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Friday, May 15, 2009

Roger Hodgson - In The Eye Of The Storm

Band: Roger Hodgson
Album: In The Eye Of The Storm
Year: 1984
Style: Piano Pop
Similar Bands: Supertamp (obviously), Styx, Asia, REO Speedwagon
"One-Word" Review: Still-Supertramp-Theatric-Pop
Based Out Of: Oxford, England
Label: A&M
In The Eye Of The Storm - Cover & Sleeve
In The Eye Of The Storm - Back & Lyrics

In The Eye Of The Storm - Record
In The Eye Of The Storm (1984)
  1. Had a Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy) 8:49
  2. In Jeopardy 5:59
  3. Lovers In The Wind 4:11
  4. Hooked On A Problem 5:10/
  5. Give Me Love, Give Me Life 7:33
  6. I'm Not Afraid 7:03
  7. Only Because Of You 8:40
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Roger Hodgson - Vox, Guitar, Keys, Written, Arrangement, Producer, Cover Concept (Supertramp, Argosy, All-Starr Band)
Ken Allardyce - Harmonica, Vox, Asst. Mixing Engineer, Asst. Recording Engineer
Chris Amson - Asst. Technician
Clair Diament - Vox
James Farber - Recording Engineering, Mixing Engineer
Jimmy Johnson - Fretless Bass
John Johnson - Bass
Scott Litt - Recording Engineer
Scott Page - Sax
Malcolm Pollack - Asst. Mixing Engineer
Michael Shrieve - Drums
Howie Weinberg - Mastering
Richard Frankel - Art Direction
Chuck Beeson - Art Direction
David Coleman - Design & Photo Composite
Charles Reilly - Photography
Timothey Eames - Globe Model
Cliff Boule - Storm Enhancement Art
Doug Pringle - Representation

Unknown-ness: I never knew the name of the original singer from Supertramp. But now that I do, I can imagine what this will sound like. However, the songs are all between 4-9 minutes long, and the artwork is very prog, so I’m guessing this is going to be more musically rambling than the poppy Supertramp songs. When I got the album, it was the cover art that drove me to buy it. I wanted to see what this blue new-agey earth imagery would translate to musically.

Album Review: So Rodger was the lead singer of Supertramp in their first part of their career. So knowing that, a slight skew will be placed on the album, as it will be compared to the few Supertramp songs I am familiar with. Starting the record off is “Had a Dream (Sleeping With The Enemy)” This long song fades in with a baby crying and earthy synth tones, then children playing, a siren, people arguing, a howl and a thunder storm…basically the sounds metaphorically from a troubled life as he grows up. Give it 1:25 for the bouncy piano and catchy music to take over, spurred on by a “Yeah” shout from Hodgson. And his typical dual layered high vocals are sung over a fun musical background. The verse is very catchy, as catchy as any chorus would be. And the song is all verse. Around 3:45, the song slows down as if we’re falling back asleep, being rocked and lullibied to by the music. At 4:40, the bouncy piano picks up again, and we’ve reached the active dream state. Often, it is only a few notes that can make a song great. And in this track, it is the additional “who/you know” after he sings “sleeping with the enemy” that creates the hook. At 6:50, the song should be winding down, but the instruments continue to jam out, lead by the guitar this time, rather than the keys. I would probably really like the edited for radio version of this song. Slow, dark drum and piano introduces “In Jeopardy” giving it a feel of walking in a back alley. Then a very terrible 80’s synth keyboard effect is added and dates the song in a bad way. But the vocals are just as side to side swaying and dark as the drum/piano intro, and they have an urgent, nervous vibe to them. Man that synth does go on in the music breakdown. But these songs remain pop songs and do not really delve into the progressive style that I assumed they would with their lengthy times and album art work. “Lovers In The Wind” begins in ballad form with piano backed by an atmospheric haunting hum. Just from the title alone, I could have guessed this to be the ballad. The vocals seem to be scorned and mourning the star-crossed relationship’s problems. Although there is some promise and hope in the melody, it comes off as a very sad song. And oddly enough, this ballad is the shortest track on the album, when is typically the longest. “Hooked On A Problem” is an upbeat swaying drinking song, sung in a style of Billy Joel or other piano based storytelling song writers. There is a cool carnival carousel organ piping along in the background, along with an orchestra of brass sounds. Unfortunately, it is not very deep, musically, it maintains a straight path along the one dimensional style.

“Give Me Love, Give Me Life” Starts with vocals and piano at the same time. It is a dreamy progression: not a ballad, not pop. It definitely reminds me of what I know about S-tramp. The melody floats along the piano, and it feels like it is building toward something more powerful, and by 1:30 it breaks into the nervous, bouncy pop song it was meant to be. It is a lot of repetitive verses of “give me…(insert word[s] here). It reminds me of what the Who were up to in the 80’s with “Who Are You.” What? He’s performing this live? There was an uproarious crowd about 5 min in. Then he slowly breaks the song down with rhythmic singing, which I could see used in a musical. It becomes very theatrical. Then they return to the chorus/verse of “Gimme’s” once more until the candle is blown out, Stage to black. “I'm Not Afraid” is similar to the dark, sly beat of In Jeopardy” but it stays a bit slower, and is less neurotic. It stays like a countrified blues ballad for the majority of the time. It breaks out with a harmonica. Instead of the gimmes of the last song, this song relies on repetition of “It’s Time to…” Lots of little sections are strung together along the melody, which around 5 minutes is beginning to flatten out, like it is nearing the song’s end, still 2 minutes from the finish line. With synth bass and a chorus of repeating “hooooooowww’s” the song builds momentum for the last minute in crescendo that ends with a gong. Quiet sparse piano and environmental hums begin the final track, “Only Because Of You” This second half of the album- all three songs- are kinda sleep inducing. They are long, and not quit varied enough to keep the spirits high. This has a start that I imagine will blossom into a pop song at some point, like Styx “Come Sail Away.” And could this be? A different voice on the album? Oh, ok, it is just a female voice “la-ya-da’ing” up and down the melody. This basically instrumental song has a bold synth sound added…I don’t quite know what it is supposed to be: brass or guitar???? But it is very powerful and quite royal sounding. It never gets to the power pop section, so it just remains in a dream state for the entire song. But there were other songs that had that “C.S.A.” transition from slow to fast pop song to achieve the comparison.


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