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Non-Prog CD Reviews


On the Frontier (colored vinyl)

Review by Gary Hill

Jim McCarty was probably the biggest claim to fame of this group. This band was formed after his work in the Yardbirds and the original version of Renaissance. The album has a sound that touches on a lot of things. If the whole thing were like the first side, I'd land it under progressive rock. The second side, though seems more in line with folk rock and psychedelia. All in all this reissue on yellow vinyl is pure class. If you like early 1970s, late 1960s music, give this a try. It's very cool.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at

Track by Track Review
Side One
The Neon Life

Piano brings this into being. It quickly works out to a fast paced jam that has a lot of space rock in the mix. I am actually reminded of Hawkwind a bit. The saxophone on the cut is killer. It really drives a lot of the dropped back segment mid-track.

Ships and Sails
More of a mainstream rocker, there is plenty of folk rock in the mix here. This is another cool tune. It has some proggy elements, perhaps a bit like The Strawbs. I really dig a lot of rhythm guitar work on this song. The vocal hooks are great, too.
Living Blind
A cool rock meets jazz groove is underway here. I can make out some more space rock on this tune, also. I dig the funky element at play on the number. The hooks are soaring and rather catchy. The mid-track instrumental section is especially compelling.
On The Frontier
The title track is very much built around a folk rock kind of structure. There is a lot of psychedelia in the mix. It's a classy tune. It's catchy, but I don't think it's as strong as the songs that preceded it.
The Boogie
A bluesy kind of rocker, this is fun. It has a humorous introductory bit, and just rocks nicely from there.
Side Two
Midnight Train

Folk music with a lot of country is the concept here. That said, there are some soaring, dreamy elements. The vocal harmonies on this are great.

Head Under Water
This instrumental is roughly a minute long and quite psychedelic in nature.
Sepia Sister
A cool psychedelic number, this has a lot of space music in the mix along with folk.
Old Time Religion
Piano starts this and holds it for a time. The vocals enter over that backdrop, bringing a definite folk music vibe to the piece.
Mean Customer

More of a jazzy kind of groove permeates this. It's delivered with plenty of folk rock in the mix, though. The later sections of the cut get a bit more rocking and take on some more psychedelic elements. A percussion workout ends the piece with some real psychedelic style. All in all, this is another classy piece on a killer album.

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