Salem Hill - Not Everybody's Gold

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Lazarus Records/Old Wolf Productions
Catalog Number: ACRGW06
Format: CD
Total Time: 70:09:00

Although I'd seen the add promising the release of this for months, and had them recommended to me a couple of years ago, I had never got around to sampling their music. That is, until I heard "The Last Enemy" on Progressive DisDURPance 3 last month or so. Well, I was impressed enough by that track to seek out this album. I am not disappointed, as this is style of progressive that drew me headlong into the genre (where before I only dabbled). Salem Hill are not afraid to tip their respective hats at their influences. There's a passage during the epic closer "Sweet Hope Suite," during the second movement, that sounds downright Yes-like, with Howe-esque guitar even. But then easily shifts to a Celtic/Kansas like groove - could it be because ex-Kansas man David Ragsdale guests on violin? Yes and no ... I think it has a Kansas feel besides the violin. A few moments later, it is ELP that gets the nod, before it moves into the third movement.

Not Everybody's Gold makes many sonic references to some of the best-known names in progressive rock and near-progressive rock throughout the entire disk. At various times I thought of Yes (as above, plus in "Prelude" which opens the album), Genesis, and Rush. But also I hear a similarity to Dream Theater and other progressive metal bands, as the harder edged attack in places like the instrumental opening has a metallic tinge. Yes, that's right, it's both Yes-like and Dream Theater-like. Quite a dichotomy. "Riding The Fence" is perhaps the best example of the latter, though, as I hear both Dream Theater and Rush in the style, though there's an aspect of the keys, a percussiveness that made me think of ... no, not Keith Emerson (he comes later), but of The Police's "Synchronicity." Oh, but there's so much more, because there are some Emerson-esque keyboard phrases here, too.

It's the epic, multi-movement, "Sweet Hope Suite" that sums up all the influences here, as you'll get Foxtrot-era Tony Banks-like keyboards/ Collins-like percussion ("Watcher Of The Skies" came to mind), Beatles-like harmonies, more Hogarth like vocals, a touch of Saga, too - at least to me. And while I wouldn't have made this association a year ago, some fuzzed keyboard work that made me think of Supersister ... early Supersister, I guess. IQ also comes to mind ... and of all things, a brief guitar phrase that sounds like Steely Dan's "Reelin' In The Years" (one of my personal favourite Steely Dan tunes has it happens).

"The Last Enemy" moves into Arena territory - lush symphonics, epic swells and dramatic vocals. The piano interlude here by Michael Ayers is quite nice as well. The chorus swells triumphantly, underscoring the theme of the track - good's triumph over evil. "January" is, at times, Marillion-esque, to the point where the vocalist sounds a bit like Steve Hogarth. Michael Dearing, drummer Kevin Thomas, and Carl Groves all handle lead vocals on the album, but I'm not sure which one it is here. Both have nice voices, though, and so win marks from me for that. And it is Groves who has harvested most of the lyrics, though Ayers contributes one, plus the instrumental "Prelude", and bassist Patrick Henry liberates "January" from his pen.

The album is worth seeking out based on "Sweet Hope Suite" alone, and seek it out you should. This US progressive band, with three releases under their belt, is another one to watch. And the hidden bonus track is a fun little 60s-esque ditty (it actually starts at the very end of "Sweet" after several minutes of silence).

Prelude (4:21) / Riding The Fence (6:23) / The Last Enemy (7:49) / January (5:56) / Let Loose The Arrow (7:04) / We Don't Know (4:43) / Sweet Hope Suite (33:53)

Michael Ayers - keyboards, piano, pipe organ, & backing vocals
Michael Dearing - guitars, lead and backing vocals, mandolin, & additional keys
Carl Groves - guitars, lead & backing vocals, mandolin, electric piano, and even more additional keys
Patrick Henry - bass guitar and backing vocals
Kevin Thomas - drums, lead and backing vocals, mallets & assorted percussion
David Ragsdale - violin and baritone violin (7)
Carolyn Knox Binkley - choir director & vocals (3)
Jaclyn Linenby, Bonnie Bivens, Patricia Cullum, Beka Callaway & Jodi Vann - vocals (7)
Rod Foster - trumpet

The Robbery Of Murder (1999)
Not Everybody's Gold (2000)
Puppet Show (2003)
Mimi's Magic Moment (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 1st 2000
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 1805
Language: english


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