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Dave Kerzner

Breakdown: A Compilation 1995-2019

Review by Gary Hill

When one thinks of a compilation by a single artist, the idea is usually a collection of songs from that one artist just pasted into a new collection. That's not what we get with this double CD set at all. For one thing, while this all features Dave Kerzner, not all of it was originally released by him solo. Some of them come from other acts he has been involved with. Secondly, the majority of these are alternate or live versions instead of the exact rendition on the original albums.

It should be noted, too, that there are a number of notable musicians here beyond Kerzner. Steve Hackett, Dave Kilminster and Francis Dunnery all appear on one song each. Fernando Perdomo is included on many of the songs. Nick D'Virgilio plays drums on the first three tunes. Marco Minnemann plays on a couple songs. Heather Findlay's vocals are included on a couple tunes. Jon Davison's vocals grace three tunes. Those are just a few of the names included on this set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2020  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One
               
The Lie

Piano leads things out of the gate here. The cut drives upward after a bit as other instruments join. It brings a bit of an AOR prog vibe. When it drops down for the vocals there are hints of psychedelia and The Beatles. Comparisons to Pink Floyd would also be valid to some degree. That's particularly true of the harder rocking chorus of the tune. The guitar solo on this is a real powerhouse.

Ocean of Stars (Alt Version)
I really like the cool melodic AOR prog vibe of this. There is a bit of a dreamy edge. The mellower moments in particular have some cool keyboard sounds. There is a lot of psychedelia built into those parts, too. I'm reminded to a large degree of modern Marillion and bands like Porcupine Tree. This has a good amount of range and is packed with emotion.
Nothing
The AOR prog sounds that open this make me think of some of the more driving sides of 1980s Moody Blues or ELO. This is a catchy rocker. It's less prog rock and more proggy. That said, the instrumental break is surprising and has some powerhouse pure prog in the mix. Beyond that, this is definitely catchy and has a great energy. The tone on the chorus is so classy, too. I dig the keyboards that soar over the top later in the number, too.
Static (Live)
There is a definite mellower Pink Floyd or David Gilmour sort of vibe to this number. It has a melodic prog feeling to it that works quite well. The more powered up moments really soar, too.
New World (Live)
Francis Dunnery is on hand here, lending his guitar talents.  Imagine The Beatles working with Pink Floyd. It would probably sound a lot like this. The cut works through some shifts and changes along a road that is very satisfying. Again, this lands on the AOR side of the equation. It's a really powerful number, either way, though. The guitar soloing (Francis Dunnery) is so powerful.
The Truth Behind (Live)
Piano begins this number. It works out from there into a powered up prog sound. The modern prog elements are at the heart of this, but things like Pink Floyd (and particularly Gilmour) are definitely in place, too. I can pick out some hints of the more melodic side of Dream Theater, too. Whatever you compare this to, though, it's a powerful and evocative piece of music that works so well. There is a nice balance between mellower and more rocking movements, too.
Reckless (Live)
A rocking acoustic guitar jam opens this tune. This is much more of an alternative rocker than it is a prog piece. It's a classy cut. It's raw and edgy. I dig the spoken vocal section and the artsy edge it lends.
My Old Friend (Alt Version)
The percussive elements on this number bring a real world music texture. The music is quite psychedelic. This is an acoustic music based piece that has a real dreamy, trippy texture to it. This gets decidedly powered up and rocking as it moves onward and continues growing.
Joytown (Live)
More of a jazz meets psychedelia groove, this cut it's a bit strange, but that's part of its charm. There is some really trippy stuff late in the piece, but it drops back to the main textures after that. There is a bit of a drum workout later in the piece. From there they bring it out into a powerhouse, hard rocking jam. There is a bit of a quote from the song "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night later in the number.
Into the Sun (Alt Version)
Acoustic guitar led, this is a rather trippy AOR prog type of cut. It gets a bit more rocking as the electric guitar soars over the top. This has a lot of Pink Floyd vibe to it. It's also one of the highlights of the set. The movement after the five-minute mark (this cut runs more than nine minutes) brings a bit more of a Dream Theater meets Pink Floyd vibe. The tune has some almost shouted vocals that call to mind Roger Waters at times. The "countdown" section seems to have almost a David Bowie like glam element. Yet the whole piece really manages to maintain that Pink Floyd thing throughout. It just gets varied and integrated with other things. This is one of the highlights of the whole set.
Disc Two
                 
Paranoia (2019 Version)

Rising gradually, there is a bit of a warped, twisted element at the start. It works to more of the hard-edged Beatles meets Floyd sound as it continues. The piece has a great balance between more rocking and mellower movements.

Breakdown
Almost metallic, there is an industrial vibe built into this number. It's classy stuff, and a nice change. It has some killer guitar work.
Scavengers
Energized and rocking, this is more fully in the AOR prog zone than the last couple tracks were.
Not Readmission (Inst. Version)
This mellower piece is quite pretty. There is a nice range of sound built into this. I love some of the echoey sedate stuff, but the blast up to more rocking creates a good contrast.
Crash Landing
Steve Hackett lends his guitar talents to this number. The Pink Floyd element is back on this, but this also (suitably) makes me think of Squackett quite a bit. It is a rather fast paced prog rocker that's very tasty. It has plenty of prog meat on its bones along with some solid hooks. The guitar solo led instrumental movement at the end is one of the coolest musical passages of the whole set, really.
Every Corner (Inst. Version)
I love the sound of the keyboards as this piece starts. The mellower motif creates a great contrast. The number works outward from there with style and passion. Piano really drives a lot of it.
Island (Reprise)
Based around an active acoustic guitar bit, this has non-lyrical female vocals and more lending to the magic of the piece. It's dramatic melodic prog. It's a short piece, but quite strong.
All That Is
The symphonic prog on this has a definite Yes-like element brought by the vocals. There is much more of an electronic, almost Laurie Anderson sort of texture to a lot of the music, though. Some more purely symphonic elements are heard near the end, lending another angle to the sound.
Only Breathing Out (Alt Version)
There are some hints of that Pink Floyd element at play here. To me, though, this has a lot more of a Hogarth era Marillion vibe. This starts a bit mellower, but powers out into some soaring symphonic prog zones as it continued. It really gets quite powerful.
Omega Point (Live)
An up-tempo prog jam opens this and carries it forward with style. As this gets particularly potent later the guitar really creates some impassioned lines of sound. This is actually one of the strongest tunes here, particularly in terms of guitar intensity.
Not Coming Down (Live)
More of a melodic mainstream tune, there are some of those Pink Floyd hints at play at points on this piece. It does get more powered up as it makes its way forward.
 
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