Released by: Frontiers Records
Release Date: August 10th, 2018
Robert Berry: Vocals and All Instruments
1.One By One
3.The Rules Have Changed
5.What You’re Dreaming Now
8.Your Mark On The World
9.Sailors Horn Pipe (Instrumental)
The melding of Prog Rock and AOR isn’t a new thing. Many bands over the years have attempted to make Prog a bit more palatable for the common music fan, and some of it to great success (Asia and Genesis being two excellent examples of where taking a more pop-oriented sound with Prog worked out big time.) Prog purists hate the idea, but I love both styles so bringing them together strikes me as a no-brainer. The late Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer, and Robert Berry put together a side project back in the 80’s called 3 that made a brilliant album, To the Power of Three, that brought them a bit of success, however, the project quickly disbanded because Emerson was a bit uncertain about doing a follow-up for Geffen Records. As time moved on Berry and Palmer discussed the possibility of getting back together and creating another album, actually coming up with a handful of songs. Sadly, Emerson took his own life a couple of years ago thus closing the potential for another collaboration. However, after discussions between Robert Berry and Frontiers Records, he decided to forge ahead working on those tracks and adding some more material as a tribute to his friend, dubbing it 3.2.
The album, The Rules Have Changed, is a stunning tribute indeed. Playing all the instruments and handling the vocals, Berry proves that he is a musical force to be reckoned with. It has the perfect balance between interesting progressive passages and a smooth, melodic sound, certain to make any naysayers rethink their position. There is certainly a bit more Prog involved here than I was expecting, which was a pleasant surprise with tracks like “The Rules Have Changed” and “Somebody’s Watching” having a definite ELP feel to them yet also seemingly taking a few pages from the Spock’s Beard songbook, then you have a poignant track like “This Letter” combined with the more AOR-ish “Powerful Man” to have a fully transcendent musical experience. Of course, with an album that is coming from a former grouping of people pared down to one person, you do miss some of the nuanced stuff of Palmer and Emerson and wonder how different the album would’ve been as a full-blown collective. Berry should still be very pleased with the final product though, and know that this is a very touching tribute to Emerson.
If you enjoy more melodic, pop-oriented Prog Rock, 3.2’s The Rules Have Changed should fit the bill. Berry took to the task of filling some spots for some legendary figures and came out shining like a star. This is a very powerful and stirring album. I’m not sure if he will continue with this project or not. Part of me thinks this is the perfect bookend to The Power of Three, but it is such a brilliant album that I wouldn’t mind at all to hear some more music in this vein.
Written by: Chris Martin