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(63:03, Seacrest Oy Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Prelude to the Ladies' Valley 0:37 2. Why Oh Why 3:10 3. Moog Fugue 4:11 4. Grand Canyon of My Dreams 3:43 5. The Journey by Camel 2:30 6. Limoncello 8:00 7. Bach Flute Sonata Allegro 3:05 8. The Cuckoo 3:51 9. Destiny 6:27 10. Carmina Burana 3:59 11. Taking Part Merlin 4:32 12. Quaterfoil 1:18 13. Liquorish Torpedo 3:32 14. Oceans Away 2:42 15. Running in, Running Out 3:42 16. The Ladies' Valley 7:43 LINEUP: Robert Webb keyboards; guitars, bass; drums With: The David Katz Orchestra strings Steve Unruh violins; vocals Luis Jardem percussion Rachel Hamilton flute Frank Holland vocals Jenny Darren vocals Fabian Baird drums Tony Beard drums Jode Leigh - drums Paul Taylor bass Jonny Gee bass Jung Lee piano Al Johnson guitars Chris Zantioti guitars &: And many more other musicians and singers
Prolusion. UK composer and musician Robert WEBB is perhaps best known for his tenure in progressive rock band England, whose sole album "Garden Shed" from 1977 is a heralded production. He's been and still is involved in a number of different bands and projects, both inside and outside of progressive rock circles. "Liquorish Allsorts" is his first ever solo album, released through the Finnish label Seacrest Oy in 2014.
Analysis. While I can't say that I'm overly familiar with the career of Robert Webb or his 70's band England either, one thing is clear: this debut solo album documents rather firmly that this is a composer and musician that has a fairly broad repertoire. As solo albums go, it is a collection of allsorts, material written over a period of 40 years and covering multiple styles. A mixed bag if you like, or perhaps a document in versatility. The least interesting cases here are a few excursions of the whimsical kind, where due to chance, the passage of time or perhaps by plan in some cases the end result sounds like music that might have been penned for a children's TV show. They sport recurring themes, subtly odd sounds of the kind that makes small kids in particular stop whatever they are doing to listen, and are generally playful in overall nature. Moog Fugue, The Journey by Camel and Bach Suite Sonata Allegro all fall into this category, more by chance than by design, presumably. While the music is fun, there are odd flavors and details that have a subtly detrimental effect on just how enjoyable they are. Apart from those exceptions, this is a surprisingly enjoyable production, covering multiple styles in an impressive manner. Folk rock oriented excursions like Why Oh Why and the symphonic rock with a slight touch of disco of Grand Canyon of My Dreams are just as tantalizing as the somewhat Camel-tinged Limoncello, this latter affair sporting some truly stunning instrumental keyboard driven sequences. The hypnotizing bass at the core of Destiny is another splendid detail, and this, more careful, composition is another sweet moment with something of a sacral feel to it, choir details and a haunting example of backing vocals in the chorus section of the goosebumps inducing kind. We're also treated to a more mainstream oriented rock style on Taking Part, and I suspect that quite a few will go for the piano ballad Oceans Away as another highlight. Concluding track The Ladies Valley, basically a piano ballad that develops into a symphonic progressive rock piece with distinct classical symphonic qualities, is another highlight that will be treasured, especially in progressive rock circles. If there are any negatives that needs mentioning then it is probably that a few of the songs do suffer from a low quality sound. The songs in question were rescued from old cassette tapes though, so these few songs are a typical case of rescuing material that would otherwise be lost, and as the songs as such are fairly enjoyable affairs.
Conclusion. "Liquorish Allsorts" is truly a bag of mixed allsorts. The material covers multiple styles, and some of them do come with an overall sound that firmly places them in the time period when they were recorded and/or created. All in all, this is a rather enjoyable mix of allsorts, and while there are the token item here and there that doesn't come across as tasty as the rest (which is always the case for a well assembled bag of allsorts), the end result is a fairly good one. I'd recommend this album to those with a fairly widespread taste in 70's oriented progressive rock first and foremost, and in particular those from that segment who also enjoy the occasional forage into mainstream oriented territories.
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