We have two five-part concept pieces here, and up first is “The Trial.” “The Summons” features cathedral-style organ played by Brett Barnett initially washing in to take me to church. I’m really feeling this retro-groove as John Mabry’s plaintive vocal layers over the top and Paul Harrison’s bass kicks in the rhythm as everyone starts rockin’. The song then introduces a Bill Estes guitar break about three minutes in that Brett and then Bill solo over making you wonder where the last thirty years have gone.
As the next four tracks unfold I recall the old days where no one worried about being commercial and having a radio-friendly sound. Mind Furniture explore long instrumental jams and featured more folk & singer/songwriter influences along with the progressive stylings just as those bands of the past did. Next up is “The Prosecution,” a rock song with a slow steady beat featuring a strong guitar riff that keeps the song moving admirably. The first half of the album all reminds me a bit of Mostly Autumn’s most Pink Floyd moments.
I would hope that the beautiful instrumental at the end of “The Trial” will move you as it did me. A gorgeous cello starts “The Verdict” as the acoustic guitar plays a simple Spanish-tinged solo beautifully. The electric lead line takes over culminating with a cascading keyboard piece that reminded me of something that IQ would do. Everyone here gets a chance to shine.
“Hoop of Flame” is the weaker of the two epics, despite the CD owning the title. It does have some strong moments however, such as the Acoustic/Electric guitar build in “Shiva pt 1” and the lovely Piano/Cello beginning of “Glimpse of a Chance.” Another reference for this CD would be Golden Earring, especially on album closer “Shiva pt 2.”
Overall I feel the production could have been a bit improved, as I feel the vocals may be down too low in the mix. I could have done without some of the over-acting on the spoken lines that occasionally pop-up on the CD. But overall, this was definitely worth hearing. The positives way outnumber the negatives and it piqued my interest in other Mind Furniture recordings. Mission accomplished guys!
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on March 20th, 2010