(All Album Reviews by Windhawk)
Progressive Rock Covers is a sampler issued by Musea Records, where various artists cover versions of more or less well known progressive related songs has been lifted from previously released albums from these artists issued by Musea. In addition, one track has been recorded especially for this album - the last track by Thierry Crusem.
For those unfamiliar with Musea records, they are a French based record company that has existed for 20 years now, releasing lots of prog music on a non-profit basis; where a large group of volunteers and, for some years, a handful of employees has seen to it that prog music has been available.
Musical styles on this album are plentiful; as this is a sampler. But the keyword here is retro; old tracks given the runaround seldom makes for modern sounding music. So this release is aimed towards listeners fond of the sound of yesteryear.
Reviewing a release like this is not easy by far. Some like cover versions of tracks to be as identical to the original as possible, others like them to be vastly different from the original. And most people compare any cover to the original and make their judgment that way. Personally I don't belong to any of these schools; I prefer to listen to the songs and find out if they are good or not on their own terms. And how I see this album is based on those premises.
Lowdown on this sampler - in my opinion of course - is as follows:
: The Brilliant
Blue Shift – “Immigrant Song.” Floating synths, some carefully inserted electronic effects and intense 70's hard rock riffing and rhythms makes this a standout track.
: The Very Good
Quidam – “Child in Time.” Live version with female vocals, floating synths, flute solo and guitar solo. Starting out mellow and ending up as an epic track, without ever being close to hard rock. Original and entertaining.
Halloween – “House with No Door.” Female vocals and piano in a live setting, emotional vocal performance and well played piano creates a vital and emotional ballad.
Now – “Kashmir.” Floating synths, controlled vocals and crisp undistorted electric guitars are the main elements of this song, as well as sections with multi-layered vocals. Controlled and refined; but at 14 minutes plus a bit too long.
Dificil Equilibrio – “Dynamite.” Fast, frenzied and totally spaced out, with repeated shouted lyrics, sax riffs, synths and guitars hitting hyperspace in a psychedelic explosion. Intriguing.
Visible Wind – “Strange Days.” Dark male vocals and echoing guitars creates a haunting mood, good riffing in the chorus before switching to garage rock for the instrumental middle parts. Interesting.
: The nice
Pangea – “Time.” Starts off with modern cold synths and metal-inspired riffing in the background, before switching over to 70's prog-rock guitars with ok vocals and a modern sounding floating synth in background. Nice tune, but makes no great impact.
Ars Nova – “Bird's Medley.” Bombastic and epic sounding synth barrage as ELP and others specialized in 3 decades ago. Well played and performed, ok tune.
London Underground – “Travelling Lady.” Wheezy Hammond and flute central in this track. Rhythms are simplistic, vocals slightly distorted, and a long Hammond solo followed by a saxophone sole dominates the track. Nice.
Thiuerry Crusem – “Exile.” Punk-inspired riffing, Hammond organ, rumbling bass guitar and good soulful vocals. Sounds better than you could expect, but not good enough to really make you take notice.
: The bad
Gerard – “Toccata.” Bombastic driving rock with a modern tinge to guitars as well as instruments. Lots of soloing gets tedious though, especially the longer drum workouts. Not my cup of tea.
: The awful
Twenty-Four Hours – “Darkness 11/11.” Whatever this band is trying to do is killed by extremely sharp drums being placed way too far up in the mix here. Listening through this track is hard; I got a good headache after this one. For specially interested only.
All in all, a rather nice album; probably most of interest to people appreciating cover versions to sound a bit different from the originals. The album is available for a bargain price; which is a good thing for anyone interested in purchasing this release.
My rating: 67/100