Lane, Lana - Return To Japan

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Think Tank Music
Catalog Number: TTMD-1036
Format: CD
Total Time: 133:47:00

From the very beginning of her career, the Queen of symphonic Rock, Lana Lane, has been very popular in Japan and she has visited that country several times to perform for her fans. Now, almost 10 years after the release of her debut album, comes her latest release, the live double album Return To Japan, showing the highlights of her live performances from 1998 until 2002. Although this is not her first live album, I consider this one a milestone, as it gives a fantastic overview of her music.

The first disc is a compilation of songs, where Lana sings with a full band supporting her. As usual, her husband Erik Norlander plays keys and Don Schiff plays his NS/ Stick. Peer Verschuren, Mark McCrite and Neil Citron take their turns on the guitar and on drums Tommy Amato and Vinny Appice work their magic. After an instrumental opener, with some Rocket Scientists and Norlander solo included, Lana kicks off with "Escher's Staircase," and I can now definitely say this is my favorite Lana Lane song ever. A great version, with crunchy guitars by Peer Verschuren (ex-Vengeance, Erik Norlander). But also classics like "Rainbow's End," "The Beast Within You," which was never a favourite of mine, until now, and of course "Secrets Of Astrology" really rock! Two more highlights: "Evolution Revolution" and "Frankenstein Unbound" are just plain fantastic.

Hmmm ... did I mention the beautiful ballad "Queen Of The Ocean"? I love the way Lana sings that song, it gave me goosebumps all over. Besides the outstanding vocals of Lana Lane, I truly love Norlander's synths and I love the way how in these live songs, the music and the voice form such a unity that makes it so great to listen to.

However, disc 2 might be even more impressive, as the first 10 songs there is mainly just Lana and Erik, so Lana's voice really comes out much better and shows what an amazing singer she is. The first two songs, "Take A Breath" and "Stardust," are so incredibly beautiful, they brought tears to my eyes. That's when I decided Lana Lane is my favorite female progressive rock vocalist! I love her studio albums, but this one rises above all of them. Also her version of Aerosmith's "Dream On" is better than I expected. At least, vocally, while musically I prefer the original. This disc ends with two more covers, this time with full band: "In The Court Of The Crimson King" and "Long Live Rock 'N' Roll." Unfortunately I only know the latter in the live version of Rainbow, with Ronnie James Dio on vocals and although Lana sings it well, I prefer the Rainbow version.

As a whole, I am very much impressed with this album, as it both gives a nice overview of Lana Lane's music and sound, but also highlights her vocal qualities, which are extremely good. The live feel is there, which I find important with a live album and the production is crystal clear. This album is a must have, not just for fans of Lana Lane, but in my opinion for all fans of progressive, melodic rock. If you are not familiar with Lana Lane's music, there is no better album to get to know here, than this one: Return To Japan. This is not just great music, it is also pure emotion, from not just a gifted singer, but also a talented composer.

[This review originally appeared July 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Disc One: Introductory Medley : Dark Water Part III (1:59) - Fanfare For The Dragon Isle (0:43) - Garden Of The Moon (1:18) - In The Hall Of The Ocean Queen (0:40) / Escher:s Staircase (6:09) / The Beast Within You (5:41) / Rainbow's End (7:06) / Queen Of The Ocean (7:54) / Project Shangri-La (5:37) / Evolution Revolution (8:29) / Frankenstein Unbound (6:16) / Athena:s Shadow (4:55) / Night Falls (7:42) / Astrology Prelude (3:31) / Redemption Part II (1:12) / Secrets Of Astrology (5:43)

Disc Two: Take A Breath (4:25) / Stardust (4:56) / Symphony Of Angels (5:20) / Dream On (4:02) / Alexandria (5:15) / Autumn Leaves (4:03) / Let Heaven In (6:51) / Dreamcurrents (0:29) / Avalon (4:22) / Seasons End (4:50) / In The Court Of The Crimson King (9:09) / Long Live Rock:n Roll (4:53)

Lana Lane ? vocals
Erik Norlander - keyboards
Neil Citron - guitar, vocals
Mark McCrite - guitar, vocals
Don Schiff - NS/stick
Peer Verschuren - guitar
Tommy Amato - drums
Vinnie Appice - drums

Love Is An Illusion (1995)
Curious Goods (1996/2002)
Garden Of The Moon (1998/2002)
Echoes From The Garden (1998)
Live In Japan (1998)
Love Is An Illusion 1998 Version (1998)
Ballad Collection (1998)
Acoustic Live in Tokyo (1999) (promotional release only)
Queen Of The Ocean (1999/2005)
Echoes From The Ocean (1999)
Secrets Of Astrology (2000/2005)
Ballad Collection (2000)
Project Shangra-La (2002)
Covers Collection (2002/2003)
Lana Lane and Erik Norlander - European Tour 2003 Souvenir CD (2003)
Winter Sessions (2003)
Return To Japan (2004)
Lady Macbeth (2005)
Gemini (2006)
Red Planet Boulevard (2007)
The Best Of Lana Lane 2000-2008 (2008)

Storybook - Tales From Europe And Japan (2004) (DVD)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 28th 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website:
Hits: 845
Language: english


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