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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gentlemen's Academy

Joy

Review by Gary Hill

I've landed this one under progressive rock. It's one of those where I almost didn't. The thing is, a lot of this lands more in mainstream rock territory. There are bits of progginess on most of the cuts, though. And, the closer really cinched it for me. Whatever you call this, though, it's an effective disc of strong rock music. It should be mentioned that this act is another of Randy Pratt's musical adventures. You can always count on anything he's part of to provide quality.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
What the Rain's For
This comes in very much as a melodic rocking number with a real folk angle to it.
Be Brave for Love
There is more of a hard rock sound built into this thing, but there are proggy shifts and changes. I'm definitely reminded of 1970s rock on this number.
The Keepin' Kind
While there is still an AOR prog element here, this thing leans heavily on hard rock. The instrumental break brings more of that prog angle, though. The bridge on the piece has elements of Southern rock merged with some prog hints. 
Heaven Must Have Told You
The opening part of this has some classy guitar soloing. It works to a more balladic approach that's effective and classic in tone. This has some of the proggiest angles of the set, and I love the guitar solos later in the piece, too.
Paradise
Somehow I'm reminded just a bit of The Eagles by this piece, but informed with a progressive rock angle. That prog part, albeit in an AOR zone, dominates the later parts of the cut. There are some intriguing changes, and an instrumental break with call and response guitar bits brings an almost jazz edge to it.
Fantastic Planet
Folk prog, psychedelia and jazz seem to merge on this classy tune. It's a bit mellower than some of the others, but I wouldn't call it a ballad.
When We Were Young
There is a great balance between the mellower opening portion and the more rocking later sections. Some psychedelia is part of that opening section. This is perhaps not the proggiest thing here, but it has its moments.
Tears of Joy
I dig the piano on this cut. It brings the proggy aspect as the main song creates a mainstream rock vibe.
Always Is Forever
While this is mostly a mainstream pop rock piece, the over layers of keys lend the prog angle, and the guitar solo takes it almost into the realm of fusion.
Crush
I wouldn't really consider this one to be proggy at all. The main song structure has a mainstream rock approach. The guitar solo does manage to soar pretty high, though.
Teetering
Now, the opening of this really brings the prog angles to bear. There is a mellow psychedelia meets prog vibe to it. This is the most complex number here. I like the evocative vibe of it. It has a bit of a power-ballad vibe in some ways. There are psychedelic elements along with proggy ones. They definitely saved the best for last. This is the song that convinced me to land the disc under prog, and this is the best tune of the whole set.
 
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