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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

It Bites

Eat Me In St. Louis

Review by John Pierpoint

This was the last studio album from the original line-up of It Bites!. It’s also probably the heaviest, with plenty of great guitar-hero moments from frontman Francis Dunnery, who had by now established his rep as a hot axe-man. The sound is less “progressive” than the previous album Once Around The World, and it seems that they had chart success firmly in their sights, as many songs fit a predictable, radio-friendly pattern of verse-bridge-chorus, with a middle 8 thrown in. There’s not a compound time-signature to be found; instead the emphasis is on generating catchy choruses and guitar parts. While this may have been a disappointment for fans who were expecting them to tread a Genesis path, this is still a must-have release, as it shows their mastery of the rock and pop formats. Some versions of the CD have a slightly different track list. The review version is as released in Europe. Roger Dean came on board to provide a new band logo (one of his more complex concoctions), but sadly not a full painted cover image.

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Track by Track Review
Positively Animal

The album crashes in with a manic guitar solo, like a live concert intro. Tribal drums and backing vocal grunts set the mood, with guitar grinds and quirky off-key synth notes accenting the beat. Dick Nolan’s punchy bass holds it all together. After a (maybe predictable) middle 8, Dunnery gets a brief solo, before we’re back into the tribal vocals and drums.

Underneath Your Pillow
This was one of the singles from this album. Synths bounce between the speakers. Then the drums and guitar come in. Dunnery does a quick Peter Gabriel impersonation before he begins the main verse. The guitar comes back in on the bridge. The chorus is lush and comforting – belying the song’s lyrics of depression and isolation.
Let Us All Go
A funky electric piano riff and drum machine lay down a carpet for Dunnery’s vocals. On the chorus, the guitar, bass and drums let rip in one of the effortless-sounding barre-chord riffs that Dunnery does so well. Falsetto multi-tracked backing vocals and Dunnery’s Dave Lee Roth growl bring up comparisons to Van Halen. The song exits on a reprise of the opening
Still Too Young To Remember
This was the biggest single from this album. It bangs straight in with Dunnery’s most memorable gold-plated guitar melody (truly lovely), and then drops down to a mellow backing for the verse (Bob Dalton’s cymbal accents here reminding me of Alan White on parts of Yes’s “Ritual”). The chorus piles on the momentum, with chugging bass and powerful drumming. Things grind down a bit during the middle 8, but then get lifted back up again by Dunnery’s guitar motif.
Murder of The Planet Earth
The guitar and synths on this one are screaming blue murder. Dunnery spits out his doomy, depressing vocals with venom, including a spoken section. This one pulls no punches, and leaves no hope for retribution – we’re all going to hell in a handcart!
People of America

The vocals at the start of this remind me a bit of The Specials’ “Ghost Town,” and the message is somewhat similar, but this time seemingly aimed at the fat cats of Wall Street. The band’s multi-part vocals are particularly prominent on this song.

Sister Sarah

A multi-part vocal flourish introduces a fast, steamy riff. Dunnery’s guitar and Nolan’s bass stick to pedaling, while John Beck’s glitzy keyboards carry the chords for the verses. The chorus is catchy, featuring another tasty madcap riff from Dunnery. Everything drops down into in a short middle 8, which then builds up via more multi-part vocal harmonies to a killer fluid guitar solo. This one was a single too (I have it somewhere. . what a fine album, to spawn so many great singles!

Leaving Without You
Over a carpet of synths, Dunnery sings the opening lines. A guitar melody takes over, which then takes off into a riff-based tune. A keyboard bass pounds away (how very 80s!). I’m not sure what the lyrics are all about here, but they sound a bit dubious: “You kill the vicar, and I’ll kill his daughter.” Beck gets a rare moment in the spotlight, before Dunnery’s guitar tapping comes to the fore in the mix, as everything else fades out.
Till The End of Time

A Jimmy Page-type riff kicks this one off. Bonzo-esque drums reinforce the Led Zep feel, but then a manic keyboard comes in and we’re back in the 80s again. Once again, the vocal delivery (with gratuitous spot FX) brings Dave Lee Roth to mind. After the middle 8, they throw in a quick Beatles-like vocal scale of “aahs.”

The Ice Melts into Water

This song has a melancholy feeling from a gentle synth fade-in, with subtle fretless bass. The lyrics match this mood, accompanied by the sounds of rain. Beck’s backing vocals are very prominent on this song. The mood gets heavier (but still angst-ridden) as Dunnery cranks up his guitar for the second verse, but the song returns to the original melancholy feeling for the remainder, pumping the song for its emotions. Dunnery engages in some Steve Howe-like violining at the tail-end.

This is just Dunnery, showing mastery of the echo-plexed guitar, in a delightful tune that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Steve Hackett album. The guitar sound is clean and bright, but a second, overdriven guitar comes in a third of the way in, giving Dunnery the chance to indulge in some screaming pyrotechnics. Near the end this drops out, leaving us with the ebbing sound of the fading echo-plexed instrument.
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