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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Paul Roland

“Duel” – 20th Anniversary Reissue

Review by Gary Hill

This might not really qualify as progressive rock, but it has to come close if it doesn’t. It’s an interesting set that sort of crosses the border between classic rock sounds and progressive rock. It’s just a little more straightforward sometimes than a lot of prog rock fans would want. Still, the music here is all good. I have to say that if there’s a complaint to be made it’s that there is too much material here. While more is often a better value, I think that in this case the extra songs sort of dilute the final product. There just isn’t enough variety to carry through in this long of an album. Of course, that said, I wonder how many people still do “album experiences.” If you take each song by itself there is really no “bad cut.” That makes this a good album. I’d just find it more compelling if it were a little shorter or a little more varied.


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
Knights

This comes in with a metallic approach, but alternates out into something closer to Hawkwind in their more straightforward periods. I can hear hints of something like Huw Lloyd Langton on this. It’s a great tune that’s accessible and intriguing.

Crimes of Dr Cream
A very British piece, this has some of that Hawkwind element here. It’s bouncy and rather like something from Spinal Tap in certain ways. Of course, I mean that in the best way. I can also make out some Trevor Rabin here.
Reptile House
There’s a psychedelic element to this track. It’s pretty and quite intricate with a balladic arrangement. It’s more purely progressive rock oriented than the other music we’ve heard so far. The vocals are quite “British.” The bridge, with its psychedelia meets space approach is cool. There are a lot of intriguing pieces of sound here.
Spring Heeled Jack
I can’t look at this song title and not think about the supposed rock opera/concept album by Spinal Tap. This track is a great rocker with some definite British vocals. It’s got an interesting arrangement and is catchy.
Nosferatu
There’s more of a keyboard element to this track. It is another that reminds me in small ways of Hawkwind. It’s a more purely prog rock piece than some of the other music here. It’s also quite cool.
At the Edge of the World
Another that’s hard rocking, this still has plenty of progressive rock in the mix. It’s more classic rock probably than pure prog, but I don’t have any real misgivings calling it “progressive rock.”
Alice's House
This is a tasty mellower piece of music that’s quite cool. It’s playful and quite symphonic at times, yet it’s also catchy. 
Menagerie
More intricate and involved, this is another mellower piece of music that’s quite certainly progressive rock. It’s got a lot of symphonic arrangement to it. 
The King Must Die
This is a three part suite and each is served by a single track. 
A) Over the Hills
Opening with some old time music in an acoustic motif, this powers out into a rocking jam that reminds me a bit of a more progressive rock oriented Black 47 with some Hawkwind thrown in for good measure. 
B) The King Must Die
This movement opens with a repeat of the progression and sounds that started the first movement. As it moves out from there it’s more of a folk meets prog ballad approach. You might hear The Strawbs on this. It develops in a very organic and folk-like way.
C) The King Is Dead
A return to the opening motif of the suite ties things together again. Then the track moves to an almost metallic crunch and this is another that reminds me of 1980’s Hawkwind quite a bit. It’s quite an expansive and soaring number that has some intriguing changes.
Witchfinder General
Here we get the first bonus track of the set. It’s a hard rocker, but definitely not metal. There are some definite sounds that make me think of Spinal Tap (and I mean that in a good way). I really love the classic rock guitar solo on this piece. 
Madame Guillotine
The hard rock meets bouncy prog sound is present on this bonus track. It’s another that has a cool guitar solo, although this one is more proggy. 
Death or Glory
Another bonus track, this is more purely progressive rock, and yet there is kind of an ’80’s vibe here, too. It’s actually one of my favorite cuts on show. There are some cool instrumental sections.
Cairo
Suitably, there are some hints of Eastern sounds here. This is otherwise not that different from a lot of the other music on the disc. It’s probably more classic rock than real prog, but it’s quite cool. It’s another bonus track. 
Twilight of the Gods
Much more hard rocking, this is not metal, but it is metallic. It’s not bad, but not a standout. It is another bonus piece. The guitar solo section here does have a few points where I’d say it crosses into “heavy metal” territory. 
Gabrielle
This just isn’t all that special, just more of the same. Of course, it is a bonus track, but perhaps this is a case where less would have been more.
Blades of Battenburg
While this bonus song is better than the previous one, it’s still not all that special. By this point it’s all starting to blend together. I have to think the album would have been stronger with a few of these extras left by the wayside. 
Crimes of Dr Cream (Demo)
Another bonus number, this (as the title says) is an alternate take of a track that appeared earlier on the set. It’s a good tune, but the whole process is getting a little tedious by now. 
The King Is Dead (Demo)
A final bonus song closes the set and this is another demo of a track we heard earlier. Once more, it’s good, but I have to think the set would have been stronger with only one or two bonus pieces (or perhaps none).
 
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