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Band: It Bites

CD Title: “The Tall Ships”

Band Website: www.itbites.com

Label: Independent Release

Label Website: www.progrockrecords.com

Release Date: 2008

 

I first heard It Bites on one of my visits to England in 1986. I loved the name! It seemed every time I turned on the radio I heard “Calling All Heroes.” At the time I had no idea they had progressive leanings. It wasn’t until I picked up their album Once Around the World and saw the long tracks and listened to their eighties prog take that I realized there was more going on than originally met the eye. They quickly became a favorite of mine and I tracked down their three studio albums. Tragically they broke up before releasing a fourth album. That is until now. It Bites today consists of John Beck (keyboards, vocals), Bob Dalton (drums, vocals) and new-comer John Mitchell (guitars and lead vocals).

 

The first release of this incarnation is entitled The Tall Ships and consists of eleven tracks that even today retain bits of the classic It Bites sound, all-be-it enhanced with many modern touches. The album kicks off with “Oh My God” [5:48] a track that morphs through a couple of musical shifts in time and tempo. The general tone of this track will remind many of the band Kino, not surprising since both Mitchell and Beck were half of that band, so it’s to be expected that some of the sound will be carried over. However it’s track two “Ghosts” [4:45] that takes me back to the band’s eighties roots. The keyboard sounds and especially the lyrical syncopation all hearken back to the band’s early style. This is even more evident with the track “Great Disasters” [4:59] with its opening chant. The musical approach of It Bites then and now is clearly to write a good song and then embellish it musically, and they’re very good at that, especially since the core songs are very strong with some great melodies. Each track holds little sing-along treasures. I was particularly taken with “Memory of Water” [4:50]. The two longest songs are “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” [8:12] with its “Calling all Heroes” harmonies and the epic “This is England” [13:32] and both show the band taking various musical bits and pieces and seamlessly working them together into longer compositions. It Bites approach is not about complexity; rather it’s about laying down a solid song that is made interesting by the arrangements and musicianship. These songs are powerfully emotional, very moving and dramatically epic in scope.

 

If you are a fan of the kind of music crafted by bands like Kino than It Bites is a band you’ll want to add to your collection. This is music that has a lot going on within each track, even the shorter ones. Music that changes time and tempo, goes from fast to slow or loud to quiet; another words all the things that make for a progressive rock style. Where It Bites excels with The Tall Ships is that they’ve crafted some wonderful songs that work really well over time. The Tall Ships is a GREAT album and has easily become my favorite It Bites album. I hope we hear more from It Bites.

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