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Mirror of the Stars 6:38 The Passage of Time 3:56 Vexdre 6:00 Hello Earth 4:45 Fly 3:27 Marari 6:22 Lucidra-City of Light 5:36 Say 5:39 Stargaze 777 6:30 The Eye of the Cosmos 6:02 Timelords Speak 6:30 Into the Light 5:13
All songs written by J. Simms & M. Marten, except 9: by Simms, Marten, K. White, T. Landon. Produced by John Simms. Recorded at "Cock Hill" & "Saturn" studios, UK.
Line-up: John Simms - guitars, midi-guitar, lead & backing vocals; Ted Landon - bass; Ken White - drums; Maxine Marten - percussion, backing vocals;
With: Adam Lewis - keyboards on tracks 4, 7 & 8
Visit the band's web-site at:
Prologue. Really, it was as unexpected to see a promo package from the UK's "Hi-Note" label as its contents turned to be some of the most wonderful albums I've received this year. My wife Nelly brought this parcel from the post - with an unfamiliar to me address of the sender on the cover - just yesterday evening about 6 p.m. and I, being deeply impressed with all the four CDs from "Hi-Note", decided to write immediately at least a couple reviews on the two most important of them, in my view. Although there are about 10 CDs to be reviewed in priority, I find too many significant factors that have to do with the latest "Hi-Notes" releases to talk about them right now. Oh, and the release of Clear Blue Sky's pre-official debut album… it's a revolution in some ways… talk a bit later, though.
The Album. After I listened to "Mirror of the Stars" I was more than just wondering why the people at "Hi-Note" described this music in a promo press kit precisely with the same words as in the album review in Progression magazine. Well, I understand this is the Journal of the Genre, but does it really mean that anything said there is always the truth in the last instance? Nature didn't provide uniqueness at all both for all humans in general and for any 'separately (I didn't say "independently") thinking piece' in particular. Concerning that very review of the Clear Blue Sky "Mirror of the Stars" album I came to the next conclusion: the guy who reviewed it in Progression is either a big fan of 'garage' music and, this way, paid a compliment to the band, or, which is more likely, he doesn't properly orient about Metal manifestations and especially about those in British Rock music. All in all, where did he find American 'garage' on Clear Blue Sky's latest album? The most interesting thing here is that John Simms played the same ('garage'?!) riffs more than 30 years ago, as the basis of his unique style of playing the electric guitar hasn't changed over the years. And, after all, am I a person who doesn't know what is 'garage' and what isn't? You may not believe me, though - just listen to both "Mirror of the Stars" (of 2001) and "Out of the Blue" (of 1969) albums and compare them. Though it would be more than enough to any experienced prog-head or metal-head to listen to the band's brand new work to make sure that this music in general and John's guitar work in particular have absolutely nothing to do with that (damn!) garage style. "Mirror of the Stars" represents wonderful hard-edged Progressive Space Rock of a quality that the 'Kings of the Genre' Hawkwind has never reached. (Actually Hawkwind were merely pseudo kings of this genre: in this respect read the "Out of the Blue" (Clear Blue Sky-1969) review.) John Simms's highly original guitar riffs, moves, etc are, first of all, of a 'pure' British origin (such an axiom just cannot sound differently, bearing in mind that the band, as well as the Progressive Rock movement itself, came to life in Britain in the second half of the 1960s). Secondly, all variegated guitar moves the bandleader uses are tasteful, strong, often positively hypnotic and always diverse - completely in line with the (progressive) style the band works in. His vocal themes are very picturesque and, after all, I just can't imagine a garage band whose singer would have as high-pitched a voice as John's. Finally, the band's overall musicianship, including an outstanding work on the part of the rhythm-section, doesn't contain a single element typical for "garage music" (and here is another turn to say "it's hard" - to put together such words as "garage" and "music": let music remain the area for musicians, and garage for car mechanics and drivers).
Summary. It must be said that the Clear Blue Sky music has a distinct English feel from the first to the last note. Also I consider a good factor that all the three original members feature the band's first album in the new millenium. Their joint work on "Mirror of the Stars" is as strong and tight as (probably) never before. I see there's almost nothing about this wonderful band in the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, so I feel it a necessity to meet all the lacks concerning Clear Blue Sky's discography, reviews, etc. From my side, I'll add there both the materials on the band's real first and latest albums I have as soon as possible. Also, such important events in the history of Rock music as a reincarnation of the true Progressive in old good England, its motherland, on the threshold of the new millenium, should be aired in all possible progressive channels. Yes, now I can tell you that with such albums as one from the heroes of these lines and the wonderful works of new English bands, such as Tantalus, I hear quality, true Progressive Rock to come out of Britain for the first time in many years.
VM. May 8, 2001
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