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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Modern Masquerades

Review by Gary Hill

This is the fourth retro review from this act I’ve done for this issue. These guys were an Irish progressive rock act from the 1970s. While I’ve done all these retro reviews for this issue, I’ve also reviewed a box set (new release) that includes all four discs. The track reviews here come from that review. I’d highly recommend getting it that way as it has some bonus tracks and you get all four albums for one good price. That said, of the four discs, I’d say this is the best. They really seemed to have come into their sound by then. This is a solid prog rock disc right up there with the outputs of the better known bands.

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Track by Track Review
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.
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