With Geoff’s recent departure from the original Queensryche and his decision to form a simultaneous second Queensryche, I felt I should pull Geoff Tate off my shelf, where it has sat collecting dust for almost 10 years. The web (and comments on this site) has been abuzz with opinions on every side of the Tate situation, so dig in and let me know what you think.
GEOFF TATE – Geoff Tate (2002 EMI)
When I first heard this album 10 years ago, it seemed a lot more “different” than it does now. Now I listen to it and I can hear aspects of it (repetitive drony guitar bits, drum programs, mellow vibes) that Geoff incorporated into Queensryche albums that came later. But this is clearly a Tate album and not a Queensryche record, “Helpless” being one that would not have fit in on any Queensryche album.
Yet try as I might, I cannot get into this album. It has moments that I like (again, “Helpless” is an example with strong vocal melodies and guitar parts), but mostly just fleeting moments. “Helpless” in particular has a nice acoustic guitar solo, flamenco in flavour, that is appealing to me. Yet I find the song still sunk by (what sounds like) awful programmed percussion and bass.
Up next is “Touch”, a nearly tuneless mellow drone with something that sounds like telephones dialing a melody in the background. Ugh. The track after, “Every Move We Make” has a nice simple guitar melody, a pretty one that could have had some feeling in it, but it’s choked under a blanket of samples and effects. Geoff never comes up with a memorable vocal to go with it either. It does have some nice sounding (real) drums, and some cool guitars. “In Other Words” rests itself on piano and acoustic guitar backed by what sounds like viola. The music is pleasant sounding, just not memorable. It picks up steam towards the end. Perhaps this one could have made a most excellent Queensryche album closer, similar to “Someone Else?”, in another world. “A Passenger” has memorable moments, although it awkwardly stumbles from one section to others that sound nothing alike.
Best song: Epic closer “Over Me”. Great cascading guitars, liquid bass, no nonsense.
There’s nothing wrong with albums like this, every artist needs to explore their creative muse. More power to Geoff for doing it. But I’m not particularly into this kind of mellowness. Back in the record store days, if I had no idea who Geoff Tate was, I wouldn’t know where to file it and I guess that’s the point of doing a solo album like this. At no point does it rock, but it’s also too aggressive in spots for Easy Listening and New Age. It incorporates aspects of world music and electronica but couldn’t be called either. None of that is bad — I love a lot of records that can be described in similar ways, when genres collide. (Accidentally On Purpose, by Gillan/Glover perhaps?) The problem here boils down to the songs — they’re just not all that good. Marillion make albums that you might say sound like this — but better.