Magna Carta
Release Date: April 4, 2006

User Review
1.5/10 (1 vote)

The Magna Carta label is back with another offering in their Prime Cuts series. The series spotlights the works of one of the label’s highly active musicians. This time out they are offering a selection of Robert Berry’s finest works on Robert Berry: Prime Cuts.

Robert is well known in the Bay Area in the States perhaps for his most famous accomplishment being his role in “3,” a band formed with ELP’s Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer in the late 80s. Berry isn’t one to crave the spotlight as some of his greatest achievements are “behind the scenes” as an award winning Producer along with composing, arranging, and performing with Progressive music artists.

This release features ten tracks from Berry’s catalogue, with most being “tribute” cuts. A few of the cuts feature performances by some, perhaps, more well known musicians in Stu Hamm, Steve Howe, Mike Mangini, Vinnie Moore, Michael Mullen, Simon Phillips, Jordan Rudess, Lief Sorbye, and Mark Wood. These performances won’t be the deciding factor to purchase this release, though, as their performances are mostly in a supporting role and are perfectly blended with the cornucopia of musical sounds and landscapes orchestrated by Berry. So much so, that the average listener won’t even be aware of these ancillary musician’s involvement.

This release should appeal mostly to Classic Rock and/or Classic Progressive Rock fans, as selected cuts pay tribute to such greats as Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Genesis, ELP, and Rush (plus a few Berry originals, one {“Life Beyond LA”} is being released here for the first time for the avid fan). For a compilation CD, the Production is very even from start to finish. This just articulates what can best be described as Berry’s passion for being precise and artistic in the Production room. Berry handles vocals throughout commendably, in his own straight-Rock sort of way, on all tracks as well as the various “instrumentation.”

Where this release really shines is in the fact that the selected “tribute” tracks are actually infused with new life by Berry and accompanying band mates. Cuts like “Roundabout” and “Minstrel In the Gallery” seem imbued with uplifting Progressive and Jazz feels to them, along with a nice, clean bottom-end applied. The tracks really do stand out as crisp, clean, and clear … sounding remarkably polished and refreshing.

Robert Berry: Prime Cuts serves as a nice introduction to an otherwise little known musician. Listeners will be treated to some exhilarating renditions of a few classics, while marveling at Berry’s Production finesse. Hopefully, this is enough to propel him into a new solo CD of all original material. One of the highest compliments that can be conveyed from an audience to a performing artist is the term “Bravo!” — and this one should be accompanied by a standing ovation as well!


  • Scott Jeslis

    Scott is one of the partners at Metal Express Radio. He handles a lot of Metal Express Radio's public relations, screening of new music and radio scheduling. On occasion, he also does reviews and interviews. He has been a proud member of the Metal Express Radio crew since 2004.

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