PENDRAGON — Kowtow

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PENDRAGON - Kowtow cover
2.08 | 4 ratings | 1 review
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Album · 1988

Filed under Non-Metal
By PENDRAGON

Tracklist


1. Saved By You (3:58)
2. The Mask (4:01)
3. Time For A Change (3:56)
4. I Walk The Rope (4:47)
5. 2 AM (4:14)
6. Total Recall (7:00)
7. The Haunting (10:40)
8. Solid Heart (4:20)
9. Kowtow (8:56)

Total Time 51:52

Line-up/Musicians

- Nick Barrett / vocals & guitar
- Peter Gee / bass
- Fudge Smith / drums
- Clive Nolan / keyboards

About this release

Released in 1988 by Toff Records.

Thanks to Unitron for the addition

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PENDRAGON KOWTOW reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
While PENDRAGON’s debut album may have landed without crashing, it didn’t exactly land on two feet as it was a mix of AOR dross cross-pollinated with high class Marillion inspired 80s neo-prog. The sophomore effort which came out three years later in 1988 found the band completely wiping out altogether. Despite the band starting to gain some momentum with the neo-prog sounds that would emerge in the 90s on the debut, on KOWTOW the band made a complete retrograde and in the process dumped its weakest albums of its career much less the neo-prog universe in general. This was the first album to see the debut of keyboardist Clive Nolan who had only worked with a band called The Cast at this point and while Nolan has been one of the bigwigs in the world of symphonic prog ever since, on this debut one could hardly guess that fact in any way, shape or form.

Not only did Nolan replace keyboardist Rik Carter but Nigel Harris was also replaced by percussionist Fudge Smith who would also stick around for the next eighteen years up until 2006. Pretty much considered PENDRAGON’s absolute worst effort, KOWTOW went off the rails and created the ultimately bad AOR infused album with only a few progressive moments. While everyone knows neo-prog is in the pop oriented sector of the prog supermarket, KOWTOW takes things to the ultimate extreme and dishes out a bunch of sappy overweening tracks that fail to take into account that good AOR music requires two vital elements. Number one: catchy well crafted pop hooks which are woefully missing from every track included here and number two: a competent vocalist that can focus the attention on the lyrical content. Neither are present here and while Nick Barrett would improve his vocal talents, here he falls woefully flat.

While the album is primarily a batch of irritating crappy pop tracks that are rich in tinny keyboard sounds and lifeless drum programming, the album’s saving grace is the decent but yet unremarkable “The Haunting” which hints at the more sophisticated epic themes that would emerge on the next album “The World.” There are also the occasional jazzy touches (by session musicians) with on “I Walk The Rope” and “2 AM” that unfortunately remind me more of Kenny G than Miles Davis. Barrett’s vocals have a very strange quality of sounding like a mix between a less talented Geddy Lee mixed with the Clash’s Joe Strummer at times and at other times hint at achieving some sort of deliverable goods but doesn’t quite cut the mustard leaving behind an unfulfilled promise where all the proper fluffing was delivered but no climactic resolution.

There are only so many ways to express how bad an album is. While i can understand why neo-proggers would want to craft some commercial success after once great legendary prog bands like Yes and Genesis were tearing up the pop charts and supergroups like Asia were raking in the bucks off their popification of prog, someone forgot to explain to PENDRAGON at this point that the songs would have to be irresistibly infectious and in the case of KOWTOW it is exactly the opposite. This is a difficult listen and i’m a very tolerant music lover to be fair. While i try to find any redeeming value in any given album i experience, KOWTOW is truly one of those absolute worst of the worst and a true burden to sit through for this review. Soulless and as plastic as Barbie’s bosom, KOWTOW is as bottom of the barrel as any album with the prog tag could possibly sink. To be avoided at all cost and a useful torture device for your enemies. Their heads will explode like the aliens on the movie “Mars Attacks!”

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  • stefanbedna
  • Lynx33
  • aglasshouse

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