Reviews in this issue:
Pain Of Salvation - The Perfect Element I
Tracklist: Used (5:23), In The Flesh (8:36), Ashes (4:28), Morning On Earth (4:34), Ideoglossia (8:29), Her Voices (7:56), Dedication (4:00),
King Of Loss (9:46), Reconciliation (4:24), Song For The Innocent (3:02), Falling (1:50), The Perfect Element (10:09)
OK, prog-heads. It's that time of year again: go to the shop (Europe now and US-continent end of this month) and buy this
masterpiece! This album, which I now possess for
two weeks, keeps haunting me. Prog metal in its best form: powerful, bombastic, but also delicate and sensitive at times.
Highly melodic and excellent rhythmic section, combined with great lead and harmony vocals and a superb production: no doubt
about it, this one's going to be in my top 5 of this year.
InsideOut Europe is slowly growing to be the most important prog-label worldwide, with a lot of excellent bands signing. Pain
of Salvation is no exception, with this band IO has signed a prog band that has the potential to be one of the most important
prog metal bands on the scene. Having read Jerry's review about One Hour By The Concrete Lake, I
was not really tempted to buy that album, but after hearing this one, I think I'll check that one out too. And best of all: the current album is only part one
of what is going to be a two-album effort! But let's stray no longer and dive into the track by track.
The album opens with the most metal-like track, Used. Pounding and swirling, with almost rap-like vocals, reminding
of Faith No More, but the short chorus is typical prog-rock, almost Arena-like. This band is touring with Arena now,
which I find a bit strange since the music is much harder and has a different approach than Arena, but probably you do hear
some similarities, especially in the instrumental sections and guitar soli. The track flows into In The Flesh, which
has nothing to do with the Floyd track by the way. This resembles Arena the most of all tracks on the album, but also
the quieter Dream Theater or Fates Warning comes to mind. The complex vocal middle section is a treat. This
is more prog-rock than prog-metal, so all you metal-haters out there: forget these guys have long hair and just listen to the
music, I'm sure it will get to you as well. The instrumental acoustic piano/guitar section with which this track sensitively ends,
is gorgeous. Now the peak of the album is reached with the song Ashes. Apparently they made a video to accompany
this track and I would love to see it. Please post it on your web-page, boys! The haunting dark atmosphere of the chorus
almost drives me crazy: it's in my head when I get up in the morning, it's in my head when I go to bed in the evening:
"As we walk through the ashes, you whisper my name....". The continuing musical-box melody that pervades the
whole track while climaxes come and go just echoes and echoes through my cortex.... and a guitar solo of Gilmouresque
proportions (but not the length) to end this track...I think I just wet my pants...
Morning on Earth continues this musical-box idea, but is much quieter. The fantastic vocalist and the excellent
vocal harmonies come to light behind a background of strings and acoustic guitar. The spoken vocals over music remind
of Waters' Pros And Cons (you know, the part where he reads to his kids "pathetic, he said,
that's what it is...") [this track is called Go Fishing - ed]. Idioglossia is almost as hard as the first track, again Faith No More comes to mind,
but the complex rhythmic tricks of Dream Theater find their place here as well, as does the chorus of Ashes, which
returns in in slightly harder version. This track is highly diverse with many different things going on constantly and
can compete with DT in terms of composition as well. It's a pity I don't have the lyrics with the promotional copy, since there is
definitely a lot going on lyric-wise too.
Her Voices opens like a piano-vocal ballad (the keyboard player is really good too, by the way), but the powerful guitars soon
set in (the tempo is still "ballad" though). The song slowly evolves and before you know it you are listening to
folk music in a prog metal jacket! Again brilliant work on the composition site.
Dedication is a rest point on the
album, quite calm and laid back, where the keyboards have the most impressive role (no solo, but excellent support of the
King Of Loss is a long track, with a mildly Middle-Eastern atmosphere. This is a very dynamic track:
one moment all is quiet, the next all hell breaks lose and before you know it, the storm has settled again. Gliding
chords provide a special feeling to the chorus. The last section will return later on, and as such the album is musically
a whole entity where songs intertwine in compositions. A superb guitar solo finishes the track, well if you don't count
a lot of dissonant chords ;-).
Reconciliation is shorter but in the same vein and a bit more uptempo.
Song For The Innocent is another ballad but with a massive instrumental guitar solo section (ala Comfortably Numb).
In my opinion, it would not be a shame to stretch soli like this for 5 minutes. But hey, I can't have all....
Now the final section is there: Falling (a keyboard chord plus guitar thing like Floyds' Marooned or
Waters' Ballad of Bill Hubbard) which flows into the 10 minute masterpiece The Perfect Element.
This track features the best of the previous tracks
in terms of compositions and atmosphere, in terms of bombast and sensibility, in terms of vocal harmonies and screams,
in terms of melody and rhythm. It just sums up the rest of the album. Absolutely brilliant closing of a brilliant album.
After discussing the album, I would like to take up another point. Unfortunately I missed the Arena/Pain Of Salvation
concert in Holland (I was enjoying Camel with long instrumentals since Latimer had a throat infection and could not sing that
day, besides I was not aware of this album yet), but apparently their stage performance is rather static: doing a competition in trying
to look angry. I have not seen it myself but
would find that a real pity if true. Just look at Dream Theater (I saw them last week in Den Bosch): it is possible to deliver
serious prog metal, but have a party with the audience at the same time.
Well, in conclusion: as you may have noted I am thrilled about this album and am convinced this album should and could
reach a large prog audience. I will give it the highest note I have ever given (apart from Pallas' The Sentinel, but that's a
classic). I hope Pain Of Salvation will produce a 'Perfect Element Part II' that will receive an equally high note, I really do.
Don't I have any criticism? Eghhh, nope. Well, maybe one: you have to like musical boxes. Most of the guitar lines seem to be
centered around that "theme" ;-)
Conclusion: 9+ out of 10.
Gilgamesh - Arriving Twice
Tracklist: With Lady And Friend (4:25), You're Disguised/Orange
Diamond/Northern Gardens/Phil's Little Dance/Northern Gardens (17:52), Island Of
Rhodes/Paper Boat/As If Your Eyes Were Open (6:52), Extract (9:27), One End
More/Phil's Little Dance/Worlds Of Zin (9:11), Arriving Twice (1:41),
Notwithstanding (4:21). Lady And Friend (4:06)
The name Gilgamesh should not be a new one to those people who follow the
Canterbury scene of progressive music. In fact two albums were released in the
seventies, 'Gilgamesh' (1975) and 'Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into' (1978). The
brainchild of this group was the late keyboardist/composer Alan Gowen (1947-81)
who formed the band in late 1972 and named it after The Epic Of Gilgamesh, from
Sumerian mythology. The material on this
album are tracks that were recorded between 1973 and 1975, prior to the release
of the group's first album.
Musically Gowen was a jazz pianist and his musical roots and compositions were
firmly embodied in this style of music. The rock influence came from the musicians
that played together with him resulting in a sound which mixed Jazz Fusion with
Progressive rock. Bands that could be categorized in a similar vein would be Nucleus,
Isotope and to some extent Soft Machine.
The tracks present on this album can be catalogued into three separate
recording sessions. With Lady And Friend and You're Disguised were
recorded in 1973 at Pathway Studios in London. Though the first recordings of
the band, one can feel the sense of direction that Alan Gowen wanted to take the
group in. At
that stage he only possessed a Wurlitzer piano resulting in a very basic sound
unlike future recordings which would have far more keyboards and a broader
sound. The lineup for these tracks were Alan Gowen, Phil Lee (guitar), Neil
Murray (bass) and Michael Travis (drums). All except Neil Murray would last till
the recording of the first album. He would eventually go on to have a
distinguished career, at first within the prog scene with Babe Ruth, Colosseun
II and Bill Bruford. However fame would come his way when joining
bands in the heavy blues/hard rock vein as Whitesnake, Gary Moore
and Black Sabbath even though he would return to the reformed Gilgamesh
for a short while prior to the sessions of the second album in 1977. Both
tracks especially You're Disguised are based on a free flowing form of
jazz with improvisation being the primary motif behind all the music.
The second batch of tracks, Island Of Rhodes and Extract were
recorded in the Autumn of '74 in London while performing on BBC Radio. By then
the lineup included Steve Cook on bass who was also at that time a musician with
Barbara Thompson and the Don Rendall Five who also included Peter
Lemer on keyboards. Lemer joined the group for these sessions thus augmenting
the sound of the group. Following these session both Lemer and Cook left the
group to work with Seventh Wave. Extract is a track of particular
interest as it is only an excerpt of an original track written around November
1973 by Alan Gowen when both Gilgamesh and Hatfield And The North where
playing together at the Leeds Polythecnic known as The Double Quartet. After
both bands had played their sets they would join together and play this 40
minute song onstage together. There are no official recordings of this suite but
Extract is a section of this extended work. Again one sees that the style
of music has varied little with the emphasis consisting of free flowing jazz
with the piano and guitars answering each other.
The final tracks are from a 1975 recording session prior to the release of
their self-titled debut album by which time Gilgamesh had ceased to exist as
Alan Gowen and Phil Lee had joined National Health. This group was
basically a fusion of Gilgamesh and Hatfield And The North. These final
four tracks all would appear on the debut album as did With Lady And Friend,
You're Disguised and Island of Rhodes, however, the versions that
appear on this CD are different from those that had been released on the
original album. One of the basic differences between the recordings on 'Arriving
Twice' and 'Gilgamesh' is that on the latter the group lineup was augmented by
Amanda Parsons on vocals for two tracks. For these last
batch of recordings the bassist within the group had changed once again with the
post taken by Jeff Clyne, though for a period Mont Campbell (Egg) had
joined. Jeff Clyne already had previous experience with this style of music as
having played in jazz-rock groups Centipede, Nucleus and Isotope
to mention a
Musically the group seemed to be maturing as there is a contrasting
difference between the initial recordings and these final ones yet the
influences and styles vary little over this three year period. More could have
been expected of Gilgamesh but the departure of Jeff Clyne and the reluctance of
Mike Travis to "rough it" until fame came their way brought the group
to a premature end.
This release gives an insight into one of the lesser known Canterbury bands,
especially as to how the group progressed musically prior to the release of
their debut album and their untimely demise. It also comes complete with a 16
page booklet which gives an insight into the band history and the life of Alan
Gowen. This will go down well with those of you who are into jazz fused with
rock. There is nothing commercial about this music but at the end of the day
that is what makes it so appealing. Every time I listen to this album I hear
different time signatures as well as dreamy themes. It is not the best material
to come out of this genre of music but is a must for the Canterbury completist
and interesting to those who like groups such as Soft Machine Mk II, Nucleus
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.
Marillion - The Singles '82 - '88
Tracklist: CD 1 (26.07): Market Square Heroes (4.20), Three Boats Down From The
Candy (4.32), Grendel (17.15) CD 2 (13.33): He Knows You Know (7" edit) (3.33), Charting
The Single (4.53), He Knows You Know (12" edit) (5.07) CD 3 (35.06): Garden Party (edit)
(4.34), Margaret (edit - live) (4.14), Garden Party (7.17), Charting The Single (live) (6.39),
Margaret (live) (12.22) CD 4 (16.10): Punch and Judy (3.20), Market Square Heroes
(re-recorded - edit) (4.00), Three Boats From The Candy (re-recorded) (4.02), Market Square
Heroes (re-recorded) (4.48) CD 5 (20.34): Assassing (7" edit) (3.39), Cinderella
Search (7" edit) (4.23), Assassing (7.03), Cinderella Search (5.29) CD 6 (21.21):
Kayleigh (7" edit) (3.38), Lady Nina (7" edit) (3.44), Kayleigh (alternative mix) (4.08),
Kayleigh (extended version) (4.04), Lady Nina (extended version) (5.47) CD 7 (12.12):
Lavender (7" version) (3.40), Freaks (4.07), Lavender Blue (4.21) CD 8 (16.46): Heart
Of Lothian (7" version) (3.39), Chelsea Monday (live) (7.25), Heart Of Lothian (12" version)
(5.42) CD 9 (17.58): Incommunicado (7" version) (4.00), Going Under (single mix) (2.44),
Incommunicado (5.17), Incommunicado (alternative mix) (5.57) CD 10 (22.16): Sugar Mice
(5.47), Tux On (5.12), Sugar Mice (radio edit) (5.00), Sugar Mice (extended version) (6.08)
CD 11 (17.14): Warm Wet Circles (7" version) (4.27), White Russian (live) (7.20),
Incommunicado (live) (5.27) CD 12 (15.34): Freaks (live) (4.14), Kayleigh (live) (4.09),
Childhoods End? (live) (2.51), White Feather (live) (4.20)
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Catalogue #:||7243 8 88667 2 9|
|Year of Release:||2000|
A box set containing all the Fish-era Marillion singles, individually packed in their own
artwork? For years this must have been the ultimate wet dream for any self-respecting Marillion
fan. However, after Marillion and "it is not our label, but still they release all our albums"
EMI attacked the fan's wallets with the otherwise excellent remaster series, which already
comprised all the B-sides of the singles, you might wonder how much need there still is for
True, the whole package looks excellent. The 12 singles come in a black carton box, which
opens cigarette-box style. All the singles are sleeved in their original artwork and they
feature all the possible songs that appeared in the original format, so 7"edits, 12" mixes and
whatever else. And... well that's about it, really. No liner notes, no information about the
singles itself and everything is done with the typical EMI inconsistency with misspelled names
and titles, tracktimes that are sometimes mentioned and sometimes not, inconsistent information
as to whether tracks are edits, full versions or remixes and last but not least airbrush artist
Mark Wilkinson only gets credited for 5 of the 12 sleeves (and on Warm Wet Circles the
print is so small it can barely be read).
Another thing that's missing is information as to whether the music has been remastered or
not. It doesn't say anywhere on the package and unfortunately I am currently bound to crappy
PC-speakers so I can't tell. It seems a bit strange after all the trouble they went through in
remastering the albums not to remaster this box, but then again, it is very unlike EMI not to
mention it, had it been remastered.
The fact that the singles feature all the possible edits that appeared on the original
singles results in many CD's containing two - or in the cases of Kayleigh, Incommunicado and Sugar
Mice even three- versions of the same song. Which, combined
with the short duration of the individual CD's doesn't make it an item you put in your player
to listen to. No, this is more an item that is to complete all ever Marillion recordings on CD,
very much like the Japanese singles boxes of the likes of Queen or Madonna that
have been released in recent years. However, in this case the tracks that have not been released
on CD before total to only 2 edits and 3 live versions - hardly justifying the 25 pounds plus
p&p you have to shovel up for this package.
Furthermore there are two singles missing: The live single Welcome to Garden Party and
the USA-only single Lady Nina (both released in 1986). True, the latter didn't feature
any new songs, yet the artwork may have been interesting and in the case of Welcome to
Garden Party although the versions have also been released on various live-albums, the same
thing can be said about the single Freaks, which is included. I mean, if you are
pretending to be complete, why not be completely complete?
And then you may wonder as to why this box has been released. The only possible answer can
be: Money. As it has no commercial value at all, this box is clearly marketed at the fans. The
same fans who already have dug up their money to buy re-release after remaster after compilation
after who knows what more, thus once more confirming the current status of Marillion's money
grabbing and ripping off their fans.
But in this case I think it's even worse. I think it's a direct insult to Marillion's
die-hard fans and collectors. Collectors that have spent years and heaps of money on collecting
all the original single releases will only see their collection decrease in value with this box
being so widely available. A good example is the Sugar Mice CD-single, which had been withdrawn
only a week after it's original release and only a few thousand copies were available. Well,
here's another few thousand for you!
So in conclusion, it's an excellent, beautiful package, but it has been released a few years
too late and isn't quite worth the money. Only for real completists, and even then...
Conclusion: 6 out of 10.
Bart Jan van der Vorst
Kurgan's Bane - The Future Lies Broken
Tracklist: Through The Camera (7.12), Just Look At Me Now (6.40), Warm Winter Nights
(4.43), Frankie Five Angels (4.13), Headless Mice (2.30), Feudal Torniquet (3.54), Nap In E
Minor (1.18), The Curtain And The Rose (4.59), Bad Blood (5.48), Broken Clock (4.54),
The Future Lies Broken is Kurganís Baneís second CD. I have not heard the first one,
Search From Sea To Sea, but for those who have, I can still confidently say that things
have changed. Former singer Alan Jantz has parted ways with the band and brothers Pete (electric
and acoustic guitars, vocals) and Jeff Laramee (drums, percussion, vocals) and their companion
Luis Nasser (bass, keyboards) have found his replacement in 34-year-old Lisa Francis - a woman
with a voice that can really rock.
The album kicks off with Through The Camera. A lovely piano opens up and then a nice riff
enters. From this opening and onwards it is obvious that the band has a strong Rush-influence.
But it is an influence they handle well, in my opinion. Lisa Francisís vocals remind me of
another female American progressive rock singer - Lana Lane. Both have that darker (not typically
female) rock voice which I must admit that I enjoy a lot. There is a lot of volume and depth in
Francisí voice, which is kind of surprising when one sees the pictures in the sleeve where she
looks like a pretty small girl. The track is a bit hard, but still in a soft way with very neat
production. There are some moments which remind me of early Marillion. Lyrics-wise this
track deals critically with the Media. All in all, a very nice opening and one of my favourite
tracks on the CD.
Just Look At Me Now has a slow start which brings IQ in their poppier moments to mind.
Then harder edged guitars rock things up a bit. I am beginning to think that there is some reverb
used on Francisís vocals at times in order to deepen it even further - which I definitely do not
mind. The song is, in all honesty, quite slow and I do enjoy the harder bits most - and I am
still very impressed by the vocals. There is an instrumental part that recalls some more IQ and a Rush-like
atmosphere lingers in the music in this track too. The ending is slightly off. A corny drum
fill thing spoils the emotional setting that Francis has just left us hanging with. The
song should have ended then and there, in my opinion, and Jeff Laramee should have kept his drumsticks still.
Warm Winter Nights presents us with some really nice bass playing and more of those
fantastic vocals. The Lana Lane reference here stretches to include some of the guitar playing,
reminding me slightly of Destination Roswell from Laneís Garden Of The Moon album.
There are also more Marillion and IQ influences present - and, of course (I feel like saying),
the by now almost mandatory Rush reference. The guitar solo has a bit of hard rock quality to
it, not so much in speed as in sound; it has a bit of an edge to it. Nice track.
The fourth track, Frankie Five Angels, is the instrumental first part of the song Vermin
which stretches over tracks four to six. This first part, which is also the longest, has some
interesting bits - I especially like the bass - but is on the whole slightly too long and also
too repetitive. This is one of the weaker moments on the CD and it does lower the quality of
Vermin as a whole.
Headless Mice, the middle sequence of Vermin, opens with soft keyboards and ethereal
vocals. It is nice and melodic. The lyrics are OK, but at times I find myself annoyed by the
often insistent (and to be honest not always that good) rhyming which is practised. The song has
a gentle build-up that really breaks out into a crescendo after the end of the vocals and then
...Feudal Tourniquet, which opens with a direct vocal attack. A really good track with
clear Rush influences and lyrics that I really like. It features another hard rock guitar solo
which fits excellently into the whole and here a bit more speed is added. I really like this track and my only complaint is
that Vermin as a whole is pulled down quite a bit by its first part. Seeing the good bits
in the first part, the really nice second part and this superb third part, I regret not being
able to hear the song that the band obviously has the potential to make here. Still, Feudal
Tourniquet on its own is one of my favourite tracks on the CD.
Track seven, Nap In E Minor, is a very short piece played on classical guitar. A rather
nice interlude between the longer songs, which allows Pete Laramee to show his skills on the
If I would have to name one track on The Future Lies Broken as my favourite, it would
have to be The Curtain And The Rose. The vocals are brilliant and the music
is really good. Gentle piano/keyboard bits are contrasted by hard guitar bits. And over it
all Francisís vocals just soar like a great dark bird of prey. The only thing that bugs me is
a very bad rhyme in the lyrics. In a catalogue of different kinds of people ("The old and the
young / And the misunderstood / The actor, the author") very much reminiscent of the ending of
Marillionís Berlin (i.e. lyrics-wise), the Laramee brothers have suddenly chosen to enter
"the prose" to find a viable rhyme for "The Rose". The only problem is that whereas all the
other words in the catalogue refer to living beings (single or in group), "prose" is something
abstract - a style or type of text. Of course, this is a minor detail on the whole, but it
still bugs me. Great song though.
A slow dark piano intro opens Bad Blood and slow vocals follow. Musically it is very much
regular rock music though still in the vein of Rush, in my opinion. There are also elements of
Lana Laneís music in it once more. An OK track.
Broken Clock is an instrumental song with clear Rush references but also with elements of
IQ in it. I especially like the basslines which open the song. The track is pretty heavy on the
whole and quite nice. Definitely much better than Frankie Five Angels which opened Vermin.
The album ends with Regina. The opening is a slow build-up with instruments, melodies and
sounds creating a thicker and thicker texture which breaks into rock, after which the vocals come in.
It is the longest track on the CD (Vermin is the longest song) and works very well. The
Rush reference is once more present and the song is a really nice ending of a very good album.
After the music has stopped, the album ends with sounds of the ocean and some windchimes.
To conclude, I am really happy to have found out about Kurganís Bane and their music. I will
definitely keep an eye and an ear open for new stuff from their direction. The easiest way to
describe their music is to say that it sounds quite a bit as if Rush had decided to record an
album with Lana Lane on vocals instead of Geddy Lee. And I mean that in the best way possible.
If you are into Rush and/or some IQ and early Marillion with a harder edge to it, do give
Kurganís Bane a chance. It is well worth it.
Conclusion: 9- out of 10.
Morgan - Nova Solis
Tracklist: Samarkhand The Golden (8:04), Alone (5:17), War Games
(7:03), Nova Solis Suite i) Theme ii) Floating iii) Take-Off iv) Asteroids v)
Earth vi) Hyperspace:The Return Home vii) Nova viii) May I Remember ix) Theme
|Country of Origin:||UK|
|Record Label:||Angel Air Records|
|Year of Release:||1972|
Originally released in 1972 this debut album from Morgan has now seen the
light of day by its re-release on CD thanks to Angel
Air Records. The prog outfit Morgan found life from from the ashes of the pop group Love Affair
when Morgan Fisher
together with two other former members of the group (Bob Sapsed/Maurice Bacon)
got together. Their musical style would differ
greatly from the days when they had their hit single "Everlasting Love".
Also joining the group was Tim Staffell who was the vocalist with Smile
(featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen fame). It is rumored that
Ian McDonald (King Crimson) also jammed with the group while they were
auditioning for a fourth member though he never joined.
The quartet relocated to a cottage in Kent rented out for
them by Sid Bacon, their manager and father of Maurice. They rehearsed there for
3 weeks with Morgan Fisher suffering from continuous bouts of hayfever whilst
the rest of the group smoked away. Sid Bacon negotiated a deal for them with RCA
Italy and the group went over to Rome to record in the hi-tec RCA Roman studios
just off Via Tiburtina.
The music was basically a trio of keyboard/bass/drums
augmented by Tim Staffellís vocals giving the group a sound reminiscent of Emerson,
Lake And Palmer without the pop hooks. In fact on listening to Nova Solis
one must remark that probably what lacks is that tune that one can walk away
singing after listening to it. Basically the album consists of vocals run
through a VCS3 synthesizer ring-modulator together with a busy running fretless
bass and quasi-classical keyboards.
The albums can be split into 2 sections. The first part and
originally the first side comprise of 3 tracks which vary both in style and in
Samarkhand The Golden starts off with a duet that Tim Staffel sings with
himself with the rhythm gradually picking up leading into an extended Moog solo.
This track is very much in style of ELP with both keyboards and bass
going into runs and solos of their own. Alone was
the song that Tim Staffell sang for his audition with the group. This track also
features some acoustic guitar from Staffell and one can immediately sense that
it was written under different circumstances than the rest of the album. In fact
it is a Smile-era written song and easily the most accessible and 'commercial'
track of the whole album. War Games brings
us back to Prog-land. This track features some interesting interplay between
the trio of musicians yet the highlight of this track is the running bass
provided by Bon Sapsed which veers off at every chance possible, giving this
track that something special when compared to the rest of the first half of the
The second half of the album, which also involves the whole
of the second side, is made up of the Nova Solis Suite. This suite can be
divided into six sections flanked by an intro and outro which is taken from
'Jupiter' by Gustav Holst (The
Planets). Permission for the use of this classical piece of music was given to them by the daughter of Gustav Holst, Imogen, mainly thanks to the
classical connections that RCA Italy had then.
The sound of the Morse Code takes us into Floating
which in turn is picked up by the group. The sound of the grand piano solo gives
this track a classical touch which is suddenly transformed into twenty five
seconds of sound effects to simulate Take-Off. An encounter with Asteroids
features an introduction with echo splashes created by Morgan Fisher's Hammond
Organ's spring reverb unit.
Earth is another pre-Morgan written song by Tim
Staffell during his Smile days which admittedly seems out of place on
this suite. This almost folk-rock probably should have been recorded
independently with just voice and guitar. Somehow the quirky keyboard solo feels
out of place yet is what is requires to take us into Hyperspace: The Return
Home. The term hyperspace immediately conjures up speed in one's mind and
that is what this track has. Possibly the fastest track on the whole album, the
rhythm section drives the piece, along with Fisher's oscillating organ
swooping through the whole track. Through it all there is that jazz feel until
we reach Nova which has that spacey starry kind of effect. May I
Remember brings us back down to planet Earth and this track comes complete
with vocals et al ! Hearing this track one can see why the remaining members of Smile
(Brian May and Roger Taylor) recruited Freddie Bulsara (Mercury) as Tim
Staffell's replacement. There is such strength and power in his voice that few
vocalists possess. Theme takes us back to where it all began with Gustav Holst's
Looking back this is not one of those ground-breaking
progressive rock classics from the seventies but there is something about it
which somehow makes it extremely appealing. The effects used by Morgan Fisher
are impressive especially when one thinks of what was available in 1972. Here we
have a blending of various styles with musicians that have come from very
different backgrounds yet when they amalgamated their ideas the result was this
album of complex music. The only drawback seems to be a lack of ear-friendly
tunes that one can walk away whistling after hearing the whole album. This album
is a definite must for the Queen and Mott The Hoople completist as
well as those who are interested in keyboard driven progressive rock in the
Conclusion: 7 out of 10.