One man however, kept faith in the original concept, dropped out of the prog scene completely, stayed in his room, kept writing new material and revising songs and waited and waited. His name I don't recall, but that's not important right now. Suffice to say it was hoped these mini-rock symphonies would, at some point in the future, see the light of day and find an appreciative audience. And so it was, thanks to those who kept faith in the music, the new incarnation of Comedy Of Errors came to release their debut album Disobey, a difficult birth, a long time in the making, but well worth the wait.'
These above-mentioned words have been written on the website of the Scottish neo-progressive rock band Comedy Of Errors. It explains roughly what happened with this band since their formation in January 1984 by Joe Cairney (vocals), Jim Johnston (keyboards), John MacPhee (drums), Mike Barnard (guitars) and Steve Stewart (bass). The latter was soon replaced by Mark Spalding. They were strongly influenced by Pallas and Abel Ganz, two other Scottish prog bands. A change of direction was heralded in 1989 with the arrival of the new lead vocalist John Cowden replacing Joe Cairney. From that moment on the band were playing more standard rock songs, which suited the new vocalist better. They played regularly around Scotland, and then quietly disappeared from view.
Strangely enough the story doesn't end here; in 2011 Comedy Of Errors reformed and started to work on new material for a full-length album. Recently this album saw the light of day featuring the old members Joe Cairney (lead and backing vocals), Jim Johnston (keyboards, additional guitars, backing vocals) and Mark Spalding (main lead guitar, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, bass and backing vocals).Two additional musicians helped them out to record Disobey: Bruce Levick for the drum parts and Hew Montgomery (Abel Ganz) played additional bass on The Student Prince, part 1.
Well, I have to say that I'm very glad that they reformed, otherwise the prog community would have missed one hell of an album recorded in the finest neo-progressive rock tradition. This album most certainly belongs to the musical highlights of 2011 since everything on this release just sounds perfect. The compositions are high-leveled; I didn't hear a weak track or even weak passages. Most tracks have been composed in the vein of neo-prog bands like IQ, Galahad, Arena, Abel Ganz, Pallas and Pendragon. But also famous seventies bands like Pink Floyd, Yes and Genesis were an inspiration. All songs sound superb mainly because of the high level of musicianship. On the one hand the keyboards sound very modern; on the other hand they couldn't avoid the old rock clichés. Well, I didn't mind at all because that's just how I like it in combination with many bombastic parts that build up to a perfect climax! The guitar parts are well-performed either, with from time to time some excellent solos.
However, I think a good progressive rock band is half as good without a perfect singer. With Joe Cairney, Comedy Of Errors certainly have a great vocalist with a strong voice at their disposal that can easily compete with the voices of Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel, but it reminded me of Mark Colton (Credo) as well. In fact Credo was the first band that crossed my mind when I listened to the album for the first time. Credo is rather comparable with Comedy Of Errors as they both have the same musical influences. Credo also didn't perform for several years before they continued as if they'd never been away. Both bands share the same kind of progressive rock sound which I enjoy a lot.
Disobey will end up high in my year list of 2011. The music on this release brought me so much joy that it's just impossible to exclude it. You will certainly join me after listening to the samples on their websites!
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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