Cinema Face - Face Card

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 1 in year-1996

This album has acquired very few friends over the years, the criticism is unwarranted in my opinion, spend a bit of time with 'Face Card' and get to appreciate what is a solid offering.

Cinema Face - Face Card
ARTIST: Cinema Face
ALBUM: Face Card
LABEL: Pacemaker
YEAR: 1996

LINEUP: Frank LaMagna - vocals, guitar, keyboards * Mark Thomas - bass, vocals * Randy Infuso - drums * Moe Koffman - clarinet, flute

TRACK LISTING: 01 Call Again * 02 Face Card * 03 Have A Cigar * 04 Had Enough * 05 Only World * 06 They Got It All * 07 Count Me Out * 08 Clockwork * 09 World Leaders * 10 High On Life * 11 Eyes For You * 12 Take Me * 13 Shake It Off


Canadian band Cinema Face struck a chord with pomp/prog rockers way back in the early 80's. Frank LaMagna was the leading light of this band, and even though their 1983 debut was considered an undiscovered classic many years later, it was to no avail as the band had broken up not long after. LaMagna's approach to music was more than a little off-beam.

Theatrics was the major style with Cinema Face, so it was no surprise that comparisons to Saga, Zon, Fire Ballet, Klaatu and Lynx were all thrown about like white plates at a Greek wedding. That debut LP veered toward AOR, it must be said, and was eventually picked up by Pete Burnside in 1994 for reissue on his Pacemaker Records label.

The Songs

That move prompted LaMagna to resurrect the Cinema Face brand once more. The collection of songs on this set 'Face Card' aren't as immediate as the debut 13 years prior. However, I like it quite a lot, though others out there are less convinced.

'Call Again' opens 'Face Card's account, a Saga like affair played in a mid-tempo style. The title track is second up, the sound effects originate from a gambling room it would seem, again the Saga influence shines through, especially those quirky piano lines.

The guitars make themselves prominent on 'Have A Cigar', a cover of Pink Floyd's track from 'Wish You Were Here'. The rock quotient is retained for the stirring 'Had Enough', one of the better tunes here. So too 'Only World' with heavy traces of thick acoustic guitar strumming and multiple harmony vocals a la Starcastle.

'They Got It All' is close to debut era Cinema Face, while I couldn't quite get Balance out of my head when listening to 'Count Me Out'. Was it because of the song-title? ('In For The Count'?). Most likely. LaMagna and co keep the pressure on for the excellent 'Clockwork'. Guitars and synths compete for solo time on this one.

You get to hear the helicopter effects (Aldo Nova anyone?) on 'World Leaders'. Was this inspired by the mad years of Reagan, Bush and Clinton? Maybe, but the Pink Floyd influenced music probably wasn't. 'High On Life' is a racy melodic rocker, not unlike fellow Canucks Goddo at their best.

'Eyes For You' is the album's change-up moment, sounding like an excerpt from the songbook of The Human League and bands of that ilk. Unusual for LaMagna that's for sure. 'Take Me' mixes up some interesting guitar work, tumbling piano lines and theatric elements, the album finishing up with 'Shake It Off', another straight-ahead rocker that has appeal.

In Summary

The album came in both a blue cover and a red one. I'm not sure what the significance of that was. From reading elsewhere on the Net, the album has acquired very few friends over the years. The criticism is unwarranted in my opinion, spend a bit of time with 'Face Card' and get to appreciate what is a solid offering.

Yes, not quite in the same class as the debut, but then (within the framework of pomp rock), what album is? If you are interested, check out LaMagna's solo effort 'Cydonia Mensae', it's all about Mars, intelligent life and.. you get the picture.

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