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Dukes Of The Orient: Freakshow
Dukes Of The Orient - Freakshow Album Art

Dukes Of The Orient: Freakshow

Melodic Progressive Rock/AOR
5.0/5.0

I was really hoping Dukes Of The Orient, featuring vocalist John Payne and keyboard player Eric Norlander, would not be a one-off project. Their 2018 self-titled debut album was pretty fandamntastic, offering listeners some very fine, keyboard-driven, melodic progressive rock. Now the duo return with their second effort, Freakshow which features musical support from Frank Klepacki on drums, Alex Garcia on guitar, and Eric Tewalt on saxophone. Make a mental note of that last instrument.

Dukes Of The Orient - Click For Larger Image

Dukes Of The Orient's Norlander and Payne

Musically speaking, the songs within Freakshow vary little from musical motif Norlander and Payne established in the debut. Norlander's keyboard craftsmanship essentially defines the song arrangement. Whether by a piano line, a synth solo, or synth symphonic embellishment, the keyboards are the thing. And Payne's voice, of course.

But, the Dukes have added a wonderful new twist to their music: saxophone! I love saxophone. Most every song has a saxophone solo or two, or is simply peppered with a sax line as part of the arrangement. But don't think Clarence Clemens and the E Street Band, but perhaps a Supertramp feeling. You'll find some delightful saxophone within A Quest For Knowledge, The Last Time Traveller, The Monitors, and my favorite The Ice Is Thin. Within Freakshow and The Last Time Traveller the saxophone solo precedes a fine Hammond and synth solo from Norlander. The one song exception, where there is no sax, is The Great Brass Steam Engine which is an instrumental wherein Norlander amazes you with his prolific keyboard skills. Other songs of interest are the Asia-like The Dukes Return, which may have a guitar solo after the half, carnival feeling of Freakshow, and the soft closing ballad, Until Then.

Simply said, Freakshow is another exceptional and entertaining album of AOR melodic progressive rock from vocalist John Payne and keyboard player Eric Norlander. Easily recommended.



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The Bottom Line

Simply said, Freakshow is another exceptional and entertaining album of AOR melodic progressive rock from vocalist John Payne and keyboard player Eric Norlander. Easily recommended.

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