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Triumph: Progressions of Power (remaster)

Following up Triumph’s marginally successful Just a Game came the sweaty monster Progressions of Power, a forceful beast that is long on Gil Moore testosterone-fueled heavy rockers, short on Rik Emmett fronted melodic tunes. This album usually is given a mid-level vote of approval from most Triumph fans; it has some very good tunes, but overall lacks the catchy songwriting and depth that most Triumph albums had.

If you dig the heavy, boogie/metal thumpers sung by Moore, then there’s a chance that Progressions of Power might realy float your boat. One of the bands best “get up and shout” rockers is the blistering “I Live For the Weekend”, which kicks things off in rampaging fashion, almost like Foghat on steroids, complete with beefy power chords, Emmett’s slashing guitar solos, and Moore’s powerful shouts. Many tracks fall into a similar pattern, like “Tear the Roof Off”, the anthemic “I Can Survive”, and the grinding hard rock of “Natures Child”. Problem is most of the album is all Gil Moore, and his voice, while perfectly suited for heavy rockers, tends to be a little one-dimensional. Emmett on the other hand, has a more melodic voice, that works better on the more progressive and textured tunes, which there are couple of here. We do get the engaging “Hard Road”, complete with crushing power chords, keyboards, and multi-layered vocal harmonies, as well as the powerful “In the Night”, an emotional piece featuring loads of acoustic and electric guitars, Levine’s plaintive keyboard washes, and Emmett’s gripping vocal delivery. The other tune sung by Emmett, “Take My Heart”, is a little pop love ballad ditty, that really doesn’t fit in here at all. Of course, you have the obligatory guitar instrumental, “Finger Talkin” (curiously misspelled on the back of the CD!), another wonderful piece of fretwork wonder from Emmett.

So, Progressions of Power still ranks as a very good Triumph record, and this remaster sounds great and has all the lyrics included in the booklet. However, stacked up against albums like Just a Game, Allied Forces, Thunder Seven, or Never Surrender, it falls a little short. Still, for some headbanging & bluesy fun that goes great with a night of hell raising and beer drinking, this would be a good choice.

Track Listing:

1. I Live for the Weekend
2. I Can Survive
3. In the Night
4. Nature’s Child
5. Woman in Love
6. Take My Heart
7. Tear the Roof Off
8. Finger Talkin’ (Instrumental)
9. Hard Road

Remember back in the late 70’s when there was all of a sudden another hot Canadian band besides Rush producing quality hard rock? Yes, that was Triumph, and their 1979 release Just a Game brought the band a bit of recognition here in the US thanks to wonderful FM anthems like Lay It On the Line and Hold On, both catchy hard rock numbers that hinted at a band with excellent songwriting and musical skills. Now that the Triumph catalog is being remastered, everyone can hear these albums with superior sound, and booklets that recreate the original LP’s artwork and design.

As on the actual record that was released back in 1979, you get some neat live shots of the band, and the game board design, plus the lyrics to each of the songs. The songs you ask, well, there’s plenty of muscular and melodic rockers, like the bluesy “Young Enough to Cry”, which features drummer Gil Moore’s husky vocals and searing lead guitar work from Rik Emmett. There’s rockin’ boogie numbers such as “Movin’ On”, raunchy riff-rockers like “American Girls”, and the progressive tinged title track “Just a Game”. Having two lead vocalists in Moore and Emmett added nice variety to Triumph’s music, as both had very different styles and delivery; Emmett being very high pitched and melodic, and Moore in the lower register, better suited to the heavy rock numbers.

In what became standard on all of the Triumph albums, Emmett includes a short guitar instrumental, this one called “Fantasy Serenade”, and a very nice piece at that. One of the world’s most underrated guitar players, Emmett’s work is amazing throughout this album, and the remaster process has done wonders for the guitar sound here, as it has for Mike Levine’s thunderous and sinewy bass playing.

If you are a long-time Triumph fan, there’s every reason in the world to pick up the remastered series, and this is as good a place to start as any. Those new to the band now have the perfect opportunity to check these guys out.

Track Listing
1) Movin’ On (4:05)
2) Lay It On the Line (4:00)
3) Young Enough to Cry (6:00)
4) American Girls (5:01)
5) Just a Game (6:10)
6) Fantasy Serenade (1:40)
7) Hold On (6:00)
8) Suitcase Blues (3:02)