JOHN YOUNG BAND – Live at the Classic Rock Society 2003

By Lorraine Kay

John Young has been around a while in the prog-rock scene, having played with Asia, John Wetton, Oango and several other groups in the UK.Having written for John Wettong and others, he finally is fronting his own band and playing his own music.

This live recording of the John Young Band, published on the Heritage Records label, is a great sampling of what John Young is about, With John Young out front on vocals and keyboards this sexy prog-rock offering is one that should be added to all prog-rock collections.

The John Young Band was formed in 2002 to produce and perform new original quality classic rock music. Featured on this CD are John Young, who also sings and plays keys for The Scorpions, Bonnie Tyler and Greenslade; Robin Boult, who has played with Howard Jones, Fish and Sugarbabes, on guitars; John Jowitt, on bass, guitars and vocals and Dave Stewart, who has played with Camel, Deacon Blue, Fish and Donnie Munroe, on drums and vox. Other members have joined the band since, but do not appear on this CD.

Track by Track Review

1. Significance – Young’s vocals on this opening ballad are clear and powerful and incredibly sexy, somewhat David Coverdale-ish , with a slight ominous instrumental undertones of Phil Collin’s In the Air But not entirely unoriginal, because it is very original, there is also a strong marriage of guitar and sensitive keys parts that do not overwhelm the vocals.

2. When I was Young – Upbeat and positive with the drums out front, this song has well integrated lyrics and melody. It continues with nice vocal harmonies and nice guitar and synth interplay as ti talks about relationships and misunderstandings..

3. Just one day – Opening up with a pulsing sonar, this one explodes with upbeat instrumentation and then settles back to the sonar patch happening in the background. This one kicks butt instrumentally and vocally.

4. All Grown Up – Beginning with a pulsing keyboard behind the vocals this one builds as each instrument comes in, building to a full chorus of parts. Singing about being a father and remembering the loneliness of growing up alone

5. Underside – Opening with congas and piano, this one has a slight Bruce Hornsby feeling to it, both on piano and vocals. It’s a fun blend of congas and synths. Singing about values, Young asks questions about social conscience and religion.

6. Unknown Soldier – This one is over 14 minutes long and has lots of room for changing. Tackling a sensitive subject it starts with a funky electronic percussion, somewhat aboriginal intro adding some definite originality. It repeats and hangs in there for the rest of the song. Not initially, but a little later in the song there is a touch of Foreigner influence under the melody. There is a foreboding feeling that comes from the guitar and keyboard solos emphasizing the sadness of an unknown soldier. About ten and a half minutes into this track the keyboard and bass pick up the tempo bringing in the rest of the band to build up for the bridge that asks questions about life and death with optimism before stopping to softly remember the unknown soldier again.

7. Childhoods end – Eight and a half minutes long, this one has a lot of texture in it mostly due to the out-front keyboard with upbeat arpeggios reminiscent of signature Kansas and several other classic prog-rock bands. Lots of sometimes quick and sometimes dirty guitar and light electronic piano dominate this song. The feeling in the song changes drastically from whimsical to playful and back several times. The songs is entitled Childhood’s End. The lyrics talks about not wanting to leave this time of fun. The music is very much wed to the lyrics here as it struggles from mood to mood.

8. Open Skies – This one starts with power drums behind multi layers of keys and a funky guitar. With all the textures in this you can almost hear the rain as Young sings “Walking in the rain.”

9. Kings – Young plays an interesting Japanese stringed instrument sounding intro while waiting for a rocking, albeit whiny guitar to join him on this instrumental. This starts powerful and builds from break to break. It is entitled “Kings” but the kings of what? It is so powerful and dark it would seem the kings are giant lizards or something like a Godzilla or Kong.

CDs are available only from the band’s website