desde La vida, etc, and sing powerful touching lyrics, it really does pull at the heartstrings. "What You're Dreaming Now" with Emerson input dating back to 1987, you hear the soundtrack influence and later "Changing States" demo sound. A fun track that is finally finished with Robert's added lyrics and melody. "Somebody's Watching," the first single released really put 3.2 on the map months before it's official release. Emerson's beautiful piano intro circa '87 and added drum and keyboard tracks balance well with Robert's fun guitar and vocals. "The Letter" is an all Berry original. It starts with just acoustic guitar, in a rather Phillip Phillips/Lumineers way, but just as one may be dismissing this track as the odd red-headed step child of the album, in come added piano and accordion, busting out into a party and ending with full blown progressive Hammond and synthesizer drive to the end. Well played Robert, well played. "Your Mark on the World" is an Emerson collaboration made up from left over bits and parts. There are some unique patches used here, and if you are familiar with Robert Berry's Encores, Legends and Paradox, Karn Evil 9 recording (with Jordan Rudass and Simon Phillips), this track has a lot of those qualities. Robert is leaving his mark on the music world with this stunning tribute to his friend and musical partner. You don't hear music like this in the mainstream anymore, and that's what makes it so refreshing. The Japanese bonus track "Sailors Horn Pipe" is an Emerson track that sounds like it was lifted, dusted off, and updated from his Honky album. A fun instrumental to end this release. The 20 page booklet is very insightful and full of history, read along as you listen to this to better understand the background and motives of each song. Some true emotion and understanding of what Keith's final days may have been, not read anywhere else before, is shared from Robert's conversations and understanding of his good friend. I give the music a solid 4.0 stars (a little busy and excessive at times), the nostalgia and history 5 stars, and the tribute and legacy to Mr. Keith Emerson 6 stars. This was a very emotional ride that every progressive rock, and Keith Emerson fan should add to their collection. I have to give the whole package an overall 5 star rating, I can't stop listening to it.
Report this review (#1954531)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars 'About keyboard pyrotechnics and song oriented melodic rock'

The working relationship between multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and producer Robert Berry (who played with Sammy Hagar, Ambrosia, 3, GTR, Alliance and The Greg Kihn Band) and the late Keith Emerson (who contributed to Ayreon's album The Theory Of Everything in 2013) began in 1987, resulting in the band 3 featuring Keith Emerson, Robert Berry and Carl Palmer. They released the album To The Power Of Three, but Keith Emerson already left after the worldwide tour. In October 2015 conversations about a new 3 album started between Robert Berry and the Frontiers label as Robert had been speaking to Keith about releasing the long delayed 3 follow-up album. The exchange of musical ideas and song collaborations ultimately paved the groundwork for The Rules Have Changed. After Emerson's death in 2016, Berry was left with Emerson's final musical ideas for the project. Unfortunately the familly gave Berry only permission to use Keith his compositions, not his recorded keyboard parts.

So Berry plays keyboards, and he also does the drums, bass, and guitars, incredible, he sounds like a four piece formation, what an impressive job he has done! Another great job by Berry is on the compositorial level: he has written 7 inventive, elaborate, varied and dynamic tracks, with the focus on a melodic and song oriented approach. This is topped by Berry his strong and emotional voice, often with a melancholical undertone. As a tribute to Keith Emerson all tracks contain awesome, often spectacular work on keyboards, in the vein of the late keyboard hero. Also due to the distinctive Memorymoog ' and Roland D-50 synthesizer sound on this album.

Fat Moog flights in Powerful Man (along propulsive guitar riffs) and in the titletrack (also harder-edged guitar work).

Tender piano, classical orchestrations and Emersonian synthesizer layers in Our Bond (embellished with delicate brass and violin).

Again fat Moog runs and lush Hammond with heavy guitar riffs in the dynamic What You're Dreaming Now.

Sparkling piano, bombastic Hammond and sensational Moog with pitchbend in the exciting Somebody's Watching (what a powerhouse rhythm-section by one-man-band Berry!).

And a sumptuous Moog - and Hammond sound (including church organ) with a thunderous rhythm-section in the final track Your Mark On The World.

My highlights are the two compositions that sound more different from the song oriented other six tracks. First the opener One By One: it starts with sparkling, very beautiful classical work on the Grand piano, then a slow rhythm with melancholical vocals, followed by flashy Moog with pitchbend and a jazzy piano interlude and in the end a mid-tempo with a swirling Hammond solo. It sounds like a mini symphony, very varied and dynamic.

Finally the wonderfully build-up ballad This Letter, Berry plays propulsive acoustic rhythm guitar and piano, he sings very emotional. Gradually the sound becomes more lush with classical orchestrations and a cheerful accordion sound, culminating in spectacular 'Old School Keyboard Extravaganza', goose bumps!

This outstanding effort is not an Old School album or a Seventies Keith Emerson tribute. Because Robert Berry blends keyboard driven symphonic rock and song oriented melodic rock/AOR in a very tasteful and inventive way. But for sure the spirit of Keith Emerson is on The Rules Have Changed, excellent work mister Berry!

The first edition of this review was recently published on the Dutch prog website Background Magazine.

Report this review (#2046881)
Posted Monday, October 22, 2018 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
5 stars Some thirty years ago, Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Robert Berry formed the band 3, and released the album 'To The Power of Three'. I always felt that it was a sadly maligned album, and far superior to what many ELP fans said about it, and there was certainly quite a lot of criticism. It was the only release by the band, with ELP reforming, and Robert moved onto other things. Fast forward to 2016, and a record label approached Keith as they wanted to release a live album of a performance recorded in 1988. Keith agreed and then forgot about it until one day the CD arrived in the mail, and one evening he listened to it while drinking a glass of wine. I asked Robert what happened, "He listened to the whole thing and immediately called me. His voice sounded so excited. He said "Robert, we were really a good band. No really a good band." I couldn't believe me ears. I had always thought that but never thought he'd give it another chance, and there it was. The open door to my 28 year dream. After we spoke about how much fun we had had and how the spark on stage with the jamming was just the best time ever I broke the question. I said that a record company had been bugging me for years to do a follow up album but I knew he wasn't interested. I said "What about now Keith? Any chance you'd consider working with me to do one more really great album?" He gave it a mild "yes" and that was enough for me. I called the record company and asked if they were still interested, they were. I called Keith back, we discussed the ideal parameters for such an album and the record company agreed to every detail. Keith was amazed at their deal, the advance involved, and the interest being so high. He was ready to start so we did."

Only one song was used that was written during the original period, with the rest of the material being put together as Keith and Robert swapped ideas, and collaborated together while they were on the phone to each other. They also approached Carl to see if he wanted to be involved, but he was committed to his own band, so they decided that they would approach Simon Phillips once they had all the basic parts of the songs recorded properly. Sadly that wasn't to be, as Keith passed away before it got that far. This left Robert with the songs, the ideas, structures and sounds, and he felt the only thing to do was to record everything himself. Those who have followed his career will know that Robert is a multi-instrumentalist, but I have always thought of him far more as a guitarist and singer, but his parents were not only performers but also owned a piano store, and he had many years of piano lessons so also really knows his way around a keyboard (and was also drumming from a young age as well!).

The result is an album that is very much the sequel to the original, the album that is a follow-up to 'The Power of Three' in so many ways. It's not quite as bombastic, but it is hard to realise that the keyboards are from Robert and not Keith, as he has captured his style in so many ways, and there are certain sounds employed that one immediately recognises as having played their part on the original. Just 8 songs, 46 minutes long, there is no way that his sounds like the solo effort of a musician in 2018, but as if this is a band recording from the late Eighties full of power, passion, melody and dynamics. I defy anyone to listen to the change in style 3:20 into "Our Bond" and say that Robert hasn't captured what the original band and Keith was all about. As a tribute, this album is incredible. As a collection of music, this is simply superb. Absolutely essential, I can play this album all day and never tire of it. Wonderful.

Report this review (#2054465)
Posted Friday, November 9, 2018 | Review Permalink
4 stars An exceptional album, and fitting tribute to the late Keith Emerson by his friend and fellow musician Robert Berry. Back in 2016 Keith and Robert were working together writing towards a possible new "3" project, but sadly Keith passed away before serious recording had begun. Finally Robert resumed the project on his own, and this album is the end result. At first I found it to be an emotionally difficult listen, but it's really such a rich testament to the artistry these two men shared, and of the talent possessed by Berry that it's an indisputably marvelous achievement. Don't expect this to be a radically progressive album, and it's definitely more of an evolution from the first 3 record rather than a revolutionary take on their style, and no real new ground is broken. That said, the songwriting is stronger than on 'To the power of'', and Robert has added depth to the '3' concept with a more refined and careful production where he plays to the strengths of both his and Emerson's skills and sensibilities. It's unfortunate that Carl Palmer opted not to participate because he is preoccupied with his ELP Legacy touring, however Berry himself is a more than capable drummer, and his take on Palmer's style fits seamlessly. If only this had followed hot on the heels of their 1988 debut, and not 30 years after, we would have seen and heard considerably more from the band. Still, here it is, and we're better off for having it. Thank you Robert, and goodbye again ( with a tip of our hats ) to the master that was Keith Emerson.
Report this review (#2138257)
Posted Thursday, February 21, 2019 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
4 stars Berry's mark on the world

Before the death of Keith Emerson in 2016, he was working once again with Robert Berry on what was to become a follow-up to the 1988 "3" album. Sadly the two never got to finish their work together, but Berry took what they had written and soldiered in honour of Keith to record the album on his own. The result is really impressive given that Berry plays all the instruments himself, including the excellent and very Emerson-like keyboards. As such, 3.2. The Rules Have Changed is more of a Berry solo album than it is a "3" album, and it is quite different from and a whole lot better than ...To The Power Of Three. To me it is more similar in style and quality to the 2008 Keith Emerson Band featuring Marc Bonilla album. Fans of Keith Emerson and ELP really ought to have a listen to this.

The back story begins in 1987 when Berry was asked to join Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer in a new band that was to carry on where the Emerson, Lake & Powell project had left off. After one album and a tour, work was started on a second album but it never was completed. A couple of songs from those writing sessions later appeared on Berry's solo album Pilgrimage To A Point in 1993. Much later, in 2015, Berry and Emerson had started working together again and some of that writing now appears on the present album. How close it is to what would have been had Emerson been involved in the actual recording of the album is impossible to say, but 3.2. The Rules Have Changed is certainly a fitting tribute to Keith and a strong album in its own right.

Report this review (#2248002)
Posted Monday, September 2, 2019 | Review Permalink

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