Here we are for yet another look at some of the music that is getting a spin in TWR HQ’s CD player currently.
And where better to start than with the second album by long time TWR supporter, Kevin Powell. Yes, the Mighty Mellotron is at it again with new album humorously titled Just A Second… Every bit as enjoyable as Kevin’s debut, here we have another intelligent selection of covers of some of Kevin’s favourite tracks including offerings from The Beatles (Across The Universe), Crowded House (Four Seasons In One Day) and Ten CC (Old Wild Men) to name but a few. I always knew that Kevin had a fine singing voice (after all the gigs we have accompanied each other I should know that!) but here he has if anything refined his performances even more than had been the case on the first album and here he more than does justice to his chosen songs. He has even graced The stage of The Cavern club here in Liverpool as the album’s back cover photo proves and I for one would pay good money to see Kevin perform this stuff on a stage somewhere soon. Well done that man!
Next up a slightly delayed review for Karda Estra’s latest album: Strange Relations. Anyone who has listened to any of the previous offerings from Richard Wileman will know, this is music of a challenging nature but infinitely rewarding if you stay the course. This album has much more of a live feel to it that its predecessors, and I am sure some of you may find echoes of vintage King Crimson among some of its tracks but don’t let that put you off, here you have experimental music at its very best, thought provoking and with a wry line in humour running through it all delivered by Richard and his cohorts in fine style. I would not be at all surprised if some of this music finds its way into films or TV as it is ideally suited to that medium.
Karda Estra: Strange Relations: Believers Roast BR016
Finally a trilogy of albums by a Swedish band whom I was acquainted with many years ago and whose first albums were reviewed in the very pages of TWR many moons ago. I had thought that Galleon had ceased recording but thankfully I was wrong when a friend of mine provided me with copies of these albums and I am delighted to say that the re-acquaintance with their music has proven to be extremely enjoyable.
First of these is 2000’s Beyond Dreams which opens with the haunting Before The Sunrise, which to my ears has several shades of UK band Grace in it not least the vocalist’s delivery which sounds eerily like the front man from that latter band. No matter, the end result is an enjoyable slice of melodic rock accompanied by some memorable lyrical lines not least “Death is my licensee” which conjures up particularly strong images. Let Us Be Amazed is a slightly discordant beast and a wry look at the influence of religion and the intangibility of its nature another thought provoking offering.
The Ballad of Fortune reminds me lyrically in some ways of Down & Out by Genesis but there is where the similarity ends. The brilliantly depicted tale of a dreamer and his dreams all summed up neatly in the brilliant words of the final verse which are some of the most tellingly true lyrics I have read in a long time, fantastic stuff all augmented by some fine ensemble accompaniment and make no mistake, the guys in this band are GOOD musicians as is demonstrated by the rest of this excellent album.
Galleon: Beyond Dreams Progress Records PRCD 006. 2000
The middle album of this trio is 2005’s Mind Over Matter which opens with the deceptively titled Art Gallery which gets off to an effects-laden start. Everything is not as simple as the title would have you believe however, and art and illusion (pardon the pun any Twelfth Night fans) are either a dream or a nightmare but one of you own making : exhibitor or exhibit? You decide! Operating Manual’s jaunty rhythms mask a brilliantly evocative examination of the dangers of over-reliance on technology. This one has the stamp of the best that Prog can offer, superlative musicianship, marvellous lyrics which while being descriptive, leave sufficient to the imagination for you to once again draw your own conclusions. The album may be called Mind Over Matter but one thing is for sure, this is no mere exercise on style over substance, as there is enough of the latter here to keep the most hardened Progger happy - excellent stuff!
Galleon: Mind Over Matter. Progress Records PRCD 017. 2005
The third album in this trio, 2010’s In The Wake Of The Moon (I love that title), gets under way with a real slice of Prog: Stages, replete with cross-rhythms and alternating time signatures aplenty to keep Prog fans happy. That said, this is not a slavish imitation of any of the great band s from whom Galleon undoubtedly draw their inspirations, oh no, this is something much more vibrant and alive. Wallflower has a harder, more driving edge to it and some particularly nifty bass and percussion, a war time love story with a twist. Child’s Play gives the band a chance to flex their muscles instrumentally which they take with evident relish. The title may be Child’s Play but the music is anything but I can tell you!
The album’s title track is next, a haunting and deeply evocative elegy for times gone by and the theme of nostalgia and longing for times and places and people long gone pervades what remains of this excellent album.
I am delighted to say that rediscovering this band has been a joy and I heartily recommend the above albums and indeed, any others that may have slipped through the net. This is music and lyrics of the highest calibre all round.
Galleon: In the Wake Of The Moon. Aerodynamic Records AEROCD 02. 2010