Something Else! sneak peek: Jon Oliva, “Father of Time” from Raise the Curtain (2013)

Jon Oliva promised that his upcoming solo album, which will also feature the last unused music written by his brother and Savatage co-founder Criss Oliva, would be something completely different from what we’d heard from him in the past. If our first taste, “Father Time,” is any indication, he wasn’t kidding.

Fans of Oliva are used to his soaring, masterful compositions for Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. What we get with the first offering from Raise the Curtain is very different. “Father Time,” in fact, is a pretty straightforward 1970s rock tune.

The song opens surprisingly with a slashing funk riff that’s joined quickly by an electric guitar, a jiving bass and an organ. We hear elements of Oliva’s heavier legacy here and there. Of course, there’s that unmistakable voice. It might not have every bit of power that it had in his younger days, but there’s still more than enough. He gives one of those trademark vocal lines with a majestic feel that owes just as much to drama and musical theater as it does to rock ‘n’ roll. And, there are those hits right after the organ solo – yes, the organ solo – that with a couple of heavily distorted guitars would be right out of the Savatage song book.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: Jon Oliva was sorely missed during a recent performance by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but - as usual - Paul O'Neill and Co. never fail to impress.]

But, by and large, this song bears no resemblance to Savatage, TSO or even Jon Oliva’s Pain. Instead it owes much more to the 1970s progressive rock groups that influenced Oliva. I’ll admit to being a complete fanboy, but even I’m listening to this song thinking that I should really hate it. The 14-year-old kid in me is screaming “where’s the metal,” but the 40-year-old me is sitting here at the computer, grooving along, bobbing my head and hitting repeat as soon as the song is over. It’s just so damned catchy and grooving that I can’t resist.

“Father Time” does feature previously unreleased music from Criss Oliva as many of the songs on this album do, and you can certainly hear his presence in the guitar parts. Even though it may take a little while for me to get used to Jon Oliva music that you can dance to, I can’t wait to see what the rest of Raise the Curtain holds for us.

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Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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