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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Bill Nelson

Live at Metropolis Studios London

Review by Gary Hill

For some reason when I looked at the name, I figured this was going to be an oldies set, you know 1950s music done by one of the originators. Well, it turns out that it’s actually a cool prog set that has vocals that are most often like either Talking Heads of David Bowie, depending on the song. That said, there’s serious fusion in this thing, as well. In addition to the audio discs (it’s a two CD set) we also get a DVD of the performance (and an interview) as a nice bonus. It’s a classy set.

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
Disc 1
The October Man

The vocals on this opening call to mind The Talking Heads a bit, but the lush arrangement has more of a killer progressive rock texture. Not only do we get some killer guitar at times, but there’s a great saxophone solo, too. The guitar gets quite intense on the closing segment.

Night Creatures

We get some awesome moody progressive rock on this track. While the previous tune had vocals that called to mind David Byrne, the vocals here make me think more of David Bowie. The arrangement has some shifts and turns and is quite intriguing, but mellower than the opener. The sax does some nice soloing on the closing section of the piece.

God Man Slain
There’s almost a bit of 1980s rock sound to this. The saxophone again puts in some cool soloing and there’s some awesome guitar work. All in all, this one is perhaps less progressive rock oriented than the two openers, but it’s not completely devoid of that reference.
Contemplation
Moody, atmospheric progressive rock sounds open this. It grows out to something a bit more rock and roll oriented, and that Talking Heads thing is present again. Still, there is plenty of progressive rock in the mix here as this works onward. There’s an awesome soaring guitar solo later on this number.
Lady You're A Strange Girl
Bowie is certainly a valid reference point here. Again we get some cool saxophone soloing, and also some soaring guitar work. Of course, that guitar work is really a given.
Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
The vocal arrangement on this is one of the best, and overall this song is one of the highlights of the set. It’s got a dynamic arrangement with some definite contrasts and some great little melodic hooks throughout. The melodic guitar solo is particularly noteworthy and considering the caliber of guitar playing here, that says a lot. It feels rather fusion-oriented at times. There is some great flute work later on in this piece, too. Quite an extended piece, a lot of varied instruments drive at different points and this works into some definite jazzy territory at times.
Furniture Music
There’s definitely more of a hard-edged, hard rocking sound to this number. It’s probably well described as a proggy Bowie like sound. Of course, the prog is kind of incidental on this particular tune. There’s a bit of space rock late in the piece.
Do You Dream In Colour
Bowie and Talking Heads seem to blend in this arrangement that also has progressive rock and fusion in it at times.
Ships In The Night
AOR merges with quirky progressive rock and fusion on this tasty tune. It’s bouncy and fun, yet also meaty. There is even a bit of reggae in this beast.
Lovers Are Mortal
There’s a melodic, but hard edged sound that opens this. It works down to a mellower motif with progressive rock, jazz and other sounds merged in the arrangement.
Maid In Heaven
As this powers out, it’s almost metallic. There’s a lot more of a hard rocking motif here. This is very much a classic rock inspired cut, but it’s still got some progressive rock in the midst. There are some guitar riffs here that really feel like late 1970s or early 1980s Rush.
Sister Seagull
There is even more of a hard rocking metallic texture to this. It definitely sits in a hard rocking AOR style. Some mellower segments of the cut bring more progressive rock to the table, but overall this is almost metal.
Wonder Of The Moment
A mellower, melodic motif is heard here. There is almost a Celtic texture to my ears, but more of a straight forward pop music feeling, too. Still, this has enough prog to keep it on that table.
Panic In The World
There’s a bit of an old time rock and roll feeling to the opening section here, but some Bowie in the mix as it continues. As this jams out later there’s some smoking hot saxophone going on.
Disc 2
Beyond These Clouds The Sweetest Dream
Coming in gentle and atmospheric, this grows out gradually and guitar soars slowly overhead. It’s got a real dreamy kind of texture as it continues. It’s a fairly short instrumental that’s very classy.
Golden Dream Of Circus Horses
Space rock stylings open this and then the guitar brings in some fusion, a bit like DiMeola. In fact, in a lot of ways as this gradually works outward it makes me think of Mr. DiMeola quite a bit. It turns to more of a smooth jazz (think Spyro Gyra or Pat Metheny) as it continues and there is some non-lyrical singing added to the mix. Saxophone and guitar both get some out center time. While the guitar probably has more time in terms of real minutes, it’s certainly not a guitar dominated piece. This is an ensemble piece. Other than those non-lyrical vocals, this is another instrumental.
A Dream For Ian
Here we get more mellow fusion that’s got some killer soloing built into it. Sure, the guitar really drives this thing, but all the instruments shine and the arrangement has a great slow progression. It’s another instrumental cut.
For Stuart
We get some classic rock in this piece. While it’s not really fusion, it’s still got plenty of progressive rock in the mix and does serve more as a guitar solo centerpiece. It’s another instrumental and a great way to end the set.
 
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