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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Roger Glover

And The Guilty Party – If Life Was Easy

Review by Larry Toering

After eight long years The Guilty Party return with an even more widely varied collection of well written and played tunes that just about anyone can enjoy. Glover's last outing was an extremely good one, so it's been anticipated for a long time that this would be a solid follow up effort. Now that it has sunken in a bit, I have to say they once again delivered. If it's better than the last one or not I can't say, but it's just as good at this point. Glover invited some different musicians to the party this time, including Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew, along with his daughter Gillan Glover and the great Randal Bramblett. Mickey Lee Soule is also featured on one track, and it's interesting, to say the least. Other players include Joe Mennona, Oz Noy, Don Airey, Sim Jones, Walther Galley, Joe Bonadio and Nicky Moroch. This release is nowhere near what Deep Purple fans who expect hard rock are going to be impressed with, but it's not aimed at that audience, really. A killer mixture of styles make it so hard to categorize that it tends to lean to the prog side, especially considering its AOR vibe throughout. And it's just not a rock album really, so it doesn't get that stamp here. It's very complex but mellow and super eclectic, which I'm glad to say is where Glover still meets my needs outside of Deep Purple.

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
Don't Look Now (Everything Has Changed)

Randall Bramblett returns with a strong opening number including some of his usual tasty bits of sax to contrast the various different styles, which go anywhere from reggae to jazz in the process. Once again his voice shines like it did throughout Glover's previous solo album. This is a great little tune and a perfect way to set the varied tone of the disc. It’s excellent indeed, and features a killer groove and a fine voice.

The Dream I Had

This one showcases his old friends McCafferty and Agnew of Nazareth on vocals. Glover produced that band back in the day, and it's probably the only traditional rock 'n roll number found here. This is shaping up to be one of the best tracks to my ears.

Moonlight

Things slow way down on this beautifully sung tune with Roger Glover’s daughter Gillian Glover on vocals. It's a very moody piece with a nice Hammond organ solo and a chilling vibe. The horns are handled by Joe Mennona.

The Car Won't Start

Everything shuts down, that is the meaning here on this mix of a few different styles. A harmonica is featured, and it's all wrapped into this nice little sort of pop tune. Glover's sense of humor is in full flight here. The next track is well set up by this one.

Box Of Tricks

This is fantastic. It starts with a funky bass and cowbell and Glover puts on his best vocal performance ever. If not the best, it's certainly his most interesting. There is a great chorus and a very modern freshness to it all. The playing is superb, as well. This is definitely the high point of the disc.

If Life Was Easy

Pure quasi-folk is featured here, and I say that because it's more of a flavor than anything hardcore in that department. The lyrics are excellent, very clever. That’s probably the best thing to be said about the title track.

Stand Together

This is another fantastic number with Bramblett on vocals. It has a slight island feel but is not too drenched with it. I haven't been able to stop listening to Bramblett since he appeared on the last Guilty Party album. This one also has an appearance by Don Airey of  Deep Purple.

Welcome To The Moon

More of Glover's humor comes out on this one, and it's improving as it goes, as there isn't a serious bone in this tune's body. It’s a very cool little Spanish acoustic track, indeed.

Set Your Imagination Free

An Indian sort of texture starts this one off, and once again, Glover's daughter is featured on vocals. This is a little more modern and accessible, though. She too, is improving as it goes. This is a lovely track with a hypnotic factor.

When Life Gets To The Bone

This gets more folky. There’s even a bit of country blues going on here. What a gem this one is, with a growing potential. It just kind of creeps up on you and satisfies.

When The Day Is Done

The folk factor goes into much more of a hardcore mode on this one, and it does so very well. This is a good number with acoustic guitar slapping and gruff vocals from Walther Galley, which perfectly contrast the backing track. It's pretty poetic, but probably not Glover's fan’s proverbial cup of tea. I like this one a lot myself though.

Get Away (Can't Let You)

Great stuff here, this starts off with a killer bass and some horns. It's a very classy blues/jazz mixture. The female vocals this time are outstanding. This is so infectious it could go on ten times and I'd still think it wasn't over. This is real music, no machines or loops, just good honest old fashioned entertainment.

Staring Into Space

This track features Glover on all instruments and programming. It’s very well done with another good acoustic guitar backing.

The Ghost Of Your Smile

If anything here takes some real getting used to, no matter who is featured, it's this one. I've never heard Mickey Lee Soule sing, but it's unique, that's one thing for sure. There is definitely a humor thread going through this disc, as well as a few poetic factors, and this must be where a lot of that comes together. It's very hard to describe, but at times you can't help but think of Bob Dylan in a big way.Glover is very influenced by Dylan so it's no surprise, but this seems like a very desperate attempt to sound like him one way or another. I'm not going to know for some time how I take it, but I'm definitely not annoyed by it. It has a certain charm so I can handle repeated visits. There’s nice guitar here, too. It really does grow, but how far is yet to be heard. Bramblett handles keyboards here but it's all a very softly textured tune. I can also see the Purple fans thinking there might be something Purplish going on here because the title is taken from a lyric from one of their more recent songs, but it's as far from it as it gets. So far I'm moved somehow by it, and I want to be moved by music, so something is right about this. In fact, that applies to the whole disc, but this is probably the most unique thing on here.

Cruel World

Glover once again provides the vocals along with several instruments. Bramblett plays the keys again on this decent cut with a great slide riff from Oz Noy that has a familiarity I can't quite place, but it's a very Indian effect. It carries that vibe found on “Snapshot” so it suits me just fine. I think by now it's pretty clear that there is at least a prog factor in the AOR sense to be found throughout this album. This sounds almost like Genisis, another band Glover has cited as an influence, particularly with Gabriel, although this is more of the Hackett variety.

Feel Like A King

Sahaj Ticotin takes the vocal on the closing track which is a very upbeat tune with a bit of a funky rock 'n roll vibe with Nicky Moroch on guitar and Glover playing some great bass. This is another of those diverse tunes to choose from that help render the disc so varied and accessible.

 
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