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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Thorne

Crimes & Reasons

Review by Alison Reijman

Steve Thorne is one of the great unsung British prog heroes, a veritable one man band who has released a series of consistently well-crafted and thought-provoking solo albums, Crimes & Reasons being his fourth. One of his unique selling points is his ability to recruit some of the finest prog artistes in the business to play on his albums. Geoff Downes of Yes and Asia and John Mitchell of It Bites, Arena and Kino are just two of the big names from his past releases.

There are some equally star-studded names on this album, but the music is very much of Thorne’s making as is the production. He plays most of the instruments but the cornerstone of his talent is being blessed with an extraordinarily poignant voice which can channel unbridled anger one moment then break your heart the next.

Crimes & Reasons is a collection of his own compositions which not only showcase his fine writing, playing and singing, but is also a window on his view of the world, sometimes warts and all. He says his next album will be his last so catch him while you can. This album will give you several good reasons why.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Already Dead

This gets it all off to a raucous start with a quiet acoustic guitar and stabbing keyboards suddenly exploding quickly and hypnotically into a slab of pulsating rock. Thorne’s drummer of choice is Nick D’Virgilio (formerly of Spock’s Beard) whose metronome drumming keeps it all grounded and heavy, as Thorne goes overboard in describing the life of a waster. A big chunky guitar solo in the centre keeps it all ticking over nicely.

Bullets & Babies
Here is a song to break your heart. On it, Thorne has assembled bass legend Tony Levin, Gary Chandler of Jadis and D’Virgilio, and it is one of the outstanding songs in the collection. This number has a wonderfully gloomy air on top of a glorious melody. It allows Thorne to give full vent to his view of a “sick society” through his wonderfully expressive voice, offering some beautiful harmonising on the chorus line. Chandler rocks out with a big scuzzy guitar against Thorne’s angry acoustics. There is so much to this song with lots of deep keyboards in the mix and Levin’s thunderous bass rising and falling throughout.
Crimes & Reasons
The title track has a lilting melody punctuated by D’Virgilio’s powerful drumming with Thorne playing all the other instruments to great effect. It conjures up the spirit of Talk Talk, and this will not be the first time their influence will shine through here.
Everything Under The Sun
This number shows Thorne doing the human condition very well in a gentle acoustically-driven song about a woman in the autumn of her life, reflecting on what she has sacrificed along the way. Thorne sings this with terrific tenderness and Martin Orford’s flute gives it such a hauntingly sad air.
Fadeaway
In complete contrast, this is Thorne’s rant against the UK riots of last year and politicians in general. Bob White and Tony Levin provide a huge rhythmic undercurrent as Thorne spits out the insults and curses with terrific venom - and guitar and keyboards growl away, too.
Moth to Flame
Here is the highlight of the album. It has the most haunting keyboard loop running through and there is a direct link between this track and “Julia” on his first album, Emotional Creatures 1. It has the most plaintive of melodies with Martin Orford’s delicate flute and Thorne’s use of other keyboards and guitars weaving some magical lines throughout. Halfway through, it steps up a gear with D’Virgilio adding a weightier measure when Thorne delivers the most searing guitar solo.
Blue Yonder
This has a much looser and more relaxed feel to it as, with the help of Bob White on drums and Gary Chandler on guitar, Thorne recounts the story of a renegade who hits the road and goes in search of who knows what.
Making Plans
“Making Plans” features White accompanying Thorne who plays another huge array of instruments on a song which channels Talk Talk beautifully. It is on this track that you appreciate the many talents of Mr Thorne in both the way he can craft a song to virtual perfection, even to the point of it having a commercial edge as well as a strong melody line.
Modern Curse
Thorne returns to the vitriol and makes no bones around what he thinks of gold-diggers and the culture of celebrity. Again, D’Virgilio gives a driving beat to this chunk of anger all dressed up in a big rocky number.
Distant Thunder

A mellower, slower and gorgeous tune on which Thorne’s voice continues to stun with its emotion and power brings the album to a close. Again, he has only used D’Virgilio to accompany him and his drums kick in halfway through as the whole tempo and mood shifts up a gear with strong keyboards dominating the landscape.

 
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