We see it all the time: Excellent new progressive artists producing wonderful music, yet we know that one in ten might – just might – garner enough recognition to build a career from his/her music. The others will forever remain interesting obscurities remembered by a criminally small fanbase. The John Young band is one of those new artists – although for a new artist, he and his band have enormous depth: John Young is classically trained and has played with Bonnie Tyler, Greenslade, Fish, The Scorpions, John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Qango, Asia, Uli Jon Roth, Cathedral, Bon Jovi, Phil Manzanera, Paul Rodgers, Steeleye Span, and Ken Hensley. The band members bring equally impressive credentials to the stage – including Hall & Oates, Fish, I.Q., Jadis, K D Lang, and Camel.
At first listen, the nine songs on Live At The Classical Rock Society 2003 sound like easy-listening adult pop played very professionally with some progressive elements. John's vocals have a relaxed, mid-tempo, unstrained delivery, and the melodies are generally upbeat.
After subsequent listens the progressive elements are much clearer. Listen to the lyrics, then focus on the music behind the vocals. There are tempo changes and layering and keyboard-guitar interplays that will hold your attention and cause the music to grow on you with repeated listens. It is song-oriented music with intelligent, understated instrumentation, overlaid with good vocals singing poignant words to simple yet memorable melodies.
Standout track is the 14-½ minute "Unknown Soldier". It starts with a pop rhythm, but again, that goes away quickly. This song is a slow, head-nodding ballad packed with depth and emotion, and it flows through its moods and tempo changes really nicely as it builds up to a very full sound toward the end, and finally fades out with wonderfully soft vocals over piano. There are several pleasing keyboard and guitar solos and by most definitions it is probably the most 'progressive' song on the album. Another favorite is "Kings", the shortest and the only instrumental track on the album. It revolves around a simple refrain that is shared and re-explored by the keyboard and the lead guitar. Lots of fun, very elegant. The songs are very melodic and fit somewhere between Jadis, Peter Gabriel, Salem Hill, Mike And The Mechanics and Asia.
The John Young Band appears to be on the cusp of success and with their musicianship and songwriting ability and with the impressive resumes of the bandmembers, we believe this will be one of the successes that will put nine other hopefuls out of business.