Robert Berry — Pilgrimage to a Point
(Cyclops CYCL 019, 1993/1995, CD)
by Mike Grimes, Published 1995-11-01
Robert Berry has been making music around the San Francisco Bay Area for about 20 years now – maybe longer. Probably his only national attention came during the late 80s when he teamed up with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer for the album 3 and the tour which followed. Since then, I know that he has played several times around San Jose, opening for the likes of The Chris Squire Experiment and some other progressive acts, performing tunes from the 3 album and other original material. Pilgrimage to a Point contains two tracks co-written with Emerson and Palmer from a never released second 3 album, as well as two tracks co-written with Steve Howe for a never released second GTR album. There's also one track included that Berry submitted to ELP when they reunited for the Black Moon album which didn't end up on that record. So, basically most all the songs on Pilgrimage to a Point were to be on albums by other groups which Berry was affiliated with, but they weren't, so here they are now. Got it?
The excellent liner notes give a detailed walk through Berry's musical life over the past 10 years, including his stints with Emerson, Palmer, and Howe. The notes even include a Pete Frame style "family tree" with Berry's appropriate ties to ELP, Yes, ...etc and photos too. The songs are very much in the "3" vein – not overly progressive, but certainly more interesting harmonically and rhythmically than typical pop / rock music. A couple of tracks are really poppy, especially the untitled surprise track number 13. It has extremely strong Beatles ties and another track, "The Otherside," sounds like it could be Air Supply. Berry is clearly a song craftsman. His songs are well developed and produced, with all parts serving a purpose. He seems like the type guy that would spend hours working on a three second back up harmony vocal line to make sure it was just right. Oddly, though the liner notes are extensive, there are no musician credits given. It makes me wonder if there are any "special guests" on the CD. The two tracks co-written with Steve Howe either feature Steve himself on guitar, or someone playing his licks note for note – particularly the opening track "No One Else to Blame." Likewise, a lot of the keyboards are very much in the Emerson style – down to the Roland D-50 patches he was using around the time of 3. Fans of 3 and GTR would like this collection, but people who don't like either of those bands probably won't like this much. Interestingly, there's mention of a new band "Alliance" in the notes which Berry apparently joined in 1993 with former Sammy Hagar and Night Ranger band members, but I've heard no more about them since.
Related artist(s): Robert Berry
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more