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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Laith Al-Saadi

In the Round

Review by Gary Hill

This is a rather unique album. It comes by that label because of the variety of music contained within. This starts off like a pure blues disc, but as it carries on we get some serious rock music and even a couple forays into progressive rock territory. The thing is, somehow it all works together. The end result is a disc that has enough alteration between tracks to keep it very interesting. No matter the type of music being played on a particular track, it is always played with passion and finesse. This is just an all around excellent CD.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Chains

A classy blues number, this has a lot of soul and a killer guitar solo to top it off.

No One Left to Blame

Another energized, bluesy rocker, this has some killer retro sounding organ soloing.

Morning Light
A slow blues grind, this has a great retro R & B sound to it. It feels like it could have been released in the 1950’s or 1960’s and also has plenty of gospel in its mix. 
Can't Keep Going
Another slower, mellower tune, this feels like something you might hear from Robert Cray. It’s a good tune with a more modern sound than the previous cut. There’s some exceptionally tasty melodic guitar soloing. 
My Hands Are Tied
This one’s a lot more like a rock song. Much of it is quite similar to the bluesy hard rock that was so prevalent in the 1960’s and 1970’s. There’s an almost jam band middle section, too. This cut is a great one and an excellent piece of variety. 
Free
An even bigger stretch, the blues is pretty much removed here. This is a more modern sounding rock sound (although the vocal arrangement and some other elements bring in some sixties music) that borders on progressive rock. In fact, were the whole disc more like this, I might fit it under prog. 
So Different Now
Another hard rocker, the intro on this really makes me think of The Who. In fact, in a lot of ways I hear that band on the majority of this disc, but the vocals seem more prog rock inspired. This is a pure rock track – meaning the blues is absent. I’d probably be OK with having this particular track sitting under the heading of “progressive rock.”
Before Too Long
Now we’re back into the blues. This is a hard rocking blues jam that’s like something you might hear from Buddy Guy. I can also make out some Cream and Eric Clapton on this. 
All These Years
A mellow, balladic type of piece, this is very much in keeping with a progressive rock aesthetic. It’s a cool tune with a lot of Beatles styled psychedelia in the mix. There’s an especially tasty extended guitar solo here. 
Big Mama

The disc is closed with a scorching rockabilly based instrumental jam. This, at times, reminds me of something that Steve Howe might do on one of his solo discs. It’s a real powerhouse. I think I made out a bit of “Dixie” in the middle of this piece.

 
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