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martes, 3 de enero de 2017

Salem Hill - Puppet Show (2003)


A puro rock seguimos, con un muy buen disco en vivo de una gran banda de rock, en otro aporte de nuestro cabezón polaco Marek, con influencias que van desde Rush, Kansas, Spock´s Beard hasta Pink Floyd. Otro buen disquito para que conozcan.

Artista: Salem Hill
Álbum: Puppet Show (Live)
Año: 2003
Género: Neo-Progresivo / Rock progresivo
Duración: 54:51 + 54:40
Nacionalidad: EEUU


Lista de Temas:
CD 1:
1. Evil one
2. Real
3. Here and now
4. Between the two
5. Brave new world
6. The judgment
7. Overture - When - Someday
8. Awake
CD 2:
1. Golden crosses
2. Aceldama
3. Listen to me
4. January
5. To the hill
6. Trigger
7. Invisible
8. Waiting for the wonderfulness

Alineación:
- Michael Dearing / guitar, backing vocals
- Carl Groves / keyboards, guitar, lead vocals
- Patrick Henry / bass
- Kevin T / drums, lead vocals




Salem Hill es una banda estadounidense de progresivo que se formó en 1991 con el propósito explícito de "hacer música creativa y con mérito artístico", como ellos mismos dijeron. Lo que terminaron haciendo fue rock progresivo, efectivamente música creativa y con mérito artístico, siendo una de las bandas más interesantes en yanlilandia en el inicio del década del 2000.
En 1992 la banda sacó su álbum debut, que se ganó algunas críticas positivas, al igual que los discos que siguieron, con un "Catatonia" (1997) que puso a la banda en mirada del público y la prensa especializada, no dejando de crecer con el tiempo.
Luego de una momentánea desintegración de la banda, que volvería a reunirse en 2002 para una serie de actuaciones en vivo de las que saldría el sexto álbum de la banda que ahora presentamos: "Puppet Show," publicado en el 2003. Pero luego vendrían los más aclamos discos de estudio del grupo, convirtiéndose em uno de los pilares de la escena actual del rock progresivo en los Estados Unidos. Sus discos exploran historias que giran alrededor de temas tales como el aislamiento, la soledad, el juicio, y el abandono. En general, se siguen planteando las preguntas eternas: "¿Quienes somos?" y "¿Por qué estamos aquí?". El disco "Be" encarnará un tema en particular: "¿Por qué, en esta era moderna, donde las posibilidades de comunicación no tienen precedentes, todavía la gente se siente tan sola?".

La música de la banda es muy variada, lo que ha llevado a colgarles etiquetas que van desde el neo-progresico al progresivo metálico. Definitivamente no suenan a bandas de neo-progresivo como Pendragon, IQ o Arena, pero sí tienen el mismo énfasis melódico y la orientación hacia estructuras tipo canción que hay en ellos.
El material grabado aquí son registro de distintos conciertos, especialmente pensado para los fans de la banda y son mucho énfasis en la calidad de sonido. Te da una buena idea de los primeros trabajos de Salem Hill, que no son necesariamente relevantes ya que las mejores obras vendrían posteriormente. El grupo hurgó en los archivos de varias grabaciones en vivo en la historia de la banda. El resultado final se puede escuchar este CD doble que abarca un período de cinco años, registros de actuaciones desde pequeños clubes hasta festivales internaciones. Pero al mismo tiempo, el repertorio es relativamente uniforme, una buena visión general de la obra multifacética de la banda, enfocada especialmente en su fase temprana.

Los que esperan alta calidad de sonido, yo les diría que vayan a buscarlo a otro lado.Pero a pesar de ello el registro es un disco en directo de lo más agradable. Porque la banda suena particularmente bien en vivo, con todas las irregularidades que distinguen a una presentación, buen disco en vivo: una mezcla perfecta entre sonido sucio, energía y complejidad, el sonido genera un claro contraste entre la excelente calidad de la música que se reproduce, y la calidad de lo que se escucha.
El grupo suena sólido, potente, aguerrido, y especialemente me encantan las líneas de bajo de este grupo; potente, creativa, virtuosa y cristalina. En definitiva, un lindo disquito en vivo que seguramente agradará a todos si es que no les molesta un poco de sonido sucio.


This is the perfect vehicle with which to explore the Salem Hill back-catalog. Indeed, the live performances of songs from their first two albums are imbued with a sense of immediacy and vitality - a certain "fullness" of sound - that the engineering and production of the original studio recordings failed to convey.
It helps to enjoy the virtuosic violin of David Ragsdale on "Brave New World". But does anyone doubt that this was they way the band heard the songs in their "collective mind" when they set out to record it the first time?
The challenge of reproducing tight vocal harmony in the live setting has bewildered some of the greatest rock bands of history. Not so with Salem Hill. They have the vocal manpower and the discipline to pull it off with flying colors. The bass is punchy. The mix is fantastic. From "Golden Crosses" and "Aceldama" all the way back to "Here and Now" and "Listen to Me", these performances surpass the studio versions in almost every respect.
If someone could manage to convince the band to record live performances of the entire first and second albums, surely they would quickly become the definitive versions.
Although the actual CD is out of print, the songs are available via digital download.
Mark Stephens

Salem Hill is definitely one of my favourite American prog rock outfits, and since first hearing it 'The Robbery Of Murder' has been a frequent visitor to my CD player. So it was with some sense of anticipation that I looked forward to hearing this double live CD. Performances have been taken from a variety of shows over quite a long period of time, but it has been put together in a manner that means that this isn't audibly noticeable. For the most part the band has a four man line-up, with Carl Groves and Michael Dearing sharing lead/harmony vocals and both of them providing guitar. But there are times when one or both of them play keyboards, so it is possible to go from a guitar-oriented outfit to one containing no guitars at all. While Carl provides most of the songs, bassist Pat Henry also is no mean slouch in the song writing stakes. The line-up is completed by drummer Kevin Thomas.
This is extremely melodic rock, that often reminds me of the mighty Kansas, and indeed ex- Kansas violinist David Ragsdale guests on "Brave New World", and the fact that it is an outstanding number by all concerned is incredible given that they were unable to rehearse together! The album starts with "Evil One" which has a delicate guitar/keyboards introduction, but the song has a harsh edge which played upon with Michael screaming the verse out through gritted teeth while Carl provides the more sympathetic vocals on the chorus. It is extremely hard to pick out a favourite as the album is just so strong throughout. I suppose the five numbers taken from 'TROM' are hard to distinguish between just because I love that particular album so much, but they have picked songs from throughout their career and the result is an album that every prog or melodic rock fan should hasten out to purchase immediately, if not sooner.
Kev Rowland

SALEM HILL represents one of the safe bets of the present US Progressive rock scene. Created at the beginning of the Nineties, that is in the same period as SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN, singer Carl GROVES' band unfortunately stayed in the shadow of these two giants. Meanwhile, the qualities of SALEM HILL are ascertained. Its music can not only remind of the two bands mentioned above, but also RUSH, KANSAS (Violinist David RAGSDALE is regularly invited to play with the musicians), GENTLE GIANT or THE BEATLES, but its style is consistent and unique. Like most art, the story of "Be" (2003) will be different for every listener, and the band is hesitant to divulge a concrete storyline to follow. We will say that this story explores issues like isolation, loneliness, judgment and abandonment. In general terms, it's another addition to the artistic world which has spent centuries asking: "Who are we and why are we here ?". In specific terms, "Be" may be asking: "Why, in this modern era of unprecedented speed of communication and why, as a member of a global community instantaneously interconnected, do I still feel so alone ?".
Musea

The band have strived to make this album a fair reflection of what's past, including also material from their first two albums, which were rumoured to be less progressive than the newer material. If you take that into consideration, as well as the fact that their newer music too also has poppy and rocky influences that appear more overtly than the more intricate (read 'progressive') elements of their music, you can't but expect that this album leaves one indifferent at the first listen. It did with me, anyway, which might have been helped along by the fact that I played it in the car, with my co-writer next to me (draw your own conclusions here :)).
Having said all that (well, written actually): on with the show. Getting across subtleties at a live show is, as always, a bit of a reach. The band appear rather insecure in some of the vocal harmonies, with that taking the punch out of them. This isn't helped by the fact that Groves' voice seems a little on the gentle side for live endeavors (listen to Brave New World and Awake, not the strongest of compositions, anyway), although his use of it compensates quite well. The core of the live performance are the guitar and keys, bringing out the melody with strength for instance on such epic tracks as The Judgment or Overture/When/Someday. And as already breached, the direction of the band starting from their third Catatonia has become markably more progressive. A number of the tracks from before then don't exactly enhance the overall progressiveness of this album.
Closer Waiting For Wonderfulness is a new studio recording, a quiet track led by piano and gentle vocals. The drum sounds on this one are a bit artificial. The tracks flows nicely along, perhaps a bit short of action. Still nice.
Puppet Show does well at displaying the different sides of Salem Hill. Unfortunately I could have done without the poppy/rocky side found in some of the older material. Despite that, the album has turned out an enjoyable one, especially scoring in such long tracks as The Judgment, Overture/When/Someday and Listen To Me.
Roberto Lambooy

Salem Hill live? What a treat! But this will be their first live album so – will it work? Or will it be a fans-only special, like an official bootleg?
Puppet Show is a 2-CD set that includes tracks played live at a variety of venues, plus one new studio recording. The lineup ranges from an occasional 3 piece, to the usual quartet, and a few songs feature guest artist David Ragsdale, violinist from Kansas.
Salem Hill's studio albums are song-oriented, and some of the tracks seem naively simple at first blush. But more careful listening reveals an elegantly subdued complexity and subtle melodies, and the lyrics are generally thoughtful and emotional. So this live album was eagerly anticipated.
Not surprisingly, since this collection was made over 5 years, there is a wide range in the quality of execution and of sound. This is most obvious in the vocals, which are nothing like the polished delivery we are used to from Salem Hill. The singing seemed tentative in many of these live performances, and Salem Hill's signature 2-singer verse / chorus trade-offs did not help.
So that prompted a re-visit to the studio albums, and playing the live and the studio-recorded songs back-to-back yielded some interesting comparisons: Some studio tracks include sounds and effects which lend an ambience and completeness that was missing from Puppet Show's live recordings. The vocals on the studio albums are rather good, whereas on the live album, they come across as sub-par. The guitar and occasional keyboard solos are similar, but more extended and "in your face" on the live album – and consequently, probably more enjoyable. And it was interesting to note how tight the live execution was – there is no evidence of filler or jamming in the live recordings.
A standout track is the 10-minute "The Judgement" – a wonderfully progressive, symphonic, multi-tiered, piece which is varied and beautifully composed. It will capture your interest throughout its many sections, and you can't help admiring how well they pulled this track off live.
So – does the live experience translate to CD? Well – sorta kinda. Dyed-in-the-wool fans will love the little imperfections that bring you closer to the artists, making Puppet Show a more human experience than the studio albums. But Salem Hill are probably a better listen live that on live-CD. So first timers are advised to first explore Salem Hill's excellent studio albums.
At the risk of sounding like the Emperor in Equus telling Mozart that his music has "too many notes", it would appear that Puppet Show would have far more impact if it included just the best recordings, on a single CD.
Duncan Glenday

Sometimes it takes a while for a band to get noticed. All good intentions aside you still need a great deal of luck and ? the Internet. Having been together since 1991, Salem Hill has continued to grow and have taken step by step in order to create their unique blend of great melodies and wonderful craftmanship. The band delivered several superb studio albums but strangely enough never got the media attention that a band like Echolyn used to have. So maybe now was the right time to look back at their impressive career by means of a neatly packaged 2CD live set. In the liner notes the band says they hope it wasn?t an omen that most of the recordings were taped the day Lady Di died. Rest assured guys, 31st August is the day I got married, so you have to look at the bright side of life sometimes as well!
With recordings taken on numerous occasions whether during festivals or in small smoky venues, played over a span of five years, this set most certainly gives an ideal view of what Salem Hill is all about. The harmonies during "Real" already show that these guys offer more than your average prog tea party, delivering kind of CSNY meets Phish! This CD release most certainly could have been called ?Certainly no overdubs? because there?s more than one bum note when "Between The Two" kicks off. The band decided to keep it as it was that night, illustrating the fragile nature of the band! Notice the "carpet crawlers" feel of the keyboards during the middle section! This collection of tunes also contains some recordings that were made during the band?s appearance at Progday in 1997, when they were lucky enough to have ex-Kansas violinist David Ragsdale on board as a guest. Apparently David never rehearsed with the band, just hopped on stage and delivered his own tunes which remarkably work very well. Just listen to "Brave New World" and "Awake" on disc one to be amazed as well! Especially "Brave New World" sounds like an unreleased Kansas tune, a true classic!
Salem Hill is the kind of band that not only is able to deliver great melodies but also has a professional hand at putting true epics together. In their own words "The Judgment" is the all-time Salem Hill composition, so if you like this one you will love their entire output. So maybe you better start with this track first then when you get the chance to check this album out? Me, I don?t like this track ... I luv? it! With "Overture" it?s like listening to the intro for Rick Wakeman?s "Catherine Parr." Instead it?s part of a selection of material from the band?s The Robbery Of Murder album which, due to the fact that it concerns a concept album, is seldom played as part of a "regular" set. Although "When" doesn?t reach the "goosebumps" stature as on the studio version, it does remain a fantastic song. It would have sounded so much better with a real muted trumpet in the solo section but then again who has the budget to bring an extra guest on the road just for those couple of seconds?
Disc two opens with the fast and furious "Golden Crosses," which once again contains some Kansas references. Maybe the total of three different voices does the trick here? What is rather weird with Salem Hill is the fact that most of the members do write and deliver their own compositions, yet they all tend to contain the SH trademark. Patrick Henry?s "Listen To Me" contains loads if different atmospheres yet they all sound like authentic SH material to me. Sometimes you need to still work on existing songs as well to see to what extent you can change them to other, and who knows maybe to better things. "To The Hill" is one of them, having electronic percussion here as opposed to real drums on the studio version. It can work to such an extent where you will find it difficult to imagine the song with normal drums ever again. "Invisible" probably is Salem Hill at its loudest with drummer Kevin taking over lead vocals. The song finally ends in kind of a "free" form with the guitar getting every possible angle to shine. To end this incredible collection of live takes the band has recorded a brand new studio track called "Waiting For Wonderfulness." Once again all attention goes towards the vocal lines in order to make the arrangement as logical as possible. In the end you?ll be able to detect some Styx and/or Supertramp elements turning this song into a pleasant composition but surely not the band?s strongest effort.
Puppet Show is a double album with a varying result where quality is concerned. Due to the fact that it contains such a wide range of material and is recorded over a five year period it nevertheless gives a perfect view as to what Salem Hill is all about. For those with very good ears you can even detect the progress as time evolves! It most certainly is a wonderful testimony and proof that Salem Hill has wrongfully been rejected from the list of current prog icons as I don?t see any reason at all why they shouldn?t be seen as one of the world?s top ten prog bands of the moment!
John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Y si les gusta, podríamos presentar los trabajos más interesantes de la banda. Cualquier cosa avisen.


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