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Vinyl Soup

The Beacon Within

Review by G. W. Hill

There are a lot of great elements in the stew that is Vinyl Soup. I make out things ranging from Pink Floyd to King Crimson to The Grateful Dead and Procol Harum. And that’s just the first few tunes. This is a solid and captivating album no matter how it’s sliced. I bounced back and forth on whether to include this in progressive rock or not. In the end, I decided that it landed more "in" the prog category than not. So, here it is.

Track by Track Review
Mr. Blue Shield

A cool groove opens this tune. It feels like a psychedelic meets space rock and Pink Floyd kind of tune. The vocal have more of that Pink Floyd sound mixed with more of a jam band kind of thing. There are some nice changes here and the retro keyboard elements really make this thing.

Leave Me Alone

As good as the opening cut was, it pales in comparison to this. At various points here one might be reminded of King Crimson (the melodic side) early Genesis, Pink Floyd or a number of other acts. It’s really more or less a power-ballad, but it’s got a lot of great musical stylings and shifts and changes built into it. It’s just got such a great texture.

Let It Go
The driving rhythm section here is cool. They drop things back to a mellower motif for the vocal sections, but that bass and drum combination continues to chug away. This is very much like Hawkwind with early Pink Floyd and psychedelic music built into the system. It’s another strong cut. These guys just don’t seem to let up on the quality. There’s an almost Beatles-like (mind you a garage band take on The Beatles) hook in one section. There’s also some Doors-like jamming built into the number.
What You Gave

The main riff here is pure classic rock. The cut leans more towards psychedelic rock than it does prog. Still, the closing jam is proggy enough and there are some other elements here that make it fit reasonably well under “progressive rock.” Whatever you call it, though, this is an effective tune.

Mount Juliet Way

 If there’s a tune here that’s not progressive rock, this is it. It kind of feels like what you might get if you mixed The Grateful Dead with Procol Harum. Still, it’s potent whether it’s progressive rock or not and there are some intriguing twists and turns here. 

Reminding Us All
Somehow, the riff that opens this epic makes me think just a bit of “Green Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf. As the vocals come in there is sort of a psychedelic rock meets progressive vibe to this piece. While this piece runs along a fairly straight line, mid-track we’re taken into a cool jam that’s one part space rock and one part early Pink Floyd. After a return to the “song” oriented part later it works out to the most purely space rock section of all. That segment ends it.
The Roof

There’s actually quite a bit of a reggae vibe to this piece. Still, it’s all psychedelically tinged progressive rock with a lot of space in the mix. The horn section on this brings some jazz leanings to the table and they move it into a fusion-oriented instrumental movement mid-track.

The World Stood Still

Imagine taking a fast paced Grateful Dead song structure and giving it a retro progressive rock treatment. You’d wind up pretty close to the sound of this effective number. The instrumental section on the piece is more of a fusion kind of thing. The ending movement is actually a bit Yes-like.

Corner Cafe

Musically the early portions of this are mostly rhythmic. The vocals come in over the top of an almost exclusively rhythmic sound. It calls to mind Traffic quite a bit on this early section. When atmospheric lines of melody emerge over the top it brings it closer to Pink Floyd territory. Then, as the vocals return, those two styles seem to merge. There is a lush Pink Floyd like section that takes it for a time later. Then it goes into a short Emerson Lake and Palmer inspired jam. From there we get more psychedelic progressive rock. We are taken back into early Pink Floyd territory from there. A keyboard bit that has an almost harpsichord edge takes it and then transforms the piece towards circus music. The whole thing is blended with more of that Pink Floyd thing as it continues.

You Lived to See This Day

Bouncy folk rock stylings make up the main essence of this piece. That said, there are some elements that call to mind early Hawkwind. Additionally, the retro styled keys bring a different vibe. The cut seems to segue directly into the next one.

A New Me

A mellow balladic song structure is paired with psychedelia and space rock on this number. Around the minute and a half mark it drops to just keyboards. The effect is rather like early Pink Floyd, but with almost a “church music” vibe to it. This piece is fairly short and purely instrumental. It’s basically a link between the last two real songs.

Perspectives
Flowing right out of the previous tune, this launches out into the most mainstream old-school progressive rock jam of the disc. It drops to a balladic motif for the first vocals. After a time it works out through intensification of the main song structure. There’s a tasteful guitar solo and when the vocals return after that, Pink Floyd is again a valid reference point. This is very much a classic rock styled piece. It’s accessible and extremely effective. All the growing process seems organic and natural here. It’s a great way to end the disc in style as the closing section is really satisfying. The thing is, that’s not what closes the set. After some silence a piano solo emerges. It’s pretty and quite classical, yet it also has a bouncy vibe that seems a bit like early Genesis in some ways. It works through a number of changes. At times it almost feels Elton John-like. It goes into some dissonant directions later, too. While this piano solo is cool, it tends to drag on a bit too long. Additionally, it isn’t as effective an album closer as the end of the actual song was. For those two reasons I feel that they should have left the “piece” off altogether. 
 
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