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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Sherbs

The Skill

Review by Larry Toering

After many years as "Sherbet,” one of Australia's top exports of the 70's, the group changed the name to read “Sherbs” in 1980 and released two subsequent mild hit AOR records in the US. Singer Daryl Breathwaite, guitarist Clive Shakespeare and the keyboard and songwriting of the exceptionally talented Garth Porter were the main featured players. Since following up this release with another well crafted effort they sadly slipped away. They have existed in one form or another since returning in 1999 after a hiatus that started back in 1984. But the two albums they made in 1980 and '82 define their best efforts over all the years. Very impressive musicianship was boiling for those years of successful recording and touring. Their first record under that name is a long forgotten and very under-rated debut of sorts from a band that shortened their name and did wonders in the process.

Track by Track Review
I Have The Skill

A nice opener, this was a mild hit on the radio and eased listeners into The Sherbs with subtlety. This hints only slightly at the keyboard and vocal skill to be further displayed. There are some nice flurries here, but there is so much more to come.

Back To Zero
Not one of the highlights on the record, this is still a decent tune with good hooks.
Cindy Is Waiting
This has some pick-up in the keyboard department, much more satisfying than the previous track with some quiet parts to set up vocal outbursts which can be found throughout. A blazing guitar solo helps predict a higher energy level. Altogether, this is a pleasant track. "Just one night, even if it takes forever..."
Crazy in the Night
Here we have a slower track with frequent build-ups and a lovely chorus. This displays a softer side with an imaginative guitar solo. It is AOR at it's finest, which is where prog is met with some of its better moments here. It's one of the harder to deny tracks and is irresistible.
I'll Be Faster
More keys pick up the tempo. This sounds like it fits somewhere between Genesis and Saga. Those two bands are sort of where The Sherbs meet with the classic approach of Breathwaite's vocal stylings. This is where things tend to get "…Faster."
Never Surrender
The tempo reaches another notch here with the keys more evident. It showcases such fine work by Garth Porter. This is one of the better tracks on the album that never got airplay. I think it deserved a shot, though. It's as enjoyable as any track on the disc.
No Turning Back
Probably their biggest hit, this is a perfectly written and performed gem. Here they dabble in a bigger sound and it made for a pleasant radio hit. If this band is remembered for anything, this track would be one of them. It's a fine AOR tune with hot guitar fills and lots of keyboard work, quite reminiscent of Tony Banks looking back. But at the time they were right there in the same pocket as Genesis were with Ababacab. If I were to recommend this band it would be to fans of that Genesis era.
Love You To Death
Overkill is the message being driven on this track full of fantastic melody. The title is repeated in the chorus with a perfect delivery. This is another highlight on the disc and a track that had the power of influence over their next album. It fit the standard for which The Sherbs were known. I can listen to this time after time without getting bored.
Into the Heat
This is for me is one of the best things this band ever recorded. I love the magnificent keyboard work. I can think of many who went on to copy pieces of this track. For my money it helped define their sound which, by then, was perfected in this track. Note the vocal outbursts breaking through the arrangement. This was one of the trademarks.
I'm O.K.
More AOR fun is displayed here with pop perfection. Once again, the keyboard work of Porter gets a front seat, and the vocals are some of Breathwaite's best ever. This is just another killer radio friendly gem.
Juliet and Me
A faster pace is held on this track with another excellent AOR sounding approach. One can't get enough of the keyboard playing by now, even though it's almost over. It’s a good thing one can also just play it over several times before realizing it's the same record.
Parallel Bars
More of the irresistible keys for which this band is known are featured, along with more great guitar work. This track is another highlight.  One can't help but be reminded of Mike Rutherford here as well, as this band did certainly have a post-Gabriel Genesis appeal.
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