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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Richard Palmer-James


Review by Gary Hill

Richard Palmer-James is probably best known for writing some lyrics for the John Wetton fronted version of King Crimson. He's worked with Wetton since then, though. He was also a founding member of Supertramp. Here he's given us a solo album that's heavily based on folk music. His vocals make me think of Dire Straits mixed with Bob Dylan. This is a good disc. There are no "skip it" tracks, but some real "I want to hear that again" songs.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 1 at
Track by Track Review

The keyboard sound that begins this is a bit cheesy. That drops out quickly, though and a folk sort of prog vibe takes over from there. This is pretty and a bit sad. It's rather dark and trippy. The rocking segments climb upward into more mainstream rock territory. I really like this piece a lot.

A Very Bad Girl
Folk music and Americana merge on this energized rocker. It's classy stuff. There is a shift to a rather jazzy segment at one point, but overall this is a straight-line.
Baker's Dozen
This feels like the kind of thing Bob Dylan would have done in the 1960s.
Chances Passing
Here we get a folk rocker. I like some of the guitar soloing on this quite a bit. It brings some Americana to the table. This song has more energy than some of the rest do.
Dance for Me
The guitar that starts this brings a real down home kind of sound. There is so much bluesy Americana here. It's a country styled tune that has a sense of fun.
Halfremembered Summer
Slow moving and down home in style, this is a country ballad styled number. Female backing vocals add something special to the piece.
Honest Jim
This folk rock tune has a lot of prog in the mix. I love this song. It's definitely one of the highlights here. It's fun.
Highway Code
Here's another standout track. It's still very folk oriented, but it has some progressive rock built into it. The lyrics (which do earn a parental advisory) are stronger than some of the rest. The backing vocals are back and bring some charm to the table. This is definitely one of my favorites here. There are some bits of bluesy guitar here and there, too. There are also some country like bits in the guitar playing later.
Doing Time
High energy acoustically driven music, this is a fun cut. There is a bit of a Celtic air to it. It gets more rocking later.
Guano Blues
Sure, this is blues, but it's also very much a jazz piece. It's a nice change of pace. It's very old school in sound.
Saving You from Drowning
This is a pretty ballad. I like it a lot. I wouldn't consider it a highlight, but it's in the better half of the songs for sure.
So We Meet Again
Country and folk combine on this roots rocker. It has a lot of energy and feels like something the Grateful Dead might have done. This is one of the stronger cuts here.
A mellow, balladic number, this has a very soft rock kind of vibe to it.
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