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(54:41; High Spy)
Four years on from the last studio album, and High Spy are back with their fifth. Mark Price (keyboards), Mark Stokes (guitar) are there of course, along with singer Ade Peddie but for this album they have dropped to a quartet and single guitar so Ade is now playing bass. They have also brought in a “new” drummer in Tony Hall. I’m not sure how any times I saw the mighty Grace back in the Nineties, but of course Tony and Mark (P) were in the band together back then. In many ways it can be argued that High Spy were formed out of Framework, the band Mark (P) and Arny Wheatley formed after they left Final Conflict, and prior to Mark joining Grace. After he left that band he started again, and eventually it morphed into High Spy. This is solid neo prog, and in many ways sounds as if it was recorded some 25 years ago, and if you had been as involved in the UK scene as I was, you would have heard quite a lot of material like this, particularly on the upbeat “I Am The Code”. It is songs like this where the band allow themselves to rock and power through that they come through best, but on the slower songs there are some issues. In many ways there are similarities to early Big Big Train as many of us had problems with the vocals, and the same is true here. When the band is buzzing along then Ade gets away with it, but on songs such as “She Knows” he is definitely struggling. One gets the impression these slower numbers would come across better at a gig, but here they appear to meander and there is no real sense of direction or purpose. I have enjoyed Mark Price’s keyboard playing for more than quarter of a century, but I just can’t get on with this album at all. Maybe next time.
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