Having left Renaissance in the late 80s, bassist and vocalist Jon Camp found himself working with Robin George and his band Dangerous Music. As they prepared to go on tour the outfit suddenly required a new keyboard player due to ill health, bringing John Young (who would also perform with Asia at around the same time) into the fold. Camp and Young hit it off and after the tour had ended the pair began writing songs. Asking guitarist Brett Wilde onboard alongside drummer Tony Bodene the band, now dubbed Cathédrale began recording, seven tracks put on tape as the eighties turned into the nineties. In terms of sound however, there's no doubt that it was the earlier decade that dominated, a style incorporating short staccato bursts of guitar and upbeat synths combined to the optimistic vocals (provided by both Camp and Young) that so encapsulated the 80s UK pop scene.
Complex in structure but hugely accessible in execution, the results could easily have seen Cathédrale share stages with the likes of Hipsway or Hue & Cry, although there's an undeniably progressive edge also in play. "Element Of Surprise" walks that tightrope confidently, while the more keyboard heavy "A Trick Of The Light" adds a more obvious (if hardly dominant) 70s edge, a small window into the world of Yes opened onto what was undoubtedly an 80s vista. The biggest drawback however is the poor sound quality of recordings that, on occasions, pop, hiss and even drop-out once or twice. Sessions aimed at a debut album that never happened, showing the signs of their age. That doesn't stop "The Price" being a catchy challenging straddle of pop and prog, or "One By One" being a stab at something that might have dominated the UK charts four or five years earlier.
With the foursome's sound slowly adding ever more complex layers, a vocalist was incorporated into the mix to allow Camp and Young to concentrate on the instrumental side of their work; Mark Goddard Parker bringing his loosely 80s Bowie meets John Payne (Asia) like voice to the party. There's no doubt he was a good addition to the band as they continued their exploration of progressive pop into 1991 through the likes of the cutting "Kasaar", ultra-smooth almost AOR of "It's Really Up To You" or the soft-rock excellence of "Mind The Gap". The five songs with their new vocalist bringing a more obviously commercial rock sheen into being, although again, the recording quality leaves a lot to be desired.
With money in short supply, the quintet found getting out on the road to spread their sound to any potential audiences to be too much of a challenge and slowly began to drift apart. Sadly, Camp and Young found themselves as a lone duo once more, although they did record some more (now lost) material with the excellent voice of GTR's Max Bacon, before finally folding.
There's a lot to like on J2-B2 and yet with the approach taken across the various sessions represented here being very much of their time, and pretty much the worse for wear, even for Renaissance fans their appeal might be quite limited. That said, if the era of music covered here floats your boat, this collection of never before released songs may well be an interesting look into what could have been.
1. One By One
2. The Price
3. Calling Out For You
4. Element Of Surprise
5. A Trick Of the Light
6. Paris Is Calling
7. Wise Men (Never Fall In Love)
9. It's Really Up To you
10.Mind The Gap
11.Any Time At All
Added: February 19th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: J2-B2 at Angel Air
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Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2018-02-19 11:43:49
When bassist Jon Camp left Renaissance in 1985 he was looking to form another band and John Young was recommended to him by Robin George of the band Dangerous. The two hit it off and the band Cathédrale was formed. Joining Camp (bass, acoustic guitar, Moog Taurus, vocals) and Young (keyboards, vocals) are Brett Wilde (electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocals), Tony Bodene (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Mark Goddard-Parker (vocals).
I really had no idea of what to expect from Cathédrale which is always an adventure as a reviewer. Seeking new music is the fun part of this job and with J2-B2 I had no preconceived ideas of what this music should sound like. If I'm being honest, this is very much a product of its time. This may be good or bad, depending on how you view '80s music. And trust me, you know this is a product of the '80s just by the front cover alone. For me, I have always dug British new wave/pop so I was fairly happy with this release. The theme here is catchy pop rock with the occasionally proggy undertone which gives the album an art rock feel. Camp and Young share vocal duties on the first seven tracks and they both perform admirably giving these songs a catchy sheen that is really quite addictive. The first track "One By One" is a prime example on just how catchy this music can be. A huge bass sound with background orchestral elements and rhythmic change ups letting the listener know this isn't run of the mill pop music. "The Price" features excellent lead vocals and muted guitars with a nice keyboard solo half way through. "Calling Out For You" is more moody with sparse instrumentation and heavily emphasized drums and bass. The catchy art pop of "Element Of Surprise" is another glistening production this time featuring excellent acoustic guitar work.
The last five tracks feature the vocals of Mark Goddard-Parker. His voice is slighter lower and more soulful giving the last few tracks a slightly different feel. "Any Time At All" is a fine moody and somewhat proggy rock song with some blistering rhythm and lead guitar while "Mind The Gap" is a decent, if unspectacular ballad. "Kasaar" is built upon well played guitar and keyboard work and the last track "Crying" is more in line with the traditional power ballad formula.
So, while this album does not blow me away, it certainly is a nice enough find and representative of the era upon which it was created. Recommended.
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