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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Lana Lane

Curious Goods (Special Edition)

Review by Gary Hill

When Lana Lane and husband/collaborator Erik Norlander decided to reissue her 2nd album, they made an unusual choice. Rather than simply press more copies of that album, they re-recorded the vocal tracks, traded one cover song for another and remastered all the instrumental passages. Still not content to simply re-release the album in that format, they chose to put it out as a "special edition" two CD set of both the remastered version and the original. The album is an interesting one, and certainly the remastering makes a definite difference in the sound of the disc. I am not so sure about the wisdom of giving someone two versions of the same album, but it was their decision, not mine.

Since the MSJ format includes a track by track, and the two CD's have almost all the same songs, I will only review each song once. Suffice it to say that the newer version has better recordings of all the tracks.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2002 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Curious Goods Part One
What a cool piece this is. The opening segments see to combine a dramatic neo-classical orchestral type sound with a bit of a playful mode. It suddenly shifts gear to a harder edged, more mainstream prog sounds, then moving into Renaissanceish territory. The cut has several start and stop type changes and is quite a magnum opus. Although listed as an instrumental, and there are no lyrics per se, it does feature non-word-oriented vocals that are intriguing. It serves as both an intro to the album and to Emerald City.
Emerald City
Coming in energetic and metallic, the cut runs through that mode for a time. Eventually a cool spoken word "there's no place like home" calls to mind the Land of Oz. The cut drops to a good prog ballad style for the verse, but as the chorus kicks in it becomes classically tinged metal that rocks out quite well. It then drops to a rather bluesy jam punctuated by quirky counter parts. Another break later brings in more sedate prog elements and serves as the outro. This is a powerful rocker.
Escher's Staircase
This one comes across a bit mysterious and quite powerful. It is very metallic, but also neo-classically tinged and progish. A brief dramatic break is based on an interestingly textured keyboard segment. It eventually drops to a jam that feels a bit like what Rick Wakeman might sound like playing the blues. Then this gives way to a more proggy new jam that is very Wakemanesque.
Heart of Dawn
Another instrumental, this one begins with mysterious, almost spooky keyboards. A new proggy build up takes over and the cut is on its way. This one has slight Celtic textures to it as it carries forward. It is a fairly strong, but fairly brief number.
Take A Breath
Coming seemingly straight out of the previous piece, a balladic style starts this one. It is a fairly straightforward composition, but has its moments.
Reverie
This one has a great jazzy texture, a bit like Pink Floyd at times. It is quit an intriguing prog ballad that also has Beatlesesque elements. It drops eventually into a full on jazz arrangement. This is an understated song, but one of the best on the disc. The vaguely Floydish textures return later, and it continues building on that theme for the remainder of its length.
Satyr's Moon
Keys begin this one, and then a gentle lullaby (literally) comes in for a few moments. Next a segment that at times calls to mind Dream Theater enters and the piece begins building on this progression. It becomes a powerful cut that has hard rocking leanings but is truly a triumphantly textured prog ballad. An interesting instrumental break with a psychedelic texture ensues later. This is another strong one.
Symphony of Angels (Arias and Fables)
Alright, early on this one is full on heavy metal with occasional prog leanings. As it drops to the verse a great, slightly quirky bass line takes command and we are back in progressive rock territory. The cut continues on, leaning back towards metal after a time. Then an instrumental break ensues, rearranging the piece. It returns back to the song proper for a time, but an all-new jam, a bit Satriani-ish takes over eventually, moving the cut forward. Next it drops to a full on classical treatment with the next segment building on that basis for a time. It then breaks loose back into the territory from which it came. It builds once more on that section. This is a strong cut.
Two Can Play That Game
Rhythm begins this one, and the cut feels like a retro sort of ballad, while still seeming fresh. It shifts gear later to go an almost Tony Levinish texture combined with the earlier modes. This one has some nice subtle touches that really elevate it without having any huge changes. It ends with the percussion that began it.
Voices
A hard rocking bluesy guitar riff starts this cut and brings us into a fairly straightforward rocker that feels just a little Deep Purpleish, mostly due to the organ. This gets rather bluesy at times.
You Only Live Twice
You have to love it when someone covers a James Bond theme song, as long as it is not the horrible new Madonna one. The group puts in a cool prog ballad sort of take on the piece. This one is quite strong.
Curious Goods Part Two
This thing really smokes. These guys are tight and playing fast on this rather fun prog instrumental. Fun and prog, those are two words you don't often see in the same sentence. It eventually drops to a slower segment to carry through.
Clouds
This one begins with piano and vocals, and that mode carries the track through for a time, then it gradually begins building on that basis. It is a solid balladic form.
Disc 2
Curious Goods Part One
What a cool piece this is. The opening segments see to combine a dramatic neo-classical orchestral type sound with a bit of a playful mode. It suddenly shifts gear to a harder edged, more mainstream prog sounds, then moving into Renaissanceish territory. The cut has several start and stop type changes and is quite a magnum opus. Although listed as an instrumental, and there are no lyrics per se, it does feature non-word-oriented vocals that are intriguing. It serves as both an intro to the album and to Emerald City.
Emerald City
Coming in energetic and metallic, the cut runs through that mode for a time. Eventually a cool spoken word "there's no place like home" calls to mind the Land of Oz. The cut drops to a good prog ballad style for the verse, but as the chorus kicks in it becomes classically tinged metal that rocks out quite well. It then drops to a rather bluesy jam punctuated by quirky counter parts. Another break later brings in more sedate prog elements and serves as the outro. This is a powerful rocker.
Escher's Staircase
This one comes across a bit mysterious and quite powerful. It is very metallic, but also neo-classically tinged and progish. A brief dramatic break is based on an interestingly textured keyboard segment. It eventually drops to a jam that feels a bit like what Rick Wakeman might sound like playing the blues. Then this gives way to a more proggy new jam that is very Wakemanesque.
Heart of Dawn
Another instrumental, this one begins with mysterious, almost spooky keyboards. A new proggy build up takes over and the cut is on its way. This one has slight Celtic textures to it as it carries forward. It is a fairly strong, but fairly brief number.
Take A Breath
Coming seemingly straight out of the previous piece, a balladic style starts this one. It is a fairly straightforward composition, but has its moments.
Reverie
This one has a great jazzy texture, a bit like Pink Floyd at times. It is quit an intriguing prog ballad that also has Beatlesesque elements. It drops eventually into a full on jazz arrangement. This is an understated song, but one of the best on the disc. The vaguely Floydish textures return later, and it continues building on that theme for the remainder of its length.
Satyr's Moon
Keys begin this one, and then a gentle lullaby (literally) comes in for a few moments. Next a segment that at times calls to mind Dream Theater enters and the piece begins building on this progression. It becomes a powerful cut that has hard rocking leanings but is truly a triumphantly textured prog ballad. An interesting instrumental break with a psychedelic texture ensues later. This is another strong one.
Symphony of Angels (Arias and Fables)
Alright, early on this one is full on heavy metal with occasional prog leanings. As it drops to the verse a great, slightly quirky bass line takes command and we are back in progressive rock territory. The cut continues on, leaning back towards metal after a time. Then an instrumental break ensues, rearranging the piece. It returns back to the song proper for a time, but an all-new jam, a bit Satriani-ish takes over eventually, moving the cut forward. Next it drops to a full on classical treatment with the next segment building on that basis for a time. It then breaks loose back into the territory from which it came. It builds once more on that section. This is a strong cut.
Two Can Play That Game
Rhythm begins this one, and the cut feels like a retro sort of ballad, while still seeming fresh. It shifts gear later to go an almost Tony Levinish texture combined with the earlier modes. This one has some nice subtle touches that really elevate it without having any huge changes. It ends with the percussion that began it.
Voices
A hard rocking bluesy guitar riff starts this cut and brings us into a fairly straightforward rocker that feels just a little Deep Purpleish, mostly due to the organ. This gets rather bluesy at times.
Do It Again
A cover of the Steely Dan tune, Lane and Norlander take the cut into hard edged prog territory calling to mind Styx and Kansas. The vocal arrangement on this one is truly something. This is a definite winner and I think I prefer it to the cover of You Only Live Twice.
Curious Goods Part Two
This thing really smokes. These guys are tight and playing fast on this rather fun prog instrumental. Fun and prog, those are two words you don't often see in the same sentence. It eventually drops to a slower segment to carry through.
Clouds
This one begins with piano and vocals, and that mode carries the track through for a time, then it gradually begins building on that basis. It is a solid balladic form.
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