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Progressive Rock CD Reviews


Mr. Mick, 2CD Expanded Edition

Review by Gary Hill

Mr. Mick was the final album from the original version of Stackridge. They recorded it as a concept piece, and presented it to their record label. That label rejected it. So, the band went back and redid it more as a collection of songs. That was released. This new expanded edition includes the disc that was released as the first CD and the original recordings as the second. While I enjoy the record that came out, the original mix and concept is so much better. It runs about seven-minutes longer, and is much more progressive rock based. I'm glad they included both versions, because it makes it easy to compare the two.

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Track by Track Review
CD One:
Mr. Mick
The Original Album
Hold Me Tight

The sounds of a radio tuning in is heard at the start of the album. It eventually settles on a station and an announcer says something that ends on "with a song," and the band launch out from there. This has some jazzy vibes along with plenty of Beatles-like pop rock. Some horns on the song are a nice touch.

Breakfast with Werner von Braun
A more proggy arrangement gets us underway here. It has a melodic arrangement and a lot of class. There are some hints of middle-Eastern music in some of the horn work. Although there are some non-lyrical vocals, this is really an instrumental for the early portions. Then it drops down to very mellow stuff at the end and a spoken vocal is heard. It reminds me a little of the poetry reading sections the Moody Blues loved to do. That is accompanied mostly by piano.
The Steam Radio Song
Even more fully progressive rock oriented, this gets going with energized, rocking sounds. This has a dramatic, theatric angle to it.
The Dump
Another spoken thing is heard as this gets going. The track has a trippy kind of psychedelia-meets-freeform-sparse-electronic-prog at play.
Save a Red Face
Bouncy, a bit jazzy and a lot of fun, this makes me think of Queen. This powers out into quirky and inspired prog sounds further down the road. There is an inspired piano solo, too.
The Slater’s Waltz
A mellower and rather classically based song, this has female lead vocals. A lot of the arrangement is piano. There are some strings over the top, and the whole thing has a bit of a musical theater or opera element to it. The full instrumental waltz treatment later is a lot of fun. While it's deeply classical, some keyboards bring a prog angle to it. Synthesizer takes control later with just spoken vocals (male) over the top.
Coniston Water
The synthesizer from the previous piece get this track going. Trippy space elements and piano take over from there. Before the minute-and-a-half-mark, the cut works into a melodic jam that has jazz and prog in the mix. It reminds me just a little of Red-era King Crimson. The song works through some things and has a lot of class as it does. This continues to evolve and grow. It's an amazing progressive rock instrumental piece that is among my favorites on the album.
Hey! Good Looking
There is a down-home vibe and a lot of mainstream rock in the mix on this. It works out to more of a proggy concept as this evolves and develops. It's an intriguing tune that gets a little spacey at points.
Fish in a Glass
This is a bouncy sort of proggy jam that has hints of Frank Zappa built into it. It's more than three-minutes in before we get vocals. They take it through a number of twists and turns along that road. This has some Beatles-like parts, but it's also much proggier than that suggests.
CD Two:
Mr. Mick
The Unreleased Version
Hey! Good Looking

This mix of the song feels less down-home and more purely proggy. I definitely prefer it.

Breakfast with Werner von Braun

While this isn't a big change from the other version, for some reason it feels a bit more like Pink Floyd at times to me.

Mr. Mick’s Walk
This starts with the spoken section that's included as part of "Breakfast with Werner von Braun" on the other version of the album. They work out to funky, jazzy, bouncy movement from there that isn't on the other disc. This is a lot of fun. It drops to more of the piano and spoken voice stuff, feeling trippy as it does. The funky romp returns beyond that movement.
Mr. Mick’s Dream
Trippy spacey sounds with spoken words over the top, this is part Moody Blues and part something much freakier. It's also so strong.
Save a Red Face
This feels a little less Queen like and more pure prog based. It's still bouncy, though. There are some Beatles-like things at play at times.
The Steam Radio Song
Somehow I think this one works better here, too.
The Slater’s Waltz
This version of the track is less classical and much proggier. I prefer this one, too. Then again, I prefer this version of the album.
Hazy Dazy Holiday
This trippy piece was part of the last song on the other version of this album.
Coniston Water
This seems to flow better in this format.
Can Inspiration Save the Nation?
Acoustic guitar brings this into being. There is definitely a folk music angle to this piece. Keyboards bring some proggier angles, and this number, which is not on the other version, has some great folk prog angles.
Mr. Mick’s New Home
Piano and spoken vocals get this going. It has an almost Pink Floyd like vibe early. As it moves to a more full prog band arrangement this has Beatles-like elements.
Fish in a Glass
This works really well in this version, too. While the Zappa leanings are still present, this brings more mainstream prog elements front and center. 
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