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Exhibit A: Make Mine A Lobster

The oddly titled Make Mine A Lobster is the third album from UK progressive rock band Exhibit A, but considering it has been sixteen years since their second effort, don't feel too bad if they have completely passed you by up until now. That said, if they have evaded your notice (as they have mine), then I advise that you rectify that situation soon. Bringing bands such as Pallas, 80's era IQ and Arena to mind, as well as the merest hint of Saga, Exhibit A have produced an excellent collection of reasonably short and considerably snappy songs that hit the right blend of progressive workouts and catchy melodies. Think a more overtly progressive and rocked up Asia and you won't be a million miles away from the type of thing that Exhibit A serve up.

"Touch The Star" kicks things off in a tremendously upbeat fashion, with percussive flurries punctuating an incisive riff and keyboard stabs, while Dave Foss' charismatic vocals hit home with a fragile power. Add to that a great haunting keyboard line and an impressive guitar solo from Nick Hampson and you have a stylishly accessible song that makes you desperate to hear if Exhibit A can maintain such a high standard. The quick one-two of "Carousel", which continues in a similar vein to the opener and "First To Last", where the gentle, but equally effective guitar and keyboard interplay add a touch more refinement, leaves you in no doubt that this is a classy, if not hugely original album. There's no denying that there is a slight whiff of familiarity to what Exhibit A produce, but not in a way that is "heard it all before", in fact it is more a case of feeling immediately comfortable with the songs and wanting to hear more.

The other six tracks on the disc continue to deliver the same welcome marriage of melody, interesting structures, tasteful musicianship and skilful arrangements. "Rush Of Blood" lives up to its title, providing a very Rush influenced rhythm and staccato guitar bursts which are broken up by surges of Neil Foss' keyboards, while Steve Watts roaming bass work keeps everything flowing along nicely. The skilful time changes of "Wake Up To Reality" gives drummer Paul Caswell the opportunity to show his chops, but in a way that compliments the dramatic musical surroundings rather than dominating them.

There's little new on Make Mine A Lobster, but few bands are playing this catchy, sharp, yet intricate style of prog with the class and precision that Exhibit A illustrate with ease and if this style of music appeals to you, then you really don't want to miss out.


Track Listing
1. Touch the Stars
2. Carousel
3. First to Last
4. A Far Cry
5. Rush of Blood
6. Darker Sun
7. Wake Up to Reality
8. Missing Years
9. Scenario

Added: March 4th 2011
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Exhibit A Official Web Site
Hits: 3046
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Exhibit A: Make Mine A Lobster
Posted by Mark Johnson, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-03-04 17:49:53
My Score:

Exhibit A has been making music since 1984. The band includes founder, Steve Watts, bass, Nick Hampson, guitar, Barrie Cannon, drums, Steve Cable, guitar and Billie James on vocals. They are well known and respected in England, but have so far been unable to create a larger fan base outside the UK.

This is a good '80s sounding band with solid drums, keys, synths and those soaring guitars and bass notes we remember from the Neo prog era. They remind me a little of Credo. The highlights for me were "Touch the Stars", and its positive message, "From First to Last's" deep message, the guitars and keys on "A Far Cry", "Darker Sun's" cool lead guitar and warm synths, and "Scenario's" epic storyline and instrumentals.

"Carousel" and the others sound like some of the music I remember from bands like Icehouse from the 1980s.


Exhibit A: Make Mine A Lobster
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-02-26 22:36:25
My Score:

The beginnings of Exhibit A can be traced back to the early '80s to the band Mithra and founding members Steve Watts (bass) and Nick Hampson (guitar). Exhibit A did not release their first album until 1990 and it has taken sixteen years for their brand new CD Make Mine A Lobster to see the light of day. For a band that has only released three albums and has remained so inactive over the years they are a remarkably tight unit and have produced an excellent new release. Rounding out the band are Dave Foss (vocals), Neil Foss (keyboards) and Paul Caswell (drums). The sound on Make Mine A Lobster takes the earlier sounds of bands like IQ, Pallas and Pendragon and blends them with a heavy dosage of Hold Your Fire era Rush. This is a slickly produced album that even reminded me of some of the bands coming out of the early '80s blitz movement like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran.

The band keeps the songs relatively short, in the four to six minute range, so there are no epics here but that is okay as these songs have enough progressive moments that should satisfy many progressive music fans. The music is not complicated so if that is the criteria upon which you make your purchases you might as well look elsewhere as this may not be for you. However, if you appreciate well played progressive flavoured rock with musicianship that never gets over the top, then Make Mine A Lobster may be for you.

The album begins with "Touch The Sky", a song embellished with symphonic and neo elements making for a strong album opener. For those of you who like '90s Rush check out the slick "Carousel" with its glossed over heavier riffage and the melodic "Darker Sun" where Pendragon also comes to mind. Other highlights include the catchy "Wake Up To Reality" with its wicked bass line and infectious keys and the balladic "Missing Years" featuring a lush backdrop of orchestration and deep bass rumblings.

The more I listen to Make Mine A Lobster the more I like it. This has come as a nice surprise and serves as an excellent comeback album. Hopefully the band will be more active in the years to come.

Exhibit A: Make Mine A Lobster
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-01-22 05:55:25
My Score:

Here's a very talented band from the UK that sadly has been pretty inactive over the years. Hopefully, with the release of Make Mine a Lobster, Exhibit A will get on a regular release schedule, as there's no denying the talent they have for creating fun, catchy modern prog that pays homage to the early 80's scene.

Images of early IQ, Pallas, and even mid-80's Rush abound on Make Mine A Lobster. Tunes such as "Touch the Stars" and "Carousel" bridge the gap between the early neo-prog sound and more pop oriented acts such as Asia, Mike and the Mechanics, and Saga, as the band combine catchy hooks with robust guitar riffs and soaring keyboard textures. "Rush of Blood" is a solid slice of hard rocking AOR, and the lush keyboards and tasty guitar work on "Wake Up to Reality" and "Scenario" really take you back to days gone by.

For some, that last statement might take some of the enjoyment out of Make Mine a Lobster. If anything, the CD and the bands sound is somewhat dated, and there are moments where you will feel like you are listening to a long lost neo-prog album from the mid-80's or early 90's. However, there's no denying, despite the retro sound, that Exhibit A know how to write some catchy songs and sprinkle them with plenty of prog rock flavors. Vocals are solid, the musicianship is stellar, so in the end Make Mine a Lobster is easy to recommend to those looking for some sounds of an era long past.



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