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Darryl Way - 'Underworld: A Rock Opera' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/f5/79/54/darryl-way-underworld-54-1520279923.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 05, 2018    
 
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This is generally old-school Prog with all the seventies musical sensibilities well in place.

The word epic is often used in musical terms when referring to expansive works such as Rick Wakeman's 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth', Genesis' 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' etc., and this release from Curved Air's one-time violinist Darryl Way is definitely an album that fits the bill.

'Underworld' comes in two formats; one version being "just the songs", the other complete with dialogue and narration – put together, that's over three hours of listening! The main thrust of this review will concentrate on the songs, but that's not to undermine the narrated side of the project which involves the Greek myth surrounding Orpheus and Eurydice (in essence a tragic love story). Here it's been given a re-working and set within the turbulent world of seventies Rock music, and as the promotional blurb states "A dark tale of "Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll"... but not necessarily in that order". So, a fairly unique take on a classic tale I would say! Way has taken on a daunting task with arguably varying degrees of success; I must confess my attention wandered at times because 'Underworld' has a dense and, on occasions, rather convoluted storyline, nevertheless, most of the time it works.

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This is generally old-school Prog with all the seventies musical sensibilities well in place. Way is ably assisted by guitarist Richard Mead and drummer Peter Skinner, plus various vocalists to help flesh the storyline out. Tracks such as 'No Good Will Ever Come Of This' and 'Let The Days Turn Into Hours' benefit from some excellent vocal performances. In fact, the female voices throughout are quite excellent, and the arrangements are suitably elaborate and spot on. I expected Way's violin attributes to dominate more, but that isn't the case, instead, I found the vocals being the main focus of proceedings.

This whole piece is, I believe, something that would probably be better suited to being a stage play in the West End, with the likes of (for example) Kerry Ellis taking the female lead. Overall, this album succeeds in doing what it set out to do. However, there's a niche market for this type of album/music so its appeal will be limited. Conversely, any Prog-heads from back in the seventies, especially those who also indulge in the West End musical scene, would do well to check it out, but I reckon that's where its appeal stops.

Malcolm Smith

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