Reviews roundup – Peter Banks vs. Lunden Reign vs. Shezoo vs. Fischer’s Flicker
Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky… / The Self-Contained Trilogy
Peter Banks Musical Estate
Well here’s a veritable feast for fans of the original Yes guitarist, Peter Banks. This marks the fifth anniversary of his death and the 50th anniversary of the formation of Yes. To mark the occasion here’s a 2CD compilation and a reissue of three of his solo albums.
Starting with the compilation, the first disc is a best of with the second one being taken up with rarities. There is also a brief instrumental which has never been released before which features Billy Sherwood, Jay Schellen and Tony Kaye, all past, present and future members of Yes. The best of set starts with some gentle music from his 1994 release “Instinct” which saw him releasing an album for the first time in a long, long time. So it was welcomed by fans of early Yes which means the later electronic infused solo records were probably less well received. And they haven’t dated that well with the music from “The Age of Distortion” so nineties it hurts.
That continued on “Self Contained”, so when a number from the 1973 album “Two Sides of Peter Banks” pops up it’s a relief. The second disc is more of the same but less well polished. So it’s a bit of a curates egg but the early material which had the likes of John Wetton, Steve Hackett, Phil Collins and his Flash band-mates Ray Bennett and Mike Hough making cameos is well worth revisiting. on “Knights”.
“The Self Contained Trilogy” is just that. Releases of the out of print albums “Instinct”, “Self-Contained” and “Reduction”. These are actually of more interest as they showcase his guitar prowess to great effect as he flits across genres in the manner of a more restrained Jeff Beck. If you can only afford one of the releases, go for this one.
It was three years back when I heard “American Stranger”, my introduction to Lunden Reign. And it was pretty good.
It was a concept album that teetered around the edges of prog metal but was built on a classic hard rock sound. Well they’re back with a new one on the shape of “Confessions” and, for those of you as old as me, it’s even coming out as a limited edition vinyl LP. So you can listen to it as God intended. They’ve abandoned the concept approach, though. Instead they’re giving us their opinion of what’s going on in the world right now. And I don’t even have to tell you what those opinions are. You can guess.
They’ve also got more of a modern / alt rock sound this time out and songs like ‘Coming Home Tonight’ and ‘Red Wagon’ will resonate more with fans of Foo Fighters and their offspring. It still sounds good with an excellent production from Luis Maldonado, who has worked with Glenn Hughes, John Waite, Michael Schenker and Train. So he knows what he’s doing in the studio. As someone who predates the modern world I didn’t take to this as much as I did the earlier “American Stranger”. But I’m in the minority these days and can appreciate what they’re aiming for. And fans of modern rock will find a lot to enjoy here.
Agony Of Doubt
Some more modern rock but this time it’s from Switzerland. They’ve been on the go since 2006 but only Dutch vocalist Natacha seems to have survived this long.
They claim to be influenced by the likes of Kingdom Come, Dio, Accept and an assortment of old metallers but they hide it well. The faster tunes are pure modern rock with a metallic edge with ‘Cradle The Dead’ the best of them. But when the slow things down they actually turn into an AOR band. It sounds as though it shouldn’t work but, generally, it does. There is some excellent guitar work from Micha (this is a Christian name only band) and they’ve got a couple of excellent tunes tucked away here. ‘Crimson Rain’ and ‘Mirrors’ could even be radio hits if they managed to persuade the international computer that controls radio to programme them in.
It’s well produced, albeit wrapped in some misleading cover art which promises either power metal or a concept album about the first iWatch. On a commode. An interesting release, you might want to stream before you buy.is album meets my expectations for a solid rock album.
Open 28 Hours
So what the hell is this? Well at times it’s proggy, at times it’s rocky and at times it’s just weird.
So hands up anyone who guessed that Scott Fischer whose Flicker this is is a Zappacast contributor? Yes, there is such a thing. And it’s Frank Zappa that permeates a lot of the music on offer here. But I should point out that it’s the melodic end of that scale. So more “Over-Nite Sensation”, less “Thing-Fish”. With a side order of Todd Rundgren. Add is some fine, classic rock guitar, some sixties beat combo sounds and you end up with a diverse and entertaining release.
Turns out this is the seventh release from Fischer’s Flicker so they’ve had time to get better. Or the time that’s not spent playing in the Rod Stewart Experience with Carmine Appice. ‘Spiders’ and ‘Smoke Circles’ would have easily found a home on seventies FM radio but there would have been no place for the closing ‘Mother of a Ship’ which takes ten minutes tell the tale of an existential crisis and a meeting with an alien. As you do.
It might be a wee bit too diverse for casual listeners but if you’ve got the time to spare it bears up and improves on multiple plays.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton