Empire ($5 Special)

SKU: 724358107029
Label:
EMI
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24 bit remastered reissue in deluxe packaging at a budget price. A masterful blending of progressive metal and rock, "Empire" features two of their best known songs - "Silent Lucidity" and "Jet City Woman". Comes with 3 bonus studio tracks.

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  • "Once upon a time there was a guitar god who had grown bored with all his fame, riches and glory. He longed for something more than another multi-platinum selling record. He desired not simply acclaim, but respect. He knew to get it he would have to walk away from the distinctive style that made him popular and wealthy. It was a risk to confuse his band and his fans by making a radical change in his musical direction. But he did it anyway and broke up the classic version of his band, alienating much of his audience in the process.It must have seemed worth it at the time to Carlos Santana. Appearing at Woodstock had announced to the world there was a new guitar hero on the scene, a skinny Mexican who fused elements of rock, Latin, jazz and funky R&B in one soul-stirring stew. Santana delivered on the promise with a trilogy of terrific albums.The initial effort in Santana's amazing adventures in fusion, Caravanserai (Columbia, 1972), is the sound of a band uncertain of its music and its leader equally uncertain of the direction he wants to take them. Following Santana III (Columbia, 1971), it must have puzzled executives at Columbia when Santana presented it to them. While it has its definite highs, the low points of Caravanserai are very low.Gregg Rolle was skillful on the organ, acceptable as a vocalist and totally out of his league trying to fake it as a jazz musician. Rolle simply lacked the feel for this dense, hook-free tunes and soon would leave to form Journey, taking guitarist Neal Schon with him.The record is disjointed as Santana can't fully let go of the Latin rock that made him wealthy and famous. Never the strongest vocalist, Rolle sings on three unmemorable songs. The songs aren't strong and neither is the playing. You can almost feel Santana's frustration. If he were going to succeed in this new path he was on he would need something conspicuous in its absence from Caravanserai.He would need better musicians to play the way he wanted and better music for them to play. Carlos took the first step when he joined with guitarist John McLaughlin for Love, Devotion and Surrender (Columbia, 1972). Santana brought along members of his band and teamed with McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra to produce an eclectic electric guitar summit that perplexed fans, critics and record executives.Welcome solved both problems. David Brown (bass) and Michael Carabello (percussion) were already out by that time and Rollie and Schon were eyeballing the exit sign as well.Santana has always fused the spiritual with the secular and Welcome is as close as the guitarist has ever come to the former with no regard for the latter. Welcome yielded no hit singles and was never conceived as an album rock radio would play. This is Santana's John Coltrane/A Love Supreme moment: creating transcendent, reverent, passionate music conceived and executed by a virtuoso artist without the slightest trace of concern for commercial considerations.The opening drone of the two organs on "Going Home" played by Tom Coster and Richard Kermode build gradually and soar high with grandeur. Santana lays out here and frequently fades into the background entirely. He is finally secure in his own playing and doesn't have to take the lead. His new-found confidence comes from knowing he finally has a band capable of delivering the goods and they do. Welcome is every bit as much of a classic as the first three Santana albums. It sounds great nearly 40 years after its release.The only comparable rock guitarist who altered his sound as drastically as Santana did with Welcome is Jeff Beck, with his career-altering Blow by Blow (Epic, 1975). The critical difference is Beck was taking the next step after a series of unremarkable bands and records that had flopped. Santana was at the peak of his fame when he drastically altered course and followed the path of A Love Supreme in seeking to make music that satisfied his soul, not a record company's ledger sheet.Even Robert Christgau, the noted (and notorious) rock critic/curmudgeon, and former music editor of The Village Voice smiled upon Welcome."More confident and hence more fun than Caravanserai, this proves that a communion of multipercussive rock and transcendentalist jazz can move the unenlightened—me, for instance. Good themes, good playing, good beat, and let us not forget good singing—Leon Thomas's muscular spirituality grounds each side so firmly that not even Flora Purim can send it out the window."Not everybody completely "got" Welcome in 1973. It wasn't slightly different like Caravanserai, with one foot still in rock and another with a toe dipping lightly into not only jazz fusion, but even free jazz. The signature sizzling guitar solos were there, but more restrained and at times even submerged within the collective of the group.The secret weapon is Michael Shrieve's energetic drumming and the dual keyboard attack of Coster and Kermode. They push and pull Santana to go beyond and stop holding back. Some have called the album disappointingly thin and self-indulgent, but that's a harsh assessment. There are no hit singles or any concessions made to radio here. Maybe an adventuresome jazz station would play "Samba De Sausalito," but even the vocal tracks, "When I Look Into Your Eyes" and "Light of Life" feature Leon Thomas' vocals. Alternating between soulful singing and off-the-wall yodeling, Thomas is perhaps the most polarizing of the many Santana vocalists.The other unique aspect to Welcome band was the band's first female member, Wendy Haas, a vocalist and keyboard player Santana plucked from Azteca, the same band he found a hot-shot 17-yr-old guitarist named Neal Schon, the future guitarist of Journey.If Welcome is the summit of Santana's jazz fusion era, Lotus (Columbia, 1974) and Borboletta (Columbia, 1974) are the sound of that era falling off a cliff. Lotus was a mammoth three-record live set that was only available as a high-priced import, but in 1991 Columbia released it domestically whittling it down to two CDs. It's brilliant, messy and at times, total overkill in overlength and Thomas is inept trying to front Santana standards such as "Black Magic Woman." Borboletta showcases a sullen Santana fronting an equally lethargic band and cursed by the ugliest cover art ever to appear on a Santana record. It's the splat of the band finally hitting the proverbial wall.frustrated by tepid record sales, Santana ditched his dalliance with jazz and returned to Latin rock glory with Amigos (Columbia, 1976). Though he was still billed as "Devadip" Carlos Santana he was drifting away from his guru, Sri Chimoy, and would leave both him and jazz behind for the rest of his career. Blues For Salvador (Columbia, 1987) won a Grammy for Best Instrumental and Santana Brothers (Universal/Polygram, 1994) is good, but these are primarily instrumental recordings and not really jazz.The Swing of Delight (Columbia, 1980) pairs Santana with trumpeter Miles Davis' classic quintet colleagues Herbie Hancock, Tony Williams, Ron Carter and Wayne Shorter, with Santana's blistering guitar leads replacing the lonely fire of Davis' trumpet, but the result isn't as incendiary as might have been hoped for. Most of the songs on The Swing of Delight are merely star-filled jam sessions lacking the structure and passion of Welcome.Santana has continued to release instrumental albums, but they aren't jazz and since the 15 million-selling Supernatural granted him late career superstar status on him in 1999, he has wasted the better part of a decade chasing similar success minus similar results. The bottom of the barrel is Guitar Heaven, which sounds like the name for a video game but is a pandering mess of classic rock covers.At this point in his life, Santana should be financially secure and has married his second wife, jazz drummer Cindy Blackman. In May he released the 22nd Santana album, Shape Shifter (Starfaith, 2012). With the exception of one vocal track it is a recording of instrumentals exclusively, with just the man and his band and no awkward guest stars crow-barred in except his son Salvador playing keyboards.In an interview, Santana explained why he was taking a break from his overly commercial direction of the past decade."In a lot of ways, yes, because I don't need to accommodate lyrics, and I don't need to accommodate artists. I say this in a funny way, but it's more about letting a Mexican play the guitar, you know?""I'm never going to wait so long to brew 'em like this anymore. I'm going to make sure that I do one album like this and then another kind. I remember reading that John Coltrane would do one Pursuance album, and then he'd do a ballads album where he'd hardly play a solo—he'd just play the melody verbatim."Shape Shifter may be a slight retreat for Santana from pop music and a return to pulling power chords from his guitar, but it's not going to be "Welcome: The Sequel." That was a different man making different music in a different time. The Santana of 1973 is not the Santana of 2012, but that man would not be the one he is now had he not chased his inner Coltrane and made a record as bold, brave and eternally beautiful as Welcome."- All About Jazz
    $7.00
  • Cheap price for the domestic pressing of the classic Mk II album.  Has "Strange Kind Of Woman".  How bad can it be?
    $5.00
  • This is the original US CD pressing on MCA Records.  
    $5.00
  • AlieNatura is the second album from this superb band playing in the classic "rock progressivo italiano" style.  The band is led by keyboardist Elisa Montaldo, who is as impressive on the ears as she is on the eyes (pardon the sexist comment).  One of the strong points of the band's debut was the inclusion in the lineup of former Museo Rosenbach vocalist Lupi Galifi.  With MR reforming he's left Il Tempio Delle Clessidre.  The obvious concern is who could fill his shoes?  Apparently the unknown Francesco Ciapica.  Truth is he does a fine job.  The guy can sing.  He has that expressive style that fits this music so perfectly.  Beautiful symphonic keyboards, liquid guitar runs, phat Moog solos - this band has the sound down pat.  The Italian scene seems to be burgeoning with new RPI bands and I would classify Il Tempio Delle Clessidre right up there with La Maschera Di Cera.  That's saying something.  BUY OR DIE!
    $16.00
  • JUST ARRIVED - REMASTERED VERSION WITH BONUS CUTS!!Steve Hackett's second solo album and his first after leaving Genesis. The songs are heavy duty progrock but there are a few swerves coming from Ritchie Havens and Randy Crawford's vocal performances. A gorgeous melodic but complex album.The three bonus tracks include an alternate version of Narnia with John G. Perry on vocals, an alternate version of Narnia with Steve Walsh on vocals, a live medly of Land Of 1000 Autumns/Please Don't Touch recorded at Drury Lane Theatre in 1979.
    $9.00
  • "Power metal has always been as fun as it is ridiculous. I may be overstepping my bounds, but if any bands care to disagree, let their dragons smite me where I stand. Dark Moor has been around since, what feels like, the beginning of time. Actually, it was closer to the late '90s when _Shadowland_ was released. Since their glorious debut into the golden halls of classical influenced power metal, the band has gone through serious line-up changes, including the 2003 departure of vocalist Elisa Martin. I would say that Dark Moor has changed drastically since 1999, but then again I would be overstepping my bounds. Fans have been divided over Martin led Dark Moor versus the new line-up with rich tenor Alfred Romero taking vocal duties. _Ancestral Romance_ is the band's eighth album, continuing the tradition of making music which sounds like battle themes for "Final Fantasy" games. _Ancestral Romance_ travels down well worn paths dug and paved by Blind Guardian, Helloween and Stratovarius. In fact, Dark Moor does nothing which breaks tradition with European power metal as well as previous releases. Despite its conceptual shortcomings, _Ancestral Romance_ does everything it should, at the right time and with the level of energy which soars straight through a vaulted roof.Stark realism hasn't always been a popular subject for power metal, as most albums are dedicated to high fantasy and various forms of speculative fiction. _Ancestral Romance_ deviates slightly with its pastoral paintings dedicated to Spanish folklore. If I could describe a song as framed and gilded in ornate gold, I would. While there is some historic truth to many songs, the level of fiction present is enough to make Rhapsody of Fire blush. Everything is inspired by actual events, and those events have been dramatized, exaggerated and heavy diffused. There are some obvious Spanish songs, such as the Don Quixote ballad " Tilt at Windmills", while others are more specific, like the Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar centered "Mio Cid". The Spanish Golden Age is usually not a popular period of inspiration, however, "Ah, Wretched Me" and its tribute to Pedro Calderón de la Barca says otherwise. _Ancestral Romance_ reads like the syllabus to a grad level Spanish literature class. It's exclusivity and somewhat obscure subject matter makes this portion of the record a highlight and selling point.There are, however, downfalls such as the middle selection entitled "Just Rock". I would try to brush this song off as a poor translation, but anything named "Just Rock" has one unfortunate conclusion. The congratulatory nature of "Just Rock" and masculine celebration of music in general feels silly as a midpoint pep rally which no one asked for. I am not pointing any fingers, but "Just Rock" may or may not have the lyrics "You feel the beat, you get a shock / when your soul harmonized with rock". This song completely disrupts a perfect afternoon with a coerced battle hymn. Dark Moor interrupts your picnic by dragging their muddy feet on the blanket. Luckily, after this shipwreck, the album moves along swimmingly until the end._Ancestral Romance_ could also be praised for its position on tempo. Speed, for Dark Moor, isn't necessarily the end goal as with most power metal. While the ferocity of DragonForce and Sonata Artica is fun, it is sometimes treated as a technical checkmate. Dark Moor coasts at midspeed while still showing off technical prowess and unnecessary bass solos. The cruising speed of Manowar's _In Glory Ride_ and Iced Earth's _Night of the Stormrider_ worked fine in the past and works again for _Ancestral Romance_.It is hard to fault a band for doing everything with textbook style and predictable grace. Dark Moor has made it apparent they intend on skipping forward with little to no change. There is some admiration granted to an artist working through a style over the course of eight albums. Each album is another step in becoming folk heroes or possibility having their faces engraved on coins. _Ancestral Romance_ , for better or worse, is everything you expect it to be and nothing more." - chroniclesofchaos.com
    $6.00
  • New electric band effort from Mr. Hackett was long overdue. Wild Orchids marks the return of keyboardist Nick Magnus to the fold. The rest of the band are the cats that Steve has been recording and touring with for years now but there are augmented by the "Underworld Orchestra". The music has a subdued laid back vibe but of course we get those trademark withering solos that are unmistakably pure Hackett. Some world music influences creep into the mix in spots reminding of Peter Gabriel's solo work, while other tracks evoke the feel of Please Don't Touch. One curious inclusion is a cover of Bob Dylan's "The Man In The Long Black Coat" - Steve slays on it but...
    $9.00
  • "From Rotterdam in the Netherlands comes Sky Architect, and their third and latest effort, A Billion Years of Solitude, introduces a space rock/science fiction element into their brand of melodic progressive rock. Hints of Genesis, Porcupine Tree, Hawkwind, Gentle Giant, Eloy, Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, and King Crimson pop up from time to time, especially on the rousing 18-minute opener "The Curious One", which kind of combines all the influences of the band into one killer epic. But, before we really dive into the music, let me report that the current line-up of the band consists of Tom Luchies (vocals, guitars), Wabe Wieringa (guitars), Guus van Mierlo (bass), Christiaan Bruin (drums, backing vocals), and Rik van Honk (keyboards -Mellotron, Grand piano, Hammond organ, Rhodes piano, - Clavinet, Moog synth, Wurlitzer, plus flugelhorn, trumpet, backing vocals).Back to that opening epic, it's an explosion of space rock and heavy prog musical & lyrical themes, with waves of Mellotron and various keyboards floating over throbs of bass, jagged guitar, intricate drumming, and layered vocals. Gentler than Hawkwind but more explosive than Genesis, it's a perfect half-way meeting point of both styles, and there are some sizzling solos here and plenty of haunting atmosphere. It's easily one of the 'must hear' songs of the year. "Wormholes (The Inevitable Collapse Of The Large Hadron Collider)" is a more rocking piece, but still firmly in the prog camp, reminding at times of Spock's Beard as well as Todd Rundgren's Utopia, and it's a real workout for guitarist Wieringa but also containing some great vocals courtesy of Luchies. "Tides" is one of the shortest tracks on the album, but it's also one of the heaviest, as churning guitar & keyboard riffs blast away over intricate rhythms, eventually giving way to lush acoustic guitar and floating vocals, before succumbing once again to Dream Theater/Gentle Giant styled complex bombast. The mighty Mellotron comes back for the engaging "Elegy of a Solitary Giant", another lengthy number complete with sci-fi drenched lyrics and plenty of spacey sounds, a perfect trip for all the Hawkwind/Eloy/Nektar/Pink Floyd fans in the house. After the quick little heavy space rock instrumental "Jim's Ride to Hell" (an awesome piece that I wish was longer), the band deliver one of the quirkiest numbers on the album, the complex "Revolutions". With plenty of keyboard textures from van Honk and acrobatic guitar from Wieringa, this one is a wild ride that zig zags from intricate prog-rock to ethereal space rock and back again. Closing 13-minute epic "Traveller's Last Candle" is another sci-fi yarn with some incredible musical passages, and the way the band go back and forth between lush atmospheric sections, to spacey explorations, to rumbling, bombastic heavy prog is just amazing.There have been a lot of excellent albums released here in 2013, and A Billion Years of Solitude certainly is among those and will be looked at closely when people are putting together their 'best of the year' lists. I just love the way this band perfectly meshes heavy progressive rock with the more otherworldly sounds of the space rock genre, making for a truly intoxicating listening experience. Stunning stuff really, and highly recommended." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $17.00
  • First part of a trilogy from this German band enamoured with the idea of the rock opera.  Perhaps similar to an Ayreon album, it straddles the line between progressive metal and rock but with an overarching symphonic angle.  Like all traditional rock operas, various singers perform roles of characters in the story.  Lots of guest musicians/vocalists on this one."The world is under siege by an alien force –The Minders. They have declared war on the earth because they know that the humans will soon destroy the “mighty equation” in space. Humanity has become intelligent and technologically advanced but lacks the imagination and wisdom to see the devastation they wreak. The Magistrate has decided to annihilate the entire human race before its greed and pursuit of power can reach beyond its own planet. They send devastating solar storms to snuff out all life on Earth. The last surviving human “elite” fight to liberate their world and vow to “turn over a new leaf.” But a brave soldier named John believes that they have a very different plan…Beside the core of Flaming Row, Kiri Geile, Martin Schnella, Marek Arnold and Niklas Kahl, there are a lot of well-known guest musicians like Jimmy Keegan (Spock’s Beard, Santana), Leo Margarit (Pain Of Salvation), Kristoffer Gildenlöw (Ex-Pain Of Salvation / Rust), Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard / Enchant), Magali Luyten (Ayreon / Beautiful Sin), Johan Hallgren (Ex-Pain Of Salvation), Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard), Eric & Nathan Brenton (Neal Morse), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon / Star One), Gary Wehrkamp & Brendt Allman (Shadow Gallery), Diego Tejeida (Haken) and many more playing and singing on „Mirage“.So this time Martin Schnella reached his aim again. Putting the high musicality of unknown and famous musicians of the progressive rock/metal scene on one CD."
    $15.00
  • Steven Wilson's solo career apart from Porcupine Tree, is for this listener, far more interesting.  Whereas PTree currently skirts the line between rock and metal, his solo work fits squarely in the progressive rock arena.  The Raven That Refused To Sing (and other stories) is easily his magnum opus.  The musicianship is stellar - he recorded with his touring band: Nick Beggs (Stick), Guthrie Govan (guitar), Adam Holzman (keys), Marco Minnemann (drums), and Theo Travis (flute, sax).  Mr. Wilson has also dug two things out of mothballs - King Crimson's Mellotron and Alan Parsons.  It was Steven Wilson's wish to one day work with Alan Parsons, who came on board as engineer.  I can't tell you who is responsibile for what but I can tell you that the production is impeccable.  The opening epic "Luminol" drips with the holy 'tron sounding like a cross-generation blend of King Crimson eras.  And so it goes through out the album.  Some utterly fierce playing on this album.  From beginning to end a stunning effort.  BUY OR DIE!
    $11.00
  • New remastered edition of The Window Of Life has the added bonus of the Falled Dreams And Angels mini-album tacked on to create one 79 minute disc.
    $14.00
  • The band's second album. At this point the progressive elements were just starting to be displayed.  Remastered edition.
    $5.00
  • "Since it's billed as "Directions in Music by Miles Davis," it should come as little surprise that Filles de Kilimanjaro is the beginning of a new phase for Miles, the place that he begins to dive headfirst into jazz-rock fusion. It also happens to be the swan song for his second classic quintet, arguably the finest collective of musicians he ever worked with, and what makes this album so fascinating is that it's possible to hear the breaking point -- though his quintet all followed him into fusion (three of his supporting players were on In a Silent Way), it's possible to hear them all break with the conventional notions of what constituted even adventurous jazz, turning into something new. According to Miles, the change in "direction" was as much inspired by a desire to return to something earthy and bluesy as it was to find new musical territory, and Filles de Kilimanjaro bears him out. Though the album sports inexplicable, rather ridiculous French song titles, this is music that is unpretentiously adventurous, grounded in driving, mildly funky rhythms and bluesy growls from Miles, graced with weird, colorful flourishes from the band. Where Miles in the Sky meandered a bit, this is considerably more focused, even on the three songs that run over ten minutes, yet it still feels transitional. Not tentative (which In the Sky was), but certainly the music that would spring full bloom on In a Silent Way was still in the gestation phase, and despite the rock-blues-n-funk touches here, the music doesn't fly and search the way that Nefertiti did. But that's not a bad thing -- this middle ground between the adventurous bop of the mid-'60s and the fusion of the late '60s is rewarding in its own right, since it's possible to hear great musicians find the foundation of a new form. For that alone, Filles de Kilimanjaro is necessary listening." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • Remastered edition with 3 bonus tracks."Child Is Father to the Man is keyboard player/singer/arranger Al Kooper's finest work, an album on which he moves the folk-blues-rock amalgamation of the Blues Project into even wider pastures, taking in classical and jazz elements (including strings and horns), all without losing the pop essence that makes the hybrid work. This is one of the great albums of the eclectic post-Sgt. Pepper era of the late '60s, a time when you could borrow styles from Greenwich Village contemporary folk to San Francisco acid rock and mix them into what seemed to have the potential to become a new American musical form. It's Kooper's bluesy songs, such as "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" and "I Can't Quit Her," and his singing that are the primary focus, but the album is an aural delight; listen to the way the bass guitar interacts with the horns on "My Days Are Numbered" or the charming arrangement and Steve Katz's vocal on Tim Buckley's "Morning Glory." Then Kooper sings Harry Nilsson's "Without Her" over a delicate, jazzy backing with flügelhorn/alto saxophone interplay by Randy Brecker and Fred Lipsius. This is the sound of a group of virtuosos enjoying itself in the newly open possibilities of pop music. Maybe it couldn't have lasted; anyway, it didn't." - Allmusic
    $5.00