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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Hogarth

Ice Cream Genius

Review by Gary Hill

This solo effort from Marillion front man Steve Hogarth is a very entertaining disc that covers many musical styles. The music moves from playful to contemplative to pop to prog with a proficiency and ease that is quite impressive. "h", as he likes to be called, is joined on this album by Dave Gregory, Richard Barbieri, Clem Burke, Chucho Merchan and Luis Jardim, along with several additional musicians.

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Track by Track Review
The Evening Shadows
A playful texture seems to be lying barely hidden in this pretty song. The number is about the "animal" within that comes out in the "evening shadows". "I know he stops me being boring, I think so anyway, and I don`t know if I control him, but I must try to keep him chained."
Really Like
This cut takes on textures of techno, new wave and prog at moments. Marillion leanings do show through a bit here, but they are minor. "I really like you, but I wonder what you are really like, Would I dedicate my life, or would I take a hike, If I knew what you are really like." A few moments of the composition even have jazzish overtones.
You Dinosaur Thing
Essentially a straightforward rock and roller, this cut features Beatlesesque overtones and a very intriguing arrangement. You Dinosaur Thing is pop music at its best.
The Deep Water
Atmospheric tones make up the basic nature of much of this track. Early on, the song is reminiscent of the title track to Marillion`s Seasons End album, particularly in the vocal performance (but also in tone). A techno beat joins in after a time, followed by odd sound effects, keys and tribal percussion. From this point, the cut builds and evolves into unexplored territory.
Cage
A very experimental and alternative texture pervades the early segments of this cut. A section referring to not feeding the animals seems to pull in sounds from the first song on the album, and lifts this number up. It alternates between these two sections, but the end of the song merges the lyrical content of both with the music of the more upbeat section in a more powerful form to close out the piece.
Until You Fall
This is another solid rocker with a poppy chorus. "You don`t know the meaning of a good time, until you fall...in love". Until You Fall is another catchy number that is quite strong.
Better Dreams
Atmospheric and bleak, this song is a showcase of the lyrics that are a strong commentary on the ills of American culture (LA is used as the example, but it seems to refer to this culture in general, really). "Can we dream better dreams then these?" This is a very poignant piece.
Nothing to Declare
A very pretty and sad song, Nothing to Declare is about watching "a hundred thousand hearts a day, come gliding down......through 'nothing to declare'", but the one who "left me grounded and......flew away" does not return. This song has both contemplative and dramatic tones, and moments have a Marillionesque feel to them.
The Last Thing
A soulful `60`s keyboard sound shows up in the intro to this one. The piece combines prog, alternative and techno leanings into a very strong composition that ends a very strong album.
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