Fireworks

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Legend - 'Cardinal Points' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/12/31/64/2337_legendcardinalpoints_1339777223.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 15, 2012    
 
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Plenty to enjoy here, but some patience is required.

Despite being formed in 1988 this is my first encounter with Legend for whom this is their 5th studio album, albeit the first with original and returning vocalist, Kerry Parker, who has a lovely rich voice which has more in common with the Annie Haslam and Heather Findlay school than those employed by the numerous modern female fronted bands. Aside from Kerry the band consists of Steve Paine (keys), guitarist Dave Foster (Mr. So & So and Steve Rothery’s, The Wishing Tree), the Godsticks bassist Dan Nelson and drummer John Macklin.

Legend occupy the Folkier end of the Prog genre and their lyrics have a certain mysticism with the four tracks on this album each representing the elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. The opening track, ‘Carved in Stone’ builds from a droning didgeridoo and vocal intro before bursting into a cross between Jethro Tull, Camel and early Mostly Autumn (MA). The Hammond Organ sound has a decidedly retro feel like Curved Air employed and the flute is redolent of both Tull and MA. The layering of Parker’s vocals provides a nice depth to proceedings but there is a repetitiveness to the theme that means that thirteen minutes feels a bit too long to sustain maximum interest. After the first few listens I thought this was a significant issue but as I’ve got to know the songs this view has been tempered somewhat although I still believe some editing would have been prudent. The best in class (Neal Morse, The Flower Kings, Spock’s Beard et al) have the innate ability of creating these lengthy songs but keeping them vibrant throughout; Legend aren’t quite there yet.

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‘Whisper on the Wind’ has a fine synth opening and a faster pace driven by some simple but very effective guitar and keyboard stabs. The change of tempo for an initially acoustic guitar break is wonderfully executed as is the ensuing instrumental passage.

‘Spark to a Flame’ has a splendid a Capella introduction which will be hard to replicate live. Some Yes-like (circa ‘90125’) synth stabs herald in the music and the song moves along with a strong beat and memorable chorus with a touch of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in the mix as well. At the five minute mark I’d say they’d produced a classic song but it’s barely a third complete and the slower section that follows loses the momentum. It may be a moot point but I think the album would benefited had the tracks been divided in to a number of smaller songs and this track is a prime example. ‘Drop in the Ocean’ is the longest piece at seventeen minutes and it has a MA feel to its outset before moving into a Glass Hammer territory. Parker’s vocals are pure class as she brings the delightful melody to the fore. The acoustic guitar and flute passage played over the sound of running water is beautiful.

There’s plenty to enjoy here, but some patience is required.

Gary Marshall

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