Dominici – O3: A Trilogy (Part 3) (2008)

Dominici_Trilogy34.5 out of 5 Stars!

New York band Dominici is probably best known for being the band formed by Charlie Dominici, Dream Theater’s original lead vocalist.

Although the first of the albums released under the Dominici banner—the Part 1 of the trilogy—proved to be nothing but a forgettable collection of acoustic rock and disappointed many fans like myself who expected a foray into Prog-Metal territory, the group’s second and third albums, however, actually did contain music not too dissimilar to Dream Theater.

Yet unlike Dream Theater, these last two Dominici releases seemed to have gotten lost in the musical ether and remain horribly obscure. It’s a shame, really, since both albums are actually quite impressive.

On O3: A Trilogy (Part 3), tracks such as “Enemies of God,” “Genesis,” “Revelation,” “King of Hell,” and “King of Hell,” offer outstanding musicianship, with decent songwriting overall, intricate song arrangements, and a highly polished sound.

Charlie Dominici truly did himself a favor by surrounding himself with top-notch players, his team easily rivaling the skill level and professionalism of his former group. Therefore, it’s too bad the band disappeared after this final release, since another album or two of this caliber might have finally gotten Dominici deservedly noticed by Prog-Metal fans.

Some reviewers on various music-related websites have labeled this album a masterpiece. I’m unsure if I’d go that far, but in my eyes, it’s at least a forgotten gem!

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Supertramp – Supertramp (1970)

Supertramp_13.5 out of 5 Stars!

On the debut album from Supertramp, although much of the material is seemingly a million miles away from the style of music the group would produce during its 1974-1979 “glory period,” the band showed great promise nevertheless.

Additionally, since the line-up at the time of this release included only two members—Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies—who would continue on with Supertramp into its “glory period,” that explains much of the difference in style from subsequent albums.

One initial caveat…for those unfamiliar with this period in the band’s history, don’t be fooled by the cover art, which always brought the group Genesis to mind. But the music on offer here, although more Progressive than later Supertramp releases, has only marginal similarities to Genesis, mostly some of the folksier, pastoral atmospheres the groups occasionally shared in the beginning of their respective careers. Therefore, despite the cover art, don’t expect anything along the lines of “Supper’s Ready” or “Cinema Show.”

Instead, other than the song “Maybe I’m a Beggar,” where original guitarist Richard Palmer-James sings a portion of the lead (and has a voice not associated with the band’s popular sound), the music, for the most part, is still undeniably Supertramp. Tunes such as “It’s a Long Road,” “Words Unspoken,” “Shadow Song,” “Aubade and I Am Not Like Other Birds of Prey,” and “Surely” are probably the closest in style to the band’s heyday period, whereas “Nothing to Show” and sections of the lengthy “Try Again,” especially with the heavier guitar leads and Hammond organ, are completely different than what fans are used to hearing from the most popular version of the group.

So basically, what we have here is a promising band still struggling to find its trademarked sound/style, but producing some enjoyable music in the process.

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Kerry Livgren – Seeds of Change (1980)

KerryLivgren_SeedsChange4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Seeds of Change, the debut solo album from guitarist and keyboardist Kerry Livgren, will always remain special to me for three reasons.

First, it showcases Livgren’s enormous skills as a musician outside the realm of his various groups—Kansas, AD, and Proto-Kaw—with music in various styles, including (primarily) Prog-Rock, but also AOR and a touch of Blues Rock.

Second, it features Livgren’s Kansas cohort Steve Walsh singing on the track “How Can You Live.”

And third, it also includes two exceptional tracks—”Mask of the Great Deceiver” and “To Live for the King”—sung by the legendary Ronnie James Dio, which makes Seeds of Change a “must-have” album for all fans of the ex-Rainbow/Dio/Black Sabbath vocalist.

Therefore, with the aforesaid tracks, as well as the Kansas-like Prog-Rock forays “Ground Zero,” “Just One Way,” “Down to the Core,” and the slide guitar- and harmonica-laced blues rock of “Whiskey Seed,” this is an above-average, commendable collection of tracks that Livgren, sadly, could never duplicate with the same level of success on his subsequent solo efforts.

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City Boy – The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1979)

CityBoy_EarthCaughtFire4.5 out of 5 Stars!

From the U.K., City Boy always reminded me of Kayak, with its similar style of Progressive/Art Rock mixed with Pop and a healthy dose of Pomp Rock, while the band’s great, wide-ranging harmony vocals would have seemed right at home on an album by Sweet or Queen.

The Day the Earth Caught Fire, the band’s fifth album, is probably the most Progressive of them all, even more so than 1977’s Dinner at the Ritz album. Not only does the collection open with the bombastic and magnificent title track, but also concludes with the ambitious, multi-part, twelve-minute epic “Ambition” (appropriately titled indeed).

With Pomp-Rock grandeur, other catchy tunes such as “It’s Only the End of the World,” “Up in the Eighties,” “Interrupted Melody,” “Modern Love Affair,” and “New York Times” simply leap out of the record’s grooves. The album’s wealth of quirky melodies and glorious background vocals floating atop the deceptively intricate instrumentation are not only loaded with charm and whimsy, but are addictively replayable. Even the synth-enhanced vocals and zany orchestration of “Machines” fully displays the band’s high level of ingenuity and pop sensibilities.

For each of the above-stated reasons, The Day the Earth Caught Fire firmly remains my favorite of all the band’s releases, and has firmly established itself in my heart as one of those “must have on a deserted island” albums.

Unfortunately, also like Kayak, City Boy remains one of the most shamefully underappreciated and overlooked groups in rock history. And for “out of the norm” music lovers still unfamiliar with this group, The Day the Earth Caught Fire is definitely the place to start your investigation.

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