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Track List: Disc 1 (12 songs, 46 min): 1. Gonna Be Somebody 4-22 2. Do What's Wrong 2-42 3. Nowhere In the World 3-26 4. I Don't Feel Dead 4-40 5. Light Air 4-41 6. It'll Be Okay 3-44 7. Cold Future 4-03 8. Lookout Mountain 2-23 9. Play With Me 4-21 10. Remember You By 4-20 11. Woman 2-10 12. Travel Away 5-45 All music & lyrics: by Craig Welton. Solo Pilot (R.I.P.): Craig Welton - - guitar & bass; synthesizer & piano; drum programming; vocals Disc 2 (16 instrumentals, 61 min): 1. Knosus 3-47 2. Victim From Space 3-05 3. 20 Years Later 2-38 4. Cool Fool 5-17 5. Visions of Life 2-18 6. Deadlock 4-09 7. Floating TO Mars 3-38 8. Funky Dog 2-52 9. Gone Neptune 4-15 10. Prague 5-44 11. Psycho Ramble 4-20 12. Skewbald 2-50 13. Aires 4-34 14. Smitty's Blues 3-18 15. Stinking Operetto 5-23 16. The Wall 3-58 All music: by Craig Welton Craig Welton: - guitar & bass; keyboards & piano; programming
Preamble. I received this double CD-R set from Kent Welton, the brother of Craig Welton, a musician and composer from California who died recently, at age 49. The first disc of Craig's "Hollywood Legend" album consists exclusively of songs and another of instrumental compositions.
The Album. The first disc of the album features twelve songs, and most of them sound much in the vein of a proto-progressive Art-Rock of the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s (think Procol Harum, Roxy Music, etc). But while all of these songs are instantly accessible, all of them are original and very tasteful. Furthermore, each of them features at least one instrumental part, which is truly progressive. With the exception of Gonna Be Somebody (1), where Craig sings along with a female vocalist whose name is unknown to me, all of the other songs on the album feature only Craig's vocals, all of which are very warm, touching, and are mostly of a dramatic character. Well, here is the stylistic picture of the album's first disc. Overall, nine out of the twelve songs on it (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, & 11: see track list above) are about the predominant stylistics of the disc that I have mentioned in the beginning of the review. Craig was a very gifted multi-instrumentalist; so varied and always masterful interplay between the solos of electric guitar, those of bass and synthesizer, and passages of piano are practically everywhere on the album. The music on I Don't Feel Dead and Cold Future (4 & 7) represents a real progressive Hard Rock, while the last track on the disc, Travel Away (12), is an excellent Classic Art-Rock ballad. In my honest opinion, these three are the best songs on "Hollywood Legend". The only song here that isn't progressive at all is the Rock & Roll-like Play With Me (9). Originally, the second disc of the album consists of seventeen instrumental pieces. I didn't include Trumping (17) in the album's track list due to the fact that it's nothing else but the same Gone Neptune (9) credited under a different name. Now, it must be said that the contents of the second half of the "Hollywood Legend" album are on the whole much more progressive than those of the first one. Though, of course, it's not a secret that all-instrumental pieces should be much more diverse and intricate than songs, especially since all of them are the brainchildren of the same author. Apart from the instruments that are listed above and a drum machine, a few of the other ones were used on the album's second disc. In particular, the solos of the Hammond (or the Hammond-like) organ are heard on Psycho Ramble (11), the string-like passages on Deadlock (6), and the flute-like solos on Gone Neptune. Some instrumental pieces on the album were performed without the rhythm section, while on Aires (13), there is nothing but the (wonderful) piano passages. Stylistically, the second part of "Hollywood Legend" is more varied than the first one. The music on tracks 1, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, & 16 represents a vintage Symphonic Art-Rock with either the elements or the bits of Hard Rock of a light and moderate complexity. A pure (and excellent) Symphonic Art-Rock is presented on Visions of Life, Deadlock, (Buenos) Aires, and Gone Neptune (tracks 5, 6, 13, & 9 respectively). The latter of them, and also Victim From Space and 20 Years Later (2 & 3), are, in my honest opinion, the best instrumentals of the album. Stinking Operetto (15) is woven from both of symphonic and heavy musical textures and represents a well-balanced blend of Symphonic Art-Rock and Hard Rock. Both of the remaining pieces: Cool Fool and Smitty's Blues aren't progressive. The first of them reminds me of a cool Ambient, while another is about a bluesy Rock & Roll.
Summary. The main drawbacks of "Hollywood Legend" are a drum machine, the parts of which are often too monotonous, and the sound of the album, which is poor throughout it. As for the merits of it, these are inspiration, tastefulness, mastery, and originality, the latter of which I regard as the main trump of any artist of any kind of Art. Thus, any problems of a technical character just cannot cloud the talents of any true artist, and the late Craig Welton was certainly one of them.
VM (A.L.I.V.E.): March 6, 2003
PS: A.L.I.V.E. is also an epitaph, isn't it?
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