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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

John Wetton – Raised in Captivity CD review

John Wetton – Raised in Captivity CD review
Released on: Frontiers Records. Release Date: Available now.

John Wetton is an extremely talented player whose background includes stints with Roger Chapman’s Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, the short lived jazz rock combo UK, Wishbone Ash and a bunch of others, including of course his biggest success, Asia.
For me, most of his earlier work pales in insignificance to that of Asia, who for me became one of the first true super-groups!
His voice perhaps to many, isn’t that instant, but with Asia I seriously believe everything simply fell into place as that first album more than proved. I wonder if they, the band, really thought at first it would even work?!
Anyway, I’ve always enjoyed Asia’s music even some of the John Payne stuff too, but John Wetton really masters it best for me.
I really haven’t previously had the chance to check out the man’s previous solo works, with the exception of Qango, which I figured was really his baby, even though it feature Carl Palmer (Asia, E.L.P.), it had a lot of promise too.
I enjoyed seeing them live once as well. Good set, good band!
So, this indeed for me is his first solo work that I’ve ever got to check out and if you will, analyze and I’m glad I did too!
This album features a whole host of guest players from Wetton’s past, all class acts too.
Opener ‘Lost for Words’ features Steve Morse (Deep Purple) as guest guitarist and it rocks ‘like a good ‘un!’ Very up tempo number with a bunch of time changes throughout and yes, I am reminded of someone else musically here, it kind of reminds me of Honeymoon Suite meets Saga ironically, but all very good stuff indeed.
Title track ‘Raised in Captivity’ next is another track I really like and it features Robert Fripp (King Crimson) on guitar and to a degree it reminds me a little of Trevor Rabin era Yes. So from that you can perhaps gather it’s kind of commercial prog but it’s unlike – to me – Asia.
I really love next track, the power ballad ‘Goodbye Elsinore’ which ironically as it builds reminds me a little of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill.’ That said, I think it’s way better … ‘Solsbury Hill’ although popular, wasn’t really my bag.
Love this though and Steve Hackett plays some nice licks too.

‘The Last Night of My Life,’ features jazz fusion guitarist Alex Machacek and this one changes tempos quite a bit and is certainly the most prog like material here so far, still very enjoyable to these ears though.
Next up is ‘We Stay Together’ which kind of drifts a little here and there, but it’s a slower paced number, although kind of not really a power ballad, but a close cousin if you ask me!
Tony Kaye (Yes) is the guest musician here next on ‘The Human Condition’ and perhaps that’s why at times I’m reminded of Yes’ ‘Leave It.’ This one is though perhaps a little sluggish for me and doesn’t really go anywhere.
‘Steffi’s Ring’ up next includes fellow Asia / Icon band mate Geoff Downes and yet it’s a track that tend to lean more towards an almost renaissance type sound, think Blackmore’s Night. It’s haunting beautiful actually. Nice track.
From Wetton’s UK time comes guest Eddie Jobson for the laid back track, ‘The Devil and the Opera House,’ where the violin in a couple of spot is shifting from left to right channels, which messes with your head .., just a little when listening through headphones. This track actually reminds me a little of ‘Alpha’ era Asia, in its style.
‘New Star Rising’ gets things back the more up tempo track with special guest Mick Box (Uriah Heep), although it’s a little strange arrangement at times with the orchestral backing, it even reminds me a little of some of the Beatles more adventurous tracks, but not as dated as anything from back then. Kind of fun, with Mick’s lead break, doing the left to right channel thing too.
Tony Kaye returns to guest on ‘Don’t Misunderstand Me’ which is a track perhaps like a big movie epic soundtrack, in its power ballad style.
Final track here is ‘Mighty Rivers,’ a big atmospheric production with guest soprano, Dutch girl Anneke Van Giersbergen who to a degree reminds me of Agnetha Faltskog (Abba), clearly stronger though and there’s also the Seattle Symphony Orchestra here too.
It’s almost like something someone like Yanni would pull off, all power to Wetton though, he’s certainly mixed it up here.
Overall I think this is a pretty good, clever, varied solo album with a lot of very enjoyable material, a couple of spots, where it seems to lack a little something though. Still much to enjoy here though.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5   

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