Monday, July 11, 2022

Top Albums of the Year 1992: Masterpieces and More

Though Prog Is Alive and Well in the 21st Century, I have decided to go back and "fill in" the years upon which the 21st Century is built--and not just the "classic" years of 1967-76. Each year will be given its own page, containing reviews of the albums I determine are worthy of recognition (both positive and negative). As usual, these pages will be works in progress, to which I'll be adding information as it comes my way.

My Favorite Albums of 1992:
1. SADE Love Deluxe
2. PAT METHENY Secret Story
3. AFTER CRYING Megalázottak é Megszomorítottak
4. SWING OUT SISTER Get In Touch With Yourself
5. LUKA BLOOM The Acoustic Motorbike
6. OPUS III Mind Fruit
7. ECHOLYN Suffocating the Bloom
8. K.D. LANG Ingénue
9. PAUL WELLER Paul Weller
10. MONTEFELTRO Il Tempo di Far la Fantasia

11. TORIO AMOS Little Earthquakes 
11. THE CHURCH Priest=Aura
12. IONA The Book of Kells
14. ÄNGLAGÅRD Hybris
15. PSYCHOTIC WALTZ Into The Everflow
16. DREAM THEATER Images and Words
18. LUSH Spooky
20. THE CURE Wish

Honorable Mentions:
MONTEFELTRO Il Tempo di Far la Fantasia

Five Star Prog Masterpieces 
(Ratings of 100 to 93.34) 


The Minor Masterpieces
(Ratings of 93.33 to 90.0)

1. PAT METHENY Secret Story 

After years of composing and performing through the PAT METHENY GROUP and many collaborations (Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Ornette Coleman, Gary Burton, Lyle Mays), Pat goes out on his own. Though he's still using some of his steady friends to help complete his vision (Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, Paul Wertico, Nana Vasconcelos, Charlie Haden, Danny Gottlieb, Will Lee, Mark Ledford, and Armando Marcal), many times he completes all or most of a song's parts on his own. And then, of course, there is the amazing collaboration with Jeremy Lubbock and the London Symphony Orchestra. Absolutely stunning. 
     World music (themes from Cambodia, Japan, Italy, and other folk traditions are present),  more straightforward jazz pieces, solo guitar with the accompaniment of only The London Symphony Orchestra, and some songs that definitely belong in the prog pantheon of greats--especially the epic "The Truth Will Always Be" (9:16) (21/20) which is the best song of 1992 and probably my favorite Metheny song of all-time--certainly housing the most emotional electric guitar work I've ever heard from him (and Pat Metheny is, in my opinion, a master of conveying emotion through his very technical, cerebral guitar playing and synth-guitar sounds). If there is only one Pat Metheny album that you ever try (and with all the wonderful songs available in the Metheny repertoire, this would be a true shame), I would recommend that it be this one.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Pat Metheny / electric, synth & acoustic guitars, electric sitar (4,7), keyboards, acoustic (4,5,10,11) & electric (6,8,9) pianos, Synclavier, electric percussion (3,4,7,12), keyboard bass (3), horns arrangements (9), arranger & co-producer
- Mark Ledford / vocals (3,4)
- Akiko Yano / vocals (10)
- Gil Goldstein / piano (7,9), accordion (4,7,9), horns conductor (9)
- Lyle Mays / piano (2,6)
- Skaila Kanga / harp (13)
- Toots Thielemans / harmonica (8,11)
- Ryan Kisor / trumpet & flugelhorn (9)
- Mike Metheny / trumpet & flugelhorn (9)
- Michael Mossman / trumpet & flugelhorn (9)
- David Taylor / bass trombone (9)
- Tom "Bones" Malone / trombone (9)
- Dave Bargeron / trombone & tuba (9)
- John Clark / French horn (9)
- Andrew Findon / flute (7)
- Charlie Haden / acoustic bass (1,8)
- Steve Rodby / electric & acoustic basses (4-7,9,11), co-producer
- Will Lee / electric bass (4,6,12)
- Anthony Jackson / 6-string contrabass guitar (9)
- Steve Ferrone / drums (3-5,12)
- Paul Wertico / drums (4,5,7-9,11)
- Sammy Merendino / drums (6)
- Danny Gottlieb / cymball roll (3,11)
- Armando Marçal / percussion (1-7,9,12)
- Naná Vasconcelos / percussion (1,4,5,10-12), vocals (11)
- The London Orchestra
- Jeremy Lubbock / orchestra conductor & arranger
- Gavyn Wright / orchestra leader & concertmaster
- The Pinpeat Orchestra of the Cambodian Royal Ballet (1)
- The Choir of the Cambodian Royal Palace / chorus vocals (1)

1. "Above the Treetops" (2:43) begins with a Cambodian choir singing a traditional hymn while accompanied by the London Orchestra and some percussion and bass from Nana Vasconcelos and Charlie Haden, respectively. Eventually Pat voices some of his appreciation with his beautiful acoustic guitar play. (10/10) 

2. "Facing West" (6:05) feels like an older 'Group' song, with familiar structures and sounds--not unlike anything from their 8 recordings from the 1980s. Good song but nothing new or innovative. (7.75/10)

3. "Cathedral in a Suitcase" (4:52) is most interesting for its lack of drums and Minimalist background structure with orchestral accompaniment. A song that unfolds slowly and with many subtleties and surprises (like the playground voices in the third minute joined by a wailing electric guitar screaming in the far background followed and interrupted by an orchestral crescendo). Very cool song for those who like to listen, really listen. (9/10)

4. "Finding and Believing" (10:00) is a three-part song that starts with a weave of some very unusual percussive sounds before steady rhythm section backbeat establishes itself so that some very tribal singing/screaming and chanting can take the lead (credited to and supposedly by New Yorker, white man, Mark Ledford). Part 2 begins at the 3:48 mark with some hand percussives continuing to hold the beat while Jeremy Lubbock's orchestra plays around as if on a movie soundtrack or 1970s jazz fusion interlude. At 6:48 Pat's piano ushers in the rest of the jazz combo and more though very different African-sounding tribal vocals/chants. At 8:15 Pat's smooth electric guitar takes over to play out in a trademark solo over the upbeat, beautiful rhythm structure. Awesome world music. (18.5/20)

5. "The Longest Summer" (6:34) begins with Pat on gentle piano and Steve Rodby playing his cool bass. At 1:26 everything shifts into one of the coolest beackbeats over which Pat delivers one heck of an emotional guitar solo with one of my favorite solo instrumental sounds in all of musica guitar synthesizer that sounds much like a 'piccolo trumpet,' if there was such a thing. Then, at 3:15, everything quiets back down to piano and orchestra, repeating much of the songs first part before falling back into the amazing rhythm and 'piccolo trumpet' soloing at the 5:12 mark, this time with wonderful augmentation by the London Orchestra till fade. Awesome song! (10/10)

6. "Sunlight" (3:53) is a very light-hearted, upbeat song--providing quite a break from emotional journey of the last two or three songs. Nothing really new or Earth-shattering; very melodic and straightforward--almost Burt Bacharach-like. (8.5/10)

7. "Rain River" (7:09) brings us back into the emotional heaviness of the third world with many ethnic-sounding instruments and sounds, lots of stress on the percussion play. Smooth/Wes Montgomery guitar soloing begins around the 2:45 mark. (13/15)

8. "Always and Forever" (5:26) is a mellow, deeply reflective/introspective song in which Pat's carefully chosen lead guitar notes are accompanied mostly by a kind of Claus Ogerman-type of instrument arrangement using double bass, brushed drums & orchestra. Very beautiful and mellow. (9/10)

9. "See the World" (4:48) is not unlike "Sunlight" in its brightness but is much more complex in terms of its arrangement and time signatures. This is jazz. I love the horns, chorded piano, and Paul Wertico's drumming (cymbol play) is, as always, virtuosic. This song, again, has a lot in common with more of the standard 'Group' sounds and arrangements--and complexity--and stands up as as beautiful a song as 'the Group' has ever done. (9/10)

10. "As a Flower Blossoms" (1:53) is another song that seems to be borrowing from world/ethnic sounds and melody lines, but is really just a little piano/orchestra interlude before one of the album's showcase songs. (4.25/5)

11. "Antonia" (6:11) begins with Pat's oft-used Synclavier accordian sound slowly introducing his themes and moods. Before long his melody line is mirrored and harmonized by other guitars and synths. I love the shift to finger-snappin tempo at the 2:54 mark, and the beautiful, emotional and powerful guitar solo that follows before the 4:20 slow down for a gorgeous ending. Beautiful song. (9/10)

12. "The Truth Will Always Be" (9:15) is simply one of the best Post Rock/Math Rock progressive rock songs I've ever heard and, I often muse, perhaps the first of that sub-genre. IMHO, this is Metheny's finest hour as both a composer and a guitar soloist. The song builds and builds with Steve Ferrone's military drumming gathering strength, slowly moving to the foreground before it blasts us away with sounds on a par with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture's cannon shots--all this to set up your goosebumps to be totally blown away by Pat's soaring, screaming, ripping, tearing, gut-wrenching 'piccolo trumpet' guitar soloing above the din! WOW! Who said "Comfortably Numb" or "Firth of Fifth" has the greatest guitar solo in history? I beg to differ! It's here! Check it out! (21/20)

13. "Tell Her You Saw Me" (5:11) How do you follow the most gut-wrenching song of all time? With one of the most mellow, beautiful songs ever written/performed. Jeremy Lubbock and the London Orchestra perform a beautiful arrangement as Pat's feather-plucked electric guitar first mirrors and then barely squeaks his plaintive solo above the orchestra. Absolutely breathtaking! And heart-wrenching. (10/10)

14. "Not to Be Forgotten (Our Final Hour)" (2:22) is an amazingly gorgeous song performed solely by the London Orchestra. On a par with anything Enrico Morricone or Hans Zimmer has ever done. Could be longer. I'd listen to a whole album of just this. Gorgeous. (10/10)

Total time 76:22

This album is as much of a true masterpiece as any I have ever reviewed. And anyone who seems to want to deny Pat credit for his guitar skills ought to have his ears examined: there are few if any guitarists out there who can command the speed, dexterity, and express such emotion with such amazing melody, complexity of music, and length as Pat Metheny. He is a guitar god. One of the all-time greats. If you have any doubts please watch any of his live videos or better yet, see him in concert! He only does 200 concerts and a world tour every year. See him now. Did I mention that hes also a marathon runner? Makes his music and stamina that much better. Have I made my point?

(149/160) = 93.125 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; an absolute masterpiece of always beautiful, emotional, and nearly flawless music.

 2. ECHOLYN Suffocating the Bloom

With my discovery of this album, a band who's music has seemed to always escape my grasp and/or appreciation may finally have found a way into my heart and favor. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Raymond Weston / lead vocals
- Brett Kull / guitars, lead & backing vocals
- Christopher Buzby / keyboards, backing vocals
- Thomas Hyatt / bass, MIDI pedals
- Paul Ramsey / drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Katharine Shenk / violin
- Richard Casimir / violin
- Jeffrey E. Meyers / violin
- Elizabeth C. Detweiler / viola
- Kimberly Shenk / cello
- Laura Anthony / flute
- Heather Groll / flute
- Dainis Roman / alto saxophone
- Jim Dwyer / marching snares
- Tom Kelly / marching snares

1. "21" (5:49) dynamic, technical skilled music with power vocal about being 21 years old. The vocal seems very influenced by PETER HAMMILL even when they're amplified or harmonized by other assisting vocalists. At times the song drifts onto the stages and concert halls of Broadway and other Manhattan establishments--which is to say that the complexity and competency of the constructs and hooks are quite polished and concise. There is also a certain kinship with some of QUEEN's best music. (9/10)

2. "Winterthru" (3:45) blending SAGA-like prog with the BEACH BOYS, very tight motifs with incredible precision and cohesion. A very impressive composition and even more impressive rendering. Though not a big fan of the band's melodic choices, I am truly won over by these tight performances. (9.5/10)

3. "Memoirs From Between" (8:01) piano practice arpeggi with bass, glockespiel, and folk guitar, this music supports a JOE JACKSON-like vocal--at least for the first three minutes. Great team harmony vocals. I think I get why this band has such a loyal following. This feels like the American equivalent to GENTLE GIANT. And let me repeat how clear and well-captured are the sounds of each contributing instrument and voice. The song is weakend a little by the over-extended final motif the "Santa Claus, up ahead, …" thingy. (13.5/15)

4. "Reaping the Harvest" (1:41) a fugue-ish exercise in orchestral keyboards? Unfortunately, the keyboard sounds used are now quite dated (and quite inferior to the real thing). (4/5)

5. "In Every Garden" (4:39) now their trying too hard to do GENTLE GIANT; it hurts to hear this kind of blatant pandering. Even the softer BEACH BOYS passages seem to be fawning to KERRY MINNEAR and GARY GREEN. The more potent Michael STADLER SAGA outbursts are much more pleasing (and, perhaps, balancing to the GG stuff). (Also: Too bad they decided to use the gated drum effect.) (8.75/10)

6. "A Little Nonsense" (4:20) opening with a little splice of Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka, the music then proceeds to enter the realm of some of Gentle Giant's, XTC's, and the Cardiac's most angular motifs and styles. (8.5/10)

7. "The Sentimental Chain" (1:40) a beautiful duet of folk guitar and flute is joined by poorly recorded versions of strings and a second flute. Pretty. (4.5/5)

8. "One Voice" (5:20) instrumentally, this one continues the palette of the previous song, but now supports a plaintive vocal performance. The emotion conveyed by the vocalist feel a bit overdone. At 2:20 the vocalist states, "For we are only human," and the the rock band bursts into full bloom before coming back to the chamber classical motif for a bit. But then the electric motif takes over again before giving the stage back to the original instrumentalists and vocalist. When the electric instruments join in, the vocalists chooses to shift his voice into a kind of suppressed operatic mode. Weird. Then it ends with an "our Father" quote. (8.75/10)

9. "Here I Am" (5:21) rockin' Echolyn--harkening back to a jazzy MOODY BLUES sound and style. The acoustic rock and jazz blend is kind of cool. A few QUEEN/SAGA-like twists and turns try to lose me--they're moving so fast!--but then they come back into a new VDGG-like center. Later, a NEKTAR "Return to the Future" guitar arpeggio backs a group of television/film samples to the end. (8.75/10)

10. "Cactapus" (2:51) early career PAT METHENY guitar sound choice--very cool--for a delicate, mood-exploring jazz sound. Jazz bass lends to this feel as well. Drums and keyboard choices don't exactly jibe, but it's a cool attempt. (4.25/5)

"A Suite for The Everyman" (28:13) one of the greatest prog epics of the 1990s. (58/60):
11. Only Twelve (1:17)
12. A Cautious Repose (4:55)
13. Bearing Down (3:49)
14. Cash Flow Shuffle (0:39)
15. Mr. Oxy Moron (3:23)
16. Twelve's Enough (2:21)
17. I Am the Tide (1:15)
18. Cannoning in B Major (1:19)
19. Picture Perfect (0:55)
20. Those That Want to Buy (6:45)
21. Suffocating the Bloom (4:03)

Total Time: 63:39

91.67 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of intricately composed and performed eclectic progressive rock music; an excellent and nearly essential addition to any prog lover's music collection. Unfortunately, as far as I've been able to fathom, this may have been Echolyn's apogee, their shining moment in prog history. 

3. AFTER CRYING Megalázottak és Megszomorítottak (1992)

The second album from this amazing neo-classical group from Hungary. They're back with the same cast as on Overground Music, the band has added more use of drums/percussion and have now included synthesizers and organ into their play. Less emphasis on piano, less employment of vocals, this has a bit of a darker complexion to it. I like the fact that After Crying evolves from album to album--hate coming in with expectations for 'more of the same.' New instruments, new listenings and new influences yield new ideas, growth and development. As others have pointed out, AC have continued to grow in confidence with regards to letting space and time spread out, letting their ideas percolate and develop slowly, thoughtfully, and, often, emotionally.

Favorite selections:  the sublime DAVID SYLVIAN/jazz-tinged title piece (11:45) (23/25); the avant monastic chant-orchestral "A kis hös" (3:31) (10/10); the modernized folk étude, "Végül" (2:29) (4.5/5); the atmospheric folk song, "Nokturn" (1:58) (5/5), and; the subtley-slow developing soft jazzy epic, "A gadarai megszállott" (22:14) (39.5/45)

91.11 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; I consider this another masterpiece, essential for the singularity of this band's unusual approach and high quality product during a time of relatively sparse contributions in the field of symphonic rock. Yet, despite saying this, I stand firmly by the notion that this 1992 album stands as tall and as beacon-like now as it did then. Another desperate shout across the cloud-covered Earth: "Look what music can do!"

4. PSYCHOTIC WALTZ Into The Everflow

A band that is totally unknown to me--that I can remember no reference to before, ever, either as a whole or for any of the individual musicians. But this album has a very high rating on ProgArchives.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Buddy Lackey / lead vocals, percussion (8)
- Brian McAlpin / guitars
- Dan Rock / guitars, keyboards, piano & percussion (8)
- Ward Evans / bass
- Norm Leggio / drums, percussion

1. "Ashes" (5:09) a gloomy musical mood reminding me of a cross between 1970s VANGELIS and  GOBLIN soundtracks and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT's intentional eerie stuff, but whose use of cheaper modern computer keyboards and effects sadly date it. But, heck, perhaps this is the direction both of the aforementioned bands would have taken. Once the guitars and rest of the band enter, it takes on a different quality all together, but then the synths return. They're just too dated!
     The vocals, only used at the very end, sound like Uriah Heep's David Byron with David Bowie undertones; the use of multiple tracks to layer the vocal give it quite a cool sound. Great melodies. Impressive vocalist(s?). The stunning beauty of those last 90 seconds almost make this a top three song. (9/10)

2. "Out Of Mind" (4:45) truly impressive acrobatic vocals that remind me of a cross between Ziggy Stardust and Myrath's Zaher Zorgati. Amazing melodies. One of the more impressive vocal performances I've heard in a long time. I love the way the band plays with the pace of the song--as if there is a accelerator pedal to regulate their speed--and everybody stays together. Impressive! Very impressive, nonintrusive drumming. A top three song for me. (9.5/10) 

3. "Tiny Streams" (5:02) very OZZIE sounding multi-voice vocal tracks over very updated SABBATH musical soundscape and style. (8.5/10)

4. "Into The Everflow" (8:18) slow electric guitar arpeggi woven with slow deep bass notes and John Bonham-like drum play. The vocal performance here is very bluesy like a ROBERT PLANT performance with Led Zeppelin. Not very much freshness to either the music, the vocal, or lyrics, but then the guitar solo happens and everything is better. Even the return of the vocal is improved by the dextrous guitar arpeggi being performed by the twin guitars throughout. What started out as a very average song has definitely been improved by the two guitar tracks and their duet playing. Another top three song for me. (18.5/20)

5. "Little People" (4:07) back to the modernized Black Sabbath style and sound. The main difference that I intuit between Sabbath and the Waltz is the better drumming here and the speed of guitar play. Weird Frank Zappa vocal impression in the third minute. The rest of the OZZIE-like vocal is, actually, quite meandering--more show than relevance--same for the lyrics. (8.75/10)

6. "Hanging On A String" (3:49) back to the David Byron-like vocal style. (Who performs the back up vocals? He is also very talented.) What a talented singer (or group of singers). The rest of the music and song is quite bland. (8.5/10)

7. "Freakshow" (5:40) intricate twin guitar metal weave with drums and funky bass (mixed too far in the back for my tastes--this bass player might be great for all I can hear but I can barely hear his work.) Buddy sings with an aggressive Ozzie approach while bluesy ballad music beneath dupes us via its metal guitar weave. Again, Led Zep comes to mind--especially with Norm Loggio's spacious, restrained John Bonham approach. Mega kudos, Norm! Many other drummers wouldn't be able to resist the temptation to fill every moment with cymbals and/or drum fills. Great lead guitar solo in the fifth minute. Too bad the music beneath is so plodding. I like the way the band gives its all (especially Buddy) to the finish. (9/10)

8. "Butterfly" (9:18) more moody slowed down ballad music over which one guitar solos mournfully. Another great vocal performance despite it's being slightly muted, negatively effected, and buried a bit within the mix. In the third minute things amp up while infinity guitar (e-bow?) solo plays. But then we're quickly back into OZZY territory. The music does have a lot of twists and turns, which keeps it interesting, but then, it also has the tendency to turn a little too sharply--two wheeling the corners--thereby not letting some motifs play out fully (to the listener's satisfaction). The conga section with "purple haze/when you're strange/fame/I just wanna celebrate" vocal citations is a bit weird but tasteful--kind of like THE CURE's unique rendering of "Purple Haze" of the next year. The symphonic, almost concert hall finale is strange, but it all works--is all quite fresh and refreshing. 

Total time 46:08 

An album that is most remarkable to me for the acrobatic vocal talents of Buddy Lackey--someone I'd never heard of before this listening. The drumming and dextrous guitar play of the "twins" are also quite impressive and engaging. Good thing the dominating keyboards of that opening song did not continue throughout the rest of the album. 

90.25 on the Fishscales = A-/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music though probably deserves masterpiece status within the Prog Metal sub-genre.  

5. ÄNGLAGÅRD Hybris (1992) 

(5/6/2011): Having finally procured this album about a month ago, it has been on my playlist ever since--not necessarily because I love it but more because I'm trying to let it grow on me--trying to figure out what I'm missing, what's wrong that I'm not loving this album. I could immediately hear all of the comparisons and possible influences, (Crimson, ELP, Hackett, Genesis, Yes, Tull, VDGG, Camel, Rush, Nektar, Ant, etc.) I recognize the high level of compositional skill and musicianship, but something is missing--something just isn't drawing me in. I have concluded that it is a deficiency of heart, soul, and emotion that leaves me feeling cold and unattached-- impressed but unattached. I am very much reminded of my similar reaction to most Steve Hackett albums: I recongize and appreciate the genius, the experimentalism, the skill, but it leaves me cold and unattached. (Mostly.) I cannot in good conscience rate this collection of masterfully constructed and performed songs anything less than 4 stars, but I am equally unable to rate it as a masterpiece. It may deserve its standing in the PA Top 100 but not in mine.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Tord Lindman / electric and nylon & steel acoustic guitars, vocals
- Jonas Engdegård / electric and nylon & steel acoustic guitars
- Thomas Johnson / Mellotron, Hammond (B-3 & L-100), synths (Solina, Korg), clavinet, pianet, piano, electronic church organ
- Anna Holmgren / flute
- Johan Högberg / bass, bass pedals, Mellotron (effects)
- Mattias Olsson / drums, concert bass drum, tambourine, vibraslap, po-chung, gong, glockenspiel, tubular bells, bongos, Tibetan finger cymbals, wind chimes, a-gogo, cabasa, African drums, effect-flute, varied bells and percussions
- Pär Lindh / performer (unconfirmed)

1. "Jordrök (Earth Smoke)" (11:11) piano intro reminds me of AFTER CRYING. Then chunky bass and complex drums enter. Lots of weird shifts. I guess every strange and unexpected twists and turns in these compositions could be equated to similarly confusing shifts in the compositions of 1970s Yes and Genesis. (18.75/20) = 9.375 

2. "Vandringar I Vilsenhet (Wanderings in Confusion)" (11:53) Sedate sections with flute in the solo lead combined with nice use of Mellotron and choral vocals helps to overshadow the blatant YES-feel, palette, and construct of this one. (Close to the Edge) Still, their excellent musicianship in pull off these complex constructs are to be lauded. (22.25/25)

3. Ifrån Klarhet Till Klarhet (From Clarity to Clarity) (8:04) town square oompah band opens before Änglagård jump in to pick up the city volunteer band's traditional folk melody in a very heavy, almost metal style. At 1:25 everything slows down to let lead singer sing (in Swedish) over a soft & slow bluesy Hammond-founded passage. After 2:30 acoustic guitar and flute pick away at a gentle folk melody--not unlike some of the early GENESIS acoustic interludes. Anna's flute melody is very pretty albeit simple. Mattias begins to ramp things up beneath in the fifth minute before the band shifts directions. As the chunky CHRIS SQUIRE-like bass of Johan Högberg joins in and then the swirling Hammond organ, it begins to sound more like YES. In the seventh minute, more YES-like isms come out. The only thing missing is Jon Anderson's vocals. The finish is interesting and brief--kind of like the ending of "Long Distance Runaround." 
     Very accomplished instrumental musicianship in a very (inexplicably) haphazard arrangement. All that was missing was melody and meaning. (13/15) 

4. "Kung Bore (King Winter)" (12:57) nice low-key start--with acoustic guitars!--all the instruments entering one at a time, and when the complement is complete, then setting off on their highly technical group weave. A song that competently captures and conveys a story with a mythic, Nordic feel. Female vocals in the first half and male narration in the second add new dimension to the Änglagård sound. (22.5/25)

Total Time: 44:04

(2019): This is a band that is really difficult for me to categorize because, if you read the reviews of these two albums (released in 1992 and 1994, respectively), you would come away thinking that this had to be a Neo-prog band! Witness all of the comparisons to the "classic era" "greats"--the songs, styles, and musicians that litter the literature. Also, notice the credit heaped upon Änglagård for almost single-handedly 'rescuing' or at least 'causing' the "rebirth" or "renaissance" of progressive rock! 
     To me, these two albums show a technical and eclectic approach to music composition and performance which is more homage to the 70s than new or refreshing. The music is so cerebral and technical, especially on the debut, Hybris, that it conveys very little beauty (melody) or emotion (attachment). 
     If you want to experience the heart and soul of the incredible virtuoso musicians that make up Änglagård, I recommend that you listen to the mature, more humane music that comes out in the band's reincarnated form with 2012's Viljans Ôga, while the more sedate and spacious Epilog remains my favorite from the band.

90.0 on the Fishscales = A-/4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of progressive rock music with some amazing musicianship, odd composition style, and poor sense of melody. 

4.5 Star Near-Masterpieces 
(Ratings 89.99 to 86.67)

6. DREAM THEATER Images and Words

 A perfected, polished version of very familiar sounds and songs from the late 70s through the 80s. I hear WHITE SNAKE, QUEENSRYCHE, RUSH, DEF LEPPARD, SAGA, LOVERBOY, even TEARS FOR FEARS and THE CARS in this music. The only thing I'm hearing new are the more complex drumming, time signatures and time changes. I have to admit, though, for a 'metal' album, this is very likable. But then, metal from the 70s and 80s was, IMHO, much more accessible. Love the sax, good vocal melodies, stunning guitar solos. Also, I get the feeling that often the drummer is the lead instrument--the instrument which all others follow--which is very interesting. No one song sticks out as better or worse--or even different--than the others (except the little beauty, "Wait for Sleep," which, at 2:32, hardly counts). 

Line-up / Musicians:
- James LaBrie / lead & backing vocals
- John Petruci / guitars
- Kevin Moore / keyboards
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums, percussion
- Jay Beckenstein / soprano sax (2)

1. "Pull Me Under" (8:14) cool intro and slow build up to full power. The transition into full metal jacket at 1:20 causes me reservation, despite the nice display of cohesive intra-band timing. The vocalist sounds very standard 1980s hair band. This rhythm section is really solid! Guitarist flashes for the first time in the fourth minute. Vocals just sound too standard metal--like Mike Reno and so many others. The chorus is smooth. Turning full circle at the half way point for a more subdued instrumental section. Nice keyboard and guitar soli. A solid song in the VAN HALEN tradition--up to that standard. (13.25/15)  

2. "Another Day" (4:23)
 a smooth, classic rock sounding ballad--could be Tommy Shaw or some other classic lead vocalist (even George Michael!) in the lead. Very impressive! Either they've doubled up on the lead vocal line or they're using some effect unknown to me (a delay?) to give the vocal the feeling of having more than one singer. That's Spiro Gyra's Jay Beckenstein there on solo sax! (8.75/10)

3. "Take The Time" (8:21) a very disjointed song: the instrumentalists lines, the incidentals, the timing, and more. Yes, the drumming is impressive, and the guitar seems on the same page but the bass, keys, and vocalist seem to be struggling to get "in the pocket" and blend successfully. In the instrumental section in the fifth minute we have some interesting band and solo displays--some of them drawing from classic 80s rock developments, some of them feeling original and experimental. The bass and keys just feel a little less adept than the guitarist and drummer, but, then, the drummer and guitarist still feel as if they are struggling to "finish" their training and development. (How long does it take for a technically virtuosic instrumentalists to become a Master?) A song that just leaves me with a weird aftertaste--like, How would the band compose and play this differently ten years later--in 2002? (17.25/20)

4. "Surrounded" (5:30) starts out as another now-dated sounding ballad. Pretty but … necessary? What is the band trying to prove with the inclusion of songs like this? As it develops I just keep hearing bands Survivor and STYX, especially The Grand Illusion/"Come Sail Away" (8.5/10)

"Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper" (9:32) portends of things to come. Nice/solid prog metal epic. (17.75/20)

6. "Under A Glass Moon" (7:03) reminds me so much of being in college and hearing bands like BOSTON, FOREIGNER, EDDIE MONEY, TOTO, VAN HALEN, SAGA, TRIUMPH, LOVERBOY, 707, GREAT WHITE, .38 SPECIAL, and SURVIVOR for the first times. I can see a college student falling in love with this band due to a song like this. My second favorite song on the album. (13.75/15)

7. "Wait For Sleep" (2:31) piano and synth strings accompanying a beautiful sensitive vocal from human James LaBrie. My favorite song on the album. (5/5)

8. "Learning to Live"(11:30) As impressive and accomplished James LaBrie is as a metal singer, I think I like it better when he sings as a regular human--as he does for the first three minutes of this. However, it is only after the three-minute mark that the music gets interesting for its angular complexity. The chorus, unfortunately, brings everything back to an earthly straightforward rock.The instrumental section in the sixth minute is interesting for its unexpected high and low dynamics--as well as for that Spanish motif. The motif turns full electric at 6:30 which then leads into another tempo and stylistic shift in the ninth minute. (18/20)

Total Time: 57:07

88.91 on the Fishscales = B+/four stars; an impressive collection of songs by some very skilled musicians. The flaw comes in the "spaces" in which one can see where these individual musicians and composers still have room to grow.

7. MONTEFELTRO Il Tempo di Far la Fantasia

1970s-sounding Neo Prog produced in the 1990s from Italy imitating (lifting?) those Genesis sounds beautifully but nearly too closely. Think BABYLON's 1980 album Babylon and you'd have hit the nail on the head.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Piergiorgio Ambrosi / keyboards 
- Attilio Virgilio / lead vocals, guitar 
+ Giampiero D'Andria / bass 
- Pierpaolo Ferroni / drums 

1. "Canto No. 1 (lettera ad un amico del 1400)" (22:12) so much (too much?) like the BABYLON sound palette and recording engineering reinterpretion (recapitulation?) of Peter Gabriel-era GENESIS (mostly Foxtrot). It's done extremely well--with great instrumental and compositional quality; it's just so frickin' close to the original! The only instruments that shine through as being different are the ancient pre-piano sounding keyboards (clavichord? psaltry? celeste? Celtic harp?) and fretless bass as well as a couple of the effects used on the guitars. The ethereal vocals (heavily reverbed to sound as if they're coming from inside the cavernous marble walls of a large cathedral--like EMERALD DAWN does for Tree Stewart's voice). 
     A lot of this song reminds me of the sound and style of Spanish band GALADRIEL's Muttered Promises from an Ageless Pond from 1988 as well as those of Canadian band HECENIA's 1989 album, Légendes. Despite its clone-like feel, this is an excellent and beautiful symphonic suite, beautifully--one might say "lovingly"--composed. (41/45):
I) musicis instrumentis sonans humanos affectus 
II) Siarade serale 
III) La corsa contro il tempo 
IV) Pioggia di stelle 
V) La tua immagine 
VI) Il walzer dei ricordi (per anatre e vecchi balocchi) 
VII) Sciarada notturna (al lume di candela col temporale oltre la finistra) 
VIII) Prendi la foglia 
IX) Il duello 
X) In quel sole interiore, la nave a l'artificio
2. "Il prescetto" (6:28) Wow! So BABYLON--right out of the starting blocks! The quick and frequent changes in time signatures over the opening minute are a bit much. The theatric Italian singing that starts in the second minute sound like a German Kommandant barking orders. but then it goes slow and soft as the annoying 1980s computer synth horns fill the soundscape. And then I hear the sound of horses on cobblestones and think, "This is about some mediæval thing!" hich makes me even more curious and engaged. The ensuing high energy insrumental weave is so Phil Collins-era GENESIS that I get goosebumps. Then there is a jazzy vocal section with super-funk bass plucking alternating with majesterial mediæval motifs leading down into a pastoral finish. Wow! Great theatric song! If one can get past the sound (and "Dreamfish" familiarity) one would things this a 10/10 song! (9.5/10):
I) Nella sala del trono 
II) Dopo la pioggia 
III) Con il viso controvento 

3. "Cielo di carta" (2:44) complex 12-string strumming within cheap synth washes over which gentle voice sings lead. (4.5/5)

4. "La collana riffletente" (5:31) sounds very much like an early solo career Steve HACKETT or Mike OLDFIELD song (only, in the demo form--or live--due to the poor sound quality). Great, compositionally, and as a demonstration of collective performance skill, and the Robert Wyatt-like voice is enjoyable (as opposed to so many of the bombastic operatic types)--giving it a quality similar to the more delicate moments of early PFM--while the music prove to be very much something from the melodic/syrupy side of Tony Banks and Steve Hackett (with parts that seem as if they were lifted directly off of the BABYLON album). (8.75/10)

5. "Nel labirinto (il regreto del sole)" (8:23) this mostly-instrumental song feels like the soundtrack to a museum exhibit or YouTube picture montage depicting some period of history. The music is good, definitely proggy, but more in the jam/unfinished category. (15.5/20) :
I) La casa di Asterione 
II) Un addio in silenzio

Total Time: 45:11

It is beautifully and quite competently done. I can't think of much true prog coming out of Italy in the 1980s or 1990s--unless you count the Italian-sounding work of Japanese bands Pazzo Fanfano di Musica, Mr. Sirius, or Asturias--so this album is impressive as well for this fact. Again, were the sound production on this better, we would hold this set of impressive and sincere compositions higher in our esteem. 

88.05 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's collection--this despite the muddy sound production. (Oh, what could/could have been!) 

8. IONA The Book of Kells

is Celtic prog Folk (and Christian) artist IONA's breakout album though it is their second release. The distinguished crystalline voice of Joanne Hogg is on full display for all to hear, thanks to the fairly sparse instrument arrangements--especially in prolonged intros and outros. The other half of the band's core, Dave Bainbridge is also present on keys and guitars. This band seems to always be comprised of members who are all virtuosos on their respective instruments and this album is no exception. What changes in the future, however, is that bass/Chapman stick player Nick Beggs (KAJAGOOGOO), percussionist Teri Bryant and reeds player David Fitzgerald move out to make room for future mainstays Phil Barker (bass), Frank Van Essen (drums, percussion, & violins), and Ullilean pipe and whistle virtuoso and future star in his own right, Troy Donockley-- who happens to make his debut as a guest musician here. Though the synth washes are full and rich throughout and the percussion/rhythm team is at full power, The Book of Kells is a much more sparsely instrumented album than Iona's successive releases, but there are always plenty of gorgeous and glorious instrumental sections throughout all Iona albums. Also, as might be surmised from the album's title, which is is taken from the famous illustrated Christian texts of the New Testament that was created around 800 AD and then preserved in Ireland's Abbey of Kells, this is a concept album. What results from this mix of personnel is an album with such seamlessness, such depth and complexity of textures, as to astound even me who had already been a tried and true Iona fan for several years before going back into their early catalogue to discover this one. I didn't think that any Iona album could be better than Open Sky but the amazingly intense whole-goup focus on this concept album may have done it. What's more, this music and presentation is to my ears a prime example of all that is essential and at the core of prog: great story, great instrumental performances, great songwriting drawing from many traditions, great album art, all gelled into a powerful display of great human emotion. "Matthew - The Man" (11:53) (20/20) may be the best prog epic of the year but, heck! The whole album is like one continuous prog epic! Amazing! Beautiful! Another piece of man-made art that makes me proud to be human.

Other Excellent Prog Albums
(ratings of 86.67 to 85.0)


The debut album one of Finland's major gifts to rock music: guitarist extraordinaire Petri Walli (the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix!) and his band KINSTON WALL.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Petri Walli / guitar, lead & backing vocals
- Jukka Jylli / bass, backing vocals
- Sami Kuoppamäki / drums, percussion
- Sakari Kukko / saxophone (8)
- "Ufo" Mustonen / violin (2)

1. "With My Mind" (4:39) nice wall of sound but the vocals feel lacking in authentic enthusiasm. Even some impressive lead guitar wah-pedal soloing can't really make up for the dullness of the rest of the song. (8.25/10)

2. "Used to Feel Before" (4:02) very bluesy, HENDRIX-like foundation for a rockin' song. Perhaps this is the song that planted the "the reincarnation of Jimi Hendrix" seed in my brain--(though not the chorus). Definitely a late 60s blues-rock vibe going on here--Zeppelin or maybe even a little Black Sabbath; no, definitely Hendrix. (8.5/10)

3. "I'm Not the One" (3:43) another Hendrix-like tune with a BEASTIE BOYS-style choral vocal delivery. The guitar playing is smokin' hot but nothing really new or innovative--until the third minute when echo-guitar is accompanied by background crowd chatter noises. I wonder if Omar Rodriguez-Lopez ever heard Petri or the Wall's music before they formed The Mars Volta. (8.5/10)

4. "Fire" (2:58) an actual Hendrix cover! Petri does not (yet) have the vocal capacity to pull off a Hendrix song but in the guitar department he is making it his own! (8.5/10)

5. "Waste of Time" (6:26) again, the blues-rock bands of the 60s immediately come to mind--those bands who were exploring the loud, proto-"metal" sounds and styles at that time. Even the melodies feel and sound like that old era (Bowie, Spirit). The wild fourth and fifth minutes display the first exposition of the Wall's all-out, no-holds-barred excellence! This is rock excellent--the future of Kingston Wall! The band is playing so tight--as one! (8.75/10) 

6. "Nepal" (8:37) a long intro of wah-pedal electric guitar soloing and crashing cymbals open the first 90 seconds of this before a structured song is actually established--one that is much more sedate and smooth that the opening would seem to indicate. Cool bird sounds coming from a second track of Petri's guitar. Again, the band feels pretty tight, pretty jazzed up--as if the album's first four songs were just warmups and now they're really fully engaged, fully entrained--though not quite as tight as the second half of that previous song. Petri is in the zone--going off into the cosmos--until surprisingly relinquishing the lead to the bass player. I love the psychedelia shouts and cryptic phrases in the background--and then he steps to the fore again--this time urging the bass and drum players to flash and shine at the same time. A little THIN LIZZY-like multi-instrumental regurgitation of the main melody before everybody crashes to the finish. (17.5/20)

7. "And I Hear You Call" (4:55) a decent song with an odd almost Caribbean feel to the rhythm tracks, yet the melodies feel almost Greek, while Petri's guitar showmanship pushes over the edge into new territories. (8.5/10)

8. "Tanya (3:51) slow-picked echoed and distorted electric guitar notes open this. Bass notes, drum hits, and background reverbed scream/wails join in. A very bluesy, JEFF BECK-like song--an instrumental with a BEATLES-like melody line--that seems to sing a tale of woe and tribulation. (8.25/10)

- "Mushrooms" (21:09) (34.5/40):
9. I - Prelude (1:18) - intentionally strummed guitar chords and cymbal play support Petri's wailing-echoed guitar play. (4.25/5)
10. II - On My Own (6:50) - steady rumba beat over which Petri sings in a URIAH HEEP-like melody about wasting time. Great chorus. Great song that could have been even better with better background vocals and more "in the pocket" drumming. I like the bass player exploring his own trajectory while Petri solos in the fourth minute. Then there is an odd shift into a space-dreamy sequence of effects and musical waves rising and falling (which feels as if it should have been designated with its own sub-title), but then we return to the "I wanna be" chorus for the final minute. (13.25/15) 
11. III - The Weep (2:01) - gentle guitar and cymbal play over which two very odd vocal tracks compete for dominance: one that is wailing, almost crying, the other that is like an indecipherable squawk coming from a PA system voice. Interesting dichotomy. (8.25/5)  
12. IV - Mushrooms (3:04) - a return to the Beastie Boys form of singing over staccato syncopated music eventually smooths and flattens out for the poppy chorus. There is absolutely no pop, no fluff, in Petri's ensuing guitar solo, though: this is all rock at it's Alvin Lee/Ronnie Montrose kickin' tops. (9/10)
13. V - Circumstances (2:18) - similar rhythm as the previous section with pseudo-Islamic chant-wailing over the top--accompanied by wild sax play (that sounds like it came from Vietnam or Mecca). Protends of Koenji Hyakkei? (4.5/5)
14. VI - Captain Relief (2:15) back to Western rock--Petri let's loose and he is on fire! Even when the band quiets down, Petri's solo is psychedelic majesty! (4.5/5)
15. VII - More Mushrooms (2:07) a conversation between two druggies gives way to the Beastie Boys theme and choral vocals of the previous "Mushrooms" section. Here Petri plays a bottleneck/slide for the lead, until … (4.25/5)
16. VIII - The Answer (1:16) an awesome sonic landscape to finish with. (4.5/5)

Total Time: 60:20

Plenty of flashes of the rise to virtuosic levels of instrument mastery are on display here--but they aren't quite there yet--even Petri has some growing to do (unbelievably). But the power and walls of sound are there--definitely there. An excellent album of late-60s sounding psychedelic blues rock.

85.58 on the Fishscales = B/four stars; an very good addition to any prog lover's music collection--especially if you like A) Hendrix, B) hard driving psychedelic rock, and/or C) later Petri Walli/Kingston Wall albums. 

Other Highly Recommended Prog Albums
(Other albums recommended by prog lovers)


Line-up / Musicians:
- Mike Baker / lead vocals
- Brendt Allmann / acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
- Chris Ingles / piano, keyboards
- Carl Cadden-James / fretted & fretless basses, flute, vocals, producer
- "Ben Timely" / Alesis HR-16 drum machine
- Gary Sloyer / Fx, engineer
- John Cooney / additional percussion
- Lianne Himmelwright / backing vocals 
- Rich Lewis McCorkel / narrator (7)
- Ken Sloyer / voice [monologue] (7)

1. The Dance of Fools (7:31)
2. Darktown (9:12)
3. Mystified (7:07)
4. Questions at Hand (6:56)
5. The Final Hour (4:15)
6. Say Goodbye to the Morning (6:43)
7. "The Queen of the City of Ice" (17:22) (31/35)

Total Time: 59:06


Line-up / Musicians:
- Greg Lake / vocals, bass, guitars, harmonica (?)
- Keith Emerson / keyboards, Hammond, piano, synth, arrangements (4)
- Carl Palmer / drums, percussion
- Mark Mancina / vocal arrangements (1), producer
- Mark Holding / vocal arrangements (2)
- Gary Hodgson / programming
- Ian Morrow / programming
- John Van Tongeren/ programming
- Tim Heintz/ programming

1. Black Moon (6:59)
2. Paper Blood (4:29)
3. Affairs Of The Heart (3:47)
4. Romeo And Juliet {Prokofiev, arranged by Emerson} (3:43)
5. Farewell To Arms (5:10)
6. Changing States (6:03)
7. Burning Bridges {Mark Mancina} (4:45)
8. Close To Home (4:29)
9. Better Days (5:37)
10. Footprints In The Snow (3:52)

Total Time: 48:56


Line-up / Musicians:
- Mike Oldfield / electric, double-speed, classical, acoustic, flamenco & 12-string guitars, Wal MIDI bass, mandolin, banjo, violin (14), grand piano, Hammond (3,11-13), Farfisa (1,2,7,9) & Lowrey (10,11) organs, synthesisers & programming (EMU Proteus, Korg M1, Synclavier, Roland D50/550, Ensoniq SD1, Akai S100 sampler), timpani, glockenspiel, triangle, tambourine, cymbals, toy percussion, handclaps, orchestral bass drum, tubular bells, vocals, co-producer
- Sally Bradshaw / vocal solo
- Susannah Melvoin / vocals
- Edie Lehman / vocals
- Jamie Muhoberac / keyboards, Fx, drum loops
- (New York) P. D. Scots Pipe Band / bagpipes
- Celtic Bevy Band / bagpipes
- John Robinson / drums (12)
- Eric Cadieux / programming, digital sound processing
- Alan Rickman / Master of Ceremonies voice

1. Sentinel (8:07)
2. Dark Star (2:16)
3. Clear Light (5:48)
4. Blue Saloon (4:43)
5. SunJammer (4:06)
6. Red Dawn (1:49)
7. The Bell (6:57)
8. Weightless (5:43)
9. The Great Plain (4:47)
10. Sunset Door (2:23)
11. Tattoo (4:15)
12. Altered State (5:17)
13. Maya Gold (4:01)
14. Moonshine (1:41)

Total Time: 61:53

VANGELIS 1492 - Conquest of Paradise OST

Line-up / Musicians:
- Evangelos Papathanassiou / composer, performer, arranger & producer
- Bruno Manjarres / Spanish guitar, vocals
- Pepe Martinez / Spanish guitar, vocals
- Didier Malherbe / flute
- Francis Darizcuren / mandolin, violin
- The English Chamber Choir / chorus vocals
- Guy Protheroe / vocals, choir conductor

1. Opening (1:22)
2. Conquest of Paradise (4:48)
3. Monastery of La Rábida (3:39)
4. City of Isabel (2:16)
5. Light and Shadow (3:47)
6. Deliverance (3:29)
7. West Across the Ocean Sea (2:53)
8. Eternity (2:00)
9. Hispañola (4:56)
10. Moxica and the Horse (7:07)
11. Twenty Eighth Parallel (5:14)
12. Pinta, Niña, Santa María (Into Eternity) (13:20)

Total Time 54:51

ROGER WATERS Amused to Death

Line-up / Musicians:
- Roger Waters / vocals, bass (2,13), 12-string (5) & acoustic (11,14) guitars, synth (2-4), composer & co-producer
- Alf Razzell / vocals (1,14)
- P.P. Arnold / vocals (3,4)
- Marv Albert / voice (3,4)
- Charles Fleischer / voice (9)
- Don Henley / vocals (11)
- Rita Coolidge / vocals (14)
- Katie Kissoon & Doreen Chanter / backing vocals (2,8,9,12,14)
- N'Dea Davenport / backing vocals (2)
- Natalie Jackson / backing vocals (2,5)
- Lynn Fiddmont-Linsey / backing vocals (5)
- Jessica Leonard & Jordan Leonard / backing vocals (8)
- Jon Joyce, Stan Farber, Jim Haas / backing vocals (13)
- The London Welsh Chorale (2,10,13)
- Kenneth Bowen / choir conductor (2,10,13)
- Andy Fairweather Low / acoustic (2,9,11), electric (6,7,9), & 12-string (8,12) guitars, backing vocals (6,7)
- Jeff Beck / guitar (1,2,10-14) 5
- Geoff Whitehorn / guitar (2,8,10,14)
- Tim Pierce / guitar (2,5,9,12)
- B.J. Cole / pedal steel guitar (3,4)
- Steve Lukather / guitar (3,4,8)
- Rick DiFonso / guitar (3,4)
- Bruce Gaitsch / acoustic guitar (3,4)
- Patrick Leonard / keyboards, Hammond (5), synths (5,13), piano (11,13), percussion programming (1), choral arrangements (2,9,10,13), vocals (4), co-producer
- John Bundrick / Hammond (12)
- Steve Sidwell / cornet (6,7)
- John Dupree / string arranger & conductor (3,4)
- James Johnson / bass (3,4,6-8,10,12-14)
- Randy Jackson / bass (2,9)
- John Pierce / bass (5)
- John Patitucci / electric & upright basses (11)
- Graham Broad / drums (2-4,6-10,12,14), percussion (6,7)
- Denny Fongheiser / drums (5)
- Jeff Porcaro / drums (13)
- Luis Conte / percussion (1,3,4,6-8,10,12)
- Brian Macleod / snare & hi-hat (3,4)
- The National Philharmonic Orchestra Limited (6-8,10)
- Michael Kamen / arranger & conductor (6-8,10)
The Peking Brothers (11) :
- Guo Yi / sheng (ancient mouth-blown organ)
- Wang Shun Xian / Chinese oboe
- Zhao Zheng Ren / yang qin (dulcimer)
- Chang Gui Duo / da ruan (bass)

1. The Ballad of Bill Hubbard (4:19)
2. What God Wants, Pt. 1 (6:00)
3. Perfect Sense, Pt. 1 (4:16)
4. Perfect Sense, Pt. 2 (2:50)
5. The Bravery of Being Out of Range (4:50)
6. Late Home Tonight, Pt. 1 (4:01)
7. Late Home Tonight, Pt. 2 (2:13)
8. Too Much Rope (5:47)
9. What God Wants, Pt. 2 (3:41)
10. What God Wants, Pt. 3 (4:08)
11. Watching TV (6:07)
12. Three Wishes (6:50)
13. It's a Miracle (8:30)
14. Amused to Death (9:07)

Total Time 72:39

Albums on the Fringe of Prog World

OPUS III Mind Fruit

What a wonderfully refreshing album:  etheric music to dance to! Opening with the international dance hall hit, "It's a Fine Day" (10/10) and moving through an Art of Noise-like journey of dance mantras--including a cover of King Crimson's "I Talk to the Wind" and my favorite, "Stars in My Pocket."

TORI AMOS Little Earthquakes

Line-up / Musicians:
- Tori Amos / vocals, acoustic (all) & electric (4) pianos, sampled strings (2,8)
- Steve Caton / acoustic (4) & electric (2,4,10,12) guitars, bass (2), backing vocals (4,12)
- David Rhodes / guitar (7)
- John Chamberlin / mandolin (1)
- Eric Williams / ukulele (1), dulcimer (6)
- Eric Rosse / keyboard (2,4,12) & drum (2) programming, Irish war drum (5), backing vocals (4,12)
- John Philip Shenale / keyboard programming (6)
- Stuart Gordon / violin (7)
- William Gregory / oboe (7)
- Jef Scott / bass (1), guitar (8)
- Will McGregor / bass (4,10,12)
- Matthew Seligman / bass (7)
- Ed Greene / drums (1)
- Carlo Nuccio / drums (4,10)
- Chris Hughes / drums (7)
- Paulinho Da Costa / percussion (1,6)
- Philly / finger cymbals (3)
- Jake Freeze / Fx (4), saw (12)
- Nancy Shanks / backing vocals (1,12)
- Tina Gullickson / backing vocals (1)
- Nick DeCaro / orchestral arranger & conductor (3,5)
- David Lord / string arrangements (7)

1. Crucify (4:58)
2. Girl (4:06)
3. Silent All These Years (4:10)
4. Precious Things (4:26)
5. Winter (5:40)
6. Happy Phantom (3:12)
7. China (4:58)
8. Leather (3:12)
9. Mother (6:59)
10. Tear In Your Hand (4:38)
11. Me And A Gun (3:44)
12. Little Earthquakes (6:51)

Total time 56:54

SWING OUT SISTER Get in Touch with Yourself

Some of the band's highest highs--especially their rendition of "Am I The Same Girl".

KD LANG Ingénue

The k.d. lang album everybody should (and probably does) own.

THE CHURCH Priest=Aura

Line-up / Musicians:
- Steve Kilbey / lead vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar
- Peter Koppes / guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Marty Willson-Piper / guitar, backing vocals 
- Jay Dee Daugherty / drums, percussion, keyboards

1. Aura (6:59)
2. Ripple (6:03)
3. Paradox (3:59)
4. Lustre (5:45)
5. Swan Lake (2:26)
6. Feel (3:55)
7. Mistress (4:12)
8. Kings (4:35)
9. Dome (4:00)
10. Witch Hunt (1:27)
11. The Disillusionist (6:24)
12. Old Flame (1:37)
13. Chaos (9:34)
14. Film (3:56)

Total Time: 64:49


The ST Pilots' breakout album. Who can resist the mystical beauty of "Plush"?


The one Alice in Chains album everybody should own.

SADE Love Deluxe

One of my Top 50 Albums of All-Time!

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