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VARIOUS GENRES

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Various Genres definition

Albums or CD's where more than one artist is featured either as a SAMPLER or a TRIBUTE to a particular band. Examples: - Peter and The Wolf - Prog Fairytale - 1975 / The Reading Room - 2000 / Leonardo - The Absolute Man - 2001 / Best Prog Rock Album in the World... Ever - 2003 / Un Voyage En Progressif Volume 1 to 8 / Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic.

Various Genres Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Various Genres | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.18 | 219 ratings
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.23 | 104 ratings
ODYSSEY - THE GREATEST TALE
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.29 | 60 ratings
LA BIBLIA
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.20 | 94 ratings
INFERNO - THE DIVINE COMEDY, PART 1
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.15 | 87 ratings
DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS (PART 1)
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.17 | 61 ratings
THE SPAGHETTI EPIC 3 - THE GREAT SILENCE
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.16 | 61 ratings
REWIRING GENESIS - A TRIBUTE TO THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
Various Artists (Tributes)
4.12 | 71 ratings
THE STORIES OF H.P. LOVECRAFT - A SYNPHONIC COLLECTION
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.03 | 94 ratings
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR (THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUND TRACK ALBUM)
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.08 | 58 ratings
PURGATORIO -THE DIVINE COMEDY, PART II
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.60 | 12 ratings
VISIONS OF AN INNER MOUNTING APOCALYPSE (MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA)
Various Artists (Tributes)
4.02 | 58 ratings
DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS (PART II)
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.35 | 16 ratings
LEADER OF THE STARRY SKIES: A TRIBUTE TO TIM SMITH, SONGBOOK 1
Various Artists (Tributes)
4.00 | 50 ratings
THE 7 SAMURAI
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.02 | 39 ratings
MARSCAPE
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
4.33 | 12 ratings
MORE ANIMALS AT THE GATES OF REASON - A TRIBUTE TO PINK FLOYD
Various Artists (Tributes)
3.96 | 36 ratings
THE ZODIAC - COSMIC SOUNDS
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
3.93 | 42 ratings
GIALLO ! (ONE SUITE FOR THE MURDERER)
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
3.88 | 55 ratings
DECAMERON - TEN DAYS IN 100 NOVELLAS (PART III)
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)
3.92 | 33 ratings
RETURN TO THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Various Artists (Tributes)

Latest Various Genres Music Reviews


 Music from Free Creek by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.15 | 9 ratings

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Music from Free Creek
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars MUSIC FROM FREE CREEK is one of those strange releases that only could've come out in the free spirit era of the late 1960s / early 1970s. This various artists album went under the fictitious band name FREE CREEK but in reality was a collection of session recordings from 1969 that included dozens of musicians including the famous names Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Keith Emerson, Buzz Felten, Mitch Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt and Dr. John.

This album featured 18 tracks, each with a different set of musicians basically performing jamming sessions on various themes and sometimes cover songs from famous bands such as The Beatles' "Mother Nature's Son" which inadvertently caused a logically nightmare concerning copyrights and other legal wrangling. The sessions were recorded in 1969 but wouldn't find an actually release until 1973 in England on Charisma Records and in the US on Buddha Records as a double-vinyl set. Lake Eerie Records finally rereleased a remastered CD in 2006.

This is basically a show up and let loose set of material here. All these impromptu showcases a diverse set of musicians in the moment with no worries or pressures from record company execs. Given the rather spontaneous nature of the whole thing, these tracks turned out pretty damn good i must admit with particular kudos to Keith Emerson's amazing adaptability to craft keyboard solos around virtually anything. The album is mostly instrumental but a few vocal parts do occur.

Most of the tunes are based on a bluesy rock style with soloing and period organ sounds but Linda Ronstadt offers some country rock tunes which have been universally deemed as sounding out of place and break's the otherwise seamless flow of the album's constant nature. I tend to agree with these although for country rock songs Linda does an amazing job and the musicians are quite competent as well. My favorite tracks are more of the boogie shuffle styled ones such as "Earl's Shuffle" featuring Harvey Mandel on lead guitar and Jimmy Greespoon playing a mean organ while augmented by an excellent slide guitar.

Tracks like "Getting Back To Molly" exemplify the free spirit mood on this release. With a jamming bluesy groove of Eric Clapton on guitar with Dr John joining in as a second guitarist, the baritone vocal deliveries of Earl Down and the backing Free Creeks Singers offer the perfect glimpse into the sounds of an undisclosed bayou in Louisiana as if Parliament, Three Dog Night and Taj Mahal had secretly gotten together to record. There are also rumors that many other artists participated in these sessions but due to legal reasons remained anonymous. Such names that are brandished about in Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan.

Apparently the then 19-year old organist Moogy Klingman provided an interview for the booklet on the reissue recounting the tales of working in these projects. This is certainly one of those albums that gives a glimpse into a less controlled aspect of the music industry for the era it was crafted since by 1969 rock music had become the dominant music form and controlled by the record industry with an iron fist. I wouldn't call this album essential by any means but it is a much more brilliant and pleasing to the ears experience than i expected it to be. Well worth checking out despite the rather ridiculous album cover art of a chained young Tarzan(?) waiting to be consumed by a bird of prey! Definitely one for the anomalous release in the history book!

 Losing Our Virginity: The First 4 Years '73-'77 by VARIOUS ARTISTS (LABEL SAMPLERS) album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
2.10 | 2 ratings

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Losing Our Virginity: The First 4 Years '73-'77
Various Artists (Label Samplers) Various Genres

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Virgin Records was founded in 1972 by [the future millionaire] Richard Branson and three other fellows. The prog oriented label got a wonderful start with the unexpected success of its first release, Tubular Bells (1973) by Mike Oldfield, but it's definitely the challenging musical nature of that seminal album, not the commercial success, that laid the ideological groundwork for Virgin. The first few years embraced far-from-mainstream artists such as German Krautrockers Tangerine Dream, Faust and Can, the psychedelic space rock act Gong and other artists familiar to progheads from the Canterbury scene, plus some even more marginal and unorthodox artists like Ivor Cutler. To cite Paul Sexton's liner notes on this three disc set, "These were the days of unfettered, maverick artistic expression, before the words 'music' and 'business' were superglued together". Like several other prog oriented record labels (Vertigo, Harvest, Charisma, etc.) Virgin truly deserves a retrospective multi-disc compilation to be reviewed on a prog site.

Have to say that absorbing this set (borrowed from library) was not as inspiring as the various artists compilations on a specific retrospective theme can be at their best. Especially on British folk-rock I've come across many highly delightful and educative compilations. Much of the appeal has directly to do with the way the compilation is edited and represented, and in this respect "Losing Our Virginity" is disappointing. What's interesting is the outlining of the background and the birth of the company which "took its baby steps in the business of selling gramophone records via the Royal Mail". But when it comes to representing the music on offer here, the 5-page liner notes leave a lot to be desired. A minus also from the omission of track lengths and album sources. The music samples are put in a chronological order in a month's precision, which I find unnecessary and somewhat problematic for the overall reception. The miserable-looking booklet has 16 pages in total; the diminutive illustration consists of a b/w Mike Oldfield photo and four page-size album covers: Tubular Bells, the V.A. release Manor Live, Steve Hillage's L and Faust's Faust IV, not even very exciting ones from a visual point of view. For example by placing four album covers on one page there would have been 16 of them within the same space.

It is of course obligatory to start the set with Tubular Bells, but since the album is surely familiar to the listener, a 13½-minute excerpt is a useless exaggeration. MIKE OLDFIELD returns on the third disc with the less heard 'First Excursion'. FAUST is represented by 'Krautrock' and 'Giggy Smile', GONG by 'The Pot Head Pixies' and 'I Never Glid Before'. Other artists on CD 1 include STEVE YORK's CAMELO PARDALIS - never heard - , KEVIN COYNE, HENRY COW ('Teenbeat Reprise'), LINK WRAY, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and KLAUS SCHULZE ('Some Velvet Phrasing'). Since the musical styles change very radically between the tracks -- as well as the unmarked track lengths --, one cannot speak of any coherence or consistency in the listening.

CD 2 happens to include several Canterbury artists: ROBERT WYATT ('I'm a Believer', 'Yesterday Man'), HATFIELD AND THE NORTH ('Let's Eat', 'Fitter Stroke Has a Bath') and EGG ('Wring Out the Ground'). Interesting samples from COMUS, DAVID BEDFORD, TOM NEWMAN and others. The lack of album information is a pity really, and especially for the more obscure bands such as MALLARD and BOXER one would wish to have information in an articulate artist by artist approach. The liner notes do speak a little of the represented artists, but not in a user-friendly way. Also, I find the small white font on pale green tiring to read for my middle-aged eyes.

By the time you've arrived to the third CD it also becomes a little frustrating how the same artists keep reappering, and the strictly chronological running order also results as a lack of any coherent flow in music. As a Finn I'm pleased to mention that WIGWAM's 'Freddie Are You Ready' (1975) sounds lovely amidst the less accessible stuff. IVOR CUTLER's 'The Dirty Dinner' is actually a story-reading, not music. The set is finished by two pieces from CAN, 'Silent Knight' and 'Don't Say No', the latter strangely being the only 1977 recording.

So, instead of being a delightful, informative, cultivated, ear & eye opening journey into the colourful output of Virgin's first five years, "Losing Our Virginity" sadly turns out to be a frustrating mess and a missed opportunity.

 Weasels Re-Ripped by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.73 | 2 ratings

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Weasels Re-Ripped
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by DangHeck

4 stars I can no longer recall how this album came to my attention, but I'm glad it did. This is a full-album multiple-artist cover of the great (truly) Avant-Rock album Weasels Ripped My Flesh. That album, released in 1970, following its sister-album Burnt Weeny Sandwich (also 1970), was the final recorded statement by the original lineup of The Mothers of Invention. In addition to Avant-garde stylings mixed with Rock (for a classic and popular example, see "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama"), Weasels was a statement of early Jazz-Rock Fusion and even Free Jazz (see the hilariously named "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue").

Our first two tracks are performed by Spanner Jazz Punks, the opener, "Didja Get Any Onya?" having an immediately very interesting approach to the song. Unique is their utilization of the violin here, as a solo instrument. There are quirky group vocals, very jazzy elements (nearing minute 3, it swings hard, for instance). It is refreshing hearing this track I've heard many times before done in a unique and more modern way. To quote the original Mothers: "MOO-AHHH!" Interestingly enough, it was the spacy reed(?) solo in the latter half and other elements that reminded me here of Gong. And just as I said, Spanner Jazz Punks continue on, violin of course at the ready, with "Directly from My Heart To You". I can't say I'm anywhere remotely a fan of the Blues as Frank was, but with Sugarcane Harris' vocals and especially his Blues violin solo (Who's heard of such a thing?!), "Directly" is one of my favorite Zappa tracks, end of the day. The vocals in this cover are distant and weird, and... my mind is going there once again with Spanner (apparently the vocalist here)... he sounds like Daevid Allen (again, of Gong)! Like... you can't make this up, right? Then again, who knows? Perhaps another notable influence for them. There isn't a wild solo on this one and the overall accompaniment is just par-worthy to me, but there's some interesting ideas and effects that were used here.

Up next is "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" as performed by Inventionis Mater. Very minimal, this song starts off with arpeggiated acoustic guitar and a soft, distant clarinet. It's really quite beautiful, though minimal. Minimal throughout, it picks up and then comes right back down. Two vocalists then perform the ridiculousness to follow. Ya know, all the crazy sh*t Roy Estrada did originally. The homage deepens, as they thank the guest vocalists "for the voices inside the piano". We couldn't have a more rightly stark juxtaposition than in Gumbo Variation's rendition of another favorite of mine, the unspoken Conceptual Continuity of "Toads of the Short Forest". This is quite the cacophony! The lead guitar work is quite nice, performed over the loud, wall-to-wall boom of the rest. The blast dies down around minute 3. We seem to be back into spacy territory on this one, too. Really lovely track, but I was bummed it didn't feature the seemingly Proto-Metal insanity of the original's second half--that a favorite Zappa moment, for sure.

First off, with the next, Jerry Outlaw and Friends' (feat. Todd Grubbs) cover of "Get a Little", I had no idea what in the hell Motorhead was saying at the beginning until now. Oh me, oh my... As for the song, this could almost be a Zoot Allures-era rendition. It's booming and metallic (certainly modernized, in the very least). And then... Evil Dick does "The [aforementioned] Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" and... this sh*t is weird!!!!! Very electronic, and done so in a way that I really feel like Frank would have been honored by it. Some of the underlying rhythms (like in minute 1) are almost trance like. The keyboards play in stride with the mallets (whatever they are). Then we have some... really wildly effected vocals and some... spacy farts? haha. I'm very entertained. What the original Mothers accomplished here was a certain feeling of unsettled, but here, this at times can be downright frightening. Well done.

An even less expected comparison was made in my mind when Fuchsprellen's version of "Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula" came on: Gentle Giant?! Around minute 1 it reveals to be more Zappa- brand maximalism than theirs, but the feeling is definitely there (which I love). Wait! Is that an actual sample of Frank's voice I just heard? They really brought a lot of special out of this composition. And there is a lot to take away from and hear out of this cover. Impressive end product, especially as your ears might latch onto the wild multi-performer soloing at one moment and then onto the underlying bluesy rhythm section the next. I really got brought back to reality on the straight playin' of "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama", an interesting and unique rendition by Muffin Men, the first band (with two others) here I had heard of before. Perhaps this is more inspired by the later bands' plays on the song or performances from alums such as Steve Vai. Hard to say. It's slowed and real cool. One thing though... Are these guys British? If I can say anything at all, I'm not sure I feel this version needed to exist, but, like the others, they did manage to pull interesting elements from the original.

Up next is The Zappatistas' performance of one of the greatest Zappa compositions ever, "Oh No". And right off the bat, totally unlike the original, as a solo and deeply reverberating guitar (performed by the great John Etheridge of Soft Machine Legacy) plays on into oblivion. Piano enters in before minute 1 and the theme is continued on the guitar. I'm surprising myself by saying it, but I could go for more minimal Zappa covers like this. Like a stripped down Guitar Fusion (no wonder). Stripped down, that is, until 3 minutes, where percussion enters in and the piece lifts and quickens to a rhythm more discernibly "Oh No" than before. Man, though... I really could have gone for more of what they had there at the end. Either way... And wow!!! The vocals of "Son of Orange County" (from Roxy and Elsewhere) sung in a classical style over the slower ("original") "Orange County Lumber Truck"! A great song and the version here by Zappa Early Renaissance Orchestra is lively and modern and exciting. I am soooo about this. The drums, I was excited to see, are performed by the excellent Prairie Prince (The Tubes, Journey, Todd Rundgren). Absolutely loved this one. Finally, Zappatika covers the NOISE of our title track, "Weasels Ripped My Flesh". And I honestly love what they chose to do here. Where there was very little to latch onto on the original, they add apparently found-sounds, for instance, to wonderful effect.

I am pleased to report, a very well performed and fresh take on a wonderful album. I think they all did a great job in honoring the man, Frank Vincent Zappa here. And I look forward to digging just a little bit (right now, actually) into some of the bands featured here.

True Rate: 3.75/5.00

 Marscape by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.02 | 39 ratings

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Marscape
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars I am delighted that this album was finally reissued as a CD.

While the album was produced & written by and released under the names of Jack Lancaster and Robin Lumley, it has the distinct sound of Brand X. Actually, this album was recorded in the same studio, and released shortly before Unorthodox Behavior, and is performed by the entire original members of Brand X (Lancaster played on one track on Unorthodox Behavior). Among the remaining band members on this is Morris Pert as well.

So yes, this sounds very much like Brand X, but somewhat moodier. One of the main themes that pop up throughout the album reminds me very much of a theme on one of the later Brand X albums.

The album does a good job of assigning different musical emotions to the staged of traveling to Mars. All of it in the style that we have come to love from Brand X.

And, like a Brand X album, all of the musicianship is spectacular.

I'd say, give it a listen alongside Rick Wakeman's recent album The Red Planet.

 Visions Of An Inner Mounting Apocalypse (Mahavishnu Orchestra) by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 2005
4.60 | 12 ratings

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Visions Of An Inner Mounting Apocalypse (Mahavishnu Orchestra)
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by DangHeck

5 stars Very glad I read up on this so I, too, could be enraged by this false advertising haha. Good God. They really were like, "Oh yeah, the excellent Allan Holdsworth, one of the greatest guitarists of all time, is on this album" and he straight up wasn't... Woof. Fortunately, here is a tribute to Mahavishnu Orchestra (and specifically to John McLaughlin) featuring, still, some of Holdsworth's (and McLaughlin's) peers. Released in 2005, the main band throughout features the impenetrable Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, and I can't think of a better person to also honor both Billy Cobham and Narada Michael Walden; a giant to fill the shoes of fellow giants. Vinnie's consistent bandmates on this effort are Jeff Richman, a notable fusion guitarist in his own right, bassist Kai Eckhardt (associated with McLaughlin, Cobham and Vital Information), and Mitchel Forman (associated with McLaughlin and numerous other Jazz greats, including a feature here, Mr. Mike Stern... and Wayne Shorter!). And from song to song there are some phenomenal features, some of the most notable and greatest guitarists of Jazz Fusion (and other Rock idioms--interestingly specifically from Jam bands) as well as Mahavishnu violinist Jerry Goodman on 4 of the 10 tracks. So exciting. Couldn't miss this one.

Our first track is the forever Fusion classic "Birds of Fire" with Steve Lukather... And from the start... this is, indeed, fire. Lukather is of course the guitarist of Toto, likely understating his outstanding ability and expertise on the instrument for those unaware. This track is, unsurprisingly, a refreshingly modern Guitar Fusion take on the original; blazing, beefy and excellent. Crazy good drum solo over the main underlying riff from Vinnie... yeesh... Followed by another low blaze from Forman on synth. Oh f*ck! Goodman's solo to start off "Can't Stand Your Funk"... What am I supposed to say?... This is a much groovier rendition (yes, slinky as hell haha), so therefore, being an excellent song anyways, super fresh! Even still, as to be expected, Goodman's second solo, if you wouldn't have known, straight up sounds like a guitar... Honestly though, Mike Stern, the guitar feature here, plays what I feel is frequently less than inspired...

A much more metal, well-rounded guitarist is up next on "Celestial Terrestrial Commuters", Dixie Dregs' Steve Morse. This is another funkier rendition compared to the original. The whole rhythm section (of course) is just... crazy haha. Of course, blazing soloing from Morse here. The second half is more of a blues thang, with laxed rhythm and widened organ. Super cool syncopated playing toward the end! Very nice! Super spacy on this version of "Meeting of the Spirits", this'n featuring Jimmy Herring, whom I know (yet don't quite know) from Southern-Fusion Jam giants Widespread Panic. He plays an impassioned solo here... like... wow... I must check out his solo stuff (and... whatever else!). Always great, as McLaughlin did originally on this one, when performers bring out the absolute potential of something that would be otherwise slow and merely feeling. Another one where Vinnie, even in quietness, is just on fire. And then this Hammer-worthy, though super-effected solo from keyboardist Forman! Everyone is matching his energy perfectly during this section... My word...

"Jazz" is actually the first track that I was utterly unfamiliar with, released on the significantly later album Mahavishnu (1984), which originally featured our keyboardist here, Mr. Forman (worth a mention every time) alongside Cobham and the great Jonas Hellborg. This is more explictly a track to more prominently feature the main band member here, guitarist Jeff Richman. Great performance all 'round. Back into exceeding prominence with Frank Gambale on "Dawn". Super upbeat intro here, they get right down to business. And here we have Goodman's next feature (what an awesome opportunity to perform these tracks again afresh). And it's here I must say, excited to dig deeper into Gambale's material. I know very little still. He and Jerry are such a great match. And also here, another opportunity to the rhythm section to shine bright over something low, slow and sweet. Then we're in for the groove and of course more soloing on the backend (freakish soloing). How could I forget?! God, Mahavishnu was something so special.

Next we have "Lila's Dance" featuring latter-day Allman Brothers' Band and Gov't Mule's own Warren Haynes (our second prominently Jam feature). Such a beautiful song, I always wish Visions of the Emerald Beyond didn't feel so unsung. Love it. I find this Goodman feature super interesting as for that album it was the equally untouchable Jean-Luc Ponty on violin originally [I believe this is one of 3 tracks with Goodman playing what were Ponty-features]. This track is... perfect for Haynes. Soulful, feeling and groovy. And yet another honor for him, I'm sure, to play alongside Vinnie and Jerry. I can't imagine it. Excellent performance, excellent soloing. One of the first tracks that feels super true to the original. "Faith" is a little less true, and yet just as great [if not more], a feature of guitarist David Fiuczynski, one of the youngest performers here, of Screaming Headless Torsos and Hasidic New Wave. I'll be rectifying my ignorance thereof as soon as possible, as this guy is incredible. I mean, this is what I think of when I think 'Guitar Fusion'. Contemporary of guys like Garsed and Helmerich. Excellent, excellent rendition. Everyone is bringing their A(+++) game. One of the many absolute must-hears here.

Coming to the close of the album, Greg Howe is ablaze on "Dance of Maya", and good Lord!!! He is matched with Goodman on his final feature of the album... Again, goodness gracious... These guys... One of the most prominent featurings of bassist Kai Eckhardt. Greg Howe is yet another of the now-great younger players here. Fantastic stuff. To close things out, we have one of my favorite guitarists ever, John Abercombie on "Follow Your Heart", the second track I [thought I] didn't know before. It was originally released in 1970 off the excellent must-hear Jazz release Joe Farrell Quartet, also featuring Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette! If you're a fan of Mahavishnu, and you somehow don't know Abercrombie, highly recommend his debut Timeless, featuring Jan Hammer(!) and DeJohnette (1975), the first Gateway album (1976), Crosswinds (Billy Cobham, 1974), and Lookout Farm (Dave Liebman, 1974) for some of the greatest (earlier) Fusion albums ever. Anyways, a grooving, feeling song to end things out. Phenomenal tribute.

A rare, but more legitimate round-up from my True Rate of 4.5/5.0. [I believe I calculated it as ~4.65.]

 Leader of the Starry Skies: A Tribute to Tim Smith, Songbook 1 by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 2010
4.35 | 16 ratings

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Leader of the Starry Skies: A Tribute to Tim Smith, Songbook 1
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by DangHeck

3 stars I'll come right out and say it, and prepare for the flak. The Cardiacs are a band I'm excited to continue to delve into, but I still have an elementary, basic understanding of who they are and what exactly they do. But here I am, delving into their music, specifically in tribute to their frontman, Tim Smith. As slowly as I've delved into this iconic group, it's not like I'm delving any slower than with most any other band or artist haha. Even more timely, 10 years after this album's release, Smith has unfortunately passed away, in 2020, at 59.

The album opens with "Savour" as performed by Smith's Cardiacs bandmate William D. Drake, a sort of psychedelic, even Baroque number. This is certainly grand. Next is Ultrasound's performance of Big Ship" , a big sound, fit for a Britpop band, actually. Super quirk, with horns and interesting synths. And this track in and of itself makes sense of specifically Andy Partridge's later feature [You'll see, too, though, that Partridge's feature makes less sense than what I'm making it out to be here...]. Then we have Psychedelic band Oceansize's take on "Fear", which is such a great song. Grandiose and memorable.

"Let Alone My Plastic Doll", here performed by another fellow Cardiac, Mark Cawthra, is another big song. Next is the rhythmically alluring "Day Is Gone" as performed by The Trudy, a female-fronted Post-Punk group founded(?) by The Cardiacs' drummer Peter Tagg. This is starkly juxtaposed by the soft, balladic "Founding" performed by Stars in Battledress. My mind honestly immediately goes to early GG, like something penned by the great Kerry Minnear. Another stark juxtaposing is the wild, if not unhinged (if not Zappa-esque, though innately Bri'ish) "WIll Bleed Amen" as performed by Max Tundra and Sarah Measures (the latter apparently of The Monsoon Bassoon). So fun. Definitely going to be checking Tundra out.

Then we have the much more minimal (not a difficult task) and ethereal "Shaping the River", performed by Julianne Regan. Then we have the seemingly great-purposefully RIO Knifeworld (though identified generally as Crossover Prog here) performing the ever-quirky "The Stench of Honey"! Next is the at first very very minimal "A Little Man and a House", performed by The Magic Numbers, it then shifts to a very... highlands-like lilting waltz. One of my least favorites. Then Mikrokosmos covered "Is This the Life", a large, noisy number with scurrying and buzzing synths. Sort of Industrial?

Next is "March" as performed by North Sea Radio Orchestra, a modern Chamber band. Quirky, but classically poised, of course. Then is the Andy Partridge feature on Robert White's rendition of "Lilly White's Party". Am I an idiot? I can't find out who White is or what he's known for... This'n's super minimal, creeping yet optimistic. Not at all the type of song that I expected from Partridge. Very seldom do we hear this sort of quietness from him... Interesting. The creep really is the draw to the song. Relatively static and yet offering much in texture.

Then it's "Wind and Rains is Cold", performed by Rose Kemp Vs Rarg... Interesting... No clue... This song is industrial as well. Very electronic-forward. Almost reminds me of PC Music or the harshest of Hyperpop (like Sophie).... What the hell... Is someone in my house?! haha. Anyways, Sophie is better. Listen to her haha. More minimal Gothic Rock representation [I just realized I didn't mention the other artist that fits this bill, though I don't feel like going back and figuring that out... Sorry?] is in the form of Katherine Blake's "Up in Annie's Room"... Not sure what to say on it.

Next we have "Stoneage Dinosaurs" [Why is that a single word?...] as performed by probably the most recognizable name of the whole lot, Steven Wilson. Super minimal as well. It was pretty anyways... And finally "Home of Fadeless Splendour" was performed by The Scaramanga Six, an Art-Alternative... Rockabilly band?! haha. Huge song! Pretty great track to end it all off, really. To sum it up, the strengths of this tribute can be found largely in the front half.

 Encomium - A Tribute To Led Zeppelin by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.44 | 16 ratings

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Encomium - A Tribute To Led Zeppelin
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by DangHeck

3 stars When I saw here that there was a very-90s tribute album to the late, great Led Zeppelin, I just had to hear it and know. I almost didn't care if it was good or bad--it seems here, thus far, the consensus is mixed (there is no consensus). This is no slight of hand on Atlantic's part by compiling these cover songs by these very disparate and mostly quite famous bands/artists. I simply say, "Well, played". For those who somehow did not grow up, as I did, with the pleasure of spinning (and flipping) these original vinyl records by Zep, the circular paper label on the disc always read "ATLANTIC" over their classic green and orange. I'll get into the details henceforth, but brought together are artists from (mostly) Alternative/College Radio Rock (4 Non Blondes, Hootie & The Blowfish, Sheryl Crow, STP and Blind Melon) to other such poppy staples of the time (Duran Duran and Tori Amos, if I may separate them) to brutal, then-watershed fusion groups (Helmet, David Yow of the Jesus Lizard, and Rollins Band). Awesome in and of itself that Tori Amos's feature, the final track, is a duet with Led Zeppelin's own frontman, Robert Plant.

The 4 Non Blondes [Oops! the bassist is platinum-headed...] makes an immediate call-back to another off the same album, the intro to "Black Dog", on their cover of "Misty Mountain Hop". And honestly, I think they pretty much crushed this song. There are so many things that are expectedly over the top (vocally), and yet... we're talkin' about something Robert Plant originally did here... haha. The official music video for this version is available on YouTube and it's very worth checking out.

Next, Hootie & The Blowfish are doin' it expectedly Country on "Hey Hey What Can I Do", the B-side to "Immigrant Song" which I have never heard before. Thought I'd know it. It's... fine. Kinda not fine haha.

Next from half-Country, we have "D'yer Mak'er" as performed by Sheryl Crow, who I admittedly have a soft spot for for some of her hits back when. This is pretty straight-ahead and true to it, were it not basically an 'unplugged' version. Not sure it really offers up anything new, though that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Next, we have the less-surprisingly half-unplugged "Dancing Days" by a band I definitely do like, Stone Temple Pilots, this cover since appearing on their 2019 remastered 'Super Deluxe' Purple (originally 1994). I think they sound great, but I'm sure we're going to run into the problem of 'new' and interesting throughout this, aren't we?

From the biggest songs in their discography, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, a band I'm really ignorant of, does a soft Alt thing. But also... bluesy Southern Rock? Anyway, first taste of their stuff brought Gin Blossoms to mind... Take that as you will, but "Tangerine" seems like a logical match, really, on paper and, yes, in practice. Lotta country-adjacent stuff on this album, which I find more surprising than I should feel. Certainly Led Zeppelin's historied adjacency to folk traditions in the least should clue me in that this all makes some sense.

I would think most famous for their early-80s Synth-Pop/New Wave output and hits like "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Rio" and "Girls on Film", Duran Duran actually (and not really surprisingly) very nicely covers the beautiful "Thank You" (off my favorite Zeppelin album, Led Zeppelin II, 1969). What's not surprising is that this would have come out/been recorded just after their superhit from the early '90s, "Ordinary World", which is itself a beautiful and lush song.

Blind Melon heads off most confidently and strong on their cover of "Out on the Tiles", a sure highlight from Led Zeppelin III. It's such a great cover, honestly. Super heavy, true to the original, and yet not uncharacteristic of the post-Grunge world in which we found ourselves when this album was released. A world in which bands like Blind Melon thrived.

Cracker, to those whose name-recognition software is on the fritz as mine was, are known for their superhit "Low", but... I don't know what else. Ya know the one: "A million miles, a million miles / I'll be with you girl / Like being low / Hey, hey, hey like being stoned", etc. You know it. They cover here the delicious proto-Metal opener from Led Zeppelin's debut, "Good Times Bad Times". Instrumentally, it's good, not necessarily fresh, and unfortunately the vocals are lackluster. Another that doesn't offer much 'new'... Decent rehashing, at best.

Next is one I was quite excited for, "Custard Pie" performed by Helmet (In The Meantime is honestly one of my favorite albums, a must-hear for fans of Alt Metal) and Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow. I'm far less familiar with the latter, but he's a weirdly good match. He has an interesting, nearly atonal vocal delivery. Helmet on the other hand is just a phenomenal collective of musicians (I saw them live in 2014 for a birthday of mine and it was seriously one of the best shows I've seen). Good stuff; vocally an acquired taste.

Another favorite, for their one album alone, The End of Silence (1992), Rollins Band (fronted by Henry of the same surname, of course) are the other Alt Metal representatives. They cover the classic "Four Sticks" and I think they offer a lot on this one, not that I'm surprised. These guys can play, and if you're not familiar with their early-90s output, highly recommended. Bluesy, at times jazzy, always brutal, always well done.

I guess to be expected, but the female-led Never The Bride is one I've never heard a lick from (until just before this). Is this what the kids call 'Adult Contemporary'? hahaha! Actually some wild classical guitar soloing on their song "Web of a Stranger" from a 2019 album. Here, they perform the lovely "Going to California", this time a sort of piano ballad. This lady sounds like... she could easily front a Hair Metal band, so... Hmmm. Regardless, pretty good.

Finally, we have the sort of cowboy "Down by the Seaside" as performed by Robert Plant and Tori Amos. I think, once again, on paper and (mostly) in practice, they're a natural fit. The verse sections feature lead vox from Robert with a sort of oddly placed call-and-response from Tori. Unsurprisingly, piano-led. The drums are very of the time, in the best of ways. Unplugged-ready! haha. A lot easier on the ears is Tori's lead vocals in the middle section. I'm quite a fan of her album Under the Pink from 1994. Oft minimal but complex. Lotta earworms.

Wow... this was a long review haha. Surprised to be giving it a 3, given how it started off... i.e. a strong enough ending, for sure.

 Giant for Another Hour: More Music Inspired by and in Tribute to Gentle Giant by VARIOUS ARTISTS (TRIBUTES) album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.00 | 2 ratings

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Giant for Another Hour: More Music Inspired by and in Tribute to Gentle Giant
Various Artists (Tributes) Various Genres

Review by DangHeck

3 stars Right off, a helluva way to be introduced to a well-established internet community of Gentle Giant fans! This album was compiled and released by GORGG, Global On-Reflection Giant Gathering. On first glance, I'd guess they were formed in 1999. This is the second Giant For An Hour, as the title of this suggests. Not a tribute, as I usually think them (cover songs), but a tribute in diligent, reflective reference and likeness (at least most of the time). As I made note of recently, this is, I tend to agree, the greatest form of flattery: and no surprise that a group devoted to celebrating GG would do so (again, for the most part) respectfully.

"Let Truth Reveal The Beast" no doubt has GG in the bones (maybe most like Free Hand era?), as you'd hope, but Helena Josefsson here honestly sounds like a singer-songwriter in the post-Alanis age (a compliment, for me). Certainly, of course, this is 2006; modern sounds and production. The soft, glassy synth around 1:30 is quite nice. And so are the melodies.

"As Young As I'm Old" is very well done. More the "troubadour" style of earlier GG. Ultimately, a great song. Next is the beautiful, flowing "Eternal River", an acoustic instrumental with bright guitars thanks to Glenn Liljeblad.

They "honor the music of the boys in the band" on the quieted, personal "Come To My Land", another near-acoustic number, this time led by Tomas Stark and piano-forward. Nice guitar solo here--this is really where the Giant shines herein. "Giantique Quartet" is the first of four "Giantique" minute-ish interludes throughout the album, each performed by Dan Bornemark. This track gives way to the sort of jazzy/fusiony "Look Out John", performed by Joe Brozio [like Pat Metheny? haha]. Certainly well performed and tasteful; to my ears, though, only occasionally Giant-esque. Certainly, still, a highlight to me so far.

Ant Bowles' "The Blitz", the second longest track at over 7 minutes, starts off creeping and spacy. It features a synth lead melody and Eastern percussion. The guitar is a little shaky, in my opinion. The vocals aren't a whole lot better (sorry). A low-light unfortunately. Charmed by the sampling on its bookends, if anything. Apparently Ant is a homebrewer and has some very cool looking beer labels that are available for viewing on the GORGG website.

Right off, the first and only glimpse into the band Dionysus, "Randy Searches", is a very convincingly Giant-esque number. But it also has some other somethings to offer sonically. Certainly fits the bill with the mid-70s era of Eclectic Prog at large. This is starkly juxtaposed by the dark and moody "November Twisted". It rises and falls. More synths herein. The next interlude is "Giantique For A Day", striking me most immediately as innately Post-Progressive and not necessarily Giant-esque at all. It gives way to another acoustic number, "Fragile Hearts", like a darker "Classical Gas" [I mean, maybe if it were just the guitar] or something?

Riding right along, we have the upbeat "Adventures in Syncopia", performed by Tomas Stark. In Gentle Giant fashion, the instrumentation rolls over and over, instrument on top of instrument. But as is to be expected, yet another track that, sure, fits the bill of our expectations, but in modernity. The Moog solo is great. Where it's at, though, is the soaring guitar solo for me. Especially the bits after the solo, it strikes me as video game-ready. "Giantique Giant" to follow is a pretty cool track, definitely the better of the interludes.

Glenn Liljeblad brings it back around on "House In November", a short, feeling number with acoustic guitar and twirling lead electric guitars. In stark juxtaposition is the next, "East And West", with wild, crashing percussion, once again leading to something overtly Eastern in nature. And then this bass comes in and it sounds like Jaco?! Around 2 minutes, this creepy sort of circus bit comes in and... immediately falls away and is replaced with lovely acoustic guitar. A better track than expected.

What follows is a very dark, very... modern interlude, "Sarcastic Iconoclasts", dark and dissonant. Not exactly in a super great way, though... In stark contrast is the quieted "The Prince and the Fox". It's eventually triumphant in a docile(?) sort of way. At 9 minutes, it's unfortunately rather static. It does build fairly nicely toward minute 7. But for what?

Next is "From the Bottom of My Shoes", another more modern number... I just don't feel a lot for these tracks unfortunately. I'd rather suggest Michael P. Dawson for something a little more fresh and interesting in this vein. It's not until minute 3 that something of interest happens. It's chaotic, for sure, and I guess, in some way, a bit like GG, but... for worse, that was nowhere near my first thought. Maybe go listen to Jazz From Hell instead?...

As the name implies, "Giantique Aspire" actually references "Aspirations"! That was a nice little treat, especially after the disappointing prior 3 tracks. It is followed by our closer, "A Farewell", a soft, acoustic number, with what sounds like mandolin. Also one of the few tracks with vocals on the whole album. It's... alright in this department. And that's it.

Very much worth checking out for fans of Gentle Giant, for sure, but also for fans of, as mentioned above, their contemporaries in the 'Eclectic Prog' movement. But this goes for... fortunately... the most part, as there's plenty of weird additions/choices throughout. The worst offenders were either very poor representations of what GG accomplished and therefore grating or just plain bad and uninteresting (again, not a characteristic of GG at their oft best).

 Peter And The Wolf by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.65 | 76 ratings

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Peter And The Wolf
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars You just gotta love the wild 1970s for all the musical experiments, most of which went absolutely nowhere at the time but are now available for all to sample. Not only did we get some of the best music from multiple genres that more than stands the test of time but the decade also produced a large number of crazy releases such as this various artists album that featured prog rock adaptations of Sergei Prokofiev's classical score PETER AND THE WOLF!

Prokofiev's orchestral children's story was once very popular with schoolchildren and recounts a young boy named Peter and his animal friends who spent a day by his grandfather's pond when a wolf attacks him however Peter outsmarts the wolf with the help of his cunning bird friend and captures the wolf which ultimately ended up in a zoo. The music is roughly based on the original score but mostly is interpreted in a funky jazz-fusion style of progressive rock.

This 1975 release featured a prog rock interpretation of this tale with an amazing all start cast that included Jack Lancaster, Bill Bruford, Gary Brooker, Julie Tippett, Keith Tippett, Stephane Grappelli, Brian Eno, Alvin Lee, Gary Moore, Cozy Powell and Manfred Man amongst others. The album is probably most famous for featuring all the members of what would become the first lineup of Brand X which included Phil Collins, John Goodsall, Percy Jones, Jack Lancaster and Robert Lumley.

Due to the narration parts of Viv Stanshall which loosely recounts the tale in spoken words and then interpreted by the musicians, the album was released in several languages therefore in Germany the album was released as "Peter und der Wolf," in France "Pierre et le Loup," etc. The album very much comes off as some sort of rock opera with most tracks sounding like the early formations of Brand X only in an easier to digest funk fueled style of jazz-fusion in the vein of Herbie Hancock's "Headhunter" however a few tracks are more of their original classical styled presentation. "Rock and Roll Celebration" is very much the standout and sounds more like an Electric Light Orchestra tune in the vein of the early years such as "Ma-Ma-Ma Belle."

While an interesting quirk of the gift that never stops giving 1970s, in the end this version of PETER AND THE WOLF is a pleasant little album that features some top notch musicians delivering the goods but also doesn't feel like it reaches it potential. In other words this is an idea that is loftier than its final results. While not bad in any way, it just feels like the album should've been crafted better.

To my ears the whole thing sounds a bit monotonous and i'm not sure why funky jazz-rock was deemed the appropriate musical style to convey the story since it is not nearly as all-encompassing on the emotional spectrum as the traditional classical score. While hardly something to shell out large amounts of money which may be tempting since the original vinyl featured a 12-page illustrated booklet with the story text, from a musical point of view this comes off as competent and engaging but rather incomplete at the same time.

The Cast: - Narrator / Vivian Stnshall - Peter / Manfred Mann - Bird / Gary Brooker - Duck / Chris Spedding - Duck / Gary Moore - Cat / Stephane Grappelli - Wolf / Brian Eno - Pond / Keith Tippett - Grandfather / Jack Lancaster - Hunters / Jon Hiseman, Bill Bruford, Cozy Powell, Phil Collins Additional Musicians: - John Goodsall, Pete Haywood, Alvin Lee / guitars - Percy Jones, Andy Pyle, Dave Marquee / bass - Robin Lumley / keyboards - Cozy Powell & Phil Collins / drums - Bernie Frost, Julie Tippetts, The English Chorale / vocals

3.5 rounded down

 Excalibur V: Move, Cry Act, Clash! by VARIOUS ARTISTS (CONCEPT ALBUMS & THEMED COMPILATIONS) album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Excalibur V: Move, Cry Act, Clash!
Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) Various Genres

Review by alainPP

4 stars ALAN SIMON is releasing his 5th chapter here on Excalibur, 20 years after his first. Ah, I forgot to present to you this touch to everything which also militates for the respect of the planet and which gives texts targeted and committed on it; surrounded by Steve Hackett, John Helliwell and Jesse Siedenberg, Martin Barre, Jeremy Spencer, Michael Sadler, Roberto Tiranti, Jerry Goodman as well as the singers Shira Golan and Miriam Toukan and the late John Wetton he launches 12 manifest titles of an opera-rock Celtic to make swallowing the pill a little easier? Alan SIMON whom I have followed since 2007 for the innovative Celtic side, where does he take us there?

"Move, Cry, Act, Clash" shouting title, distress call on a news-TV intro about the end of our planet's life, global warming in the sights; a punchy track comes in, a voice, a rising tune like the surf of the waves at the edge of the cliff, nervous, aggressive with Martin's guitar. "The Prisoner" metal riff of the end of the world, kind of arrival before the Lord to know where we are going to be able to go; AYREON-style title made for rock opera, viscous guitar behind on DEEP PURPLE, it is more the emotion released than the musical rhythm that takes effect with the melancholy Jerry Goodman violin. "The Last Bird" and immediate stop! Yes I have to tell you that I have been a fan of SAGA since their beginnings, so listening to Michael is always a magical moment for me; I feel like I hear her 80s voice,he must rejuvenate the bugger with his sensual voice; ballad embellished with the cry of the bird until the end, delicate acoustic guitar for a dark tune from which the light can still appear. "Messaline" landed folk rock, Irish ballad suddenly reminding me of KANSAS, hold a title of IRON MAIDEN for the intro; yes they also started to prog metal on their last one. In short, the warrior guitar solo potentiates even more the Celtic aspect with violins in order of battle weighting the voice of dramatic bernie shaw. "I Said Shout" in the sequel, nervous, on a title of musical comedy 'Shaft' for the imposing choirs, short rhythmic folk-rock of BOF genre 'Starsky & Hutch'. "Heaven" on an acoustic basis and the presence of Martin BARRE for an absolutely brilliant vintage moment, the notes,the agreement melts the speakers on a typical 80's heavy metal prog sound; any resemblance to 'Stairway To Heaven' can only be made on purpose.

"The Lady of the Lake" begins from the 2nd side, I like to cut the albums: blues here relaxing the atmosphere, thundering vocals, groovy choirs, sax by John Helliwell for a cheerful restful track. "When Your Feelings Grow" heartbeat, horse cry, titanic bass in 80's PINK FLOYD style; it's rhythmic, the violins add to it, the sensual choirs too; sometimes I say to myself like ALAN PARSONS just like that. "Wake Up (Before the Last War)" still PINK FLOYD era 'Division Bell', the sax which makes jump the hairs, Roberto Tiranti gives with his airy voice to give in the introspective, Celtic fund which returns in the station wagon; moment of caution with this crystalline piano just destroyed by the dark, deafening finale, the baby being unable to do anything about it."Hey" which I let you find the similar air going to see on the side of "Silent Hill" for example, psychedelic; Roberto Tiranti uses his soft voice to melt us, the sax of course adds a layer until the end. "A Brand New Day" folk and world music filled with hope with Shira Golan and Miriam Toukan, Palestine and Israel united, language in Hebrew, Arabic and English with Michael in the background for a dreamlike musical intensity and the Génésisien solo of Steve; back to noisy life. "The Vision" slide guitar à la 'Paris, Texas', John Wetton, tribute song covering 'De l'Autre Côté' with a Celtic and intimate tone."A Brand New Day" folk and world music filled with hope with Shira Golan and Miriam Toukan, Palestine and Israel united, language in Hebrew, Arabic and English with Michael in the background for a dreamlike musical intensity and the Génésisien solo of Steve; back to noisy life. "The Vision" slide guitar à la 'Paris, Texas', John Wetton, tribute song covering 'De l'Autre Côté' with a Celtic and intimate tone."A Brand New Day" folk and world music filled with hope with Shira Golan and Miriam Toukan, Palestine and Israel united, language in Hebrew, Arabic and English with Michael in the background for a dreamlike musical intensity and the Génésisien solo of Steve; back to noisy life. "The Vision" slide guitar à la 'Paris, Texas', John Wetton, tribute song covering 'De l'Autre Côté' with a Celtic and intimate tone.

ALAN SIMON took 3 years to release this militant album where the titles are very varied, well the covid has also been there: on a pop-rock, rock, Celtic, intimate variation, with symphonic arrangements bringing haunting heat to travel safely. At the moment when he withdraws a little from this world too crazy, unhealthy, there remains this message to be shared around a round table to discuss with these famous musical knights performers; an album which increases in creative power as the said album progresses, going from the 70's to the 80's then 90's for a timeless hymn. An album made to actively reflect on a future with hope: Move, cry, act, face!

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