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    Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

    SYMPHONIC PROG

    A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


    From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

    Symphonic Prog definition

    Symphonic is without doubt the sub-genre that includes爐he most bands in Progressive Rock because for many people it's almost synonymous classic Prog, something爀asy to understand being that爉ost of the燾lassic and/or 爌ioneer燽ands爎eleased music that could be included in this sub-genre, except JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD (who still blended some symphonic elements), even KING CRIMSON who very soon expanded their horizons to more experimental music, made their debut with a Symphonic album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" which is a cornerstone in the development of the genre.

    The main characteristics of Symphonic are the ones that defined all Progressive Rock: (There's nothing 100% new under the sun) which among others are:
    • Mixture of elements from different genres.
    • Complex time signatures.
    • Lush keyboards.
    • Explorative and intelligent lyrics, in some cases close to fantasy literature, Sci Fi and even political issues.
    • Non commercial approach
    • Longer format of songs

    In this specific case the main characteristic is the influence of Classical music (understood as Orchestral works created from the late Gothic to Modern Classical) using normally more complex structure than other related sub-genres like Neo Progressive (That's why sometimes the borderline that divides Symphonic from Neo is so unclear being that is based mostly in a degree of complexity rather than in an evident structural difference)..It is easy to find long keyboard solos reminiscent of Johan Sebastian Bach or melodic works that could have been written by燞andel.

    As in any other genre, different Symphonic bands had different approaches to Classical music, for example YES and GENESIS are mainly influenced by the Baroque and Classical periods, while EMERSON LAKE & PALMER has a predilection for post Romantic and modern authors like Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Bartok or Ginastera, being爐hat爐heir sound爄s less melodic and more aggressive.

    The peak of the genre starts in 1969 and lasts until the mid/late 70's?(more precisely until the release of A Trick of the Tail), when the genre begins to?blend more mainstream influences that took to the birth of Neo Progressive (a new approach for a new decade).


    It爄s important to remember that even though the creative peak of Symphonic Progressive爀nded before the 80's,爓e can find燼爏econd birth爄n the 90's coming from the Scandinavian countries (specially Sweden with ANGLAGARD or PAR LINDH PROJECT) and even bands that still in the 21st Century recreate music from this period like SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN.

    Before ending this short description I feel necessary to say (In order to be strictly accurate) that the term Symphonic is not 100% exact, because爐hese燽ands爒ery rarely爌layed symphonies and was爌robably used because the music that influenced the genre was爌erformed by Symphony Orchestras, but爄t is爏o爓idely accepted燽y the Progressive Rock community that爓ould be absurd and futile for燼nybody to燼ttempt a change after so much time.

    Iv醤 Melgar Morey, Peru 2006



    Symphonic Team

    Current Team as at 09/07/17

    Iv醤 Melgar Morey (Iv醤_Melgar_M)
    Anton Fritz (SouthSideoftheSky)
    RdtProg (Louis)

    Symphonic Prog Top Albums


    Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Symphonic Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

    4.66 | 4449 ratings
    CLOSE TO THE EDGE
    Yes
    4.64 | 4133 ratings
    SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND
    Genesis
    4.60 | 3588 ratings
    FOXTROT
    Genesis
    4.45 | 3530 ratings
    FRAGILE
    Yes
    4.42 | 3144 ratings
    NURSERY CRYME
    Genesis
    4.40 | 2684 ratings
    MIRAGE
    Camel
    4.38 | 2284 ratings
    MOONMADNESS
    Camel
    4.37 | 3045 ratings
    RELAYER
    Yes
    4.37 | 1704 ratings
    HYBRIS
    膎glag錼d
    4.35 | 1299 ratings
    SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUI萂E SAISON
    Harmonium
    4.30 | 2947 ratings
    THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
    Genesis
    4.30 | 2292 ratings
    THE SNOW GOOSE
    Camel
    4.29 | 2866 ratings
    THE YES ALBUM
    Yes
    4.41 | 635 ratings
    FROM SILENCE TO SOMEWHERE
    Wobbler
    4.32 | 1213 ratings
    SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES
    Renaissance
    4.28 | 2570 ratings
    A TRICK OF THE TAIL
    Genesis
    4.30 | 848 ratings
    DEPOIS DO FIM
    Bacamarte
    4.23 | 2090 ratings
    EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
    Emerson Lake & Palmer
    4.26 | 1086 ratings
    VILJANS 諫A
    膎glag錼d
    4.24 | 1019 ratings
    HAMBURGER CONCERTO
    Focus

    Symphonic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


    Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Symphonic Prog experts team

    S萔E QUI PEUT
    Ange
    ENTANGLED
    Leitmotiv
    HIJOS DEL AGOBIO
    Triana
    LA MARCHE DES HOMMES
    Morse Code

    Latest Symphonic Prog Music Reviews


     Big Daddy by STOLT, ROINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1988
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Big Daddy
    Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars One is a borderline synth pop song and the other is a borderline jazz piece. This single is back and forth, it's hard to keep track of where we are going with this listen. Thankfully both of these songs are on an easier to understand studio album titled 'The Lonely Heartbeat'. I can see what Roine was trying to do here but nothing really adds up, Big Daddy isn't a song I'm too fond of, it has the feel of a typical synth pop beat from the 80s that I'm not crazy about on here. White Men of NYC is a confusing track, it's slow and jazzy and just... kind of works? I can't understand this too much either, I do enjoy this track but it's very confusing. So, one song, I'm not a fan of, and the second one, I am. This is the most confusing single I've listened to. I'm not sure whether it's good or bad, but its definitely not great, or a masterpiece.
     Utopia by STOLT, ROINE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1990
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Utopia
    Roine Stolt Symphonic Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars Utopia is a great EP by Roine Stolt of 'The Flower King's'. Both tracks have Roine's unmistakable voice, guitar playing, and writing style. Thankfully we are saved by Tomas Bodin's keyboard playing, his solos are great and so are Roine's. The writing style is kind of like Yes, Genesis, and some soft Rock bands thrown in the mix (such as; Toto, Tears For Fears, etc.). This is a very good EP, and it does show where Roine Stolt was going to end up. The feel and structure of both songs are nice, but are both songs incredible? No, they are good but nothing special. Overall the EP might have good songwriting and a very prog nature, but it isn't very well recorded. It could've been slightly better recorded even for the time it was released, but Roine wasn't under InsideOut or any real record label to help push this along. Either way, this is a good EP but its nothing to get too excited about.
     Tales From Topographic Oceans by YES album cover Studio Album, 1973
    3.89 | 2390 ratings

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    Tales From Topographic Oceans
    Yes Symphonic Prog

    Review by Agnenrecords

    5 stars Tales from Topographic Oceans was released on December 14th 1973 and my brother introduced it into our household the next day. Tales would divide opinion amongst fans and critics alike: overblown and pretentious or symphonic prog masterpiece.

    The presentation of the album is quite special. It's less ostentatious than the preceding Yes offering, the triple live set Yessongs in a triple gatefold, but more elaborate than Close to the Edge which, perhaps more than any other album, was responsible for creating a link between the sonic vision of a band and a visual representation of the music. The imagery used on Tales took in some obscure iconography and utilised ideas put forward by the band themselves, such that it could have been a bit of a dog's breakfast. But somehow, it all hangs together. I was more worried that the four words of the album title featured three basic colours. Both the front cover and the open gatefold work as complete images, as the eye finds different focal points for the two potential presentations: the Mayan temple on the front cover; the waterfall for the open gatefold. I used to try to ascribe meaning to the position of the photographs within the song words but I no longer believe there is any association other than they are literal illustrations of Anderson and Howe's use of 'green language' in their lyrics.

    This cover is wrapped around roughly 80 minutes of music which, though it can be plotted on a line of general progression between Close to the Edge and Relayer, there has been nothing like it in terms of ambition and scope either before or since. The original release was of course on four sides of vinyl and though I also own a remastered and expanded edition on CD, I retain a vinyl copy and that's how I prefer to refer to and listen to the album.

    80 minutes of complex and challenging music makes Tales a fairly difficult listen. With each side acting as a suite in its own right it's quite easy to see why the casual listener might have difficulty understanding why Yes should record such an album. There are a bare minimum of passages where there is a straightforward rhythm defined by bass drum and snare and, with its lofty, philosophical concept, this could be the reason why most critics were so averse to the album as it moved ever further from the narrow confines of rock 'n' roll.

    I personally love the album though I believe side 2 (The Remembering/High the Memory) is comparatively weak. Side 1 (The Revealing Science of God/Dance of the Dawn) is relatively accessible because it does seem a natural progression from Close to the Edge but that's not the reason it's my favourite track. There's a good deal of sonic variety and what comes across as shared input. I particularly like that around the same point on Close to the Edge where there's a Wakeman organ solo, there's a synthesizer solo on side 1 of Tales, and I love that particular sound of the Moog. As an atheist, the title of the track did use to cause me some concern with its reference to 'God' and there's also the line 'Young Christians see it from the beginning' but my apprehension was reconciled when I placed the album in the context of a quest for enlightenment that doesn't necessarily require a specific deity.

    Side 2 comes across as having most of what Wakeman has described as padding. Though it's necessary to regard this movement as part of the whole, I still find that the relatively slow pace of the piece tends to drag and, whereas Close to the Edge and to a lesser extent The Revealing Science of God are densely packed with sound, The Remembering (forgive the allusion) has space between the notes. What's more, this side contains music with the least contrast.

    Side 3 (The Ancients/Giants under the Sun) comes across as almost pagan. From the different languages used to name the Sun to the percussive sections and the 'leaves of green' denouement which, though by no means folk music, does call to mind a plainer, less advanced or mechanised way of life. It's no surprise that the band should use The Firebird Suite as opening music for their live shows. I think that stretching the possibilities of rock music by incorporating some of the ideas of Stravinsky was brave but also something that perhaps only Yes could have done and, if you'll let me draw another parallel, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring not also caused something of a stir when it was first performed in Paris in May 1913, dividing critics and the ballet audience with its deviation from the accepted form. I think that The Ancients and Ritual are the best illustrations of the influence of Stravinsky on Yes music.

    Side 4 (Ritual/Nous Sommes du Soleil) is something of a cross between the more straightforward prog of The Revealing Science of God and the percussion movement on The Ancients. It may be that Wakeman also thought that this was an unnecessary inclusion but again, in the context of what Anderson and Howe had envisaged, it's actually stunningly dynamic, especially when performed live. The resolution of the track into the Nous Sommes du Soleil is a powerful piece of musical drama, drawing threads from the other three sides together into what always feels to me like a very satisfactory conclusion; you have to have listened to the other three sides before this to get it to work. It's uplifting and very positive and ultimately very satisfying. When I first used to listen to the album I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more overt keyboard work but I've since realised that the subtle Mellotron that pervades the entire album is a vital part of the overall orchestration. I believe it's important to see the work as 'orchestrated' because of what Anderson and Howe had originally conceived. Equally, the percussion (and Alan White was something of an unknown to me) should not be regarded as rock drumming because it's often used as musical colour around guitar lines, rather than the other way round.

    As a fourteen year old, listening to the album and poring over the lyrics (and I used to be able to recite all of them) this was a natural successor to Close to the Edge. It's only since then that I've read how it divided fans in a manner similar to the schism caused by the release of 90125, but I do understand why. I accepted Tales because I believed that Yes music had the power to transform; the music and the concept of Tales may be challenging but they are ultimately rewarding, so it's hardly surprising that the further they deviated from the idea that rock 'n' roll is an expression of simple rebellion, the more chance there was of losing fans.

    It's a symphonic prog masterpiece. Five stars

     Refugee by REFUGEE album cover Studio Album, 1974
    4.13 | 229 ratings

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    Refugee
    Refugee Symphonic Prog

    Review by Agnenrecords

    5 stars Sometime in late 1973 a small Xeroxed poster appeared in Kelly's record store in Barrow-in-Furness advertising an upcoming gig at Lancaster University. This was for Refugee, featuring the former rhythm section of The Nice, Lee Jackson on bass and Brian Davison on drums, with the then unknown keyboard player Patrick Moraz. I was only 14 and didn't manage to go but my older brother went with a couple of his school friends and came home with a tale of an amazing concert (and of missing the last train home and wandering around Lancaster looking for somewhere to spend the night.) It was fairly obvious that the band would attract Nice comparisons (I believe this was part of the wording in the advert for the concert) but even if Nice connections were used to lure potential fans, the old material aired at the gig (Diamond Hard Blue Apples of the Moon, She Belongs to Me and Rondo) was supplementary to the new Refugee compositions.

    The one and only Refugee studio album was released by Charisma on April 19th 1974 and this was acquired for '2 from a short-lived record store in Barrow indoor market that fronted onto Duke Street. I bought a second-hand copy to fill an important gap in my record collection when I moved to London the late 70s, but the inner sleeve on my LP was missing the lyrics and other pertinent information present on my brother's original. It's incredible to think that it took until 2006 before it was committed to CD (Voiceprint IDVP002CD), carefully remastered by Moraz and his former band mate from Mainhorse, Jean Ristori; this is why I'd class Refugee as a forgotten classic.

    At the time of its release, Refugee gained some highly positive critical attention. The keyboard-led trio formula may have been borrowed from The Nice but the music, almost exclusively written by Moraz, was a very different prospect. This was much more symphonic in style and scale and on the two long-form compositions on the album the structure and instrumentation was far more in keeping with the style that would become synonymous with The Enid. Patrick Moraz's earlier song writing, highlighted on the Mainhorse album from 1971 (re-released in 2006 on CD by Voiceprint IDVP001CD) is much more proto-progressive, more blues-based with a narrower sonic palette. Though Moraz had worked with Jackson in the post-Nice, pre-Refugee Jackson Heights, it may have been the chemistry between the members of the new band that allowed Moraz to express himself in this symphonic prog style, where the music was quite unlike either The Nice or Mainhorse.

    Despite the large number of keyboard tracks on Refugee the sound, even on the original vinyl release with potential compression problems from sides of 26 minutes and 24 minutes long, was clear and well balanced. Lee Jackson's vocals were also much improved since his Nice days. Patrick Moraz simply transposed keys to fit with Jackson's vocal range, with astonishing results. From the deeply personal Someday and sections of Credo to the more straightforward narrative of Grand Canyon Suite (which appears on the vinyl version as Canyon Suite), the vocal delivery is laden with a befitting emotion that is always well-controlled and in-tune. The production brings out the bass much more than on Nice albums and Brian Davison's drumming seems better suited to the Refugee compositions. In The Nice, Jackson and Davison were always in the background, simply providing a driving rhythm for Emerson to solo over; in Refugee, despite Moraz playing the lead, the band seems more egalitarian, with a shared input and output. There were some sonic innovations, too. Moraz erected a set of slinkies (the coiled spring child's toy) on a metal clothes frame with a set of contact mics which he played with a feather duster; he also used an Alpine horn (being from Switzerland) on Grand Canyon Suite.

    The suit that Jackson is wearing on the cover photo of the album was also his choice of outfit for the Lancaster gig, and there is YouTube live footage of Jackson in these clothes. According to my brother, Jackson also pranced around stage with a butterfly net during Papillon. After their demise, there were rumours of unreleased material and in due course, when Martyn Hanson was researching his book Hang on to a Dream - The Story of The Nice, he asked Brian Davison if he had any Nice bootlegs. The answer was no, but he did have a mixing desk recording of Refugee from Newcastle City Hall, prior to the release of the studio album. This was eventually released on CD by Voiceprint in 2007 (VP421CD) and does indeed contain some previously unrecorded material, destined for a never-to-appear second studio album, entitled One Left Handed Peter Pan. Musically, this is more in the vein of existing Refugee material (and a vehicle for a Brian Davison drum solo) but lyrically it is reminiscent of Jackson's Nice days, relating a tale of Jackson's experience in the music industry.

    I was reluctantly drawn into easy audio portability and bought myself a Sony Walkman mp3 player, but I found the files ripped from my 2006 Refugee CD rather annoying because the two multi-part suites appear as separate tracks on the CD, producing intrusive pauses when played back on my Walkman. As a solution for when I'm physically separated from my vinyl, I've pasted the subsections together using NCH WavePad software and removed the gaps to recreate the original album experience. The short-lived nature of the band (their first gig being in December 1973 and their last in August 1974) meant that though they had released a mature prog album that has to be regarded as one of the genre's best, they were destined to be forgotten. Moraz went on to further success with Yes and the Moody Blues but Jackson gave up a front-line musician's life for some considerable time afterwards and Davison, after a short spell in Gong, did likewise.

    A forgotten masterpiece that's one of my top five albums of all time. Five stars

     Measures of Time by PANDORA album cover Studio Album, 1974
    3.00 | 1 ratings

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    Measures of Time
    Pandora Symphonic Prog

    Review by b_olariu
    Prog Reviewer

    — First review of this album —
    3 stars Pandora was founded 1971 in Norrkoping, Sweden by drummer Bertil Jonsson and on guitar Urban Gotling. They release so far a single album in 1974 named Measures of time. The music is well played, with symphonic touches, they remind me in places of Beggar's Opera or even Genesis or Camel, nice keybords and pleasent voice overall. I realy enjoy this album , nothing realy is groundbreaking, but as a whole a nice surprise. Quite complex arrangements, with nice atmosphere, a good prog album for that time, that stood the test quite well today. All pieces stands as good, not a weak moment here. The band lasted until 1980 when disbanded from diffrent reasons . Anyway the band had some good concerts , opening for Kaipa and Trettioariga Kriget among others around 1975-1977. 3.5 for Measures of time, good release that needs a wider recognition, quite obscure and hard to find, but not impossible in vinyl format, but aswell was released on CD in 2015. Intresting art work.
     A Song for All Seasons by RENAISSANCE album cover Studio Album, 1978
    3.69 | 357 ratings

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    A Song for All Seasons
    Renaissance Symphonic Prog

    Review by Lupton

    5 stars "A song for all our time"

    I can just imagine, after being presented with Renaissance's previous album Novella, a Warner Brothers A&R man gesticulating wildly, chomping on a fat cigar and complaining loudly that "I don't hear no hits!" .The band must have realized that by now, nearly ten years of only moderate commercial success they had to make some changes to their music or be forever relegated to the second tier of progressive rock forever.Who better to produce their next album than David Hentschel, the man you had recently helped propel Genesis to global success with "Then There Were Three"The brief from the group would have been along the lines of "Give us a hit album and a hit single". The producer did just that- "A Song For All Seasons" was not only their most commercially successful album, it also provided them with their one and only hit single "Northern Lights"which went as far as number 10 on the charts.

    So much for the commercial success of this record.What about the music itself? All four musicians were always exceptionally fine players especially the keyboard player John Tout.As a pianist he could hold his own next to the Keyboard Gods like Emerson and Wakeman. Michael Dunford's 12 string guitar lent their music much of its lushness, Jon Camps's use of the base guitar as a lead instrument is hugely impressive and everything is held together by particularly sensitive percussion work by Terence Sullivan.The real ace in the pack would have to be singer Annie Haslam's extraordinarily powerful five octave ranging vocals. Yet for all their collective talent and beautifully arranged music I have to admit I often come away from listening to even their most revered albums like "Scheherazade and Other Short Stories" feeling slightly underwhelmed.

    With "A Song For All Seasons", David Hentschel really pulled out all the stops -employing multi-tracked vocals, bombastic and sophisticated orchestrations and even re-introducing some electric guitar.The end result is quite magnificent overall. Admittedly the album is also home to a few straightforward pop songs like "Back Home Again" their theme to the TV show "The Paper Lads" and "She Is Love" is a particularly weak song sung by John Camp because Annie Haslam was unavailable on the day it had to be finished. That is one song I would have dearly appreciated being left off the album.A couple of the songs have a rather strange structure. The opening track, appropriately titled"Opening Out" starts off with some powerfully dramatic chords and engaging but suddenly fizzles out and ends for no apparent reason."Kindness at The End Of The Day" which closes side one also starts off promisingly with some really engaging playing reminiscent of "Nursery Crime" era before suddenly transforming into a rather mellifluous song. The most successful of the shorter songs is without question "Northern Lights".Lots of jangling 12 string guitars, a prominent base riff, little classically inspired figures after each stanza, glorious vocals of course and a truly memorable and catchy chorus. What I love most about this song is that it was a huge chart success while still being a characteristic Renaissance song so there was no sense of the band "selling out" in order to have a hit.

    The two long-form tracks are the real reason to own this record. The albums' second track is a gorgeous shape shifting ten minute plus classic reprising some of the the dramatic musical sections from the opening track.The epic title track is not only the crowning achievement on this album but as far as I am concerned the greatest piece of music the group ever created. Infact I would go one step further and suggest it is one of the finest pieces of music in the entire Progressive Rock Canon.It has absolutely everything I want to hear- an incredibly dramatic complex and sophisticated three minute introduction followed by an a tense vocal section followed by an even more tense slow burning instrumental build up to the dramatic emotionally charged climax.What an absolute stunner.

    A solid Five Stars

     Brain Salad Surgery by EMERSON LAKE & PALMER album cover Studio Album, 1973
    4.13 | 1860 ratings

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    Brain Salad Surgery
    Emerson Lake & Palmer Symphonic Prog

    Review by Mark-P

    5 stars This is the 4th album from Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) released on 1973. The quintessence of this album (and I think of entire ELP catalogue) is the Karn Evil 9. This is an epic and powerful composition, consisting of 3 parts (called impressions) with nearly 30-minute duration. Not only the music that really defines what a progressive rock is, but the lyrics ? like many progressive musics ? is challenging to decode (extra works for audience like me without having English as mother tongue). For what I understood from several articles, Karn Evil 9 tells us a story about battle between human and artificial intelligence. The 3rd impression fortunately gives a lot of clue about this.

    1st Impression: a powerful 13-minute show off of great musicianship of the trio. They work meticulously to create this composition. A short but dense example is the "..roll up! .. roll up!.." part, as if the bass, keyboard and drums are playfully teasing each others. The beginning of Part 2 is perhaps the most recognisable piece, with famous opening line "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends". 1st impression is my favourite ELP tracks, and I enjoy every version of this song being performed live in several albums.

    2nd Impression: is a 7-minute colourful instrumental composition. Started with kind of fast pace jazzy piano tunes, and I feel a bit of African dance music in the middle. An interesting article offers a interpretation that this part depicts the machine preparing the overtaking of human control. 3rd Impression: how did ELP get the idea of human versus artificial intelligent at that time? I grew up with sci-fi movies with that kind of story so it is not too difficult to enjoy this part while imagining the struggle of mankind against machine. The song and sounds are perfectly fits this story-line. "I'm Perfect. Are You?" is the chilling closing phrase from the machine.

    Two other tracks in this album adapt classical pieces. "Toccata" is an adaptation from Toccata Concertata (Piano Concerto No.1 Op 28) written by Argentinian composer Alberto Ginastera. I think this piece has a kind of complexity that Keith Emerson fonds of. The ELP version is vibrant, with a bit of space rock sound. Anyway, it is said that Ginastera is happy with the way ELP adapt this piece, describing that Keith Emerson was able to catch the mood of the piece beautifully. "Jerusalem" is adapted from Hubert Parry's choral song of the same title. Not too many re- arrangements for this song.

    "Still ... You Turn Me On" written by Greg Lake is a beautiful ballad song, kind of a nice short break for our brain among other complex tracks. Greg Lake's guitar work is very nice and in a excellent detail. Rolling Stones magazine lists this as one of ELP 10 Essential Songs (even without Carl Palmer on his drum).

    "Benny the Bouncer": a nice ragtime piece. A background sound of bar-fight and breaking glass go well with the track's title. A lot of fun in this song.

    I consider this album as one of Progressive Rock Icons, and one of album that shape my interest in progressive rock music. A lot of respect for this trio. May Greg Lake and Keith Emerson rest in peace.

     Live At Carnegie Hall by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 1976
    4.26 | 229 ratings

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    Live At Carnegie Hall
    Renaissance Symphonic Prog

    Review by iluvmarillion

    4 stars Renaissance were one of those second-tier bands that were highly popular in their day. Like many others I was spellbound by Annie Haslam's voice and would lie in my university dorm room playing this Carnegie Hall album endlessly. Nirvana to me was listening to Annie Haslam singing in a rock band with an orchestra backing. The band's love affair with orchestra continued with the Song For All Seasons album when they had a big singles hit with Northern Lights. With the emergence of Punk and New Wave the band changed direction for the Azure D'Or album in 1979 relying on synths rather than piano and orchestra. When that album failed to ignite attention they changed direction again in 1981 for Camera Camera, ditching their keyboard player and drummer, going for a more New Wave sound. Camera Camera has it's admirers. I'm not one of them. This Carnegie Hall concert represents Renaissance at their peak and captures their most creative period between 1972 and 1975.

    Annie Haslam shares vocal duties with Jon Camp, but her voice dominates the concert. John Tout shines on the piano and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra are in good form. Prologue opens the concert. I don't think it's one of their best songs. To me it's mostly musical scales on the piano. However, it gets the concert going. I much prefer Kiev off the Prologue album and as a treat we get that song included in the 2019 remastered version of the concert here. Ocean Gypsy is a beautiful folk ballad from the Scheherazade album. Can You Understand is a bit overlong and repetitive but it leads into the two best songs from the Turn Of The Cards album, it's opener, Running Hard and the mini-epic Mother Russia, which ties neatly into the Russian flavor of Kiev.

    Renaissance's grand epic Scheherazade is a beautifully crafted song with a number of sections that perfectly knit together. The song is inspired by the story of the virgin bride who is condemned to die at the hands of the Sultan in 1001 Arabian Nights. Michael Dunford provides a short narration to the song before the band starts playing and it follows much the same pattern as the song they released on the studio version of the Scheherazade and Other Stories album about a year later.

    The finale of the concert is the Ashes Are Burning title track. If you listen to the studio version of the song, Ashes are Burning, there is a brilliant base line about a third way into the song. This is followed by piano and harpsichord before the song concludes with the blistering electric guitar of Andy Powell. Not having anyone like Andy Powell to perform at the Carnegie Hall concert, Jon Camp stretches out the base line of the song in an extended version of the song. It doesn't work as well, for you miss the electric guitar part. For this reason, I don't think this was a good place to finish off the concert. The brilliant Scheherazade with the full effect of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra should have been the place to end the concert. Then maybe a short encore piece without the orchestra, like Black Flame.

    While this isn't a perfect concert, if you like female singers this concert is for you. If you prefer virtuoso guitarists playing in front of a large orchestra then Dave Gilmour (Gdansk) or Steve Hackett (Genesis Revisited) would be your concert of choice. Alternatively if you like bands working with smaller orchestras then I'd recommend the Caravan & the New Symphonia, or one of the present day bands, Big Big Train (Merchants Of Light).

     I Can See Your House From Here by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1979
    2.91 | 682 ratings

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    I Can See Your House From Here
    Camel Symphonic Prog

    Review by Zoltanxvamos

    5 stars I Can See Your House From Here, Quite the camel album indeed. The elements of Jazz Fusion in the first number 'Wait'. The alternating time signatures in the keyboard solo battle, Kit Watkins playing in 10/4 and Jan Schelhaas in 11/4. From a playing standpoint, 'Wait' is one of the most technical songs in the bands discography, and a hard hitting introduction to this wonderful album. 'Your Love Is Stranger Then Mine' can be seen as a soft rock attempt, the written and playing is all good but the key thing to focus on is Collin Bass' vocals. His vocals are absolutely amazing on this very underrated gem by a brilliant prog band. 'Eye Of The Storm' is an instrumental with great keyboard lines, good flutes and great guitar playing, what is there to hate about this? 'Who We Are' is a mix of complex prog, soft rock, and a bunch of orchestration, Andy Latimer's voice is actually very good on this track too. The mix of soft rock, prog, and orchestra is staggering on this song, it makes me wonder why anyone would right this borderline Jazz Fusion album anything even close to pop. 'Survival' is a much more orchestral piece (again... how is this pop?), the chords are beautifully written by Mr. Andy Latimer, and this track fits well on this studio work. 'Hymn To Her', the more calm and melodic piece before the long song on the album 'Ice', is also very well written, the vocals are very good here too. 'Neon Magic' is much more fast and I guess people can say this is an accessible track (when there is absolutely nothing on this album that was even borderline accessible, even in those days.), this song has the more complex approach with this lyrics and playing style, guitar licks all over the place, keys and atmosphere. 'Remote Romance', the other song people target for being too commercial friendly when it really isn't. 'Remote Romance' actually fits more as a space rock song done by Camel, its mainly keyboards and its full of vocoders, quirky keyboard licks, its basically just a space rock song. 'Ice' is the final piece on this album, its the longest song by 3 minutes, its slow, melodic, and the guitar parts and overlapping keyboards just make this song the real gem on this studio work by Camel.

    Conclusion: This is not a pop album, this is more Jazz Fusion than Pop. The odd times, the keyboard solos, the orchestration... do I actually need to go on? This is one of Camel's great masterpieces, and its nowhere near pop.

     Genesis by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1983
    2.79 | 1240 ratings

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    Genesis
    Genesis Symphonic Prog

    Review by Jochanan

    3 stars Do you know this phenomena, or how to call it, that when listening to a particular song you remember what you were doing or where you were or just the atmosphere of the occasion you listened to that particular song for the first time? I just love music for the capacity to bring me back to my childhood and teenage years. For me, it is like going through old family pictures.

    If there is a reason to listen to Genesis, it is because of Peter Gabriel, but if you asked me what Genesis is, I would say that THIS is Genesis. When I was little I knew that my father used to listen to Genesis or Phil Collins or Eros Ramazotti, but I didn't like much his voice. Only when I was teenager, I gave Genesis a try with Wembley concert from 1986 and just after that I learned about Peter Gabriel era. And every time I listen to the first half of this album I have a feeling that that's exactly what my father used to listen to when I was a toddler - Mama and Home By the Sea.

    IMO, in the 70's, Prog and Genesis as well based their music on the skills or musicianship and the proper sound holding together throughout the whole album. It used to be constructed as cathedrals. In the 80, the depth mostly disappeared and was replaced with the stress on the sound. Each song was different, different atmospere, different drumming or synthesizers. For me, it was about bringing the right and unprecedented sound as a base for a song. I think that the best example is 90125 by Yes and the ABWH album - 90125 is very colourful, each song is different, different idea, different sound, whereas ABWH is like a cathedral, prog created in 80's, with the 80's sound, but no stress whatsoever on the sound, the style, the coolness. I don't want to say which one was better way to go on in the 80', for me it is a personal choice and here I just like those little experiments; and unlike with Abacab, they hold nicely together in one piece.

    Mama, Home By the Sea, Silver Rainbow, It's Gonna Get Better and That's All, they are just good imaginative songs and that's it.

    Data cached

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