Clive Mitten -
Tales From A Misspent Youth - Volume II

(2 CD 2023, 125:31, Bumnote Records)

The tracks:
  1- Tarkus(12:19)
  2- Widow's Peak(8:41)
  3- Close To The Edge(14:42)
  4- 21st Century Schizoid Man/Starless(7:40)
  5- Stairway To Heaven(4:33)
  6- Thick As A Brick(20:43)
  1- Fanfare For The Common Man(6:46)
  2- Watcher Of The Skies/Fountain Of Salmacis/The Musical Box/Firth Of Fifth(13:44)
  3- Discipline/Frame By Frame(8:56)
  4- Garden Party/Grendel(9:55)
  5- Cygnus X-I Books I and II(16:24)
  6- Refugees(2:10)

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This is the follow-up to Clive Mitten's first volume covering, in his own'cinematic orchestral' style, some of the music that inspired him in his earlier years, mostly dating from the 1970s. This double album includes some of the best-known artists and some of their best-loved songs.

Clive studied piano and classical guitar at school. In 1978, at Reading University, he became a founding member of the progressive rock band, Twelfth Night, playing lead, classical & bass guitars and keyboards; releasing numerous albums, and touring extensively, playing venues such as the Reading Festival, Hammersmith Odeon, as well as the word-famous Marquee club.

Since reuniting Twelfth Night in 2007 Clive has returned to his classical world, adding orchestration to his knowledge of theory, and writing his first new music in 30 years. This led, in 2021, to the critically acclaimed Suite Cryptique album (see review), his fully orchestral re-composition of the music of Twelfth Night. This was followed by Tales From A Misspent Youth - Volume I (2022, see review),, and then in 2022 by his fully classical album Transcriptions.

The album opens with Emerson Lake & Palmer's Tarkus which really sets the tone and the criticisms for the whole album - absolutely brilliant piano performance which is ruined by possibly the cheapest sounding MIDI drums I have ever heard. What this album needs is either a decent producer who would have brought in a real drummer or to have just completely nixed all of the drums throughout - it's not like they actually add anything to the performances - they actually detract from what could have otherwise been an album of fantastic piano interpretations. Instead the album ends up leaving you wondering just how much of the album is "played" and how much is just MIDI

I will not go through every song as my issues are the same throughout the whole album - the segments with no drums sound incredible but then along come those terrible MIDI drums and the whole track suffers.

There are some stand-out segments though - the Starless part of the 21st Century Schizoid Man/Starless track is absolutely beautiful (no drums) - unfortunately the first 3:18 of the track are painfully cheesy.... Stairway To Heaven is also a stand-out (no drums) and the Van De Graaf Generator track Refugees is also excellent (likewise - no drums)

I was very much looking forward to this album as it contained music which I had also grown up with being performed by a musician who has proven his performance abilities a both in the prog and classical genres but unfortunately this ends up sounding like a Muzak versions of most of the tracks interspersed with brief flashes of brilliance. If you are able to ignore the MIDI drums this would have been 5 star album, unfortunately I could not...

*** David Carswell

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