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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Star People

Genius

Review by Gary Hill

The follow-up to Star People's …Are Coming, Genius shows the band in a lot more natural and polished form. These musicians are growing and writing together and it shows. All the elements of the first release are there, progressive rock, Orson Welles type narration, rat pack influenced arrangments and the quirky sort of sci-fi lyrical themes in a B-52'sish format. The lineup on the disc is The Teacher, Golden Boy Paul, Dr. Scott, Ambassador Randy, Captain Bob, Helmsman Phil and The Stargirl Lorenza.

For ordering info, (this disc and …Are Coming) stop by the Star People website at http://www.erandyland.com.

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

Track by Track Review
Come Together
Funky prog, this one features the Orson Wellesish spoken vocals and is classic fun in a Star People way. You have to love any song that includes a bicycle bell. After a Crosby Stills Nash and Young type vocal segement, the cut dissolves into a free-form jazz outro.

Kronos
Hard rocking prog with violin, the intro here feels a lot like Kansas. The track drops down to the slow and dramatic. Then it jumps back into the hard-edged prog groove. The next change shows off the band's odd sensibilities. It goes into a jazzy vocal duet segment straight out the rat pack repertoire. It then jumps right back to a prog jam that takes the song to its conclusion.

The Teacher (Sexy Science)
Coming in hard and fast, this is more solid prog complete with violin. As the intro ends, the number takes on more straight-forward styles.

I Love You Stargirl
A spacey, bouncy and playful ballad, this is a unique love song with a very cool arrangement.

In Time
A funky bass line begins this number. The vocals early on are more of the Wellesian narration. They speak of differences in dimensions ahd how 3rd dimenional creatures like us can't percieve time. The singing that takes over continues this explanation. This one is a very strong composition and features a great keyboard solo.

Melodies
Rather discordant tones begins this track, which almost feels, with it quirky melodies, that it could have been recorded by Frank Zappa. This is a very unique piece.

Getting High
A progish '70's sort of ballad, this is a wonderful, but brief, song..

Greetings
Another short piece, this is simply piano with more of the Welles-like narrative.

Legend of the Star People
Starting with a powerfully dramatic build up, this one drops to a very sparse arrangement with distant, mostly spoken, words. As the intro section returns, it is with the vocals that are reminiscent of Welles. It then drops to a very boroque sounding violin solo, then back to its previous mode. It turns to an odd sparsely arranged segment to end the song.

Spaceman
Fast paced, hard edged prog begins this one, dropping back to a more sedate style for the verse, getting just a little funky. It then explodes into a nice retro prog mode for a time. The song continues these themes throughout with the addition of a strong and progish chorus.

Falling
A great, oddly timed prog segment begins this number. Building, after a Captain Beyondish riff, the cut changes gear to a good solid verse/chorus mode. This is another considerably strong piece and features a great instrumental break. The song ends with a dramatic spoken-word segment.

Scientific Prey
Starting with an instrumental flourish and the words, "Wake up!", this is epic is under way. The next change is into a very quiet verse that leads to a somewhat Beatlesesque prog chorus. It fluctuates between these two modes for a time. As the song evolves, the changes become rather frequent, moving in some very surprising and unique directions as it keeps expanding on its recurring themes. The "Memories of the Dance" segment is quite lush and powerful. It makes an abrupt change into the staccato "Mechanical World" section. This movement is quirky and bluesy. The song then breaks into a dynamic and potent instrumental section that seems to tie together and expand the earlier themes of the composition. A new verse segment takes command to end the piece.
Inter-Species Love Affair
This one is firmly based in a rhythmically driven form and includes a Welles-influenced poetry reading.

Calling Occupants
Since this song is also included on the first disc, I am using the same track review here. A band definitely gets points for covering a song by Klaatu (even if the Carpenters did it, too). This is a fairly faithful rendition of the progish ballad from the Canadian band once rumored to be The Beatles. It serves as a nice conclusion to an unusual CD. The band does get a bit adventurous and more prog oriented with this one while still keeping it quite true to the original.

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