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Infinity - 1996 Infinity

ARTIST: Infinity
ALBUM: Infinity
LABEL: Syn-Phonic
YEAR: 1996


LINEUP: George Gregory - piano, lead vocals * Warren Dale - keyboards, saxophones * Earl Schrader - bass, 12-string acoustic guitar * Lance Swing - lead guitar, bass, background vocals * Scott Towne, Blake Edwards - drums * Jim Strout - bass * John Schoolcraft - trumpet * Steve Smith, Stacey Swing, Cynthia St. Clair - background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Chester * 02 Monuments Of Mars * 03 Creed * 04 Lovers Delight * 05 Ed's Not Stupid * 06 Embrace The New Day * 07 Solar Revolution * 08 Space Shuttle Suite * 09 Fantasy * 10 Affirmation * 11 Lord Of Light

It's always amazed me how much progressive rock created in America during its heyday has yet to see the light of day on CD. Thank god for labels like Greg Walker's Syn-Phonic Music who is making an effort by specializing in American made obscurities from days gone by, including the lost tapes of California band Infinity. Formed in 1977 in the San Francisco Bay area, Infinity outside of a few select gigs at local clubs and colleges were essentially a studio animal more concerned with composition than beating themselves to death on the local circuit. The band recorded several tunes during a six year period and called it a day in 1982, although for some reason Infinity reformed ten years later and the decision was made then to bake and salvage what the could from the old tapes with interesting results to say the least.

The Songs
Based on the opening cut 'Chester', its apparent Infinity had been listening to Starcastle - a lot. From the background vocals to the guitar stylizations they certainly didn't hide it and while it's not exactly a blatant rip-off, the influence is hard to miss. With this said, the difference is in the vocals and singer George Gregory bares an uncanny similarity to Caravan's Richard Sinclair and many of the time changes and lyrical flights are reminiscent of the 'Canterbury' sound as well as Gentle Giant. For the most part the songs are well thought out and the playing is excellent, especially the burning guitar work on 'Creed' which is a stand out. Close your eyes and it's easy to imagine you're listening to a lost early Starcastle demo with more of the same on 'Ed's Not Stupid' and 'Embrace the New Day'. The Gentle Giant influence can be felt on 'Solar Revolution' which features Trumpet of all things giving the song a very unusual flavour. Saving their longest cut, the thirteen minute 'Lord Of Light' for the end of the disc, Infinity throw everything and the kitchen sink into a song that goes on for eight minutes too long - and is not their best work. Infinity excelled with shorter song structures and my thinking is if these guys had signed to a label, with a proper producer and focus they could very well have turned out a classic.

In Summary
While certainly not up to the brilliance of the first three Starcastle albums, early Caravan or Gentle Giant at their most complex, Infinity are a fun listen and worth the attention and dollars of any self respecting prog fan. Copies of this disc are still available at the Syn-Phonic web site but don't wait too long!

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