Greg Lake was one of the founding members of King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP), as most of our readers probably know. He wrote the hit Lucky Man (1970, ELP) and co-wrote I Believe In Father Christmas (1977, ELP). Geoff Downes is best known as the keyboardist with The Buggles, Asia and Yes. He co-wrote the hits Video Killed The Radio Star (1980, Buggles) and Heat Of The Moment (1982, Asia). In 1983 Lake replaced bassist and singer John Wetton temporarily in Asia, when the band did a tour in Japan. Since then the two musicians became friends and decided to do something together.
However, it took a number of years before they could work on new material. Between 1989 and 1990 they finally wrote some compositions that appeared on albums of ELP and Asia. Ride The Tiger has been eventually released containing six songs of which one became an Asia song and three others became ELP songs. Four out of six tracks have been previously released on compilations, but this is the first time that they were compiled on just one CD together with two previously unreleased tracks plus an alternate mix.
The half an hour of music on Ride The Tiger contains mainly music that goes in the direction of ELP. Furthermore the songs have a real eighties feel with lots of polyphonic keyboard sounds and the drums − played by Michael Giles − have a lot of echo and delay. The most well-known compositions are ELP's Affairs Of The Heart (originally on Black Moon, 1992), Money Talks (as Paper Blood originally on Black Moon, 1992), Street War (originally on In The Hot Seat, 1994) and Asia's Love Under Fire (originally on Aqua, 1992). The remainder of the songs is just okay and worth listening to. However, don't expect any epic progressive rock pieces with lots of solo's, different time signatures or difficult breaks. Instead, the compositions are radio-friendly and not that complex. Most of them sound as if they were written for lovers of American mainstream music.
Ride The Tiger is only interesting from a historical point of view. The collaboration between Geoff Downes and Greg Lake wasn't bad at all. If you're a fan of these musicians and you want to hear the initial versions of songs that were recorded later on by ELP and Asia, then this album could possibly of interest. The songs on this CD are good, but unfortunately it doesn't contain unknown long time hidden gems.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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