For most prog heads Victor Peraino doesnít ring a bell, I think. As far as Iím concerned, I never read or heard of him before, until I got a copy of No Manís Land, the album he recorded as Victor Perainoís Kingdom Come.
I discovered that Peraino once was the American keyboard player for Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come. Some people think this was an overlooked band in the pantheon of the British progressive rock. After the groupís final album Journey, Victor Peraino returned to the United States and, strangely enough, he owned the rights of the group name and recorded an album and an EP.
His first record with this band came out in 1975 and according to the story only a hundred copies of No Manís Land were pressed. Thatís difficult to believe when you hear the CD-version of the entire album, because thereís enough music to enjoy. Especially Perainoís keyboard playing is really stunning. Heís a genius on the Mellotron and the ARP- and Moog-synthesizers. Thatís rather curious because in the liner notes it says that he initially was a drummer, so he was barely familiar with a Mellotron. Being a singer he get my compliments as well. Peraino has a strong and pleasant voice and even his compositional talents arenít bad at all.
The eight tracks on No Manís Land show that he was influenced by several bands from the same era including Deep Purple as we can hear in Demon Of Love. Jethro Tull must have been an inspiration too as you can experience in Empires Of Steel on which Jon Marc Laflotte and his flute play are responsible for this comparison. Also Yes came to my mind several times. Especially in At Last A Crew, Lady Of The Morning and Run Through Your Life we hear that typical Yes-sound from the seventies. Garden Of Death is reminiscent of Hawkwind. I think the longest piece Empires Of Steel, can be seen as the highlight of this album, because itís a real Mellotron-monster.
Six years later Peraino showed his musical talents again with the EP Weíre Next. This release contained a new version of Arthur Brownís major hit Fire and featured four tracks that moved a bit towards the sound of the eighties caused by the use of saxophones, vocoders, modern dance beats and rhythms. His version of Fire comes very close to the original and also Victorís voice reminded me of Brownís. Athena even reminded me of The Sparks when they changed their musical direction to a more commercial style to sell more records. Both releases were put together on this CD with almost fifty minutes of music. The vinyl album has been limited to 500 copies and contains the 7-inch EP. The first part of this release is without doubt the most enjoyable part. The many Mellotron-sounds on almost every track are just a treat for my ears. Itís just too bad that Victor Peraino goes with the flow of the musical styles at the time as we can hear on the second part of this release. Gone are all the Mellotron-sounds and that will certainly reflect my final rating for this album.
Finally I have to mention that Victor Peraino is back in business with a new version of Kingdom Come. Victor Perainoís New Kingdom Come already performed in the USA. He had even planned some live shows for the European continent in 2009, but they were canceled. Plans for a new album are already made as well. Mellotrons and Moogs might be included on this forthcoming release. Hopefully we can see Peraino perform one day. According to the live pictures in the booklet from his seventies shows, heís a real showman.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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