It Bites
The Tall Ships


3.5
great

Review

by Finbar USER (23 Reviews)
February 16th, 2013 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An effective fusion of 70s-style prog and pop-rock easily contests some quite different beginnings...

It Bites were a British pop-rock band best known for their questionable 80s hit single Calling All the Heroes that disbanded in 1990.

However, in 2006, the members reformed, replacing their lead vocalist and guitarist with John Mitchell of Arena, Kino and Frost* and going Genesis with the lack of a bassist, instead recording all parts between them. The resulting album is quite frankly, impressive. The band has managed to combine their old catchy choruses and vocal harmonies with a healthy injection of screaming 70s-style progressive rock solos, keyboards and song structures.

The first song, Oh My God is one of the album's best, centred around a vocal harmony of a repeated "I got your words" and after its second chorus the "prog section" kicks in with one of Mitchell's signature solos and John Beck's eerie keys - fans of Spock's Beard and Marillion will be completely at home.
Other strong tracks include Playground, filled with longing reminiscence of childhood and excellent interplay between the Johns' instruments, Memory of Water's thumping drums and memorable hooks and For Safekeeping, a much slower piano-led song than its peers that adds some nice variation to the album. The title track also brings in interesting Gailic elements with an atmospheric flute solo.

The shortest song is 4:41, so this is not to be confused with uninspired mainstream pop-rock, though there are tracks that it would not be a surprise to hear on your local radio station like Fahrenheit and Great Disasters which have every quality to appeal to the masses while retaining the progressive nature for those that have actual music taste, which is what makes this album so interesting.

There are however weaker tracks that bring the quality down, notably Lights which is where the band finally fails, the song feeling over-long and repetitive, unsure whether to be a catchy radio-friendly or throwback progressive tune. The Wind That Shakes The Barley is not bad but occasionally feels as if it is 8 minutes long simply for the sake of being 8 minutes long and the European bonus track When I Fall is not to be missed by anyone who picks up a standard copy of the album...

The standout track of the album is the final, epic 14 minute This Is England, where It Bites go full-on Dream Theater with ever-shifting riffs and brilliant, screeching keyboard work. The song appears to invent an alternate-reality Thatcher-esque fascist England where Mitchell sings of oppression and a commanding voice arrests the viewer for "interfering in the worst possible way". The song's final 4 minutes depict a mother dying in childbirth somehow bringing the oppressed citizens to overpower their government and free us from their clutches, it kinda makes you wish The Tall Ships had been a concept album, but though it is not, I'm certainly aboard.



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user ratings (10)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Mad.
February 16th 2013


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Couldn't resist that super-cheesy last line.

Jethro42
February 16th 2013


12491 Comments


I want to know this band more.

Mad.
February 16th 2013


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Here's the place to start then.

Mad.
February 16th 2013


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Wow, got a neg. Any reason why?

Jethro42
February 16th 2013


12491 Comments


A troll neg obviously.
Is this album better than Kino?

Mad.
February 17th 2013


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I ain't heard it but I assume it will be similar.

Jethro42
February 17th 2013


12491 Comments


The best Kino's song; Swimming in Women;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ily-YYrcDG4

Also, review was well written. It makes the album sound great. Too bad, it seems it passed under the radar.

SadAndHolyGlow
December 7th 2013


1526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Very well written. I'd expect you to get some negs due to how you said that the band started out on "embarrassing" notes. I disagree with that, but I see where you're coming from. To be honest, though "The Big Lad..." is far from perfect, it still blends pop and progressive in a Genesis fashion very well. I'll be giving this a listen soon.

Digging: Envy - A Dead Sinking Story

Mad.
December 7th 2013


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the comment! I feel this album (and band) have completely passed under the radar. I agree I was pretty damn harsh there, I've never really given their earlier stuff a chance so I'm probably making a horrible generalisation. I'll try and change it, but Calling All the Heroes is not a particularly meritable song...

SadAndHolyGlow
December 7th 2013


1526 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You were fair in your assessment, but maybe listen more intently to the older stuff. IN a lot of ways, this newer stuff is far superior. And, come on, "Calling All the Heroes" is great :D

Mad.
December 7th 2013


3981 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Changed it a little bit, do you think it works?



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