From Shadow to Shadow
ReviewDave Knight [UK]
The format review which follows is my impression of each song at the very first time of listening. As a previous reviewer stated, some of the contributors are known personally to me, but unfortunately (maybe) I cannot miss out songs which donít appeal; if I donít like it, I will say so; if I do like it I will say so. I will be honest.
Before starting can I just state that as a generalisation I donít like Opera, Country, Brass bands, Bluegrass, Boy/Girl bands, anything that sounds like Genesis. If any submissions fall into the above categories, I apologise because they will automatically be Ďmarked downí. But I do like anything that has a raunchy overdriven guitar, or a more lightweight rock sound.
So here goes: the first point to note is the quality of the inlay card and cover. Clear track and artist details are given, a very professional production. Now, on to the music:
Whisky Train: fantastic, high-energy start with the familiar cowbell riff taken at a breathtaking pace. Extremely well executed. Only Bill Lordan could keep this up. Top class guitar and vocals Ö what a start!
So Far Behind: already I take back my comment about Bluegrass Ė an ingenious interpretation. Very listenable, Iím a convert. I find this version more appealing than the original.
Lime Street Blues: Fran's rendition of The Milk of Human Kindness from the first Palers' Project 2CD was one of the stand-out tracks. This version follows the previous high standard. Great arrangement. Now, Iím just trying to picture Fran in a pair of underpants!
Donít Ya Like My Love: a classic of modern times, worth the price of the CD for this track alone etc., etc., etc Ö (you donít expect me to rubbish my own track do you?) All I can say is that itís the only song on the CD with a Ď?í after the title.
Wreck of the Hesperus: very similar arrangement to the original piano and vocal lines. A great testament to Ethanís ability. A great leveller on the release to remind us all of the great source of inspiration of these tracks. Nearly thought I was drowning at the end.
Juicy John Pink: laid-back funky rhythm, great vocal and guitar. One Eye is now officially the new John Lee Hooker (Iíve suspected this for a while). This track rocks: again, another song that knocks spots off the original (am I allowed to say that?): my foot never stopped tapping.
Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone): not one of my favourite original songs, but this version is executed with great feeling. The arrangement pays respect to its 1968 forefather.
Two Much Between Us: powerful performance from all. Who would have thought that this song which began life as a tender love song could be transformed into a rock ballad? Great soulful guitar.
TV Ceasar: is this the Small Faces in disguise? Very retro sounding, great job of a difficult vocal part, ingenious arrangement.
The Worm and the Tree: 10/10 for selecting this track from the outset. I very rarely listen to the original so George has done a fine job giving an airing to this skeleton. I can't quite work out if the work is slightly tongue-in-cheek. Whatever, great performance, great talent, I like this one for the piano performance. Excellent.
Memorial Drive: I believe this to be a live recording made about the same time the Beatles played in Hamburg (about 1642). Same energy, same commitment Ö great.
A Robe of Silk: very likeable, nice guitar interlude, great vocals Ö nothing more to be said.
Rambling On: when a song is stripped bare as in this treatment, the listener is made more aware of its structure and feeling. Peter has taken the song down to its bones and it still sounds good. A fine endorsement of his talent.
A Salty Dog: from the moment this kicked in I knew it would draw me close and become a favourite. It is hypnotic. Very brave of Sev to contemplate such a classic, but we should all be thankful that he has Ö with apparent ease and talent.
Cold Harbour Lane: I have never heard the original to this, which means that I am judging everything about this on its own merits. That probably gives it an unfair disadvantage: however, the delivery and standard still leave me wanting to hear more.
The Idol: this is probably in my top five PH songs of all time so anyone attempting this had better get it right! Antonio does a credible job maintaining the high standard this song deserves. Alberto pays great homage to Mick Grabham in the play-out.
SS Blues: this brought a smile to my face. Is this a cover or a completely new version? Great arrangement ... is this the Oakes Brothers in disguise?
The Final Thrust: ĎGround control to Major Tomí, Ken pays tribute to Bowie and Harum in one song. I shall be honest and say that I never liked the original when it was first released, and time hasnít changed my opinion much. Kenís version is much more palatable than its predecessor, a great textured approach and overall appeal.
The Emperor's New Clothes: is that a guitar or a keyboard? A fine instrumental piece of one of the Ďnew songsí. Excellent arrangement.
Your Own Choice: the ĎDocí gives us, as is usual, a great vocal interpretation of this song. Very inventive backing and segue to Pilgrim's Play-Out.
Conquistador: picture a Spanish market town, a fiesta of sound and colour, the excitement of the carnival atmosphere. This track is worth $22 alone.
The Pursuit of Happiness: a great acoustic version of this song appeared on Lost in the Looking Glass: can One-eye Edelistís and Garyís version match the first? You bet it can! Great beat, great performance from all. If a single was chosen from this set, this should be it. I can picture Al (in the MTV video) sitting by a pool, surrounded by bikini-clad chicks. A common goal indeed.
Toujours LíAmour: this is absolutely intoxicating. A classic song, a soulful voice, simple and yet so complex in its delivery. This performance merits a far wider audience than it will unfortunately probably get. Fantastic.
Whisky Train: I always thought that Rich provided two of the best tracks on Lost in the Looking Glass. Some months ago, I wrote to Rich to try and persuade him to submit something for this new release. Within a few days Roland received this track. Again, what a treat this is. Rich has a great laidback style which is carried well on this standard rocker. Thereís something about Richís songs which makes you want to hear more. He is a great talent and I would personally like to thank him for this song.
Long Gone Geek: A fine version of Geek. Often , I feel that the original is not easy on the ears due to a poor recording quality. This makes up for that in grand style.
The Angler: Roger and Penny give a lovely rendition of the Brooker song. The production on all tracks is a credit to the performers, and this is no exception. Subtle pedal steel compliments the superb finger picking. Eat your heart out BJ Cole.
She Made Me Feel: again, unfamiliar with this Fisher track, all I can say is that it is very appealing. Well produced, relaxing and un-demanding on the ear.
A Souvenir of London: rain, faceless passers by, a lone busker. On listening to this one is transported to Tottenham Court Road. A solo acoustic version of the song, performed by one of those people that you never make eye contact with Ö they always look like they might have a nasty disease or two.
Wish Me Well: hang on a minute, I did a version of this on Lost in the Looking Glass: how dare Gary copy me? But no thatís not Gary S, it's Gary B and Robin T isnít it? Iím glad I donít live next door to Gary with all that bloody loud guitar racket. Great track Ö Iíll get my coat!
Gone Too Far: ingenious, infectious and captivating acoustic treatment of the Trower / Reid song. Probably more listenable-to than the original. Fine guitar playing.
Pilgrim's Progress: nice little version, quite mellow. Boydís vocal range lends itself nicely to this song. Simple arrangement extremely well presented. A favourite.
Something Following Me: Larry creates a great soundscape. Excellent keyboard skills ... and is that Jimi I hear in the middle solo? A modern classic that Iím sure will appear on the ĎBest of the Palersí CD in ten years' time (Christmas 2014).
Fellow Travellers: Iím getting sick of this now. Can someone please submit a duff track (apart from me that is!)? I find Harumís TWoF version a bit morbid. This gives it a well deserved kick up the backside Ė well done Les.
Now then, this is the one(s) that I have a problem with. In some respects thatís quite a relief. I thought I was being nice, either for the sake of it, or the fear of retribution should I run into One-Eye etc on a dark foggy London street one night (not that I live in London, nor that it's foggy, nor that One- Eye is nasty etc. ...)
No, the reason I gave the others good reviews is because they are all well-produced, imaginative, quirky, funny. They take the original and twist it inside out and upside down, kick it in the air and see what falls out.
This last collection takes the original ... and seems to keeps it.
The backing track is, unless the listener is a complete purist, a faithful reproduction of In Held 'Twas I. The backing is extremely well-produced and Gary Shepard is obviously a very talented guy. Superimposed on the backing are a variety of people providing the vocal arrangements. In all cases the vocals are extremely well taken: it's just the concept that I feel is perhaps treads a bit too close to the Shine on Brightly masterpiece.
In conclusion I can only re-iterate what others have said about this CD. It is extremely well-produced, well-balanced and is a credit to the performers who contributed. It really is a must for anyone who visits these pages.
Note must be taken of the track sequence listing. The songs flow so well that the listener is compelled to take the full journey from beginning to end.
I think I even like Bluegrass music now, but as for Genesis ... :-)
Dave Knight, Warrington, UK; May 2004