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Passport - Garden Of Eden CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

2.87 | 25 ratings

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4 stars This is the first album I heard by Passport, although I didn't hear it until 1987. Not having the history of the band, I was able to judge it on its rather substantial merits. This is an album that blends light jazz and progressive rock with a commercial savvy. It might not have great appeal to elite fans of either genre, but should provide lasting pleasures for the rest of us.

The album starts with a big bang, which is also the title of the lively and bouncy opening instrumental. Next is the title track, and the jewel of the album. It begins with dreamy saxes that eventually accompany the gentle vocals before some great moog playing kicks off the main event. Here with the merest and briefest strum, vocalist/guitarist Kevin Mulligan creates an infectious rhythm guitar base that chugs away as a third member of the rhythm section, to which his considerable lead prowess is then placed on display. This magnificent song contains just the right mixture of repetition, soloing and improvisation, not to mention a killer melody and sympathetic lyrics. Doldinger's sax takes over near the end to bring about the fade out in a flourish. For some reason, here and in other parts of the album, I am reminded of Caravan as well as Camel during its Caravan-esque phase, which would have been around the same time as this release.

"Snake" describes the meandering way of Doldinger's work in this languid instrumental that is a great choice for the end of a tough day. Then another strong and lively vocal tune, "Gates of Paradise", a bit jazzier than "Garden of Eden", and one that purists might have paid more attention to if it didn't have the vocals. The end to the song is very much of its time, almost sounding like something out of a concurrent BeeGees album. "Dreamware" continues this theme but without the voice, and with Doldinger cranking out an engaging sax theme that holds the piece together around impressive soloing by Mulligan. "Good Earth Smile" is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, and reminds me of something like "Starlight Ride" or "Rainbow's End" from Camel, only less focused. Then its back to the late 1970s sound with the closer, "Children's Dance".

For myself, I would tend to round up to 5 stars for this album, but in the interests of listeners who might not be amused by some of the commercial concessions made by Passport on this release, I will round down. Highly recommended work of virtuosity and just plain fun.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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