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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Mike Pinder

Promise / Among the Stars

Review by Gary Hill

Mike Pinder is best known as the original keyboardist for the Moody Blues. This set includes two Pinder solo albums together along with a DVD of interviews and more. For me the DVD is the icing on the cake. The great packaging (this is a deluxe boxed set release) is also sort of the sauce for the meal. The music on the two CDs are the main course, and that is all quite good. I’ve put this under “progressive rock” more because of Pinder’s involvement in prog with the Moodies. We generally include stuff from artists who are in prog bands under prog, even when it wouldn’t fit there in terms of the music presented on the release. That said, some of this does seem to be progressive rock. The majority isn’t, though. Whatever you call it, though, this is a cool set. It’s a great package of two solid discs and more.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One – The Promise
Free As a Dove
This is a pop-rock tune that feels pretty similar to a lot of Moody Blues music. The vocals are the main difference, but surprisingly enough it seems to be lacking a lot of the keyboards one expects from The Moody Blues.
You’ll Make It Through
Piano starts this in a dramatic way. It gives way to a soulful kind of arrangement for the song proper. This has some intriguing changes and moods. There’s a cool jam later that makes me think of The Allman Brothers a bit.
I Only Want to Love You
Although a Moody Blues sound pervades this in a lot of ways, there is also a bit of an Island vibe to this thing. The guitar solo is pretty cool.
Someone to Believe In
Although this definitely has things about it that feel like Pinder’s main band, this tune is very much a jazz cut. It’s a tasty one at that.
Carry On

There is some cool soulful music to this tune. It’s got more Moody Blues like stuff in the mix, too. I like this one a lot. The female vocals add a lot to it and the whole groove is fun.

Air
Now, this instrumental has a lot of Moody Blues vibe to it. There are some hints of bluegrass, too.
Message

Now, this ballad fits under the progressive rock heading as far as I’m concerned. It’s lush, pretty and very much like The Moody Blues.

The Seed
With some Native American sounding music serving as the backdrop we get one of those poetic readings like the Moodies often do. This is another that seems like it could fit on one of the group albums.
The Promise
The title track is the highlight of this disc. It’s very much a piece that should make Moody Blues fans feel right at home. It’s a folk prog piece that has some harder rocking moments. It the most dynamic cut of the first CD.
Disc Two – Among the Stars
The Power of Love (Can Survive)
More of a 1980s kind of sound with a bit of a Pink Floyd vibe opens the second disc. The saxophone is a nice touch. This is almost a funky kind of song.
You Can’t Take Love Away
There is definitely more funky sound to this one. Still, the jazzy, adult contemporary like arrangement isn’t that far from something Pinder might do with the Moodies. It’s a good tune.
The Best Things in Life

The bass on this is especially funky. Overall this piece seems to me like something The Bee Gees might have done. There is some jazz in the mix and some bit of Beatles-like sound.

Hurry Home
The main contenders here are adult contemporary music and jazz. Still, this dreamy cut has some elements that would feel at home on a Moody Blues album.
When You’re Sleeping

A down home kind of tune, bluegrass is an influence on this. Still, it has some dreamy, rather Moody Blues like music at times. This is a different type of sound and it’s fun. There is some jazz built into this thing, too.

Fantasy Fight

Now, this one could easily fit on a Moody Blues album with very little change. It’s one of the purely progressive rock tunes of the set. It’s also one of the standouts. I like this a lot.

Among the Stars
Keyboard laden, this is a Moody Blues styled poetry reading. It’s lush, pretty and definitely would feel at home on an album by the Moodies.
Upside Down
A melodic rocker, this is a good cut. It has definite Moodies like elements, but the arrangement is a bit jazzier than one would expect from them.
Waters Beneath the Bridge
This instrumental is jazzy and quite progressive rock like. It’s not really like something that would appear on a Moodies album, but it is definitely the kind of thing that would appeal to fans of the Moody Blues.
The World Today

There is a bit of a world music vibe to this. It’s fast paced and accessible. It’s also quite tasty.

If She Came Back

This is the first of three bonus tracks. Imagine a cross between ELO and the Moody Blues. It might sound something a lot like this.

Waves Crash
This is the first of two songs from The Pinder Brothers. The vocals on this and some of the arrangement have a bit too much of a modern alternative rock vibe for me.
Empty Streets
The song construction and shifts and changes land this well into progressive rock territory. This is quite a cool tune. It’s another from the Pinder Brothers and one of my favorites here.
 
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