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Thread: Arena - Recommendations

  1. #1
    Member yesman1955's Avatar
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    Arena - Recommendations

    I have been on a John Mitchell kick lately: listening to Frost*, It Bites, Lonely Robot, Kino. I have not had a chance to try any Arena. They have at least 12 studio albums listed. Where would you think is a good place to start? Thanks in advance. 🎸🔊👍

  2. #2
    "Songs from the Lion's Cage" was one of the albums that started me on my prog journey years ago. It's good, but mostly nostalgia at this point. My fav's are "Immortal" and "Contagion" (especially the double album rerelease that had the two related EP's).

  3. #3
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Don't miss the first three:

    Songs from the Lion's Cage (1995)
    Pride (1996)
    The Visitor (1998)

  4. #4
    Member rickawakeman's Avatar
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    Start at the beginning with Songs from the Lion's Cage. A heavy neo classic.

  5. #5
    For me The Visitor is the best and most proggish. Btw, if you are to get it, there is a remastered version of it from 2018, that comes with a bonus (acoustic/live) disc.

    https://www.discogs.com/Arena-The-Vi...lease/11627319
    "Confusion Will Be My Epitaph"

  6. #6
    Songs from the Lion's Cage is the only one I've ever really gotten heavily into, *but* it doesn't feature John Mitchell, who doesn't join until The Visitor

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    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pbd999 View Post
    "Songs from the Lion's Cage" was one of the albums that started me on my prog journey years ago. It's good, but mostly nostalgia at this point. My fav's are "Immortal" and "Contagion" (especially the double album rerelease that had the two related EP's).
    Songs from the Lions' Cage is literally the only album I was ever able to fully enjoy. I've tried four others since then and none of them have done it for me. "Solomon" is a particular favorite that I repeat often.
    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

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    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpt3 View Post
    Songs from the Lion's Cage is the only one I've ever really gotten heavily into, *but* it doesn't feature John Mitchell, who doesn't join until The Visitor
    He joined them live before that album though. You can grab the 1997 live album Welcome To The Stage, which is all material from the first two albums featuring Mitchell, including the epics like Solomon and Sirens. It's long out of print, but easy to find.
    Interviewer of reprobate ne'er-do-well musicians of the long-haired rock n' roll persuasion at: www.velvetthunder.co.uk

  9. #9
    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    Arena just honestly isn't "Mitchell-ish," which may or may not be a selling point. His guitar-playing is immaculate, but it feels like he's sublimating his own personality for Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer's vision of the band. And honestly, their brand of pomp art-rock isn't bad, it just always seems to miss the mark for me.
    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

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    I find it interesting that so many people are recommending “Songs From The Lions” cage when Mitchel was not even in the band. Although I really like those first two albums they are more in the retro-prog direction and sound a lot like early Marillion. Not that that is a bad thing, but I think Arena really found their sound after Mitchel joined with “The Visitor” album in 98. “Immortal?”, “Contagion” and “Peppers Ghost” are all favorites of mine as well. Really, their whole catalogue is very solid, but if I had to pick their best album I would probably go with “Contagion”.

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    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    “Immortal?”, “Contagion” and “Peppers Ghost” are all favorites of mine as well. Really, their whole catalogue is very solid, but if I had to pick their best album I would probably go with “Contagion”.
    Immortal? is one of the best IMO. Worth it for Moviedrome alone, which might be even better live on the Breakfast In Biarritz 2-CD set (another I'd recommend to the OP). I think their best run of albums is from the debut through to Pepper's Ghost.
    Interviewer of reprobate ne'er-do-well musicians of the long-haired rock n' roll persuasion at: www.velvetthunder.co.uk

  12. #12
    Member doh's Avatar
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    Contagion is a perfect album in my opinion, although it's not a hugely popular opinion.

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    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpt3 View Post
    Songs from the Lion's Cage is the only one I've ever really gotten heavily into, *but* it doesn't feature John Mitchell, who doesn't join until The Visitor
    I didn't realize or forgot that John Mitchel went that far back with them. I just pulled out the remastered CD, and saw the photo on the 2nd "page" of the digipak and saw him there. So young! (Can he talk? Can he talk!*)

    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasKDye View Post
    Songs from the Lions' Cage is literally the only album I was ever able to fully enjoy. I've tried four others since then and none of them have done it for me. "Solomon" is a particular favorite that I repeat often.
    "Solomon" is one of the very few prog songs my wife likes!

    *Monty Python reference.
    "Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart...not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!"

  14. #14
    Smoke and Mirrors and Caught in the Act. I like Arena in an arena, live on DVD.

  15. #15
    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JKL2000 View Post
    I didn't realize or forgot that John Mitchel went that far back with them. I just pulled out the remastered CD, and saw the photo on the 2nd "page" of the digipak and saw him there. So young! (Can he talk? Can he talk!*)
    Of course he can talk, he's the Minister for Progressive Rock Development.
    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

  16. #16
    Member yesman1955's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone! I tried "Songs from the Lion's Cage" last night on Youtube and it not click for me yet. Will try "The Visitor" next & see how it goes. Any opinions about the more recent albums?

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    Member jarmsuh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yesman1955 View Post
    Thanks everyone! I tried "Songs from the Lion's Cage" last night on Youtube and it not click for me yet. Will try "The Visitor" next & see how it goes. Any opinions about the more recent albums?
    The more recent albums are slightly heavier with more concise songs, which is not a bad thing, but I prefer their older stuff, I'm surprised that you don't enjoy the first one, if you don't enjoy Visitor or Contagion, you may want to listen to something else.

  18. #18
    Insect Overlord Progatron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasKDye View Post
    Of course he can talk, he's the Minister for Progressive Rock Development.
    Do you like your rattle? DO YOU LIKE YOUR LITTLE RATTLE-WATTLE?

    Quote Originally Posted by yesman1955 View Post
    Thanks everyone! I tried "Songs from the Lion's Cage" last night on Youtube and it not click for me yet. Will try "The Visitor" next & see how it goes. Any opinions about the more recent albums?
    I'd recommend you try Moviedrome from the Immortal? album and maybe Bedlam Fayre from Pepper's Ghost, these could be more your speed. After that, things take a blander, more prog-metallish path. Okay music, but less special. Could be any number of bands.
    Interviewer of reprobate ne'er-do-well musicians of the long-haired rock n' roll persuasion at: www.velvetthunder.co.uk

  19. #19
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    I find it interesting that so many people are recommending “Songs From The Lions” cage when [Mitchell] was not even in the band. Although I really like those first two albums they are more in the retro-prog direction and sound a lot like early Marillion. Not that that is a bad thing, but I think Arena really found their sound after Mitchel joined with “The Visitor” album in 98. “Immortal?”, “Contagion” and “Peppers Ghost” are all favorites of mine as well. Really, their whole catalogue is very solid, but if I had to pick their best album I would probably go with “Contagion”.
    I hear you, but I can't not recommend the first two albums.

    Yeah, they're unabashedly derivative (of a sound that was already derivative), but the music's so well-executed, not to mention rockin'! Top-shelf neo-prog.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dropforge View Post
    I hear you, but I can't not recommend the first two albums.

    Yeah, they're unabashedly derivative (of a sound that was already derivative), but the music's so well-executed, not to mention rockin'! Top-shelf neo-prog.
    I agree, they are both great in their own way, but the original poster specifically mentioned Mitchell. "Contagion" is still my favorite, but "Lions Cage" and "Pride" are both fantastic albums too.

  21. #21
    Member dropforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveSly View Post
    I agree, they are both great in their own way, but the original poster specifically mentioned Mitchell. "Contagion" is still my favorite, but "Lions Cage" and "Pride" are both fantastic albums too.
    I know, but better to get it over with and tell him to get the others.

  22. #22
    Immortal & Contagian. Some of Mitchell's best work on those! Spine tingling in places!
    If it's still available get the 2CD expanded edition of Contagian that pieced together the music meant for the concept but initially only released on the singles.

  23. #23
    Member yesman1955's Avatar
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    Have been listening/streaming Immortal lately and liking it! Moviedrone is epic prog for sure. Trying to find Contagion next. My job is keeping me busy lately, hard to get on here and post feedback. Will try to do better. 👍

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