Tribute To The Titans

Various Artists

Magna Carta Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If you've been reading this site for any length of time, you've seen many reviews of albums from Magna Carta Records, a little label out of New York that has been doing everything it can to keep progressive rock alive. One high-water mark this label has accomplished has been a series of tribute albums to some prog-rock groups - albums that have helped to breathe new life into some of the music. We've reviewed three of the six tribute albums; the seventh release, Steinway To Heaven, is a disc filled with some of rock's greatest keyboardists playing some of the piano's best works.

If you don't have the time or money to pick up all seven discs and listen to them, now there is a sampler of these tribute albums, Tribute To The Titans. A well-constructed set, it is sure to whet your appetite for some of these collections - and even if you have some of them, it should put them into a new perspective for you.

Two cuts from each disc grace this album, and each one gives a fair assessment of what you can expect from the entire package. The sheer number of artists who took part in these 14 tracks is too vast to list, but it encompasses some of the biggest names in progressive rock of the past and present.

If Tribute To The Titans has done anything, it's made me very interested in hearing The Moon Revisited, a tribute to Pink Floyd and their 1973 classic The Dark Side Of The Moon. The two tracks from this album, "Money" (which could have been mixed a little louder) and "Eclipse" both capture the spirit of the original versions and allow for unique stylings without trashing the original structure of the songs.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Likewise, the disc Tales From Yesterday now has my curiosity piqued, thanks to the cover of "Siberian Khatru" that sounds almost exactly like the original version. Here's a fun trick you can play on your friends: play this version for a friend who loves Yes, and see if they can tell the difference. However, the track "Turn Of The Century" tends to drag a little, despite guitar work from Steve Howe. Annie Haslam's vocals just don't do anything for me, though I think the fault lies in the track itself, which doesn't have a lot of energy to it.

Supper's Ready, the tribute to Genesis, also earns high marks thanks to the featured tracks, "Back In N.Y.C." and "Watcher Of The Skies," the latter featuring Robert Berry, who sounds a lot like Peter Gabriel. Canadian prog-metal superstars Rush also get the tender-loving-care treatment on Working Man, one of the three discs I have heard and reviewed. Hearing "Red Barchetta" (with Dream Theater's James LaBrie on lead vocals) and "Jacob's Ladder" (with ex-Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach) both rekindled my interest in this disc, which I haven't listened to since reviewing it.

Jethro Tull's turn in the spotlight, To Cry You A Song, is a little more hit-and-miss. On the positive side, the cover of "Nothing Is Easy" (featuring John Wetton and former Tull members Mick Abrahams, Clive Bunker and Glenn Cornick) is an incredible take on the track, and is entertaining from the start. (It's also good to hear from the original rhythm section of Jethro Tull again.) On the miss side, Roy Harper does his best on "Up The 'Pool," but just fails to connect to the magic of the original track.

The last of the tribute albums, the recently-released Encores, Legends & Paradox, takes on Emerson Lake & Palmer, and does a respectable job. It's no mean trick to re-create tracks like "Knife Edge," but this is a pretty good take on it. And the more I hear this version of Aaron Copeland's "Hoedown", the more I'm tending to like it - though I still prefer the classical version.

The tribute to classical keyboard works, Steinway To Heaven, contains some of the prettiest music on the collection, as heard on Rick Wakeman's rendition of Beethoven's "Pathetique". I've sworn I will not have a funeral when I die, but should my family go against my wishes, I want this played at the service. Keith Emerson digs into the obscurity file for Alberto Ginastera's "Dance Creole," which is a bit shocking at first, but turns out to be a decent track as well. Though I have yet to hear the rest of this particular album, these two tracks make me very interested in it.

Tribute To The Titans is nearly 75 minutes of wonderful accolades paid to the founding fathers of progressive rock, played by the people who have helped to keep the torch lit as we near the new millenium. If you're even a fair-weather fan of any of the six groups who got the star treatment, or even if you just like good piano work, spend an evening curled up with this disc.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Magna Carta Records, and is used for informational purposes only.