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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Strange Hobby'
Artist - Arjen Anthony Lucassen

For those not in the know, Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a Dutch progressive metal/rock songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer, best known for his long-running progressive opera project titled Ayreon.

Lucassen started his career in 1980 as the guitarist and backing vocalist of Dutch band Bodine as Iron Anthony, before joining Vengeance in 1984. After eight years he left the band, wanting to go into a more progressive direction, and released two years later an unsuccessful solo album entitled Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy under the nickname Anthony.

In 1995, Lucassen released an album uncredited to any artist called Ayreon: The Final Experiment, in which he sang, wrote every song and played most of the instruments. The album conducted to the creation of successful progressive rock/metal project Ayreon, which established Lucassen as a notable composer of rock operas. [He did it again a year later with Strange Hobby].

Following Ayreon's success, Lucassen has been involved in many other projects: he is the creator, composer and current guitarist/keyboardist of Star One, Guilt Machine, The Gentle Storm, the currently inactive band Ambeon, and the creator and former guitarist of Stream of Passion. He composes and writes most of his songs, but leaves the lyrics to his musical partners in some of his projects.

Digitally remastered and now in a brilliant expanded edition, the aforementioned Strange Hobby has been released once more today. Having previously shied away from saying who the artist was, today it is revealed as being legendary Dutch prog artist Lucassen.

Indeed, Strange Hobby has been out of print for over a decade and is now a much sought-after collectors' item. This brand new expanded edition includes four bonus tracks which have never been made available anywhere until now. Released on Lucassen's very own Aluca Music imprint (the first album to be so), the album features covers of songs that have influenced Lucassen's musical development; mainly from the 1960s. As he did in his solo album Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy, Lucassen makes all the vocals and all the instruments (except drums and synthesizer), and arranged all the songs himself.

1. Arnold Layne
2. Norwegian Wood
3. Pictures of Matchstick Men
4. I Am a Rock
5. Boris the Spider
6. (Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion
7. Sunny Afternoon
8. See Emily Play
9. For No One
10. I Want You
11. Bus Stop
12. Flowers in the Rain
13. The Letter
14. Ride a White Swan
15. Sloop John B
16. Daydream Believer
17. Catch the Wind
18. Ice in the Sun
19. Pretty Girls
20. In the Room of Percussion - Feat. Peter Daltrey
21. Last Train to Clarksville
22. Ruby Tuesday

Covering bands such as The Beatles, The Stones, Status Quo, Pink Floyd, The Kinks, The Who and even The Monkees, the musicianship is, as would be expected, very strong here. This is not a metal album - there's a lot of acoustic guitar and lighter music - and even though they are covers, most all the songs play clear tribute to Lucassen's own personal influences. His vocals are nothing exceptional, sure, I will freely admit that, but he gets the job done; and that's what counts (especially as this was recorded in an era where the technology wasn't what it is today, of course. CD Purchase Link