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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Judie Tzuke

Chrysalis Recordings

Review by Gary Hill

When I'm getting the list of items ready for review for a new issue, I spin bits of CDs with which I'm not familiar to decide where it should fit in terms of genre classification. I did that with the first disc of this three-CD compilation from Judie Tzuke and decided to put it under progressive rock. Well after listening to the whole set, I'm not sure about that classification. The first and second discs certainly have enough prog moments (albeit of the 80s variety, meaning more of an AOR prog pop kind of approach), but the third disc is mostly pure 80s pop rock. Still, I think that this is proggy enough overall to fit. Let me just say that there is a lot of good music here, no matter how you label it. There are some bonus tracks here, and it comes with a nice booklet, too.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 3. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.

Track by Track Review
CD 1: Shoot the Moon
                       
Heaven Can Wait

There is a cool vibe to this cut. It has some proggy elements along with jazzy ones. The vocals are classy. There are some definite pop rock elements at play, too, but the jazzy kind of instrumental jam is very much a prog based thing.

Love on the Border
I dig the fast rocking groove this brings this into being. There is almost a punky vibe to it, but it has a real AOR prog edge to it, too. There is a bit of a Buggles vibe here, too.
Information
There is a real 80s element at play on this cut. I'm definitely reminded of Esquire on this cut, but also the Buggles. The cool use of backing vocals on this lends the proggy angle, and the whole tune is so cool. This is one of my favorites of the whole set.
Beacon Hill
A mellower tune, this has a lot of jazz in the mix. It's classy stuff. This does get a bit proggier in a cool movement later with great use of multiple layers of vocals. The jam that ensues beyond there has such an 80s sound that it is almost clichéd.
Don't Let Me Sleep
A mellow number, this is pretty if a bit dated in tone. It's basically a keyboard dominated ballad.
I'm Not a Loser
Mainstream rock along with jazz and more create the sound for this tune. It has a good energy and some cool hooks. This has some definite AOR prog textures built into it, but is basically a mainstream pop rocker.
Now There Is No Love at All
A harder rocking tune, this has a bit of a raw blues rock sound to the guitar riff on it. The driving percussion is very 80s. I like the vocal arrangement quite a bit.
Late Again
There is a real proggy vibe to this cut. I love the piano work on the number. The whole musical concept works great. There is so much beauty and passion to this cut. I think it's my favorite on the first disc.
Liggers at Your Funeral
There is a real AOR prog element at play on this tune. The cut builds and drives forward in style. A playful little excursion mid-track makes me think of ELP just a bit. It has a jazzy sound and some cool keyboard textures. The track works out from there to something that is more serious, and still quite proggy. That takes it back to the song proper.
Water in Motion
The arrangement on this is decidedly 80s. The cut has an adult contemporary vibe with some jazzy textures also at play.
Shoot the Moon
The title track closes the album proper. It's acapella with many layers of vocals. It's also short, just a little over half a minute long.
Sold a Rose (Bonus Track)
I love the cool jazz meets mainstream rock vibe of this cut. It's the first of four bonus tracks on this opening disc of the set. There is a definite 80s vibe to this. I love the guitar solo section on this thing. It really brings the proggy elements to bear.
Run on Luck (Bonus Track)
An energetic cut, this sounds quite a bit like the 70s era of Fleetwood Mac. This one's not proggy, but it is a cool song. The bridge has such an accessible 70s rock sound built into it.
I'm Not a Loser (Demo) (Bonus Track)

This demo has a great sound. I think I prefer this to the final version. The other version is almost too polished and slick. Here the songwriting and vocal performance can stand out better.

How Do I Feel (Demo) (Bonus Track)
There is a real drama and sense of emotion here. This is another that I think I prefer to a lot of the music on the main album. The multiple layers of voices bring a lot of class to the tune. They also bring a proggy edge. This is potent and particularly effective.
CD 2: Road Noise (The Official Bootleg)
               
Heaven Can Wait

The keyboard sound that opens this has a proggy sort of vibe. As the rhythm section joins we get a jazzy, funky groove woven into it. The vocals come in and soar over the top.

Chinatown
This cut has a mainstream pop rock vibe with some proggy elements at play. The powerhouse jam later in the track definitely brings a prog concept to bear.
I'm Not a Loser
The hit from the previous disc, I think I prefer this live take to the studio version. Again, it just seems more lively. There is a lot of fusion built into it. Then again, that was a big part of the pop rock sound of the 80s. I mean, that was the era when mid-track saxophone solos were so common that they became a cliché. There is a lot of energy along with some great hooks here. I love the guitar solo on the tune, too. It's short, but very potent.
Information
This energetic rocking number is classy. It has a cool guitar riff at its heart. It has hints of things like Esquire in it.
You Are the Phoenix
The hooks on this are great. The tune is an energetic rocker. The guitar solo is classy.
The Flesh Is Weak
This is a serious hard rocker. It's a classy tune that works well. It is much more of a straight-ahead mainstream rocker than proggy, but it does have some cool breaks.
Sportscar
The guitar arrangement that brings this into being establishes it as a real rocker. The cut drops back to an arrangement built around keys and vocals for the verse. There is some jazz from the funky bass work that rises up at the number kicks into high gear again. There is definitely a fusion element and a bit of an art rock vibe to this thing. I love the powerhouse guitar solo section on this thing.
For You
Keyboards bring this into being. There is a real proggy element as it drifts into some dreamy territory. Multiple layers of vocals take over in an acapella arrangement. This is artistic and very cool. Classical instrumentation rises up after the half-way mark, bringing more prog to the table.
Come Hell or Waters High
This mellower tune has a lot of jazz built into it. It probably lands in the zone of adult contemporary music more than anything else. It's a pretty tune that's effective.
Southern Smiles
There is a lot of audience clap-along at the start of this tune. The track comes into being from there is a fast paced arrangement that has a proggy fusion sound to it. This fast-paced and works quite well.
Kateria Island
The opening modes on this definitely have a lot of prog and fusion in the mix. The cut retains that as it moves forward. The instrumental section late in the track really brings that prog edge to bear with a lot of style. It's creative, expressive and beautiful in its musical exploration. This thing really gets so powerful as it drives forward.
Love on the Border
This powerhouse has so much prog rock built into it. It's exploratory and so potent.
Black Furs
Another high energy cut, this has plenty of AOR prog at its core, too.
City of Swimming Pools
This is a hard rocking number with a lot of prog concepts at its heart in the introduction. It drops to a mellower motif built around keyboards for the verse. There is also plenty of fusion in the mix here. The extended coda is particularly proggy and features some great funky bass.
Bring the Rain
Jazzy and proggy, this number has plenty of adult contemporary stylings built into it. It's another classy cut.
Sukarita
More of an adult contemporary styled cut, there is a lot of jazz built into this.
Stay with Me Till Dawn
This song has quite a similar sound to the previous one. It's another effective number.
The Hunter
This might sound familiar to fans of Led Zeppelin. That's because they borrowed some of the lyrics for "How Many More Times." This is a cover of the song written by Booker T. and the MGs and recorded by Albert King. Tzuke and company put in a killer live take of the number. It's an interesting twist on a classic. 
CD 3: Ritmo
          
Jeannie No

There is a real 80s pop rock vibe to this number. There is a funky vibe here along with a bit of a Doobie Brothers feeling to it.

She Don't Live Here Anymore

The 80s vibe is all over this tune. It's a classy and rather catchy number. It's very much pop rock based.

Shoot from the Heart

A fairly mellow groove is at the heart of this thing. There is a meaty element to it in some ways, but it over-polished. It also doesn't vary much from the previous couple numbers.

Face to Face
The opening section of this is rather generic and over-produced. It powers up to a killer movement later that brings some proggy elements of the AOR variety to the table. This actually goes from being a bit bland to one of the stronger piece of this third disc.
Another Country
A high energy number, this has a decidedly 80s vibe, but with hints of AOR prog in the mix. This is a solid tune, but not really a standout.
Nighthawks
I dig the sound of this cut. It has a real 80s music electronic meets jazz groove. It sounds dated, and is over-produced, but it still holds up pretty well.
Walk Don't Walk
There is a cool jazzy meets mellow prog approach here. This is such a great piece of music. This gets quite artsy and cool as is powers up a bit. I love the vocal arrangement and the horn adds a lot to the mix, too.
Push Push, Pull Pull
The funk really drives this thing. It's not proggy really, but it is classy.
How Do I Feel
There is a lot of power and drama built into this thing. It gets powered up as it continues and really does have a proggy nature to it. This is one of the highlights of the third disc.
Jeannie No (Extended Version) (Bonus Track)
You get a good idea of what this is based on the title and parenthetical.
Jeannie No (7" Version) (Bonus Track)
And, we get truth in advertising here, too.
 
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