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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Pablo Cruise

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Pablo Cruise

Review by Gary Hill

Pablo Cruise probably doesn’t get the credit they deserve. Sure, if you only base your judgment of the band on their hits you’ll decide that they were a pop group. The truth is, you could say that about a lot of bands. These guys did have a way of pulling off pop rock like few others could, but they also had a more progressive rock oriented edge at times. Now, I’m not advocating to have Pablo Cruise forever labeled as “prog,” but I am saying that there were tendencies in the band. This collection manages to bridge the gap between some of the more meaty tunes and the pop oriented stuff. The interesting thing, though, is that even the hits were still quite solid in terms of rock music chops. This group was quite strong and now that they are back together again, here’s looking forward to hearing what they do in the new millennium. 

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Love Will Find A Way
Arguably the band’s most well-known track, this has a bit of a soulful Steely Dan like groove. It’s a great tune. It still holds up pretty well, too.
Whatcha Gonna Do?
This has a bit more of a funky feel to it. Overall the texture doesn’t differ much from the previous cut, but when it’s this good, who cares? The vocal arrangement here is a bit more developed, though. This is another of the group’s hits. It has a bit of a Hall and Oates vibe at times, but it also has traces of prog rock in a couple of the transitions.

A Place In The Sun
If the last song had some hints of prog rock, the keyboard based introduction on this one might really have you thinking you’ve turned on some progressive rock CD. This is less pop oriented than the two openers and is quite meaty and potent (it did chart, just not as high). I love the hits, but this one is a step up from there. You might hear a bit of Supertramp on this, but you’ll also find some real rock and roll, too.
Don't Want To Live Without It
The percussion and bass guitar dominated intro here brings back the funk with a vengeance.  This was another of the group’s singles and is perhaps the strongest of them. It’s a killer pop rock tune and the funk is really solid. The soaring melodic guitar solo is a great touch.

Island Woman
The rhythmic structures and vocal performance are the predominate elements of this track, but they don’t stop there. The cut has more progressive rock elements at times. It’s another strong piece, but the whole album is full of potent pop rock, so that’s not a tough statement to get behind. The bridge is quite cool with its stripped down texture leading into some smoking instrumental work. The extended instrumental outro feels quite a bit like The Allman Brothers.
Zero To Sixty In Five
Piano leads things off here.  As they move forward other musical elements are added as this becomes a powerfully evocative ballad section that shows some definite progressive rock leanings.  Mid track they shift this out into a faster paced jam that still holds prog rock sensibilities in its midst. This is a great instrumental (OK, there are some non-lyrical vocals) and one of the highlights of the disc for my money. As good as the rest of the stuff is, that’s saying a lot. The guitar solo on this is especially tasty. At times I even get an ELO vibe from this.
I Go To Rio
This was another of the band’s mega hits. A ringing phone leads this off. As the phone is answered we hear “Pablo” talking from the “bottom of the pool.” This fun track has a definite calypso like feel to it. While this one is good, it is probably the weakest number on show here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s got a catchy hook and all, it just feels a bit dated and silly.

Atlanta June
This cut feels like Motown. It’s another that’s not quite at the same level of the rest of the disc. That said, it’s still quite good.
I Want You Tonight
The bass line on this brings back the funk. I’d have to say that from my way of thinking this is possibly the strongest cut here. It’s not that they completely reinvented the wheel in comparison to the rest of the songs, but the pieces just seem more intense and powerful here.
Cool Love
This one is quite different from the rest. It’s more of a straightforward keyboard oriented ballad. It’s a cool track and represents a nice change of pace.
Will You Won't You
Here we get more of a straight ahead rocker, but it still has some Steely Dan leanings. This one again represents a nice piece of variety and it’s a very strong piece of music.
Ocean Breeze
An extended keyboard solo starts this out. In grows in very definite progressive rock oriented ways. Eventually this makes its way out to a killer hard rocking, prog leaning jam. They take it down later to a jazz oriented vocal format. I would probably consider this one song to be progressive rock, really, based on the varying structures and killer musical elements. This is a great piece of music and a very strong  way to end the set.
 
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