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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Judy Vamp-Shire

Beyond Imagination

Review by Gary Hill

While the music here might not immediately conjure up the spookiness of the Halloween season, the lyrics certainly do. From vampires to witches and more, this is spooky stuff. It’s all delivered with music that at times lands near metal, but overall probably fits closest to an AOR prog sound. However you categorize it, though, this is cool music, and a great addition to Halloween festivities, while also being worthwhile listening material year-round. It should be noted that this was released under the name “Judy Shire,” but she now goes by Judy Vamp-Shire. It should also be noted that in addition to her music, she is also a horror TV hostess.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Beyond Imagination
The sound of wind heralds a bit of a flourish to start the number. Piano rises up to guide the piece. I love the guitar, both acoustic and electric, that comes into the arrangement. It drops to just piano and voice for the first vocal movement. There is a real Old World vibe to this cut in a lot of ways. It has a theatrical approach. It gets more intense and a bit more rocking as it carries forward, but still drops back to the mellower stuff. I’m reminded to some degree of Blackmore’s Night. There is a killer rocking movement that enters around the three-minute mark, and the guitar really brings the magic with some dramatic melodic electrified soloing. As it drops back down a bit and goes into a proggy exploration the intensity is really ramped upward. The guitar comes back in to bring a more purely rocking solo from there. It makes its way back down at the end for a reprise of the main vocal movement to end it.
Taken
Coming in with a dramatic melodic rocking sound, this grows out into a rather metallic jam as the guitar solos over the top. It still has a proggy tendency, but of an AOR variety. This is driving, and very cool. The lyrics on this tell a story about vampires. This is energized, catchy and strong. It has plenty of smoking hot guitar work, too.
Stars and the Moon Align
There is a bit of a metal edge to this cut. In fact, it’s not far removed from epic metal in some ways. The guitar is driving, and the tune really scorches in a lot of ways. This has some of the most powerful guitar soloing of the whole disc.
Esmiree
This has a great balance between the mellower and more rocking zones. It’s a powerful cut that again makes me think of Blackmore’s Night just a bit. This has a lot of classical elements built into it, yet it is very clearly a rocker. I love the guitar soloing on this one, too. It’s particularly expressive.
The Devils Daughter
Feeling related to the opener, this starts with the sounds of the wind along with piano and voice. It has a dramatic and powerful rock treatment delivered to emphasize the texture, though. It turns out to a driving, hard-edged proggy jam as it works into the next portion of the track. This has a lot of energy and a killer drive to it. This has one of the more powerhouse guitar solo sections of the whole disc. I’d consider this track to be one of the highlights of the set, really. It has such a great range, so much emotion and power, and just works really well.
One Kiss
This has a good balance between mellower, more purely proggy and harder rocking stuff. It is another that has some hints of epic metal, but it’s more progressive rock oriented than that suggests. There are some cool melodic elements at the heart of this thing, and it has some of the more dramatic changes of the set.
We Need Your Blood
Piano brings this piece into being. That instrument paints a powerful picture as guitar adds some brush strokes here and there. The cut moves to more of a driving AOR prog jam as the vocals enter. This is so powerful in so many ways. I really like the melodies on this a lot.
Welcome to Hell
Starting with martial drums, this one gets into some full on AOR prog.  It’s a dramatic tune that has a lot of power and emotion built into it. It also has plenty of dynamic range and is one of the highlights of the set.
Stars and the Moon
This comes in with a cool blues rock groove. It drives outward with the guitar soloing like crazy. There is a bit of a fusion groove to it. The vocals come in after a bit, and the tune works into more mainstream rock zones from there. This is tasty, and one of the most “different” cuts of the disc. The vocal performance on this is among the best of the disc. This is another that has some parts that make me think of Blackmore’s Night. The guitar solo later in the tune is definitely inspired, too.
Disciples of Death
Screaming hot hard rock opens this number. It resolves to more of an AOR prog thing after the introduction.
Pocus Hocus
This is a bog change of pace. It has some killer jazz stylings built into it. It still manages to bring some prog tendencies to bear, but in a completely different way.
 
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