White Knight Records [Release date 26.10.18]
We were absolutely blown away this year by Pete Jones’ performances as part of Camel on their Moonmadness tour. His keyboards and vocals were perfect, but it was his sax playing on ‘Another Night’ and ‘Rajaz’ that was nothing short of jaw dropping.
A multi-instrumentalist – he’s also a talented guitarist – music has been a large part of his life since his very early days, influenced in no small part by the loss of his sight at fifteen months due to Retinoblastoma. And when not dedicating his time to Camel, Jones masquerades as Tiger Moth Tales – an umbrella for his ‘solo’ work.
His first album Cocoon (2014) was described as a 70′s Genesis album recorded in the 21st century, and the follow up Story Tellers Part One (2015) was, like Part Two, based around classic children stories he listened to as a young boy and once again musically inspired by early era Genesis. In between Parts One and Two came The Depths Of Winter (2017).
Story Tellers Part Two, draws on stories as diverse as ‘Toad Of Toad Hall’ and his own take on the standout ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’. It’s an immaculately constructed and executed piece of work created single handedly but for some duet vocals from Emma Friend on ‘Eternity’ (with whom he formed the successful duo 2 to Go – finalists in the BBC’s Star For A Night in 2001 and The X Factor in 2004) and a cornet cameo from Mark Wardle and wife Kim’s vocoded Snow Queen vocals on ‘Kai’s Journey’.
But those early Genesis, and Steve Hackett in particular, influences which loom large in Jones’ textural palette can, at times, be something of a distraction as the mind wanders, trying to work out where a particular phrase or refrain has previously featured in the Genesis songbook.
But where early Genesis isn’t being re-sculptured, and sometimes even where it is, there’s a strong West End/Lloyd Webber, and at times even Disney, feel to proceedings that makes the whole set very Radio 2 friendly. Jones’ skilfully irrepressible comic revisiting / reimagining of ‘Three Little Pigs’, for example, would have been a shoo-in for Children’s Favourites in days of yore and will appeal to grandparents and toddlers alike.
Perhaps ironically, the strongest piece – from a rock perspective – is the brooding ‘The Palace’ – an instrumental tour de force with shades of Phantom in its opening refrains, and a number that would sit more than comfortably on any of Hackett’s recent releases. In fact, I suspect many would be unable to distinguish it from the work of the man himself.
For me, as someone who lived through those early Genesis years, the use of the Banks/ Hackett paint box is at times a little close for comfort. But Jones is a very, very, fine musician, and a ‘prog’ album that you could play on Christmas Day, and that would appeal to all of the family, is something of a rarity. ***1/2
Review by Pete Whalley
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