IQ - Nomzamo,
This was the first ‘proper’ album with Paul Menel, and it heralded a new direction for the band. Paul’s vocals were pure and clear, rather than emotive, and made the sound more commercial. This was a move that alienated some fans, but also made them many more. “No Love Lost” is rich in harmonies and although the bass line is solid rather than inventive, it did herald the shift in direction. “Promises (As The Years Go By)” is the one that got away and is probably the best example of the new sound of IQ as the band mixed pop and prog in a way that should have guaranteed them a hit single. The vocals soar, and I defy anyone who like melodic rock not to absolutely love this. “Nomzamo” uses a drum machine to great effect as the vocals shine, and when the guitars finally make an entrance the music swells and rises. “Still Life” is balladlike in its approach and features some emotive fretless bass and stark vocals; the use of sax is a departure for the band that works well. “Passing Strangers” is another overt attempt at a pop song that to my ears works very well indeed, as it bounces along (again with some great harmonies). “Human Nature” is more like old times, but it is to “Screaming” that I probably turn to most. Sequencers kick off what is again a pop/rock number with soaring vocals, but it is just plain FUN! Considering the song is about death, it is something of a strange contrast “When I take my dying breath, you’d better bet your life, I’m going out screaming, like I came in now, screaming”. The final song is “Common Ground”, a respectful number about the Battle of the Somme, sung mostly as a lament, the guitars eventually arrive to great effect. There are three bonus songs on the CD. The first is “Colourflow”, which was on the 12” of “Passing Strangers”, which also contained the next track, a piano/vocal version of “No Love Lost”. One of my most magical musical memories (alliteration rules) is seeing Martin perform this solo at Whitchurch a few years ago. I do like the full version, but to my ears this is just so far superior. The CD closes with a live version of “Common Ground”. This album is a mix of old and new, that many felt did not work quite as well as it could (although I loved it, and still do).