I think that only few people know that Peter Gee, Pendragon's bass player, is the son of a vicar of the Church of England. Therefore it isn't strange that all the albums he recorded under his own name are related to Christianity. However, people who are familiar with Heart Of David (1993), A Vision Of Angels (1997) and The Spiritual World (2008) know that these albums contain strong progressive rock that sometimes has a relation with the music he made with Pendragon. At other times bands like Camel and Genesis influenced him as a musician and a composer.
In 2011 he continued his solo career by releasing his fourth album East Of Eden. The songs on this album were all written between 1998 and 2003, the same period as the material for The Spiritual World. During that period Gee wrote about forty songs and instrumentals. In order to use most of them he decided to equally spread them over two albums. Half of the songs appeared on The Spiritual World; the remainder recently appeared on East Of Eden. The overall theme of the album is about the world we live in, the eternal struggle between good and bad and beauty and ugliness. Peter Gee plays the guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, percussion and he did some programming. He asked some guest musicians to help him out with the recordings just like he did on all of his other albums. He invited two lead singers who both share the vocal duties. Steve Thorne sings the lead and backing vocals on tracks 4, 7, 8, 11, 13, 18 and 19 and Damian Wilson did the same on tracks 2, 3, 6, 10, 15, 17 and 20. Both distinguished singers did a great job lifting the album to a high level. A minor role was left for Hayley Oliver. She did the backing vocals for only two tracks. Drummer Steve Christey (Jadis) already worked on a couple of Gee's solo albums.
East Of Eden contains seventy minutes of music spread over twenty rather short tracks. I won't mention all these tracks separately, but in general they're all high-levelled tending in the direction of the above-mentioned style of music. Especially Genesis and Phil Collins crossed my mind regularly. However, certain tracks need some explanation. For instance, Arabia strongly reminded me of Kashmir recorded by Led Zeppelin for their Physical Graffiti (1975) album. At the age of fifteen Mr. Gee used to play guitar in a band called Argueda that played covers of Led Zeppelin. Well, that will explain enough. Also Falling Star is a track you wouldn't expect on this album. It has a nice disco beat over which Damian Wilson sings some fine vocal lines. The slapping on the bass guitar even gives it a real nice eighties sound.
Two strong instrumental pieces need some extra attention. Sundays At Woodside sounds as if you're attending a service in the church of Peter's father. You can enjoy the beautiful sound of a church organ playing a strong melody. The other outstanding instrumental is Stradivarius which sounds as a classical orchestra with − in accordance with the title − a violin taking the lead. Throughout the album you can hear how gifted Peter Gee is as a musician. The listener is treated to a number of excellent guitar solos that show his true passion for progressive rock. Good examples are I Want Out, One Day We'll Meet Again, Blue Skies and Eyes Of A Child. It's rather difficult to mention any favourites out of twenty fine tracks. However, I guess that many people will consider The Ends Of The Earth as the musical highlight on East Of Eden. In a way it reminded me of the songs Peter Gee co-wrote for Pendragon. Think about a track like Queen Of Hearts and you'll get my drift!
It doesn't happen that often that a solo effort from a band member of a rather well-known progressive rock band appears to be as good as an album from the band. Mostly these solo records are a way to express personal issues. However, I dare to say that all the albums Peter Gee recorded so far are second to none to the albums he made with Pendragon. East Of Eden is no exception. So I would like to recommend this release to all fans of Pendragon, but also to those who enjoy the music of Genesis and Phil Collins. East Of Eden is just an excellent album that needs to be heard by many people!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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