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Flying Circus - 2010 - "Back & Forth. The Flying Circus 20th Anniversary Box Set"

(131:33 ; Flying Circus)


CD 1: Back. The Rest of Flying Circus (71:50; Flying Circus) Progressor raiting ****' TRACK LIST: 1. The Mover 6:07 2. Free 5:24 3. Long Gone By 6:39 4. Southbound 4:53 5. Just a Few Hours 6:26 6. Walk Away 5:57 7. Magic Land 5:49 8. Iíll Go My Own Way 6:11 9. Trip to Heaven 4:33 10. Till the End of Time 5:40 11. The Heat Is On 5:55 12. Roll the Dice 4:06 13. The Show Is Over 4:10 LINE UP : Michael Dorp - vocals, keyboards Falco Kurtz - drums Michael Rick - guitars with: Lars Frik - keyboards Lorenz Gelius-Laudam - guitars Harald Krause - keyboards Michael Nolte - keyboards, vocals Markus Wasen - guitars Roger Weitz - bass, keyboards CD 2: Forth (59:43; Flying Circus) Progressor raiting *****' TRACK LIST: 1. The World Is Mine 9:25 2. Draw the Line 4:49 3. In Your Hands 4:05 4. Pride of Creation 5:37 5. In the Mo(ve)ment 6:47 6. The Rope 4:31 7. Mad Woman in the Attic 5:18 8. Overload 3:21 9. Holy Water 4:48 10. Forever and a Day 6:14 11. Youíre Waging a War 4:48 LINE UP : Michael Dorp - vocals Lars Frik - keyboards Lorenz Gelius-Laudam - guitars Falco Kurtz - drums Michael Rick - guitars, vocals Roger Weitz - bass, mandolin, keyboards, vocals with: Markus Erren Pardinas - NS/stick Christine Hellweg - harp, recorder, vocals Nanni C. Helmstedt - flute

Prolusion. German band Flying Circus celebrated 20 years as an active band back in 2009. A part of that celebration was to record an album with re-recorded versions of older songs written in the band's formative years. At the same time they also recorded a new studio album, their fourth studio production. These albums are named "Back" and "Forth" respectively, and while available as separate albums they were also made available as the box set "Back & Forth". Both the albums as separate entities and collected in the box set were self released by the band in 2010, and all of them are still in print.

Analysis CD 1: Back. The Rest of Flying Circus The material on "Back" showcase the qualities of a band that appears to still have been searching for an identity. Hence there is a fair bit of variety here, with some compositions emphasizing the blues aspects of their brand of classic hard rock, some songs borrowing impulses from classic era Ted Nugent or similar artists, while others come with less distinct reference points apart from being material with a solid foundation in 70's hard rock somewhere. With some songs exploring the classic organ and guitar driven arrangements, while others are more guitar dominated. Possible additional name drops here would go towards the likes of Deep Purple and Whitesnake for the former and Led Zeppelin for the latter. With a token Americana tinged gentle rocker and a token piano ballad oriented affair expanding the landscapes a bit. We do get a small taste of what the band would develop towards in later years here too however, with the appropriately named 'Magic Land' one of the highlights from this part of the package with it's Rush meets Led Zeppelin inside a progressive rock context type of sound, mood and atmosphere. While other cuts also come across as both solid and engaging, they aren't quite at the same level as this song in my opinion. This is a production that will be a delightful experience for many fans of classic era hard rock I believe, but perhaps not quite as interesting an album for progressive rock fans as such.

Analysis CD 2: Forth. The second part of this box set, the album "Forth", presents a band more defined in identity and also a band that have become a bit harder to describe in terms of associations. Bands like Rush and Led Zeppelin will have been an influence here, and possibly the likes of Pink Floyd too, but the compositions are rather more elaborate at this point and going off on several tangents that are harder to describe in a detailed manner as far as direct comparisons are concerned. Folk music elements and acoustic details are important aspects of these songs though, and the inclusion of hard rock elements that at one point even has a little bit of a metal undercurrent is something of a staple here, but quirky and odd arrangements are just as important and possibly more important here in the greater scope of things. There are also some less than ordinary tendencies to trace, with what sounds like a Camel inspired detail or two sneaking in as an undercurrent on a song with more of a hard rock drive and foundation for instance. I don't really know how much of a defining moment this album is in the history of the band. But I can at least safely state that as of 2010 Flying Circus comes across as a band with an established musical identity and with enough experience and passion to create an album's worth of solid, strong material inside of a progressive hard rock context.

Conclusion. As the box set "Back & Forth" is sold at a very reasonable price by the band, there's really no reason not to buy the box set if you are curious about what this band was all about a decade and a bit ago or if you just fancy a slice of well made progressive hard rock. For my sake I find the disc "Back" to be a slightly inferior part of the package here, and a disc with more of a classic hard rock orientation, while "Forth" is the superior part of the package and also the disc that will be more interesting for progressive rock fans. Hence those with very defined tastes in music one way or the other will know what release they should go for if they for some reason don't want the box set in this case. This is a worthwhile production all in all though, and the box set offers excellent value for money.

Progmessor: December 2022
The Rating Room

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