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Cliffhanger: Dug Out Alive! 1993-2001 (DVD)

Somehow this band has slipped under my radar as I have not even heard of Cliffhanger until Dug Out Alive! made its way into my CD player. I have no excuses for that transgression except for the fact there are so many bands and albums at our fingertips one person just cannot listen to everything. However, it is better late than never and I feel fortunate to have explored the band via this comprehensive collection of demos and concerts lovingly put together by Dick Heijboer.

So just who are Cliffhanger anyway? Band members include Rinie Huigen (vocals, guitar), Gijs Koopman (bass, bass pedals, whistle, keyboard, mouth harp), the aforementioned Dick Heijboer (keyboards) and Hans Boonk (drums). If you are familiar with the band Knight Area you might have recognized Gijs Koopman as he now adds his considerable skill to that band.

Cliffhanger definitely have their roots firmly planted in a retro prog rock sound, mostly because of the vintage keys and heavy Rickenbacker bass, recalling bands like Yes, Genesis, ELP and King Crimson. I also here similarities to bands like Arena and Marillion and while the band have been tagged with the neo-prog label, they also have many moments of eclecticism that makes this music all the more interesting. And please, when I use the dreaded neo-prog tag do not take that as a negative; this is finely crafted music produced by excellent musicians who clearly have a lot of passion for what they do.

This is a huge collection of music and to describe it all would be a daunting task indeed. I will say the series of concerts are well performed and I enjoyed them immensely. The demo recordings are also enjoyable with my favourite being "Rainforest", a nice slice of moody progressive/art rock. Wild synths and effects followed by distorted guitar chords resonating across the soundscape are what you can expect.

The first seven concerts are audio only with the last "1994 Live At Willem II" showing concert footage. The concert film is a bit grainy but the band is in fine form performing six tracks. There are also many different camera angles showing all of the band members. The heavy reliance on bass and keyboards is ever present and none more so than on the first track "Views". While Koopman and Heijboer stand out, Huigen's vocals are also nicely done sounding similar to Paul Wrightson of Arena fame. My only complaint is the guitar is sometimes too low in the mix and has a hard time making its presence felt amidst the keys and bass which is too bad as Huigen is also an excellent player.

Aside from these technical difficulties this is about as comprehensive a collection of music that I have ever come across on a single CD or DVD. A fine legacy for what is a vastly underrated and talented band. Dug Out Alive! can be ordered from the link below. Enjoy…

Main Menu:
1. 1993 Cliffhanger Demo
2. 1994 Cliffhanger Live
3. 1995 Burning Alive!
4. 1995 Live At De Boerderij
5. 1996 Live At Chateau
6. 1997 Mirror Live
7. 1997 Burning
8. 2001 Live At De Tavenu
Bonus Concert (Film):
1994 Live At Willem II

Added: October 16th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1637
Language: english

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