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Pilgrim Speakeasy


Review by Gary Hill

The latest disc from Pilgrim Speakeasy, this time out it’s a double CD set. The music here combines that same sort of musical references we are accustomed to hearing from PS, prog rock, psychedelia and jam band sounds, but it seems more alive in some ways. It’s a great set that should please long time fans and possibly bring in some new ones.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Pursuit of Happiness

This pounds in with a noisy arrangement, but then turns out to something that’s akin to a proggy, soulful old school rocker. It’s cool. There are several different sections to this cut and it has a mellower movement later.

Refridgerator Mother
Another that screams in hard-edged, bits of space rock peak in after a while. Then it shifts out to a sort of Hendrix meets progressive rock journey from there. There’s a cool jam later that makes me think of Captain Beyond quite a bit.
A mellower, more purely melodic cut, this is pretty and the most purely prog number to this point. It’s got sort of a sense of wonderment to it. The song works through a number of changes and alterations and even turns a bit funky for a time. It’s a cool piece and a nice change of pace. 
After a short, but very cool, introduction, this track works out into an intricate sort of old school jazz jam. Then it shifts out to fast paced, fusion-like prog with a lot of retro rock textures built in to it. We’re taken through a number of alterations and this is fun and a little playful, while also having a definite retro “hippie” kind of feeling to it. Yet, I can make out some Flower Kings, too. This is one of the cooler pieces on show and one of the more wandering ones. 
Profit and Loss
There’s a definite Eastern mysticism vibe to this music. The song is quite cool and well-steeped in space rock traditions. It works out into a harder rocking groove later. It is also taken into more pure space rock again near the end. 
Salesmen Rule the World
Another hard rocker, this one has a lot of varying movements and sounds. It keeps shifting and changing, but there’s a retro psychedelic era vibe that seems to permeate much of the piece. At times I can hear a little Cream on this along with The Doors.
Here we have quite a cool track. The majority of this is an extended instrumental movement (well there is some soundbite dialog) that makes me think of Rabin era Yes quite a bit. Vocals come in later and build on the musical elements presented earlier in nice fashion.
El Presidente
A Mellower piece of music, this one has a bit of a groove to it. It’s cool, and more cohesive than some of the other music here. There’s a definite “British” feeling to it. 
A mellower, and rather bouncy little number, this is playful and fun while still retaining many of the same musical concepts of the rest of the disc. At least, that holds true of the first portion. After a while it pounds out into an almost metal variant of the earlier musical themes of the cut. 
Disc 2
The Gilded Cage
This opens with a mellow jam that makes me think of Captain Beyond’s second album. When it moves out into a psychedelically tinged jam that comparison is strengthened. We get bits of jam band thrown into the mix later, but it also turns out towards space rock. It continues growing with some Doors in the mix and all the other elements still showing up. There’s some harder rock thrown in later, but still retaining the musical concepts that lead up to this section. 
Who's the Daddy?
This is a gentle and quite pretty progressive rock instrumental. It’s mellow and intriguing and ends with the sound of a small child (perhaps backwards tracked).
A very funky and percussion driven jam, in some ways this makes me think of The Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street album. There’s a screaming hot guitar solo and this gets quite potent in terms of its arrangement later. The falsetto later (along with the funk on steroids music) lends a 1970’s feeling. 
Eclectic Shock
This is a fiery, funky jam that’s quite tasty. In a lot of ways it doesn’t differ from some of the other music on show, but it’s still great. 
The Divine Line
Electronica is added to the familiar mix here to make an intriguing cut.
When Life Nearly Died
An expansive cut, this focuses on the same basic recipe of sounds we’ve heard throughout the disc. While the combinations are the same, this never feels redundant or stale. It’s another strong cut on an album that is full of them. 
The title track is one of the best of the whole set. It’s not that the mix is dramatically altered, although there is some cool jazz built into this one. It’s just more that somehow it all gels incredibly well on this catchy and tasty piece of music.
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