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Jane - Fire, Water, Earth & Air CD (album) cover

FIRE, WATER, EARTH & AIR

Jane

 

Heavy Prog

3.38 | 81 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A purist (and what else is a true Proghead if not an Apollonian purist?) might tell you these guys had no business sitting at the Progressive Rock banquet table. If you listen to their albums leading up to this 1976 epiphany, you won't find a band in the Symphonic Rock or Jazz Fusion or Avant- Garde tradition (and certainly not from the more seditious culture of Krautrock). But at least they tried. And unless we're misleading our children it's the effort that counts, isn't it?

For this album, the band's most ambitious to date (ambition being a relative term for such an earthbound collective), Jane raised its PINK FLOYD banner higher than ever, with the tempos, the melodies, and especially the vocals all but screaming, "Wish We Were There". Jane might have started life as a gang of rock 'n' roll delinquents, but they fell eagerly in step with Progressive music trends in the mid '70s, and better late (almost too late, in 1976) than never.

Clearly the band members had done some homework, and learned their lessons well. The album opens with an actual Classical Rock fanfare, en route to an extended Klaus Hess guitar solo: quintessential Jane, and still exhilarating. And it's a concept album too, recalling Peter Sinfield's employment of the four Platonic elements in his lyric for the KING CRIMSON tune "In the Wake of Poseidon", with each 'movement' cued, somewhat obviously, by the appropriate sound effect.

The album may be secondhand Floyd, but Jane was a more unified band in 1976, when the Floyd was already showing symptoms of creative malaise. Jane's music at the time was also far more melodic, if not quite so elemental as the title suggested...diluted perhaps (like a lot of Prog Rock) by too much air and not enough fire. And the lyrics, when audible, never rose above the standard give-me-some-sweet-lovin' plateau of '70s banality. But this was the more consistent of the band's proggier efforts, less self-consciously ornate than its popular follow-up "Between Heaven and Hell". Over the album's 33-minute flow of more-or-less continuous music, the group walked a precarious tightrope between the artless guitar rock of their earlier recordings and the extended Prog cosmetics of the later LP, without ever missing a step.

Having only just heard it for the first time (on the recommendation of a Fellow Traveler in these Archives), I'm standing up for the maligned 3-star rating with a possibly too conservative trio of sympathetic stars here. The album is hardly a classic, but when measured by the yardstick of nostalgia it's still a classic slice of the 1970s.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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