RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Greg Lake & Geoff Downes – Ride the Tiger 
Manticore Records

Rating: C

Back in 1989, two icons of progressive rock sat down to write an albums worth of music. Keyboardist Geoff Downes was most famous for being a founding member of Asia as well as notifying us that video killed the radio star.  Bassist Greg Lake, most notably from Emerson, Lake & Palmer, was briefly in the band Asia back in 1983 when he replaced vocalist/bassist John Wetton for a couple of years.   

The duo knew back then that they could write some interesting music, yet it took several years for the men to make it actually happen. It took even longer to get the album released, as the music they recorded didn’t see the light of day in a commercial release in its entirety until 2015.  

While four of these songs have been released on various compilations, the entire album has never been released until now.  “Love Under Fire” became an Asia track on their 1992 album Aqua.  Two songs went on to find homes on ELP albums, specifically “Affairs of the Heart” and “Street War.” 

Lake comments on this album,  “To be honest I thought that these recordings had simply disappeared off the radar until one of my management team Daniel Earnshaw reminded me of their existence. My initial reaction was not entirely positive as I generally view many of these re-releases to be a bit tiresome, however, upon hearing these recordings again I immediately identified their value, both in terms of song writing and of musicianship and production. Geoff, of course, is a masterful musician with an instinctive ability to maximise the potential of any song both as a player and as an arranger. His contribution to these recordings is clear for all to see and for me it was a real pleasure to reflect upon our friendship together both personally and as musicians.”  

Downes remains excited about the work he created with Lake, “One of the privileges of my career has been the opportunity to embrace a number of bespoke projects with some of the world’s greatest musicians. Greg Lake, of course was at the forefront of the progressive revolution, lead vocalist and bassist with both King Crimson and ELP, bands which literally changed the world, pushing boundaries of excellence and creativity, creating a brand new musical genre from London which would soon captivate the planet. This collection of songs represents a particularly creative period in my life. I’m delighted that Greg and I have rekindled our friendship, and worked together again in order to share this collection with you.”  

While the songs are finally at home together, and the artists are happy about the way it all worked out, the truth is there is nothing to set the world on fire on this offering.  The journey on this disc does not feel so much like a ride on a tiger as it does a wagon ride on a level side walk. It is okay, there’s a few bumps, mostly smooth, and there is nothing bad by any means.  But there is nothing too thrilling, either.   

This one is for Downes/Asia/Lake/ELP ‘completests’ primarily, and then for curious rock fans who just wanna check out everything their heroes crank out on the side. Don’t expect any Gold, Platinum or even Tin participation trophies for this one.  Yet, it is charming and rather nice that things turned out so well for this recorded project. 

Track Listing:

By Jeb “Grrrrrrrrrrr-reat” Wright