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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Lana Lane - Return to Japan - 2004

I don´t know why but I´m afraid that Erik Norlander won´t work with Arjen Lucassen in a very long time (I´d say never). Sorry if this review starts as if this was an e-zine of gutter press like The Sun, but it´s impossible to remain outside of the notes included in the booklet of this album.

Once you know that this album was going to include tracks taken from Club Citta´s show you think “oh, there Lucassen was the guitar player”. But then you read the booklet and you find that supposedly Lucassen wasn´t prepared enough for that show, so all the guitars have been re-recorded and played by Peer Verschuren, who got over his fear of planes in order to record his parts in USA.

Well, I won´t be the one who´ll judge who is right and who is wrong. I´m only stating what I´ve found in the booklet. And something very serious has happened because usually these kind of statements are published in the media or privately solved. But I´ve never seen anything like this written in a booklet. Especially when Norlander and Lucassen have collaborated together in lots of projects in the past and supposedly they had a close relationship. In any case, and whoever has the reason, this is a very sad situation that shouldn´t happen in prog world. And I really hope there will be a solution.

Anecdotes aside, finally we have another great live album some years after the release of “Live in Japan” (98). Double Cd, sixteen tracks recorded in the aforementioned Club Citta and at Club Quattro, plus ten tracks in acoustic format recorded in different special events, and a final surprise of two remastered bonus tracks.

Although Lana Lane´s music in studio sometimes suffer from the “punch” that some prog and metal fans want, on stage Lana Lane´s machinery becomes an artifact that shoots progressive music and hard rock with an impressive instrumental level. The first minutes, a medley that combines “Dark Water part III”, “Fanfare for the Dragon Isle”, “Garden of the Moon” and “In the hall of the Ocean Queen” predisposes us to two facts: on stage the music has lots of shades, and Erik Norlander is the main responsible of instrumental outbursts in Lana´s music.

The setlist carefully travels around Lana´s discography, emphasizing on “Project Sangri-La” (last studio album) and “Queen of the Ocean” (best studio album). Highly advisable are “Escher´s Staircase” (6:09), the intense “The Beast Within You” (5:41), or the catchy “Project Sangri-La” (5:37). The instrumental moments are really wonderful with a guitar work by Neil Citron (Quattro´s show) and Peer Verschuren (Citta´s show) very energetic and wrapped up by Norlander´s warm sounds, as Tommy Amato (Quattro) and veteran Vinny Appice (Citta) hammer their drums showing no mercy. Listening to “Evolution Revolution” (8:29), “Night Falls” (7:42), the keyboards on “Frankestein Unbound” (6:46) or the instrumentals “Astrology Prelude” (3:31) – “Redemption II” (1:12) the listener will notice that the instrumental level is simply perfect.

The most emotive moments are the ballads, one of the key points of this great singer. She shows it in an amazing “Queen of the Ocean” (7:54), and in the beautiful “Athena´s Dream” (4:55).

The second disc is the kind and accessible side of Lana´s music. Here we won´t only listen to Lana´s prodigious voice at its best but also how Erik plays piano and synths in a quieter mood showing that he´s the best keyboardist of the last prog-generation… if you don´t believe me listen to “Symphony of Angels” (5:20) or “Dreamcurrents” (0:29).

The ten tracks are, of course, ballads or semi-ballads with lots of intensity. I´ll highlight “Stardust” (4:56), the classic “Autumn Leaves” (4:03) in a very curious version, and “Let Heaven In” (6:51) with nice arrangements. You´ll also find a couple of covers..“Dream On” (4:02) by Aerosmith (I can´t stand that band) and Marillion´s “Seasons End” (4:50). Lana´s voice fits greatly there.

And the final gift.. two remastered versions of songs played at Quattro: “In the Court of the Crimson King” (9:09). When they played in Madrid this cover was also played. Everybody agreed that this cover was simply amazing. Of course I won´t compare it to King Crimson, but I think the band didn´t want to be compared. In the middle of the track Norlander and the rest of the band got crazy and plays some fragments of Grieg´s “Peer Gynt”. Nevertheless the song in Madrid sounded heavier and more energetic The other cover is great for a happy ending… Rainbow´s “Long Live Rock and Roll” (4:53). Funny, heavy, and with Norlander playing as if he was Blackmore.

These two albums show both sides of Lana Lane: a singer who knows how to rock with her band, and an intimate singer who can move the listener with every single note of her voice. And the band is great (I don´t know how this album would sound with Lucassen´s guitar, but I think Peer Verschuren is a great guitar player). In the same way, the album not only has a good sound but also reflects the spirit and intensity of a live show.

Ah, you´re wrong if you think that DVD edition has the same contain than CD edition. The DVD has more “rocker” tracks and doesn´t have the songs included on CD2.

A great way of introducing yourselves in Lana Lane´s music or enjoying it if you´ve already know it.

Alfonso Algora - July 2004
rating - Think Tank

 

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