Ten Jinn: Wildman (CD, 40:17); Emerald City Records , 1997 Wildman Records c/o John Paul Strauss P.O. Box 56822 Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: (818) 988-8280 Fax: (818) 988-8170 Cyberhome: www.loop.com/~tenjinn Ignoring the enclosed press kit which lists a variety of notable proggish musical influences and the mention of “progressive/art rock” as the genre -- I carry on listening through each track unbiased by blurb. Most obvious to me is that Saga/(Wildest Dreams) era sound in John Strauss’ vocals/lyrics especially and overall song structures. As is in Saga’s releases, Ten Jinn’s musicianship is topnotch with ample expressive and effective guitar textures and fills. Keys are strong and carry a nearly equal weight as guitars -- if not more so. Bass and drums are tight and theatrically melodic. There are enough hooks sprinkled in each song. “Rainbow’s Moon”, a definite radio-ready cut has a neoprog, pop rock feel. On “The Vampire Lestat”, “Forever Young”, and “Full Moon” we get to hear Strauss’ signature deep-timbre vox, darkwave-gothy, passionate, and dramatic side come through. It sounds like Ten Jinn, (in Saga-esque mode), collaborated with the Alan Parsons Project to cover Ricean vampirology, mirroring APP’s Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Recall the excellent Tales of Mystery and Imagination. This is where Ten Jinn should head in future releases. I really got lost listening until I realized liner notes didn’t match actual disc track order with “Ritual Fire”, actually coming after “Full Moon”. In spite of this confusion I think the actual disc order works much better than if it had matched the liner notes. “Ritual Fire” was an upbeatly omnious track that brought echoes of Dave Adams et al on the marvelous Glass Moon releases of decades ago. “Endings” is a jazzy, vibes thing with a that slightly unpleasant touch of mainstream 80's dance floor Wang-Chung/Duran Duran/Flock of Seagulls type of groove-out. “I know” again outros with more of that mainstream rock, nite-club, straight up/no flash/no tricks Saga feel but not impressive overall unless perhaps -- you were that lonely femme fatale sitting front row as Strauss serenaded you in subdued stage lighting. Overall, this release shows good songwriting, theatrically strong vocals, solid and professional musicianship and all that but . . . this is too neo-pop-prog for my more eclectic prog and jazz fusion tastes. This is prog rock for the ladies deciding to do a genre crossover -- oh most definitely so. ~ John W. Patterson
Ten JinnAs On A Darkling Plain (CD, 72:09); Wildman Records WMR-002, 1999 Wildman Records c/o John Paul Strauss P.O. Box 56822 Sherman Oaks, CA 91403 E-mail: email@example.com Ph: (818) 988-8280 Fax: (818) 988-8170 Cyberhome: www.loop.com/~tenjinn Well, after Ten Jinn’s Wildman release, I suggested Strauss had a pretty cool gig goin’ with this dark theatre of Ricean-inspired, rock vampirology he played with a bit. Now it has blossomed full and afresh into an epic 40:05 rock opera of eight movements. I am sure this makes for quite a stage show if done right, (to date I can but imagine such). As stated in my earlier reviews, Ten Jinn brings to mind the best of Saga and Glass Moon wrapped together. This time out, I hear less pop-sappy and hook-laden, mainstream-inflected rock. Finally the progressive tips the scale. Surprisingly so, three of the eight “As On A Darkling Plain” movements are all instrumental. This is a gracious proggish improvement on Strauss’ part, seeing that he must therefore refrain from sharing his fine voice. Just listen and you can hear Strauss’s transparent love for pathos-rich vocals. Passion and lush expression are loaded in all Ten Jinn’s lyrics. Ten Jinn holds yet another surprise -- “Happy the Stan” Whitaker, guests on guitars. So with some of that legendary Happy The Man axework present you will notice the guitar presence moving up several notable notches. Best cut, for my in-your-face, prog rockin’ taste, of the vampiric epic’s blood-letting was -- voodoo drum roll please -- “Run Away”, a clear hands down finale/outro/climactic killer track. The excitement was infectious with Strauss’ gut-wrenching vocals. Keys were a driving/whirling maelstrom cool, bass akickin’, drums mean, and monster guitars slayed me. Strauss solar-plexus-wailed beastly like Glenn Danzig did on How the Gods Kill. Great track dudes! The last 32 bonus “rock-out-and-croon-a-lot” minutes on this CD give us “Lost In The Money”, a Saga/Glass Moon-like rocker with a strong southern-fried rock “Sweet Home Alabama” undercurrent holding things together. “Blind Authority” is another peppy rocker with tight grooves and Whitaker, (methinks), tearing it up deftly on guitar solos. “Rock” slows things up in an undulating, drifting, cosmic carousel of Happy The Man meets Rush prog rock with vocals. Guitar solos are straightup pentatonic rock with little fusion nor eclectic modalities, (which I wish were used more). ATTENTION: Please insert the very decent track, “Tomorrow”, (song six), right here as the “big finish”, CD outro. NOTE: This is where the CD should have stopped, in my amateur wannabe-a-CD producer opinion. Weakest, (should have been left off the disc), track for me was the 5:10 “I Can’t See”. This is irritatingly tongue-in-cheek, circus-like, goofball pop. It was plagued with dorky/dippy/dweeb vocal excesses and too much crybaby lyrics. Why do progressive, supposed- to-be “art” rock bands choose to offer us such drivel/filler when they exhibit clear talent elsewhere? Final track, “Lay Down Beside Me (In The Rain)”. This is but more more of that Saga/Glass Moon-ish angst-drenched vox and please-love-me-baby jive with quasi-arena-slick- rock delivery, and its inherent, not-so interesting compositional matrix. Sorry ‘bout that guys. Compared to Ten Jinn’s earlier Wildman release, AOADP is clearly superior. Strauss’ vampire-inspired songs really work. The remainder of the disc is professionally decent rock but holds two lackluster “filler” tracks. If you like Saga or Glass Moon, Ten Jinn will please. Alas, I heard very little on this disc that allowed Stan Whitaker’s monumental prog rock guitar legacy to breathe. He handles Ten Jinn, theatre-prog rock with ease but we know he is capable of so very much more. Strauss’ vox is superb as usual on tracks he really cares about. I am curious to see where Ten Jinn heads with their future releases. I hear an enormous amount of potential that needs a bit more focus and a bigger step towards more art and less rock. ~ John W. Patterson
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