Big Hairy Monster!
(All Album Reviews by Big Hairy Monster!)
Released on the InEarVisions music label in the early 90's, On My Hands is an excellent disc by the band Madrigal...no not the French band, but the American band. Marrying the arrangements of Yes with the vocals of Kansas, the mood of Genesis and the complexity of Gentle Giant, this band seemed pretty much destined for obscurity in the great northwest, while the likes of Nirvana flourished.
It seems to me that I never hear this band mentioned anywhere, and what a shame that is. The first song "Shout" is a excellent prog tune, venturing from Gentle Giantish vocal sections through instrumental sections that sound vaguely like Happy The Man. On top of all that, we get a classic guitar solo in the Steve Howe vein.
"Living On The Edge" starts with some moodiness that wouldn't be out of place on an early Marillion album...but with some tasteful sax to compliment it. This song sounds to me like a commercial attempt...it's a pretty straight forward song, but very tastefully played, mixing equal parts Toto/Foriegner with Mike + The Mechanics? I don't know, but this could have been a hit in another dimension.
"Old World Charms" also would appeal to Fish-era Marillion fans. This is a great slow song that sorta reminds me a bit of "Cinderella Man" for some reason, and features some very tasty vocal harmonies.
"Showdown" is probably my least favorite song on the disk, despite some nice flute and piano playing. It just does not seem to go anywhere for me.
However, "Castings" is excellent beyond words. Starting off sounding vaguely like "Broadsword" era Tull at the beginning, it gets very atmospheric quickly. For the progger who doesn't like this modern Real Radio society we live in, you might want to listen to the lyrics. This one gets my Best Of CD award!
Three more songs round out this album, each of varying styles. Some excellent playing is to be found here, along with quality songwriting, and excellent production. While this may not appeal to the fan of more intricate composition, there is much to be found for the fan of Neo, Modern Symphonic, or just plain good stuff.