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PALLAS – EYES IN THE NIGHT – THE RECORDINGS 1981-1986 (6 x CD; 1 x Blu Ray) (Release date – 28th June, 2024) (CHERRY RED)

Following my recent’ sneak preview’ in which I gave my reaction to the live “Arrive Alive”, I have now managed to work my way through the other CDs.

CD 2 is called “Pallas and the BBC and More”, mostly recordings from the BBC One Friday Night Rock Show, including ‘Paris Burning’ which, for some reason, reminds me of THE SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY’s BAND’s ‘Next’. There’s ‘The Hammer Falls’ with BRIAN MAY type guitar; there’s also some grungy bass and a sing along chorus on ‘Cut and Run’ while ‘Ark of Infinity’ is the most ambitious and proggy piece. No need to worry about the comparisons: Palls carved out their own progressive niche and weren’t afraid to speak out about the Thatcher government.

Their Harvest album “The Sentinel” (1984) will need no introduction to prog fans, and the bonus tracks from the “Eyes in the Night” LP will be most welcome: ‘East West’ is a powerful track about the Cold War with lyrics about “politicians lying before my eyes” and the rich-poor divide. ‘Crown of Thorns’ is a wonderful GENESIS influenced Pallas staple. As for the album itself Graeme Murray recalls that he found it a disappointment in that the mix didn’t sound like what the band had envisioned (although the music is excellent the impact of the music did not match the power of live performance). The band’s “Shock Treatment” EP is also included. A second U.S. mix was done and this is included for comparison on CD four.

CD five is “The Wedge” (1986), probably on reflection my favourite Pallas album of their classic era. By this time, I believe they had assimilated some of the eighties-sound paralleling some of the music that era that I listened to (such as BE BOP DELUXE and XTC) and utilising guitar synth and the odd bit of drum machine (effectively- and the synth settings were always in the spirit of the more ambitious music of the classic 70s!) while retaining their prog credentials. ‘Win or Lose’ (and indeed bonus songs such as ‘Stranger’ from the “The Knightmoves” EP from 1985) illustrate what good songwriters they were, and ‘Nightmare’ harked back to classics like ‘the Ripper’ and ‘The Executioner’, with its wonderfully whacky piano solo; the mini-epic ‘Sanctuary’ has one of Niall Matthewson’s finest guitar solos. By this stage Alan Reed had replaced Euan Lowson as vocalist.

CD six has a real ‘jewel in the crown’, a gig recorded at Ritzy’s in Aberdeen containing material mainly from “The Wedge” era on which Niall is joined by singer Alan Reed, Graeme Murray on bass and 12-string guitar, Ronnie Brown on keys, and Derek Forman on drums, just prior to the release of “The Wedge” album itself on 22nd October, 1985. CD seven has a 1985 set from Camden Palace in London (1985) with a bonus promo video.

Pallas went on to release two more albums “Beat the Drum” (1999) (I remember having the cassette- I wonder what happened to it?) and made a surprise but welcome return this year with “The Messenger”, more of which very soon! It is easy to be nostalgic about music, but I must say Pallas’s music has stood the test of time, a shining beacon during an at times arid period of music history, reminding us once again why progressive rock is a wonderful vehicle for musical and lyrical expression. The remastering and the comprehensiveness of this collection (including EPs, singles, unreleased, concerts etc) will make this a must for Pallas fans and lovers of prog in general, or at the very least inspire them to investigate their music.

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