After working as web designer on all the material written by our members for our July update (thanks guys!), it is now time for my fun part: writing my own reviews! Maybe the most of you will not know the name Grand Stand, but let me help you a little bit. In October 2000 I wrote the following lines in a review of the "Secrets" album of the Swedish band Cross:
"In the middle of the track we hear our beloved melotron played by Olov Andersson we all know from the also Swedish band (duo) Grand Stand. (Grand Stand released one album called "In the middle, On the edge" - a must have for keyboard orientated sympho lovers!)"
"Olov's playing gives this track some Genesis influences because his playing sounds like Banks in his best days."
"He creates beautiful keyboard sounds. His contribution to the music of Cross gives an extra flavour to the Cross sound".
As a duo (Olov Andersson - keyboards, Tomas Hurtig - drums) Grandstand made the above mentioned "In the middle, On the edge" in 1998. This independent release was a small little gem from Sweden that I discovered via the Internet. Soon it found it's way to all my prog friends. (They all bought original copies!) I trust that progVisions readers will do the same thing - remember: piracy kills music! The album was completely instrumental and included some delicious melodic keyboard orientated music. Even in the year 2002 the album still stands and I am sure melodic sympho/prog fans will love it. After Olov worked together with Cross it was for me not a big surprise to see that the label of Hansi Cross (Progress Records) is releasing now the new Grand Stand album.
Tomas Hurtig - Drums, Voice; Göran Johnsson - Lead Vocals, Bass, Keyboards; Michael Rank Jensen - Guitars, Bass, Vocals; Olov Andersson - Keyboards, Synthesizers, Vocals.
Additional Background Vocals: Fredrik Andersson & Hansi Cross.
There where two things that got my attention immediately after receiving this album. First thing, Grandstand is now a real band with guitars, bass and vocals. Second thing was the cover. My reaction was that it could have been specially designed for me. There is an eye in the middle of the cover (the progVisions logo is also based on a eye). And in the eye we see a part of a PCB, which stands for Printed Circuit Board (my job at working hours is PCB designer). A little bit creepy but it must be a coincidence.
The album opener is called "Jurassic spark" (11:24) and after the introduction of newcomer Michael Rank Jensen with a nice melodic guitar solo the music becomes more up-tempo and Grandstand is presenting as a band with the full power of it. This power could be captured on this disk because of the fact that all the compositions are recorded live in the studio. The music has still a lot of keyboards but there is more variation because of the other instruments. The music has now the power I missed sometimes on the debut album. The band has now more possibilities. After the up tempo part the music can slow down and become more delicate with some great melodies on keyboards and guitar. Some of the slow melodic parts of this track reminded me of the American keyboard player Michael Gettel. This is why I like the music of Olov so much, the melodies. But on this album the music is composed by the whole band, so the credits goes to all of the members.
The next track "Words are not enough" (4:01) is more ballad like with a jazzy guitar and melodic synth parts. This is a very nice instrumental composition and I hear a mix of the first Grand Stand album, some complicated A Triggering Myth rhythms and the jazzy Dutch band Solution.
"Waiting for water" (9:39) is a composition with a lot of beauty. The opening on keyboards has a Kit Watkins (Happy The Man) atmosphere. Then a slow melodic guitar solo forms a bridge to the next keyboard sounds of Olov Andersson. He is now reproducing all kinds Tony Banks sounds. This slow and beautiful ballad has a real Genesis atmosphere. And all Genesis fans will fall in love with this track. Olov is the only keyboard player I dare to compare with Tony Banks himself. A lot of keyboard players can imitate Banks but nobody can give the music so much emotion and passion as Olov does. He sounds more like Banks then Tony Banks himself.
The next track starts again more up-tempo and has the title "Empty barrels rattle the most" (9:34). The first minutes include a lot of guitar and has an overall happy sound. After that Olov plays an emotional slow keyboard part. But then the music gets again more up-tempo and this track develops into a composition with a lot of variation and some great guitar and keyboard solos.
If you think you have heard all the great compositions of this album, you are wrong. Grand Stand is ending this CD with the longest track of the album. "Old man's tale" (16:00) is another highlight with some Genesis atmospheres. After eight minutes you think that you are listening to the "Seconds Out" album from Genesis. As you can imagine this track has also a lot of variation with guitar and synths solos. And Tomas Hurtig shows in this track that he has developed as a drummer.
With "Tricks of time" Grand Stand has developed into a full-grown band. With the new members Göran Johnsson and Michael Rank Jensen Grandstand made a big step forward. The band is playing melodic sympho/prog, which is played with a lot of passion. And again Olov has impressed me with his beautiful melodies. He is such a talent. For me he is one of the best keyboard players nowadays. Not because he can play a lot of notes in a single minute, but because he plays with so much passion and emotion. If you like melodic Sympho/Prog this CD is for you. It will be one of my favourites for the year 2002.