A lot of people know who Billy Sherwood is nowadays. He is in the “Drama” version of Yes, having replaced the late, great Chris Squire on bass. He also has a band with former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye called Circa: and they released an album not long ago called “Valley of the Windmill.” I really enjoyed that album in addition to Sherwood’s last solo outing “Citizen.”
Sherwood first showed up on my radar when he was tabbed to join YesWest (Squire, Kaye, Alan White and Trevor Rabin) as the replacement for Jon Anderson back in 1990 when Anderson was working on the second ABWH album. Of course this led to the “Union” album and Sherwood didn’t join Yes at that time. It led me to check out the band that Sherwood was part of, World Trade.
World Trade had some definite Yes qualities on their self titled debut which came out in 1989 but they also had a lot of 80s Rush in their sound as well. They weren’t about play a lot of notes and always wrote songs rather than epics. They also weren’t writing fast paced songs either. World Trade resurfaced in 1995 with a second album “Euphoria” which sounded a lot more like the Sherwood/Squire project Conspiracy (which wouldn’t officially surface til 2000) than the first World Trade album.
So now years after that second album and many other projects by Sherwood, World Trade returns with “Unity.” The first thing I noticed is that it sounds very much like what I was hoping “Euphoria” would sound like, an updated version of the first album. They sound like a BAND again versus just another Billy Sherwood album. Having said that, if you aren’t a fan of Sherwood, “Unity” isn’t going to change that!
It’s great to hear the other members contribute to “Unity.” Both keyboadist Guy Allison and guitarist Bruce Gowdy get solos on “Where Were Going.” And original drummer Mark T. Williams is back after missing the last album which is great because he gives these songs a kick in the ass that they need. “Pandora’s Box” would probably drag a bit if not for Williams. This is something Sherwood’s material sometimes does. But with that added power even Sherwood’s bass playing has punch and power. Great solos on this track too.
Another track that I like a lot is “On Target On Time,” because it has a killer groove…not something World Trade has really had before. The descending riff on that song is really cool too. I saw some people bitching about the title track on YouTube. To be honest, I have no idea what these people are listening to. The song has a slight Buggles/Yes Drama vibe to it which considering the other band Sherwood is in, it makes sense. It’s just a fresh sounding track.
The album isn’t perfect, of course. “Same Old Song” does lumber a bit and ironically sounds like something I’ve heard before from both Sherwood and World Trade. Still, it’s not a bad track! The other thing I’ve noticed is how many Dream Theater fans think the artwork is somehow a rip off of “Octavarium.” The thing is the artwork is an homage to their self titled debut which came out as I said in 1989. “Octavarium” came out in 2005. Hugh Syme did BOTH of those. Do some research, kids.
It’s a shame that World Trade really was relegated to being an afterthought by it’s own members. It’s clear they’ve not lost any of their chemistry. “Unity” is not about a ton of notes but rather the right notes played properly at the right time. It’s a smart album and a stand out in Billy Sherwood’s discography.
1. The New Norm
2. Where Were Going
3. Pandoras Box
4. On Target On Time
5. Gone All The Way
7. For The Fallen
8. Life Force
9. Same Old Song
Label: Frontiers Music s.r.l.