Cherry Red 2015
Not afraid to dismount: prog rock giants’ doomed collaboration of a pop stripe finally sees the light of day in full.
Back in 1983, ASIA’s Japanese jaunt had proved that Greg Lake couldn’t front a band that he wasn’t a founder of anymore yet he could work with Geoff Downes beyond that tour. It took the two another five years, though, to actually enter the studio with the resolve to record an album under the RIDE THE TIGER name. But, while what resulted from those sessions seemed more than demo cuts – given the beat came on not from a drum machine but from Michael Giles, Lake’s rhythm partner in KING CRIMSON – the project got abandoned, with some of the six pieces repurposed for its participants’ main bands, some cropping up on archival compilations and a couple remaining in the vaults until this release.
“We got something out of it – that was quite interesting,” Geoff admitted to this scribe, and indeed, while the soulful punch of “Check It Out” is quite skeletal, with tentative brass stabs, it’s still riveting, if anxious, and this unease comes across as the record’s defining trait. Thus, the previously unissued “Street Wars” has an angular orchestral appeal and keyboard wildness to it, whereas “Blue Light” is a bass-punctured nervous ballad. The scope might get big and cavernous, as it does for the heavy “Money Talks” which ELP would turn into “Paper Blood” before fleshing out the anthemic “Affairs Of The Heart” into proper prog garb, yet the bombast ASIA added to “Love Under Fire” – presented here in two differently textured versions – somehow muddled the piece’s original, delicately dry intent.
Even with an ’80s kind of production these tapes ooze quality, and why the project wasn’t brought to fruition is anyone’s guess. The collaboration worked perfectly, so maybe it’s time for the two G’s to get together again and ride the beast to the end.