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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Steve Hunter

The Manhattan Blues Project

Review by Gary Hill

Based on the title, the fact that Hunter is considered a blues guitarist and a couple little bits I heard, I thought this was going to be basically a blues rock album.  Well, that’s not really what this is at all. It’s actually more of a prog instrumental set. It’s also quite strong. There are some non-lyrical vocals in a few places, but overall this is without vocals. There are some cool guests, too, including Joe Perry, Johnny Depp, Joe Satriani and Tony Levin. It’s quite an entertaining set with a lot of variety.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Prelude to the Blues

Street sounds serve as the opening element here. Eventually a tasty melodic guitar is heard as this instrumental introduction continues. It feels a bit like Steve Vai meets Pink Floyd with bits of atmosphere laced over the top. Intricate picked guitar serves as the backdrop for some rather progressive rock like jamming after a time. As this grows outward it feels a bit like The Yes Album era Yes at times.

222 W 23rd
Killer echoey blues guitar jamming opens this. As the rhythm section enters we get some serious funk added to the mix. There are some bits of spoken (well, more whispered) vocals, but otherwise this is also an instrumental. It’s sort of blues meets jazz and hard rock and it’s extremely tasty.
Gramercy Park
Hawaiian music meets a Pink Floyd kind of sound here. There are non-lyrical female vocals and some great guitar soloing. This is a tasty little jam.
A Night at the Waldorf
Psychedelic rock and prog meet the blues on this cool piece. There are some hints of Pink Floyd like sounds, but lots of other things live here, too.
Solsbury Hill
I really dig this cool instrumental take on the Peter Gabriel tune. The guitar soloing for the vocal line is quite a nice touch. There are some non-lyrical vocals at times. There’s also a really jazzy energized guitar solo later, too. It should be noted that Tony Levin, who played bass on the original version of this, provides the bass here.
Daydream by the Hudson
This dreamy little jam is a short one.
Flames at the Dakota
A mellow and melodic tune, this is definitely quite Beatles-like in a lot of ways.
The Brooklyn Shuffle
Now, I wouldn’t consider this tune to be progressive rock at all. It’s like a bluesy Southern rocker and it’s quite a cool one. There are some non-lyrical doo-wop vocals later in the tune. The guests on this are worth mentioning. First, Johnny Depp provides the second guitar solo. The third one is played by none other than Joe Perry.
What's Going On
Here we get a dreamy, melodic tune that works very well.
Ground Zero
Pretty and mellow, this is another tasteful and tasty piece.
Twilight in Harlem
There is a bit more blues here, but also more rock music. This is still pretty well situated in a territory that fits comfortably under the “progressive rock” heading. It feels a bit like an instrumental version of The Doors merged with Pink Floyd. There is a bit of shift later in the cut, though that has some definite Beatles-like elements to it. Joe Satriani appears on this piece.
Sunset in Central Park
Tony Levin returns here. This basically has a more rocking melodic movement and a mellower one. Still, even the “rocking one” is sort in the mid-Pink Floyd range. It’s another effective piece of music.
 
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