Exit Stage Left

SKU: 534632
Label:
Mercury
Category:
Progressive Rock
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Great double live album available at a budget price.

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  • "The partnership between Magnum guitarist and songwriter Tony Clarkin and vocalist Bob Catley is now well into its fourth decade and yet like a fine vintage wine it grows ever more appealing with age. More than thirty years since their debut Kingdom of Madness was given a rave review by Sounds Geoff Barton who compared them at the time to Starcastle, Yes, Kansas and Queen, Magnum remain a band to be cherished. Whilst those comparisons were justified in the beginning, across albums such as The Eleventh Hour, On A Storytellers Night and Wings of Heaven Magnum developed a style that was uniquely their own as they became one of the UK's most enduring bands with stirring anthems, melodic rockers and power ballads in abundance. After a hiatus during the latter half of the 90's that saw Clarkin and Catley diversify with Hard Rain (or Magnum-lite as it could have been described) the pair brought Magnum out of hibernation with the uncertain Breath of Life in 2002 that was followed by the much improved Brand New Morning two years later. But even this paled when compared with the majestic return that was 2007's Princess Alice and The Broken Arrow and this rich vein of form is carried through into this relatively brisk follow-up, the wonderfully titled Into The Valley Of The Moonking. Ever since the Jeff Glixman - produced Chase The Dragon in 1982 Magnum's artwork has been an important element of the overall package and Moonking is no exception, once again provided by the exquisite touch of fantasy artist Rodney Matthews who has been so effective over the years in bringing Clarkin's initial ideas to life. With Matthews involvement it simply feels like a Magnum album before you have even taken the CD out of the box.The opening 'Intro' is precisely that; Mark Stanway's keyboards conjuring up a windswept landscape that sets the scene for what is to come and segues into the mid tempo 'Cry To Yourself' and whilst it lacks the immediate impact of some of the later tracks it proves to be a solid enough opener. Tony Clarkin's songwriting is nothing short of amazing as he once again delivers lyrics that are truly inspirational, the careworn ballad 'A Face In The Crowd' being a perfect example. Clarkin's lyrics have often dealt with self-belief and perseverance in the face of struggle and adversity ('The Spirit', 'When The World Comes Down', 'Desperate Times') and 'A Face In The Crowd' is another worthy addition to the list. Another theme often revisited has been the futility of conflict and the dramatic 'No-one Knows His Name' joins a canon that includes 'Les Morts Dansent', 'Don't Wake The Lion' and 'The Flood' in remembering those who have been lost on the battlefield. Catley's voice aches with emotion on the stirring 'If I Ever Lose My Mind' although this is hardly a surprise as he never sounds anything less than immaculate.Away from the anthems, 'Take Me To The Edge' and the urgent 'Feels Like Treason' find the band cranking it up a gear and varying the pace with two quality hard rockers. The (near) title track is where Clarkin brings out his blues guitar and combines it with Magnum's grandiose style to blow away the cobwebs whilst the fantasy imagery of the lyric perfectly complements the cover art. Magnum's albums have often closed with sweeping epics and this proves no exception with 'Blood On Your Barbed Wire Thorns' starting like a gritty, up-tempo rocker (with some delicate piano embellishments from Stanway) before taking an altogether different direction around the four minute mark with an instrumental passage that becomes a showcase for an evocative Clarkin solo before Stanway plays the song out. The songwriting and musicianship are exceptional throughout and I don't expect to hear a better album this year so a five star rating is more than justified.Out of the valley of the Moonking Magnum have emerged triumphant. Long may they continue." - Sea Of TranquilityThis is the deluxe edition that comes with a bonus DVD featuring an interview as well as live footage of performances from '92 and '85.
    $18.00
  • With each successive release the question always is asked – How will the Tipton Brothers top their last album? The band’s fifth album, Dark Deceiver, is another jaw-dropping achievement of technical metal. The quartet of Jasun Tipton, Troy Tipton, Mike Guy, and Chris Salinas take their “chops from hell” attitude to a new level. In creating Zero Hour, the brothers envisioned a dark, heavy, emotional vibe, expressed through intricate arrangements, forceful vocals, and meaningful lyrics.2006 found the band in a curious situation. Although they were attracting attention and accolades around the world they were in need of a new vocalist. The problem was solved by the arrival of noted vocalist Chris Salinas, formerly of Power Of Omens. The resulting album “Specs Of Pictures Burnt Beyond” met with stellar reviews, a US tour and a headlining slot at the Headway Festival in Netherland. The year culminated in the band’s third appearance at ProgPower USA in Atlanta – the largest progressive metal festival in the world.For the recording of their new album the band once again collaborated with producer Dino Alden. Dark Deceiver finds the band experimenting with their already defined sound. The compositions are more technical than before. Alden took advantage of Salinas’ incredible vocal talents to apply some interesting and dramatic treatments, creating something very different from their previous recordings. This is without question the band’s crowning moment.
    $13.00
  • The previous two Kayak albums were grand scale rock operas....now here is the third.  Cleopatra is a two CD rock opera with various members of the band playing the part of different characters in the story.  The music is melodic and grandiose - think of a mash up of Camel and Glass Hammer.  Bombastic is the way Kayak has been serving it up for years now and they do it quite well.  Highly recommended.
    $31.00
  • Latest in the 40th anniversary series featuring remixes by Steven Wilson.  Here is what you get:CD contains a new stereo remix plus 3 alternate mixes.  The DVD contains 5.1 remix of the album, a 24/96 and 24/48 stereo remix, the original album mix and alternate takes and mixes in 24/48.  The video content is the complete Beat Club performance and is worth the price alone.  
    $20.00
  • "Coming to a new Edguy is always a good thing. Ten years ago this German melodic heavy metal band single-handedly brought me back to metal in the 21st century (helping to revive me from a decade lost to grunge in nu-metal). Age of the Joker is their ninth studio album, with the band offering both classic and new Edguy.For classic Edguy, tale-telling in epic melodic power metal form, look to Rock of Cashel, The Arcane Guild, and Behind the Gates to Midnight World as they all have that large ambitious Edguy sound. Rock of Cashel offers strong melodic metal with a smooth groove, piano segue half way, and then guitar solos with a celtic feel. The Arcane Guild finds the band echoing the VGO era with galloping power metal, but infused with some Hammond style organ. (Edguy seems to allow for more liberal and evident keyboard presence throughout this disc.) Typical Edguy, Behind the Gates to Midnight World is extravagant: epic melodic metal with varied movements of mixed tempos. The opener Robin Hood also fits this style but, of all the songs, is nearly too typical, almost caricature, of Edguy power metal. It would have been better to put it at the end or, at the very least, switched with Nobody's Feel (which would have been a better start).If bombastic power metal is characteristic of Edguy, so also is extremely catchy melodic metal. Edguy has an uncanny ability blur metal with a strong hard rock groove. Nobody's Hero, the radio friendly tunes Breathe and (vulgar) Two Out of Seven or, to a slightly lesser extent, Fire on the Downline allow the listener to tap his toe and band his head in a single romp. And what would an Edguy album be without a metal ballad? Incomplete, you answer. Every Night Without You is not quite as inspiring as Land of the Miracle, but follows the formula: passionate and soaring.However, the novelty of Age of the Joker is the unlikely and extremely enjoyable Pandora's Box. Beginning with some interesting acoustic/steel guitar work the song develops into that blur of accessible melodic hard rock and metal. Yet, the best part is the return of that steel guitar in blues fashion for the solo. Match this with the catchy melody and chorus, and the new Edguy becomes the surprising evolving Edguy. Age of the Joker is worth this song alone.With Age of the Joker, Edguy continues from strength to strength, another fine album of melodic heavy metal from a band who knows their craft, and keeps getting better at it. Strongly recommended." - Danger Dog
    $6.00
  • Special edition arrives with a bonus DVD of the band performing material from Concrete Gardens filmed at EMGTV."Sound: Tony MacAlpine was one of the Shrapnel label guitarists of the '80s, and also played keyboards for the debut releases of Vinnie Moore and other Shrapnel artists. Tony's debut solo album, "Edge of Insanity," came iout in 1986 - the same year as his first side project, M.A.R.S., with release of the album "Project: Driver." Since that time Tony MacAlpine has released numerous solo albums, participated in collaborations, made live guest appearances, and even acted as part of Steve Vai's backing band. "Concrete Gardens" is Tony's twelfth solo studio album, and is entirely instrumental like the vast majority of Tony's solo work. The album has been in the works since 2013, but took a while to release due to Tony's numerous collaborations and other projects. Jeff Loomis provides a guest guitar solo on the album on the track, "Square Circles." The album contains 12 tracks with a total runtime of just under sixty minutes. The album differs from Tony's previous work by having more of a progressive metal flavor to it, while I think of most of his previous releases as just being straight instrumental rock.The album opens up with the track "Exhibitionist Blvd," with some seriously flanged guitar and a major key melody that builds into something a little different as the track goes on. There is a specific passage that shows the influence that Vai has had on MacAlpine, though I would rank them close to equal in the virtuoso racket. "The King's Rhapsody" opens up with a keyboard intro, played by Tony, of course. Heavy guitars come in and takes the song to a few unexpected places, and actually gets my foot tapping, too - which is an accomplishment for instrumental rock! "Man in a Metal Cage" has some interesting note choices, with some mildly middle-eastern sounds for a few brief moments in the track mixed in with some obligatory sweep tapping. Otherwise, there are several passages working to create several moments of extreme tension. There are a few arpeggiated parts that are reminiscent of some other song that I can't quite place. "Poison Cookies" has a weird jazz-fusion funk feeling going on with it that I definitely appreciated - if for nothing else it changed gears long enough to shake off any monotony I thought the album might be working towards."Epic" was both a more laid back song, but also was very cerebral - the keyboard and guitar parts built on each other in a weird/cool way. "Napoleon's Puppet" very briefly reminded me of some material written by Brendan Small for his album, "Galaktikon," but it had that rhythm part to it that definitely separated it by giving it some incredibly strong groove. "Sierra Morena" is played on piano/keyboard in the intro but guitar, bass and drums come in pretty quickly. The song is named after a mountain range in Spain with the same name. I can't quite connect the music as being descriptive of a mountain range unless they're being written about the context of flying over them. "Square Circles" has some moments in the track that remind me a little bit of King Crimson, though the sense of melody is still a tad more traditional. Jeff Loomis guests on this track for a guitar solo, and it is a fairly outstanding solo in the context of the song, having a good balance of being emotive and twisted."Red Giant" is a pretty intense track, with some more middle-eastern vibes going on, and one of the most engaging and vocal-like melodies from the album, to my ears. "Confessions of a Medieval Monument" definitely grabs a certain type of vibe from the opening, with a cool (but fairly simple) bassline running behind it. This is definitely one of those songs that creates a fertile atmosphere for a little mind movie to play along to it. The way the dynamics are used on this song, as well as the recurring melodic theme, make this easily one of the strongest tracks on the album. The title track, "Concrete Gardens," is interesting with a heavy rhythm guitar and a (initially) much cleaner lead part. Something about this track reminds me of Frank Zappa, which is absolutely a good thing. The album closes out with a song called "Maiden's Wish," which is played on keyboard/piano as a solo piece. It is a fairly light-hearted song to end the album with, and I enjoyed it. If you just listen for the crazy guitar, then you can stop short of "Maiden's Wish." // 8Lyrics: There are none. // 8Overall Impression: I have always been extremely impressed with Tony MacAlpine, and this album just reinforces my opinion. While he may not be quite at the technical/speed level of some other virtuoso guitarists, especially the whole Shrapnel bunch, he makes up for it in a strong sense of feel and musicality. I especially enjoy the melodies he uses as recurring themes in many of his songs. I highly recommend this album to anyone who's a fan of instrumental rock or metal. // 8" - Ultimate-Guitar.com
    $15.00
  • Stunning return by the Swedish/Danish outfit formerly known simply as Twilight. Keyboardist Finn Zierler has assembled a new lineup that features old members of Twilight as well as vocal God Jorn Lande (Ark, Malmsteen). This is epic symphonic metal with lots of intricacies to keep prog fans from chomping at the bit. A stunning album that features crystalline production from Tommy Hansen. Definitely one of the top 10 metal releases for 2001. Highest recommendation.
    $15.00
  • Third album from this German retro-prog outfit.  A few seconds into the lead off 21 minute title track and you know you are taking a trip down memory lane.  The album is filled with enough old school keyboard sounds to embarass Tony Banks.  The main cog in the Argos wheel is keyboardist Thomas Klarmann, who also handles fute, bass, lead vocals.  He plays a mean Hammond organ and knows how to squeeze the right sounds out of a Mellotron as well.Genesis is one of the touchstone influences but you will also hear nods to Canterbury, Gentle Giant, VDGG, and hosts more (if you can think of 'em they are here).  These guys aren't going to win any originality contests but it sure is great ear candy.  Highly recommended.
    $15.00
  • "Iced Earth are going through a bit of a renaissance period at the moment. While they do have many hardcore fans who would defend their back catalogue to the end, honestly the heavy metal titans haven’t made a truly exciting album in about twenty years; that is, they hadn’t, until the release of 2011’s Dystopia. After two decades of putting out stale and generally uninteresting meat and potatoes heavy metal, finally they had an album that managed to match up to their first few records, one with the power and energy to justify their continued status as metal heroes. Plagues of Babylon is its follow-up, and thankfully they have managed to take this momentum forward and release another great album.Opening with the title track’s marching drum beat (strangely similar to Dystopia in that regard) and ominous harmonized leads, as soon as the heavy, chugging main riff kicks in it’s clear that this album is going to be a worthy successor. Noticeably, the production is very good, giving the guitars a sharp razor edge that albums like the totally flat The Glorious Burden lacked. Mainman Jon Schaffer churns out some of the best riffs in his career on this album, especially on the raging and thrashy Democide. Some new blood is brought in with an all new rhythm section, bassist Luke Appleton helping give the album its low-end crunch while drummer Raphael Saini (who was sadly since left) punctuates the songs with intricate tom patterns and ride cymbal work while maintaining a constant driving power. Stu Block meanwhile, who debuted as vocalist on Dystopia, continues to make sure that fan favourite Matt Barlow is not missed too much, his gruff voice helping give the songs a darker edge while his highs are utilised when appropriate, never being over-used.This is hardly perfect though. Plagues is a bit front-loaded, the second half never quite managing to match up to the first, especially considering it contains two somewhat unnecessary covers. The first is Spirit of the Times by Sons of Liberty, a Jon Schaffer side project, and you can’t help but question the logic in covering your own material, especially as aside from the darker and heavier overtones it’s not massively different from the original. The second, Highwayman by Jimmy Webb, is hardly electrifying either.That said, many of the problems that plagued previous Iced Earth efforts no longer show up. The obligatory cheesy metal ballad only appears once in If I Could See You, which is one of the better ones they’ve done, and only a couple of songs have a clean guitar intro, unlike on The Dark Saga where they appear on nearly every song. Iced Earth are a band who are at their best when they’re firing on all cylinders, and that is largely what they stick to here. With it’s almost death metal cover art, Plagues is for the most part a balls-out thrill ride, and honestly might be Iced Earth’s most complete work to date." - Sound And Motion Magazine
    $12.00
  • New studio album from Roye Albrighton and Ron Howden carrying on with the Nektar name.  Since the band reformed last decade, their studio output hasn't lived up to the reputation of the classic 70s era.  This album appears to stop the skid.  Keyboardist Klaus Henatsch has been with the band for some time now.  His keyboard arsenal has that old school sound utilizing Hammond organ at every turn.  Fill-in bassist to the stars Billy Sherwood rounds out the quartet and he also handled production.  While no two Nektar albums sounded exactly alike there was an overriding sound - once you heard a song you immediately were able to identify it as Nektar.  A lot of that had to do with Albrighton's vocals and guitar work.  Time Machine is just that - a trip back in time to the sound of Nektar in the early 70s.  I'm not going to tell you that is will supplant Remember The Future as their magnum opus, but I have to say that this isn't half bad at all and pretty closely approximates the Nektar sound that we all know and loved.  Surprising and satisfying.
    $16.00
  • "This is the second expanded edition of this 1968 paean to psychedelia to have appeared in just 28 months -- it was preceded by a "Deluxe Edition" two-disc hybrid SACD/CD edition from Polydor's European division in the late winter of 2006; apparently, those in charge of the label either didn't think the U.S. could support that high-priced package, or that the Super-Audio CD market is purely a European and Japanese phenomenon. Whatever the reason, this edition has shown up here with no multi-channel SACD layer, but with the remastered CD sound from that hybrid release. In Search of the Lost Chord was originally the most poorly-served of all the Moodies' original albums on CD, with a late-'80s edition from Polydor that literally had a crack in the sound on one song. Since then successive remasterings have made it one of the group's more satisfying CDs, as the nuances and layers are brought out -- the original album was done in a spirit of experimentation that was unusual for a pop album, with the members very consciously seeking out the richest, most outre sounds that they could generate in the studio, piling on one exotic instrument after another, along with many layers of voices; they would get better and bolder at this process over the next two albums (until they realized, in 1969, that they'd painted themselves into a corner as far as actually performing their new material on-stage); but beneath the psychedelic sensibilities on numbers like "Voices in the Sky," "The Best Way to Travel," "Legend of a Mind" etc., as one listens to the cleanest, crispest mix the record has yet had on CD (and one should state here that the multi-channel SACD mix on the European Deluxe Edition does outdo it), in the layers of finely nuanced playing, one does get a real sense of five musicians reveling in their own skills (and perhaps a recently ingested controlled substance or two) and the freedom to take them as far as the moment will carry them. That experimental nature has always resided just below the surface of what was otherwise a very pretty and smooth exercise in pop music mysticism ("Visions of Paradise" is still one of the most profoundly beautiful records this reviewer has ever heard from the psychedelic era) -- but here it's a little more up front, amid the enhanced clarity, and one would like to think it could help this album hold and renew its audience for another 40 years. The sound is so good that it's almost a shame that anything was put on here after "Om," the original album closer, but it was obligatory in these times that there be bonus tracks -- and as there was less room here than on the Disc Two of the Deluxe Edition, some decisions had to be made about removing some extras. The released Mike Pinder-sung version and the alternate Justin Hayward-sung take of "A Simple Game" are present, bookending the bonus tracks, whilst the rest includes the Mellotron track for "The Word," the lost Hayward song "What Am I Doing Here," two BBC performances ("Dr. Livingston, I Presume," "Thinking Is the Best Way to Travel"), and extended, unfaded versions of "Om" etc. They would be certain to delight serious fans, except that it's hard to imagine too many of the latter not having already bought them on the Deluxe Edition of this album over the preceding two years. Still, they may open the door to the group's sound a little further for the casually curious." - Allmusic
    $20.00
  • Beautiful sounding symphonic prog from Italy. The music has a very laid back refined quality that touches on folk elements at times. Female vocals (in Italian), flute, keys, electric guitar, bass and drums fill the soundspace in a way that lets the compositions develop and breath. The 31 minute epic "Morgana" features long languid instrumental passages in which the flute weaves around the keyboards and guitar to mesmerizing effect. The music never gets too heavy but there is an ever present ebb and flow that is appealing. Very impressive - these guys need to find a real label.
    $16.00
  • The third and final album of the Blackmore/Dio marriage was a fine one. "Gates Of Babylon" and "Kill The King" and the title track are now timeless classics of hard rock.
    $5.00
  • I and Thou is a new band project put together by Renaissance keyboardist Jason Hart. If you've seen Renaissance on their recent tours you've seen Jason perform all the symphonic/orchestral parts that really filled out the sound in a way that the old lineup couldn't without the aid of an orchestra.Not only does Jason play all the keyboards but he also is the lead vocalist and contributes on sundry instruments. His overall sound is extremely reminiscent of Tony Banks. Jason brought in a bunch of ringers from Izz - John Galgano plays bass, Paul Bremner is one of the guitarists, and Laura Meade contributes on backing vocals. Most of the guitar work is handled by Jack Petruzzelli. Oh yeah Steve Hogarth actually makes a guest appearance providing vocals on the last piece "Go Or Go Ahead" - a cover of a Rufus Wainwright tune.The music has a laid back and refined quality but there are still plenty of undercurrents of complexity that are most evident during the instrumental passages. Consisting of 4 epic length pieces plus the one cover the listener will be reminded of Wind And Wuthering period Genesis, Renaissance, Echolyn, and Izz. Quite a beautiful album, rounded out with beautiful cover art courtesy of Annie Haslam. Highly recommended.
    $11.00