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Jerusalem: Cooler Than Antarctica

Third album on the comeback road from Jerusalem, who formed in the 70s and released one album before disbanding, finds original members Lynden Williams and Bob Cooke joined by prog luminaries Geoff Downes on keyboards and Nick D'Virgilio on drums. The danger in these situations is that the star turns become the main show, however on Cooler Than Antarctica, if anything, the opposite is true. Williams' vocals leading from the front (Cooke, credited as 'composer' doesn't actually appear on the album, as such), while it is guitarist Ollie Hannifan who drives most of the songs on show. Downes, alongside Ray Drury who also plays keys, instead provides a solid base from which everything else jumps off, while D'Virgilio, in the main, keeps it pretty simple (by his standards anyway…).

In terms of proginess, what Jerusalem serve up, resides in the more rock with a slice of prog side of life, than the other way round, all of the songs reliant on a strong sense of melody and structure to get their message across. Lyrically however things are a little more quirk-driven, a sideways glance at the modern world being where everything stems from. This approach works best on the bullish "Steaming Hot", the pulsating beat driving a comment on the wish to be young and beautiful forever, although maybe not so much so on the rather listing (in more ways than one) "Drums, Bass and Guitar", where a trawl through the fads and bands of decades gone by who simply needed those three instruments to make their mark – and fortune (forgetting of course, that without a vocalist to recount the stories told, none of them would) is recounted.

"Northern Lights" shows the band at their best, the urgent, furtive, rhythm carrying you along at a magnificent lick that is as enigmatic as it is engaging. Vocally Williams is skilled and honed, and yet for some his delivery might be just a little too polite for the hard hitting fare his band hope to recount. However with accordion, blues harp and violin all making an appearance, the eclecticism is assured.

In ways it is hard to ignore the underlying feeling of frivolity that somehow permeates from much on this album; from its quirky cover to its individualistic word play. This isn't throwaway and yet at times you feel it might be trying to hard to be something it's not. If you're looking for an album that reverberates with a pop pulse, pushes with a prog beat and then weighs in with some unusual lyrics and characterful vocals, this may be for you, but it won't be for everyone.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1. Snake
2. Steaming Hot
3. Specks
4. Drums, Bass and Guitar
5. Northern Lights
6. Simple Man
7. The Book Of You
8. All My Doors Are Open
9. Simple Simons
10. Cry

Added: July 31st 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Cooler Than Antarctica at Angel Air Records
Hits: 2980
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Jerusalem: Cooler Than Antarctica
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-07-31 09:00:49
My Score:

Whether you feel that this project is worthy of carrying the Jerusalem name or not, there's no denying that Cooler Than Antarctica is a fun listen, more of an upbeat pop/rock affair with some prog & hard rock embellishments than the crunchy proto-metal sounds the band burst on the scene with back in the early '70s. Once you get past the fact that this is Jerusalem in name only, it's not hard to enjoy much of what's on display here. "Specks" has a certain 'Saga-ness' to it, complete with soaring melodies and some cool keyboards, while both "Steaming Hot" and "Snake" rock pretty hard with some killer guitar & keyboard passages. Kudos to original vocalist Lynden Williams, who still sounds great and really is the star of the show here, lending his bluesy drawl to "Drums, Bass, and Guitar" and a more melodic sense to "Northern Lights" and the hard rock & prog of "Simple Man". Overall, nothing here is going to change the world, but it's a more than solid collection of tunes featuring a host of notable guest stars that help bring it all together.

Jerusalem: Cooler Than Antarctica
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-07-30 10:00:00
My Score:

Way back in 1972 British hard rock band Jerusalem released their self-titled debut album. Shortly thereafter the band disappeared and was not heard from again until Escalator was released in 2008. I first heard the band on their 2014 release Black Horses which I liked very much. As I mentioned in that review there is some controversy involving the reformation of the band and again this review is based solely on the contents found within as no comparisons have been made to their first album.

The new album is titled Cooler Than Antarctica and again the band have produced a fine album. Original members Lynden Williams (lead and backing vocals, additional percussion) and Bob Cooke (composer) have teamed with some notable musicians such as Dave Meros, Nick D'Virgilio and Geoff Downes, who guest on a few tracks.

Tracks like "Snake" and "Steaming Hot" begin the disc with a fiery hard rock '70s flavour with searing guitar solos, nice riffs and excellent organ play. The band can also slow it down as with the interesting "Specks" where the keyboards and guitar produce longer drawn out sounds that at times hint at '70s psychedelia and the pretty acoustics in the country tinged "The Book Of You". On the bluesy "Drums, Bass and Guitar "soulful guitar riffs and harp go hand in hand while "Northern Lights" continues the band's penchant for hard driving rock.

Cooler Than Antarctica is a very good slice of rock music that will appeal to a wide range of rock fans. Although the prog quotient is low and the proggy bits are few and far between (the proggiest track is probably the moody and blistering "Simple Man"), that shouldn't hinder anyone's enjoyment of what is a powerful rock album loaded with veteran musicianship and great melodies.

Released on Angel Air Records.

» Reader Comments:

Jerusalem: Cooler Than Antarctica
Posted by Paul Dean on 2016-08-02 03:45:17
My Score:

Pete & Jon. Sorry, but my issue is very simple and it's called musical integrity. You may walk around the issue, but this is an out and out falsification. I have no problem with the actual product even though it really doesn't seem that special compared with many young bands these days. The use of the name is purely for financial gain and totally disrespectful to the original band who were in actual fact one of the pathfinders of a genre which eventually became extremely successful.

This album musically has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the legendary Jerusalem band managed and produced by Ian Gillan. Like the previous releases Escalator on Mausoleum and Black Horses on Angel Air, Lynden has just used the name under false pretenses to try and get sales on the back of the remastered and reissued original Jerusalem album on Rockadrome Records. Even Bob Cooke who appeared on Escalator was against Lynden using the name. Ray Sparrow and myself were the founding members of Jerusalem, we then pulled in Bill Hinde and later on Bob Cooke. Lynden was brought in at a much later date after auditions in London. Lynden's musical contributions to the Jerusalem album were only the lyrics on 3 songs, the music of which I wrote. He was also tutored how to sing the songs. Bob Cooke warned me that Lynden was once again going to use the Jerusalem name even though the music bears no relevance to Jerusalem and Bob didn't even perform on Black Horses or this new one. I'm also surprised that a professional company like Angel Air Records would have allowed Lynden to use the name and support such a release under that name. If Lynden is not capable and confident enough of releasing music under his own name, but would rather use and abuse the name of a well respected band from 43 years ago that he was fortunate to be part of for a short time, then he shouldn't be releasing music. I am also surprised that he has done it again and again considering the number of fans and followers of the real Jerusalem who find it insulting. Very disappointed. Paul Dean

Jerusalem: Cooler Than Antarctica
Posted by Paul Dean on 2016-06-29 01:04:41
My Score:

Don't be conned. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the legendary Jerusalem produced by Ian Gillan. Musically it has zero in common. Jerusalem never reformed. Angel Air and Lynden Williams are just using the name Jerusalem to try and increase sales. The only authentic original Jerusalem product is available on Rockadrome Records.Paul Dean (founder and leader Jerusalem)

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