prog rock http://culturecatch.com/taxonomy/term/629 en A Splendid New Beginning http://culturecatch.com/node/3958 <span>A Splendid New Beginning</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>July 23, 2020 - 20:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WB0bGpTk0rw?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><em>By Name. By Nature </em>- THAT JOE PAYNE (TJP 001)</p> <p>Joe Payne a.k.a. THAT JOE PAYNE is a man whose vision and ambition is in equal measure with his talent, which is a good thing as few acts could create and sustain his opulent and mannered tapestry of delights. He makes Coldplay sound like a scratch orchestra with his first offering since departing from Prog Institution that is, and remains The Enid. Their first resident vocalist during their forty-five plus years, after six albums it was time to go solo.</p> <p>Two and a half years in the making, and the evidence of his recovery from a breakdown, <em>By Name. By Nature</em> is a dizzyingly varied stab at immortality. An autobiographical extravaganza from a richly embellished portfolio, his is a perfect collision between theatrical sensibilty and the world of song. The collection has a neat archness. At times a self-regarding exercise, it is as critical as it is honest. Far from shy and retiring it makes a bigger splash than anything you'll encounter this year. A gaudy rainbow of audacity and doubt, it twitches with ideas and delivers and develops a variety of moods from his rich interior world. As lyrically honest as it is a total BIG production, a glitzy roller-coaster of a record.</p> <p>Opening with "The Thing About Me Is" Payne reveals:</p> <blockquote> <p>"The thing about me is</p> <p>I'm too insecure</p> <p>No wonder no-one likes me</p> <p>I guess I'm all yours"</p> </blockquote> <p>A brutally honest, yet rather witty put down, isn't how most artists would introduce their debut. It neatly slides into "By Name. By Nature" a choir drenched collision of Barry Manilow in bed with Electric Light Orchestra and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Plainly deranged, it is a busy, frantic burst into being and alerts the listener to fact that are in the presence of a musical eccentric with a wide array of influences. Baton down the hatches a ton of glitter balls are spinning and cascading. The lyrics betray his sense of self-dismantling</p> <blockquote> <p>"That Joe Payne</p> <p>Is a real bad loser</p> <p>He's a Payne by name </p> <p>And he'll only use you"</p> </blockquote> <p>The laddie as a tramp, and a thoroughly disreputable one in his opinion. West End meets East End with a dose of old Hollywood and a fizz of immodest panache. It keeps spiralling long after it has disappeared along with its "Sparky's Magic Piano" motif. The late lamented Jobriath attempted such a stab at rock and theatrical panache almost a half century ago and was immolated by the critics. Payne won't suffer the same fate. Times have fortunately changed, and he is an open book who isn't apologising for being himself. Jobriath antagonised. Payne simply mesmerises as is apparent with "Nice Boy," a piece of Hip Hop backbeat and Steinski-like blips and electronic hiccups and blasts it all with a choir to boot.</p> <blockquote> <p>"They tell me I'm worthless.</p> <p>They tell me I'm dumb...</p> <p>They tell me I'd be nothing</p> <p>Without someone...</p> <p>They tell me I'm a bad boy.</p> <p>They say that I'm gay,</p> <p>They say I don't belong here...</p> <p>O.K."</p> </blockquote> <p>A breathlessly manic but totally inspired outburst instilled with wry lyrical dissections.</p> <p>"In My Head" is a perfect taking down of the frenetic tone. An almost monastic array of voices are the trampoline from which Payne arcs and soars and betrays the rich tonality of his voice, it suggests the refined baroque elements of Japan and Talk Talk. Again the lyrics belie a certain honesty of spirit. </p> <blockquote> <p>"Nothing's under the bed....</p> <p>You shouldn't be upset</p> <p>They say it's all in your mind</p> <p>It's all in your head"</p> </blockquote> <p>The song also suggests Freddie Mercury at his most reflective best, and Rufus Wainwright devoid of the showiness that sometimes spoils the impact of his songs. "With What Is The World Coming To" Payne shines with all his song-craft and sense of intense melody. Think Keith West's maverick "Excerpt From A Teenage Opera." </p> <blockquote> <p>"I keep feeling lo-loneliness</p> <p>I keep feeling low</p> <p>I keep feeling lo-loneliness</p> <p>Never needed nothing to believe in"</p> </blockquote> <p>Melancholy with a plethora of power chords, and choral beauty. An ear-worm of a song that wakes one up in the morning running around your brain. A jaunty and confident masterpiece, visionary and extraordinary and possessed with a subtle confidence and a cushion of choirs. The presence of Celine Dion's drama pervades, but without ever descending into Maria Carey's warbling histrionics. Payne is also the possessor of a four octave range. He pipes it at the conclusion with the grace of the caged bird that sings. "Love (Not The Same)" is a perfect collision of old standards like "Anyone Who Had A Heart" and "Love Letters."  An extraordinary power ballad to weep into your gin, a song about loving someone simply because you fancy them, and that's you sole source of commonality. </p> <blockquote> <p>"And love </p> <p>I would love to be through with it</p> <p>But I cannot tear away from it</p> <p>It's a funny thing."</p> </blockquote> <p>The song is neatly aided and abetted by the perfectly pitched Ms Amy Birks who is a neat counterpoint to Payne's brilliant bombast. The song that exits in a screech of frustration. all perfectly pitched of-course, and alone, well worth purchasing the album for. It flies so high it is in danger of entering another world.</p> <p>A perfectly honest ballad with a churning melody to die for "I Need A Change" has had all its drama pills as it weaves its way along Payne's descent into a nervous breakdown. A goodbye cruel world malady and one he was lucky to survive just as we are privy to experience the artistry he has distilled from it. Sad, destructive, and dangerous experiences can be transfigured to become things of grace, but only in the right hands where it is transcended by an opulence of touch. His wounded soul is our reward, but comes at a price from the muse that gifts accordingly.</p> <blockquote> <p>"Dear life I'm leaving you</p> <p>Cos I have no reason to stay...</p> <p>The black dog bites</p> <p>He puts up quite a fight</p> <p>He looks at me with those sad eyes."</p> </blockquote> <p>A perfect transcendent journey of a tune.</p> <p>"End Of The Tunnel" is a work whose deeply personal nature has kept it in the shadows, and out of the limelight for more than a decade. </p> <blockquote> <p>"Tears are your protection</p> <p>Let the rivers flow</p> <p>Opposite directions</p> <p>Are the way to go."</p> </blockquote> <p>A considered slice of exposed reflection which has a poignancy laced with subdued angst and occasional flourishes of Tori Amos at her most hauntingly sorrowful, and yet it builds into some of the best epic flourishes that Pink Floyd would distill and deliver. A song that deserves to soar and fly along the arches and cloisters of a cathedral, and hopefully one day in the becoming future it will. "I Need A Change" is a bass-driven piece of pop flexibility and grace with an underlying operatic aria at play. A baroque elegance with a casual finesse it has a shuffle and bop vibe that works well with its inherent classicism. All draws to an end with "Moonlit Love" a torch song that weaves a "Moonlight Sonata" progression with the string driven opulence of Tomaso Albinoni and Samuel Barber. Dramatic and lilting it reaches high and then descends in a slow dive and goodbye; a piece that simply wanders away, quietly, understated and haunting.</p> <p>Clever without being irritating. Pomp devoid of pompousness, this is an album imbued with honesty, ambition and good humour. It is also an indication that THAT JOE PAYNE has arrived with a wealth of magical ideas. A splendid progression towards a new beginning.</p> <p><em>The album is released on August 7, 2020.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3958&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="TYk4GMKrid7jwdfgepj-PdL-jMZwLb1LH5-k-hKtGhk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 24 Jul 2020 00:19:16 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3958 at http://culturecatch.com Prog Me Two Times! http://culturecatch.com/node/3899 <span>Prog Me Two Times!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/ian-alterman" lang="" about="/users/ian-alterman" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Ian Alterman</a></span> <span>December 6, 2019 - 21:02</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D_5kc3tleEY?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>In the category of "better late than never," here, finally, is the follow-up to my original article on Culture Catch from 2007. In that article, I noted that "as punishment for the insane level of angst this is causing me, I have blackmailed Dusty: if he wants me to do this, he has to accept <i>two</i> lists: one of 'classic' prog, and one of 'neo-prog,' since the latter is a major subset all to itself." I added (a bit too hopefully it seems) that "the latter list will follow in a few weeks." I don't know if 624 can be considered "a few," but that is how many weeks it has been.</p> <p>In order to get some sense of what I am about to offer, it would help (a lot) to read the <a href="http://culturecatch.com/music/essential-progressive-rock-listening-guide" target="_blank">introduction to my original article</a>, in which I offer a working definition of "progressive rock."</p> <p>That said, let me get to it.</p> <p>Obviously, "neo-progressive" rock is of a time period sometime after seminal or "classic" progressive rock. And while it may seem odd, there is even less agreement on when neo--prog began than on when classic prog began. Classic prog initially developed out of the early and mid-period efforts of artists such as Frank Zappa, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and a few others in the mid-1960s. <em>Sgt. Pepper </em>is also cited (correctly, in my opinion) as being a proto-prog album, though I would argue that parts of The Beatles' <em>Revolver</em> may qualify as well. It is important to note that another "thread" of prog was being developed simultaneously by what became known as the Canterbury School in England. And there are additional threads that came out of Germany and Italy in particular. In any case, classic prog developed during the mid-to-late 1960s, and is generally agreed to have had its "absolute" beginning with King Crimson's debut album<i>, In the Court of the Crimson King.</i></p> <p>"Neo-prog" is not as easy to pin down. Classic prog reached its apotheosis in the early to mid 1970s, but died a heinous death at the hands of disco beginning in the mid-1970s and boy bands and corporately manufactured music (including many solo female arists) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. True, some of the classic prog bands were still out there, putting out albums (some of them superb and highly important and influential) and playing concerts (some among the highest-grossing concerts of all time). And at least two "new" prog bands arose during this period, Canada's Rush (who were highly influential in at least one or two subgenres of neo-prog), and, to a somewhat lesser degree, Kansas. As well, bands such as Pallas, Twelfth Night, Solstice, Quasar and Pendragon had begun putting out what would later come to be considered the beginnings of neo-prog.  But neo-prog is usually said to have begun in earnest in 1983 with the near-simultaneous release of Marillion's <i>Script for a Jester's Tear </i>and IQ's <i>Tales From the Lush Attic</i>. These were quickly followed by a wealth of new  progressive, or "neo-prog" bands, including Arena, Spock's Beard, Flower Kings, Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Echolyn, and Transatlantic, as well as a wealth of non-English and non-American bands, such as PFM and Deus ex Machina (Italy), Anglagard (Sweden), Ark (Norway), Magma and Gong (France), and Tangerine Dream and Can (Germany), among many, many others.</p> <p>One interesting fact about neo-prog is that a great many of the bands were influenced specifically by Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes, The Moody Blues and Gentle Giant (in that order). Even more interesting is that the "sound" that many of the Genesis-influenced bands adopted came from  two specific albums, <i>Trick of the Tail</i> and, especially, <i>Wind &amp; Wuthering. </i>Not even my truly brilliant colleagues at prograrchives.com can figure out why that is. (Although it is true that the "sound" Genesis achieves on <i>Wind &amp; Wuthering</i> is extraordinary.)</p> <p>One issue with choosing an "absolute" list for neo-prog, as opposed to classic prog, is the sheer number of subcategories of the genre.  In choosing my list, I have kept to the same philosophy as I did in my classic prog list: "Imagine yourself -- a progressive rock aficionado -- on that hypothetical desert island to which you can only take a given number of albums (usually around a dozen). Now imagine that you are going to share that island with someone who has a keen interest in, but little real knowledge of, neo-progressive rock music, and you are looking to choose the dozen or so absolutely essential albums that will not only serve to give this person a fairly broad perspective of neo-prog. but will not become tedious after a few hundred listenings: i.e, the cream of the genre." That last part is critical.  So that was my goal.</p> <p>Finally, as before, I have derived my list by choosing what I believe to be the dozen or so most “essential” neo-prog bands, and choosing what I believe to be their most important or representative works.  This time, however, the albums are listed in alphabetical order by artist. So, off we go: the dozen neo-prog “Desert Island Discs” -- some of the absolutely essential neo-progressive rock albums. And even more so than last time, I expect to have lots of CDs by unchosen bands and albums thrown violently at my head. But that's okay, I am at peace with my choices, and will enjoy them whether you do or not.</p> <p><b>I. Neo-Prog (1983-?)</b></p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/otdxVuSFRYk?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>The Church <em>Priest=Aura </em>(1992)</strong> </p> <p>:Although The Chruch had been putting out albums since 1981, and their 1983 album <i>Séance</i> had definite elements of neo-prog, it was not until this, their seventh album, that they entered the realm of neo-prog -- with a vengeance. With bassist-songwriter Steve Kilbey's amazing lyrics and chord progressions, and a new highly atmospheric sound that simply envelopes the listener, The Church would go on to become a driving force in neo-prog from this point on. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>Forget Yourself</i>, 2003)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jSpfFSWU1TM?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Deus ex Machina: <em>Equilibrismo da Insofferenza</em> (1998)</strong></p> <p>I simply had to include at least one of the non-English, non-American neo-prog bands. And it doesn't get much more non-English-speaking than an Italian singer almost screaming lyrics in Latin. But don't be fooled. This quintet is among the most musically and technically accomplished groups you are ever likely to hear (their drummer, Claudio Trotta, may well be among the best drummers in the world), and their writing is as ultra-progressive as anything ever written. This is complicated, sophisticated stuff, and their catalogue is well worth delving into. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>Cinque</i>, 2002)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bktMpOrFofo?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Dream Theater: <em>Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory</em> (1999)</strong></p> <p>I never thought I would like "metal" music in any form. Yet Dream Theater, almost unarguably the leader in the subgenre of metal neo-prog, is something different: a truly "musical" metal band. Even guitarist John Petrucci's speed metal guitar is more melodic than anything I have ever heard in the genre. And Mike Portnoy (now sadly gone from the group) is definitely the most melodic speed metal drummer ever. This album is not simply a brilliant concept album, but is included in another list I hope to present, the greatest concept albums of all time. It ranks up there with Pink Floyd's <i>Dark Side of the Moon</i> and <i>The Wall</i>, Jethro Tull's <i>Thick as a Brick</i>, Genesis' <i>The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway</i>, and Marillion's <i>Brave </i>(see entry below). (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>Systematic Chaos</i>, 2007)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Cyx1r1f7V7k?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>IQ: <em>Dark Matter</em> (2004)</strong></p> <p>As noted in my introduction, IQ was one of the progenitors of neo-prog. So this was among my two most difficult choices by far. Every album beginning with <i>Seventh House</i> (2000) is worthy of inclusion. I chose <i>Dark Matter</i> because I think it respectably represents what IQ was and is about. A somewhat "darker" view, and a "heavier" sound, occasionally even approaching "metal." They remain one of my three favorite currently active progressive bands.  And Peter Nicholls is my favorite neo-prog vocalist. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>The Road of Bones</i>, 2014)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/D_5kc3tleEY?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p> </p> <p><strong>Marillion: <em>Misplaced Childhood</em> (1985)</strong></p> <p>I am giving myself two picks here (both of them difficult, for the same reason as my pick for IQ), since Marillion has had two very separate lives. The first one included their original lead singer and songwriter, Fish. Of the four albums he recorded with them, this is the one that I believe does him the most justice as a songwriter, lyricist, and singer. It is a quasi-concept album, and shows off Marillion's early style of Genesis influence, filtered through their own prog sensibilities. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <em>Clutching at Straws</em>, 1987)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ycNDhICNwf0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Marillion: <em>Brave</em> (1994)</strong></p> <p>Marillion's second life began with the departure of Fish and the arrival of singer-songwriter Steve Hogarth (simply referred to as "h"). And it took just three albums for him to come up with not only Marillion's best mid-period album, but one of the greatest concept albums ever written. Taking off on the true-life news story about a girl found wandering on an English bridge, who did not know who she was or where she came from, and otherwise refused to speak on her own behalf, Hogarth wrote a back story that is simply one of the most spine-tingling and sometimes breath-taking quasi-musicals you will ever hear. The album is filled with lyrical, musical and sonic brilliance. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>Marbles</i>, 2004)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RKsBl_HMKTY?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Mars Volta: <em>Amputecture</em> (2006) </strong></p> <p>When Mars Volta released their first album, <i>De-Loused in the Crematorium</i> (2003), the response from critics and prog fans alike was, one either loves it or hates it, there is no in between.  It was among the most unexpected and (to many) unintelligible neo-prog debuts ever. But for those who "got it," it signaled the entry of a formidable new progressive band, and sound. Their approach had more in common with King Crimson than with Genesis, and their sonics were among the most dissonant and innovative in quite some time. Led by singer-songwriter Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist-songwriter-producer Omar Alfredo Rodriguez-Lopez, the band took an unapologetically uber-progressive approach to their music, which shows in both the often schizoid lyrical and songwriting style, and the extremely technical virtuosity required of every player who recorded with them, not least the frighteningly brilliant guitarist John Frusciante. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <em>Octahedron</em>, 2009)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/cQhqsczPm1M?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Neal Morse: <em>Sola Scriptura</em><i> </i>(2007)</strong></p> <p>Neal Morse is the busiest progressive rock artist out there. In addition to his own output, he was a founding member of Spock's Beard (see below), a founding member of Transatlantic (see below), and has recorded with his own band (The Neal Morse Band) and with Flying Colors. Both Transatlantic and Flying Colors are "super groups" of some of the top currently active progressive rock artists. Morse is a Christian minister, and his solo output is what could be classified as Christian progressive rock.  However, it is completely approachable by anyone. Among those albums, this is the most interesting and exciting. Morse is uncompromising in his approach to progressive writing, and his solo work is among the best prog out there today. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>Momentum</i>, 2012)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2G5hHEuG65I?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Pendragon: <em>The Masquerade Overture</em> (1996)</strong></p> <p>As noted, Pendragon is among the earliest of the neo-prog bands. Their 1985 album, <i>The Jewel</i>, is considered almost as seminal as the debut albums of Marillion and IQ. However, although some of their other albums were also critical in building their reputation, it was <i>The Masquerade Overture</i> that cemented their standing as a standard-bearer of neo-prog. A concept album, many progressive rock fans consider this among the best neo-prog albums of all time. Given the range of musical motifs and emotions the album covers, it is difficult to argue with that assessment. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice<i>: The Window of Life</i>, 1993)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GMEwM3YHiME?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Porcupine Tree: <em>Deadwing</em> (2005)</strong>.</p> <p>Steven Wilson may be the second busiest progressive rock artist after Neal Morse. In addition to founding Porcupine Tree, which, like The Church, has become a standard-bearer for neo-prog, Wilson is also the founder of Blackfield and Opeth, and somehow also finds time to produce and/or remix albums by many other artists, most notably King Crimson. And although Wilson had put Porcupine Tree through a number of style iterations, from its early experimental albums to its heavier, even quasi-metal style, <i>Deadwing</i> is the album that probably did the most to bring them to the masses.  It is uncompromising in its strength and heavy atmospheric rock style, and every song is a gem. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>In Absentia,</i> 2002)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KLiS6YbBecU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Spock's Beard: <em>The Light</em> (1995)</strong></p> <p>Although it is true of many neo-prog bands, with Spock's Beard the best place to begin really is the beginning, with their debut album, which sets out their style perfectly. The album includes not just one but two extended conceptual compositions, "The Light," and "The Water." As noted above, the driving force in Spock's Beard for at least its first few albums was co-founder Neal Morse (see entry above). But Spock's Beard was truly a group effort, and each member contributes his own stylistic approach to the whole. (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>Snow</i>, 2002)</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/zIN0I8Cvotg?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Transatlantic: <em>The Whirlwind</em> (2009)</strong></p> <p>Transatlantic is a neo-progressive rock "supergroup" comprised of keyboardist Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), bassist Pete Trewavas (Marillion), guitarist Roine Stolt (Flower Kings), and drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater). Almost needless to say, everything they have done is great neo-prog and worth a listen. However, it was their third album that really brought everything together. Working from a Christian concept (care of minister Neal Morse, but fully endorsed by the other members, all of whom are Christians of one ilk or another), the writing on <i>Whirlwind </i>is the strongest they have done, unrelenting in its refusal to be pinned down within progressive rock. Some passages are absolutely breath-taking in their complexity and technical virtuosity.  (2<sup>nd</sup> choice: <i>SMPT:e</i>, 2000)</p> <p>And there you have it. As noted, I realize that many people will argue with my choices, and I fully admit that I have left much out. Maybe I will do follow-ups to both of my lists. Watch this space.</p> <p>And there you have it. As noted, I realize that many people will argue with my choices, and I fully admit that I have left much out. Maybe I will do follow-ups to both of my lists. Watch this space.</p> <p>Peace.</p> <p><em>Mr. Alterman is a Senior Writer and a founding moderator of Progarchives.com, the number one progressive rock website in the world. He writes there under the name Maani. (Don’t ask.) He has been a contributor to Culture Catch since 2007.</em></p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3899&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="xYCzJhT5T0dOMg70RCNwJf1VYqiW15Kiu7wqFjuVo8U"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 07 Dec 2019 02:02:52 +0000 Ian Alterman 3899 at http://culturecatch.com The Return Of The Modern Masquerades http://culturecatch.com/node/3884 <span>The Return Of The Modern Masquerades</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>October 20, 2019 - 15:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RmolfAAmTf4?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong>Fruupp - <em>Wise As Wisdom: The Dawn Albums 1973-1975 (</em>Esoteric Recordings)</strong></p> <p>Fruupp always were a strange confection with an odd name. Depending on which story suits your taste the best, it was either the left-over letters from a sheet of Letraset or the moniker of the female ghost that haunted the crumbling house in Belfast in which they rehearsed. An inspired and eclectic sound. A fusion of folk, an underlying jazziness, with subtle classical shades they embodied the diversity at large in the early '70s, but they also packed a formidable punch both live and in the studio. Lilting and haunting they shared the stage with Queen, Genesis, and King Crimson, but despite consistent touring they never stepped beyond a cult following, and were finally eclipsed by the advent of punk. Formed in Belfast in 1970 the band that finally hit London had matured from rock covers into sophisticated and symphonic combo that could stir the heart, yet rock the soul.</p> <p>Their debut album <em>Future Legends</em> arrived in October 1973. Dynamic and blindingly original it showcased the strength and diversity they embodied, that rather put them against the grain of their contemporaries. Vocalist and bassist Peter Farrelly proved a charismatic interpreter of their songs. His voice had a restrained yet subtle theatricality that never dominates the drama of the music. The album has an inherent folk element that sets it apart, and yet is driven on by the dynamic drumming of former circus percussionist Martin Foye, the intricate guitar meanderings of Vincent McCusker which threads along neatly with Stephen Houston's exquisite classical keyboards, a boy from the Malone Road in Belfast on whom piano lessons were never wasted, even if they weren't necessarily utilised as his teachers might have desired. Entirely written by McCusker it is a perfect indicator of what lay ahead.</p> <p>The title track is a winsome Irish instrumental, steeped in strings and sentimentality, but is briefly and exquisitely beautiful.  "Decision" has an odd jazziness that wanders through the song giving it an unusual edge whilst "As Day Breaks With Dawn" rattles along with a rumbling intensity and heavy organ interspersed with lilting oboe. "Graveyard Epistle" is another hefty exercise in sublime vocals and driving rock. Heavy but definitely far from humble, and with an almost Indian element lurking.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_Wr_s2Wis3A?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Lord Of The Incubus" is altogether more catchy and instantly memorable, with a bit of cod rock 'n' roll thrown if for good measure, whilst "Olde Tyme Future" could almost be a patriot's lament and betrays some of the band's members prior showband histories. "Song For A Thought" is a combination of discreet classicism and a manic Irish jig which Farrelly delivers with sublime, leisurely confidence. A pastoral facet slips between the symphonic aspects and builds to a manic and crazed crescendo signed off with a wilful guitar screech. Exhilarating and almost exhausting it is an utter masterclass of a song. "Future Legends" closes things in a sad sing song way. They had also intended to feature "On A Clear Day" on this album and it snuck onto initial pressings before objections from the Holst estate meant it had to be removed since it borrows heavily from his "Jupiter" one of the movements from the "Planet Suite." It can now be included with the lapse of copyright, and it is a valuable addition to proceedings.</p> <p>A mere seven months later they delivered <em>Seven Secrets</em> in April 1974. Produced by former <em>Andwella's Dream</em> maestro David Lewis it is a more fluid and restrained affair. The opening track "Faced With Shekinah" beguiles via an ethereal aspect of voices in the opening track neatly underscored by Farrelly's pulsating bass lines ending as a baroque dance piece. This neat elegance is followed via picked and plucked strings and oboe in "White Eyes" an elegant ghostly song that again has an almost medieval theme, underscored by a certain off-kilter folk motif. The album seems deceptively effortless but is complex and and confident. Despite the beauty it contains it is less commercial in feel than <em>Future Legends</em> but is none the worse for that. More pastoral than symphonic "White Eyes" is a masterclass in restraint with Chopin-like piano that descends into a jaunty easy listening lounge-core of an ending. "Garden Lady" has a cohesive jazzy conceit with crazed organ and ethereal passages, meditative and flowing with some perfect guitar work from Vincent McCusker and perfectly understated piano from Stephen Houston, it builds to a swirling, dizzying conclusion. In "Three Spires," the most restrained cut on the album, a chamber baroque delight that merges and reminds of Clifford T. Ward at his most eloquent and wistful, and the end refrain is catchy enough to have seen it emerge as a strong if somewhat unlikely single. "Elizabeth" is a baroque hoe-down all strings and sparkling piano, Liberace meets Liszt, with Farrelly signing off at his most intimately mournful, a true and beautiful closer rather spoiled by the irritating whimsy of the ditty at the end "The Seventh Secret." A Jackanory-like travesty that mars slighty the sophisticated nature of things.</p> <p>Not resting on their laurels they delivered <em>The Prince of Heaven's Eyes</em> in November 1974. Widely viewed as their masterpiece I find it something of a curate's egg. The cover isn't one of Peter Farrelly's fetchingly mystical servings, but a rather heavy-handed cartoon that doesn't best serve the project  There are moments of stupendous beauty and delight but the production, their own alas, has a muffled dullness about it that deadens the majestic elements that it contains. Much of the music sparkles whilst most of the production fails to. "It's All Up Now" is a perfect example of Fruupp at their most hauntingly eloquent best, building to a symphonic delight interrupted by "Hold on! Hold on! What'll I do? I don't want to end up in a pot of stew!" which still sounds irritatingly cringeworthy as lyrics go, yet the song transcends that carried by the spirited aspects of Farrelly's delivery and Foye's delightful drum fuelled ending.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CZrCMdlRZjU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Prince Of Darkness" sounds laboured and twee, a nursery story set to music with a Beatles-esque undercurrent. Opaque and irritating. I recall a review in the NME that said the album reminded the reviewer of the theme music to a Czech cartoon and this track belies that opinion perfectly, as indeed does the kitschy sounding "Jaunting Car" that appropriately ended up as the radio theme to a show in Northern Ireland by Gloria Hunniford. Things improve with 'Annie Austere' a dynamic piano driven epic perfectly embellished by some fine guitar adornments by Vincent McCusker, and again Foye spars manfully with Houston's sparkling piano. 'Knowing You' has all the melody and aching eloquence one expects from Fruupp. A beautiful vocal it pulls at the heart strings till it builds to an epic ending of pure dynamic fury and melancholy.</p> <p>"Crystal Brook" continues the upward turn in proceedings and 'Seaward Sunset' is a delightful piece of piano prettiness that perfectly preludes "The Perfect Wish" which really brings to the fore Fruupp at their sophisticated best. Fleeting, effortless and strident it is seamlessly sophisticated with Houston delivering glittering piano crescendos and motifs whilst Farrelly indulges his finest Cleo Laine jazziness. The closing embers of the song is about as magical as it gets, and builds from nowhere to an exquisite moment of pure grace, beauty Dynamism and poise combine to leave the listener sad, beguiled and longing for something more.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/S6H1aZ-vV6I?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>February 1975 saw the release of <em>Modern Masquerades</em> completed in the wake of Stephen Houston's departure to enter the business of bothering God. His leaving also scuppered their audition for Seymour Stein at Sire Records, which in his absence proved a disastrous affair. Their fourth opus was a marked change of direction. Houston's replacement John Mason gave the band a more warm and enveloping feel, a shimmer of sublime sophistication aided and abetted by the production duties being transferred to the capable hands of former King Crimson member, and future stalwart of Foreigner Ian MacDonald. It opens with "Misty Morning Way" a delightful slab of mystical meandering. Mason's keyboards have a shimmering sheen and blends perfectly with the guitar dynamics of Mc Cusker. It resembles European proggers Nova and PFM, with elements of Greenslade to boot. 'Masquerading With Dawn' skips and dives with effortless ease. This is Fruupp at a more cohesive and strengthened level, refined via a freshened lightness of touch but delivering a calculated symphonic punch. Mason composed the Mervyn Peake inspired 'Gormenghast' again a sweepingly assured palette of textures and poignancy that wends well with Farrelly's sensitive vocal delivery via the implicit fluidity of the backdrop, perfectly abetted by some sublime sax from Ian McDonald. 'Mystery Might' lives up to the title, a forceful slab of driven sophistication, yet sensitively interspersed with achingly eloquent vocals and sense of exceptional drama driven furiously along by Martin Foye's relentless drumming. With 'Why' we can see the bare subtle refinement of Vincent McCusker's song-craft and the precise beauty implicit in Peter Farrelly's voice. A beautiful piano track underscores the simple sentiment of wondering about making a phone call. It has more in common with piano drenched maladies of the late Jobriath. A tender and exceptional masterpiece of a song.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ec1egL7rcE8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"Janet Planet" -- a single in Ireland and a lost opportunity elsewhere -- is a wonderful ditty about Van Morrison's muse and lover. It skips along like an utter gem that reminds me of the Beatles and and the effortlessly whimsical nature of many of the songs of John Howard. Proceedings swerve to a resplendent conclusion with "Sheba's Song" a searing and glinting fantasy about a big cat, it shows the band at the height of their powers, full of distinctive riffs and a wonderful dynamic effortlessness, A cinematic aspect, it hints at much more in the future, but the future can rapidly change, and often sadly does.</p> <p>Fruupp ground to a halt in September 1976 after a final gig at The Roundhouse. John Mason had already departed and despite recruiting a new member and recording a fifth album <em>Dr Wilde's Twilight Adventure</em> they called it a day after a fire at their flat in London almost killed Vincent McCusker and Paul Charles, destroying the master tapes for their new album, and the recordings for a projected live one. John Mason died a few years ago, but the original members remain. With this re-issue they might regroup for a final masquerade whilst time and health prevails. One can only dream. They had a strange revival of sorts in 2007 when Talib Kweli sampled "Sheba's Song" featuring Norah Jones for "Soon The New Day" on his <em>Eardrum</em> album which hit number 2 on the Billboard chart.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WPPVnu0LqQ8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Despite the prettiness of the package, there are numerous faults and flaws afoot. Bar the release dates and recording details there are scant biographical details. The whole enterprise has the air of an a swiftly assembled repackage, and yet previous re-issues had copious informative liner note from Paul Charles their former manager and occasional lyricist. These could have been easily utilized to make <em>Wise As Wisdom</em> the tribute it deserves to be. There is nothing here that hasn't been previously available yet there are numerous quality live recordings out there that are calling out to be compiled, and deservedly so. There is also a plethora of ephemera concerning them that would have better served this re-issue than the instantly available stuff that has been lazily appropriated. It is perfectly imperfect primer for the uninitiated, but is far from definitive nor an improvement on prior re-issues. </p> <p>Still, as was once said, "Best to be looked over than be overlooked" and Fruupp remain a band worthy of remembering or discovering afresh, even if on this modern masquerade they are not best served, they still have a future from their extraordinary past.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3884&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="IqAb5cOYGMJyllhhEFwKOac4ZCf7rDya2wpVS9FM0PA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 20 Oct 2019 19:56:00 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3884 at http://culturecatch.com Song of the Week: "Corner Painter" http://culturecatch.com/node/3849 <span>Song of the Week: &quot;Corner Painter&quot;</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>June 7, 2019 - 13:46</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OrmUwo1Y_SU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Bassist Tal Wilkenfeld is out on <a href="https://talwilkenfeld.com/" target="_blank">tour</a> in support of her latest album, <em>Love Remains</em>. Last week, I caught her live at Brooklyn Bowl where she held court with aplomb. This is my favorite track from her new 10 tune effort. On this version she's joined but yet another guitar virtuoso Blake Mills. When's she not leading her own project, she's toured with guitar maestro Jeff Beck, Prince, Herbie Hancock, and Mick Jagger. In fact, Mr. Beck grabbed her when she was in her early twenties. Regardless, her extraordinary chops compliment extraordinary git players like Beck, Prince, and Mr. Mills. This song has a prog-meets-grunge quality -- think King Crimson -- but heavier like Soundgarden. Truly infectious tune as the video will demonstrate. Catch her tour today. And pick up her new album on vinyl. It's killer.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3849&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="2Dt6_1nytRXczLog0PnbUtAbRGZ3HXLioXTub9QEfK4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 07 Jun 2019 17:46:23 +0000 Dusty Wright 3849 at http://culturecatch.com Album of the Week: U.K. http://culturecatch.com/music/album-of-the-week-uk <span>Album of the Week: U.K. </span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>February 5, 2017 - 16:54</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/jmVLp0PU93Y?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>R.I.P., Mr. John Wetton, you provided many of the songs for the soundtrack of my youth with your bass playing, and vocals, in Roxy Music, King Crimson, Uriah Heap, Asia, and your debut album with the quartet U.K. embedded above. For me you reached the zenith of your artistic expression with said progressive rock super band. From 1977 until 1980, you, keyboardist/electric violinist Eddie Jobson (Curved Air, Roxy Music, Frank Zappa), guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Tempest, The New Tony Williams Lifetime, Gong) through 1978, and drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, tour drummer for Genesis), who was later replaced by drummer Terry Bozzio (formerly of Frank Zappa's band). There is some tremendous Youtube footage of the reformed U,K, with Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio from their 2012 world tour. No doubt King Crimson, circa 1972 - 1974, boasting guitar maestro Robert Fripp, Wetton, violinist/keyboardist David Cross and drummer Bill Bruford was a highly dynamic and impressive lineup as well. (Hey, Mr. Holdsworth was no slouch on six strings.) Listening back to U.K.'s debut prog masterpiece, it's easy to hear how from the ashes of this formidable project Asia was born. And while that was not my cup of tea, I respected Mr. Wetton's deserving success. Thank you for sharing your joy of music with the world. We hail you!</p> <!--break--></div> <section> </section> Sun, 05 Feb 2017 21:54:53 +0000 Dusty Wright 3537 at http://culturecatch.com Album of the Week: On An On http://culturecatch.com/music/vinyl-of-the-week-syd-arthur <span>Album of the Week: On An On </span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>October 5, 2016 - 05:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/yxTlP-EOOPY?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Syd Arthur - <em>On an On</em> (Harvest)</p> <p>If one makes the pronouncement that their band "hails from Canterbury, England," one might assume that progressive rock might ensue. And while their Wikipedia page lists them as a "psychedelic jazz band, formed in Canterbury in 2003 by brothers frontman Liam and bassist Joel Magill, drummer Fred Rother and violinist Raven Bush," they sound more like a prog-pop band to my ears, albeit one of the best I've heard in ages. I happened to finally catch them in concert last week opening for the most-excellent UK-based singer-songwriter Jake Bugg at Terminal 5 in NYC. Strange pairing, but having missed them last year at the Mercury Lounge, I simply had to go. I admit that their name alone -- Syd Arthur, named after The Madcap Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett and Love leader Arthur Lee, who may or may not be construed as a prog rocker -- was intruiging enough for me to spend some time with their music. There is no doubt that they drink from the same fresh waters of their homeland, from the fertile springs that nourished early prog pioneers Caravan and Gente Giant with a touch of the "jazz" textures of Hatfield &amp; The North and National Health.</p> <!--break--> <p>While the lads didn't get to play a very long opening set, it was still impressive enough. Only took them one song to draw in the audience; great playing, great songs. To my ears, their live sound had a leaner texture then what I remembered hearing on CD. Now I was quite curious to hear them on vinyl. (This is a vinyl column, is it not? Why, yes it is, Mr. Cleese!) I picked up their second album <em>On an On</em> (released in 2013) for $20 from bassist Joel who worked the swag stand after the concert. Glad I did. When I dropped the needle to vinyl, I was transported back to my basement bedroom in Akron, Ohio, circa 1974 with my black light posters and incense burning. My poor mother mumbling upstairs that I was ruining my hearing. Ah, breathe it in... </p> <p>Songs like "Ode To Summer" bounce with an urgency aided by snap rhythms that immediately draw you to the center of the sun. The lyrics cloaked in a love lost and hope for brighter <em>and</em> warmer days as lead singer/guitarist Liam croons: <em>"I look to the sky with sunken eyes / For the feeling of  summer has left me behind."</em> The mandolin's groove keeps it percolating along until 4:10 seconds later it stops on a dime. And the addictive ballad "Dorothy" lopes along with just enough sonic textures that require repeated listens to pick them up -- the deft cymbal work of drummer Fred Rother, the shimmering vintage keyboard tones of Raven Bush... again, no wasted notes, as it draws to a close 4:17 later. "Moving World" has a stutter and stop jazz syncopation that could be a left over track from Mahavishnu Orchestra's <em>Birds of Fire</em> album with Raven's violin soaring above the groove.</p> <p>Some critics have suggested that the lads could become the next Genesis with these concise, melodic tunes. Not a bad band to emulate given their success. And why not? The world needs more prog, especially prog this smart and catchy.</p> <p>Syd Arthur's fourth album -- <em>Apricity</em> (Harvest Records) -- drops on October 26th. Order it today. If it's half as good as <em>On an On,</em> it'll be worth the effort.<img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="http://ad.linksynergy.com/fs-bin/show?id=g1UnrUS5W4M&amp;bids=124192.10000242&amp;type=4&amp;subid=0" width="1" /></p> </div> <section> </section> Wed, 05 Oct 2016 09:47:07 +0000 Dusty Wright 3486 at http://culturecatch.com Marillion: F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone And Run) http://culturecatch.com/music/marillion-fear <span>Marillion: F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone And Run)</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/ian-alterman" lang="" about="/users/ian-alterman" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Ian Alterman</a></span> <span>September 15, 2016 - 08:03</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ax6-2bXKPwE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>[Warning! Although <em>all</em> reviews contain information that the listener will not know until they hear the album, this review (which is actual a preview, since the album will not have been released at the time of posting) is highly detailed. If you are a <a href="http://www.marillion.com/" target="_blank">Marillion</a> fan who would prefer not to be "influenced" specifically in any way prior to your first listen, suffice to say that I am giving the album 4.5 out of 5 stars.]</p> <!--break--> <address>"The cold war's gone, but those bastards'll find us another one 
</address> <address>They're here to protect you, don't you know?
</address> <address>So get used to it - Get used to it!...
</address> <address>The sense that it's useless, and the fear to try
</address> <address>Not believing the leaders, the media that feed us
</address> <address>Living with the big lie."</address> <p>("Living With the Big Lie," from <em>Brave</em>)</p> <p>In the 27 years since Steve Hogarth took over as lead vocalist for Marillion, the band has had only one bona fide concept album: the aurally and emotionally stunning <em>Brave</em> (1994). Using as a starting point the (true) news story of a young woman found roaming around an area of England -- who did not know who she was, or where she had come from, and even refused to speak to the police or the media -- the band created a fictional "back story" for her, which included some fairly "dark" elements, including re politics, socio-culture, media…and fear. The above quotation is a good example -- and very relevant to their new album, as the new album offers a look at how the "big lie" has become even bigger. However, the overall effect of <em>Brave</em> was more "melancholic" than grim, more sad than "judgmental" (of the society they describe).</p> <p>Twenty-two years later, the same (or worse) "darkness" exists in many of the same ways, but even more ominously now -- and this time the band is at the center of the story…and they are <em>angry</em>. Indeed, the overall effect of the album is one of barely checked (and occasionally unbridled) anger, and a deep frustration and concern both for England (whom they are directly addressing) and beyond (including the U.S., for whom some of the issues are the same). One might say (borrowing another phrase from <em>Brave</em>) that the band is no longer "hollow men," but has become both worldly-wise and world-weary, both "informed" and disillusioned, even (to a degree) cynical.</p> <p>The album consists of three suites, separated by two other compositions, one of which relates directly to the suites, the other of which seems a tad out of place (though, as we will see, its inclusion does make some sense). The three suites -- "El Dorado," "The Leavers," and "The New Kings" -- and the related composition ("Living in FEAR") are all, in one form or another, observations on fear: how it is created (fear-mongering), how it is controlled (via politics and media), how it affects people. The other composition ("White Paper") is mostly a meditation on love -- in this case, "dying" love -- though it seems that the love is dying at least in part as the result of the prevailing…atmosfear. Thus, while it is a tad more "jarring" in this context then the similar inclusion of love on <em>Brave</em>, there is no question that love is also a victim of fear.</p> <p>The album opens with "El Dorado," a five-part composition that describes the plight of immigrants, and the roadblocks (both figurative and literal) that they often encounter, particularly including xenophobia:</p> <address>"The roads are traveled by many, like promises of peace.</address> <address>And some choose not to go -- the fear looks like bravado…</address> <address>I see them waiting, smiling, on the borders in dawn's mist,</address> <address>Or lost to the world in their upturned boats…"
</address> <p> </p> <address>"I see myself in them, the people at the borders…</address> <p> </p> <address>Denied our so-called golden streets,</address> <address>Running from demolished lives…into walls."</address> <p>It doesn't get much more concise, and understandably cynical, than that. In fact, this suite makes an interesting companion piece to "Gaza" (from their previous album, Sounds That Can't Be Made): where the latter (a 17-minute epic) is specific to a certain group, the former (another 17-minute epic) deals with a broader scope.</p> <p>"Living in FEAR" is a more generalized look at fear, and particularly the responses it creates, not least including a variety of "walls" (again, both literal and figurative). Noting specific walls and "lines not to be crossed" (the Great Wall of China, the Maginot Line, the Berlin Wall -- all of which are called "a waste of time"), it also speaks to the "walls" that people themselves put up when they are afraid.</p> <p>That observation is made against a hopeful call for some sort of normalcy:</p> <address>"The key left in the outside of the unlocked door isn't forgetfulness --</address> <address>It's a challenge to change your heart…</address> <address>The apple pie cooling on the windowsill is such a welcome change</address> <address>From living in fear -- year after year after year…</address> <address>There's a price to pay, living in fear is so very dear. Can you really afford it?"</address> <p>There is also a call to "put down our arms" ("We've decided to risk melting our guns -- as a show of strength").</p> <p>Although least "political," the second suite ("The Leavers") puts the band in the center of the story -- after all, touring allows for a degree of observation of the world that is perhaps only shared by true "world travelers." The band sees itself as "Leavers" -- "parties that travel" -- who show up for a day or two and then move on. They arrive "before dawn," and "slip in from ring-roads," bringing their "boxes of noises, boxes of light": "We will make a show and then we'll go." They juxtapose themselves against the "Remainers": those who "remain in their homely places" (i.e., lead normal lives), and sometimes "try to persuade us, and tame us, and train us and save us and keep us home as we try to fit in with the family life." But once in a while, the Remainers "leave their homely places with excited faces…preparing their minds for a break from the sensible life" (i.e., a rock concert)..."[I]n one sacred ritual…we all come together -- We're all one tonight."</p> <p>As noted, although "White Paper" is something of an "outlier" here, it nevertheless provides a look at how fear can affect love -- and vice-versa.</p> <p>"The New Kings" is the angriest and most sardonic of the three suites. It addresses money and media, plutocrats and oligarchs. Re money, it is decidedly less than kind:</p> <address>"We are the new Kings, buying up London from Monaco.</address> <address>We do as we please, while you do as you're told…</address> <address>Our world orbits yours and enjoys the view,</address> <address>From this height we don't see the slums and the bums on the street…</address> <address>Oceans of money high in the clouds,</address> <address>But if you hang around, more often than not it will trickle down…</address> <address>We're too big to fall, we're too big to fail…"</address> <p>Even Gordon Gekko gets a shout-out ("Greed is good").</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Xiwtl-ljUI0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>With respect to the media, the following plaint by a confused citizen pretty much nails the cynicism of many people (including conspiracy theorists):</p> <address>"We saw the crash on the news today…</address> <address>It changed our lives -- but did it really happen?...</address> <address>I don't know if I can believe the news…</address> <address>They can do anything with computers these days…"</address> <p>As an aside, it is interesting to consider "The New Kings" in light of the following from <em>Brave</em>'s "Paper Lies":</p> <address>"Are we living only for today?</address> <address>
It's a sign of the times --
</address> <address>We believe anything and nothing…</address> <address>When you look into the money
</address> <address>Do you see a face you hardly recognize?
</address> <address>When you get behind the news of the world
</address> <address>Do the things you find begin to bend your mind?
</address> <address>Paper lies."</address> <p>As noted, after 22 years, not only has nothing changed, but it seems to have gotten worse.</p> <p>But the band leaves its bitterest anger at the "approaching storm" (which may well already be here) for last:</p> <address>"Remember a time when you thought that you mattered,</address> <address>Believed in the school song, die for your country --</address> <address>A country that cared for you -- all in it together?...</address> <address>A national anthem you could sing without feeling used or ashamed.</address> <address>If it ever was more than a lie, or some naïve romantic notion,</address> <address>Well, it's all shattered now…</address> <address>Why is nothing ever true?...</address> <address>On your knees, peasant…You're living for the New King."</address> <p>Although Marillion (and particularly Mr. Hogarth) has always dabbled in socio-politics, it has become increasingly present -- and the band increasingly concerned -- of late. In this regard, <em>F.E.A.R.</em> is a shamelessly -- and understandably -- angry set of observations, and brings their socio-politics to a fine (rapier-like) point.</p> <p>Musically, if Marillion's three strongest musical influences are (as I have always felt) Genesis, Pink Floyd and the Moody Blues, this album is strongly (and superbly) Floydian, with nice touches of the Moodies, and only occasional Genesis influence. (Indeed, the electric piano figure in "The Gold," and some other keyboard figures, could have been lifted from PF's <em>Animals</em>. And much of the guitar work throughout has a wonderfully Gilmour-ish sensibility.) This is actually not surprising (and is meant as a compliment), given that PF are the masters of the kind of "dystopian" rock that <em>F.E.A.R.</em> represents. And although everyone in the band is superb -- and there is a deceptively brilliant cohesion that approaches a sort of uber-gestalt -- this album is largely Mark Kelly's (with a more-than-able assist from guitarist Steve Rothery): although Mr. Hogarth undoubtedly plays some piano parts, it is Mr. Kelly's piano and keyboards (along with the atmospheres and effects created in the studio) that undergird nearly the entire album. And this, too, is not surprising, since this is true of almost every great concept album in prog.</p> <p>As suggested above, there are also quite a few allusions (subconscious or not), both lyrical and musical, to <em>Brave</em>. In fact, after you have had a chance to truly take this album in, I invite you to go back and read the lyrics to <em>Brave</em>, and then listen to it again. And this is not in any way a criticism of <em>F.E.A.R.</em>: if anything, it is another compliment. Indeed, the only reason I am rating this album 4.5 instead of five stars is that I gave five stars to <em>Brave</em>; and while this album is superb in every way -- and harks back to that masterpiece -- it does not quite reach the frightening brilliance of its predecessor.</p> <p>Finally, there is an aspect of this album that I have not found with any other concept album in memory. [N.B. This is where even curious readers who are reading this before listening may want to stop and listen to the album first. I am quite serious. I'll give you a little time to think about it. (Tick-tock-tick-tock…)]</p> <p>What I have discovered is that the five pieces are strangely "inter-changeable." What I mean by this is that the song order can be changed, not only without changing the overall concept, but, in some cases (and I admit this is hopelessly presumptive) possibly strengthening it.</p> <p>This thought first occurred when I received the album as a download, with the song "Tomorrow's New Country" closing the album, even though it appeared as the sixth ("vi") part of "The Leavers" on the lyric sheet. When I contacted Marillion to make sure this was the correct placement, I asked, if it was, whether it was deliberate: i.e., an attempt to "soften the blow" at the end of "The New Kings." The response was, yes, it was meant as an "antidote" (their word), and was deliberately moved from "The Leavers" to the end of the album (though the lyric sheet still reflected its original place).</p> <p>So…I decided to see what the album would sound like putting "Tomorrow's New Country" back in its "proper" place. And the effect was remarkable. Not better or worse, just…different, in a surprising (and even conceptually relevant) way. (Once you have heard the album in its given order a few times, I highly recommend programming it to do this -- just for fun, if nothing else.) Then, feeling as I do about "White Paper," I decided to test a theory, and played the five pieces in a couple of different orders entirely (while keeping the three suites in order). The order that surprised me most (in a positive, eyebrow-raising way) with respect to expressing the overall concept (and also working together "musically" from one track to another) was starting with "White Paper," playing the three suites in their present order one after the other, and ending with "Living in FEAR." Again, I am not suggesting in any way that the order chosen by the band is "wrong." After all, the band's "vision" is the one that counts, and there are reasons (good ones) that they chose the song order that they did. I am simply suggesting that, unlike most (maybe any) concept albums you've heard, there is an interesting ability to "play around" with the placement of the two non-suites, and maintain both conceptual and musical integrity.</p> <p>Ultimately, <em>F.E.A.R.</em> is a superb album (and, like all great albums, gets better with each listen), and a welcome addition not only to Marillion's oeuvre, but to the prog concept album canon. Kudos to one of the few bands that keeps neo-prog not simply alive, but thriving and…progressing.</p> </div> <section> </section> Thu, 15 Sep 2016 12:03:17 +0000 Ian Alterman 3480 at http://culturecatch.com A Prog-Rock Bonanza: Anthony Phillips Reissued http://culturecatch.com/music/anthony-phillips <span>A Prog-Rock Bonanza: Anthony Phillips Reissued</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/steveholtje" lang="" about="/users/steveholtje" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Steve Holtje</a></span> <span>April 17, 2016 - 23:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EffLIs0PpKU?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <div>Anthony Phillips</div> <div><em>The Geese and the Ghost</em></div> <div><em>Wise After the Event</em></div> <div><em>Sides</em></div> <div><em>Private Parts &amp; Pieces I-IV</em></div> <div><em>Harvest of the Heart</em> (Esoteric/Cherry Red)</div> <div> </div> <p>Anthony "Ant" Phillips, an original member of Genesis, left after their second album (<em>Trespass</em>, 1970) because of stage fright -- an especially problematic situation, one supposes, for the lead guitarist. He spent the ensuing years studying music at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (which is to say classical music), along with occasionally recording demos of new material at home. It would be seven years before his first solo album would appear, but after that he would be fairly prolific. Though he never achieved mainstream success -- which sadly makes sense given that this progressive rock legend didn't issue anything in 1971-76, the peak prog years -- aficionados of the style have long admired his work. Cherry Red's Esoteric imprint is now in its third year of repackaging Phillips's work with his collaboration, and with the recent issuance of 1979's <em>Sides</em> meaning that all of his '70s albums are now available again as box sets, now seems like a good time to review the story so far. </p><p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/phillips-geese.jpg" style="width:200px; height:203px; float:right" /></p><p>Phillips started work on what would eventually become his first solo album, <em>The Geese and the Ghost,</em> in 1972 as a collaboration with ex-bandmate Mike Rutherford, though many of the pieces that would end up on it had been written immediately after quitting Genesis in 1970. Actual recording began in 1974, as first a studio was built in Phillips's parents' house, and then recording together had to be fit around Genesis' schedule, which along with Phillips's schoolwork partly explains why <em>The Geese and the Ghost</em> took so long to come together. Phillips's replacement in Genesis, Steve Hackett, helped out by injuring himself, which put a half-year gap in the Genesis schedule (just as they'd been about to start touring <em>The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway</em>). Work on the album was finished in 1975, but then Charisma, the label that had financed it, lost interest and the album (as well as a separate single done in 1973 but unreleased -- more about which below) lay unreleased until the American label Passport picked it up in 1977. Coming out at the height of punk was bad timing, but prog devotees loved it anyway; among my friends, at least, it is considered Phillips's masterpiece. (My preference is for his next album, but, again, more on that later.) And <em>The Geese and the Ghost</em> is certainly proggy. Most of the tracks are instrumental, with an archaic-sounding seven-section suite, <em>Henry: Portraits from Tudor Times</em>, at the center of the album (with a previously deleted movement restored for the first time thanks to its rediscovery during the compiling of this reissue). The core of Phillips and Rutherford on twelve-string guitars is heard on most tracks, but with considerable overdubbing, including orchestra and keyboards (the latter mostly by Phillips, who with his Guildhall education also wrote the orchestrations). Not counting one crowd-scene vocal in the <em>Henry</em> suite, there are three songs with vocals, with Phil Collins singing two of them, "Which Way the Wind Blows" and "God If I Saw Her Now." Phillips himself sings lead only on "Collections," double-tracked; though he does not have a strong voice, its plaintive quality is perfect for this ruminative song, which mixes solo piano sections with orchestral swathes. Throughout the original album, Phillips concentrates on creating moods and beauty; there is no token rock-out/shred number to disturb the flow, though the <em>Henry</em> suite does provide plenty of contrast, both as a whole to the more modern rest of the album and also within itself from movement to movement.</p> <p>Cherry Red includes a second disc of demos, basic tracks, and that unreleased 1973 single, "Silver Song"/"Only Your Love," with Collins again providing vocals, along with (unlike the album tracks he's on) drums. Not coincidentally, "Silver Song" had been written as a tribute to ex-Genesis drummer John Silver; this is a big, upbeat tune, and it's surprising that Charisma passed on releasing it, though it is suggested that the label didn't want to distract from Genesis with solo offshoots yet. The flipside is similarly upbeat, again showing a side of Phillips otherwise subdued on his debut. Also especially noteworthy is the 1973 demo of "Master of Time," which was to be included but got left off the LP because there wasn't time to finish it; it's another chance to hear Phillips sing, here without double-tracking. Cherry Red's presentation is wonderful: a fold-out poster of the album art, with drawings and narration illustrating the movements of the <em>Henry</em> suite; a twenty-four-page booklet with detailed documentation of the album's creation, complete with many amusing anecdotes; and an additional DVD-Audio disc with a 5.1 surround-sound mix for those who are equipped for such, all enclosed along with the two CDs (each in a cardboard sleeve) in a sturdy 'clamshell' box. It's well worth acquiring even by collectors who have the original release.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/phillips-wise.jpg" style="width:250px; height:247px; float:left" />Phillips's next album,<em>Wise After the Event </em>(1978), came together more quickly, though not without troubling aspects, as the label kept it from achieving the shape the artist envisioned, which would have been an LP accompanied by an EP so as to fit all the material onto one release (more on that later). Despite that, the result was still, in my opinion at least, an improvement on the already formidable debut. For one thing, it leads off with "We're All as We Lie," one of the very greatest prog songs, musically strong and lyrically witty yet profound. Also, Phillips sings this time out instead of using Collins, and while I understand why record labels might have preferred a more assertive singer, I like Phillips's voice. Finally, this is a song album (no instrumentals), and more of a rock album (with ex-Genesis drummer Michael Giles). Though it's still layered and full of subtlety, the middle section of "Birdsong and Reprise" is more rambunctious and musically stimulating than what Genesis was up to at the time. The complex title track, the melodic "Greenhouse," the lovely "Paperchase," and the animal-rights anthem "Now What (Are They Doing to My Little Friends)" are all excellent as well. Furthermore, the whole thing sounds professionally recorded, which can't always be said of <em>Geese</em>, though the latter's muddy piano sound has its own charms in a way (it certainly doesn't bother me). Producer Rupert Hine was obviously a big help in making <em>Wise </em>sound big and brilliant (he recruited both Giles and bassist John Perry [Caravan]), and he also captures Phillips's electric guitar sound in all its lush glory (the title track's textures are especially enjoyable).</p> <p>This box has a whopping four discs: the original mix remastered, a new stereo mix, the DVD-A 5.1, and a CD of "demos, out-takes and extras." The original mix is a bit compressed (of course, since it was done for vinyl), so I prefer the new stereo mix, which emphasizes all the positive things I said about the sound of <em>Wise</em> in the above paragraph. Both restore "Squirrel," a song intended for the original release but moved to the B-side of the "We're All as We Lie" single when the label vetoed the LP-plus-EP format. However, there is a missed opportunity here: the LP-plus-EP program, which included a number of instrumental links, is frequently alluded to, but not presented. The finished versions of the instrumental links aren't even in this box; they were released on <em>Private Parts &amp; Pieces II: Back to the Pavilion</em>, a 1980 LP. Cherry Red has released the first four of the series in a box (see below), so readers can approximate this with some work, but it really should have been done for the new stereo mix, since presumably there might have been some overlapping or at least snugly fitted joins, and the link "Tremulous" was actually going to be in the middle of "Birdsong." Also, the notes neglect to mention that the link "Sitars and Nebulous" was a shortened version of what was eventually retitled "Von Runkel's Yorker Music" when it was included on <em>Pieces II. </em>Think I'm nitpicking? Since I already love the album as much as I do even without the links, I guess I am. Hey, at least I'm not complaining that "Ant" didn't go back into the studio to record the orchestra arrangements for "Moonshooter" and "Greehouse" that he ran out of time (and presumably money) to record back then.</p> <p>Some of the instrumental beds on disc Two have been presented in new mixes from the 24-track tapes to emphasize the keyboards more than the final mix did, which is interesting to music geeks such as me and perhaps you, and a link that would have gone on the album backwards had it been used is included in its previously unheard frontwards version. Note that I don't have the 2008 two-CD reissue to compare it to as far as the mix of this non-LP material, but there is one more track here than their was then. The album cover, by Peter Cross (as was that of the debut), is a tour-de-force of whimsy, and rightly featured on another fold-out poster, the reverse of which contains the lyrics for all the tracks. And, again, there's an informative and entertaining booklet (minus that one blip mentioned above), and everything's in a clamshell box. A must-own, even without the four missing links.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/phillips-sides.jpg" style="width:200px; height:199px; float:right" />At this point, Phillips had some serious momentum going, and 1979 brought his fourth solo album, <em>Sides</em> (between Wise and <em>Sides</em> came a compilation of older unreleased material, the first volume of the <em>Private Parts &amp; Pieces</em> series, covered below). Hine produced again, with Giles and Perry the rhythm section again, and again the record company meddled, changing the track order so all the short songs were on side 1 and the longer, more progressive tracks were on side 2, and overdubs were added to a few songs. The program change gave the album a split personality; I suspect a lot of Phillips fans play the second half more. Cherry Red's reissue is again four discs: original mix, 2016 remix, DVD-A 5.1, and a CD of "bonus material" (mostly instrumental and alternative mixes of the album's material, with just one demo -- the non-LP piano ballad "Before the Night" -- and an instrumental version of a song Phillips cut from the album because he didn't like his lyric. Again I am surprised Cherry Red didn't take the opportunity to show us what might have been by giving us one of the earlier track orders on the 2016 remix, but at  least with what we're told in the twenty-page booklet and with all the pieces here, it can be programmed. Also, including non-LP B-side "Souvenir" between Sides One and Two, even on the original-mix CD, instead of putting it on the "bonus material" disc, seems illogical <u>and</u> makes the wait for the proggy side longer. With a disco-ish track and a faux-reggae track in the first half, Dan Owen (if you thought "who?" your reaction matches mine) the lead vocalist on two songs, and more synthesizer than guitar on some Side One songs, it starts to seem rather compromised, though the lyrics are amusing. Then come the last four tracks, two of them instrumentals (with Dale Newman [again, who? -- but the booklet notes explain who both of these obscure ringers are] taking the lead vocal on the most melodic of them, "Bleak House"), and we're back on familiar, and more impressive, ground. By the way, this time I prefer the original mix, as the greater clarity of the 2016 remix increases the treacle factor on some of the shorter tracks and, even on the longer ones, those 1979 synths sound better compressed. (And thanks to Cherry Red for providing both options so I had a choice!) The highlight is the instrumental "Nightmare," which closes the album. The usual fine packaging format for these reissues is again present.</p> <p>I could do without the DVD-Audio discs on the above three releases; seems to me it would be fairer all around to package those separately (and include the non-album tracks on them too) rather than making the CD and DVD-A audiences each buy stuff they'd rather skip. But I'm sure there's an accountant at Cherry Red willing to explain why I'm an idiot to think that way. Let's just rejoice that these albums are available again, presented so thoroughly. The next two sets are just CDs.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/private-parts.jpg" style="width:200px; height:200px; float:left" />As already mentioned, after <em>Wise</em> came <em>Private Parts &amp; Pieces</em>. On it, Phillips gathered a variety of mostly acoustic home recordings, some composed years before they were recorded. When it came out on CD, he added three later tracks, including a solo recording of "Stranger," an old Genesis song that the group hadn't recorded, along with a solo version of "Silver Song" Phillips made years after the unreleased band version with Collins. The album's intimate mood is, in my opinion, what made it popular. In 1980 Phillips followed up with the aforementioned <em>PP&amp;P II: Back to the Pavilion</em>, a somewhat differently focused collection of often more fleshed-out arrangements of material that had almost seen the light of day in various obscure contexts, such as musical settings of Shakespeare (specifically Macbeth; for the album, that rocking full-band material with Rutherford and Greenslade drummer Andy McCulloch was condensed into the <em>Scottish Suite</em>), those instrumental links that didn't make the cut on <em>Wise</em>, and other LP outtakes, though also with some solo home recordings as on the first volume. There's a lot of stylistic variety as well; I am especially fond of "K2," a soothing 1979 improvisation on Polymoog and ARP 2006 synthesizers. The third volume, <em>PP&amp;P III: Antiques</em>, was -- paradoxically, considering its title -- all new duo recordings with Argentinian guitarist Enrique Berro Garcia, then living in England. Two of the duo tracks were old Phillips compositions, but most were co-written specifically for the album in 1980-81. Now alternate takes/versions are added as bonuses, along with a 1990 collaboration, "El Cid." <em>PP&amp;P IV: A Catch at the Tables </em>(1984) returned to the mining of solo home recordings, but less acoustic as he was using synths and drum machines much more.</p> <p>Cherry Red has compiled these first four <em>PP&amp;P</em> not only with bonus tracks from their earlier CD issues included on each volume, it has added a fifth disc of previously unreleased material, dubbed <em>Private Parts &amp; Extra Pieces</em>. Many of the tracks are alternative versions of pieces on either <em>PP&amp;P</em> volumes or other albums, but some are previously unreleased compositions, even including a 1980 song with vocal, "Long Ago." Everything else on the fifth disc is instrumental. Obviously one has to be a Phillips fan to get excited about this material, but if there is anything prog fans know, it's that Phillips fandom is often rewarded with charming little nuggets, and that the more informal the setting, the more charming the results, which is precisely why there were eventually eleven volumes of the <em>PP&amp;P</em> series (twelve if we number this new disc!) and why they have been among his most-loved releases.</p> <p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/harvest-of-heart.jpg" style="width:200px; height:278px; float:right" /></p><p>Finally, the first of these sets, <em>Harvest of the Heart</em> (note that it is not the same as the 1985 Cherry Red compilation of the same title, which collected highlights of <em>PP&amp;P I-IV</em>.) Released in 2014, before any of the above sets, it bravely -- and fairly successfully -- attempts to sum up Phillips's career on five CDs. It would be easy to whine that such-and-such a favorite track is missing, but a) that way lies madness; b) the compilers, with Phillips's blessing if not participation, have done a pretty good job, actually. It opens with a 1969 demo, a duo with Rutherford, simply titled "F Sharp," but Genesis fans will recognize it as the instrumental basis of "The Musical Box," which appeared on the band's first post-Phillips album. Other than that and a Mike Rutherford B-side, the years up to 1980 are covered with material on the above albums, taking us well into the second CD (sensibly, this set also has no DVD-A). After that it's into territory Cherry Red hasn't covered with reissues yet (aside from a few <em>PP&amp;P</em> items) and which, aside from a few albums considered cult classics (<em>Tarka</em>, <em>1984</em>) and some later <em>PP&amp;P </em>volumes, non-fanatics will mostly be unfamiliar with, meaning that it's quite educational but also varied, natural considering that it follows his activity all the way to 2013. Even fanatics will not have heard some of the material on the fifth disc, as the set's final ten tracks were all previously unreleased. Here's hoping Cherry Red keeps up its good work with the Phillips catalog.</p></div> <section> </section> Mon, 18 Apr 2016 03:38:52 +0000 Steve Holtje 3402 at http://culturecatch.com Song of the Week: "Transmission" http://culturecatch.com/music/song-of-week-i-am-giant <span>Song of the Week: &quot;Transmission&quot;</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>August 8, 2014 - 05:23</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/OotSiUMf0J0?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Okay, so this is cool. A little <span data-scayt_word="proggy" data-scaytid="1">proggy</span>, a little <span data-scayt_word="metalish" data-scaytid="2">metalish</span>, and a pinch of 4-on-floor rock. The London-based via New Zealand quartet I Am Giant performing "Transmission" from their sophomore album <em>Science &amp; Survival</em>, co-produced by Forrester Saville (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, Helmut), bassist Paul Matthews and drummer Shelton Woolright, is a righteous way to start your weekend. Rawk on, dudes!</p> <!--break--></div> <section> </section> Fri, 08 Aug 2014 09:23:00 +0000 Dusty Wright 3064 at http://culturecatch.com 1974 in Progressive Rock http://culturecatch.com/music/1974-progressive-rock <span>1974 in Progressive Rock</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/ian-alterman" lang="" about="/users/ian-alterman" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Ian Alterman</a></span> <span>March 30, 2014 - 19:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/629" hreflang="en">prog rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p><img alt="" src="/sites/default/files/images/genesis-lamb.jpg" style="width:225px; height:225px; float:right" />As we rightfully celebrate the <span data-scayt_word="50th" data-scaytid="1">50th</span> anniversary of The Beatles' <span data-scayt_word="rockin'-vasion" data-scaytid="2">rockin'-vasion</span> of America, it is also worth noting the <span data-scayt_word="40th" data-scaytid="3">40th</span> anniversaries of progressive rock albums released in 1974 -- a banner year for the genre.</p> <p>In alphabetical rather than chronological order, here is just a short list, along with links to a representative composition from each album.</p> <p>Enjoy!</p> <p><strong><em>Apostrophe </em>(Frank <span data-scayt_word="Zappa" data-scaytid="4">Zappa</span>)</strong></p> <p>Although <span data-scayt_word="Zappa" data-scaytid="5">Zappa</span> had been "at it" since 1966 -- as one of the earliest progenitors of progressive rock -- and although he had already put out over a dozen important albums, Apostrophe (and the immediately prior album, <em><span data-scayt_word="Over-Nite" data-scaytid="6">Over-Nite</span> Sensation</em>) arguably brought him to the masses through his cross-over "hit," "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow," which, despite its length, received regular airplay on FM stations. It didn't hurt that the album also included two of his funniest, most fun songs, "<span data-scayt_word="Cozmik" data-scaytid="9">Cozmik</span> Debris" and "<span data-scayt_word="Stinkfoot" data-scaytid="10">Stinkfoot</span>."</p> <!--break--> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/LjPlhb4f9P8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Hamburger Concerto </em>(Focus)</strong></p> <p>For those who only know Focus via their 1971 novelty mega-hit, "Hocus <span data-scayt_word="Pocus" data-scaytid="11">Pocus</span>" (yes, the one with the yodeling...), the band actually went quite progressive after that. This album provided a (yummy) taste of what was to come on later albums, and remains an interesting addition to the genre. The link is to the title track, which is based on Brahms's <em>Variations on a Theme by Haydn</em>.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vgSxGaW1OjQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Hatfield and the North</em> (Hatfield and the North)</strong></p> <p>Hatfield and the North sprang full-grown from the head of Zeus in the middle of the Canterbury era of <span data-scayt_word="prog" data-scaytid="14">prog</span> rock, bringing with them an experimental edge that ran from Comus to Zappa.  (It helped that they were a sort of Canterbury "supergroup," formed by ex-members of Matching Mole, Caravan, and Gong).  And although they only released two albums (the other being the brilliant <em>Rotter's Club</em> in 1975), they were far from through: some of the members went on to form National Health, which melded Canterbury with jazz, and ranks among the very best of the Canterbury School. The video below is to "Aigrette/Rifferama."</p> <p><strong><em>Here Come the Warm Jets </em>(Brian Eno)</strong></p> <p>Yes, even the prog-ubiquitous Brian Eno had a beginning as a solo artist, and this was it. And quite an "it" it was: ten of the strangest songs, straddling glam rock, art rock, progressive rock, and even some early electronica. The link is to "Baby's on Fire."</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nItuhuY1U04?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Journey to the Center of the Earth </em>(Rick Wakeman)</strong></p> <p>After showing his keyboard and composition chops on his first solo album, <em>Six Wives of Henry VIII</em>, Wakeman added orchestra, chorus and lyrics to create this well-received thematic semi-masterpiece. Interestingly, the album was almost shelved by the record company. But with the help of an industry supporter or two, it finally got released -- and found its way to #1 in the U.K. and #3 in the U.S. The link is to the original live recording in its entirety.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/YJ9W2pZwvlY?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway </em>(Genesis)</strong></p> <p>Although Genesis had already established its place as one of the two most reliable and unrelentingly creative symphonic prog bands (along with Yes), this two-LP set was their tour-de-force, a concept album that ranks among the best of the best. With the theatrically-minded Peter Gabriel providing voice to the story of Rael, a New York City graffiti artist and general ne'er-do-well (or is he something else entirely?), the songwriting, arrangement, and technical proficiency of the group is taken to extraordinary heights. The link is to "In the Cage."</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/v4tDKF_uwRI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Mirage </em>(Camel)</strong></p> <p>One of the members of the Canterbury school of prog, Camel came out of the starting gate as a force to be reckoned with in its genre. This, their sophomore album, made it clear that they would be around for a while, writing in the "traditional" Canterbury vein, but also occasionally straddling a harder-edged rock. The link is to "Supertwister."</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HpAUUeitABE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>The Power &amp; The Glory </em>(Gentle Giant)</strong></p> <p>This group of uber-intellectual multi-instrumentalists had already been creating a unique amalgam of rock, folk, classical and medieval music for some time before this, the second of only two concept albums. Many of the band members consider this their favorite, and for good reason. The link is to "So Sincere," one of their most musically and harmonically complex compositions. As an aside, despite the complexity of the arrangements, the band could reproduce them perfectly live.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/NLWvj6VyYGg?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Red Queen to Gryphon Three </em>(Gryphon)</strong></p> <p>Straddling prog-folk and Canterbury, Gryphon had a wonderfully light touch in its melding of classical, folk and rock, using a more "orchestral" approach than most. This album is considered their best by most prog fans. The link is to "Opening Move."</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/p1x58IH5DQ8?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Relayer </em>(Yes)</strong></p> <p>Along with <em>Tales from Topographic Oceans</em>, this album finds a serious split among Yes fans: they either love it or hate it; there is no in between. Part of the problem stems from the fact that master keyboardist Rick Wakeman had just left the band, and the choice of Patrick Moraz as his replacement was controversial. Still, the album was a commercial success -- though the band would not make another album for three years, when Wakeman returned. The video below is the entire album.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/A4v1WkzY3gA?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Remember the Future </em>(Nektar)</strong></p> <p>Although Nektar had released two prior albums, they were both in a psychedelic-experimental vein. (And both quite good for that.) This was their first concept album, and it was clear that the band had…progressed toward a more cohesive approach to their writing, arrangement and performance. Indeed, there are those who consider this album a "masterpiece" in the prog genre. It may be. But in any case it is certainly a superb effort. The link is to the full suite.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/u1i24LNre4U?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p><strong><em>Starless &amp; Bible Black </em>(King Crimson)</strong></p> <p>King Crimson all but created the progressive rock genre as we know it with its 1969 debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, and, in one form or another, has continued creating some of the most creative -- and often disturbing -- prog rock since then. This, their sixth album, is considered by many to be their darkest, and it's hard not to agree. The link is to "The Great Deceiver." (It comes in quickly and hard, so be prepared!). As an aside, it is also the 40th anniversary of the band's album <em>Red</em>. The second link is to the latter album's "One More Red Nightmare."</p> <p><strong><em>Welcome Back My Friends </em>(Emerson, Lake &amp; Palmer)</strong></p> <p>In my book, this is one of the three or four greatest live prog rock albums ever recorded. (Genesis' <em>Seconds Out </em>and Gentle Giant's <em>Playing the Fool </em>are two others.) Recorded during their mega-successful Brain Salad Surgery tour, the production on this album is almost impossibly perfect -- and the performances equally if not more so. The link is to "Tarkus," in my opinion the greatest live prog-rock recording of all time.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/AhYBq6Iz2nQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Before I go, I want to give a shout out to a few other anniversaries this year, some prog, some not. Re prog, this is the 30th anniversary of <em>Brave </em>(Marillion) -- one of the two greatest neo-prog concept albums -- and <em>Awake</em> (Dream Theater). And it is the 20th anniversary of <em>Marbles </em>(also Marillion) and <em>Dark Matter </em>(IQ).</p> <p>Among non-prog albums, a few stand out. This is the 40th anniversary of Average White Band's debut, <em>Court</em><em> &amp; Spark </em>(Joni Mitchell), <em>Crime of the Century </em>(Supertramp), <em>Eldorado </em>(Electric Light Orchestra), <em>Natty Dread</em> (Bob Marley &amp; The Wailers), <em>Sheer Heart Attack </em>(Queen), <em>Sheet Music </em>(10CC), and <em>Walls &amp; Bridges </em>(Lennon). And it is the 50th anniversary of <em>The Times They Are a-Changin' </em>(Dylan), and the 30th anniversary of <em>Born in the U.S.A.</em> (Springsteen), <em>Learning to Crawl </em>(The Pretenders), <em>Purple Rain </em>(Prince) and <em>Unforgettable Fire </em>(U2).</p> <p>So hoist a glass, ye mateys, and celebrate this amazing year for rock album anniversaries!</p> </div> <section> </section> Sun, 30 Mar 2014 23:56:56 +0000 Ian Alterman 2972 at http://culturecatch.com