Kite Parade – Retro (2023).


For me, Retro is a totally new introduction to Andy Foster's project called Kite Parade. It's not quite a one-man project, on drums none other than Nick D'Virgilio participates and that's not the least. Why did I buy the CD? Actually in response to some reviews (you see, they work!) that I have read in which the general tenor was positive and some names came up as a reference.

If you could have crossed John Mitchell and Gary Chandler (well you can't yet, but there will come a time...) Andy Foster would be an heir to that. So is Kite Parade a simple rip off? No, that would be shortchanging Foster, but it is very close to the work of It Bites, Kino, Lonely Robot and Jadis. Is it just as good? Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not.

With six tracks of just over five minutes to a real epic of more than fourteen minutes, it is clear that we are not dealing with someone who makes all the three- or four-minute songs and that is to Andy's credit. I go through all the songs separately for a change and can therefore better indicate what I like and what I don't like.

Opener, and title track, Retro is a smooth rocker with an obvious It Bites signature. If I had been told that this would be a new song from the last line-up of It Bites, I would have believed it immediately. The keyboard loops are so recognizable and the vocal lines could be Mitchell's, only Foster's voice is a bit smoother and a bit less hoarse. A nice and smooth song with nice guitar work, because Andy can certainly play. Not spectacular but just nice.

Speed of Light is a bit proggier at more than seven minutes and is less in line with the aforementioned references, but I still hear the recognisable It Bites choruses again. D'Virgilio's smooth drumming is definitely a plus and Foster's guitar solo is nice. Yet he misses that special of Mitchell and Chandler a bit. All in all a great song and a step up compared to Retro. If this continues..............

Wonderful starts with an acoustic guitar and a very nice vocal line. Andy's critical view of our human behaviour and his concerns about its impact on our planet and society demonstrate his ability to write appealing texts without becoming too pompous. Slowly the song develops into a real Jadis song with even a guitar solo that could have been Chandler's again. But it must be said that I would be happy with this song on the new Jadis album because it is that good and let's be honest, the last albums of Chandler and co lack the depth and quality of the first albums. (oops that hurts)

The next song Shadows Fall is a bit longer at nine minutes and that usually promises something. The beginning is a bit tacky but soon there is another chorus that could have been from It Bites again. Then suddenly there is a saxophone solo that has some Pink Floyd traits. Not my thing. However, the song is gaining more and more impact developing into a real prog song and a little over halfway a few tight guitar chords announce a change of intensity and the end of this song is really delicious with a nice cleaving guitar solo with spice. That's great. However, the fade out comes nothing too late because we have heard the repeated chorus by now.

Under the same Sun clocks in at just over six minutes and is again a more standard song with ditto chorus. Certainly not annoying but also not exciting enough for me. And yes, I hear a lot of.................... well, you can already feel it. However, there is a nice aggressive guitar solo that is more similar to the work of Dec Burke. The keyboard solos are also nice and different.

And then it's time for the closing epic Merry -go -Round of over fourteen minutes and as so often this is the best of the album and Foster shows how good Kite Parade can be and become. What a nice song this is. Well I know I often go for the long songs but listen to the first minutes of this blissful song and say that you don't like that. Lovely guitar work on a bed of keys. Foster sings really well here and the melody just stays with you. The first six minutes are wonderful and are followed by a somewhat quieter piece with fine keyboard work and the more commonly used inserted texts. Then something unfortunate happens. After more than seven minutes there is a somewhat less piece with a bland rhythm and in the chorus the title becomes clear. The short guitar solo makes up for a lot because it's nice again. Only that fucking saxophone comes along again but that's forgiven because the closing guitar solo is wonderful again.

What should I write down as a conclusion? I clearly feel sympathy for Foster who just delivered a great product. Yes, it's very similar to the bands mentioned. Is that very bad? I'm not sure because I always say better well stolen than ill-conceived. But this is so close that I'm going to reconsider this statement. In my opinion, the level is not lower than that of It Bites or the later Jadis and that is an achievement.

Just listen and draw your own conclusions. I will often play the album while working in the sun because it does have something uplifting. Still, I secretly hope Andy goes all out for the prog side and makes more songs like Merry-go-round. We'll see.


Music 72

Cover 58