Norlander, Erik - Stars Rain Down


Year of Release: 2004
Label: Think Tank
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 75:02:00

Only a few weeks ago, Think Tank Media brought us two live releases from Lana Lane, a DVD and double CD, and already we are treated with another live release, this time from Erik Norlander. Although he and Lana always perform together, Stars Rain Down only features songs from Norlander's solo albums as well as a few Rocket Scientists songs. The songs are recorded at two of his European tours, in 2001 and 2003. With Lana Lane and Kelly Keeling on vocals and the amazing Peer Verschuren on guitars. Two of the best Dutch drummers also feature on this album: Ed Warby (on the 2001 songs) and Ernst van Ee (Hello?se, Highway Chile) on the 2003 songs. Last, but definitely not least, Don Schiff on his trusted N/S Stick.

Despite the songs are from different shows, the album has a coherent sound, interaction with the audience, so it feels like a live album (although the album reads: "recorded live in Europe 2001-2003"). It gives a good example of how Norlander sounds live: just as good as on album, but more spectacular! The live versions are more raw than the studio recordings. Some really amazed me, like the epic closing track of Norlander's last studio album, Music Machine, "Sky Full Of Stars," clocking just over 10 minutes, where Verschuren plays some truly magnificent guitar solos!

Although on most of his albums, he opens with some sort of intro, as he also does live, but on this album, he immediately kicks in with the powerful "Rome Is Burning," sung by Kelly Keeling, who does a great job here and proves to be the perfect voice for Norlander's solo work. But Keeling's most impressive work is by far his version of the Rocket Scientists song "Mariner" ? plain awesome, the way he totally made it his own song.

Not just Kelly Keeling surprised, also Peer Verschuren, especially in "Heavy Metal Symphony," where, according to the booklet, Erik took out the solos, as he thought they were not possible to play live, but Verschuren amazed him and played them! And they absolutely rule, only proving Peer Verschuren is a world class guitarist!

Lana Lane does a fantastic job on songs like "Lost Highway," which gave me goosebumps, as she really captured the essence of that song and sang it just as good as Buck Dharma did it on Music Machine, and on "Fly," which is one of my all time favourite Norlander live songs, because of the passion, the speed and the amazing keys.

Hmmm? so far I haven't said much about Erik Norlander's part on the album ? and he is the leading man here. Throughout the booklet, you find pictures of the shows and of Erik's gear and as impressive as it looks, so does it also sound. I have not heard a better keyboard player to this day and he is amazing to see live, especially on a "freakish" song, like "Project Blue Prince," where his performance got him the nickname "the mad scientist."

OK, maybe I am biased, I admit it. But then again, he is an amazing composer, keyboard-player and producer and just as all his releases, Stars Rain Down has an incredibly good sound. I have been a fan of his music since I heard Into The Sunset and all his work after that, only got better. And trust me, if I have any criticism about this album, I would mention it, but honestly, I can't think of any. Stars Rain Down is an excellent live album (if I may call it that), with fantastic musicians and a good selection of Erik Norlander's music. Personally I think it is a must have disc, I hope you will agree.

[This review originally appeared August 2004 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Tracklisting:
Rome Is Burning (6:15) / Beware The Vampires (4:53) / One Of The Machines (5:33) / Mariner (7:54) / Sky Full Of Stars (10:14) / Lost Highway (5:13) / Arrival (1:52) / Neurosaur (5:27) / Heavy Metal Symphony (5:09) / Project Blue Prince (5:24) / Fly (7:35) / Oblivion Days (4:34) / Space: 1999 (4:55)

Musicians:
Erik Norlander - keyboards
Kelly Keeling - vocals (1-4, 9)
Lana Lane - vocals (1,2,6,11,12)
Peer Verschuren - guitars
Don Schiff - NS/Stick
Ernst Van Ee - drums (1-6,9,10,13)
Ed Warby - drums (8,12)

Discography:
Selected:

Rocket Scientists - Earthbound (1993) (OOP)
Rocket Scientists - Brutal Architecture (1995)
Threshold (1997)
Rocket Scientists - Earth Below And Sky Above (1998)
Rocket Scientists - Oblivion Days (1999)
Into The Sunset (2000)
Music Machine (2003)
Threshold - Special Edition (2004)
Stars Rain Down (2004)
Seas Of Orion (2004)
Rocket Scientists - Revolution Road (2006)
Hommage Symphonique (2006/2007)
Rocket Scientists - Looking Backward (2007)
The Galactic Collective (2010)

Live At St. Petersburg (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: November 28th 2004
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Score:
Artist website: www.eriknorlander.com
Hits: 683
Language: english

  

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