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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Ray Ashley

3 Hour Detour

Review by G. W. Hill

This release by Ashley, working under the name Three Hour Detour is a good prog release with echoes of such artists as The Allman Brothers, Kansas, Tempest and King Crimson. Other influences represented here include fusion. The disc suffers at times from cheesy keyboard voices and vocals that are produced a bit harshly. However, the closing number really makes up for any flaws that any of the earlier tracks might or might not have.

Three Hour Detour is Ashley, Joe D'Andrea and Helen Zisook. For more info, or to order the disc, stop by Ashley's site at http://uweb.superlink.net/~rayash/music.htm.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Creative Hands
An awesome bass line starts this cut, and a killer fusionish guitar solo moves it through the intro. As the piece carries on, keyboards take the role of vocal line here. The voicing chosen for the keys here is rather cheesy, though. At this point, the song is a pleasant fusion oriented prog groove. It switches gear drastically, into a nice Allman Brothersish jam, then another major switch occurs. This time it is off in the direction of more fusion oriented riffing in the style of the earlier segment. Next comes another strong guitar driven section.
Traveller
Bouncy sort of classic rock sounding prog makes up the main texture of this piece. It features some rather southern rock sounding vocals. Again, the cut really suffers from the voice chosen on the keyboards. It does, however, include a great violin solo. The other problem with the cut is that the vocals are mixed a bit harshly, but this song is probably quite strong when performed live.
Omnichrome
A nice somewhat off-kilter, bouncy and fun prog track, the vocals here seem to blend much better than on the previous cut. In fact, this song really melds much better than the previous pieces. The progression here is definitely quirky enough to hold interest. It features another wonderful violin solo and the instrumental break is great.
Nhema Musasa
A brief instrumental, this is an ethnically flavored prog jam with Old World textures. 
Christmas Tree Farm
Guitar oriented balladic prog, this one suffers a bit from the harshness of the production on the vocals, but has a great quirky progression to it. The instrumental break on this one is particularly melodic and strong.
So We Can See
Another with Allmansish leanings, this instrumental, with a bit of a country flair, is one of the strongest tunes on the disc.
Forbidden Planet
Another balladic prog number, this one is quite competent, but not really a standout. The arrangement is quite interesting, though.
Snow Karma
Stick really dominates this instrumental, providing both the intro and a wonderful solo.
Mr. Bane
Ashley certainly saved the best for last. Screaming out, this is energetic, hard-edged prog that really kicks. Full of progressive rock fury, this one runs circles around central melody themes, tearing them apart and then rebuilding them. It has a long instrumental intro and some very competent vocal work. It also has some slight echoes of Kansas and Tempest and a Crimsonish texture in places. The instrumental break is awesome experimental prog. This is a great number and makes for a strong conclusion to the CD.
 
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