Legend - Cardinal Points,
I’m not sure how long I have known Steve Paine, but it must be about 20 years. During that time our discussions on music have changed into something far greater, and in many ways I view him as a guide and he has been very important to my whole family during stressful periods of our lives. That friendship had stayed strong even after Legend has ceased to be, something that I viewed as a great musical loss. During their time together they had produced three wonderful albums, which musically were quite different to anything else that was around at the time – symphonic progrock with strong guitars that combined with soaring female vocals may not sound out of the ordinary now but back then it really was. Let’s put some things into perspective, the first Nightwish album was released in 1996, the first Within Temptation was 1997, the first Legend album was 1991!
Their final album, ‘Triple Aspect’, was a tour de force and when I heard that they were going to go their separate ways I was extremely disappointed as here was a band that had become firm friends, and they had introduced me to other music such as Incubus Succubus (who I first saw supporting Legend at Oxford Stocks – still one of my favourite all-time gigs), The Rattlers, Talis Kimberley and Mr So & So (all of whom Steve and live engineer Jon Moreau had produced). They were incredible in concert, and when they thanked me from the stage of Croydon Fairfield Halls it was all over, way too soon.
Fast forwardtoo many years and Steve contacted me to let me know that he was going to be reforming the band and was writing music again. He had had a number of conversations with drummer John Macklin and original singer Kerry Parker (at this point Kerry was not even being considered as vocalist – she is simply one of Steve’s closest friends) and as John and Steve both really missed playing they gradually we worked out a way of possibly making it all happen. Work had commenced on ‘Cardinal Points’ before the band had called it a day, so now seemed the right time to start on it again even though they had no idea what was no going on in the prog scene
The personnel changes were really down to both Paul Lamb and Debbie Chapman being committed to their careers, and Steve had lost touch with Paul Thomson so Dave Foster (of the So &So’s) was the next logical choice. When Debbie was reluctant to get involved Kerry Parker was again the obvious choice as she’d been the original vocalist of the band in the embryonic stages. However Kerry’s work commitments meant she couldn’t step into the role, though she did start helping Steve to find a new vocalist and assisting me with the lyrics. Though once Kerry heard the demos and got into writing lyrics and a fortuitous change of employer she jumped at the chance. So even though the new version of the band has ended up without two significant members of the band, the new line up was also wonderful as it included people who been a part of the Legend family over the years. Kerry in particular as the she was the first person to sing many of Steve’s songs – such as ‘Light in Extension’, ‘Windsong’ and ‘Evidence of Autumn’.The line-up was completed by bassist Dan Nelson and they roped in a few friends to help out on additional instruments such as Dave’s wife Claire on flute.
So, four songs is what we get on the new album, ranging from just under 13 minutes to just over 17 minutes long. The sounds is instantly identifiable as Legend, with keyboards often taking the lead role but also room for plenty of guitars as well. Dave has fitted in well with the role of power foil to Steve, but given that they have been working together for so many years that isn’t really surprising, and in Kerry they have a great singer – given that she was the original singer for the band it probably isn’t surprising that she has a similar style to Debbie, but she has added an extra element to the proceedings.
If anyone wants to listen to just a few minutes that sum up the album easily then the place to go is track three, and listen to the beginning of “Spark To A Flame” where there are wonderful harmony vocals, punchy music, power chords, drama and much much more.
This is easily one of the most powerful and inspiring progressive rock albums to come out for years – one that those lucky enough to discover it are going to be playing time and time again. The band have been stunned by the reception to date and are planning the next album and hopefully some live dates as well – now if they could come to NZ I would be a very happy man indeed.
Legend – Cardinal Points. You owe it to your ears to get this.