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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

As I explained in another review this issue, sometimes items that are prog get initially mis-categorized as something else. Since half of every issue has to be progressive rock, that can mean that it takes a while for it to get reviewed. I generally listen to some short bits of several songs on an album to decide where it goes. I did that with this one and thought it was more non-prog than prog, so it's been passed up for several issues. Well, sitting and spinning the whole set, it turns out that the bulk of this is fusion, which we include under prog. It's also very good. This is all instrumental music, and there is quite a decent range here. It never feels repetitive or tired. I'd say that it works really well.

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Track by Track Review
I Think I Just Said That
I love the cool funky, bluesy guitar jam that leads the album out of the gate. They build up on that arrangement and take into some killer jamming from there. The cut has a real prog meets fusion sort of texture to it. At times this leans more toward pure blues rock. More of a pure blues thing takes over as it approaches the half-way mark. They evolve that by getting into some hard edged jam band type sounds. A full on retro funk fusion exploration takes over after the four-minute mark. The cut has some great shifts and changes and is really a lot of fun.
Some killer bass work opens this thing with a great jazzy groove. The tune builds outward on that basis. It explores some dreamy fusion zones as it continues. There is some smoking hot guitar soloing that joins around the half-way mark. That brings a real bluesy fusion sound to the proceedings. I also enjoy the bits of bass soloing further down the road.
Homer's Journey
Funky and oozing with cool, this beast combines fusion with blues rock and more. There is a bit of a jam band edge to it at times, too. There are some really potent bits built into this monster number. Of course, with something going by that title, how can you expect anything short of epic? This gets into some driving powerhouse jamming further down the road that even makes me think of an almost metal sound in some ways.
Moths and Mosquitoes
Mellow and slow moving, there is a bit of a down-home vibe to this thing. While this isn't the proggiest or most fusion related thing here, the guitar soloing brings that kind of edge to it a lot of times. There is a blues rock element at play in a lot of ways, though. It does get a bit more powered up as it continues later, but never really turns fast-paced at all.
Eat a Frog
Now, this is another without a ton of fusion in the mix. This is one of the pieces that initially had me put this in a different category. There is a real country sort of vibe to the piece in a lot of ways. Still, it's fast and ever twisting and turning. You might have to listen for it a bit, but there are definitely fusion elements here amongst some moments that lean toward hoe-down territory. There is some smoking hot violin jamming late in this number.
Sad People Music
This is slow moving, and mellow. It's very much a pure jazz kind of treatment.  This is a pretty cut that really moves along some classy roads as it weaves its musical tale. it is another piece that originally had me planning to put this somewhere other than prog, though, as it's more pure jazz than it is fusion.  That said, later in the piece the guitar solos over the top and lends some serious power and fusion to it. The cut gets an intriguing new flavor as it moves out from there that does get more into fusion zones.      
The Phlebotomist
There are some rather sparse sections built into this thing. The cut has some intriguing movements. It's decidedly fusion based at times, but shifts toward some almost metallic progressive rock zones at other points. It's one of the most dynamic and successful piece of the set. It's a real powerhouse at times, yet there are dropped back moments. Among the most notable of those is a mellower section around the middle of the tune that works its way to a dramatic prog buildup that gives way to a smoking hot fusion guitar solo.
Hard rocking, this is a scorching fusion jam that's incredibly cool. It has some amazing guitar work, but the whole thing thrills, really. There are some awesome shifts and changes along this road.
The Climb
Some of the hardest rocking music of the set is included on this powerful number. Yet, it's balanced with mellower stuff, too. There is plenty of fusion here.
Two Steps Back
Coming in quite mellow and reflective, the opening of this serves almost as a respite after the crazed closing section of the last piece. It works out to more of a melodic kind of fusion arrangement from there. I particularly love the expressive guitar work around the three-and-a-half minute mark. This cut gets more powerful before it's over and is really one of the more dynamic pieces here.
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