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Various Artists

Encores, Legends and Paradoxes

Review by Gary Hill

With a cast of players that reads like a prog "who`s who", this ELP tribute takes the classics and makes them fresh and new again. The result is an incredibly listenable piece of music that really entertains. The release date for this one is April 6th.

The musicians on this album are Peter Banks (Yes), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Robert Berry (Hush, 3), Marc Bonilla, Geoff Downes (Yes, Asia), Trent Gardner (Magellan, Explorer`s Club), Wayne Gardner (Magellan, Explorer`s Club), Jerry Goodman (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Dixie Dregs), Matt Guillory (Dali`s Dilemma), Glenn Hughes (Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath), Igor Khoroshev (Yes), James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Pat Masteletto (King Crimson), Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists), John Novello (Mark Isham, Chick Corea, Richie Cole), Doane Perry (Jethro Tull), Simon Phillips (Mike Oldfield, Frank Zappa, Toto), Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment), Mark Robertson (Cairo), Jordan Rudess (Dregs, Dream Theater), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Platypus), John Wetton (King Crimson, UK) and Mark Wood (TransSiberian Orchestra).

This is what Keith Emerson says about the album, "Sometimes music has to be spun completely on its axis until some of it flies off and sticks somewhere. `Progressive rock` with its accessibility severely hampered by its playability has had a hard time forming its own solar system. But thanks to a little `ELP from my friends, the music lives on. They`ve done an incredible job!"

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Karn Evil 9 1st Impression
A very strong rendition of this ELP rocker, the piece includes some wonderful prog chops. While remaining rather faithful to the original it definitely breathes new life into the composition. The musicians on this number are Robert Berry, Simon Phillips, Jordan Rudess and Mark Wood.

Bitches Crystal
Featuring Trent Gardner, Pat Mastelotto, John Wetton, Igor Khoroshev and Wayne Gardner, this piece has a very nice groove to it, and feels true to the original in many ways. A wonderful honky-tonk piano begins the cut, and the piano solo later in the song is absolutely wonderful.

Toccata
An enigmatic and mysterious sounding intro leads to a piece that contains a hard-edged fusion texture throughout much of the work. The lineup on this track is the Gardner brothers, Pat Mastelotto, Peter Banks and Matt Guillory. This is one of the strongest cuts on the album and is quite dramatic. The piece is a powerful and dynamic prog instrumental that covers a lot of musical ground.

Knife Edge
Robert Berry, Simon Phillips, Glenn Hughes, Marc Bonilla and Eric Norlander produce another potent modernization of an ELP classic. This is a crunchy and energetic rendition that feels like quite a change of pace from the original.

A Time And A Place
This is a very strong cut with modern prog textures. The musicians on the number are Trent Gardner, Doane Perry, James LaBrie, Martin Barre, John Novello and Wayne Gardner.

Hoedown
There is an almost Celtic texture to much of this one. The group of musicians here (Berry, Phillips, Jerry Goodman, Rudess and Bonilla) create another strong cut with this one. The number even takes on modern jazz/fusion textures at times, and violin really adds a lot to this arrangement.

The Sheriff
Featuring nicely modern textures, this one includes some wonderful twists on the original arrangement. The lineup for this one is Trent Gardner, Mike Portnoy, John Wetton, Peter Banks, Mark Robertson and Wayne Gardner.

The Endless Enigma
Geoff Downes joins Gardner, Gardner and Mike Portnoy on this one. Starting in mystical electronic tones, the cut jumps to a modern rock texture when the rhythm section enters. This intro leads to a more balladic verse. Some of the backing vocals to this number sound a bit like Chris Squire. Although much of this track is quite faithful to the ELP version, it is a very nice modernization. The high-energy prog jam (which is an instrumental break) is brief, but powerful, and the piano solo is sheer magic. Also featuring another exceptionally strong instrumental break near the end of the track, this is an especially effective piece.

The Barbarian
Performed by Robert Berry, Simon Phillips and Igor Khoroshev, this hard rocking ELP progger is carried off remarkably well. Khoroshev`s work on this number is nothing short of brilliant, and shows that this man certainly has a promising career ahead of him. He will certainly stand beside the keyboard greats of the `70`s very soon. This is the strongest cut on the disc, and is a wonderfully powerful instrumental journey with incredible musicianship shown by all three men.

Tarkus
With a new energy and enthusiasm, this prog rock masterpiece is performed quite well here. This cut features Robert Berry, Simon Phillips, James LaBrie, Derek Sherinian and Marc Bonilla. LaBrie`s vocals bring a completely new dimension to this song. This is another standout cut, which at times, for obvious reasons, seems very Dream Theaterish.

 
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