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Peter Bardens

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Peter Bardens Big Sky album cover
2.63 | 19 ratings | 4 reviews | 11% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1994

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. China Blue (4:53)
2. Puerto Rico (5:37)
3. Big Sky (4:58)
4. Gunblasters (3:39)
5. On the Air Tonight (4:30)
6. You Got It (3:36)
7. A Brave New World (4:52)
8. On a Roll (4:17)
9. The Last Waltz (2:10)
10. For Old Times Sake (1:48)
11. Scarletti (1:45)

Total Time 42:05

Bonus tracks on 2004 reissue:
12. The Yuki Dance (4:37)
13. Bump 'n' Grind (2:29)

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Bardens / keyboards, vocals

- Neale Heywood / guitars, mixing
- James Manley / guitar
- Steve Adams / guitar (3,6)
- Mike Nile / bass
- Mick Fleetwood / drums (1,6)
- Andy Latimer / backing vocals (8)
- Neil Lockwood / backing vocals
- Jethro Defries / backing vocals
- Mychal Lomas / backing vocals
- Mendy Lee / backing vocals
- Suzanne Paris / backing vocals
- James Whitney / backing vocals

Releases information

CD HTD Records ‎- HTD CD22 (1994, UK)
CD Talking Elephant Records ‎- TECD070 (2004, UK) With 2 bonus tracks and new cover art

Thanks to chris stacey for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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PETER BARDENS Big Sky ratings distribution

(19 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(21%)
Good, but non-essential (42%)
Collectors/fans only (26%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

PETER BARDENS Big Sky reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kenethlevine
3 stars After about 7 very prolific years as a lite jazz artist, Pete Bardens went on something of a hiatus following this recording. As such, it is fitting that the album references the larger body of his solo work rather than any sort of progression. Since he seemed more concerned with personal than musical evolution by this point, the songs flow together just fine in spite of their varied lineage.

For instance, the ultra hip "China Girl" is reminiscent of the "Speed of Light" period, while "Puerto Rico" and "on a Roll" are firmly in his lite-Latin thread which became overt on "Further Than You Know". "Gunblasters" is as close as he came to a real rocker, containing references to Camel chiefly in the lead guitars and drums, but also to the Alan Parsons/Keats axis of songs like "In Dreams" from "Seen One Earth". He also seems to be alluding to the Camel days musically and in titular fashion with the lovely pianos in the all too short "For Old Times Sake", and "Scarletti" is another tinkly affair that shows Bardens getting back to the roots a bit more. "The Last Waltz" is an instrumental in the vein of his "Water Colours" period.

Challenging might not be a word that springs to mind when one thinks about the body of this man's solo work, and the big sky is certainly not the limit. But engaging, happy, and melodic are all compliments that flow freely from this reviewer when it comes to this 1994 Pete Bardens effort.

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars With extra talking elephants

"Big sky" was former Camel keyboard player Peter Bardens' (here calling himself "Pete") penultimate album, prior to his untimely death in 2002. Released in 1995, this is very much a solo effort. This gives the album something of a home-made feel, with ubiquitous synth sounds and drum machine rhythms being the norm. Bardens old pal Mick Fleetwood plays drums on two tracks ("China blue" and "You got it") and former Camel band-mate Andy Latimer sings backing vocals (but no guitar) on "On a roll".

The opening track, "China blue" has something of a post Water Pink Floyd feel to it, being a melancholy downbeat number. Despite the Latin mood of the piece, "Puerto Rico", the longest track on the album at 5 minutes retains an understated feel which tends to prevail throughout the album. "Big sky" has what appears to be a decent sax solo, but as no sax player is listed I can only assume that this is actually Bardens on keyboards.

One of the album's highlights is undoubtedly "Gunblasters", a spirited instrumental with some fine lead guitar work. This is one of a handful of instrumental tracks, but none are what might be described as complex, each being the simple development of a basic theme. Towards the end of the album, the tracks get noticeably briefer, these interlude instrumentals perhaps being symptomatic of the ideas drying up. Indeed "The last waltz" and "For old times sake" both feel like incomplete pieces. The closing "Scarletti" is a solo piano piece firmly rooted in the classical era.

The 2004 Talking Elephant release has two extra tracks recorded around the same time. "The Yuki dance" was recorded in Malibu, and bears the hallmarks of that region, while "Bump 'n' grind" is actually the most rock orientated number on the entire album.

Overall, the album has a laid back, sometimes easy listening feel. This is a bit misleading, as there is actually plenty going on throughout the album, admittedly with nothing truly exceptional to report.

Overall, the album has a laid back, sometimes easy listening feel. This is a bit misleading, as there is actually plenty going on throughout the album, admittedly with nothing truly exceptional to report.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
2 stars For old times sake

If you think that Tony Banks' solo output is weak, wait until you hear the solo output of Peter Bardens! Big Sky was released in 1995 but sound more like it belongs in the 80's. This is light Pop Rock with some New-Age, Electronic and Latin influences. The Latin styled Puerto Rico sounds a bit like an Al Di Meola number in his least interesting moments. There is some quite tasteful Latin guitar work, though.

If you want to find anything progressive on this album you will have to look really, really hard but Gunblaster and A Brave New World are decent light Prog songs but only the former even hints at Bardens past band, the latter being an Electronic piece that reminds of Vangelis. Bardens ex-band mate Andy Latimer apparently does some backing vocals on On A Roll but the song itself is just awful! It is actually the worst of the lot here with its overly cheerful melody and mindless lyrics.

The last three tracks are very short instrumentals and somehow feel like bonus tracks. The very last Scarletti is a decent Classical piano piece, though.

I'm giving this two stars, but I'm being generous here. The saddest thing of all is that Big Sky is actually one of the better Bardens solo albums!

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
2 stars This album by Pete Bardens doesn't differ too much from the electro-pop of its predecessors. The presence as guests of two old friends like Mick Fleetwood and Andy Latimer is remarkable, but this may be not enough to make a good album.

It doesn't open too badly. "China Blue" is maybe trivial in the chords, but has a mood very similar to "More Than This" of Roxy Music, so I quite like it..

"Puerto Rico" features some guitar, but it's not Latimer as he just sings some background vocals on one track only. It's really a guest appearance. This song is on the chords and the atmosphere of Speed Of Light.

The title track starts with a sax that's probably synthetic as no saxophonist is credited on the album. Here Pete sings and his voice gives the song a touch of Camel. With a little help from Latimer this could have been a great song. With this arrangement it's just quite good.

"Gunblasters" is a track on which Pete has put too many things in too few time. It appears to be not exploited enough. Another missing opportunity which finishes to be just a sort of reminder of the 80s. I can still hear echoes of Camel, specially when there are no orchestral accents.

"On The Air Tonight" is a poppy melodic song but listening to it carefully it's still possible hearing echoes of the Rain Dances/Breathless era.

"You Got It" is a track that I don't understand. The guitar is not bad but is a song "full of nothing".

"A Brave New World" has a more promising intro. Keyboards in a Tangerine Dream style even with a clue of Alan Parsons Project. The guitar sounds very nice and the drumming is not invasive, like the opener of "Seen One Earth", but more intriguing from a musical point of view. After a couple of minutes it turns into a sort of pop-rock instrumental. The sounds are of the "Zee - Identity" kind. It's a pity that there are not many tracks of this kind. Not that this is a masterpiece, but it's one of the best things.

"On A Roll" is brit-pop 30 years too late, with an attempt to add Caribbean rhythms. Skip it. And this is the track with Latimer singing backing vocals !!!

"The Last Waltz" it's a2 minutes filler, but is surely better than the previous track.

Then we have other two tracks below the 2 minutes. It's like he has put the incomplete compositions at the end, and I think that the classic flavor of "Scarletti" would have been better served if the title was the correct composer surname that's "Scarlatti" (In Italian "Bright Red")

Those fillers may be the reason why somebody has decided to add a couple of bonus tracks.

"The Yuki Dance" is very nice with a funky flavor. It sounds incredibly 80s, again like "Zee", but it's good.

"Bump And Grind" doesn't have anything to do with Bardens, so that I suspect that he may not be the author. It's a sort of 80's pop-metal, listenable but outplaced even though the keyboard work is technically good.

Not totally bad, but I can't suggest a non-fan to buy it.

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