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Third Iconic Chapter,
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This review is from: Icon 3 (Audio CD)
In a week where the top 10 albums contain forgettable acts such as Lily Allen, Lady Gaga and Kings of Leon, we have released the third `Icon' album from the, a-ha, iconic duo of John Wetton and Geoff Downes. Like the previous two excellent offerings and the superb `Phoenix' album by Asia (which John and Geoff were involved in), this will no doubt not join the top 10 albums next week; and more's the pity.
John's lengthy sleeve notes preface the album and provide a glimpse into the way the songs were crafted and how some of the other musicians came to be involved. It's strange that very few other bands around today seem to be making such excellent music and given radio and TV exposure, I am sure more people would be buying this if they knew it existed.
`Twice the man I was' kicks off the album in upbeat style and it's not dissimilar to `Die is cast' the storming opener from `Icon 2'. Throughout the album Wettons rich vocals dominate the soundscape but listen carefully and you can hear the subtle keyboard sounds of Downes and also the ever present Hugh McDowell, the cellist formerly in ELO (more later).
Track two is the beautiful `Destiny', opening with its church choir like harmonies before launching into a ballad in the similar type of style as `Heroine' from the `Phoenix' album.
Next up is `Green light and Blue skies'. Yes `blue skies'. I think someone has been listening to too much ELO recently as the vocoder chorus repeating the title line sounds....well, like the vocoder from `Mr Blue Sky' !
`Raven' is a quiet duet between John and guest female vocalist Anne-Marie Helder. A nice laid back song. Two other tracks later also feature Anne-Marie but this song showcases her great voice to the best effect.
Track five `My life is in your hands' is one of the albums stonkers. Soaring chorus and instrumentation builds up to a superb climax that you can't help but sing along to.
`Sex, Power and Money' is an apt song for the times starting off with a heavy thrashing opening (nice guitar work throughout by Dave Kilminster incidentally) and featuring a strident chorus. "The wealthy get richer that's the name of everyone's game" just sums it up...
`Annas kiss' is an instrumental. Not much more to say about it really.
Track eight is `Under the Sky', it's one of those soaring Asia' type songs which sits very nicely on this album.
`Don't go out tonight' has some great instrumentation from Downes and advises staying in and watching TV..lyrically not far from `Last good time in town' from the Eagles `Long Road to Eden' album - perhaps all older rockers are getting a little tired ?!
The penultimate track `Never thought I see you again' is as finer pop song as you would find on any album by any artist. A great melody that would sit very nicely on the R2 playlist in the same way as `An extraordinary life' from `Phoenix' would have done. Five minutes of bliss.
Finally the anthemic `Peace in our time' closes the album in strong style. Not quite the high of `Rubicon' which closed the `Icon 2' album, but a great ending to the album none the less.
So, in summary; obviously a great album, but compared to the previous two `Icon' albums and `Phoenix' I would rate it as not quite as strong overall. Certainly there are some outstanding songs to be found here, but there are a couple of weaker moments also, hence I am giving only 4 stars as I cannot award 4.5. That's 4.5 more than Lily, Lady and the Kings would have got however !