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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Terry Draper

Once Upon a Memory

Review by Gary Hill

I've been noticing a trend in music lately. When CDs were first released their was a movement to fill up every bit of their additional space. It seems that recently a lot of artists have been going back to just the 40 minute or so of music that a vinyl LP would allow. With this new album (released as a guitar shaped USB drive and digital copy) Terry Draper is bucking that trend. In fact, this set wouldn't even fit on a standard CD, landing at over an hour and a half of music. I have been recently thinking that perhaps the old vinyl album size was about perfect and that most of the time going way beyond that is over-kill. I'd say that this set would probably be better if a couple things were left off and it was divided into two separate releases. Don't get me wrong, the majority of this is really strong. It just tends to feel a bit like over-kill to listen to the whole thing. That's particularly true when you consider that many people these days just listen to single songs. Still, if you liked Draper's band Klaatu, you will find plenty to like here. Most of this music would have felt at home in their catalog.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Away
Sound effects and general airport atmosphere opens this. A voice announces that Flight 1973 is boarding. An organ laden mellow motif enters bringing a great retro sound to the table. The dreamy, uplifted chorus section feels a lot like Draper's old band. There is some cool jamming at play in some of the later sections. In a lot of ways this really does feel like a long lost Klaatu song.
Myrlindale
I love the trippy vibe of this song. It's slow moving and lushly arranged. It's also quite pretty and catchy.
Afternoon in Amsterdam

Sounds of nature are heard at the start of this. Mellow keyboard textures serve as the opening music, backing up the first vocal section. The cut works out from there with more of the psychedelic meets prog kind of stuff that Klaatu often did. As good as the first two tracks were, (and they were great), I think I like this even more. It gets a bit more rocking as it continues. It's actually quite a dynamic piece of music.

All over Morocco

Definitely a bit Beatles-like, the arrangement on this is lush. The hooks are strong. This is packed with pop rock and psychedelia both. It's a fun cut.

Paris in Spring

Another dreamy kind of song, this has some great intricate musical elements. I love the vocal arrangement on this one, too. It is such a breezy, cheery song. It's a piece of nostalgic sunshine, which is basically what the lyrics are about, too.

Winter in Peru
This comes in with more of a rocking guitar sound. It's a catchy kind of rocker that works so well.
Let's Go to Mexico
There is a south of the border vibe to this killer cut. It's a fun piece that works really well.
Sail Around the World
A folk meets psychedelic vibe is on the menu here. This is classy stuff. It is definitely the kind of thing Klaatu often did.
Sunnyland
A bouncy, pop like number, this is a fun cut. There are bits of it that make think of The Buggles quite a bit.
The Tea Horse Road
There is a lot of old world music in the mix here. It has some great musical elements and moments at play. This is dramatic story-telling in song form, at least in the first half. It works out to more of the pop rock kind of stuff you expect from Draper as it continues later.      
In Germany
Bouncy and quite entertaining, this is cool stuff. It's more of a mainstream rocker with a little bit of theatrical edge.
At Waterloo
Speaking of theatrics, the opening portion of this is tasty movie type music. It works out to more of a musical theater meets pop rock kind of vibe. This is good, but not as effective as some of the rest here.
The Land of Mongo
Trippy sounds start this thing and move it forward. It works out into a powerhouse rocker from there. It works through some different directions getting quite psychedelic in the process.
In the Sun
An Island kind of vibe is all over this number. It's bouncy and fun. It sets a mood, but doesn't really stand as tall as the bulk of the rest here.
Travelling Between the Eternities
Piano and other elements create a gentle, rather theatrical style to this number.
The Pirates of Port Royal
Folky elements with literally pirate singing and other theatrical character elements, this one definitely loses me. Even when it blasts to more rocking stuff it retains those character voices. Personally, I would have left this one off the set, but that's my tastes. Your mileage may vary.
Beyond Beyond
The persistent warning alarm on this is a bit annoying at times. Beyond that, though, this is a soaring kind of number that really fits the psychedelic prog pop stylings Klaatu were known for doing.
Jules and Me
More dreamy pop meets psychedelia and prog, this is a strong cut.
Back in Acapulco
A fun Mexican styled cut, this works well. It's just not one I like all that much. I tend to prefer the more traditional Draper styled things. I would have left this one off were it up to me.
Turkish Delight
The middle eastern sounds on this are cool. This is dramatic, powerful and very proggy . It's one of the highlights of the set.
The Return of Galadurn
Some of the most straight-ahead prog rock here, this is a killer cut. It has a dropped back movement that's a bit dramatic and psychedelic.
Once Upon a Memory
The title track closes the disc. It comes in with a killer electric guitar sound. It moves out from there in some classy ways. This really works out into some powerful music. It's one of the best tracks here. That makes it an excellent choice to end the album.


 
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