While listening to Out Of The Barnyard, the debut album of the American prog rock band Fright Pig, I wondered at first whether I must take them seriously or not, since all the names of the musicians are nicknames including the rather curious name of the band. I think no one believes that loving parents would name their kids Fright Pig (keyboards), Pig Maillion (vocals), Thumper (drums), Hogg Wilde (bass) or Hamm Onwry, Makon Baykon, Inna Pigsie, Pig Lee Whigli and Ray Zorbak, who all contributed on guitar. However, when you listen to the seven tracks on this album you have to conclude that all these compositions are of such a high level that we have to take them seriously. I guess those nicknames are just a gimmick to draw people's attention.
Well, they got my attention anyway. I loved every second of Out Of The Barnyard and not only because of the weird names and their love for pigs in general. The musicianship is outstanding including influences from several musical styles. Throughout the album it's obvious that prog rock is the main inspiration for the complex music on this album. I heard influences from prog bands such as Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Kansas, Gentle Giant, Spock's Beard, Yes, Genesis and The Flower Kings, but also from prog metal bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X and folk rock bands as Blackmore's Night, Iona and Clannad. I even heard influences and traces of classical music! All those musical elements come together in a very pleasant way and therefore it's a real treat to listen to this record. It's pure musical enjoyment all the way!
Although the music on Out Of The Barnyard could be regarded as serious, I have my doubts about the artwork by Ed Unitsky on the cover and in the booklet. It looks rather weird to put it mildly. The cover depicts an astronaut on a farmyard looking at a sow lying in the mud while piglets sucking on her nipples! Also the inside is rather strange: a smiling pig with a burning farm in the background isn't a daily view either! In January 1986 Frank Zappa already asked himself whether humour belongs in music or not when he recorded the album Does Humor Belong In Music?
Out Of The Barnyard is especially recommended to those who enjoy the music of all the above-mentioned bands. Furthermore it's an advantage if you don't take life and music too seriously. In general I consider myself to be a serious person, but in spite of that I still could enjoy this outstanding record with a big smile on my face!
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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