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After the disappointing The Days In Between, Blue Rodeo did the greatest hits deal, and added horns to the mix for the first time on a couple new tracks. That carried over to their greatest hits tour where they added that horn section to old classics like "Diamond Mine". I remember the trumpet player during a killer solo during that song when I saw them live in Stratford Ontario at their annual winter show at the Festival.

Palace of Gold is the album that followed and it also has horns and strings added to the sound. The end result was a rejuvanated Blue Rodeo, more happy-go-lucky in general this time out, sounding excited to be playing again.

The opening track "Palace of Gold" is a Greg rocker with some floaty catchy keys from James Gray. Glenn Milchem's drums propel the song forward excitedly. This is followed by a cool mid-tempo Jim song that reminded me of some of the material on his first solo album. This song, "Holding On", in addition to being really catchy also contains some of Jim's trademark introspective lyrics.

Some tasty mandolin work introduces Greg's "Homeward Bound Angel", another uptempo track. Horns are introduced here for the first time on Palace of Gold. This is now three standout songs in a row, but that's just a preface to "Bulletproof", a slow-burner Jim ballad and first single. Similar in style and tempo to previous ballads like "Try" or "After the Rain", "Bulletproof" is not as immediate. After a few listens, you won't be able to get Jim's mournful chorus out of your head. It is backed by lush strings.

Reverb intrudices "Comet", the first song that is below standard. It is a trippy psychedelic Greg tune with what sounds like therimin, and strings. I'm just not keen on this one as I find it inferior to other similar concepts from Greg such as "Girl In Green".

Some fast punky chords are followed by deep fat horns and Bazil Donovan's bouncy bassline. This is Jim's "Walk Like You Don't Mind", another highlight. A Blue Rodeo rave-up, this is the kind of sound I love from them, especially live. "Love Never Lies" contains more strings, but this Jim ballad sound suspicously like "New Year's Day" from his solo album.

One of my favourite songs is track 8, "Stage Door". Greg's lyric always inspires hoots and hollars from the crowd: "Ain't no mystery, what I need / is understanding and your sweet sympathy / A steel string guitar and a little weed / Someone to keep me company." The arrangement contains both strings and horns, and of all the songs on this album, "Stage Door" amalgamates these instruments most successfully.

It's hard to follow a song like that. I'm not in love with the next song, Jim's "Cause for Sympathy". The verses are pretty dull, although it does boast a very nice chorus which both Jim and Greg sing together. Likewise I usually snooze through the following track, "What A Surprise" sung by Greg.

"Clearer View", sung by Jim, returns the album to outstanding songcraft. It is a fast rocker with a really bouncy horn arrangement. Once again Glenn Milchem's drumming acts as a shot of adrenaline to propel the song forward. However the album slides back again with the snoozy "Glad to be Alive" courtesy of Greg. This dreamy song sounds like a slide guitar laden lullaby. Another slow tune follows, Jim's "Find a Way to Say Goodbye". I'm not really into this song either, although there are some punchy horns during the chorus that are quite tasty. The final song is yet another snoozer from Greg Keelor called "Tell Me Baby". I think unfortunately that Palace of Gold slides a bit at the end, and contains a few too many lacklustre slow songs.

Fortunately there is a US edition of this album which contains an additional three songs that kick the album back up a notch at the end. These three songs are live tunes and only one is a ballad! "The Railroad", which I am pretty sure is a cover, is a fast country rocker. "Bad Timing" is of course one of Jim's most classic ballads of all time. The final song is another rocker, "You're Everywhere", and that closes the album in style.

If you can get the 17 track version as opposed to the 14 track, I think you are in for a much better listening experience.

4 stars.
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on January 14, 2003
Like some of the other reviews here deriding this album, I was not impressed ... at first. Although listenable, the first seven songs seem done before with the obligatory politcal statement "Palace of Gold" being one of their weakest songs in recent recordings. But when I put this album on again for the first time in a few months, I as able to truly appreciate the quality in the remaining songs. Beginning with "Stage Door", the use of the horns and violins added a refreshing new mix to the already unique BR sound. In particular, "Stage Door" and "What a Surprise" integrates the new sound with strong melody to create two of the best recordings to come out of BR. It find it quite ironic that these two songs represent the best efforts on this album since I am generally a Jim Cuddy fan. But in recent albums, I am finding more often that Greg Keelor has created the unique melody and lyrics in his songs that I usually expect from Jim. If you have not heard the previous album, check out "bitter fruit", "andrea", "this road" and especially "rage". Overall, the CD is worth getting if you are a BR fan.
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on October 19, 2002
For a band like Blue Rodeo to really grab my attention at this stage of their career, they'd have to put out something completely incredible. After all, for any Canadian kid growing up in the late-80's to mid-90's Jim Cuddy, Greg Keelor and company were a continual part of the Canadian music scene. Whether is was slow dancing to Try, losing yourself in Lost Together or yelling along to Hasn't Hit Me Yet, every rock or country fan of the north probably has at least one Blue Rodeo album kicking around their collection. So many, such as I once did, might feel that the band's glory days are over and they'd fade away into the twilight of their career as a band.
Then this summer I wandered on down with my family to a show Blue Rodeo did in Toronto. My expectations were pretty low, play a couple of the old tunes, try to wow me with some new stuff and I'll head on home and forget about the band. But when Cuddy, Keelor and company launched into the new stuff off their then upcoming album, I was immediately impressed. These country-rock boys brought out a horn-section and orchestra and launched into their new stuff with such confidence that I immediately new I would be buying their next record.
Palace Of Gold was that record and it is simply put the best thing the band has put out. Much like Five Days In July, Palace Of Gold's highpoints come when the band sticks to a slow, mellow groove that on this album is added to by a lush sounding orchestra and horn background that adds a depth to the band's sound that hasn't been heard before. Bulletproof, the first single, is that rare commodity in today's music scene, a slow orchestral ballad that doesn't come across as sappy. Stage Door manages the same trick with the song's confessional lyrics sounding real and honest.
Palace Of Gold does have its uptempo points, mostly provided by the Cuddy tunes. Walk Like You Don't Mind is brimming with energy and with the band's horn section adding a soulful backing, is the first Blue Rodeo song that you can dance to. Clearer View and Cause For Sympathy also charge things up but are nicely balanced by the orchestral bits.
Keelor tunes like Glad To Be Alive and Comet become all the more trippy with the added sounds. The tunes have a weird type of soundscape that Keelor's vocal performace keeps from getting to out there.
With Palace Of Gold, Blue Rodeo has managed that rarest of tricks in the music scene. They've reinvented themselves without running away from themselvess. Palace Of Gold does sound like a Blue Rodeo record, the first three songs on the album would not seem out of place on most of the band's previous offerings. But the inclusion of new sounds and dynamics mixed with the more classic sounding tracks makes Palace Of Gold something truly incredible.
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on November 30, 2002
Blue Rodeo has done it again. This time the vision is more expansive than ever, aided by The Planet Soul Strings, The Bushwhack Horns, and Bob Egan's expressive guitar. The result is the fusion of great songwriting we've come to expect from Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor, the heartfelt playing of the band itself, and a more lavish production style.
The songs are what ultimately matter here. The band covers a lot of territory from heartbreaking ballads like "Bulletproof","Love Never Lies", and "Tell Me Baby"; to the rockers "Walk Like You Don't Mind" and "Clearer View"; to soulful tunes like "Glad to Be Alive" and "Find a Way to Say Goodbye". It's the kind of album you want to hear whether you're stuck in traffic or driving on the open road.
It's priceless.
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on January 31, 2003
Having been a long tome fan of Blue Rodeo, I
can only offer that they continue to put out
great music. They have long been one of the
best bands to record & tour.
I highly recommend this CD, and if you ever
get the chance to see them in concert you
will be very pleased you did.
Palace of Gold offers the terrific song
writing of Greg Kellor & Jim Cuddy.
Cuddy's voice is pure Gold as evidenced
by this lastest effort,from the rocky
Walk Like You Don't Mind to the soulful
This is a must for anyone who enjoys < intelligent lyrics in their music!!!
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on November 28, 2002
I have loved this group from the first time I heard Try... they never disppoint, I cannot imagine how anyone who claims to be a fan could find the slightest fault with it. They are simply trying something new and different. Growing with their fans and keeping up with the changes in today's musical options without losing their beautiful harmonies and emotional pulses. I cannot recommend it highly enough... If I have listened to it once I have listened to it a 100 times... at least a dozen in the first 3 days... it is marvelous... absolutely marvelous...
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on January 28, 2003
This album is a bit of a change for Blue Rodeo, but still a great, consistent record. By no means is the change bad, the band has added horns on this album (and to their live shows) to help fill out their sound and it works very well. Long-time fans won't be disappointed, and this album should help convert those not already into the band. A great album by one of Canada's best bands.
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on October 2, 2002
I'm a long time Blue Rodeo fan but I'm not afraid to say that
I don't like everthing these guys have done. These guys have re-invented themselves again ,not an easy thing to do, they added strings and horns and it works well. There are one or two weak tracks but most are highly enjoyable. This is a must have!
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on October 11, 2002
I loved the CD so much, you should definatly give it a try!! Bye it, it's great! fantastic i would say. I'm a huge fan, and I've seen them play live more than a dozen times. no joke! This CD is just everything they've done but better. mmmm I like grapes.
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on January 23, 2003
They sound a little different with some instrumental additions, but they still manage to come out with tunes that wrench at your soul and uplift it at the same they always do!
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