Shit - Hot Reviews of "Make Mine a Lobster"

damusic.be (Holland) November 2011 Review by Christoph Lintermans (translated)

The quintet from Essex-based Exhibit A goes a long way back - to 1986. With previous albums in '90 and '94 the band have been dormant for some years, but finally with ' Make Mine A Lobster' the long wait is rewarded.
On this third album is a nice marriage between the sophisticated and unmistakable popappeal of prog. Do not expect epics, this is song oriented. Central is the sense of melody, a pleasant narrative personified by David Foss. With such a voice timbre do not scare women away.

Okay, not every chorus is as strong, but it's what's going on around, that things really interesting. For here great class radiated. The bass lines of Steve Watts is an example of musical intelligence. Drummer Paul Caswell feels good when and how the holes must be filled - or not. Nick Hampson is a mint soloist.

Women and pop and rock fans put off by that prog can find 'Make Mine A Lobster " is a stepping stone into the genre. For the next album the band would benefit from a producer - given the potential they can then finally make the big breakthrough.

Because of the success with critics and audiences they also bring you their debut 'A Different Dimension "in a remastered version again. Visit www.exhibita.org.uk. You get the three albums, moreover, for a mere 13 pounds "to celebrate the Royal Wedding" by William and Kate. The lobster was then certainly on the menu.

'Make Mine A Lobster "by Exhibit A appears in-house.

Live Prog (Holland) October 2011 Review by Marcel Haster
Here's an interesting video review by Marcel Haster from Live Prog - and free advertising and modelling of one of our extensive range of tee shirts, which I can assure you was not used to bribe the reviewer in any way at all. Honest.

www.Silhobbit.com (UK) October 2011 Review by Charlie O'Mara
Essex based Exhibit A have released something like three albums in 27 years which makes them not quite the most prolific band on the universe. Which is probably a shame as their latest release, the quirkily titled Make Mine A Lobster has a great 80s pub-Prog throwback feel, that will leave fans of early Jadis, Final Conflict, Grey Lady Down and the like digging out their old albums, and sniffling along with nostalgia!

The nine tracks here fairly pulse along in their energetic and uncomplicated way, none of them overstaying their welcome. Standout tracks are First To Last, Wake Up To Reality and the slower Missing Years.

If this was the 80s still, Exhibit A would be one of the main bands on the scene. And as this sort of music is always better heard live, I just hope there's still a scene for them out there.

The album can, and should, be bought through their website at www.exhibita.org.uk, or as a download from iTunes, Amazon and play.com. Go on, it's only £7.50!

 

Rock Report - the magazine of the Classic Rock Society (UK) October 2011
These chaps have apparently been around since 1984, although this is only their third CD since ‘Out There’ 17 years ago. On the whole, I’d put them in the Also Eden/Final Conflict bracket, as it’s good stuff and deserving of greater public awareness than it will probably get.  David Foss’ strong and charismatic vocals put you in mind of Gary Chandler mixed with Mark Hollis’s or Andy Bell’s (Erasure) tremolo.  Musically, they have elements that remind me of Jadis and earlier Talk Talk as well as the aforementioned bands.   It’s not particularly innovative, but it is wholesome fare with all-round brit-prog goodness, filled with plenty of accomplished keyboard and guitar interaction.  Like the recently surfaced Comedy of Errors in some ways, I don’t know where these chaps have been, but I hope they don’t take as long over their next album!  DP 

Classic Rock Presents Prog (UK) Issue 16 - April 2011 Review by Dave Ling
'The title of this album might sound pretentious, but Exhibit A don’t take themselves or the expectations of a genre that’s perceived as being way too stuffy, very seriously. As well as displaying an admirable self-mocking trait the Essex-based five-piece create sounds that sit outside the strictly-defined boundaries of neo-prog. Their songs are airy and light, built upon sprightly, accessible, pop-infused choruses. However, the band are first-class musicians and there are enough alternating time signatures to satisfy all those with unusually discerning palettes.

Exhibit A freely offer latter-day Genesis, Talk Talk, Spock’s Beard and Marillion as their prime influences, though past reviewers have thrown such curveballs as Duran Duran, Brian Eno and David Bowie. Personally, I hear It Bites and even some Saga in there too, which is no bad thing.
A bit of a slowburner in terms of media profile, Make Mine A Lobster was first released last summer and is Exhibit A’s third album. An incredible 16 years have elapsed since their second effort, Out There, so don’t feel bad if this is the first time they have ventured onto your radar screen. Something tells me that we’ll be hearing much more of them in the future.
Dave Ling

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Fire Of Unknown Origin (Italy) April 2011 Review by Rafaella Berry
As my long-time readers probably know, I have never been a keen follower of either neo-prog or AOR. In the Eighties – that supposed wasteland for good music – I mostly listened to heavy metal or new wave, and I never went much further than Fish-era Marillion in my exploration of the neo-prog scene. In recent years, thanks to my activity as a reviewer for several progressive rock websites and, I have got acquainted with a lot of diverse, challenging music, which has shaped my tastes in a direction that is often quite the opposite of radio-friendliness. Anyway, whatever my personal tastes, it is essential for a reviewer to keep an open mind and be able to step out of his or her comfort zone – which can lead to pleasant surprises, such as Exhibit A’s third album, the quaintly-titled Make Mine a Lobster.

Based in the county of Essex in southern England, Exhibit A were formed in 1986 after the demise of another band called Mithra. They released two albums in the early Nineties, then went into a lengthy hiatus that lasted until 2007, when the five members of the band got back together to discuss recording some new material. In the second half of 2010, Make Mine a Lobster was finally released – sixteen years after the band’s second album – attracting the attention of fans of the more melodic, listener-friendly variety of progressive rock.
Unlike so many modern outfits that do so while blithely ripping off other bands or artists, the members of Exhibit A do not claim to be purveyors of wildly innovative fare. Their album – skilfully composed, arranged and performed – is a tribute to the sheer joy of making music that has nothing to do with a desire to rake in the big bucks. They clearly play the music they like, without caring about whether it is trendy or rather a bit on the dated side.

Although some reviewers have compared them to Asia, there is a world of difference between that custom-built supergroup, put together with the clear purpose of scaling the charts, and Exhibit A’s  genuine enthusiasm.After reading reviews of Make Mine a Lobster, I was somewhat doubtful about what I was going to find – and was, instead, confronted with a genuinely pleasing listen, something that I might slip into my CD player for pleasure and not just for reviewing purposes. Thankfully, my attitude towards ‘pop music’ (a definition that is, in my opinion, way too broad to be used with any real accuracy) is anything but snobbish and narrow-minded. It takes quite a lot of skill to write a good pop song, and I would take good pop over bad prog any day. Bands like Exhibit A, who are not afraid of labelling themselves ‘prog-pop-rock’, are perfect for those times when I need music to please my ear without challenging it too much – and I do not mean this statement to be in the least patronizing.

Weary as I am of the endless posturing and waving around of the word ‘proggy’ as if it was the greatest accolade, I found Exhibit A’s approach to music-making extremely refreshing and honest. In the Eighties, mentioning prog and Duran Duran in the same breath would have been next to anathema, but on their website Exhibit A proudly display quotes referencing the former ‘pin-up’ band. Indeed, their sound is firmly rooted in the Eighties, blending AOR, quality synth-driven pop and progressive suggestions in a classy mixture, admirably complemented by the clear, versatile tenor of lead vocalist Dave Foss.Not surprisingly, Make Mine a Lobster is based on relatively short songs that display a rather traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. However, what sets the albumabove many comparable efforts is the tightness of both the songwriting and the performances, which does not allow for the presence of weak links. The two longest numbers, “Darker Sun” and “Scenario”, clocking in at almost 7 minutes, offer plenty of unobtrusive but noticeable progressive touches in the instrumental parts, such as excellent guitar-keyboards interplay bolstered by precise drumming, and slower, atmospheric sections. Album opener “Touch the Stars” and “Rush of Blood”, on the other hand, are definitely accessible tracks with some serious airplay potential, offering plenty of sweeping keyboards, soaring vocals and melodic guitar licks.

All of the above-mentioned songs, as well as “Carousel”, bear the imprint of Rush circa Hold Your Fire. The slower, more subdued numbers like “First to Last”, with its moody guitar coda, and the piano-infused ballad “Missing Years” (featuring a lovely, almost Gilmourian guitar solo) may bring to mind Asia at their best, or even purveyors of quality Eighties pop like Tears for Fears or Talk Talk. “Wake Up to Reality”, with its subtle tempo changes and remarkable synth-guitar interplay, is somewhat more complex than the rest; while “A Far Cry”, despite the Rush reference in the title, brings again Asia to mind, spiced up by some sharper guitar riffing and enhanced by Dave Foss’s outstanding vocals.

Though I would not call it a masterpiece (and masterpieces are rather thin on the ground these days…), Make Mine a Lobster is quite a worthwhile effort, at least for those progressive rock fans who are not averse to the more accessible side of their favourite musical genre. True, the keyboards (especially the synths) may occasionally sound a bit dated, and, if you object to high tenor vocals or 4/4 time signatures, then you should probably give this one a pass.In any case, this is as accomplished an album as those released by bands in the same vein with far higher aspirations, and one that will appeal not just to fans of AOR and the catchier end of the prog spectrum, but also to anyone keeping an open mind as regards musical matters.

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Gig Review: Live at the Essex Arms, Brentwood March 2011 Nigel Hobbs
And so…. It was with great anticipation that I arrived to witness Exhibit A’s first live performance in 15 years. Having engineered their latest album in my studio and having also played alongside them in another band many moons ago, I have a great affection for this most quirky of progressive rock bands. “Progressive?” I hear you cry? – “does that not conjure images of bearded neardies nodding sagely to the strains of their Greenslade and Van Der Graffe Generator albums?” – Well maybe. But for Exhibit A, there is a thread of humour which runs through their very identity, and a pop sensibility which punctuates much of their work and this marks them out as a very unique outfit. Read on………

There was a noticeable atmosphere of expectation hanging in the venue and the band seemed to sense this as a few nervous glances were exchanged before they hit the stage. However, any jitters felt didn’t translate to the playing as they powered into the riff-driven ‘Pseudo City’, from second album ‘Out There’. As singer Dave Foss shouted the final “Have fun” from the track’s sudden ending, the warm and enthusiastic reception from the crowd brought smiles from the band – the ice had been broken.

And then on to the crux of the matter, the main reason for the gig, the band had decided to play the latest album ‘Make Mine a Lobster’ in its entirety. First out of the starting blocks was ‘Touch The Stars’, which bristles with prog power and confidence and surges out of the PA with lush keyboard textures from Neil Foss and crunching power chords from axe-man Nick Hampson. Just hearing this track signals a new-found confidence in Exhibit A that I had never seen before. As track followed track from the album, it was visible that the guys know they have their strongest material to date on offer for public consumption.

The afore-mentioned humour is an endearing feature of the band, from various plastic claw-equipped crustations littering amps along the back of the stage, to the giant inflatable version at the front, it’s obvious the guys never want to come across as po-faced or over serious. And yet the music itself is by turn, thoughtful, complex, powerful, majestic and…… yes, I have to say it, damn catchy! And the latter of these descriptions could well turn out to be Exhibit A’s trump card. A prog rock band with some material that, with a little judicious editing, could even be released as a single. Surely unheard of? Well just cast your minds back to the It Bites glory days and you’ll see where I’m coming from.

It was a credit to the band’s dedication to rehearsal and preparation that they managed to perform the whole album meticulously and the 48 minutes worth just flew by. In addition to the guitar and keyboard textures, the solid rhythm section of bassist Steve Watts and drummer Paul Caswell underpins every track. From insistent and intricate bass lines to fluid and flamboyant fills on the skins, the material nevertheless never ventures into self indulgency. And in front man Dave Foss the band have a great voice and a good communicator who channels that humour I keep talking about. The final jewels in the crown were case in point. Mr Foss donned a peaked cap in reverse for the most unlikely of cover versions as the first encore – Camio’s ‘Word Up’. Played with grit and drive, we thought we’d heard it all, until the mid-section rap just brought the house down! And to follow this up with ‘Gay Bar’ (Electric Six) was a master stroke. Who says prog bands don’t have fun? If this does turn out to be their one and only gig this year, I’m chuffed to have witnessed it. Although I suspect on the strength of tonight’s performance, the claws could be out again before long…….
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Progarchives (USA) March 2011
Now, progressive rock is a funny old genre, and something of a musician's music kind of affair. Many fans expect to be served complicated and intricate instrumental motifs, the lush keyboards is a must for anyone trying on any kind of symphonic venture and if you're really looking for additional plus points you should sing in a strange language. By preference one you have made up yourself. Those looking for strong tendencies in that direction will most likely not be too interested in the exploits of Exhibit A, and can toddle along in quite another direction thank you. But if expressions such as art pop strikes a chord, read on.Many reviewers love to splash around band names when writing about a CD. I'm as guilty as the next hack in that department, and in this case I'll namedrop three bands: Rush, Spandau Ballet and Hinterland. Two well known acts and one Irish obscurity I'll leave to the obsessively curious to google up after reading this. The first cut is the deepest, so to speak, and the bassist and guitarist here obviously know their Lee and Lifeson pretty well. But while sophisticated bass lines and gentle staccato guitar licks are featured throughout, those expecting a band taking on Ayn Rand inspired ventures, stories of Snow Dogs and exotic journey's to fabled Asian kingdoms won't find it here. Ardent Rush fans will recognize a sound just slightly more contemporary. Hold Your Fire in other words, as in the album and not a command.
The gentle and often rich keyboard textures as well as the lead vocals gave me a stronger mainstream association, and for some reason Spandau Ballet was a name that kept reappearing in my thoughts while trying to concentrate on the songs present on "Make Mine a Lobster." If fitting I'll leave to other fans and the band to make a call upon, a reprimand ordering me to concentrate better might just be forthcoming. As for the obscure reference, it reflects some associations I got from the guitar soloing. I suspect none of the members of Exhibit A are even aware of Irish duo Hinterland, so I kind of rule them out as a possible influence due to that. But for the token few that might have heard about them, the guitar soloing and the gentle melancholic moods that pops up on occasion share some resemblances at times.
Personally I'll have to admit to not being all that thrilled about this album, just a tad too slick and melodic to cater for my personal tastes. But those fond of late 80's Rush who also have a soft spot for the sophisticated parts of the mainstream pop/rock artists active in the same time period should enjoy this one. It is a well made production with a lot of heart and soul invested in it, and deserves to be taken a look at. In particular by an audience as outlined above.

Sea of Tranquility (UK) March 2011 Review by Jon Neudorf
The beginnings of Exhibit A can be traced back to the early 80's to the band Mithra and founding members Steve Watts (bass) and Nick Hampson (guitar).

Exhibit A did not release their first album until 1990 and it has taken sixteen years for their brand new CD Make Mine A Lobster to see the light of day. For a band that has only released three albums and has remained so inactive over the years they are a remarkably tight unit and have produced an excellent new release. Rounding out the band are Dave Foss (vocals), Neil Foss (keyboards) and Paul Caswell (drums). The sound on Make Mine A Lobster takes the earlier sounds of bands like IQ, Pallas and Pendragon and blends them with a heavy dosage of Hold Your Fire era Rush. This is a slickly produced album that even reminded me of some of the bands coming out of the early '80s blitz movement like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran.

The band keeps the songs relatively short, in the four to six minute range, so there are no epics here but that is okay as these songs have enough progressive moments that should satisfy many progressive music fans. The music is not complicated so if that is the criteria upon which you make your purchases you might as well look elsewhere as this may not be for you. However, if you appreciate well played progressive flavoured rock with musicianship that never gets over the top, then Make Mine A Lobster may be for you.

The album begins with "Touch The Stars ", a song embellished with symphonic and neo elements making for a strong album opener. For those of you who like '90s Rush check out the slick "Carousel" with its glossed over heavier riffage and the melodic "Darker Sun" where Pendragon also comes to mind. Other highlights include the catchy "Wake Up To Reality" with its wicked bass line and infectious keys and the balladic "Missing Years" featuring a lush backdrop of orchestration and deep bass rumblings.

The more I listen to Make Mine A Lobster the more I like it. This has come as a nice surprise and serves as an excellent comeback album. Hopefully the band will be more active in the years to come.
Sea Of Tranquility Round Table Review March 2011 Mark Johnson
Exhibit A has been making music since 1984. The band includes founder, Steve Watts, bass, Nick Hampson, guitar, Paul Caswell, drums, Neil Foss, keyboards, and David Foss on vocals. They are well known and respected in England, but have so far been unable to create a larger fan base outside the UK.

This is a good '80s sounding band with solid drums, keys, synths and those soaring guitars and bass notes we remember from the Neo prog era. They remind me a little of Credo. The highlights for me were "Touch the Stars", and its positive message, "From First to Last's" deep message, the guitars and keys on "A Far Cry", "Darker Sun's" cool lead guitar and warm synths, and "Scenario's" epic storyline and instrumentals.

"Carousel" and the others sound like some of the music I remember from bands like Icehouse from the 1980s.
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Sea of Tranquility Round Table Review January 2011 Pete Pardo
Here's a very talented band from the UK that sadly has been pretty inactive over the years. Hopefully, with the release of Make Mine a Lobster, Exhibit A will get on a regular release schedule, as there's no denying the talent they have for creating fun, catchy modern prog that pays homage to the early 80's scene.

Images of early IQ, Pallas, and even mid-80's Rush abound on Make Mine A Lobster. Tunes such as "Touch the Stars" and "Carousel" bridge the gap between the early neo-prog sound and more pop oriented acts such as Asia, Mike and the Mechanics, and Saga, as the band combine catchy hooks with robust guitar riffs and soaring keyboard textures. "Rush of Blood" is a solid slice of hard rocking AOR, and the lush keyboards and tasty guitar work on "Wake Up to Reality" and "Scenario" really take you back to days gone by.

For some, that last statement might take some of the enjoyment out of Make Mine a Lobster. If anything, the CD and the bands sound is somewhat dated, and there are moments where you will feel like you are listening to a long lost neo-prog album from the mid-80's or early 90's. However, there's no denying, despite the retro sound, that Exhibit A know how to write some catchy songs and sprinkle them with plenty of prog rock flavors. Vocals are solid, the musicianship is stellar, so in the end Make Mine a Lobster is easy to recommend to those looking for some sounds of an era long past.
Arlequins (Italy)February 2011 Review By Mauro Ranchicchio  
We really thought we had lost track of this Essex-based band, active since 1986, whose most recent effort, the album Out There (following a collection of tracks recorded only on tape), was released 16 years ago, back in those romantic times when prog fans were devoted readers of Xeroxed fanzines… Anyway, three years ago the quintet formed by Steve Watts (bass) and Nick Hampson (guitar) decided to put an end to their long hiatus and (taking their sweet time, as the musicians themselves will be ready to admit!) record the new songs composed during those years of inactivity with the same line-up that had been temporarily ‘frozen’ in the mid-Nineties (including new drummer Paul Caswell).

After sliding the CD into the player, we cannot help but smile when, right from the exhilarating opener “Touch the Stars”, we suddenly find ourselves reminded of the approach taken by so many ‘second tier’ neo-prog bands of the ‘80s: Haze, Final Conflict, Multi-Story… Catchy, accessible songwriting, a tad naïf and with mainstream pop-rock overtones, yet appealing enough for the average prog listener, especially as a welcome respite from a steady diet of odd time signatures - as well as a reminder of a time when the legendary Marquee Club in London’s Wardour Street was populated by heavily made-up faces and fashionable hairdos.

Exhibit A’s sound, presented in the form of rather short tracks with a traditional song structure, is based on the soft, pleasant tones of Dave Foss’ voice and his brother Neil’s keyboard washes, rarely meant as flashy displays of instrumental skill, but rather as a support for the ever-present guitar. As in the case of IQ during Paul Menel’s tenure, or Pallas circa The Wedge, or even the iconic AOR releases by Asia or Saga (though Exhibit A’s album possesses a more typically English flavour and a less pronounced commercial appeal, steering clear of the clichés of the genre), the instrumental skills of the individual musicians are put at the service of melody. The result is an album that, while anything but demanding, allows the listener to appreciate the energy of uptempo offerings such as “Carousel”, the genuine emotion of more involved numbers as “First to Last” and “Wake Up to Reality” (which bring to mind modern British bands like Credo or Also Eden), and the Rush tribute of the aptly-titled “Rush of Blood”. The album’s unusually restrained running time contributes to an enjoyable listening experience.

Approach this album without prejudices, without judging the songs on the basis of their complexity or length, because you would be disappointed. Don’t accuse the band of sounding ‘dated’, because this is, in a way, a sign of consistency: after all, 25 years ago they were part of a movement that, while somewhat naïve in its creative impulse, had its own personality, and proved to be quite influential. At a time when the music scene is dominated by superficial trends, it might be a good idea to give a chance to those who still play the music they want without getting discouraged by the lack of financial rewards … It might be the last chance for bands such as Exhibit A.
Fireworks Magazine (UK) February 2011 Review By Steven Reid
The album title may be a little unusual, but don't be fooled into thinking that Exhibit A are some sort of novelty bard. as nothing could be further from the truth. 'Make Mine A Lobster' is the third effort from these UK melodic progsters (although it has been sixteen years since Exhibit A last released an album) and whilst its title may not be very serious, the music itself is seriously excellent With a sound grounded in 80's prog band such as IQ, Pallas, or Arena, although Saga can also be heard from time to time, what Exhibit A have managed to put together here is a collection of gloriously melodic songs that bring a wonderful balance of progressive dexterity, catchy hooks and magnificent melodies. It is this ability to make some complex themes and intricate arrangements into hugely accessible and memorable songs that is the true strength of 'Make Mine A Lobster'. However all the constituent parts also get their chance to shine, with the interplay between the guitars of Nick Hampson and Neil Foss' keyboards being the driving force behind everything that is going on here, while the vocals of Dave Foss are the perfect accompaniment to the glorious melodies he is surrounded by. Grounding it all is the sharp, yet unfussy bass work and drumming of Steve Watts and Paul Caswell respectively, who manage to keep the rhythms fresh and interesting, while building a solid base for everything else to build from.

The perfect example of what Exhibit A are all about is opening track 'Touch The Stars', where an incisive riff bounces off a singing keyboard melody that completely sucks you into the song, before Hampson's stinging guitar solo cleverly changes the focus. Dave Foss's voice has a clarity and range that finds him totally comfortable whether he is being subtle and restrained, as he is during 'First To Last', or belting it out on the more raucous moments of 'Carousel'. He also has the ability to add character and poignancy to his delivery without ever becoming overbearingly dramatic. 'Rush Of Blood' takes its title literally with a heavily Rush influenced roaming bass line sparring with a staccato riff and some angular drumming. It is unashamedly like Geddy, Alex and Neil, but there's no denying that when it's done this well it's more of a compliment than a complaint. 'Darker Sun' heads of in a different direction again, with an almost 80's electro-pop vibe crashing headlong into a Saga infused mix of keyboards and rapid drum fills to make a remarkably bright and breezy melody that plays against some melancholic lyrics to great effect-Exhibit A have put together a fantastic collection of songs that just gets better and better with each listen and win its blend of sharp hooks and melodically progressive themes, is a welcome alternative to the huge amount of cookie cutter prog that is out there these days. All that is left to be said is —'Make Mine A Lobster'!
Musikzirkus-magazin.de (Germany) January 2011 review by Stephan Schelle
The album consists of Nine songs varying in length from 4:16 to 6:32 minutes. This already shows at the start that this is not a band which puts the focus on long tracks, quite the opposite.
Right from the opener "Touch The Stars,"  Exhibit A show their closeness to bands like the early Pallas, which is also reinforced by Dave's singing, which is very pleasant to the ear. Similarities to Pendragon, or the early years of Arena are not entirely be dismissed out of hand either. In "Carousel" and  they then walk between neo prog and AOR.
On the two pieces of "Rush Of Blood" and "Dark Sun", they then incorporate stylistic elements of the Canadian power trio Rush. However, the result is much softer and not as hard rock as the Canadians. In "Darker Sun" the resemblance is only by the drum work of Paul Caswell, otherwise it is rather in the wake of jazzy neo-prog.
"Make Mine A Lobster" is a solid album with very melodic songs ranging between neo-prog and AOR Pop rock. Whether the band succeed with a big hit is questionable, because not all the songs are sufficiently sustained. But they are (without reaching the hardness of the above bands in the last few years in their music) a supplement for fans of bands such as early Pallas, Pendragon and Arena. Exhibit A should be given a chance. You have definitely earned it.
Progwereld (Holland) review by Hans Ravensbergen January 2011 ( Important Note - this is a translation by Neil Foss. As far as I know he can't speak any Dutch apart from calling drunkenly for "another pint of Oranjeboom over here" when it was a popular lager in the 80s.)

Chances are that the name Exhibit A won't ring a bell with you, as it didn’t with me. This is because of  the enormous amount of time it has taken for the group to come up with this production. "Make Mine A Lobster" is an attempt, after an absence of sixteen years, to bring your attention to the band's music…. If only because of the album cover and the title of this disc!
According to the band's history, Nick Hampson and Steve Watts were responsible for the creation of Exhibit A in 1984 following their previous work together in a group called Mithra. The group initially gathered a local following and was a regular guest in the musical circuit of Essex and London. When the BBC became involved and started broadcasting their music it gave the band's reputation a boost. However, outside the United Kingdom they were only known in Turkey And Poland in the early nineties when the debut album "A Different Dimension" was released.

This third album has a playing time of just under 50 minutes. The nine songs are easy to digest and can be labeled as a mix of neo-progressive rock and symphonic pop topped with an AOR sauce! Comparisons that come to mind are Talk Talk, Saga, IQ (eighties), Pallas, Credo and Medicine Man. The pleasant voice of Dave Foss sounds like a cross between Mark Hollis (Talk Talk) and Gary Brooker (Procol Harum). Do not expect over-indulgence on keyboards and guitar, but a relatively homogeneous and compact sound, with big chunks of keyboard textures.

"Make Mine A Lobster" is not a work of genius. I personally outgrew this type of music over a decade ago but found this disk as a fun and nostalgic journey back to those days. You can draw your own conclusion on the MySpace site of the group. To do this the tab 'Info' for this review.
Progressive rock & Progressive Metal e-zine (Brazil) review by Marcelo Trotta January 2011
The British band Exhibit A is no newcomer to the Progressive Rock scenario. In 2007 Exhibit A came with the idea of recording and remastering some old songs that had been intended to make part of “A Different Dimension”, but were left out. After 3 years working on the process, the band finally came up with a new self-produced album, which was titled “Make Mine a Lobster” (2010). Musically, Exhibit A finds itself inside the “Pop-gressive” line, together with many Neo-Prog bands that have a strong lean to Pop music; and Classic Prog bands that have had their most commercial phase along the 80’s. Influences come from “Asia”, “Saga”, “Peter Frampton”, “IQ”, “Frost”, “It Bites”, “Duran Duran”, “Roxy Music”, “Pink Floyd” (“The Final Cut” phase), “Genesis” (“Abacab” phase), “Marillion” (post-“Fish” phase), “Rush” (post-“Power Windows”), “Yes” (“Big Generator” phase), “Camel”, “ELO”, “David Bowie“, “Queen” and “Whitesnake”. Exhibit A’s integrants said to be influenced also by “Spocks’s Beard”, “Transatlantic”, “Rainbow”, “Gillan”, “Robert Fripp”, and “Brian Eno”, but I realized few of those influences on their sound.

The important thing to be said about Exhibit A is that they are not playing “Pop-gressive” Rock because they want to make money – they play it because they really like it! The songs are performed with unstoppable energy and true passion, profiting from a contagious danceable rocky beat provided by Watts and Caswell, who are PhD Masters on that matter. The excellent vocals of Dave Foss have the typical British vocal timbre that remind us of “John Wetton”, “Greg Lake”, and “Peter Frampton”. The compositions are well elaborated, at a professional level. Hampson’s guitar solos are short for Prog standards, but more than satisfactory for a Pop-Rock band, being clean and soaring, like on “Pink Floyd” and “Marillion”. They harmonize perfectly with Neil Foss’ abundant space-like synths, which sound like “Asia”, “Duran Duran”, “Roxy Music”, “Rush”, “Genesis” (“Phil Collins” phase), and “Yes” (with “Geoff Downes”).

Another good point about Exhibit A: although in the “Pop-gressive” line, they played no mellow romantic ballad on “Makes Mine a Lobster” – the 9 tracks are lively and full of rocky energy – making it an authentic party-record, and suitable for radio airplay. My highlights go to “Touch The Sky“ (an opening track that surmises the band’s musical proposal), “First to Last“, “Rush of Blood“ (with influences of “Rush”), “Missing Years“ (in a lower, darker tone, with a cool guitar solo), and to the two best tracks on the record: “Darker Sun“ and “Scenario“ (with an extended instrumental section). Leaning to a danceable Pop-Rock are “Carousel“, “A Far Cry“, and “Wake Up to Reality“ (with some keyboards inspired by “Genesis”).

If Exhibit A‘s musicians wanted to emphasize the instrumental, they could make great Prog-Music, but if they prefer to stay on the “Pop-Rock” stream, then I must strongly recommend them for fans of “Asia”, “Saga”, “Roxy Music”, “Peter Frampton”, “Toto”, “Duran Duran”, “ELO”, and the most pop phase of “David Bowie“, “Marillion”, “IQ”, “Pink Floyd”, “Genesis”, “Rush”, “Yes”, “Queen” and “Whitesnake”. Exhibit A will not let them down.
Music Street Journal (USA) review by Gary Hill January 2011
Exhibit A - 'Make Mine A Lobster' - Review by Gary Hill  I don’t think too many will disagree with putting this under progressive rock. Yes, the music does occupy a more mainstream section of the genre, but it is almost certainly prog under most definitions. If I had to pick one comparison and live with it, it would be the Charlie Dominici period of Dream Theater, but that is really only so accurate. All in all this is a disc that’s quite strong, but seems a little awkward at times. I look forward to hearing what these guys will do next. They show a lot of potential.
DPRP - Dutch Progressive Rock (Holland) December 2010
So, this is the band’s first release in some sixteen years. And they announce their return with NWOBHM power chords, and synth washes before Dave Foss’s excellent vocals kick in on opener Touch The Stars, a melodic slab of AOR power balladry with enough neo-prog synth work, fat bass lines (as in phat) and guitar virtuosity to keep things interesting.
They list their influences as Rush, It Bites, Marillion, David Bowie, Todd Rundgren and Spock’s Beard. There are some fantastic time signature changes on offer, and the whole thing reminds me of poppier IQ, or Talk Talk. In fact there’s more than a hint of the Mark Hollis' in Dave Foss’ vocal delivery, which is no bad thing. Now, I wrote all of the above before discovering a review of the album on the New England Art Rock site, a personal favourite. They’ve just made Make Mine A Lobster their album of the month, truly an accolade and they call it “excellent Progressive Pop that sounds like a long lost Tristan Park album or IQ circa late 80's trying to be the next more progressive Duran Duran… Neo-Prog, with a strong AOR feel”. So, it would seem, I’m not that rubbish at this reviewing lark, after all.
If you visit the band’s website you’ll see there’s a limited offer to get the download album for a tad under four quid. The production of the physical CD I’ve got to review sounds excellent, on decent kit and cans, with a lovely authentic slightly trebly ‘80s neo-prog feel. There’s a ton of sites where you can sound check the material and make up your own mind but if the poppier side of prog floats your boat, then this is definitely for you. n conclusion, then: Very good. A worthy album that I’m sure I’ll return to. So there, a review where I don’t mention badgers, Blofeld or denigrate anyone.
iO Pages Progressive Rock Music Magazine issue number 98 (Holland) December 2010
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I stand here before you to defend and tip the funnily titled CD ‘Make Mine A Lobster.’ The band on this product, the rather modest Exhibit A, have actively marketed it and have been around since the eighties, though have been highly irregular in producing material, because  previous albums date back to 1990 and 1994.  The band has been accused of sounding too much like IQ, Pendragon and other eighties related neoprogbands. But it must be said, members of the jury, that the band - even though these comparisons are not completely wrong - manages a fine sound of its own. The first evidence is the short playing time of the tracks: you will find no tracks on Make Mine A Lobster clocking more than seven minutes. The second is proved by the musicians themselves. In particular, listening to keyboardist Neil Foss, guitarist Nick Hampson and singer Dave Foss, this third album provides a diverse and spicy blend of AOR and progpop.

The band strikes a much needed bridge between pop and prog, and it can therefore attract a broad audience. Make Mine A Lobster consists of carefully constructed and catchy compositions. No track sounds the same and this is not a boring album (as commented by others). Added to that, the artwork is great and for a mere eight euros, the CD will be delivered to your home, and for about four euros, you can download it from iTunes. Additionally, the band has very pleasant humour and unpretentious nature. Just visit the website to convince yourself of this. There is actually no reason, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, not to tip Exhibit A for ordering.
Sea Of Tranquility (UK) December 2010
Exhibit A: Make Mine A Lobster
The oddly titled Make Mine A Lobster is the third album from UK progressive rock band Exhibit A, but considering it has been sixteen years since their second effort, don't feel too bad if they have completely passed you by up until now. That said, if they have evaded your notice (as they have mine), then I advise that you rectify that situation soon. Bringing bands such as Pallas, 80's era IQ and Arena to mind, as well as the merest hint of Saga, Exhibit A have produced an excellent collection of reasonably short and considerably snappy songs that hit the right blend of progressive workouts and catchy melodies. Think a more overtly progressive and rocked up Asia and you won't be a million miles away from the type of thing that Exhibit A serve up.

Touch The Starsr" kicks things off in a tremendously upbeat fashion, with percussive flurries punctuating an incisive riff and keyboard stabs, while Dave Foss' charismatic vocals hit home with a fragile power. Add to that a great haunting keyboard line and an impressive guitar solo from Nick Hampson and you have a stylishly accessible song that makes you desperate to hear if Exhibit A can maintain such a high standard. The quick one-two of "Carousel", which continues in a similar vein to the opener and "First To Last", where the gentle, but equally effective guitar and keyboard interplay add a touch more refinement, leaves you in no doubt that this is a classy, if not hugely original album. There's no denying that there is a slight whiff of familiarity to what Exhibit A produce, but not in a way that is "heard it all before", in fact it is more a case of feeling immediately comfortable with the songs and wanting to hear more.

The other six tracks on the disc continue to deliver the same welcome marriage of melody, interesting structures, tasteful musicianship and skilful arrangements. "Rush Of Blood" lives up to its title, providing a very Rush influenced rhythm and staccato guitar bursts which are broken up by surges of Neil Foss' keyboards, while Steve Watts roaming bass work keeps everything flowing along nicely. The skilful time changes of "Wake Up To Reality" gives drummer Paul Caswell the opportunity to show his chops, but in a way that compliments the dramatic musical surroundings rather than dominating them. There's little new on Make Mine A Lobster, but few bands are playing this catchy, sharp, yet intricate style of prog with the class and precision that Exhibit A illustrate with ease and if this style of music appeals to you, then you really don't want to miss out.
Progarchives (UK) December 2010
EXHIBIT A are a UK based band, practically under way since 1984 ... this includes some dormant years though. Their predecessor album is from 1994 ... but eventually this five-member group hailing from Essex got together again in 2007, with new ideas and inspiration. It was the starting shot for 'Make Mine A Lobster'. A good call let me sum up! This album is produced with care, consists of skillful arrangements, melodic rock songs which are worth it to explore with intense. Even literally meant, From First To Last is exemplary for their abilities to develop catchy music. The lyrics invite to sing along - I could not escape from that after a while. Shifting time signatures and Neil Foss' symphonic styled keyboards prove the prog essence. Singer Dave Foss has a voice which is not really overflowing with variety but charming and charismatic anyhow, well embedded. That's how it goes ... they offer eight other songs in the same vein more or less, stylistically best placed under the neo prog flag, however also provided with some mainstream sentiment here and there.To point out some other tracks - Rush Of Blood bears special trickiness, I feel some reference to Geddy Lee and his mates, Steve Watts convinces with his lively bass. And it's the haunting main refrain again which strikes here. The opener Touch The Stars shows some bombast, flexible keyboards and lush soaring guitar work when it comes to the solo part. So finally my conclusion is: this album offers much progressive spirit, technically on a high level. Roundabout 50 minutes of nice entertaining music, preferably recommended to fans of Final Conflict, Pallas, Believe, The Dreaming Tree and similar - 3.5 stars by now.
Jerry Lucky.com Progressive Rock Review (Canada) January 2011
Now this is an interesting item. The origins of Exhibit A go back to the early nineties, and yet this is only the band’s third release. With your roots going back that far it should not be a surprise to expect that era’s sonic influences to be present. And yet it was more than a little unnerving to listen to their new release Make Mine A Lobster and still feel I was in 2010. And I don’t say that in a bad way because these tunes are really quite good, as is the overall proggy approach of the band. This quintet consists of Steve Watts (bass), Nick Hampson (guitar), Dave Foss (vocals), Neil Foss (keyboards) and Paul Caswell (drums). What we have here is a set of tunes that are kind of a cross between early Magnum and early Pendragon. 

Make Mine A Lobster is made up of nine tracks all around the four, five or six minute range. As you might expect from my previous reference these are not overly long and complicated compositions instead they are song based with all manner of proggy embellishments. Songs will start off in dramatic fashion, with punchy musical accents before sliding into the familiar verse/chorus arrangements. And yet there are also more than a few subtle shifts in time and tempo that keep everything interesting. Keyboards are quite prominent throughout providing not only the prerequisite sonic landscapes but plenty of solos as well. In fact there’s a lot of interesting interplay between the guitar and the keyboards. The overall tone is part hard-rock mixed with melodic pomp rock. This is a style of prog that we heard a lot of before the advent of heavily distorted crunchy guitar that is so prevalent in prog-metal. The sound here predates that and is a bit of refreshing change.  

Exhibit A may not be everyone’s cup-of-tea, and some may even question how proggy it really is, but in fact it’s a very engaging listen, partially due to the nature of the songs. On one hand, I couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic listening to Make Mine A Lobster it just feels so reminiscent of times past. And yet, there is such a confidence displayed in the performance and song writing that you can’t help like it. If you enjoy the bands mentioned earlier, or the style of bands like Styx you’ll find some enjoyable music here.
Prognosis (USA) December 2010
Even though they put out two albums in the early nineties, Make Mine A Lobster is my first contact with British Neo Prog band Exhibit AMake Mine A Lobster is the band's first album in sixteen years, but from what I hear I can guess they remained loyal to their sound of way back then. In fact, I would even mention the eighties to describe Exhibit A's sound. This being said, the songs on Make Mine A Lobster are quite good and well performed, with some great guitar playing and a lead singer that has a great voice for this kind of music (think of Mark Hollis from Talk Talk but with more energy)

If you are into Poppy Neo Prog Make Mine A Lobster is certainly an album to seek out. Check the band's sound on their Myspace page.
German Progressive Rock Magazine (Germany) December 2010
"Catchy song structures, a few solos as decoration, all packed into a soft, symphonic sound. The material is catchy and with song lengths of up to 6 minutes, they avoid the risk of being too pompous/pretentious. OK"
Frans Keylard, Author of the Rogues Gallery podcast (USA) November 2010
"Exhibit A - great stuff, not a duff track on the album! Hope more people get to hear it!"
New England Art Progressive Rock Society NewEars (USA) November 2010
"Make Mine a Lobster" NewEARS ALBUM OF THE MONTH http://www.newears.org/ November 2010
"Excellent Progressive Pop that sounds like a long lost Tristan Park album or IQ circa late 80's trying to be the next more progressive Duran Duran"
Progwerld (Holland) September 2010
"Although the editors did not know this name, after research showed that the British band for a while this prog bastards around"Edit. WTF is THAT all about then?
Allan Gruise August 2010
"This disc is superb! I was thinking to myself today that the timing is excellent - Pallas, IQ, Pendragon, Frost - all between albums, and Exhibit A comes out to give me my fix - excellent disc!! Neo-Prog, with a strong AOR feel - would recommend that anyone who likes the previously mention...ed bands (let me add Saga to that list too)
Of note to those 'afraid' of prog - don't be afraid. No 20 minute songs, super accessible, but no doubt that at the root of it there is a progressive foundation. Nice job guys!!"

Nygel Hodds
"I personally believe that this is sound engineering at it's best. The deep and incredible range of the instruments, mainly the keyboards, just needs to be heard to be believed. Of particular note are some of the backing vocals, particularly those on tracks 1 and 6 (which I did), although to balance the view a little the rest of the backing vocals (which I wasn't asked to do) are rubbish.
Unfortunately the band left traces of dust from an old keyboard in my spotless studio and I will be sending the cleaning bill in due course.

Catte Chireux via Babelfish.
(I'm sure she really said something different but this sounded encouraging so I've kept it).
"......I find your CD really good, there are pieces that I like more than others of course, but overall its an excellent sound, and I truly like it. I'm happy to have made this acquisition… I wish you all good luck with it".
Mrs Foss
"Pretentious piece of crap. I told you to be a classical pianist you waster"
Name withheld for legal reasons
"The mosaic artwork is fantastic and I will be talking to you about it personally very soon."
Nik Hompsonne
"....most songs contain forty odd incredible guitar overdubs that are panned all over the place using a "random panning generator" It is worth purchasing this just to listen to the guitar playing, which is just incredible, the best solo by far being the one that starts at the beginning of track 1 and ends at the finish of track 9".
Exhibit A
"We've all been Exhibit A fans for a while"
Guy Twatt
"If anyone knows where Steve Watts lives let me know please"
Arnold Blonksworthy-Smyth
"Having never heard your band's material before I decided to take a chance and place an order. What can I say! You can imagine my surprise when instead of "Make Mine a Lobster" I actually received a DVD titled "Big Thomas Camping in Copenhagen" with "property of P. Coswoll" written on it. I was slightly sceptical to say the least about the musical content and the item looked distinctly second hand. I can only assume that this is some sort of post-room mix up. However overall it was a fantastic bargain for £6.50 (inc P&P) and I'll most certainly be writing a more in depth review in due course. Thank you very much indeed and if on the off chance you have a copy of "Naughty Nuns", can you send that instead of the copy of "Out There" that I recently ordered please."
Mrs Blonksworthy Smyth
"Would you please stop sending this material to my husband. Yesterday he received a copy of "Top Buns".

I would however say that the beautifully packaged copy of "Out There" that finally arrived (price £5 including postage and packing) was very good indeed. First class in fact and I will be playing it at the Womans Institute discotheque this coming friday at 5pm."