The following are reviews of progressive rock, new wave and smooth jazz guitar albums.
YES; "Open Your Eyes" (Yes/Beyond Music). * * 1/2
One of the pioneers of progressive rock is still working hard. Fast on the heels of "Keys to Ascension II," the band released "Open Your Eyes."
Vocalist Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White have teamed with new keyboardist Billy Sherwood, the man who also mixed and recorded the album, but keeps it's vintage style intact.
Sure, there is more of an edge to this album - kind of like what can be heard on the "Union" album, which was a mix of "Close to the Edge" and "90125" line-ups.
However the sound on "Open Your Eyes" is clean and simply new Yes. Progressive, dreamy classically influenced textures pop up endlessly on this album, especially during the acoustic-laden "Universal Garden," "Wonderlove" and the Beatlesque intro to "From the Balcony."
The harder-rocking songs will also keep vintage fans happy with the time-changing loops and innovated and vast keyboard/guitar sound.
Still, the album is not another "Close to the Edge" or "Yes Album," but it will become a must for fans of all Yes eras.
GARY NUMAN; "Exile" (Cleopatra). * * *
Well, it's about time!
Gary Numan, one of the fathers of the New Wave movement, has released a new album, "Exile."
Although there's no memorable hit like his only U.S. charting single "Cars," from 1980, "Exile" is an excellent album, artwise.
Sure, the times are filled with techno bands and such, but Numan's brand of electronic music leans more to the ambient side of electronica. And with his haunting, cracking voice - something that hasn't really changed for the last 17 or so years - the man has brought his sound to the '90s.
The U.S. release of "Exile" begins with the funky warping of "Dominion Day" and ends with a special live track "Down In the Park," which was recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon in Numan's hometown of London.
Much like his earlier albums, "Exile" leans on the heaviness of keyboards, synthesizers and militant beats. "Prophesy," "Dead Heaven" and "Dark" display the power in Numan's works, once you get past his trademark spacey introductions.
Among other futuristic titles are "The Angel Wars," "An Alien Cure," and, of course, the album's title track.
Numan might not reach the numbers he did in '81, but it's good to hear the man hasn't lost his touch and sold out his integrity.
JUAN CARLOS QUINTERO; "The Way Home" (Size 11 Records). * * *
Juan Carlos Quintero continues where Speeris leaves off, in a sense. His Latin motions are more in tune with a traveling minstrel. The songs on "The Way Home" are little movements through the world.
The slow-motion gallup of "Libre/Free," which opens the album, sets the mood as the following tunes from "Caminando/Walking" and "El Pueblo/the Village" saunter and dance about.
Speaking of dancing, "El Baile/the Dance" is a spiraling but subtle tribute to flamenco (not through the guitars, but the beat). The only real downfall is the album's namesake cut.
"The Way Home" is too easy-listening for the mood of this album. In fact, if you really listen closely, you may even hear the chorus of Extreme's "More Than Words" coming out of the mix.