What a shame that Martin Orford has decided to bow out of the music industry but with The Old Road he has done it in fine style. With the help of many Prog heavyweights including Dave Meros, Nick D’virgilio, John Mitchell and John Wetton to name a few, he’s produced an excellent old school melodic rock/prog album.
The strength of this album lies in it being so easily accessible with strong immediately likeable melodies, yet unlike so many albums that are so instantly appealing, still has much to offer after repeated plays. The standard of musicianship is excellent as expected with so many great players on board on the consistently strong material. Album opener Grand Designs grandiose instrumental beginnings lead into a track full of strong melodies and much excellent instrumental work. Not surprisingly the keyboard work is excellent and retro sounding like we’ve never left the seventies, brilliant!
Power and Speed is a powerful up tempo instrumental which after a rocking start goes into fusion territory for a while and some great guitar work from one of my favourite guitarists of recent years, John Mitchell. Ray of Hope is a short more restrained moment reminding me of Genesis in their more commercial days, not least because of vocalist David Longdon sounding a bit like Phil Collins.
Take It To The Sun is a fairly straightforward rock song with a strong vocal performance from John Wetton which is followed by the very acceptable, mainly piano, classical sounding Prelude.
The longer tracks tend to be the best, partly for the powerful, explosive instrumental solos and the title track The Old Road is one of these with another fine performance from John Mitchell; the guitar solo section in general reminding me of IQ.
Like Take It To The Sun, Out In The Darkness is an enjoyable, fairly simple melodic rock song which is followed by perhaps my favourite track, The Time And The Season. John Wetton sings again on this powerfully melodic piece. The instrumental ending of this 11 minute track is particularly enjoyable, once again having an IQ vibe to it with some lush keyboard sounds and soaring guitar work. Endgame, while being a fitting album closer, is the least satisfactory song here, but only because it’s in such good company; still it’s pleasant enough.
And there we have it, a very strong collection of accessible tunes and a fine way to end an illustrious musical career. If you’ve enjoyed any of Martin Orford’s other work then I’m sure you’ll find much to enjoy here too. (by Nightfly)
Martin Orford (vocals, keyboards, guitar, recorder, synthesizer, flute)
Nick D´Virgilio (drums)
Dave Meros (bass)
+Gary Chandler (guitar on 02., 04, 06., 07. – 09.)
Andy Edwards (drums on 01.)Mike Holmes (guitar on 08.)
David Longdon (vocals on 03. + 09.)
John Mitchell (lead guitar on 01., 03.+04., 09)Colm Murphy (fiddle on 06.)Dave Oberlé (percussion on 01., background vocals on 06.)
Steve Thorne (guitar on 01., 02., 06. + 07., vocals on 07.)
John Wetton (vocals, bass on 04 – 08.)
1. Grand Designs 9.58
2. Power And Speed 5.58
3. Ray Of Hope 3.53
4. Take It To The Sun 5.26
5. Prelude 1.36
6. The Old Road 8.37
7. Out In The Darkness 6.27
8. The Time And The Season 10.46
9. Endgame 5.20