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Tracklist: 1. The Glass Man 6-37 2. Guitartichoke (inst.) 4-21 3. Missing Silhouettes (inst.) 2-01 4. Killing Pawns 4-45 5. Power Gone Mad (inst.) 4-52 6. Thought Invaders 5-33 7. They've Created a Monster 6-29 8. Beyond Belief 4-17 9. Any More? (inst.) 5-17 10. Insanity Flies 4-59 11. Eyes, Lies, And Spies (inst.) 7-52 12. Nothing Is Right (inst.) 2-07 Line-up: Rick Ray - vocals, guitars, bass, drum-programming, keyboards Rick Schultz - reeds All compositions written and arranged by Rick Ray. All lyrics by Rick Ray. Reeds arranged by R. Schultz & R. Ray.
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Prologue. Rick Ray, the most fruitful performer in the history of Rock Music, has recently continued his seemingly endless discography with the "Insanity Flies" album. Lyrically, this work reflects Rick's thoughts on the recent tragic events in the USA in particular and the Earthly mankind in general. To be precise, "Insanity Flies" is already the 21st CD released by Ray since the beginning of 1999. While in a studio Rick works only in company with his fellow-fighter Rick Schultz, Rick Ray Band supports the live shows of such well known Hard Rock performers as Mahogany Rush (Canada) and Robin Trower (USA), apart from others. (In my view, though, Rick is on a par, at least, with both the said fossil rockers.) It seems to me that Rick has once contrived to get a 48-hour day. Otherwise he couldn't release several Progressive Hard Rock albums a year (and every year!), play live and, at the same time, be a (very talented) painter-humourist (for the last two years Rick released two voluminous sketch-books).
The Album. "Insanity Flies" isn't as evenly progressive as "You People", which I find the best album in Ray's discography (to read the review click here). Compositionally, his new opus can be divided into three categories. Then three songs: The Glass Man, Killing Pawns, and They've Created a Monster, along with three instrumentals: Missing Silhouettes, Power Gone Mad, and Eyes, Lies and Spies, will form the first part. These five tracks (1,4,7, 3, 5, & 11 respectively) are the 'official representatives' of Progressive Rock on the "Insanity Flies" album. Two songs: Beyond Belief and the title-track Insanity Flies, and also the instrumental Nothing Is Right (tracks 8, 10, & 12), form the second part. The contents of both these songs fully correspond with the conception of Progressive Hard Rock, while the album's last track consists of the freakish yet nice interplay between 'usual' keyboard passages and inside-out (just played in a reverse mode) guitar solos. The third category contains the most accessible compositions where there are just few changes of themes happen to the accompaniment of always the same monotonous tempo. These are the ballad-like song Thought Invaders (track 6) and two instrumentals Guitartichoke and Any More? (tracks 2 & 9), both of which, by the way, stylistically similar to most of the works of the famous guitarists Joe Satriani and Tony McAlpine-solo (i.e. excluding his band MARS). Each of the said three progressive songs, as well as two of the three progressive instrumentals (Power Gone Mad and Eyes, Lies and Spies) contain very original, tasteful and diverse arrangements, a lot of changes of themes and all of the other essential constituents that form the work of a real Progressive Rock. Despite the fact that there are mostly 'heavy' colours in the musical palettes of each of the five progressive compositions, there are also enough of acoustic and even symphonic arrangements to define the style, that they were created in, as a blend of Prog Metal and Art Rock. Some parts of these compositions sound, though, as a real (i.e. heavy: recall of Hawkwind) Space Rock. Rick's guitar solos are always very tasteful, diverse and fantastically masterful, and his playing the varied acoustic guitars on Missing Silhouettes, the instrumental that wasn't described until now, sound as wonderful as those one, for example, that have been played by Yes's Steve Howe many years ago. While duets of acoustic guitar and reeds' passages or electric guitar and reeds' solos sound beautiful on The Glass Man, Beyond Belief, and Insanity Flies, the longest track on the album, - instrumental Eyes, Lies, And Spies, - is simply full of variegated, tasteful and virtuosi (mind-blowing!) solos and interplay between Rick Schultz's own clarinet and sax, clarinet and steel the same reeds, sax and (Rick Ray's) piano, etc, again and again, and over. This instrumental and the second longest track of the album, - the song They've Created a Monster, - are, doubtless, the best compositions here.
Summary. First of all, despite the fact that "Insanity Flies" was self-released by Rick as well as all of his other CDs, I've noticed that the sound quality of this one is better than of any of his "early" albums, recorded in 1999 and 2000. While almost all of keyboard parts play only a role of the pillows (backgrounds) for the seemingly endless acrobatics of electric, acoustic and (even) bass guitars, the drums, programmed by Rick, sound mostly powerful and diverse. Compositionally, I consider "Insanity Flies" the second best one (after "You People") of those several albums by Rick that reached me (in spite of there were no Customs stickers on all of these parcels). Although the level of the musicianship of guitarist Rick Ray is simply fantastic on this album, nevertheless, I still find Rick's vocal qualities and lyrics not being notably improved since his "early" albums of 1999. In other words, both of these things, that aren't of any significance only on all-instrumental albums, remain just satisfactory (i.e. not good enough as I see it). In that way, the excellent, on the whole, album "Insanity Flies" is now losing the half of the rating star. As for Rick Ray's creation as a whole, in my view this musician, unlike such 'legendary' guitarists as same Joe Satriani, Tony McAlpine, etc, is not only a real virtuoso: he is also a really good and, at the same time, very prolific composer.
VM. November 12, 2001
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