The British progressive rock band Quasar was founded in 1979 by Keith Turner. In the early eighties Quasar was one of the bands that knocked on the door to become part of the second wave of progressive rock bands including Marillion, Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Solstice, IQ and Pallas. Later on the music these bands created was called neo-progressive rock. Unfortunately Quasar never scored the success that the other bands had. In spite of that, they became well-known because the band consisted of several members who later on made a name with Landmarq, like Tracy Hitchings (vocals), David Wagstaffe (drums), Uwe D'Rose (guitar) and Steve Leigh (keyboards). Quasar recorded three albums: Fire In the Sky (1981), The Loreli (1989) and the live album Quasar Live 1984-1990 (2010).
However, after 1990 no sign of life was given by the band. Yet it was rumoured that another studio album called The Eyes Of The Innocents would be released. Out of the blue I was contacted lately by Mr. Turner asking me if I was interested to review the new live album Live 2011. Well, of course, it's an offer that I can't refuse, because I'm curious to know how they sound nowadays. After listening to the six tracks I can only say: welcome back Quasar! The band now consisting of Robert Robinson (vocals, keyboards), Greg Studley (electric and acoustic guitars), Keren Gaiser (vocals, keyboards), Keith Turner (bass guitar, Moog Taurus, twelve-string guitar) and Paul Johnson (drums, percussion) really surprised me with this great new album.
The band proves to be a strong live unit, which can be heard on all of the six tracks. Right from the start they show that they're professional musicians who master their instruments to perfection. While listening to the opening piece Seeing Stars (parts I & II), I got the feeling that prog heads can't ignore this band. The music on this piece shows that they can still be labelled as a neo-progressive rock act. However, the intro of this song puts you on the wrong foot, because there's a slight resemblance with Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond, but that only applies to a short part. All the other songs contain the elements that one can label as neo-prog. This type of progressive music is particularly my favourite which is the main reason that I liked Live 2011 instantly.
The synthesizer and guitar parts on this album sound truly amazing and the rhythm section knows how to play a strong beat and how to keep the groove going on. But the voices of the two lead singers mainly make the difference. The voice of Robert Robinson nicely contrasts with the female voice of Keren Gaiser. Together they make sure that there's a lot of variation concerning the vocals. People who had the pleasure to see Tracy Hitchings sing in this band know that she did a great job. However, this new female singer is even better! After every song sung by Keren I wondered why this talented singer hadn't been discovered before!
It's impossible for me to mention highlights, because all songs are of an incredibly high level. Some of them were taken from previously released studio albums like Seeing Stars (parts I & II), The Loreli and As You Fall Asleep...; others are brand new. Listening to songs as Power In Your Hands and In The Grand Scheme of Things I got curious to know how their new studio album would sound. Well, after reading this review so far you might wonder if I have any negative remarks about the music. No, I haven't and therefore, normally, such an album gets the highest possible rating of five stars. However, what prevented me from giving five stars are three things: first of all the sound quality that certainly could have been done better. Secondly the many live pictures included in the booklet are not of the finest quality. Finally the album's duration is way too short for a live release: 52 minutes while a CD is limited to eighty minutes. They could have made it a double live album or they could have included a live DVD. I guess it all had to do with the available budget.
Anyway, despite these critical remarks Quasar can be very satisfied with this new release. They knock emphatically on the door of prog rock again and let the people know that they are still alive and kicking making superb neo-progressive rock. Live 2011 is highly recommended to people who enjoy the above-mentioned bands including Legend.
****+ Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013