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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Lake/Paradise Island

Review by Gary Hill

Lake was a German band that did a great job of straddling the fence between catchy pop rock and progressive rock. Some albums fell more on the pop side, while others landed on the prog end of the spectrum. All of them were very close to both. This release features their first and third albums together on one CD. The first disc is the stronger one, but Lake never did a song that was subpar. It’s just that some of the music here is better than some of the rest. It’s highly recommended as a great introduction to this group. They should have been huge and it’s a real shame that they weren’t.

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Track by Track Review
On the Run

Keys start this off and the band launch into a catchy cut that’s got a bit of a funk texture to it at times. The chorus has a killer guitar riff, but also a sound that’s not very far removed from disco. At times this reminds me of a more powered up and proggy version of Christopher Cross. There’s also an especially tasty (and rather extended) guitar solo later in the piece.

Sorry to Say
The chorus on this track puts it pretty firmly in a catchy pop motif, but the rest of the song fits closer to progressive rock. There’s a real great mid-tempo groove this and it has some especially tasty keyboard sounds. The lyrical content of telling someone they were just a one night stand might be objectionable for some listeners, but the lyrics are never vulgar.
Time Bomb
This song was a hit for the band. A ticking clock rhythmic structure combines with an intricate piano line. The first vocals come over the top and it feels a bit like Yes meets Supertramp as it continues in this balladic fashion. Strings are added as it modulates out into the next section. They keep it balladic for a time and then add other instruments to power it out. When they do, it feels a bit like Klaatu. While this song is catchy, it works through a number of changes and the arrangement is complex. It’s quite firmly progressive rock, but the pop side of progressive rock.
Chasing Colours
While the keyboards still feature prominently, there is a definite guitar presence here. As the arrangement shifts and turns there are again points where it feels a bit like Yes. It’s another strong tune that would definitely be comfortable sitting under the “progressive rock” heading. There are some interesting changes and variations as the song continues.
Do I Love You?
This is a ballad that’s evocative and pretty. I’m sure many would consider this to be a pure pop song. Admittedly there’s not that much prog in the mix here. It is a very powerful piece of music, though. Strings add to the arrangement.
Key to the Rhyme
This intricate and complex piece is quite definitely progressive rock. There are moments that are more pop-oriented, but it’s actually pretty close to something Yes might do. There is a killer keyboard solo segment late in the piece.
Jesus Came Down
Here’s another that’s basically a ballad, but it’s certainly quite progressive rock oriented. Parts of it call to mind Hawkwind a bit. The more powered up section has some definite Yes-like elements. This is a powerful piece of music.
Between the Lines
This cut fits into the progressive rock category based on length, as it’s almost ten and a half minutes in length. Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to put it there. The extended introduction on this cut calls to mind Emerson Lake and Palmer. They turn it out to a catchy sort of rock groove that’s quite catchy and tasty. I suppose comparisons to Alan Parsons wouldn’t be out of the question on that section. There is a great prog rock instrumental section later. They twist it later into a jazz ballad kind of motif. As they come out of that segment and move back to the song proper they use an ELP-like instrumental movement as the transition. Later there is an extremely cool instrumental section with some awesome keyboard sounds. Later in that same extended movement there is a smoking hot guitar solo. They throw a quick Who musical quote in and then turn out to a great retro sounding organ solo. They just keep changing and rearranging this thing. There’s even a false ending that gives way to a reprise that is ultimately the real conclusion of the piece.
Into the Night
There are some awesome retro keyboard textures built into this track. It’s a number that calls to mind Yes at times and ELP at others, although, it’s closer to a pop-type motif than either of those comparisons would suggest. A guitar solo dominated section later reinforces that Yes link.
Glad to Be Here
While this has more of a straightforward rock feeling to it, there are bits of guitar that bring in a Yes reference.
Crystal Eyes
A mellower and more melodic number, this is also more firmly in a progressive rock style. There’s a tasty rock and roll acoustic guitar solo on this piece. I would think of this kind of like a hybrid of the sounds of Yes and America.
Paradise Way
More of a rocking number, there is still plenty of progressive rock built into this. It’s also quite catchy.
Hopeless Love
This is another prog meets pop type of tune. It’s good but perhaps not quite as strong as some of the other stuff on the disc. While it would have been a strong piece on some other albums, the other music here is so powerful that it just sort of pales a bit.
One Way Song
Really, this one is just a pop cut. There’s not enough progressive rock here to consider it prog. It’s more like Lake meets Elton John. It’s good, but like the previous one, doesn’t stand as tall as the rest of the music here.
Hard Road
They open this with a killer blues rock guitar riff. It works out from there in tasty jam that’s not all that proggy. It lends a lot of variety to the set, though, and for that reason this is quite cool. There is some cool instrumental work on the cut and the full instrumental section later is a bit more proggy.
The Final Curtain
Another balladic cut, this is quite definitely progressive rock, particularly in the instrumental section later in the piece which calls to mind vintage Genesis quite a bit. This (as the title might suggest) is about a man at the end of his life. It’s poignant, powerful and quite beautiful.
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