Ballad Collection (2000)
More of the same from Lana Lane, this time focusing on slower songs. I like her version of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” better than the original.
Reviewed by: John “Bo Bo” Bollenberg, March 2001
Prog diva Lana Lane has already made her mark with her superb voice and matching compositions backed by husband Erik Norlander and fellow Rocket Scientists cohorts. One of the first countries to really appreciate Lana’s output was Japan, a country known for its avid fans, and ditto collectors. Hence the idea to release a Ballad Collection solely for the Japanese market way back in 1998 (sounds a long time ago doesn’t it?). Because of the great success in the land of the rising sun, the band and Lana decided it was time to release the album also for the rest of the world and to do so they opted for a double disc.
Going back to the Japanese single release, … that one consisted of the best ballads from Lana Lane’s then three studio albums, augmented with three bonus tracks recorded especially for that release. The opening song “Avalon” not only uses the same name as the band’s Japanese record company, it’s also a Rocket Scientists song from their debut album Earthbound. However, this time around guitarist Neil Citron has joined, plus we certainly have to mention the incredible violin played by Novi Novog. The acoustic beauty “Athena’s Shadow” was written by Lana on acoustic guitar and nicely executed here by Neil Citron, Don Schiff and Mark McCrite.
Another Rocket Scientists “classic” is added in the form of “Stardust,” re-recorded in 1998 and sporting some wonderful mellotron sections. The rest of the material comes from the Love Is An Illusion, Curious Goods and Garden Of The Moon albums, but once again strictly ballads! For this new release this disc sports an extra track in the form of “Season’s End,” a great cover from a Marillion highlight which is hinged around acoustic guitar with some outstanding bass lines, lush mellotron and sparse synthesizer sounds.
To make this set more interesting Lana has added a bonus disc entitled “the 2000 sessions” which includes brand new recordings and covers recorded just after Secrets Of Astrology (or you take the “1998” disc as the bonus disc whatever way you want to look at it). Here she tries her hand at many well known classics in the field of ballads. First up is Dan Fogelberg’s “Nether Lands” title track. Once again husband Erik Norlander adds a fair amount of mellotron which kind of lifts this song from the ground so it can view the world from up in the blue sky! The military drums introduce Lana’s melodic singing. Superb organ sounds fill the newly penned “Hands To Heal” written by the Winfield/Schiff household who previously wrote Lana Lane classics such as “Cold Outside,” “Let Heaven In” and “Take A Breath”. Again Neil Citron adds a great sparkle by means of a tremendous guitar solo. Great! Next up is a small tribute for Elton John whose “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” apparently wasn’t just my favourite but also one of Lana’s. To give it a new “look,” Erik decided to substitute Elton’s piano for a Hammond.
Sitting under the elderly oak in her own backyard, Lana strummed the acoustic guitar playing two new compositions which strangely seemed to fit together hence the medley of the new songs “A Place In Time” and “Nevermore” both sporting great orchestral arrangements. “Critical Mass” opens in true barbershop style with loads of different voices blending nicely together before culminating into “Wind On The Water” which has Lana’s voice create the waves on the musical ocean. Initially recorded by David Crosby and Graham Nash this is indeed a song which perfectly illustrates the quality of the voice. Written in 1947, “Autumn Leaves” is probably the first jazz standard ever to be committed to the Lana Lane CD collection. The nice melody is taken over by Neil Citron whilst Norlander delivers some whirling Hammond to add extra depth. It’s also interesting to hear how the drunken voice of Tom Waits is replaced by the velvet sounds of Lana during “Innocent When You Dream.” The disc ends with the Supertramp classic “If Everyone Was Listening.” Knowing how high pitched Roger Hodgson sings the original of course Lana has no problems what so ever singing this little gem.
I keep finding it difficult in order to find an explanation why Lana Lane still hasn’t made it in a big way. At the same time I still doubt whether at all this music is progressive rock or not. For all I know this is great rock music with superb arrangements unworthy of only selling a handful worldwide. If you have never heard Lana Lane before then this is the best possible release to get into Lana’s spell. The only setback is that once you’ve heard her sing, she becomes very addictive indeed and with a remarkable CD output already it might look like an expensive experience. However for the time being you get two discs for the price of one. Who can argue with that?
More about Ballad Collection:
Track Listing: Disc One: The 2000 Sessions : Nether Lands / Hands To Heal / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road / A Place In Time / Nevermore / A Place In Time Reprise / Ghost Beside My Bed – To The Last Whale / Critical Mass / Wind On The Water / The River Maid / Autumn Leaves / Innocent When You Dream / If Everyone Was Listening
Disc Two: The 1998 Sessions : Avalon / Athena’s Shadow / Stardust / Season’s End / Through The Fire (Acoustic Studio Version) / When Time Stood Still / Clouds (Abc Mix) / Heart Of Dawn (Abc Mix) / Take A Breath (Abc Mix) / Across The Universe / Avalon Reprise
Lana Lane – voice and charisma
Erik Norlander – keyboards, moral support, lover
Mark McCrite – guitar, vocals
Neil Citron – guitar
Tony Franklin – bass
Don Schiff – bass
Greg Ellis – drums
Tommy Amato – drums
Gregory Phelps – vocals
Tully Winfield – vocals
Novi Novog – viola
Love Is An Illusion (1995)
Curious Goods (1996/2002)
Garden Of The Moon (1998/2002)
Echoes from the Garden (1998)
Live in Japan (1998)
Love Is An Illusion 1998 Version (1998)
Ballad Collection (1998)
Acoustic Live in Tokyo (1999) promotional release only
Queen Of The Ocean (1999)
Echoes From The Ocean (1999)
Secrets Of Astrology (2000)
Ballad Collection (2000)