REVIEWS - DECEMBER 2011
TULL - Aqualung [40th Anniversary, 2CD set, Chrysalis]
Released in the
spring of 1971, Jethro Tull's 4th album would become the band's best known work.
Though the band's previous albums all had some success [primarily in England],
it was "Aqualung" - a song about a homeless person, and an album that
soared with Tull's unique blend of hard rock, folk, blues ... that would set the
stage for a string of huge albums and tours all over the world. Often labelled a
'progressive' band, Tull undeniably had their own sound and style, minus the
excessive noodlings that more 'prog' bands had. Anderson's voice, Martin Barre's
electric sound and classic riffs, the flute, the tales often touching on social
issues amongst the songs, and the band's classy way of going from a hard riff to
a folky verse -- were something only Tull could pull off.
Aside from the classic title track, which is easily the band's most
identifiable and most loved epic, the album would also feature such classic
radio staples as "Cross-Eyed Mary" and "Locomotive Breath".
Dive deeper in to Aqualung and one will find gems like acoustic ballads
"Cheap Day Return" [a short one - which preludes the more upbeat
acoustic track "Mother Goose"], and the classic "Wond'ring
Aloud" - another short piece, featuring just acoustic guitar, vocal and
strings. Aqualung always had a great flow to it, and heavier tracks like "Hymm
43" [the band's first US single] and epics like "My God"
[featuring Ian Anderson's flute solo] and [the closing piece] "Wind
Up" sit well amongst the brief acoustic number "Slipstream"Wind-Up"
and Locomotive Breath.
Aqualung is a
classic, without sounding dated, and lyrical tales still relevant today. It is
disc 2 of this package that will get the attention of Tull fans [and those more
than just curious about this rock classic]. Featuring different takes of various
Aqualung tracks, outtakes, most notably the rocker "Lick Your Fingers
Clean", an earlier and lengthier take of "My God" and a full
7-minute take of "Wond'ring Aloud, Again".
Also included is the entire 4-track ep "Life Is A Long Song",
recorded just after the original release of Aqualung. Life Is A Long Song would
become one of the band's most loved tunes, and remain a highlight of the band's
The 2 disc set
comes complete with an extensive 32 page booklet, featuring an in-depth
interview with Ian Anderson, offering loads of great insight and tales from the
sessions and songs, as well as notes from Steve Wilson, whom handled the new
stereo mixes, and a chronology of recordings from the Aqualung sessions.
For more info
on Jethro Tull check out: www.jethrotull.com
PIE - The Suffering Joy [Progress]
rockers Magic Pie's third album is a disc that offers a great mix of classic
prog sounds and melodies, drawing on progressive influences of Yes , Pink Floyd,
Genesis, as well as hard rock pioneers like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, and
throw in a bit of modern prog influence like Dream Theater.
blend of prog, balladry, and harmonies gives the singer a much larger and fresh
platform for his vocals, highlights include the ballad "Endless Ocean"
and the epic "Slightly Mad" [also featuring guest singer Maria Bentzen,
and highlighted by Kim Stenberg's lengthy guitar solo]. The Suffering Joy offers
quite a journey in sound and melodies, and while i find many prog albums filled
with lengthy forgetable noodlings and cold self indulgent instruments, this
album holds none of that - with each track easy to get into and well worth
numerous listens. From the opening to "Questions Unanswered" [part of
the 4 part "A Life's Work"], which comes in softly with just synths
[reminds me of King Crimson] and Hauksson's vocals - this album appeals
immediately. "Headlines" is perhaps the album's strongest moment,
featuring the band's strength of going from a memorable riff, to soft vocal
harmonies, to acoustics, and fastpaced keyboard / guitar interplay - all wrapped
around great melodies. For those not familiar with Iceland's Eirkur Hauksson
[who joined the band prior to this album] - he is known amongst Uriah Heep fans,
as the singer in Ken Hensley's Live Fire band, singing the Heep classics and
featuring on Ken's latest album "Faster", and previously known for his
work with the hard rock outfit Artch.
sounding album, looking forward to the follow up. For
more info check out: www.magicpie.com.
- Immortal Soul [SPV/Steamhammer]
York metal rockers Riot are back. The band lead by founder / guitarist Mark
Reale has been going for some 35 years, although never quite breaking out huge
commercially, but have always retained a huge cult following who've dug the
band's fast paced, hard driving approach, as well as being highly respected and
influential in the hard rock / metal scene. Immortal Soul sees Reale return to
the late '80s line up including [drummer] Bobby Jarzombek, [bassist] Don Van
Stavern, [live guitarist] Mike Flyntz, and singer Tony Moore -- from the period
that recorded the 2 highly rated Riot albums "Thundersteel" and
"The Privilege of Power". For
those that are familiar with the band or looking for some great new metal,
"Immortal Soul" in ablaze with plenty of hard driving metallic
rockers, such as the opener "Still Your Man",
"Wings Are For Angels" and "Believe", as well as more
groove oriented rockers in "Fall Before Me" and the slower paced
"Crawling". Stand out tune here being the title track. Immortal Soul
is a solid rockers' album; and if you're looking for something to fill in the
gaps left by Priest and Maiden, and with a wider appeal [classic UFO] - check
this album out. Great sounding, with Reale's dark, thick guitar sound and
Moore's high end clear vocals make for a powerful album.
For more info,
check out: www.markreale.com
HENSLEY / And The Sun Stood Still
Check out my
interview with Trevor elsewhere at Universal Wheels. This is Trev's second disc
of acoustic tracks, and with a voice not far off from big brother Ken, and an
ear for writing simple and memorable melodies - it is no wonder this appeals to
fans of Ken's lighter works. Joined by fellow guitarist and backing vocalist
Stefan Allsebrook, Trevor Hensley serves 13 acoustic tunes, memorable melodies
including "Tell Me Why" and "Cold Hearted Lady", as well as
more haunting gems such as "One By One" and "The Soldier".
Best picks include "Eyes Of A Child" and Trevor's tribute to brother
Ken - "Holding Back Time".
For more info
on these songs and Trevor Hensley's music, check out my interview with him
elsewhere at Universal Wheels, and visit his website at: www.trevorhensley.co.uk
- Beacon Of Light [Progress]
Norwegian band, who've been going for years, albeit this is just the band's 2nd
album. "Beacon Of Light" being a fine mix of progressive influences
like Camel, Tull [plenty of flute here] and ELP, along with harder rock of Uriah
Heep. Adventure is based around
Terje Flessen [acoustic, lead & rhythm, and bass guitars] and Odd-Roar
Bakken [keyboards and occasional guitar], who also write all the material.
Beacon Of Light features a few multi-part, lengthier numbers in "Something
To Believe In" and "Beacon Of Light" -- both in multiple parts,
and worthy of multiple listens right away to dig the band's use of 70s keyboard
sounds. "Something To Believe In" [part 2] reminiscent of Heep at
times, with the heavy organ & guitar and backing harmony, but as with the
lengthier tracks here features plenty of light and shade following heavier
parts. The band also uses 2 very
different singers, plus back-up vocalist - which suit the band's light and heavy
changes, sometimes in mid song.
Fave track here
is "The Swan", with it's 70's synth sounds building up to a heavy
melody, before giving way to closing piano reminiscent of Procul Harem.
The Ice" [part 2] showcases the vocals of Vebjorn Moen, coming off almost
opera-like; a heavier rocking piece. Beacon Of Light also features a few short
instrumental pieces in "Emilie's Piece" and "Joybringer",
both mainly acoustic guitars and flute.
checking out. May require a few listens, but there's loads of classic '70s feel,
sound, different movements and great vocals to draw one back.
- Zero To Rage [SPV/Steamhammer]
third album, and the first to feature new guitarist Steve Moore, finds Irish
rockers Stormzone as a solid NWOBH influenced crossed with '90s metallers like
Halloween, delivering 12 rockers, heavy, energetic, shiny modern metallic stuff,
with big vocals from founder/frontman John Harbinson, plenty of cool riffs and
fast solos. Fave tunes include the opener "Where We Belong", with it's
keyboard build up, guitar riff and the band kicking into a gallop, as well as
"Last Man Fighting", "Hail The Brave", and "Jester's
Laughter" -- all big rockers.
Heck, all of this disc is an enjoyable listen!
Check out: www.myspace.com/stormzone
- Seven Deadly [SPV/Steamhammer]
The latest disc
from legendary British band UFO delivers more of the same solid guitar rock that
has seen the band survive for so long, and more so put out a steady string of
albums since the last departure of Michael Schenker and the arrival of American
guitarist - who's adapted to the band's straight, no bs aproach. UFO fans will
be satisfied, although the band really doesn't stray from the plot. I quite
liked the last album, and the few before it, but really - not much has changed -
for good or bad, i guess!
Phil Mogg still
sounds great, as does the band of Moore, Andy Parker and Paul Raymond ... [and
who the heck is playing bass, again!??], and the band still comes up with a
batch a decent tunes that'll satisfy the loyal followers. Moore definately adds
a lot to the band's sound with different guitar styles and [presumably] blues
and southern rock influences [check out "The Fear"]. Faves here being
driving blues rocker "Wonderland", "Mojo Town", and mid
tempoed melodic rock tune "Burn Your House Down" [love the backing 'oohs']
, and earthy epic pice "Angel Station". Keyboards very scarce and in
the background on this album, btw.
Comes in 3
formats, regular jewel case, digi-pack - with 2 bonus tracks, and 2LP orange
vinyl, also with 2 bonus tracks.
Check out: www.ufo-music.info and www.spv.de
Reviews: ©2011 Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels / Travellers In Time