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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Phil Lanzon

48 Seconds

Review by Gary Hill

It seems a safe bet that many who know Phil Lanzon's work, know of it through his tenure as the keyboardist for Uriah Heep. This new album (his second solo release) benefits from the use of three different singers (Miriam Grey, Andy Makin and John Mitchell). He has a number of other musicians with him on this musical road. While I suppose in a very general sense this lands in a similar area as Uriah Heep's music does (proggy hard rock), this doesn't really feel like that band in any real sense. Instead we get a varied and always interesting AOR prog set. The title track is the best piece here, but there are really no slouches.

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Track by Track Review
Azura's Theme (Instrumental)
This comes in mellow and gradually rises up with keyboards sounds only at its heart in the first portions. That opening bit feels like something that might have fit on an Alan Parsons album. Classical instrumentations rises up from there to guide it in different directions. It is quite symphonic, but then electronic keys soar over the top of the arrangement.
In The Rain
This comes out of the previous number, but quickly powers out into more of a rocking arrangement. It drops back to an AOR arrangement for the entrance of the vocals. This is quite a powerhouse. It's not the proggiest thing here, but it has its moments of more prog like stuff. There is a real driving hard rock edge to it overall, though.
Forty Line
While this cut has quite a bit of that AOR rock element built into it, it's very much a progressive rock piece. That's particularly true of the decidedly mellow drop back movement and the build up that takes over from there. Symphonic instrumentation and a lot of classical implementation bring a prog angle. They shift things out into a full of big band jazz jam later in the piece, though. I love the fast paced hard rocking movement that takes control near the end of the piece, too, driving it to its climax.
Rock N Roll Children
Keyboard textures bring this into being. As the arrangement works to a dramatic balladic one female vocals join, bringing a new dimension and power. The cut works out to some hard rocking AOR prog from there. This thing really gets incredibly powerful. There are some killer keyboard fills in the mix at times. The balance between mellower and rocking works really well, too. There is another jazzy break later, but it's not as full-on as the one on the previous cut. This is one of the highlights of the set, really. It has so much going for it, and so much contrast built into it.
Blue Mountain
There is a climbing kind of adult contemporary element at play here early. That's merged with an AOR prog concept, which takes control further down the road. The cut has a lot of symphonic elements in the mix. The contrast between mellower and more rocking stuff is dramatic, too. There is a dreamy kind of psychedelic meets prog excursion that gives way to a smoking hot guitar solo segment. This is another flavor of the sound of the album, and a very satisfying one.
Look At The Time
A killer hard rocking guitar dominated arrangement opens this. The riff that drives it has a bit of a swirling progression to it. The cut shifts from there to a driving prog rock jam that's melodic and hard rocking at the same time. This is very much an AOR progressive rock jam of the highest order. It's meaty, but also accessible. I love the keyboard solo driven instrumental break later in the number.
Road To London
A big change, this has a bouncy old world folk sound built into it. While it has male vocals, it feels like the kind of music Blackmore's Night might do. It's a nice change, and it's a ghost story, so that's cool. The arrangement gets pretty involved and dramatic, too.
You Can Make A Living
In stark contrast, this is a fast paced, hard rocking jam. It still has plenty of prog rock in it, but is more of a straight-ahead rocker. It's a powerhouse, really. There is some screaming hot guitar soloing built into this piece, and the chorus is anthemic.
Face To Face
Keyboards and vocals open this. As the female vocals join we're in a duet styled piece. It's a balladic cut with a poignant and contemporary message. The track shifts to a classical arrangement around the three-minute mark. As the vocals return the strings continue as flavoring. After a short vocal bit, the whole tune gets augmented as rock guitar and other elements join. Yet, the classical strings remain and really jam.
48 Seconds
At over nine-and-a-half minutes of music, the closing title track is the epic of the piece. Pure classical music brings it into being and holds it through the introduction. It drops to piano and voice from there. This piece works through a number of changes and modes in an arrangement that somehow manages to be reasonably straightforward. There is symphonic augmentation at times. The keyboards really soar over the top of parts of this. The cut has mellower movements and more rocking ones. It's epic in more ways than length, really. It's such a powerful piece. In fact, I'd say that it's the strongest and proggiest thing here. That makes it the perfect choice for both the final shot and the title track. There is a killer full on 1970s prog jam further down the road, too. This cut makes great use of the strings, chorale vocals and everything, really. It's just about a perfect track.
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