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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

The Venetian

I Wanna Tell You a Story

Review by Gary Hill

This is a disc that has a bit of a learning curve to it. There are bits of operatic music interspersed between more rock based stylings. It’s overall something that fits pretty well into a progressive rock heading. There are huge chunks of Italian music in this. It’s also got a lot of sounds that seem very closely related to the music of Queen. Wherever one sees the particular influences lying, though, this is an intriguing disc that is worth the effort required for full appreciation. It’s artistic and yet it rocks. A lot of it is symphonic, but there’s a groove to much of it, 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
Act I

The piano motif that opens this calls to mind Queen. It becomes a dramatic operatic piece that has a real old world texture to it. There is still enough rock and modern element to keep it from seeming really old.

Goodbye

Electric guitar opens this and as it grows out from there we still have some of that operatic element. This is another cut that really makes me think of Queen, but with a more pure opera feeling to it.

Act II

This one features more operatic vocals, but the arrangement is very much a progressive rock one. Sure, it’s symphonic but it’s very much rock. It’s also short.

The Black Cat

Here we have a great retro groove. It’s got a lot of old time rock and roll, Broadway music and jazz in the mix. When the more rocking instruments are added after the first verse, though, this is obviously progressive rock. There’s a scorching hot guitar solo segment later in the piece, too.

Act III

Balladic and symphonic, this has more operatic vocals. It’s another of the short little movements that break this up into pieces.

My Good Friend

The motif that starts this feels a lot like the old time music Queen often did. When it grows outward from there it’s still got plenty of Queen in the mix. It grows out to more pure progressive rock after a while, too. This is one of the strongest tunes on the album.

Act IV

This little interlude is almost acappella and runs just five seconds.

Sometimes

There’s almost a reggae groove to the start of this. It’s one of the hardest rocking tunes on the set, but it does get into more pure progressive rock very quickly. This has tons of energy and is just plain cool. This is actually one of the most dynamic and comprehensive pieces here, covering a lot of musical territory.

Act V

We get another five second blast of operatic vocals here.

Dancing Angel

Here’s a bouncing, hard rocking number that’s quite accessible, but with the sort of “left of center” vibe heard throughout. It’s a killer track that’s one of the highlights of the set. It grows out into more powered up melodic progressive rock as it continues. Still, there’s plenty of rocking guitar driving this beast.

Act VI

This time the operatic movement is seven seconds in length.

My Sweet Italian Pie

The main riff that drives this rocker feels like a cross between Zeppelin and Queen, but it has more of a stripped down, raw rock and roll arrangement. This does get more layers added later, but that main riff really makes me think of “Keep Yourself Alive” a bit.

Act VII

This interlude section is longer and has a full symphonic prog turned operatic arrangement. It’s still quite short by comparison to the more full songs, but is longer than many of these “Act” bits.

I Wanna Tell You I'm Sorry

There’s a lot of funk in this rocking beast. As this diverse and complex number continues it includes more melodic progressive rock and even some reggae stylings. Still, the funk keeps returning to drive it. There’s a cool section later where the guitar section serves as punctuation to some little bits of drum soloing.

Act VIII

The final “Act” is the best. It’s dramatic and powerful. It’s got plenty of symphonic progressive rock merged with the more operatic sounds.

Soft Snow

This jam is melodic and features some killer guitar soloing. It’s a fairly short instrumental that seems to combine progressive rock with psychedelic.

Lullaby

One would think a song entitled “Lullaby” would be mellow. That’s not the case here. This is a quirky and energetic prog rocker with a lot of world music built into it. It does drop down to a slower, ballad-like section later, though. As that mellower movement grows it becomes very powerful and serves as a great peak for the set.

Overture

Whistling starts this before a killer shuffling groove takes it. From there it works into something like a smoking hot jam band sound. We get a shift to more typical progressive rock, but then it moves to something close to Mountain. That doesn’t hold it for long, though, switching it out to more jam band like sounds as it continues. World music incorporated as the piece continues to evolve. This thing just keeps changing and we get more smoking hot classic rock soloing later. What an instrumental ride this is, and what a great way to end the set in style.

 
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