More than one of us must have been surprised for Roger Hodgson´s new album. It becomes his fourth album alone and has been almost immediately followed by its correspondent promotion tour. When no more news about him were heard after his rebirth with the unequal "Rites of Passage", everything aimed to his definitive disappearance from the musical world.
Who is guilty for this? He is certainly no other than Alan Simon, Breton composer and producer who had the fantastic idea to invite Roger to take part on his conceptual album "Excalibur, the Celts legend" there on 98, where R. H. personified Arthur´s role together with our outstanding piper Carlos Nuñez, in charge of the role of Kay. From this contact came out the idea of shaping and taking out some of the 80 songs that Roger had previously composed. That´s why he visited the old Supertramp´s studios in Nevada and further recording jobs in France and Italy. Musicians collaborating are many, but I think Löic Ponthieu on the drums, Laurent Verneret on the bass and Christophe Negre on the sax must be pointed out as well as the Praga Philharmonic Orchestra. A. Simon is in charge of several wind instruments as well as the production jobs together with R.H., who as usual alternates guitars and keyboards.
This job which leaves quite clear its paternity (Roger´s voice, apart from other things is unmistakable), has otherwise add details not previously used in compositions before ( Celtic instrumentation, African drums, Bulgarian choirs, ) which provides a new environment to it. No doubt it is the most balanced of his jobs alone ( In the eye of the storm included three- four wonderful themes some even better than the best of this, but the rest of them were just right. From Hai- Hai I had better not comment anything and from "Rites of Passage" just the song that he composed were interesting, the rest are better to be forgotten).
"Along came Mary" (6:25) begins with a Morse message making way to a Queen Elisabeth II speech. It is a melody supported on a single and pleasant weft developed by the 12 strings acoustic guitar, that progressively takes rhythm to finish again with the initial melody. "The more I look" (4:56), single theme where guitar and piano alternate and where Trevor Rabin participates (I suppose as a devolution to Roger´s appearance in Talk) with a sober contribution with his electric guitar and second voice and which end has much from the air of the album mentioned before and from the "Big Generator", but even better. "Showdown" (5:20), had already appeared in his previous job alone but this time it is better produced and has been added Jesse Jackson and Ronald Reagan´s voices surrounded of a certain country-blues stile.
"Hungry" (4:27), I think this is the cut selected to be broadcasted. It is the one with a more foreseeable development and its style is very "Breakfast in America" with an important presence of C.Negre´s sax. He does a very good job on the line of the nice and genial J.A.Helliwell. "The garden" (2:15). This is a very beautiful melody. As it is so short you need to enjoy it intensively. "Death and a zoo" (7:32). It is one of the most interesting themes on the CD. It begins almost like "Wolf eyes" linking with a piano piece that slightly reminds of "Lovers in the wind". The voice shows up and takes us to an "in crescendo" leading to a central moment lack of control with different animal recordings but keeping the shape because of drums similar to Kitaro´s concerts. Everything finishes with the peace of the main melody in the voice of R.H.
"Love is a thousand times" (3:30). This is a theme with the stile of the 60´s. Its structure is basic and on it Roger voice proves to be fit going through almost every register. "Say goodbye" (3:57). It begins with a church organ accompanied by a violin appearing the rest of the orchestra gradually. Simply wonderful. "Open the door" (8:54) It is for me the best of the album. The rhythms of "Fool´s Overture" are tried to be put together (to bring into harmony) with certain tunes from "Only because of you" and the vocal harmonies of "Give me love, give me life". That´s why it entitles the album. You can not even imagine how much this theme wins live. "For every man" (4:44). Very much on line with "Say goodbye", the great voice of this man accompanied just by a guitar introduces the central melody of this theme just until the rest of instruments attend to the shape of it. Occurs to be an anthem sung by a children choir. That´s the only song where A. Simon participates on its composition arrangements.
To sum up, a great CD that means a pleasant re-encounter for those keen on live melodies, with no instrumental complication as well as those missing the golden age of symphonic rock.