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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Terry Draper

Aria 52: A Five Year Mission

Review by Gary Hill

Terry Draper is probably best known for his work in Klaatu. After that band broke up he left music for a while, but eventually resurfaced, recording several albums. This disc is a compilation of material, some from two of those discs, and some previously unreleased. While I would not really consider much of this album to be progressive rock, I'm including the disc under that heading because of Draper's Klaatu connection. I'm not overly crazy about every piece here, but there is certainly enough strong stuff here to keep make it an enjoyable material. Very little sounds like Klaatu, but that's cool, too. It's always better when a musician stretches outside of what is known for him or her - who wants to do what's expected of them all the time, anyway.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Originally from Draper's Civil War (And Other Love Songs) album, a suitably old time texture begins this cut. It transforms quickly into a pretty piano based ballad. There are points here where it feels a bit over-fluffy, but then again there are other moments that are incredibly powerful prog rock type material. He manages to keep rearranging and recreating the song while staying true to its origins. The female vocals are a nice touch, as are a lot of the keyboard layers. Klaatu bandmate Dee Long lends some guitar work to this one.
When I Grow Up
This one opens with acoustic guitar and begins in a sedate folky ballad format with that as the only backdrop. This one was originally released on Draper's Light Years Later album. This one definitely gets a bit too syrupy, but on the other hand I really like the lyrics a lot. Those, and Draper's vocal performance, save this from being too over the top.
Another from Light Years Later, this one comes in much more powerfully than either of the first two. It has a keyboard oriented, dramatic and rather melancholy ballad structure. This is incredibly emotional as it carries forward. This one moves in a rather Klaatu like manner through some differing changes, but never loses it's potency. It even shifts to an odd Jamaican shuffle sort of segment for a time.
Fly Away
Coming in on acoustic guitar, this is another from the same album as the last couple. It's pretty, but a bit lighter weight at first than the last one. That doesn't mean that isn't evocative, though, because it definitely is. It also has a sad edge to it. When it shifts gear to the keyboard-laden chorus, it gains a lot of power. John Woloshuk (also of Klaatu) adds bass work and vocals to this one.
All Over Morocco
This is another that comes from Civil War… It starts in ambient ways with spacey keys and percussion, then shifts into a bouncy sort of jam that has a decidedly tropical sound. At times an appropriately Eastern tinged sound comes overtop. This one is alright, just a little too light weight throughout much of it's length for my tastes. Still, the more proggy vocal arrangement later and a few of the changes do manage to elevate this, particular when they shift it into a more Klaatu like track. Some nice textures come over in the outro, too.
Come Back to Me
Another that originate on Light Years Later, this starts with sad sounding, but very dramatic keys, and the cut begins building into a rock number based on these elements. This balladic track is just loaded full of emotion. It's probably my favorite on the disc, although that changes with each listening. I love the powerful arrangement, the lyrics and just about everything about this number. Draper's vocals here are especially strong. The guitar work, while not flashy, really adds a lot drama on this one. 
Me and You
Based on a pretty balladic guitar line, this one is another from Civil War… It's another pretty balladic cut. This one gets quite powerful and is another with some great lyrics. It's also another one of the standout tracks on the disc - another that at times might be my favorite here.
We're Not Alone
This is another that feels more like Klaatu. It's still quite ballad-like, but has a more fun, rocking aspect to it. It also makes good use of the over layers in creating an intriguing soundscape. I'm not overly crazy about the backing vocals on the chorus, but as the song takes on more Beatles-like characteristics it gains some more oomph. Dee Long is again along for the ride on guitar. This one is another from Light Years Later.
Anywhere But Here
Coming from Civil War…, this one is very much in line with the work of Klaatu. It starts with a short fun introduction, then turns to something that is very much like the keyboard oriented mellow but bouncy music that that group did so frequently. It also has the band's science fiction foundation firmly in place in the lyrical content. This one grows as it carries forward, adding in more and more layers of musical textures.
I Don't Care About That (live)
This rocker has an old school texture feeling a bit like Booker T. and the MG's at times. Still, the harder edged guitar and vocals bring in a sound that's quite a bit different from that. While it's not prog and sounds pretty much not at all like Klaatu, this one is a fun rocker. So, when it comes to those aspects, "I don't care about that." It sounds like this must have been a pretty smoking concert if this was any indication. This one includes a smoking saxophone solo. Interestingly enough, Bullseye Records President, Jaimie Vernon lends both bass and backing vocals to this number and the next two. 
December Dream (live)
he only Klaatu song to make the disc, this is a track from Magentalane. It has mellow balladic texture and the vocals are pretty atypical of the band, but very strong with a bit grittier rock and roll texture. This one is a solid rendition, and a cool number. It feels much like a late '60's pop rock classic. 
Let's Live for Today (live)
While the Grass Roots created the quintessential version of this rocker, I've always preferred the Lords of the New Church take on it. It is really a killer track no matter who performs it, though. This version is no exception to that rule. There are no real surprises here, just a solid cover of a great song. 
Sunset Years
The final track that comes from Light Years Later, this one comes in with dramatic keyboard textures combined with percussion in a powerful sequence that certainly feels a lot like Klaatu. As the cut drops back to acoustic guitar to begin the balladic format the keys remain as over layers and this one starts moving upward in a pretty and very evocative manner. While certainly not a progressive rock powerhouse, this track with it's more modernized take on a Procol Harum like sounds is one of the most prog oriented ones on show here. It turns later to a smokingly powerful jam based on the main themes with a tasty, if not flashy, guitar solo overtop. It then drops back to the ballad format to continue. It winds up getting reformatted several times throughout, but never loses focus or flair. This is another one of the contenders to best song on the album.
Blow the Blooze
Another with a retro rock and roll texture, this appropriately bluesy number even includes harmonica. It's one that was previously unreleased until this compilation. This one rocks out all right, but it's nothing all that special. Still, the instrumental after the instructions to "get down" is pretty cool.
Mary Claire
Another previously unreleased one, this comes in pretty on acoustic guitar. It's quickly becomes a balladic number that moves up from there with layers of keys and waves of passion placed overtop. This is another that has some Klaatu like sounds and is another one of the winners on show here.
'Til There Was You
Draper's compilation is closed with another song that has its first appearance here. This one is a bouncy, jazzy pop number that has a bit too much of a "lounge lizard" texture for my tastes. Of course considering the fact that that's how the song is written it makes sense - I'm sure you've heard this one done by a million singers of that ilk. I just question including it all, let alone in the closing spot. While the broadway show sound is a change for the disc, it's not what I would consider a good one. 
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