Step Ahead — Step Ahead
(Musea FGBG 4037.AR, 1982/1992, CD)
by Mike Borella, 1993-10-01:Step Ahead was one of France's best symphonic bands and this, their only release, was a quite a rarity, not only in availability but also in quality. In the early eighties, few bands kept the progressive flame alive while all too many decided that sounding like Genesis was the best way to appeal to progressive fans. Step Ahead managed to derive a certain amount from Drama era Yes and some others but remains original in composition and atmosphere. Driven by Christain Robin's searing guitar work, the band created and pleasant yet powerful sympho album that deserves a listen by prog-heads and neo-proggers alike. Keyboardist Claudie Truchi plays with a wonderful style - she doesn't just bang chords during guitar solos or vocals lines - instead she plays complex multi-threaded semi-classical lines. Herrhythm playing is fantastic. Perhaps the best since Keith Emerson. Vocalist Danny Brown has a high pitched, strong tenor, and the band is rounded out by a solid rhythm section, capable of making the album worth listening to for the bass and drums alone. This disc contains five extra tracks, two of which are previously unreleased, destined for Step Ahead's second album, which never was finished. These two and the three live tracks are mediocre quality and not worth buying the Musea pressing for if you already have the out-of-print Japanese pressing. However they do add a nice touch for completists. Step Ahead may have been a precursor to the Marillion sound that dominated the mid-eighties, but I maintain that they are the most worthwhile of all bands that adopted that sound. They were original, yet their music contains a familiar flavor, thoughtful lyrics and listenable groove that makes its underlying complexity almost deceptive.
by Henry Schneider, 1993-12-31:This CD includes Step Ahead’s only album recorded in 1982, three live tracks recorded at the Théâtre de Verdure, Nice, November 1982, and two previously unreleased tracks recorded at Step Ahead's rehearsal studio in 1982. The additional five songs are not of the same technical quality as the rest of the songs. Christian Robin and Musea included them as a document of their musical value for the band’s fans. Christian Robin reworked these tracks at Mr. Potier studio, Metz-Magny, in October 1992 to give them the best sound quality possible under the circumstances. Step Ahead was Christian Robin (electric guitars), Danny Brown (vocals), Gérard Macia (Ovation Adamas acoustic guitar), Claudie Truchi (keyboards, Bösendorfer Imperial grand piano), Antoine Ferrera (bass), Jean-Yves Dufournier (drums), Alain Lejeune (keyboards), Philippe Recht (bass), and Emmanuel Riquier (drums). Together they produced symphonic progressive music along the lines of Yes, FM, and Rick Wakeman. Christian’s voice sounds like Jon Anderson with more body. If you appreciate middle of the road progressive music, Step Ahead is an album to explore.
Related artist(s): Step Ahead
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more
Court - And You'll Follow the Winds Rush 'Till Their Breath Dwells – From the opening notes of "Rising the Tale" – a short instrumental interlude that opens the disc, it's apparent that this new Italian neo-progressive band has traveled a different... (1994) » Read more
Clearlight/Cyrille Verdeaux - Rainbow Music: Best of Cyrille Verdeaux 1975-2000 – From his debut in 1973 with Clearlight Symphony, French keyboardist and composer Cyrille Verdeaux has combined impressionistic soundscapes in the spirit of Ravel and Debussy with progressive rock... (2001) » Read more