Scott Jacks is a canadian musician from Vancouver, totally unknown to me until yesterday. Musically, he grew up playing classic piano, guitar and drums and taking inspiration from prog monsters like Camel, Gentle Giant and King Crimson. From 1982 to 1991 he played for First Aid and released two albums; then he started a solo project with an eponymous album in 1995 and the latest "You Know Me By Now" (2003).|
The first album is a fine example of electronic pop music: "Another Time, Another Place" is a good opener but only from "Creative Arrogant Parasites" and "Open Letter To Someone" on, the album starts to take off. The listening is really relaxing even if the pop gradation of both vocal lines and drums is sometimes boring. The best tracks of the album are those where Scott tries (and can do it !!) to reach more symphonic lands with refined acoustic guitar melodies and good orchestrations. So , "Almost All The Time" sounds a-la Alan Parson Project , while "Sparkies" is closer to Camel productions of the eighties. Overall, a dignified debut.
"You Know Me By Now", released in 2003, keeps the same attitude of the first album but it's more ambitious and better built. Here we find a larger number of instruments and different styles mixed together. "Film Star" is a really attractive song played by Scott's piano (a-la Keith Emerson in the middle) and the flute of Holly Burke. Other beautiful songs are "Wintertime Blues" and "9 In Essence". As I told before, you can find so different styles: jazz, refined pop, some New Age and Folk traces. "To Michael Hedges" is a sweet acoustic guitar piece reminding me another canadian skilled guitarist: Rik Emmet.
No doubt, "You Know Me By Now" is a strong step ahead showing a Scott's good songwriting ability (less vocals ability). A musician to keep in mind …
|- 60/100 - 70/100 - Luca Alberici
I was first introduced to Scott Jacks’ music a few years ago when I reviewed two First Aid CDS. Aside from their slightly dated sound, it was very enjoyable to listen to.|
Years later, I have the pleasure again of reviewing Scott’s works. This time, his second solo release You Know Me By Now. The music here is more on the soft side of the progressive genre mixed with the singer/songwriter qualities found in pop music. The music flows from the first to last track. Scott is both an amazing instrumentalist as well as a vocalist. This is a very good cd with very well written and executed songs. Unlike most modern and classic prog rock, this is something to listen to when in the company of the non prog lovers. Check this cd out soon.
| - Ron Fuchs The
|"... Scott Jacks brings
an adult-contemporary sensibility to bear on his solo work. The multi-instrumentalist's
second disc, You Know Me by Now, is replete with oceanic synth passages,
cascading guitar figures, and twittering environmental sounds, making for
an album that sounds like it was recorded next to a waterfall. Nonetheless,
this LP ably showcases the recording skills of engineer Paul Siczek, who
projects Jacks's accomplished playing against a dew-dappled landscape of
echoes and sighs.
Chief among the achievements here is "Wintertime Blues", which
recalls Brian Wilson's solo work in its use of multitracked harmonies and
| - Martin Turenne The
|"Today’s progressive music business, as we know, was spawned from the prog scene of the 1970s. From a business perspective, the two eras have precisely nothing in common. One of the important differences is the incredible technology available today at next-to-nothing prices, and the marketing opportunities created by the Internet. The only barriers to entering today’s music business are the artists’ own talent, imagination and hard work. That in turn means that a huge number of new artists are appearing, with varying degrees of talent, and sadly with only a small probability of success.
One of the lesser known artists who deserves recognition in today’s progressive business is Canada’s Scott Jacks. Scott is a long-time fan of the old-school masters including Camel, King Crimson and Gentle Giant, and those early influences show on You Know Me By Now.
At first listen it was easy to dismiss this as a so-so neo-prog effort, but it only took only one more listen to gain a deeper appreciation of Scott Jacks’s musicianship. Essentially a one-man act, Jacks is a capable multi-instrumentalist and a talented songwriter who penned the songs and played almost all of the instruments himself. Each song is well textured and some of the arrangements have an interesting classical orientation. But others, like This Tired old Face, have a, AOR / pop sound to them and probably have good commercial potential.
This is a song oriented melodic-prog album with 13 tracks spread over 50 minutes. The style of the music includes several nods to pop, and some jazzy influences such as the fusion noodling on in Essense. And except for the closing cut the music is mellow and predominantly acoustic. A few tracks are instrumentals, and may represent some of the stronger points on the album. Scott’s vocals are not the most consistent component of the music, but they are delivered with a soft relaxing tone reminiscent of Alan Parsons.
The acoustic guitar work is the predominant sound on this CD. It isn’t overly complex and brings a pleasant, melodic tone to the music. It is well complimented by pleasing keyboards and a simple bass line that is sensibly held far back in the mix - just enough to give it a solid foundation. And listen for Scott’s newest musical skill, the sitar.
There are hundreds of one-man acts on today’s progressive scene. Visit Scott Jacks’s web site and listen to some of the samples, and you’ll agree that he is one of the few who deserves to be heard."
|- 3.75 of 5 - Duncan N Glenday
|Another great review by Duncan Glenday appears at
Progressive World (California) - March/04
Vancouver Province (Canada) - January 13/04
|"The latest by Scott jacks - yes, he is related to Terry - is his best. Jacks is a dedicated progressive-rock fan whose past releases have reflected that influence. Here, though, he has found a way to add warmth and intimacy to the mix with the result being very similar to the personable, personal quality achieved by ex-Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips. Such a comparison also means acceptance of Jacks' frail singing (also a Phillips trademark) but fans of the early Genesis will like the pastoral, gentle air of the CD and will appreciate some of its busy playing."
|- *** of 5 - Tom Harrison
Eufonia (Spain) - January 24/03
|"'A Hard Road To Peace' con los sonidos de piano y bajo (muy bien acoplados) comienza a acompañarse de coros y otros sonidos hasta llegar a una guitarra jazzeada y deslizada. Buen track que cede el paso a una balada pop que casi suena a ELO, afortunadamente aquí hablamos de Scott Jacks (lo siento, esta es de las que dejaría pasar en el control remoto) a piano, voz y sintetizadores: 'Almost All The Time'.
'Blend', muy sintética, corta se combina con una guitarra acústica haciendo un blend bien logrado. Muy buena!!! y da paso a otra excelente y corta canción, con la interpretación vocal que más me agradó: 'Royal Syrian Thyme' muy acústica... ojalá Jacks explore más por este rumbo."
|"...tends to King Crimson,
but friendlier...A strumming acoustic guitar makes for a Floydian feel
on the easy going Royal Syrian Thyme."
|tends to King Crimson, but friendlier
|"...in the same league
as the Alan Parsons Project and Saga and even influences from the Police.
...it is a very good CD. I liked it and you will too."
|"If your taste in music
is more towards the fusion side of prog, this is right up your alley. The
music generally has no boundaries, which I found enjoyable."
|"...one of those unsung
bands of Canadian rock music history and they do deserve to be noticed!"
|"First Aid's musicianship
is very good throughout their debut disc..."
|First Aid is a
Canadian band and their two CDs are filled with high quality instrumental
progressive melodic rock that sounds like Saga meets Rush
with some 80s Yes influences added for the pleasure. I really like
both their albums, of which 'Coelacanth Ale' is the new CD of the
band. Not all the songs are instrumental, because there are also some tracks
with vocals on it, such as the uptempo pomp/progressive rocker "Take It
on the Amber" (a song that sounds like IQ and Rush). Also
with vocals is the progressive rocker "City Lights", a bit light but a
definite winner for fans of Saga and Rush. Most of the instrumental
songs sound pretty good and my favourites among those are "Fraternizing
with the Enemy", "Fallen Czar", "Is Bigger Better?", "Waiting", "15/16",
"Because You Need Me" and "Ice Age". This band really has a great sound
and fans of mentioned band should really check out this First Aid.
Leader of the band is keyboard player Scott Jacks. He has also released
a solo-album back in 1995, but that album is a bit too 'pop' orientated
for me and has nothing to do with Progressive Rock (except for the opener
"Another Time Another Place" that tends to sound like the 70s sympho pop/rock
of Kayak). But First Aid has released two great albums, 'Stumbling
Boldly Forward' in 1991 and 'Coelacanth Ale' in 2000, and those
records are a must for progressive rock fans.
Jacks - self titled
|"I always found First
Aid' to be a bit pretentious, but I like Scott's solo c.d. It reminds me
of a cross between Brian Eno and Alan Parsons."
|"You’ll never get an ooo
baby out of us," says First Aid drummer and Mad Artist Dave Coupland. You
won’t hear it because they’re an instrumental band; they don’t have a vocalist.
The only rock-instrumental band in the city, very 'heavy rock ‘n roll.'
Coupland describes the music as a cross between "Led Zeppelin and Mozart,"
the closest thing to art you can get in rock ‘n roll.
|Coupland’s first love
is music, but you may be familiar with his artwork around the city. He
paints under the banner of the Mad Artists. (They have recently been commissioned
to paint the inside of Club Soda).
|Back to the music - for
those who can’t imagine a progressive rock band without the over-emphasized
vocalist, imagine Yes without Jon Anderson...Sound better? Derek Mason’s
guitar playing is the only vocals this band requires. According to Coupland,
"He can bend the notes this way and that way and they sing." Scott Jacks
on keyboards (no bass), can orchestrate the sounds of a million voices
around the dynamics of the trio.
|So after the Yes concert,
drop by Soda to hear the Next Generation. Or there’s any number of dates
and venues to choose from in the month of May.
|First Aid is both volubly
Canadian and a ‘70s-style progressive rock band. Its primarily instrumental
LP, Stumbling Boldly Forward, is enlivened by excerpts of speeches
and other source tapes used to make their own comment on politics and religion,
but the group really finds itself on the tongue-in-cheek knock-off 'Hockey
Night in Tarkus', where Emerson Lake and Palmer meet Don Cherry.
|What’s the most Canadian
tune you can think of, the song that best captures the essence of what
Canuckdom’s all about? Chances are good that is would be a Stompin’ Tom
Connors song, since he’s about as Canadian as they get. Then again, Tom
Cochrane - who clobbered maybe-just-a-teenie-weenie-bit-less-Canadian Bryan
Adams at the Junos this year - was on the right track with his bitter-sweet
ode to pucking around 'Big League.'
|But there’s still one
other little ditty that warms the hearts of people all across this great
land: the stirring brass introduction to Hockey Night in Canada. The members
of First Aid know this, and that’s why they mixed that TV theme in with
the music of Emerson, Lake & Palmer to create 'Hockey Night in Tarkus.'
According to the notes on the band’s new CD, Stumbling Boldly Forward,
the track was recorded "live off the floor, 4:00 a.m., with beers at Ocean
Sound." Now that’s Canadian.
|"We just went into Ocean
and did an all-night burn," explains First Aid guitarist Derek Mason. "It
just sorta happened."
|First Aid’s clever take
on the Hockey Night in Canada theme is about as commercial-sounding as
the band gets, though, and Mason and his mates - keyboardist Scott Jacks
and drummer Dave 'Mad Artist' Coupland - are aware of the difficulties
an instrumental rock band faces in light of today’s vocal-oriented music
|"We could have looked
for a singer," says Mason, "or tried to get a kind of format that could
sell records, but it’s kind of like political thing between us, because
this is what we really like to do. We can’t cater to a typical market,
because we’d lose that personal connection."
|The nine songs on Stumbling
Boldly Forward cover a lot of musical ground, and the band incorporates
samples of everything from strip-bar announcers to TV evenagelists to get
their messages across. At first listen, the band sounds a bit like an instrumental
version of Rush, or maybe - with Mason’s powerful fretwork - Joe Satriani.
But Mason claims that his trio is too "self-indulgent" to emulate any particular
technical style or approach.
|"Our intention is just
to do what we want, because we’re trying to move ourselves."
|A lot of different band
members have travelled through the ranks of First Aid during the years,
even before the current line-up came together in 1986.
|"It’s been kind of like
a club," chuckles Mason. "If you were eccentric enough and demented enough
- and willing to sacrifice your personal well-being - you could join."
|So far, the band has had
its new music played on CiTR, and Mason is hopeful that Coast 1040 will
follow suit. He acknowledges that getting airplay for the new CD is his
band’s current goal.
|"I’m hopin’ that people
have the opportunity to hear it," he says, "because I’ve played it to a
few people already, and they’re really struck by some parts of it. We figure
that if it moved us, it’ll probably move somebody else who’s looking for
something kind of eccentric. It’s almost like a test."
Steve Newton, Local Motion
|"Canada is still the synonym
for Rush. Strangely enough, there are few other groups with enough talent
to place a spot on the top. Therefore this cut had to go as RR even though
it was produced in 1991. Something to notice right away is the rigid structures
of the songs.
|The first cut, "Fallen
Czar", is quick, funky with enough time changes to keep you interested.
Of course we are dealing with a trio and therefore we question, 'Is Bigger
|- John 'Bo Bo' Bollenberg, Rock Report,