(All Album Reviews by BrianG)
This is the third in a series of progressive rock compilations put together by the well-known producers and arrangers Randy George and Gene Crout from their Righteous Sinners record label. This music is all new and reflects an age of the 70's when music was about more than money and fame, and an artist's creativity and values were in the spotlight as much as their shiny guitars and stage antics. Musicians like Neil Young, Phil Kaeggy and Peter Gabriel put on shows back then that were meant to enlighten the audience to their issues and convince as much as to entertain.
Any serious progressive fan would be attracted to the first two compilations due to the star power. Earlier compilations featured such artists as Kerry Livgren (Kansas, Proto-Kaw), Neal Morse, Rick Wakeman (Yes) with Ajalon, Dave Bainbridge (Iona), Glass Hammer, Salem Hill, Phil Keaggy and others. This release, CPR3, includes a re-recorded tune "Passport" by Phil Kaeggy, but the remainder are new members of the CPR community.
Music itself ranges from standard AOR to some heavy rock (not metal) through some symphonic music and out into pastoral settings. The first track by Unitopia has a catchy hook. Ad Astra and Pursuit throw some edge into the mix with likeable songs harkening to Pineapple Thief and Dream Theater. Ted Leonard features his wonderful voice in tight arrangements.
One could find much value in the music itself and not focus on the lyrics. Excellent musicianship and fine arrangements make this a quality package. If you do focus on the lyrics, your reaction to this sampler may depend on whether you accept the music and lyrics as uplifting and encouraging, or whether you find them preachy and exclusive. Lyrics such as: "Let your truth cut free, the shackles of sin, So all might see, Begin your work in me, So others may believe." might be troubling, not only because of their overt religious references but because they are so silly. I think this music will continue to gain in acceptance with some bands such as Glass Hammer, Neal Morse, and Salem Hill working in both secular and religious music worlds, while others who cannot justify any dilution of their message will focus their music on believers only. Either way, the listeners win with more options and more than enough talented musicians.