This debut effort from Space Elevator is definitely one of the best Rock albums – and probably one of the most unique – that I’ve heard in the last couple of years. I didn’t review it at the time because (to my shame!) i was slow getting hold of a copy; but although its been out in the UK a couple of years now, it has recently been released in Europe; and subsequently re-released in the UK; so its well worth talking about now.
The band’s personnel that recorded this eponymous collection two years ago, consisted of: The enigmatically named vocalist The Duchess; guitarist David Young; the veteran bassist Neil Murray; Elliot Ware on Keys; and Brian Greene on Drums. These are all very experienced musos for whom I have a great deal of respect – especially Mr.Murray, of whom I’ve been a fan of since I used to see him on stage with the early (proper) Whitesnake in the late ’70s. But since the album was cut, the much in demand bassman has moved on and been replaced by Chas Maguire in the touring band, and for the follow up album which will be out soon.
It is an eleven track opus of original numbers, all penned by The Duchess and Mr.Young themselves. It is one of those albums that you put on for the first time and decide immediately that you love it – but then find yourself waking up at night with the songs spinning around in your head… then you know you’re hooked! (Damn you Space Elevator – let me kip!) It constantly reminds me of diverse earlier artists (Queen; Heart; Genesis; and Journey spring to mind to name but a few), yet there is an obvious originality and uniqueness present throughout the collection that is impressive and undeniable.
There is quite a wide latitude of Rock styles represented throughout the album, which suits and impresses my personal tastes. Often its Proggy; at times Heavy; sometimes AOR/Pop radio friendly; perhaps a little Bluesy – but always exciting and high quality. And at all times it is characterised by wonderful vocal and lead guitar harmony arrangements that could make Messrs. Mercury and May sit up and take note, respectively. There are Power Ballads too that could give the mighty Heart and Journey themselves a run for their money. And you may have noticed my comparisons to ’70s bands that flourished in the ’80s; but that is in no way a criticism, because although influenced by these earlier luminaries, this is very much a fresh and original work indeed.
Vocals from Her Grace The Duchess I think need to be particularly singled out for a little discussion. This is a lady who is very impressive in both voice and vocal style. She reminds me at times of diverse divas such as Sharleen Spiteri (particularly on ‘Really Don’t Care’); sometimes of Madonna; and occasionally a little of Deborah Bonham. Yet she is inimitable in her own right. She has a great vocal range: from the lows in ‘Ordinary Day’ to the highs in ‘Gallifrey Dreams’; and she is controlled and impressive throughout. There is aggression in her voice where needs be (such as in the rocker ‘Little White Lies’); but tenderness where necessary (such as in ‘Move On’).
Its hard to pick out highlights in an album that overall is so good, but I particularly liked the Dr.Who inspired ‘Gallifrey Dreams’ with its haunting arpeggiated intro and Hackett-esque solo; ‘Ordinary Day’ with its radio friendly clever and catchy chorus; the tragic power ballad ‘Loneliness Of Love’ with its poetic pithy one-liners in the lyric (like ‘slit my throat with a smile’; and ‘In every lie I hear goodbye’); and the quirky ‘Oils And Bubbles’ for its daft lyric and Wakeman-like piano. But I could spout superlatives about all of these songs, that’s for sure.
The album was recorded at Mike Moran Music in Bucks, with Adam Vanryne. It was originally released in CD and vinyl formats only; but is now available to download. I have the CD version, which comes in a standard Jewel Case with an excellent booklet containing all lyrics, credits, photos, etc; and great cover art that is reminiscent of the classic age of Prog-Rock vinyl! I love it!
The band’s sophomore follow up album should be out soon; and they are financing it on Pledge. I’ve signed up, and it will be interesting to see where their musical direction heads from now on. The debut is a tough act follow that’s for sure. As a reviewer I don’t give marks out of ten; but if I did it would be a Spinal Tap-esque ‘One louder’! So all that’s left for me to say (as the narration on the opening track ‘Elevator’ advises) is to ‘…just lie back and enjoy the ride’! PTMQ
Link to Space Elevator’s website