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Alan Reed - 'First In A Field Of One' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/cd/6e/24/3234_AlanReedFirstInAFieldOfOne_1359763667.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 02, 2013    
 
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A powerful and passionate statement, perfectly showcasing the wonderful timbre of Alan's voice.

This is “the voice of Prog” Alan Reed’s first album release since he was unceremoniously ousted as lead singer with Pallas, a role he had occupied for over 20 years. It was preceded by a predominantly acoustic EP, ‘Dancing With Ghosts’ a couple of tracks from which are repeated here, albeit as updated recordings.

The first of these, ‘Begin Again’, opens the album uncompromisingly, and over repeated listens has become a personal favourite, but I have always been a sucker for lovely celtic-tinged music and this track hits the sweet spot with majestic accuracy. Scott Higham’s wall of drums percussion plus the inspired use of bodhran and Mike Stobbie’s varied keyboard infusions are absolutely the icing on a very tasty cake.

‘Kingdom Of The Blind’ finds Magenta’s Tina Booth providing complementary vocals and Jeff Green (Illegal Eagles) injecting some amazing guitar breaks into a fabulous song that is lyrically enigmatic as well as musically ornate. ‘Never Too Late’ is a song that Stobbie and Reed wrote when they were both in Pallas in the early 90s, a recording of which appeared on a compilation that accompanied an issue of the Dutch ‘SI’ magazine! As now conceived, the song contains the only extended guitar solo on ‘First…’ courtesy of Kalle Wallner (RPWL). It’s a wonderful solo, and the track has a wistful, almost magical quality to it.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The lyrically dark ‘The Bottom Of The Bottle’ will be familiar to those who have the special edition of Pallas’ ‘The Dreams Of Men’ whereupon it is titled ‘Bottle Of Broken Dreams’. This sad song is followed by the acerbic ‘Darkness Has Spoken’ where Reed exorcises his demons following his departure from Pallas: “I know that I will not forgive, but I must learn to grow and give a better meaning to the days beyond this strife”. It’s a starkly angst-laden number, but also a complete triumph. ‘The Real Me’ maintains the crepuscular imagery both lyrically and musically while the pacey ‘Teardrops In The Rain’ is the second song originally on the EP to have received a revolutionary makeover!

Finally there’s ‘The Usual Suspects’ which concludes a remarkable album…er, well, remarkably! To quote Reed: “I'm not really sure what I was thinking here. The song started as an experiment to see if I could write a track that was almost entirely vocals (and vocally-made sounds), but quickly took on a life of its own. The title…was a bit of a musical 'in-joke' aimed at the Prog merry-go-round where so many of the same musicians play on each other's projects (I'm as guilty as anyone else).” It took me a while to warm to it, but now this crazy swingtime song (again featuring Tina Booth) is a favourite.

‘First…’ is a powerful and passionate statement, perfectly showcasing the wonderful timbre of Alan’s voice. It took several listens for me to really appreciate, but then…pow!!

Paul Jerome Smith

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