Progressive rock, for the most part, has not been known for having a strong sense of humor. It was shaped, after all, by musicians who believed that if third stream jazz musicians could exalt Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, and Chopin as their idols, there was no reason why rock musicians shouldn't do the same. But Not as Good as the Book is a prog rock release that definitely has a sense of humor; in fact, humor is a vital part of this CD set. A highly conceptual effort, Not as Good as the Book is written from the perspective of aging baby boomers who lived to see the 21st century and are not happy with the ways in which the world has changed. Historically, most rock music -- from punk to rockabilly to grunge -- has been very youth-focused. But on this release, the Tangent offer the perspective of middle-aged boomers whose youthful idealism has been replaced by cynicism and pessimism -- boomers who, back in the '60s and '70s, looked forward to the future but were disillusioned after they got there. They started out optimistic and hopeful, but when the '90s and 2000s arrived, they received a rude awakening and found that instead of getting better, society became worse. Nonetheless, Not as Good as the Book manages to laugh in the face of disillusionment, and humor (albeit dark humor) is as important to this project as sarcasm and anxiety. Not as Good as the Book can be a little too self-indulgent at times, but all things considered, it is a memorable and well-crafted offering from these 21st century prog rockers.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2