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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Snowy White

Lucky Star: An Anthology 1983-1994

Review by Gary Hill

This new box set from Snowy White is classy. It’s also massive, with six CDs in a clamshell box. Each CD comes in a cardboard sleeve that is a replica of the original album cover, front and back. There is also a poster and a fairly hefty book included. You’ll note that I’ve included this under the progressive rock section. Not everything here is prog, though. A couple discs definitely have enough prog and fusion built into them to land there, but there are other factors that tie into the decision. For one thing, we’ve generally included him under prog when we have covered him before. Additionally, he has played guitar both for Pink Floyd (as an additional guitar player in 1977 and 1980) and Roger Waters.

The music here covers a pretty  wide range of sounds. There is one disc that’s essentially pure electric guitar blues. Two albums, as mentioned before, land more along the lines of AOR prog meets fusion. The other three discs come in somewhere in between. While the guitar playing is exceptional throughout, it manages to shine even brighter here and there. It’s also worth noting that it never feels like an excuse to show off White’s remarkable guitar talents. The song is always king. I had heard great things about Snowy White before (particularly from a long-distance friend who has written for MSJ in the past – Bruce Stringer), but I’m not sure I ever actually heard him before. I’m glad I have now. He is really a very special artist.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2020.
Track by Track Review
CD One:
               
Snowy White: “White Flames”
             
Released in 1983
          
Lucky Star
There is a cool 80s groove to this. It’s a bit like the kind of stuff Steve Winwood did. That said, there is a tribal element to the percussion, and this works out to a killer fusion jazz instrumental section mid-track. The guitar soloing brings some blues to the table. This cut is very proggy in the instrumental section.
Bird of Paradise
A bluesy introduction brings this into being. The cut works out from there to a cool section that has a real proggy vibe to it. The keyboards and general musical tone impart a lot of folk sound here. This is a soaring kind of pretty tune. The instrumental movement late in the track reinforces the proggy concept and includes some killer guitar work.
The Journey Part One / The Journey Part Two
This comes in slow and mellow. It works out with a dramatic, if understated, motif that is proggy. The guitar soloing that paints pictures all over this is so strong. There is definitely a fusion angle to this piece of music. There is a short percussion break around the halfway mark. Then the cut shifts into a harder edged jam that’s more pure fusion. It transitions slowly from there into a soaring prog meets fusion jam.  This instrumental twofer is so strong. I’d consider it a highlight of the first CD.
Don't Turn Back
There is definitely a prog angle to this cut, but the number is more of a straightforward mainstream rock number. I love the guitar work on the piece, but that pretty much applies to everything here.
It's No Secret
I love the cool funky groove to this tune. The bass is a big part of that, and is also particularly classy. This number has plenty of great fusion texture built into it, but with a catchy kind of hook-driven concept. The harder rocking movement lands it closer to AOR zones. The tune is on fire before it’s over.
Lucky I've Got You
Funk and fusion and driving factors on this cut. It has a very 80s vibe to it. This is classy, but not my favorite thing here.
The Answer
Fast-paced and driving, this has a lot of pure progressive rock in the mix. There is still an 80s fusion element to it, too. This is a highlight of the set. For some reason it reminds me of Roxy Music just a bit. The jam later in the song brings some killer electronic fusion textures and definitely reinforces that RM comparison.
Open Carefully
This instrumental is a screaming hot powerhouse jam. It has a definite 80s texture, but in a prog meets fusion way. It’s on fire. This reaches a crescendo and then segues into the next piece.
At the Crossroads
Continuing the prog meets fusion concept of the previous piece, this has a more restrained element to it. The guitar is particularly expressive as it drives onward. There is a definite blues edge to some of this. While the opening instrumental movement is extensive, the tune eventually turns to a vocal one.
Bonus Tracks:
                  
Broken Promises
This number was the B-side of a single from 1984. It’s a killer fusion styled instrumental jam with some expressive guitar soloing. It’s quite tasty.
For the Rest of My Life (Live)
Here we get a full-on blues jam as the tune starts. There are some more fusion-like moments in the extended instrumental introduction, but the vocals come in over more of that blues concept.
CD Two:
                   
Snowy White: “Snowy White”
                  
Released in 1984
                   
Land of Freedom
Starting mellow and proggy, the guitar on the opening is expressive. The cut works out from there to an AOR prog turned funky mode. It has some killer energy and a great groove. I love the guitar solo sections on this thing, but the whole tune is strong.
Long Summer Days
A dramatic proggy texture is at the heart of this cut. The tune has an 80s vibe, but less than some of the other stuff. While the arrangement leans more toward a fusion concept, for some reason the song itself makes me think of something Blue Oyster Cult might write. The guitar solo on this is a real powerhouse.
Chinese Burn
The bass on this has a great rubbery texture. The tune really grooves in a fusion zone. This instrumental includes some killer jamming. Check out the piano work in particular. This whole thing is on fire.
Peace on Earth
A keyboard based number, this has a balladic prog approach to it. It gets a bit more built up after the first vocal movement, but remains on the mellow side for the next vocal section, too. After that it gets a little more oomph, for the guitar solo.  That section is exploratory and quite proggy with some killer playing on display. The piece keeps building out nicely from there.
The Water's Edge / Stepping Stones
A mellow fusion concept opens this, and the guitar solos tastefully over the top of it. The number evolves from there, growing outward gradually, while retaining that jazz motif. This thing really grows organically eventually developing into something that makes me think of Al DI Meola in a lot of ways. This is a powerful instrumental packed with passion.
So Breathless
As this kicks in, it’s another that calls to mind Roxy Music for me. There is plenty of funk in the mix here, along with some fusion and prog tendencies. This is a fun number. I really love the instrumental section later in the track. It brings the progressive rock edges to bear with style as the guitar solos through much of it. It also turns toward more pure fusion at times.
Fortune
I love the bass work on this number. The cut has a more AOR approach. It’s classy stuff with some great hooks. I love the killer guitar soloing on this song. I mean, the guitar on the entire set is so great, but this one really stands out. That says a lot.
When I Arise
This mellow cut has almost a classical music aspect to it. It’s pretty and elegant. This instrumental grows slowly and is definitely on the prog side of the equation.
Bonus Tracks:
          
Good Question
The guitar playing that opens this cut is very bluesy, and the whole number calls to mind some of Pink Floyd’s bluesier moody stuff.  This instrumental was released as the B side of a single. It is a guitar showcase, but still has proggy tendencies, too.
Straight on Ahead
This comes in as a pure blues rocking cut. It has a real boogie woogie vibe as it gets into the song proper. The cut really rocks like crazy. It’s definitely not prog, but it has some great vocal hooks and smoking hot guitar licks. There is a bit of a Little Feat vibe in some ways. This was also released as the B side of a single.
I Can't Let Go
This was the A side of a single from 1986 with the number that follows it as the B. The cut opens with some energy and groove to it. It drops back to mellower zones from the lead vocals. It is another that calls to mind BOC in terms of songwriting to me. The backing vocals remind me of some of the female backing vocals on Pink Floyd. The tune has a fusion meets AOR feeling overall. There is some decidedly funky bass work built into it.
Rush Hour
Released as the B side of the previous single, this comes in with a trippy kind of vibe. The song seems experimental and a bit bizarre in the opening. It works out from there, gradually gaining coherence. The tune is a fusion meets prog instrumental that’s a real powerhouse.
Muddy Fingers
Another B side tune, a melodic fusion sound is on display here. There is a bit of a Latin rhythmic element at play, too.
Sky High
This again calls to mind BOC to me. There is a fusion 80s vibe to the cut, and some serious funk in the bass work. The chorus on this is very catchy. This is another tune that was first released as a B side to a single.
Someone Else Is Gonna Love Me
Here we have another AOR styled rocker. This is fun and classy. The keyboards bring a real 80s sound to it. There are some cool jazzy things in the mix at times, and the instrumental movement, with it’s tribal drumming and killer guitar soloing is a nice touch. That almost calls to mind early Santana.
CD Three:
                    
Snowy White: “That Certain Thing.”
                
Released in 1987
        
For You
As this comes in with a melodic rocking sound, a lot of that 80s flavor is gone. The piece has a more timeless sound. It’s an AOR rock piece that works well. There is some powerhouse instrumental work as the tune builds toward it’s closing.
That Certain Thing
The title track is mellower with both more of that 80s texture and more jazzy fusion. It’s a solid tune, but not really a highlight.
Lonely Heart
This has a catchy chorus. The tune feels a bit more like an adult contemporary kind of thing. The backing vocals are pretty cool. The guitar soloing is so expressive and really the highlight of the tune.
This Heart of Mine
There is a bit of a bluesy vibe here, but overall this feels like it lives in much the same area as the last cut. That said, this is a bit meatier.
I Can't Believe It
The 80s sound is back on this funky, mid-tempo song. I dig the bass work on it a lot.
Walking Away
There is a proggy, fusion sort of vibe to this cut. The track has a lot of style and charm to it. The jam late in the track features a saxophone solo, which was kind of the thing at that time, almost to the point of cliché status.
I'll Be Holding On
More of a mainstream rock approach is on display here. This has a lot of that adult contemporary vibe, but perhaps set more in an AOR rock arrangement. This is solid, but doesn’t really grab me.
Voices in the Rain
I dig the funky groove and classy sounds of this number. It’s meatier than most of this particular album. It’s another that makes me think of BOC just a bit. Of course, BOC with a completely different arrangement.
Bonus Tracks:
              
Snow Blues
As you might guess from the title, this is a pure electric blues number. It is a slow moving piece that’s just oozing cool out of every pore. This was released as the B side of a 12-inch single. This instrumental is really a guitar showcase.
Let Go Too
This is a cool tune. It has more of a mainstream rock vibe, but a real blues edge to it. There are some fusion leanings. It’s a great instrumental number with intriguing changes and expressive  melody lines. There is a short percussion showcase bit mid-track, too.  I really love the guitar playing on this one.
Mai Tai
Now, this has more of a fusion vibe. It feels more like something that would have fit on one of the previous albums. It’s a classy number with a lot of style. I’m reminded a bit of Pat Metheny. There are some Island elements built into this, but with that title, how could there not be? This instrumental is potent and has some exceptional guitar work.
Birthday Blues
As you might guess from the title, this is a bluesy piece. It’s a guitar number with a rhythm guitar providing the only backdrop for the soloing.
Only Woman
A high-energy bluesy rocker, this is a strong tune. There is a great groove and energy to it. The horns brings some magic and the vocal performance works well. Of course, the guitar soloing is on fire.
CD Four:
                 
Snowy White’s Blues Agency: “Change My Life”
                                
Released in 1988
                            
Woke Up This Morning
This tune brings the full blues treatment. This is the kind of electric blues you expect from the British blues movement. I dig the shuffling groove that takes control further down the road. This has some killer guitar work.
The Thrill Is Gone
I have always loved this song. I would go so far as to say that it’s my all-time favorite song by anyone. This rendition is definitely a lot different than the original B.B. King one.  There is more of a rock approach with hints of psychedelia as it works outward. As the intensity rises, this gets more powerful. It builds toward more of a full blues treatment as it continues. The whole tune really has that psychedelic edge, though. I would have preferred something closer to the B.B. King style, but perhaps Mr. White was looking to avoid the obvious. I got to see the King of the Blues play the song live, so I’m good.
You Know It Ain't Right
An up-tempo tune, this is a fun bluesy cut. The harmonica section is wailing.
Change My Life
Now, this is the kind of treatment I wish “The Thrill Is Gone” had gotten. It’s a slow, gritty blues guitar piece that’s packed full of drama and style.
The Agency Blues
This blues jam has a great groove. It’s a classy tune with some particularly tasty guitar soloing. I love the blues harp on this instrumental piece.
Judgement Day
Another old school blues jam is on the menu here. This is a classy cut. There are no real surprises here, but just a classy blues song.
Ooh-Wee Baby
Not a big change, this number is a strong and timeless sounding electric blues piece. The harmonica brings some magic and style to the proceedings.
The Rest of My Life
There is a bit of a shuffling groove to this blues tune. There are no big surprises here, but just some classy blues.
Parchman Farm
A bit more of a rock sound is on the menu on this up-tempo piece. It reminds me a bit of something Canned Heat might do, really. The instrumental jam later in the piece has some solid harmonica work.
The Agency Shuffle
As you might guess this is another blues shuffle. This instrumental is a classy jam.
Another Man
Harmonica opens the tune. The vocals join, and those two elements hold the track for its entire nearly two- minute run.
Bonus Track:
   
No Place to Go
Another classy blues groove is on the menu here. This is fun stuff.  This song, much like Led Zeppelin’s “How Many More Times,” seems to reference the song “How Many More Years” by Howlin’ Wolf. The tune eventually fades down, but not before we get some wailing harmonica.
CD Five:
                         
Snowy White’s Blues Agency: “Open for Business”
            
Released in 1989
               
I Can't Help Myself
While there is still plenty of blues built into the arrangement here, this lands more along the lines of a jazzy, fusion rock sound in some ways. The female backing vocals are a nice touch. The guitar fills are so tasty.
Blues on Me
Starting mellower and dramatic, there is a real blues rock feeling to this cut. The first half of the cut is on the more sedate side. They fire out into some smoking hot hard rocking sounds for the instrumental movement. Then it drops back down for a harmonica solo led bit before the vocals return.
Out of Order
A killer shuffling blues jam, this seems like a cross between something like Little Feat and more traditional blues. There is both smoking hot guitar work and killer harmonica. This instrumental is all class.
When You Broke Your Promise
This slow blues number has a real classic sound and texture to it.
I Want Your Love
There is a bit of a funky edge to the bass work on this tune. It’s a fun number that makes me think of more modern blues rock (modern being things like Robert Cray). Yet, it also calls to mind things like John Mayall’s Blues Breakers. There is some smoking hot guitar soling built into it. This thing becomes a real powerhouse tune before it’s over and done.
Out of My Dreams
Guitar and vocals bring this into being with more of that more modern concept. This definitely has a more mainstream pop rock vibe to it. In fact, it’s really not all that bluesy of a tune. The smoking hot guitar soloing lends some real magic to the number.
Addicted Man
Now we’re back into more pure blues zones, but with a modern groove to it. This has good energy and a lot of class. There is some fierce guitar soloing built into this.
Open for Business
The title track is a speedy number that has a classy electric blues grind and sound to it. This instrumental is a real powerhouse.
Walking the Streets
Gritty blues rock is on the menu here. This is energetic and meaty. It really rocks.
Land of Plenty
Tribal drums brings this into being. The cut has a mellow mode that makes me think of Bob Marley a bit. There is a reggae meets psychedelic aspect to it.  It’s more sedate, but also dramatic and powerful. This was a great way to close the album proper.
Bonus Tracks:
         
Twister
A smoking hot instrumental, this is another classy traditional blues jam.
Cat Flea Jump
I love the bass line on this classy blues rocker. Of course, the guitar soloing is great, too, but that’s true of just about everything on this set.
CD Six:
           
Snowy White: “Highway to the Sun”
                   
Released in 1994
                     
Highway to the Sun
This comes in with a real AOR sound, and works out in style from there. I’m reminded of Dire Straits quite a bit.
Can't Find Love
A slower moving tune, this has some definite proggy elements. It makes me think of what you might get if you merged the sounds of Dire Straits and Jethro Tull. This has mellower sections alternated with more rocking ones.
Burning Love
More of a blues rocker, this is classy stuff. It definitely has an AOR vibe to it.
Loving Man
This time around we’re in more pure blues zones. This is an electric blues number that feels like it would have fit well on the fourth disc of this set. I love the expressive guitar soloing on this.
The Time Has Come
Another that would have fit well on the last couple CDs, this has some great blues textures and sounds built into it.
Heartful of Love
I like the intricate rock textures that lead this number out. As the guitar weaves lines of melody over the top, the bluesy texture emerges. This is another that makes me think of Dire Straits a bit.
Love, Pain and Sorrow
This is a killer blues rocker. It has some great moods and tones. Of course, the guitar soloing is impeccable.
Hot Saturday Night
The organ that opens this calls to mind Deep Purple. Rather blast into a hard rocker, as that seems to suggest, the tune works to more of a balladic cut. This is a mainstream rocker that again makes me think of Dire Straits a bit. This gets more rocking as it continues, and there is a killer piano solo built into the piece.
Keep on Working
A mellower tune, (at least for the majority of the cut) while this has a real blues foundation, there is a healthy helping of jazzy rock in the menu. I like the saxophone solo on this. As the number works out to a harder rocking jam for some smoking hot guitar soloing later, it really takes on a proggy aspect. When it rises up even further into almost Pink Floyd-like bombast, that prog thing is even more prevalent. The guitar soloing really drives that part of the piece and is inspired and powerful.
I Loved Another Woman
Vintage blues textures are on hand here. This feels like it would have been at home on disc four here. The style and charm on this are so cool. This is a tune that was written by Peter Green.
I Can't Get Enough of the Blues
Another blues rocking tune, this is classy stuff. It turns to more of a jam band type approach later along the road. The bass gets to show off a bit, and the whole thing just oozes cool as it ramps up the intensity.
Bonus Track:
                    
All My Money
I love the classy blues meets jazz and psychedelia vibe here. It reminds me a lot of the kind of stuff Bob Welch used to do in his Fleetwood Mac days.
 
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