Rtfact - Life Is Good album review

Russian actor-director-producer reveals a handsome nu-prog contender.

Rtfact - Life Is Good album artwork

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Forgive this loose collective their awful moniker, Russian native Yuri Volodarsky’s debut album is a loving throwback to 70s prog in all its guises: it’s grandiose, genteel and star-studded, inasmuch as music fans will recognise at least a half a dozen names of the cameos here (Nad Sylvan, Will Champlin, Oz Noy). Volodarsky even manages to rope in one-time Journey singer Jeff Scott Soto to add mellifluous vocal lines to the mix. It’s an odd choice given that the musical references here are pointedly old school – Gentle Giant, Yes, ELP – but Volodarsky’s clearly not afraid to add some pop notes. Case in point, the six-minute Money In My Pocket, which hints at classic mid-period Saga with a bassline that could have surfaced around Styx’s Kilroy Was Here. Sounds confusing? Surprisingly, it’s not the case – he melds different decades of prog and pomp with ease. From the languid guitar on Gotika to the Keith Emerson-like piano refrain on The King, The Master And the Timekeeper, which sounds like it’s about to introduce a Greg Lake vocal, and the animated strut of Hollywood Walk Of Fame, it’s an intriguing melding of styles and eras. Goodness knows where he’ll find the band to reproduce it live.

Philip Wilding

Philip Wilding is a novelist, journalist, scriptwriter, biographer and radio producer. As a young journalist he criss-crossed most of the United States with bands like Motley Crue, Kiss and Poison (think the Almost Famous movie but with more hairspray). More latterly, he’s sat down to chat with bands like the slightly more erudite Manic Street Preachers, Afghan Whigs, Rush and Marillion.