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Rank Geoff Downes/New Dance Orchestra

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  • Rank Geoff Downes/New Dance Orchestra

    Rank the Geoff Downes NDO albums! We won't count Buggles, DBA (which is kinda the New Buggles) or Icon (which is kinda Asia), just Geoffrey Downes solo or under the New Dance Orchestra moniker. No two of them were the same, it was a different outing each time he did a solo project. Rank 'em how you would, or just mention the ones you like or have heard. Here's mine :

    In descending order:

    8) Evolution (1996) - this is essentially an instrumental covers album that I rarely pull out. Somewhat E-Z listening versions of classic rock stuff like Whiter Shade Of Pale and Stairway to Heaven. Not too essential. Thank God he didn't cover Hotel California.

    7) The Bridge (2006) - well part of it is half live, with Geoff playing along with recordings of Asia and I think Tempus Fugit. Also not too essential. There is a 20+ minute electronic piece that makes it more worthwhile though, the title track The Bridge.

    6) The Work Tapes (1998) - demos with Glen Hughes. Just Geoff on keys with Glen supplying his soulful vocals to an album's worth of demos. I remember one track Hughes vocals were so soulful and over the top that I burst into laughter. Why is he giving his all on these forgotten demos? It's worth a listen. Not bad at all.

    5) Vox Humana (1992) - his second solo album is a little uneven and inconsistent but has some decent Asia-like songs. Mostly a vocal album, Vox Humana - the human voice - includes a number of various vocalists including Max Bacon, Steve Overland and John Payne. It's a mix of new songs, songs that eventually came out as Asia songs, and past material, including a version of White Car. I enjoy this, but acknowledge that it could have been better.

    4) Electronica (2010) - I rather like this one. The title is misleading though, it's not an album of techno music - actually its a collaboration with Anne-Marie Helder (Panic Room) supplying the vocals and lyrics, and pretty much in a dance/pop diva kinda mode. She's one of Downes' better vocal collaborators, though with his keyboard textures and compositions, these Buggles-type songs come across more darker and dreamier than your usual pop fare. It's accessible and easy to like with an open mind.

    3) Shadows And Reflection (2003) - the ambient NDO album with only two lengthy tracks. Dreamy and soothing washes of synth pull you into absolute tranquility. Insomnia? This is the cure. Not that it's boring, far from it. It's just an engaging ambient listen. Very hypnotic. Listen to this in the middle of the night in the summer with the windows open.

    2) World Service (2000) - second best in my opinion. As opposed to Shadows & Reflection's two-track long stream of conscience, this one is short and sweet 'vignettes', about 30 tracks in total, ranging from 24 seconds to about 3 minutes plus. Nothing outstays its welcome, just little bursts of electronic wonder.

    1) The Light Program (1987) - not only my favorite Downes solo, but one of my favorite electronic albums period. I stack this up against anything Tangerine Dream has ever done. It's a 5-movement electronic symphony, each movement consisting of its own vignettes, just strung together, unlike World Service. Some of the sounds he's getting on this album! A synth-lovers dream, very cinematic and panoramic. Favorite movement, probably 'Oceana'. I love this album.

    So that's my ranking. I didn't include Ride The Tiger EP with Greg lake, as that's a straight up duo project. What do you think of these? Or do you think of these? I wouldn't mind more solo/NDO from Geoff Downes. He's more occupied with DBA in between Yes activity, and as great as that project is, he's overdue for a NDO album. I'd love to hear another instrumental Light Program-type 'synthony' at some point.
    Last edited by Soundwaveseeker; 03-13-2022, 04:27 PM.

  • #2
    I'd put Vox Humana higher, but otherwise a lot to agree with there. Downes has often talked about doing another NDO album, but has also said he's busy with Yes, DBA, Asia etc.