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Omega - The Progressive Eighties CD (album) cover

THE PROGRESSIVE EIGHTIES

Omega

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.10 | 2 ratings

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Matti
Prog Reviewer
2 stars - First Review for This Album - I visited Budapest a couple of weeks ago. From the posters on the streets - announcing a concert in December - I saw that the legendary Hungarian rock band OMEGA, founded in the sixties, is still active. Naturally I searched for some interesting CD's there, and this compilation is one of my purchases. I knew that Omega is internationally the best known Hungarian prog classic; to get a better picture of their domestic fame, I asked a young couple about the band (showing this CD), and they confirmed that just about every Hungarian knows the band pretty well.

In 2015 the long history of Omega was compiled in a decade-by-decade approach. "The Beaty Sixties", "The Spacey Seventies", "The Progressive Eighties", "The Heavy Nineties". Which one to buy? Well, I vaguely was aware that in the 80's the band's artistic level declined, and yet the word 'Progressive' made me believe that maybe they made some progressive and more ambitious stuff among the commercial pop/rock at that time, and that this CD would skim the cream from many albums (the other factor on my decision was that I already had some 70's stuff by Omega). Not quite so. Frankly, this should be called "The Commercial Eighties", or "The Pop Eighties". There's no album source information in the release itself, but a research back home showed that this compilation contains the entire album Working = the English version of Az Arc (both 1981), which is clearly seen as one of the weak albums, like actually each one they made in the 80's. Tracks 17 and 19 come from Omega 12 (1986), tracks 15 and 18 from Babylon a.k.a. Omega 13 (1987), and for a couple of tracks I found no origins.

So, the first thing for a prog oriented listener to do is not minding the false title and simply taking the music as a pop product of its time. And I'll do my best to be open-minded on this review too. The opener 'Nasca' is a decent little synth-oriented instrumental. 'Love Games' is pure commercial early-80's hard rock. Noisy, sharp, chorus-heavy. 'Inside Outside' is even faster in tempo. Oh no, what have I bought!? 'Laughing on the Inside' is a so-called hard rock ballad, typical for the decade. 'Working' is another energetic, commercial hard-rocker. The band's sound is not bad really, the synth solo/backing has some impressive spaceyness left from the better days. But no, these songs are not 'progressive' in the least. 'Rocket': "Oh baby, I feel like a rocket tonight!" Need I say more? Happily the album Working contains several brief instrumentals ('Nasca, 'Intermezzo', 'Hostage 1'). They may not be excellent on a prog scale, but at least they serve as a refreshing pause from the noisy and commercial song style.

'I Can't Stop Thinking of You' is a hard rock ballad that FOREIGNER would have made better. There's some improvement for the rest of the 73-minute compilation. 'Russian Winter' features balalaika (?) and it manages to paint an inner picture of a winter in Russia. Though not being an instrumental, brief 'Hostage 2' is emotionally strong in its melancholic approach. The 7-minute 'Morning Lights' is perhaps the highlight on this compilation. Tempo is relatively slow, and the move from the latter- day Leonard Cohen -like deep voice to the uplifting chorus functions pretty well. 'Lady Moon' is another mid-tempo power ballad with lots of synths. The beat sounds like being programmed. Some sax added too. 'Child in Your Arms' also relies heavily on the chorus; the parts in between try too hard to sound doomy. A slight reminescence to CAMEL's 'West Berlin' on sound. 'Home Again' is a slow ballad, quite listenable. The last track 'Your All Night Man' is proudly exactly what the title suggests.

Can't give more than two stars. Avoid, unless you want to expand your Omega collection and have a gap for the eighties stuff.

Matti | 2/5 |

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