It Bites - 'Map Of The Past' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 24, 2012    
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For lovers of great and well played music.

It Bites was formed in 1984 and early interest culminated in a big hit, ´Calling All The Heroes´. The band matured into creating the great and criminally underrated ´Eat Me in St Louis´ containing the masterful ´Still Too Young To Remember´ with Francis Dunnery at his best and then, nothing. The band split and even though there were tentative reformations and new line ups, It Bites were in effect dormant for a long while. Finally, a new album entitled ´Tall Ships´ album was released in 2008 receiving critical acclaim and was indeed our own Paul Jerome Smith´s album of the year. In It Bites´ terms, the interval to their next album is insignificant but ´Map Of The Past´ has a lot to live up to.

Rest assured, this album delivers and is backed up by the London Symphony Orchestra to make sure; this album is an Epic with a capital “E”. The album if created by a more fashionable band would have all types of hyperbole associated with it; this only has the music speaking for itself and I truly hope this is enough in our current anti-rock media climate. Interestingly badged as the band´s first concept album, I do however feel that all their albums have some story behind them. This recording has (like the last) John Mitchell on vocals/guitars, John Beck on keyboards, Bob Dalton on drums and Lee Pomeroy on bass. On to the music itself.

The album starts ominously with ´Man In the Photograph´ and a crackly old ´78 sound (yes, I do just about remember that format) and sets the scene of the album being a trip through an old photograph album. ´Wallflower´ then kicks in majestically and of note has an electrifying keyboard solo with a speed to match any guitar shredder. The album moves into the stratosphere with the title track - great guitar work, light of touch and fast and a soaring vocal and a truly memorable chorus. Mitchell has developed a masterful vocal technique and provides texture and clarity. With a lot of music going on during the tracks, there is surprisingly no clutter or wooliness in the mix and hats off to the producer (Mitchell himself, at his Outhouse Studio) for achieving this balance.

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´Clocks´ is a thought-provoking song starting off as a quiet ballad leading to a fairground sounding middle eight and underlines the key message that the band does not want to be pigeon-holed into any musical category. The next track, ´Flag´, is my personal favourite; a transatlantic up-beat number with bright keyboards and one of those songs where the verse is just as enjoyable as the chorus which is itself impossible to get out of your head. Following this, ´The Big Machine´ is a heavier track, harking back to the ´Eat Me In St Louis´ days with a big chorus, punchy guitars riffing, copious layers of strings, a very polyphonic keyboard solo and a guitar solo pulling out all the stops. Later in the album on ´Send No Flowers´, there is probably the biggest introduction in music history with the LSO letting rip leading to a sparse harpsichord backed verse and a chorus then building up the tension to the next song ´Meadow and The Stream´. Having resisted the temptation so far to compare this album with Marillion´s ´Misplaced Childhood´, the song´s keyboard work is very reminiscent and of course the subject matter, mood and merging of the tracks of the whole album are very evocative of the 80´s masterpiece. However, this is not a bad album to be compared with! The last full track, ´The Last Escape´ is full of melancholic, heartfelt vocals and has a really big production; this is not an overly happy album, full of reflection and old memories – in fact, this album makes the listener think.

´Map Of The Past´ is released as a special edition two-CD digipak (including six live songs), a gatefold two-LP plus CD, as well as the standard CD or download formats. For lovers of great and well played music; simply:enjoy!

Rob McKenzie

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