'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY ROB FISHER
"The existence of No Spare Planet, the third studio album from collaborators Nikki Squire and Nigel McLaren, is a bitter sweet experience. On the one hand it marks the triumphant return of Esquire nearly twenty years after the release of Coming Home with a recording which is thoroughly captivating and hugely enjoyable. On the other hand it stands as a tragic reminder of and tribute to the unspeakably sad and untimely death of Nigel from a stroke in June 2015.
That the album exists at all is a moving testament to the passionate dedication of Nikki Squire to honouring the highly creative and profoundly inventive musical relationship they shared over the course of 30 years. Although the groundwork for the songs had been in preparation for a few years, the pair had been building momentum in trying to bring it all together for Esquire III. Unfortunately Nigel would never see the project come to completion and Nikki, with the assistance of producer Mark Wallis, was left to complete the album alone.
No Spare Planet is a stirring celebration of progressive music which quite unapologetically embraces a wide and eclectic variety of modern influences. The style may be unconventional and even unorthodox but the willingness to dabble and experiment brings with it a freshness and an immediacy which is a poignant reflection of the imaginative and encompassing vision the two collaborators bring to the album.
Although the songs span a wide spectrum and range of moods, emotions, rhythms and tempos they are, without fail, startlingly bright, instantly accessible and warmly welcoming. There is a joyful exuberance which combines with strong, positive song writing that is not afraid to express or indulge itself in musical flourishes and stylistic extravagances where warranted. It is an album which instantly strikes you as having a beautifully strong yet gently defined sense of purpose and direction which sparkles with vitality and spirit.
Such an impression is reinforced by the richly distinctive and powerfully striking vocals of Nikki Squire. Her voice conveys a remarkable and dynamic range of emotions, thoughts and feelings around which the instrumental work ebbs and flows, rises and falls to create an exciting and often innovative set of soundscapes. Throughout the album these are further enhanced by the creation of uplifting harmonies and delicate melodies, contrasted in one song, Stay Low, by the light innocence of an accompanying children’s choir.
But the voice itself is often used as one texture among many. In places the album draws on styles and influences emerging from keyboard driven electronica and even disco to straddle boundaries in original and ingenious ways to tell stories through the songs that carry simple, direct messages. Human Rhythm is a richly melodic, foot-stomping, body swaying experience with clear echoes of the way the Electric Light Orchestra and bands of the early ’80s used a bedrock of keyboards to drive a bouncing rhythm full of energy and life.
And I think the stories being told on this album are what really lift No Spare Planet above the normal and the ordinary and mark it out as something special. You cannot but be impressed by song writing which is, at times, painfully honest and movingly meaningful. Care and affection have clearly gone in to the construction of songs which carry a simple and effective message, or story, or tale and which do so in ways that are emotional, touching, compelling and forceful. The writing achieves an inventive fusion and potent integration of music and message.
No Spare Planet is a bold, energetic and spirited record which stands as a fitting tribute to a lasting relationship which brims with potent creativity and a burning zeal to make music which was so clearly a labour of love to create as well as being, for us, a delight to hear, experience and enjoy. It is a monument to the irreplaceable loss Nigel McLaren’s passing means for this particular project but also, I believe, a beacon of inspiration for the musical future I sincerely hope Nikki Squire will continue to enjoy and explore. (Rob Fisher, http://theprogressiveaspect.net/, December 2016)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY PATRICK MCAFEE
"One could expect Esquire to sound like the music of Yes (and particularly Chris Squire). One half of this band, Nikki Squire, used to be married to Chris Squire, and they do share some musical reference points. This is more along the lines of AOR music, though. The other half of this act was Nigel McLaren. He passed away in 2015, but is still included here. I'm not sure if Esquire will continue past this album, their third. If not, this will be a great swan song. It's arguably the best disc of the three."
Track by Track Review
Ministry of Life
Some spacey effects open this cut. Then a section join that makes me think of vintage Alan Parsons quite a bit. The song works out from there into a killer AOR rocking number. While that motif holds this for a good chunk of the duration, there is a great shift to a more symphonic prog meets Beatles and Yes mode. There is a cool melodic movement that joins after that.
Some percussive elements open this piece. It grows from there with a cool prog groove taking command of the piece. This has a bit of a folk prog vibe to it. It's say that comparisons to Renaissance aren't out of the question. This rocks out pretty heavily with more of a Yes-ish element at times, though.
There is a lot more of a mainstream pop rock vibe here. Sure, it's still proggy, but this is catchy and the kind of thing one would expect of a hit single. There are definitely hints of old time rock and roll built into this, too.
Here's another that's more in line with mainstream pop rock. There are even some hints of country music in some of the guitar lines. All that said, this definitely has plenty of prog built into it, too. It's another cool cut.
Friends & Enemies
Male vocals on this cut are a nice change. This is a fairly mellow cut, but it's much more of a purely prog thing. In a lot of ways this feels like something Chris Squire would have written. There is also a bit of a Peter Gabriel element to it.
This might be my favorite track here. It's a fairly mainstream prog balladic cut. That said, the powered up sections really soar. This is just so cool. It's evocative and so pretty.
Where Is the Love
A bit more purely prog and less straightforward, this is another killer AOR prog number. I'd put it right up with the previous track. It's such a powerhouse tune. It's definitely another highlight here.
There are more rocking prog elements at work here. This has a good balance between mellower and more energized stuff. I like the guitar soloing on this one a lot. There is definitely a bit of a Yesish angle to some of the music on this thing.
The closer is a slower melodic prog tune. It's that's sung by McLaren. There are some cool shifts and changes. In a lot of ways it feels like Yes meets Peter Gabriel. It's not my favorite tune here, but works well to end the set in style.
(G.W. Hill, http://www.musicstreetjournal.com, January 2017)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY PATRICK MCAFEE
"The news of a new Esquire album is certainly not a usual event. Coming 20 years after their last release, No Spare Planet definitely came as a bit of a surprise.
Formed by Nikki Squire and multi-instrumentalist Nigel McLaren in the early 80s, the band released their much under-appreciated debut in 1987. This was followed up in 1997 by the album, Coming Home. Since then, things have been relatively quiet. Regrettably, the excitement around this new album is somewhat dampened by sadness. It is dedicated not only to Nikki's ex husband, Chris Squire, who passed away in 2015, but also to Nigel McLaren who left us in the same year. This album represents the final recordings that he and Nikki wrote and recorded together. It is certainly a testament to his significant talent.
Ministry of Life opens up the album, and is easily the most progressive piece of music ever released by the duo. Within its eight minute length, the song goes through several twists and turns and prominently features Nikki's unmistakable vocals. In fact, Nikki's voice is one of the most distinctive elements of Esquire. There is a proggy-pop feel to the entire album that mirrors their previous work. In fact, Human Rhythm reminded me a bit of Blossom Time from their debut. Squire and McLaren have a way of celebrating a great pop hook, without sacrificing progressive elements. I will admit to being a sucker for well-written and performed prog/pop, and hearing this new Esquire music was a joy.
That said, the success of the album doesn't rely on nostalgia. Though reminiscent of earlier work, the songwriting and performances on No Spare Planet stand strongly on their own. Tonight is a more straightforward track, but nonetheless memorable. Friends & Enemies provides an opportunity to hear lead vocals from Nigel, which adds a layer of pathos to this excellent track.
It's Over is a sweeping Yes-like number and Where is the Love is a great example of how this duo can take a simple melody and turn it into something that sounds so much bigger. Stay Low is another strong song with a great chorus and great work from Nikki. Heaven Blessed, also sung by Nigel, ends the album in an effective and touching fashion.
On par with their debut, No Spare Planet is an excellent album and an unexpected gift. Standing as a tribute to the extremely talented McLaren, it is also proof that we need to hear more from Nikki Squire. Twenty years is too long of a gap between recordings. If you love accessible progressive music, you can't go wrong with this album. A welcome surprise and a truly entertaining listen. 9/10 (Patrick McAfee, http://www.dprp.net/, January 2017)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY zachary nathanson
"Formed in 1982, Esquire have released two studio albums from 1987 to 1997 with the sole self-titled debut and Coming Home. Last year, they have released their third and final album entitled, No Spare Planet. It features nine unreleased material that Nikki Squire (Chris Squire's first wife) and Nigel McLaren’s composition that were completed before Nigel’s passing in 2015 just as they were getting ready to mix and master the album.
This completes the Esquire trilogy and making the duo come in full circle. It’s Nigel’s swansong and saying goodbye as the music is a cross between art, symphonic, new wave, and progressive style of music. Now I’m very new to the band’s music. And listening to their last album, for me, it is an emotional farewell to say goodbye and the legacy of Esquire will live forever.
And five highlights on the album will bring the listener to be prepare to have the Kleenex box in toe. It’s again one of the most emotional and powerful goodbye’s I’ve listened to from beginning to the very end. Ministry of Life kicks things off. The composition is done in three movements as the piece changes through the passages of time.
It is an excellent introduction to start the album as it brings to mind between the harmonizing vocals of the Beatles and Nikki’s voice resembles the style of early Annie Lennox and she can sing amazingly well while the ‘80s New Wave of the Pop scene comes into the foreplay of Human Rhythm followed by a touch of the Momentary Lapse of Reason-era of Pink Floyd and elements of Freddie Mercury’s solo work by dealing with the chance to go back and rewrite history and Stay Low.
Nigel McLaren's vocals, gives a final warmth and knowing that the angels are waiting for him to give his final bow. The two tracks in which he sings on the album; Friends and Enemies and Heaven Blessed, puts the toes into the water of Peter Gabriel’s solo work letting listeners know that it is time to go. The opening of the gates of heaven, is showing the circle now is in full. And No Spare Planet is a remarkable farewell. (Zachary Nathanson, http://zacharynathanson.blogspot.co.uk, January 2017)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY CHRONIQUE
FRENCH CANADIAN REVIEW - TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH
"At the outset, I must admit that I did not know this English duo. So I did my homework which led me to these results. The group was formed in the early 1980s by the first wife of Chris Squire, Nikki, and her accomplice Nigel Mclaren and Esquire offers us it's third album, "No Spare Planet". After Nigel Mclaren died suddenly in 2015, Nikki Squire finalised the album by publishing it as a tribute to her sidekick. It took almost 20 years to see happen the third part of this trilogy, whose starting point is located in the 1980s. Indeed, Nikki Squire is at the origin of this project that has its roots in 1982 and the first album in 1987.
With what we now know about Nikki Squire we are not surprised to learn that the first album of the duo had close roots to those of Yes. It is true that several members of the legendary band were there in support. The second album is in a classic style, and with the years we have a more modern version. The line-up is completed by Lisa Larue (drums), John Baker (guitar), Robbie Blunt (guitars). The opening provides us with 'Ministry of Life', its progressive side that charmed me on the field, the heavenly voice of Nikki Squire is simply brilliant with a really catchy and varied melody that is crowned by the magnificent choirs. The rest of the album will wander in different worlds whose common point is accessibility at all times. Thus, the flute notes introducing 'She Said' will remind us of a style close to Steve Hackett, while 'Human Rhythm' has a penchant new-wave pop, evoking Propaganda. For their part, 'Friends & Enemies' and more 'Blessed Heaven' take us to the sounds of Peter Gabriel. As for the children's choirs of "Stay Low", they remind us Iluvatar on the album "Children".
This collection of songs is rather pleasant to listen to, besides this album to play repeatedly in my player and I took great pleasure. Despite pieces of periods not exceeding five minutes, except for 'Ministry of Life', the listener will find a great satisfaction. "No Spare Planet" does not revolutionise music, he did just what to do, give the listener a pleasure to renew. (Chronique, http://www.profilprog.com, January 2017)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY THANOS
GREEK REVIEW - TRANSLATED FROM GREEK
"Esquire, for those who are not aware, is the band which was formed by Nikki Squire (vocals), the first wife of Chris Squire from Yes, and Nigel McLaren (bass) in the early 80s. This is the third studio album, which comes almost 2 decades after the previous one and the band’s last album since Nigel’s untimely passing in 2015. This is the last time that Nikki and Nigel worked together and that’s the sad side of Esquire’s new release.
I’m sure that those who have heard of the band before would be kinda skeptical over this release and over its music quality, but I should say that 'No Spare Planet' is very well-crafted and well-produced album on the whole. Nikki’s vocals sound wonderful, as always and the production is clear & lush. Musically, the album borrows elements from the two previous releases and there’s a fine blending among pop/rock, pop, modern rock & atmospheric music. Some prog touches here & there had always been a part of the band’s music and so they are today.
In truth to be told, there couldn’t have been a better tribute to Nigel’s memory than the release of this album, which completes the Esquire trilogy once and for all. Those who used to own the band’s previous releases will revel in 'No Spare Planet' for sure. As for the others, who haven’t heard of Esquire till today, it’s never too late to "discover” a band that is worth both your time & money… (Thanos, http://www.grande-rock.com, January 2017)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY SARJOO DEVANI
"No Spare Planet" is the latest album from Esquire, an album of epic proportions and carefully crafted progressive rock at its best.
Mind you, I’ve listened to this CD two times, and it is still growing on me, as it is not an easy listen due to the various modern songwriting elements and the breaking of boundaries, with Nikki Squire’s unique singing.
Music-wise, there are strong elements of progressive rock infused in with some darker moments here, from the lyrics, which can be heard on the track “Friends And Enemies”. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriting partner Nigel Mclaren does a fantastic job of bringing the songs to life on this album. Unfortunately, Nigel passed away in 2015, and as a result this album is a tribute to him.
There are plenty of Yes and Genesis influences here, and these influence mixed along with the varied musical nuances created by Esquire III makes for an interesting listening journey here. There are no upbeat songs to be found on this release, as most of their songs are mellow, laidback and very positive in energy. Nikki’s singing seamlessly fits in with the catchy song arrangements here, kind of reminding of Jon Anderson and Yes throughout this nine-song affair. There are some really well written and catchy choruses on the song “It’s Over”, which is sure to bring tears of sadness to your eyes, especially with Nikki’s diverse vocal delivery. Her range is very dynamic, and never leaves you feeling blue, as it is very uplifting to a great degree. I love the hopefulness and joy of happiness also found in her singing, as this aspect definitely reaches out and grabs your attention.
I can go on and on about cool and challenging of a listen “No Spare Planet” is, but it only does justice listening to this musically and vocally interesting album. (Sarjoo Devani, http://www.explicitlyintense.com, December 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY THirionet phillipe
BELGIAN REVIEW - TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH
"It took almost 20 years to see happen the third part of this trilogy, whose starting point is located in the 80s Indeed Nikki Squire the first wife of the famous Chris Squire (Yes), so is the behind this project that has its roots in 1982 to produce the first phase in 1987. Second discography efforts in 1997 with an accomplice still Nigel McLaren, who will still be the party for this third instalment whose records fall in 2015 before his disappearance.
The concept Esquire III part therefore on very close bases of the great Yes, especially since the first album several members of the legendary group are present to help finish the CD. This is followed by a second, more classic, opus, to come later to a more modern, more symphonic and more sophisticated design. For the line-up, there are of course Nikki Squire (vocals) and Nigel McLaren (bass) with guests John Baker (guitars), Lisa LaRue (drums) and Robbie Blunt (guitars). A symphonic rock, a specific vocals and a bass omnipresent, make an entry noted from the first piece, with also the sense of detail for the choruses and the guitars. It is therefore a very elaborate progressive music that colours the debut album, obviously closer to the great compositions of Yes.
We continue our progressive journey where even folk elements make an appearance, always carrying this voice so characteristic that offers a melodic side and slightly melancholy. Music sprinkled here and there hints from the seventies, which still keeps a modern side also recalling bands like Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac. Modern I was saying with rhythmics closer to electro-rock, which always associates with a rock-progressive pulling on pop-music. The whole constituting something good and fun to follow, we continue our way through a construction close to what the group of Chris Squire was doing.
Singing and choirs work remain important, to accompany a complex and varied orchestration where the result oscillates between nostalgia for the seventies and look to the future with this side of both symphonic and modern that would not refuse Alan Parsons . Let us add that Nikki and Nigel venture through various musical currents, in order to produce a multi-faceted music, which is always avant-garde. People who liked Yes or Alan Parsons Project will need to stop on this album, because it offers a digest of symphonic and progressive rock, which is associated with a variety of interesting sound research. (Thirionet Phillipe, http://www.musicinbelgium.net, December 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY jerry lucky
"I must admit to being a fan of the music of Esquire from the moment I heard their first album back in 1987. There wasn’t much Progressive Rock influenced music out at the time so I was happy to come across the band’s first album. It took ten years for them to produce a follow-up and now virtually twenty years to produce their third entitled appropriately, Esquire III – No Spare Planet.
This is of course the music of multi-instrumentalist Nigel McLaren and Nikki Squire, Chris Squire’s first wife. Without being disrespectful the music of Esquire is what I would consider more Art Rock or perhaps Prog-Lite. The album starts off with the longest track, “Ministry of Life” [8:08] made up of three distinct movements, it is without question the most proggy of the batch but even with the shorter songs, the rest all being in the four minute range there are plenty of interesting musical change-ups. This is music that is mostly major key, melodic and song-oriented that would likely have immediate appeal to fans of bands such as 10cc and Barclay James Harvest. Many of these songs feel a lot like the music Genesis created in their last years. Catchy, hummable compositions with more than a few proggy embellishments sprinkled about that hold up well with repeated listening. In fact it could be argued they get better the more time you spend with them.
It is McLaren who handles all the instrument performance and adds vocals to a couple songs, while Squire takes the lead and harmony vocals. The album is dedicated to the memory of Nigel McLaren who passed away in 2015 after having written these tunes. They were the last songs Squire and McLaren wrote together and are a fine legacy for the band’s career. Even after all these years I really enjoy the music of Esquire. Nikki Squire has a unique voice that brings back many memories and the musical composition and performance are first rate. This is a fine example of Art Rock music and I recommend it to fans of the genre. (Jerry Lucky, http://www.jerrylucky.com/, December 2016)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY Thoralf Koss
TRANSLATED FROM GERMAN
""No Spare Planet" is the last Esquire album, which will be available in this lineup and made a sad occasion as was equal to a memory album. On the first page of the 16-page booklet, with all the texts, the words of Nikki Squire welcome: "In memory of Nigel Mclaren - my fellow musician, bass player, musical influence and best friend closed on Sunday, June 7, 2015, forever his eyes. These pieces are the last we wrote together. This album is a memory of him and our journey together.
Sometimes - or even quite often - "No Spare Planet" gives the impression that the Eurythmics decided to record an album, which, in addition to its sophisticated indie pop melodies, is also to be missed by progressive sound structures. And somehow the title "No Spare Planet" fits well.
But if someone now believes that Nikki Squire was the first wife of Chris Squire, who was also the only constant of Yes, to die in 2015, that this album sounds like Yes, he is mistaken, even if "Tonight" has unmistakable similarities, this remains the exception. Rather the solo recordings of a Jon Anderson come to mind while listening, because the song of Nigel McLaren shows great Anderson similarities.
However, it is already fatal when one considers the fate of Nikki Squire in June 2015. First, her bassist and partner dies on 7 June and then her bassist and ex-husband 20 days later on 27 June. Perhaps that's why this album sounds quite calm and melancholic in many places - and goes right to heart. "Friends And Enemies" is the very best example of this: "I've had friends / I've had enemies / I've felt love / And tasted hate / Warming of something unknown. "
For a long time it took until after the debut album "Esquire" in 1987, the strong New Wave covers what those songs with radio airplay as "To The Rescue" and "Sunshine" were best example, but at the same time recognize significantly more Yes influences made - perhaps because even Chris Squire active on the album was still involved with - and the music similarly oriented 94er "Coming Home" 24 years later this surprising third Esquire is heard. And as sad as this life symbol may sound in the already mentioned background, it has also become a very impressive one, which, however, will probably not appeal to friends of the more complex prog rock music, but everyone who likes the melancholy, fine-woven rock melodies of Jon Anderson, will be delighted with the very well-produced and emotionally profound "No Spare Planet", on the all-round successful, feminine, masculine And sentence vocals, not only to heart-loving lyrics, but also in the varied moods of excellence, and in fact always parallels to the exceptionalist Annie Lennox or even later (more pop-oriented) Yes works.
With "Stay Low" at the same time maintains the most beautiful Esquire ballad their entire era upon us, what is not only due to the additional children's choir, but especially to the excellent text - a blatant attack against the world of adults that the children To teach their methods of education primarily to lie and adapt, and thus to function in their sense. Yes, they make them "small". A beautiful song in which one not only indulges, but also one should listen to exactly.
With the last song of the album "Heaven Blessed", sung, composed, edited and played by the recently deceased Nigel McLaren, you actually believe you have been lost in a solo album by Peter Gabrial. Also or just such a sense makes a loss of this great musician even more for Esquire aware: "Heaven blessed - You must Be ..."
Sometimes it is worth waiting for an album that seems completely unexpected. Especially when the background for this is very sad because of the musicians, the instrumental "No Spare Planet" by Esquire was involved, is no longer alive. A moving, a beautiful and musically very successful piece of passionate and sad music that accompanies Nigel McLaren on his way to the musician heaven between indie pop and melodic prog. His musical testament and tribute both to Esquire and musical partner in Nikki Squire! (Thoralf Koss, http://musikreviews.de, December 2016)"
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY Tony B
TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH
Group formed in the early 80s by the first wife of Chris Squire, Nikki, and his accomplice Nigel McLaren, Esquire offers us in this year 2016 its third album, "No Spare Planet". Bassist being who died suddenly in 2015, Nikki Squire finalised solo work started several years ago by publishing it as a tribute to her sidekick.
Wishing to get closer to a modern progressive rock, Esquire began this cake in the best possible way, with 'Ministry of Life' which, from a height of eight minutes held different atmospheres, with worked melodies and choruses reminiscent of The Beatles, the careful arrangements mixing sounds of various keyboards, some passages in Genesis period "and Then They Were Three", and several familiar plans ears. Everything is perfectly directed and starring the high-pitched voice of Nikki Squire giving a special touch to the whole.
After such starts, following the album will wander in different worlds whose common point is accessibility at all times.Thus the flute notes introducing 'She Said' convene a world HACKETT while 'Human Rhythm' has a beautiful tilt pop new-wave, evoking Propaganda. For their part, 'Friends & Enemies' and more 'Heaven Blessed' take us to land on a Peter Gabriel, the Nigel McLaren timbre approximates closely to that of the archangel. As for children's choirs 'Stay Low', they think of irreversibly Iluvatar on the album "Children".
This collection of songs is rather pleasant, and we can just blame here and there a few repetitions, although pieces of periods not exceeding 5 minutes. If the first albums of the group approached the universe of YES , the presence among others of Chris Squire and Alan White are being probably not unrelated, this new delivery is completely detached and has a special sensitivity to listening.Nothing revolutionary musically speaking, but a nice cake to classify between symphonic progressive pop and neo-progressive, listening in one go for a good time relaxing. (Tony B, http://www.musicwaves.fr, December 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - No Spare Planet' // REVIEW BY Iacopo Mezzano
TRANSLATED FROM ITALIAN
The music tells us every day of fantastic stories: some joyful, some sad, but all linked by the one thread of human passion. The story that lies behind the genesis of this third album of Esquire, entitled 'No Spare Planet' and the first after two decades of silence, tells of an unbreakable bond between two individuals, that is beyond life and death.
In fact, you have to know that this platter collects and combines the last fragments written together by Nikki Squire, the first wife of Chris Squire of Yes, and her collaborator (and faithful friend) Nigel McLaren, who died suddenly in 2015, just during the construction of this final chapter of a musical trilogy that began in 1987. A devastating loss, which does not, however, remove the force of Nikki Squire to end what her companion would have liked her to produce, by using the invaluable help of Mark Wallis in the unique construction of many audio and vocal stems that had been put together in the form of demos by the two friends over recent years.
Thus a full album was able to see the light, which is of course entirely dedicated to the memory of McLaren puts an end to this long-lived American prog rock project. Giving a final product with a unique and sophisticated sound, which overcomes the traditional barriers of music and draw up a new form of progressive rock that is varied, accessible, and modern. Bringing together melodic rock, pop music, atmospheric music, rock and more.
A journey that has the emotion at the centre, feelings and impulses of the heart. The beautiful voice of Squire moves between melodic textures magnificently and is airy and full of feeling while her partner McLaren revives note by note in his artistic genius and composition. You will find his energetic voice in two of these nine songs which gives us the feeling that he is still here with us today. And inevitably he fills our eyes with tears.
So, for this reason, I want to avoid the usual analysis track by track on the disc: to tell you to listen to it in one go, from beginning to end, is to savour it's true essence. It will be a magical journey, unique and unrepeatable.
No Spare Planet is the best tribute Nikki Squire could give to to her friend - and collaborator - who is now disappeared. It is an album through and through in their own way, as the ultimate ground beat of great music they create. Moving. 8/10 (Iacopo Mezzani, http://www.melodicrock.it, December 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY fenton barnes
As the name suggests this is the third album from Esquire which is the band formed by Nikki Squire, the first wife of Chris Squire from Yes. You can’t really call her prolific, as the debut came out in 1983, the follow up appeared in 1997 and it’s taken nineteen years for the third album to make an appearance.
Ms Esquire has some form in the prog world having sung on Chris Squire’s 1981 single “Run Like a Fox” and his 1975 solo album ‘Fish Out of Water’, and she sticks to the tried and trusted melodic prog template here.
In some ways it’s a sad release as her collaborator on this record, Nigel McLaren, passed away last year but the music here serves him well as a testament to his abilities. Songs like 'Ministry of Life' and 'Human Rhythm' show that Nikki isn’t resting on other peoples laurels but has a talent that should have been more visible over years. Fans of melodic prog should pay attention to what’s going on here as it’s certainly worth it. (Fenton Barnes, http://www.the-rocker.co.uk, November 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY mwr
Here's the last hit off the bong from these dark prog rockers with a connection to Yes and grand children to boot. Genre fans have a final slice of real deal on their hands here from this duo that could have taught emo screamers a thing or two on how to show the pain and take it to the dark side. Having been around so many chops, these two knew how to raise the roof throughout. Genre fans, check it out!! (MWR, http://www.midwestrecord.com, November 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY anne carlini
In case you were wondering, Esquire is a London based rock band formed by Nikki Squire, the ex-wife of Chris Squire from Yes, and debuted on the Geffen label. The band then followed up with a second album in 1997 called Coming Home and this brand new album, No Spare Planet finally completes the Esquire trilogy.
The band (and, let's be honest, that's a rather brilliant name for a band thereafter from the ex Squire!) has championed a unique and sophisticated sound and they straddled traditional music boundaries and essentially unleashed an innovative style of progressive rock that was varied, accessible and modern.
An Esquire album is an event, a rare occasion when fans receive new music and this, Esquire III comes two decades after the last album and brings the band right up to date.
Having now listened to both the first two albums, you can tell from the lyrics that Squire was definitely soul-searching, as she is here again on the end-of-trilogy album No Spare Planet. From what I can garner through the years, she wanted to write and sing her own songs, but didn't, at the time, know how that could happen. She needed other players to work with, but with all the people she knew already more than established, that meant their work schedules were booked.
Listening to this third album, it seems Squire is more happier in her own skin, not replying on others that might have been able to help her, should their schedules open up. The first track is the transcendent "Ministry of Life" and that's backed by the more pop-like "She Said", the Annie Lennoxesque 'Human Rhythm', the smooth vibe of 'Tonight' and the gentle Peter Gabrielesque 'Friends & Enemies'.
In truth, listening to this new album there is still something magical and mysterious about Esquire. However, given that this third studio album is a collection of the last songs that Squire wrote with her long term collaborator, co-writer, bass player and best friend Nigel McLaren (who sadly passed away on Sunday 7th June 2015), the spiritual undercurrent might just be what is propelling it also.
The soaring 'It's Over' is next, and that's backed by the eclectic 'Where Is the Love', before the album wraps up with the beautiful 'Stay Low', and then finally the stunning, and best track on the album, 'Heaven Blessed'.
In conclusion, No Spare Planet is just as good as you had hoped it would be. Combining a unique and sophisticated sound, straddling traditional music boundaries and essentially unleashing an innovative style of modern day prog rock, Esquire are as good today as your memory deems to remind you back when they released their self-titled album in 1987. (Anne Carlini, http://annecarlini.com, November 2016)
'ESQUIRE III - NO SPARE PLANET' // REVIEW BY preston frazier
Yes co-founder and leading-light Chris Squire left an undisputed musical legacy with his untimely passing in 2015. There were already two bands playing his music on tour – Yes, and Anderson Rabin Wakeman – while hand-picked replacement Billy Sherwood also recently played songs co-written with Squire.
Now comes the release of "Ministry of Life" from Esquire – the band Nikki Squire, Chris’ first wife, formed back in 1983. Though Nikki Squire sung on Chris Squire’s 1981 single “Run Like a Fox” and his stellar 1975 solo album Fish Out of Water, she is in no way resting on her laurels or her ex-husband’s name. As the title of the album suggests, Esquire III: No Spare Planet is the band’s third album – and it finds them in fine prog form.
“Ministry of Life,” the lead single from Esquire III, incorporates a probing rhythm and prominent bass and drum, with Nikki Squire’s unique, ethereal approach with the lyric. Written with the band’s late co-founder Nigel McLaren, the song utilizes contemporary and analog synthesizer sounds, intertwined with a tight backbeat to support Squire’s vocals.
A mid-song modulation provides a captivating progressive element, which is then buoyed by tasty guitar and bass interplay. Additionally, the harmony vocals at the middle bridge on “Ministry of Life” strongly hint at the classic Chris Squire/Jon Anderson interplay.
Lyrically, the track is spry and optimistic. At more than eight minutes, it’s a fine progressive rock song that seems shorter than its running time suggests. “Ministry of Life” is an excellent preface for what’s coming on Esquire III: No Spare Planet. Stay tuned… (Preston Frazier, http://somethingelsereviews.com, November 2016)