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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Blues Image

Next Voyage

Review by Gary Hill

Blues Image are probably most famous for their hit song "Ride Captain Ride." Mike Pinera was not only the founder of the band, but also wrote that song and played guitar on it and sang it. He's gotten a version of the band together in the modern era, and this new album finds them doing a number of songs from Pinera's catalog with the addition of horns and symphonic elements.

After the band's big hit, Pinera joined Iron Butterfly, and some of the music here comes from that band, while others were actually Blues Image songs to begin with. This album is not all progressive, but all of it has some prog in the mix, and several tracks really do qualify. So, that's why I have put it there.

In addition to Pinera, Blues Image these days includes Michael and Tim Franklin, whose newest album I also reviewed in this issue of Music Street Journal. Guest musicians on this album include Pat Travers and Jonathan Cain (of Journey).

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 3 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Butterfly Bleu
Horns bring this into being with a lot of style. The cut works through a rocking intro, before turning to a cool bluesy jam that is a bit less explosive. There is a lot of psychedelia and proggy sound in the mix here. The instrumental break makes great use of both organ and the horns, and this really does have some great jazz prog stylings at play. There is a more rock based instrumental movement further down the road that seems to bring both classical music and some Allman Brothers to the table. The bass solo that emerges as that continues is so strong with its funky, fusion angles. This is really a powerhouse. This was a song from Pinera's time in Iron Butterfly.
Something to Say
Now, this is more of a pure soulful jazz-rock groove. It is one originally from Blues Image. It has plenty of blues in the mix, too. The interplay between organ and guitar on an instrumental break is on fire. The whole tune has a lot of energy and groove to it. This cut also has some seriously funky bass work. There is a false ending with a reprise late in the tune. Things get a little proggy on that revitalized jamming.
Love Is the Answer
This is so hot. It's energized jazzy rocking music that gets some proggy elements in the mix. It is another that comes from the Blues Image catalog.
Now, this one came from a Mike Pinera solo album. Starting very symphonic, the prog really comes home to roost here. This works through the introduction and then turns to some slower moving, but incredibly powerful, soaring sounds from there. It drops back a little for the entrance of the vocals. I love the guitar fills on this. There are some symphonic things that make me think of James Bond music joust a little at one point. This has some killer bluesy singing and an arrangement that just keeps building and evolving. This is one of my favorites of the album.
Leaving My Troubles Behind
Retro bluesy rock sounds loaded with organ are on the menu here. While this thing remains more of a pure blues rocker, it does get some smoking hot jazz rock leanings during the guitar solo movement later. This is another that was originally from Blues Image.
In A Gadda Da Vida
This recreation of the classic Iron Butterfly tune includes a cool jazz rock introduction. From there it shifts to something closer to the sound of the original version. Horns do lend some different angles on parts as it continues to develop. This song always had a proto-prog angle to it. The wah guitar solo section on this really seems to reinforce that for me. The drum solo section here gets some horns added to the mix. That runs shorter here, and the whole cut is quite a bit shorter than the original, coming in at a respectable nearly ten-minute length. It definitely gets trippy and proggy as it continues through the extensive instrumental movement. Horn solos over the top of the familiar melody later, creating some intriguing angles on the familiar. I'm reminded of Nik Turner to some degree as explores the sonic territory. This is a great version that manages to both capture the magic of the original and expand and modernize it a little.
Fugue/Pay My Dues
Mellow, nearly classical sounds bring this into being. The track works out from there to some killer blues rocking jamming. This gets driving and is one of the hardest rocking things here. This thing gets very powerful with some soulful backing vocals and a driving instrumental movement. It's another directly from the Blues Image catalog.
Captain's Suite (Next Voyage)
Starting with some seriously classically based sounds, this builds outward with a lot of style in a very symphonic way. This shifts and changes, eventually working out to "Ride Captain Ride." I've always loved the song, and this version is fairly close to the version we all remember. There are some proggy jams later in the tune as they explore some intriguing instrumental territory. It comes back out to the song proper further down the road. This is just such a great piece of music that incorporates the hit with other music to create something greater than the sum of the parts. It makes for an excellent ending to the album.
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