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High Spy - 2006 - "Rebirth: The Big Machine"

(46:47, High Spy)


I first came across keyboard player Mark Price when I was sent a copy of Final Conflict’s ‘Redress The Balance album to review at the beginning of 1992. But, during the recording of that album he and drummer Arny Wheatley left the band, later deciding to form a new group called Framework, which later featured Ade Peddiie (vocals/bass/guitar). However, Grace were calling, and soon Mark could be found playing keyboards on ‘Pulling Strings & Shiny Things’ and sharing the stage with the ever-demented Harry. Fast forward to 2006, and following the demise of his latest band, Drama (which featured ex-Final Conflict members Mark, Arny and Dave Bridgett along with Mike Gee), Mark decided the time was right for a new band and formed High Spy which included Arny and Ade, so in many ways this was a continuation of Framework as all three had played on 1993’s ‘Confidential Whispers’. The line-up was completed by bassist Lee Weston and guitarist Mark Stokes, and they soon recorded ‘Rebirth’, which in many ways is a compilation of music from Mark’s career and includes the song “Picture Glass Theatre” which was the title of Framework’ debut CD. The cover show here is for the original release, which is what I have, but it has also been reissued with some additional live tracks with different artwork, and it is this which is available from High Spy’s Bandcamp site. I have always enjoyed Mark’s playing, and saw him live with Grace many times, and also felt that Framework would have gone on to significant success if he hadn’t taken the opportunity to join one of the finest prog acts of the Nineties. So, it was interesting for me to come across this album so many years after it was originally released, especially as I knew some of the songs already. In many ways it is a hard album to review, as this does feel more like a collection of songs as opposed to a complete album. Each song is performed well, but while neo prog is at its heart, there are also others which are far more straightforward and almost Seventies in style. It is the ones where they allow themselves to spread their musical wings which are the finest, but for some reason the bass isn’t as high as it could be which gives the sound a distinctive feel which doesn’t always work. But here was a band finding their collective feet, and this was recorded quite quickly after the band formed, so what would the next one be like?

Progtector: April 2019

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