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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jeff Green

Jessica

Review by Gary Hill

Jessica is Jeff Green’s still-born daughter and this album is really a tale of coming to grips with that loss. One would expect it to be all sad music, and some of the sounds here are sad. It’s a testament to the human condition, though, that there is some seriously upbeat and triumphant music here. This is an evocative journey that’s wrapped in some serious progressive rock. It’s not all successful, but almost all of it is. The sounds vary from fusion to Alan Parsons, Yes and beyond.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
For The Future

Pretty and atmospheric keyboards start things off and gradually grow. As guitar enters to take it in a new direction it feels a lot like Pink Floyd. After that section it works out to a killer prog jam that definitely has a lot in common with Yes. Some great melodic guitar soloing, rather like Joe Satriani or Steve Vai, ensues later in the piece. This is a tasty and dynamic number that makes for a great opener.

Vision
A short, intricate and pretty acoustic guitar solo, comparisons to Steve Howe are warranted.
On This Night
Atmospheric sounds start this and build gradually. It kicks out into a smoking modern progressive rocker with the first vocals of the album. It has some funky moments as it continues later. They take this through a number of changes with some seriously dramatic music emerging later. It drops way down to an electronic percussion motif further down the road, but then powers back out into prog fury.
Willing the Clouds Away
Mellow motifs lead out here, then the rhythm section takes over with keyboards lending icing on the cake. There’s a bit of an 80s element to this as it moves out from there. It works out from there with those sounds merging with Pink Floyd like elements as this instrumental continues. There is an especially tasty keyboard solo later.
Pride
Pretty acoustic guitar leads off and the track builds in a mellow and gentle way from there. After building for a bit, it drops back to just acoustic guitar ballad stylings for the vocals. The track has a sad element to it. This cut is gentle, but there’s a lot of emotion built into both the vocal performance and the music. It’s also quite intricate. At a little over two and a half minutes in length, it’s one of the shorter numbers on show, too.
Essence
Seeming to come right out of the previous number, piano leads off here. The cut builds gradually from there, feeling sad and rather jazzy in some ways. This instrumental is another short piece.
Woman With Child
The musical elements that start this off feel related to the previous piece. After a time, though, more of that Satriani-like guitar powers in, taking this to new heights. As it continues it calls to mind Magnification-era Yes, minus the orchestra. All the instruments work well together painting a musical picture and creating a musical journey. It’s passionate and powerful in texture. This instrumental powers through a number of changes and alterations and covers a lot of musical territory. It’s one of the most effective pieces on show.
Being
A short and pretty, but rather ominous sounding, classically tinged instrumental, this is tasty.
Jessie's Theme
This instrumental is very much a fusion oriented cut. It’s intricate and powerful and melodic and covers quite a bit of musical ground. There is some especially tasty keyboard work later that calls to mind artists like Synergy. Of course, then there are also melodic hard rocking guitar sounds later. Around the four and a half minute mark it drops back to some psychedelic music. That gets an infusion of crunch, but remains the driving force for a while. Other sounds (percussion and vocal like textures) come over the top after a time. Some tasty Eastern sounds come to play, too. It gets quite involved and powerful as it continues and some tasty keyboard sounds come over the top later.
Tomorrow Never Came
There’s a bit of a funky vibe to this. When the vocals join, that funk sound is intensified, and yet this piece feels a bit like something from Alan Parsons project in many ways. It’s another killer cut. The vocals later in the piece get exceptional soulful. There’s some extremely tasty keyboard work later, too. While this is not the proggiest thing here, it’s definitely the most accessible and one of the coolest. And, that said, there’s still quite a bit of progressive rock on show. Around the five and a half minute mark it drops back to just keyboards. As it builds from there it gets a major infusion of progressive rock. As it turns more rocking it definitely calls to mind both the works of Rick Wakeman solo and Yes. Then a smoking hot guitar solo comes in to continue the piece. Around the seven and a half minute mark, the song runs a little over eight-minutes, it shifts to some serious funk again.
Prittlewell Chase
A pretty and gentle instrumental this works between classical, folk and progressive rock territories. It has some hints of Pink Floyd in the guitar elements, but overall this is very gentle progressive rock. It’s quite poignant. Just before the two and a half minute mark, though the cut really goes off track. A drum machine brings in some percussion and the piece is reborn as a techno bit of club music. After the three-minute mark some crunchy guitar rises up and helps to reclaim the piece, but that rhythm section really dooms it. When acoustic elements come over the top, they serve a lot better to keep this out of the realm of schmaltz, but it gets over the top again. If there’s a bad song to be found here, this is it. As strong as it starts, that’s a shame. It really does resolve out from there into something strong, but that one section really did some serious damage. There’s more funk brought to play later in nice fashion. The dance music returns later, though. Although, when it turns out from there again, it’s in a motif that calls to mind Alan Parsons again, and that works better.
Live Forever
Acoustic guitar serves as the backdrop for the first vocals and the cut builds as an acoustic guitar based, energetic progressive rock piece. Some electric guitar soars noisily overhead after a while and then the cut gets more energy. There is a definite folk rock element to this cut. That doesn’t mean the track stays mellow. Indeed it rises up into some smoking hot progressive rock. It just means there’s a lot of folk built into the main song structure and even some of the instrumentation that comes over the top. This thing really turns powerhouse later, though with some hard rocking sounds. The later portions get further away from the folk sounds and the guitar soloing over the top again calls to mind Steve Howe. It’s a great way to end the set.
 
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