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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Matt Sorum’s Fierce Joy

Stratosphere

Review by Gary Hill

Let’s just start this by saying, I don’t think anyone would have expected this album from Matt Sorum. I mean, he’s best known for his work with Guns ‘N Roses and Velvet Revolver. So, something this melodic and proggy just doesn’t seem like the most obvious thing. It is, however, a great thing. I’ve debated whether to put this under progressive rock or not. It’s not a great fit. I mean, not every song here is progressive rock. Arguably no song here is purely prog. Ultimately, I think it’s a close enough fit, though. The truth is, whether you think it’s prog or not, you’ll probably dig the mix of space rock, psychedelia, Americana, prog and just plain rock and roll. This is a great set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro-Stratosphere – Part 1

Symphonic and space rock elements merge on this short introductory piece.

The Sea
There is some psychedelic rock and classic Americana emerging on this number. It’s quite a classy song, really. I love the retro sounds on this.
What Ziggy Says
A more hard rocking tune, there is a lot of David Bowie (catch the references in the title and the vocals) and Beatles built into this. It’s not really a prog tune at all, but it’s very tasty and very cool. It’s a highlight of the set. Given how strong this album is, that says a lot. There is some jazz in this, too.
For The Wild Ones
Although this one is more high energy and has some of the most punky music of the set, it’s also got more progressive rock in it than any of its predecessors did. This is a killer tune that is another highlight.
Goodbye to You
A vocals only section opens this. Then it works out to an almost Latin jazz meets electronic vibe. There are plenty of classic elements here.
Gone
A slower, mellower tune, this makes me think of a proggier version of a Guns ‘N Roses ballad. The guitar sounds later are noteworthy and so is the symphonic accompaniment. The female vocals later make me think of some of Pink Floyd’s arrangements a bit.
Lady of the Stone
The vocals on this tune bring that sort of punky G’NR reference. Musically it’s much more of a progressive rock meets classic and folk rock sound. It’s another great piece of music. The classically bent movement later makes me think of Camper Van Beethoven quite a bit.
Ode to Nick Drake
Acoustic guitar opens this. The song is a ballad that’s got folk, classical and progressive rock elements built into it.
Blue
Classic rock is the main order of business on this number. That said, it works out into one of the most pure progressive rock oriented movements of the whole disc. The contrast between the two modes is stunning and powerful.
Josephine
A piano based balladic cut, this has a lot of classic rock and folk based prog in the mix. It’s a mellow and quite pretty piece.
Land of the Pure
Psychedelia, space rock and progressive rock all seem to merge on this song. It’s a very cool tune, really. In fact, it’s one of my favorites here. The soaring progressive rock meets Celtic music section, complete with violin solo, later is among the best musical passages of the whole set. The female vocals further down the musical road reinforce that Celtic element.
Killers N Lovers
This comes in feeling a bit like early Pink Floyd. The vocals bring more of that GNR punkish element. The combination of the two sounds in especially effective. The retro keyboard solo again calls to mind early Floyd. I love the jazzy horn soaked jam later in the piece, too.
The Lonely Teardrop
Some of the little blips of sound in the mix here make me think of Hawkwind-styled space rock. Otherwise, this is probably closest to something like Porcupine Tree. It’s a balladic piece that works really well.
Outro-Stratosphere Part 2
Psychedelia and modern progressive rock seem to merge on this unusual cut.

 

 
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