George Starostin's Reviews



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David Goodwin (14.07.2000)

With regard to your ARGENT reviews:
The reason why Chris White didn't seem to write with Rod Argent DURING the Zombies' existence (but "did" during Argent) is because he actually DIDN'T during Argent. Lemme explain: Barring a few exceptions ("Like Honey" for example), Argent and White wrote separately...the collaborative credit was a Lennon/McCartney-esque agreement. I love useless trivia. Don't you?
In your Argent reviews (i.e. on Ring of Hands) you wonder why songs from "the next albums" keep popping up as bonus tracks.
The answer seems to be that all of the albums are on different labels! Collectibles issued Ring of Hands and In Deep...Sony issued All Together Now. So Ring of Hands and In Deep plunder some tracks from All Together Now, while the latter plunders some tracks from the OTHER two albums, in some sort of weird "you don't need the other discs" ploy, or something.
I'm confused too.
BTW, don't bother buying the new Argent/Ring of Hands finally rests my suspicion that the original Argent album is in desperate need of a remix. The hiss on that album makes it sound like you're standing near Niagra Falls...^_^

Gary Kronfeld (22.11.2000)

Interesting review of the band's history. I have always been a big fan--one of the best concert's and live bands I've ever seen perform--n I saw them all in the 70's.
I always felt Rod's keyboard playing was underated--but he could duel with Emerson n Wakeman anytime on the hammond organ. He made the keyboard player into a centerpiece for prog-rock bands which he started with the Zombies n allowed the Emersons n Wakemans to benefit.
Check out his cd Classically Speaking all classical piano n terrific! Available thru his website
All in all--as were the Zombies--Argent was underappreciated for it's body of work and most of it was quite good!

Carlo Fiore (14.05.2004)

Hi, I generally agree with your thoughts, especially about sixties/seventies music.
I can't say the same thing about Argent.
Well, I understand that Argent ( the band) is a strange case in british music...and I guess is difficult to speak about it, but I think you have to consider that band mainly as a POP band and not a proggish/avantgarde group. So you will find in that guys the originality that you can't see at the moment. As a pop band Argent gave a lot of tasteful and classy numbers with a  ten times more complex structure than their contemporary.
At the time when Rod made his debut with his new band, which brit group were in the mood of bring out a solid/classy/inpired and sincere pop like Argent ( the debut album)? So the following LP didn't come out like masterpieces...but..honestly I can see originality in a lot of their numbers...for example  "Pleasure", "Hold your Head Up", "Candles on the River"..."Celebration"...ecc...
Just consider the fact that other bands borrowed so much from Argent....listen to the vocal harmonies in Queen albums...or listen "Killer Queen" and "Pleasure" in sequence....oooh is the same band??...I'd tell you more and more on that.....but I stop here.
I appreciate so much your way of reviewing, your taste 'n' competence....but...please.. 0/5 originality  is frankly excessive...   thank you for your space!


Eugene Bentley (15.03.2000)

I'm glad you found this one and I knew you would like it (see Zombies EP Collection). By shear luck I managed to find this one for half price a month ago. It was shear luck because it was only available as an import to begin with and is now out-of-print.
This is one I heard after Odessey and Oracle and I agree that the Zombies connection is very obvious. I also agree that because the album is so damn consistent that it's hard to pick out the best track. "Schoolgirl" was the first one that caught my ear after 'Liar' (which scored as a huge hit for Three Dog Night with a very similar vocal treatment). 'Schoolgirl' (using "schoolboy" harmonies) is also the most Zombies sounding of all the songs here and it it's really ironic that it was composed by Russ Ballard (and perhaps it was a conscious effort to sound like them.)
'Dance In the Smoke' tends to get attention because it's the most prog-sounding of all the songs here. But I love the tempo changes on 'Like Honey' and the bluesy 'Bring You Joy' is almost on the verge of gospel. I also like the madrigal choir sound of 'Freefall'. I think that 'Stepping Stone' is my favourite. I love the way it switches from a rockin' number into some classical piano passages at the end (kind of the way Fleetwood Mac's 'Oh Well' switches from a rockin' bluesy number to its classical flamenco guitar motifs - although 'Stepping Stone' is not nearly as long). Incidentally, a brief snippet of that piano passage also appears in the middle-eight section of the post-Zombies, pre-Argent track ' Smokey Day' (being a bit like Pete Townsend there).

Bob Josef (14.03.2006)

I totally DESPISED "Hold Your Head Up" in its heyday, so I was never interested in this group. But I do like Three Dog Night's version of "Liar." Combined with your review, that was enough incentive for me to pick up these first two Argent albums, even getting them before O&O. It was definitely worth it. Like the Zombies' album, they really do a lot with a limited repertoire of instruments. And although they don't engage in the big harmony arrangements as much as the Zombies, Ballard's voice (at least at this point) would have fit in perfectly in the Zombies. Besides "Liar," my other favorites are "Schoolgirl" and "Dance in the Smoke." It's interesting that "Schoolgirl" uses the same off-time percussion trick as "Time of the Season," even thought it's a Ballard song. I really like the optimistic mood and keyboard work on "Dance in the Smoke," too. Maybe the hippy-dippy lyrics are a bit dated, but the more optimism the better nowadays, I say. The album is more than listenable from start to end though, definitely a good recommendation on your part, George.


Gary Kronfeld (22.11.2000)

A- Lothlorien is one of the best anthems representing the prog rock era--incidently is on the CD Best of Prog-rock with Yes, ELP, Procul harum, etc. I thought Rod's keyboarding was fantastic.
B- 'Rejoice' n 'Pleaure' were written by Rod n sung By Rod, not Russ.

Lyndon Noon (14.01.2003)

George, a highly entertaining site. I know music is subjective, but you're way off beam with this album - it's a masterpiece. This album marries the melodic and mysterious sensibilities of The Zombies with the more earthy stylings of Russ Ballard and without a synth in site captures the band at their most majestic. Weren't original - you gotta be kidding!!! The vocal harmonies from Argent were always spine-tingling and never more so than on this album.
If you've only ever heard 'Hold Your Head Up' and want to investigate further, this is the one to get.

Bob Josef (15.03.2006)

I agree, not quite as good as the first album. The vocals, for some reason, are getting a bit a bit more strained ("Where Are We Going Wrong?"). I'm not sure that I like the rootsier turn of Ballard's songwriting on "Chained," but it's not a bad tune. On the other hand, his psychedelia on "Cast Your Spell, Uranus" is sounding a bit ridiculous and dated by this point (By the way, it sounds like Ballard is addressing a female in the lyrics -- didn't he know that Uranus was male?). And while I do agree that "Lothlorien" is a bit long -- and that Argent wouldn't have been likely to fall into the Tolkien-meets-prog camp of cliches before now -- I do, again, really enjoy his playing immensely. However, I would vote for "Celebration" as best song, since it continues the optimistic vibe of "Dance in the Smoke" and has more fine keyboards from Rod. All in all, a good pop/prog album, just lacking a bit when compared with the first.
I picked up these first two albums in a remastered two CD set from the British BGO label. Some people have complained about the sound on this package, but it sounds good to me.


Eric Rogers (26.03.2004)

Why isn't a CD of this thing commercially available? I'm having a hell of a time finding a brand-new CD reissue of this thing. I've even gone to Rod Argent's website and no one has returned my e-mails! Koch Records were handling it, but it may no longer be available through them. I just don't understand how a decent-selling album with a monster FM radio hit like "Hold Your Head Up" has not remained in print. If someone can let me know where I can obtain this thing, I would greatly appreciate it.


<> (08.04.2000)

Congrats, George! This time you nailed it! 'God gave Rock And Roll To You' made me physically ill on first hearing it. And that Christmas song...Hey Mr. Ballard, Christmas rock just doesn't work-;leave this kind of stuff to Grand Funk. Stick, Mr. B. to what you do best; such as 'It's Only Money'-damn, what a dance album Part 2 is! And thanx Rod for rescuing the rest of the disc.
[Special author note: a correction - on my CD, 'Christmas...' is credited to Argent/White, and Argent is supposed to sing lead vocals.]

Gary Kronfeld (22.11.2000)

Rod has so many memorable organ solos in songs--both 'be glad' n 'candle' have great ones. I'm glad u mentioned Rod in the same breath as Emerson n Wakeman here.
PS: rod was asked to join Yes after Ballard split--but he declined n continued with Verity n Grimaldi.


<> (11.03.2000)

'T & L' is an example of what I call pre-disco dance music. Back in the day, there were places, clubs, were we would go to wiggle our asses to recorded music played back LOUD. They had lights, mirror balls, strobes, etc., but they predated what is now known as (gag, barf) Disco Music. You could actually dance to stuff that you actually liked, as opposed to say, 'Fly Robin Fly' or 'Disco Duck,' et al. Real ROCK music! In other words these venues were in place before the music was messed around with by let us say, decadent New Yorkers....Stuff like Tull's 'Locomotive Breath.' The Kinks' 'I Need You' and 'She's Got Everything.' Spirit's 'Mr. Skin.' The Illusion's 'Did You See Her Eyes?' And even the "questions" part of Cisny's 'Carry On' fer gawdsakes! 'Thunder and Lightning' is a perfect and hotly executed example of the genre. Yes, Ballard is histrionic here as elsewhere with Argent ('Dynamo') but sometimes it works. (Lots of bands, example Not So Grand Funk, were emulating Jack Bruce of the sainted Cream.) If you don't find yourself doing the Involuntary Pelvic Thrust to this tune (or another Argent rave, 'It's Only Money Part II' from the previous release, In Deep), it's time for a transfusion!
BTW, for those afraid of prog rock, 'T & L' is available on The Argent Anthology-Greatest Hits Epic EK 33955. Also, 'I O M-P2' is a bonus track on the remastered All Together Now, Koch KOC-CD-7941
Long may this site wave!

Gary (22.11.2000)

Rod was a multi instrument flasher in concert--but in the studio he seemed never to over do it. 'Kohoutek' has some terrific chops from him as does 'Music from the Spheres'--show off a jaunty, jazz like electric piano solo that cooks.
Too many non-entity songs on this album--Ballards worse contributions to any album--signalled his departure.

<> (19.06.2003)

That pro-Phil Collins guy... REALLY GOT ON MY NERVES! What's wrong with "Thunder and Lightning"?! I guess if you prefer Phil Collins' incessant whiny and irritating balladeering, an authentic heavy rock tune would be too much for you! If you leave me the choice between Brian Johnson and Phil Collins, Lionel Ritchie, Paul McCartney etc., I WILL ALWAYS CHOOSE THE MUSIC WHICH SOUNDS ANATOMICALLY CORRECT! ARGENT was one of the first bands to strike the right balance between "heavy" and "progressive". As far as I'm concerned, most decent ones that followed (Queen, RUSH, SAGA etc.) owe ARGENT a HUGE debt of gratitude. I'm sorry ARGENT is still so unrecognized and unappreciated today.


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Vallo Jarvis (19.02.2005)

I think it's very powerful album since the beginnig chords. Rod's personality shines like never before and the hammond and mellotron sounds are delicious. "Trapeze" is very good composition with various sounds and rhythms, still having clear concept. Aside "Shine On Sunshine" there is another great ballad "Clown".
Better to listen with headphones and not only once!

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