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Non-Prog CD Reviews

King Prawn

The Fabulous New Sounds Of

Review by Gary Hill

I have been digging this band for quite a few years now. This new album is a fine entry into their catalog. They are generally considered to be a punk/ska band, but that label really doesn't do them justice. They have a lot of jazz in the mix, too. That's especially true now since they've added a horn section. Their sound also leans heavily on progressive rock at times, as well. However you label their music, though, this album is very strong.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Numeration Dub

A marching kind of rhythmic element starts this cut. The number works out from there with piano and more joining to fill in the arrangement. This has both jazz and reggae at its core. The vocals bring more of a ska texture, but some of the rocking instrumental work further down the road even leans toward heavy metal. This is a powerhouse rocker. It gets into some killer ska meets jazz territory as it approaches the closing.

Seven Seas
A rather proggy jam opens this before they launch into more pure ska from there. This is a cool piece that really rocks.
Build Up the Fire
I love the smoking hot ska groove on this number. It's a lot of fun. I dig the fast paced vocal bit later. The cut shifts to a piano jam from there before powering back up into rocking ska again.
Level Up
There is plenty of jazz in the opening portion of this cut. It shifts to more pure ska for the verse, but the horns bring the jazz elements back. There are even some prog rock leanings on this cut. I dig the bass work and piano fills on this number a lot. The whole thing is so cool, though. More jazz shows up further down the musical road, too.
Done Days
The horns bring so much magic to this fast paced jam. This is a dynamic and intriguing piece. It has plenty of that jazzy thing within the arrangement as drives onward.
Modern Cages
A mellower, more stripped back section is heard early. The cut powers out into some killer ska as it drives onward. The balance between mellower and more rocking is cool. This gets into some Latin music at times and has some definite prog rock tendencies, particularly on the closing section.
Worse for Where
Piano starts this cut. The vocals come in over the top of that, bringing both a ska and an art rock vibe. The weird bombastic section that follows has a definite art rock element and is quite symphonic. They shift to more of a powerhouse ska jam from there, but there are still almost prog rock tendencies built into the number. The horns bring more Latin textures further down the road, but the main mix is prog and ska.
No Harmony
Guitar and vocals serve as the opening for this number. The track builds out to more of a traditional ska tune with some fast paced singing that's so cool as it continues. As it evolves we get more progressive rock things in the mix. This is another killer tune. In fact, I'd consider this to be one of the highlights of the set.
Jump in the Fire
This is just a short cut that's experimental, electronic and proggy.
Colonel Panic
Piano begins this ride. The cut moves out from there with plenty of proggy ska sound as it continues. There is still plenty of progressive rock here, though. Sure, the ska is the flavor, but there are a lot of prog things in the mix, too.
A Solemn Man
There is a bit of a bluesy element as this tune starts. It grows out into a proggy ska jam that is classy. This is another strong piece on a disc full of strong music.
Black Beads
The closing jam really does a great job of merging those ska and proggy elements into something cool. This is one of the most dynamic numbers here. It's also one of my favorite songs of the whole set. It has a great balance between more rocking and mellower stuff.
 
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