Arena - The Cry

Year of Release: 1997
Label: Verglas
Catalog Number: VGCD 005
Format: CD
Total Time: 35:47:00

You've got people whose timing is perfect and then you've got others that seem to be getting somewhere at the wrong time. I'm referring to guitar players John Mitchell and Keith More here. By now everyone knows that Keith More left Arena after recording two albums with the band and doing a couple of tours. He left prior to the recording of the mini-album The Cry. In steps new guitarist John Mitchell right on time for the recording, which is a very nice calling-card for future reference. However I'm sure that his previous work with Bill Bruford and the Eurythmics is impressive enough.

Meanwhile Keith More joined Fish, but for him it was a little too late as the recording for the new album Sunsets On Empire had already been finished, the guitar parts having been done by Robin Boult and Frank Usher, with occasional help from producer Steve Wilson (yep, the Porcupine Tree leader!).

So what can we expect from The Cry? Well first of all it was the original idea to make one piece of music using all the various "Crying For Help" tracks. For those of you who are new "in the Arena," let me tell you that on the band's first album, Songs From The Lion's Cage (1995), four of the tracks are called "Crying For Help" and are numbered I to IV. On the follow-up, Pride (1996), this idea continued with the "Crying For Help" tracks V to VIII. Before the band embarked on a new venture it was thought to finally glue all of these ideas together and make it into one album. From the eight tracks, 3 remain original versions, 4 are newly recorded versions and three tracks are brand new.

As the "Crying For Help" tracks are mainly instrumental, there's little work for [now ex-] vocalist Paul Wrightson here, although he's the driving force behind the new showstopper "The Healer," but more of this later. In order not to have any difficulties regarding royalties, Clive Nolan decided to use original tracks without vocals, guitar and bass. So what he used were the programmed bits he had already done for the previous albums. "Crying For Help VII" from the album Pride originally was an acappella tour-de-force from Wrightson, but this time around the retitled "The Cry" is a voice and guitar performance that sounds nicer, especially in the few "empty" passages in the song. Whilst "Crying For Help IV" on Songs From The Lion's Cage was originally sung by John Carson [Arena's first vocalist], a new version was recorded with Paul during the Pride recordings. To make this mini-album a must for Marillion diehards as well there is a new guitar lead from Steve Rothery added to what is now called "Only Child."

The new version of "Crying For Help VI," here "Stolen Promise," has some nice fretless bass from John Jowitt. And then, the new song "The Healer." It opens rather dramatic with some choir-like Nolan chords before the complete band sets in for what becomes a very rockin' song with some rhythmic guitar riffs from Michell. Created between the two major Arena albums, this song comes very close to the better Marillion work as Paul Wrightson sings very Fish-like as well. Towards the end Mick Pointer's drum work becomes very heavy before the song ends very suddenly.

Meanwhile the band have grown from album to album and after various changes in the line-up have nevertheless found themselves in the company of bands like Spock's Beard and Flower Kings. When Clive's not working on new Arena material he's busy with one of his side projects. One wonders if there's any time left to open up a new bottle of Jack Daniels? One wonders ...

Theme (0:55) / The Cry (3:10) / The Offering (2:33) / Problem Line (4:02) / Isolation (1:59) / Fallen Idols (4:12) / Guidance (5:09) / Only Child (5:03) / Stolen Promise (2:58) / The Healer (5:44)

Clive Nolan - keyboards and backing vocals
John Mitchell - guitars
Paul Wrightson - vocals
John Jowitt - bass
Mick Pointer - drums
Steve Rothery - guitar (8)

Songs From The Lion's Cage (1995)
Pride (1996)
The Edits (1996, OOP)
Welcome To The Stage (1997)
The Cry (EP, 1997)
The Visitor (1998)
The Visitor - Revisited (1999) (Dutch fan club only release, OOP)
Immortal? (2000)
Unlocking The Cage - 1995-2000 (2001) (Dutch fan club only release, OOP)
Breakfast In Biarritz (2001)
Contagion (2003)
Radiance (2003) (fan club only release)
Live & Life (2004) (box set)
Pepper's Ghost (2005)
Ten Years On (2006)
The Seventh Degree Of Separation (2011)
Live 2011/12 Tour (2012)
Arena XX (2016)
Contagion Max (reissue of Contagion) (2014)
The Unquiet Sky (2015)
The Visitor - 20th Anniversary Remastered Edition (2018)
Double Vision (2018)

Caught In The Act (DVD) (2003)
Smoke And Mirrors (DVD) (2006)
Rapture (DVD) (2013)
Arena XX (DVD) (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: May 15th 2001
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website:
Hits: 1108
Language: english


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