John Young - Life underground (The demos) - 1999


It is quite probable that the name of John Young does not ring any bells in your brain, or perhaps you remember his name as one of the musicians collaborating in the writing of songs in John Wetton’s albums such as "Battlelines" or "Arkangel". Even to me, his name was not clearly recognizable. But reading his promotional information I found out that he has recorded with artists of the quality of Steelye Span, Fripp, Hackett, Paul Rodgers, Uli Jon Roth and Bonnie Tyler; toured with Asia in one of their multiple reincarnations; and collaborated with E.L.O., The Moody Blues, Patrick Moraz, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Bon Jovi, Robert Palmer, Plant & Page, and Wishbone Ash. A good curriculum, not too progressive, but one which indicates a certain amount of quality in this English multi-instrumentist and singer.


The CD that came to my hands includes some better than average demos for his next CD "Life Underground". We can understand why John Wetton chose him to CO-write many of his pieces. John Young music moves around that muddy edge between elegant progressive rock and West Coast AOR (Chicago, Toto and others). As expected from the CO-writer of some beautiful melodies used by Mr. Wetton in his own work, the songs composed by Young come as mostly inoffensive mid-tempos. However, they are loaded with emotion ("Closer", "Palmistry", both in an excellent Asia style), rhythmic brushstrokes of elegant rock ("All Grown Up", as the current Gabriel's style), beautiful ballads loaded with keyboards ("Imaginery People"), some slightly progressive music ("Ivory Tower", "Reprise"), and even a hidden surprise under the name "Last One Home" that is not other thing but an alternative version of the track "Arkangel", much more accessible and less dark than Wetton´s, and, in my view, much better.


As for his technique, even without being overblown with pyrotechnics, I would highlight Young’s skill with keyboards, his adequate voice, and, above all, that innate gift some musicians have of mixing commercially and quality in their compositions. In an intelligent world with intelligent radios, these tracks would be clear hits. Obviously, we must still wait for some time to listen to these tracks fully arranged and with more instrumentation, which, I guess, will improve the final product. This is not my favorite style in progressive rock, but quality is easily perceived, so I can recommend it to followers of the less tortuous and experimental prog-rock, lovers of West Coast, and melancholic people in general. I am sure that my two stars and a half rating will be increased when I hear the final work. Ah! it sounds great, it has not a demo sound.

author - date - rating - label

Alfonso Algora - January 2000 -   - Heritage