Prog Edition (Asia, Security Project, The Raptor Trail)
Asia Music/Cherry Red
This album was initially released in 2008 and at that time represented the first time that the original members of Asia --- Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, John Wetton and Carl Palmer --- had cut an album in 25-years. The guys favor Phoenix as their best album ever, and while the days of the band having radio hits was over by 2008, their early sound is fully intact here, and fans who listen now to great cuts like the tender "Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya," the dreamy and hopeful would-have-been-a-hit "An Extraordinary Life" and the typically-Asia big-sounding and radio-ready "Never Again" will wonder why this album was so overlooked in the first place. This 2CD set containing both the American and European editions of the effort (the European version has two bonus acoustic cuts) is a chance for fans to rectify that situation. You can hardly go wrong considering the four consummate musicians involved here.
A tribute to the early solo works of Peter Gabriel, Security Project take their name from the fact that about half of the Gabriel covers here are taken from the self-titled Peter Gabriel album that's commonly referred to as Security and alternately known as 4. The band is made up of Gabriel band alumni Jerry Marotta (drums) and Michael Cozzi (guitar) along with Trey Gunn of King Crimson fame (touch guitar), keyboardist David Jameson and singer Brian Cummins (yes, he often sounds a lot like Gabriel.) And while Gabriel's music is rarely covered due to its complexities, no doubt Peter is pleased with Security Project's live rendering of tracks like the Genesis-recalling "No Self Control," the rhythmic joy of "I Have the Touch" and a version of "Games Without Frontiers" that's melded here with "Of These, Hope." Some of the other favorites included are "Lay Your Hands on Me," "The Rhythm of the Heat," "San Jacinto" and the politically-charged "Biko."
The Raptor Trail
Prog fans not yet familiar with this band (and those who already are) will be very impressed with this album. The band --- Matt Mayes on guitars and vocals, Johnny Meyer on guitars and bass and Gene Bass on drums --- play without the use of synthesizers so the melodies tend to be on the subtler side and thankfully devoid of the bombast that defines so many prog bands. That doesn't mean these tunes don't have a punch; the guitars on the somewhat lyrically-cryptic "Whoville" erupt into Boston-like flourishes occasionally and "Going to Dublin" sounds like the more raucous side of Yes. But for the most part comparisons fail; you'll hear snippets that remind of other bands but these guys are no copycats. The one prog hallmark that's fully in place here is that you can totally space out while listening to New World, and most of the songs are long so you don't have to come back to reality for quite a while.
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