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Peter Banks

Two Sides of Peter Banks

Review by Steve Alspach

The initial string-slinger in Yes, Peter Banks appears to have been overlooked in progressive rock annals in favor of his successor, but his work in Flash has stood up quite well to the years. On this album, Peter assembles an extremely strong group of progressive rock musicians, and the CD explores a wide range of musical styles. As this is an all-instrumental recording, the focus is well placed on the musicianship, and there are many stellar moments. Fans of Yes, or progressive music in general, would be well advised to give this album some undivided attention.

The musicians on this album are: Peter Banks, Electric and acoustic guitars, arp, mini-moog, and Fender piano; Phil Collins, drums; Jan Akkerman, electric guitar; Steve Hackett, electric guitar; John Wetton, bass; Ray Bennett, bass guitar; and Mike Hough, drums.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Vision of the King
A short, ambient introduction to the album, Banks and Akkerman play in tandem, and the use of volume pedals makes the guitars sound like violins in the beginning before ending in reverb-drenched arpeggios.
The White House Vale
Consisting of two parts ("Over the Hill" and "Lord of the Dragon"), Banks predates Pat Metheny's "New Chautauqua" sound on this one by a few years, using acoustic and electric guitars to create a series of moods. Banks' acoustic playing is clean and crisp. He then goes into the electric-style playing with the volume pedal that was his trademark in Yes. Next he takes a lead guitar line that segues directly into the next song.
Knights
This is another two-part song (consisting of "The Falcon" and "The Bear"). On "Knights" Banks is joined by fellow Flash-mates Bennett and Hough. The opening theme is very much Yes-like. Banks stretches out a bit on the solo, starting simply but showing some rather speedy chops. In "The Bear" Banks goes back to the original theme before moving into a mysterious-yet-odd ending.
Battles
Collins starts with a beat through a phase shifter, and Akkerman lays down some hot rhythm with broken chords while Banks takes lead. Collins, though, throws a curve by playing behind the beat, and it's Bennett that keeps the anchor.
Knights (Reprise)
Here Banks is joined by Hackett. The song goes into the 6/4 pattern of "The Bear", then proceeds into a small jazz break, then back to the 6/4 pattern, then back to the jazz break. Here the synthesizer is featured, and Banks does no lead soloing.
Last Eclipse
Akkerman and Banks join forces again on this tune. Banks plays a dreamy solo, then Akkerman takes the lead. Like the opening cut, the use of volume pedal figures prominently in this piece.
Beyond the Loneliest Sea
Written by Akkerman, he shows some astounding acoustic chops in the intro. This song strikes a nice acoustic-electric balance. The electric guitars' slow arpeggios contrast to the rapid-fire acoustic work.
Stop That!
A very lengthy jam at 13:47, this is co-written by Banks and Akkerman and shows Akkerman's Focus influence. Banks shows some of his octave playing, Akkerman plays some lightning fast runs, and Bennett and Collins lay down the rhythm. Akkerman and Banks read each other very well throughout this piece, knowing when to give each other room or to turn things up or down a notch.
Get Out of My Fridge
Another impromptu piece, this one is a country tune gone haywire and is actually a hoot - almost literally. One can imagine early-70s Fairport Convention tackling something like this. Akkerman has quite a good handle on American country-and-western music, apparently having heard the likes of Chet Atkins or Les Paul. He and Banks trade chops and the end result is a delightful duel of two guitar-slingers.
 
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