Songs We Were Taught

The Prog Collective

Independent release, 2022

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


The Prog Collective is what you’d get if Alan Parsons had ADHD.

An eternally rotating superaggregate of prog musicians, voices, and producers, the only constant is Yes and Asia member Billy Sherwood. Past that, it’s often a roll on the dice as to who and what you get on a given Collective CD.

Their latest work, Songs We Were Taught, is a tribute to progressive, folk, and pop songs from the 1970s, and it’s… interesting. It has highs and lows, and in a lot of ways it’s an ambitious work with some serious flaws.

The production and engineering is impeccable. Whatever else we can say about it, the sound is perfect; the songs have to rise or fall on their own merits. In that vein, we shall divide the tracks into the Weird, the Bad, and the Good. (I like ending on a positive note.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Weird: “Summer Breeze” featuring Steve Morse of Deep Purple and Roine Stolt of the Flower Kings. This is, at its heart, a simple, gentle, beautiful song… but Morse and Stolt manage to blow it up like a Macy’s day balloon. It’s much, much too overdubbed, overlaid, and overproduced. One should not have to hunt for a melody in a song like this. I confess to also be boggled by Jon Davison (Yes) and Geoff Downes’ (Asia, The Buggles, Yes) take on “Sounds Of Silence.” Simon and Garfunkel in waltz time. Yeah. Moving on.

The Bad: Holy shades of James Taylor, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air) is bad on “Fire And Rain.” Martin Barre (Jethro Tull) does what he can, but Kristina’s voice not only has a fork in it, but an entire eight-piece cutlery set. It’s like listening to Dame Judi Dench sing Slayer.

And “The Weight,” with Rod Argent (Argent, The Zombies) and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers), is best left on the cutting room floor as well. It’s another “Summer Breeze,” but worse; too many fripperies, too weak a vocal.

The Good: Sherwood and David Sancious (E Street Band) knock Al Stewart’s “Year Of The Cat” out of the park, managing to say something new on a song that’s been put under the microscope for years. David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat, and Tears) and Steven Hillage (Gong) spin a mysterious, blistering take on “House Of The Rising Sun.”

Best of all (and possibly should be in a new category, “Weird/Good”)—Candace Night (Blackmore’s Night) and Dweezil Zappa on Carole King’s “It’s Too Late.”

Yes, I said that.

Yes, it works.

No, I’m not sure how.

Yes, I have taken my medication.

At any rate…

Does Songs We Were Taught work? Enh. Sort of yes, sort of no. There are good tracks, there are bad tracks, there are tracks that properly played could cause permanent twitching. In the end, I can’t recommend it as more than something to cherry-pick a few songs from.

Rating: C

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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