Planet P Project

1931

Baby Boomer Music

“Why me?”

That was the name of a big hit by Planet P Project back in 1983. It’s also what fans have been asking themselves for 20 years, since the group previously only released two albums.

Actually, Planet P Project is not so much a group as an alter ego of multi-instrumentalist Tony Carey, who used his two-year stint as keyboardist with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow as a springboard to a 20-album-and-counting solo career.

Carey created the alter ego as a way to get around contractual limitations and put out more music. What’s interesting is that those two ’80s albums were science-fiction-oriented. Nearly every song on the self-titled 1983 debut was about space travel, while 1984’s “Pink World” was a concept album about a boy who goes swimming in toxic waste and develops superpowers.

The ambitious “1931” also is a concept album, albeit a decidedly non-science-fiction one. It deals with fascism and racism — topics Carey developed more than a passing interest in while spending 1978-2003 living in Germany (he now lives in Spain). Subtitled “Go Out Dancing, Part 1,” it’s part of a planned trilogy that next will address events that bookend the Cold War, before concluding with a work about refugees and other people who get left “out in the rain.”

As with the first two PPP records, the intensity of the lyrics is matched only by that of the music, which is mostly written and performed by Carey, with lots of guitar help from Tom Leonhardt.

Tracks
1. My Radio Talks To Me
2. Join The Parade
3. Good Little Soldiers
4. Work (Will Make You Free)
5. The Judge And The Jury
6. The Other Side Of The Mountain
7. Waiting For The Winter
8. Believe It
9. The Things They Never Told Me
10. Where Does It Go

Total time: 50.9 minutes

External links
artist’s website

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Neal Morse

One

Metal Blade

Along with Sweden’s The Flower Kings, Los Angeles-based Spock’s Beard represented the cream of ’90s progressive rock. Neal Morse left the Beard to its own devices after fronting it for a decade, and “One” is his second solo album since then and fourth overall. 

Handling all the keyboards and most of the guitars himself, Morse is joined by Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy, up-and-coming bassist Randy George and (on a few tracks) guitarist Phil Keaggy. The result is (pardon the pun, Neal) one hell of an album.

This time out, the artist is not as overtly religious but certainly more progressive than on his last solo effort, “Testify.” Lyrically, he addresses his/mankind’s separation from and return to God. Musically, the long songs and epic instrumentation — often enhanced by horn and string arrangements — are as good as and possibly better than anything by his former band or even his former side project, Transatlantic.

There’s a lot of questionable product out there under the “progressive” banner, but “One” unquestionably belongs to the genre.

Tracks
1. The Creation
    I. One Mind
    II. In A Perfect Light
    III. Where Are You?
    IV. Reaching From The Heart
2. The Man’s Gone
3. Author Of Confusion
4. The Separated Man
    I. I’m In A Cage
    II. I Am The Man
    III. The Man’s Gone (Reprise)
    IV. Something Within Me Remembers
5. Cradle To The Grave
6. Help Me / The Spirit And The Flesh
7. Father Of Forgiveness
8. Reunion
    I. No Separation
    II. Grand Finale
    III. Make Us One

Total time: 1.3 hours

External links
artist’s website
amazon.com

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D’arcana

D’arcana

Lemuria Music

Looking for something new and exciting in the world of progressive rock? Need a change from the old-school fare of the ’70s? Fretting over what to do now that Neal Morse has left Spock’s Beard? Wondering who the next Flower Kings might be?

This Northern California-based trio is the answer. Jay Tausig, Shelby Snow and James Camblin, who happened into each other in and around Nevada City in the Sierra Nevada foothills, know exactly what they’re doing.

Tausig writes and sings the songs, and plays guitars, drums and synths; he’s classically trained and was in the East Coast prog bands E-Motive, Solid Space and Lunar Sea before Rodger Hodgson asked him to relocate west six years ago to work a North American tour. Snow learned bass under the tutelage of Bob Stern (son of famed concert violinist Isaac Stern). Camblin has played guitar for numerous Northern California bands and has opened for Rush.

This is their debut, recorded at Tausig’s home studio, The Pyramid, in North San Juan. Tausig’s vocals bring to mind Tony CareyAdrian Belew and Roger Waters. The stellar musicianship is like the best of Genesis, Yes, Happy the Man and early Utopia, distilled into something completely different.

The sugar in the pot: Camblin’s slide Strat work on “Changes” and the 14-minute “Ancient Future,” accomplished using a steel bar and Bic lighter, respectively; Tausig’s mandolin accents on the latter; and the lone non-Tausig composition, “Pastozaporius,” in which Jaco Pastorius meets Frank Zappa.

Tracks
1. Miles Away
2. Picture This
3. Once In A Lifetime
4. Changes
5. Pastozaporius
6. Set In Stone
7. Nightshade
8. Let It Out
9. s.u.a.p.y.g.
10. Windows
11. Ancient Future

Total time: 57.5 minutes

External Links
artist’s website

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Camper van Beethoven

New Roman Times

Vanguard

Well folks, here it is. They’ve been hinting at it with reunion shows and archival releases for some time now. It took two years, but there really was no hurry, since the original intention was to regroup on stage and not in the studio.

Kudos to Camper van Beethoven, for taking it one step further than where they left off 15 years ago and logically arriving at a prog rock opera about a young soldier from the Fundamentalist Christian Republic of Texas who lives in a fictional North America in which there’s many different countries that fight each other every once in a while, and Texas has gone neo-fascist and California has had a civil war.

There will be no spoilers here about what happens to the protagonist of “New Roman Times,” but the cat will be let out of the bag concerning CVB’s acquisition of superhuman abilities when it comes to playing their instruments. These guys are amazing when it comes to ska, norteño, garage rock, country, klezmer and Middle Eastern music.

This is not your father’s Camper.

Tracks
1. Prelude
2. Sons Of The New Golden West
3. 51 7
4. White Fluffy Clouds
5. That Gum You Like Is Back In Style
6. Might Makes Right
7. Militia Song
8. R ‘n’ R Uzbekistan
9. Sons Of The New Golden West (reprise)
10. New Roman Times
11. The Poppies Of Balmorhea
12. The Long Plastic Hallway
13. I Am Talking To This Flower
14. Come Out
15. Los Tigres Traficantes
16. I Hate This Part Of Texas
17. Hippy Chix
18. Civil Disobedience
19. Discotheque CVB
20. Hey Brother

Total time: 1.1 hours

External Links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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