Landmarq - Entertaining Angels,
It has been some 13 years since the last Landmarq album, due in no small part to Tracy’s battle with cancer. This got me thinking, as the keyboard player is Mike Varty who is also in Credo – whose singer Mark Colton also suffered a life-threatening illness which long delayed an album. If I was in DeeExpus, Shadowland, or anything else Mike is involved with I might be concerned….Anyway, I first came across Tracy’s singing a million years ago when she was in Quasar with Dave Wagstaffe and Steve Leigh, and after they all left that band they formed Landmarq, although with Damian Wilson on vocals while Tracy worked with Clive Nolan and also followed a solo career. It was only towards the end of the Nineties that Tracy became the singer on a full-time basis (after Damian, then Moon, and then Damian again if my memory serves me right) and she appeared on their last studio album ‘Science of Coincidence’, but this is the first to feature Mike as he has only been there seven years. The rest of the guys are those who have been there since the beginning, namely Uwe D’Rose (guitars), Steve Gee (bass) and Dave Wagstaffe (drums). Although since the release of this album Dave has had to announce his sad departure as he is no longer able to commit to touring, as he also plays with Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash.
So, what about it then? Production is top class, as one would expect from Mike, and although Tracy has been through a lot on the last ten years it doesn’t show in her voice at all. I have always felt that Tracy is one of the most under-rated singers from these shores (go and find her solo album if you don’t believe me), and is easily on a par with Lana Lane, and here she sings with a passion and strength that totally belies what has been going on in her personal life. In many ways this is easy listening prog, in the sense that the music is here as an accompaniment to the vocals and although there is a lot of complexity in the arrangements it is all about the singing. There are Floydian moments (“Mountains of Anglia” features some great slide guitar as well as sax) and others that are more in your face, but at all times it is about mood.
My favourite Landmarq album is always probably going to be ‘Solitary Witness’, but in many ways this is a rebirth and to my ears is a totally different band who produced that album 20 years ago, not just in personnel but in approach. 2012 has been a wonderful year for bands that first came to prominence in the 90’s to produce great albums, and Landmarq are no exception.