The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world


To be honest I’m not a fan of Prog Rock at all. If it’s not dancing pixies it’s seven hour guitar and triangle solos and more tempo changes than I have underpants (that’s a lot by the way not two)…

If I were to categorise myself I’d be very much in the verse-chorus-guitar solo cut to the punch-line box, so when a mate sent me this CD for Christmas I wasn’t expecting much, but thought it might make a nice drinks coaster. Classic Rock magazine’s Prog slant in latest issues (despite having their own Prog version of the magazine) for me is a little much and so when they signed Bigelf to their own Powerage label I feared the worst. However I’m the first person to give anything a go on its merits and I’m happy to say I am pleasantly surprised (not that I’m about to rush out and buy the entire ELP back catalogue).

To sum it all up this sounds to me EXACTLY like Strength era Enuff Z’Nuff doing their take on two classic albums: ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in the style of Ozzy Osborne with various circus personalities in attendance… and it’s not at all bad.

The CD kicks off strongly ‘Gravest Show on Earth’ sounds at first like ELO warming up then breaks out into Ozzy singing over a military beat, then Pink Floyd, crowd noises… shit I’m just waiting for the midgets and dancing pigs. As you can probably tell I’m not used to Prog and to be honest I wasn’t expecting the Beatles to get shoehorned in there but it’s all strangely compelling because there is some melody in here. And just when it gets a bit sinister then Bowie descends from space as Ziggy. OK that’s the first song what on earth can happen later?

After a bit of a rest and a cup of tea “Blackball’ is somewhat more straightforward and very Bowie, but halfway in he’s gone and we’re away into Blues and some lovely sax but to be honest to me this may as well be a different song. The man with the hat has a nice voice though.

“Money it’s Pure Evil” is a lovely song in it’s technicolour Bowie-Beatles-Floyd splendour and to be honest I thought that the next track ‘The Evils of Rock and Roll’ was part of the same song the first time as the former actually only clocks in at an ‘un-Prog-like’3:18 (See they can do it if they try).

‘The Evils of Rock and Roll’ starts off with the sound that you often hear to accompany a madman at work in his laboratory (with guitars) hmmm… sinister. Then it kicks into a rocking riff that gets the old head banging, a nice big riff. Great song.

It’s at this point I start to wonder if this is good Prog or bad Prog? I like it, it seems full of ideas and the changes are not as grating as I thought. It does reference Bowie (Ziggy era not the rubbish) and Floyd like in ‘No Parachute’ for example, another ‘short’ song at 3:43. But unlike a lot of Prog I remember it doesn’t seem to want to be self-consciously clever. There’s not so much ‘Look at Me’ and more ‘Here’s a song for you’ so in essence more Rock than Prog I guess?

A song like ‘The Game’ is very reminiscent of the seventies in sound, there’s some lovely guitar in there. ‘Superstar’ is a little different still 70’s in feel but less Prog, more Prog-Glam (I’m sure that exists in someone’s mind as a sub-genre of the better known Prog-Pop-Glam)…

The rest of the CD is pretty good too ‘Race with Time’ is a bit Prog-heavy for my liking and has me fast-forwarding the first couple of times, but to be honest there’s nothing really that bad here even for ‘casuals’ like me.

‘Hydra’ sounds scarier but isn’t unless Ozzy doing keyboard-lite Maiden with a big Badmotorfinger riff in the middle scares you? It does meander off a bit in the middle and then completely wanders off into space-effects corner after that, but then you can’t expect them to completely abandon the rules of Prog-engagement can you!

‘Counting Sheep’ that closes off this little platter is the big eleven minute bastard of a song that will scare you unless you come prepared. It’s all Floyd one moment and evil magicians the next; followed by space sounds and Bohemian Rhapsody outtakes! Oh and some squeaky voices (probably Little Elves) and even the circus sounds I’d been fearing all along! This was what I was expecting more of here for sure: weird, wacky and completely bonkers, but back to a Bowie cameo to lead us out and finally a scoop of clown knees-up music!

At the end of the day the sounds I hear in Bigelf’s music you may not, but as a novice Prog-listener I like this. It won’t get on heavy rotation, but it’s good for the car. I did expect a bit more ‘circus’ from a man with a Top Hat but it just goes to show it’s not all about Gnomes and Waistcoat-wearing Bears is it…

Listened to by Mark