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Articles Home » 1992 Articles » Shadowland - 1992 Ring Of Roses
 
Shadowland - 1992 Ring Of Roses



ARTIST: Shadowland
ALBUM: Ring Of Roses
LABEL: Si Music
SERIAL: Simply 12
YEAR: 1992
CD REISSUE: 1997, Verglas Music, VGCD006

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Clive Nolan - keyboards, vocals * Karl Groom - guitars, bass pedals * Ian Salmon - fretted and fretless bass, acoustic guitar * Nick Harradence - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Whistleblower * 02 Jigsaw * 03 Scared Of The Dark * 04 Painting By Numbers * 05 Hall Of Mirrors * 06 The Kruhulick Syndrome * 07 Ring Of Roses * 08 Dorain Gray * 09 I, Judas


Background
Another all-star prog-rock release, Shadowland's debut album sees Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Arena, Strangers On A Train) teaming up with that latter band's guitarist Karl Groom (also of Threshold), and their ex drummer Nick Harradence. The most obvious thing here is the overall strength of the material which leans towards songs, rather than self-indulgence, while remaining unmistakably proggy.


The Songs
The album opens with Clive singing over deep keys: 'I'm blowing the whistle on people I trusted before / I'm blowing the whistle 'cause they can't be trusted anymore..'. A great way to begin an album, though it's difficult to tell how personal to Nolan most of the album's lyrics are (a question which has arisen on the band's official website - so it's open to speculation). This is followed by the arrival of Karl Groom's choppy rhythm guitar, using the same technique effectively used on the Casino album. This track 'The Whistleblower' also manages to cash in on a fairly memorable chorus (memorable by prog standards anyway). 'Painting by Numbers', a more mid paced offering, resembles Pendragon a little, especially during the mid-section. Despite this, it sounds a lot closer to the material Nolan co-wrote for Strangers On A Train band-mate Tracy Hitchings' solo release 'From Ignorance To Ecstasy', as does another track here, 'Jigsaw', having a very solid feel and not too showy. The two guitar solos featured within the song are of an excellent standard from Karl Groom - not as metallic as his Threshold work, they come across like Marillion's Steve Rothery with a real edginess. The title track, once again, features a chorus (this time memorable to the point of irritation), some razor-sharp soloing from Karl and a warm fretless bass sound from Ian Salmon. Rumour has it that this song comes with a special dance invented by the IQ bass player John Jowitt. Now Mr Jowitt dancing.. that has to be a must-see! In a perfect contrast to this is 'The Kruhulick Syndrome' which opens with some beautifully structured keyboard work (think 'Firth of Fifth' meets a sprawling film soundtrack and you're halfway there) before building into a full band instrumental workout, superbly arranged, showing why prog rock is still going strong in the late 20th century. The two best tracks here are undoubtedly 'Scared Of The Dark' and the 15 minutes plus 'Hall of Mirrors'. 'Scared..' features a dark intro, complete with staccato guitar-work (like David Gilmour - think 'Run Like Hell'). Definitely one of my favourite arrangements, as rather than highlight Nolan's keyboard prowess, it focuses more on the vocal arrangement. He's not the world's greatest vocalist, but he's no worse than his Pendragon buddy Nick Barrett and, if nothing else, it proves that he has a fairly well-rounded talent. 'Hall Of Mirrors' has a very Pendragon-esque opening, not too far removed from some of their best work circa 'The Window of Life'. The number features more great guitar playing from Groom - the solos here are especially good - while the keyboard playing has a nice old-fashioned appeal, with the sound of Tony Banks. Very strong indeed. Hear it for yourselves, words will never do it justice.


In Summary
I have always had a high opinion of this album for a few reasons: it's musically well-rounded, it shows Clive Nolan has more talents than often seen in Pendragon and Arena and its sleeve features another great piece of artwork by IQ vocalist Peter Nicholls. A prog fans dream. What else could you possibly ask for?


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