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Tom Kelly - 2018 - "Burnt Peas" / "The Tolling of St John's Bells"

(58:33; 19:35 Productions)


TRACK LIST:                  

1. The Tolling of St. John's Bells 4:42
2. Burnt Peas, Pt. 1 & 2   8:22
3. God & the Flatlanders (Waltz Version) 3:40
4. Burnt Peas, Pt. 3   2:35
5. Burnt Peas, Pt. 4   2:00
6. March of the Spirit Peas 2:43
7. Burnt Peas Finale 2:51
8. Nothing Ends, Nothing Begins 5:47
9. Fugue in B Minor 1:58
10. God & the Flatlanders (Acoustic Celtic) 1:55
11. Sloppy Love at Bodie Flats 7:21
12. Staring It in the Face, Pt. 1   3:04
13. Staring It in the Face, Pt. 2   5:14
14. Love Is Money 6:21


Tom Kelly - all instruments

Prolusion. US composer and musician Tom KELLY had been involved with bands, playing music and creating music since the 1960's, but without ever becoming a well known entity. As I understand it he hadn't been in an active band environment for quite some time when he sadly passed away in 2017. Nickie Harte Kelly and David Hurst then decided to cater for the material Tom had recorded for himself over the years, and subsequently released this on three CD's. "Burnt Peas / The Tolling of St. John's Bells" is the first of those three albums, and was officially released in 2018.

Analysis. As I'm listening to this set of three albums in the wrong order, I have listened to this first of the three albums after starting with the second one. And while I do find the music in general but be similar, for obvious reasons, my impression is that there are elements that separates it from the second album in the series as well. It is still crystal clear that the late Tom Kelly had a passion for classical music, and that this passion was worked into the material he recorded. The piano motifs in particular will often have a classical music quality to them, and the arrangements as well as the overall structure of many of the creations here also contain at least subtle nods towards classical music as a likely source of inspiration. It is also obvious that Kelly knew about the great progressive rock bands, and while I didn't find this album to contain as many nods in the direction of those bands as the following album "A Quail's House", there are some moments here and there with such a presence too. Although this time around I find the similarities to be more towards the likes of bands like King Crimson and less towards the likes of Genesis. Again not similar in terms of the complete compositions, but rather in certain elements and types of arrangements used. What I also find is that this album as a more grounded overall feel. More elements from folk music find their way into the material on this album for starters, from medieval folk music as well as Celtic traditions and more contemporary folk music, more often than not with what I feel is more of a European and less of a US-centric orientation at that. On the other hand, there's also a case here where Kelly has a rather clear blues orientation and inspiration that is explored more in depth, but of course as run through an art rock or art music filter. And concluding the album is a song that by chance or by accident serves as the perfect transitional track between this first and the second album of this trio of albums, exploring and incorporating tendencies featured in both the first and second album if this series. The main negatives about this album remains pretty much the same as they are on the second album. The recording quality is so-so, some of the song does, at least for me, literally shout for a full band recording them, and while the guitar and the piano can and does provide rhythm support, a careful but skilled drummer could have added a lot here. As could experts on instruments such as the flute, the trumpet and the saxophone.

Conclusion. I will conclude this album in just about the exact manner as I concluded the second album of this series: The very nature of the recordings on this album is one that will limit the overall reach somewhat. This isn't a polished creation given a stellar shining in a top notch recording studio, but recordings by a passionate composer and musician recording material at home or in a home studio. But those who can wrap their minds around this aspect of the album, as well as the material perhaps not always being perfected or completely developed, should find this album to be an interesting experience. And then in particular among those with a strong passion for classic era progressive rock that use a liberal amount of details from classical music as well as various kinds of more or less traditional folk music.

Progmessor: December 14th 2019
The Rating Room

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Tom Kelly


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