I've heard/read a lot of good things about Tiger Moth Tales, the progressive rock project of blind (!) musician Pete Jones, but haven't gotten around to actually listen to his music, so I was thrilled when I received this album to review. Many thanks to our main editor!
Pete took inspiration for this album in LP-length (I prefer those over CDs crammed to the brim) from children's stories like Sleeping Beauty and the Pied Piper Of Hameln. Additionally one will find references to famous authors of children's books like Roald Dahl, JK Rowling, Hans Christian Andersen. The entire work was created in just 28 days time.
The first track, Beauty Falls, opens with some wonderful symphonic music that has classical influenced all over it with lush keyboard work and guitars that remind me of Camel - among others. Interestingly most tracks are on the short side (the almost 13 minute The Piper is an exception) but feel much longer thanks to their crafty variation.
Story Tellers brings Pete's vocals for the first time and he reminds me a lot of Phil Collins during his first years as the lead singer of Genesis (say between 1975 and 1981). Actually, also the music does echo this mid-period Genesis. Well, maybe the keyboard solo half way the piece is a tad too flashy for Genesis standards, but it definitely is a joy to listen to. After the solo we have a somewhat theatrical quirky and playful piece that would do well in Mary Poppins too (which makes me wonder why no prog group has taken that story and made a concept album out of it!). We end with the hymnic theme from Story Tellers that ends in Genesis mood.
Beauty Sleeps opens with acoustic guitar à la Steve Howe and Steve Hackett (mostly Hackett I would say). There's also some beautiful flute. Yes, it's a romantic piece just as one might expect from its title. A Kids Tale kicks off with some Yes-like chords, but then derails into circus music with soon a vocal delivery that reminds me of some of the worst from Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins. While I absolute love that film, some of Dick's performance makes me cringe more than once and that even after having seen it numerous times. Well, I'm afraid future listening of this album will not include this track, sorry Pete.
The Quest For Beauty is a fairly busy symphonic track that starts pretty bombastic, but somehow doesn't catch on with me even though Pete does a lot of things here that I like in principle. I think it's the abundance of vocals that drown the rest. As said, The Piper, is the longest track on the album. The chopped and hectic start is rather theatrical with musical-like singing, proclamation and vocal effects (if you play this to your children as a bedtime story, I'm afraid they will be so pumped that they don't sleep for the next three hours...). Quite a lot of piping in a climatic middle part that ends with a major splash (I guess that's when the rats drown). The ending section of this piece contains some triumphant soaring guitar. Another short piece, Beauty Awakes, closes the album. It's a triumphant symphonic piece that (guitar sound wise) reminds me a bit of Focus.
Apart from vocal derailment in A Kids Tale and the vocal overload of The Quest For Beauty this is a very fine album and I'm anxious to finally listen to the first Tiger Moth Tales album!
****- Carsten Busch (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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