You may well know Mr Rob Cottingham as the founding member of Touchstone. He is a very talented songwriter, composer, lyricist, vocalist and keyboard player, has been involved with many projects over the years and is influenced by a huge range of music from Genesis, Pink Floyd and Yes through to Coldplay, Keane & Sting. ‘Captain Blue’ is his second solo album, being released over a decade after his debut, ‘Behind The Orchard Tree’. It contains 18 tracks which were written over that period but he felt were either not suitable for Touchstone or he was too close to and therefore decided to collect them onto this album. Joining Rob for the adventure are Heather Findlay (ex-Mostly Autumn) on vocals, Adam Hodgson (Touchstone) on guitars, Gary O’Toole (Steve Hackett Band) on drums and Dr Goat Foot (The Carpathian Inflammable Shadow Puppet Orchestra...try saying that when you’re drunk) on bass. The legendary Steve Hackett himself pops up on the song ‘Soaring To The Sun’ with a beautiful guitar solo and the whole thing is rounded off by superb narration from Shane Rimmer, actor and also the iconic voice of Scott Tracey from ‘Thunderbirds’ (only Leonard Nimoy could have equalled the passion, emotion and wisdom shown here) and he has delivered an extremely diverse and interesting album.
Covering the prog, rock and pop genres and themes of death, time and self-realisation, ‘Captain Blue’ also unexpectedly delivers moments of humour such as samples from both ‘The Magic Roundabout’ and ‘Captain Scarlet’ (the inclusion of Shane Rimmer to narrate and the name of the album makes a lot more sense when you hear that) . Apart from some of the aforementioned bands there are also elements of Queen, Asia, Wetton/Downes and others which are wonderful although several tracks do veer too close to electronic pop for my liking. Heather Findlay’s voice, when she takes the lead, is, as usual, beautiful to behold and the musicianship is of an extremely high standard with Cottingham’s keyboards shining through. I do think the last two thirds of the album work more coherently as a group of songs, but with this being a solo album it, of course, gives the main man freedom to express himself in many styles, bearing in mind some of the tracks have been written over a long period of time. Songs such as ‘Final Kiss’, ‘Only Time Will Tell’ and ‘Thin Ice’ are gorgeous though and the lyrics throughout are full of emotion and story. Also captivating is the artwork by Marvel and Transformers comic artist Andrew Wildman who adds a touch of Gerry Anderson to proceedings, thereby linking nicely with the narration and album title. In conclusion, if you can accept some of the more overtly poppy music on the album then ‘Captain Blue’ is a very rewarding experience.
Review by Rick Tilley
14th Jan 2013
1) Condemnation; 2) Vantage Down; 3) Before Your Walls Came Down; 4) Captain Blue; 5) Chasing Storms; 6) Final Kiss; 7) Reach Out; 8) Only Time Will Tell; 9) Thin Ice; 10) The Drowning Man; 11) Stray Dog; 12) Spinning the Wheel; 13) In the End; 14) Refrain; 15) Still Running; 16) When the Walls Came Down; 17) Soaring to the Sun; 18) The Drowning Man - Radio Edit
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...an extremely diverse and interesting album."