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Prism - 1977 Prism



ARTIST: Prism
ALBUM: Prism
LABEL: Ariola (US, Europe), GRT (Canada)
SERIAL: ST-50020, 9230-1068
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 2003, EMI/Capitol (Canada), 72435 42600 2 5

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Ron Tabak - vocals * Lindsay Mitchell - guitars * Tom Lavin - guitars * John Hall - keyboards * Ab Bryant - bass * Rodney Higgs (a.k.a Jim Vallance) - drums

Additional Musicians: Tom Keenlyside - sax

TRACK LISTING: 01 Spaceship Superstar * 02 Open Soul Surgery * 03 It's Over * 04 Take Me To The Kaptin * 05 Vladivostok * 06 Freewill * 07 Amelia * 08 Julie * 09 I Ain't Lookin' Anymore

WEBLINKS: www.prism.ca


Background
Where would Canadian melodic rock be without the name Prism mentioned throughout its hallowed history? We've already touched upon this band's history through several album reviews, but we really need to restore order and pride by going right back to the source: their 1977 debut album. You remember the album cover, the browny, blueish cover with the pocket mirror held upon high reflecting the light through a prism? You probably remember the album cover because you saw it often in the vinyl bargain bins from those record stores of our beloved past. That's not to say the album deserved its place in said dusty LP bins, because it didn't, but regular vinyl collectors were probably more about collecting Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees and Barry Manilow records from that time rather than some obscure outfit from Vancouver. For those of you lucky enough to buy into the Prism story in its infancy, then good on you, because you probably stayed right with them even into the Henry Small years of the early 80's. We won't regurgitate their history, most of you are familiar with their history as it is. If not, read through all the album reviews covered here..


The Songs
For avid pompsters, you can't help but get excited by the keyboard death pomp of the opening classic 'Spaceship Superstar', all the sci-fi lyrics also go some way to sending this one out into the stratosphere! These guys were so far ahead of their time in 1977, you wonder whether they travelled back in time for this express purpose? lol! The band lock into the groove for 'Open Soul Surgery', with lead singer Ron Tabak carrying this one with some dynamic vocals. It's ballad time on track three, 'It's Over' not quite effecting a premature departure, one can assume a relationship is on stoney ground hence the lyrics. It's back to high-flying Star Trek themes with the zany 'Take Me To The Kaptin' complete with deliberate mis-spellings. Only bands such as Hot Flash and Groundstar would follow in a similar direction within the next few years. The mid-paced 'Vladivostok' seems to worry about the cold temperatures more so than the imposing Red threat. Musically this is akin to Alan Parsons Project, throw in a vocoder or two a la Peter Frampton and a few bottles of frosty Russian vodka and you get the picture.. Two songs dedicated to ladies ('Amelia' and Julia') sort of let the side down slightly, very innocuous tunes not adding a lot to the pot, while 'Freewill' is a sassy rocker with brass and tinkertap piano, the album completed by the mildly entertaining 'I Ain't Looking Anymore'.


In Summary
Overall, the album can be divided into thirds. Three excellent tracks ('Sapceship Superstar', 'Take Me To Your Kaptin', 'Vladivostok'), three OK'ish songs and three not so good songs. It was a good debut for the most part, but things would get better as their career blossomed. Their next album 'See Forever Eyes' was much improved, and was even more pompous than this album, though by the time album #2 came around, there were already extensive personnel changes within the Prism camp..


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Comments
#1 | Nick C on May 27 2012 16:03:50
Back in the early 80's it took me an age to track this album down on vinyl - To me the first four Prism albums are essential, Ron Tabak is one of my favourite vocalists ever all their albums are pretty darn good though....but I am HUGELY biased when it comes to this bunch!
#2 | rkbluez on May 28 2012 19:57:45
Great album..."Spaceship Superstar" and "Open Soul Surgery" are classic's. I agree with Nick...a lot of people really like the Henry Small era Prism and I do also but me I'll take the Ron Tabak stuff anyday...I love this debut album but it's the next album See Forever Eyes that I think is their masterpiece followed closely by Armageddon.
#3 | gdazegod on May 28 2012 21:58:41
'Armageddon' is in the queue, as we need to complete the Prism discography up to at least 'Beat Street'. They do have albums beyond that, and we might get to those too.
#4 | Nick_L on May 31 2012 23:01:33
Thanks a lot for reviewing this George. In my opinion they' ve always been one of the somehow most underrated Canadian bands (if compared to more "commercially appealing" acts such as Rush, Triumph, or April Wine). They were all excellent musicians and in Ron Tabak they had one helluva vocalist and frontman graced by a seemingly boundless talent, who tragically never had the recognition he deserved and left us way too soon...
 
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