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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Phoenix

Phoenix / In Full View

Review by Gary Hill

So, you say you haven’t heard of Phoenix? Well, I bet you’ve heard the band that these three guys (John Verity, Bob Henrit and Jim Rodford) were in just before Phoenix. That was Argent. When that band broke up these three formed their own band (set to be called by their last names but renamed Phoenix after the label and media latched onto the phrase “like a Phoenix rises from the ashes of Argent.” Sure, it’s a generic name, but it really wasn’t their idea.

They recorded three albums – yes, you read it right – three – but only ever released two of them (the first and last). That second one remains unreleased to this day, but the other two are both included here. The music here doesn’t break any molds. It’s just solid classic rock delivered with style.  The In Full View disc, though, is more generic than the first one. It should be mentioned, too, that on that album Rodford wasn’t present – having left to join The Kinks. The group did one more album after In Full View, but it was under the name “Charlie” instead of Phoenix. All in all this is some great classic rock. It’s not the most original stuff you’ve ever heard, but it’s very entertaining.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
In Full View
Just Another Day
As they bring us into the second album you can definitely hear the difference in sound quality. This comes in as a keyboard oriented mysterious balladic piece. Saxophone wails over the top in fine fashion and the cut feels a lot more polished than any of the material from the first set. It’s also much better in terms of sound quality – crisp and clear as opposed to the slightly muddy feeling of the earlier cuts. The chorus has a wall of sound vocal arrangement. At points I can make out Pink Floyd and Alan Parsons on this, but it also gets quite soulful at times. 
Fooling Myself
Mix a Head East style song structure with some hints of Rush on the intro and musical punctuation. This is a tasty rocker, but not especially stellar. 
Into Your Blood
A pretty typical rocker, this is cool nonetheless. It’s just classic rock delivered with style – if not a lot of originality.
Don't Fool Me

Here’s another that reminds me a bit of White Witch. It’s got some cool keyboards on it. The sound quality is closer to the material on the first album, though and this really feels like it would have been at home on that one.

I Don't Mind
This one reminds me a lot of Toto, actually. It’s a good tune with a bit of a different classic rock texture than a lot of the set. 
Strong Love
The overall song here is pretty straight forward. It’s got some tasty vocals and keyboard layers, though. 
I'm In Love
There’s nothing especially groundbreaking here, but this accessible rocker is tasty.
Angel
Here we have a ballad that’s a little light weight. I don’t think I would have ended with this. It’s just too generic and sedate for that position in the set.
Phoenix
Easy
Bass leads us in and they move out from there in a classic rock jam. This is hard edged and very tasty. It reminds me quite a bit of Uriah Heep – particularly in the vocals – but the music is a little more grounded and Earthy. There’s a breakdown that’s quite tasty with lots of keyboards and other elements wafting over the top. There’s also some killer guitar soloing later in the piece. The bass in that section gets downright funky.
Drowning In Tears
As this leads off with killer organ sounds over the rhythm section it reminds me a lot of early Pink Floyd (think Meddle). They power out into a triumphant sounding rock jam that reminds me a lot of Starcastle before modulating towards more metallic music. This one has a lot of changes and again has bits that feel like Uriah Heep. I think I’d consider this one progressive rock. The guitar solo segment here makes me think of Captain Beyond.
From The Ashes
Acoustic guitar begins here and keyboards join. The vocals come in over the top of this in a balladic fashion and the track builds slowly. Powerful and dramatic while still remaining sedate, here’s another track that could be called “progressive rock.”
Winnebago
A bouncing kind of rocker that’s accessible and very “pop” oriented, this one reminds me of both Sweet and Head East. It’s a good tune but a bit pedestrian compared to the first three numbers on show. 
Try A Little Rock 'N' Roll
Now this is interesting. It’s very much a straight ahead rocker, but it really feels like it could be an outtake from one of White Witch’s recording sessions. 
A Woman Like You
Starting in an echoey, balladic motif, this fires out into harder rocking music (a bit like early Rush in a lot of ways) for the chorus and alternates between these mellower and heavier segments. This really does remind me a lot of Rush, but with some Uriah Heep thrown into the mix.
Mississippi Neckbone
The keyboard sound that leads this off and drives it is just a little too dated and cheesy, but this hard rocker works well despite that limitation. They launch it out into a weird little Latin rhythm section meets funk jam for the fade-down outro. 
I'll Be Back For More
A slow moving, bluesy sort of ballad, this reminds me a bit of Robin Trower meets Uriah Heep along with some hints of Captain Beyond. The arrangement gets quite powerful with lots of layers of vocals later. 
Honey
This rocking groove has some southern rock to it, but also some serious funk. Here’s another point in the set that makes me think a bit of White Witch. 
I'll Be Gone
This bluesy rocker is straight-ahead and all classic rock. It’s got some tasty guitar soloing. 
 
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