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Non-Prog CD Reviews


Songs From A Haunted Ballroom

Review by Gary Hill

This is my first exposure to this band. They are considered a punk band, and really they are, but they land on the more melodic end of that equation. This album features a number of cover songs, followed by three redone Skids' tracks. I have to say after this first time hearing the group, I'm definitely interested in looking into their catalog.

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Track by Track Review
Young Savage
Powering in with a nearly metal vibe, this gets punkier and more alternative rock for the entrance of the first vocals. When it gets to the chorus hook it's full punk fury. This is high energy and so meaty. This is a song originally done by Ultravox.
Complete Control
More pure punk, this is a cover of a Clash song, and it really sounds like it. I love the multi-layered vocal arrangement on this, but everything works here, really.
Gary Gilmore's Eyes
Garage rock with a healthy punk angle is the idea here. This is a powerhouse stomper that is one of the most powerful tunes here. It just has so much magical drama. This one was originally done by The Adverts.
Heart of the City
This was originally done by Nick Lowe. I love the tasty punk rock that's on the menu here. This is both mean and catchy. It's also classic in tone and delivery.
The Light Pours Out of Me
This cut is more just a riffing guitar, drums and vocals. Sure, the bass plays, too, but without rhythm guitar chords, it feels more stripped back. It does turn to a more soaring aspect for the chorus. This is a good song, but at over four-and-a-half minutes long, it's the lengthiest thing here, and I think it overstays its welcome a bit. Magazine is the original artist who did this tune.
Rock On
Here we get a cover of the David Essex classic. I still love the song and this slightly edgier take on it really works well. There is a spoken section at the end that is a Scottish tale of a rough scene that references Essex' song directly.
Energetic, meaty and yet catchy, this cover of a Mott the Hoople rocker works well. I'm not sure I'd think of this as punk, but more just good hard-edged rock music.
35MM Dreams
Next up is a cover of a Garland Jeffreys song. This edgy, mean hard-rocking punker is on fire. It's catchy, yet gritty.
Here we get a cover of The Sex Pistols. They do a great job of capturing the original magic, but also make it more accessible somehow.
New York Groove
I, and probably so many others, think of this song as an Ace Frehley tune, but when he did it, it was a cover. It's originally written by Russ Ballard. This version actually doesn't sound that different from Frehley's version to me. It's an effective and fun take on the tune.
I Wanna Be Your Dog
Here they turn their attention to Iggy and the Stooges. I've always liked this one a lot. This screaming hot, hard-rocking version of it captures all the power and magic of the original, but also brings some more accessibility to it.
The Saints Are Coming
A mellower opening gives way to a driving, melodic yet punky jam. This is another classy song on a disc with no weak material.
Into the Valley
Not a big change, this is another fine example of catchy punk rock. I love the choruses on it.
Christmas in Fife
This has a punk edge to it, but it's more of a traditional Celtic folk song. It's a fun piece.
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