Thursday, July 14, 2022

Top Albums of the Year 1984: 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.
1984 was a surprisingly good year for progressive rock music.



Five Star Masterpieces 
(Ratings of 100 to 93.34) 



None



The Minor Masterpieces
(Ratings of 93.33 to 90.0)



1. UNIVERS ZERO Uzed

Is a masterful set of songs depicting life from the point of view of the university of nothing. Dross and hard work are peppered here and there with glimmerings of joy and harmony. This album is much more melodic and familiar sounding and feeling than I expected. (My first UZ LP was "Clivages.") Composition is very cerebral and yet performances are amazingly emotional! Such a metaphor for the human condition. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Jean-Luc Plouvier / electric & acoustic pianos, synthesizer, piano strings, percussion
- Dirk Descheemaeker / soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet
- André Mergen / cello, alto sax, voice
- Christian Genet / bass, balafon, bowed guitar, tapes, whistle
- Daniel Denis / drums, percussion, synthesizer
With:
- Michel Delory / electric guitar (3)
- Marc Verbist / violin (3)

The opening of "Presage" (9:48) sounds like MIKE OLDFIELD's "Hergest Ridge"! What a surprise: It's not! Still, the melodies here (and, yes, people, there are melodies) are beautiful and the music far less angular, less staccato and less harsh when compared to later UZ albums. I love the Arabian-influenced electric violin playing and bass slaps wreaking havoc within the steady weave of drums, piano and woodwinds. The shift at 5:30 to more MILES-sounding jazz sounds and structures is awesome. A little MARK ISHAM minimalism mixes in around 6:40, until a stop and slow almost TON BANKS-like section establishes itself from the 7 to 8 minute mark. The song then takes up a GENESIS Canterbury theme. (I never heard it before, but there it is: proof that GENESIS was influenced by the Canterbury Scene.) (19/20) Avant garde outro bleeds right into...

2. "L'étrange mixture du Docteur Schwartz" (3:52) with it's robust bass lines (and chords) laying beat for horns. Piano chords with cello, percussion and then bassoon bass and electric piano bring the four-minute song to a rolling stop. Then the theatric (sounds appropriate for a silent film score). (8/10)

3. "Celesta (for Chantal)" (6:55) broods into our world like a provocative Chick Corea-John McLaughlin collaboration. Minor chords and oppressive periphery riffs and notes from a variety of support albeit almost incidental instruments make one wary of JONI MITCHELL getting ready to sing (à la "Paprika Plains"). But then around the 5:00 mark a unified, syncopated bass & drum rhythm pounds out an obtuse beat for an ALLAN HOLDSORTH-like axe solo to bleed all over the song's last minute and a half. Wicked! (13.5/15)

4. "Parade" (6:37) has a much more upbeat (and, again, GENESIS-like) feel than I might have expected--despite its attempt at somber solemnity. The song's shift at the 3 minute mark allows drummer and clarinetist to go a bit wild for a bit before BURT BACHARACH-like piano, harpsichord & orchestral sounds reign it back onto rank and file. Percussionists break things up for a bit before the song winds down with its celebratory feel. (8.5/10)

The sixteen minute "Emmanations" (15:43) is brilliant! It feels like a rendering of the nefarious march of the human automaton in industrial (or maybe post-industrial?) society. (Lemmings, in the end.) (Are we sure that's not TONY BANKS on the piano & keys?) Interesting coda/outro playing out from the 12:30 mark. Coffee break? Sleep, haunted, restless sleep? Or perhaps the end of human life, the passive takeover of robots. (30/30)

92.94 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; an amazing listening experience--highly recommended. Truly a masterpiece of musical expression of the human spirit. Bravo, UZ!




2. SOLARIS Marsibéli Krónikák 

A 1980s masterpiece?!! A rare thing, indeed, for the prog world post-punk and amidst the techno revolution. A difficult album to obtain--I'd been trying for over two years since I first read reviews and heard a song of theirs--and I am so glad I did! Though its sound is, obviously, a bit dated, it is full of catchy melodies, fine symphonic and classical constructions, awesome recording/engineering, and very high calibur playing. This album reminds me a lot of a prog masterpiece from some 20 years later: KOTEBEL's "Omphalos"--not just because of the presence of the flute but because of the frequent juxtaposition of jazz elements (soli or constructs) over the predominant classical feel to the music. JEAN-MICHEL JARRE is mentioned though TANGERINE DREAM and VANGELIS would be my suggestions for who the electronic elements most sound like. Every song is melodic, well constructed, and stands well on its own--while offering just enough variations to not get mixed into one lump (e.g. the folkiness of the last song contrasts well with the Electronic elements of the song just before it.) I love how every band member gets a turn reiterating the main theme in the third song "Marsb'li Kr'nik'k IV-VI. - The Martian Chronicles IV-VI." And I love the distinctiveness of the two guitarists. Plus, it's always to hear good old fashioned pre-gated, pre-metal drumming. Awesome album with nary a flaw. I've been playing nothing else for over a week now and am liking it more and more with each listen. EASILY a masterpiece of symphonic progressive music!

Line-up / Musicians:
- István Cziglán / electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizer, Fx, percussion
- Róbert Erdész / piano, organ, synthesizer, Fx
- Attila Kollár / flute, recorder, synthesizer, Fx, percussion, vocals
- Tamás Pócs / bass, co-producer
- László Gömör / drums, percussion, synthesizer, co-producer
With:
- Csaba Bogdán / guitar
- Gábor Kisszabó / bass
- Ferenc Raus / drums, percussion
- Vilmos Tóth / percussion
- Aida Búzás / vocals
- Tibor Fábián / vocals
- András Fónagy / vocals
- Judit Hampl / vocals
- István Vass / vocals
- Bea Mándy / vocals

"Marsibéli Krónikák I-VI" (23:23) (43.5/45) = 9.67
1. Marsbéli krónikák I. (The Martian Chronicles I.) (3:34)
2. Marsbéli krónikák II.-III. (The Martian Chronicles II.-III.) (6:32)
3. Marsbéli krónikák IV.-VI. (The Martian Chronicles IV.-VI.) (13:15)
4. "M'ars poetica" (6:39) blistering fast guitar and synth leads egged on by rapid fire rhythm section give a performance worthy of Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman. Flute also comes into play. Unfortunately, like the aforementioned maestros, the music sounds a bit corny--like something meant to support a 1920s silent film--something more classical than rock, despite the full lineup of rock instruments. (8.75/10)
5. "Ha felszáll a köd (If the Fog Ascends)" (3:58) opens with flute over piano and synth bass. At the one-minute mark synth strings and guitar lead take over as drums and bass join in. Nice dynamic shift at the end of the second minute gives this a pleasant spacey dimension. Very CAMEL-esque--especially as the flute takes the lead for the next section. Nice melodies. (9/10)
6. "Apokalipszis (Apocalypse)" (3:44) trying to express a scary, troubled theme without any thick background washes--trying to do it all with a Mannheim Steamroller-like tapestry of fast-moving staccato instruments--just seems destined to fail. Obviously, the band envision a fast, orderly, sequential dismantling of civilization instead of a slow, brooding, painful version. Still, nice performances by all contributing to the weave. (8.75/10)
7. "E-moll elõjáték (Prelude in E Minor)" (0:29) a pastoral, even simplistic weave of woodwinds. I almost didn't know it was there the first few times I heard it--thought it was the intro for something else.
8. "Legyõzhetetlen (Undefeatable)" (2:46) another race to the finish line for an impressive weave of jackrabbit instruments. Annoying drum beat. Cool synth sound at 1:35 and thereafter. (4.5/5)
9. "Solaris" (4:53) another very pretty slower-paced instrumental in the CAMEL/ItCotKC style of prog. Turns a bit more Focus-like in the with the entrance of the flute lead and, later, electric guitar lead. At 2:20 we shift motifs to a more ELP/Triumvirate-like palette until flute, synth strings and lite electric bass take over. A nice song composition with everyone performing their duties with skill and precision. (9/10)

Total time 45:50


92.778 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of symphonic progressive rock music with the three-part "Krónikák" suite standing out as one of the finest epics of the 1980s. 




3. PAT METHENY GROUP First Circle

The album on which Pat and Lyle really committed to the prog-synth sound palette with lots of mushy synth-strings washes, treated percussion sounds, world instrument usage, and Pat's now signature Synclavier electric lead guitar sounds.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Pat Metheny / guitars (acoustic 6- & 12-string, electric & slide), electric sitar (2), Synclavier (1,2,8), co-arranger & producer
- Pedro Aznar / acoustic 6- (3) & 12-string (8) guitars, glockenspiel (1), voice (2,3,5-8), whistle (6), bells (2,6), percussion (5-7)
- Lyle Mays / organ, Synclavier, Oberheim, piano (2,3,5-8), trumpet (1), agogo bells (5), co-arranger
- Steve Rodby / electric (2,4,6,8) and acoustic (3-5,7) basses, bass drum (1)
- Paul Wertico / drums, field drum & cymbal (1)

1. "Forward March" (2:49) "Strings" synth based intro with delicate contributions from all. (4.5/5)

2. "Yolanda, You Learn" (4:49) uptempo Latin-based song with sitar-MIDI-syth-guitar lead. (8.75/10)

3. "The First Circle" (9:16) classic odd time signature expressed minimalistically while vocalist extraordinaire Pedro Aznar performs his vocalise magic. The melodies and chord progressions established in that magical third minute are among the Group's finest ever. And then Lyle's sensitive piano solo in the quite center. Sublime. Steve Rodby is pure genius as is Pedro with all of his supplemental touches. And then we finish with the ever-so-cool "orchestral" "rise" and climax over the final two and a half minutes. Music doesn't get much better than this, folks. (19.25/20)

4. "If I Could" (7:01) one of Pat's classic acoustic guitar "fire-side chats" with Lyle's gentle synth support and, later, Paul's brushed cymbal play and Steve's intuitive double bass. Beautiful. 
(13.25/15)

5. "Tell It All" (7:59) another Caribbean-feeling song of joy with great percussion from Pedro Aznar. Pat's chosen guitar sound here is his more standard WES MONTGOMERY jazz tone. Again, can guitar proficiency/virtuosity be more finely expressed? (13.25/15)

6. "End of the Game" (8:02) Quite possibly Group's finest song ever--at least in their top five--with the great chord progression and synclavier guitar lead and Lyle's brilliant incidental synths. Then Pat and Paul burst in with full drums and Pat's trade mark "trumpet/horn" lead sound. He is such a virtuoso of this instrument! And Paul, Steve, and Lyle are such consummate supporters! (15/15)

7. "Más Allá (Beyond)" (5:40) Pedro's finest hour--a heart-jerker of a song with absolutely masteruful accompaniment and arrangement--especially from Lyle. (10/10)

8. "Praise" (4:18) an upbeat, almost poppy anthemic tune that often (tried) to end 80s concerts. (8.5/10)

Total Time 49:54


92.11 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music of the Jazz-Rock Fusion pursuasion.




4. THE ENID In the Region of the Summer Stars

An "updated" remake of the original 1976 release.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Francis Lickerish / guitar
- Glenn Tollett / keyboards, bass, tuba
- Robert John Godfrey / keyboards (incl. piano solo on track 4), percussion, co-producer
- Stephen Stewart / bass, guitar, co-producer
- David Storey / drums, percussion
With:
- Neil Michell / trumpet (1, 6, 9)
- Chris North / drums (6 - 11)

1. "Fool" (2:43) definitely a treated variation on a familiar classical piano intro before distorted guitar notes, water noises, and reveille trumpet are interjected. Very Vangelis Blade Runner-like. (5/5)
2. "The Tower Of Babel" (5:05) weird Dick Dale-like tremolo-picked guitar opening before Spanish-sounding melodic theme over Genesis-like rhythm pattern. This could be Renaissance! (8.75/10)
3. "The Reaper" (4:03) very Camel-esque--especially with the background synth strings. Then it turns Vangelis with tubular bells until the disturbing third minute's guitar chords and tympanic hits. Theatric but lacking substance. (8.75/10)
4. "The Loved Ones" (5:20) romantic piano bombast that sounds like sounds like THE RASPBERRIES, RICK WAKEMAN, and SERGEI RACHMANINOFF. (8.75/10)
5. "The Demon King" (4:18) not my favorite passage. I'm not even sure why elements of evil need be present. (8.75/10)
6. "Pre-Dawn" (1:12) cool horn solo--like Aaron Copeland. (4.75/5)
7. "Sunrise" (3:27) great! Rivals Vangelis! (9.25/10)
8. "The Last Day" (7:59) the slow building militaristic start seems to indicate routine that would constitute a human being's approach to a day in which they were completely unaware of the world's demise. Full theatric orchestral force at the end of the third minute. I love this section! The crescendo and dénouement, not as much. (13.75/15)
9. "The Flood" (1:12) water … lots of it, with racing trumpet over the top. (4.25/5)
10. "Under The Summer Stars" (5:42) harps and synth horns to recapitulate an earlier-used melody. I like this second part a lot! Almost New Age beauty. The quiet mid-section followed by the ball-busting guitar solo is wonderful. (9.75/10)
11. "Adieu" (3:03) spacey piano and distant electric guitar and synth "light" provide a perfect, beautiful outro. (5/5)

Total time 44:04

When I compare this beautiful music to that of other artists or album labeled "symphonic" I cringe at the injustice and inequity. The music of In the Region of the Summer Stars is like CAMEL's "Snow Goose" composed in true classical symphonic forms and performed by truly classically trained musicians with orchestration. And I use the Camel reference intentionally because "Snow Goose" is considered a "masterpiece" by so many prog lovers! So should this be. And this re-recording is so clean and warm! (Still pre-digital?)
      What's even more impressive is how orchestra-strings-like the synthesizer strings sound. Obviously, classical musician Robert John Godfrey had sound quality standards that he worked hard to maintain. Not only are the sounds of the individual instruments impeccably rendered and separated, the levels and integration of the final mixes are so well spaced and yet beautifully rendered into a stage-like tapestry presentation. If there is any fault to this album it is with the relatively narrow space of pacing: there are no real steroidal pieces running away with reckless abandon, though there are plenty of spacious quiet passages to fit the cosmic direction of this album's view. Also, all of the musicians are fairly tightly reigned in, never really allowed to free-range with improvisational forays with their respective instruments: it all feels very contrived, programmed, and governed (by a composer or a composer's sheet music).  

91.13 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of progressive rock music symphonic 




5. SOLSTICE Silent Dance 

A group of Brits that came together in 1980 in Milton Keynes, the band members had all polished their chops within the Folk and Folk Rock circles before experimenting with some of the sounds and styles that progressive rockers had been exploring. Leader Andy Glass is an extraordinary guitarist and composer of complex, mutli-layered song weaves (from the folk traditions?) while multiple female singers performed much of the singing duties up front, the multi-part vocal harmonies are part of the charm and distinction that make this band so endearing and admirable.
     The first thing that stands out upon listening to this album is how strikingly different this debut album is from all other debut "neo prog" or "romanticized" progressive rock albums are from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Though the crystalline voice of lead vocalist Sandy Leigh is not pitch-perfect nor as consistent as that of either Annie Haslam or Jon Anderson (the two artists to which she is most compared--I tend to think her voice more similar to that of Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan,  Magenta's Christina Booth, or even Janis Joplin), the chunky YES-like bass, 12-string guitars, multiple guitar tracks, virtuosic violin, and bass pedals lead to a sophistication and maturity that is so much beyond other debut prog albums by the likes of IQ, Pallas, Quasar, Twelfth Night, Gizmo, and Saga.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Sandy Leigh / lead vocals
- Andy Glass / guitar, backing vocals
- Marc Elton / violin, keyboards, backing vocals
- Mark Hawkins / bass, bass pedals
- Martin Wright / drums, percussion
With:
- Margaret Phillips / Fender Rhodes (2,7)
- Sue Robinson / vocals (bonus 5,6,8)
- Shelley Patt / vocals (bonus 9)

SIDE 1
1. "Peace" (6:30) female vocals! And layers of background singers! With bass-dripping, YES-like prog music. Nice! And an excellent lead guitarist. (Top notch solos!) Great melodies and harmonic structures. And violin. If the sound production were better this might be deserving of full marks! (9/10)
2. "Earthsong" (6:38) opens with very cool, very intimate acoustic guitar. Joined by keys and then laid-back drums and very nice fretless bass. Nice groove set up. The lyric is so prescient of today's environmental ills and their effects. Just such a nice floating experience! (9.5/10)
3. "Sunrise" (4:07) multiple female vocals with heavy Prog Folk accompaniment over an acoustic bluesy Led Zeppelin chord structure. Great HUGH MARSH (Bruce Cockburn)-like electric violin solo. Another song that might be rated higher if the sound engineering/production had been better. (9/10)
4. "Return of Spring" (4:53) violin and acoustic guitars launch full on with bass and drums in support. The violin work on this one is stunning, given the lead for most of the song with intermittent breaks for acoustic guitars and multi-voice "la-la-las." (9/10)


SIDE 2
5. "Cheyenne" (5:59) opens with an awesome multi-voiced vocals with spacey acoustic guitars sounding like John Martyn's echoplex guitar. Great sound with amazing vocal arrangements. Very spacious throughout. (9/10)
6. "Brave New World" (8:46) a RUSH-y opening before folk vocals with keys lead to a sound that could have come straight off of MAGENTA's Seven album with its YES-RENAISSANCE hybridization. Awesome song! (19/20)
7. "Find Yourself" (6:03) a simple pop-like song sounding very much like Nicolette Larson's "Lotta Love." Pretty with inspiring lyrics. (8.5/10)
8. "Whyte Lady" (5:46) (8.5/10)

Total Time: 48:42


90.55 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of relatively early neo-progressive rock music and one of the finest sounding debut albums in the Neo Prog lexicon. 




6. DAVID SYLVIAN Brilliant Trees

One of my all-time favorite album sides (Side 2) from one of the 80's few and true innovators of musical sound, structure and mood.

1. "Pulling Punches" (5:01) a great, quirky start to this eye-opening album. (8.5/10)

2. "The Ink in the Well" (4:29) beautiful and spacey, though lacking catchy melody. (8/10)

3. "Nostalgia" (5:39) is a prog "pop" masterpiece, What a mood, what powerful melody and lyrics, what horns. (10/10)

4. "Red Guitar" (5:07) is an okay song--more like JAPAN than his new direction. (7/10)

5. "Weathered Wall" (5:40) my second introduction to JON HASSELL (ENO's "Ambient 4: On Land" was my first). Stunning emotional impact everytime I listen to it. One of the great songs ever recorded. (11/10)

6. "Backwaters" (4:49) has amazing samples/radio inicidentals from HOLGER CZUKAY. Love the bass line. (9.5/10)

7. "Brilliant Trees" (8:35) almost as powerful and awesome as "Weathered Wall" HASSELL just blows me away!! (20/20)

This album has some 'weaker' songs and therefore can't quite gain masterpiece status, but, as with MANY other albums, there are some masterful songs contained herein--including that rarest of feats--a near-'perfect' side! Plus, this album stands up very well over time (as opposed to so many other albums from the 80s).

90.25 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of Crossover Prog despite its 'Foxtrot/Selling England-like' lows. Despite not rating as highly as some other albums from this year, this is one of my two or three favorite albums of the year.




7. MANUEL GÖTTSCHING E2-E4

Though a fairly recent discovery of mine, this wonderful album stands up strong against any of the other Berlin School albums of its era--including the masterpieces of Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. BTW: don't be deceived: this plays out like one continuous rave party dance song; the demarcations and separate song titles are purely artificial!

Line-up / Musicians:
- Manuel Göttsching / guitar, electronics, composer & producer

1. "Ruhige Nervositäet / Quiet Nervousness" (13:00) cool groove with treated percussion in the lead positions. As instruments are gradually introduced and molded into the weave, the song just keeps getting stronger. It is truly difficult to discern whether or not these individual tracks woven together are in fact generated by guitars--I would argue that they're not. As the song plays on I'm feeling as if I'm in a big dance party--or Ibiza; some huge dance hall where disco balls, flashing colored lights, and multi-level platforms are disbursed for dancing and losing onesself. The start of trance dancing or house music. Even today, at age 64, I'm compelled to want to get up and dance by this music. Brilliant. I want to demerit this for its sameness but at the same time I want to reward Manuel for producing such a mesmerizing, joy-filled, dance generator. (23.5/25)
2. "Gemäßigter Aufbruch / Moderate Start" (10:00) apparently, at some point in the flow of the first song it became the second song. Even more Tiësto or Oakenfold than before, it is really just a continuation of what he started in the opening 13 minutes. (17.75/20)
3. "...Und Mittelspiel / ...And Central Game" (7:00) the song finally seems as if it's evolving as the percussive elements diminish and dwindle leaving a combo harmonium-accordion-guitar strum sound to dance around the chord chart. The percussives are still there, just at much lower levels, allowing the organ-like combination of pipe sounds to stand out. Cool. Again, I appreciate the happy, upbeat nature of the music. (13.25/15)
4. "Ansatz / Promise" (6:00) Until the soloing guitar comes through well into the second minute of this I'm not quite sure what distinguishes this "song" from the previous one, but, once the guitar is blues-jazz soloing, I get it. (8.5/10)
5. "Damen Eleganza / Queen A Pawn" (5:00) at which point the soloing Bob WELCH-like guitar changes sound and the percussives rise back into greater prominence in the mix. (9/10)
6. "Ehrenvoller Kampf / Glorious Fight" (3:00) the guitar soloing reaches a crescendo in pitch and speed, gradually shifting over to artistically strumming the song's two chords as a different lead instrument enters in the higher pitch ranges. (Sounds like KC's speeded up tapes of his guitar on his big hit, "Get Down Tonight".) (8.75/10)
7." Hoheit Weicht (Nicht Ohne Schwung) / H. R. H. Retreats (With A Swing...)" (9:00) Then the percussive "bent" lead sounds return and the strumming guitar has gotten wild and crazy before it returns to soloing--this time way more jazzy and impressively than before. Fun and, again, so dance-inducing. (18.5/20)
8. "...Und Souveränität / ...And Sovereignty" (3:00) once again the point of demarcation from "before" and "now" is so subtle and arbitrary: The soloing guitar is still going. As a matter of fact, he seems to have gotten a little second wind! All the while, the Tangerine Dream-like dance weave continues, though it begins to thin out, but the party isn't quite over yet. (I am still so in the Zone!) (9/10)
9. "Remis / Draw" (3:00) well, it turns out the guitarist was finally finished, and so the rest of the electronica ensemble begins to slowly withdraw. The crowd gets the idea and begins to leave the dance floor--headed for the bathrooms, bar/waitresses, exits, and/or beach. What a night! What a dance! (8.75/10)

Total time 59:00

Thanks to the stupendous groove and George Benson show, the dance party was a HUGE success!

90.0 on the Fishscales = A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of prog electronica and a major step forward from the world of Disco to the world of all night raves. 




4.5 Star Near-Masterpieces 
(Ratings 89.99 to 86.67)



8. LOS JAIVAS Obras de Violeta Parra

Many prog lovers and Chileans count this album among their all-time favorite Los Jaivas releases. 

Line-up / Musicians:
- Eduardo "Gato" Alquinta / lead & backing vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, quena, ocarina, tarka, siku, flute (runrunera), trutruca, moceño, sleigh bells
- Eduardo Parra / electric piano, piano, Mini-Moog, trutruca, tambourine
- Claudio Parra / piano, electric piano, Mini-Moog, accordion, maracas
- Mario Mutis / bass, acoustic guitar, trutruca, ocarina, siku, moceño, cultrun, bells, kalimba, vocals
- Gabriel Parra / drums, timpani, bombo legüero, orchestral bass drum, ratchet, charango, trutruca, moceño, vocals
With:
- Isabel Parra / lead vocals & cuatro (6)
- Patricio Castillo / co-arranger & acoustic guitar & backing vocals (6)

1. "Arauco Tiene una Pena" (11:07) opens with the call of some Chilean brass horn--like a valveless trumpet. Ominous synth combo chords respond to the horn for a bit before piano joins in playing some very complex classical-like solo stuff--eventually supplanting all other instruments until 3:33 when bass drum signals full band's arrival. Descending whole band three-chord romp is repeated while electric guitar boldly claims the lead. Slight shift in weave allows music to feel more integrated--guitar to feel welcomed within the mix, instead of above it. At the six minute mark, everything stops to allow contemplative reevaluation, but then we switch channels to a totally country Spanish motif to take over. Gato starts singing in this part--very Spanish feeling melodies and stylings. A bit too folkorico for me; though I love the infusion of native and traditional melodies and instruments, to go straight to a folk song in its pure form is not the same thing. And this is the entire final five minutes. (17.25/20)

2. "El Guillatún" (8:47) chaotic pounding of piano and multiple percussives precede the formation of a rhythmic base in the second half of the second minute. What forms is a kind of folk takeover of a semi-rock, semi-militaristic motif over which traditional Latin-American folk choral vocals are presented. Occasional forays of impressive classical piano push their way into the music but never enough to take over or turn down a different road. At 4:40 there is a little "taps"-like horn before rejoining the chorus for the next verse. Traditional folk instruments join in the next more-proggy variation on the 
theme which leads into a bare, almost Leonard Bernstein-like, classical section to close. (17.5/20)

3. "Mañana me Voy Pa'l Norte" (4:40) Andean flutes with synth flutes and militaristic drumming turns into what feels and sounds like a traditional Andean drinking folk song. Banjo- and accordion-like sounds in the mix as well with polka-like bass and drum beat. Pleasant and happy for a folk song. Not so much for a prog song. Electric guitar solo at the end of the third minute--then joined by a second electric guitar. (8.25/10)

4. "Y Arriba Quemando el Sol" (11:03) ominous piano chord, alternated spaciously by acoustic Spanish guitar strum and slow picking. One chord! And then, finally, another--both played and held for long periods. The vocal that ensues is very cool: as if the singer is telling a story of local history importance. Great Native American feel and pacing with many subtle yet beautiful contributions by incidental instruments. When background harmony vocals join in at the three-minute mark it's even more magical. The first electric instrument arrive soon thereafter--then electric bass and more piano inputs as the song morphs into a kind of variation on Ravel's "Bolero". Very cool! Synth horns arrive in the seventh minute. Pure prog perfection. Easily the best song on the album and my favorite. Chorused electric guitars and multiple synths get bigger roles in the ninth minute. (20/20)

5. "El Gavilán" (11:43) part jazz, part classical-influenced prog rock, this has a Spanish KEITH EMERSON feel to it. At 2:45 it launches into a complex classical passage that has a very strong GENESIS, John TOUT, and even GRYPHON feel to it. This one is definitely a study in classical compositional performance--even down to the orchestra-like percussion work. The solo piano turn that starts at the 7:00 mark is, in my opinion, the song's weakest part--except for the way the piano is mirrored by the sparse guitar, bass, and cymbal play. Then it all breaks loose into a very MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER-like full ensemble expression. Then the tenth minute is occupied by yet another variation, this one more centered on the syncopated percussive rhythmic pattern. Reminds me of some DISCIPLINE/Matthew PARMENTER passages. The final section is yet another recapitulation which, in my opinion, is another weaker version. (18/20)

6. "Un Rio de Sangre" (8:28) female singer (Isabel Parra) over bar-hall music. Reminds me of something that you might see and hear in the background in the background of a saloon scene from a Hollywood Western. A GENESIS-like proggy section begins at the 3:00 mark. Piano sweeps in and takes over before gorgeous flute steals it back. The melodic, jazz-rock fusion that ensues is actually quite gorgeous--raising the song quite a bit from the 8/10 of the first three minutes. (17.75/20)

7. "Run-Run se Fue Pa'l Norte" (5:14) piano and orchestra of a Spanish folk combo combine to render this song more palatable to the prog-minded music lover. Nice melodies--almost lullaby-ish.(8.25/10)

8. "En los Jardines Humanos" (9:35) this classically-molded song feels more like the GRYPHON-like anachronistic fare than any of the previous songs--even down to the chamber choir-like vocals. The stop-and-go plodding along gets a little old over the first seven minutes. A pan flute-led military drummed section starts in the eighth minute before celebratory piano play begins with electric guitar and the rest of the band soon joining in to both melody and rhythm. A challenging composition to play, I'm sure, but not as fun to listen to. (17.25/20)

9. "Violeta Ausente" (5:06) for the first 90 seconds, this feels like a saloon-playing pianist's demonstration of his dexterity. Then the full band kicks into the barrel-house rhythm as the solo lead singer launches his limerick-like punchlines. The chorus is multi-voiced with some interesting harmonic structures--all the while the pianist continues his showy showing off. Interesting. (He is a very good piano player!) (8.75/10)

Total Time: 77:04

While there are some amazing progressive rock high points of this album, there are also some more-folk/traditional songs and motifs here that, in my mind, detract from this being a true prog album. While I love the clever synthesis and blending of folk elements into prog music, I''m never sure that purely folk (or purely classical) songs or motifs should be included. I get it that many artists never launch into an album's recording sessions with the expressed purpose or intention of creating a "prog" album, so I can cut these Chilean virtuosi some slack. Plus, I am really, really happy for having been exposed to this album--this music. What a band! And with this album I do think they've progressed and matured well beyond the achievements of Los Alturas de Macchu Picchu. 

88.67 on the Fishscales = B+/4.5 stars; an excellent addition to any prog lover's music collection and a near-masterpiece of folk-infused prog. 





Not As Good As Advertized
(ratings below 85.0)



MARILLION Fugazi

Marillion's sophomore attempt disappointed many. I can see why. Most people liked the NeoGenesis sound and stylings of their debut--(which is where they'll return for their next--the album most consider their masterpiece, Misplaced Childhood.)

Line-up / Musicians:
- Fish / vocals
- Steve Rothery / guitars
- Mark Kelly / keyboards
- Pete Trewavas / basses
- Ian Mosley / drums
With:
- Chris Karen / percussion
- Linda Pyke / backing vocals (6)

1. "Assassing" (7:02) opens with some SIMPLE MINDS "Don't You (Forget About Me)"-sounding sound palette before switching to a funky 80s synth baseline. The vocal isn't 80s ish, but everybody else is--especially the drums, bass, and cheesy synth flourishes. Nice lead guitar work in the fourth minute (though I'm surprised Rothery felt the need to double himself up--doing it twice on two different tracks.) In the fifth minute the baseline rhythm section switches to something more interesting (until the dated 80s synth wash chords join in.) At 5:55 we're back to the 80s SIMPLE MINDS sounds and structure. (12.5/15)

2. "Punch And Judy" (3:21) More SIMPLE MINDS sounds and structure to open this silly song. A complete failure--especially as a prog song. A song unworthy of a band of this talent and caliber. (7.5/10)

3. "Jigsaw" (6:50) MIDI-ed synth arpeggi supports Fish's sensitive vocal until 1:12 when Fish belts out his "stand straight" chorus line and the rest of the band joins in with synth washes and interesting bass up front. The song quickly moves back to the nursery room arpeggi with Fish's delicate poetic vocal again for the second verse. After the second "stand straight" chorus there is a shift into an instrumental C part in which Steve Rothery delivers a perfunctory guitar solo. A and B return, a little fuller this time, before the song plays out with the A section and Fish's delicate vocal story finish. Rothery's background lead flourishes and Pete Trewavas' interesting bass are the best things about this song. (13/15)

4. "Emerald Lies" (5:09) opens with some searing guitar over full band. Pete's chunky Chris Squire-like bass are quite prominent. Delicate 12-string arpeggi move in, providing the sole support for Fish's narrative story telling. Pete's jazzy bass joins in for a bit. Then we move into a powerful repeat of the opening for a militaristic vocal display at the second half of the third minute. I don't like the way the drums are recorded on this album: very 1980s-ish (gated snare and toms). The second part of this nightmare section is pretty cool with all the instrumentalists weaving together for some ominous music in support of Fish's dark lyrics. (8.75/10)

5. "She Chameleon" (6:53) "organ" arpeggio opening over which Fish joins in with a delicate Peter Gabriel-esque vocal. Tom hits punctuate Fish's vocal in the second minute as things get heavier with the addition of spacious bass and drums--all the while as the organ arpeggi continue their insidious malediction. Great, theatric Fish performance. At 2:42 we move into full smooth rock section for some nice synth soloing--almost Vangelis-like. At 3:35 we move dramatically back into a darker, more ominous passage--which is then filled by a slow-building Steve Rothery solo. Very David Gilmour-like. Then it's back to the story and Fish's dramatic storytelling. The best song on the album (despite the subject matter and use of foul language). (13.25/15)

6. "Incubus" (8:30) interesting and unique opening before three chord baseline sets into auto pilot while Fish sings. Nice chord sequence at the shift at 1:24 though the rhythm remains the same--but then a soft guitar-arpeggio section enters in which Pete's bass and Fish's plaintive story-telling voice sing. Simple vamp to support Rothery's fair solo in the seventh minute. (He's still not there--still not found his own sound and style much less virtuosity). All in all, this is not really a great song, though it has a lot of very promising elements--including the "waiting for the prompt" finale. (17.25/20)

7. "Fugazi" (8:13) gentle opening section is trumped by SIMPLE MINDS B section. A dull, uninteresting song to end a disappointing album. (12/15)

Total Time: 45:54

I have to admit that Pete Trewavas impresses me more than I imagined and Fish's skills at dramatic storytelling really soar on a couple songs ("She Chameleon" and "Incubus"), but the dated synths, horrible gated effects used on the drums, and reliance on 80s Simple Minds three-chord pop bombast on a couple of songs turn me sour. 

84.25 on the Fishscales = C+/3.5 stars; rated down for inconsistency and disappointing "borrowing" from pop group Simple Minds. A good album that I find hard to recommend to true prog lovers. 




PALLAS The Sentinel (1984) 

An album of pleasant if mostly simple songs that are in obvious disarray (due to record company decision-making) and which have been lackluster production (Eddie Offord got tired/bored) and, if truth be known, by musicians whose instrumental and compositional skills are both on the immature side.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Euan Lowson / lead & backing vocals
- Niall Matthewson / lead guitar, Roland synth guitar, e-bow, backing vocals (3)
- Ronnie Brown / grand piano, synthesizers (Roland JP4, Oberheim OBXA, Synclavier II, Korg Sigma), Mellotron, backing vocals
- Graeme Murray / bass, Taurus bass pedals, 12-string guitar (3), 2nd voice & backing vocals
- Derek Forman / drums, Simmons el. drums (1,4), timpani, timbales, bells, rototoms, backing vocals

The album I had the privilege of listening to:
1. "Rise and Fall, Part 1" (6:07) (8.5/10)
2. "Eastwest" (5:01) Pink Floyd-ish--especially the electric guitar solo. (8/10)
3. "March on Atlantis" (5:19) Duke "Duchess"-like opening with heavy middle section with great Mellotron. Nice buildup and guitar in the second half. (9/10)
4. "Rise and Fall, Part 2" (4:05) ELOY-esque. (8.8/10)
5. "Heart Attack" (8:18) YES-lite for the first 3:30 with some nice drumming; all instrumental after that. (16/20)
6. "Atlantis" (8:03) a GENEIS (music)-YES (vocals and Rickenbacker bass) meld. (13/15)
7. "Ark of Infinity" (7:07) like Firth of Fifth and other Selling England by the Pound themes. Instrumental until 4:25. (13/15)
8. "Arrive Alive" (4:08) New Wave RE-FLEX/THE FIXX/Trevor Horn YES. It's obvious that this song represents material that pre-dated this album. (8.25/10)
9. "Shock Treatment" (4:20) hardriving rock á la LOVERBOY, 707 and YES's Drama. (8/10)
10. "Cut and Run" (5:02) with vocals that sound like OMD and music that sounds like it came from YES's Drama we get a sound that's like . . . THE FIXX? (8/10)

The album data as it is entered on Prog Archives (which is not the album the band wanted):
1. "Eyes In The Night (Arrive Alive)" (4:08) sounding more techno pop than Neo Prog. (Bands like THE FIXX, THE RE-FLEX, ICEHOUSE, and LOVERBOY come to mind as I listen to this.) Production is only fair. (7.75/10)
2. Cut And Run (5:02)
3. Rise And Fall (10:16)
4. Shock Treatment (4:29)
5. Ark Of Infinity (7:05)
6. Atlantis (8:00)

Total time 39:00


83.79 on the Fishscales = B-/four stars; a respectable entry into the neo-progressive aspect of Prog World.





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



CAMEL Stationary Traveller

Line-up / Musicians:
- Andy Latimer / guitars (electric, classical, 12-string), flute, piano (2,3), bass (2,5,6), drum machine (3), synthesizers (Yamaha CS-80, Juno 60, PPG), Panpipes, vocals (2,3), producer
- Ton Scherpenzeel / Korg organ, synths (Yamaha CS-80, Prophet, Juno 60, PPG), piano, accordion (2)
- Paul Burgess / percussion, drums
- Chris Rainbow / vocals (4,10)
With:
- Haydn Bendall / Fairlight (1,3,12) & PPG (8) synthesizers
- Mel Collins / sax (7)
- David Paton / bass (3,4), fretless bass (7,10)

1. Pressure Points (instrumental) (2:10) 
2. Refugee (3:47) 
3. Vopos (5:32) 
4. Cloak and Dagger Man (3:55) 
5. Stationary Traveller (instrumental) (5:34) 
6. West Berlin (5:10) 
7. Fingertips (4:29) 
8. Missing (instrumental) (4:22) 
9. After Words (instrumental) (2:01) 
10. Long Goodbyes (5:14)

Total Time: 42:14




KING CRIMSON Three of a Perfect Pair

The third album in four years from the Tony LEVIN-Adrian BELEW-Robert FRIPP-Bill BRUFORD version of King Crimson seems to display a side of KC that is more straightforward, more poppy and less prone to dive into the complicated polyrhythmic structures and sounds of their previous two albums--and when they do they sound old, used up, retreaded. Plus I know how much stress was being placed on Bill Bruford to be reined in to straight times--or at least to provide the steady beat for the other musicians to play off of. (Thus the "click" track in "Sleepless.") Not Bill's suit. Still, the band managed to create and record one of my favorite KC songs in "Sleepless" (5:21) (10/10) (I especially love the extended EP version) and both "Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part 3" (6:01) (8/10) and the title song (4:13) (8/10) are pretty decent. "Industry" (7:05) (7/10) would have been better were it condensed into a shorter time frame or were more exciting things happening throughout its seven minutes. Again there almost seems to be a song order formula for this album as if it has to be similar to that of Discipline (and Beat). While the musicianship is still top notch, I fear that the inspiration and creativity are down--which is reflected in the performances. It is no wonder that King Crimson version three collapsed after this album.

Line-up / Musicians:
- Adrian Belew / lead vocals, fretted & fretless guitars, synth
- Robert Fripp / guitar, synth
- Tony Levin / Chapman Stick, bass, synth, backing vocals
- Bill Bruford / acoustic & electric drums

- "Left Side" -
1. Three of a Perfect Pair (4:11)
2. Model Man (3:56)
3. Sleepless (5:20)
4. Man with an Open Heart (3:00)
5. Nuages (That Which Passes, Passes Like Clouds) (4:42)
- "Right Side" -
6. Industry (7:22)
7. Dig Me (2:59)
8. No Warning (3:28)
9. Larks' Tongues in Aspic, Part III (6:01)

Total Time 40:59




RUSH Grace Under Pressure

Line-up / Musicians:
- Alex Lifeson / electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizer
- Geddy Lee / bass, synthesizer, vocals
- Neil Peart / drums, percussion, Simmons SDS-V electronic drums
With:
- JIm Burgess / PPG synth programming
- Paul Northfield / PPG synth programming

1. Distant Early Warning (4:56)
2. Afterimage (5:03)
3. Red Sector A (5:09)
4. The Enemy Within (Part I of Fear) (4:34)
5. The Body Electric (4:59)
6. Kid Gloves (4:17)
7. Red Lenses (4:41)
8. Between the Wheels (5:44)

Total Time 39:23




Albums on the Fringe of Prog World



COCTEAU TWINS Treasure

My introduction to both the Cocteau Twins and their 4 A.D. record label, I was sucked into the purchase of this album by the album cover and the song titles. To this day, this remains my favorite Cocteau Twins album (the drums are loud and central, not faded or secondary as they become increasingly on successive releases). Elizabeth's "vocal acrobatics" still wow and mesmerize me today, 36 years later.

1. "Ivo" (3:53) What?! How can such a creative, innovative, fresh music exist? That voice! That bass! Those reverbed guitars! (9.5/10)
2. "Lorelei" (3:42) What melody! What a chorus! Love these "drums." (9/10)
3. "Beatrix" (3:11) gorgeous "harpsichord" sound. Amazingly brave vocal weave! (8.75/10)
4. "Persephone" (4:17) THE quintessential Cocteau drums! And then one of the most "out there" vocals ever laid down to celluloid! (9.75/10)
5. "Pandora" (for Cindy) (5:35) Absolute beauty. A top 10 all-time favorite CT song. (10/10)
6. "Amelia" (3:29) THE song that sucked me into the world of the Cocteau Twins. Two amazing vocal tracks! (At first, I believed them to be two different vocalists!) (10/10)
7. "Aloysius" (3:26) Again, two amazingly different contrasting yet harmonizing vocal tracks. How does she do this?!!! I feels she's telling me a mediæval story. (9.5/10)
8. "Cicely" (3:27) Those drums! That bass! And then Elizabeth just crashes it and crushes it--first in the background, then in a bewitching little girl voice in the fore-bottom. Then, add the organ in the final third! Wow! That was unexpected! (9/10)
9. "Otterly" (4:03) oddly calming despite the tension present. (9.75/10)

10. "Donimo" (6:11) two songs in one: first the slow, tension-filled, almost cinematic, with Mellotron and organ background and Elizabeth's amazing multi-voiced vocal weave, then, when the drums and bass come crashing in at 2:22, we are treated to one of Elizabeth's most memorable vocal melodies and a performance that is absolutely stunning. (9.75/10)

This is the album which birthed the term "vocal acrobatics" when describing the unique and unusual talents of Elizabeth Frazier.

95.0 on the Fishscales = A/five stars; the first of Cocteau Twins' string of masterpieces. With Treasure, the band have gelled and begun to create a sound that is so different, so far ahead of its time, that it will be a long time before others (including the critics) catch up with them. This is/was my favorite album of the year.




JANE SIBERRY No Borders Here

My first exposure to this extraordinarily creative songwriter and chanteuse.

1. "The Waitress" (2:25) (9.25/10)
2. "I Muse Aloud" (4:11) (8.75/10)
3. "Dancing Class" (6:45) (15/15)
4. "Extra Executives" (4:30) (9.5/10)
5. "You Don't Need" (4:25) (8.75/10)
6. "Symmetry (The Way Things Have to Be)" (5:00) (8.75/10)
7. "Follow Me" (4:15) (8.25/10)
8. "Mimi on the Beach" (7:35) (13.25/15)
9. "Map of the World (Part 1)" (3:25) (8.75/10)

4.5 stars; a near-masterpiece of refreshing progressive rock music. One of my five or six favorite albums of the year.




BRUCE COCKBURN Stealing Fire

Perhaps Bruce's most overall accessible and prog-sounding album, Stealing Fire is blessed with several songs that have become mainstays in his concert playlists including the anthemic anti-American song "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" and "Nicaragua."

1. "Lovers in a Dangerous Time" (4:06) (8.75/10)
2. "Maybe the Poet" (4:53) (/10)
3. "Sahara Gold" (4:31) (9.25/10)
4. "Making Contact" (3:46) (8.75/10)
5. "Peggy's Kitchen Wall" (3:42) (9/10)
6. "To Raise the Morning Star" (5:52) (8.5/10)
7. "Nicaragua" (4:47) (9.25/10)
8. "If I Had a Rocket Launcher" (4:59) (10/10)
9. "Dust and Diesel" (5:24) (/10)




HOWARD JONES Human's Lib

Though definitely a pop album, the state-of-the-art synthesizer sound palette and song structures owe a strong nod to the proggers of the 70s and the leading edge techno-crats like Trevor Horn and Brian Eno.

1. "Conditioning" (4:32) (/10)
2. "What Is Love?" (3:45) (9/10)
3. "Pearl in the Shell" (4:03) (9/10)
4. "Hide and Seek" (5:34) (10/10)
5. "Hunt the Self" (3:42) (/10)
6. "New Song" (4:15) (/10)
7. "Don't Always Look at the Rain" (4:13) (9.5/10)
8. "Equality" (4:26) (9.5/10)
9. "Natural" (4:25) (/10)
10. "Human's Lib" (4:03) (/10)

A nouveau synthesizer masterpiece.




U2 The Unforgettable Fire

The band's first collaboration with Brian Eno turned out some wonderful sonic explorations. There is even the legendary tale of how Eno got the band members to jam on their bandmates' instruments--for perspective and creative inspiration (resulting in songs that didn't make the album like the amazing, "Boomerang"--and which also resulted in the collaboration of guitarist The Edge Evans with some of Eno's old friends, Jah Wobble, Holger Czukay, and François Kevorkian, on the EP Snake Charmer).

1. "A Sort of Homecoming" (5:26) (/10)
2. "Pride (In the Name of Love" (3:46) (9/10)
3. "Wire" (4:15) (9/10)
4. "The Unforgettable Fire" (4:55) (9.5/10)
5. "Promenade" (2:30) (4.25/5)
6. "4th of July" (2:11) (4.5/5)
7. "Bad" (6:07) (/10)
8. "Indian Summer Sky" (4:15) (/10)
9. "Elvis Presley and America" (6:24) (/10)
10. "MLK" (5/5)

A 4.5 star album that was truly innovative at the time--especially for this band.




DON HENLEY Building the Perfect Beast

EAGLES' drummer/singer/songwriter Don Henley's second solo album saw the adventurous artist experiment with lead-edge technology in the Fairlight CMI which resulted in some very unique and awesomely proggy-sounding music and sounds (e.g. the horn blasts in "Sunset Grill"). Though still a pop-oriented album, at least three of these songs ["The Boys of Summer" (4:45) (9.5/10),
"Sunset Grill" (6:22) (10/10), "Building the Perfect Beast" (4:59) (9/10)] found their way onto the small-market album-friendly radio stations that still proliferated in the USA at the time.




SIMPLE MINDS Sparkle in the Rain

Though clearly moving into the territory that would gain them international superstardom, there are still enough proggy vestiges left in these songs from the New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) period to warrant some attention from prog lovers.

1. "Up on the Catwalk" (4:45) (8.75/10)
2. "Book of Brilliant Things" (4:20) (8.5/10)
3. "Speed Your Love to Me" (4:25) (8.75/10)
4. "Waterfront" (4:49) (8.75/10)
5. "East at Easter" (3:30) (8.75/10)
6. "Street Hassle" (5:15) (8/10)
7. "White Hot Day" (4:33) (9/10)
8. "'C' Moon Cry Like a Baby" (4:21) (9/10)
9. "The Kick Inside of Me" (4:45) (8.5/10)
10. "Shake Off the Ghosts" (3:58) (8.5/10)




LAURIE ANDERSON Mister Heartbreak

Though already familiar with the multi-media work of Ms. Anderson and with her music from her wonderful debut album, Big Science, this album totally surprised me for the unexpected collaborations with prog artists Peter Gabriel, Adrian Belew, Bill Laswell, and Anton Fier.

1. "Sharkey's Day" (7:41) (13.5/15)
2. "Langue d'amour" (6:12) (8.5/10)
3. "Gravity's Angel" (6:02) (8.75/10) 
4. "Kokoku" (7:03) (8.5/15)
5. "Excellent Birds" (3:12) (8.75/10)
6. "Blue Lagoon" (7:03) (10/10)
7. "Sharkey's Night" (2:29) (5/5)




FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD Welcome to the Pleasuredome

Though a massive pop hit and mass marketing masterpiece from producer TREVOR HORN (Buggles, Yes, Art of Noise) and his private Zang Tuum Tumb subsidiary of Island Records, Tevor's production and experimental use of Fairlight CMI technology allowed for some truly revolutionary sound to hit the radio and dance floors.
  
Side One:
1. "Well..." / "The World Is My Oyster" (1:55) (/5)
2. "Snatch of Fury (Stay)" / "Welcome to The Pleasuredome" (13:40) a very good prog epic (with the contribution on acoustic guitar by none other than YES' Steve Howe!) even by 1970s standards. (29/30)

Side Two: 
3. "Relax (Come Fighting)" (9.5/10)
4. "War (...and Hide)" (10/10)
5. "Two Tribes (for the victims of Ravishment)" (10/10)

Side Three:
6. "(Tag)" (0:31) 
7. "Ferry (Go)" (1:39)
8. "Born to Run" (4:02)
9. "San Jose (The Way)" (3:04)
10. "Wish (The Lads Were Here)" (2:48)
11. "The Ballad of 32" (4:49)

Side Four:
12. "Krisco Kisses" (2:56)
13. "Black Night White Light" (4:08)
14. "The Only Star in Heaven" (4:16)
15. "The Power of Love" (5:25)
16. "Bang..." (1:07) (/5)

The first album/disc is nearly flawless, the second completely and wholly forgettable.




ART OF NOISE Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise?

Though more of a dance phenom, the debut album of the Art of Noise is flush with the "proggie" experimentalism of the computer era and specifically of Trevor Horn's Fairlight CMIs. The song "Moments in Love" (10:17) (18.5/20) is alone worth the prog lover's attention.




XTC The Big Express

Any XTC releases bears listening for the prog lover if only for the eccentric adventure Andy Partridge and company provide in the areas of sound, structure, and lyric content. 

1. "Wake Up" (4:40) (9/10)
2. "All You Pretty Girls" (3:40) (8.75/10)
3. "Share You Donkey Up" (4:19) (8.75/10)
4.  "Seagulls Screaming 'Kiss Her, Kiss Her'" (3:50) (8.75/10)
5. "This World Over" (5:35) (10/10) 
6. "Red Brick Dream" (2:01) (/5)
7. "Washaway" (3:01) (8.25/10)
8. "Blue Overall" (4:26) (/10)
9. "The Everyday Story of Smalltown" (3:54) (/10)
10. "I Bought Myself a Liarbird" (2:49) (8.75/10)
11. "Reign of Blows" (3:31) (8.75/10)

Side One (songs 1-5) is definitely one of my favorite XTC sides ever finishing with my favorite XTC song of all-time, "This World Over." Probably my second or third favorite XTC album.