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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Jack Phillips

Portrait

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps progressive rock isn’t the best place for this review, but really, it’s not that far removed from the type of music Rick Wakeman does in his solo career. It’s basically all keyboards and if anything’s missing in terms of the progressive rock angle, it’s the rock. This is a good release that should please fans of keyboard music.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Acrobats

A killer piano sound starts this and then other keyboards join to move it forward. This is quite classically oriented, but a rocking classical. It is short and shows off elements of both Wakeman and Emerson.

Portrait
Mellower, this is dramatic and evocative, but also more classical in nature. It’s a pretty piece.

Bicycles
At over seven and a half minutes in length, this one qualifies as a mini-epic. It starts with some almost harpsichord like keyboards and grows out from there. Wakeman is on the agenda again here. It grows rather gradually. It is intricate and pretty.
Ambitions
Here we get more of a rock treatment. This is cool, but the canned rhythm section is a bit trite. It reminds me of some of the 1980s Rick Wakeman. There is a cool bridge section later.
Touching
Now, this is incredibly cool. It’s more atmospheric and along the lines of space rock. It’s pretty and mysterious. It gets more energized later, but still remains one of the coolest tracks on show here.
Misgivings
Quite pretty, this one combines the space rock sounds of the last number with something closer to Rick Wakeman’s solo work. It gets fairly intricate and involved as it continues. This is one of the strongest pieces on the set.
Painting
There is some space music in the background here, but the overall approach focuses on pretty piano that gets a bit dissonant at times.
Uncontrolled Fire
Here’s a complete shift. This feels like some kind of funk meets electronic dance music sound. It’s got some sound clips of Ronald Reagan. While this is kind of tasty, it’s not as good as the rest of the disc and just feels dated.
 
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