OW 32179 Mark III
Produced by Peter Banks
Released on March 19, 1996
no chart information
Find it at GEMM
OW 32179 cover  

G oaded by my good luck with the Flash releases, I took a flyer on Empire with this disc, recalling that Peter Banks had originally conceived it as a successor of sorts to that band. And there are occasions where Mark III suggests a clumsy version of Flash, much as Flash conjured a clumsy version of Yes, but this second-generation successor is at best a pale, weak pretender to prog’s crown. In fact, without Banks’ familiar phrasings, Mark III wouldn’t even qualify as a prog band. Simply put, Sydney Foxx doesn’t allow the band to soar; the contrast between “Dancing Man” (which is essentially a disco song) and the instrumental “Foundation” (far and away the closest thing to a mind candy moment on the disc) casts the vocalist as an anchor preventing Empire from achieving true flight. Apparently, this was part of the band’s original vision, a hybrid of new and old, but ultimately an ungainly animal loping on legs of uneven lengths. In their defense, Empire did take on the challenge of putting a female face on progressive rock, something the genre needed more of. But Foxx seems uninterested in progressive rock; her lyrics are more personal, her vocal style sultry rather than supernatural. In fact, I can’t help but think any number of contemporary R&B singers could have achieved the same effect with Empire. Don’t misunderstand: I’m thankful that One Way Records finally found a way to bring these recordings to light. But I understand now why these recordings didn’t attract a label the first time around; there’s really not an audience for this sort of music. You may want to check this out for yourself (though the first Mark seems like the better bet), bearing in mind that any of the three original Flash albums have many more pleasant surprises in store.

TRACK LISTING

  1. AIN'T THAT PECULIAR    4:30
  2. DESTINY    6:16
  3. FARAWAY    5:54
  4. GOODBYE    4:35
  5. DANCING MAN    4:55
  6. FOUNDATION    9:31

CREDITS

PETER BANKS -- guitar
PAUL DELPH -- keyboards
SYDNEY FOXX -- lead vocals
MARK MURDOCK -- drums
BRAD STEPHENSON -- bass
Dwight Tindle -- liner notes

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REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US March 19, 1996 One Way CD OW 32179 picture sleeve

 

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