REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/22/2006
Wow, what a concept! A supergroup comprised of progressive rock luminaries. Sounds promising at first glance, when you realize said luminaries are Steve Howe, virtuoso guitarist of Yes; Carl Palmer (percussion), the "P" in ELP; John Wetton (bass, vocals) from King Crimson and ex-Yes and Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes. What mind-bending voyages of creativity would they take us on? What new heights of art-rock bliss would they reach?
Answer: None of the above.
The result of this collaboration is completely banal and simplistic pop-rock dribble. It's as if they couldn't bridge the gap between progressive rock excess and pop-rock simplicity with any of their creative juices still flowing. They came out of the gate with two big hits, "Heat Of The Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell," both of which are sanitized mid-tempo power ballads completely lacking in power.
The attempt to mesh their musical backgrounds into a radio-friendly format is so forced it's laughable. The big joke is the attempt to force some prog-rock flourishes into these run-of-the mill songs. "Hey, let's throw a funky time-signature into the bridge here," you can hear them saying. Oh clever! Now it's a completely boring song with an odd-time signature in the bridge.
A good example of this is the almost-listenable "Time Again," which sounds promising until you realize that it's the ELP standard "Fanfare For The Common Man" with some dopey lyrics added.
The guys' attempt to reinvent prog-rock to appeal to a wider audience while still trying to retain a nuance of their roots only makes the lack of creativity in these tracks all the more apparent. In comparison, Genesis did it with smashing success a year earlier with Abacab, and Yes (sans Howe) would do exactly the same thing a year later with 90125.
This is such a waste of talent it's criminal. The ploy for airplay and big bucks seems to be the only motivating factor behind this collaboration. Creativity and art certainly weren't part of the equation. To see musicians of this caliber perform this middle-of-the-road dreck still irritates me 25 years later.