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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Wise As Wisdom: The Dawn Albums 1973-1975

Review by Gary Hill

This brand new box set is quite cool and a great value. It includes four original albums from Irish progressive rock band Fruup. If you are like me, you probably have never heard of these guys. That’s a shame because they were quite an interesting band. Each of these four discs is different from the others, but there are common sounds and themes running throughout. These guys have a lot of folk prog along with jazz and more traditional progressive rock. I’m most often reminded of Nektar and Flash, but the band’s sound is really unique. I’ve reviewed this as a box set here, but I’ve also done separate reviews of each original album. I recommend getting it like this, though. For one thing it’s a better value, but you also get bonus tracks and a cool mini-poster all in a clamshell box. Each CD comes in a cardboard sleeve that's a reproduction of the original album sleeve. This is all class for certain. It should be noted that for the sake of consistency the track reviews of the single discs are all taken from this review.

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Track by Track Review
CD One: Future Legends
Future Legends
Classical instrumentation brings thing in with pretty textures. This piece is gentle and makes for a nice introductory piece.
This comes in with a driving prog rock sound. The opening section runs through for a short time before they explode out into a much harder edged jam from there. This is fast-paced and dramatic. It also has bits of symphonic texture. It drops to a mellower, jazzy kind of bouncy movement for the vocals. They fire upward with more energy in a melodic prog jam for the next vocals. Then the piano takes over as they fire out into a short jazzy bit. We’re taken back into the song proper for the return of the vocals. A scream heralds a movement into a powerful, rocking symphonic prog jam that’s pretty purely on fire. This really becomes quite a journey. There are some operatic vocals for a time. The closing section features seriously hard rocking guitar.
As Day Breaks With Dawn
Coming in quite mellow, this makes me think of early Genesis just a bit in the first parts of the cut. There are some definite classical music elements built into this piece. After the one-minute mark it shifts to a harder rocking guitar based jam. The vocals come in over the top of that, and this is more mainstream rock ad less prog in a lot of ways. Then around the two-minute mark it drops down to a decidedly mellow and almost psychedelic section for the next vocals. More rocking stuff returns later before this number is done.
Graveyard Epistle
I really love the fast-paced prog jam that opens this thing. It’s a real powerhouse with number of changes. It drops way down to a mellower movement for the entrance of the vocals. It’s slow moving, but gradually rising upward. It has a beauty and almost dream-like quality to it. They fire out into more fast stuff after that vocal section. After that fast movement, they take into a cool jam that’s informed by world music melodies at times.
Lord of the Incubus
This is another powerhouse progressive rock piece. There is a cool psychedelic element at play throughout a lot of it. It has an excursion into old-time rock and roll jam. The cut is quite dynamic and seemingly in a constant state of flux.
Olde Tyme Future
There is some cool organ music built into this thing. The cut has a dreamy kind of psychedelia turned mellow prog vibe to it in a lot of ways. It gets into more rocking zones as it continues. The section with all the non-lyrical vocals is so cool.
Song For A Thought
Coming in with a rocking guitar based jam, this is classy stuff. It’s fast paced and cool. The cut shifts to a mellower movement to continue. There are some cool guitar fills built into it here and there. It has a dreamy kind of almost psychedelic edge at play. This cut has some intriguing passages, at times making me think of Nektar just a bit.
Future Legends
This is a short reprise of the opening tune with some vocals. It’s a nice way to bookend the album proper.
Bonus Track:
On a Clear Day
A bouncy, tastefully off-kilter jam, this thing makes me think of the band Flash to some degree. It’s a cool piece, and when you consider that it’s just a bonus track, that really says a lot about the talent of this band. It works through some cool prog movements as it makes its way through.
CD Two: Seven Secrets
Faced With Shekinah
The modes that bring this into being have a real classical meets world music vibe to them. The cut works out with a decidedly classical mode to the rock elements. As this continues to shift and evolve, the number has some more rocking moments. It makes a lot of twists and turns, but also continues in an instrumental motif as it does. In fact, the first three minutes or so are purely instrumental. Vocals come in after that, though. The cut has hints of psychedelia at times. Comparisons to both Flash and Nektar are valid. The jam after the six-minute mark in particular makes me think of Nektar. That instrumental movement gets into some particularly dramatic and soaring territory. That movement eventually ends the piece.
Wise As Wisdom
This rises up subtly and slowly, working forward with style. The cut eventually drops down again, giving way to a dramatic balladic section. It begins to drive onward from there. As it gets into more rocking stuff, and the vocals come in over the top, I’m again reminded if Nektar to a large degree. The cut eventually makes its way out to a cool and ever changing prog jam. That movement at times gets into fusion-like zones. I suppose it should probably be called “movements,” because there are definitely different section and themes within the one extensive instrumental part. Non-lyrical vocals join after a time as the track continues to evolve.
White Eyes
A mellow and quite pretty instrumental section brings this into being and holds it for a time. Eventually the cut moves outward to a pretty and rather psychedelic movement. This cut continues to change from there. The multiple layered vocal arrangement is classy. There are some intriguing sections on this number. It has some world music and a healthy helping of jazz in the mix. It remains mellower than a lot of the stuff here, but still has some good energy.
Garden Lady
A fast-paced prog jam launches this into being right at the start. It’s energized and quite classy. There are hints of psychedelia built into the number. It has hints of Flash in this early opening movement. It drops back to a mellower section from there. That has a bit of a dream-like quality. The cut continues to shift and change from there. It has some of the most dramatic and powerful passages of the whole album.
Three Spires
This is such a cool song. It has a melodic, often mellow, progressive rock element to it. It’s a powerhouse cut that is so classy.
There is plenty of playful classical music built into this piece. The cut also has some lush and powerful moments that drive it in with style. There is a lot of folk prog here.
The Seventh Secret
This has a spoken poetry recitation built into it. It’s a mellow cut with a lot of folk in the mix. It’s also very short and quite artsy.
CD Three: The Prince of Heaven’s Eyes
It's All Up Now
This has plenty of classical music influence in the powerhouse opening prog rock buildup. It eventually makes its way to a balladic, folk prog type arrangement for the entrance of the vocals. The cut gets back into more pure progressive rock zones as it gets past the vocal section. It really drives upward as the powerhouse jamming takes control. There is still plenty of symphonic edge to this piece.
Prince of Darkness
This cut has a lot of artsy weirdness built into it, particularly in the vocal delivery. I’m reminded of Gabriel-era Genesis in some ways. There are some cool rocking moments. There are some definite psychedelic rock things here, too. All in all, this is an interesting bit of variety.
Jaunting Car
This has a real traveling music kind of vibe to it. There are hints of Americana in the mix. It has a real jam band kind of vibe in a lot of ways. This instrumental has a grounding and playful sound.
Annie Austere
This fast paced number is all class on the introduction. Pure progressive rock, some of the guitar fills make me think of Steve Howe a bit. The vocals call to mind Flash a bit, though. This is up-tempo and very cool.
Knowing You
The arrangement that opens this has a cool, bouncy folk prog vibe to it. The number drops to mellower sounds for the vocal section. It is a gentle balladic treatment as they join. After running through in mellow instrumental ways, a shout of “hey,” heralds a more rocking mode to continue the piece as it approaches the three-minute mark. That doesn’t hold it for long, though, as it drops back to a mellower interlude with flute. As it continues to explore that territory the arrangement gets more powered up but continues in the same general direction. It explodes out into a powerhouse folk prog jam from there, and the vocals return.  They take things through a number of twists and turns as this drives onward. This thing is really quite a ride.
Crystal Brook
Piano starts this cut off and holds it for a time in a very classical fashion. Ethereal vocals join after the 30-second mark, but only the piano remains as it continues. Other instruments rise up as it nears the minute-and-a-half mark, but it still remains quite mellow and classical in nature. The vocals don’t return for a while, but the sounds of waves are heard. When the vocals do rejoin, it’s back to just a piano and vocal arrangement. At just about three minutes of music, this is the shortest piece of the album.
Seaward Sunset
Cool energized prog rock opens this with hints of classical and fusion in the mix. It seems even harder rocking in contrast to the mellow number that preceded it. The cut drives forward with style. There are definite hints of Flash on this at times. It has some playful folk prog moments and hints of jazz in the mix, too.
The Perfect Wish
This cut, the closing number of the album proper, has some particularly dramatic moments. There is plenty of folk prog built into this. It has a lot of classical leaning, too. It’s quite effective and potent.
Bonus Tracks:
Prince of Heaven
A triumphant sounding prog texture permeates a lot of this track. It’s a prog powerhouse that makes me think of Flash and Nektar both in some ways.
Jaunting Car (Single Version)
As you might imagine from the title and parenthetical, this is a single version of the previous cut. Interestingly enough, this version is actually a couple seconds longer than that one was. It is just so fun and cheery. It’s a good time tune in any format.
CD Four: Modern Masquerades
Misty Morning Way
The cool melodic progressive rock that opens this might be among the most effective music this band ever did. It works through some variants and has some definite fusion leanings. It’s so classy. That holds it in instrumental fashion for almost three minutes. The cut works from there to a really jazzy groove for the entrance of the vocals. I dig the backing vocals as the song continues to work onward. This has some really cool moments as it works its way through. There are hints of Flash in this.
Masquerading With Dawn
Bouncing, classy progressive rock drives this killer tune. It’s playful, but also quite dramatic. The vocal arrangement has some great moments of multi-layered magic. The tune is catchy, but also meaty. A harder rocking movement after the halfway mark is a real powerhouse, packed full of drama and style. It gives way to a return to the bouncy sections of the song. The cut works back out to the harder edged sections of s short bit. Then a dramatic and dreamy mellower movement takes over for a time. That takes it to a short outro.
I dig the cool prog rock jam that brings this thing into being. It eventually makes its way to a mellower motif for the entrance of the vocals. There are jazzy textures built into the cut in this section. It starts gradually building out from there in pretty and classy ways. This cut is almost eleven minutes long, and they make good use of that time by creating all kinds of different musical elements. There are some decidedly soaring, hard rocking prog movements. Yet, it eventually resolves back to more melodic prog in a mellower vein. The closing extended instrumental movement is so powerful.
Mystery Might
Driving, dramatic progressive rock jamming opens this, and they begin to work through some shifts and changes as it drives forward. The vocal movement that eventually takes over is driven heavily by piano. As it continues, though, it gets more rocking and there is some cool jamming. Around the three-minute mark it explodes out into a section that makes me think of Flash. There is some killer bass work in a powerhouse jam later in the track. This piece just oozes progressive rock cool, though. There is a false ending, and they bring it in with a rather funky, jazzy jam that’s quite percussive from there.
Starting with piano, that instrument holds it for a time in classical meets jazz arrangement. The vocals join over that arrangement. This remains as sort of a piano and vocal ballad from start to finish. It’s a nice bit of variety and quite pretty.
Janet Planet
After a powered up opening flourish this works out to a bouncy kind of jam that makes me think of Klaatu to a large degree. There is a healthy helping of The Beatles built into this thing. It gets back toward the opening section for the outro.
Sheba's Song
I’m again reminded of Klaatu as this number opens. It works out to more cool prog rock from there. The number works through that for a while, but eventually makes its way out to an exploratory kind of jam that has some particularly tasty moments. This thing is quite a cool and dynamic piece. It makes for a great closing track.
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