Monday, February 07, 2011

[Monday Music] -- PLANET P PROJECT/Planet P Project

            This is a lost nugget of progressive rock from 1983 for fans of bands like Rush, Saga, or King Crimson. Planet P Project, the band and the album is the brainchild of Tony Carey, former keyboard player for Rainbow back in the day. Basically, Mr. Carey composed all of the music, played most of it, and what he couldn’t play, he got some studio guys to do it.

            When this record was originally released in 1983, it was just called Planet P. Apparently that infringed with some intellectual property at Columbia (Film) Studios and legal action ensued. So, with repackaging, it’s now referred to as its current name, Planet P Project. Also, the album originally only had ten songs; tracks six and twelve were add-ons that you got with the cassette (remember those) version. Tranquility Base and Ruby are alright, but their insertion disturbs the flow of what is a pretty smooth-flowing affair.

            All that hoo-hah aside, Planet P Project is a concept record, the concept being that of an astronaut and the alienation that one might go through drifting through the cosmos after discovering that one’s home is gone upon your return trip. The highlight of the album is the main single, “Why Me?”

            Beginning with metal and wood chimes, an insistent drum beat kicks in and drives the song much like a rocket engine propels a craft through space.

Sitting up here watching all the lights blink down below
The Earth is turning, why does it go so slow?
Thinking about the girl I left behind…
Houston, can you hear me? Or have I lost my mind?

Why Me? (x2)

I was waiting on the pad, all systems were go
The man up in the tower was enjoying the show
Then I got this feeling that I never had before
Hey, let me out of here. What am I here for?

Why Me? (x2)

There must be a thousand other guys
Must be some other way to look good in your eyes
Why am I up here? What do they see in me?
Must be 1000 other place to be, Why me?

            Those stanzas encapsulate the fear of the unknown. It’s that fear that other places and songs in the record touch on, in particular, the lead off song “Static”. Our protagonist is twiddling the knobs of his radio and getting nothing. No human contact of any form… …only his own thoughts echoing in his brain.

You knew the risk. You took the chance.
Now the one you left behind are gone.

            Eventually, our crazed space traveler encounters “new people”. Whether these folks are real, or products of his own fevered imagination is left for us to decide, but his dealings with “them” (and one “female”, in particular) round out the record in “Send It In a Letter”, “Adam and Eve”, and “Only You and Me”.

            This record works for me on a certain level. It takes some of the more grandiose ideas of most progressive rock music, and shoves them into four-minute pop structures. Call it “popcorn progressive” if you will. Basically, it’s the type of record that you enjoy listening to, and even thinking about, but when it’s done, you scarcely remember it. Until the next time you put it in…

GopherDave Grade: 6.8

Track Listing

01. Static
02. King For a Day
03. I Won’t Wake Up
04. Top of the World
05. Armageddon
06. Tranquility Base
07. Why Me?
08. Power Tools
09. Send It in a Letter
10. Adam and Eve
11. Only You and Me
12. Ruby

Lyrics Copyright © 1983 Rockoko Music (GEMA/BMI). Used without permission, with no infringement intended.

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