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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Chris Thompson

Jukebox – The Ultimate Collection

Review by Gary Hill

Chris Thompson came to fame as the lead singer for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. He’s been a solo artist for a long while now. I’d say that a lot of the stuff on this compilation is proggy, but not everything is. Still, I include him in prog based on his work with Manfred Mann. While not everything is proggy, everything is strong. This is quite an effective set all the way through. Given the double CD length, that says a lot. I reviewed some of these songs on the original album. In those instances the track review here is modified or copied from that review for the sake of consistency. This is a great intro to Thompson’s music as far as I’m concerned.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1

                      
Dark Side

This piece really feels a lot like something Thompson would have done with Manfred Mann as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great arena rocker with prog built into it. It’s catchy, evocative and powerful.  

Love and Loneliness
There is still some prog in this. That said, it’s more of a high energy, AOR 1980s styled rocker. Sure, I can still make out some hints of Manfred Mann, but this is more of a mainstream rock tune. I like the female backing vocals on the tune.
Father of Day (Live)
This cut is very prog oriented. It’s packed with emotion. I like it a lot. It definitely feels close to some of Manfred Mann’s stuff. I really love the powered up section later. It gets pretty expansive and soaring as it carries onward.
Hot Summer Night (Live)
This is a rocking number that again feels like something from Manfred Mann in a lot of ways. Perhaps it’s not the proggiest thing here, but it has prog in the mix.
Million Dollar Wonder Hit
This wastes no time jumping into it. The opening flourish is very prog rock oriented. It drops down to a mellower movement that’s more mainstream for the verse, though. As it continues those two elements seem to merge. It’s a great piece of music.
Cold Wind Blowing Across My Heart
Piano leads things out here. The voice comes in over the top of that as the song moves forward. There are some unusual melodic bits here. The cut gets into more rocking territory at times. It’s more of a power ballad in a way. It’s a proggy one, too.
Spirits in the Night (Live)
Apparently Thompson originally recorded this song with Manfred Mann. So, it’s no surprise that this live rendition sounds a lot like that band. It really works extremely well. It’s one of my favorites here.
Whole Lot to Give
There isn’t any prog in this piece. It’s a bluesy rocker that’s classy stuff. It’s a lot of fun. The harmonica solo is a nice touch on this thing.
For You
I’ve always loved this song. It’s just so pretty. The piano and vocal performances are both very classy on this. This is a more stripped back rendition than the Manfred Mann version. It loses nothing in the process, though.
One Man Mission
Here we get a more straight ahead rocker. This is more bluesy rock than prog, but it’s still quite powerful. The vocal performance and slide guitar are both great.
Martha's Madman (Live)
This rocker is much closer to the kind of proggy stuff one expects from Manfred Mann. It’s another cool tune on a disc that’s full of them. There is a seriously powerful prog rock section mid-track that works very well.
Beat of Love
In some ways this has some electronic prog leanings. This is more of an electronic 80s styled pop song, though. The vocals are strong, but beyond that it’s a bit of a throw-away to me. It’s definitely dated.
You Angel You (Live)
This is a bit more of a straight mainstream rocker. It’s quite strong, though.
A Shift in the Wind
This starts with some symphonic bombast, but it drops to just piano to continue.
Eddie Wants to Rock

More of a straight ahead rock and roller, this is fun. It’s not very proggy, though. I love the saxophone solo section here.

Dream Away Little Girl
A balladic love song, this is a powerfully evocative one. It might be a little trite, but it’s so good that it doesn’t matter.
Don't Stop
Here we get a cover of the classic Fleetwood Mac tune. This is a nice cut. It’s not the proggiest thing here, but it’s cool.
The Fire
A duet based cut, this is good, but not one of my favorites. It’s another that’s very much an 80s styled tune.
CD 2
             
The Mighty Quinn (Live)
You really can’t beat this song. I like this live version. It has some smoking hot guitar soloing mid-track. Then we get a cool instrumental jam.
The Challenge
Starting proggy, this is gets into more of a 1980s poip rock sort of arrangement as it continues. It’s energetic and catchy, but a bit dated.
Runner (Live)
This is one of the most purely prog things here. It has a cool expansive prog jam later. The early sections, though, land on the mellower end of the spectrum. Parts of this song call to mind Pink Floyd for me. Of course, Manfred Mann is a valid reference, too.
Redemption Song
Based on a guitar and voice concept, this is a mellow ballad. It’s a strong tune with some great melodies.
Land of the Long White Cloud
I absolutely love this cut. It has such a great groove. There is some rapping on the tune. The female vocals add a lot. The melodic guitar solo is perfect, too.
Blinded by the Light
I love this version of the song. It is proggy, but a bit more of a modern take than Manfred Mann’s version. It’s such a great tune. I might almost like this better than that classic rendition.
Angel
There is a bit of bluesy rocker at the heart of this cut.
Heart of the Fire
This is such a cool piece of music. There is a lot of psychedelia and yes, prog in the mix.
Don't Kill It Carol (Live)
The instrumental section in the middle of this thing is a pure prog rock jam. It’s a real powerhouse, too. Beyond that, this is pretty much the standard type of thing you’d expect, some great AOR rocking sound.
If You Remember Me
This is a pretty balladic piece. It’s not the most proggy thing here, but it has a real classic rock sound. It’s an effective tune for sure.
Millie Christine
A hard rocking number, this is proggy, energetic and very cool.
You're the Voice
An 80s anthemic sound is the idea here. This is a great tune.
Davy's on the Road Again (Live)
This one is more of a straight ahead old school rocker. It does have a proggy section in the form of a cool instrumental movement later in the piece.
Questions (Live)

I love this mellower tune. It’s one of the proggier ones here.

Bonus Tracks
                     
Zu Leben

Very much a symphonic prog styled tune, this leans heavily toward classical music, actually.

Thunderchild
I’m a huge fan of Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds. This song is part of that. It’s such a great tune, and this acoustic guitar and voice rendition is very strong.
What World
This is more of a rocking tune. It has a cool groove to it. There are some raps, but it’s also built with some progressive rock in it. Yet, there is funk here, too. This is cool stuff for sure.
We Are the Strong
As you might guess from the title, this is an anthemic tune for sure. It has a real 80s soulful vibe to it in a lot of ways.
 
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