Progressive rock fans of the '90s onward are used to seeing John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg's name at the bottom of an album review, not at the top. The Belgian rock critic released his own debut CD in September 2002. If Only Stones Could Speak is a concept album built around the myths and legends of his hometown, Brugge. Bollenberg's songs follow the rules of vintage or "classic" symphonic progressive rock and are strongly influenced by Rick Wakeman's mid-'70s extravaganzas. His voice has a pleasant tone and sufficient power, although he does tend to over-emphasize the dramatic elements. His lyrics are a bit too much on the descriptive side (especially since the booklet already contains thorough explanations for each building or monument immortalized into song). This album's main interest doesn't reside in Bollenberg's input, but in his circle of friends. The songs have been co-written with guitarist Björn Johansson, who also arranged half of them. The others were taken care of by Pär Lindh, who also produced the album and plays drums and keyboards throughout. Kopecky's William Koppecky handles bass duties and rounds up Bollenberg's main formation. Guest stars include the Flower Kings' Roine Stolt, Mostly Autumn's Heather Findlay and Bryan Josh, Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess, and Yes' Rick Wakeman. As with any such all-star project, performances tend to be on the uninvolved side, but they make up a decent album that fans of the classic sound will appreciate. There's plenty of lightning-fast organ fills, miniMoog solos, Clavinet vamps, and Mellotron backgrounds to keep you happy.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture