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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Benjamin Dean Wilson

The Smartest Person in the Room

Review by Gary Hill

It's a safe bet that you've not heard anything quite like this. The closest comparisons are to things like Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, but there is a bit of a They Might Be Giants vibe here, too. Benjamin Dean Wilson worked in film before switching to music, and his songs are designed like short films. While this is not always a tight fit under progressive rock, it's clearly art rock, and that's close enough. This is quirky and odd, and also pretty cool, but it's not for everyone.

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Track by Track Review
The Smartest Person in the Room
Violin (or should I say "fiddle?") starts this. It makes one of the most prominent elements of the musical arrangement. The vocals have a country twang. In fact, there is a lot of country music here. Yet there is also a lot of alternative rock and pop sound here. This is artistic, leaning it toward art rock in some ways. The cut gets a definite parental advisory.
Won't Say It Again
There is a lot of jazz and plenty of progressive rock built into this. It's a playful and tastefully strange piece. I'm reminded of things like Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart in a lot of ways. I love the shifts and changes on this thing. The lyrics definitely have a goofy kind of Zappa-like vibe. This earns a parental advisory, too. There are some cool world music elements to the later sections of this.
A Difficult Decision For Ronny Giovanni
With a lot of fusion and prog rock in the mix, this is another tastefully off-kilter piece of music. It's a fun bit of weirdness. Frank Zappa is on the menu here again. This song is quite a ride, moving through a lot of different sections.
Ridgemore Hotel
World music, quirky alternative pop and more merge on this bouncy little number. It has a lot of that Captain Beefheart thing going for it.
Mr. Paranoid, Lizzy, and Her Family
Starting with more of the bouncy kind of alternative weirdness, this shifts out quite a bit later into a cool fusion jam. Then it works to a piano and voice section before more keyboards fill out the arrangement. The tune works back out to more folk rock based theatrical stuff as it continues. This just keeps shifting and changing, though, as it works through various musical oddities. It rocks out pretty hard at times and earns a parental advisory.
Vitamin Supplements

Another theatrically based oddity, this has some fun stuff. There are very 50s oriented elements, but a lot more alternative rock/pop based stuff, too. I particularly dig the weird world music based section around the six minute mark. This tune gets a bit of a parental advisory, too. The mellower section around the eight minute mark is quite cool, too.

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