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John Wetton

Anthology Volume 1: Studio Recordings

Review by Gary Hill

This anthology of songs from John Wetton is quite strong. It’s not all progressive rock, and for the most par even when it lands there, it’s more in the AOR end of the spectrum. Pretty much every song here is good. There is a bit of a samey element at times, though. Still, this is quite a strong retrospective of a great musician. I should mention that I previously reviewed a few of these songs on the original release. I’ve adapted those song reviews for use here for the sake of consistency.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1

             
The Circle of St. Giles

This piece is very classical in nature. It’s an instrumental that’s all prog. It leads directly into the next tune.

The Last Thing on My Mind
As the bass brings this into being from the atmospherics of the previous song, guitar screams over the top. It drops to a mellower movement for the vocal section. This is classic John Wetton, AOR progressive rock all the way. It’s very effective. The song has a great balance between the mellower, more melodic and the harder rocking stuff.
Hold Me Now
With intricate guitar and strings, this progressive rock ballad is packed with emotion. It’s quite a beautiful piece of music. It gets more powered up as it continues, as a power ballad essentially.
Where Do We Go from Here?
More straightforward AOR rock, this is a little on the generic side. That said, Wetton’s voice makes it work.
Another Twist of the Knife
This is both more proggy and harder rocking. It reminds me of Asia in some ways. It has some great crunch and is a stellar tune. Sure, it’s AOR, but it’s very strong.
I've Come to Take You Home
Starting with piano, other keyboard textures join before the vocals enter. It’s another with symphonic prog tendencies. It’s a pretty prog ballad. It reminds me of an Asia song – specifically “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.”  It rocks out more later.
I Can't Lie Anymore

This is definitely more of a straightahead rocker. It’s good, but not one of my favorites here.

Lost for Words
A hard rocker, this one feels a lot like Jethro Tull in some ways. It’s a real killer, but perhaps not the proggiest thing on show here. Steve Morse is featured on guitar here.
Battle Lines
Although still in the AOR spectrum, this is a progressive rock power ballad. It’s especially evocative and powerful. It’s actually one of my favorites of the whole set. It’s just such a great song.
Caught in the Crossfire
I love the saxophone on this piece. It’s a rocker that’s part Roxy Music. It is trademark Wetton in some ways, too. This is one of the most different pieces here. It’s also one of the standouts.
Arkangel
It’s amazing how powerful this cut is for what is essentially a ballad. It’s one of the most purely progressive rock pieces here. It’s another with a lot of emotion packed into it.
Right Where I Wanted to Be
This is another that makes me think of Asia quite a bit. It alternates between a hard rocking movement (with a little funk) and a mellower one. It’s AOR prog at its best.
Nothing's Gonna Stand in Our Way
Starting with sirens and police radio chatter, this is more of an AOR prog ballad. I like the saxophone mid-track.
Second Best
An AOR ballad, this is rather bombastic on the choruses. It’s a good tune, but a bit standard.
Woman
In some ways this almost makes me think of some of the AOR ballads from ELP. That’s at the beginning. When it rocks out more it almost feels like a cross between Pink Floyd and Roxy Music. This is a killer tune, really.
Real World
This is almost more of a blues rocker than anything else. It even includes some harmonica.
Disc 2
   
Heart of Darkness

The keyboard sounds that start this are both dramatic and beautiful. It works gradually out into more of a rocking song.

Say It Ain't So
This hard rocker feels quite a bit like Asia, really. It’s solid, but not the proggiest thing here.
Cold Is the Night
There is a great groove to this. It makes me think of UK quite a bit. There are hints of jazz and much more built into it. Alan Parsons This is actually one of my favorites on the set.
You're Not the Only One
Here’s another cut that’s basically a power ballad. It’s strong, but not all that different from some of the rest here.
Raised in Captivity
Robert Fripp appears on this number. Starting with keys, this one still rocks out pretty hard, but is more decidedly progressive rock oriented. Keyboards also end the piece.
Steffi's Ring
This is completely different, and very cool. It’s sort of reminds me of a cross between a dramatic Celtic ballad and something with a bit of a Southern rock edge. It’s an awesome tune, but perhaps not the most purely prog thing here. There’s a lot of emotion built in and a flute solo. Geoff Downes provides the keyboards on this piece.
Walking on Air
Keyboards start us off here. The vocals come in with a typical John Wetton style. This is pretty and rather mellow.
Take Me to the Waterline
Opening with vocals that seem almost gospel oriented, this powers out into a rocking number from there. It’s proggy, but also rather like 1970s hard rock. This is meaty and quite tasty.
Silently
This AOR prog ballad is another that makes me think of Asia quite a bit. It’s keyboard based at the start, but gets more rocking as it continues and the guitar rises to the mix.
Battle Lines (Acoustic Version)
Truth in advertising, here we get an acoustic version of the earlier cut. I like this a lot.
I Lay Down
This is another balladic number. It’s solid, but a little by the numbers.
Rock of Faith
Another that’s more or less like a power ballad, this is stronger. It gets pretty well powered up as it continues.
Who Will Light a Candle?
This feels a lot like something from ELP merged with UK. It’s very pretty and very potent. It’s more or less a power ballad, too, but it’s one of the proggiest and strongest pieces of the whole set.
You Against the World
More of a pure AOR song, this isn’t all that special to me. It’s not bad, but it’s a little too light weight and mainstream.
Emma
This acoustic based number is another ballad. It’s quite pretty, but I wish all these ballads had been separated on the disc, lending more of an ebb and flow.
After All
Another mellow ballad, this is more keyboard oriented at the start. I like the vocal arrangement, but this would shine a bit better after more of a rocker.
 
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