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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Lisa LaRue

The Lisa LaRue Collection

Review by Gary Hill

A retrospective looking back at Lisa LaRue’s music, somehow this disc reminds me at times of Jonathan Elias’ Requiem for the Americas album. It has the same kind of texture and feeling to it. The thing is, while this is a compilation, it flows like a real conscious album, not a bunch of tracks that have been just put together. Guests on the album include Native American flutist John "Yafke" Timothy, and prog icons John Payne (Asia Featuring John Payne) and Michael Sadler (Saga). This is a great album to just put on and chill. I like this set a lot.

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
Kituwa

Symphonic AOR progressive rock, a bit like Yes at times, is the motif here. This builds and works through some great musical moods and progressions. After a time it drops down to something more like fusion and continues from there. After a time those two musical concepts are merged as the piece continues building. There’s a drop back to a dramatic keyboard dominated section after a while. Then percussion takes command before this instrumental abruptly ends.

Hurtful Words
Classically tinged keyboards open this and build melodies out as the cut continues. It’s very much like a classical piano solo, but other layers of keys add more progressive rock to it. While there are varying keyboards here, it is strictly a keyboard solo and a tasty one.
In Camera

Fusion and melodic progressive rock are merged on this piece. It’s pretty, dramatic and moving. It’s another great instrumental piece.

Beautiful Illusion

Rising up with symphonic progressive rock sounds, this is another cut that has some definite reflections of the type of music Yes does. It has a great rock energy and some killer shifts and changes. The guitar soloing is top notch, but yet everything else is strong enough to avoid being overshadowed. There are still some fusion-like elements here, too. It drops back to mellower sections mid-track and has some hints of space rock. This is the first piece with vocals and they rock. There a number of varying sections and in a lot of ways change in the one constant. It’s killer progressive rock throughout, though.

256 Leagues Above New Orleans

Space rock, jazz and world music all merge on this killer, retro textured groove. It’s one of my favorite cuts on the whole disc. There’s sort of a “Booker T. and the MGs go all Hawkwind on the Doors” feel to it. It’s another instrumental.

Sea of Unity

This really feels a lot like something Hawkwind would do. There are some spoken vocals in the backdrop, but it’s basically a spacey electronic music jam. This is quite cool. I like it a lot and there is some more of that retro sound ala Booker T and The Doors.

Lament of the Cherokee/Ruins of Home

The first half of this is dramatic, symphonic and very powerful. It features some deep, spoken vocals reading a poem. As the second half of the combo kicks in, it’s with a powerful progressive rock motif. This is a soaring rocker that’s very cool. The combination of the two work great to contrast with one another and I love the soaring guitar that skirts over the top of the second section. It again has some moments that call to mind Yes, but there is fusion in the mix, too – particularly when it goes into the mellower section.

Golden Birds Wrapped Within

The opening section of this is pretty much purely symphonic. After that winds through, though, piano rises up as the keyboards take control in a tasty arrangement.

Recurring Dream

Pretty and atmospheric progressive rock, keyboards layer on top of the arrangement nicely. There is some intricate acoustic guitar built into it, too, though. This introductory section runs through for over a minute. Then it fires out into a more full and energized arrangement that’s like AOR based melodic progressive rock. There are vocals on this cut. It rocks out nicely. When it shifts out to an instrumental segment beyond the vocals it rocks out a bit more, but remains the reasonably slow tempo. There is some rather Steve Howe like guitar soloing over the top and some great keyboard work. Then the vocals return with a bit more powered up performance.

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