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Tony Spada - The Human Element

Tony Spada - The Human ElementProg guitarist Tony Spada was, and is, the man behind the band, Holding Pattern (who have recently reformed). Tony's latest solo album, The Human Element, is the follow up to his debut release, Balance Of Power, which was released in 1993.  Holding Pattern started life as an out and out prog band but the 80's being somewhat of a prog desert led the band to stray, albeit temporarily, into the more commercial side of rock, returning to prog for a couple of years until the split.  Tony's love of prog led him to the solo route and his solo albums are testament to this.

The topically titled opener, Iraqiroll, is a guitar-blazing funky jazz/prog bash with snippets of blatant rock, using every available note on those red hot strings.

Slipping deeper into prog mode, Jack The Hat has a Jethro Tull flavour compositionally, a hint of Celtic folk added to some seriously good old progressive rock.  Trick Shoes maintains the complex prog mood in a Spock's Beard sort of way, with plenty of keyboards courtesy of Tony Castellano.

The short classical guitar piece, One For Two, sounds like the type of thing that Steve Howe plays in his solo spot at a YES gig, and gives the album a cool natural break from the power elements.

Enter Genesis mode with alleged alien abduction inspired Intruders, with it's Hacketty tingle down the spine.  The Dixie Dregs style enters the scene with the Steve Morse penned Sleaze Factor which is pure fun.

Autumn Dance is a high speed classical guitar instrumental which musically illustrates the movement of fallen leaves in the chilled breeze.  This second 'natural break' is followed by Mile High which has a gentle rolling (subdued) prog guitar intro, building into a majestic guitar crescendo that the anti-prog brigade would complain is 'too twiddly', bless 'em!  Some great drumming from Rob Gottfried.

Surfing UFO is a pacey number painting images of members of the X-Sport brigade surfing across the skies on the top of alien craft.  And before you ask, no, I've not taken anything and I am stone-cold sober. Honest.  Clinically Proven features an ultra clear hollow synth solo, and encompasses prog/rock fusion.

Destination Home closes the album.  For a second I wondered if this track was going to be a take on Gentle Giant's The Runaway starting, as it does, with the sound of breaking glass.  The straightforward drum beat is tempered by Mr Spada's nimble fingers doing all sorts of complex things on guitar and keeping it up for the duration of the piece (lesser but skilful guitarists would be pushed to maintain the pace for a single bar).

This is a very enjoyable album which will appeal to all fans of prog and especially guitar-led enthusiasts.  Perhaps we will have to wait until 2016 for Tony's third solo album but with a new album from the reformed Holding Pattern on the horizon it won't be long before we hear the Spada magic once again.

Jem Jedrzejewski

Tony Spada/Holding Pattern

 

 

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