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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Adam Gilbert

A Generation of Forgotten Kings

Review by Gary Hill

Here we have quite an intriguing album. I’ve included it in the progressive rock section of Music Street Journal, but I could understand some folks quibbling with that label. Surely there a lot of ties to the pop rock, soulful based sounds of the 1980s here. But, in my opinion, there are enough other things in play here, with some hints of things like Porcupine Tree and modern Marillion for this to qualify as prog; Labeling aside, though, it’s quite a strong disc. It seldom feels redundant because there’s quite a bit of variety here, sometimes within the same song. It’s all quite well done and most of it is pretty accessible. This should please fans of bands like the aforementioned PT and Marillion, but will also be of interest to those who enjoyed a lot of the music of the 1980s. Still, general AOR fans should like this, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A Generation of Forgotten Kings

There’s sort of an African tribal vocal wall of sound introduction to this piece. It works out from there into more of a hard rocking sound as the guitar and vocals shift the whole thing. Those earlier vocals come over the top later and the sound is altered with the music added to it. Later it drops to a piano based section as sort of an interlude. That section serves to connect it to a return to the earlier modes. There are definitely some modern alternative rock parts to this.

How Do We Respond
This one also starts sans instrumentation, but the sound here is more rock oriented, even on that introduction. Keyboards come in from there and the piece builds with more of an atmospheric progressive rock texture. As it works further down the musical road we get some alternative rock meets psychedelia.
On A Hill
This tune comes in sort of soulful like some of the music that came out in the 1980s. If the whole thing were more like that, it certainly wouldn’t fit as progressive rock at all. It works out later, though, to a more stripped down arrangement. Add to that some of the overlayers of sound and this is dramatic, entertaining and rather unique.
Steady As We Go
Pretty and dramatic, this is a mellower tune. It’s more directly progressive rock oriented. One could call it a ballad, but it seems to have a bit more energy than that conveys. It’s a great song, though, and one of the highlights of the set no matter the label.
A Little Emotion
This cut combines that 1980s soulful pop rock feeling with something closer to progressive rock and some modern alternative rock. It has one of the catchiest hooks on show here, but perhaps isn’t as strong as some of the other material on the disc. That said, I like the rather symphonic arrangement that shows up for a while later and the vocal performance is especially strong on this tune. The classic rock styled guitar solo later is a nice touch, too.
Everywhere I Go
Here we get a song that does qualify as a ballad. That said, although it starts with just a piano based arrangement, it builds out to something far more powerful later. It’s a slow tune, though, and it’s quite soulful, yet there are some hints of something not that far removed from Pink Floyd. It’s definitely a highlight of the set.
Were Accountable
The mellow and classically tinged arrangement that starts this off really calls to mind early Genesis. After a time it gets more energy and instrumentation and some of that Pink Floyd element returns. This is dramatic and potent. It grows slowly and deliberately and is another highlight.
This Old World
Another cut with a soulful texture, this is pretty and has some intriguing textures. It’s definitely not a highlight, though. Of course, part of that lack of “oomph” has to do with the fact that it follows what’s arguably the best song on the whole disc. Just about anything would pale in comparison. This bouncy number does manage to grow nicely. The symphonically tinged section later is cool.
Better
Coming in with a fairly mellow arrangement, this powers out to more pure rock and roll. Still, there’s plenty of prog in the mix, particularly when it really gets an infusion of energy and drama later. This is another strong cut, but by now, that’s what’s expected.
Do You Want Me Now
Combining some of the modern pop prog sounds with a definite Beatles-like arrangement, this is accessible and quite cool.
I'll Hold You In My Arms
Combining a pop rock sound with progressive rock stylings, this is another dramatic and potent cut. It’s a bit too samey, though. Still, taken by itself, it’s very strong.
Stay Awhile
A mellow and moody tune, there is definitely a lot of symphonic music and style here. If there’s a cut that doesn’t really stand up to the rest, it’s this one.
Listen
This starts out in similar fashion to the last piece but grows out to a soaring and incredibly powerful tune. This is another highlight of the set and that makes it a great choice for closing tune.
 
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