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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Native Window

Native Window

Review by Gary Hill

It’s Kansas, but it isn’t. When you have Billy Greer, David Ragsdale , Phil Ehart and Richard Williams as the members of a band you can be sure the comparisons to Kansas well be rampant – since all of these guys have been in that group. It’s for their connection that this is included in the progressive rock section of Music Street Journal. Sure, there is some prog rock to be found here, but the majority of the disc is more mainstream than that. If I had a complaint, that would be it. A lot of this is quite generic. Still, these guys are pros and even their generic material sounds better than most bands’ best stuff. They do include some proggier moments here and there and we find sections and even a couple full songs that call to mind Kansas. This is a good disc. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Money
The extended instrumental introduction really feels a lot like Kansas. It features some violin soloing. It drops to more of a folk prog styled sound for the song proper. The cut runs a fairly straight line, but manages to work through some different sections. This has more of an organic Kansas sound in a lot of ways. The short instrumental section features a cool duel between electric guitar and violin. I love the violin that rises up as the song is marching toward its closing resolution.
Still (We Will Go On)

This is an intriguing cut. The main vocal hook isn’t that far removed from the last track, but the music has an almost mellow jazz element to it in places. The chorus is quite catchy. There’s a very Kansas-like violin driven instrumental break, but there’s also an extremely pop rock oriented group vocal segment.

Surrender

They power out here in the rocking modes I’ve been waiting for. This is still fairly pop rock oriented and after the introduction it drops to mellower turf for them to carry on. “Surrender” does retain more of that hard rock sound throughout and has some tasty violin work, but in many ways it’s the most generic 1980’s rock styled track to this point.

The Way You Haunt Me

Other than an interesting violin driven instrumental break, this is really a very generic 1980’s rock song. It’s catchy and good by those standards, but too trite for my tastes.

The Light of Day

This balladic piece is pretty and evocative. It’s amongst the most purely Kansas-like tracks on show here. It’s also one of the highlights of the disc. It would not be a hard to stretch to imagine this number on a Kansas album.

Blood In The Water

Kansas used to make occasional excursions into Southern rock. This crunchy jam has a cool funky groove and is definitely very much like Southern rock. It’s also one of the most Kansas-like pieces to find its way onto the set. It’s also a highlight and has some of the most purely proggy sounds, too. There’s an awesome instrumental break, as well.  It’s arguably one of the hardest rocking tracks.

An Ocean Away

The early portions of this song are too mainstream for my tastes. After a while, though, it bursts out into some more Kansas-like music and it really shines.

Miss Me

Here we get another highlight of the disc. I would consider this track to be only a little bit in the vein of Kansas. That said, it’s easily one of the most pure progressive rock numbers on show. It alternates nicely between hard rocking and mellower modes and is just plain powerful. There is an instrumental section on this that is a dead ringer for Kansas, though. It’s probably my favorite number on the set.

Got To Get Out of This Town

In some ways this is a mainstream track. Yet the music is anything but generic. There’s a little “off-kilter” feeling to it. I wouldn’t call this exceptionally progressive rock oriented, but there is certainly a left of center element to it. It’s possibly the most creative tracks on show here. Most of the Kansas leanings come from the vocals, but there is a cool instrumental break that has some definite trademarks of that band. I’m not sure this is the strongest piece on show, but it is a track that’s in the upper half of the album. It definitely has a longer learning curve than some of the other stuff.

The Moment
This is a catchier piece. It’s got an anthemic ballad feeling to it. It’s definitely one of the more mainstream pieces.
 
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