Janison Edge

The Services of Mary Goode

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Three years in the making, The Services of Mary Goode was released on the group's own record label, garnered very positive reviews from the progressive rock press, and failed to truly make an impact. And it's a shame. Neo-prog rarely got this convincing. This album ducks most clichés of the genre while still remaining true to its spirit -- an unheralded classic, worthy of any prog rock fan's collection, even those who usually sneer at the neo-prog variety. Janison Edge was put together by Shadowland's keyboardist Mike Varty to showcase the voice and songwriting of Sue Element, a revelation. Guitarist Ian Salmon (Arena), drummer David Wagstaffe (Landmarq), and bassist Paul Brown (Medicine Man) complete the semi-all-star line-up, but forget what you know about supergroups (especially the prog rock ones). No musician steals the spotlight away from the songs. At times they do feel a little too crowded in the arrangements department, but that is a minor flaw easily forgotten (and forgiven). Element and Varty make a stunning songwriting team. The singer's melodies are uplifting and touching, her voice is charged with emotion without overdoing anything. Varty's Genesis-like keyboard solos are tailor-fit to the music. "Beneath the Boy" deserves a place in an anthology of ‘90s prog rock for its melodic perfection. "Joker" and part 4 of the title track provide more strong highlights. Then again, there is not a bad cut on this CD. Jane Bryan's cover painting is a rare feast for the eyes, arching back to the days of Paul Whitehead's covers for Genesis. Highly recommended, despite the fact that the band was not able to follow up.

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