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Alan Simon

Excalibur V – Move, Cry Act, Clash!

Review by Gary Hill

Alan Simon consistently creates compelling music. It's generally of the prog rock variety, but lands more along the lines of rock opera or even musical theater. He always has a host of great guests, too. This album fulfills all those things in style.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 1. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Move, Cry, Act, Clash
The lineup on this tune includes Bernie Shaw, Jerry Goodman, Martin Barre and Robert Tiranti. Sound effects bring this into being with voices like news announcers in different languages heard at time. It feels like someone running at first, but other noisier things emerge as it continues. That drops away around the one-minute mark and a hard-edged, musical theater kind of approach takes over for the song proper. This is symphonic, dramatic and cool. It has some more accessible choruses.
The Prisoner
Nearly metallic, this is no less theatrical than the opener was. This is quite a powerful cut that is still distinctly proggy. Both Tiranti and Goodman are back on this number.
The Last Bird
This comes in balladic and mellow and grows out from there to a potent prog power-ballad. It's so evocative and so powerful. Michael Sadler of Saga provides vocals on this tune, and Goodman is again featured here.
Messaline
Bernie Shaw is back on this piece. The guitar soloing on this is on fire. The track has a bit of a blues rock grind to it, but it's tempered with a theatrical symphonic prog sensibility. The violin on this is a great touch, and the whole tune rocks with style.
I Said Shout
There is a definite Celtic rock vibe to this. It's a powerful rocker with an anthemic chorus and important message. Shaw sticks around to guest on this piece, too.
Heaven
Here we get another balladic piece. It's classy and potent. It also brings some variety. Tiranti and Barre both return here.
The Lady of the Lake
Soulful backing vocals, a wailing horn and more contribute to a piece that has a real blues rock vibe to it. It's a powerhouse, if not the proggiest thing here. Bernie Shaw is back on this song, joined by Supertramp's John Helliwell.
When Your Feelings Grow
This reminds me just a little of Pink Floyd. It's a hard rocking tune that has a lot of style and charm built into it. Tiranti returns here.
Wake Up (Before the Last War)
Helliwell is back on this song, joined by fellow Supertramp member Jesse Siebenberg. A mellower, but not mellow concept is at the heart of this track. It's another that makes me think of Pink Floyd to some degree, but a different side of that band. This has jazzy tendencies, but a lot of mysterious and slightly understated magic, too. It's tastefully theatrical, too.
Hey
While there is still plenty of proggy goodness here, this is more of a mainstream power-ballad. Both Helliwell and Siebenberg are also on this song, but they are joined by Steve Hackett.
A Brand New Day
With Hebrew lyrics, this is a dramatic piece that merges musical theater, world music and progressive rock. Michael Sadler back here. He's joined by Shira Golan and Miriam Toukan.
The Vision
More of a mainstream rock ballad, this is strong stuff. The guest list on this number is impressive. The late great John Wetton is on the track. The other guests include Mick Fleetwood and Jeremy Spencer from Fleetwood Mac and Richard Palmer-James. James Wood, Gerry Conway, Dave Pegg, Chris Leslie and Simon Nicol all from Fairport Convention all round out the list. 
 
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