(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
The late Seventies were a bad time for a band to be playing "progressive" sounding music. The musical climate around the major countries were shifting from long winded pretensions of AM radio, and the radio waves were being ruled by "Disco" and "Punk". The record buying public and the short minded, so-called music critics ate everything that these genres dished out but both eventually flamed out under its own weight.
Therein lies the early Eighties. Many of the giants of the progressive rock world did not handle the abrupt musical shift, so some bands went with the musical tide (Genesis, Yes, King Crimson) some decided to fold (The Strawbs, Gentle Giant, Van Der Graaf Generator), but all of these pioneering heroes hard and memorable work did not go for naught as prog loving teenagers, went against the grain of "Pop" music and decided they wanted to play music like Yes, sing and front a band like Peter Gabriel, while writing songs about madness like Peter Hammill and Roger Waters.
Many of these bands were like their forefathers were mainly British, and of the most popular of this resurgence was Marillion, Twelfth Night, Pendragon and IQ. All of the bands were indebted to recreating a visceral version of the Peter Gabriel era Genesis, Marillion and Twelfth Night continued to break out of the Genesis mode, while IQ and Pendragon took a while to shake that monkey.
The Wake is the third album by the English band IQ, for all intensive purposes is the companion to Marillion's first four albums and one of the greatest progressive rock albums of the Eighties.
Throughout The Wake, lead singer Peter Nichols (a cross between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, although not as crass as Fish) sings emotively all of the albums original seven songs (expanded by three more songs on later releases) while guitarist Mike Holmes is one of the few guitarist that have actually perfected Steve Hackett's ambient styling (circa Second's Out) and keyboardist Martin Orford is virtually Tony Banks in reincarnation. But despite the obvious Genesis references, IQ really does not sound like Genesis, but like Genesis if Hackett (via "Defector") had taken helm and steered more into his direction instead of Tony's.
The Wake opens with a bang as "The Outer Limits" powers away into the next song and title track, musically is like a like a hidden Hackett song. Continuing in its suite like form, one of the two gems amongst this great album is up next the majestic "The Magic Roundabout", which is one of the greatest songs ever done by IQ, complete with Peter singing like demon throughout and ending with one the greatest guitar solos I have ever heard.
The albums only weak track (not really a bad song) is Linn drum driven "Corners" which probably was meant as a potential single but never charted, is totally different then everything on the album. The band recovers in a hurry with the next gem, "Widow's Peak", gut wrenchingly gorgeous, this is one of the most powerful drumming performances by the band's drummer Paul Cook.
A sound that Marillion is more well known for is up on the next song, anthemic "Thousand Days", would have made a nice radio song, but sadly it was never meant to be heard except for by the fans of IQ. The last song, "Headlong" is a great closer which fits seamlessly with the theme of the album. Orford and Holmes like a modern Banks/Hackett tandem which would be a force to reckon with and songs like this prove that point.
Without making IQ a strict derivative of Genesis/Camel, the band actually is beginning to find their own niche, as Paul Cook and bassist Tim Esau reach power like heights similar to the Camel's Sinclair/Ward duo, which says a lot about how the band had grown since their first album.
(All Album Reviews by Constable Hogweed)
One of progs finest albums that sadly came too late and was lost in the shadow of Marillion. ( and in particular Misplaced Childhood which was released in the same year ) From the opening edginess of Tim Esaus bass and Martin Orfords spooky keyboard sound on the opening track " Outer Limits" you just knew that you are in for a rollercoaster ride that may never leave you feeling quite the same about prog again. The Wake is loosely based around that old chum, Death. But whearas other bands tinkered and played with the subject via the music with tinkling about etc... IQ went straight for the jugular. The whole album is dark and moody, But one that never dispenses with that prog sense of melody....each track follows another with a sense of despair and then a lighter shade. To sum it up, the band sound on a wavelength on making this album sound both melodic and disturbing at one go....and boy have they succeeded. So what are you doing looking gleefully interested? buy buy buy....you will not regret it.
All The best