Various - Progressive Rock Sampler

Year of Release: 2001
Catalog Number: PR001
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:38:00, the online web shop, released a promotional CD featuring tracks from some of the CDs available in their shop on the F2 Music Ltd label, that being Magenta, Cyan, Fyreworks, The Othello Syndrome, Abel Ganz, Lee Saunders and Swing Gang (though the latter two are no longer listed as being on the label, however).

There are two things that unite most of the bands on this CD, other than that they are on the same label. One is that these bands create the kind of progressive rock that has been classified as "neo-prog." Specifically, in each of these tracks you will hear the influence of Marillion and Pendragon and of the bands they influenced, Shadowland, for example. Throughout you will think of Mark Kelly and Clive Nolan on the keyboards, of Steve Rothery, Karl Groom and Nick Barrett on the guitar, and of Fish (occasionally) and Clive Nolan on vocals. Ah, well, there is one notable exception, of course, as that could hardly be said of Magenta vocalist Christina, who has a fantastic voice, at times earthy, at times lilting.

The other thing that unites these bands, at least most of them, is that Rob Reed plays a role. Of course, the two colorful bands he heads, Cyan and Magenta, have his intense involvement. But he is also a member of The Fyreworks, and guests on The Othello Syndrome's The Shadow Of Dreams album.

The bulk of this CD is devoted to Magenta, as the entire "The White Witch" track from the band's 2CD album Revolutions is included. Reed has made no bones about his love of progressive rock and has consciously created music in a style familiar to fans of Marillion, Jadis, IQ, et al. The lead guitar solos by Chris Fry are very much reminiscent of Rothery and at times of Groom (who both play in that Gilmour inspired way). Reeds keys at times will bring to mind mid-80s Genesis era Tony Banks, though later one will think of Mark Kelly. Interestingly enough, the one band that came to mind often musically was The Flower Kings. If I hadn't already bought the CD, I'd be seeking it out now based on this track. The album itself is a concept album, where each piece touches upon faith in some manner. You can read a review of the whole album by Igor.

The Fyreworks is the next artist featured with "Master Humphries Clock," from their 1997 release The Fyreworks, their only release to date. Their sound has a hint of Celtic-rock to it, mainly given the rhythm and the use of flute (keys, most likely) ? a la Jethro Tull -- before sounding very much like Shadowland. Vocalist Andy Edwards sounds like Clive Nolan, but doesn't sing quite as well - and I wouldn't say Nolan is a great singer himself, though I happen to like how he sings (Edwards, incidentally, is vocalist with the band Ezra, a band that Reed was once a member of). What this means is that there are hints of Marillion in the sound, made heavier, as Shadowland (and a number of Nolan projects, too) did. Had I heard this isolated from anything, I'd have guessed either Pendragon with Nolan on vocals (as this sounds like stuff from Window Of Life period Pendragon) or some unreleased track from Shadowland. The keyboardist here is Rob Reed with Tim Robinson on drums and Doug Sinclair on bass ? here Robinson and Sinclair play off each other nicely about two-thirds through. Danny Chang, whose project Fyreworks is, is able guitarist but his playing here doesn't pop out from the music.

Reed is present here again in two tracks from Cyan, first the 12-plus minute "Guardians" (from Remastered, 1997), second the 7-plus minute "The River" (from The Creeping Vine, 1999). These were the third and fourth CDs released by Reed as Cyan, though I have been familiar only with the first For King And Country. "Guardians" could be described, at least at one point, of what might result if 70s period Billy Joel were playing progressive rock. Reed here sounds to me like a very young Joel, circa about 1971 or so. Of course, all the "neo-prog" hallmarks are here, tinkling and parpy keys (Kelly, Nolan), languid guitar solos (Rothery, Gilmour, Barrett), and extended instrumental passages (Pendragon, comes to mind especially). Mention of Pendragon isn't quite out of place; Nick Barrett guests on Cyan's The Creeping Vine CD. There is some really nice piano work on the second Cyan entry, "The River."

The Othello Syndrome are different from the other bands, having a bit of an eccentric aspect to their sound here in "Father Of Leeches." However, mentioning Marillion, Pendragon, Arena, Shadowland and by extension, Rothery, Nolan, Barrett, etc. is not out of place. Vocalist Paul Kadman also sounds at times like Fish, stylistically at least, but as Fish started to sing in his solo career (more naturally, according to Fish) ? And like the many of the other bands here, Reed is a participant.

Abel Ganz will bring to mind Collins-led Genesis, but more so the shortlived band Castanarc. This is mainly to due the vocals. Though Pallas' Alan Reed features on some of the tracks on the Back From The Zone CD (here listed as Drawing The Line (Part 1), which may have been a working title), but I don't think it is he here, as I don't think of Castanarc when I listen to Pallas.

Lee Saunders' "The World Prepares" is the next track sounds more mainstream than prog, though I've seen him compared to Roger Waters, given the post-war theme of his music and, yes, he does sound a bit like Waters. With the sound effects and spoken soundbites you'll think of The Wall, with the female vocals oh-ing and singing in the background, you'll think of Dark Side Of The Moon. But it seems all style and no substance.

Swing Gang's "Guess You Had To Be There" (Danny Chang in a solo setting) is lively blues-rock, where Chang sounds a bit like David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar combined. There is some very nice guitar work from Chang, however; more jazzy than rocky or bluesy. It's got a freewheeling, laid-back style? Baltimoore come to mind, actually.

By far the best material comes first in the form of Magenta. While that doesn't make the other stuff bad, it sounds so familiar and like the source material that it just doesn't stand out as much as Magenta. Ironic, I suppose given Reed's involvement in the other pieces. Sure, like the rest it's progressive rock, but maybe the unconventional addition of Christina on vocals and the layering of various elements make this a homage you can like. I like the other stuff, but only this has me looking forward to hearing the whole CD. As a compilation of stuff, it does its job in giving you an overview of the F2 label as it stood in 2001.

The White Witch (Magenta) (20:23) / Master Humphries Clock (The Fyreworks) (9:47) / Guardians (Cyan) (12:05) / Father Of Leeches (The Othello Syndrome) (6:52) / The River (Cyan) (7:20) / Little By Little (Abel Ganz) (7:48) / The World Prepares (Lee Saunders) (3:18) / Guess You Had To Be There (Swing Gang) (4:25)



Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: April 6th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow

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Hits: 724
Language: english


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