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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

John Young Band

Live at the Classic Rock Society 2003

Review by Lorraine Kay

This live recording of the John Young Band is a great sampling of what John Young is about. With John Young out front on vocals and keyboards this sexy offering is one that should be added to all prog-rock collections. The John Young Band formed in 2002 to produce and perform new original quality classic rock music. Featured on this CD are John Young (The Scorpions, Bonnie Tyler and Greenslade), Robin Boult (Howard Jones, Fish and Sugarbabes) - guitars; John Jowitt, on bass, guitars and vocals and Dave Stewart (Camel, Deacon Blue, Fish and Donnie Munroe) on drums and vox. Other members have joined the band since, but do not appear on this CD. In addition to the acts mentioned above Young has also played with Asia (and John Wetton solo), Fish, The Law, Paul Rogers, Uli Jon Roth, Roy Wood and more.Young has also played with Asia, John Wetton, Fish, The Law, Paul Rodgers, Qango, Uli Jon Roth, Roy Wood and others. There are hints of so many other earlier prog-rock bands - Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, John Wetton, Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Supertramp and more, allowing it to easily hook listeners into wanting more. CD's are available only from the band’s website.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.


Track by Track Review
Significance
Young’s vocals on this opening ballad are clear and powerful and incredibly sexy, somewhat David Coverdale-ish , with slight ominous instrumental undertones of Phil Collin’s “In the Air”. While there are links to other artists’ music, this is still very original. There is also a strong marriage of guitar and sensitive keys parts that do not overwhelm the vocals.
When I Was Young
Upbeat and positive with the drums out front, this song has well integrated lyrics and melody. It continues with strong vocal harmonies and nice guitar and synth interplay as it talks about relationships and misunderstandings.
Just One Day
Opening up with a pulsing sonar, this one explodes with upbeat instrumentation and then settles back to the sonar patch happening in the background. This one kicks butt instrumentally and vocally.
All Grown Up
Beginning with a throbbing keyboard behind the vocals this one builds as each instrument comes in, working to a full chorus of parts. It talks about being a father and remembering the loneliness of growing up alone.
Underside
Opening with congas and piano, this one has a slight Bruce Hornsby feeling to it, both on piano and vocals. It’s a fun blend of congas and synths. Singing about values, Young asks questions about social conscience and religion.
Unknown Soldier
This one is over 14 minutes long and has lots of room for changing. Tackling a sensitive subject it starts with a funky electronic percussion, somewhat aboriginal adding some definite originality. It repeats and hangs in there for the rest of the song. Not initially, but a little later there is a touch of Foreigner influence under the melody. There is a foreboding feeling that comes from the guitar and keyboard solos emphasizing the sadness of an unknown soldier. About ten and a half minutes into this track the keyboard and bass pick up the tempo bringing in the rest of the band to build up for the bridge that asks questions about life and death with optimism before stopping to softly remember the unknown soldier again.
Childhoods End
Eight and a half minutes long, this one has a lot of texture in it mostly due to the out-front keyboard with upbeat arpeggios reminiscent of signature Kansas and several other classic prog-rock bands. Lots of sometimes quick and sometimes dirty guitar and light electronic piano dominate this song. The feeling in the song changes drastically from whimsical to playful and back several times. The lyrics talks about not wanting to leave this time of fun (childhood). The music is very much wed to the lyrics here as it struggles from mood to mood.
Open Skies
This one starts with power drums behind multi layers of keys and a funky guitar. With all the textures in this you can almost hear the rain as Young sings “Walking in the rain.”
Kings
Young plays an interesting Japanese stringed instrument sounding intro while waiting for a rocking, albeit whiny guitar to join him on this instrumental. This starts powerful and builds from break to break. It is entitled “Kings” but the kings of what? It is so powerful and dark it would seem the kings are giant lizards or something like a Godzilla or Kong.
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