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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Geoff Tate

Geoff Tate

Review by Gary Hill

Geoff Tate (the man) is probably best known as the lead singer of Queensryche. "Geoff Tate" (the album) is not likely to be confused with an album by Queensryche. However, why should it be? Although Tate's position as lead singer of Ryche might lead someone to think that he and the band are one and the same, the connection just is not so. What Tate has done with his solo debut is to try to strike out into territory that is decidedly unQueensryche. To that end he recruited a team of musicians and created a whole new band. Those musicians are C. Fox-bass (Bitter End), Scott Moughton-guitar, Evan Schiller-drums (SADHAPPY), Howard Chilcott-keys (The Fabulous Jetsens) and Jeff Carrell-guitar. I had the opportunity to speak with a few of the guys recently, and they said essentially that this album was a learning process of how to work with each other…just like any new band. So, all of that leads to the reminder that Geoff Tate-Geoff Tate is NOT a Queensryche album.

So, what kind of an album is it? Well, about the closest pigeonhole you can find would be that of a modern pop-oriented rock sound. One of the things it does share with Ryche is that it is "thinking man's music". The textures on the album range from a nearly dance-oriented pop to Spanish guitar inflections and even electronic neo-symphonic leanings. As one would expect from a solo album from a Ryche'er, the release has a very professional and thought out feel to it. It does however have its shortcomings. For one thing, it has a bit of a tendency to drag in places. Also, much of the percussion, as in dance music, has an artificial feel to it and is too far up in the mix. To the band's credit, though, the material really does come together well live, losing that drum-machine sort of texture. It somewhat goes without saying that the vocal performances are top-notch. What else can you expect?

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Track by Track Review
Water sounds appropriately start this one off, then guitar takes over, bringing the introduction through. Then a drum machine sound takes the piece. It becomes a potent and dramatic hard-edged ballad with a lot of power. It gets quite dramatic in the instrumental break towards the end.
Ambient sounds wash this track in, then another electronic percussion line takes over. The vocals come in evocatively, and the song begins a very slow building on an atmospheric texture.
Breathing begins this track, then keys enter and a very dramatic guitar melody takes over. It is a strong balladic number. The guitar and vocals are definitely the highlights of the piece. It gets quite powerful as it builds, and Spanish guitar modes enter late in the piece. This is one of the standouts of the disc.
Backwards sounds serve to begin this one. These tracks remain to provide the percussive texture to the early vocal segments. In fact, there are no real instruments, just loop type effects for the majority of the piece.
Every Move We Make
This electronic piece has an almost progressive rock texture to it. It is another strong and evocative ballad.
This Moment
This pretty '50's rock styled piece is another highlight of the album, and a surprising one at that.
In Other Words
This piano based cut probably comes as close to Queensryche as anything on the CD. It is a slightly proggy and quite powerful ballad.
A Passenger
An almost bouncy rocker, this one feels almost in the mode of Chris Isaak or even Garth Brooks' alter ego Chris Gaines. The chorus is quite strong and progish.
Off the TV
This is the rocker of the album, and is quite effective. It feels a bit like Ryche ("Last Time In Paris"ish), but yet not. It also comes across as a bit Beatlesish at times. This is one of the strongest pieces on the album.
Grain of Faith
"Grain of Faith" feels a bit like modern R & B with a strong rock twist.
Over Me
It starts as a rough-around-the-edges rocker, a bit like Neil Young and a bit grungeish. It drops to a balladic verse mode, and most of the track alternates between those two modes. It is very accessible and effective. The bridge is unusual and dramatic.
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