John Wetton's informative sleeve notes tell us that this title was originally intended for his 1990 masterpiece album that was ultimately entitled `Battle Lines'. So 21 years later is this offering as good as that album ? In my opinion it's not, and believe me I have played it many times. `Raised in Captivity', recorded with massive input and assistance by ex-Yes man Billy Sherwood just doesn't quite cut the mustard for me as a combined work, hence only four stars, although it does have some great moments that only John Wetton can produce.
Starting off with the aggressive, up-tempo `Lost for words' the album gets off to a powerful start and with its abrupt silences (three I counted, not including the end), wicked drumming (Sherwood?) and stonking chorus so that we're really in a wide awake mood by the time it's finished . Puffed out of breath, the title track (co-written by Robert Fripp) follows with an atmospheric intro and it's a pretty fine song too although more laid back. So far so good gets even better with my favourite track following; `Goodbye Elsimore' is a sing-along tune with great harmonies and backing vocals topped off with a guest guitar solo from Steve Hackett. Next up is `The last night of my life' which is a reasonable (if slightly too long) song followed by the `bonus track' `We stay together' which thank heavens is included as it's one of the best tracks. After this, things go downhill rapidly. `The Human condition' is probably the worst John Wetton track I've heard - too long and just plain unmemorable. `Steffis Ring' is short and sweet but nothing special followed by the overlong (nearly 7 minutes) and very repetitive `The Devil and the Opera House' which ends up with instrumentation evaporating and just John's vocals remaining. The next song, the fairly up-tempo `New star rising' is reasonable as is the ballad `Don't misunderstand me' featuring the familiar aching Wetton vocals. Last up it's the only song not co-written by John, `Mighty Rivers' and it's a moving conclusion to the album featuring a duet with the ethereal vocals of Anneke van Giersbergen (who sung on a couple of tracks on John's Icon 2 album recorded with Geoff Downes - check out `To catch a Thief' - it's marvellous). It leaves a lasting, slightly mystic taste and makes one wish for a couple of other songs in this vein in place of some of the weaker tracks.
I can't knock John for his impressive workload in releasing his third offering in three consecutive years (after Icon 3 with Geoff Downes in 2009 and then Omega with Asia in 2010) and it's a classy looking package, but under the bonnet it's not quite as strong as other releases.