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IQ Are You Sitting Comfortably ? album cover
2.79 | 360 ratings | 21 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. War Heroes (6:26)
2. Drive On (4:57)
3. Nostalgia (2:22)
4. Falling Apart at the Seams (7:47)
5. Sold On You (4:40)
6. Through My Fingers (5:30)
7. Wurensh (9:37)
8. Nothing At All (4:46)

Bonus track on GEP 1994 CD:
9. Nothing At All (Live) (4:43)

Total Time: 50:52

Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Menel / lead & backing vocals, tambourine
- Mike Holmes / guitar & synth guitar
- Martin Orford / keyboards, sax, flute, backing vocals
- Tim Esau / bass guitar, bass pedals, backing vocals
- Paul Cook / drums, percussion

- Noel McCalla / backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Satori with Andie Airfix (design)

LP Vertigo ‎- 836429-1 (1989, Europe)
LP Mercury ‎- 422 836 429-1 (1989, US)

CD Vertigo ‎- 836 429-2 (1989, Europe)
CD Giant Electric Pea - GEPCD 1013 (1994, UK) With 1 bonus Live track

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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IQ Are You Sitting Comfortably ? ratings distribution

(360 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(18%)
Good, but non-essential (40%)
Collectors/fans only (26%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

IQ Are You Sitting Comfortably ? reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars need I comment? Actually, I will ! The titles warns right off the bat: you better sit down because if you are not you will hurt yourself falling on your ass because of the sheer mediocrity of this album. At least , they had the courage of honesty. As for myself , i must be nearing fifty words necessary so you can read how nice I feel about this album.
Review by Greger
3 stars "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" was IQ's fourth studio album, released in 1989. It follows the same musical direction they took with their previous album "Nomzamo" (1987). This album became the second and last album with Paul Menel on vocals. The music on this album could be described as a mix between how GENESIS, MARILLION, SAGA and YES are sounding today. The highlights are "War Heroes", "Drive On", "Sold on You" and the epic progressive masterpiece "Wurensh". This album is really good although IQ have released better ones.
Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is probably the most pop and accessible of the IQ albums; with Paul Menel on lead vocals, it definitely sounds like the previous "Nomzamo". So, the IQ fan who expects complex and elaborated progressive songs could be a bit disappointed. So, you have to be prepared to hear something more pop here, although the progressive dimension is still quite present.

The songs are actually accessible and very catchy: the compositions are fresh, cute and never dark. Menel's voice is OUTSTANDING!!! The record is well balanced: some songs are really pop, well made and very catchy ("Drive On", "Sold On You", "Through My Fingers"), while other ones are more progressive ("Nostalgia", "Wurensh"). The mix of modern varied keyboards and sought-after clean & slight distortion guitars a la MARILLION, combined to a wonderful elaborated fretless bass is very pleasant. Even if the drums are less elaborated here, they still do a great job. All the songs are very well made! No fillers!

Review by richardh
3 stars After the dissapointing 'Nomzamo' IQ manage to pick things up a bit with this their 4th studio release.As the title suggests this is one for the headphones and more thought has been put into the structure of the album.Stand out songs? well I would say 'Falling Apart At The Seams' and the beautifull 'Nothing At All' whcih marked Menel's finest moment in IQ.Overall pretty decent album but still there was still better to come...
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Chef's special?

IQ have always struck me, perhaps unfairly, as a bit of a second division prog band. They seem to have good ideas and are instrumentally adept, but don't quite hit the mark when putting it all together. It's a bit like giving two chefs the same high quality ingredients. While a top chef will use them to create a culinary delight, an average chef will produce something edible but unexciting.

With "Are you sitting comfortably", the band ironically move away from their comfort zone, into a more pop orientated field. That market was and is of course already saturated, and all the band succeeded in achieving was creating an album which failed to satisfy either their traditional fan base, or those who might prefer their altered direction.

It's not all gloom and doom by any means. There are some good tracks, particularly towards the end of the album. "Wurensh" and "Nothing at all" are the two most progressive and most enjoyable tracks. The rest however are disappointingly commercial and unadventurous. The band were clearly capable of making good prog, unfortunately here, they chose for the main part to refrain from doing so.

Review by ZowieZiggy

IQ did produce two very good studio albums at the start of their career and a pretty decent live one. A major change in their line-up (the replacement of their lead vocalist) will affect dramatically the quality of their work. Again, I am not sure that IQ would have sounded differently with Peter on the vocals. I just believe that the end of the eighties was just not their time. I can't even say that Paul Menel is not a good singer. He has some Peter's (Nicholls) intonation from time to time and he is usually very pleasant to listen to.

Actually there will several good songs on this album.

The opener "War Heroes" for instance (although the end is pretty weird) is a good example of a nice true prog song. "Nostalgia" is a pleasant short and spacey instrumental leading to "Falling Apart At The Seams" one of the two longer compositions of this work.

It reminds me the early IQ, the one I prefer so far. Great rhythm, catchy chorus (although poppish). Paul Cook on the drums is doing a good job. It is one of the most sophisticated track here (not to be compared with "Human Gateway" of course) but it is not too bad a track. Some pleasant guitar and keyboards breaks are also welcome. One of the best songs from "Are You ...".

A true prog number (yes!) with "Wurensh". Almost ten minutes to develop this song. It is a more complex one than usual. Lots of different tempo and good vocals. It seems that Nicholls is again on duty. And the according inspiration as well. Although the song lasts for a while, it is not boring for a moment, thanks to its variety (or lack of unity will say the detractors). A fully traditional IQ track and by far the best number featured on this album. The Hackett-like acoustic finale adds a special flavour to this very good song.

Some tracks of course will follow the same direction as their prior album. Poppy and uninspired as "Drive On". "Sold On You" and its Collins oriented influence if you see what I mean...A bit AOR-ish and probably the weakest track here. Press next of course.

After an aerial intro, "Through My Fingers" is another insipid track like Genesis will write a lot while being three (starting with their album "Abacab"). As if IQ had followed the same wrong direction than this so great band (but I made this comparison already in my review for "Nomzamo"). Press next again to avoid this pittyful rock balad. Again, totally uninspired.

One track will sit in between actually : "Nothing At All". Again, very much Genesis oriented but not as bad as the other ones. We'll get a live version as a bonus track. I wonder why they did not chose another track from this album, but we'll get "Wurensh" live on the next IQ album.

All in all I honestly believe that this album is better than "Nomzamo". Of course, it is not a masterpiece, but when I saw the global poor ratings to get the overall tendancy like I usually do before reviewing, I was expecting the worse.

Fortunately it won't be as bad as I feared. The three longest numbers available (reaching almost twenty-four minutes) are good ones and they definitely increase the level of this album. Three stars.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
2 stars Are you sitting comfortably? Are you relaxed? OK. Now put on this CD, and prepare to have your socks kept on!

This is prog? Hardly. This is trite arena rock, with vague illusions to prog. Nostalgia, which is not really a song, just a slightly Pink Floyd like introduction to the next song, Falling Apart at the Seams. It starts out sounding like it might build into a good song, then *WHAM*, a key change, and just another piece of drivel worthy of Asia, or late era Genesis.

The only possible saving grace is Wurensh, that sound sort of like uninspired Yes, with a rhythm stolen from Led Zeppelin.

I originally received this album as a promo back in my record store days, and promptly gave it away to a friend (who gave me a copy once the technology was available). Now I remember why I gave it away in the first place.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars War heroes

Are You Sitting Comfortably? was the second out of two albums that IQ made with lead vocalist Paul Menel in the 80's. This second album with Menel is usually lumped together with Nomzamo which was the first album with him on vocals, but to my ears these two albums are very different from each other. I strongly prefer the present one over the first one. Given how different this album is from the rest of IQ's entire output, it is not surprising that it received (and continues to receive) a rather lukewarm reception from the fans. And I can certainly understand why most hard core IQ fans would dislike this album. But for me, who is admittedly not a very big fan of the band, Are You Sitting Comfortably? is actually one of the band's better efforts, at least up to that point! But it must be judged for what it is and not in direct comparison with previous or later IQ albums. I must emphasize again how different this album is from your usual IQ fare, it is much more Crossover Prog than it is Neo-Prog; more catchy and energetic and less melancholic. I'm often reminded of the band It Bites while listening to this album. If you like It Bites, and high quality Pop Prog in general, it is likely that you will like this album.

The Pop Prog doesn't start immediately, however. First, we get the excellent Rock anthem War Heroes, which is the highlight of the album for me and one that I liked instantly. It begins with quiet keyboards in the Marillion Seasons End vein and some tasteful acoustic guitar licks and discrete tribal rhythms and then it builds from there to a great chorus and electric guitar lines. Paul Menel is a great vocalist and he really comes to his right on this great opening track. Then the Pop starts with songs like Drive On and Sold On You which are very similar in style to the aforementioned band It Bites. As such these tunes are not everyone's cup of tea, very, very 80's! The ten minute, two-part Nostalgia/Falling Apart At The Seams is more progressive but it has again a very It Bites-like chorus. This one was later played live by the band after Peter Nicholls had returned to the fold following the Ever album.

The ballad Through My Fingers is, on the other hand, a bit dull and sounds like something that Tony Banks would have put on his 80's/90's adult contemporary solo albums. The definitive low point of the album for me. In 1991 the band released a compilation album of unreleased tracks called J'ai Polette d'Arnu (I assume it's French, but I have no idea what it means) which was the last thing the band did while Paul Menel was still in the band. On this compilation there is a ballad called Sera Sera which is much better than this. One wishes that the worst couple songs from Are You Sitting Comfortably? would have been replaced by the best ones from J'ai Polette d'Arnu including the brilliant It All Stops Here. That would have made a much better album, I'm sure!

The strangely titled Wurensh, is again more progressive and brings things back on track again. The album closes with Nothing At All of which a live version forms the bonus track on the CD.

Overall, this is a good but somewhat uneven album that stands out from the rest of IQ's works in not sounding very much like IQ as we know them

Review by stefro
1 stars To paraphrase: "No, I am not sitting comfortably". IQ's fourth album saw the band continuing to furrow the ill-judged commercial rock route they had taken after the departure of lead singer Pete Nicholls in 1985. Their first two albums, the superb 'Tales From The Lush Attic' and it's seminal follow-up 'The Wake', were two of the finest prog albums made in any decade but, like fellow neo-proggers Twelfth Night, the band decided to eschew their Genesis-inspired past in favour of producing more concise, commercially-orientated material with new lead singer Paul Menel leading the way. Fortunately for fans of both the band and progressive rock, IQ's label Phonogram quickly saw the errors of their ways and un-ceremoniously dumped the band following poor record sales of both this insipid pop-rock affair and it's similarly-inclined predecessor, the rather silly-sounding 1987 release 'Nomzano'. Following the split with Phonogram Paul Menel and bassist/co-producer Tim Esua both quit the band and IQ made a triumphant return, complete with a returning Nicholls, with the un-ashamedly full-on prog-rock of 1993's 'Ever', which harked back to their early-eighties heydey. Since '93 the band have gone from strength-to-strength, and pretty much 99.9% of IQ fans will tell you that the erroneous two-year blip the band suffered between the years 1987 and 1989 has long been erased from the memory banks of history. Yes, they made a mistake chasing the radio-friendly dollar, but, as we all know, this world of ours works in mysterious ways and luckily IQ had the foresight and ambition to realise where their strengths lay, thus rejecting mainstream accesibility in favour of cult status. IQ have produced some excellent albums over the years, both in the studio and in the live arena. However, 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?' is very definitely not one of the them and my advice to you is to just act like it doesn't exist. This is what many hardcore fans of the band do and it is nothing but utterly correct. IQ have paid their dues and moved on from this bad career move skillfully and swiftly. Others in their field, such as the excellent Twelfth Night, did the same and it killed the band outright, showing just how damaging a major-label move can do to a prog-orientated band. Thats because ss the music gets simpler the original fans leave. And if the new music is not good enough then no new fans replace the old ones and it's oh dear...what have we done? STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
Review by Warthur
3 stars The second and final IQ album to feature Paul Menel on vocals isn't a whole lot more satisfying than Nomzamo, though it does at least manage to alleviate some of that album's more irritating aspects and starts pointing to a viable direction IQ might have taken to salvage their Menel-era sound - though events would soon overtake them and render the point moot.

Whilst like its predecessor it really contains no material to compare to the high standards of Tales From the Lush Attic or The Wake, it at least doesn't have any tracks quite as transparently devoted to chasing fleeting chart success as the most commercially-leaning picks from Nomzamo - though Drive On was apparently their last-chance bid for a hit single, and is pretty catchy in its own way. Like Nomzamo, though, it's perhaps best to see it as the work of a different band that happened to share the IQ name, because if you go in expecting anything like what we've come to expect from IQ here you'll be disappointed and not receptive to picking up on what merits the album has.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The real goal for the music industry around IQ finally took shape after ''Nomzamo''.For the first time the band performed some all European shows with a major success with a fan base following their music.A succesful recipe never changes and IQ re-enter the studios with Rush'es producer Terry Brown to record a similar-sounding work.The album ''Are You Sitting Comfortably?'' was eventually released in 1989,originally on Squawk Records.

No significant changes occured on this effort compared to ''Nomzamo'',the sound still is a mix of accesible Neo Progressive Rock with 80's Pop aesthetics,however there is a bit of structural change on the compositions.While ''Nomzamo'' offered a mix of pure Pop and some Prog tracks,in ''Are You Sitting Comfortably?'' IQ mix these elements in the same compositions, resulting some long arrangements by the band,where the grandiose symphonic keyboards are combined with the catchy choruses.Of course there are also a couple of Pop Rock tracks added for good measure like ''Drive on'' or ''Sold on you'', which are pretty excellent regarding the style,showcasing the great songwriting the skills of the band's members.However the mass of the compositions are different than these exceptions.Orford often delivers amazing symphonic-styled synthesizers and we will find Mike Holmes offering at last some of his early-80's incredible solos as well.These demanding sections will alternate with up-tempo and easy-listening tunes,led by Menel's very good performance.The result is a pretty cohesive release, still far from the early albums of the band,but definitely a step forward than ''Nomzamo''.Additionally all of the tracks are well-crafted and memorable and that is certainly a plus.

Slightly better than ''Nomzamo'', the 4th studio release of IQ will send some hope for a change of direction in the future,as the band headed to some progressive-structured compositions on this effort with traces of their early career.Not a very demanding album by any means,but even this way many Neo Prog bands would be proud of creating such a nice work.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
1 stars I take pride in the fact that i always try to find something good in an album that is universally panned and often i have the exact opposite reaction to a certain type of experiment in a group's discography that doesn't sit well with hardcore fans, but there are times when an album deserves every bit of hatred that is bestowed upon it and the neo-prog pioneers IQ hit their absolute nadir on their 4th studio release ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? This is the epitome of a musical disaster in a band's career where really nothing went right. The pathetic thing about this one is the fact that the band sounds like they are so serious in trying to pull it off together.

This is the second album to feature Paul Menel on vocals after Peter Nicholls departed following "The Wake." The rest of the musical cast is the same as "Nonzamo." It does seem that the band were feeling some sort of jealousy over the success of their heroes in Genesis while they were killing it on the pop charts in the 80s and raking in the dough. IQ were also tempted by the pop side of the musical force and tried to emulate their influences by going in that direction. Unfortunately however, while Genesis and Gabriel had the chops to actually construct catchy pop albums, Orford and company weren't so lucky. This album just reeks of wannabeism and ultimately falls short in every manner. Dreadfully Menel's vocals display the first weakness and most obvious inferiority complex here. Although he tries, he just lacks the zingy passion that Nicholls dished out. Add the limp songwriting, lackadaisical keyboards, lazy percussion, flaccid guitar performances and woefully insipid overall production and we get a big fat turkey here but not the kind you wanna eat for Thanksgiving.

"War Heroes" starts off ok and while it doesn't sound like any particular peak of 80s neo-prog, it also isn't the most horrendous sounding track of the lot. It does however sound like a rather weak version of an 80s Peter Gabriel solo offering. Things go south VERY quickly on the second track "Drive On" where we're greeted (or cheated rather) with the most cheesy of synthesizers accompanied by an even cheesier drum beat. The lyrics are absolutely horrendous and the whole thing comes across as a Duran Duran reject that wouldn't have even reemerged as a bonus track. It really is just so very baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad and i do mean bad meaning bad, not bad meaning good. The next track "Nostalgia" tries to pull off some instrumental stratagem into gaining a foothold into a more progified universe, but ends up just sounding cheap because other than the attempt to create some atmospheric sounds comes across like a weak 4/4 timed attempt to sound new wave eight years too late and then the cheesy drums and lyrics come in all gussied up with synthesized dressing and ends up sounding totally lame.

I don't need to go on. This one is just the worst attempt for a prog band to enter into the pop universe that i've ever heard and i'm hugely tolerant of progressive pop. Good pop music is a talent all itself and while many a prog band had successful navigated their talents into that musical realm, IQ were clearly out of their element. In fact, it's actually the case that the band were masters of one specific sub genre only and continue shine within it, but once stepping outside of its murky boundaries find themselves playing the role of not only a fish out of water, but a fish in the party punch with a tutu on. No disrespect for any fish that wish to do so, of course, i only am pointing out a pointless musical meandering into an almost parody zone. This one is just so bad that it truly is the worst of the worst. I found life in "Nonzamo" to the point that i could give it 3 stars, but ARE YOU SITTING COMFORABLY? just makes me feel like i'm sitting in the emergency room in line with a bunch of coughing and hacking indigents while crossing my legs because i have to pee and the bathroom is closed because someone clogged up the toilets. A classic example of WTF were you thinking, guys? Luckily, IQ would come back on the next album "Ever" and never punish us with such crap again.

Review by Hector Enrique
3 stars "Nomzamo" had already embodied a stylistic mutation in IQ's musical approach, largely shedding the languishing progressive structures of the second half of the 80's for a more digestible and commercially friendly orientation in which legends such as Yes (Big Generator) and Genesis (Invisible Touch) were also immersed, and which the band's fourth album, 1989's "Are You Sitting Comfortably?", ratified.

Although Martin Orford's futuristic opening keyboards accompanied by Mike Holmes' delicate acoustic notes on the persistent and critical "War Heroes" give it an interesting start, the album once again opts for accessible melodies and a dangerous ride over pop precipices such as the dreary "Drive On" and "Sold on You", or the insipid "Through My Fingers", pieces that do a disservice to the band's legacy.

And both "Nostalgia", the instrumental that precedes the mysterious "Falling Apart at the Seams" and "Wurensh", an intricate piece that Holmes rounds off with some beautiful Spanish guitar arpeggios in its last section, provide the best of the album with their reminiscences of the band's early work, before closing with the hypnotic and conformist "Nothing at All".

"Are you Sitting Comfortably?", the second and last work that featured the correct vocalist Paul Menel who left the band together with bassist Tim Esau after the promotional tour, is probably the most discussed and misunderstood album in the discography of the Englishmen, partly because it follows the aseptic path of "Nozmamo", and partly also because of the successful return to their sources that four years later from the subsequent "Ever" onwards redirected the path of IQ.

2.5/3 stars

Latest members reviews

3 stars AYSC? is hardly a work of under-rated genius but... y'know what? It's a pretty good album in itself. IQ purists may clutch their pearls now - I rather like the poppy tones of the Menel-era IQ. Drive On limps on rather than drives, and Sold On You is just pleasant, but I've never considered that ... (read more)

Report this review (#2382097) | Posted by StevenPoore | Friday, May 15, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Well here we are, the first review I ever did, and this is going to be my first review back. 'Are You Sitting Comfortably?', despite what most say about this album, is not a dud. This album has incredible soundscapes and staggering chord progressions. So, now I will give each individual so ... (read more)

Report this review (#2374797) | Posted by Zoltanxvamos | Sunday, April 26, 2020 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The last Paul Menel/IQ album. Judging from the previous release, this album could only be better, or could it be worse? The opening "War Heroes" starts the mood nicely, but is soon followed by another "mainstream" sounding "poppy" song. Falling Apart at the Seams wants to restore the PROG labe ... (read more)

Report this review (#1091910) | Posted by Ozymandias | Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars (6/10) People seem to rate both Menel-era IQ albums as roughly equivalent in quality, but to my ears "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" is clearly the superior of the two. Yes, some of the mistakes of "Nomzamo" are repeated. We still have a couple of cheesy cheap sounding keyboards on overly commerci ... (read more)

Report this review (#852084) | Posted by ScorchedFirth | Wednesday, November 7, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ok so this and Nomzamo are not as good (proggy) as IQs other albums, but both still have material of worth, but also some turkeys. 1. War Heroes (6:26) Tries to be proggy but ends up quite dull. 3/10 2. Drive On (4:57) Oh dear! Shockingly bad. 1/10 3. Nostalgia (2:22) Really jus ... (read more)

Report this review (#288387) | Posted by gingernut | Saturday, June 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Second and last album with Paul Menel, Are You Sitting Comfortably is clearly in the same vein than its predecessor Nomzamo, with a main difference though : where there could be legitimate doubts about Nomzamo -apart the song "Human Nature"- being classified as prog rock, Are You Sitting Comfo ... (read more)

Report this review (#84808) | Posted by Bupie | Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "Are You Sitting Comfortably?" is a criminally underrated IQ album, certainly better than "Nomazmo" and in this reviewer's opinion, better than Nichols-era albums such "Tales from the Attic" and "The Seventh House." For starters, it's got 2 extended, kick-*ss prog tracks: the brooding, then e ... (read more)

Report this review (#39575) | Posted by | Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars As uninspiring as the previous CD for this band was, this one was even less so. Not much to shout about on this klunker. Nomzamo at least had something left over from the good ol' days. With the exception of WURENSCH, there just isn't anything on the CD worth listenening to. It becomes clear ... (read more)

Report this review (#3682) | Posted by Trafficdogg | Sunday, May 22, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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