Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 
Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Unitopia

Covered Mirror

Review by Gary Hill

The concept of releasing an album of cover songs might seem a little clichéd these days, but I like it. I also like this album a lot. There are some great covers here, but perhaps the most intriguing thing about it is way they made the whole thing flow like one cohesive album. Part of that is achieved through careful selection and arrangement of the songs, but there are also a few original pieces worked in to help the flow. All in all, this is quite a good album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Signs Of Life/Prelude

One of the only original pieces on this set, weird atmospheric music and bits of soundbites are heard in the mix as this starts to build out gradually. It’s pretty, theatrical and rather mellow. Of course, that does fit with the title. It becomes quite classical in nature beyond that, though, with a lot of symphonic elements emerging.

Calling Occupants
Here we get a cover of the Klaatu song.  The processed vocals at the start are a nice touch. As this builds out it feels quite a bit like the original version of the piece. Symphonic instrumentation adds a lot to this song, but in a lot of ways it really does remind me of the original version. Those symphonic elements seem even more of a boost on some of the later sections. I’ve always loved this song and I really like this rendition.
Easter

Here we get a cover of a Hogarth era Marillion tune. There’s an ambient introduction here with almost Gregorian vocals. Then the familiar guitar and vocal combination enters. It really almost feels like Hogarth singing here. Although the alterations from the original here seem subtle (mind you, I haven’t compared them side to side), I really do like this performance a lot.

Man of Colours

I used to like Icehouse a lot and I remember having this album, but I don’t really remember the song. This is quite a pretty and tasty mellow prog number. It feels a lot like something from Porcupine Tree, perhaps. Still, Icehouse was really an early version of that kind of modern progressive rock sound. This grows out into more of a rocking section later and it’s another killer tune on an album that’s full of them. There’s some killer jamming later in the tune.

Genesis Medley (The Silent Sun/Suppers Ready/Selling England By The Pound/Lamb Lies Down On Broadway/Carpet Crawlers)

This medley of Genesis music contains some of my favorite pieces of music from the Gabriel era of the band. Here’s one where the Unitopia sound really comes through, while still capturing much of the melody and magic of the source material. I really like how they segue different pieces into each other to create a cohesive and smoothly evolving piece of music. The more rocking sections of “Carpet Crawlers” in particular adds some definite variety to the concept.

Rain Song

Here they turn their attention to Led Zeppelin. As this starts one would never recognize the song. Tribal drums and waves of keyboards create a lush and pretty musical territory. The drums drop away and the keyboards continue. Then acoustic guitar rises up with the familiar melody line. Suddenly it sounds like early Genesis merged with the classic Zeppelin tune. As the vocals rise up the progressive rock meets Zep element is expanded upon. It might be an unusual combination of sounds, but it really works so well. There’s a rocking movement later in the piece that makes me think of Marillion or Genesis quite a bit, but the melody is all Zeppelin. Some of the mellower sections later have some purely symphonic sounds and something that’s almost like mellow jazz.

Even In The Quietest Moments

A cover of the classic Supertramp song, this comes in mellow and builds out gradually from there. As it works out into the song proper it really resembles something from early Genesis quite a bit. That’s a nice juxtaposition of sounds. This is more symphonic and also more purely progressive rock than the original version. I dig the more rocking movement that comes later, too.

Can We Still Be Friends

I don’t think I remember the original version of this, even though I really like a lot of Todd Rundgren music. Still, this feels like a Rundgren tune, but with a lot more of a symphonic progressive rock arrangement. I love the cool section that comes later with multiple layers of vocals dancing over the top of some intricate instrumentation. A flute solo comes at the end of that and segues into the next number.

Speaking The Truth - Interlude
This instrumental is original music and serves as a nice way to resolve some of the musical themes from the last track. There’s an almost Native American vibe to this thing at times.
Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime

I’ve never heard the original of this cut. Here it comes out of the previous piece and there are some bits of movie soundbites early in the mix. Then it gives way to a pretty and intricate soundscape. Elements of early Genesis are clearly apparent here. While this is mellow, it has quite a bit of energy in terms of the rhythmic structures. It’s also quite symphonic in a lot of ways. There’s a catchy chorus hook and a tasty guitar solo. They link this directly into the next cut.

Yes Medley (And You And I/Awaken/Close To The Edge/Soon/Onward/South Side Of The Sky/Owner Of A Lonely Heart)
As this powers out into the short instrumental bit from “And You and I,” it’s powerful and feels like Yes. When it drops to the mellow section of “Awaken,” this feels like Porcupine Tree does Yes in a lot of ways. Rather than a direct link between tunes, bits of the “I Get Up/I Get Down” part of “Close to the Edge” are included with the section of “Awaken.” That evolves out into the main melody of “Soon.” I really like the section of “Onwerd” that comes out of that. In some ways, I’d consider it to be superior to the original. As they launch out into “South Side of the Sky,” I’m hooked. Of course, that’s arguably my all-time favorite Yes song and they really include one of the cooler sections of the piece. They turn “Owner of a Lonely Heart” into a very mellow rendition. It’s a great way to transform the piece into something quite different. Although not listed in the liner notes, they take it out into a little bit of “Survival” in the midst of “Owner…”
To One In Paradise

Alan Parsons seems like an obvious choice for cover material, and this rather symphonic rendition proves that out as an excellent decision. I’m reminded a bit of both Porcupine Tree and Genesis, but there is still plenty of the tone and mood of the original here.

The Way The Waters Are Moving

The final piece of the set is a Flower Kings tune. The early Genesis musical concept is heard here and this is a pretty mellow rendition in a lot of ways.

 

 
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Non-Prog
Progressive Rock
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2021 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com