March 16, 2012

Review: Wally-Montpellier

Wally has added another great CD to the long and strong tradition of English Progressive Rock with their album Montpellier.  Fans who remember the band from the early 70s will find that Wally has retained their classic feel, but with some tasty additions.  The most important would be Frank Mizen on steel guitar.  His prevalence in the music throughout the album lends it a slight Southern feel that makes for a really interesting sound.

“Sailor” opens the album with atmospheric synth accented by the sound of gulls.  A guitar blast and crash cymbal mark the end of the introduction and the beginning of a thoughtful ballad with Beatles-esque piano and vocals.   After a couple of times through the verse and chorus, the song erupts with guitar and organ sounds leading to an electric finish, tempered by the briefest denouement (the sound of gulls again).  “Thrill Is Gone” has a more raw sound.  The highlight of the song features the bands other new addition, guitarist Will Jackson.  His solo develops from a simple riff in the lowest range of the instrument into a shrieking jam worthy of any number of great guitarists (think Duane Allman meets Eddie Van Halen).  “Surfing” is a very unique offering that begins with spoken vocals and instruments that sound like the background music of a Tom Waits song, and then it turns into a straight-forward rock song on the chorus with screaming vocals.  Very cool!

The album closes with the powerful anthem “Giving.”  It literally gave me chills when I first listened to it.  The classical-style strings (and/or synth) that begin and end the song would be beautiful all on their own, but the middle section of the song blows even those sweet moments away.  The final arrival of the lead guitar solo towards the end of the tune is nothing less than triumphant.  Wally is a great band still dedicated to doing their own thing.  I hope that they continue to make music for another 3 or 4 decades!

4/5 Stars

Key Tracks- Sailor, Thrill Is Gone, Giving

Donny Harvey

March 15, 2012

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