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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ray Bennett

Angels and Ghosts

Review by Gary Hill

Ray Bennett is probably best known in progressive rock circles as part of the band Flash, Peter Bank's first post-Yes band. It really does not do Bennett justice to refer to him in that manner, though. This album, a compilation of work from various projects throughout his career, really points out that there is much more to the man than that. It shows a musician who is constantly searching for his next inspiration and making some great music along the way.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2001 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Watch Your Step
This cut, described as a "'lost' Flash" track, is quite an interesting psychedelically tinged prog piece. This is surprisingly poppy while still showcasing that band's quirky take on progressive rock.
Hold On
A dramatic arrangement starts this one, and as the cut builds it emerges as a solid rocker with strong prog leanings. It has an exceptionally interesting instrumental break early, and another later in the piece is full-on classic prog. That last break leads into some seriously spacy textures that end the song.
Who
This one is fairly straightforward, but has a strong arrangement. It feels kind of like Flash if they were to attempt a more mainstream AOR number. The production is a little rough, though, but the awesome instrumental break makes up for that.
Everything Changes
Balladic stylings start this one, and, although it is essentially a pretty standard folky rock cut, it still has some tricks up its sleeve.
It's Alright
This is a fairly stripped down, almost metal, '80's rocker.
Mister F
Starting with a great bass sound, keyboard textures join in, and the song begins a gradual building process. This one features some exceptional bass work, and is quite an effective instrumental.
Baby
Acoustic guitar starts this piece off, and a nice atmospheric tone takes the piece. It doesn't wander far but has a nice mood.
Cool Religion
This one has a great jazzy sort of groove to begin. The chorus takes on a hard rocking jam. It feels like an alternative rocker with progish leanings, and some of the coolest moments are near the end.
Lay Your Head Down
Starting off mellow and quite atmospheric, this comes across as a bluesy, progish ballad for a time. Then it shifts to an almost Pink Floyd accented progressive rock style on the chorus. It is one of the strongest and most progressive rock oriented songs on the album, while still maintaining an accessible texture.
Nightingale
Another that begins with acoustic guitar, this is a light ballad that at varying times becomes jazzy and Beatles oriented. It is quite effective.
Don't Miss A Beat
A great oriental sounding chiming starts this one off. Then melody begins building in a neo-classical form. The cut then becomes very complex in a prog fashion before the intro ends. A bass line takes the composition into the song proper, and it is another that falls just a bit Pink Floydish. It even gets a little funky at times. This is a standout piece.
Terpsichore
This one starts in a dramatic atmospheric mode. When the guitar enters, it becomes a slightly hard-edged fusion jam. It then shifts gear completely for a time. This one is the most dynamic track on the album and really quite dramatic. An instrumental, it just keeps reinventing itself, even getting a bit Rushish at times before dropping to atmosphere to end. What a number!
Indian Food
Atmospheric tones serve as the intro to this one, building in an expansive texture. It turns into a mid-tempo prog rocker with some great melody lines. This is another show stopper, and, like the last piece, drops to the atmospheric to exit.
Interview
Just what it says it is, this interview with Bennett from 1977 touches on various bands that he has been involved with, including Flash.
Never Stand Behind an Old Piano
This one is pretty much indescribable, except to say that is an unreleased Flash song that is definitely weird. It does make for a fun way to end the album, though.
 
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