The Single Edits
Review by Gary Hill
This is a compilation disc featuring various single edits from Ben Craven. I’ll bet you got that from the title, right? Craven’s brand of progressive rock leans toward the AOR accessible edge of the genre. That means that single edits of his stuff are quite accessible. This is actually a very strong disc. It flows pretty well, not really feeling so much like the compilation that it is, but rather like an actual album. The songs here come from three albums. I’ve previously reviewed two of them, so many of my track reviews have been taken from or modified from those reviews. I’ve indicated on each track review what has been specifically done with that number.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Critical Mass Part 2
The original track review works well for this instrumental with just a little alteration. Here it is: As this comes into being it has both symphonic elements and some hints of crunchy metallic sound. I love some of the cool echoey guitar that comes across here. It’s part Ventures and part David Gilmour in a lot of ways. It shifts toward the bizarre as it continues. This is a bit like King Crimson in some ways. From there we’re brought back into the earlier segment for more guitar soloing.
The Remarkable Man
The original review (which follows) still fits this edit perfectly. There is a killer mainstream rock vibe to this. It has some hints of jazz in the mix. It’s a fun rocker with some catchy musical hooks and great moments. It gets into some space music at the end.
Ready To Lose
This single edit was actually included on the original album (Great & Terrible Potions) as a bonus track. It’s close enough to the full length version, though, that I will just modify that review for use here. This powers out into some progressive rock that’s a bit like Emerson, Lake and Palmer meets Kansas and Pink Floyd. It’s accessible, but very progressive rock oriented. There’s some smoking hot guitar soloing later that leads into a killer instrumental movement. There is a dropped back mellower section later in the piece that’s just melodic guitar and vocals, but it powers back up from there to more rocking stuff, taking it back to the song proper to eventually end it with a crescendo.
Ambient sounds start this instrumental. A cool guitar solo brings an almost Beatles-like vibe as it grows. There is a real magical vibe here. It has a bit of a Pink Floyd vibe as it powers outward further down the road.
Spy In The Sky Part 3 Feat. William Shatner
The original review of this song fits pretty well with a bit of revision here. This comes in with a lot of soaring magic. It works through some changes. As the parenthetical suggests, William Shatner provides vocals here. They are mostly spoken/emoted. This piece is pretty cool. There really is a sort of magic to it as far as I’m concerned. I really am enthralled with some of the keyboard work on this thing. It’s incredible.
I have not reviewed the original version of this. The cut comes in with intricate mellow guitar work. As the other guitar is heard over the top of that, I’m reminded of Pink Floyd quite a bit. When the vocals join, we’re taken to something that’s perhaps a bit more like the melodic rock of Alan Parsons. This is quite a classy piece of music. It has some interesting shifts, but all of it tends to land in the zone of melodic progressive rock.
Nobody Dies Forever
When it was released on Great & Terrible Potions, this song was actually two songs, parts one and two, separated by other pieces. This single edit, though, was included on that album as a bonus track. That said, the words I wrote about the first part of the piece fit well enough with this version to be used here. Imagine the kind of creepy bombast presented on Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare album delivered with some real progressive rock added to the mix. Even the vocals here seem to have a bit of a Cooper feeling, but with more real prog added onto them. This is powerful, a bit spooky and quite magical.
No Specific Harm
This seems changed enough from the version of it that I reviewed previously that it merits a fully new review. This is quite symphonic and very theatrical and dark. There is a cool Pink Floyd like guitar solo section around the two minute mark. This piece is accessible and powerful and yet also quite progressive rock based. There are definite Eastern tones built into this cut.
I haven’t reviewed this one previously. It has a fun kind of bouncing rock sound to it. Many of the vocals are a bit distorted and distant. The cut has a real mainstream rock vibe with both rocking and mellower dropped back sounds present in the piece. There is a healthy helping of folk rock construction here. I dig the mellower segment later that takes it with acoustic guitar and space rock elements. When it powers out from there to psychedelic space rock, that’s classy, too. Then it modulates to more mainstream melodic rock sounds for a tasty guitar solo.
With more of a trippy space rock vibe built into it, this resolves out to a psychedelic rock AOR vibe. Again I can hear a lot of Pink Floyd in this, but also some definite Beatles elements. This is such a cool tune with a lot of symphonic rock elements at its heart.
Revenge Of Dr Komodo
The original review I did for this track works pretty well here. A smoking hot, hard rocking jam, this has a real modern King Crimson vibe in a lot of ways. There is some killer organ work later on in this instrumental. It’s another that has some hints of things like The Ventures, but in a more modern prog rocking concept.