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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


No Spare Planet

Review by Gary Hill

One could expect Esquire to sound like the music of Yes (and particularly Chris Squire). One half of this band, Nikki Squire, used to be married to Chris Squire, and they do share some musical reference points. This is more along the lines of AOR music, though. The other half of this act was Nigel McLaren. He passed away in 2015, but is still included here. I'm not sure if Esquire will continue past this album, their third. If not, this will be a great swan song. It's arguably the best disc of the three.
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Track by Track Review
Ministry of Life

Some spacey effects open this cut. Then a section join that makes me think of vintage Alan Parsons quite a bit. The song works out from there into a killer AOR rocking number. While that motif holds this for a good chunk of the duration, there is a great shift to a more symphonic prog meets Beatles and Yes mode. There is a cool melodic movement that joins after that.

She Said
Some percussive elements open this piece. It grows from there with a cool prog groove taking command of the piece. This has a bit of a folk prog vibe to it. It's say that comparisons to Renaissance aren't out of the question. This rocks out pretty heavily with more of a Yesish element at times, though.
Human Rhythm
There is a lot more of a mainstream pop rock vibe here. Sure, it's still proggy, but this is catchy and the kind of thing one would expect of a hit single. There are definitely hints of old time rock and roll built into this, too.
Here's another that's more in line with mainstream pop rock. There are even some hints of country music in some of the guitar lines. All that said, this definitely has plenty of prog built into it, too. It's another cool cut.
Friends & Enemies
Male vocals on this cut are a nice change. This is a fairly mellow cut, but it's much more of a purely prog thing. In a lot of ways this feels like something Chris Squire would have written. There is also a bit of a Peter Gabriel element to it.
It's Over
This might be my favorite track here. It's a fairly mainstream prog balladic cut. That said, the powered up sections really soar. This is just so cool. It's evocative and so pretty.
Where Is the Love
A bit more purely prog and less straightforward, this is another killer AOR prog number. I'd put it right up with the previous track. It's such a powerhouse tune. It's definitely another highlight here.
Stay Low
There are more rocking prog elements at work here. This has a good balance between mellower and more energized stuff. I like the guitar soloing on this one a lot. There is definitely a bit of a Yesish angle to some of the music on this thing.
Heaven Blessed
The closer is a slower melodic prog tune. It's that's sung by McLaren. There are some cool shifts and changes. In a lot of ways it feels like Yes meets Peter Gabriel. It's not my favorite tune here, but works well to end the set in style.
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