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Progressive Rock CD Reviews



Review by Gary Hill

This band was apparently very big in Philadelphia in the late 1960s. This album was recorded in 1971 live in the studio and shows an amazingly talented band. The music is really proto-progressive rock with a lot of psychedelia and other elements on display. It’s a very innovative and creative disc. Of course, perhaps the real testament to the talent in this group is to look at what these guys did later.

David Kagan (lead singer, percussion and songwriter) formed Baby Grand after Wax. Rob Hyman (keyboards, vocals and songwriter) was also a founding member of Baby Grand and later a founder of The Hooters. He co-wrote “Time After Time” with Cyndi Lauper. And, those are just a couple of the highlights of his career. Rick Chertoff (drums and songwriter) went onto become a very successful producer, working on albums by such notable artists as Billy Joel and Mick Jagger. Rick Levy (guitars, vocals and songwriter) is now a major artist representation agent. Beau Jones (bass, vocals and songwriter) played for a number of sixties oldies acts.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Elmira Lane

Piano leads this off and other instruments join in a pretty prog-like introduction. This gives way to a straightforward rock progression. They turn it out to more proggy territory for the chorus and then take it out into a bouncing rock and roll jam again. There are quite a few interesting twists and changes on show. There’s a cool little rag-time jam later that’s not all that far removed from something Keith Emerson or Rick Wakeman might have done. Of course, it’s also not that far from the Beatles and as the guitar takes over that’s the more dominate feature. The vocal arrangement later is very Yes-like in a lot of ways.

Things She Likes To Do
An intricate balladic arrangement leads off. As the vocals enter this feels a bit like Pentwater. It’s very progressive rock oriented. As this grows those progressive rock concepts become even more pronounced. It’s reworked later into a more rocking version of itself. The musical and vocal arrangements are both quite involved. They take it through a number of changes. This is a great piece of music.
On And On
Piano dominates the introduction here, then they take it out into a movement that’s not that far removed from early Yes. Here’s another clear example of the progressive rock side of this band. The cut keeps evolving and becomes more rock and roll oriented later. It turns to more pure rock and roll later. Then, though, it works toward progressive rock again off and on here and there during the extended instrumental movement. Later, there is a fast paced jam that’s not that far removed from something like The Yes Album. That section ultimately ends the tune.
Only Twenty
This rises up gradually with a retro psychedelic kind of jam. As it kicks up from there it feels kind of like a more proggy Yardbirds. It’s definitely rock and roll, but there are distinctive progressive rock like elements to it. Comparisons to Grand Funk Railroad also would not be out of place. It turns a bit dramatic later and then drops way down. They take it from there to a different section that’s one part Motown and one part progressive rock. The cut continues to evolve and then turns out to more GFR like sounds.
I'm Just A Banked Flame
Keyboards start this in a very progressive rock like way. As the vocals come over the top it feels a lot like Vanilla Fudge. They use a more rock and roll oriented verse, but there a lot of points that are quite prog-rock like. It’s a very interesting and diverse piece of music and comparisons to Steve Howe’s work with Bodast would be appropriate. This is another example of how many changes and alterations these guys put into their music. It’s got some extremely powerful movements. A lot of this isn’t that far removed from Yes, at least in terms of the vocal arrangements, but comparisons to H.P. Lovecraft (the band wouldn’t be completely out of the question, either).
Evil Humor
The jam that starts this feels like one part Grand Funk Railroad and one part early Yes. It shifts more to a funky sound after that. Again, don’t get too content as that’s just the starting point. They take this thing through a number of changes and while comparisons to GFR are probably the most appropriate, there’s plenty of other stuff here, too. There’s a jam later in the track that feels here and there like Emerson Lake and Palmer. A reference to Edgar Allan Poe is cool.
Nearer To God
A piano ballad motif opens this and holds it for over half the duration. The vocal arrangement is multi-layered and powerful. Even when other instruments join, the main motif isn’t discarded, but rather worked out into a more developed concept.
Greasy Suite
At over ten-minutes in length, this is the real epic piece of the disc. A quick burst of guitar gives way to a soulful acapella movement. Eventually piano joins, but only tentatively. It’s almost a minute in before it becomes more than just incidental moments of music. From there we get a spacey sort of psychedelic jam. It grows gradually in a dramatic psychedelia meets proto prog fashion and the vocal arrangement really steals the show. They take it out from there to a powered up jam that’s quite intriguing and quite a bit like early Yes. As the song continues to develop those Peter Banks era Yes comparisons are very appropriate. From there it works out to a more rock and roll movement, a bit like prog meets Grand Funk. It turns to a cool psychedelia meets moody soul jam after that. As it builds out from that point comparisons to Captain Beyond wouldn’t be out of the question. A new movement comes in around the seven minute mark and has a lot of that old Yes sound, but with a bit more of a straight-ahead rock element built into it.  More Captain Beyond leanings show up from there. Then just before the nine-minute mark they take it out into a pure jazz jam with the keyboards leading the way. Some scat singing comes in over the top and takes the track out.
A killer rock and roll styled jam opens this and they build on that motif. The vocals are very much in a jazz kind of style. It’s another tasty cut that works its way through a number of changes.
Warehouse Eyes
Psychedelia meets progressive rock in this tasty little number. They take it out to a full on progressive rock movement further down the road.
Mr. Media
This bouncy little jam has a lot of jazz and some rock and roll built into it. There’s definitely some guitar work on this that calls to mind Steve Howe, but comparisons to the Dave Clark Five wouldn’t be out of place, either. A jam later in the piece is somewhat like The Doors. Once again, it doesn’t stay in any one place for long, moving through quite a few different sections and movements. This thing just keeps changing every few measures and runs through all kinds of musical styles.
It Don't Matter At All
A rock and roll guitar riff opens this. As they move out from there it’s not that far removed from the Grateful Dead or H.P. Lovecraft. They take this through a lot of changes, but it’s closer to a roots rock kind of psychedelia than real progressive rock.
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