Pete Hicks and Nick Magnus: Flat Pack Beach Hut Records BHCD16074701 The   Waiting   Room   OnLine   Next   up   is   the   new   album   by   Pete   Hicks   and   Nick   Magnus.   Flat   Pack   is   the   first   album   length collaboration   between   the   two   former   members   of   Steve   Hackett’s   band   and   as   such   it   is   a   delight   to   hear   them   in   harness together   again.   Not   what   you   would   expect   though,   no   Prog   Rock   opus   here,   instead   a   solid   album   of   great   songs. Opening   with   Outside,   Looking   In    which   is   a   marvellously   catchy   tune   whose   main   theme   reminds   me   of   the   theme   tune to   the   Bergerac   TV   series   for   some   reason!   The   calypso-tinged   Am   I   Fooling   Myself?    follows   and   this   is   one   which   I personally   can   see   in   the   charts   -   a   great   tune   with   a   marvellous   vocal   by   Pete   whose   singing   has   definitely   got   better   with age!   The   Leaving   (Derek’s   Song)    is   one   of   those   poignant   “leaving   is   such   sweet   sorrow”   songs   which   they   don’t   seem   to do   much   these   days   and   for   me   at   least   has   echoes   of   vintage   ELO   about   it.   The   closest   the   album   gets   to   Prog   is   the   first of   the   Magnus/Hicks   tracks;   Just   Remember   Where   You   Heard   It   First    with   its   tongue-in-cheek   look   at   the   tabloid obsession   with   bad   news.   This   one   is   almost   an   old   boys’   reunion   too   as   Dik   Cadbury   puts   in   a   welcome   appearance   with a driving bass line. Back   In   Your   Arms   Again    is   a   wonderful   love   song   delivered   with   a   really   impassioned   vocal   by   Pete   who   also   shows   that he   is   no   slouch   in   the   guitar   playing   department   either   while   Nick   puts   in   a   typically   understated   keyboard   part.   Chance Encounter    picks   the   pace   up   a   little   with   a   driving   refrain   in   an   unusual   time   signature   which   makes   it   catchy   but impossible   to   dance   to!   New   York   City   Winter    really   evokes   the   feelings   of   longing   for   home   in   the   heart   of   the   Big   Apple. Once   again   I   can’t   help   but   feel   shades   of   Supertramp’s   Breakfast   In   America   here   maybe   it’s   just   the   keyboard   sounds Nick is using - either way another song with hit written all over it. Jack   Knife    is   a   driving   song   with   a   vengeance,   Pete’s   vocals   are   augmented   by   his   stabbing   guitar   playing   and   Dave Storey’s   impeccable   percussion   drives   the   song   along   at   a   fair   lick.   Run   That   By   Me   One   More   Time    has   shades   of Sentimental   Institution’   all   over   it,   especially   the   sound   effects   intro   and   the   Big   Band   sound   throughout.   Pete’s   vocal   is superb   here,   a   perfect   replica   of   that   era’s   sound.   Absent   Friends    has   a   wonderful   harpsichord   intro   giving   it   an   instant Christmas   feel   to   it,   appropriate   for   that   time   of   the   year   really   while   First   Light ,   a   short   keyboard   instrumental   closes   the album with a quiet resolution. This   album   was   quite   a   surprise,   a   million   miles   from   the   Prog   of   yore,   what   we   have   here   is   an   album   of   superbly   crafted songs   many   of   which   would   grace   the   charts   if   there   were   any   justice.   Both   Pete   and   Nick   have   shown   themselves   capable of   creating   excellent   music   with   thoughtful   lyrical   content   and   this   is   an   album   which   I   shall   be   enjoying   for   years   to   come   - excellent stuff!
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