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It Bites - Once Around The World CD (album) cover

ONCE AROUND THE WORLD

It Bites

 

Crossover Prog

3.72 | 89 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars "I may look like some animal, but I am what I am, a man"

According to many Once Around The World is It Bites' best album and it is surely an improvement over the promising but somewhat pre-mature debut. Once again we get very accomplished Crossover Prog with both strongly commercial elements and many progressive elements. As on the debut, the sound of the band is mostly wholly Pop oriented and the songs all have strong hooks, but the arrangements are often unconventional and the music takes some surprising twists and turns that will certainly please the Crossover fan. Like all It Bites albums, this album too is very well produced and it sounds very professional, even more so than the already polished debut.

It Bites were hardly a groundbreaking group but they certainly had their own characteristic sound and approach which is further developed here. Compared to the debut, there is more energy and "punch" in these songs and a slightly harder edge is tried out here for the first time. The voice (which often evokes Peter Gabriel) of singer and guitarist Francis Dunnery is very strong and distinctive and the whole band oozes with musical and instrumental talent. There is a bit more lead guitar work on this album which is also very accomplished. John Beck provides some very nice keyboard work as well.

The album opens with Midnight which is more or less a pure Pop song that probably leaves many Prog fans wondering what the fuss is about, but it gets better. On Kiss Like Judas the progressive influences start to come through within a still basic Pop approach. Yellow Christian is a very good song with some great Queen-like bombast. Here, like in many other places, Dunnery's guitar sound reminds me of that of Brian May. Rose Marie is again a rather straightforward song, whatever progressive elements present are found in the finer details.

The second half of the album is generally more progressive in nature. The first genuinely progressive number is the nine plus minute The Old Man And The Angel which allows the band to stretch out a bit more instrumentally. Overall, this song reminds me quite a bit of the Neo-Prog band IQ. On some passages the guitar sound is strongly Allan Holdsworth-like which brings UK to mind. Some vocal arrangements are quite Yes-like.

The other Prog song here is the closing 15 minute title track which is strongly Genesis-like. In many ways this is It Bites' answer to Supper's Ready. The band are clearly outside of their comfort zone here and I often feel this "epic" is a bit disjointed and it does not reach the same highs as The Old Man And The Angel for me.

Whatever potential there was on the debut is certainly fulfilled here with this second effort and this is surely a good album that will make a nice addition to any Crossover Prog collection. But I hesitate to call this an excellent addition to any Prog collection. The classic Prog purists will not be easily converted to this.

All in all, Once Around The World is a fine album with one foot in Pop and the other in Prog. This might be the most progressive It Bites album, but my favourite is actually their third album, Eat Me In St Louis.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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