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

Spirits Burning

& Michael Moorcock - The Hollow Lands

Review by Gary Hill

Spirits Burning really puts out some interesting music. It's generally in the space rock zone, but there is quite a bit of range to it. That's expanded by the collaborators that Spirits main-man Don Falcone recruits for the various projects. The cast of characters this time around is amazing. Of course, you have science fiction author and one-time Hawkwind member, musician Michael Moorcock. Several other Hawkwind alums (Dave Bainbridge, Steve Bemand, Dead Fred, Adrian Shaw and Bridget Wishart) are on board. So are several current and former members of Blue Öyster Cult (Eric Bloom, Albert Bouchard, Ritchie Castellano and Buck Dharma). Other notables include Chas Cronk of Strawbs fame, Ron Howden of Nektar, Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven) and William Kopecky. The album is a concept-based work with music that seems to move between space rock, psychedelia, folk rock, prog and hard rock. It's another solid entry in the Spirits Burning catalog.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
To Hollow Lands
There is a real folk music, world music feeling to a lot of this cut. The vocal arrangement is classy. There is a more driving, rocking movement that is recurring, too. This number really does feel quite a bit like Blue Öyster Cult. The guitar solo is on fire, but when it's Buck Dharma, what else would you expect. The violin adds an intriguing angle to the track.
Isn't It Delicious?
There is a dreamy kind of musical element to this track. The vocals remind me of Curved Air. The percussion feels electronic. While I like this song, and the mellower concept works well in contrast to the opener, I don't care for this as much I do the song that preceded it. The folk music concept is well-established here.
Playing at Ships
This number is dynamic. It really feels a lot like something that Albert Bouchard would do in his solo repertoire. There is a cool proggy break later in the track.
Dance Through Time
This number seems to merge Blue Öyster Cult with Hawkwind. It's a more space rock based number, but it does have folk rock in the mix, too.
Warm Snow Peaks
This track is dynamic, trippy and so cool. Some of the vocals are spoken and some are sung. There is a dreamy, almost psychedelic edge to this. It has a lot of space rock built into it.
The Hunt
I love the driving, energized groove on this. It is another that seems to have both Hawkwind and Blue Öyster Cult elements at play. It's a killer tune that's among the bet here.
A Haze of Crimson Light
Trippy keyboard based sounds are on display as this starts. The lyrics are delivered in spoken fashion. Some cool proggy, almost fusion-like music starts after the lyrics speak of music. The cut twists toward a menacing vibe as it continues forward. The remainder of the number is delivered sans vocals.
Conflict & Illusions
Dramatic music that brings an almost blues rock edge (the harmonica brings a lot of that) with space rock and prog. This is a powerful piece that has some theatric elements. Blue Öyster Cult and space rock merge here along with more pure prog and musical theater. There are several different voices at play here. This arrangement gets very dense. There are some moments where the bass really stands out.
Robot Nurse & The Children of the Pit
Weird spacey rock creates the opening movement here. Then there is a false ending with a strange robotic interlude. The cut works back out from there with a more psychedelic rock edge. This number continues to evolve and explore. Psychedelia and space rock seem to be the two dominating factors here, though.
A Conversation with H.G. Wells
I love the energized world music meets space rock concept on this piece. The space concepts later are so strong and classy. I love the conversation between Wells and a time traveler from the future.
Awful Dilemma
This is a fast paced, hard rocking jam that merges psychedelia with space rock. The male and female vocals create a conversational element. They get a bit too operatic for my tastes at points. Still, this song definitely has its charms. It is very musical theater based. There is a weird musical twist at the end of the song.
Mr. Underwood's Soliloquy
Another cut that reminds me of Albert Bouchard's solo work, this also continues some of the musical theater concepts of the last track. This is intriguing, but not a highlight.
Time Machine Cabriolet
Folk rock with a lot of old-time concepts are on hand here. The tune has a swinging kind of vibe and classy female vocals as it starts. As it hits the chorus, I'm reminded a little of Hawkwind. It drops from there for a spoken section, but we're taken back out into the song proper after that.
We May Yet Be Saved
One of the hardest rocking pieces of the disc, this is another that has some BOC-vibes. It has some more proggy things at play, too, though.
Morphail Megaflow
A driving, rocking vibe is at the heart of this. The cut is dramatic, theatric and psychedelic. This has some of the craziest and tastiest guitar work of the set at points. There are some killer instrumental passages at play on this tune. Some of the vocals are spoken while others are sung.
Memorable Night at Café Royal
Another up-tempo rocker, this one merges the folk rock, psychedelic and space concepts in a rocking motif.
To the Time Machine, At Last
I love the vocal hooks on this piece. The number is a driving, AOR styled tune that's a lot of fun.
Make a Fire
I like the cool space rock meets folk rock vibe of this song. It's an effective number, and a good choice for closer.
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Progressive Rock

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

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./