J a n i s o n     E d g e
The Services Of Mary Goode

The Services Of Mary Goode - Big Image
Image © 1998 Gargoyle Records               Artwork concept and design by Mike Varty and Sue Element               Cover Painting by Jane Bryan
Click on the album cover to visit the artists' website

Review © Russell W Elliot 1999
Originally Published: 10 February 1999 | Last Updated: 23 November 2001

The debut album by Janison Edge, The Services Of Mary Goode (Gargoyle Records (UK) GRG001), is a lyrically theatrical, story-telling work set in modern times to well-written progressive rock music by keyboard player Mike Varty (Shadowland, Credo) and singer/songrwiter, Sue Element. Other well-known musicians contributing to the project include guitarist Ian Salmon (Shadowland and guest on Nolan & Wakeman's Jabberwocky), drummer Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq) and bass player Paul Brown (Medicine Man). Mike Varty is credited with the album's production but it should be noted that the album was mixed by Karl Groom (Shadowland,Strangers On A Train, Verglas Music).

Janison Edge Artists
Image © 1998 Gargoyle Records

The story told within the album's lyrics revolves around fictional central character Mary Goode. It charts her young life from before birth to an early death. The story expresses the artists feelings about the environment, birth, religious experiences, a child's fantasies, death of a friend and one's own death. Illustrations from the well-designed cover are thoughtfully reproduced to compliment the lyrics within the CD booklet.

While firmly planted in progressive rock, it is difficult to compare Janison Edge's music effectively to another band. The music is very complex and instrumentally exploratory but there are melodies within the tracks that,with repeated listenings, become memorable. The band have been compared to Asia and Genesis, although there are clear tendencies toward Landmarq, Shadowland and Leger De Main within their music. The tracks are typically long with times ranging from over five minutes to around the ten-minute mark.

With a harder instrumental edge, lots of well-played keyboards and guitars and their associated riffs, the album's tunes are actually quite varied. The opening track, "A Twist In The Tale Of Earth History," introduces the breadth of the group's ability combining sweet and strong vocals with memorable melodies and progressively powerful instrumental work. The band's full sound is most clearly re-articulated in "Beneath The Boy" and the closing track "The Day That I Fall."

Sue Element performs in a broad range of styles and can be compared at times to to Melissa Blair of Leger De Main ("The Day That I Fall"). However, in the album's ballads ("Old Man," "Dwarf Of Dreams," "Julie Lies") she picks a popular, almost Madonna-like style to deliver the vocal work. Within the closing moments of the unusual song "Joker" and "Beneath The Boy," Sue shows that she can even 'do' Kate Bush. Clearly, Sue's lead and backing vocals are a central theme that binds the album together.

Janison Edge's conceptually strong and well written debut album is a good listen and will appeal to progressive music fans that crave powerful instrumental presentations. The varied songs indeed work together despite the lack of an instrumental central theme that would add a degree of coherence to the lyrical message.

Generally well-produced, this album could have been perfect if the vocals had been mixed more clearly and discernably and then brought above the instrumentals instead of being buried within them. This is especially important in a lyrically theatrical piece like The Services Of Mary Goode. A subsequent pressing could easily address our one complaint with the album. Further, with ideas currently being put together for a second album, we hope the group will keep this comment in mind.

In only a short time, The Services Of Mary Goode has gained a lot of momentum; the first pressing sold out prior to the official release! Glowing reviews have already been published from writers in New Zealand, America, Argentina, Germany and the UK. The band clearly have a bright future. A tour is being planned to begin in August with the majority of gigs being planned for September.

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