Oceans 5 is the brainchild of the British singer-songwriter Andy John Bradford, who is an unknown musician for many people including myself. Together with the British guitarist Colin Tench (Corvus Stone, BunChakeze, Colin Tench Project, Minstrel's Ghost), the Italian keyboardist Marco Chiapinni (Gandalf's Project), the Belgian bassist Stef Fleming (Murky Red) and the American drummer Victor Tassone (Unified Past), this international ensemble recorded an album called Return To Mingulay.
When you listen to this debut for the first time you might think that it has hardly anything to do with progressive rock. However, the nine tracks on this record, containing a mixture of folk, country, rock, prog and pop, certainly made me think of certain bands that one way or another are connected to the genre. Well, let me explain. First of all Bradford's laid-back vocals and the parts he performs on the twelve-string acoustic guitar are quite similar to the music you can find on a number of albums by Strawbs. Especially the music Strawbs recorded at the beginning of their career has some similarities with the songs written by Bradford. At the same time acts like Al Stewart and Fairport Convention crossed my mind as well.
Well, some people won't consider these names as being progressive rock acts, but others certainly have some albums of these artists in their collection. While listening to the electric guitar parts I couldn't help thinking of one big name in the prog rock scene, namely Pink Floyd. Just like David Gilmour, Colin Tench has a talent for playing the guitar very emotionally! Listen for example to Invictus Captain Of My Soul , 6000 Friends and Fly Away and you'll understand what I mean! Next to the tasteful guitar parts there's yet another connection to Pink Floyd on this CD. Singer Lorelei McBroom used to be one of the female background singers with Pink Floyd during the release of The Division Bell (1994). She also went on tour with the band. Her contributions can be heard on the track 6000 Friends, which comes pretty close to her live performance of The Great Gig In The Sky with Pink Floyd.
My highlights on Return To Mingulay are the Pink Floyd sounding pieces I mentioned earlier. Apart from some amazing guitar parts Fly Away contains a fabulous finale with some beautiful sounding and delightful Mellotron flutes. People who like to listen to music which isn't that much related to prog rock should try the debut of Oceans 5, especially if you like the music recorded by Strawbs, Al Stewart, Pink Floyd and Fairport Convention. I for one had a great time listening to these nine tracks!
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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