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Prog Related

3.15 | 484 ratings

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5 stars Oh dear. This is one of those albums which attracts so much hatred in some circles on the site that it's difficult to imagine that it can be anything other than the work of the devil himself. Satan has come to purge planet earth of the very existence of prog!

The pedigree of the participants in this, the original, and still the best, project was immaculate. Howe from Yes, Wetton from Crimson & UK, Palmer from ELP, and Downes from...erm, Buggles. Alright then, almost immaculate. However, those of us at the time of release expecting a glut of Starless meets Gates Of Delerium meets Tarkus were to be swiftly disavowed in the strongest possible terms.

For what the band produced was nothing less than a 24 carot gold pop rock album, albeit one that contained music that was true to their prog traditions in terms of the intricate musicianship and grandiose designs. In fact, the greatest irony at the time was Steve Howe berating Yes for producing, erm, pop music in the form of 90125.

It is, by the way, a massively successful pop rock album, one of the finest ever recorded, and thoroughly deserved the truckloads of sales it delivered to that nice Mr Geffen. In fact, there is barely a weak moment throughout. There can't be a human on the planet who hasn't, at one stage, sung along to Heat Of The Moment, which is still, of course, a staple of the live set. It's a fantastic single, and rather sets the tone for much of what lay ahead. Sole Survivor is, if anything, even more accomplished, containing a cracking pace, lyrics, and yet, amongst the toe tapping finery, there is prog, and pure prog at that. Listen to the incredibly complex signatures utilised by Howe, and that wonderful, brief, synth solo by Downes, whilst all the time, Palmer sets the drum kit alive.

Nor is that all. Wildest Dreams is progressive rock at its very best, a monstrous piece of music, which is towering in its scope and reach. It is, without doubt, the highlight of the album, and almost of their career. You really wish that Howe had not fallen out with Wetton after the follow up, because his partnership with Downes instrumentally on this evidence had the potential to be as good as anything he produced with Yes, it's that good.

One Step Closer has a fantastic jazzy feel to it, and easily some of Howe's best work ever.

Time Again is richly dark, and does, more than anything else on the album, remind the listener very much of an acid fueled ELP. Wetton & Palmer keep a massive quick pace, with the latter especially making a huge din, Howe sounds as if he has the time of his life rocking, and Downes proved that he could do both prog and rock, creating a huge overall layer and feel to the track.

And, for more evidence of the fact that this is a prog related, or crossover prog, album, listen to the beautiful, symphonic, and majestic keyboard extended solo at the back of Cutting It Fine, itself a clever comedown and mood change from an almost hysterical opening section. Without You, although (whisper it quietly) a love song, contains some incredibly complex and well played instrumentation. In fact, what they were all saying was that a piece of music did not necessarily have to be twenty five minutes long in order to shine. You could also pack in an awful lot of great music in five minutes.

I have to say I am staggered that this album only has a rating of 3.14 on the site, although perhaps I shouldn't in view of the fact that 1980's are considered by many as the "lost decade" for prog. Well, nonsense. The decade produced some outstanding music, and it should not be forgotten that there were many buyers of this LP who went on to explore the music of the founding members of the band in the 1970's.

As a statement of intent, for incredible commercial progressive music, this album is a masterpiece, and deserves no less than five stars, without a hint of an apology from me.

lazland | 5/5 |


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