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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Keep It To Yourself

Review by Gary Hill

Although bearing a band name, this album is actually the solo album of Dream Theater`s lead singer James LaBrie. The disc is very potent modern prog, featuring the harder edge that much newer prog includes. LaBrie`s voice is so much a part of the Dream Theater sound, though, that anything he is involved with really sounds like that band. This is certainly not a bad thing, though.

The central players accompanying LaBrie on this release are Matt Guillory, Mike Mangini, Mike Keneally and Bryan Bellar. Several side musicians are also present, most notably, Trent and Wayne Gardner of Magellan.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
His Voice
Hard-edged prog begins this cut. It quickly takes on more metallic leanings combined with some intriguing tempo changes and melodic acrobatics as the intro progresses. When the vocals enter, the tone drops back a bit. The sound of the music combined with LaBrie`s voice really makes one think Dream Theater, here. Some of the piano work on this composition is very dramatic, and really adds a lot to the cut. After a screaming guitar performance, the tune reaches its conclusion.
A haunting and enchanting balladic melody based heavily on piano and voice starts this cut, but there are some definite hard edged sections. Much of the composition features rather intricate arrangements in a major progressive vein.
Shores of Avalon
A wonderfully textured acoustic guitar segment makes up the intro to this cut. As that fades away, the composition takes on definite metal modes, occasionally touching on eastern influences and implementing complex time signatures and changes. The arrangement of the number seems to make it a mini epic (nearly 8 minutes in length), it feels like a steadily evolving number that tells an epic tale as the music keeps building and reinventing it`s central theme. This is a considerably progressive piece, while still maintaining those metallic moments.
A playful rock rhythm starts off this cut, which then moves into a musical break with a jazzy horn section and arrangement. The whole number has a very fun texture, alternating between Styxish hard prog and that fairly tongue in cheek horn arrangement. This is definitely a standout cut. Lyrically, it focuses on the seedier side of the American political machine, as these two snippets of lyrics illustrate. "An intern in a silhouette, Got DNA from the President"…"Slick Willy, He`s selling his jive."
Guardian Angel
Dramatically sparse and restrained rock makes up the early moments of this one. As the cut moves on, it seems to resemble old school heavy metal ala Judas Priest quite a bit. The vocal arrangement on this one is quite good, and the number does include quite a few very different segments interlaced together, creating something more than the sum of the parts. There are moments where LaBrie`s voice really resembles that of Priest`s Halford. This seems to be a cut that deftly combines the elements of heavy metal with the musical complexity and inventiveness of progressive rock.
A pretty acoustic guitar driven ballad, this one seems a little like some of the more contemplative moments of Dream Theater. The song tells a touching tale of a man caring for his debilitated wife. He remembers the wonderful times they have shared, and loves her deeply. "I know you need me here, to see you through, I`m gonna make your eyes shine like brand new, I sacrifice all I have and more."
Another song that at times sounds much like an updating of Styx` harder edged version of prog, this one features some nice progressive rock moments.
Slow Burn
A pretty acoustic guitar based ballad with soaring vocals, the overall effect of this cut is very uplifting rock music.
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