Cyan – Pictures from the other Side (2023 version)
Mastermind Robert Reed has also re-released the second album of his project Cyan, just as he has already completely re-released the debut album For King and Country. Released at the time on the legendary label SI-Music, Pictures from the Other Side (1994) was already a big step forward compared to the aforementioned debut. I had both CDs in my possession and I had a soft spot for the second Cyan album but I also heard things that could be improved. Let's be honest, if you let Luke Machin play the guitar parts and solos then that is an immense improvement and add the voice of Peter Jones to that then you actually have a completely different band or rather you really get a band feeling.
The first thing I noticed is that not all songs from the original are on this new version and that's surprising because I miss opener The Guardians a lot, which is a real shame. The order of the songs has changed and All around the World has also disappeared.
We start with a considerably longer performance of Broken Man and the extra minutes are well spent, new intro, more and longer solos, great start. Jones' vocals are a bit better than those of Nigel Voyle, who provided vocals for the original album and certainly didn't do a bad job. And for the entire album, of course, everything is of a higher level from a technical point of view. For those, like me, who are quite sensitive to guitar work, it is true that Machin's own style should suit you. I think it's very virtuoos but it doesn't always touch me, it's a bit jazzier and that's not surprising because his solo work also goes in that direction.
Pictures from the Other Side has also become considerably longer and that is mainly due to the addition of a lot of saxophone work by Jones. Just to remind you, I'm not a big fan of that, no matter how good it is, because Jones is a master on this instrument. What remains of course is the beautiful melody and where on the original Christina Booth provided the background vocals, this is now done by Angharad Brinn and she has a somewhat higher, thinner voice. Both excellent singers. The ending has actually become a kind of swinging piece of music.
The keyboard work is still fine because Reed is not only a very good composer but also a very gifted musician. Here and there some keyboard parts of Jones have also been inserted.
Solitary Angel was and is a wonderfully ballad with another melody that lingers and in this song I think Jones and Machin are really at their best and the guitar solos really get under your skin. Very nice.
The short Follow the Flow remains a bit of an in between and there's nothing wrong with that. Against a background of floating and orchestral keys, Jones and Brinn sing their duet and do so with great feeling. Very sweet and sensitive.
Tomorrow’s here Today was also allowed to stay and has also become considerably longer and now is almost ten minutes long. The atmosphere of the previous song is completely taken along at the beginning and supported by an acoustic guitar and softly undulating keys, the harmony vocals are fine again. After more than three minutes, heavy keys announce the transition to an instrumental piece where Machin can solo again and shows that he can also play very fast and Reed himself turns it into a real duel and shakes a number of swirling keyboard parts out of his sleeve. (Dutch saying) The song continues as it began, very subdued but in the end the whole band joins at full speed and that sounds fine again.
The epic of the album was and is the long Nosferatu and this song now is almost four minutes longer and with just under eighteen minutes is the sample card of the new Cyan. Jones is way outside his comfort zone here and sounds unprecedentedly aggressive and driven, and that's exactly what the lyrics call for. It's all a bit spicier and heavier and that's delicious and maybe even necessary. As you would expect from an epic, there is variety, tempo changes, solos and of course bombast. A worthy finale to the renewed Pictures from the other Side.
Is the idea of replaying and re-recording older albums a good idea or not? Do you want to hear a new version of, for example, Dark Side of the Moon? Oops, maybe that's not a good example. Well, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't and in the case of both Cyan albums it certainly works out well, although I do miss some songs. We don't have to argue about the much higher quality of the guitar parts and Jones' contribution is also indisputable.
Overall, I'm not sure if it's always a good idea to replay and re-release existing albums. Although, The Visitor by Arena with vocals by Damian Wilson? Hmmm no, better let it stay the way it is. In the case of Robert Reed's Cyan, I dare say it's a good move and we actually hear a better album.
The cover has also been lifted to the present and is still broadly recognizable but was already fine and still is. Because I add a rating these days, I have to say that I think there should be at least 15 points more compared to the 1994 album.