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Babysteps

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 1, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Henning, who grew up in Germany until he was 22, studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He majored in Contemporary Writing and Production and Music Synthesis. He graduated summa cum laude in May 2000. He moved to Los Angeles where he works for an advertising company. Together with his boss, he formed jinglegroup, a music production house specialising in music for advertising. Henning has written, arranged and produced music in a wide variety of styles from ambient, jazz, big band, orchestral, solo piano, pop, rock, metal, progressive rock, a capella, minimal, musical and film scores. He is the man behind the band Chain, Frameshift and Babysteps.

Babysteps tells the story of Nick (Jody Ashworth, Trans Siberian Orchestra), a professional athlete, who finds himself in a wheelchair having to recover in a rehabilitation center. The struggle with his arrogant doctor (James LaBrie, Dream Theater) reaches its climax in a big fight. Matt (Matt Cash, Chain/Frameshift/Solo), another patient, tries to befriend Nick who doesn t trust people anymore. Matt introduces his physician to Nick, Dr. Sizzla (Michael Sadler, SAGA), who gives him valuable advice on how to approach his situation and his doctor. Babysteps is the story of Nick s journey on the way to recovery and the obstacles he has to overcome.

Also lending their talents to this project are Ian Crichton (Guitar) and Jim Gilmour (Keys) from SAGA who both recorded phenomenal solos on this album.

Babysteps features 10 songs and 5 instrumental pieces for a total of 15 Tracks. The instrumentals all revolve around the same theme because they signify the return to the hospital cafeteria, a central place in the story.

The music of Babysteps can best be described as in the vein of TSO (Trans-Siberian Orchestra) or Savatage because of the orchestral elements and the extensive use of piano and metal guitars. Henning s usual production methods are not as dominant on this release and the synthesizers and chopped guitars take a step back to make way for a more organic sound.

Review

Henning Pauly is one of the busiest guys around. He managed to put out seven CDs in only three years; from Chain to Frameshift to his solo work. Babysteps is his third solo statement, and a rather different one at that. It is an attempt to put together a rock opera with various singers and some guest musicians, but Pauly is responsible for much of the instrumentation, including the drums and bass as well as the mixing and mastering duties.

Based on a true story about a professional athlete who becomes paralyzed down the waist (you can read the full story in the CD booklet), Babysteps documents the main character's both internal turmoil and his struggle with his doctor. Henning Pauly's choice of singers is nothing short of amazing. Having already worked with Dream Theater's James Labrie and Saga's Michael Sadler before, it mustn't have been too difficult to convince them. Likewise, his songwriting partner Matt Cash also appears on several pieces, most notably the harmonically rich "Not Just a Piece of Paper" with its gripping vocal hook and Jim Gilmour's stunning piano and synth contribution. Also on the bill is Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Jody Ashworth whose appearance lends some of the songs a distinct Savatage feel, complete with Broadway-esque vocals, gorgeous piano melodies, and complex, multi-tracked counterpoint harmonies. From the relentlessly heavy "Cafe 1" -- note Pauly's bone-crushing rhythm guitar work -- to the moving "Whenever You Dream", Jody Ashworth proves he is able to snap into any kind style effortlessly. The nice piano and guitar work here is expanded on in the following instrumental piece "Cafe 3" which recalls Al Pitrelli's emotionally charged playing quite a bit. Moreover, the classically driven "Cafe 4" and largely acoustic ballad "The Door" contain everything a Savatage/TSO fan may be looking for. Think Beethoven's Last Night meets Poets and Madmen and you have a fairly good picture.

On the heavier front, the Labrie-sung "Listen to Me" is chock full of stomping rhythm battery, prominent bass, an array of sound effects, and Labrie's diverse vocal style. From its blood-curdling aggressive chorus to the dramatic spoken parts, Labrie is at his best, and Marcus Gemeinder's piano solo is absolutely jaw-dropping. Another high point of the album is "A Place in Time", where Michael Sadler, Matt Cash and Jody Ashworth swap lyrics. Saga's Ian Crichton also makes an appearance with a cool guitar solo, followed by a stattering piano riff, and the three singers create a cool vocal harmony at the end. Similarly, "What Do You Know!?" sees Labrie and Ashworth portraying the characters, thus sort of evoking the dialogues on Ayreon's The Human Equation. Henning Pauly himself sings some back-up on "The Door", and shreds intensely on "I See".

Unfortunately though, the album loses some momentum perhaps because it's too long and the writing isn't as interesting on some spots as on others. The acoustic ballad "The Last Song" is terribly derivative of his previous material, and the lyrics can get a tad sappy, more than some may handle. That said, any progressive rock and metal fan who enjoys opera-style concept albums with some of the greatest singers around should give Babysteps a listen. --Sea of Tranquility

Henning Pauly is the mainman behind the bands Frameshift and Chain and on this solo album he has come up with an interesting concept album. It tells the story of Nick (sung by Jody Ashworth), an athlete, who after an injury finds himself in a wheelchair and this album forms the focus of his steps to rehabilitation.

Other guests on here include Dream Theater's James La Brie as the doctor who hinders Nick's recovery and Saga's Michael Sadler (fellow saga members Jim Gilmour and Ian Crichton also guest on one track apiece) as another doctor who helps him discover a road to recovery.

Musically it reminds you of Trans Siberian Orchestra, in that you have a big production and vocals delivered in an almost stage musical way. Jody Ashworth is worthy of taking the lion's share of the vocal parts with James La Brie delivering his usual high standard.

Highlights include 'I Don't Need You' and the passion filled 'The Last Song'. At regular intervals in the album you get five wonderful instrumentals entitled 'Café' - a real change in pace and sound form the other guitar based songs.

Definitely worth getting if you are a fan of the Trans Siberian Orchestra and Ayreon albums. --Get Ready to Rock

I don t think anyone could have predicted just how big the world of heavy metal would become, nor how it would come to form such a large sub-genre as prog metal. The foundation for heavy metal music is quite simple really; it needs to be loud, aggressive, and mostly uptempo. But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and this is where prog-metal makes a significant departure from plain old, straight ahead metal music and all its permutations. And this is where we introduce Henning Pauly and his new release entitled Babysteps. ***

With a fulltime job working at a commercial-music jingle house, Pauly moonlights at his passion crafting prog-metal that is clearly a notch above the standard fare. With a ton of musical book learning behind him Pauly puts his ample talents to work performing all the instruments here but calling upon the likes of Jody Ashworth, James LaBrie, Matt Cash and Michael Sadler to handle the vocals. Babysteps is Henning Pauly s seventh release if you count his other projects like Chain and Frameshift. And like the others this is complex prog-metal with plenty of notes flying around. The CD s concept follows the life of a professional athlete as he goes through his rehabilitation after being consigned to a wheelchair, hence the title Babysteps. Musically the CD s hour and fifteen minutes incorporate fifteen tracks of varying lengths, three of which are just over seven-minutes and the longest being a little over nine-minutes. Some of the shorter pieces are more like instrumental bridges creating moods and drama. Sometimes the vocalists use spoken passages to again reinforce the characters traumatic internal conflict. Each of the voices performs a character in the storyline and as such the music is devised to reinforce the person s place in the story, with some obviously being angrier sounding than others. As a counterpoint to the crunchy metal guitar Pauly uses a lot of piano throughout the CD, in fact it is the most prevalent keyboard other than a few organ pads here and there; it s the piano, usually in a solo mode that sets a kind of poignant tone for the pain the hero is going through as well as a musical counterpoint to the guitars. ***

I must say that prog metal is not my primary cup of tea, but there is no denying the talent that is brought to bear here on Babysteps. Henning Pauly has a considerable following and I m sure they will thoroughly enjoy Babysteps. If you enjoy your progressive rock on the heavy guitar oriented side then this is clearly a CD for you. *** --Jerry Lucky

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. The Cafe 1
  2. I Don't Need You
  3. No tree to sit under
  4. Listen To Me
  5. The Cafe 2
  6. Not Just A Piece Of Paper
  7. Whenever You Dream
  8. Cafe 3
  9. A Place In Time
  10. What Do You Know
  11. The Cafe 4
  12. The Door
  13. I See
  14. The Last Song


Product details

  • Audio CD (January 1, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: PROGROCK
  • ASIN: B000H9I128
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,139 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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October 29, 2007
Format: MP3 Music|Verified Purchase
May 22, 2007
Format: Audio CD
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