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SARACEN ‘Red Sky’ (Now And Then NTHEN44 2003)

Another band for the late 70’s comes back, with three original members on board - vocalist Steve Bettney, guitarist Rob Bendelow and keyboard player Richard Lowe. Jamie Little joins them on drums (he is a top session drummer having worked with A1 & Boyzone!) with Richard Penedelow on bass. This CD features some re-recorded classics mixed in with newer compositions and marks the band’s first new album in 19 years!

The whole album sounds very similar to latter day Uriah Heep, with the emphasis on epic songs relying heavily on harmonised vocals and keyboards. Opener ‘We Have Arrived’ illustrated this to a tee, as the keyboards take a lead role backing the vocal harmonies. But fear not guitar fans as the guitars are cleverly interwoven into the songs without dominating the sound like on ‘Red Sky’ (complete with Heep style vocal wails!). ‘Faith’ pomps it up big time with swirling keys and vocal harmonies all over the place! Brings to mind the Magnum sound of the 80’s. ‘Castles In The Sand’ is a tuneful acoustic number and a chance for Steve Bettney’s vocals to shine. Bizarre track is the instrumental ‘Menage A Trois’ with two saxes battling it out with Rob Bendelow’s guitar.

Quality epic melodic rock with a big nod to the classic sound of the 70’s. Uriah Heep and Praying Mantis fans will lap this album up and melodic rockers will find much to enjoy on here as well. A welcome return and how about a tour with Uriah Heep and Praying Mantis?



Review by Jason Ritchie

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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