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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Franck Carducci

The Answer

Review by Gary Hill

This new set from Franck Carducci is very strong. It leans toward hard rocking AOR sounds, but there is plenty of pure progressive rock built into it to please the prog heads. Derek Sherinian guests on one piece here.

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Track by Track Review
(Love Is) the Answer
Keyboards bring this into being with a rather 70s sound. Somehow I'm reminded a bit of Manfred Mann on this tentative opening here. A melodic guitar chord section joins after a time. As vocals come in, I'm reminded of the proggier side of Styx. While this is essentially AOR prog, there are some instrumental fills and jams that land it fully in pure prog zones. Mid-track it drops back to a cool keyboard dominated movement. It works outward in real prog fashion from there, feeling a bit like old-school Genesis at times, but perhaps with some ELP added to the mix. There is a powerhouse prog buildup after the five-minute mark. That gives way to a return to the song proper to move things forward. A powered up prog jam later really drives it all home with style.
Slave to Rock 'n' Roll
Now, this thing has a hard rock sound that really calls to mind 1970s hard rock. I can make out hints of things like Head East and Styx on this smoking hot number. While this is less progressive rock oriented than the opener was, there are some prog elements still in the mix, particularly in the mellower dropped back section. It fires up from there to some seriously straightforward stuff for the guitar solo.
AOR prog is the order of business on the early sections here. That part is perhaps closer to the opener, but still a bit more guitar oriented. The keyboard soloing movement is all class, though. The dropped down section brings a classic old-school prog texture to the table, too. The female vocals (Mary Reynaud) on that portion bring an intriguing flavor and some real charm. It shifts out from there to a more straight-ahead rocking sound. I'm reminded a bit of Blue Oyster Cult on that part. There is also a voice and percussion drop back later. This thing is almost 12-and-a-half minutes long, so there is plenty of room for stretching out. That includes a screaming hot jam around the eight-minute mark. The intricate and rather dreamy movement that comes out from there is quite cool. It gets into some tasty, trippy zones as it builds outward. This is really quite a ride.
The After Effect
Another extended piece, this is over ten minutes long. It comes in dramatic and a bit mysterious. It powers out from there in style. There is some fierce guitar based stuff, but don't miss the smoking bass work, either. The keyboards shine as well. In some ways this reminds me of Dream Theater. It's a dynamic and diverse cut that is a real powerhouse.
The Game of Life
A shorter track, keyboards and vocals are the key elements early. A horn joins after a time, lending a real sultry jazz vibe. This never really rises far from its origins, but it's a classy cut. It's also some cool variety.
This powers in hard rocking and fierce, if a bit tentative. It drops to a subtler movement with some smoking hot guitar set in a blues rocking kind of arrangement. At over 11 minutes long, this is another epic type piece. Derek Sherinian guests on keyboards on this piece. The straight-ahead blues rocking texture holds the track as the guitar creates some smoking lines over the top. There is a twist toward oddity after the four-minute mark. Then it drops back to just piano from there. It continues with a mellower keyboard dominated backdrop accompanying the vocals. After that vocal section keyboards lead it out into a killer jam from there. The track has a great prog groove and energy as it continues driving upward and onward. As this starts to power outward we get a drum showcase that's accentuated by blasts of other instrumentation. Eventually this works back out to a driving, guitar dominated hard rocking jam for the song proper. It makes for a powerhouse closing to the album proper.
On the Road to Nowhere (Bonus Track)
Acoustic guitar and vocals create the opening here. The vocal arrangement really wins things here. In fact, a lot of it is acapella with just multiple vocals.
Beautiful Night (Bonus Track)
Keyboards bring this piece into being. From there we're brought into more of a melodic guitar based tune. This is sort of standard rock ballad at its core, but layers of sound bring a prog edge to it. That said, after the five-minute mark, this works out to a keyboard solo section that has a real space vibe.
(Love Is) the Answer (Radio-Cut)
You probably guess what this is. It's just a bit over half the length of the other version of the piece. There is a real AOR vibe to the track, particularly in this format. It has some killer guitar and keyboard bits intact, though.
Slave to Rock 'n' Roll (Radio-Cut)
This isn't as much of an edit as the previous one was. For some reason, in this format, this cut makes me think even more of Head East. It really feels like something that would fit well in their catalog to me.


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