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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Captain Beyond

Captain Beyond

Review by Gary Hill

This 1972 release was the first of three albums by Captain Beyond, who was at the time Rod Evans (formerly of Deep Purple), Bobby Caldwell (who had played with Johnny Winter, among others), Rhino (Larry Rhinehart from Iron Butterfly), and Lee Dorman (also from Iron Butterfly) with several backing musicians. This one almost qualifies as progressive rock. The music here is very quirky hard rock, perhaps slightly in the Deep Purple vein, although I think I would actually put it closer to early Rush (although this album does predate Rush). All of the songs on this album seem to link together into one piece of music, but, honestly, I have never been able to make enough sense of the lyrics to pull a coherent lyrical theme out of the album. The copy I have is a Japanese import, and although there is a lyric sheet included, the translations were quite bad, and my ear has not been much better for the most part. Therefore, there are not lyrical comments about all of the songs on this disc.

Track by Track Review
Dancing Madly Backwards(On A Sea of Air)
The guitar sound of the intro to this song has an early Kiss feel (although this predates Kiss). The main riff is quite reminiscent of early Rush (circa the first album, which this also predates). There is a change into a driving section that I really like, and although I would not call Captain Beyond heavy metal, I would say that that sound may have influenced bands like Judas Priest. The vocals on this piece, as the entire album, are quite strong, and there is some very tasty lead guitar work present. Dancing Madly Backwards includes a very quirky almost Crimsonish instrumental section as it`s closer. I`m not really sure that there is a coherent meaning to the lyrics on this one, but it does contain some rather nice imagery. Examples of this include "just remember underneath you is just a sea of air" and "well, we`re all onstage and that`s for sure, searching is endless, when there ain`t no cure".
Armworth
I believe this song to be a lament of parts of the self lost in war, and the dreams left behind. "What was my arm worth, when they took it away?" is the question posed. "It`s just a stub of the original thing, it was there when I signed, when I saluted my king" seems to uphold this theory. The music to this one has a very interesting feel, and the song contains some very nice bass work, and some great vocals.
Myopic Void
Beginning with a very neat section where the guitar is doing some very clever, almost birdlike screeching, this song has some nice military sounding drum work. It is a nice mood piece that leads back into the opening theme of the album.
Mesmerization Eclipse
A very high-energy song with a driving rhythm section, this is a strong tune.
Raging River of Fear
Another number that seems to have a bit of an early Rush feel to it, this piece is about the fear that is present in all of us--"raging river of fear, my friend, running through us all".
Thousand Days of Yesterdays(Intro)
This is a short piece featuring some pretty picked guitar with some nice, simple bass emphasis.
Frozen Over
There is sort of a Led Zeppelin/early Rush feel to this song, which may tie into the war changing a person themes of Armworth. Lyrics which point to this include "your face is frozen over, it`s not the one I knew".
Thousand Days of Yesterdays(Time Since Come and Gone)
A nice acoustic guitar based song, this one has a rather progressive feel (perhaps even a bit Yes influenced). A nice piece of lyrical imagery is included in the line "soon the sun will light the tired sky".
I Can`t Feel Nothin`(Part I)
This is another song very much in the mode of early rush, but contains some very Crimsonesque Moonchild veins at the ending, which serve as a segue into As the Moon Speaks.
As The Moon Speaks(To the Waves of the Sea)
This is a picking guitar based, spoken word, mood piece. Lyrically this seems to a trippy sort of vision quest type of thing "many years have passed, since your vision came to me, and I think of you only, as the moon speaks to the sea".
Astral Lady
This one reminds me of one of the more riff driven Yes pieces (circa Fragile) minus the keyboards.
As The Moon Speaks(Return)
Another very progrock sort of work, this song contains some very tasteful lead guitar work, and an almost Santanaish break which leads into I Can`t Feel Nothin` (Part II).
I Can`t Feel Nothin`(Part II)
This song is another driving track in the old Rush sort of mode with a Yes influenced ending.
 
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