Lee Speaks About Music… #73

Not As Good As The Book (Limited Edition) – The Tangent



Well over the past 2 or 3 months I have been getting back into the music of the Tangent. This is a particular prog rock band I got into back in the early 2000’s when I had first gotten into The Flower Kings. I suppose in a way it was Roine Stolt and some of the members of The Flower Kings who helped Andy Tillison get this project of his on the road. It was also The Flower Kings that led me to The Tangent in  first place. It was also originally meant to be a one off album and project when the bands debut album The Music That Died Alone was released back in 2003.

Though after the bit of success they had with their debut album, it spurred the same line up to make the album The World That We Drive Through in the following year of 2004. Also the live album Pyramids and Stars came off the back of it and got released in the same year. Though it was not long after this that Roine Stolt left because of the many other projects he was involved on, plus still producing albums and playing for his own band The Flower Kings.

Though Stolt’s decision to leave did not deter Andy Tillison from carrying on, and he continued to keep the Tangent alive and an ongoing thing. A couple of the musicians from The Flower Kings also continued to play for The Tangent though over the years they have gone through many line up changes.

The bands 3rd studio album A Place in the Queue released in 2006 was my personal favourite album of them all. Though I enjoyed everything the band churned out at this point. But it was at this stage in my life that other things were going on around me at the time, and a lot of the bands I loved so much for keeping prog rock music alive, I sort of lost track of.

It was not until a few months back I recently got back into the Tangent by listening to some of the material from some of those albums I never had they had churned out over the past years, and a few live videos I found on Youtube that sparked my interest back into the band.

It Does Not Pay To Lose Contact…

I can tell you now losing contact with most prog rock bands can be a costly game simply because these type of bands do not have the popularity that most pop artists have, which means they cannot afford to mass produce their albums like those artists who are tied to major record labels can, and their albums and DVD’s can soon go out of print. Especially the limited editions.

Luckily enough I managed to find the limited edition of the bands 4th studio album Not As Good As The Book on Amazon and it was reasonably priced at £15.76. Though some of the bands media releases are a lot harder to locate, and when you do come across them, you get some people who will try and charge you the earth for them second hand.

I was so grateful that Roine Stolt decided to release the discography of The Flower Kings studio albums in a box set last year, especially having lost those early albums in the 1st box set entitled A Kindom Of Colours that was released. He is also releasing another box set now containing the rest of the albums in the discography, along with the bonus tracks that came with some of the limited editions I lost.

I pre-ordered it as soon as I clapped my eyes on it and will be looking forward to that in June when it gets released. I think this is something many of the prog rock bands should start doing. To stop people trying to rip people off with their own music by charging extortionate prices for them. Personally I would not pay silly money for music these days, not like I would have back in my youth.

Though if I wanted something desperate enough I may stretch my wallet to some degree. For example having stumbled upon some video footage that Andy Tillison had posted himself on Youtube that came from both the Tangent DVD’s he released awhile back. I very much wanted to get my hands on them, even though the footage on these DVD’s were not that professionally made.

Both the DVD’s of Going Off On One and Going Off On Two are very much out of print. When searching for the first one of these DVD’s on ebay and many other places on the net, the chances were you was only ever gonna get hold of it second hand. So finding one in mint condition was my first priority. I also noticed whilst searching for Going Off On One that there was a single DVD release and a limited edition release that came with a DVD & 2 CD’s. There was only 3,000 copies made of the limited edition.

Most of them on Amazon where ridiculously over priced from £80 to over £100 for the limited edition. The ones that came with a DVD only I seen on ebay at a cheaper price of around £20 and upwards looked well dodgy and like pirates people had made themselves.

After a couple of weeks searching I came across the limited edition on Amazon advertised as new for £35. It was the only one the seller had and he was in Germany. So I snapped it up.

Going Off On One

Even though it came wrapped in cellophane. I personally do not think it was brand new. But it was in mint condition and looked brand new. The white bit of paper by the way is where I pulled the price tag off it to take a snap of it when it arrived about a month ago. I did not quite finish peeling it off as I hurried to take the shot. But since then I have peeled it off and it looks immaculate.

Now if I had never lost touch with The Tangent back in 2006. I dare say I could of got this brand new for around £14 or £15. £20 less than the price I paid for it today. I am well chuffed I have it though and I get a lot of pleasure out of this concert. But no way would I have paid stupid money to get my hands on it.

I have located Going Off On Two in mint condition as well. The problem is the seller wants £50 for it. I did email the seller asking him if he would part with it for £40 but got no reply. He still has not sold it and that was about 2 months ago I put in my offer. So I do have my personal limits of what I will pay for music these days.

Now that’s out the way let’s get back to the review of Not As Good As The Book by The Tangent. But first let’s take a look at the packaging as always.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The Limited Edition comes in an hardshell Digipak which is basically a double CD plastic Jewel Case with an inged tray to hold both discs on either side and it stores neatly away in the cardboard box that comes with it. This particular package not only comes with a 16 page booklet that contains all the linear notes of the lyrics and production credits, but it also comes with an 100 page book or Novella as it’s called written by Andy Tillison.


The book also stores nicely away along with the jewel case in the cardboard box. Overall its quite a nice package you are getting for the money here, and not only do you get some great music, but you also get an interesting book to read as well.

The Artwork.

The cover artwork for both the booklet and all the illustrations in the book was done by Antoine Ettorie. The layout was by MBL Graphics. I rather like it and it’s done in great cartoon style for both the booklet and the book.

Musicians & Credits…

TheTangent 1978

Recorded at MBL Aveyron Studios France between January – September 2006. MBL Auch Studios France between October – December 2006. Reingold Music Studios Malmo, Sweden between June – October 2007 and Burnside Studios Leeds, England between January – December 2007. Produced & Arranged by Andy Tillison Diskdrive. Assisted by Jonas Reingold & Guy Manning. Mastered by Paul Brow.


Andy Tillison: Vocals/Organ/Piano/Moog Synths/Electric Rhythm Guitar/Yamaha XV 535 Motorcycle/Music Stand (Hit with wooden rods) and a sheet of tinfoil.
Guy Manning: Acoustic Guitars/Mandolin/Bouzoukis/Vocals/Hand Harp/Bell/Slode Guitar.
Jakko Jakszyk: Electric Guitars/Vocals.
Jonas Reingold: Bass Guitar.
Theo Travis: Tenor & Soprano Saxophones/Flute.
Jaime Salazar: Drums.

All words & music written by Andy Tillison with nods of acknowledgement to Gus Manning on “Four Egos One War” originally performed by Parallel or 90 Degrees. Julie King – vocals (On Four Egos One War).

The Album & Tracks In Review…

The 4th album Not As Good As The Book by The Tangent was released on the 3rd March 2008. The limited edition comes with an extra disc and also an 100 page book. The 1st CD contains 7 tracks and as an overall playing time of 50 minutes, 45 seconds. The 2nd CD contains 2 tracks with and a total playing time of 43 minutes, 53 seconds.

Being as I have the limited edition I shall take on the both discs in my review here. But let’s take a bit more of a look into the background of the bands main writer Andy Tillison who incidentally wrote all the music on this album. Plus the 100 page novella that comes with this package.

The band The Tangent were originally merged together by 3 of the the members of Parallel or 90 Degrees namely Andy Tillison. Guy Manning and Sam Baine. I do believe that this particular band were also playing support to The Flower Kings and that’s how they got together with Roine Stolt and some of the members from his band. The biggest majority of the Tangent’s material is written by Andy Tillison.

To be honest I do not know anything about Parallel or 90 Degrees and never heard or took any time to listen to what kind of music they do. I also know that Tillison as been involved in some other bands in the past, some of which were Punk Rock bands I believe. The fact that I detest Punk Rock is most likely why I never took the time to listen to anything he was involved in apart from the Tangent.

To be perfectly honest it was not until around 1999 that I first took any notice of Punk Rock having watched some documentary on the television. About the only thing that ever spoke to me about Punk Rock was the lyrics. As for the way the bands presented the lyrics with their don’t give a fuck attitude and the way just bashed it all out and could not sing or play for toffee, just did not appeal to me at all, and that’s why I detested it from day one. I still do. Show me a record of the Sex Pistols and it will be me doing the throwing up and not them :)))))).

Though in all honesty I think the one thing that Andy Tillison got from his earlier days of playing Punk Rock was very much the lyrical side of things. There is no doubt Tillison’s lyrics in the Tangent are very good. But he can also be quite cynical in some respects, though mostly he’s basically speaking the truth, and I think we all can be can be cynical at times, and no matter how truthful we think we can be ourselves, we cannot get everything right all the time.

To be perfectly honest, in my world of how I perceive music. It is always the music that will speak to me first and not the lyrics. Though no doubt it’s always good to have good lyrics, though I do not personally take them all to heart, like many others would.

The Book.

Having read the 100 page book written by Andy Tillison that comes with this limited edition. I have to say there is no doubt that Tillison does have a way with words and come up with quite a bizarre Sci-Fi futuristic story based around his own childhood and is love for progressive rock that was instilled into him back in the early 70’s and upwards to the present day.

It takes in some of his own personal record collection and I guess what he’s really trying to say by the title of this album being Not As Good As The Book. Is perhaps no matter how people perceive today’s prog rock music, a lot of them perhaps cannot accept it like they still accept all those classics that came out back in those dark days of the early 70’s.

So effectively today’s prog rock music is not as good as the book that was written many moons ago. Which is why it will never quite sells that widely like a lot those albums by bands like Yes. Genesis. ELP and many others did back in those days.

The one thing I do admire about Andy Tillison is that he’s a bit like myself in some respects, in the way he not only thinks about his own music, but shows support for the many other bands who are still keeping prog rock music alive.

I myself can still live in the 70’s regarding my personal taste of music. But I also love many of the prog rock bands and artists who are still keeping such great music I have always loved alive today. I would also say the Tangent are one of them.

Onto The Album…

Coming off the back of a couple of years after my personal favourite album A Place In The Queue. Trying to live up to those high standards I would of thought was always going to be hard to beat or even get near.

Surprisingly the album Not As Good As The Book is also another great album. It still contains the same stabbing cynical lyrics at the music industry and Tillison’s general view of how music is today in relation to all those years ago. Musically it even borrows music from the bands previous album, and you get a few bars here and there of others music thrown in for good measure.

So let’s take a deeper look into the album as I take through the individual tracks of the both discs that come with the limited edition release.

CD 1.

Track 1. A Crisis in Mid-Life.

The album gets off to a flying start with its opening track “A Crisis in Mid-Life“. Musically it’s very sprightly with its up-tempo pace shows great diversity with some of the directions it goes in along it’s path. You get your familiar keyboard and guitar solos along the way of its intersections between the words, and he even throws in a couple of bars of Mike Oldfield’sCrises” at the 3:50 mark to let you know that the subject matter is based around a crises :))))).

Lyrically the opening verses are apt enough to the subject matter we have here. To be honest the lyrics in those first few verses are more about the struggles and strains one would find about a crises in mid-life. I think we all find life presents us with many struggles and strains as we grow older, and life is never easy to get through on that score.

Then the lyrics tend to change their direction and are more aimed at having a crises about music than life in general. Tillison even brings in some of his cynical views about music as it progresses. For example he at first goes into how when we was younger and in our teens or the days of our youth, and how music was an escape for us to turn to and shrug off anything that be-fronted us enough to ignore it. I think personally that’s true.

However his cynical stab of how all those artists who made loads of money years ago from their music, and how they are living it up these days and brought houseboats with their wives and there’s nothing left to sing along too, because we have grown up. Is either here or there.

For example I myself do find that for some reason even though I still very much buy music today of the newer bands and artists who are out there. It’s very strange no matter how much you still like the music of today, how for some reason the lyrics do not bury that deep inside of you enough to start singing them out like you did with the music you had years ago. I guess this maybe an age thing and he could be right again. Though it’s hardly a crises :)))))).

I have always viewed music as a product, and the only reason all those artists made loads of money from their music, was because they made a product that sold and people liked it enough to buy it, just like people buy Coca Cola cause they like it. Nothing wrong with that at all. The whole intention and purpose of making any product is to sell it. It keeps people in a job if they can be successful at it, and if you can be highly successful at it, you can get rich from it. Simple as that.

OK it may need promoting and cost chunks of money in advertising to get it more widely circulated and known. But that is what business is all about, and just as much as it can be successful sometimes, it can also be a big gamble and a big risk. Most artists got lucky back in those days having record companies to take a gamble and risk a lot of their own money in promoting and selling an artist.

No doubt most of the artists also got ripped off along the way too. But they was not the ones taking the risk in the first place. Personally I never thought artists like George Michael never had a leg to stand upon trying to get the rights to his own music in court and get out of the albums he promised to do for the record company.

Record companies do not give you all that money up front to make so many albums in the first place for old rope I am afraid. At the end of the day it’s them who have to spend all that money in promoting it and selling it. Most artists were lucky to be given that chance in the first place.

A Crisis in Mid-Life” is a really great song and very much one of the contenders for the top spot on the album. I even think the words “There’s nothing like a crisis in mid-life!” is perhaps something I may very well sing in the way of an angry anthem. But in a real crises :)))).

Track 2. Lost in London 25 Years Later.

Well the title harks back to the classic “Lost In London” from the bands previous studio album. Also the story here with the lyrics pertains to the story in the book. The album is very much a concept album based around the story in the book, only here the words are not as bizarre and put more into context, and also the book uses different names for the characters.

Once again the lyrics are refereeing back to Tillison’s younger days of going to rock festivals and trying to get into a jazz clubs. Musically it also incorporates some fine jazz into it around the half way mark. It’s perhaps not in the same league as “Lost In London” from the 2006 album A Place In The Queue but nerveless flows well enough.

Track 3. The Ethernet.

The “The Ethernet” is longest track on the first disc which is really the concept side of the limited edition. The 2nd CD contains a couple of more lengthy bonus tracks. It’s at this stage the story simmers right down to more of a smoochy mood and deals with the subject matter of love, risks and Cyber Sex. Both the music and vocals are well fitting here and each track runs from one track to another in the way of a nonstop album to make the concept story flow along even more so.

Track 4. Celebrity Purée.

The shortest track on the album is up next and is an instrumental piece that contains some fine diversity and progression and it sort of reminds me of something the band Spock’s Beard might do. It picks the album up more and is a great little track.

Track 5. Not As Good As The Book.

The self titled track of the album is my personal favourite track and merits my top spot of the album award. I also like how all the previous tracks build up to this track. The song runs along at a great pace with some fine melody lines on the moog synth and as well as the keyboard work it also features some fine lead solos on the guitar and the acoustic guitar works particularly well and it has a nice come down section in the middle.

Lyrically the song is pertaining perhaps around how different ones life as panned out over the years, and how the future did not work out how you quite imagined it would turn out. It’s perhaps not as good as the book makes it out to be, and in this case Tillison is embarking on Buzz Aldrin’s life and the conspiracy behind them landing on the moon.

It also raises the question about what little computer technology they had back then and could they really put their faith and trust in a computer with less than brains of a ZX81 to direct them back home. He may have a point.

Track 6. A Sale of Two Souls.

Once again the pace comes down a bit on “A Sale of Two Souls” it’s another fine song that musically adds perhaps a slight touch of melancholy with Theo Travis’s flute work and the acoustic guitar, it builds up well enough with all the other instrumentation.  It even sounds a bit like a cross between Jethro Tull and Pink Floyd in some sections and I guess you could also say it ends off with something perhaps more familiar with what you might find on the Who’s album Quadrophenia with the talking bit at the end.

The lyrics are based around the subject matter of growing old and perhaps still having the rights to still go on making and playing music and having that feel of youth back again, rather than being seen as some has-been or a dinosaur perhaps. I suppose the title could also be harking at how music lost its feel today and how it does not tend to sell like it did years ago and it no longer as that spark enough for people to want to buy it today.

Track 7. Bat Out of Basildon.

A song that once again touches on getting old and looking back how nobody writes those old bikers songs like they did decades ago like in the film Easy Rider and Meatloaf’sBat Out Of Hell” to which the title gets it acquaintance :))))). It’s quite a good enough song with great lyrics and even rocks in a jazzy style in some respects. It perhaps does not have the power of Meatloaf’s classic though. But never the less it puts the end of the concept of the main album on the first disc very well.

CD 2.

Track 1. Throwing Metal at the Sky: Part 1 Four Egos, One War.

The first of two lengthy pieces on this bonus album take in quite a different subject matter in relation to the first disc which is the main album, and is more of what is known as bonus material as you would get with a limited edition release like this.

This particular track weighs in at just over 21 minutes and the subject matter is very much that of war that gets portrayed over 5 parts. Part 1. Ours. Part 2. Theirs. Part 3. Ours Reprise. Part 4. His. and Part 5. Mine.

As far as I can make out “Four Egos, One War” was written back in 2002 for another one of Tillison’s project bands known as Parallel or 90 Degrees. Like I said earlier I know nothing about this particular band but apparently when they wrote this song back then it was never released on any of their albums.

It was only after the release of this album that they released a compilation 2 CD set entitled A Can Of Worms by Parallel or 90 Degrees that contained some material from the bands back catalogue of albums along with unreleased material such as this track. Although this particular version on Not As Good As The Book comes with a different arrangement to the original. It also features Julie King on vocals in parts.

I have to say though I have never heard the original version, this version on the album is very good and I am well surprised that this song never got released back in 2002, especially if it’s anything like this. In some ways it’s perhaps a bit familiar to how Neal Morse goes about writing his music. I am now even tempted to buy A Can Of Worms to see exactly what type of music Parallel or 90 Degrees is all about.

Like I mentioned earlier the subject matter is very much different regarding the lyrics, and in my personal opinion they are far from bizarre in relation to what we got on the main album. The subject matter of war is handled very well here and this is really excellent bonus material, that in all honesty should never have been bonus material in the first place.

Musically it’s very well constructed and put together, and even incorporates or borrows some melody lines in a small section from their previous album A Place In The Queue. It’s very much a contender for the top spot on the album and another favourite track of mine.

Track 2. Throwing Metal at the Sky: Part 2 The Full Gamut.

The 2nd of the 2 tracks on this bonus disc is yet another excellent piece of work. “The Full Gamut” is perhaps a bit like a theatrical opera or play that comes with some great diversity and progression throughout it. Tillison’s keyboard work on this track is perhaps the best on the whole 2 discs. It’s got some great transitional changes along it’s path with some excellent interplay from all the musicians.

It’s slightly longer than the first part of Throwing Metal at the Sky and is a very exciting 22 minutes and 42 seconds long. The whole thing is put across in 9 parts. Part 1. The D599 – Dusk. Part 2. Gothenburg. Part 3. Last Tango. Part 4. Studio Tan. Part 5. Not A Drill – A Storm In The Mountains Of Cantal. Part 6. Southend On Sea. Part 7. The A1 North Of Paris. Part 8. Four Last Days. Part 9. The D599 and the A61 (Dusk).

Lyrically the song is perhaps a personal thing about Tillison’s break up with his long time partner Sam Baine which is perhaps why this was released as a bonus track on a limited edition. So the lyrics are aimed at her and perhaps why he was having a crisis in mid life as the opening track on the main album suggests.

Sam Baine used to play additional keyboards with both Parallel or 90 Degrees and The Tangent and she even played on their previous album A Place In The Queue in 2006. So this was first album not to feature her after the break up. Effectively the lyrics are about the effects and strains it would put on a relationship with them both touring to earn a living sort of thing.

The word “Gamut” means the complete range or scope of something to which he is certainly portraying the full scope of his broken down relationship. It also means a complete scale of musical notes which no doubt you are getting with this offering.

For me personally I have always put the music first before any lyrics, so the the lyrics here are not gonna get in my way sort of thing, and personally I do think the lyrics are more or less aimed at anger and do not perhaps measure up to the quality of the lyrics we got about war on the first track on this bonus disc. They could be however a bit useful to a marriage guidance counsellor perhaps, though it’s perhaps a bit too late for one of those :)))))).

Joking aside I personally think that the musical structure we have here is the best on the entire album. And this is another track that merits the top spot award on the album. Though effectively this limited edition bonus disc is another album, and could of even been released as a separate album. But at the end of the day I guess it was the personal side of his relationship with Sam Baine was why it was not as I already mentioned.


To sum up the 2 CD Limited Edition of Not As Good As The Book by The Tangent. It’s very much like getting two different albums for the price your paying in the way that both discs take on different subject matters. If you can get it for the price point I paid for it, then it is value for the buck because you do also get an 100 page book with it.

Regarding the book that comes with it and the story written by Andy Tillison. It’s perhaps like a cross between something you might find familiar with writings by Peter Gabriel and even Douglas Adams Hitchikers Guide To The Galaxy with its Sci-Fi and humour approach. It does make an interesting read even if it’s all a bit on the bizarre side of things. Although I would say that the music you get here is better than the book in this case :)))))).

My personal highlights from the both discs are “Not as Good as the Book“. “Throwing Metal at the Sky: Part 2 The Full Gamut“. “A Crisis in Mid-Life“. “Throwing Metal at the Sky: Part 1 Four Egos, One War” and “A Sale of Two Souls“.


To conclude my review of the Limited Edition of Tangent’s Not As Good As The Book. It’s perhaps an album that runs along the lines of a concept album in that each track more or less leads into one another. However regarding it’s concept it’s not what I would call a great concept album if I was going by the lyrical content which does not follow suit as a story sort of like Jeff Wayne’s War Of The Worlds as an example. It’s perhaps a bit of a mishmash with its subject matter, and that may have been down to the fact that Tillison was dealing with perhaps a crises in mid-life and the breaking up of a personal relationship, that may have had an effect here.

I personally do not think Not As Good As The Book is as good as the bands previous album A Place in the Queue. For me personally that magic 3rd album they made is not only musically better structured, but the lyrical content leaves this album in the dust.  Though overall it’s still a very good enjoyable album and if you was to compare the bonus disc that comes with the Limited Editions of both of these albums. The bonus disc you get on this album leaves the one on their previous album in the dust.

The bonus disc for me is perhaps the winner with the limited edition of Not As Good As The Book. To be honest I have never come across another edition of this album but the limited edition. No doubt the both albums in this package have their merits and are well worthy of having if you can obtain it for the price I paid. I enjoy the both discs that come with it and it’s still a really great album to have and up there with their best.

What happened to the future? It’s not as good as the book…

The album track listing of both discs is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. A Crisis in Mid-Life. 7:13.
02. Lost in London 25 Years Later. 7:32.
03. The Ethernet. 10:13.
04. Celebrity Purée. 3:43.
05. Not as Good as the Book. 8:54.
06. A Sale of Two Souls. 7:16.
07. Bat Out of Basildon. 5:54.

Disc 2.

01. Throwing Metal at the Sky: Part 1 Four Egos, One War. 21:14.
02. Throwing Metal at the Sky: Part 2 The Full Gamut. 22:42.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 9/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 9/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 7/10.


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