Titles are arranged alphabetically.
A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-T | U-Z
25 Yard Screamer are a Welsh band signed to the White Knight label, the label run by Magenta’s Rob Reed and Will Mackie of Caerllysi Music. Keep Sending Signals (2016) is the band’s fifth or sixth album. Initially a guitar/bass/drums trio, their early albums received some attention in prog rock circles, but to us the lack of a keyboardist made it problematic to consider them a prog band (though if Rush are near the center of your prog universe, you probably feel differently). More recently, 25 Yard Screamer began collaborating with a keyboardist, though the music is still composed by the trio. While the keys play only a minor role, the additional tone colors do help. There is enough subtlety, atmosphere, and mood variation to place the band solidly in the modern prog camp. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Get Ready to ROCK! reviews.
801 was one of the first progressive rock supergroups. In 1976, while Roxy Music had temporarily disbanded, 801 (the name of the band was taken from the Eno song The True Wheel) got together as a temporary project. The original sextet included Phil Manzanera, Brian Eno, Bill MacCormick, Francis Monkman, Simon Phillips, and Lloyd Watson, and after a warm-up show in Cromer in Norfolk, that lineup played just two gigs: at the Reading Festival and at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall. The latter concert was subsequently released as the famous 801 Live.
In 1977, the year after 801 Live was recorded, a new 801 lineup took to the road in the UK for a 10-date tour. Eno was otherwise engaged, Roxy Music’s drummer Paul Thompson replaced Simon Phillips, and the lineup was completed by Bill MacCormick (bass & vocals), Dave Skinner (keyboards & vocals), Simon Ainley (guitars & vocals), and bandleader Phil Manzanera (guitars). These two 78-minute digipack CDs contain two dates from that tour. Live @ Hull, recorded at Hull University, features Eddie Jobson on violin. Jobson was in Roxy Music at this time, and his performance of Out of the Blue may be the highlight of this album. Manchester features guests Andy MacKay from Roxy Music and 10cc’s Kevin Godley and Lol Creme. The setlist on these CDs includes a few songs that appeared on 801 Live but also a number of songs from Listen Now, which was either Manzanera’s second solo album or the first 801 studio album, or both.
Aardvark’s only album was released in 1970 on Decca’s short-lived progressive imprint Deram Nova. The music is keyboard-centric proto-prog in the vein of Egg, The Nice, Greenslade, Deep Purple, and The Doors. This 2011 Esoteric reissue has been newly remastered from the original master tapes and features a booklet with fully restored artwork and new essay. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Abel Ganz was the other Scottish neo-prog band during the 1980s progressive revival, Pallas being the better known of the two. Abel Ganz’s singer Alan Reed became Pallas’s second singer. Abel Ganz’s 1980s albums were initially only available on cassette before being reissued on CD by a now-defunct French label. In 2016, band co-founder Hew Montgomery remixed Abel Ganz’s 1984 first album Gratuitous Flash, keeping the original audio in the mix while augmenting it with additional sounds and keyboards. Of course if you remix, you must then remaster. There is one bonus track, Alan Reed’s superb solo arrangement of Kean on the Job. Digipack.
Back from the Zone features five remastered tracks from the first three Abel Ganz albums, finally sounding the way they should, plus one of their old tracks re-recorded in 2001, plus a new 2001 track, for a total of 65 minutes of music. This is melodic symphonic prog that ranks with Pallas, Twelfth Night, Haze, Galahad, and Castanarc.
Originally released in 1988, The Dangers of Strangers is considered by many to be Abel Ganz’s best album from the 1980s. This 2008 20th anniversary edition comes in an elaborate fold-out digipack housed in a slipcase, with all new artwork, a 20-page booklet, liner notes, and archive photos. There is a 7:12 bonus track, an alternate version of the title track that originally appeared on the vinyl release Double Exposure, a compilation of unsigned prog bands assembled by a young Steven Wilson. The audio has been remastered from the original master tapes, and the band says the improvement in sound quality is quite remarkable. The CD also includes video footage from the recording sessions 20 years earlier.
It was a long wait, but Abel Ganz returned with Shooting Albatross (2008, digipack) with co-founders Hew Montgomery (keys) and Hugh Carter (multiple instruments) back together again. Drummer Denis Smith, who played on The Dangers of Strangers album, is back in the fold along with three newer members including singer Mick MacFarlane. Alan Reed contributes vocals to this CD, while Magenta’s Chris Fry contributes some guitar solos. This is Abel Ganz’s most mature work to date, and it is obvious that a lot of work went into it. There is some of their old 1980s Marillion-like style present, but the bulk of this 66-minute CD cannot be called neo-prog, though Abel Ganz have lost none of their melodic sense. Starting from common ground, it is as if Pallas are now in charge of all the pomp and bombast, while Abel Ganz have the subtlety and nuance. The predominant vibe on this CD is laid-back, and the Scottish flavors are especially welcome.
See the related bands Grand Tour and Long Earth.
Lee Abraham was the bass player of Galahad from 2005-2009 and rejoined the band in 2017 as guitarist. Having already done his Black & White album in 2009, Lee counters with Colours (2017). If one counts the Idle Noise album, this is Abraham’s seventh. It again features his core band of Gerald Mulligan on drums, Rob Arnold on piano, Alistair Begg on bass, with Lee handling all guitars and some keys. The vocalists keep coming back too: Dec Burke (Frost, Darwin’s Radio), Marc Atkinson (Riversea, Mandalaband, Nine Stones Close), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf), Simon Godfrey (Tinyfish, Valdez), and Steve Overland. Listen to the album overview. In what seems like a short time, Lee Abraham went from an unknown to one of our best selling artists.
This 1970 early prog album was the only one for Affinity, a British band fronted by singer Linda Hoyle and comparable to Sandrose, Analogy, Julian’s Treatment, and Curved Air. This is the Angel Air edition, which adds a mere eight bonus tracks and is the best of the CD reissues of this album. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
After the Fire began as a keyboard-driven progressive rock band in the Genesis, Greenslade, and Beggars’ Opera veins. Their debut LP Signs of Change was released in 1978 on the band’s own Rapid label. It was deleted when they signed to CBS, changed styles to new wave and had some hit singles, making the LP a rarity. This CD on the Angel Air label adds four bonus tracks totaling over 30 minutes that are of equal quality to the album proper.
This is the 2008 Esoteric label edition, remastered with one bonus track. In 1975, following his departure from Gong, Daevid Allen sought musical solace on the island of Mallorca. Here he began a collaboration with a group of Catalan musicians called Euterpe. Recorded in Mallorca, the album Good Morning was released by Virgin Records in 1976 to great acclaim. It is a unique work that was regarded by fans and critics as being as good as anything Allen recorded with Gong, if not better. Allen created a work that for the most part eschews drums and heavy percussion. It has more charm than any Gong record, and while some of it is Gong-like, there is a Genesis-like pastoral quality in spots, one track that presages what Peter Gabriel and King Crimson would do years later, and touches of folk. The 11-minute track Wise Man in Your Heart features Gong colleagues Mike Howlett and Pierre Moerlen. Good Morning appeared briefly on CD in the early 1990s but vanished quickly. Out-of-print, last copies.
Also Eden are one of the best of the latter-day British neo-prog bands. Their first two albums About Time (2006) and It’s Kind of You to Ask (2008) featured singer Huw Lloyd-Jones and are symphonic rock in the vein of Abel Ganz and, to a lesser extent, Marillion, Pallas, and IQ. On these first two CDs, the distinguishing characteristic of Also Eden’s music is an emotional warmth that made them the coziest of the British neo-prog bands.
Lloyd-Jones left prior to Also Eden’s 2010 EP Differences as Light, replaced by another fine singer in Rich Harding. That EP signaled the start of a slightly different direction for the band. Think of the Children! (2011) is the band’s third full-length album. The music is a bit heavier now, closer to recent Pallas, recent Galahad, and a modern take on early Marillion, though the blustery passages are sometimes alternated with delicate segments probably influenced by the Genesis pastoral 12-string sound. You can also hear references to Rush and Twelfth Night, among others. Overall, some of the charm and songwriting of the first two albums has been supplanted by an ambitious, serious-sounding and somewhat theatrical long-form approach that demands several listens. Listen to the album sampler mp3.
As for [Redacted] (2013), “Also Eden have significantly raised their game with this, their second album since Rich Harding took over as lead vocalist. Despite occasional echoes of Tangerine Dream, Porcupine Tree, and even Trespass-era Genesis in the album’s quieter moments, this is a harder-edged and more rock-orientated record than their previous work. The result is a powerful yet richly layered record, with Simon Rogers’ inventive guitar playing at the centre of the sound, and Rich Harding’s lyrics moving from the political to the personal.” [Where Worlds Collide] Also read reviews at Prog Archives and a compendium of reviews covering all the Also Eden albums.
Amazing Blondel sound like minstrels, using some early music instruments to update English traditional music in a very different manner than Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, taking courtly renaissance music as their source as opposed to folk songs. The 2-on-1 Evensong / Fantasia Lindum CD on the BGO label contains their 1970 second and 1971 third albums on one CD. “Evensong is a folk album that harked back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Madrigals and ballads performed on period instruments became their specialty, and the trio’s creative ideas led to the concept album Fantasia Lindum, which belongs more to progressive rock than to folk-rock.” [Prog Archives]
The 2-on-1 England / Blondel CD was released by BGO in 2010, containing the 1972 fourth and 1973 fifth Amazing Blondel albums. “England used the same technique to craft elegant, lushly-arranged pop songs. [Founding member John David] Gladwin left and the surviving duo veered towards Steeleye Span’s hard-folk with Blondel, entirely composed by Eddie Baird.” [Prog Archives]
Englishe Musicke is a 71-minute compilation on the Edsel label drawn from Evensong, Fantasia Lindum and England. See Prog Archives for more info.
The Anchoress is Welsh multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, PhD, and producer Catherine Anne Davies (who also plays in the live line-up of Simple Minds). Confessions of a Romance Novelist was released in January 2016 as a single CD. Now Kscope has issued this 2CD digipack edition, with a bonus disc containing five new acoustic tracks. The Anchoress was the winner of the 2016 Limelight Award (a reader-voted Best Newcomer category) at Prog magazine’s Progressive Music Awards. Prog magazine went so far as proclaiming her debut album “...Kate Bush’s Hounds Of Love updated for the 21st century.” Or think of The Anchoress as a female Peter Gabriel and you’ll be in the ballpark. Catherine plays a variety of instruments, including piano, guitar, flute, omnichord, Mellotron, wurlitzer, glockenspiel, and celeste, as well as multitracking up to 25 vocal harmonies on some of the songs. Some songs pack plenty of punch. Listen to Doesn’t Kill You and Popular.
About Survival and Other Stories (2011), Jon says, “About four years ago I just put an ad on my website: ‘Musicians Wanted’... this is the result. Writing the songs for Survival and other Stories was uplifting for me on many levels. I was working with musicians from around the world via the Internet, it’s a new world, music is a healing energy, I had a tough 2008 through illness, and the music I’ve been writing since is a celebration of life on many levels. I hope you get the chance to hear the album.” Read the Prog Rock Music Talk review. Listen to New New World.
This is the 2013 newly-remastered and expanded edition on Esoteric of Jon Anderson’s 1994 album Change We Must. The album features extensive orchestral arrangements of both new compositions and material from Anderson’s past, including a new version of Hearts (from the Yes album 90125) and State of Independence (from the Jon & Vangelis album The Friends of Mr Cairo). Change We Must also features additional material co-written by Jon Anderson and Vangelis, including the title track, The Kiss, and Candle Song. The CD features two bonus tracks: a single edit of the title track and an interview with Jon Anderson. The booklet fully restores the original album artwork and includes new liner notes by Jon. Click the mp3 icon above to read the All Music review.
Roine Stolt met Jon Anderson on the 2014 Progressive Nation at Sea cruise, which led to Invention of Knowledge (2016, digipack). The album also features Tom Brislin (who has played with Yes, Renaissance, and Camel, among others), Jonas Reingold and Felix Lehrmann from The Flower Kings, Lalle Larsson (Karmakanic), Michael Stolt, Nad Sylvan, Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain of Salvation), and more. The lyrics were written by Anderson while the music was created by Stolt and Anderson sending audio files back and forth online, then the production was done in Sweden with Stolt producing and Reingold mastering. “You might expect this album to sound like a mix of Tales from Topographic Oceans (one of Stolt’s cited influences) and a Flower Kings record, and indeed it does. It is even comprised of four long-form compositions, only this time with a good dose of Swedish melodic third-wave prog... An organic, majestic, mystical, wondrous, richly-woven tapestry of melodies, this album succeeds because Stolt’s experience as the third wave’s hero of long prog compositions blends beautifully with Anderson’s invention of the genre in the first wave. It succeeds not because of who they are, but because of what they have done with it.” [The Prog Report] Here are a few seconds of music to whet your appetite: teaser 1 ♦ teaser 2. Watch the video for Knowing.
Rob Andrew’s 2002 album The Host is a group affair, and whereas his previous CD An Amnesty for Bonny Things on Sunny Days was more acoustic, this one really goes for it in places with electric guitar work dominating. His electric guitar leans toward the styles of Steve Hackett, David Gilmour, or Robert Fripp. Rob also handles bass and is assisted by a keyboardist and drummer. Highlights are the title track The Host, building from acoustic guitar/keyboards to heavy guitar and thunderous drums; Lake Viñuela, which builds on keyboards and ends with a long guitar solo rising in passion; and the epic Saboteur, with Spanish and electric guitars weaving in and out of complex passages. A wash of Mellotron introduces a finale full of invention and driving guitar.
This album recorded in the 1980s was one of the first on Island Records. It is easily grouped with Rupert Hine’s progressive pop albums of the same decade. The reason is obvious. Rupert Hine produced, plays keyboards and adds backing vocals, while Hine’s cohorts Trevor Morais (drums) and Phil Palmer (guitars) are also in the band. Howard Jones is credited with “impressive keyboard solos”. Hine’s stamp is all over this album. High quality bonus tracks take the total playing time up to 73 minutes.
Double Egg with Chips and Beans (2006, 19:13) is the second of a trio of CD-EPs by British band Antique Seeking Nuns, who evolved into Sanguine Hum. These are wonderful, warm and witty works mostly in a Canterbury (Hatfield and the North) style, with some Gentle Giant and Zappa, but also an original take on it all that makes it sound fresh and exciting. Out-of-print, last copies.
This 2009 edition on Esoteric is the first official UK CD release of this 1971 album, remastered from the original master tapes. The DPRP review also provides some biographical info; there’s much more in the booklet. Like many of Esoteric’s rescued relics, Arc’s album is proto-prog or early prog, that is, it lies between the mundane rock of the era and the full-blown progressive rock that King Crimson, Yes and Genesis were already producing. But as proto-prog albums go, Arc’s is quite good. They have a piano/organ player, and it’s really only the heavier tracks that sound dated, because of the primitive lead electric guitar tone and blues-rock elements. The lighter tracks fare better.
This 2008 edition on Esoteric is the first official UK CD release of this 1979 album, remastered from the original master tapes. Neil Ardley was known as a jazz composer, and the musicians on this album were drawn from the top echelon of British jazz musicians (many from Nucleus). But this album was a departure for Ardley, as the music has more appeal to progressive rock fans, while probably irritating many jazz fans. Ardley plays synthesizers throughout, and the music is symphonic, structured, and sometimes spacey, with many melodies that have little to do with jazz. There are sections of jazz-rock, other sections that are merely a little jazzy, and much that isn’t jazz at all. Bass guitar is way up in the mix, and there are some ethereal wordless female vocals. Notable among the musicians on this record is folkie John Martyn on guitar. Read the DPRP review.
Check our DVDs page for Arena’s DVDs. Arena is the band formed in the mid-1990s around Marillion’s first drummer Mick Pointer and keyboardist Clive Nolan (Pendragon). Arena began playing Marillion-style neo-prog on their first two albums. With their third album The Visitor (1998), they began moving in a heavier direction, concurrently becoming more original and professional. John Mitchell became the guitarist at this stage.
Immortal? (2000) features new singer Rob Sowden. Here Arena continued to shift to a darker, heavier, more aggressive approach, though Clive Nolan’s keyboards are still at the center of the show. The 20-minute Moviedrome is the highlight.
Arena celebrated their 10th anniversary with the album Pepper’s Ghost (2005). The concept of the album must have something to do with the comic book in the booklet, but have a magnifying glass handy if you intend to read the text. There’s still plenty of heavy guitar on this one, but it’s all in service of epic symphonic prog tracks with huge vocal choruses and lots of keyboard leads. Arena may have begun as an offshoot of early Marillion, but with this lineup, they have come into their own.
The Unquiet Sky (2015) is the eighth studio CD for Arena, currently Clive Nolan, Mick Pointer, John Mitchell, Paul Manzi, and new bassist Kylan Amos. Read the Sea of Tranquility and DPRP reviews.
Shortly after the release of The Unquiet Sky, Arena embarked on their 20th anniversary tour and played an outstanding show in Poland at Katowice’s Kinoteatr “Rialto” in April 2015. The show was recorded for the live double-CD XX (2016, digipack).
If you wondered what John Jowitt was doing before showing up as the bass player in more English neo-prog bands than you can remember, in the 1980s he was in the band arK. Those tuned into the English progressive revival of that decade should be familiar with arK’s first album The Dreams of Mr. Jones (1988). Two cassette albums followed before Jowitt left in late 1990. The band continued for several years, releasing a few more CDs. Jowitt has reformed the band, leading to this new CD in 2010. The band now features original members Tony Short on vocals and flute, Pete Wheatley on lead guitar, Steve Harris on guitar synth, and new member Tim Churchman (formerly of Darwin’s Radio) on drums. Some of the songs here appear for the first time, while others are re-recorded versions of old arK songs. arK always had a less polished sound than the neo-prog frontrunners (Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, etc.), probably closer to their live sound. arK did gig heavily back in the day. These new versions sound better than the original recordings though, with better musicianship. The use of flute and guitar-synth in lieu of a keyboardist gives arK an identifiable sound. Read the DPRP review.
This is the 2010 remastered edition on Esoteric of In the Realm of Asgærd (we’ll spell it that way once), a 1972 album that originally appeared on The Moody Blues’ Threshold label. It’s an album of early British prog or proto-prog, from a lineup of vocals, guitar/vocals, violin, bass, and drums. Prog Archives has several reviews and one mp3. Now out-of-print, last copies.
This 2010 CD from the ex-Hawkwind synth wizard is full of cosmic/rhythmic synth music in the classic style. Electronic music fans who may have no interest in Hawkwind can dive right in here, as this is pure EM. For the most part, it is a high-tech version of mid-to-late 1970s Tangerine Dream, with touches of Vangelis and some of the French synthesists, and lots of twittering synths Hawkwind-style. Several tracks use electronic percussion to up the energy level. This is as good as the Berlin school heroes. 69-minutes. Out-of-print, last copies.
This is the 2009 remastered edition on Esoteric of Two Sides of Peter Banks. Guitarist Peter Banks left Yes following the release of Time and a Word and formed the progressive band Flash. That band enjoyed a degree of success in the U.S., affording Banks the opportunity to record this 1973 instrumental solo album with guest musicians that include Jan Akkerman (Focus), Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, and John Wetton, as well as Flash members Ray Bennett and Mike Hough. Akkerman has the largest role. Read the AllMusic review (mp3 icon above).
Reduction, recorded in 1997, is the fourth solo album from the original guitarist of Yes. It’s a creative instrumental album of guitar and guitar synth embellished with loops and samples, certainly Banks’ most contemporary sounding album, and nothing like Yes. It’s a good showcase for the man’s talents and is very much a composer’s album rather than a pointless display of technique. Banks’ second, Instinct (1994), is also instrumental and displays those same qualities.
This is the 2009 30th Anniversary Edition on Esoteric Recordings of Tony Banks’ first and best solo album, 1979’s A Curious Feeling. The CD is not simply remastered, rather it contains a new stereo mix, for the same reason the most recent editions of the Genesis albums have new stereo mixes -- it is essentially a byproduct of creating a surround mix. Yes, Genesis house engineer Nick Davis did for this album what he did for the Genesis albums, returning to the multi-tracks to craft a 5.1 surround mix. This was first released in 2009 in a hardcover mediabook, but that deluxe edition went out-of-print quickly and so the surround audio remained unavailable for several years. In 2016, Esoteric reissued the CD+DVD edition in this slipcased jewel box. In addition to the surround audio, the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the new stereo mix in 96 kHz / 24-bit, plus two rare 1979 promotional videos for the songs For a While and The Waters of Lethe. The booklet contains new liner notes by Tony.
These are Esoteric’s 2016-2017 newly remastered, remixed, and expanded editions of BJH’s Octoberon (1976) and XII (1978), which come in fat digipacks. The first CD in each set contains the original stereo mix remastered, while the second CD contains a new stereo mix. The star attraction is the DVD (NTSC, all-region) in each set containing a 5.1 surround mix as well as the new stereo mix in 96 kHz / 24-bit. Each also includes 6-7 bonus tracks (some in 5.1), fully restored artwork and lavishly illustrated booklets with liner notes. The Octoberon DVD includes two Polydor promotional films which were broadcast on The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977. Each set counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Barclay James Harvest split in two quite a few years ago, and in the meantime founding members Mel Pritchard and Woolly Wolstenholme passed away. North (2013), which features all new material, is dedicated to their memory, and it is John Lees’ BJH that is carrying on the 1970s progressive side of the band and returning to BJH’s roots. The rest of the band here is Craig Fletcher, Jez Smith, and Kevin Whitehead. This is a very strong album, certainly better than the BJH albums from the late 1970s on, when their music became mainstream/AOR. Yes, BJH are back. The limited 2CD edition comes in a digipack and adds a previously unreleased bonus CD featuring highlights of the band’s sold-out concert at Buxton Opera House in February 2011, which concentrates on classic BJH material. The single CD edition comes in a jewel case. Read the DPRP reviews. Watch the album preview video.
Barclay James Harvest are a British band who released their first album in 1970. They are known for creating a unique brand of soft symphonic pop. These are the 2013 Esoteric digipack reissues of Eyes of the Universe (1979) and Turn of the Tide (1981), newly remastered from the original master tapes, with booklets that fully restore all original album artwork with a new essay by BJH experts Keith and Monika Domone. Eyes of the Universe includes four bonus tracks, all single edits. Turn of the Tide includes two bonus tracks.
This is Esoteric’s edition of BJH’s 1987 live album Glasnost (digipack). It has been expanded to a double-CD that includes the complete concert (adding five previously-unreleased tracks) in the original set running order and has been newly remastered from the original master tapes. It features a booklet that fully restores all original album artwork, with a new essay. Glasnost was recorded at Treptower Park, East Berlin on 14 July 1987. The concert was one of the first by a Western rock band in East Germany and was a major event, with the band playing to a staggering 175,000 people. (It wasn’t easy to count them either.) Did Barclay James Harvest set off a chain of events leading to the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, changing the course of history? (Answer: no)
Following 1997’s River of Dreams, Barclay James Harvest’s last album as a trio, John Lees and Les Holroyd went their separate ways. For Nexus (1999), Lees teamed again with original BJH keyboardist Woolly Wolstenholme. Craig Fletcher and Kevin Whitehead from Woolly’s band Maestoso completed the lineup, so think of this version of BJH as Maestoso with John Lees. Half the album is new songs and (at the record company’s insistence) half remakes of classic BJH tracks. For prog fans, Woolly was the key to BJH being prog-worthy, so not so surprisingly, Nexus is the highest-rated, post-1978 (after XII) BJH studio album at Prog Archives; read the many reviews there.
Check our DVDs page for some Barclay James Harvest DVDs.
Colin Bass has been the bass player and backing vocalist for Camel since 1981’s Nude. At the time of these CDs at least, he lived in Berlin and established himself in Poland, where he toured. His CDs got released there and he often used Polish musicians. In the Meantime (2003) is very much a songwriter’s album. Bass demonstrates that he is a very capable songwriter with an impressive depth of style. While most of the songs are not overtly proggy, there is still a clear difference between these songs/arrangements and what a mainstream singer/songwriter would produce. A couple songs bear a resemblance to Camel, and several are folky-prog in a Strawbs sort of way, with acoustic guitar at the foundation. Two of the songs are near the 9-minute mark, so the progressive aesthetic is never far away. Several other musicians lend their talents, the lineup varying song-by-song. This is the new version on Kartini/Oskar that adds five bonus tracks: Gently Kindly (previously only available as a single) and four songs recorded live on his 2005 tour of Poland.
On his earlier CDs, Bass’s music is similar to Camel from Nude on. An Outcast of the Islands is his 1998 studio album and features Camel’s Andy Latimer and Dave Stewart on most tracks. This is the 2003 remastered edition, which adds three bonus tracks (one studio, two live), stretching the playing time to 77-minutes.
Live Vol. 2: Acoustic Songs (2000) is a 71-minute unplugged live album, with Colin joined by three Polish musicians on piano, flute, and acoustic guitar. In addition to his originals, several covers of 1980s Camel songs are included, plus two arrangements of English traditional songs. This is the digipack reissue on Oskar.
Live at Polskie Radio 3 (1999) is a 96-minute 2CD live set performed with the members of Poland’s Quidam in the band, including their first singer Emilia. There are six Camel covers in addition to the originals, so obviously these albums are highly-recommended to Camel fans, as well as to fans of early Quidam. This is the digipack reissue on Oskar.
Composer/arranger David Bedford was well known to progressive rock fans during the 1970s, partly due to his work with Mike Oldfield, Kevin Ayers, and others. In 1976 Bedford released his fourth solo album The Odyssey, a musical setting for the play by Homer. While his previous three albums were avant-garde, The Odyssey was more accessible, a progressive/classical/ambient work that featured Mike Oldfield and a pre-Police Andy Summers on guitar, plus the female voices of the Queen’s College Choir. This CD is a live performance of The Odyssey that took place at the Royal Albert Hall in January 1977. In addition to David Bedford, the performance featured Mike Ratledge (Soft Machine), Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Dave Stewart (National Health), Neal Ardley, Peter Lemer, and Mike Oldfield, not to mention the Queen’s College Choir. Recorded for broadcast on radio, the concert had not been heard since the original broadcast until this 2011 CD.
Beggar’s Opera are a Glasgow-based progressive rock band who in their first phase were active throughout the 1970s, beginning with Act One (1970), their most classical-rock album and very organ-driven, similar to The Nice. Their second album Waters of Change (1971) features two new members and is more along the lines of Cressida, with Mellotron now in the mix. These first two albums are their best. Their third Pathfinder (1972) was their last good album of this first phase. Two key members then departed, and the band’s fourth album Get Your Dog Off Me! (1974) was dire, and though a few more albums followed, none were of much consequence. Note singer Martin Griffiths’ son Philip currently sings for the German progressive rock bands Alias Eye and Poor Genetic Material.
Released by the Esoteric label, Nimbus: The Vertigo Years Anthology (2012) is a double-CD that includes the first three albums in their entirety, the A & B sides of an early single, and four tracks from Get Your Dog Off Me!. Esoteric included what were probably the best tracks from Dog; you won’t miss the others. The audio was recently remastered from the original master tapes, while the booklet fully restores the original album artwork and adds a new essay. You get Beggar’s Opera’s covers of both MacArthur Park and Classical Gas, two songs which always seemed related. This MacArthur Park should be considered the definitive version, as it has the power that should’ve been in the original.
Big Big Train’s 10th album Grimspound (2017, digisleeve) followed swiftly after Folklore as the band found themselves with a wealth of new material and writing input from their newer members. They probably also realize that they’re at both a creative and popularity peak and are not taking the future for granted. Bassist Greg Spawton says: “There is some complex music on this album, with extended instrumental sections alongside vocal passages. We had a lot of fun making the album and have pushed ourselves as progressive rock bands should.” Judy Dyble adds vocals to “a song concerning the reported sightings of a ghostly apparition beside the cemetery gates in a quiet English village.” Nick and Rachel sing some lead parts on this album, further expanding the sonic palette. Watch the videos for As the Crow Flies and Experimental Gentlemen. Read the Progradar, The Progressive Aspect, and The Prog Report reviews. Note shortly after its release, Grimspound hit number one in the UK Official Rock Album Chart!
And The Second Brightest Star (2017, digisleeve) follows just a couple months after Grimspound, as the two are considered companion albums. The Second Brightest Star features over 40 minutes of new songs and instrumentals plus 30 minutes of bonus music from the Folklore and Grimspound albums presented in extended formats. Listen to the title track. Read The Prog Report review.
A Stone’s Throw from the Line (2CD, 2016, digisleeve) is Big Big Train’s first live album. The album was recorded at the three sold-out Kings Place, London shows in August 2015 that garnered the band the Live Event of the Year award at the 2016 Progressive Music Awards. Those shows saw Big Big Train return to the stage after a 17-year absence. The best performance of each song from the three gigs made it to the CD while maintaining the actual running order of the shows. A 40-page booklet is included.
English band Big Big Train began in the early 1990s as a soft neo-prog band, but steadily improving with each album, they have grown into one of the top progressive rock bands in the world, and one that is breaking new ground. The band that had already added drummer Nick D’Virgilio, former XTC and Peter Gabriel guitarist Dave Gregory, and best-singer-in-prog David Longdon, has now added Beardfish mastermind Rikard Sjöblom! Who doesn’t want to board Big Big Train now?
Big Big Train’s English Electric was first released as separate Part One (2012) and Part Two (2013) CDs. (They were later merged.) Of those initial editions, only Part One (digipack) remains in our stock; both are now deleted. English Electric continues Big Big Train’s meteoric rise to prog fame, as it goes beyond even The Underfall Yard. It is a journey across the English landscape that tells further tales of the men and women who work on and under the land. Andy Tillison (The Tangent) guests. “Fragrant, mellifluous and, quite frankly, awe-inspiring.” [Classic Rock] “English Electric is a thing of absolute and intense beauty, truth, and goodness. It comes as close to reaching the Platonic ideal of the forms as any album can. It’s intense, hurried, lingering, pastoral, necessary, longing, bouncy, pleading, satisfying, answering, punctuated, loud, quiet, meaningful, and, over and above all, harmonious... BBT’s music transcends our day-to-day lives in ways that surpass words.” [The Imaginative Conservative] This is no doubt Big Big Train’s magnum opus. It’s astonishing how far they have come. Because if we had to choose the best contemporary representative of the progressive rock genre, it could well be this album. Watch the promo video.
If you were asking yourself how Big Big Train could follow a work of the magnitude and brilliance of English Electric, it took a few years for the answer, which is Folklore (2016, 68-minutes, digipack). From the press release: On Folklore, Big Big Train are reimagining and breathing new life into traditional themes, and also creating a few new ones along the way. The crafts of songwriting and storytelling beat strongly at the heart of the Big Big Train and inform every track on the new album. Folklore features the same line-up (eight-piece band and brass quintet) that performed three sold-out shows at Kings Place in London during the summer of 2015, with the addition of a string quartet. The experience of bringing this complex music to the concert stage has honed the band’s sound, making Folklore a focused and exciting listening experience. All the hallmarks of the Big Big Train sound can be found here: powerful and emotional vocal delivery, and dramatic extended song arrangements which showcase the musical ability within the band. Watch the video for the title track, the album trailer, and the video for Wassail (the title track of the Wassail EP also appears on Folklore).
This is the newly-remastered edition of Faster Than the Speed of Light (1979) on Esoteric, which restores the original album artwork and includes a new essay. “Faster Than the Speed of Light got in just under the deadline of the new decade, a spectacle of grand progressive rock excess in a style that just wouldn’t be possible in the 80s. The instrumentation on this album consists of Arthur Brown on vocals, Atomic Rooster’s Vincent Crane (who had co-written Brown’s signature track Fire in 1968) on organ and piano, and drummer Clifford Venner, plus the entirety of the Frankfurt Symphony Orchestra. The resulting prog rock symphonics mesh somewhat uneasily with Crane’s forward-looking synth rock experiments on songs like Nothing We Can Do, but as a whole, this apocalyptic concept album makes a virtue of its own overblown pomposity. Arthur Brown always had a knack for deflating his occasionally pretentious lyrics with a refreshing modicum of dry wit, which holds him in good stead on the opening Storm Clouds. On the centerpiece track Storm, Brown sings in an unexpected falsetto over a synth-dominated backing track reminiscent of some of Frank Zappa’s mid-70s work. Of course, all the various elements come together on the climactic title track, featuring some of Brown’s most enjoyably overwrought vocals, a keyboard solo that Keith Emerson himself might find excessive, and some of the biggest orchestral swells to be found in the entire symphonic rock genre. It’s all a bit over the top, naturally, but somehow it doesn’t seem pretentious or annoying.” [AllMusic]
For those not familiar with Duncan Browne, he was a gifted songwriter, singer, and guitarist who sadly passed away in 1993 from cancer. He was a musical chameleon, recording the post-psych chamber pop classic Give Me, Take You album in 1968, then re-emerging four years later as an introspective singer/songwriter. By the mid-1970s, he had signed to the Transatlantic label as a member of Euro art rock sophisticates Metro. The Metro album is quite respectable, but it’s after Browne left Metro that it gets really interesting for prog fans. Browne’s two best albums are The Wild Places (1978) and Streets of Fire (1979). These two prog/pop albums not only feature outstanding songs but a lot of first-rate progressive rock, as Browne had assembled a stellar cast of British session musicians in keyboardist Tony Hymas (Jeff Beck), bassist John Giblin (Brand X, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel,...), and drummer Simon Phillips (801, Mike Oldfield, Jon Anderson,...) for both albums. (Giblin and Phillips were already in place on the Metro album.) These albums also demonstrated that Browne was a really good electric as well as acoustic guitarist. The title track of The Wild Places remains a classic, a great song with lots of dynamics followed by an all-out sympho-prog instrumental outro, Mellotron choir and all. The track American Heartbeat on Streets of Fire is another classic song, while instrumentals such as the title track from Streets of Fire showcase the prog and fusion credentials of the musicians. These albums are of such a class that it’s a crime Duncan Browne isn’t better known. This anthology contains both The Wild Places and Streets of Fire in their entirety, the complete Metro album, and some rarities including the long lost 1979 song China Girl (no relation to the Bowie song, though paradoxically Bowie did cover one Metro song), its first release in any format.
Check our DVDs page for Bruford’s Rock Goes to College DVD.
These are the 2005 remastered editions on Bill Bruford’s Winterfold Records label. Feels Good to Me contains an unreleased version of Joe Frazier as a bonus track. Gradually Going Tornado contains the bonus track 5G, while The Bruford Tapes contains the bonus track The Age of Information. The Bruford Tapes is actually a double-CD, adding a sampler CD of Bruford’s Summerfold Records label, including an interview with Bruford. Summerfold exists to reissue remastered and expanded versions of Bruford’s post-1987 output (his jazz work), while Winterfold exists to reissue remastered and expanded versions of his CDs up to 1987 (his rock work).
Following his brief tenure with Genesis, Bill recorded his debut album Feels Good to Me in 1978. It predates the official start of the band “Bruford” although it features performances from many of the musicians who would go on to work with Bill full-time in that group. The album features vocalist Annette Peacock, keyboardist Dave Stewart, bassist Jeff Berlin, guitarists Allan Holdsworth and John Goodsall (Brand X), and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler.
After the first version of UK split-up, Bruford and Holdsworth teamed with Dave Stewart and Jeff Berlin for the first official Bruford album One of a Kind (1979). Easily Bruford’s best studio album, this is also one of the best albums of progressive jazz-rock ever recorded. Some of the tracks were being played by UK on their first tour, and Dave Stewart’s stamp is all over this album.
The Bruford Tapes is a live album recorded in 1979, featuring two tracks from Feels Good to Me and the rest from One of a Kind. It perfectly captures the atmosphere of the gig, and the versions here are even better than the studio versions, making this the definitive Bruford album. The final Bruford album Gradually Going Tornado (1980) sees guitarist John Clark replacing Allan Holdsworth, but the band loses little. This album features four shorter vocal songs, with Jeff Berlin handling the vocals. The long tracks Q.E.D. and Land’s End are outstanding. As good as the first UK album is, the split into Bruford and the Wetton/Jobson/Bozzio UK gave us twice as much great music, with each band free to do the style its members did best. The Bruford style might be summarized as a combination of the Canterbury style (Dave Stewart’s contribution) with jazz-rock.
Bill Bruford’s two collaborations with keyboardist Patrick Moraz, Music for Piano and Drums (1983) and Flags (1985), have also been remastered and each now has three bonus tracks. “On reflection, keyboardist Patrick Moraz and drummer Bill Bruford had obvious commonality. By the mid-1980s, both were Yes alumni, both were tiring of big-stadium excess, both had roots and influences that lay closer to jazz than progressive rock, and both were looking for a more flexible music, stripped of the trappings and associated costs of their regular day jobs. The duo recorded two albums of drum-and-keyboard based music, suffused with upbeat invention and peerless skill. Both Music for Piano and Drums and Flags were well-received.” The rest of the Patrick Moraz CDs are here.
Dec Burke was the singer/guitarist of Darwin’s Radio and has also been a member of Frost and AudioPlastik. He released his first solo CD Destroy All Monsters in 2010, which had Carl Westholm of Carptree guesting on one song. The Carptree connection is much stronger on Dec’s second CD Paradigms & Storylines (2011), as Carl Westholm handles all the keyboards and keyboard arrangements, allowing Dec to concentrate on electric & acoustic guitars and lead vocals. Paradigms & Storylines is a big step up from Monsters, blending Dec’s typically British songwriting and melodic sense with the later bombastic Carptree sound.
Dec was guitarist and singer for the band AudioPlastik on their 2015 debut In the Head of a Maniac. Book of Secrets (2016, digipack) is not as heavy as In the Head of a Maniac, but it is heavier than Dec’s previous two. It was mixed by Lee Abraham and mastered by Karl Groom. Carl Westholm returns on piano, Mellotron, and organ, while Kristoffer Gildenlow (ex-Pain of Salavation) handles bass and Steve Hughes drums. Watch the video for Everlasting.
Tim Burness has been at this since the mid-1980s with his band Burnessence, who released two LPs and played gigs with IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Solstice, and Steven Wilson’s first band Karma! He continued to record under his own name during the 1990s. Finding New Ways to Love (2004) is a blend of his progressive-pop vocal tracks and progressive rock instrumentals. Tim is joined by several musicians on this album, notably Fudge Smith (Pendragon, Steve Hackett) on drums. The vocal tracks are inspired by Peter Gabriel, Sting, and Tears for Fears, while you can spot the influence of early Steve Hillage in the instrumentals, also a little Steve Hackett and Robert Fripp. The hammered dulcimer on two of the instrumentals is a great addition; only Nigel Mazlyn Jones has done something similar.
Vision On (2008) continues the mix of progressive-pop vocal tracks and prog rock instrumentals, with more of a band vibe as Tim leads the same group of musicians from the previous CD. Some tracks feature a combination of Steve Hillage-style spaciness and neo-prog that is unique, and in fact this CD includes a track dedicated to Hillage and Gong. Tim feels this album represents a return to his prog rock roots.
Whose Dream Are You Living? is a 2017 CD though the bulk of the music was released in 2015 as a download. The album features the same Tim Burness Band nucleus of Fudge Smith (drums), Keith Hastings (bass), and Monty Oxymoron (keyboards), with Burness on vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, e-bow, guitar synthesizer, keyboards and programming. Among the five guests is Lee Abraham. This is Burness’ best album to date, a very solid melodic prog album that is going to make more than a few prog fans wonder how they could have missed this artist before now. “Whose Dream Are You Living? is certainly a strong candidate to crack my best albums of 2017 list. Fans of the better CDs by Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Steve Hackett and others should really check this album out.” [Proggnosis]. “[Tim Burness] has a very English approach to progressive and neo-progressive rock and hits many, many musical bases. He is a bit like a musical magpie, picking up the shiny things and hoarding them, and while they are all valuable, they certainly don’t all sound the same. The first number These Are the Days could have come from Fudge’s previous band Pendragon in the very early nineties, while And Set Your Spirit Free has so much energy that one can imagine it being played in the clubs in Ibiza. Some songs are full on and over the top, while others are incredibly delicate and restrained. This is what makes this such an incredibly solid album; there is huge variety and depth in what he does.” [Kev Rowland / Prog Archives] Watch the video for Grass Is Greener.
These are the 2010 Esoteric label reissues of the two albums by British progressive pop band Café Jacques: Round the Back (1977) and International (1978). The band came to the attention of prog fans in part because of Phil Collins’ notes on the back of the Round the Back LP jacket. Collins played on both albums, along with Caravan alumni Geoffrey Richardson and John G. Perry, and Rupert Hine produced both. While Collins is a guest, Richardson and Perry appear on most tracks. In retrospect, Café Jacques are one of those British bands who fell victim to the punk scourge that had spread like bubonic plague through the UK at the time. Their music is similar to Phil Manzanera’s 801, especially circa Listen Now. Rupert Hine’s stamp is evident; 10cc and Steely Dan are also good reference points. The two founding members of Café Jacques shared a fondness for Genesis, and that influence can be heard in places. It’s all characterized by great melodies and great vocals, intelligent pop with prog and jazzy touches and astute musicianship. These CDs have been remastered from the original tapes by the Esoteric team. The original album artwork is restored and the booklets have new essays by Sid Smith plus unseen photos. Round the Back includes the single version of Meaningless as a bonus track. Both now out-of-print.
This is the 2013 Atomhenge/Esoteric remastered reissue of Lucky Leif and the Longships (1975), the second album by Hawkwind poet, lyricist, frontman, and formerly-alive person Robert Calvert. This should be identical to the 2007 edition on Eclectic (the predecessor to Esoteric). The album was produced by Brian Eno and is an ingenious concept work featuring guests from Hawkwind, the Pink Fairies, and sci-fi writer Michael Moorcock. Two previously-unreleased bonus tracks are included. The liner notes were written by Hawkwind’s Nik Turner. Read the AllMusic review.
These are the 2009 24-bit remastered editions on Esoteric Recordings, known for their superb remastering jobs. Stationary Traveller (1984) was Camel’s final studio album for Decca Records. In addition to the one constant, Andy Latimer, the lineup included Kayak keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel, David Paton, Paul Burgess, Mel Collins, and Chris Rainbow. This edition includes two bonus tracks, In the Arms of Waltzing Frauleins, and the 12" single version of Pressure Points.
The subsequent tour to promote the Stationary Traveller album was recorded by Decca at Hammersmith Odeon on 11 May 1984 and released as the live album Pressure Points later that year. That LP did not include the entire concert however. The concert saw Camel joined by former member Peter Bardens for certain songs, including a rousing version of Lady Fantasy not included on the original album. Long unavailable on CD, this newly remastered edition has been expanded to a double-CD to include six songs not featured on the original album.
As hinted at by the title, Camel were under pressure to produce more commercial music on The Single Factor (1982). But Andrew Latimer brought in an impressive array of musicians to assist, including Anthony Phillips, Francis Monkman, Simon Phillips, and David Paton, while Peter Bardens returned to play on one track. A rare edited version of You Are the One is included as a bonus track.
Unlike many bands whose careers began in the early 1970s, Camel continued to enjoy success in the 1980s, beginning with the concept album Nude in 1981. Camel toured globally to promote the album, with their February 1981 concert at Hammersmith Odeon recorded by the BBC for the “In Concert” program. This remastered and expanded edition includes the 35-minute Excerpts from Nude from that radio broadcast as bonus material, nearly the entire album live! The extensive booklet includes many photographs, memorabilia, and a new essay.
I Can See Your House from Here (1979) was the first Camel album for Kit Watkins, splitting keyboard duties with Jan Schelhaas, and bassist Colin Bass, while Mel and Phil Collins (no relation) guest. Rupert Hine produced and guests on vocals. This edition includes two bonus tracks, the single version of Remote Romance, and a live version of Ice recorded for BBC Radio One in 1981.
Breathless (1978) would be the last studio album to feature Peter Bardens, and heralded more personnel changes for Camel. Former Caravan and Hatfield and the North member Richard Sinclair had already been in Camel for some months and was soon joined by cousin Dave Sinclair in a new Camel lineup. Breathless features traditional Camel music along with the whimsical Canterbury style associated with Richard Sinclair, making for a unique album. The single version of Rainbow’s End is included as a bonus track. As always, these Esoteric reissues have been remastered from the original master tapes. The booklets are lavishly illustrated and include a new essay.
This 1996 Camel tribute 2CD set contains 22 Camel tracks, some of them medleys. The participating bands include Glass Hammer, Cast, Fonya, Aton’s, Zauber, Finisterre, Galahad, CAP, and others. 2CD set in fat case, counts as 2 CDs for shipping.
Neil Campbell is an English composer, virtuoso guitarist (classical and electric), and multi-instrumentalist. Like Oldfield and Hackett before him, Campbell is more interested in composing and creating than simply showcasing his guitar skills. Despite the varying band/artist name, these are all full-on progressive works featuring a full band lineup. There is some overlap in the musicians, but the albums are distinct from one another. Campbell has an outlet for his solo guitar work (you can find his solo CDs on his website), so these band CDs receive his progressive energies. Emergence (2015, digisleeve) is an uncommonly good instrumental prog album, on which Marty Snape (Bulbs) makes important contributions. Campbell employs wordless female voices here in a manner between Karda Estra and The Northettes. Combined with Campbell’s classical guitar and keyboard/electronic embellishments, these more relaxed pieces will have you floating blissfully downstream. That is until Campbell cuts loose with electric guitar while a tight rhythm section plays energetically in odd meters, sending energy up your spine. There is fusion, majestic symphonic prog, even Philip Glass style melody lines if you listen for them, just some of the best instrumental music being made. Listen to an mp3 of Morphogenic Fields.
On (2013, digipack) is the debut for Campbell’s band Bulbs, and it may have been the best instrumental prog album of that year. Most of the music has a flowing nature a la Ozric Tentacles, but while there is some spaciness and frequent electronic textures, Bulbs is much more of a progressive rock band as opposed to space-rock band, the music structured and composed. Both Campbell’s electric and classical guitar are at the forefront, with synths in support, but this is miles from a guitarist solo album. As Neil says, the music is quite complex (using time signature changes and cyclical structures) but extremely melodic, groovy, and accessible. It varies from high energy tracks with modern aggression (with electric guitar obviously) to seductive pieces reliant on classical guitar. There is some influence of 1970s King Crimson and Summers/Fripp, and use of speech samples, all the while pushing instrumental prog in new directions. Read the Prog Archives reviews.
Particle Theory (2008) is by Neil Campbell’s earlier band, which includes some of the best musicians in Liverpool on vocals, drums, bass, cello, horns, and Celtic harp, while Campbell himself plays all manner of guitars, keyboards, and more. The music is predominantly instrumental, with some male lead vocals and occasional ethereal female vocals, but is not song-oriented. The first thing that is apparent is that these are musicians with classical training. At times the NCC sound like a chamber orchestra playing rock, more rock-oriented than Karda Estra, more melodic and warm than Univers Zero. While they don’t strongly resemble any of the 1970s progressive bands, the NCC share the same true progressive ethos and the same desire to incorporate several centuries of western musical development into rock. Read the Exposé review.
This 1999 tribute 2CD set contains covers of 21 tracks, some medleys, by bands associated with the Canterbury scene: Caravan, Gong, Hatfield and the North, National Health, Egg, Camel, Soft Machine, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Hopper, Bruford, and Fred Frith. The participating artists include Patrick Forgas, Hostsonaten, Notturno Concertante, The Underground Railroad, Tilion, Mary Newsletter, Nostalgia, Algebra, Dono Celeste, Trama, and more.
Paradise Filter is the 2014 studio CD for Caravan, their first new album in ten years. The lineup here is Pye Hastings (vocals, guitars), Geoffrey Richardson (viola, banjo, acoustic guitar, backing vocals), Jan Schelhaas (keyboards, backing vocals), Doug Boyle (lead guitar), Jim Leverton (bass, backing vocals), and Mark Walker (drums). Pye, the band’s primary songwriter for a long time now, composed nine of the album’s ten tracks. Read the JonB52 review.
This is the 2007 digipack edition on Eclectic (now Esoteric) of Caravan’s 1971 classic In the Land of Grey and Pink, with five bonus tracks. The audio content is identical to the 2001 Decca remastered reissue since it was the Eclectic team that performed the remastering on that.
Fandangos in Space (1973) and Dancing on a Cold Wind (1974) are the first two albums by this unique band who combined flamenco and progressive rock. The band originated in the U.S. but relocated to England, though they recorded their third album The Gypsies (1975) in Massachusetts. Band leader David Allen commenced work on Widescreen 20 years later and took 10 years to complete it; it sees the light of day for the first time in 2007. Among Carmen’s members was John Glascock, later of Jethro Tull, and in fact Carmen opened for Tull for several months. The combination of flamenco and progressive rock was no gimmick, nor was it the unimaginative overlaying of unrelated genres so common in more recent “world music”. These are the 2006/2007 remastered editions on Angel Air, each with two bonus tracks. The sound is much improved over the earlier Line label CDs.
Celtus are an Irish Celtic-pop ensemble consisting of John McManus on vocals, low whistle, bodhran & bass; Pat McManus on guitars, fiddle, bouzouki & backing vocals; and Dan Axtell on synthesizers and backing vocals. The songs are usually driven by programmed percussion. Live 2000 is a live greatest hits, the songs compiled from various concerts throughout that year, plus two bonus studio tracks. Celtus combine Irish folk and rock in a manner similar to later Clannad, though with excellent male vocals rather than female. Some songs feature the Celtic instruments prominently and other not so much. Celtus are much more about top-notch songwriting than Irish folk per se, and all the electronic textures and drum loops should keep the trad folkies away. Those into early Karnataka and Iona may find much that they like here, as these guys are good!
Channel Light Vessel is a group comprised of Bill Nelson (Be Bop Deluxe), Roger Eno, Kate St. John, percussionist Laraaji, and Japanese cellist Mayumi Tachibana. Often described as an “ambient supergroup”, that may be a bit misleading as many of the tracks contain drums/percussion, and a few include vocals from Nelson and St. John. Some of the tracks are similar to Nelson’s solo work, only these sound like highly-textured finished tracks, whereas many of Nelson’s sound like demos that he didn’t care to finish before moving on to the next song. The Channel Light Vessel style overlaps with Karda Estra, especially when St. John plays oboe or cor anglais. This is the 2006 edition of Excellent Spirits, their 1996 second album. “A record so lovely and transporting it is physically painful to have it end.” [Billboard] “Excellent Spirits is well-played, ethereal prog rock with substance.” [Alternative Press]
ChimpanA is a Welsh outfit and another project of Magenta’s Rob Reed, here on their 2006 debut with Rob Thompson and Steve Balsamo (who has an impressive music career of his own). There are five different female vocalists employed including Sam Brown, Magenta’s Christina Booth, and well-known Welsh classical soprano Sian Cothi. This is a chance to hear Reed’s writing talents applied to something much more modern than Magenta and the other bands he’s been involved with in the past. This is gorgeous progressive rock/pop, influenced as so many modern prog bands are by Pink Floyd (in fact, several of the singers here have worked with David Gilmour), but sensuous and lush rather than depressing. With the occasional spoken-word (by London-based poet Tony Dallas) and strings, it is also reminiscent in spots of Rain’s Cerulean Blue album. It’s an original work with superb melodies and creative use of modern music technology. Read the review at Musical Discoveries. Listen to Last Night on Earth and Sam’s Song.
Stewart Bell is the keyboardist and main composer in Citizen Cain. It looks as though going forward, the Citizen Cain franchise is in his hands, as Bell plans the 74-minute The Antechamber of Being Part 1 (2014) to be only the first in a trilogy. It’s a prog rock opera featuring five vocalists: Simone Rossetti (The Watch), Arjen Anthony Lucassen (Ayreon), Bekah Mhairi Comrie, Phil Allen (Citizen Cain), and Bell himself. Allen also plays guitar, so two-thirds of Citizen Cain is present. Musically and even vocally, it sounds quite a bit like Citizen Cain, albeit slightly heavier, picking up where Citizen Cain left off with 2012’s Skies Darken. The Genesis and Peter Gabriel allusions still abound (if you don’t hear Genesis’ The Knife at one point, you’re just not listening), though the songwriting chops are not on the Genesis level. The music is complex and dense though not impenetrable; the same could be said of much of Citizen Cain’s music. Read the DPRP, Jerry Lucky, and Background Magazine reviews.
The Antechamber of Being Part 2 (2017) is subtitled Stories from the Antechamber and also runs 74 minutes. It features the same five vocalists each playing a different character in this second volume of the story. Watch the promo video and the video for Time Dilation.
Citizen Cain are a neo-prog band whose founding members come from the same Lothian region in Scotland that gave rise to Fish, though the band formed in London in 1982. Their music sounds heavily influenced by 1970s Genesis, though on the first album that influence is second-hand by way of early Marillion, becoming a more direct influence by the time of the second album, and on later albums, Citizen Cain establish a more distinct identity. The band’s sound is based around the vocals and lyrical tales of Cyrus, whose voice is a blend of Gabriel timbre and Fish delivery, over complex arrangements featuring Stewart Bell’s multi-keyboards, highlighted by guitar and flute solos.
These are the 2013 remastered editions of the first five Citizen Cain CDs on the Festival Music label: Serpents in Camouflage (1993, sold out), Somewhere But Yesterday (1994), Ghost Dance (1996), Raising the Stones (1997), and Playing Dead (2002). The band’s back catalog had been unavailable for many years, and the later CDs were pressed in very small numbers. The band say they were never very happy with the original sound and that on these remastered CDs, it’s nice to hear the music as it was intended to sound.
Skies Darken (2012) is their sixth album and first in ten years. Read the Progulator and DPRP reviews.
City Boy were an English progressive pop or art-rock band along the lines of 10cc, Stackridge, Be Bop Deluxe, Quantum Jump, early Queen, Supertramp, and ELO. They released seven LPs between 1975-1981. Like Supertramp, City Boy had two lead vocalists, one high-pitched and the other low-pitched. They added a third lead vocalist (also their new drummer) on their fourth album. Prior to their first LP, they had been a folk band, and this carries over slightly onto their self-titled 1975 debut, where there are some more acoustic-flavored tracks, especially the gorgeous Haymaking Time. This first album was City Boy’s best: it shows the strongest identification with progressive rock, and has a couple longer tracks that are outstanding, 5000 Years / Don’t Know Can’t Tell for one. Dinner at the Ritz (1976) displays a bit of the English music hall influence, as Queen did early on, and also includes excellent hard rocking songs (Queen were pretty good at that too). Peter Hammill and David Jackson of Van der Graaf Generator guest on the title track!
Beginning with Young Men Gone West (1977), the albums became less arty, more a set of quirky and sophisticated rock/pop songs. Like every band operating during the late 1970s, pressure increased every year to produce hit singles and more commercial rock. In City Boy’s defense, they were probably also pressured to make music insipid enough to break them in the USA. Book Early (1978) yielded the band’s first hit single, and while we’re sure there are a lot of pop fans who consider this album City Boy’s best, none of those people ever shop at this site. Well-known producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange produced the first five City Boy albums and was an adjunct member of the band.
The City Boy fan site has a good overview of their albums, actually taken from the Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock.
The single CD of Young Men Gone West is the U.S. edition on Renaissance Records. The 2-in-1 double-CDs are the 2015 UK editions, which have been remastered from the original tapes and include new booklets with new sleeve notes. As a bonus, the City Boy / Dinner at the Ritz 2CD adds a 1975 BBC In Concert recording featuring live versions of five great tracks from the first album. The bonus tracks on the Young Men Gone West / Book Early 2CD are two non-LP tracks: Medicine and Turn On to Jesus.
These are the 2009 editions on Esoteric, remastered from the original master tapes. (The now-deleted 1993 See for Miles 2-on-1 CD reissue omitted Open Spaces’ lengthy tour de force, Chanticleer.) Space Cabaret adds two bonus tracks. “CMU (Contemporary Music Unit) were a unique fusion of progressive rock, jazz and folk influences. In keeping with the mood of the times, Open Spaces (1971) evokes the work of contemporaries Affinity or even Arthur Brown. In Larraine Odell, CMU had one of the few female vocalists of the progressive era, a fine vocalist supported by a fine band. For their second and final album Space Cabaret (1973), CMU changed lineup and recruited Leary Hasson on Mellotron from labelmates Marsupilami.” [Esoteric] Read the DPRP review. Out-of-print, last copies.
Glasgow’s Comedy of Errors had been known (if they were known at all) as the other Scottish neo-prog band, after Pallas and Abel Ganz. Though the band formed in 1984, their time had not yet come. Comedy of Errors are calling Disobey (2011, digipack) their debut, but the band released a vinyl mini-album in 1986 that compiled their demos to that point. Those tracks were later combined with 1987 demos to form the eponymous CD released in 1988 by the French UGUM/MSI label. (Good luck finding that now.) The 2011 reformed Comedy of Errors features the three core members from those days, a new drummer, and a bit of assistance from Hew Montgomery (ex-Abel Ganz). Rob Aubrey did the final mixing and mastering for all these CDs, almost a requirement for a UK neo-prog CD. If you’re a fan of UK neo-prog and didn’t know of Comedy of Errors before, you are in for a treat. And if you do know Comedy of Errors, you are in for a treat. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Disobey montage.
Comedy of Errors’ triumphant comeback continues with Fanfare & Fantasy (2013, digipack). Read reviews at Prog Archives. Listen to the Fanfare & Fantasy montage.
See the related band Grand Tour.
Cosmograf is one of the ascendant stars of the British prog scene, a project led by multi-instrumentalist Robin Armstrong, who cites Steven Wilson, Roger Waters, and David Gilmour as some of his inspirations. The third Cosmograf album The Man Left in Space (2013) features performances from Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train), Dave Meros (Spock’s Beard), Matt Stevens (The Fierce and the Dead), Greg Spawton (Big Big Train), Simon Rogers, Steve Dunn, Lee Abraham, Luke Machin (The Tangent), and Dave Ware. It’s another concept album, often with a wonderful spacey/surreal atmosphere, blending Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, and neo-prog, with a smidgeon of heavy guitar. Part of it even sounds like a modern, proggy take on David Bowie’s Space Oddity, probably a deliberate allusion. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
On Capacitor (2014), Armstrong is assisted by Nick D’Virgilio on drums, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, Nick Beggs (Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Lifesigns, The Mute Gods...) on bass, Matt Stevens on guitar, Andy Tillison (The Tangent) on keyboards, and Steve Dunn on bass. “This album is not just a piece of music, it is part of Robin Armstrong’s body and soul and you can tell he has put everything into this, leaving nothing back. I cannot fault this record in any way. It is musical paradise with an amazing musician as its peerless architect. If I died and went to heaven right now, I couldn’t have asked for any more; I have had the biggest epiphany when it comes to music, in my life, ever. This is not just one of the albums of the year, it is one of the best albums I have ever heard, period.” [Lady Obscure] Also read the Prog Archives reviews.
Cosmograf’s fifth studio album The Unreasonable Silence (2016, digipack) is an existential concept album with an alien theme, based on the essay The Myth of Sisyphus by French philosopher Albert Camus. Nick D’Virgilio plays drums on all tracks save one, while Nick Beggs and Dave Meros guest. Armstrong employs a number of voice actors here including one Steven Wilson. “A peerless, outstanding, and incomparable listening experience that you will not forget any time soon.” Read the Progradar review.
Robin says the sixth Cosmograf album The Hay-Man Dreams (2017) harks back to the sound and feel of the classic prog era. “To complement the vintage theme, I wanted a warm retrospective sound. I’m making no apologies for this and I’m relinquishing any claims on being progressive with a small ‘p’. I’m largely fed up with the argument and I’m pretty tired of the notion that everything has to be new and original to be good. I like old stuff…The best music was made in 1970s. It’s a sound I’m familiar with and one I fell in love with when I was 15. Classic rock-inspired guitar, bass and drums, with some vintage keyboards. In fact you won’t find a single instrument on the album that wasn’t available in 1973, albeit a lot of the keyboard parts are very modern simulations of the real thing of course.” Guests include Rachael Hawnt (The Beautiful Secret), Kyle Fenton (These Septic Stars), Matt Stevens, Rachel Hall (Big Big Train), and former BBC voiceover artist David Allan. Watch the album teaser, album sampler, and the video for Cut the Corn.
Very few copies remain of this Kinesis-label CD released in the early 1990s. Craft were a symphonic prog trio including ex-The Enid members William Gilmour and Martin Russell. This instrumental album was released on LP in 1984 and represents the band’s only output. If you don’t know The Enid, they are symphonic rock masters, with the emphasis on the symphonic. Craft shift the balance to the rock side and produce a more powerful music than much of The Enid’s output. Fans of ELP, Camel, and Rick Wakeman’s less pompous moments will find plenty to like here. Two bonus tracks. Read review quotes.
Eleven years after their debut Field of Vision, British neo-prog band Credo returned with Rhetoric in 2005, a big improvement over Field of Vision but still solidly in the early Marillion vein, with Mark Colton’s very Fish-like vocals. It also resembles Grey Lady Down, early Arena, and Pallas, and is of comparable quality. This is the 2013 digipack reissue, which adds one bonus track.
Against Reason (2011, 70-minutes) is another significant step forward for Credo, who have taken up the mantle of Marillion as they were on Script... and Fugazi, that bombastic, weighty style, here with larger-than-life production. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Progmeister reviews. Check our DVDs page for Credo’s This Is What We Do DVD+2CD.
Cressida was a British early symphonic prog band in the vein of Spring, Fantasy, Gracious, Cirkus, Beggar’s Opera, etc., and possibly the cream of that crop. They released the albums Cressida (1970) and Asylum (1971) on the Vertigo ‘spiral’ label. Read the Prog Archives reviews. The Vertigo Years Anthology 1969-1971 is a 2012 Esoteric release that not only includes Cressida’s two albums newly remastered from the original tapes, it adds five previously unreleased bonus tracks. One is a demo of a song that appears on the first album, one is a demo of a non-LP song, one is a non-LP single, and two are from a 1970 BBC Radio 1 session. The booklet includes fully-restored artwork, rare photos, and an essay.
C Sides was formed in 2007 by Magenta members Martin Rosser, Allan Mason-Jones, and Dan Fry. Devitrification is their 2011 debut. C Sides combine modern rock elements with the Rush format, featuring layered guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. The band probably overstate the Rush influence in their sound as there isn’t all that much here that sounds like Rush. Or at least we’ve all heard bands copy Rush much more closely, while C Sides inject a lot of their own personality and vary things more. We have to draw the line somewhere, and our definition of progressive rock requires tone colors beyond just guitar, but this is very good prog-ish rock with aspects of both classic and modern rock. Though uncredited, Rob Reed is believed to have lent a hand, while three other musicians add backing vocals, percussion, and guitar.
Billy Currie is best known as the keyboardist and viola player for Ultravox. He is classically-trained and the most progressive-minded musician to emerge from that band. Push (2002) is an instrumental album in which Currie combines his trademark treated viola and violin with synthesizers and some programmed rhythms. Tracks with the latter are often melodic and fast-moving, while tracks without are more ambient.
North Star (digipack) is the 2014 comeback album for Curved Air, one of the pioneering progressive rock bands. The lineup now is Sonja Kristina (vocals), Florian Pilkington-Miksa (drums), Kirby Gregory (guitars), Paul Sax (violin), Robert Norton (keyboards), and Chris Harris (bass). So often such comeback albums are a disappointment, but North Star is really good, better than any of the Curved Air studio albums after 1973’s Air Cut. You won’t miss Darryl Way with Paul Sax’s fine violin work. Seven songs are new, four are re-recorded versions of songs from the first two Curved Air albums and one Sonja Kristina solo album, and three are covers. One of the latter is The Police’s Spirits in the Material World, which is permissible since Sonja was married to Stewart Copeland. Read the Prog Rock Music Talk review.
AirWaves (2012), subtitled Live at the BBC Remastered / Live at the Paris Theatre, contains live versions of 13 different Curved Air songs recently remastered from BBC Radio Top Gear and In Concert recordings spanning 1970-1976. The lineup for the 1976 recordings includes a 22-year-old Stewart Copeland.
Tapestry of Propositions (2016) is subtitled The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 1. It contains an hour-long version of the song Propositions (which dates to 1970) with over a dozen of the improvisations that usually follow now edited together, recorded live at fourteen different locations during 2013-14.
These are bargain-priced sampler CDs from the British Cyclops label. The 75-minute Sampler 2 covers earlier Cyclops releases by Robert Berry, Credo, Epilogue, Ezra, Fruitcake, Grace, Grey Lady Down, Lands End, Sphere, Tristan Park, and Vulgar Unicorn. Almost all of the CDs covered by Sampler 2 are now out-of-print.
Sampler 5 is a double-CD and all the tracks are unique to this collection: 20 exclusive, alternate, and rare tracks, over two hours of music from Rob Andrews, Flamborough Head, Guardian’s Office, Henry Fool, Karda Estra, Lands End, Manning, Mostly Autumn, Mysterkah, Nice Beaver, Odyssice, Parallel or 90 Degrees, Pineapple Thief, Saens, Sphere3, Transience, Tr3nity, Twelfth Night, and Vulgar Unicorn.
Sampler 6 is a double-CD containing 140-minutes of exclusive, alternate, and rare tracks from Cyclops-label bands. For the first CD of the set, Abarax have created a new 14-minute track showcasing their great guitar work. Rob Andrews provides a brand new track, while Discipline provide a live version of their epic Canto IV. Drama, The Gift, and Lands End provide alternate versions of tracks from their albums. Flamborough Head’s entry is a live version of Mantova, and Karda Estra’s is a new track. The second CD opens with a Mostly Autumn track from the deleted Prints in the Stone EP, the improved 2000 reprise of Heroes Never Die. Nautilus give us a different take of their Dark Room, Nice Beaver show us that Saturday Night Beaver is the best kind, while Pineapple Thief fans will want the superb 13-minute epic produced especially for this collection. Product provide the previously-unreleased Stranger and Kiroshi. Sensitive to Light provide a radical reworking of one of their best tracks, followed by an excellent new track from Trion. Sampler 6 is brought to a close with a new rendition of an epic track by Tr3nity. Read the DPRP review.
Signed to IQ’s Giant Electric Pea label, Damanek is led by Guy Manning, whose previous band Manning is responsible for a large catalog of high quality prog. Following an impressive first show at the 2016 Summer’s End festival, On Track (2017) is Damanek’s debut album. The band is Guy (lead & backing vocals, keyboards, acoustic instruments, guitars, EBow, percussion), Dan Mash (bass), Marek Arnold (saxes, clarinet, keyboards, Seaboard), and Sean Timms (keyboards, banjo, backing vocals). Sean Timms (Southern Empire, Unitopia) put his Mister Class and Quality stamp on the production. Damanek could be seen as an alter ego of United Progressive Fraternity since Guy, Dan Mash, and Marek Arnold are all UPF members, and Sean Timms was in UPF’s parent band. (Marek Arnold now is in so many prog bands that we’ve stopped trying to list them.) The album also features a host of guest musicians including Brody Thomas Green (Southern Empire), Luke Machin (Maschine/Kiama/The Tangent), Tim Irrgang (UPF), Nick Magnus, Phideaux Xavier, and more. Listen to the track Long Time, Shadow Falls. Read this review on Progressive Ears.
Darwin’s Radio are an excellent English neo-prog band formed by ex-Grey Lady Down members Mark Westworth (keys, backing vocals) and Sean Spear (bass), Declan Burke (vocals, guitars) from the Rush tribute band The Spirit of Rush, and Dave Pankhurst (drums, backing vocals) from space-rockers Unlimbo. Darwin’s Radio is by no means a continuation of Grey Lady Down though. Burke is an excellent singer, and you can often hear the Rush influence in his guitar playing, but it’s integrated into a more symphonic whole than your usual Rush-influenced band. Overall Darwin’s Radio are comparable to Kino and the later incarnation of It Bites, with similarly strong melodies. They are what we’ve come to expect from British progressive bands, songwriting abilities and a melodic sense that are sometimes lacking in prog bands who only grasp the technical side. But hey, the British invented this stuff. Eyes of the World (2006) was their first full-length CD.
Mark Westworth replaced Martin Orford in IQ while remaining in Darwin’s Radio, which helped raise Darwin’s Radio’s profile. Template for a Generation (2009) consists of just three very long tracks. This CD is a great surprise, as it is much more ambitious than their first and much closer to classic prog. At times it’s closer to early Marillion, which is still proggier than what many young British prog bands are doing. There’s just enough heavy guitar here that more metal-headed prog fans won’t lose interest and wander off. Maybe it’s that Westworth’s time with IQ had a positive effect, and he doesn’t want Darwin’s Radio to appear second-rate next to IQ. Whatever the reason, this is a good template for a 2009 progressive rock album.
This band from Northern Ireland claims to be Ireland’s only existing progressive rock band. After a 2004 debut, A Time of Shadow (2009) is their second album, while Everything Is Connected (2013) is their third. They have a very strong singer in Liam Campbell, who has something of a Peter Gabriel and Fish quality to his voice and sings with similar conviction. The music is in the Marillion vein, though often a better reference is Abel Ganz. An excellent band in the British Isles neo-prog tradition, emphasizing melody, strong songs, and a singer who can carry them. Read reviews. Watch the promo video for Everything Is Connected.
This out-of-print 2CD set includes in their entirety Decameron’s second, third, and fourth albums: Mammoth Special (1974), Third Light (1975), and Tomorrow’s Pantomime (1976), plus an array of bonus tracks including rarities and contemporary live performances. All are remastered from the original master tapes. Decameron was a prog-folk band whose music shows similarities to early Strawbs, Steeleye Span, and Fairport Convention, plus bigger production numbers with rock guitar and string arrangements. All the band members were multi-instrumentalists and vocalists.
DeeExpus are a prog band from County Durham in the northeast of England who debuted in 2008 with Half Way Home, a CD that emphasized strong pop songwriting and quality vocals, with elements of Marillion and Porcupine Tree. Their follow-up King of Number 33 (2011, digipack) adds Marillion’s Mark Kelly to the lineup on keyboards, while Nik Kershaw sings on the final track. The album is centered on the 27-minute, six-part title suite. Read the Sea of Tranquility review. Check our DVDs page for DeeExpus’ Far from Home DVD.
Geoff Downes is known for being the keyboardist in Asia and (briefly) Yes. The Bridge (2006, 75-minutes) contains a previously-unreleased 2003 studio recording of the 22-minute title piece, which is in the same vein as Downes’ first solo album The Light Program, though benefiting from more modern technology. The piece was originally premiered in 2003 at an exclusive live performance by Downes at a church in London, and a binaural recording of this follows the studio version on the CD, plus the rest of the concert, which features selected works from Downes’ past, including Asia songs, two songs from Yes’ Drama, and of course The Buggles’ Video Killed the Radio Star. The live portion of this CD was released on a very limited basis to the Asia Fan Club in 2004.
The UK band Drifting Sun began in the early 1990s when bandleader Pat Sanders left his native France for England. They released an eponymous first CD in 1996, followed by On the Rebound in 1998. Then nothing was heard from Drifting Sun until 2015 and their third album Trip the Life Fantastic, featuring a new lineup. This album will get the blood of neo-prog fans pumping. It is the more bombastic modern take on early Marillion (in a broad rather than copyist sense), with of course several other prog influences, featuring excellent dramatic vocals and a good guitars/keys balance.
This is the limited edition of Safe Asylum (2016), which contains two additional instrumental tracks (that first appeared several months earlier on the download-only Alice EP). Safe Asylum is darker, more complex and serious sounding than Trip the Life Fantastic. The mostly long tracks are quite involved, though the music remains melodic to be sure. The keyboardist is the bandleader, so the guitar/keys balance is enforced. At this point, Fugazi-era Marillion is only a distant ancestor, as Drifting Sun have ambitiously taken their music into other realms. Read the Progradar and Progarchives reviews.
Twilight (2017, digipack) is arguably the band’s best work to date, striking a balance between the darkness of Safe Asylum and the light of Trip the Life Fantastic. “Drifting Sun have made another leap forward with their latest album, Twilight. With their last two albums both reviewed favorably here at Progarchy, that is no light praise.” Read the full Progarchy review, also The Progressive Aspect review.
Judy Dyble was the first singer for Fairport Convention, sang with Giles, Giles, Fripp, McDonald & Dyble (one of the pre-King Crimson permutations), and was half of the folk-rock duo Trader Horne. Talking With Strangers was first released in 2009 with a different cover, later reissued in this Termo Records edition with one bonus track. Tim Bowness (No-Man, Henry Fool) and Alistair Murphy were heavily involved with this record, as they co-wrote most of the songs, contributed backing vocals, guitars, and keyboards, and produced and arranged. A large number of other musicians participate, notably Ian McDonald and Robert Fripp (King Crimson), Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention), Jacqui McShee (Pentangle), Julianne Regan (All About Eve), Celia Humphris (Trees), and Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, etc.). The music marries Dyble’s enchanting voice and psych-folk influences to the progressive approach of Bowness and the other musicians. Both No-Man and early King Crimson are evoked at different times, the latter particularly during the 19+ minute Harpsong. The album includes a lovely cover of the Greg Lake / Peter Sinfield song C’est la vie. Read the Prog Archives review and lots more reviews.
This is the Esoteric label remastered edition of this classic prog album. Snafu (1970) is the second album by East of Eden, a British early progressive band. Their sound fused rock, jazz, psychedelia, and Eastern-influenced world music, lead by violin and hard-rock guitar. (Their violinist Dave Arbus later played the famous violin solo on The Who’s Baba O’Reilly.) The album has been taken from the original master tapes, has an extensive booklet, and seven bonus tracks totaling 34-minutes. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
Eden Shadow are a young Welsh prog band on Will Mackie and Rob Reed’s White Knight label. They debuted in 2012 with a mostly instrumental CD-EP called Hail. Phases (2014, digipack) is their first full-length CD, and it does have vocals. Instrumentally, Eden Shadow are a guitar/bass/drums trio with the guitarist and drummer adding keyboards; like so many modern prog bands, they lack a true keyboardist. Nik Turner guests with a flute solo on one track.
Melodies for Maladies (2016, digipack) is Eden Shadow’s second full-length CD and features Theo Travis guesting on flute and soprano sax. “I believe the term ‘the best band you’ve never heard of’ comes into play here, and with an album this good, it’s incredibly easy to say. In a scene where there are numerous clones and rehashes, this album is a breath of fresh air.” Read the full Progarchy review, also the Prog Sphere review.
These are the latest remastered versions of these classic prog albums on Esoteric. All have been mastered from the original master tapes and feature extensive liner notes. Egg was Dave Stewart’s first band with a recording contract, a trio with Mont Campbell on bass and Clive Brooks on drums. Initially drawing inspiration from The Nice and early Soft Machine, Egg were more adventurous. Stewart was already fond of the odd meters that would characterize his later work in Hatfield and the North, National Health, and Bruford. Organ dominates, except for the occasional Mellotron abuse. Their self-titled debut (1970) now features three bonus tracks, The Polite Force (1971) has two.
Stewart had already worked on the first Hatfield and the North album when, in 1974, Egg reformed to record their third and final album The Civil Surface for the newly-established Virgin Records label. Steve Hillage, members of Henry Cow, the Northettes (Barbara Gaskin, Amanda Parsons, Ann Rosenthal), and a wind quartet guest on what is the most “Canterbury” of the Egg albums.
Unforgiving Mirror (2013) is the 16th(?) studio album for the project led by multi-instrumentalist Steven McCabe, here with Christopher Knight on drums and Ken Senior singing on the one track with vocals. “[McCabe] creates music that is sometimes evocative of Gong and Camel as well as bringing in some neo and even fusion influences as well. The use both of ‘live’ drums and moving between keyboards and guitar means that this generally sounds like a band as opposed to a multi-instrumentalist project... a very special mention needs to go to the title track, which is one of Steven’s most epic numbers to date. At more than eighteen minutes long there is plenty of room for the music to move in many different ways, and each time I play it I find that it draws me in, taking me to a world that contains complex arrangements and layers yet also has a simple elegance, as one might well expect.” [Kev Rowland, Prog Archives] Studies in Heartbreak is from 2005.
Emmett Elvin is the keyboardist for Knifeworld, Guapo, and Chrome Hoof, but he is also a multi-instrumentalist and composer. Assault on the Tyranny of Reason (2016, digipack) is his first album of new material since 2014’s acclaimed Bloody Marvels. Sarah Anderson (Chrome Hoof), Anna Tam (Mediaeval Baebes), Chlöe Herington (Knifeworld), Beverley Crome (The Cesarians), and Daniel Friend reprise guest appearances, joined by drummer Alex Thomas (Chrome Hoof) who adds a new distinctive percussive edge. Other stellar musicians from Emmett’s circle also guest, including Knifeworld and Gong main man Kavus Torabi. Read the Progradar, The Progressive Aspect, and Music from the Other Side of the Room reviews.
This is the 2005 remastered edition of Honky with detailed liner notes and photos, originally released on LP in 1981. It’s Emerson’s first non-soundtrack solo album, and an eclectic one. Emerson was in a playful mood during these recording sessions in the Bahamas, using local musicians.
Garden Shed (1977) is an English symphonic prog masterpiece, a blend of Yes and Genesis and not far from the style of Gryphon’s Treason. Greenslade and Fruupp could also be mentioned. (One of the oldest prog stores in Japan took their name from this album.) The Last of the Jubblies was not released until 1997, but it contains recordings from 1975-76, essentially demos that didn’t make it onto Garden Shed. As such, it’s a rung below Garden Shed, but then that album was on the next to top rung. This is the Relics label edition.
Check below for Robert Webb’s solo CD.
The current incarnation of The Enid is really The Enid, The Next Generation, as founder/leader Robert John Godfrey repopulated the band with younger musicians. Dust (2016) completes the trilogy of albums begun with Journey’s End and Invicta. Dust takes a somewhat more theatrical approach, full of melodrama, with a greater role for lead vocalist Joe Payne who seems poised to be the next Freddie Mercury. Watch the video for Someone Shall Rise. Read the Sputnik Music and Progarchy reviews; the latter includes an interview with Robert John Godfrey.
Check our DVDs page for The Enid’s DVDs.
Led by classically trained keyboardist Robert John Godfrey, The Enid are symphonic rock masters, with the emphasis on the symphonic. Their brand of romantic classical progressive rock has never been duplicated, except perhaps by Craft, but Craft was formed by ex-The Enid members. In the Region of the Summer Stars was first released in 1976, Aerie Faerie Nonsense in 1977. These are the first two The Enid albums, both instrumental, and for many still their best. Either because the master tapes of these albums were thought lost, or EMI just wouldn’t give them up, the band re-recorded these two albums between 1984-87 and they were released on earlier CD editions. However, the CDs for sale here are the original EMI recordings, previously only released on vinyl. These 2010 CD editions are on the band’s own Enidiworks/Operation Seraphim label. The albums were transferred from the original 30-ips 1/4" Dolby A tapes to 96kHz/24-bit digital at Abbey Road in June 2010, then mastered for CD at The Lodge Recording Studio. The CD artwork is taken from the original releases.
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) was the first The Enid album to feature vocals. Kevin Godley and Lol Creme of 10cc were brought in to assist with production, and they probably had something to do with the sound of the massed vocals. This is the new remastered edition on The Enid’s own label; it includes three bonus tracks from the same time period.
The two The Stand albums were originally The Enid fan club releases. The Stand Vol. 1 was first released on vinyl in 1984, limited to 5000 copies. Professionally recorded live in Manchester, this concert performance of both old and then-new material was captured in 24-track glory and includes The Enid’s encore, a cover of Wild Thing. The Stand Vol. 2 was released on vinyl in 1985 and limited to only 2000 copies. It features 10 tracks, four of which are the singles released by The Enid to that point, though Golden Earrings is a different version and not released on any other album. The other rarities include two remixed tracks from Robert John Godfrey’s Fall of Hyperion album. Tallest Dwarf in the World is an unfinished track from the Six Pieces sessions, while Jig Fugue is a Bach composition arranged by RJG.
This is the 2010 edition of The Spell (1984) on the band’s label, remastered by The Enid from the original master tapes. The 8 page booklet contains photos from the original record sleeve plus a detailed explanation by Robert John Godfrey of what the album is all about.
Arise and Shine 1 (2009) was originally released as a limited edition to introduce the new band lineup and current repertoire. It contains versions of Enid tracks reinterpreted and re-recorded by the new lineup. This series of reworked pieces from the back catalog continued with Risen: Arise and Shine 2 (2011) and Shining: Arise and Shine III (2012, digipack). Shining also introduces new lead vocalist Joe Payne revisiting songs from the vocals albums Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Spell, and Salome.
Journey’s End (2010) is that rarity among progressive rock albums, a new work by one of the first generation bands that stands with their best work, a new classic. While most of the 1970s prog bands are content to relive past glories (if they are active at all), The Enid are reborn. Read the DPRP reviews.
According to the band, Journey’s End: Orchestrations “reveals the intricately detailed orchestrations from Journey’s End.” Originally a bonus CD-R for advance orders of Journey’s End, the Orchestrations CD was so popular, the band re-pressed it from a glass master. It’s a CD-EP, a little over 27-minutes.
Invicta (2013, digipack) is the second album for The Enid: The Next Generation, the second part of a planned trilogy that began with Journey’s End. It fully utilizes the talents of the new members including new lead singer Joe Payne. The Enid finally have a singer of a talent level that matches their instrumental and compositional abilities. At a time when bands with metal guitarists, no true keyboardist, and little understanding of classical music pass for progressive rock, the music world needs The Enid more than ever.
It’s possible the title of The Enid’s 13th studio album The Bridge (2015, digipack) alludes to bridging the gap between the old The Enid and the current generation of the band. Or maybe it’s a bridge to the next The Enid album Dust. The band state that on this album, they wanted to further explore the classical elements of their music in finer detail. The orchestral arrangements and vocals are bolstered by symphonic/ambient guitar textures and huge choral arrangements. The majority of the songs are re-imagined arrangements of songs from The Enid’s back catalog, with vocals added to formerly instrumental pieces. “When you listen to The Bridge, the merely good is transformed into the sublime and exalted. The Enid have delivered a set of songs that enable you to take time away from your hectic life and give you a melodic treat of great magnitude, the closest thing to a legal high, an oasis of calm in a world of chaos. Yes, it will not appeal to all with its delicate sensibilities, but for me it is something that, once heard, I cannot ever do without.” Read the full Progradar review.
The Live at Town Hall, Birmingham double-CD was recorded in April 2010, a landmark concert ushering in a new chapter for The Enid. The DVD of the same name is the same concert, but the 2CD contains a different mix of the audio, with more compression since the DVD listening environment is assumed to be quieter.
The full name of the Live With The CBSO double-CD (digipack) is Live With The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & The Warwickshire Music Service Youth Choirs. It’s a recording of the groundbreaking show at Symphony Hall, Birmingham in October 2011. The first disc is drawn mostly from In the Region of the Summer Stars and Aerie Faerie Nonsense, all substantially revised. The second disc features all of Journey’s End, followed by a performance of Barclay James Harvest’s Mockingbird from RJG’s original score, and concludes with Dambusters and Land of Hope and Glory.
Robert John Godfrey’s Fall of Hyperion (1974) is the bridge between his work with Barclay James Harvest and the Enid albums that would follow. It establishes the foundation of the Enid style, though Fall of Hyperion has vocals. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Music from the Other Side of the Room.
This 1994 CD is, in addition to their self-titled cassette, the only output of this British neo-prog quartet, influenced most by early Marillion and in the same general style as Galahad, Iluvatar, Pendragon, and Grace. Read the Prog Archives review. Out of print, last copies.
Erasmus’ Voyage (2002) is an excellent but overlooked album of heavy neo-prog. One of the two main members of Erasmus is Matthew Cohen, the leader of The Reasoning. Magenta’s Rob Reed played all the keyboards on the album, as well as produced, mixed, and helped arrange.
Esquire was the band fronted by Nikki Squire, Chris Squire’s wife at least at the time of their 1987 self-titled debut. This is the stronger of their two albums, and Yes personnel are involved: Alan White plays drums, Chris Squire sings backing vocals, and Trevor Horn mixed some tracks.
Welsh progressive rock band Ezra had been around since the beginning of the 1990s and released two CDs on the Cyclops label during that decade. Their 2006 third CD Songs from Pennsylvania is on the F2 label, and like the band Credo, their new album on F2 is a huge improvement over their earlier CDs. Ezra have some similarity to IQ and Jadis at times, a noticeable Pink Floyd influence, a strong Yes influence on one song, and an It Bites pop sensibility that manifests as terrific melodies that few besides the British can create. Ezra also have great harmony vocals, which may remind the listener of Echolyn on occasion, though that could just be the power of suggestion. (Echolyn are from Pennsylvania.) At other times, the vocals have the melancholic feel prevalent in many of today’s bands, and overall this album has a contemporary feel along the lines of RPWL. The tracks vary enough that influences present in one track are absent from others, but all seven tracks are proggy and all are exceptional. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Following the demise of Amen Corner, Andy Fairweather Lowe and musical cohorts Blue Weaver, Clive Taylor and Dennis Byron transitioned into the band Fair Weather. Heading in a more progressive direction, the band adopted a harder edge and were the first act to sign to RCA’s progressive imprint Neon (an attempt to rival Philips’ Vertigo label). Perhaps the most successful Neon signing, the band had a UK top ten hit in Natural Sinner (included here as a bonus track) before releasing their sole album Beginning from an End in 1971. Though the album was a success in Europe, Fair Weather lasted a mere 13 months before disbanding. This 2008 Esoteric edition adds six bonus tracks, the A & B sides of three singles, to comprise this definitive edition remastered reissue.
Given the Impossible (2016, digipack) is The Far Meadow’s second album, following 2012’s Where Joys Abound. It’s their first featuring vocalist Marguerita Alexandrou and Brazilian guitarist Denis Warren. Where Joys Abound appears to have been available only as a digital download, so The Far Meadow will probably be a tremendous surprise to many. This is the most traditional symphonic prog band on the Bad Elephant label, for us the best period. The crystalline female vocals remind us of Solstice (just don’t ask us which Solstice singer we’re reminded of because they had several), and the music itself is somewhere between Genesis, Solstice, Renaissance, UK, and any number of modern prog bands rooted in classic prog but not pretending to be from another era. This is real prog, with a true pianist/keyboardist, and a guitarist who can play in multiple styles none of which is metal. Epic compositions with extended instrumental workouts, virtuoso playing all round, and superb production make this one of the best prog albums of the year. We’re in love; if you don’t like this album, you’re probably on the wrong site. “This album is an absolute standout that I hope you do not miss as I almost did. It is without reservation that I can recommend this album as one of the best of 2016.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review, also the Progradar review.
This is the 2010 CD edition on Esoteric of the self-titled 1971 Fields album. After the first lineup of Rare Bird folded in early 1971, keyboardist Graham Field formed this outfit with bassist/singer/guitarist Alan Barry and drummer Andy McCulloch (in between his time with King Crimson and Greenslade). Although Fields didn’t achieve the commercial success Rare Bird had, (what had until recently been) their sole album is a very good British prog album, certainly better than the Rare Bird albums that would follow since Rare Bird without Graham Fields wasn’t very progressive at all. This CD edition has been remastered from the original master tapes and features an essay by Sid Smith and an interview with Graham Field. Read reviews at Music from the Other Side of the Room and Prog Archives.
Following the album’s release, the band’s line-up changed with the departure of Alan Barry and the arrival of Frank Farrell from Supertramp. This line-up recorded a follow-up album in 1972 that was perplexingly shelved by CBS Records and remained consigned to the vaults for forty-odd years! The original master tapes of this fine album were recently located and have been remastered by the Esoteric team as Contrasts: Urban Roar to Country Peace (2015) with the full involvement of Graham Field and featuring a booklet with an essay by Sid Smith and interview with Graham Field. Listen to Let Her Sleep.
Final Conflict are an English neo-prog band formed in 1985. They released their first CD Redress the Balance in 1991, though there were a couple cassette releases even earlier. Simple (2006) is their fifth CD, Quest (1992) their second. Read reviews of all at Prog Archives. Check our DVDs page for Final Conflict’s Another Moment in Time DVD.
Yin and Yang were companion compilation CDs spanning 1980-1995, but most of the songs were re-recorded. Yang includes four Marillion songs recorded by Fish’s band. Check our DVDs page for Fish’s DVDs.
The reissue of 2006 for folk-rock fans. This 2CD set, packaged in a slipcase, is the first time on CD for the first three albums (1976, 1977, 1978) from Celtic rock band Five Hand Reel, which was led by Scottish singer/guitarist Dick Gaughan. The band had Scottish, Irish, and English members, and most of their repertoire was drawn from Scottish and Irish sources. Like Fairport Convention (who they most closely resemble), Steeleye Span, and early Horslips, Five Hand Reel arranged traditional songs for electric rock band. The instrumentation generally included acoustic & electric guitar, fiddle, keyboards, bass, and drums. The 24-page booklet includes the lyrics and extensive liner notes.
Flash was the post-Yes band of the late Peter Banks, who continued the early Yes style. The band reformed this millennium without Banks, headed up by original members Ray Bennett and Colin Carter. We remember watching the current Flash at Progday 2010, at which they promised a new CD soon, so it’s been a bit of a wait for Flash featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter (2013, 59-minutes), but worth it. Joined by three more musicians including a keyboardist, this new Flash pick up where they left off 40 years ago, with a few new tricks up their collective sleeve. And that is very good news for prog fans. The keyboardist is critical, because the original Flash tried to make do without keys after Tony Kaye left, and the second and third albums suffered because of that. Flash are back to full strength now.
These are the 2009/2010 remastered editions on Esoteric Recordings, known for their superb remastering jobs and extensive booklets. Following the self-titled first Flash album (1972), In the Can (1973) is their second album, Out of Our Hands (1973) the third. This CD of In the Can includes the bonus tracks Watch Your Step and the single version of Lifetime, the A & B sides of a 1973 single. Flash was Peter Banks’ post-Yes band, who continued the early Yes style. On the first album, Tony Kaye is on keyboards, though he was never officially a member and never toured with them. Kaye left after the first album and Flash continued as a quartet, their sound becoming more guitar-oriented. The first album is the best, with each subsequent album tailing off a little. Flash then morphed into the band Empire, and Banks continued the slow but steady downward trend. The Flash albums however, especially the first, are fairly essential for fans of early Yes. Out of Our Hands is out-of-print, last copies.
This 2009 release is the debut CD by an Englishman known only as Flood. As Flood says: “My debut album Tales from the Four Seasons is an instrumental album. It began life as a short piece entitled Summer written whilst on holiday in Dorset five years ago. I liked the feel of the arrangement and therefore decided to write a suite of four pieces based on the four seasons. Although typically drawn to more heavy arrangements in terms of the use of synthesizers, bass pedals and electric guitars, I felt it was important to keep the orchestration and choice of instruments the same as had been used on Summer. Each season is made up of individual movements linked together using short linking passages. The music was inspired by the sights and sounds of the English countryside.” This is a very pastoral and relaxing work, nearly 80-minutes in length, influenced by the English classical composers. There are passages with drums and/or synths and organ, but they’re in the minority. Acoustic 6 & 12 string guitar and piano form the backbone of the album, augmented by flute, clarinet, cello, and upright bass. When the guitar is present, the feel is close to Gordon Giltrap’s later work, while Mike Oldfield and Anthony Phillips are other possible reference points.
This 2-on-1 CD on the BGO label contains the two albums by English psychedelic folk-rock band Forest: Forest (1969) and Full Circle (1970). Forest are in the vein of Dr. Strangely Strange, Comus, and Incredible String Band. “...dark but subtle acid lyrics, incorporating pipes, harmonium, harpsichord, mandolin, 12-string guitar and percussion in their sound. Their music doesn’t have the electricity normally associated with rock, yet it can’t be described as straight folk either, the lyrics being rather strange and the band’s approach being far too eclectic... Both albums are altogether esoteric, pastoral, serious and communal as befit the times.” [Prog Archives]
Freedom to Glide is centered on English musicians Pete Riley and Andy Nixon who have played together for many years in the Pink Floyd tribute band Dark Side of the Wall. Their 2013 debut CD Rain (digipack) is, to quote the Sonic Abuse review, “the spiritual successor to The Final Cut, with its conceptual theme of the costs of war”, in this case with World War I as the subject matter. Freedom to Glide eschew high-energy instrumental excursions, focusing instead on the story and sustaining a profound and melancholy mood, equally beautiful and sad. The album has received plenty of accolades: also read the Prog Rock Music Talk, Get Ready to Rock!, and Progarchy reviews. Watch the official video for Rain (Part 1) and the unofficial video for When the Whistle Blows.
Frost are a UK prog band who like to put an asterisk at the end of their name, but we’re not going to comply because readers would then be looking below for a footnote. Frost’s initial lineup featured Jem Godfrey, John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, It Bites), John Jowitt (IQ,...), Andy Edwards (IQ), and (on the second CD) Declan Burke (Darwin’s Radio). For a time, it seemed the same core group of musicians was shuffled around to form as many bands as possible, with the one requirement that Jowitt be the bassist. But Godfrey, who made a name for himself as a writer and producer in the pop music field, is the sole writer in Frost, and as he says: “I’ve always been into progressive rock music and so I decided to do exactly that, writing an album to my kind of taste”. Frost’s 2006 debut Milliontown is a blend of classic prog and very modern, heavier prog. The classic stuff happens mainly during the instrumental passages, of which there are plenty. These instrumental passages sound like what Genesis would produce today in an ideal universe (in which the five of them were together, had their youthful energy and then some, and forgot everything that happened after Duke). The keyboards especially remind one of Tony Banks. The album opens with a killer 7:30 instrumental and concludes with the 26:35 title track, which is the highlight. In between there’s a 10-minute song, and the remaining shorter songs showcase the modern side of the band.
Frost returned in 2008 with Experiments in Mass Appeal, which is a completely contemporary-style progressive rock album, meaning guitar-oriented, darker, heavier, and employing some modern production techniques. This is as good as Porcupine Tree or any of the other practitioners of the modern prog style you care to name. And even though it is guitar-dominated, keyboards still play a more important role than in most other such bands. The special edition (SE) comes in a digipack and adds an NTSC DVD containing a documentary, informal studio renditions of two songs from Milliontown, and an instrumental remix of the entire EiMA album as 192kbps mp3 files. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the digipack edition of Frost’s long-awaited third album Falling Satellites (2016), which includes two bonus tracks. The album features a 32-minute suite titled Sunlight. Joe Satriani guests. “It’s that contrast of light to dark, loud to quiet, reverential to utterly modern that mark Frost*’s Falling Satellites clearly as the prog album to beat in 2016, mainly because it will be the single most progressive attempt all year.” Read the full Popdose review and the Background Magazine review. Watch the video for Heartstrings.
These are the 2009 remastered editions on Esoteric of the four albums by the Belfast-based symphonic prog band Fruupp, Northern Ireland’s great contribution to 1970s progressive rock. Amazingly, these four LPs were originally released within a span of less than 18 months in 1973-1975. Fruupp opened for Genesis many times, and their open admiration for Genesis probably influenced them, as their music is sometimes similar to pastoral 1970s Genesis. The DPRP history and review of Fruupp and these four CDs will tell you all you need to know. Future Legends has one bonus track, The Prince of Heaven’s Eyes has two. All have extensive booklets with previously unseen photographs and new liner notes. Seven Secrets and Modern Masquerades are currently out-of-print, last copies.
Who Is This Who Is Coming? (2012, digisleeve) is the fourth album by this early 1970s style English prog/psych/space rock band. Read the Aural Innovations and Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Fuzzy Duck were a heavy organ-driven proto-prog band who released only this one LP in 1971. This 2012 Esoteric edition is newly remastered from the original master tapes and includes four non-LP bonus tracks taken from the band’s two singles. The booklet fully restores all original album artwork and includes a new essay. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Seas of Change (2018, digipack) is the follow-up to 2017’s Quiet Storms. As the band says, whereas Quiet Storms contains 15 short-ish tracks and is a much more mellow affair, Seas of Change is the polar opposite. It consists of just one 43-minute track that twists and turns creating “a full-on, no holds barred prog/rock rollercoaster of an album”. Seas of Change is kind of a hybrid in style, featuring more traditional, occasionally pastoral elements reminiscent of the older Galahad sound while also incorporating the heavier guitar and more modern keyboard sounds of the last few studio albums. Seas of Change is also the first album to feature Lee Abraham on all guitars following his rejoining the band in spring 2017. Lee had been Galahad’s bass player from 2005-2009. Seas of Change is also Tim Ashton’s first appearance on a Galahad album containing all new material since he appeared on Nothing Is Written back in 1990. Karl Groom mixed and mastered. To pad out the CD, there are two extended edits of sections of the main piece, adding 13 minutes. This is now the highest rated Galahad album on Prog Archives. “That it is a masterpiece is not in doubt, that it will be viewed as album of the year by many is also a shoe-in, while the understanding that in many ways this is the most important release of their career should be taken as read.” [Kev Rowland] Read The Progressive Aspect review.
Check our DVDs page for Galahad’s Resonance DVD.
British neo-prog band Galahad have been at it for a while, with their debut CD being released in 1991 and, prior to that, cassettes dating back to 1985. There is a correlation between longevity and quality.
Galahad’s Solidarity: Live in Konin (DVD+2CD, 2015, digipack) was recorded in Konin, Poland in October 2013, one of a few selected live shows promoting the Battle Scars and Beyond the Realms of Euphoria albums. This live album includes Mark Spencer in the line-up on bass guitar as well as Neil Pepper’s bass and guitar parts on a couple tracks. Both the 2 CDs as well as the DVD (PAL, all-region) concert film contain the complete show. The DVD adds a band documentary/interview and photo gallery. View the track list.
Empires Never Last (2007) initiated the shift to a heavier, darker, and more intense Galahad. If their earlier albums were comparable to Pendragon, ENL is more in the direction of Arena, IQ at their heaviest, and Fugazi-era Marillion. There is more guitar and a metal influence, though it stops short of being prog-metal, staying in the heavy symphonic realm.
Battle Scars (2012, digipack) continues along the trajectory established by Empires Never Last, a darker and heavier Galahad playing anthemic neo-prog, with touches of electronica and classical arrangements expanding their sound. For better or worse, several of the original neo-prog bands have made concessions to prog-metal, though Battle Scars is not a metal album. Like its predecessor, Battle Scars was recorded, engineered, and mixed by Karl Groom (Threshold) at Thin Ice Studios, so the shift toward the huge Arena and Threshold sound is not surprising. A new recording of the Galahad classic song Sleepers is included as a bonus track. Watch the video preview. Read reviews of the more recent Galahad CDs.
Beyond the Realms of Euphoria (digipack) is Galahad’s second new album of 2012, recorded at the same time as Battle Scars. The cover art is intended to symbolize “hope, good times and a bright future” to contrast the feel of Battle Scars. As a bonus track, the CD includes a new version of Richelieu’s Prayer, which originally appeared over 20 years earlier on Nothing Is Written. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
With Year Zero (2002), Galahad made their best album to that point, as they expanded in new directions, blending traditional progressive rock with modern elements. With the band in control of engineering and production for the first time, they finally achieved the album they wanted to achieve. Year Zero is a loose concept album performed as one continuous piece of music and is the most instrumentally-oriented album Galahad has recorded. John Wetton guests on lead vocals. This 2012 expanded and remastered 10th Anniversary edition comes in a digipack and includes a second CD of Galahad performing Year Zero live almost in its entirety in 2003, a rare performance as the album was played live only about a half dozen times. The live recording was taken directly from the mixing desk.
Following Ghosts (1998) is Galahad’s fourth proper studio album. This is the 2007 remastered edition on the Polish Oskar label.
Sleepers (1995) is Galahad’s third studio album, which made great strides from the previous two. The Avalon Records edition is the 2005 second edition on the band’s own label, which comes in a jewel case. The remastered digipack is the 2015 20th anniversary edition on the Oskar label. It was recently remastered and generally spruced up by Karl Groom at Thin Ice Studios. This digipack edition also adds two bonus tracks: Suffering in Silence, which we believe had been a Japan-only bonus track, and a new orchestral/vocal re-recording of Pictures of Bliss.
Following a number of cassettes, Nothing Is Written (1991) was Galahad’s debut CD. This is the 2007 reissue on the Polish Oskar label, which adds one bonus track. Not All There (1995) is a side project featuring new songs plus reworkings of older Galahad songs that are not on their earlier CDs. It includes most of the Galahad lineup of that time plus another musician on flute and clarinet, unplugged but also more orchestral, a shift in the Galahad sound towards that of The Strawbs.
Other Crimes & Misdemeanors I (digipack) was first released on cassette back in 1992, subsequently remastered, tidied up, and released on CD by Oskar Productions in 2008. The second and third volumes in this series were originally released in 1997 and 2001, respectively, now available as the remastered double-CD Other Crimes & Misdemeanors II & III (digipack) released in 2008 by Oskar. The albums in this series are collections of early recordings that for the most part have not appeared elsewhere on CD. The third volume includes some live tracks and covers of songs by Twelfth Night, Camel, and Genesis.
Sleepless in Phoenixville (digipack) is a live double-CD of Galahad’s performance at Rosfest 2007 in Pennsylvania, on their Empires Never Last tour.
The double-CD Two Classic Rock Lives (digipack) on Oskar contains two live albums. The second disc was recorded at a Classic Rock Society gig in Rotherham in April 1995 and was originally released in conjunction with the CRS, Galahad’s first proper live album. The first disc is an ‘official bootleg’ album recorded directly from the desk at Mister Smith’s in Bournemouth in October 1994.
The Whitchurch 92/93 DVD+CD (2012, digipack), subtitled Live Archives Vol. 2, was released by the Polish Oskar label. The CD contains a concert from July 1992, while the DVD (PAL) contains a concert from July 1993. These were occasional rock shows organized by a couple brothers in the Hampshire village of Whitchurch, the beginnings of what would become the annual Whitchurch prog festival. Galahad played several gigs here and remember them as some of the most memorable and fun shows the band ever played. The recording is as it is and was, no tinkering, a little rough but very real and only tweaked in terms of a little tidying up here and there and a bit of work to increase the audio quality. Oskar Productions asked if they could release these now historical musical documents and took care of the mastering.
These 2009 editions on Esoteric are the first official CD releases of two 1970 albums from Decca’s Deram label. Both are remastered from the original master tapes, with booklets containing previously unseen photographs and new liner notes. Strange Pleasure includes two bonus tracks. Galliard were an English proto-prog band that augmented their sound with brass arrangements. The brass arrangements are sometimes in the jazzier style of early Chicago, sometimes in the British brass band style a la Home Service. The DPRP reviews are required reading; Mark Hughes hits the nail on the head when he writes that Strange Pleasure “...perfectly encapsulates the musical freedom of that era. Jazzy without being jazz, psychedelic without being trippy, pop without being limp-wristed and progressive without being indulgent, the songs stand out for the ease of which the different styles blend together, carefully encased with perfectly executed brass arrangements.” There is also some trad folk influence as well as a bit of baroque in what are two underrated gems of the formative era of British prog. Both are out-of-print, last copies.
This 2014 Esoteric Recordings release is the first official CD of this 1972 album, newly remastered from the original master tapes. The band’s origins are in Berlin in 1969, initially called Children of Fools, founded by two Americans. The ensemble grew to ten members, most with a U.S. military service background. Gigs in Germany led to a UK recording contract, and in 1971 the various members of the band somehow managed early outs from the army and went to London to record their one and only album. They were championed by Old Grey Whistle Test presenter Bob Harris. The album is a fusion of rock and jazz using brass instruments, the full lineup on the LP being guitar/vocals, keyboards, bass, drums, alto sax, tenor sax, two trumpets, trombone, and congas. The music is at times reminiscent of early Chicago, at other times in the underground early prog style. The LP is very rare now. Read the DPRP review. Listen to Ein Grosses (probably the heaviest, most jamming song).
Peter Gee is best known as the bassist for Pendragon. Heart of David dates to 1993; after being unavailable for 12 years, it was re-released in this 2009 edition. It includes performances by a large number of other musicians, notably Pendragon members Nick Barrett, Clive Nolan, Rik Carter, Nigel Harris, and Fudge Smith, as well as Tracey Hitchings, Karl Groom and many others.
A Vision of Angels followed in 1997 with Simon Clew on vocals, Ian Salmon on guitars, Tina Riley on backing vocals, and Steve Christey (Jadis, John Wetton) on drums, with contributions from Nick Barrett and Clive Nolan. “While not too far from Pendragon and the whole neo-prog thing, Gee brings in a fresh jazz-pop element on some of the tunes. Also a more evident Genesis influence (Duke era) prevails than one might find on a Pendragon release... The more pop-oriented tracks tend to have a definite Pink Floyd meets Steely Dan feel about them, though that could also be the influence of any number of British eighties bands. In all, this is a good, refreshing album that’s full of nice surprises.” [Exposé]
The Spiritual World (2008) has Christey on drums and Steve Thorne on vocals, with one track sung by Simon Clew.
The vocals on East of Eden (2011) are divided between Steve Thorne and Damian Wilson, with Steve Christey again handling the drums. Across the album’s 72-minutes, Gee has room for several styles. The first song Arabia was probably inspired by Led Zep’s Kashmir, while most of the vocal songs are in Gee’s soft symphonic rock style, with heartfelt lyrics. Some of these are not far from later Camel. (Gee names Moonmadness as the album that influenced him most.) Our favorites are several tracks (mostly instrumentals) where the influence of Mike Oldfield is hard to miss.
Paris (2013) features Steve Thorne’s vocals on most of the songs, while Damian Wilson sings two songs and Damian’s brother Paul (who sang on Gee’s first album 20 years earlier) returns to sing one. Steve Christey retains the drum throne. As always, the 12 songs and 3 instrumentals cover a variety of styles and moods.
Awake & Dreaming, the debut by London’s The Gift, is a 71-minute neo-prog opus consisting of two long song suites. The music relies heavily on the vocals of Mike Morton, which are front and center, very clear in the mix, while instrumentally it is mainstream symphonic neo-prog along the lines of Galahad, Tr3nity, Landmarq, etc., with just a touch of heavy riffing to let you know it’s a modern record. The jewel case is the original 2006 edition on the Cyclops label, who over-hyped it to call it the best prog album of that year; nevertheless it is a fine album that will probably require a few listens to get under your skin. The digipack is the 2016 remastered edition on the Bad Elephant label, which features all new artwork. Read the Prog Archives and DPRP reviews.
The follow-up Land of Shadows (2014) was a long time coming and finds The Gift on the Bad Elephant label. While in the same vein as their first, this is the superior album, slightly darker and showing progression in several areas. Tinyfish now strikes us as a decent reference, though unlike Tinyfish, The Gift have a keyboardist. We wouldn’t put The Gift alongside Big Big Train just yet, but they’re heading in that direction. Some of the songs are in that one-foot-in-prog, one-foot-in-serious-melodic-rock category, the focus on storytelling and thoughtful lyrics, the style not far removed from later Pink Floyd. But the Gift’s longer tracks are the proggy highlights, particularly the nearly 20-minute The Comforting Cold. Read the Lady Obscure and Prog Archives reviews.
The Gift have expanded their lineup to a six-piece on Why the Sea Is Salt (2016, digipack), now looking like a full band as opposed to a studio project. The music is still centered on the lyrics and vocals of Mike Morton. Guests include Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett, and Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales, Red Bazar). “Why the Sea Is Salt is a truly exceptional album and deserves to propel The Gift into the higher echelons of current British progressive rock music. Simple as that – it really is that outstanding. Very few albums indeed have the potential to attain the status of a ‘classic’ album, which will live long in the memory like Why the Sea Is Salt.” Read the full Progradar review.
These are the 2009-2011 24-bit remastered editions on Esoteric Recordings, known for their superb remastering jobs. Both the 1975 self-titled debut and the 1978 second album by Gilgamesh are Canterbury classics. Gilgamesh was centered on keyboardist Alan Gowen, who had been a member of National Health, and Gilgamesh is closely-related to National Health / Hatfield and the North, with Richard Sinclair, Neil Murray, and Mont Campbell (Egg) all passing through. Gilgamesh’s music is jazzier and less idiosyncratic than either of those bands, Gowen’s and Dave Stewart’s contrasting compositional and playing styles largely accounting for the difference. Gowen succumbed to leukemia in 1981. National Health’s D.S. al Coda album contained all Alan Gowen compositions and was a tribute to him.
This 2013 collaboration with Oliver Wakeman represents Gordon Giltrap’s return to rock, after 30 years away. Which means the UK’s leading acoustic guitarist has plugged in his electric again. Giltrap has worked with Rick Wakeman on several occasions, so the collaboration with Oliver is a natural. On Ravens and Lullabies, the two are joined by singer Paul Manzi (Arena), bassist Steve Amadeo, and drummer Johanne James (Threshold), while Threshold’s Karl Groom recorded and mixed the album. The album also features a special vocal appearance by Benoit David (Mystery, Yes). This is the limited edition digipack, which adds a second CD containing five live tracks from Giltrap and Wakeman’s acoustic duo tour, and three new studio recordings. Click the mp3 icon above for all the info on the album plus several reviews.
Gordon Giltrap’s rock days were thought to be behind him, as he focused on acoustic guitar for three decades. Giltrap has a signature style that is a clear influence on Ritchie Blackmore in Blackmore’s Night. At the Symphony Hall, Birmingham employs the short-lived DualDisc format with a CD on one side and a DVD-Video on the other side. The DVD was recorded in March 2005 at the Birmingham Symphony Hall during one of Gordon’s many live concert appearances. Gordon is joined on this concert date by the Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra and guests Raymond Burley, Rod Edwards, Gilly Darbey, and Rick Wakeman. The concert saw the performance of Gordon’s rhapsody The Eye of the Wind, which was written between 1978 and 1980 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Sir Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the world. The CD includes the complete 49-minute studio version of The Eye of the Wind, recorded in 2004 with The Sheffield Philharmonic. Fans will recognize some of the themes from Giltrap’s band albums. It’s great to hear Giltrap’s music adapted for symphony orchestra. Note playback of DualDiscs cannot be guaranteed on all CD or DVD players as the disc thickness exceeds the spec for CDs and DVDs, though problems are not common.
The double-disc Drifter contains a 2004 studio CD and a 2003 live performance. Many of the tracks on the studio disc feature the violin of John Bradbury, and the combination of Giltrap’s acoustic guitar and Bradbury’s virtuoso violin is sublime. The live CD is the audio from Giltrap’s Live at Huntingdon Hall DVD and contains 20 tracks. Using one acoustic guitar, Giltrap is able to fill the sonic spectrum almost like an orchestra. Our favorite acoustic guitarist.
From Brush & Stone (2009) is a collaboration between Giltrap on acoustic guitars and Rick Wakeman on piano and synths, recorded late in 2007. The two have worked together before, and they mesh perfectly. 59-minutes of beautiful instrumentals from two masters of their instruments.
These are Gordon Giltrap’s band albums, easily the best albums in his extensive catalog. Those marked “Esoteric” are the 2013-2014 newly-remastered (from the original tapes) editions on the Esoteric label, with booklets that feature a new essay and interview with Giltrap. The others are on Giltrap’s La Cooka Ratcha label, an imprint of Voiceprint.
Giltrap is as unique a British music talent as they come, not only for the acoustic guitar technique that he developed, but for the style of instrumental progressive rock heard on these albums that is also unique. After beginning his career in the late 1960s as a folkie, Giltrap switched to a bounteous, symphonic instrumental rock style more classical than folk, beginning with 1976’s Visionary and continuing with Perilous Journey (1977), Fear of the Dark (1978), The Peacock Party (1979), Airwaves (1982), and his 1979 (Live at Oxford) and 1981 live CDs. While acoustic guitar is his favorite, he does play electric on these albums. He plays a lot of electric on The Band Live 1981, which was recorded live in the studio specifically for radio use and features 14 tracks of Giltrap’s best material.
One constant in his band was keyboardist Rod Edwards. His band on Visionary and Perilous Journey also included John G. Perry and Simon Phillips. The Peacock Party includes Bimbo Acock, Richard Harvey (Gryphon), Ian Mosely (Marillion), John Gustafson, Morris Pert, and Ric Sanders (Soft Machine, Fairport Convention). His rhythm section on Airwaves switched to Chas Cronk (Strawbs) and Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull), and so Giltrap surrounded himself with excellent musicians. Giltrap’s band albums are an essential part of any progressive rock library. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Visionary contains three bonus tracks: On Wings of Hope, the original version of the title track, and the previously-unreleased 13-minute Concerto. Perilous Journey contains a number of valuable bonus tracks. There is the original recording of Heartsong, Quest performed with an orchestra, the non-LP single Oh Well, and excellent audio quality acoustic guitar & piano demos of much of the album. The Voiceprint edition of Fear of the Dark contains four bonus tracks, while the Esoteric edition contains seven bonus tracks, mostly from a series of singles released between 1978-1980. The Voiceprint and Esoteric editions of The Peacock Party contain three and four bonus tracks respectively, with only one in common. The Esoteric edition of Airwaves contains five bonus tracks, four of which were recorded for the original Airwaves library music project but omitted from the album proper.
Glacier are a prog band from Durham, England who have been around in one form or another since 1979. Their CD debut was Monument in 2001, essentially a compilation of older material. And it isn’t nearly as good as their second CD Ashes for the Monarch (2015, mini-LP sleeve). It’s safe to consider Glacier alongside Comedy of Errors, Abel Ganz, and Cyan, but Ashes for the Monarch is to a greater extent loaded with Genesis and Steve Hackett style symphonic splendor, some Yes influence as well. A guest on violin adds a Kansas or Solstice feel to some tracks, in particular the 11-part, 23-minute epic One Man Alone. This CD should be on the shopping list of any fan of melodic prog. It sounds very British, and is utterly free of metal or other impurities. “This is an album that should be enjoyed for what it is intended to be, a celebration of a genre that simply refuses to fade and as such represents an example of the highest calibre. For those seeking nostalgia with a contemporary twist, look no further. Glacier’s new work fourteen years in the making is a joy and well worth the wait. Traditional prog at its very best.” Read the full Progmeister and DPRP reviews.
The first two titles are the 2012 Esoteric editions, newly remastered from the original master tapes, the booklets with fully restored original album artwork and a new essay. Both CDs add one bonus track. These are Gnidrolog’s first two albums, both released in 1972. Lady Lake is the second and superior album. Gnidrolog were a full-blown progressive rock band from Wales who were contemporaneous with and similar to Van der Graaf Generator, Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson. And Gnidrolog sometimes reached the same level. One could also compare aspects of their style to Traffic, Audience, Catapilla, Still Life, etc., blues-based rock bands with progressive tendencies, but Gnidrolog were proggier. In Spite of Harry’s Toenail is out-of-print, last copies.
The 2-on-1 is the 2004 CD on BGO.
Superb progressive rock and progressive pop with a subtle folk influence, hard not to like these guys. Poppy (1996) is Grace’s third album. Gathering in the Wheat is a 2CD live album recorded in 1997 that serves as an excellent retrospective covering all three of their studio albums. Read the DPRP review.
Available for the first time on CD, this is the only album from the short-lived side project of Nektar’s leader Roye Albrighton, guitarist/bassist Derek Holt of Climax Blues Band, and drummer Brendan Day. The LP was released in 1983 and was the last thing heard from Albrighton until The Follies of Rupert Treacle at the end of the 1990s and the Nektar reboot that followed. This CD reissue adds one bonus track, House on Fire, which was the B side of a UK single. This is a limited hand-numbered edition of 500.
Heavy on the Beach (2015, digipack) is the debut CD from Glasgow’s Grand Tour, a new band featuring some not-so-new musicians. Grand Tour’s leader is keyboardist Hew Montgomery, a founding member of Abel Ganz. Grand Tour had its genesis in 2005. Hew says he’d begun to feel the need to take more direct control of his own material as Abel Ganz moved off in a slightly different musical direction from his. In fact, the current Abel Ganz has no full-time members in common with the band that recorded the first two Abel Ganz albums; it appears only current bandleader Denis Smith has any connection to Abel Ganz of the 1980s or 1990s. The second member to sign on to Grand Tour was local guitarist Andrew Young. The two were joined in 2007 by Joe Cairney, vocalist with then-dormant Comedy of Errors. The lineup was completed with the addition of drummer Bruce Levick (Comedy of Errors) in 2009. In 2010, Young was replaced by Comedy of Errors guitarist Mark Spalding, who agreed to join after a brief listen to the existing demos. So with the keyboardist/composer of the original Abel Ganz and three Comedy of Errors members, you ought to have a pretty good idea what you’re going to get. This is Glasgow-prog!
These are the 2016 newly-remastered editions on Esoteric, with fully restored artwork and liner notes. This edition of Gravy Train’s third album Second Birth (1973) contains one bonus track, the B-side of a 1973 single. Second Birth was the band’s first album for Dawn Records after two on Vertigo, hence the rebirth reference.
Staircase to the Day (1974) followed and is usually considered the band’s best work. This Esoteric edition includes two bonus tracks taken from a 1975 single. See Prog Archives for reviews and info.
Yeah, we know, not the most enthralling band name, but for melodic prog fans who’ve gotten past the individual’s name bias and enjoyed the albums by, say, Sean Filkins or Lee Abraham, you’re going to enjoy this one too. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Jeff Green was born in northern California to an American father and English mother, and now lives in Ireland after having spent years in England. As this album is on a British label and features loads of British musicians, it’s going on this page. Jeff Green had one earlier self-released CD, while Elder Creek (2014) is on the Festival Music label, which has also released CDs by the aforementioned Sean Filkins and Lee Abraham. To further the association, Sean Filkins is responsible for the lead vocals on the title track. Other participants include drummer Pete Riley (Wetton & Downes Icon, Keith Emerson), keyboardist Mike Stobbie (ex-Pallas), singer Alan Reed (ex-Pallas), guitarist Phil Hilborne (has played with Brian May, Glen Hughes, Keith Emerson, Steve Vai), and three others. Jeff Green plays all manner of guitars and guitar synth and provides both lead and backing vocals. It’s a wonderful melodic and lush prog album, with more classic prog/rock influences than either Abraham’s or Filkins’ albums. Camel, David Gilmour, Yes, and Big Big Train could all be mentioned. Watch the album promo video and the video for the instrumental Point Blunt Light. If you do that and listen to the clips on Soundcloud (mp3 icon above) and still won’t buy the album because you don’t like the band name, well, we tried.
Greenslade were a fine second-tier English prog rock band based around the dual keyboards of Dave Greenslade and Dave Lawson. They released four albums during the 1970s, plus a few solo albums by Dave Greenslade. Blend ELP, The Nice, Argent, and Procol Harum and you’d be in the ballpark. They reunited circa 1999 with original members Dave Greenslade and bassist Tony Reeves, plus John Young on vocals & keyboards and a new drummer. They were a hit at Baja Prog 2002, showing the younger bands a thing or two about composing and songwriting. Large Afternoon is Greenslade’s 2000 comeback studio album, a fine addition to their body of work. This is the 2014 reissue on Angel Air, which includes new sleeve notes by John Tucker, having interviewed Dave Greenslade.
The Full Edition: Live 2001 includes live renditions of most of their best 70s tracks plus a few tracks from Large Afternoon, all on one 75-minute CD. Since John Young has a better voice than Dave Lawson did, and recording technology has improved, this is a great way to hear a classic progressive rock band at their finest. This is the reissue on the Angel Air label.
Live in Stockholm - March 10th, 1975 (2013, digipack) is a recording of one of the final performances of the original Greenslade, released with the cooperation of Dave Greenslade. View the track list at Prog Archives. Extensive liner notes are included.
Gryphon is Britain’s famous progressive rock band who combined early music instruments and renaissance music influences with rock. Using recorders, crumhorns and bassoon alongside guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, their style of medieval progressive rock has never been duplicated. These are the circa 2010 editions of the Gryphon CDs on Talking Elephant. Raindance had been long out-of-print; this edition has been remastered from the original master tapes.
Gryphon’s 1973 self-titled debut is entirely acoustic. They began to ramp up the rock on Midnight Mushrumps (1974), culminating in their masterpiece Red Queen to Gryphon Three (later in 1974), which features longer, more symphonic pieces. Raindance (1975) is highlighted by the 16-minute (Ein Klein) Heldenleben, while the remaining tracks are shorter. While not the equal of Red Queen, it is a worthy follow-up, beginning a transition to more rock-based, less folk/medieval material.
This is the CD+Blu-ray digipack edition of Steve Hackett’s 2017 studio album The Night Siren. The Blu-ray (all-region) contains a surround mix in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and 24/48 5.1 LPCM, plus hi-res stereo (24/48 LPCM). The Blu-ray also features a behind-the-scenes video examining the creation of The Night Siren. In addition to the members of Hackett’s current band, there are many guests including Nad Sylvan, Troy Donockley, and Nick D’Virgilio. Watch the video for Behind the Smoke and listen to In the Skeleton Gallery. Read the Echoes and Dust and Progradar reviews.
Check our DVDs page for Steve Hackett DVDs/Blu-rays.
Steve Hackett’s live album The Tokyo Tapes was first issued in 1998 as a double-CD, followed by a DVD in 2001. This 2013 edition on Esoteric has been newly-remastered and combines the 2CD and the DVD (NTSC, all-region) in one box-set. Both the 2CD and DVD were drawn from two 1996 concerts in Tokyo. Hackett’s band was a progressive rock supergroup, with John Wetton, Chester Thompson, Ian McDonald, and Julian Colbeck. In addition to songs from the Steve Hackett repertoire, the set list features Genesis, King Crimson, John Wetton, and Asia songs. The second CD still includes the studio tracks Firewall and The Dealer but now also includes a new studio recording of All Along the Watchtower by Hackett and Wetton. The DVD includes bonus rehearsal footage. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Genesis Revisited II (2CD, 2012, digipack) is Steve Hackett’s second album of Genesis covers, what Hackett himself calls “a project of Wagnerian proportions. For the most part I’ve followed the arrangements we had first time around. But each vocalist has added their own character.” Among the vocalists are Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt, Simon Collins (Phil Collins’ son), Francis Dunnery, Neal Morse, John Wetton, Nad Sylvan (Agents of Mercy), Jakko Jakszyk, and Nik Kershaw. There are also two guitarists apart from Hackett, namely Steve Rothery (Marillion) and Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), around 35 guests in all. “What I’m doing is celebrating music without prejudice, which was what Genesis stood for back then. We really had no limits, everything was possible. You could have short songs, long songs, loud bits, quiet moments, pantomime, humour, big band sounds, jazz, classical music… there was no barrier to what we were doing. This time around, I’ve tried to satisfy what everyone wants, including myself. Initially, I was thinking of just going for the best songs not featured on the first Revisited album. But then people thought I should do those tracks where the guitar was emphasized. So, I’ve done both. I’ve also included four songs which have Genesis connections, where the song was written originally for the band or rehearsed by them.” Hackett discusses the project in this video, which features excerpts of the music. You can find the track list, track-by-track lineup, and Steve’s comments in the Genesis-News.com review.
Wolflight is Steve Hackett’s 2015 studio album, and Steve seems to be taking this progressive rock fad seriously, as this is his best record in a long time. He is joined by long time collaborators Roger King (keyboards, programming), Gary O’Toole (drums), Rob Townsend (sax, duduk), Nick Beggs (bass, Stick), and Amanda Lehmann (harmony vocals). Among the guests are Chris Squire and Hugo Dagenhardt. Read the Blogcritics review. Watch the videos for The Wheel’s Turning, Love Song to a Vampire, and the title track. The jewel case edition contains just the CD. The digipack adds a Blu-ray containing the album in DTS Master Audio 5.1, 24/48 5.1 LPCM, and 24/48 stereo LPCM (all are lossless). The Blu-ray also contains two bonus tracks in 24/48 stereo, and interviews with Hackett.
Beyond the Shrouded Horizon is Steve Hackett’s 2011 studio CD. This 2CD edition adds an all-instrumental second disc with nine more new tracks. Chris Squire plays bass on several tracks. Read the reviews at ThisIsNotAScene and Dangerdog.
This is the 2CD jewel box special edition of Steve Hackett’s 2010 studio album Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth. Anthony Phillips and Chris Squire are among the many musicians lending a hand. The second disc contains six tracks, five of which were recorded live in Italy in March 2009: Blood on the Rooftops, A Tower Struck Down, Firth of Fifth, Fly on a Windshield, and Broadway Melody of 1974. Read the Classic Rock Presents Prog review.
Live Rails (2CD digipack) was recorded in New York City, Paris, and London in 2009-2010, on Steve Hackett’s tour promoting Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth with his current six-piece band. The setlist includes several Genesis songs and many Hackett classics going all the way back to Ace of Wands.
Wild Orchids is Hackett’s 2006 studio album with his electric band. The band again includes Roger King, Rob Townsend, and Gary O’Toole, with Nick Magnus back on keyboards and brother John on flute. Also featured is The Underworld Orchestra, the five-person classical ensemble with whom Hackett recorded Metamorpheus. As such, Wild Orchids seems to combine the styles of To Watch the Storms and Metamorpheus while also adding some world music elements, resulting in a very fine album.
In addition to his work in progressive rock, Steve Hackett has shown admirable dedication to his classical side. In addition to releasing several acoustic/classical albums, he has appeared as the featured soloist with the London Chamber Orchestra, earning the respect of both rock contemporaries and classical figures. Metamorpheus is his 2005 classical project, the natural successor to 1997’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (which spent several weeks in the UK classical charts). It combines Steve’s nylon guitar with a number of orchestral musicians. Some of the tracks are ‘small’ pieces revolving around Hackett’s guitar, while others are large orchestral pieces. There are even times during the latter when Hackett is not playing, the point being that this album really showcases Hackett as a classical composer and orchestral arranger. Beautiful work.
Though not the equal of the albums from the first half of his career, Hackett’s To Watch the Storms (2003) was a return to form and his strongest album in quite a while. This is the 2013 digipack reissue on InsideOut, which contains the four bonus tracks of the original special edition.
Time Lapse (1991) is a live album drawn from shows in New York City and Nottingham which span ten years and two band lineups.
The Genesis Files is a double-CD that includes all the tracks from the 1996 Genesis Revisited CD along with a selection of tracks from The Tokyo Tapes, two tracks from Bay of Kings, and one each from Feedback ’86 and Darktown. Genesis Revisited contains Steve’s remakes of Watcher of the Skies, Dance on a Volcano, Valley of the Kings, Déja Vu, Firth of Fifth, For Absent Friends, Your Own Special Way, The Fountain of Salmacis, The Waiting Room, I Know What I Like, and Los Endos. Déja Vu is a song started by Steve and Peter Gabriel in 1974 and only completed circa 1995. Featured musicians include John Wetton, Bill Bruford, Ian McDonald, Paul Carrack, Chester Thompson, Tony Levin, Colin Blunstone, members of various editions of The Steve Hackett Band, and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The Tokyo Tapes is a 1998 live 2CD from Hackett’s all-star band that included Wetton, McDonald, Thompson, and Julian Colbeck.
Though not released until 2000, Feedback 86 was recorded in 1986 and contains material intended for a second GTR album. Guests include Brian May (Queen), Ian Mosely and Pete Trewavas (Marillion), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), and Bonnie Tyler. Nick Magnus plays keyboards on almost all the tracks.
Till We Have Faces (1984) is notable for the inclusion of Brazilian musicians, with the sessions taking place mainly in Brazil. Patrick Moraz had done a similar thing with his first album, and so progressive rock musicians were doing world music before the term even existed, the mainstream media oblivious to it as always. This jewel case edition is the 2002 reissue on InsideOut. (The 2013 digipack edition contains the same disc, an enhanced CD with additional mp3 tracks.)
These are the 2005 remastered and expanded editions of Steve Hackett’s Spectral Mornings (1979) and Defector (1980). They were remastered in 2005 at Steve Hackett’s studio by engineer Benedict Fenner in direct collaboration with Steve, and have new liner notes. For bonus tracks, Defector contains the track Hercules Unchained plus live versions of Sentimental Institution, The Steppes, Slogans, and Clocks - The Angel of Mons. Spectral Mornings contains alternate mixes of Every Day, The Virgin and the Gypsy, Tigermoth, The Ballad of the Decomposing Man, the single version of Clocks - The Angel of Mons, a live acoustic medley of Etude in A Minor/Blood on the Rooftops/Horizons/Kim, and a live version of Tigermoth. Spectral Mornings and Defector are the albums on which Hackett established his own voice apart from Genesis and should be considered his classics.
This four track CD (20:11, slimline case) contains new versions of Steve Hackett’s anthem and signature track Spectral Mornings. The release is the brainchild of Magenta’s Rob Reed, who wanted to reimagine the instrumental track with its beautiful melody as a song. Rob asked Big Big Train’s David Longdon to write lyrics for the new version. Spectral Mornings 2015 features guitars by Steve Hackett, vocals by Longdon and Magenta’s Christina Booth, drums by Big Big Train’s Nick D’Virgilio, keyboards by Rob Reed, and bass from ever-in-demand Nick Beggs. Longdon also adds flute. The main version Spectral Mornings 2015 is followed by an acoustic version, an instrumental version, and the “Classic Mix”. The four versions are for the most part quite different from each other, not the usual alternate mixes but entirely different arrangements. For instance, the instrumental version features recorders played by Peter Jones, which combined with harp sounds from Reed opens the track in orchestral Celtic territory before the familiar soaring Hackett guitar enters and the song bursts into full-bandwidth splendor. Take one of the most beautiful, heartfelt, and uplifting instrumental pieces ever written, add high-quality lyrics and two of the most recognizable voices in contemporary prog singing a male/female duet. Let cream-of-the-crop musicians add new elements and ideas in a spirit of complete respect. Get that Hackett guy to ensure the guitar is done properly. The result is pure bliss. The musicians are donating their profits to the Parkinson’s Society UK. Watch the video.
John Hackett is of course Steve’s younger brother and longtime sideman, known best as a flute player but he also plays guitar, bass, bass pedals, and keyboards. Another Life (2015, digipack) is John’s second rock album, the follow-up to 2005’s Checking Out of London, with most of the same people involved. Nick Clabburn again provides lyrics, and John is again joined by brother Steve on lead guitar, while Anthony Phillips guests. The whole project was produced and mixed by Nick Magnus, who again takes care of keyboards, drums, and programming.
John Hackett’s newly-formed band features classical guitar specialist Nick Fletcher, Jeremy Richardson (bass, vocals, acoustic & 12-string guitars), and Duncan Parsons (drums). They debut with the studio album We Are Not Alone (2017, 2CD, digipack). Steve Hackett makes a token appearance. This interview contains some previews of the music. This is the deluxe 2CD edition. The second disc is titled Another Live, recorded at the Classic Rock Society in 2016 featuring live performances of 19 songs from Checking Out of London and Another Life.
Moonspinner (2011) is one of John Hackett’s acoustic albums, on which he plays flute and guitar. Andy Gray from ReGenesis guests. As with similar albums by Ian Anderson and Thijs van Leer, Moonspinner bridges the classical and prog genres. Gorgeous stuff. Read the Background Magazine review.
It’s probably better to refer to British band Haken as a prog-metal-and-rock band rather than simply a prog-metal band, because they do set themselves apart from typical prog-metal, especially on their third CD The Mountain (2013), which even has some Gentle Giant-isms. Read reviews at Prog Sphere, Sputnik Music, and Prog Archives. Watch the videos for Atlas Stone and Pareidolia.
These are the Esoteric label editions, the label known for their superb remastering jobs, expanded booklets, and attention to detail. Recently hailed by Record Collector magazine as the finest vocalist you’ve never heard, Claire Hamill signed to Island Records at the age of 16, recording two albums that featured contributions from John Martyn, Free, and Terry Reid. She then signed to Kinks founder Ray Davies’ Konk label, recording two more classic albums. In the late 1970s she collaborated with Wishbone Ash, Steve Howe, and Jon & Vangelis before recording a series of albums for Beggar’s Banquet. Kate Bush has cited her as an influence.
One House Left Standing (1971) is Claire’s first album. This Esoteric reissue adds two bonus tracks: a previously-unreleased version of Meet Me on the Corner featuring Gerry Rafferty and Stealers Wheel as backing musicians, and the evocative single B-side Alice in the Streets of Darlington.
October (1973) is Claire’s second album, a highlight of her early career. The Esoteric reissue includes Baby What’s Wrong as a bonus track. Esoteric describe her first two albums as masterpieces of folk-rock and songwriting, featuring music of both innocence and maturity. Read the DPRP review.
Touchpaper has four bonus tracks. “Touchpaper marked her comeback as a singer/songwriter. Issued on Coda in 1984, the set stunned her longtime fans with the embrace of technology and the obvious influence of one Kate Bush on her writing style. Hamill’s voice is in its usual glorious form here, and her trademark -- and elegantly refined -- touches as a songwriter are evident on songs such as Denmark, First Night in New York, and Ultra Violet Light. These easily matched the glories of her early records, but the strange new age-isms of Sally Oldfield, Bush’s sense of the dramatic, and orchestral arrangements weigh down Hamill’s other songs... The sound quality on the Esoteric version is greatly improved from the album’s first CD issue.” [AllMusic]
Love in the Afternoon (1990) has two bonus tracks. Read Jeff Perkins’ review.
In 1991, Peter Hammill released the album Fall of the House of Usher based on the Edgar Alan Poe story. The album has never been performed live in its entirety; however during solo concerts in late 1991 and 1992, Peter Hammill performed an edited suite of songs from the album. One such concert took place at The Passionskirche in Berlin. For many long-time fans, this performance holds a special place, and bootleg copies have been traded for many years. The jewel for many fans is Usher’s Suite, here in a stark solo performance where Hammill alternates between piano and guitar. Hammill also performs a number of songs from his long solo career including the Van Der Graaf Generator song My Room from Still Life.
Gavin Harrison is best known as the drummer for Porcupine Tree and King Crimson, but the focus of Cheating the Polygraph (2015) is the former. Harrison has radically transformed some of his favorite Porcupine Tree tracks into contemporary big band jazz. This is modern big band, closer to Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention and Bill Bruford’s Earthworks than to the clichéd classic big band sound. Harrison has some of the best contemporary jazz musicians onboard, his main collaborator being Laurence Cottle who is responsible for the arrangements. This mediabook (hardcover) edition adds a DVD-V containing the album in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Circles (2010) is the second album from Porcupine Tree and King Crimson drummer Gavin Harrison, and multi-instrumentalist, singer, and extended range bass player 05Ric. The extended range bass is an instrument 05Ric had a hand in designing, incorporating aspects of the Chapman Stick and a conventional electric guitar. These are two stellar musicians making full-sounding music mostly in the Adrian Belew-era King Crimson vein with a healthy dose of Allan Holdsworth added. We’ve all heard lots of bands influenced by 1980s Crimson and by Holdsworth, but few if any as good as the originals. Circles however is right up there with them. The intricacy of it all is kind of mind-bending, yet it is musical, flowing naturally, even soothing at times. Gavin is definitely holding back when playing with Porcupine Tree (which makes sense for PTree’s style). This first edition includes a CD plus a DVD-Audio (NTSC, all-region) containing the album in hi-res surround, packaged in a super jewel box + slipcase. (Those with DVD-Video-only players can listen to the DTS surround mix.) Note this edition is out-of-print, replaced in 2016 with a CD-only edition lacking the surround audio.
The Man Who Sold Himself (2012, digibook) is the third collaboration for Harrison and 05Ric. The DVD in this two disc set contains a 5.1 mix of the album. Read reviews at ThisIsNotAScene and Alternative Matter. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Drop is the first for the duo, originally released in 2007 and featuring contributions from Robert Fripp, Dave Stewart, and Gary Sanctuary (Three Friends). Nine carefully crafted songs feature ground-breaking multi-layered guitars, vocal harmonies, and rhythms. This 2013 Kscope slipcased edition features new artwork by Carl Glover.
Live Under Brazilian Skies was recorded live in 1997 and features seven Renaissance songs, seven songs from Annie’s solo albums (including her cover of Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow), and the Yes song Turn of the Century. Blessing in Disguise is her 1994 studio album featuring 14 new songs.
The Dawn of Ananda was recorded in 1999 and features Rave Tesar, Larry Fast (Synergy), Mickey Simmonds, and Tony Visconti. The songs are all based on the theme of angels, both heaven and earthbound, and are some of Annie’s most poignant to date.
These are the 2009 Esoteric Recordings remastered editions of two classic progressive rock albums that virtually defined the Canterbury genre. Hatfield and the North comprised former Caravan member Richard Sinclair, keyboardist Dave Stewart, guitarist Phil Miller and drummer Pip Pyle. Their self-titled 1974 debut album features guest appearances by Geoff Leigh of Henry Cow and Robert Wyatt who sang on the track Calyx. This reissue has three bonus tracks: both sides of the band’s first single, and Your Majesty is Like a Cream Donut incorporating Oh What a Lonely Lifetime featured on the Virgin sampler album V and previously unreleased on CD.
The Rotters’ Club (1975) features guest appearances by such luminaries as Jimmy Hastings and Mont Campbell. This reissue adds three bonus tracks from the 1980 compilation Afters and the 1975 live album Over the Rainbow. Both booklets feature restored artwork, notes by Sid Smith and a Dave Stewart interview.
Hawkwind’s 1975 magnum opus gets the royal Steven Wilson surround treatment in this 2CD+DVD box set. The first CD contains the remastered original mix, the first CD ever of Warrior on the Edge of Time mastered from the original master tapes. It has eight bonus tracks (five previously unreleased). The second CD contains a new stereo mix by Steven Wilson from the multi-track masters, plus five bonus tracks (two previously unreleased). And most importantly, the DVD (NTSC, all-region), which contains a 5.1 surround mix by the master of surround himself. The DVD also includes Wilson’s new stereo mix in 24-bit/96kHz LPCM, and a flat transfer of the original stereo master in 24/96. The 16-page booklet features photos, memorabilia, and an essay. Don’t know this album? Read reviews at Prog Archives. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Hawklords are a branch of the large Hawkwind family tree. The lineup on Dream (2013) has only Harvey Bainbridge in common with the lineup that recorded 1978’s 25 Years On, but just about every other current Hawklord has been in Hawkwind at some point. “With too convoluted a history to document here, the current incarnation -- Harvey Bainbridge from the original ’78 spin-off plus several other mothership veterans -- jettisons most of the laboured biker rock that marred last year’s We Are One for an airier dynamic. The closest comparison would be Levitation/Sonic Attack-era Hawkwind. Dream a Dream updates Motorway City with a heavy trance back end and Psychic Eyes is Coded Languages in a parallel reality. As persuasive as these are, the ante is upped on Dead Air -- a reverse-echoed slice of futuristic whimsy redolent of Laurie Anderson’s O Superman -- and the uplifting melody of Elemental Mind. An occasional touch of water-treading takes off a little of the shine, though the balance between looking back and forward is expertly struck.” [Classic Rock Magazine] Read what the non-paid guys think at amazon. Watch the promo video.
Stellar Variations (2012) is the debut album for Hawkwind Light Orchestra, featuring Hawkwind founding member Dave Brock and current Hawkwind members Richard Chadwick and Niall Hone. Read the Freq review.
These are all the 2009-2010 editions on Esoteric’s Atomhenge label, all remastered from the original master tapes. The Xenon Codex was originally released in 1988 and was the last Hawkwind studio album to date to feature Huw Lloyd Langton on lead guitar and Danny Thompson on drums. This edition includes five 1988 live recordings and fully restores the limited edition fold-out artwork featured on initial pressings of the LP.
Choose Your Masques was originally released in 1982, with the line-up of Dave Brock, Harvey Bainbridge, Huw Lloyd Langton, and Martin Griffin. This Atomhenge remastered edition adds 14 bonus tracks, 12 of which appear on a bonus second CD.
Hawkwind’s 1980 album Levitation features Ginger Baker on drums and was well-received. Although Baker’s tenure with Hawkwind was brief, a concert at Lewisham Odeon in December 1980 was recorded by a mobile unit. Remixed from the original multitrack masters, this 3CD deluxe edition includes the entire concert (during which sci-fi author Michael Moorcock guested) on Discs 2 and 3. Disc 1 adds eight bonus tracks, including five from the Hawklords 1979 Rockfield sessions. This 3CD edition is limited to 3000 units and will then be reduced to just a single CD. Counts as 2 CDs for shipping.
PXR5 (1979) adds eight bonus tracks, five previously unreleased. This is the first CD edition of PXR5 to be mastered from the original tapes.
Originally released in 1977, Quark Strangeness and Charm saw Dave Brock and Robert Calvert deftly incorporating the influence of new wave to deliver one of the most effective albums released during Calvert’s tenure with Hawkwind. This 2009 2CD remastered expanded edition on Esoteric’s Atomhenge label includes 13 bonus tracks, nine previously unreleased. Read the detailed DPRP review.
Astounding Sounds, Amazing Music (1976) marked the return of Robert Calvert, who would be a major influence on the creative direction of the band as lyricist and vocalist. This edition adds four bonus tracks, two previous unreleased, and is the first CD edition to be mastered from the original tapes.
This is the 30th Anniversary 2CD edition of the Hawklords album on Esoteric, not only newly remastered from the master tapes, but with a bonus disc featuring 10 previously unreleased tracks (mostly alternate versions) and five 1977 live tracks from The Sonic Assassins (same band, different name), a 24-page booklet, and a slipcase. There are also three bonus tracks on Disc 1, all single mixes. This was very much a Hawkwind album, the name alteration probably due to contractual reasons, as Hawkwind had briefly blinked out of existence. The lineup includes Dave Brock, Robert Calvert, Harvey Bainbridge, Steve Swindells, Simon House (on three tracks), with the drums split between original drummer Simon King and Martin Griffin. The sound is close to the Astounding Sounds and Quark Strangeness and Charm albums, taking cues at times from the new wave music that had overrun Britain at the time. Few liked the cover art, but some great songs. Read the detailed DPRP review.
Masters of the Universe is a 1977 compilation album on EMI covering the years 1971-1974. The CD reissue contains only the tracks that were on the LP and so is not particularly long.
Credited to the fictitious group Psychedelic Warriors, White Zone was recorded by Dave Brock, Alan Davey, and Richard Chadwick, revealing another side of their musical nature, absorbing influences from the UK dance and rave music scene to create an album of electronica with that distinct ambient Hawkwind feel. The album was first issued on the Emergency Broadcast label in 1995 and deleted soon after.
Haze were one of the bands responsible for the progressive revival in Britain in the 1980s, and their members carry on making music in one form or another (usually several forms) to this day. Some Haze songs may recall Genesis or Camel, others Yes, ELP, or early King Crimson, but what comes through overall is Haze’s individual yet accessible style. Stoat & Bottle (1987) was far and away Haze’s finest hour. The Cyclops label reissued Stoat & Bottle with new liner notes by Chris McMahon and five bonus studio tracks that Haze recorded as demos during August 1987 but never released. Most of these demos were re-recorded for the first World Turtle CD. The album has been remastered by Chris but not remixed. As Chris notes, remixing was impossible due to the state of the multi-track tapes.
Haze celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2008 and recorded two shows at The Peel, Kingston and The Boardwalk, Sheffield to produce this commemorative live 2CD. For these gigs, the band tried to avoid playing too many of the obvious choices that had already been captured live on their 10th and 20th Anniversary CDs (not that those CDs were widely available) by including several new songs, some of their oldest (Turn Around, Portrait, Unto the Dawn, Mirage), and two tracks first played with Treebeard, in addition to Haze classics such as Ophelia, Last Orders, Seven Stones, and The Vice. In all there are 26 songs totaling 133 minutes. The trio of Paul Chisnell and brothers Paul and Chris McMahon are joined on many tracks by flautist Ceri Ashton, and by Rog Patterson for a cover of Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.
The Last Battle (2013, 73-minutes, digipack) is the first new Haze studio album in over 20 years, and it does not disappoint. It’s the classic line-up of Chris and Paul McMahon and Paul Chisnell, with the assistance of sisters Catrin & Ceri Ashton on whistle, flutes, fiddle, cello, viola, and clarinet. With the drums recorded in a separate studio, it’s a big improvement in sonic quality over previous Haze recordings. The Haze sound is full of warmth, and the addition of more acoustic instruments adds a Blackmore’s Night aspect to a few songs. The British folk influence was always there, but the Haze musicians have had several more folk-oriented side projects (Treebeard, The Outlandish Knights, Jabberwocky) going for years now, so those influences are being reflected back into Haze. Among the highlights, we finally get studio recordings of two songs that had only been on CD as live recordings: the powerful The Red Room and the majestic The Edge of Heaven; the latter sounds like the sequel to Ophelia. The studio versions of both are superior. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
The Kinesis label released a Haze compilation titled In the End: 1978-1988 in the early 1990s. While it is out-of-print, these review quotes apply to Haze in general.
Henry Fool are an eclectic band whose initial lineup comprised Tim Bowness (No-Man) on guitar and vocals, Stephen Bennett (LaHost) on keyboards, Brian Eno collaborator Peter Chilvers on bass, No-Man live guitarist Michael Bearpark, drummer Fudge Smith (Pendragon), and jazz session ace Myke Clifford on woodwinds. Their 2001 eponymous debut was originally released on the Cyclops label. Creating a distinctive combination of 1970s progressive influences (King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Soft Machine), contemporary textural experiments (Rain Tree Crow, Labradford), and hard-hitting group improvisations (King Crimson, Faust), Henry Fool created one of the most original progressive blends of that era. King Crimson is evoked often, both the Mellotron/flute symphonics of the first incarnation as well as the angular prog of the Red-era and the modern band. Henry Fool’s debut album will appeal to those into No-Man, early Porcupine Tree, and King Crimson.
It took until 2013 for the second Henry Fool album Men Singing, which despite the title is entirely instrumental. The lineup is almost the same, with the drummer now Andrew Booker (Sanguine Hum), the addition of a second keyboardist, a guest violinist, and none other than Phil Manzanera guesting on guitar. The music is a blend of progressive rock, Soft Machine style jazz-rock, and post-rock, ranging from symphonic to atmospheric to psychedelic and spacey. This CD is the original gatefold mini-LP sleeve edition. It was later replaced by a standard jewel case CD and is otherwise no longer available.
Ken Hensley is best known for his work with Uriah Heep during the 1970s, but his solo career has been ongoing since 1973. Live Tales is one of Hensley’s solo shows recorded live in Alicante, Spain in August 2012, including songs from his Uriah Heep days as well as his solo career. It’s 61 minutes of Hensley on stage armed only with his acoustic guitars, piano, and book of songs.
Love & Other Mysteries (2012) is a full-band album that includes a string quartet, guests on cornet and classical guitar, and several guest vocalists including Glenn Hughes. Read the Grande Rock review.
With over a dozen albums to his name, Steve Hillman has been a leader in the electronic music genre since the early 1980s. Opener of the Ways (2002, 74-minutes) contains Steve’s take on the 1970s Tangerine Dream style. There are a few abstract tracks, and a lot of sequencer-driven rhythmic tracks. Hillman recorded new versions of some of the best of his earlier works, even replacing drum machine with drum kit, and this is what distinguishes his music from Tangerine Dream. The drums kick the energy level up a notch and make this electronic rock.
With Convergence (1999, 74-minutes), Steve Hillman got added to the (then short) list of solo artists capable of producing full-blown progressive rock on their own. (OK, his wife contributes flute). Though he’d made albums of electronic music in the past, this is out-and-out prog rock, instrumental, with electric guitar providing the necessary bite. Keyboard sounds are vintage analog, and drums are programmed well, detracting only slightly from the music. Some of this is close to Camel, also any number of 1970s Euro-prog bands.
The 75-minute Riding the Storm (1996) is a compilation of remastered tracks from Hillman’s cassette releases.
After ten cassette-only releases of Tangerine Dream-style electronics, Hillman recorded Matrix in 1994, in which he adopted a more rock-oriented approach, with electric guitar leads, drum programming, and his wife Linda adding some flute.
Not the Weapon But the Hand (2012, digibook) is the first collaboration between Marillion frontman Steve Hogarth and Richard Barbieri, longtime keyboardist of Porcupine Tree but with a career extending back to the band Japan. Hogarth describes the album: “It goes beyond what you might expect from the two of us... The album consists of music which is at times moving, complex, multi-layered (both instrumentally and vocally), spooky, goofy and of course, very personal to me. I am now as excited about this album as I was at the prospect of the collaboration in the first-place.” Not The Weapon But The Hand also features occasional appearances from Danny Thompson on double bass, Arran Ahmun (John Martyn) and Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree, No-Man, Blackfield) on drums, and guitar and string arrangement contributions from Dave Gregory (XTC).
Arc Light (2014, 29-minutes) is a 5 track mini-album. Four of the tracks are new, while one is a new version of Intergalactic featuring a guest guitarist. Listen to this excerpt. This is the out-of-print first edition, which comes in a gatefold mini-LP style sleeve.
This is the 2012 remastered digipack reissue of Allan Holdsworth’s 1994 album. Hard Hat Area fits logically in the main sequence of Holdsworth’s albums that began with 1982’s I.O.U. (Though Holdsworth had solo albums prior to I.O.U., those were transitional albums.) What sets Hard Hat Area apart is that it was recorded by Holdsworth’s touring band of that time: Steve Hunt (keys), Skuli Sverrisson (bass), and Gary Husband (drums). The material had been refined in live performance before the band entered the studio.
This 1973 album was the third and final album for English band Home, and their most progressive. The band brought in a keyboardist for this album, responsible for piano, organ, synth and Mellotron. This is the 2010 Esoteric label release, which adds three bonus tracks. Read the reviews at Prog Archives (though one “reviewer” failed to take his medication that morning -- you’ll see).
The boys are back in town! Ireland’s beloved Horslips reunited as a full electric band and in December 2009 played their first real concerts in nearly 30 years in Belfast and Dublin’s main arenas, the Odyssey and O2 (10,000 and 14,000 seat venues, respectively). The Road to the O2 DVD (PAL, all-region) is the film of the Dublin concert. It includes an oversize booklet and a poster, comes in a deluxe box rather than a plastic case and counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping. The double-CD (tri-fold digisleeve) contains the entire Dublin show and is head and shoulders above Horslips’ previous live albums.
These are all the 2009-2010 remastered digipack CD reissues on the band’s own Horslips Records label, with lots of live bonus tracks added to each except for the Live 2CD and Drive the Cold Winter Away. Now only the first Horslips album Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part has yet to be reissued in this series. Horslips were the Irish folk-prog band and may have invented Celtic rock. Prior to U2, they were arguably the Irish band period (and Bono was a fan). Formed in Dublin in 1970, the Irish folk aspect of their style was strongest early on. By the end of their career (1980), they had become almost purely a rock band. The first CD reissues of the Horslips albums looked and sounded terrible. They were reissued with better sound circa 2000 but didn’t stay in-print long. These are the definitive editions.
Horslips’ second album The Tain (1973) is one of their two best, the other being their masterpiece The Book of Invasions (1976). The latter is more polished, but both are essential. Read the VintageProg.com reviews for more info.
Dancehall Sweethearts (1974) and The Unfortunate Cup of Tea (1975) followed The Tain, with more of a 70s hard rock element and less Irish folk, even though every song on Dancehall Sweethearts has a traditional song concealed within. Dancehall Sweethearts produced several tracks that would become live favorites.
Drive the Cold Winter Away (1975), released in Ireland for Christmas, is their most traditional album, perhaps a response to critics at the time who maintained that Horslips had gone too far to the rock side at the expense of their trad folk side.
The double-LP Horslips Live was released in 1976, a powerful document of Horslips in concert even though it could have had better sound.
Tracks from the Vaults (1977) compiles Horslips’ rare singles, unreleased tracks, alternate versions, and two tracks by Beatles tribute band Lipstick, who were in fact Horslips!
The excellent Aliens (1977) followed The Book of Invasions, and progressive rock fans were taking notice, for not only did Horslips often sound like an Irish Jethro Tull at this time, these albums actually charted in the U.S. From Aliens until the end of their career, each subsequent album contained less folk and more rock, and the quality dropped off as the commercialism increased. Well, the story was much the same for most progressive bands during the late 70s. The Man Who Built America (1978) was still a good album, really Horslips’ last good album. Its subject matter is the life of Irish immigrants in America, conceptually the sequel to Aliens which is about the emigration from Ireland during the potato famine. Horslips’ final albums prior to their reunion were their last studio album Short Stories / Tall Tales (1979) and the 1980 live album The Belfast Gigs, the latter a sort of ‘greatest hits live’ album. By this time, Horslips were a hard rock band embellished by keyboards and traditional instruments (fiddle, mandolin, flute), so it’s not the place to start. See Prog Archives for reviews of all these albums and far more detail than can be presented here.
“At one point in the mid-’70s, Horslips seemed poised to become Ireland’s answer to Steeleye Span. But they also had a shot at being the next Jethro Tull (only a better hard rock outfit), or maybe Genesis, or even Yes in their folkier moments. Those events never quite happened, but Horslips released half a dozen superb albums along the way, becoming Ireland’s most acclaimed folk-rock and progressive band.” [AllMusic]
Spiral Realms is Simon House, the violinist of High Tide, Hawkwind, The Third Ear Band, and David Bowie, assisted by keyboardist Len del Rio. These CDs feature electronic/symphonic space rock with House’s trademark violin, lots of keyboards, and programmed drums. Trip to G9 (1994) and Crystal Jungles of Eos (1995) both come with a second CD of remixes of the original album tracks; both are on the cosmic and abstract side. These albums have elements of Hawkwind but are more symphonic and refined. It’s a beautiful combination of symphonic/spacey electronics, soaring violin, and programmed drums (which fit perfectly with the music). Aside from the violin, the music is sometimes close to the early Fonya style, though House tends to go for a sonic stew with less separation of instruments. Sometimes the sonic stew is impenetrable. (You’d think the remixes on Trip to G9 and Crystal Jungles of Eos would be less murky than the originals, but they aren’t.)
Solar Wind was originally released in 1996 and was the second album to be recorded under the name Spiral Realms. It was recorded live during The Space Ritual 1995 U.S. tour and contains a selection of Simon’s work as a solo artist, the Hawkwind song The Forge of Vulcan, and the Syd Barrett composition Interstellar Overdrive. Del Dettmar plays on a number of tracks. It’s the style of symphonic space rock we’ve come to expect from House, and though his favorite reverb setting is still “aircraft hangar”, this one is actually clearer sounding than some of his studio recordings. All the CDs in this series are the 2005 remastered editions on Hawk Records, personally remastered by Simon House.
Spectrum (2005, digipack) showcases Steve Howe’s unique talent and a style that continues to evolve. His band this time is Tony Levin on bass, Oliver Wakeman on keyboards, and sons Virgil and Dylan on Moog synth and drums, respectively. This one is just a lot more satisfying that Howe’s previous couple albums. Recorded in Switzerland during the winter of 2004/2005, it nevertheless has a very sunny, summer feel. The title is probably meant to imply that Howe covers a wide range of styles and influences, but to the extent that he does, it’s all integrated into a cohesive set of instrumentals. It isn’t the usual case of one song of jazz, one song of blues, one acoustic song, etc., that rarely produces a great album. Instead we have one of the tastiest albums of instrumental guitar rock around, songs fused with optimism, natural energy, and self-confidence.
The Grand Scheme of Things (1993) is similar to Howe’s first solo album Beginnings, evenly split between instrumentals and songs featuring Steve on vocals. Unfortunately, few people give him high marks for his singing.
How We Live was formed in 1985 by singer/keyboardist Steve Hogarth and guitarist Colin Woore, both previously in the band The Europeans. Dry Land (1987) was the band’s sole album. By 1988, a disillusioned Steve Hogarth was considering abandoning music when he was invited to replace Fish as Marillion’s lead vocalist, and the rest is history. The title track of Dry Land would later be recorded by Marillion for their Holidays in Eden album and become a UK Top 40 hit. Dry Land was reissued briefly on CD and is now sought after by Marillion collectors, as it sounds quite a bit like Marillion. This 2016 expanded edition on the Esoteric label has been newly remastered from the original master tapes and adds the bonus tracks English Summer and the 12-inch remix of All the Time in the World. It features fully restored artwork and liner notes.
Tales from the Silent Ocean (2015) is the debut CD for Steve Hughes. You may know Steve as the drummer for Big Big Train on four albums or the stand-in drummer for Kino in 2004. He also spent four years touring and recording with The Enid (1994-1998) and has had stints with countless other bands over the last 20 years. One of those was Rush tribute band The Spirit of Rush, which also featured vocalist Dec Burke (Darwin’s Radio, Frost, solo). Tales from the Silent Ocean features Sean Filkins on vocals, Maciej Zolnowski on violin and cello, Jamie C. Strand on electric & acoustic guitars, several additional singers and a couple guest guitarists. The music is superb symphonic prog that is fascinating throughout the album’s 79-minute length. In terms of the classic prog bands, it’s coming more from a Genesis direction than any other, but it has a more contemporary style closer to Frost, Kino, or Sean Filkins’ album. Watch the album trailer.
Once We Were: Part One (2016, digipack, 77-minutes) is Hughes’ second, which features contributions from Dec Burke, Maciej Zolnowski, guitarist Keith Winter (ex-Shakatak), and others. The monumental 33-minute track The Summer Soldier is the new high water mark for Steve. Watch the album trailer and the video for Was I Wrong?. “It’s the originality of the material however that sets this album apart, as the 33-minute The Summer Soldier testifies. True, it references other artists and styles in places, but I can guarantee that you’ve never heard a long-form piece quite like it. Even the shorter songs mostly avoid the usual verse-chorus format. Moreover, the journey from the epic scale of The Summer Soldier to the intimacy of the album’s closing songs is breathtaking in its scope. Like its predecessor, this is a strong contender for my album of the year.” Read the full DPRP review, also the Background Magazine review.
The promised and now delivered Once We Were: Part Two (2016, digipack), featuring most of the same line-up, means that if Part One was contending for your album of the year, now you’ve got two to deal with. Watch the album trailer.
Humania is the band Billy Currie put together in late 1988 after Ultravox split up (Currie later used the name Ultravox for his band) and in between his first and second solo albums. The band sounds a lot like Ultravox except that Humania’s singer is no Midge Ure. Out-of-print.
Tim Hunter is an English singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who also presents his own prog rock radio show. Tim has been writing and performing songs since the early 1970s. The Pathway of Light (2011) is his eighth album, some tracks played entirely by Tim, others featuring additional musicians on bass, drums, sax, and keyboards. This is progressive pop that is unusual in that it seems to be influenced most by intelligent pop of the early 1980s, the point when 70s prog had turned into mainstream rock. The music suggests Anthony Phillips circa Invisible Men, Rupert Hine / Thinkman, Genesis circa Invisible Touch, late Pink Floyd, and the more commercial Peter Gabriel songs.
The Aura (2012, CD-R) is a more consciously progressive effort, highlighted by the 24-minute, six-part Android Void suite. Hunter is assisted by other musicians on guitar, drums, and sax. The music still qualifies as pop-prog and soft prog, roughly in the same territory as later Barclay James Harvest, the more concise Camel songs of the 1980s, Anthony Phillips’ vocal songs, and occasionally later Pink Floyd. By Hunter’s own count, there are three commercial songs, the rest proggy. Start here.
InFictions are an English band who for the most part belong in the post-prog genre, the kind of album you’d expect to find on the Kscope label. Their 2012 debut Maps of Revenge and Forgiveness is already better than many of the releases on that label. InFictions have an excellent lead singer, and the core of the band is augmented by a large number of guest musicians, the instrumentation including piano, synths, mandolin, violin, cello, brass, flute, and female backing vocals in addition to the expected guitar (acoustic too), bass and drums. While “post-prog” is the best descriptor for InFictions, their style is distinct, and there is more than a little in common with classic prog. They use passages of maximum intensity judiciously, for it’s what happens in the lower intensity sections that really distinguishes one post-prog band from another. InFictions create wonderful atmospheres, full of nuance and fragility, with exceptional detail in the background. Different time signatures are used without drawing attention to them, and the songs are all intriguing, mesmerizing, and exciting. Read the Echoes and Dust and Prog Sphere reviews. The CD comes in novel packaging.
With their 2009 self-titled double-CD debut, IOEarth became one of the most talked-about new British prog bands. IOEarth are not just another melodic rock band in symphonic clothing. This is an astounding debut: expansive, cinematic, eclectic, and technologically current (which progressive rock originally was but today more often is not). The music is heavily instrumental while featuring two female vocalists on several tracks and Steve Balsamo (ChimpanA) singing on three.
While the IOEarth debut was the work of Dave Cureton & Adam Gough plus several guests, they needed to assemble a band for live performances. Thus Moments (2012) saw three of those guests promoted to full members and another musician added. Among the promotions was singer Claire Malin, whose presence became larger. There are somewhat more vocals on Moments, and on the vocal tracks, the album can feel closer to the current progressive rock mainstream.
IOEarth returned in 2015 with another ambitious double-CD studio album: New World (digipack). The supporting cast to Cureton & Gough has been shuffled a bit, with a new singer and drummer and the addition of violin to the arsenal. We think the first album, when IOEarth was purely a studio project, may remain their most unique. Each subsequent album pushes IOEarth closer to the prog mainstream, slightly heavier, more bombastic, and a reflection of their experience as a live act, all the while increasing their popularity. Yet their distinctiveness persists as they manage great variety and stitch it all together into music that no one else is making. “A band which has always impressed and excelled in the live arena, but which for me hasn’t quite captured that spark on record. This new double album, their third, puts all of that to right, and manages to match its ambition with delivery. There is so much variety on this disc, it’s impossible to categorise, but the ethereal cinematic, new age, and mid-eastern influences give it a truly distinctive sound, as do the heavenly vocals of Linda Odinsen and the judicious use of sax, flute, and violin. New World is an album that all fans of progressive music should listen to.” [Something for the Weekend] Watch the video for the title track.
These are the newly-remastered 2011 editions on Esoteric of the three albums by Isotope, the first two first appearing in 1974, Deep End in 1975. Isotope was a progressive jazz-rock band you could group with other British jazz-rock bands such as Brand X, later Soft Machine, and Neil Ardley. Guitarist Gary Boyle and drummer Nigel Morris were constants. The other personnel varied, but it was always guitar/keys/bass/drums, with two keyboardists on Deep End. Hugh Hopper plays bass on Illusion. Deep End includes four bonus tracks, all 2001 remixes of album tracks. The first album is out-of-print, last copies.
British prog/pop band It Bites emerged in the mid-1980s and actually charted in the UK. At that time, the band was Francis Dunnery, Richard Nolan, Robert Dalton, and John Beck. Singer/guitarist Dunnery moved to the U.S. and began his solo career, while keyboardist Beck and drummer Dalton went on to the band Kino. In the 1980s, It Bites occupied a middle ground that wasn’t proggy enough for some prog fans and not poppy enough for the industry, but they had chops and could certainly write songs. Maybe it was too soon for the pop/prog mix then, but given that many contemporaneous British prog bands have one foot in pop or mainstream rock, the time was right for It Bites to reform. Beck and Dalton approached Kino’s singer/guitarist John Mitchell (a huge It Bites fan since his teenage years) and reformed the band with Mitchell assuming Dunnery’s role. So with It Bites and Kino being closely-related, those familiar with Kino already have a good idea what the current It Bites sound like. And for those familiar with earlier It Bites, this is proggier. This is Brit-prog with classic British pop songwriting and excellent production.
Map of the Past (2012) is advertised as the first concept album for the band, though ‘themed album’ is more accurate, and it shows the current It Bites at the top of their game. This is the single-CD jewel box standard edition. “So what we have here is a nice, natural progression from The Tall Ships, allowing Beck and Mitchell (ably backed by bassist Lee Pomeroy and long time drummer Bob Dalton) to stretch their prog wings a little more than before whilst still capturing the essence of what It Bites are all about.” [RockUnitedReviews] Read the ThisIsNotAScene review.
This is part of Virgin Records’ Choice Cuts series, a 1995 compilation featuring 14 tracks from the first incarnation of It Bites, covering their three studio albums plus one live track. (The first track Still Too Young to Remember has to be the greatest hit song not to have been a hit.)
Andy Jackson is probably best known for his role as Pink Floyd engineer and co-producer, but he is a musician and composer in his own right, having recorded the albums On the Surface, Obvious, and Mythical Burrowing Animals*. (Apparently selling CDs was not the goal of those albums, as Andy mostly hoarded them.) Signal to Noise (2014, digipack) is, not surprisingly, quite Floydian. This deluxe edition adds a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing a 96kHz / 24-bit quad (4.0) mix in your choice of Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio, both of which are lossless, plus a hi-res LPCM stereo mix. Read the Mediaversal review. Watch the album preview video and the video for The Boy in the Forest.
* Described by the one (and only) amazon reviewer as “Easily the best record ever made. This could be the basis for a whole new religion that could one day topple Christianity.”
These are the 2010 remastered editions on Esoteric of the four albums Jade Warrior recorded for Island Records, the band’s best period. Floating World (1974), Waves (1975), Kites (1976), and Way of the Sun (1978) were the band’s fourth through seventh albums overall. Jade Warrior were so unique that those still unfamiliar with their records should read the reviews at VintageProg.com or the Prog Archives reviews of Floating World, Waves, Kites, and Way of the Sun. Waves and Kites are out-of-print, last copies.
Jadis are a melodic UK prog band, their songs built around Gary Chandler’s vocals and very lyrical guitar leads. For much of their history, Jadis shared two members with IQ (Martin Orford and John Jowitt). If Jadis and IQ can be thought of as two sides of the same coin, then Jadis represents daylight while IQ gets the nighttime. The special edition of Fanatic (2003) is a digipack with one additional track.
Photoplay (2006) still features the Gary Chandler, Steve Christey, Martin Orford, John Jowitt lineup. (Orford later left the band.) According to bandleader Chandler, this album has some of their best riffs and melodies to date and shows a heavier side of the band. A lot more has gone into the vocal arrangements, with Steve Thorne contributing backing vocals on most of the tracks. A criticism one could make of the previous Jadis albums was that they more or less stuck to the same formula, good formula though it is. Photoplay is the first Jadis album that sounds noticeably different. Their fundamental style is intact but is enhanced by layers of new sounds and detail as well as more energy. Apparently this is because Chandler did most of the recording in his home studio in Pro Tools, giving him the freedom to spend much more time on this album. The effort definitely paid off.
See Right Through You is the 2012 studio CD for Jadis, six years after Photoplay. Besides Gary Chandler, Steve Christey remains on drums, while keyboards and bass are handled by new guys. But as long as Gary is present, it’s Jadis. Read the Prognaut review.
No Fear of Looking Down (2016, digipack) is Jadis’s eighth studio album. The band now is Gary Chandler (guitars, vocals, keys), Stephen Christey (drums), and Andy Marlow (bass), with contributions from the semi-retired Martin Orford on flute, keys, hurdy gurdy, and backing vocals. Listen to the album sampler and A Thousand Staring Eyes.
Sinking Without You (2006, digipack) is the debut CD by British quintet JEBO, who are on the melodic rock or classic rock side of prog. Their music is built around the passionate and thoughtful songwriting of guitarist Rob Allen and the lead vocals of James Hollingsworth, both of which are first-rate. Keyboardist Nicholas O’Neill concentrates on organ and piano which, along with a fair amount of acoustic and clean guitar tones, gives JEBO an organic sound. Excellent production on this album courtesy of John Burns (Genesis) and Ben Findlay (Peter Gabriel). By “classic rock”, we don’t mean to suggest that JEBO sound like a 1970s band. Their sound is contemporary, but the lineage of all the great British rock bands can be heard on this CD.
Jet Black Sea is a project of Adrian Jones, leader of Nine Stones Close, joined by Michel Simons. Absorption Lines (2017, digisleeve) is again the core duo of Jones and Simons, with assistance from Brendan Eyre and Tony Patterson (who you may know from their 2014 album Northlands), Adrian O’Shaughnessy and Pieter van Hoorn from Nine Stones Close, and Paul van Zeeland. “With the release of Absorption Lines, Jet Black Sea have made a significant leap forward in their sound, the album only revealing its full trove of treasures with multiple listens. While maintaining the innovative, inventive qualities that made The Path of Least Existence such a success, Simons and Jones have pushed themselves to the limit once more... Mysterious yet charismatic, ambient yet powerful, alluring yet secretive - Jet Black Sea deserve your attention. Read the full Prog Archives review, also the Real Gone and Progradar reviews. Watch the album preview video.
The 2014 Ian Anderson album is a Jethro Tull album in all but name. As with Thick as a Brick 2, the billing is henceforth “Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson”. If you’re curious about Ian’s reasoning for that, it’s explained in the booklet. Homo Erraticus continues the Gerald Bostock thing begun on Thick as a Brick and continued on Thick as a Brick 2. As Anderson says: “Bostock has returned once again to lyric writing,... and I have had the fun and frolics of setting all to music of folk-rock-metal stylings. But you can call it Prog.” This hardcover mediabook edition has a 32-page booklet and adds a DVD-V containing the DTS 5.1 surround mix (by Jakko Jakszyk), 24/48 LPCM (high-res) stereo, and a making-of video. Those fortunate enough to have heard Thick as a Brick on a decent surround system know there is no going back to 2-channel now. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
The 2CD combines the 2003 remasters of Songs from the Wood and Heavy Horses in one jewel case. Each album contains two bonus tracks.
The 5-disc Original Album Series set on Chrysalis/Warner contains the Tull CDs Songs from the Wood (2003 remaster), Heavy Horses (2003 remaster), Stormwatch (2004 remaster), A (2004 remaster), and The Broadsword and the Beast (2005 remaster). Note these do not contain the bonus tracks that were on the 2003-2005 remastered CDs, just the albums proper. The discs come in thin sleeves inside a slipcase. Yes, you probably already own some or all of these, but we’re talking three bucks per CD and the whole package takes up as much space as one jewel case CD. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
See our DVDs page for Jethro Tull’s DVDs.
This is the 2008 edition on the Esoteric label, remastered from the original tapes and featuring fully-restored artwork and a new essay. Released on the short-lived Youngblood label in 1970, the double-LP A Time Before This was the first vinyl outing for science fiction author Julian Jay Savarin, who assembled a group of musicians on guitar, bass, and drums to record this conceptual work. The music is classic proto-prog, dominated by Savarin’s spacey organ and the vocals of Australian Cathy Pruden, whose singing is similar to that of Annisette of Savage Rose. Sandrose and early Earth & Fire are other reference points.
Matthew (2000), On Impulse (2001), and Home Songs (2003) are the sixth, seventh, and eighth studio albums respectively from this six-man UK band. All rely heavily on the vocal talents of John Dexter Jones, powerful contemporary lyrics, and strong melodies. Jump are a hard-working band playing a vocal-oriented rock music with progressive touches, close at times to Oysterband (without the fiddle or folk overtones) or some Marillion or Fish (both of whom Jump have supported in the past). Matthew is now deleted, last copies.
And All the King’s Men (1994) is their third album; this attracted the attention of Marillion’s Mark Kelly, who produced their fourth album. Now deleted, last copies.
The Freedom Train is a 74-minute live album covering Jump’s first nine years and five CDs and including four tracks never before available on CD. Jump excel in the live environment and do the champion-of-the-British-working-class thing very well. Now deleted, last copies.
Karda Estra is a unique hybrid of progressive and classical music, using both rock and classical chamber instruments. Assisted by several musicians and employing classical & electric guitars, bass, keyboards, percussion, oboe, flute, violin, cor anglais, and heavenly wordless female vocals, composer Richard Wileman achieves a surreal melancholy and poignant beauty that has few parallels. “Karda Estra continue to revise and fine tune a sound that is expressive, angular, and uncommonly beautiful. Composer and multi-instrumentalist Richard Wileman has chosen a path that eschews all of the common trappings of the rock idiom, perfecting a profile that lies midway between symphonic rock and a modern chamber sound, lushly orchestrated with violins, double-reeds, flute, clarinet, saxes, voice and more, in addition to Wileman’s guitar, bass, keyboards, piano, kalimba, and percussion... a seriously enjoyable listen that’s in a class of its own.” [Exposé]
Constellations (2003) is centered around a haunting and powerful suite inspired by six constellations. The suite runs a vast emotional range, from gentle melancholy passages featuring classical guitar and woodwind, to expansive bursts of sound and color. The album concludes with a beautiful interpretation of the Steve Hackett instrumental Twice Around the Sun, and one can detect an affinity for Steve Hackett’s music in many of the Karda Estra pieces.
Voivode Dracula (2004) is based on the Dracula legend and is darker than most of the other Karda Estra albums.
Alternate History is a low-priced sampler containing 11 tracks spanning 1998-2004: eight tracks from the previous Karda Estra albums and three rare tracks from the now deleted Land of Ghosts compilations.
The Last of the Libertine (2007) is the most rhythmic of their albums so far, and one can again hear the dark side of Steve Hackett at times.
Weird Tales (2009) is a bit darker than most of their other albums, but no less spellbinding. There isn’t much we can add to what we’ve written already other than to remark that Richard Wileman created a pretty good working environment for himself, employing female musicians almost exclusively! “Richard Wileman is one of the best progressive, contemporary classical music composers to grace the planet today.” [Hairless Heart Herald]
Mondo Profondo / New Worlds (2013) contains two albums on one CD. New Worlds was released in 2011 as a digital download; this is its first appearance on CD. It contains 12 instrumental tracks including collaborations with Kavus Torabi (Cardiacs, Knifeworld, Gong), Don Falcone & Bridget Wishart (Spirits Burning), and Stuart Rowe (Lighterthief, Andy Partridge). Mondo Profondo is a 2013 album that features four Richard Wileman compositions plus two collaborations: one with Matt Baber (Sanguine Hum) and another with Mohadev and Benjamin DeGain (Terraformation), Phil Mercy (Thieves’ Kitchen), Rowe, and Torabi. Marco Bernard (The Samurai of Prog) guests, and as usual, Wileman has many musicians on classical chamber and rock instruments assisting, plus the wordless vocals of Ileesha Bailey. This is progressive cinematic futurist nostalgia, or something like that, but one thing is certain -- Richard Wileman knows a lot of chords and is not afraid to use them. Read the Exposé review and Prog Archives reviews of Mondo Profondo and New Worlds.
Six of the eight tracks on Strange Relations (2015) were jointly composed by Richard Wileman and Paul Sears (The Muffins) and also feature Sears on drums. It looks as though this collaboration will continue in the future. As usual, many other musicians flesh out the unique Karda Estra sound.
Karda Estra’s 12th album Time and Stars (2016) collects the two previously-released EPs The Seas and The Stars and Future Sounds on a new special edition CD. The EPs were released as very limited CD-Rs that are no longer available. “Richard Wileman, a.k.a. Karda Estra, with consummately-skilled help from his usual musical friends, has gifted us a skillfully crafted, fleet-of-foot sci-fi classical soundtrack concept album, chronicling the history of time and the universe... possibly. It is a delicate and beautifully beguiling thing, made all the more delightful by Ileesha Wileman’s occasional wistfully gossamer vocals.” [Something for the Weekend?] Note the band has sold out of this CD; we have some of the last copies.
“Infernal Spheres (2017) is another fine release from Richard Wileman who continues on the crest of a creative wave. His skill at taking chamber classical, jazz, and rock influences and turning them into something new is beyond reproach and he continues to give his audience fascinating and intelligent music of real depth.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review. “I have known Richard for more than twenty years now, and I have yet to hear anyone else achieve what he manages with Karda Estra. He still surprises me in so many ways, as he moves within so many different styles, yet all with a common theme of being visual -- I always ‘see’ his music as well as hear it. It may be his fourteenth album but he shows no signs at all of slowing down, and I actually think this is his finest yet.” Read Kev Rowland’s full Prog Archives review.
Note the Cyclops-label Karda Estra CDs (up through Weird Tales) are all out-of-print now, so several titles are already gone and these are the last copies of those still listed. Check below for CDs by Lives and Times, the predecessor to Karda Estra.
Check our DVD/Blu-ray page for Karnataka’s New Light Blu-ray.
In their first incarnation, the Welsh band Karnataka won the 2000 British Classic Rock Society Award for Best New Band, while lead vocalist Rachel Jones also garnered Best Female Vocalist honors in 2000 and 2001. The strength of the original Karnataka was undoubtedly their vocals, with Rachel joined by Anne-Marie Helder on backing vocals and flute, and the fact that the lovely vocals came from two lovely women did not hamper their stage presence. Instrumentally, the band often shows a Marillion-derived neo-progressive lineage, with keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums, but the combination of their different elements makes them unique. Because of the vocals, Karnataka can be compared to Iona, though they aren’t as Celtic as Iona. There is no denying their appeal, which should include fans of later Clannad, Renaissance, and October Project, and the band seemed poised for greater success. But in August 2004, this lineup broke up.
Delicate Flame of Desire (2003) was the third and final studio album for the original band. It is undoubtedly that line-up’s best, a sumptuous CD with fantastic vocal harmonies and enough progressive instrumental content to sink one’s teeth into. The 10+ minute finale Heart of Stone is glorious. The Storm (2000) is their second CD.
The original Karnataka splintered into at least three different bands: Panic Room, The Reasoning, and the current version of Karnataka who are led by founder Ian Jones. This Karnataka debuted in 2010 with The Gathering Light (68-minutes), and it was absolutely worth the wait. In addition to recruiting a new guitarist, keyboardist, and drummer, Jones found yet another female singer with a fabulous voice in the person of Lisa Fury. Ubiquitous pipes and whistles man Troy Donockley and former ELO cellist Hugh McDowell make important contributions. Significantly, this is the biggest sounding, most symphonic of all the Karnataka and related albums to date, the most traditionally proggy. If you like your progressive rock melodic and bombastic and appreciate heavenly female vocals, then chances are this will be on your top ten list for that year. Read the reviews at DPRP and Musical Discoveries.
Mike Kershaw is a British singer/songwriter who until 2011 recorded under the name Relocate to Heathrow. He attracted the attention of the Bad Elephant label, who released what is probably Kershaw’s strongest work to date: What Lies Beneath (2016, digipack). Most of Kershaw’s music is clearly progressive rock or influenced by it, and he finds himself in the lineage of British singer/songwriters such as Dave Cousins, Roger Waters, Roy Harper, and Guy Manning, to name a few (though Kershaw’s voice reminds us of Richard Butler of The Psychedelic Furs). In addition to singing, Kershaw plays keyboards and has a host of other musicians on the album including two-thirds of Fractal Mirror. Leopold Blu-Sky of Unto Us plays bass, guitars, keys, and pedal steel and produced and mixed the album. The longer tracks allow Kershaw to shift through different moods and tempos while retaining the sense of warmth that pervades his music. Read The Prog Mind and Progradar reviews.
This is Esoteric’s newly remastered and expanded edition of the 1975 self-titled Kestrel album, a minor classic of English prog. The second disc contains six bonus tracks: two are non-LP, while the others are single or alternate versions of album tracks. The audio was remastered from the original master tapes, while the booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay. Kestrel were from Newcastle and released only this one album before disbanding. The LP became a collector’s item, particularly in Japan. The fact that the keyboardist plays a lot of Mellotron has something to do with the album’s reputation. File this album next to Cressida, Spring, Fantasy, and Fruupp. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 2008 Esoteric label edition of this classic prog album, basically a repressing of the remastered version released earlier on Eclectic Discs, mastered from the original master tapes and featuring extensive liner notes. Best known as the album that first brought the talents of guitarist Steve Hillage to prominence, Khan also featured Dave Stewart (Egg, National Health, etc.). Khan’s sole album is a splendid example of a fusion of Canterbury style rock with jazz and space rock influences. Originally released in 1972, this expanded edition includes two previously unreleased bonus tracks.
Kiama is a new all-star prog band formed by Rob Reed (Magenta), Andy Edwards (Frost, IQ), Luke Machin (Maschine, The Tangent), and Dylan Thompson (The Reasoning). Kiama’s prog leans to the classic rock side. As the band says: “We drew musical references from the early 70s bands who were primarily thought of as rock bands, but to us were responsible for some of the greatest prog epics. Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven, Rainbow’s Stargazer, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody were the order of the day. It was all about the melody, groove, and the songs, not musical widdle. There was no point in doing what each of us had done previously in our respective bands; the goal was to do something different. One ingredient that you find with these classic albums of the 70s was that the bands were not afraid to mix the styles of music up from track to track. On a Zeppelin or Queen album, each track would have a different feel: rock, folk, jazz, blues. This is something we were not afraid to do. We just did what we liked, so each track ended up with a different feel. These days albums are very linear, stay in one style, and can be a little monotonous.” Sign of IV (2015, digisleeve) was recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio, with the band playing together in the same room for that authentic feel. Listen to Tears, Slip Away, and Cold Black Heart.
KingBathmat are a British prog or alt-prog band that began with a cassette release in 1998. Truth Button (2012) is something like their seventh album not counting the cassettes, though not all of their albums are available on CD. KingBathmat are a modern prog band in that (on Truth Button at least) they rely a lot on grungy guitar, yet the vocals often feel like they’re from a much earlier era. The music is psychedelic in an early Porcupine Tree way, there are lush keyboards and gentle passages when KingBathmat want them, the arrangements are complex, and there is that quirkiness that many of the great UK prog bands have. Read the DPRP, Sea of Tranquility, and adequacy.net reviews. Listen to the album montage.
Overcoming the Monster (2013), like Truth Button, features long tracks. “Kingbathmat are one of the most exciting bands that get labeled prog on the scene at the moment, and as this album proves, they are so much more than just a prog band. This is an album you need to listen to, on headphones, in one sitting, so you are immersed in its majesty. Faultless.” [Classic Rock Society] Watch the album preview video and the video for Sentinel. Read the PopMatters review. See Prog Archives for reviews of all the KingBathmat albums.
The main force behind KingBathmat is John Bassett, who after seven KingBathmat albums was ready to do a Steven Wilson and step out under his own name with Unearth (2014). Bassett retains the services of a drummer while handling vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, and Theremin himself. In many ways we like this album better than some of the KingBathmat output. Here there are a lot more acoustic textures, more heart energy, and none of the heavy or grungy guitar. Unearth lets Bassett’s songwriting shine like never before, with the dominant mood being melancholy, the songs lyrically dark but musically lush, uplifting, and life-affirming. “I’ve absolutely fallen in love with [Unearth], listening to it at what one might call an addictive level... If Kingbathmat ever released an album that combined the drive of Kingbathmat and the pauses and reflections of Unearth, the band would make an album that would not be just a great release of third-wave prog, but a worthy masterwork, an equal to the best of Genesis or Pink Floyd or Yes from the 1970s.” Read the full Progarchy review. Watch the album trailer and the video for Stay Away from the Dark.
These are the 2010 newly-remastered and expanded Esoteric label editions of the three albums from Arthur Brown & Kingdom Come, a psychedelic space-prog-rock band somewhat similar to Hawkwind of the same timeframe. For bonus tracks, Galactic Zoo Dossier (1971) contains alternate versions of two album tracks, plus two tracks from a 1971 BBC Radio One John Peel session (previously unreleased on CD). Kingdom Come (1972, now out-of-print) contains alternate versions of two album tracks plus two more tracks from a 1971 John Peel session, also previously unreleased on CD.
Journey (1973) has been expanded to a double-CD. The second disc contains eight bonus tracks of rare single material, alternate mixes, and three recordings from a 1972 John Peel session. As an aside, Journey is usually cited as the first rock album where the drummer was replaced entirely by a drum machine, in this case the Bentley Rhythm Ace, an early analog unit and the predecessor to the Roland TR77. The fact that these analog units sort of work with the music is because they sound almost, but not quite, entirely unlike drums. The 8-bit digital drum machines that would appear in the 1980s actually sounded vaguely like drums, which made them more irritating when used in lieu of a rock drummer. Lots to read about these albums at Prog Archives, plus some Mellotron-centric reviews at Planet Mellotron.
This was the Huge Giant Prog Release of 2012. The Kompendium project was organized by Restless Rob Reed of Magenta, who comments: “The genesis of the album was a conversation with a contemporary of mine over a glass of wine. We were talking about all the epic albums we loved from the 70s like Tubular Bells and War of the Worlds, and how nobody seems to make music like that anymore. He came up with a sort of ‘gentleman’s challenge’ to go ahead and make one, and like a fool, I said yes! Three years later, I now realise why they don’t make them anymore. I went back to my favourite albums and made a wish list of players from the 70s and a few contemporary artists as well that I wanted for the project. What I really love are albums that mix styles, so with all these great musicians, I was able to blend Celtic music with rock and classical to produce something which, although it was a huge undertaking, I really hope is unique.”
The impressive list of participants includes Steve Balsamo (Jesus Christ Superstar, ChimpanA), Steve Hackett - nylon guitar; Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) - drums; Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett Band) - stick; Troy Donockley (ex-Iona) - Uilleann Pipes, whistles; Nick Barrett (Pendragon) - guitar, Neil Taylor (Tears for Fears, Robbie Williams) - guitar; Jakko Jackzyk (21st Century Schizoid Band) - guitar; Francis Dunnery (ex-It Bites) - guitar, John Mitchell (It Bites) - guitar, Mel Collins (King Crimson, Camel) - sax, BJ Cole (Elton John, David Gilmour) - pedal steel guitar, Chris Fry (Magenta) - guitar, Christina Booth (Magenta) - backing vocals, and introducing the vocal talents of Angharad Bryn in the role of Lily. Adding to the epic quality of the album are celebrated vocal ensemble Synergy, The English Chamber Choir conducted by Guy Protheroe, the London Session Orchestra conducted by Dave Stewart, and renowned opera singers Rhys Meirion and Shan Cothi. Read the Prog Magazine feature article: Page 1 • Page 2 (These are scans; you may need to zoom in.)
The original edition was a CD+DVD (with surround mix) in a 7" gatefold sleeve, but that is now gone. Taking its place is this less expensive 2013 CD-only edition, which comes in a digipack.
Also released in 2013 is the double-CD Beneath the Waves: Elements (digisleeve). The first disc is full of unreleased tracks, alternate versions, and demos from Beneath the Waves, while the second disc contains an instrumental version of the entire album.
Konchordat is another name to add to the British neo-prog pantheon. They debuted in 2009 with English Ghosts (out-of-print), which was mostly in the classic 1980s neo-prog style (e.g., Marillion, Pendragon), though since singer Lee Harding has a somewhat Gabriel-like voice, Citizen Cain or the more Genesis-like Ad Infinitum tracks also come to mind. The New Crusade (2011) is their second. “The New Crusade marks a significant surge in confidence and artistry for Konchordat. Still entrenched in lavish symphonic prog, albeit tempered by brief excursions into neo-prog pastures, founder member Steve Cork and now permanent singer and guitarist Stuart Martin have begun to forge a distinct identity of their own. The opening title track’s shimmering keyboards and potent six-string sustain certainly betrays a penchant for Fish-era Marillion, and maybe even a dash of Pallas, but that is the last time on The New Crusade that this band sound wholly indebted to anyone else... This is a purposeful and precise reinvention of a thoroughly British strain of prog, replete with spine-tingling guitar solos, some elegantly poetic lyrics, and enough pathos to force tears from the eyes of a stone statue of Stalin.” [Prog magazine] Read the Background Magazine review.
Rise to the Order (2016, digipack) is markedly heavier than the first two Konchordat albums. Think of Arena and Pallas at their heaviest.
The Kscope label’s first sampler CD comes in an attractive physical package and contains these tracks: The Pineapple Thief - Tightly Wound, Lunatic Soul - Lunatic Soul, No-Man - Truenorth (edit), Engineers - Brighter As We Fall, Anekdoten - Gravity, North Atlantic Oscillation - Drawing Maps from Memory, Richard Barbieri - Decay, Nosound - Kites, Anathema - Flying, and Steven Wilson - Harmony Korine.
These CDs had been released before but had been out-of-print for years prior to these 2013 editions on Gonzo Multimedia. 1976 was a busy year for woodwind player Jack Lancaster and keyboardist Robin Lumley, a year in which they produced both the Peter and the Wolf and Marscape albums and helped set Brand X in motion. The lineup on the instrumental Marscape album includes Jack Lancaster, Robin Lumley, John Goodsall, Percy Jones, and Phil Collins. It was released almost simultaneously with Brand X’s debut Unorthodox Behaviour, and in the minds of many fans this is Brand X, though here Lancaster is the composer, which makes Marscape distinct from the Brand X albums, less fusion-y and more classically-influenced. Read the in-depth article at DPRP.
Wild Connections (1979) is a collaboration between Jack Lancaster and Rick van der Linden, the keyboardist and leader of the Dutch band Trace. They are joined by a drummer and a choir, while Lancaster plays only Lyricon (the first electronic wind controller) and van der Linden plays only Yamaha GX-1. No bass player was necessary because van der Linden, being an organist, was very good at playing foot pedals. The GX-1 was Yamaha’s monstrous three-manual + bass pedals synth, weighing around 300kg/660lb and costing on the order of $60,000. Consequently, van der Linden was one of very few musicians to own one, the most famous being Keith Emerson, who used the GX-1 on Fanfare for the Common Man and Pirates. Wild Connections is an excellent album that contains van der Linden’s best baroque-rock outside of Trace.
Landmarq are a British neo-prog band who came to prominence during the 1990s. Entertaining Angels (2012, digipack) is Landmarq’s comeback album, with Tracy Hitchings still the singer. UK critics call this the strongest album of Landmarq’s career. Cellist Hugh McDowell (ELO) guests. This is the special edition, which to the 72-minute first disc adds a second disc with over 28 additional minutes of music, allowing the band to sidestep the painful decision of which songs to cut. Some songs are new studio recordings of songs that first appeared on Landmarq’s Turbulence DVD. Read the DPRP review.
The double-CD Origins is an anthology covering 1992-2014. The upper year in that range is because this set contains one new song. Since the four studio and two live Landmarq CDs on the Cyclops label have been out-of-print for years, Origins is not superfluous as most anthologies are. Disc One (73-minutes) is titled The Tracy Years, while Disc Two (74-minutes) is titled The Damian Years. Damian Wilson was Landmarq’s singer on their first three studio albums (1991-1995), after which Tracy Hitchings took over. Landmarq’s 1990s CDs are recommended to fans of Pendragon and Clive Nolan’s various projects of that era.
Roadskill (2015) is a live CD and DVD (NTSC, all-region) recorded during Landmarq’s 2013 tour at De Boerderij in the Netherlands. The DVD features two additional songs that couldn’t fit on the 78-minute CD, plus interviews with the band.
The first thing that caught our eye about this CD is the fantastic cover by Michael Cheval, and you can always judge a prog CD by its cover, so you’re encouraged to view a large version. Phil Lanzon has been the keyboardist for Uriah Heep since 1986, but his debut solo album If You Think I’m Crazy! (2017) is outside the narrow confines of Heep music. It appears Phil had some serious prog he needed to manifest. He has a lot of pop/rock songwriting experience and had accumulated a backlog of songs that were not Heep-related. (OK, one song is Heep-ish.) This is glorious melodic/catchy prog plus some proggy ballads that probably could only have been created by someone from the first generation of British rock musicians. Lanzon grew up alongside the likes of Genesis, though he also admits to listening to and admiring Steven Wilson. Genesis may be the best single reference if one includes both their prog and pop eras, as the music here spans both. Lanzon’s songs also tend to be story-based. It’s surprising how bombastic most of this music is (‘bombast’ is an entirely positive thing to us progsters), with choirs, strings, and immaculate production yielding that larger-than-life sound. John Mitchell had a big role on the album, playing guitar and singing some of the lead vocals. Other lead vocals are by Andy Makin, Andy Caine, and Lanzon himself. Craig Blundell (Steven Wilson, Frost) plays drums, Laurence Cottle (The Fents, The Alan Parsons Project, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks) plays bass. The whole album may make you nostalgic for the 1970s in that some of these songs would have had a chance at radio airplay then. Not now. You can audition the entire album via the mp3 icon above. If you’re like us, you skip to the longest track, in this case The Forest, although the shortest song, the instrumental Step Overture, is probably the most full-on prog. (Kind of like the song Cinema was on Yes’s 90125.)
British band Legend formed in 1988 and released their first CD in 1991. They bill themselves as a pagan progressive rock band in that they draw upon the folklore and pre-Christian mysticism of the British Isles. They have always had a female lead vocalist, but they’ve gone through several.
Cardinal Points (2011) was the first new studio album from Legend since 1996’s Triple Aspect. The CD is divided into four long tracks in the 13-17 minute range, following an earth, wind, fire, and water theme. Legend sometimes integrate a heavy, plodding Hawkwind or early Rainbow approach, though ‘neo-prog’ best describes their music. As this CD progresses, the music becomes more nuanced and open, approaching Renaissance level in the last and longest track, maybe the best thing they’ve recorded. Read the Jerry Lucky review.
Spirit (2013) is heavier than Legend’s past work, and when all is said and done, we suspect it will rate higher than any Legend album to date. While only a tiny bit of it could qualify as prog-metal, there is an aesthetic at play that will attract symphonic metal fans. Legend are more keyboard-heavy than any metal band though, so heavy neo-prog it shall be. New singer Beck Siàn, who has an established solo career, steals the show. Beck has a pure yet powerful voice, with great range and articulation, and a haunting delivery when she wants it. In her upper range, she’s unmistakably Kate Bush-y, which is interesting because the two are actually related, and Kate was an inspiration for Beck. Beck’s voice is sometimes multitracked to sound like a choir, giving the music a big, epic, gothic feel. Similar to the previous album, the music opens up during the latter part of the album, with more space and nuance, an even better showcase for the vocals. Read reviews of all at Prog Archives.
The Levellers are an English quintet playing Celtic folk-rock with the emphasis on the rock. Recorded in 1993 mostly at Real World Studios, this is the band’s third album. The Levellers sometimes get associated with punk, but that’s only because the singer’s English working class accent is sometimes apparent, otherwise there is little here besides the energy level that has much to do with punk. These guys can play their instruments. The fiddle and their full sound make them attractive to prog fans, and they can write songs. These CDs have a slot cut through the spine.
Lifesigns’ self-titled debut may have been the British prog album of 2013. Lifesigns is a band formed by John Young (composer, keyboards, lead vocals), Nick Beggs (bass, Chapman Stick, backing vocals), and Martin ‘Frosty’ Beedle (drums), a project that had been in development for six years. There have been precious few modern British bands making albums on the same level as the classic symphonic bands, you know, the ones who invented progressive rock. Which makes Lifesigns nearly a national treasure. The music has similarities to Peter Gabriel, Yes, Genesis, National Health, Happy the Man, Bruford, and a couple others we’re overlooking, but it doesn’t sound retro or derivative.
Live in London: Under the Bridge (digipack) is a DVD (NTSC, all-region) + double-CD filmed/recorded at London’s premier live music venue Under the Bridge in January 2015 by award winning film director Paul Shammasian. Lifesigns play their entire debut album plus five new tracks. The live band includes John Young and Frosty Beedle with Jon Poole (ex-Cardiacs) on bass/vocals and Niko Tsonev (ex-Steven Wilson) on guitars/vocals. At the time of this recording, they’d played 26 shows and had honed their stagecraft. Watch the official DVD trailer. Read the Background Magazine review. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Lives and Times was Richard Wileman’s band prior to Karda Estra, which began on the defunct Dutch prog label SI Music before jumping to Cyclops. Lives and Times was more of a conventional rock/pop band than Karda Estra. There and Back Again Lane (1995) is the sixth Lives and Times album. The dark, suspenseful soundscapes foreshadow Karda Estra, especially on the 11-minute instrumental that concludes the album, while the female vocals hint at Cocteau Twins, somewhat cold and indifferent. “There and Back Again Lane combines the soaring vocals of Lorna Cumberland with the dark soundscapes of musician Richard Wileman... Melody Maker described their last album as ‘Cocteau Twins meets Kate Bush, but really they steal nothing from either, those are just reference points.’ The dark, suspenseful mood of their songs give them a unique character benefiting from the fine vocals and thoughtful lyrics.”
“Issued by Parlophone in January 1970, this was the only album by the Birmingham based group fronted by keyboard player Norman Haine. Featuring the psychedelic classic Mr. Armageddon, the album was a marvelous fusion of jazz, psychedelia and early progressive music and was graced by guest musicians Dick Heckstall Smith, Henry Lowther and Chris Mercer. This remastered Esoteric edition includes six bonus tracks, comprising the mono single versions of Mr. Armageddon and You Must Be Joking, rare B-sides, and both sides of the band’s final single.”
Please Come Home (2015, digipack) is the debut CD for Lonely Robot, the project of songwriter/guitarist/vocalist/producer John Mitchell (Kino, It Bites, Frost, Arena). Mitchell is backed by Nick Beggs (Lifesigns, Steven Wilson, Steve Hackett, Iona,... ) on bass and Craig Blundell (Pendragon, Frost, Steven Wilson) on drums. Steve Hogarth (Marillion) performs on two songs on piano and backing vocals. Touchstone’s Kim Seviour sings on one track. Heather Findlay (ex-Mostly Autumn) sings a duet on one track, in more of a Kate Bush style than her usual delivery, while Peter Cox (Go West, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) sings on another track. Nik Kershaw contributes a guitar solo to one track, and keyboardist Jem Godfrey (Frost) plays on two tracks. English actor Lee Ingleby (Master & Commander, Harry Potter) provides some narration to link tracks together. This comes closest to Kino and Frost and will certainly be one of the top modern prog albums of the year. Watch the album teaser and the videos for Are We Copies?, God vs. Man, and The Boy in the Radio. This is the European digipack special edition with three bonus tracks; all are alternate mixes of album tracks.
Long Earth is a new branch of the Glasgow prog family tree. The Source (2017, digipack) is their debut. Long Earth features two former members of seminal Glasgow prog rockers Abel Ganz: Ken Weir on drums and Gordon Mackie on bass. The music is a mix of influences firmly rooted in classic prog, and was recorded, arranged, and produced by the band members and Hew Montgomery (Abel Ganz, Comedy of Errors, Grand Tour).
All the CDs here are on the Eclectic/Esoteric label, known for their meticulous remastering jobs and extensive booklets. These are all out-of-print now. Woolly Wolstenholme was the keyboardist and Mellotron man in Barclay James Harvest and was responsible for their more epic and symphonic pieces. He left BJH in 1979, and in 1980 released his first solo album Maestoso. Wolstenholme is joined by several other musicians, and later he used “Maestoso” as the name of this band. This is a quality album that will please most fans of early BJH. This CD edition adds two bonus live tracks.
Fiddling Meanly (2005) is a live CD recorded at The Mean Fiddler in London in 2004, recorded straight to DAT from the mixing desk. It features a mix of Wolstenholme’s solo material and BJH material. The warts and all recording actually gives the listener more of a feeling of being there, especially with the between song banter left in, and the increased energy of the live performance makes some of the versions on this disc superior to the studio versions.
Grim (2005) is a sometimes dark and sometimes humorous tale of a fictitious Northern England town and its strange inhabitants. (No, not Royston Vasey.) With only a change in drummer, Grim picks up where One Drop in a Dry World left off and goes further, ranging from Mellotron splendor to dark orchestral to delicate to humorous and generally just clever. This is symphonic rock that doesn’t sound overly retro, but it could only have been created by someone who was making music in the early 1970s and understands the aesthetic from the inside. It’s more progressive than any BJH album, and probably Wolstenholme’s best to date.
The final Maestoso album is Caterwauling (2007). Perhaps tired of being pushed around and labeled “soft”, Wolstenholme and his band open with a loud blast of something resembling Red-era King Crimson. But the soft, pastoral, and majestic stuff is what Wolstenholme does best, and that’s what the other 98% of the album is, evoking the classic BJH sound. Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan, Penguin Café Orchestra) guests. As the All Music Guide says, “Wolstenholme’s recorded work with Maestoso is not just the best of any BJH side projects, but is equal to any work by BJH in their prime.” Read reviews of all at Prog Archives.
We Are Legend (2017, digisleeve) is the new Magenta album. The DVD contains the 5.1 surround mix, video interview and promos. “Magenta have once again extended themselves beyond what any reasonable fan can expect, and have delivered something classic that will appease diehard fans, but also something new that might just conjure a new audience.” Read the full The Prog Report review. “In We are Legend, Magenta have created one of the best albums of their career by daring to stretch and express themselves with great integrity and dazzling imagination. This will be regarded as one of THE progressive rock albums of 2017.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review, and if still not convinced, the Progradar and Get Ready to Rock reviews. Watch the album promo and Trojan videos. Note the band have sold out of this edition, having replaced it with a CD-only edition.
Magenta, from South Wales, is led by Rob Reed, a talented keyboardist whose previous band was Cyan. Magenta represents the pinnacle of Reed’s achievements to date, certainly the most ambitious and conceptual of his bands. In Reed’s own words: “Current prog bands were always scared and shy about admitting influences of the great bands of the 70s, and I wanted to come clean and admit and celebrate these influences and hopefully create something as worthwhile as these classics. To do this, I had to give priority to melody rather than technical showmanship, something I have always tried to do with all my work, although many current prog bands seem to forget about it.” Magenta is a sextet with Christina Murphy on lead vocals; she can be heard singing backing vocals on some of the Cyan tracks. Their major influence is Yes, which alone sets them apart from most neo-prog bands, as well as some Genesis, Marillion, and touches of Renaissance, Floyd, and others. The female vocals give Magenta similar appeal as Iona and Karnataka. They favor long tracks that go through a lot of changes, but the tracks are cohesive.
Revolutions, Magenta’s 2001 double-CD debut, immediately established them as a major new band. There are segments that strongly suggest some well-known prog songs, but we won’t spoil the fun of picking them out. Another Time Another Place is their 2004 live double-CD recorded throughout Europe between 2002-2004 and featuring the tracks Opus [2:39], Gluttony [12:00], Lust [13:08], Broken [4:07], Children of the Sun [20:24], Call Me [5:11], The White Witch [22:04], Genetesis [12:16], Pride [12:16], and Anger [5:02].
Magenta’s 2004 studio album Seven is a sympho-prog feast and was one of the major prog albums of that year. In fact, the consensus is that this is their best album. In 2009, the band reissued Seven in this CD+DVD Special Edition. The album was completely remixed by Rob Reed and remastered by Bob Katz (Digital Domain), and the CD now runs 78:54. In revisiting the multitracks, Rob found loads of musical parts that had not been used in the original mix and incorporated some of them. The DVD (NTSC, all-region, 16:9) begins with the feature Inside the Mix with Rob Reed (79:56), in which Rob discusses and dissects the multitracks of the original 2004 mix. An interview with lyricist Steve Reed and Rob Reed follows (36:54), with the two discussing each track from a musical and lyrical point of view, the artwork and guest musicians, and reflecting on the impact of the CD five years on. Next up is 42 minutes of bootleg live videos of the songs Lust, Anger, Gluttony, and Pride. But best of all, the DVD contains a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix of the entire Seven album! OK, it isn’t DVD-Audio or SACD or Blu-ray, but we’ll take whatever surround we can get.
Home and New York Suite are Magenta’s pair of 2006 studio CDs. The 2CD special edition packages the two separate CDs Home and New York Suite together in a slipcase. The 68-minute Home is a concept piece telling the story of a woman who emigrates from Liverpool in the early 1970s to find herself in America. The 40-minute New York Suite examines the experiences of the main character of Home during her stay in Manhattan. The music on New York Suite is every bit as good as on Home; in fact, New York Suite contains most of the longer songs. There is a noticeable progression in Magenta’s style here. Perhaps because lead vocalist Christina has matured into a first-rate singer, the music has become more centered on her vocals, bringing Magenta a step closer to the sound of Iona’s vocal tracks, and to a lesser extent, the original Karnataka and Renaissance. The vocal styles of Christina and Iona’s Joanne Hogg have a certain similarity, and the Iona comparison is reinforced by the guest appearance of Iona’s Troy Donockley on Uilleann pipes and whistles. Instrumentally, the dominant influence remains Yes, and one can spot bits lifted from Genesis and Steve Hackett, but that’s always been part of the fun of listening to a Magenta album. These influences account for only a fraction of Magenta’s style though. Overall this is a monumental achievement for Rob Reed and company. Note Magenta later released a Home 2CD containing this same material but in a different running order.
Magenta’s live double-CD Live at the Point 2007 features over 100 minutes of live music recorded at their amazing performance at The Point in Cardiff in November 2007. Only two of the tracks appear on Magenta’s previous live 2CD. Live at the Point includes an extended selection from Home, the rarely performed Sloth, and the recent show-stopping arrangement of The Warning from Revolutions. The same performance is captured on the DVD (NTSC, all-region, 16:9), which adds a behind-the-scenes documentary, interviews, and the video for Speechless. Not only was it the last concert in support of their third album Home and the last performance of that lineup, apparently even the venue has since closed! The Live at the Point DVD features a set list largely different from The Gathering DVD released in 2005. 5.1 surround and stereo audio, 147-minutes (concert running time 106-minutes).
Yes, Magenta’s 2008 studio CD Metamorphosis is somewhat darker and more intense than their previous work, though hardly enough to warrant cover graphics that belong on a metal album. As the previous albums Home and New York Suite showed Magenta becoming more song and vocal-oriented, Metamorphosis represents an about face. The qualities found on Home are still present though, blended with the epic progressive rock of their first two albums, then done up darker than any of it. Troy Donockley (Iona) again guests on Uilleann pipes, and there is a string section. Read the review at Musical Discoveries. The 2013 Special Edition adds a slipcase and a DVD, and the CD adds five bonus tracks including orchestral versions of album tracks and the ‘missing section’ of the title track. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the original album in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround audio along with well over two hours of ‘making of’ features and interviews. There are also three promo videos including the brand new video for The War Bride’s Prayer.
Live at Real World is the 3-disc set of Magenta’s acoustic performance at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios near Bath in November 2009. The band was augmented by a string quartet and oboe player. The double-CD contains not only the audio recording of the concert but also three additional songs recorded at Real World the next day. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains video of the entire 96-minute concert with both stereo and 5.1 surround audio. Extras include a 5.1 mix of Joe from Home, the promotional video of Blind Faith, and two photo galleries. As the album trailer will make evident, Magenta have a compelling sound in this acoustic setting. Apart from the strings and oboe, the major difference is that Rob Reed plays a superb acoustic piano rather than electronic keys, and the guitar is all acoustic. These new arrangements serve to emphasize the Renaissance aspects of Magenta’s sound, charm and subtleties that can be missed in their electric performances. The current edition comes in an Amaray (DVD) case. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Chameleon is Magenta’s 2011 studio CD, an album of shorter songs. Read the Musical Discoveries and DPRP reviews. The Chameleon CD is available bundled with The Chameleon Project DVD (NTSC, all-region). The DVD contains the entire album in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, a 5.1 “Big Band” remix of the track Glitterball, promo videos, photo gallery, and a “making-of” video.
Magenta’s 2012 live double-CD Live: On Our Way to Who Knows Where was recorded over several concerts and features songs from every previous Magenta album, including four from Chameleon. It also includes a bonus studio recording of When We Were Young, which is available on CD for the first time.
Magenta’s sixth studio album The Twenty Seven Club (2013) sees them in spectacular form with six progressive rock epics. “The new album has been five years in the making and I have tried to take the best elements of all the previous Magenta albums to craft the best collection of songs I could. I think this has been achieved and The Twenty Seven Club represents a return to our progressive rock roots” says Rob. “Only a few people have heard the album thus far but all have agreed that this is the best Magenta album to date”. The Twenty Seven Club refers to a large group of musician/singers (including Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain) who all died at the age of 27, many from alcohol or drug abuse. Andy Edwards (IQ, Frost) is the drummer on this album. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains a 5.1 surround mix of the entire album in DTS 24/96 and Dolby Digital, the 107-minute The Making of The Twenty Seven Club documentary, and the promo video for the song The Lizard King. Watch the promo video.
The Singles Complete (2015, digisleeve) is a 2CD set containing 24 tracks and over 120 minutes of Magenta material. Included for the first time on CD are Magenta’s versions of the Yes song Wonderous Stories and the ELP classic Lucky Man. This collection includes some brand new remixes, alternate arrangements, and extended versions of classic Magenta songs. This 2CD replaces and supersedes the out-of-print 2007 single CD entitled The Singles, though that first edition contains a couple tracks that don’t appear on this 2CD. The songs on that first edition were drawn from Magenta’s four previous EP/singles, but most of them appeared in new re-recorded versions, and none had previously been available on a full-length CD. So this 2CD adds the songs from Magenta’s two post-2007 EPs plus the aforementioned new mixes and such.
Chaos from the Stage (DVD+CD, digisleeve) presents Magenta live at The Assembly - Leamington in November 2015. The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the entire 105-minute concert. The CD contains as much audio as would fit. Watch the promo video.
Broken Lives and Bleeding Hearts (2010) is the debut solo album for Magenta’s front-woman Christina Booth. Christina co-wrote all 10 tracks with Rob Reed, who also mixed and produced the album. Guests on the album include John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost), Steve Balsamo (The Storys, ChimpanA), Troy Donockley (ex-Iona), and Chris Fry (Magenta), with a remix of Deep Ocean by Jem Godfrey (Frost). Says Christina of the album: “Although it’s not Prog, it’s pretty varied and I hope that Magenta fans will find plenty to like. It’s certainly been a labour of love, and I really believe it’s the finest set of songs I’ve ever written.” Read the Musical Discoveries review.
Christina’s second CD The Light (2015, digisleeve) features contributions from Andy Tillison (The Tangent), John Mitchell, Theo Travis, Andy Edwards (IQ, Frost), Dan Nelson (Godsticks), and Magenta bandmates Chris Fry and Rob Reed. As on her first album, Christina worked closely with Rob developing the tracks, Christina coming up with the melodies and lyrics, Rob taking care of the arrangements as well as producing and mixing. The songs are linked lyrically, most inspired by Christina’s recent battle with breast cancer, with the natural melancholy of the music balanced by a sense of hope. Watch the video for Disappeared.
The music style of Norwich, England’s Magicfolk is suggested by their name. ‘Faerie Festival Prog’ would be good too but is unwieldy as a band name. Wonderful stuff by any name, Magicfolk’s sound is centered on the beautiful vocals of Michelle Glover, supported by acoustic & electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, flute, violin, mandolin, and harp. On their 2011 second CD Tales of Power, Magicfolk sound like the legendary Mellow Candle, but proggier. The folk here is mythical rather than traditional; all the songs are originals. Another artist Magicfolk could be compared to is Colin Mold, seeing as how Mold plays on most of the songs on Tales of Power. There are elements of the west coast psychedelic style of Jefferson Airplane, the folky side of Mostly Autumn and Jethro Tull, Solstice, Capercaillie, Clannad, Iona, Loreena McKennitt, Mary Jane, Spriguns, Spirogyra, Mermaid Kiss, and October Project.
Read the Exposé and Sea of Tranquility reviews of the 2007 first Magicfolk CD.
Nick Magnus first came to prominence as keyboardist in Steve Hackett’s band during The Golden Age of Steve Hackett, that is, the era that began with Spectral Mornings, and it’s probably fair to say that Magnus had a significant role in the sound of those albums. N’monix (2014, digipack) is Magnus’s fifth solo album, the first since his superb Children of Another God in 2010. N’monix includes contributions from Steve Hackett, Tim Bowness (No-Man, Henry Fool), Rob Townsend (current member of Steve Hackett’s band), Pete Hicks (the singer on Spectral Mornings and Defector), Tony Patterson (ReGenesis), and several more singers. Watch the videos for Eminent Victorians and Shadowland. If Eminent Victorians at least doesn’t do it for you, you’re probably not a fan of Magnus, Hackett, or the old Genesis melodrama.
First self-published in 2008, this is the 2011 Musea edition of Brian Malone’s The Mechanical Voices. Malone is a multi-instrumentalist from Dublin who lists Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Sigur Ros, and Puccini among his influences. This is richly-textured, very melodic instrumental progressive rock with an epic, cinematic feel. A reasonable comparison is early Yanni, updated with the use of current sample libraries. (Yanni originally made progressive rock before his music became overly romantic and he became a new age icon.)
Before Englishman Rhys Marsh moved to Norway, he’d formed his first band Mandala in London in 1997, playing guitar and singing, with Francis Booth (bass) and Will Spurling (drums) and, at times, a string section. They were together for nine years and played hundreds of concerts, though they never recorded an album. They got back together in 2014 to record their debut album Midnight Twilight (2015, digisleeve), an album 18 years in the making. They chose ten songs from the more than 40 in their repertoire. The main tracks were recorded live in Marsh’s studio in Norway, with a few overdubs added. They then went to London to record their original string section (violin, cello) with the same recording engineer they’d worked with ten years earlier. There is much in common with the music Marsh would later develop under his own name using Norwegian musicians, and it is not far removed from the Anekdoten style. The music is on the melancholy and dark side, blending progressive rock with folk-noir (both western and eastern), retro-style psychedelic rock, and more. Marsh describes it as all being “wrapped in an early-seventies glow”. In addition to the real strings, Marsh adds a dollop of Mellotron strings. The 16-page booklet includes a brief history of Mandala and recording session photos.
The British progressive rock band Mandalaband released two semi-legendary albums during the 1970s: their self-titled 1975 album and The Eye of Wendor: Prophecies in 1978. Resurrection (2010, digipack) reissues both, remixed and remastered by bandleader David Rohl from the original 24-track multitrack masters. Rohl also reinforced the sound in places. Six bonus tracks have been added. Both are wonderful symphonic rock albums that are essential to any collection of 1970s progressive rock, but they were recorded by entirely different lineups. The original Mandalaband actually was a band, and its members went on to become Sad Café. The first album is highlighted by the Om Mani Padme Hum suite, which took up the first side of the LP. The Eye of Wendor was a Tolkienesque affair that was to have been the first of a trilogy. It was an all-star studio project featuring a huge number of musicians including all of Barclay James Harvest and 10cc, Justin Hayward, Maddy Prior, Paul Young (Mike and the Mechanics), and an orchestra.
In one of the most unlikely comebacks in the prog world, Mandalaband returned in 2009 with their third album BC: Ancestors. But after all, the story in their second album ended with the words “to be continued”, so they planned this all along, though Ancestors is not a continuation of The Eye of Wendor story. David Rohl is back in charge. Returning Mandalaband members include Woolly Wolstenholme (Barclay James Harvest, Maestoso), Ashley Mulford (Mike and the Mechanics), and Kim Turner (Maestoso). Also onboard are the ever in-demand Troy Donockley (formerly of Iona), Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan, Penguin Cafe Orchestra), Craig Fletcher (Maestoso), and several others. Ancestors is a majestic, melodic symphonic rock album that manages to cover 5,000 years of human history in 68-minutes. It is a richly-orchestrated work, adding Celtic and ambient touches to the Mandalaband sound to reflect the ancient-world subject matter. Imagine a combination of Barclay James Harvest, The Moody Blues (both with orchestra), Maestoso, later Camel, Troy Donockley’s own albums, and Clannad (circa Legend). While the lead vocals are mostly male, the male/female backing vocals are very Clannad-like. Read the Background Magazine review.
While BC: Ancestors focused on the pre-Christian era of ancient Egypt, Israel and Mesopotamia, the even better AD: Sangreal (2011) takes the first one thousand years of early Christianity as its theme, specifically the legend of the holy grail or Sangreal. The large cast of musicians includes many returnees from BC, notably Woolly Wolstenholme who passed away during the late stages of recording. There is one bonus track that features Woolly as lead vocalist on Mandalaband’s rendition of the classic Barclay James Harvest song Galadriel. Watch the videos for A Bloodline Born, Palatium Britannicum, and Galadriel. Read the Prognaut and Progmeister reviews.
Check our DVDs page for Manfred Mann’s Angel Station In Moscow DVD.
Manfred Mann’s Earth Band frequently get overlooked in discussions of progressive rock, perhaps because they’ve had a long career that has covered more styles than just prog, and their commercial success came from doing covers. Mann himself should at least be mentioned alongside the other pioneering prog rock keyboardists. These CDs are the 1998-99 remastered editions with bonus tracks on the Creature Music label.
Solar Fire and The Good Earth, both originally released in 1974, are the two proggiest MMEB albums. They will surprise those only familiar with the MMEB radio hits. The Good Earth has three bonus tracks which are single versions of album tracks.
Nightingales & Bombers (1975) kicks off with the hit Spirits in the Night, the first of several Bruce Springsteen covers for MMEB. At its best, the album is true progressive rock, and at its worst, it’s still pretty good, a blend of progressive and blues-based rock. The two bonus tracks include the single edit of Spirits in the Night and the cover of Bob Dylan’s Quit Your Low Down Ways, which was only on the U.S. vinyl release.
The Roaring Silence (1976) gave MMEB a whole new level of fame, opening with the 7-minute Blinded by the Light, another Springsteen cover and one of only a handful of progressive rock songs to become classic rock radio staples. The rest of the album is on the same level. The two bonus tracks include Spirits in the Night sung by Chris Thompson (he first appears on this album) and the single edit of Blinded by the Light.
The MMEB sound generally changed with the times, so Watch (1978) is still fairly proggy but more song-oriented. The songs here are really strong, as this album is the best-selling of Mann’s career. It contains the UK hit Davy’s on the Road Again and a reworking of the big hit The Mighty Quinn. The four bonus tracks are single versions of three of the album tracks, plus one non-LP. One of these bonus tracks is the single version of The Mighty Quinn, which is a different recording than the album version.
Chance (1980) again sees MMEB updating with the times to a more high-tech pop sound, with lots of keyboards. Lies (Through the 80s) was a hit, as was the cover of Springsteen’s For You. Both are terrific if forgotten songs that are great to hear again. Trevor Rabin was the associate producer and contributed some guitar. The four bonus tracks include a rare B-side and three single versions. The booklets are generally excellent, with extensive liner notes.
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Guy Manning, a sometimes member of The Tangent, is continuing the tradition of great British progressive singers who take the singer-songwriter model and expand it to epic proportions. At various times, we’re reminded of Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull, Roger Waters, Geoff Mann (Twelfth Night), Dave Cousins/The Strawbs, Roy Harper, Rupert Hine, Al Stewart, and Nigel Mazlyn Jones. Manning’s strong vocals are among the best in the progressive genre today. He is a poet and storyteller who could be (and sometimes is) a folk troubadour but chooses to work on a larger scale. There is almost no one making music like this now, and with so much progressive rock today lacking emotional warmth and heart energy, it’s vital to hear music this organic.
The Festival Music label began reissuing the Manning albums with four ‘10th Anniversary Editions’, followed a few years later by The Ragged Curtain ‘Extended Edition’, so named because it missed the 10th anniversary. These new editions come in simple printed cardboard jackets (no booklet) rather than jewel boxes, and the price is nice. Tall Stories for Small Children, The Cure, and One Small Step were remastered in 2010 by Andy Tillison (The Tangent), while Songs from the Bilston House is recent enough that there was no need for remastering. Each 10th Anniversary or Extended Edition CD adds one bonus track.
Tall Stories for Small Children (1999) is the first Manning album; The Cure (2000) is the second. Both feature Andy Tillison plus several other musicians.
The Ragged Curtain (2002) is magnificent, ranging from intimate, heartfelt songs to Van der Graaf Generator-like intensity. Manning is at this point a full-fledged band with six members including ex-Parallel or 90 Degrees guitarist Gareth Harwood, plus guests Andy Tillison (The Tangent, Parallel or 90 Degrees) on keyboards and Angela Goldthorpe (Mostly Autumn) on flute and recorders. The music is full of Mellotron flute and strings, and culminates in the eight-part epic title track. The album was engineered and produced by John Spence, whose credits include Mostly Autumn and Castanarc.
One Small Step (2005) is Guy Manning’s seventh album, assisted here by Laura Fowles (sax, vocals), Gareth Harwood (lead electric guitar), Ian Fairbairn (fiddle), Rick Ashton (bass), and Martin Orford of IQ on flute, while Guy plays all manner of keyboards, guitars, and drums. His songwriting skills have reached the next level, as the folk-tinged melodies here are instantly memorable. The long title suite is another landmark achievement for Guy. Most of the suite is driven by acoustic guitar and shows a strong Roy Harper influence, though the arrangement is much fuller and more progressive, with lots of Mellotron and organ from Guy and all the other musicians making important contributions. One has to marvel at the sheer volume of quality music Manning is able to complete, and bemoan the fact that he’ll probably never receive the recognition he deserves. The booklet artwork by Ed Unitsky is gorgeous.
Guy Manning’s eighth album Anser’s Tree (2006) may be the most electric and out-and-out progressive of the Manning albums to date. The album traces the history of one family told through the eyes of their last descendent, searching on the ‘last remaining hill’ to discover the secrets of his own past and uncover the universal patterns that surround us all. The other musicians this time include Laura Fowles (sax, vocals), Ian Fairbairn (fiddles), David Million (electric guitars), Andy Tillison (keys), and Stephen Dundon of Molly Bloom (flute). Flute is used more extensively on this album, which reinforces the Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull comparison in a number of places. Ed Unitsky again provides fabulous artwork.
On Songs from the Bilston House (2007), Guy is joined by Fowles (saxes, vocals), Fairbairn (fiddles), Million (electric guitars), and Julie King (vocals), plus guests Dundon (flutes) and Tillison (keyboards, drums, vocals, co-production). We already thought that Guy Manning has been responsible for some of the best music this millennium, and it’s remarkable that he manages a new CD every year. But this album is just incredible, almost all that is good in classic melodic British progressive rock rolled into one CD. In addition to all the influences and reference points mentioned above, we now also hear some Caravan, Genesis, Snow Goose-era Camel, and Fairport Convention, and certainly fans of The Tangent will be drawn to this album. Excellent production and artwork top off a beautiful, powerful, intelligent and heartfelt progressive rock album.
Number Ten (2009) is already the tenth Manning CD, and by now we’ve exhausted our supply of superlatives, but fortunately prog fans are finally realizing that the Manning CDs are full of the best in classic-style British progressive rock. Number Ten is very strong and could be a new high water mark for Manning. “Number Ten has set the bar for all other releases in the progressive rock genre for 2009. If this had been released in the late 70s or early 80s, then we’d have been seeing Mr. Manning on our TV screens in the endless documentaries about ‘how good the old prog was’.” [Paul Baker, ARfm Soundscapes Radio]
As for Charlestown (2010): “The 11th album from one of England’s best kept prog rock secrets, Charlestown is a splendid blend of modern and classical progressive rock. Epic opener Charlestown is an amazing musical adventure on the high seas of imaginative forward looking rock. Caliban & Ariel is a gentle contrast to the drama of the title track, there is also a ‘what was that?’ moment when T.I.C. takes to the air! Album closer Finale takes some themes from the epic opening track and reworks them into an absorbing instrumental extravaganza, but don’t expect a straight copy, that wouldn’t be Manning! Fans of Jethro Tull, Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis and all the usual suspects should find a lot to like on this album but may be disappointed if they expect an impersonation of their heroes. Manning and Charlestown are much too adventurous and original for that!” [Paul Baker, ARFm Soundscapes Radio].
Margaret’s Children (2011) is the sequel to Anser’s Tree. Among the guest musicians is Marek Arnold (Toxic Smile, Seven Steps to the Green Door) on woodwinds. Watch the album trailer. “For those already acquainted with Guy’s work, you will embrace this album with open arms. For those unfamiliar, I can only suggest that he is an artist you get to know as soon as possible as it really is artists like this that do make a difference in the world of music.” Read the full DPRP reviews.
Manning’s Akoustik (2012) contains reimagined / reworked pieces from the now vast Manning back catalog in an ‘unplugged’ format, and follows the success the band have had playing acoustic gigs. The band has been stripped down to a mere nine people here, while the Jethro Tull / Ian Anderson feel is more pronounced. “Akoustik is a great album for a lazy Sunday. It has a delightfully relaxed vibe and would suit a quiet moment with a chance to watch the rain come down from the warmth of your home. The timing of the release couldn’t be better as there are some lovely autumnal shades to this work. The tracks are beautifully realised as acoustic numbers, and it almost seems that the original versions had their acoustic counterparts hidden within them and that Guy and the band have stripped away the layers to expose them.” [Prog Archives] Akoustick #2 (2014) is the follow-up and includes what Guy Manning describes as “Nine reimagined oldies from across the Manning back catalogue plus three brand new pieces, all given the acoustic treatment.” Listen to an mp3 of the track Flight 19. Each CD comes in a simple printed cardboard jacket (no booklet).
Guy Manning and his band’s 14th release in 14 years is The Root, the Leaf & the Bone (2013). “So has Manning still got plenty to say? The answer, I think, is there for all to see and hear in The Root, The Leaf & The Bone – finely crafted and consistently original songs, intelligent and meaningful lyrics, and a keen ear for creating the right blend of instrumentation, mood, and sound. Many will argue that his 14th album is Guy Manning’s most pleasing and accomplished collection of songs yet, and I don’t think you’ll find me disagreeing too much with that view.” Read the full Progressive Ears review, the DPRP roundtable reviews, and the Progarchy review. Read reviews of all the Manning CDs.
Phil Manzanera should be well known to most prog fans, as a member of Roxy Music, Quiet Sun, and 801, and for his numerous solo albums and collaborations from the 1970s to the present. Vozero was Manzanera’s first solo album in 10 years. It was released in 1999 in the UK in a jewel box, and that is the edition offered here. All the tracks were written by Manzanera, and in addition to Phil’s distinctive and eclectic guitar work, Vozero also prominently features Robert Wyatt, a guest spot for Andy Mackay on oboe, and a cast of other musicians and singers. Despite the passage of time, this album seems to logically follow 1977’s Listen Now and 1978’s K-Scope, a bit mellower perhaps (something to do with aging) and with a more multi-cultural sound as is the fashion of late. (Manzanera did spend his childhood in Cuba and South America, so Latin touches come naturally to him.)
6pm (2004) includes contributions from Brian Eno, Robert Wyatt, Chrissie Hynde, David Gilmour, Bill MacCormick, Andy Mackay and more. Manzanera feels that this album is unconsciously allied to his first solo album, 1975’s Diamond Head. Yet you could package 6pm and Vozero together as a 2CD set and they would sound like they belong together. This is the U.S. digipack edition.
50 Minutes Later (2005, digipack) completes this trilogy. It also features fellow Roxy Music members Paul Thompson and Andy Mackay plus Robert Wyatt and Brian Eno. The songwriting and the richly-textured instrumental work are superb, with the second half of the album the more progressive rock-oriented. There is an experimental attitude throughout, and the positive vibe of the early hippy era is often present. Whether or not these albums are progressive rock is a moot point. If they aren’t prog rock, then they’re what rock should be.
Firebird V11 (2008, digipack) teams Manzanera with ex-Quiet Sun and This Heat drummer Charles Hayward, top Polish classical/jazz pianist Lezek Mozdzer, and renowned bassist Yaron Stavi. This album was inspired by the red and white Gibson Firebird V11 guitar, Manzanera’s signature guitar and one with which he’s had a 35-year musical partnership. Firebird V11 is almost entirely instrumental and evokes the days of Quiet Sun, Diamond Head, and the instrumental side of 801 Live. Quiet Sun alumnus Bill MacCormick contributed one track; MacCormick’s and Hayward’s tracks were in fact written in 1970 for Quiet Sun’s Mainstream album but until now were never recorded. The music is a bit mellower now, with more jazz and classical touches, but this is a different band. So while it may not be exactly Mainstream part 2, with this album, Manzanera is giving his long-time fans what they want.
The Wasted Lands CD (1999, 74-minutes) was compiled from the soundtrack of the film of the same name. It’s Manzanera’s most ambient and relaxing album, but that’s not to suggest the music is of the abstract, boring sort. It remains melodic and often rhythmic and easily stands on its own apart from the film.
Check our DVDs page for Marillion DVDs.
Marillion’s 15th studio album Happiness Is the Road (2008) is actually a 110-minute double album split into two separate CDs. Happiness Is the Road Volume 1 is subtitled Essence while Volume 2 is subtitled The Hard Shoulder. Both contain all new material. A new creative streak of writing and producing music was captured in the studio and fans will not be disappointed. “They still sound like Marillion but, dare we say it, a better, bolder Marillion... All in all then, it’s beautifully rendered, touching and telling. Happy days.” [Classic Rock]
Beginning with Marillion’s late 1990s albums, some of Marillion’s original fans began to lose interest as the band seemed to want to distance themselves from progressive rock. But Marillion began a resurgence with Marbles (2004). The inexpensive version here is the U.S. single-CD edition with the bonus video of Don’t Hurt Yourself.
Marillion’s 2007 studio album Somewhere Else continued with similar strengths as Marbles, spawning two hit singles and giving the band their first UK top 30 album in ten years. This 2011 Madfish edition comes in a 36-page digibook reworked by the original designer and features unseen pictures not used in the original artwork.
For 1999’s Marillion.com, Marillion used the Internet to ask fans to send them passport pictures of themselves; 732 of these were then used to make up the artwork for this album. Five of the nine tracks were mixed by Steven Wilson. This 2011 Madfish edition comes in a deluxe 36-page digibook with artwork reworked by the original designer. The book features unseen pictures not used in the original artwork.
Tales from the Engine Room (1998) contains interesting remixes of six songs from This Strange Engine in the electronica style.
These are the remastered editions on the Esoteric label. Initially folk-based, the British band Marsupilami evolved into one of the most adventurous if unsung bands of the early 1970s, producing two of the best British proto-prog albums. Marsupilami drew comparisons to contemporaries such as Gracious or East of Eden, but the ‘proto’ qualifier is not as necessary with Marsupilami as it is for many bands of that era, as Marsupilami’s albums are truly progressive rock.
Their self-titled 1970 debut features lots of flute and organ in addition to guitar, bass, drums and vocals. Arena (1971), their second, adds more instruments including Mellotron, but still relies heavily on organ. This ambitious concept album was produced by Peter Bardens (Camel).
Eve (2010) is the fourth studio album for Mary Jane, a band formed in Southampton, England in 1993. Mary Jane (who are related to the band Zaney Janey) are the current kings of progressive/psychedelic/electric folk-rock (or as they say, electrifying folk-rock), and by that we mean the style of Spriguns, Mellow Candle, and Spirogyra, and Eve is as good as any album by those bands. Except that with a playing time of 63-minutes, it’s as good as any two albums by those bands. Mary Jane have excellent female vocals, use lots of violin as well as flute, mandolin and recorders alongside electric & acoustic guitars, bass, and drums. About half the songs are traditional, half self-penned. One must mention Steeleye Span and Pentangle, though Mary Jane are proggier and have that psych-folk edge. This music brushes up against the folkier side of Renaissance and should appeal to many fans of Jethro Tull and Solstice. Listen to Eve, Twa Corbies, Clonakilty, and Let the Fire Begin.
Solstice (2014) is every bit as good as Eve. Be thankful a band making this music even exists in the present day.
Brigit’s Daughter is a 27-song double-CD compilation released in 2011, subtitled The Early Years 1996-2002. The tracks were chosen by the band and are drawn from the albums Hazy Days, Zaney Janey, The Gates of Silent Memory, Tacit (which contained live sessions), and To the Prettiest One, plus one previously unreleased track. The Mary Jane history may put these albums in some sort of perspective. Reviewers often compared Mary Jane’s earlier albums to those of the legendary band Trees.
Robert Wyatt formed legendary Canterbury band Matching Mole in 1971, shortly after he left Soft Machine and prior to embarking on his solo career. The lineup for their 1972 first album included Phil Miller (later Hatfield and the North, National Health) on guitar, Dave Sinclair (Caravan) on keyboards, and Bill MacCormick (later Quiet Sun, 801) on bass. This is the expanded 2CD edition on Esoteric, newly remastered from the original master tapes. The bonus material includes five previously unreleased studio session alternate takes, the single versions of O Caroline and Signed Curtain, and two BBC Radio One sessions from 1972. The booklet restores all original artwork and includes an essay by Sid Smith. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 2008 edition of this CD on the Esoteric label, known for their superb remastering jobs. Mellow Candle are legendary in the psych-folk world, and their 1972 sole LP is often considered to be the psychedelic progressive folk-rock album. The album had just enough trad-style folk to appeal to fans of Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, Steeleye Span, etc., but the album is dominated by mystical, medieval atmospheres and a progressive rock aesthetic, a thing of beauty. Mellow Candle featured the young female Irish singers Clodagh Simonds and Alison Williams, who had moved from Dublin to London when the album was recorded. They toured in support of Thin Lizzy (Simonds appeared on Lizzy’s album Shades of a Blue Orphanage) and Horslips, but their existence was short-lived. Clodagh Simonds went on to work with Mike Oldfield and Jade Warrior. This release makes one wonder what could have been had Mellow Candle continued. Read the DPRP review. Listen to Heaven Heath and Sheep Season.
Mentaur were a British heavy neo-prog band who released several albums on cassette between 1989-1993, recorded on a shoestring budget. This CD compiles material from all their albums, remixed for this release. Think early Pallas and Arena with some heavy riffing added. Out-of-print, last copies.
Mermaid Kiss is a British band comprised of Jamie Field on guitar (mostly acoustic) and backing vocals; Andrew Garman on keys, bass and drums; Nigel Hooton on electric and acoustic guitar; and at the center of their sound, singer Evelyn Downing, who also adds flute. Their crowning achievement is their 2007 album Etarlis, which unfortunately is out-of-print on CD, available only as a download. Kate Belcher sings on three songs, Troy Donockley (ex-Iona) guests on uilleann pipes, and Jonathan Edwards (Panic Room) guests with a keyboard solo. Etarlis is a stunning, epic album that often sounds as if Loreena McKennitt had turned her talents to symphonic rock. Some tracks are pure symphonic prog, most are full of mystical atmospheres and sophisticated textures, and there are Celtic and folk elements. With guest Wendy Marks adding cor anglais, oboe, and recorders, some tracks brush up against Karda Estra. All told, it is absolutely spellbinding and gorgeous. Recommended to fans of Kate Bush, Iona, Karnataka, Kara, October Project, and Clannad.
Salt on Skin (2006) contains seven tracks totaling 30-minutes, so call it an EP or a short album. The lead vocals here are split between Evelyn Downing, Kate Belcher, and Kate Emerson. Most bands would be fortunate to call any one of these singers their own. Unlike Etarlis, Salt on Skin has few of the Celtic or real folk elements, nor is it as epic and progressive, but it is still heaven for those who love beautiful female vocals. The variety of singers is a big part of the pleasure of this album. Paul Davies (ex-Karnataka) guests. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
The Mermaid Kiss Album (2003, 53-minutes) is their debut. It features Evelyn Downing’s vocals throughout. It’s not really a debut because the trio of Downing, Field, and Garman had previously recorded albums under Evelyn’s name. The Mermaid Kiss Album is again more conventional than Etarlis but is still a beautiful album of softer music that transcends genres, mixing progressive, pop, ambient, acoustic, and singer-songwriter styles. Mermaid Kiss simply don’t sound like any of the many other bands that features female vocals.
Colin Mold founded the band Kara, is currently the guitarist in Karnataka, and is an associate member of Magicfolk. Mold’s first solo CD Water of Divinities (2007) is every bit as good as the Kara CD and has many similarities. It began as a collection of instrumental pieces designed around the story of Saint Alban and ended up as a mix of vocal pieces and instrumentals. Mold sings and plays acoustic & electric guitars and synths. Jo Marriot plays flute on two tracks and Steve Barfoot plays drums on one. It is soft progressive rock with similarities to Camel, Gordon Giltrap, Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett, Clannad and others.
On his second CD Girl on the Castle Steps (2012), Mold sings and plays electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, and violin and is joined by a full-time drummer (who adds pipes on one track), and Iona’s Martin Nolan guesting on whistles. Cindy L. Spear, who has also worked with Iona and Mandalaband, wrote the lyrics of four songs. You want the short description? How about Pendragon meets Fairport Convention? The songs at their core are in the best British Isles singer-songwriter folk tradition, and with the violin naturally suggest modern Fairport Convention, but Mold’s songs are more poignant and epic. These folky songs begin with symphonic synth pads and Clannad-like atmospheres, then build to majestic sympho-prog climaxes, with Mold’s lyrical electric guitar soaring like Nick Barrett’s or Mike Oldfield’s. Mandalaband, Iona, and Barclay James Harvest are good reference points. Watch the videos for the songs Realm of the Free and By the Lake.
Now You See Me (2014, digipack) is Mold’s third, with the lyric writing split between Mold and Spear. “While nowhere near the hyper-complex poly-rhythmic prog-rock that we all enjoy, the music of Colin Mold is utterly honest, oozing from a sensitive soul who expresses himself with a great amount of humility, originality and personality. Having been a music teacher as well as a touring member of Karnataka proves that he possesses chops and skills that are clearly beyond the ordinary. His guitar playing is exemplary, a style that is passionate and highly compact, somewhere between Steve Hackett and Iona’s Dave Bainbridge, while he handles symphonic keyboards as well as occasional piano and uses the violin to heighten the effects that he wishes to depict. Lyrically, he also depends on Cindy L. Spear to provide some emphasis to Colin’s picturesque yet simply expressed instrumentals, exuding just the right amount of sonic grandeur and preciousness. But where Colin Mold really outclasses the competition in the singer-songwriter category is his drop-dead beautiful voice, an extremely expressive delivery as well as a tone that is plainly amazing. He sings with great passion, not just obvious skill... Colin owns a warm, suave, suggestive, passionate, fragile yet powerful tone that seems to emote very convincingly, at least to my ears. Listening to it is sheer panacea, a healing disposition that never fails to amaze and charm... I always get the impression, a rare one I must admit, that he is singing for just me, so how could I not be enthused?” Read the full review at Prog Archives. Watch the videos for Eye of the Wind, Blue Wings, and Will We Ever Return. These are among the loveliest and most seductive soft progressive CDs we’ve heard in some time.
“Fans of Iona, October Project, Clannad, Mostly Autumn and Magenta will now be able to add the name Kara to the fold of Celtic-inspired progressive folk-rock bands that have become increasingly popular recently.” Thus begins the review of Kara’s 2005 debut CD at Sea of Tranquility. We’d add Karnataka to the list. On this CD, Kara is a trio of Colin Mold (guitars, keys, vocals), Kirsta Johnston (lead vocals, recorders, flute, keys), and Steve Barfoot (drums, vocals). They have the sound of a larger ensemble. The term “folk” is often used in reviews, but Kara are no more folk than Mike Oldfield or Renaissance, which few folkies recognize as folk music. Mike Oldfield is an especially good reference for Kara because of the excellent electric guitar leads as well as acoustic work of Colin Mold, while the atmospheric synth pads that underpin it all are reminiscent of Clannad. Yes, Kara do cover one English traditional song, the ever-popular She Moved Through the Fair, but Kara’s arrangement is instrumental and would have fit well on the Robin of Sherwood soundtrack. Wonderful music hidden beneath a pedestrian cover. “This is an excellent album, all the members are multi-instrumentalists, and of the nine tracks on the CD, there really is not a weak one among them. As a musical reference, think early Mostly Autumn with their Celtic influence but without the longer epic tracks.” [Classic Rock Society] Read the in-depth review at Musical Discoveries.
Don’t be too misled by the title. This album, recorded in 1997/98 by the former keyboardist for Curved Air, 801, Sky, and others, is a rock album, some of which is progressive and some of which is blues-based. But most early-1970s rock was blues-based, and that’s the style Monkman goes for here. The liner notes are sparse and Monkman isn’t saying who if anyone else plays on this album, but Monkman is also a guitarist, and here he concentrates on electric guitar. That’s Monkman singing too; the vocals are gruff and wisely buried in the mix most of the time, and sometimes intentionally distorted. At nearly 80-minutes, the album has room to be inconsistent, but there is at least one normal length album of good material here.
In the realm of lesser-known bands, The Morrigan are one of our favorites. As the band overview on Prog Archives reads: “The Morrigan’s music is a lively mixture of traditional [Anglo-]Celtic folk with prog rock, sometimes leaning heavily in either direction. Their sound is distinctly original and full of magic vocals, their music made up of warm melodies wrapped up in rich arrangements (sometimes of their own composition, sometimes rearranged traditional folk songs). Imagine a heavier Steeleye Span and then move them up a notch on the prog scale... The Morrigan’s music is accessible and leans on the harder, rockier side of folk with full-blown prog structures, complex arrangements and excellent musicianship.” It’s important to make the distinction between what The Morrigan do and the music of Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span. The latter combine trad folk and rock, but The Morrigan combine trad folk with progressive rock, and they do both styles convincingly. As such, they are nearly a unique band. The Spirit of the Soup (1985) is from the band’s early days as a trio with no drummer, recorded on a Portastudio and remastered in 1999. Wreckers (1996) was their first album recorded for the English Garden label, followed by Masque (1997). Visit The Morrigan’s site for reviews and mp3’s and read reviews at Prog Archives.
Multi-instrumentalist Colin Masson is one of the founding members of The Morrigan. On his 2001 solo CD Isle of Eight, he is assisted by The Morrigan’s singer Cathy Alexander. The album combines the styles of The Morrigan and Mike Oldfield. Read reviews at Prog Archives and Ground and Sky. Listen to the title track. These are all the MALS label editions.
Mostly Autumn DVDs can be found on our DVDs page.
Mostly Autumn are one of the most successful British indie prog bands of the modern era, and are previous winners of the British Classic Rock Society award for Best New Band. They began in the late 1990s, taking the most melodic and majestic elements of Pink Floyd, leaving out the boring and depressing bits, stirring in a little Steve Hackett and pastoral Genesis. They write glorious choruses and deliver it all with great female and male vocals. More so on the early albums, they perfectly integrated Anglo-Celtic folk influences and traditional instruments. Their sound has continued to evolve, shifting toward rock and away from the Celtic and more pastoral elements beginning with their 2003 CD Passengers. One constant has been that their music is from the heart, something sorely lacking in many current prog bands. Their first three albums are our favorites: For All We Shared (1998), The Spirit of Autumn Past (1999), and The Last Bright Light (2001). Unfortunately these CDs are in limbo due to contractual issues. We consider The Last Bright Light to be the band’s finest achievement. Listen to Shrinking Violet and Mother Nature.
This is the single CD edition of Sight of Day (2017, digisleeve); the 2CD limited edition is sold out. Angela Gordon (flute, keys) makes her long-awaited return, and multi-instrumentalist/singer Chris Johnson makes his first appearance since Heart Full of Sky. Troy Donockley guests as he usually does, along with first-time guest Anna Phoebe (violin). Sight of Day is much more upbeat than its predecessor. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Dressed in Voices (2014) is the most melancholy and ominous-sounding Mostly Autumn album, though it wouldn’t be Mostly Autumn if it didn’t also possess uplifting qualities. Classic Rock Presents Prog says: “Dressed in Voices is a stunning, inventive work, lifting Mostly Autumn to a new stratum. It has so much variety and passion, both in the music and the narrative, that it takes a few bites to even begin to get to grips with the content. In some ways, it’s a movie waiting to happen, and the visual aspect of this tale is remarkably brought to the surface by the musical construction. More than anything, Mostly Autumn have set the bar extremely high for themselves, and this might be the start of a fresh season for them.” Also read the Progulator review. Listen to First Day at School, which should whet your appetite sufficiently.
The Ghost Moon Orchestra (2012) is Mostly Autumn’s second studio album with Olivia Sparnenn as lead singer. While keyboardist Iain Jennings rejoined Mostly Autumn in time to play on the previous album, being present from the beginning of this album means his contributions are more significant. His contributions to the early albums may have been overlooked, and his departure in 2005 did hurt the band, so it’s good to have him back in the fold. Read the Trebuchet Magazine review. Listen to Wild Eyed Skies and This Ragged Heart.
Prior to Mostly Autumn’s 2010 studio album Go Well Diamond Heart, Heather Findlay left to focus on family and solo career, but Mostly Autumn were ready to promote from within. Olivia Sparnenn has taken over as lead singer. (Olivia was also the singer for Iain Jennings’ band Breathing Space.) Not only have Mostly Autumn lost nothing with this transition, they’ve arguably made their best album since The Last Bright Light. Read the reviews at SoundLust and Harmonic Lizard.
Still Beautiful: Live 2011 is a double-CD recorded early on Mostly Autumn’s 2011 tour, their first live album with Olivia Sparnenn as lead singer. It includes two songs that only appeared on the 2CD special edition of Go Well Diamond Heart (sold only by the band and no longer available) as well as the Breathing Space song Questioning Eyes.
At the time of their 2008 studio CD Glass Shadows, Mostly Autumn had become something of a revolving door, with just about everyone other than Bryan Josh and Heather Findlay leaving the band, but guitarist Liam Davison and keyboardist Iain Jennings returned after the album was recorded. The band added singer and flute player Anne-Marie Helder (ex-Karnataka), and so Mostly Autumn were stockpiling talented female vocalists, a prescient move. The line-up that recorded Glass Shadows is Josh, Findlay, Helder, Olivia Sparnenn (harmony vocals), Andy Smith (bass) and Henry Bourne (drums), with Troy Donockley making his usual guest appearance on Uilleann pipes, low & penny whistles, string arrangement and programming. More than any previous Mostly Autumn CD, this one is dominated by Bryan and Heather, who did virtually all the writing and oversaw the mixing and mastering. Glass Shadows represents a return to form. After three CDs seeing them become more of a rock band, Mostly Autumn have to a great extent returned to their roots, restoring the folky, pastoral and delicate elements. They aren’t just re-treading old ground -- their sound now is different from the early days -- but they are again focusing on what made them a special band. Heather of course handles much more of the vocal duties now, and her voice is beguiling. All in all, Glass Shadows won’t displace The Last Bright Light as our favorite, but the ship is back on course.
Heart Full of Sky (2007) continues the darker and somewhat somber prevailing mood of Storms Over Still Water, but the music is ultimately hopeful, with an uplifting spiritual quality. The “heart” in the title is no coincidence, as the heart energy in their music is a distinguishing feature. This album benefits from some key guests, including Peter Knight (Steeleye Span) on violin, Troy Donockley (Iona) on Uilleann pipes and low whistle, and Anne-Marie Helder (ex-Karnataka) providing backing vocals. While original keyboardist Iain Jennings is gone, new member Chris Johnson makes large contributions, including several writing credits and a lead vocal. As with the previous album, there is too much depth here to make sense of it all in just a couple listens. Read reviews.
After three CDs on the Cyclops label and a number of CDs and DVDs on Classic Rock Productions, Mostly Autumn had grown to the point where they could run their own label. Following Passengers (2003, currently out-of-print), which saw a shift in Mostly Autumn’s sound toward rock and away from the Celtic and more delicate elements, the band released Storms Over Still Water (2005). As Executive Producer Bob Carruthers says, “Forget your busy 21st century life, make the time and space, turn the lights down, get in the groove with some mellow candlelight and a glass of your favorite tipple, and remember to take the phone off the hook”. The rest of the world may be loading compressed files onto their iPods and using music as portable background noise, but one can’t enjoy the full scope of this work without sitting still and paying attention. The sound of this album is darker than any previous, and the band has gone for a more modern sounding production. The first half of Storms Over Still Water contains the shorter, direct songs, while the second half contains the epics and the instrumentals, and this is where several listens are required before it all sinks in.
Storms Over London Town is the live CD from the Storms Over Still Water CD release concert at the London Astoria on 4 June 2005, which featured guests Troy Donockley, Rachel Jones (ex-Karnataka), Olivia Sparnenn, and Ben Matthews. It features the tracks Out of the Green Sky, Broken Glass, Answer the Question, Black Rain, Never the Rainbow, Distant Train, Evergreen, Carpe Diem, Finlandia, Storms Over Still Water, and The Spirit of Autumn Past (part 1).
Between them, the Live 2009 Part I and Part II CDs (digisleeves) present the entire set of Mostly Autumn’s 2009 live show, in the same order that the songs were performed. The band says they seriously believe these are the definitive versions of many of their songs, that they have just evolved beautifully with the strength of this line-up. Part I contains Fading Colours, Caught in a Fold, Flowers for Guns, Unoriginal Sin, Simple Ways, The Spirit of Autumn Past - Part II, Half the Mountain, Evergreen. Part II contains Winter Mountain, The Dark Before the Dawn, Answer the Question, The Last Bright Light, Above the Blue, Nowhere to Hide, Broken Glass, Never the Rainbow, Pocket Watch, Tearing at the Faerytale, Carpe Diem, Heroes Never Die.
Josh & Co. Limited - Through These Eyes (2009, 55-minutes) is the first solo album for Bryan Josh, the leader/guitarist/singer/composer of Mostly Autumn. Josh is assisted by Gavin Griffiths on drums and singer Olivia Sparnenn. But Josh is the primary vocalist here, and partly for that reason, Through These Eyes has more of the feel of the first two Mostly Autumn albums than the last few Mostly Autumn albums have. Those who’ve followed Mostly Autumn know that Josh initially handled most of the vocals, gradually shifting the workload to Heather Findlay as she blossomed into a fine singer. So consider early Mostly Autumn songs such as The Spirit of Autumn Past and Please as good reference points. Fans of Mostly Autumn have probably figured out that Josh is a big David Gilmour and Pink Floyd fan, and that is the biggest influence present. This is an album of heartfelt songs with an innate spirituality and their own special magic, from a songwriter of uncommon talent. For true Mostly Autumn fans, this CD is not optional. Read the DPRP review.
See the related band Stolen Earth below.
The English Way (2009) and Energy (2013) are the second and third albums respectively for English quintet Mother Black Cap. If the prevailing trend in British prog at this time is represented by The Reasoning, DeeExpus, Touchstone, Tinyfish, etc., then Mother Black Cap run counter to it. For one, these CDs have a live, underproduced sound, and the music is often relaxed and flowing, more so on The English Way as Energy lives up to its name and gets downright raucous at times. With electric piano and Hammond organ the dominant keyboards, the sound is more oriented to 1970s prog and early-80s neo-prog. Camel could be mentioned, and the band have been known to play covers of other early 1970s bands including Pink Floyd and Focus. Some tracks are closer to the likes of Grey Lady Down and Grace. Energy features additional musicians on trumpet, flugelhorn, fiddle, and vocals. A few tracks on Energy bring to mind the great Horslips, and the final track borrows from the instrumental section of MacArthur Park (one of the earliest prog songs). Not copyists, and not entirely a retro band, but MBC make warm, inviting music for fans of very English-sounding (and since we mentioned Horslips, Irish-sounding) prog. Read the Background Magazine review of Energy.
Unsongs (2016, digipack) is the debut CD for Mancunians Mothertongue, the most Cardiacs-like band to come out of England since the beloved Cardiacs. (Not that any other country could have produced Cardiacs.) ““Let’s hope they don’t notice how little sense it makes before they release it,” said Mothertongue drummer John Simm of their debut LP on signing to Bad Elephant. It was a fair point. Much of Unsongs makes no sense at all. Single songs span several different subgenres, and stated influences include imaginary numbers, science fiction, and dinosaurs. All of which is unsurprising, perhaps, for a ‘random collection of musicians’ with a collective propensity for hopping from gypsy cabaret to ska to indie prog to Sensational Alex Harvey Band-esque madness. A lot is crammed in, weaved into tight proggy timings that slickly change by the minute... For ears that relish glorious chaos, look no further than Unsongs.” [Prog magazine] Also read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review.
British prog band Mr. So & So was formed in 1989 by Dave Foster and Shaun McGowan, who shared a passion for Yes, Genesis, The Who, and The Beatles. They remain the band’s principal songwriters. They recruited the rest of the band and released three CDs during the 1990s, then went dormant until Dave and Shaun recruited new members and released their comeback album Sugarstealer in 2009. In the current Mr. So & So, vocal duties are divided between McGowan and Charlotte Evans. This band has been flying way too far under the radar given their talents. There has been a Yes influence in Mr. So & So’s music from the start, but many other influences as well. They supported Marillion on one tour, and Steve Rothery guested on 1998’s The Overlap and released it on his label. Read the Musical Discoveries, Sea of Tranquility, and Prog Archives reviews of Sugarstealer.
Truths, Lies & Half Lies (digipack) is Mr. So & So’s 2013 album. Mr. So & So have the British songwriting DNA, a knack for infectious melodies that now seems to belong to an earlier era, given the trend toward cheerless, pseudo-serious dirge-prog. The music in this incarnation of Mr. So & So is more mature and polished, all class and quality, and instantly likeable.
This 2008 CD by English band Multifuse is one we’re quite fond of, appreciating it more with each listen. The music is centered on the keyboards of Peter Fallowell and the vocals of Cherie Emmitt, often multi-tracked to perfection. Fallowell favors electric piano most (think Supertramp), acoustic piano second, while also playing guitar, drums, and adding some vocals. Tom Allen plays bass, while the live band is considerably larger, with about a dozen people on stage. Two comparisons suggest themselves, the first being Curved Air (without the violin), partly because Emmitt’s voice is a bit similar to Sonja Kristina’s. The second is Illusion (the Jane Relf Renaissance). Both are only approximations, but the key is that Multifuse have a 1970s style prog sound, and those who began their prog listening after the 70s may never fully understand the particular quality of the 70s bands that is often missing from later music. The six-part, 25-minute piece Yours Again that concludes the CD is something special. It’s become common these days for bands to record 20+ minute epics when they’ve yet to write a convincing 4-minute song, and you just wish those long tracks would end already. But like Supper’s Ready, Yours Again is made up of a number of songs or partial songs that are interesting in their own right, with no filler. One reminds us of Rupert Hine’s early 1980s work. Fallowell is an expat living in France, and maybe it’s just coincidence, but near the end of Yours Again, you’re treated to some Magma/Eskaton style singing and music reminiscent of Minimum Vital circa Esprit d’Amor.
“This is an album that took a few listens before it started to really speak to me, but after investing that time, I really like it now. It’s deceptively simple-sounding on first listen, though deeper levels of complexity start revealing themselves after a few spins. If Journey to the Nesting Place turns out to be Multifuse’s only album, at least it was quite the masterpiece. If not, then it will be hard to top. I really enjoyed this album and suggest it to those who don’t need crunchy electric guitars, screaming vocals, scads of Mellotron or distorted Hammond to make it feel ‘prog’ to them. Good stuff.” [Fred Trafton, Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock]
Part of the British progressive revival, Welsh prog band Multi Story released their first LP East/West in 1985. We must’ve liked it because it became the second CD released on the Kinesis label (or whatever we were calling the label in 1992). The key members of the quintet are writing partners Rob Wilsher (keyboards) and Paul Ford (vocals). There was a second Multi-Story LP (there used to be a hyphen in their name), 1987’s Through Your Eyes, with a different singer, but don’t fret too much if you’ve never heard it as it’s a fairly tepid AOR affair. More recently, Wilsher and Ford got the creative juices flowing again and started working on new material as a duo. The material was nearing completion when Rob met brothers Jordan and Aedan Neale on another music project, which sparked the idea of reworking the material to accommodate a full band and fire up the Multi Story machine again. Bassist Kyle Jones completed the new lineup, and the band began gearing up for live dates. With the key original members in charge, Crimson Stone (2016) resembles East/West except that while the latter contained mostly short songs, Crimson Stone has mostly long tracks, only one under five minutes. If you’re not familiar with East/West (it’s out-of-print), the music was closer to Yes than to Genesis/Marillion, which set Multi-Story apart from the other neo-prog bands. The Yes influence may be more imagined than real though, the similarity between Paul Ford’s and Jon Anderson’s voices having much to do with the perception. To rerun an old quote from CD Services: “The band actually sound similar to Yes but not in the clone way that Starcastle did, more like imagining that if Yes existed in a parallel universe, this might be the musical direction they could have taken. This is how they might sound, only with a bit more variation and less intensity, but still with a sound full of rich textures and excellent compositions plus good vocals from Paul Ford. This UK band had the potential to be big during the second phase of prog rock in the 1980s, but like many other excellent bands, it never quite happened.”
Live at Acapela (2017) is a double-CD recorded at Cardiff’s Acapela Studios as a finale to Multi Story’s 2016 tour. The album features tracks from all three Multi Story albums: East/West, Through Your Eyes, and Crimson Stone. Meanwhile, the band is working on material for their next studio album (apparently taking this notion of 21st century prog seriously).
Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me is the 2016 debut by The Mute Gods, a new band signed to InsideOut whose members are all renowned prog musicians. The band leader is bassist, Chapman Stick player, and vocalist Nick Beggs (Steve Hackett, Steven Wilson, Lifesigns, Lonely Robot,...). Beggs is helped most by long-time Steve Hackett collaborator and keyboardist Roger King. Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, UK, The Aristocrats,...) plays the drums on most of the tracks. Guests include Adam Holzman, Frank Van Bogaert (Fish on Friday), Ricky Wilde, Rob Reed, Nick D’Virgilio, and Gary O’Toole. The label says the album is “a mercurial journey that seamlessly shifts between the realms of progressive rock and adventurous pop.” Watch the official videos for the title track, Feed the Troll, Father Daughter, Nightschool for Idiots, and Praying to a Mute God.
Unlike the debut album with its many guests, Beggs chose to keep Tardigrades Will Inherit the Earth (2017) to the core trio, ensuring a laser focus and consistency throughout. Roger King, the album’s keyboardist and producer, also works with Beggs on Hackett’s sold-out world tours. King has long been Hackett’s right-hand man, serving in production, arrangement, and writing capacities. Marco Minnemann, considered one of the top drummers of our time, has worked with Beggs extensively on many Steven Wilson tours and recordings. Watch the video for We Can’t Carry On. Read The Prog Report review. Both of these titles are the U.S. jewel case edition.
These are the 2009 24-bit remastered editions on Esoteric Recordings, known for their superb remastering jobs. National Health was the continuation of Hatfield and the North, with keyboardist Dave Stewart assuming more control. Both their 1977 self-titled debut and Of Queues and Cures (1978) are essential progressive rock records, two of the most revered albums to come out of the Canterbury scene.
Nautilus are a British progressive quartet (guitars/keys/bass/drums) with a distinctive style. What Colours the Sky in Your World? is a reissue of their 2004 debut, which the band had originally released themselves. This one is entirely instrumental, the music somewhere between progressive rock and space rock, somewhat dark and somewhat quirky, with the keyboards usually remaining subtle while the guitars do the heavy lifting. There are slight similarities to 1970s King Crimson and Pink Floyd, the former for the angular guitar and the latter for the spaciness. But while space rock is known for monotony, Nautilus’ music often changes mood and tempo within each track. Read the DPRP reviews. Listen to Ghosts in the Wind.
We love this record, first released on LP in 1984, with a first CD issue that was deleted before anyone could buy it, and now this 2014 remastered and expanded CD edition on Esoteric. If you’re not familiar with this album, you may want to read its Wikipedia entry or the AllMusic review to understand the full story. It is both a comedy and a music album, and stands alone as either. Neil, played by actor Nigel Planer, is the hippie character from UK comedy series The Young Ones (1982-84). The man behind the music is none other than Dave Stewart (Egg, Hatfield and the North, National Health). The cast of musicians is reasonably astounding: Gavin Harrison, Pip Pyle, Jakko Jakszyk, Rick Biddulph, Jimmy Hastings, Annie Whitehead, Barbara Gaskin, and Bryson Graham (Mainhorse, Spooky Tooth). On the comedy side, Stephen Fry and Dawn French make appearances. The songs are mostly covers of prog and pysch nuggets, to mention a few: Caravan’s Golf Girl, Hole in My Shoe (Traffic), and My White Bicycle (Tomorrow). In some regards, these are better than the originals because of Dave Stewart’s arrangements. What makes a song “prog” is largely down to the arrangement, especially evidenced by the version here of Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man. Quotes from The Court of the Crimson King and Strawberry Fields Forever pop up in other songs. Esoteric have added four bonus tracks. Three were only on the cassette version of the album, and one is the B-side of the Hole in My Shoe single.
The CDs in this group are all the 2011-2014 editions on Cleopatra’s Purple Pyramid label. Recycled (1975) is our favorite Nektar album. The audio here appears to be identical to the 2004 edition on Eclectic/Dream Nebula, which was remastered from the original tapes. It contains a complete second mix of the album as a bonus. Recycled was originally mixed by Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick at Air Studios in London. Emerick chose to mix down the significant contribution by synth wizard Larry Fast (Synergy). Further work and overdubs were subsequently added and the album’s feel changed considerably, notably due to the now audible presence of Fast’s synth work.
This 2012 digipack double-CD reissues both Man in the Moon (1980) and Evolution (2004) plus the 2005 EP Always. Man in the Moon was Nektar’s final album until reforming in 2001. Roye Albrighton had left Nektar and was absent on Magic Is a Child, then Roye assembled “Roye Albrighton’s Nektar” including keyboardist Taff Freeman and two new musicians. The LP was not released in the U.S. though the band did tour here, so with the striking cover, the LP was sought by American Nektar fans. This is the weakest of the Nektar albums (at least prior to Nektar’s comeback), featuring more AOR / commercial hard rock than prog. Roye was doing what was necessary for a band to survive in 1980, but the album does have its moments, and the Nektar feel is often there. The two bonus tracks from the 2002 Voiceprint edition are included; presumably the audio is identical to that version, which was remastered from the original master tapes by the team behind the Esoteric label. Check above for Grand Alliance, Roye’s 1983 project.
Evolution was the second album for the reformed Nektar. The lineup here includes original members Roye Albrighton, Taff Freeman, and Ron Howden, plus bassist Randy Dembo. It’s a big improvement over the previous album The Prodigal Son (2001), and while it goes without saying that Evolution is no Recycled or Remember the Future, it is a respectable comeback. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Always was a 2005 EP that includes two single edits and two live in the studio versions of tracks from Man in the Moon and Evolution.
The audio on the first disc in this 2014 2CD digipack edition of Magic Is a Child should be identical to the previous edition on Dream Nebula, which was the first time it had been remastered for CD from the first generation master tapes. Magic Is a Child is Nektar’s 1977 studio album, which featured a young Brooke Shields as the cover model. By the time of this recording, guitarist Roye Albrighton had departed to be replaced by Dave Nelson. The drop in quality from Recycled is pretty drastic, but that’s due more to how great an album Recycled is. The bonus tracks on Disc One are a demo version of Away from Asgard, an alternate mix of On the Run, and most significantly, an alternate version of Train from Nowhere featuring contributions from Robert Fripp. Disc Two contains a live album: Live at Hofstra University New York 1977. The 8-panel digipack has extensive liner notes including new interviews with band members, rare photos, and more.
The audio on Down to Earth (1974) should be identical to previous edition on Dream Nebula, which was remastered from the original master tapes and includes seven bonus tracks. Six of the bonus tracks are the original mixes of tracks from the album done at Chipping Norton studios where the album was recorded. The album was later remixed at Dieter Dierks’ studio in Germany. The seventh bonus track consists of out-takes from Robert Calvert’s humorous ringmaster links. Following the spacey Remember the Future album, Down to Earth was exactly that, an album of shorter songs, but what great songs they are. As Roye Albrighton says, Down to Earth is Nektar’s Magical Mystery Tour.
The 40th Anniversary Edition of Nektar’s 1973 classic Remember the Future comes in a digipack and adds a bonus disc that includes three radio edits plus The 1970 Boston Tapes, the latter originally sold separately by the band as a “Collector’s Corner Subscription album”.
This 2CD edition of Sounds Like This comes in an 8-panel digipack. This album was recorded in 2-3 days in 1973 live in the studio, with no overdubs and little editing, so next to the other Nektar albums it sounds rather raw. This is Nektar as a (psychedelic) rock band and sounds close to their live shows of the era. The album offered Nektar an opportunity to record some of the songs they had written in the earliest months of the band, and songs such as A Day in the Life of a Preacher and Good Day have remained in their live set. Originally a 75-minute 2LP, the audio of the album proper is probably the same as the previous CD edition on Dream Nebula. The bonus material however is different, consisting of rare radio versions of two songs and 1971 live performances, early versions of six songs from Sounds Like This.
The audio on the first disc of Nektar’s 1972 classic A Tab in the Ocean is most likely identical to the 2004 edition on Dream Nebula, which was taken from the original master tapes. It contains both the original 1972 German mix of the album plus the 1976 U.S. mix. The second disc in this 2CD digipack reissue contains previously-unreleased live recordings from November 1971 in Darmstadt, Germany. Nektar perform all the tracks from Tab apart from King of Twilight in longer versions than what would end up on the studio album. Additionally, there is a 1973 live in the studio version of Desolation Valley / Waves.
Nektar’s 1971 first album Journey to the Centre of the Eye is their most psychedelic and spacey. The label says that the audio has been remastered. This 2CD reissue adds a bonus disc containing an official bootleg recording of the entire album performed live in 1971 at Bessunger Turnhalle in Darmstadt, Germany.
A Spoonful of Time (2012) is a covers album that could be grouped with the Prog Collective and Fusion Syndicate CDs released earlier in the year in that it is an all-star project organized by Cleopatra Records and mixed by Billy Sherwood, with Nektar doing their recording in Sherwood’s studio. It’s under the Nektar brand name because Roye Albrighton sings throughout and the band produced the album, while Ron Howden played a lot of the drums and Klaus Henatsch is prominent on several tracks on Hammond and Mellotron. You can see the songs covered and the who’s who guest list at Power of Prog.
Book of Days is Nektar’s 2008 studio CD on the band’s own Treacle Music label. Original members Roye Albrighton and Ron Howden are joined by new members Peter Pichl on 5-string bass and Klaus Henatsch on keys, both from Hanover, Germany. This is arguably the best of the reformed (post-2000) Nektar albums. Some songs have a modern sound, but there is much of the old Nektar sound present, something the previous two albums needed more of. Listeners are guaranteed a couple flashbacks to Remember the Future.
The Prodigal Son was Nektar’s 2001 comeback album, though it sounds like it began as a Roye Albrighton solo album with Taff Freeman and Ray Hardwick brought in to play the keyboards and drums, respectively. This is the Bellaphon edition with the fold-out poster booklet.
This is the 2005 edition of Sunday Night at the London Roundhouse on Dream Nebula, expanded to a 2CD that contains the entire concert. Recorded on 25 November 1973 at this legendary London venue, it captures Roye Albrighton, Taff Freeman, Mo Moore and Ron Howden just prior to the release of Remember the Future. This edition has been remixed from the original 16-track master tapes by Paschal Byrne, Mark Powell and Roye Albrighton and also remastered, resulting in greatly improved sound. Read the Sea of Tranquility reviews.
Hopefully Bill Nelson is familiar to most prog fans, the one-time Be Bop Deluxe leader/guitarist who went on to release many albums under his own name, usually far removed from the Be Bop Deluxe style. The Esoteric label is remastering and reissuing some of Nelson’s extensive catalog. We’re not entirely keeping pace with them, but these are some of the more important titles.
This is the newly remastered edition on Esoteric of Iconography (1986), which was credited to Orchestra Arcana due to the contractual situation Bill found himself in with CBS Records. The music comprises recordings made at Bill’s Echo Observatory home studio in 1984 and 1985. While most of Nelson’s catalog is his peculiar brand of alt-pop, Iconography is one of his more experimental works: instrumental, predominantly synth/keyboard-based, using tape loops and found voices, a relic from the analog age. Bill reflected on the album thus: “Whilst these recordings are ‘lo-fi’ in nature, I have always been fond of them. These recordings serve as a reminder that expensive technology isn’t always the key to creativity.” This edition fully restores the original album artwork and features new notes by Bill Nelson. It also features two bonus tracks from the 1985 Sex Psyche Etc. EP.
Nelson’s 1986 album Getting the Holy Ghost Across was released in the U.S. in a semi-butchered edition under the name On a Blue Wing, due to record company meddling. The only previous CD issue was a 500 copy edition on Nelson’s own label. This 2013 edition on Esoteric was remastered and greatly expanded with the addition of the tracks from the Living for the Spangled Moment EP and the Wildest Dreams EP, both also from 1986. The booklet features fully restored artwork and a new essay. This is among the best Nelson solo works, generally comparable to later Japan (the band that gave us David Sylvian, Richard Barbieri, Mick Karn, and Steve Jansen). Read the Prognaut review of the previous edition.
After the Satellite Sings was originally released in 1995 and contains 16 tracks, only three of which are instrumentals. Nelson continues to reinvent himself here, and it’s one of his more popular solo works as he returns not only to singing but to playing a lot of guitar. This 2014 Esoteric edition has been remastered, while its booklet features fully restored artwork and a new essay.
Neutrons were an offshoot of Welsh band Man and included Gentle Giant drummer John Weathers in their lineup. They released only these two albums in 1974 & 1975, reissued by BGO on one CD with one bonus track. While Man was a guitar-based psych band, Neutrons made some real progressive rock and placed more emphasis on keyboards. Black Hole Star is the proggier of their two records, with some Gentle Giant mannerisms and Renaissance-style folkiness. Tales from the Blue Cocoons has more female vocals and moves closer to the clever art-pop of City Boy or 10cc. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Tom Newman was a founding member of the psychedelic group July as well as engineer and producer on many albums by Mike Oldfield, including Tubular Bells. Newman is best known for his album Faerie Symphony. Ozymandias is another of Newman’s progressive works. (He has albums in his catalog that are not prog.) “From 1986, Tom Newman’s Ozymandias is something of a lost masterpiece. Featuring a variety of inspired settings incorporating neo-classical, ambient and rock motifs, Tom provides a musical backdrop for the powerful and much acclaimed work of Percy B. Shelley.” [Voiceprint] The album is instrumental save one track. The music often has a feel similar to Bo Hansson, also Mike Oldfield at his spaciest.
Following their 2008 CD St Lo which was really a solo album by bandleader Adrian Jones, British/Dutch band Nine Stones Close began with Traces (2010), their first as a full working band. Jones apparently lives in Leiden in The Netherlands but is probably an expat given his name and the fact the other musicians on Traces are British. The music is very melancholy, brooding, and remorseful, with the obvious reference points being Pink Floyd, Brave-era Marillion, Porcupine Tree, The Pineapple Thief, Gazpacho, and American band Product.
One Eye on the Sunrise followed in 2012. Following a gestation period during which Jones released the Jet Black Sea album, Leaves (2016, digipack) sees Nine Stones Close with a new label (Bad Elephant) and a revamped lineup, now mostly Dutch musicians including Christiaan Bruin (The Black Codex) on keyboards. Drummer Pieter van Hoorn (Knight Area) remains, the new bass/Stick player is Peter Groen, while the new singer is Adrian O’Shaughnessy. Three Dutch guest musicians add violin, cello, and rhythm guitar. The previous albums were already dark, and this one is darker still.
Check above for the related band Jet Black Sea.
The Alchemy double-CD (2013, digipack) is the studio recording of Clive Nolan’s (Pendragon, Arena,...) new prog rock musical, the successor to his Caamora project. The musical is set in 1842 (in case the year affects your buying decision). The album features Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq, Strangers on a Train), Andy Sears (Twelfth Night), Paul Manzi (Arena), Damian Wilson, Paul Menel (ex-IQ), David Clifford (Red Jasper), Mark Westwood (Neo), Scott Higham (Pendragon), Claudio Momberg (SETI), and more. Move over, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Listen to the song Anzeray Speaks.
The DVD (NTSC, all-region) captures the live performance of Alchemy in February 2013 at the Wyspiański Theater in Katowice, Poland. It’s a bigger production than Nolan’s previous musical She but sees the return of many actors from that production. They’re aided by singers Tracy Hitchings, Andy Sears, Paul Manzi, David Clifford, and Damian Wilson, and musicians Mark Westwood (guitars), Scott Higham (drums), Claudio Momberg (piano), Kylan Amos (bass), and Nolan himself. The DVD also contains The Making of Alchemy documentary plus interviews with Nolan, Clifford, Higham, Westwood, and Agnieszka Świta. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio, 180 minutes. See the Alchemy website for more info. Watch the promo video.
She (2008) is the huge giant epic rock opera from Caamora, the project keyboardist Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Arena, Neo) had been laboring on for two years with Polish female singer Agnieszka Swita and guests Alan Reed (Pallas), Christina Booth (Magenta), Mark Westwood (Neo), John Jowitt (IQ, Neo), Scott Higham (Pendragon), Richard West (Threshold), Hugh McDowell (ELO), and others. It’s a rock opera all right -- Nolan has made Jesus Christ Progstar for the 21st century. One can hear the seeds of Caamora in Nolan’s Strangers on a Train and Shadowland albums, but Nolan has matured as a writer in the interim. His real forte is orchestrating, where he has few peers among active progressive rock musicians. Read the excellent DPRP review for much more detail.
The studio digipack 2CD contains the full studio version of She plus one bonus track that is not available on the jewel box version. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
The DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains the live premiere of She, filmed on 31 October 2007 in Poland, with almost all of the same musicians that appear on the studio recording and then some. A Making of She featurette is included as a bonus. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio, 160-minutes. This Limited Edition includes the DVD plus the double-CD live version of She in a lavish digipack DVD case. Counts as 2 CDs for shipping.
Agnieszka Swita is the Polish (female) singer, songwriter, and other core member of Clive Nolan’s Caamora Theatre Company, responsible for Alchemy in 2013 and She in 2007. Agnieszka’s first solo album Sleepless (2014) features Clive Nolan on keyboards, orchestrations, and backing vocals; Steve Harris (Ark, Paul Menel Band) on guitars, Andy Faulkner (Jump, Twelfth Night) on bass; and Dave Mackintosh on drums. The music and lyrics are all Agnieszka’s apart from the title track which is Nolan’s. Nolan produced while Karl Groom engineered, mixed, and mastered at Thin Ice Studios, home to Pendragon, Arena, and other British neo-prog bands. This album has that bombastic Thin Ice sound and sounds a lot like Arena with female vocals, or Caamora without the histrionics.
This is the 2009 North American edition of Oceansize’s 2007 album Frames (66-minutes), which includes the 2-hour Frames Live DVD (NTSC, all-region) containing a performance of the full album plus bonus behind-the-scenes footage. Oceansize are one of them young, modern arty rock bands who are sometimes considered progressive, depending on which track is playing and where one stands. A clue to their sound (and where their progressive credentials can fall short) is that they have room for three guitarists but no true keyboardist; a guitarist and the bassist add keyboards when they’re not too busy. Certainly most of Frames is outstanding modern prog along the lines of Radiohead and later Porcupine Tree: complex, dense arrangements; a richly-textured, sometimes lush sound palette; plenty of inventiveness. If the band eliminated a couple tracks that are little more than post rock or heavy rock, there would be little argument. Head to Prog Archives to read what the people say. (Congratulations to the band and label on the most useless CD booklet we’ve ever seen.)
One of the giants of progressive rock, Mike Oldfield’s later albums have gone largely unnoticed in the U.S., an indictment of the music industry (if one was needed). Music of the Spheres (2008, super jewel box) is Oldfield’s first completely orchestral album (no synths or electric guitar). It was written by Oldfield, orchestrated and conducted by Karl Jenkins (Adiemus, Soft Machine), and performed by the Sinfonia Sfera Orchestra (which includes a choir), with Oldfield playing classical guitar. Oldfield revisits themes from Tubular Bells on a couple songs, while others sound like an Adiemus album, but then Oldfield actually did the signature Adiemus style before Adiemus did. So it seems fitting that Oldfield and Jenkins have now worked together.
Crises, Incantations, and Hergest Ridge are the HDCD remastered editions that were released circa 2000 on Virgin and Caroline. Check our DVDs page for some of Oldfield’s DVDs.
Sleeping with Fractals (2013) is a surprisingly good debut from Manchester, England’s Ontofield. You can often hear Pendragon and early Marillion in the music, but it’s unlike the second-rate imitators of those bands that we all heard enough of during the 1990s. There are lots of other influences including more modern ones, and a distinct personality, while the British songwriting and melodic sense is much in evidence. For diehard neo-prog fans at least, Ontofield may be the best newcomer of the year. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Check our DVDs page for Ozric Tentacles’ Live at the Pongmaster’s Ball DVD.
Since they began in the mid-1980s, Ozric Tentacles have been the premier progressive psychedelic space-rock band. Technicians of the Sacred (2CD, 2015, digipack) is Ozric Tentacles’ first studio outing since 2011’s Paper Monkeys and their first double album since the classic Erpland in 1990. This is the original edition (SMACD1015). Listen to the album montage.
Paper Monkeys (digipack) is the 2011 studio CD from the Ozrics, still a force after 27 years or so. This is the original edition (SMACD979).
The YumYum Tree (digipack) is the Ozric’s 2009 studio CD. This is the original edition (SMACD958). Read the many reviews at Prog Archives.
The Floor’s Too Far Away (digipack) is Ozric’s 2006 studio CD. Ed Wynne is the only original member now, and he’s the primary creative force here. It’s another very good album for the band. It’s hard for Ozric Tentacles to break a lot of new ground as they’ve been at this for something like 23 years to this point, but their sound does evolve due to personnel changes at least. There are some tracks on The Floor’s Too Far Away that are nearly fusion!
Erpland (1990) is generally considered to be one of Ozric Tentacles’ best albums -- it’s the album that got us and a lot of others hooked. The album was remastered for this 2010 2-disc reissue on the Snapper label, which is limited to 3000 copies worldwide. Disc 2 is a DVD (NTSC, all-region) featuring the Brixton Fridge gig which was released on VHS tape long ago. The gig was recorded in May 1991 and features the classic lineup of Ed, Joie, Jon, Roly, Merv, and Paul Hankin. The set comes in a hardcover mediabook (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping).
Strangeitude (1991) is another classic Ozrics album, remastered for this 2010 hardcover mediabook edition on Snapper that has new sleeve notes from the band and adds a second CD of live recordings and alternate versions. (Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.)
This grouping are the 2003-2004 digipack reissues on Snapper Classics of Strangeitude (1991, SDPCD149), Live Underslunky (1992, SDPCD138), Curious Corn (1997, SDPCD151), Floating Seeds Remixed (1999, SDPCD162), and Swirly Termination (1998-2000, SDPCD139). Floating Seeds Remixed contains Ozrics tracks remixed by various people who do that sort of thing.
Pallas are a Scottish band usually mentioned in the same breath as Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, and Twelfth Night as leaders of the 1980s progressive revival in the UK. The Sentinel (1984) remains Pallas’ crowning achievement. Produced by Eddie Offord, it is one of the essential neo-prog albums. Arrive Alive is the CD reissue of their 1981 first LP (which was live) plus bonus tracks, plus their 1983 3-track studio EP Paris is Burning. For no apparent reason, the CD omits the song Heart Attack from the Arrive Alive LP. After the shorter title track, the Arrive Alive LP consisted of epic progressive tracks that, while a bit rough, were excellent material paving the way for The Sentinel. This is a cutout, with a slot sawed through the jewel box spine.
The Cross and the Crucible (2001) is a much better album than Beat the Drum (Pallas’s 1999 comeback album), a return to Pallas’s neo-prog roots. Like The Sentinel, it is an ambitious concept album with all the power and glory Pallas displayed in their early years. This is the hardcover limited edition.
The Blinding Darkness is an excellent 135-minute live double-CD recorded in The Netherlands in 2002. The performance includes material from The Cross and the Crucible all the way back to Arrive Alive.
At the beginning of this millennium, the Welsh band Karnataka were one of the most popular new progressive bands in the UK. In 2004, when they seemed destined to break through to greater success, they disbanded. The original band splintered into at least three new bands: one using the name Karnataka lead by founder Ian Jones, The Reasoning (who nabbed lead singer Rachel Jones), and Panic Room. Four-fifths of Panic Room (everyone but the bassist) are former Karnataka members. This is the jewel case edition of Visionary Position (2008, 65-minutes), the band’s debut album, which is not far removed from Karnataka. As before, the focus lies as much with singer Anne-Marie Helder’s powerful but controlled voice as with Jonathan Edwards’ symphonic keyboard parts. Visionary Position does sound like it is further developing the style of the original Karnataka, and is arguably more progressive. Anne-Marie is a wonderful singer (also multi-instrumentalist), and the electric violin from guest Liz Prendergast is a great touch. Now the dissolution of Karnataka no longer feels like a loss, as not only is this a tremendous album, Karnataka have seeded half the melodic prog bands in Britain. Out-of-print, last copies.
Satellite (2010) is their second studio CD. The essential difference between Visionary Position and Satellite is that the former was composed in the studio, but the songs proved a challenge to recreate live. The songs on Satellite were road-tested first, recorded in the studio second. That’s probably one reason why there is no violin on this one. The result is an album of polished shorter songs of symphonic/progressive-flavored melodic rock. Which is pretty much what most of the contemporary British prog bands play. It’s remarkable how Anne-Marie Helder has progressed from someone brought in to sing backing vocals in Karnataka to as good a female singer as you’ll find in rock today (and not a bad lyricist either). The band must recognize this, as her vocals are the centerpiece of every song. There are similarities to the band Breathing Space, who are also responsible for transforming a female backing singer from another band into a stellar lead vocalist, not to mention Magenta, Mostly Autumn, Karnataka, The Reasoning, and Touchstone. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Prog Archives reviews.
The Fabric (2010) is the debut CD of Parade, a band formed by Chris Johnson, guitarist for Fish, a member of Mostly Autumn for two years, and a member of Bryan Josh’s live band. Parade could be considered the fourth splinter band from the original Karnataka, as members include Anne-Marie Helder and Gavin Griffiths, both also members of Panic Room and Mostly Autumn. The album features guest appearances by Mostly Autumn’s Bryan Josh, Heather Findlay and Olivia Sparnenn (also Breathing Space). Someone needs to diagram all this incestuous band construction. As with some of the other bands in this family tree, Parade’s music is more often progressive-flavored melodic rock than prog rock per se, but most prog fans will identify with it immediately. There is a quality to the songs and arrangements that qualify the music as modern prog, with seductive atmospheres, a sense of experimentation, subtlety, beauty and craftsmanship. Read the Musical Discoveries review.
To finish the rather long subtitle of the A Can of Worms double-CD set: ...Plus Unreleased Recordings from 2002. Parallel or 90 Degrees (Po90 for short) was Andy Tillison’s band that evolved into The Tangent. The music of both bands is similar, with The Tangent the more classic style prog band, and Po90 would probably be better known had the Cyclops label simply kept their albums in print longer. This 2CD set not only includes selections from the Po90 CDs released by Cyclops, there is an unreleased 2002 version of Blues for Lear with Roine Stolt, and 30 minutes of tracks from A Kick in the Teeth for Civic Pride, the 2002 album Po90 were working on that was put on hold in favor of The Tangent. It was usually easy to spot the Van der Graaf Generator influence in Po90 -- one of their CDs consisted entirely of Van der Graaf Generator and Peter Hammill covers -- but given this opportunity to look back on their work, one realizes that Po90 were one of the best and most important bands when it came to reinventing classic progressive rock along contemporary lines.
Tony Patterson is probably best known as the singer for top UK Genesis tribute act ReGenesis. His voice is naturally Gabrielesque and does not sound contrived. He contributed to Nick Magnus’s N’monix album, and in 2014 released the album Northlands with keyboardist Brendan Eyre (which unfortunately went out-of-print quickly). With Equations of Meaning (2016), Patterson is close to becoming a prog household name. Tony is joined here by Brendan Eyre, Nick Magnus, Andy Gray, Adrian Jones (Nine Stones Close), Doug Melbourne, and Fred Arlington. “I was utterly mesmerised by Northlands, and this album deserves to be mentioned in the same breath. To get the utmost from the album, you must listen to it from start to finish, preferably with headphones on, in a darkened room and with your choice of relaxing alcohol. To me, Equations of Meaning is not merely a great release, it is a state of mind that we should all aspire to when our Life in the Fast Lane gets to be too much for us. Superb and highly recommended.” Read the full Progradar review, also the Progmeister review. Watch the promo video. Note the current edition is a jewel case CD.
Australian guitarist Kevin Peek is best known for having formed the classical rock band Sky with John Williams, Francis Monkman, Herbie Flowers, and Tristan Fry. Peek was also an in-demand session musician; notably he plays on the first Alan Parsons Project album, Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, at least two Sally Oldfield albums, and Francis Monkman’s The Long Good Friday soundtrack, to name just a few. The Beyond the Planets album with Rick Wakeman is primarily Peek’s album. Awakening (1981) and Life and Other Games (1982) were the second and third of three solo albums for Peek. Both were recorded while he was still a member of Sky, and while Peek’s first solo LP did not receive wide distribution, these two did because of Sky’s prominence at the time. Both albums includes performances from fellow session musicians on bass, drums, keyboards, and guitar. They are instrumental and close to the style of Sky as well as Gordon Giltrap’s band albums. We’ve always been fond of these two albums where melody is king, albums that make it clear that Peek had a lot to do with Sky’s style. Both CDs are out-of-print.
Pendragon celebrated the 20th anniversary of probably their most successful album, The Masquerade Overture, with a special show at Teatr Slaski in Poland on May 18, 2016. They play The Masquerade Overture in its entirety (including bonus tracks) followed by additional songs drawn mostly from Men Who Climb Mountains, 17 tracks total. This double-CD comes in a fat digipack. Read the Prog Archives review.
Check our DVDs page for Pendragon DVDs.
This is the original standard edition of Pendragon’s 2009 studio CD Pure on the band’s own Toff Records label. What Pendragon began to do on Believe they have done with greater success on Pure, adding modern elements and shifting to a darker, occasionally heavier style to reflect the current zeitgeist. Yet the essential character that makes Pendragon Pendragon is still at the core. Nick Barrett’s guitar playing, which has always been a joy to hear, has never sounded better. He has taken up the mantle of Andrew Latimer and David Gilmour, but Barrett’s style extends beyond those influences and is very much his own. An outstanding album. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
At the risk of understatement, Pendragon’s 2005 CD Believe is a very good album, more serious-sounding and darker than previous Pendragon albums, though there is always hope embodied in the music and light shining through the darkness. The band have added plenty of new sonic and stylistic elements. If you are one of the few who didn’t believe in Pendragon before now, this album may change everything. This is the original edition on the band’s own Toff Records label.
This is the 2006 remastered edition of The Window of Life on Toff/SPV, an album originally released in 1993. This edition adds the four tracks of the Fallen Dreams and Angels mini-album as a bonus.
This is the 2013 Madfish edition of The World (1991), which comes in jewel box + slipcase. It features the bonus track Sister Bluebird, a great song from the Fallen Dreams & Angels CD-EP.
Open the Door (1984) was Pentangle’s first album in twelve years, and it’s a great one. Only guitarist John Renbourn did not return, replaced here by Mike Piggott (who in addition to acoustic guitar plays fiddle and electric guitar). This is the 2007 Talking Elephant edition. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Tirion Dir (1982 or 1983) is the third album from the great Welsh prog-folk band Pererin, reissued on this CD in 2007 by the Guerrsen label. This is more traditional and folky than their first two albums though electric instruments are still used. All Pererin’s lyrics are in Welsh. (Non-Welsh speakers risk serious injury if they attempt to pronounce these words.) Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Persona Non Grata is Neil Randall and Bruce Soord, who are otherwise known as Vulgar Unicorn. Bruce Soord is also the main force in The Pineapple Thief. Hopefully many of you are familiar with those two bands, because otherwise it’s difficult to convey just how good and how creative these guys are. They play a modern progressive rock that maintains continuity with the progressive rock of yore while taking it in new directions. The 75-minute bonus disc includes a different version of the epic Under The Umbrella plus another long track The History Of The World, recorded in the same sessions but previously unreleased. A new track rounds it out. These older tracks on the bonus disc are every bit as good as the first disc, more conventionally progressive in fact. It all comes highly recommended.
This is the 2015 3-disc edition of Anthony Phillips’ classic first album The Geese and the Ghost, which comes in a clamshell box. The big news here is the third disc, a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing the album in surround as well as hi-res stereo! The surround options are MLP 5.1 (lossless), DTS 5.1, and Dolby Digital 5.1. There is also MLP stereo and 24/48 LPCM stereo. The first CD contains the remastered album. Esoteric call it the ‘2014 remaster’ and state that this edition was “newly re-mastered from the original master tapes by Simon Heyworth”. Heyworth and Andy Myles did the surround mix. So it would appear that this is a newer remaster than the 2008 Voiceprint edition (check below for that). The second CD contains demos and alternate versions, plus two versions of Silver Song (sung by Phil Collins). It appears to be identical to the second disc in the Voiceprint edition with the addition of one more bonus track, the previously unreleased 1973 song Only Your Love featuring Collins and Mike Rutherford. The box also includes a poster (so you can see the detail in one of the best album covers ever) and a very extensive booklet with a new essay, all in all a really nice job by Esoteric. The Geese and the Ghost was released in 1977, but the recordings for it had begun several years earlier and are representative of the pastoral early Genesis sound. As most Genesis fans know, Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins play on this album, with Phil singing on two tracks and Mike co-writing three. Among the many guest musicians are John Hackett and Jack Lancaster. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
These are the 2016 4-disc editions of Anthony Phillips’ 1978 second album Wise After the Event and 1979 third album Sides, which come in a clamshell box. The main attraction here is the fourth disc of each set, a DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing the album in surround as well as hi-res stereo. The surround options are MLP 5.1 (lossless), DTS 5.1, and Dolby Digital 5.1 (as you’d expect on any DVD-A). There is also MLP stereo and LPCM stereo. The first CD of each set contains a new stereo mix of the album. The second CD contains demos, outtakes, and extras. In the case of Wise After the Event, the bonus disc is not identical to the 2008 Voiceprint edition, as they went to the trouble of remixing some songs from the multi-tracks. The third CD contains a newly-remastered version of the original stereo mix. Simon Heyworth was responsible for the surround and new stereo mixes and the remastering. The box also includes a poster and an extensive booklet with a new essay, two more first class jobs by Esoteric. Each counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Ant took over vocals on Wise After the Event (1978), while the other musicians include Michael Giles, Mel Collins, John G. Perry, and Rupert Hine (who also produced). Giles and Perry form the rhythm section on Sides (1979), with many other musicians assisting including Mel Collins and John Hackett. The original album contained two instrumentals and eight vocal songs, with several different lead vocalists. The first side of the LP offers a charming pop style that is difficult to label ‘mainstream’ even if that was Phillips’ intent, because his version of pop never had a chance of radio airplay. The second side features Genesis-oriented progressive material and some of Phillips’ strongest tracks. Ant was under considerable pressure to make his music more commercial at this time, as was every other progressive artist on a major label. Sides was his way of only half giving in. Many of the bonus tracks on Sides are instrumental mixes that are proggier than the vocal versions on the album proper.
This is Esoteric’s 2016 3-disc edition of Anthony Phillips’ 1984, which comes in a fat digipack. It features a new stereo mix on the first CD. The second CD contains alternate mixes and out-takes and appears to be identical to the second disc in the 2008 Voiceprint 2CD edition. Again, the highlight is the DVD-Audio disc (NTSC, all-region) containing a 5.1 surround mix and hi-res new stereo mix. The lavishly illustrated booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Jon Dann (with brief foreword by Steven Wilson) and also includes a poster. 1984 was released in 1981 and finds Ant playing keyboards and only occasional guitar. Morris Pert and Richard Scott assist, but it’s mostly Ant. He uses the Roland CR-78 CompuRhythm, which was also used by Genesis, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Mike Oldfield and many others. It was never intended to sound like real drums, which is its appeal. 1984 is instrumental and bursting with great melodies, and perhaps Oldfield is not a bad reference for some of it. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
On Invisible Men (1983), Anthony collaborated with Richard Scott, and the album includes guests such as Morris Pert, Bimbo Acock, and Joji Hirota. It is an album of ambitious pop songs, the most pop-oriented of the Anthony Phillips catalog. But Phillips has the same knack for writing catchy songs that runs through the Genesis family, and many of these are very good, perhaps comparable to Camel’s The Single Factor released the previous year, which Phillips played on. This 2017 double-CD digipack edition on Esoteric has no surround as presumably the multitracks are not available. However, the original stereo mix is newly-remastered from the original tapes, and the set adds 19 extra tracks. Three are on the first CD and date to 1991; 16 more on the second CD titled Out-takes and Demos were recorded in the same timeframe as Invisible Men. The 16 are previously unreleased, as unlike the earlier titles, Invisible Men didn’t get a 2CD reissue on Voiceprint when the other did back in 2008-2011. In fact only a few of the extra tracks are alternate versions; the vast majority are previously unheard songs. The booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Jon Dann. “Throughout, the album is upholstered with luscious chords pressed into the service of toe-tappers rather than Phillips’ more usual pastoral ruminations. It might be a far cry from the acoustic alchemy and intimate warmth of Phillips’ classics such as The Geese and the Ghost, but that was the object of the exercise and as such it’s an entertaining diversion. Phillips’ own assessment was that Invisible Men was a misstep, but while many of the songs eschew the more thoughtful, intimate side of Phillips’ catalogue, many contain a degree of craft that’s not only admirable but surprisingly catchy.” [Prog magazine] Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Phillips’ 1990 album Slow Dance contains a two-part orchestral rock suite and has for a long time been the highest rated of all his albums on Prog Archives, and with a statistically significant number of ratings. It’s a marvelous work that gets overlooked simply because it was released as late as it was. Esoteric’s 2017 3-disc edition comes in a fat digipack and features a newly remastered original stereo mix and a lossless 5.1 surround mix by Simon Heyworth, plus a CD of previously unreleased ‘Slow Dance’ Vignettes. It includes a lavishly illustrated booklet that fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay by Jon Dann. The DVD-Audio disc is NTSC, all-region. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
This group consists of the 2008-2011 remastered 2CD Voiceprint editions. Since Voiceprint is no more, these are out-of-print. 1984 and Geese each include a second CD full of rarities, demos, alternate mixes, etc., providing great insight into the making of each album. The booklets include extensive new liner notes, including background information on each bonus track.
The first two albums in Phillips’ long-running Private Parts and Pieces series are the best. The first volume was released in 1978 and contains almost all acoustic material that had been written between Ant leaving Genesis and the release of The Geese and the Ghost. Private Parts and Pieces Volume 2: Back to the Pavilion was released in 1980, with Phillips assisted at times by Mike Rutherford, Mel Collins (flute), Rob Phillips (oboe), and Andy McCulloch (drums). This double-CD on Voiceprint combines the two albums (at a single CD price) and adds three bonus tracks. Both albums were remastered for this release by Simon Heyworth.
On Invisible Men (1983), Anthony collaborated with Richard Scott, and the album includes guests such as Morris Pert, Bimbo Acock, and Joji Hirota. It is an album of ambitious pop songs, the most pop-oriented of the Anthony Phillips catalog. But Phillips has the same knack for writing catchy songs that runs through the Genesis family, and many of these are very good, perhaps comparable to Camel’s The Single Factor released the previous year, which Phillips played on. This is the 1990 Blueprint edition.
Tarka is one of the most beautiful instrumental albums period. The music was written and recorded with Harry Williamson, whose father Henry wrote the novella Tarka the Otter upon which the album is based. The music is primarily orchestral and features the National Philharmonic Orchestra, with acoustic guitar and keyboards from Phillips and Williamson, and a long list of soloists that includes Didier Malherbe, Guy Evans, and Lindsay Cooper. Though the album was released in 1988, the music had sat in the vaults for a decade.
Phillips’ 1990 album Slow Dance contains a two-part orchestral rock suite and has for a long time been the highest rated of all his albums on Prog Archives, and with a statistically significant number of ratings. It’s a marvelous work that gets overlooked simply because it was released as late as it was.
Field Day is a beautiful double-CD digipack containing 61 pieces and over two hours of acoustic instrumentals on various 6, 10, and 12 string guitars, English bouzouki, cittern, charanga, and mandolin. Phillips had been ignoring his guitars in favor of his keyboard-based TV work, so it’s good to hear him work his magic again. Most of Field Day was recorded between 2001-2004. The pieces are short, the moods varied, and Phillips switches instruments before it can become too much of the same sound. This is English poetry performed on stringed things, by a founding member of Genesis whose integrity remains uncompromised.
If memory serves, Anthony Phillips first worked with Joji Hirota on 1983’s Invisible Men album. The two later collaborated on music for television wildlife programs mostly in the British Survival series. Wildlife (2008 on Voiceprint) contains highlights of that music, recorded by Ant and Joji between 1994-2003. The CD contains 45 tracks from 11 programs.
In 1984, Anthony was commissioned by music publishers De Wolfe to write and record an album of library music for use in TV and film. The library project had a number of requirements, one of the key ones being the use of then-contemporary electronic drum and synthesizer sounds. Anthony composed a number of tracks for the project and scored a selection of them which were then recorded by some top session musicians. Ant subsequently overdubbed some additional parts, and the finished album Ahead of the Field was issued as a vinyl LP to broadcasters and production companies. The album’s “modern, punchy, industrial themes with the emphasis on rhythm” (to quote the description from the original album sleeve) were subsequently used on a number of TV programs in the UK. Voiceprint released the album on CD in 2010 as part of a series of De Wolfe library releases.
This British band has been making psychedelic progressive rock with punk influences since 1986. The Hanged Man (1996) is their third CD and is between the styles of Hawkwind and The Cardiacs, but PEH have always been better live than on their studio recordings.
Nic Potter actually had two stints in Van der Graaf Generator, one at the beginning and one at the end. He also appears on several Peter Hammill albums and toured with Hammill. The Long Hello Volume Two was recorded at various sessions mainly at Guy Evans’ home throughout 1980 and released in early 1981. The album was the follow-up to the first volume of The Long Hello (1974), which featured David Jackson, Hugh Banton, Guy Evans and Nic Potter. Volume Two is just Potter and Evans, though Jackson plays on half the tracks.
Potter’s solo career began in 1983, and he recorded quite a few instrumental albums that are mostly electronic music, but more rock-based, structured and melodic than most. Self Contained is from 1987; this edition adds two bonus tracks. Voiceprint calls New Europe - Rainbow Colours (1992) a 2-on-1 CD, and it is long enough, but to our knowledge there were never separate New Europe and Rainbow Colours albums. On this one, Potter is assisted by David Jackson, Guy Evans, Duncan Browne, Snowy White, John Ellis, and Molly Duncan.
Primitive Instinct are a British band who began in the late 1980s and whose 1994 debut CD Floating Tangibility was one of the first releases on the Cyclops label. That was a mediocre album, but like many of the bands that got their start on Cyclops, their later albums are significantly stronger. Primitive Instinct are typical of the UK neo-prog bands that came of age during the 1990s in that they really have one foot in melodic pop/rock and one foot in prog, have quality lead vocals, and the music is free of metal. Reference points are Jadis, It Bites, Final Conflict, and 1990s Pendragon. Belief is from 2000. Read the DPRP review. Listen to Break on Through.
One Man’s Refuge (2012) is their best, their sound more polished, the songwriting more accomplished. The eight-minute track Regrets that closes the album is a highlight. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 2016 Esoteric edition, the first ever official UK CD release for this 1974 classic, remastered from the original Deram master tapes. It includes three non-LP bonus tracks. Originally formed in 1968 at Exeter University, the band was first known as Principal Edwards Magic Theatre, a hippy music/theatre collective. After recording two albums for Dandelion and touring for two years, the original group disbanded. In 1972, original members Root Cartwright (guitars, mandolin), Belinda Bourquin (violin, keyboards, recorder), and David Jones (percussion) formed a new band under the moniker of Principal Edwards, with Nick Pallett (lead vocals), Richard Jones (bass, vocals), and Geoff Nicholls (drums). Moving in a more rock-oriented direction and signing to Miles Copeland’s management company, they secured a contract with Deram and recorded Round One in 1973, with Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason as producer. While the proggiest tracks are Triplets and the 13-minute The Rise of the Glass - White Gangster, the whole of the album is very good, a prog/art/psych/pop/folk amalgam that sounds more like 1971 than 1974.
The self-titled Quantum Jump album (1976) is the first of two great if somewhat curious albums by Rupert Hine’s funky jazz-rock progressive-pop band. In addition to Hine (vocals, keyboards), the band features John G. Perry (bass), Mark Warner (guitar), and Trevor Morais (drums), with Morris Pert and Ray Cooper guesting on percussion. Hine says that on this album, they were trying to blend funk and fusion with English songwriting sensibility. There’s a feel of Steely Dan and Zappa run through a Canterbury filter. Sort of. This is the 2014 edition on Esoteric, remastered from the original tapes and including five bonus tracks. (These appear to be the same bonus tracks that were on the 1998 Voiceprint edition.) The booklet features fully restored artwork and new liner notes.
Barracuda (1977) saw the departure of Warner but the addition of multiple guests including Geoffrey Richardson (Caravan) as well as Simon Jeffes and “The Penguin Cafe String Ensemble” as they were credited. There is less of the funk and jazz-rock of the first album here, and Barracuda gets the nod as the slightly better of the two. This 2015 edition on Esoteric has been newly remastered from the original tapes and expanded to a double-CD. It has 15 bonus tracks including Quantum Jump’s entire live appearance on the BBC Radio One In Concert show in July 1977, which saw guitarist Roye Albrighton (Nektar) in a short-lived role as a member of the live band, along with Geoffrey Richardson on viola. The other bonus tracks include two single edits previously unreleased on CD, two outtakes from the 1977 recording sessions at Trident Studios in London, and four rare tracks taken from the 1979 remix compilation album Mixing. The booklet fully restores the original album artwork and features a new essay and interview with Rupert Hine. “Barracuda is a sumptuously layered and beautifully recorded album that, a superabundance of clavichord apart, gives few clues as to its age.” Click the mp3 icon above to read the full AllMusic reviews of both albums.
British band Quatermass made this one classic progressive rock album in 1970 that influenced Deep Purple at least. (There were connections between the Quatermass musicians and Ian Gillan, and the first Rainbow album includes a Quatermass cover.) The band consisted of keyboardist Peter Robinson, bassist/singer John Gustafson, and drummer Mick Underwood. Robinson went on to Brand X, while Gustafson became a session musician and found work with Roxy Music, Gordon Giltrap, Steve Hackett, and many others. Underwood had no trouble finding work either. For surround enthusiasts, this 2013 digipack edition on Esoteric is startling and unexpected. While the CD includes a new stereo mix by Peter Robinson and four bonus tracks (two previously unreleased), the DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains a new 5.1 surround mix by Robinson! Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 1999 ‘30th Anniversary Series’ edition on Dawn / Castle Music, a remastered edition of a 1970 album known primarily because the guitarist was Steve Hackett (whatever became of him?). John Hackett was also in the band. The Road is a proto-prog album that seems to have been influenced by The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed and various other late-1960s styles. This CD includes two non-LP bonus tracks from a rare 1969 single.
RA is the project of Rob Andrews (bass) and Steve Hillman (keyboards) along with David Groves (guitar) from Rob Andrews’ band, and Dai Rees (drums). Violinist Phil Morgan guests on one track on Wake (2007, 57-minutes), which contains high-caliber instrumental progressive rock in the British 1970s style, superior to any of the progressive rock albums Andrews or Hillman have done on their own. Influences vary by track, but the strongest is early Camel, followed by Focus and then Steve Hackett.
Rising (2009, 60-minutes) is a budget-priced CD intended to entice prog fans to give this overlooked band a listen. Some of the tracks are new, others are reworked, restructured versions of tracks that appeared on earlier albums: two from Wake, others from Hillman’s and Andrews’ solo albums. The quartet is assisted by six guest musicians. There are more styles introduced, and Groves gets two compositions onto the CD including perhaps the best track, which is strongly influenced by Mike Oldfield. The melodeon on the final track is a great addition. Both CDs now deleted, last copies.
Rare Bird was the first band with an album released on Tony Stratton Smith’s Charisma label, also home to Genesis, The Nice, Van der Graaf Generator and others. These are Rare Bird’s first two albums, on which they were a quartet with two keyboardists (mostly organ, also electric piano and harpsichord) but no guitarist. Singer Steve Gould later auditioned for Genesis after Gabriel had left; a guy named Collins got the gig though. Rare Bird’s self-titled debut album was released in 1969. This album includes their single Sympathy, which was a hit in the UK and Europe (though it probably never cracked the U.S. charts). Marillion later covered it. As Your Mind Flies By followed in 1970, featuring the 20-minute epic Flight. These two are Rare Bird’s best albums, classics of the formative days of progressive rock. Two members left after these, and the later albums didn’t measure up. These are the 2007 Esoteric label editions, which are 24-bit remastered. The first album has two bonus tracks, As Your Mind Flies By has three.
The Reasoning are a Cardiff-based prog band formed by ex-Magenta and ex-Erasmus bassist Matthew Cohen and featuring former Karnataka singer Rachel Cohen (née Jones). In addition to Cohen, the band have (on their early albums) excellent male vocalists. All the vocalists The Reasoning stockpiled have paid dividends in the form of some of the best vocals and vocal interplay in progdom.
For their third CD Adverse Camber (2010), The Reasoning have a new drummer and a second female vocalist in Maria Owen. The band says it best: “This album has been the most relaxed, most enjoyable, most fun and most creative experience we have been through since the band’s inception, and this really shows when you listen to the songs. Adverse Camber is definitely the most cohesive, mature sounding record we have created to date. Everything you expect from The Reasoning is there -- big, lush, multi-layered vocals; catchy choruses; driving, rocking riffs; beautiful acoustic sections -- you name it, it’s there plus a whole lot more.” On the gentler songs, Rachel’s voice may remind you of Mary Fahl (October Project). The Reasoning are easily recommended to fans of Karnataka and Magenta, the progenitors of the current south Wales progressive bands, but their appeal extends beyond that as well.
Red Jasper are an English prog band that formed in the mid-1980s and released a half dozen albums up through 1997. After a hiatus from 1998-2011, Red Jasper reformed with their former drummer David Clifford replacing founding member Davey Dodds on lead vocals. 777 (2016) is the band’s seventh studio album, which carries on from their first reformation album, 2014’s The Great and Secret Show. Red Jasper’s 1997 album Anagramary was the blueprint for how Red Jasper would sound today, essentially a neo-prog band with little of the folk element of their early days. Dodds was hardly involved on Anagramary, while Dave Clifford sang lead on two of the Anagramary tracks. Clifford worked extensively as a vocalist during Red Jasper’s long break and the job is now his. While some will miss the eccentricity and English folk elements, fans of early Marillion, Galahad, Twelfth Night, etc. are probably happier.
The CDs here are all the 2012 Angel Air editions, with greatly expanded booklets. Following an album sold only at gigs, Sting in the Tale (1990) was the first Red Jasper album most know about. Ric Sanders (Fairport Convention) guests on violin on three tracks. This remastered edition adds as bonus tracks the three songs from Red Jasper’s 1989 Pull That Thumb EP that has never been seen outside of Wiltshire. Red Jasper eventually caught the attention of the Dutch SI Music (later Cymbeline) label, who released three CDs and did much to spread the word.
Red Jasper reached greater heights on A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1993) and The Winter’s Tale (1994), remastered and reissued in this 2CD set with three live bonus tracks from 1993 and new sleeve notes. These were always intended as companion albums, seeing as how both take their names from Shakespeare plays. On these albums, Red Jasper combine Anglo-Celtic folk-rock (Fairport, Steeleye, Strawbs, Tull, Horslips) with neo-prog (Marillion, etc.). That’s the short answer; see Prog Archives for in-depth reviews of all their albums.
Anagramary (1997) is considered by many to be Red Jasper’s best album, even though the band was in transition and would break up soon after. It is their most polished work, and here their neo-prog side dominates, though comparisons to Strawbs are still valid. It appears that lead singer Davey Dodds was most responsible for the folk and eccentric elements in the band’s earlier work, but on this album he was hardly involved in the writing. A bonus live track has been added to this CD.
Action Replay is a 1992 live album with 15 tracks spanning 71 minutes. “The result is an album that has really stood the test of time and is still as lively and vibrant 20 years down the line as it was on that night. There was/is a very Englishness about this band that was matched by very few in the prog scene, and probably their only real contemporaries in the underground were Grace, but these guys really knew how to put the rock into prog rock... People who haven’t heard them do need a peg on which to hang their musical hat so to speak, so let’s say that they had the folk and balls of Horslips, as well as the whistle and keyboards (and even perform The King of the Fairies), yet at times come across as a metallic Jethro Tull. There is a venom in Davey’s vocals that provide a harsh edge to proceedings, the folk/punk ethic combining strongly.” [Kev Rowland]
Alan Reed was until 2010 the singer for Scottish neo-proggers Pallas. On his surprisingly good First in a Field of One (2012, digipack), Reed is assisted by original Pallas keyboardist Mike Stobbie, Pendragon drummer Scott Higham, guitarists Jeff Green (Jeff Green Project) and Kalle Wallner (RPWL), and Magenta’s singer Christina Booth. Karl Groom recorded the drums and mixed the album. Honestly, we expected this to be watered-down Pallas or not proggy at all, but it is so much more. Pallas are a band that can sometimes give bombast a bad name. Alan Reed’s album eschews overblown neo-prog in favor of a more classic approach and a more personal style. The album actually sounds closer to classic prog than Pallas, thanks in part to Stobbie’s organ, Mellotron and other keys, and the space in the mix. We particularly like the Scottish Celtic touches (there could have been more!), and the songwriting is strong. In relation to the parent band, this is arguably more successful than Fish solo albums are to early Marillion. Fish didn’t get any proggier than his old band, but Alan Reed has made improvements. Watch the video for Kingdom of the Blind. (Note the version sold by amazon is an on-demand CD-R, ours is the real thing.)
The Live in Liverpool EP (digisleeve) was recorded during Alan’s 2013 tour as support act for Steve Hackett. It captures Alan in full flow in front of a capacity audience at The Philharmonic, Liverpool. The EP comprises Alan’s entire 26-minute set, warts, banter and all.
Rob Reed is of course Magenta’s keyboardist and leader and one of those musicians who requires multiple outlets for his creativity (e.g., Kompendium, Kiama). His series of Sanctuary albums begun in 2014 are rather amazing, in essence alternate-universe Mike Oldfield works. If Reed’s abilities on instruments other than keyboards hadn’t been apparent before, they are now, as he plays everything by hand, apart from the nonsense-syllable vocals. Reed was inspired to become a musician and composer at the age of seven after discovering Tubular Bells. So inspired was he by the album that he learned to play not just one but all the instruments featured on that album. We always thought Rob Reed had his head and heart in the right place musically, and this seals it.
Sanctuary Live (2017) was recorded in October 2016 at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios by a 13-piece band, including fellow Magenta members Christina Booth, Chris Fry, Jiffy Griffiths, and Dan Nelson, plus vocalist Angharad Morgan (Kompendium). Reed’s ensemble performed a selection of music from his highly successful Sanctuary 1 and Sanctuary 2 albums as well as Willow’s Song. Both the DVD and CD feature the entire show; the DVD adds a documentary. Watch the promo video.
Variations on Themes by David Bedford (2017) is a CD-EP of Reed’s reinterpretations of three Bedford compositions. David Bedford was a renowned classical composer and Mike Oldfield collaborator who passed away in 2011. He would have been 80 in August 2017, and this EP is part of a celebration of his work. Alongside Reed, the EP features Terry Oldfield, Les Penning (Ommadawn), Angharad Brinn, and Tubular Bells producer Tom Newman who also mixed the album. The EP contains Rio Grande from Bedford’s album The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, King Aeolus from The Odyssey, and the title track from Nurses Song With Elephants. These pieces are then repeated once or twice in alternate mixes. Watch the video for King Aeolus and Rio Grande. Those unfamiliar with Bedford would do well to listen to Reed explain things, or head to Prog Archives.
ReGenesis is a British Genesis tribute band focusing on material from Trespass through Wind and Wuthering. Here It Comes Again is a 1998 live album featuring Back In N.Y.C., The Musical Box, The Return of the Giant Hogweed, Dancing With the Moonlit Knight, Afterglow, The Cinema Show, Los Endos, The Knife.
Check our DVDs page for this Renaissance’s Kings and Queens DVD.
The complete and rather confusing history of the band Renaissance is beyond the scope of this product description, but the better known Renaissance with Annie Haslam was not the first Renaissance. One Renaissance did morph into the other, even though the full-time personnel were completely different. The first Renaissance emerged from The Yardbirds. Singer Jane Relf is the younger sister of Keith Relf. (Keith passed away in 1976.) Among their members was future Strawbs keyboardist John Hawken. This first Renaissance released two LPs in 1969 and 1970 before giving way to the second incarnation of the band. These are the 2010 remastered editions on Esoteric of those first two Renaissance albums. These two albums have been reissued countless times, but now the Esoteric team has had a go at remastering them and expanding the booklets. The self-titled CD has two bonus tracks, both sides of a single containing the single version of Island and a non-LP song The Sea. Illusion has three bonus tracks, all non-LP. Two were recorded for an unreleased film in 1970; the third is a 1976 demo by Keith Relf. Now out-of-print, last copies.
When the first Renaissance reformed in 1976, the name Renaissance was already in use, so they called themselves Illusion, from the title of the last album they recorded as Renaissance. Illusion’s 1977 album Out of the Mist is their best, followed closely by the 1978 self-titled Illusion album. In fact, Out of the Mist is the best thing this group of musicians has released under any name, and is essential for fans of either version of Renaissance. These are the newly-remastered 2011 editions on Esoteric. Out-of-print, last copies.
Enchanted Caress is the third Illusion album. It was recorded in 1979 but remained unreleased for many years, no doubt the punk and new wave plague having something to do with that. This is the Renaissance Records edition.
DeLane Lea Studios 1973 is a live-in-the-studio recording by Renaissance performing in 1973 to a small gathering of friends at historic DeLane Lea Studios in London (used by The Beatles, Queen, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, among others). The track list: Can You Understand?, Let It Grow, Sounds of the Sea, Carpet of the Sun, At the Harbour, Ashes Are Burning, Prologue. Ashes Are Burning features guest appearances by Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash) and Al Stewart! This is on Cleopatra’s Purple Pyramid label, so one must assume it’s a legit release from the original tapes. It sounds good.
Also on Purple Pyramid is the double-CD Academy of Music 1974, an archival recording receiving its first legit release in 2015. This is Renaissance performing at the historic (and no longer standing) Academy of Music hall in New York City, accompanied by a 24-piece orchestra. It was professionally recorded for radio broadcast. The track list: Can You Understand?, Black Flame, Carpet of the Sun, Cold Is Being, Things I Don’t Understand, Running Hard, Ashes Are Burning, Mother Russia, Prologue.
Check our DVDs page for Renaissance DVDs.
This is the 2010 Friday Music edition of Renaissance’s 1975 masterpiece Scheherazade and Other Stories, remastered from the original Sire/Warner Bros tapes, with new liner notes from the band. The second disc is a DVD (NTSC, all-region) entitled Renaissance - Filmed at Mill House and Bray Studios 1979. It contains five videos of the band performing in the studio and on a soundstage: four songs from Azure d’Or plus Carpet of the Sun, professionally produced and edited. Carpet of the Sun and Forever Changing are performed unplugged; the latter has some other footage of the band blended in.
Tuscany is Renaissance’s 2001 comeback album, with Mickey Simmonds replacing Jon Tout (who guests) on keys. Jon Camp is absent, but Annie Haslam, Michael Dunford, and Terrence Sullivan are all here. A good album though not up to their classic material; mainly it lacks extended instrumentals.
For the Dreams & Omens CD, Renaissance delved into their archives and located this pristine 1978 concert recording at Philadelphia’s most famous venue, The Tower Theatre. The tracks included here are Can You Hear Me, Carpet of the Sun, Day of the Dreamer, Midas Man, Northern Lights, and Things I Don’t Understand. The package includes new liner notes and photos from the band as well as cover artwork by Annie Haslam.
The Other Woman (1995) and Ocean Gypsy (1997) are the two CDs by Michael Dunford’s Renaissance. With Annie Haslam living in the U.S., both she and Dunford used the name Renaissance at times, though neither version had any other Renaissance members participating. Dunford’s UK-based Renaissance featured singer Stephanie Adlington, who has more of a theatrical voice, and Betty Thatcher contributed to the lyrics. Aside from a new arrangement of Northern Lights, The Other Woman features new compositions, while Ocean Gypsy has only a couple new songs, the rest being new arrangements of classic Renaissance songs. The 2CD here is the 2010 edition on Floating World that combines both CDs in a double-CD set.
Songs from Renaissance Days is a collection of previously unreleased studio tracks mostly from the 1980s, after the classic period of the band, when commercial pressures had effectively ended their golden age. At this point, Terry Sullivan and John Tout were gone, appearing here on only one 1979 song. Included are a new version of Northern Lights, a cover of Paul Simon’s America, and the very fine 8-minute track You which is in the classic Renaissance style. There are several other musicians playing on these tracks, including Peter Gosling and members of Gordon Giltrap’s band: Ian Mosely, Rod Edwards, and Bimbo Acock. This is the U.S. edition.
Recorded at Decca studios in the summer of 1970, Room’s Pre-Flight was an ambitious blend of rock, blues, jazz and classical influences that became a sought-after item for progressive rock collectors. Their only recorded work was critically well-received, but like many of Deram’s releases in this genre, did not achieve the hoped-for breakthrough to greater commercial success. Room had a female lead singer; her voice is in that range where it could almost be a male with a high tenor voice. The music is early British prog, much further along than the ordinary rock of the time, but not as advanced as King Crimson, Yes or Genesis were. Room did not have a keyboard player, but a large ensemble of session musicians added strings and brass arrangements, filling out the sound and giving the music the necessary complexity. The album has been remastered from the original analog tapes and is now presented in this definitive 2008 edition from Esoteric Recordings. Read the DPRP review. Out-of-print, last copies.
Rose Among Thorns was the 1990s band centered around singer Elaine Morgan, who has worked with The Albion Band, Fairport Convention, Alan Stivell, and Dar Ar Braz’s Heritage des Celtes. But Rose Among Thorns (hopefully not a reference to her band mates) is proggier as well as more ethereal, with Elaine’s beautiful voice backed by electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. Jimmy Hastings and Ric Sanders make guest appearances on flute and violin, respectively. This 66-minute compilation includes 10 tracks from the Rose Among Thorns albums plus five tracks comprising The Cottage Demo Tapes. Listen to Children of the Stones.
Steve Rothery is of course Marillion’s guitarist. His instrumental album The Ghosts of Pripyat was first released in September 2014 after a very successful Kickstarter campaign. InsideOut took over in 2015 for the general release, and this is the U.S. jewel box edition. Steve Rothery invited Steven Wilson and Steve Hackett to contribute a guest guitar solo each, and you can see what the main criterion for playing guitar on this album was. Actually Rothery’s band includes guitarist Dave Foster (Mind if we call you Steve?) from Mr. So & So. It was a couple writing sessions with Dave that was the genesis of this album. The rest of the band is Riccardo Romano (RanestRane) on keys, Yatim Halimi (Panic Room) on bass, and Leon Parr (ex-Mr. So & So) on drums. The album has kind of a David Gilmour / Pink Floyd vibe, along with many Rothery trademarks familiar to Marillion fans. Watch the album trailer.
It’s come to our attention that some people don’t know what a Rube Goldberg machine is, so for those people, we’ll tell you that there’s no one in this band named Rube Goldberg. The Rube Goldberg Machine is a London-based trio, and Fragile Times (2016, digipack) is their debut on the Bad Elephant label, who are quickly becoming one of the most important prog labels. We liked this CD the first time we heard it, and have liked it even more with each subsequent listen. The music seems familiar, related to a lot of British music stretching as far back as The Beatles, yet we’re at a loss to compare it to anyone in particular. If it helps, it would sound at home on the Kscope label. It is diverse, inventive progressive rock with an unforced, natural sound. The songwriting is very strong, the vocals and lyrics are important, while the instrumental content is suitably intricate. The instrumental lineup is two guitars, bass, and a session drummer, those being each musician’s primary instrument, but each musician in the trio doubles on keyboards. As expected, the keyboard parts tend to be Mellotron-like pads as opposed to anything pianistic, resulting in lush textures and accents that work perfectly in these compositions. In some tracks, the two guitarists play intricate interlocking lines. At times there is a slight space/psych feel, at other times a slight psych-folk aspect. The vocals are recorded relatively dry, which gives them intimacy. The Rube Goldberg Machine describe themselves as a forward-thinking prog rock band, and we’re just going to go with that. Read The Prog Mind review.
These are the 2008 editions on the Esoteric label, known for their superb remastering jobs. Samurai and Web’s I Spider are two closely-related CDs. The English band The Web began life as a jazz, blues, and soul-influenced outfit, fronted by singer John L. Watson, enjoying top ten hit singles throughout Europe. By the time of Theraphosa Blondi (1970), the band had undergone a metamorphosis, their music taking on more jazz and progressive influences, resulting in an album mostly in the British early jazz-rock style while also displaying The Web’s earlier styles. This CD edition contains two previously-unreleased bonus tracks.
After three albums, their American lead singer left and the rest of the band decided to change direction. They dropped the definite article from their name, but more importantly, they brought in keyboardist/singer Dave Lawson. Lawson not only took over the vocals, he took over all the writing. I Spider was originally released by Polydor Records in 1970, an innovative album that continues to draw comparisons with the work of Van der Graaf Generator of that time. The band renamed themselves Samurai and released their eponymous album on the short-lived Greenwich Gramophone label in 1972. (Bassist Tony Reeves was A&R director for the label.) Both albums are classics of early British progressive rock. The musicianship was excellent, and Lawson’s compositions were groundbreaking and memorable. If “Canterbury” is taken to refer to the jazz-influenced branch of British prog (as opposed to the symphonic branch), then these are Canterbury albums. In addition to Lawson’s organ, piano, and (a little) Mellotron, both albums feature sax and flute. The sax is most important. It is played melodically and, as these are structured songs with no improvisation, the jazz influence is felt primarily harmonically. This style of jazz-rock has very little to do with the style exemplified by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, or Return to Forever. A better reference is some of the music created many years later by the American band However.
Sadly, Samurai disbanded shortly after the release of the record, resulting in limited sales. However, the influence of the album was not lost, as both Dave Lawson and Tony Reeves soon joined Dave Greenslade to form the group Greenslade, and though Greenslade was less jazz influenced, one can hear many similarities. These Esoteric reissues are remastered from the original master tapes, and their booklets contain previously unseen photographs and an interview with Dave Lawson. Read the DPRP reviews of I Spider and Samurai. All are out-of-print, last copies.
Sanguine Hum is the continuation of the band Antique Seeking Nuns, with the exact same lineup but a slight change in direction. Their debut Diving Bell was first released on CD in 2011 on the band’s own label, later reissued in this Esoteric Antenna edition with three bonus tracks added. If you listen to the ASN CDs in chronological order, then the transition to Sanguine Hum appears relatively smooth. It’s the same singer and a similar sound palette. ASN’s Canterbury pedigree can be heard, but the music feels more modern. Now often there is a pejorative context to ‘modern’ in front of ‘prog’, but not here. There is no metal, this isn’t glorified alt-rock, and Sanguine Hum can hold a candle to the classic bands. While probably widening their appeal to the Radiohead and Muse crowd, Sanguine Hum restore some of the essential elements of progressive rock often missing from modern prog. They leave out the most angular and demanding instrumentals of ASN, and in their place is a sensuous, even soothing style of prog that retains the intricacies and stellar ensemble work but moves them slightly out of the foreground. The result is that the listener may not notice the odd time signatures and sophisticated arrangements because the music is so melodic and captivating. The music does what prog is supposed to do -- transport the listener somewhere that transcends everyday life. Watch the album promo video.
The Weight of the World (2013) is Sanguine Hum’s second, with Andrew Booker (No Man, Henry Fool) taking over on drums. This limited edition comes in a digipack and adds a DVD (NTSC, all-region) which contains The Making of ‘The Weight of the World’. The band says: “The Weight of the World sees Sanguine Hum expand their musical horizons on all fronts with a seven-track collection of diverse compositions – technically challenging and exciting yet always melodic and direct. Songs such as From the Ground Up and System for Solution pursue the Porcupine Tree meets Radiohead approach of Diving Bell, with powerful yet intricate riffs propelling the songwriting that continues to make ever more inventive use of surprising twists and turns in the arrangement. Surprises are to be found as well in the instrumentation, as the band open up the sound and more explicitly reference a love of electronica and the music of artists such as Boards of Canada and Aphex Twin, best heard in the song Day of Release as synthetic percussion and rumbling synths give way to chiming acoustic guitar and a soaring vocal melody. Even more exciting for a band that perhaps held some of their prog influences in check on their debut album is the 15-minute title track that manages the task of combining effective and emotional songwriting with thrilling musical developments that push the band to the limit.” Watch the album promo video.
Sanguine Hum’s third studio album Now We Have Light (2015) is a double-CD that comes in two editions. The standard edition is a 2CD in jewel box + slipcase. The limited edition comes in a fat digipack and adds a DVD (NTSC, all-region) containing a making-of documentary (counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping). Now We Have Light is a concept album that the band had been working on for over a decade, its roots going back to the days of Antique Seeking Nuns. During this time, they hatched a bizarre conceptual story that perhaps took the formation of Sanguine Hum to make it feasible to complete. Somewhat like a twisted mix of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Frank Zappa’s Joe’s Garage, and The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, Now We Have Light is a future parable set in an entirely possible scenario, in which entirely impossible events start occurring. Although core songs were written for this album as far back as 2002, the band were inspired by the most recent Sanguine Hum material to revisit the old tunes and, where needed, develop and rewrite what already existed, while at the same time creating a large amount of new music. Ultimately, it has come to represent a definitive cross section of all the work they’ve made as Antique Seeking Nuns, Joff Winks Band, Nunbient, and Sanguine Hum thus far. UK jazz vibraphone player Jim Hart guests on several tracks. Watch the album promo video.
What We Ask Is Where We Begin (2CD, 2016) is subtitled The Songs For Days Sessions. This material actually dates to 2006 and is a lost album of sorts. For convoluted reasons, Songs For Days was released under the name Joff Winks Band, though it was the same four guys in Joff Winks Band, Antique Seeking Nuns, and Sanguine Hum. Adding to its obscurity, Songs For Days was only released as a digital download. The first disc of this double-CD contains the Songs For Days album, its first appearance on CD. The gestation period of Songs For Days covered many years of writing and recording sessions, as evidenced by the second disc, which begins with three singles remixed in 2015. These are followed by eight previously-unreleased songs (40 minutes), then five session out-takes (20 minutes). Several instrumental pieces were newly finished by the band for this release. Included is the band’s faithful cover of Steely Dan’s Here at the Western World. The booklet includes extended liner notes, interviews, rare photos, and memorabilia from the era. Watch the album promo video. Read the Music from the Other Side of the Room review.
Dark Ships (2008, 64-minutes) is the first album for Jan Schelhaas, whose has been a member of both Caravan and Camel, writing as well as playing. Jan plays most of the instruments and sings, while Doug Boyle plays guitar on most tracks, and Jimmy Hastings adds some flute and soprano sax. The music is reminiscent of Peter Bardens’ post-Camel albums in that it is a mellow symphonic rock bearing some resemblance to Camel. Many of the songs here follow a similar pattern of beginning quite soft and with vocals, then opening up into proggier instrumentals later in the track.
Protein for Everyone (2014, digipack) is the fifth album for this band from Bristol, England. They marry the Canterbury style (e.g., early Soft Machine, Caravan) with classic psych-pop vocal melodies à la The Beach Boys, Stackridge, 10cc, early Split Enz, or XTC, with all the quirkiness that implies and more. One might compare them to a more accessible Antique Seeking Nuns (instrumentally anyway), or to Supersister, or (for those with an advanced degree in prog) to Moving Gelatine Plates. To quote the liner notes: “Occasionally melancholic and blackly humorous lyrics are wrapped in a musical blanket of odd time signatures, fizzing with lively energetic progressive arrangements that have a pop sensibility, luring you in with three part harmonies and earworm melodies before wigging out on an inappropriate glockenspiel and fuzz bass solo in 10/8.” This is a brilliant album, and you’ll probably need to watch the album preview video to hear for yourself. “This is a fantastic album and shows a band at the peak of their musical and compositional powers, and there is no weak track on it.” Read the full Progarchy and The Active Listener reviews.
British keyboardist Mickey Simmonds is best known for his work with Mike Oldfield, Fish, Camel, Renaissance, and XII Alfonso, not to mention The Rutles. The Seven Colours of Emptiness (2007) is Simmonds’ second solo album, after The Shape of Rain in 1996. It’s a concept album that plays as one continuous piece of music. Read the Background Magazine review.
This is the 2006 Eclectic Discs digipack reissue of Moon Over Man, recorded originally in 1976-1977 by ex-Caravan keyboardist Dave Sinclair after he left the band for the second time. Originally released on CD in 1993, this edition combines newly commissioned packaging, bonus tracks, and greatly enhanced sound quality. Moon Over Man is mostly performed by Sinclair himself (on drums as well as keyboards and occasional vocals) but features the contributions of two vocalists and several other musicians. The band that recorded this album morphed into the band The Polite Force. While Sinclair was known for writing Caravan’s long, keyboard-dominated suites, the music here shows many of the hallmarks of the song-oriented, progressive-pop side of Caravan. It is also influenced by the commercial music of the time (thankfully not punk), particularly some funky songs a la Quantum Jump, but always colored by Sinclair’s Englishness and prog rock background. It’s a worthwhile album for the Caravan fan and demonstrates that Pye Hasting wasn’t the only songwriter in the band. The five bonus tracks are alternate versions of album tracks and take the CD length up to 78-minutes. Out-of-print.
This is the 2009 2CD expanded edition on Esoteric Recordings, known for their superb remastering jobs. Pete Sinfield is best known as the lyricist for King Crimson and ELP. His classic 1973 solo album was one of the first releases on ELP’s Manticore label and features contributions from Greg Lake, Ian Wallace, Mel Collins, John Wetton, Keith Tippett, and many more musicians. The album has a strong early King Crimson flavor. The second disc includes nine previously-unreleased early album mixes plus two bonus tracks. This CD edition restores the album’s artwork, while the booklet includes an interview with Sinfield. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Sky were an instrumental classical-rock band whose members included John Williams, often considered the best classical guitarist in the world at that time, keyboardist Francis Monkman (Curved Air), Australian guitarist Kevin Peek, bassist Herbie Flowers, and drummer/percussionist Tristan Fry. Sky 1 (1979) reached #2 in the UK charts, rather unbelievable for a classical-rock album during the punk and new wave era. But then Sky 2 (1980) trumped that and reached #1. Sky 2 was originally a double-LP and is their best, with Sky 1 second. Read reviews of Sky 1 and Sky 2 at Prog Archives, where you’ll also find some mp3s.
These 2014 editions of Sky 1 and Sky 2 on Esoteric have been newly remastered, with original album artwork fully restored and a new essay. And they each add a DVD (NTSC, all-region). The Sky 1 CD includes the bonus tracks Dies Irae, the single version of March to the Scaffold (previously unreleased on CD), and a previously unreleased live version of Where Opposites Meet recorded by BBC Radio One at a charity concert at Wembley Arena in November 1979. The Sky 1 DVD features all of Sky’s surviving 1979 BBC TV appearances, seven tracks from five different shows, all previously unreleased on video or DVD. The Sky 2 DVD features all of Sky’s surviving 1980 BBC TV appearances, all previously unreleased on video or DVD. These include 12 tracks from Sky’s concert at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980 plus Sky’s performance of Toccata on Top of the Pops in April 1980. Note some earlier CD editions of Sky 2 omitted two tracks, but this Esoteric edition omits nothing.
Francis Monkman then departed, replaced by Steve Gray. Monkman was the best composer the band had though, and no subsequent album reached the quality of the first two. Still, the band had a lot of momentum, and Sky 3 (1981) reached #8 on the UK charts, while Sky 4: Forthcoming (1982) reached #7. That would be the last studio album to chart in the UK, though the double-LP Sky Five Live (1983) would reach #24. Successful tours of the UK, Europe, Australia, and Japan followed the release of Sky 3 and Sky 4.
As with Esoteric’s reissues of Sky 1 and Sky 2, these 2015 editions of Sky 3 and Sky 4 on Esoteric feature the original albums newly remastered on the CD, and each includes a DVD (NTSC, all-region). Sky 3’s DVD features Sky’s memorable concert at Westminster Abbey in London from February 1981, which was recorded and broadcast by BBC Television and later released on VHS and Laserdisc. This is its first time on DVD. Sky 4’s DVD features Sky’s live set for the BBC TV program Night Music, broadcast in July 1982. This is its first ever release in any format.
In 1982, this lineup embarked on an extensive tour of Australia. A mobile recording unit captured concerts in Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, which were mixed at Abbey Road studios and released as Sky Five Live in January 1983. Unavailable for nearly twenty years, this Esoteric reissue has been newly remastered and adds the 20-minute piece The Animals, originally featured on the vinyl double-LP but omitted from the 1996 CD release. The Animals does not appear on any studio album, and there are more tracks that are exclusive to this album, so though it is recorded live, it really does qualify as the fifth Sky album. The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay.
Sky’s sixth album Cadmium was released in 1983. Unavailable on CD for over two decades, this Esoteric reissue has been newly remastered, adds three bonus tracks to the CD, and also features a DVD (NTSC, all-region) of the previously-unreleased BBC TV recording of Sky at Drury Lane in December 1983, along with a performance of the piece Troika on the Val Doonican Show that same month. The original album artwork is fully restored and the booklet features a new essay. “The last album to feature John Williams, its pre-Christmas release was not only an attempt to capture the gift-buying market, but reflected the content of perhaps the most accomplished work the band had done since Francis Monkman’s departure. Opening with an interpretation of a Christmas classical music stalwart (including sleighbells!), with track titles like Mother Russia and A Girl in Winter, how can one not associate this with cold, wet nights (preferably snow instead of rain)? Most of Sky’s classical reworkings leave me cold, but Troika is one of the exceptions. Herbie offers his almost-contractual ‘silly’ piece in the shape of Telex from Peru, and the album’s quiet piece comes courtesy of a rare Fry composition, Then and Now. Eminently listenable, full of good tunes, and more occasions than most for the individuals to display prowess with their chosen instruments, not to mention a replacement for Hotta as the encore piece when playing live, the aptly-named Son of Hotta.” [Richard Sliwa, creator of the unofficial Sky site]
John Williams departed Sky in December 1983 and the band continued as a quartet, with Kevin Peek assuming a greater role. In 1985 they recorded the album The Great Balloon Race at studios in Australia and London, with several guest musicians adding some instruments not previously used by Sky (flute, pan pipes, sax, spoken word). This album gets overlooked because of where it falls on the Sky timeline, and because it had been out-of-print for a long time. In 1987 Sky recorded their final album Mozart (called The Mozart Album on its U.S. release, which also had a different cover). It saw Sky arrange Mozart compositions, and it features (heavily) the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields (an English chamber orchestra) conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. Both The Great Balloon Race and Mozart had been unavailable for over 20 years until these Esoteric reissues, which are newly remastered from the original master tapes, fully restore the original album artwork, and feature a new essay. (No DVD with these two, just a CD.)
Judge Smith was a founder member of Van der Graaf Generator in 1967 but left prior to the band’s first album. He went on to front his own band before opting for a solo career. He has also maintained links with Van der Graaf Generator and has co-writing credits for songs on Van Der Graaf Generator albums and on Peter Hammill albums. Curly’s Airships (2000) was recorded over a long period of time between 1994-2000. It is an epic 2 hour, 25 minute double-CD telling the story of the 1924 Imperial Airship Scheme and the R101 disaster of 1930 and features performances from Van der Graaf Generator’s Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton, and David Jackson, John Ellis and Paul Roberts (The Stranglers), Pete Brown, and Arthur Brown. Fat 2CD case, counts as 2 CDs for shipping.
These are the 2010 remastered editions on Esoteric of the Soft Machine albums from their years on EMI (1975-1981). All have been remastered from the original tapes and fully restore the original artwork. Bundles (1975) was the first of these albums and featured a lineup of Mike Ratledge (keyboards), Karl Jenkins (oboe, piano, soprano sax), John Marshall (drums), Roy Babbington (bass), and some guitarist named Allan Holdsworth (wonder what became of him?) who plays an important role here. Bundles began a new chapter for the band, one in which Karl Jenkins became the principal composer and Soft Machine became more purely a fusion band. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Softs (1976) was the band’s second album for EMI’s Harvest label and featured a lineup of Mike Ratledge (keyboards), Karl Jenkins (oboe, piano, soprano sax), John Marshall (drums), Roy Babbington (bass), and new member John Etheridge (guitar), along with saxophonist Alan Wakeman. Softs showcased John Etheridge’s considerable guitar playing talents and would be the final album to feature founding member Mike Ratledge. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Land Of Cockayne (1981) was Soft Machine’s final album. By this time, Soft Machine comprised keyboard player and saxophonist Karl Jenkins and drummer John Marshall. They were joined by musicians such as Jack Bruce, the returning Allan Holdsworth, Dick Morrissey, and John G. Perry, among others. Jenkins is in control here, responsible for all the music and string arrangements. It’s always been a divisive album among fans, with those who expect it to sound like older Soft Machine critical of it, while those who accept it on its own terms favorable toward it. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Alive & Well was the product of several nights of excellent concerts at Le Palace Theatre in Monmartre, Paris in July 1978. The album was initially released as a single album, but the discovery of multi-track masters of a concert in the archives has resulted in this expanded edition with a second CD of additional material recorded in July 1978. The bonus disc also includes both sides of a 1978 single making their first appearance on CD. The band line-up is Karl Jenkins (keys), John Marshall (drums), John Etheridge (guitars), and new members Steve Cook (bass) and Ric Sanders (violin).
Prophecy (2013) is the fifth Solstice studio album, the band still fronted by guitarist Andy Glass and also featuring Steve McDaniel (keyboards), Robin Phillips (bass), Pete Hemsley (drums), Jenny Newman (violin), and Emma Brown (vocals). The band’s iconic blend of soaring violin and guitar weaving around delicately passionate female vocals, underpinned by a driving rhythm section remains in force. The CD also includes three bonus tracks which are new remixes of songs from Solstice’s debut Silent Dance done by Steven Wilson, who is a long-time Solstice aficionado. Read reviews at Prog Archives. Watch the album promo video.
“Kindred Spirits (2011) is Solstice’s first live album since The Cropredy Set in 1998. They launched their last studio album Spirit in 2010 and filmed the show, and it’s that film that forms the Kindred Spirits DVD (NTSC, all-region) along with a couple of tracks from their set at the Loreley Festival in Germany the same year. The Kindred Spirits CD is a compilation of live tunes from 2007-2008 and covers a lot of older material that they didn’t get to play at the Spirit launch. Both the DVD and CD have superb sound and capture the energy of the performances. A month or so before Kindred Spirits was due to be pressed, Andy Glass of Solstice got an email from someone saying how much they were enjoying their recently purchased copy of Spirit. That someone turned out to be veteran Marvel artist and prog fan, Barry Kitson. The result of this moment of synchronicity is the brilliant art that runs through the album. Barry is a phenomenal artist and lovely bloke, and the band are greatly indebted to him. Another discovery that preceded the release of Kindred Spirits was the discovery that Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree is a Solstice fan. Steven very kindly agreed to contribute to the sleeve notes, and his chat with Festival Music’s David Robinson fills a couple of pages of the booklet.”
Solstice returned in 2010 with a new studio CD Spirit. Also included is a superb full-concert DVD (NTSC, all-region) recorded in a club in July 2009, featuring 13 tracks plus interviews with the band. The band describe Spirit as “the album we’ve always wanted to make”. Some of the names have changed, but the instrumentation is the same: female & male vocals, guitars, violin & viola, keyboards, bass and drums. Solstice pick up right where they left off, true to the sound and spirit of the band, though there are a few new elements such as a bit of heavy guitar and some Celtic melodies played by the violin. At a time when a lot of bands sound like each other, Solstice still stand apart. Read the Progressive Land review.
These are the 2007 Definitive Editions on the Festival Music label, most expanded to two-disc sets, all with new booklets and new liner notes by Oz Hardwick (which have been purloined for some of the descriptions below). While part of the same British 1980s scene that featured Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Pallas, Haze, etc., Solstice stood apart. They featured female vocals (they went through several different singers) and violin, and in many ways had a stronger connection to the 1970s -- there was still a hippie vibe to their symphonic prog. They blended Yes and Renaissance with touches of psychedelic folk and a little jazz.
By the time their debut album was recorded, Solstice were already seasoned veterans of countless gigs throughout Britain. It is striking, then, that Silent Dance (1984, out-of-print) is so emphatically a studio album. From the staccato opening of Peace to the jazz-tinged coda of Find Yourself, the album has a glacial quality. The rough, folky edges were replaced by a sleek ambience, sometimes intimate (Earthsong), elsewhere thrillingly expansive (Sunrise). Mark Elton’s violin was reigned in as atmospheric keyboards gained prominence, generally leaving center stage to Sandy Leigh’s vocals and Andy Glass’ guitar. Dynamic foundations are provided by Martin Wright’s percussion and Mark Hawkins’ bass.
New Life, their second, was recorded in 1992, eight years after their first, but featured songs from the 1983-85 period when Solstice gigged extensively. The album features a crisper, fuller sound than their debut and better captures the grandeur Solstice was capable of, the fuller dynamic doing justice to bassist Craig Sunderland, adding depth and power to the stage favorites that hadn’t made it onto the debut. The lavish swathes of keyboards are still present, but Marc Elton’s violin is more prominent, blending with Andy’s guitar to frame Heidi Kemp’s commanding vocals. A stunning album throughout, the cornerstones are the two epics, Guardian and Journey, tapestries of mood and color which move from the meditative to the exuberant with a confidence that encompasses all the diverse elements which make Solstice’s music unique. The 70-minute bonus disc includes 1985 demos with Barbara Deason on vocals, a 1984 bootleg, and two 1985 bootlegs, 13 tracks total. Listen to Morning Light and Pathways.
Circles (1997) featured all new material. Framed by two meditative instrumentals, Salú and Coming Home, Circles is perhaps the most impassioned Solstice album. Fronted by Emma Brown, perhaps their strongest vocalist to date, the band had never sounded so powerful on disc. Bolstered by ex-Jethro Tull drummer Clive Bunker, the sound produced is full, dynamic and committed. This new edition is a single CD with four bonus tracks taking the time up to 63-minutes.
Thirteen years after the brace of sell-out farewell concerts at London’s legendary Marquee club, it was finally time to release a live album. The venue was Cropredy 1998, Fairport Convention’s annual outdoor festival of the finest in folk, rock, and the hybrid beasts in between. (For those who’ve never been to a Cropredy, 25,000 people attend, dwarfing today’s prog festivals.) The sun shone on a huge crowd as Solstice, now augmented by Jenny Newman on violin, Robin Phillips on bass and Steve McDaniel on keyboards, took the stage for a set that began with a sequence of old favorites before concentrating on material from the then-recent Circles album, but there was also space for a band version of Awakening from Clive Bunker’s solo album, along with the new instrumental Ducks on the Pond. Unfortunately, problems with sound rendered the recording unusable. Resilient to the end, the band set up in the studio the following day and replayed the set – live without an audience – which is what you hear on this album. The show was captured on film. The technical problems with the sound led Andy Glass to initially veto its release, though now after remastering, it is available on DVD. The Cropredy Set Definitive Edition includes both the CD and the DVD (NTSC, all-region).
Dimensionaut (2013) is the debut CD for Sound of Contact, the progressive rock band of Simon Collins, Phil’s son. Having grown up on tour with Genesis, Simon had a rare and unique perspective that inspired him to eventually pursue his own music career. After a decade of writing, producing, and promoting his solo material, Simon kept in touch with a handful of musicians with whom he had a strong connection and a rare chemistry. Simon’s bandmates are co-producer/co-writer/keyboardist Dave Kerzner (Sonic Reality, Kevin Gilbert) and co-writer/guitarist/bassist Matt Dorsey, with studio collaborators Kelly Nordstrom (guitars, bass) and vocalist Hannah Stobart (Rocket Moth, The Wishing Tree). Among the live touring musicians are Randy McStine (Lo-Fi Resistance), John Wesley (Porcupine Tree), and Jonathan Schang (District 97). Read the Sea of Tranquility review. The mini-LP sleeve is the import “Pocket Pac” limited edition.
The Esoteric label’s description: “A band formed by founding members of Hawkwind, Space Ritual are true exponents of space rock, performing sold-out concerts drawing on classic Hawkwind repertoire written by Nik Turner, Dave Anderson and Terry Ollis. Now Space Ritual deliver a stunning 2007 studio album of original material that takes their music into a new dimension that is both contemporary yet still aware of its heritage and roots. Also featuring poems by sci-fi author Michael Moorcock, Otherworld has been described as ‘more Hawkwind than Hawkwind’ by one commentator, but Space Ritual are more than that. They are a band in their own right, with their own style and future.” Read the DPRP review.
Peter Robinson and John Gustafson were also participants in this obscure project. This is the first ever release of this January 1972 recording that brought together seven progressive-minded musicians to create unique experimental music. Aside from Robinson and Gustafson, they included Martyn Ford, who had been an arranger for Barclay James Harvest; Paul Buckmaster, who had worked with David Bowie, Third Ear Band, and more; and Trevor Morais, who would go on to Quantum Jump and Rupert Hine’s albums. The Esoteric label says that the music touches on the styles later developed by Henry Cow or even Frank Zappa. The audio was remastered by Peter Robinson, who also wrote the essay in the accompanying illustrated booklet. Read the Let It Rock review.
This is the 2013 newly-remastered edition on Esoteric. This British progressive folk-rock band featured Barbara Gaskin on vocals, who later sang for Hatfield and the North and teamed with Dave Stewart on several progressive pop albums under the name Stewart/Gaskin. Dave Mattacks played drums on all three Spirogyra albums but was never a member. St. Radigunds (1971), Old Boot Wine (1972), and Bells, Boots and Shambles (1973) are excellent albums that can be grouped with Trees, Comus, and Spriguns. In fact, their progressive content exceeds that of almost any of the 1970s folk-rock and psych-folk albums. Bells, Boots and Shambles has one bonus track, a non-album single. The booklet contains a new essay. Read reviews at Prog Archives. (The Esoteric editions of St. Radigunds and Old Boot Wine are out-of-print.)
These two classics are the 2013 Esoteric label reissues, newly remastered from the original Decca master tapes and including booklets that fully restore all original album artwork. Spriguns are among the most progressive of the first generation British folk-rock bands. Originally known as Spriguns of Tolgus, under that name they recorded mainly updated arrangements of traditional British folk tunes, similar to Steeleye Span. With the two albums here, they shortened their name, became more of a rock band, and focused on originals with traditional sounding melodies, moving from the Steeleye camp toward the company of Spirogyra, Mellow Candle, and Trees. The band was led by singer Mandy Morton, who has a Maddy Prior type voice, while the instrumentation includes electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, electric violin, bass, and drums. Time Will Pass has three songs with orchestrations by Robert Kirby, known for his work with Strawbs, and Spriguns should have crossover appeal to Strawbs fans as well as Renaissance/Illusion. The only problem for Spriguns was that it was late in the game for electric folk. Revel Weird and Wild was released in 1976, Time Will Pass in 1977, the height of punk in the UK. Revel is the more trad sounding of the two. The uninitiated prog fan should start with Time, but Revel is really charming too, with much more violin. Both now out-of-print, last copies.
This is the 2015 Esoteric remastered and expanded edition of this oft-issued (occasionally even on legitimate labels) album. Spring’s 1971 album is a classic of British progressive rock, or at least proto-prog. The album owes its status to the heavy use of Mellotron. Strip the Mellotron out of the mix and what remains is about as progressive as The Moody Blues, nonetheless possessing the charm of the place and time in which it was made. Slather on the Mellotron and there you have it. Esoteric have newly remastered the album from the original master tapes, then added a second disc containing 12 bonus tracks from 1971. These tracks were intended for a second, unreleased album, and Esoteric state that these tracks are released officially for the first time. Note many of these tracks appeared on the Second Harvest CD released several years earlier on the Italian Akarma label. You can draw your own conclusion about the legitimacy of that Akarma release and whether it used the original tapes. The booklet features fully-restored artwork, previously unseen photographs, and a new essay. Read the AllMusic review.
Squackett is the long-awaited collaboration between Chris Squire and Steve Hackett, over four years in the making. “It was very much about a bunch of pals swapping notes and anecdotes,” says Hackett. Squire adds “There is some clever prog rock stuff in there, some jazzy bits but there are parts that have vocal harmonies like Crosby, Stills and Nash.”
The deluxe edition comes in a hardcover digibook and adds a DVD (NTSC, all-region) that includes a 5.1 surround mix of the album. “After spending a score of days immersed in the sea of 5.1, I can honestly say that I’m just not interested in hearing A Life Within a Day in stereo -- ever.” [Sound+Vision]
Stackridge is an eccentric English progressive-folk-pop band from Bristol who released five LPs between 1971-1976, a comeback album in 1999, a mini-CD in 2003, and another comeback album in 2009. Their music is in the vein of 10cc, early Genesis, Magna Carta, and to some extent Supertramp, a whimsical, humorous, exceedingly clever and very English music featuring innovative arrangements that can trace its lineage to The Beatles. Lots of info and reviews at Prog Archives. These are the latest remastered editions on Angel Air.
The self-titled CD is their 1971 debut plus two bonus tracks. Friendliness (1972) is their second, with four bonus tracks. Their third album The Man in the Bowler Hat was produced by George Martin and released early in 1974. Extravaganza, their fourth, was released at the beginning of 1975.
Mr. Mick (1976) was their fifth. Their record company at that time didn’t like the finished result and ordered the removal of most of the dialogue. As the album was based around a poem, this wholesale remodeling didn’t please the band much. This 2007 2CD edition on Angel Air includes the original album in its entirety on CD1 (first released in 2000 as The Original Mr. Mick) and the remastered album released to the public in 1976 on CD2.
Purple Spaceships Over Yatton is a 2006 compilation featuring 15 tracks, all remastered; the title track is a new recording.
The tracks on Radio Sessions 1971-1973 (2012) come from two BBC radio sessions, the first on 21 September 1971 and the last on 7 February 1973. They include a 15-minute version of Slark and the much sought after song Lyder Loo, which was originally scheduled for inclusion on The Man in the Bowler Hat but never recorded. Check for Stackridge’s The Forbidden City DVD on our DVDs page.
Part of the ever-expanding Mostly Autumn family tree, Stolen Earth evolved out of the band Breathing Space after Iain Jennings and Olivia Sparnenn made Mostly Autumn their full-time jobs. Stolen Earth’s lead singer is Heidi Widdop, who was the original Mostly Autumn singer but left shortly before MA’s first album was recorded. A Far Cry From Home (2012, 62-minutes) does not disappoint -- it sounds a lot like Mostly Autumn and is stronger than any of the Breathing Space albums. Like Mostly Autumn, Stolen Earth’s lead vocals are female with some male supporting vocals, there is a strong Pink Floyd influence, and the use of low whistle adds some Celtic flavor (though not as much as early Mostly Autumn). Fans of the contemporaneous female-fronted UK prog bands are sure to love this album, as will a lot of Floyd fans. Read the Progmeister reviews.
These are the 2012 remastered digipack reissues on Metal Mind. One of Clive Nolan and Karl Groom’s projects (Shadowland being another), Strangers on a Train made two albums of a theatrical/cinematic sort of symphonic neo-prog, dominated by Nolan who wrote all the music and lyrics. On The Prophecy (1990, 64-minutes), the band is Tracy Hitchings (Quasar, Landmarq) on vocals, Nolan (Pendragon, Arena) on keys, and Groom (Threshold) on guitars and bass. The Labyrinth (1993, 72-minutes) adds singer Alan Reed (Pallas) to the lineup. The Labyrinth improves on the first CD, more heavily orchestrated, with Reed’s vocals complementing Hitchings’. Metal Mind are touting the use of tube electronics in the remastering -- the early 1990s was still a time when digital audio often lacked warmth, so hopefully the remastering has remedied that. Read the Musical Discoveries reviews.
Strawbs headlined NEARfest 2004, the final and largest gig of a U.S. summer tour that reunited the classic Hero and Heroine / Ghosts lineup of Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes, and John Hawken, their first live shows together since 1975. The tour was repeated in the UK a year later. This CD was released on the band’s Witchwood label in 2005 but is being distributed in the U.S. for the first time in 2013. It is full of classic Strawbs tracks, almost all from the 1970s, with emphasis on the Hero and Heroine album.
This is a new version of Strawbs’ 1974 masterpiece Hero and Heroine recorded by the current Strawbs line-up. In 2010, Strawbs toured Canada and the UK playing Hero and Heroine for the first time in its entirety, which was the impetus for this modern interpretation. It features Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, and Chas Cronk, the core of the Strawbs line-up at the time the original album was released. Drummer Tony Fernandez returns to the line-up along with keyboardist John Young (Greenslade, John Wetton, etc.) to deliver “the most intense, powerful, and poignant performance the band has produced in its remarkable forty-year history”. Reviews and more info on the Strawbs website.
These 2-disc digipack releases are from Strawbs’ 40th Anniversary Celebration weekend at Twickenham Stadium in September 2009. Vol. 1: Strawberry Fayre is a double-CD containing 28 live tracks performed by Strawbs members past and present as well as guests, including Sonja Kristina, Rick Wakeman, Brian Willoughby, John Ford, Blue Weaver,... see the Strawberry Fayre track list for all the participants. Even Fire, Dave Lambert’s pre-Strawbs band, perform two of their songs.
Strawbs was Rick Wakeman’s first professional band. Volume 2 contains only the second concert Wakeman and Dave Cousins have played together. The CD in this set contains the eight songs they performed, while the 75-minute DVD (NTSC, all-region, 16:9) contains the same songs plus all the banter and anecdotes. Among the extras is a performance of the song Evergreen by Strawbs with The Royal Artillery Orchestra conducted and arranged by former Strawb Robert Kirby, who passed away just weeks later. The CD and DVD track lists are here.
Check our DVDs page for Strawbs DVDs.
These are all the latest editions on the Strawbs’ own Witchwood Media label. A 2011 release for Acoustic Strawbs, Acoustic Gold is a selection of key tracks from earlier (in some cases no longer available) Witchwood releases plus live versions of two songs never released before in acoustic form: Jesus and Grace Darling, and two Cousins/Willoughby tracks: an unreleased version of Beat The Retreat recorded in Italy, and the stunning acoustic version of Ringing Down The Years (the B-side of The King 45). Here is a detailed song-by-song overview.
Dancing to the Devil’s Beat is the 2009 studio CD for the resurgent Strawbs, celebrating their 40th anniversary. The Strawbs lineup now is Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk, Rod Coombes, and Oliver Wakeman. As fans know, Rick Wakeman was the Strawbs’ keyboardist before leaving for Yes, so his son Oliver returns the keyboards post to the family. (Oliver later also left for Yes.) Apart from a couple duff tracks (there are always a couple duff tracks), this easily sits alongside the previous year’s The Broken Hearted Bride as the best post-1970s Strawbs albums. Details of this CD can be found at Strawbs’ website.
The Broken Hearted Bride is Strawbs’ 2008 studio CD, with the lineup now Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk and Rod Coombes. John Hawken has retired from touring but does play keyboards on the CD, and Ian Cutler adds fiddle. This is the best Strawbs album in ages. Strawbs sound young again, they sound like a rock band again, and there are some symphonic songs worthy of the glory days. More information at Strawbs’ website.
Recorded just prior to the Strawbs reunion tour that saw them headline NEARfest 2004, Deja Fou was not only Strawbs’ first album of all new material in a decade, but the lineup is the classic one that recorded Hero and Heroine and Ghosts, together for the first time in 30 years. No one seriously expected another Hero and Heroine, but Deja Fou is quite a good album, a lot of which sounds like it could have come from an even earlier period in Strawbs history, particularly the acoustic tracks. With keyboardist John Hawken living in the U.S., he contributed little to the writing and not all that much to the playing – he added his parts from the U.S. after receiving the tapes from the UK recording sessions. This is really a Cousins and Lambert album. Nevertheless, there are two tracks of classic Strawbs prog music, and the old magic frequently shines through.
Strawbs’ prime period was that of Hero and Heroine (1974) and Ghosts (1975), so Deep Cuts (1976) is from shortly after their peak, with the shift on from symphonic to pop-rock. (The story is the same for any number of progressive bands; only the album names have been changed.) Deep Cuts featured a new label, new producers, and new keyboardists, and contains some classic tracks, with Simple Visions a concert staple.
This is the 2012 Witchwood reissue of Deadlines (1978), restored and remastered by Dave Cousins. The remastering is a significant improvement over the One Way CD. There are loads of extras here that take the playing time up to 77:40, including acoustic demos and alternate mixes of the album tracks. See the Strawbs site for details. Cousins says that in production they sacrificed their rootsy element in favor of pop balladry, and that the bonus tracks give a truer flavor of how the songs started out. Deadlines was the last Strawbs album of the 1970s, their last on a major label, and their last for almost a decade. Just about all the original UK prog bands reached a point in the mid-to-late 1970s where, due to commercial pressures, the quality dropped off dramatically, and for Strawbs it came relatively early with Nomadness in 1975. But Deadlines was a bit of a rebound, better than Nomadness and Burning for You and comparable to Deep Cuts. Most of the best tracks are on the second half of the album.
Live at the Calderone, New York ’75 is a 68-minute official live CD released by Witchwood. In the mid-1970s, Strawbs were on a roll in the United States. The band had had five consecutive albums on the Billboard charts between 1972-1975, with Hero and Heroine and Ghosts selling over half a million copies between them. This CD was recorded on Strawbs’ first U.S. headline tour and is the first release of this concert on CD. After John Hawken’s first departure, Cousins, Lambert, Cronk, and Coombes were augmented by Robert Kirby and John Mealing, both on keyboards. This CD shows how Strawbs’ stage show had evolved from its early folk-inspired tunes into an almost continuous symphonic sequence of hard-hitting songs. Among the established classics were new offerings from the Nomadness album including The Promised Land, To Be Free, and Hanging in the Gallery, which have never appeared before on a Strawbs live album.
Of a Time is a previously unreleased album available for the first time in 2012. It falls between the 1967 recording of All Our Own Work by Sandy Denny and the Strawbs, and the first A&M album Strawbs released in 1969. It is a mix of pop-orchestral stylings, a concept, UK folk trends of the time, and the modal harmonies and tunings that have come to define Strawbs music over the years. This album has been restored and remastered from original tapes. The 24 tracks include the originally intended album plus alternative recordings and mixes, outtakes, unreleased tracks, and spoken word material by Tony Visconti. See the Strawbs site for detailed info.
Dave Cousins’ Two Weeks Last Summer (1972) was recorded between Strawbs’ Grave New World and Bursting at the Seams albums. Assisting Dave are Dave Lambert (who had not yet joined the Strawbs), Rick Wakeman, Roger Glover (Deep Purple), Jon Hiseman (Colosseum), and others. The album fits in well with the Strawbs’ releases, and this 2004 CD adds the track Going Home, which had been released as a single.
This is the 2008 edition of this CD on the Esoteric label, known for their superb remastering jobs. Esoteric’s description: “Stud were formed in 1970 by Richard McCracken and John Wilson (from the recently disbanded Taste) and Jim Cregan (of Blossom Toes and later Family). The album they recorded for Decca’s Deram label was an amalgam of rock and jazz and was an outstanding progressive album of its time. The sessions also featured guest appearances by Poli Palmer (Family) and John Weider (Eric Burdon & The Animals, Family). Although Stud never achieved the acclaim they deserved, their debut album remains highly sought after by aficionados of progressive rock.”
This is the newly-remastered 2014 edition on Esoteric, which adds one bonus track. “During his post-Police musical career, guitarist Andy Summers has compiled a series of altogether distinctive, fusion-based solo outings marked by his shrewd compositional pen and laudable technical acumen. Moreover, Summers displays a somewhat lyrically driven guitar sound, teeming with animated lines, a rubato-like methodology, and bone-crushing crunch chords, as evidenced on this 1995 release. Here, the artist garners strong support from ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker, along with notable session musicians Mitchell Forman (keyboards), Jerry Watts (bass), and Greg Bissonette (drums). More importantly, the guitarist integrates strings (the Trouserfly String Quartet) into this rather vibrant mix, consisting of Afro-Cuban rhythms, wailing lead soloing, East Indian modalities, and more. Otherwise, many of these works convey an eerie or foreboding musical environment, largely due to a potpourri of discordant themes and portentous musings.” [AllMusic] The album was co-produced by David Hentschel (Genesis).
This is the 2014 debut by a British neo-prog band on IQ’s Giant Electric Pea label, produced by IQ’s Mike Holmes and engineered by Rob Aubrey. Expect something resembling IQ and Jadis blended with influences of Muse, Porcupine Tree, and Cardiacs. Read the Prog Archives and Lady Obscure reviews. Note the band has since changed its name to Kyros.
Check our DVDs page for The Tangent’s Going Off On One DVD. The Tangent are one of today’s top-tier prog bands, centered on talented composer/keyboardist/singer Andy Tillison, also of the band Parallel or 90 Degrees (Po90). The Tangent’s debut The Music That Died Alone (2003) features the lineup of Tillison, Guy Manning; Roine Stolt, Zoltan Csorsz, and Jonas Reingold of The Flower Kings, and David Jackson (Van der Graaf Generator) on sax and flute. This album is notable for the 8-minute The Canterbury Sequence, a great and deliberate recreation of the Caravan and Hatfield and the North styles.
Those who saw The Tangent on their 2005 tour knew that their third studio album would likely be their best to date, as The Tangent had transformed from a studio project into a band. And their first two CDs did not prepare one for how good this band really is. A Place in the Queue (2006, 79-minutes) is outstanding, integrating the Flower Kings and Canterbury styles into a cohesive and unique whole. On this album, Tillison is joined by Jonas Reingold on bass, Guy Manning on acoustic guitars and vocals, Jaime Salazar on drums, Theo Travis on woodwinds and vocals, Sam Baine on keys and vocals, and Krister Jonsson on electric guitars. The booklet is lavishly illustrated by Ed Unitsky. Queue up to buy this one.
The double-CD Not as Good as the Book (2008) is their fourth studio album. Baine and Jonsson are gone, but Jakko M Jakszyk (21st Century Schizoid Band) is in. The Tangent can do no wrong. They are able to channel the progressive giants without copying them, and on this album they are expanding their range, while it also feels more personal. In addition to a clearer Van der Graaf Generator influence, you could even add Quantum Jump now to the list of The Tangent’s influences, or maybe it’s just a similar quality in Tillison’s and Rupert Hine’s voices.
This is the jewel box edition of Down and Out in Paris and London (2009), The Tangent’s fifth studio CD, the name borrowed from the George Orwell novel though the music and lyrics are not related to the novel. At this juncture, The Tangent consisted of Tillison, Guy Manning, Theo Travis, drummer Paul Burgess (Camel, 10cc) and bassist Jonathan Barrett (Po90). As Tillison notes: “For the first time since 2003, all the members of The Tangent are English. I think that’s an important thing, because one of the most defining things about The Tangent’s sound has been a certain ‘Englishness’ - an affinity with the roots of prog rock.” The CD concludes with the 13-minute The Canterbury Sequence Volume 2, this time sounding less like Caravan, more like Hatfield and the North, National Health, and Gilgamesh. Read the review at Bill’s Prog Blog.
Comm (2011) is The Tangent’s sixth studio CD. This jewel case special edition includes two bonus tracks, one of which is a cover of Genesis’ Watcher of the Skies. “Comm represents The Tangent’s best and most powerful work to date.” Read the full Progmeister review and the Dangerdog review.
Le Sacre du Travail (2013) features a new all-star lineup of Andy Tillison, Theo Travis, Jonas Reingold, Gavin Harrison, Jakko M Jakszyk, and David Longdon (Big Big Train). Guests include Guy Manning and Rikard Sjöblom (Beardfish). This is the jewel box edition, which includes the same three bonus tracks (~10 minutes) as the other more expensive editions. Read the Sea of Tranquility, Progarchy, and Background Magazine reviews. Watch the album trailer video.
This is the U.S. jewel case edition of The Tangent’s eighth album A Spark in the Aether (2015), which contains the same bonus track as the European edition. This CD is subtitled The Music That Died Alone - Volume Two, a reference to The Tangent’s debut album. The lineup now is Andy Tillison, Theo Travis, Jonas Reingold, Luke Machin, and new drummer Morgan Ågren (Mats/Morgan band, Kaipa, Frank Zappa). Tillison says: “This is an album that seeks to return to the core of what The Tangent means to me… After our big orchestral opus that we delivered in Le Sacre du Travail, we’re to an extent reining in the instrumentation to the 5-piece electric prog rock band and focusing a little more on that all-important second word of the genre name: rock. At least (grins with less than average teeth) for the first half!” This time around, The Tangent incorporate American influences, ensuring A Spark in the Aether has something new to offer. “This will probably be my album of the year for 2015... It is not every day that you hear an album for the first time and realise you are listening to an absolute masterpiece of writing, playing, and production. In this case it happened, and on subsequent listens gets even better.” Read the full Background Magazine review, also the Progradar review. Watch the videos for the title track and San Francisco.
The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery (2017, digipack) is The Tangent’s ninth studio album. The lineup now is Andy Tillison (keyboards, vocals, drums), Luke Machin (guitar, vocals), Jonas Reingold (bass), Theo Travis (sax, flute), and new member Marie-Eve de Gaultier (keyboards, vocals). “This is the best The Tangent release since 2003’s debut The Music That Died Alone. The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery is complex, adventurous and clever, and it succeeds in blending traditional prog and jazz-fusion expectations with the best type of forward-thinking musical chicanery... It is simply masterful, as one would expect from musicians of this calibre. The Tangent are indeed back.” Read the full The Prog Report review.
Tantalus may be the most overlooked of the British neo-prog bands. Their second album Short Stories was originally released in 1996 on cassette by the first Tantalus lineup. It was remastered in 2002 for this CD with two 2001 recordings from the second lineup added. Two instrumental tracks are the highlights: the Camel homage Moondance, and a rousing version of Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor. Listen to 23 Enigma.
Jubal (2000, 72-minutes) is their third album, about which Jurriaan Hage wrote: “Generally the music sounds like a mix of a bit of the optimistic Yes sound with typical English nineties neo-progressive, like Pendragon and maybe a bit of Primitive Instinct and Mostly Autumn without the female vocals and the folk. This album would have fit very well on the Cyclops label.” Also read the DPRP review.
Start with their fourth album Lumen et Caligo I (2002, 74-minutes). Listen to Harp Dance / Dig the Sod. Read reviews at Prog Archives, Progressor, and DPRP. These are all the MALS label editions. Lumen et Caligo I is the redesigned, remastered version.
Head (2000) is the debut by British prog band Thieves’ Kitchen, who on this CD sound vocally very much like Jadis. Instrumentally it’s a bit more diverse than that, with lots of proggy things going on throughout five long tracks spanning 63-minutes. The final 20-minute track T.A.N.U.S. is worth the price of admission alone, as they add a National Health or Bruford feel to their otherwise more neo-prog style, foreshadowing the direction they would head (pun unavoidable) in.
On Argot (2001), Thieves’ Kitchen continue with the style established on T.A.N.U.S., with four extremely long tracks totaling 65-minutes. There is little if anything neo-progressive on this CD. Keyboardist Wolfgang Kindl favors organ, often with the sound and style of Dave Stewart/National Health, while guitarist Phil Mercy, like Phil Miller, plays in an angular style. Overall the music is more rock-oriented and less jazz-influenced than National Health (and it almost goes without saying that there is no writer in the band on the level of Dave Stewart). Despite the neo-prog background of some of the members, T.K. de-emphasize melody, as the complexity of the music leaves little room for melodic vocal lines. Echolyn offshoot Finneus Gauge is a good reference point. This is the MALS label edition.
Shibboleth (2003) is their third CD and it trumps the previous two. The band now take their cues more from Hatfield and the North and National Health than from the symphonic bands. Since their previous album, Thieves’ Kitchen swapped their male singer for Amy Darby, and her voice fits the music better. While organ is still his main keyboard, Wolfgang Kindl plays some Mellotron on this album, in case you wondered what a Canterbury band would sound like with Mellotron. So here is a modern British prog band carving out their own identity, creating music to satisfy cravings for complex arrangements and instrumental interplay, and finally getting everything right. This is the MALS label edition.
For The Water Road (2008, 73-minutes), Thieves’ Kitchen’ have a new keyboardist: Thomas Johnson, formerly of Änglagård. The rest of the lineup remains the same, but there are guest musicians. Änglagård alumnus Anna Holmgren contributes numerous flute passages, original TK bassist Paul Beecham plays sax and oboe, and cello makes an appearance courtesy of Stina Pettersson. Furthermore, vocalist Amy Darby also plays recorders, clarinet, harp, and Theremin. The album was recorded at Rob Aubrey’s studio, with the keyboards recorded at Mattias Olsson’s studio in Stockholm. Johnson was very much involved in the writing, and for the first 25 minutes or so, the Änglagård style is dominant. After that, Thieves’ Kitchen’s Canterbury style reasserts itself, with guitarist Phil Mercy still responsible for much of the writing. This is the best-sounding TK CD so far, and with the blend of the Änglagård and Canterbury styles, the best TK CD to date period.
One for Sorrow, Two for Joy (2013, digisleeve) is well worth the long wait. The core of Thieves’ Kitchen remains singer Amy Darby, guitarist Phil Mercy, and keyboardist Thomas Johnson. Flutist Anna Holmgren returns, while the rhythm section on this album is Sanguine Hum’s: Paul Mallyon (drums) and Brad Waissman (bass). Other guests include cellist Tove Törngren and trumpeter Paul Marks. TK’s well-established jazzy Canterbury style dominates (Bill Bruford’s Feels Good to Me is another good reference), with the Mellotron and secondary instruments adding important extra dimensions. Darby’s vocals remind us of Squonk Opera. The busy Rob Aubrey again engineered. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Thinkman was essentially a fictitious band name Rupert Hine used for his three albums released between 1986-1990. This had to do mostly with Hine wanting to hide his name from mainstream critics, feeling that his success as a producer for Top 20 acts such as The Fixx, Howard Jones, Chris de Burgh, and Tina Turner was responsible for the negative reactions to the albums he had released under his own name. (The actual reason was the same reason the mainstream critics were vehemently anti-progressive rock, that is, they had musical IQs in the single digits.) The Formula (1986) was first. Life Is a Full Time Occupation (1988) is generally dark and aggressive. Hard Hat Zone (1990), though not hugely different, is probably where prog fans should start. Among the other musicians helping out here are Geoffrey Richardson on electric & acoustic guitar, bass, electric & acoustic viola, violin, and ukulele; and Phil Palmer on electric guitars. Check for the related Martin Ansell CD above.
Emotional Creatures Part One (2005) and Part Two (2007) are two finely-crafted neo-prog albums from English singer/songwriter Steve Thorne. Both were released on IQ’s GEP label and include many well-known prog musicians. Part One includes, among others, Tony Levin, Nick D’Virgilio, Geoff Downes (Asia), Martin Orford (IQ), Gary Chandler (Jadis), Steve Christey (Jadis, John Wetton), John Jowitt (IQ, many more), and Paul Cook (ex-IQ). Part Two includes D’Virgilio, Levin, Chandler, Downes, Orford, Pete Trewavas (Marillion), John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, etc.), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), and several more. Both are excellent albums featuring Thorne’s songs, vocals, and multi-instrumental skills in expansive symphonic arrangements that integrate progressive rock with folk and pop leanings. The styles touch upon Hogarth-era Marillion, IQ, Jadis, Kevin Gilbert, Peter Gabriel, Manning, Pineapple Thief, and more. In classic British progressive fashion, Thorne starts with a song; it’s the arrangement that makes it progressive rock. Read the DPRP reviews of Part One and Part Two.
Thorne moved to the Festival Music label for his 2009 third CD Into the Ether. Thorne again assembled a stellar cast of musicians to realize his songs, including Trewavas, D’Virgilio, Harrison, Levin, Mitchell, Chandler, John Giblin (Brand X, many others), and John Beck (It Bites, Kino). Thorne has taken the production and songwriting on Into The Ether to the next level. With thought-provoking lyrics, very strong melodies and lush arrangements, if ‘singer-songwriter neo-prog’ is a genre, then Steve Thorne is the benchmark. Warning to those who embrace the modern zeitgeist: these songs contain joy and exuberance and may cause you to feel good. The CD comes in a slipcase with 28-page booklet. Read the DPRP review.
Thorne is back on GEP for Crimes & Reasons (2012, 54-minutes, digipack). This album features Tony Levin on bass, Nick D’Virgilio and Bob White on drums, Gary Chandler on guitar, and (coaxed briefly out of retirement) Martin Orford on flute, with Thorne handling more instruments himself. It’s another collection of songs as good as any coming out of the UK now in any genre, full of heart energy, set in prog rock arrangements with a suitably powerful and expansive sound (thanks to Rob Aubrey and his studio), and not a single weak track. Read the DPRP review.
Island of the Imbeciles (2016, digipack) is Steve Thorne’s fifth and possibly last album. Steve intends to take a break from his solo career for a while, although he says he has enough material for another four or five albums, but that he wants to concentrate on writing for other artists. Tony Levin, Nick D’Virgilio, and Robin Armstrong (Cosmograf) all contribute to Island of the Imbeciles. Watch the promo video. (Yes, we wish it was longer than 42 seconds too, but you have to admit, it’s a great 42 seconds.)
Tiger Moth Tales is the brainchild of Englishman Peter Jones, who has a background writing and performing adult contemporary music but went full-on prog with Cocoon (2014), released on Rob Reed’s White Knight label. Well, most of our customers are adults and many of them are contemporary, so maybe this still is adult contemporary music. Jones cites his influences as (from the classic side) Genesis, Steve Hackett, and Queen, and (from the modern side) Frost, Big Big Train, and Haken, also Roine Stolt (who Jones may not have heard until recently, but as Stolt was a founding member of Kaipa, he can straddle both camps). The artist name is itself an allusion to Steve Hackett. If you have the love we do for Genesis and English whimsy, this album will make you drop what you’re doing and just listen and smile.
What could be better than the best recent new prog artist turning out a fantastic second CD in a short time? Story Tellers Part One (2015, digisleeve) is just that. Pete lost his sight as an infant to Retinoblastoma, making his story quite amazing and inspiring. “Peter Jones has delivered what is, to my ears, an album that is even better than the delights of Cocoon. My inner child is brought to the fore by the magic, charm, and allure of Story Tellers Part One. It takes me away to an inner nirvana where nothing can touch me or spoil my mood. Peter is one of the pre-eminent songwriters out there today and has given us a little piece of wonder to enjoy.” Read the full Progradar review. Watch the videos for Beauty Falls and The Quest for Beauty.
The Depths of Winter (2017, digisleeve) runs over 70 minutes, with most of the songs based on wintery concepts. The music is sometimes more melancholy and personal than the previous two albums, with Jones’ soothing vocals serving as a warm blanket. Luke Machin (The Tangent) guests. Fans of Big Big Train don’t need us to recommend Tiger Moth Tales to them because they’re a clever lot who’ve already figured that out. Watch the videos for Hygge and The Ballad of Longshank John. Read The Progressive Aspect and The Prog Mind reviews.
We haven’t heard the earlier albums of this Shropshire band, but from their website, The Timedivers appear to be a pub band who got more ambitious. If the cover art on this 2007 CD looks like Pawn Hearts, it is by Paul Whitehead, and the band does list Van der Graaf Generator as one of their influences, also Genesis, Jethro Tull, Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, and a host of bands from other genres. The music could be termed ‘semi-progressive’. It sounds straight out of the British early 1970s scene, and The Timedivers sometimes sound like a proggier version of the 70s prog-folk-rock band Decameron. If you don’t know Decameron, Strawbs is the next best approximation.
Times Up are a band from South Wales (the land of Magenta and Karnataka, whether or not the inhabitants are aware of that) who on Snow Queen (2012) play a brand of progressive rock that also owes a debt to classic rock. They have a quality singer who is up to the task. “Their second release is a resplendent, pensive affair steeped in fragments from progressive rock’s formative years, but it still seems relevant to the modern prog-rock movement. The melodies which permeate the album will kindle memories of innovators such as Yes and Genesis, but still capture the distinctly modern direction the genre has taken in recent years.” [Prog magazine]
Scorch (2014, digipack) is the second album for Tin Spirits, released on Esoteric Antenna which is Esoteric’s imprint for new prog as opposed to reissues. Tin Spirits are a quartet led by former XTC and current Big Big Train guitarist Dave Gregory. Gregory’s guitar work has been an important factor in Big Big Train’s ascension. Tin Spirits are unabashedly progressive (the final track exceeds 15 minutes) yet entirely accessible. After an appearance at the 2014 Summer’s End prog festival, UK prog fans know this band well, and now U.S. fans need to get on board. Read the Progarchy review. Watch the video for Summer Now and listen to Little Eyes.
First there was just Fish. Now we have Strangefish, Beardfish, and London-based Tinyfish, who bill themselves as “the world’s smallest prog rock band”. Their singer, Simon Godfrey, is the brother of Jem Godfrey of Frost. Tinyfish’s self-titled 2006 debut (currently out-of-print) is on the melodic rock side of neo-prog, with influences of Pink Floyd, Marillion, and others. The focus is on the songs, atmosphere, strong vocals and vocal harmonies, all hallmarks of the current crop of British prog bands.
Curious Things (2009, digipack) is a 29-minute mini-album containing rare tracks recorded prior to Tinyfish’s first album. The music was recorded, produced and mixed by Jem Godfrey.
The Big Red Spark is Tinyfish’s 2010 studio CD. The bonus DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains four more audio tracks (48kHz PCM stereo) plus a video entitled An Interview with Tinyfish. There’s nothing tiny about this album. It’s far more ambitious than what they’d done previously, head and shoulders above their debut. Everything from the writing to the playing to the recording quality has been taken to the next level. In fact, it’s the first prog album to ever get 9/10 from Geoff Barton in Classic Rock Magazine, who wrote: “Three years in the making, The Big Red Spark is a concept album tour de force – and then some. The world’s smallest prog band (as Tinyfish like to style themselves) have forged an absolute monster, equal parts deeply involving and massively confusing... All the familiar Tinyfish traits are here, but amped to the max. Jim Sanders’ guitar sounds gigantic; the recurring themes reverberate with chilling precision; the spoken-word parts sound like they’ve been lifted from the script of Blade Runner. Or Brazil. Or Metropolis… even though it was a silent movie. See? That’s the twisted effect Tinyfish have on you.” The four songs on the DVD may be there because they’re not part of the story; they have a more organic feel than the album proper.
Check our DVDs page for Tinyfish’s One Night on Fire: Live in Poland DVD.
“Esoteric Recordings announce the release of a newly remastered and expanded edition of the classic 1970 album by British progressive rock band Titus Groan. The band signed to Pye’s Dawn imprint in 1970, recording a sole album and 3-track maxi single for the label. Featuring a line-up of Stewart Cowell (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Tony Priestland (sax, oboe, flute), John Lee (bass) and John Toomey (drums), the band’s only album was a jazz-influenced early prog classic and included the epic track Hall of Bright Carvings. This expanded edition has been remastered from the original master tapes, restores the album artwork and features three bonus tracks.”
Touchstone are a British melodic prog band who were voted Best New Band by Britain’s Classic Rock Society in 2007. Their first full-length CD Discordant Dreams (2007) led to Touchstone making their first U.S. appearances at Rosfest 2009 and CalProg 2009. Like many of the more recent British prog bands, Touchstone’s progressive rock has an AOR or melodic rock side to it. Their great strength is their blended male/female vocals, which brings their sound close to The Reasoning. Read the DPRP review of Discordant Dreams and the Sea of Tranquility review of their first three.
Live in the USA is a double-CD containing 14 live tracks from Touchstone’s 2009 appearances at RoSfest and CalProg.
Touchstone’s first DVD (NTSC, all-region) is a double containing two performances. The ‘Inside’ concert (Disc 1) is the entire set from October 2013 at The Robin in Bilston, the last date of the launch tour for Touchstone’s 2013 CD Oceans of Time. The performance was filmed and directed by Magenta’s Rob Reed, who also edited and mixed the recording. The ‘Outside’ concert (Disc 2) is the full set from 2010’s High Voltage festival in London, which has not been previously released. John Mitchell guests on the closing number Strange Days. Disc 2 also includes a “making of” documentary following the creation of Oceans of Time from initial writing sessions to rehearsing to recording. The third disc in this digisleeve package is an audio CD containing the soundtrack of the Bilston show.
British saxophonist/flautist and composer Theo Travis has played with a whole lot of people, including Steven Wilson (who mixed and mastered this album), Porcupine Tree, Gong, The Tangent, Soft Machine Legacy, Robert Fripp, Karmakanic, No Man, Bass Communion, Francis Dunnery, Bill Nelson, David Sinclair, Jade Warrior, and many more. Double Talk is Travis’ fusion band, who on Transgression (2015, digipack) play powerful instrumental progressive electric jazz-rock with a strong 1970s influence. Travis says: “I’ve written most of the music and much of it reflects my love of music from the late 1960s and early 1970s when the boundaries between jazz, rock, and experimental music were more fluid, though I think the music we have recorded still sounds contemporary. You might be able to hear the influences of King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra, as well as late Talk Talk and ECM artists such as Terje Rypdal and my friend Palle Mikkelborg.” One track is an instrumental version of The Tangent’s A Place in the Queue, another is a cover of Robert Wyatt’s Maryan. Listen to the album trailer part 1 and part 2. Part 2 introduces the other musicians in the band, who have a wealth of experience.
This is Esoteric’s reissue of First Meeting (1971), originally released on the Dawn label. It was the only album for Trifle, a British proto-prog / jazz-rock band in the same vein as Colosseum, with sax and trumpet in the lineup. Rod Coombes was the drummer; he eventually went on to Strawbs. Read the AllMusic review. This edition was remastered from the original master tapes and adds two bonus tracks, one non-LP, one a single version.
This band want to spell their name with a numeral. On their 2001 debut The Cold Light of Darkness, Tr3nity play melodic prog primarily in the Pendragon style, with a Pink Floyd feel on one track. The Pendragon-like tracks are their best material, comprising the first half of the CD. The CD concludes with a 20-minute epic that, while not spectacular, does build effectively from introspective to anthemic, closer to the style of Pallas.
Trojan Horse are one of the new breed of British prog bands that the Bad Elephant label is especially good at signing, bands that are fresh and exciting and don’t retread familiar prog paths. As such they aren’t easy to describe in a few words. Trojan Horse somehow connect the dots between early Soft Machine and Cardiacs, taking a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way. It all goes into a blender and comes out with a lot of energy. World Turned Upside Down (2014, digipack) is their second. “Ever since Trojan Horse’s brilliant self-titled debut, this magazine has championed them, and here is the grand payoff. The Duke brothers and drummer Guy Crawford have made a spectacular follow-up worthy of their Salfordian musical heritage as well as their 70s prog forebears... Trojan Horse have again brought together everything that’s great about both classic and modern prog.” [Prog magazine] Watch the album promo video and the video for Paper Bells.
Hopefully most of you are familiar with this British band who, along with Marillion, IQ, Pendragon, Pallas, Solstice, and Haze, spearheaded the progressive revival of the 1980s. MMX is the first newly-recorded Twelfth Night CD since 1986! Recorded live in May 2010, MMX is a double-CD featuring over two hours of classic Twelfth Night performed by the new six-piece line-up. The double-DVD (PAL, all-region) has the same songs plus lots of extras: backstage footage, radio interviews, alternative views of We Are Sane, Take a Look, Creepshow and The Collector; three galleries featuring exclusive music including a new piece by Andy Sears and a new ‘avant-garde’ remix of Creepshow by Clive Mitten; new menu music by Dean Baker and Mark Spencer, and sleeve notes by Andrew Wild and Clive Mitten. Watch a low-res excerpt.
We’ll let Charlie O’Mara of Silhobbit explain the Reading Rock ’83 DVD (PAL, all-region): “Twelfth Night’s appearance at the Reading Rock festival in 1983 saw the band at their peak with Geoff Mann. Indeed this may have been his last appearance with the band, as he left soon after. Their gig was supposedly professionally filmed, though this footage has never materialised, but recently audience camera footage of the band’s set has surfaced and, although only four of the six tracks performed that day were usable, the band have painstakingly mated the visuals with archive Radio One Friday Rock Show stereo audio. So thanks to all that we get to see the band blast their way through The Ceiling Speaks, Creepshow, The Poet Sniffs a Flower and the classic Sequences. As this is an historical piece, to criticise it would be like finding the Holy Grail and whinging that “it’s a bit dented, isn’t it”. But still, it is a bit dented. This is in essence a handycam audience bootleg albeit with near perfect sound. The action on stage is sometimes a little indistinct, some of the footage had to be replaced with stills, and you’ll wish a sniper had taken out the pratt with the flag. Even given all that it still has its charm. On top of that, you do get an insightful interview with Brian Devoil and Clive Mitten and another four live tracks: We Are Sane, This City, Fact and Fiction and Afghan Red, recorded at Reading University in January 1983. The DVD is rounded off with some slideshows and a couple of Easter eggs. Which I didn’t find. This is not a DVD for the casual fan of the band or the curious outsider, but it never set out to be that. This is a piece of history for real fans to reminisce over.” This trailer will let you see/hear for yourself.
The double-CD Voices in the Night (2007) contains unreleased recordings featuring all the vocalists associated with Twelfth Night. CD 1 is a collection of studio rarities including three tracks with Electra from the Twelfth Night Early Material album. A rare track with short-tenure singer Ian Lloyd Jones is followed by three with Geoff Mann and four with Andy Sears. The track with Axe is the only recording with him on vocals. The last vocalist, Martyn Watson, contributes four tracks. CD2 is a live disc. The first two tracks have been repeatedly requested by fans as they are the lost encores from Geoff’s final Marquee show, which were captured on Live and Let Live but space did not permit inclusion there, so this is their first release on CD. Tracks with Andy Sears and Martyn Watson follow before a version of Love Song with both Geoff and Andy singing. The package includes sleeve notes by band members Brian Devoil and Electra, plus a collection of rare photos. Out-of-print, last copies.
The first Twelfth Night vinyl release was the classic instrumental LP Live at the Target (1981), highlighted by the 20-minute track Sequences. The 2012 Live at the Target Definitive Edition 2CD contains the original album on the first disc and adds a bonus CD of live tracks from that period plus a couple of extremely rare studio recordings. On that second disc, the tracks Entropy and Keep The Aspidistra Flying were recorded at the Old Five Bells, Northampton, 29 March 1981 and are taken from the archive CD Entropy. Encore Une Fois and (Hats Off To) Freddie Hepburn were recorded at the Bridgehouse, Bracknell, 12 April 1980. Afghan Single was recorded at Woodcray Manor Farm Studios, Wokingham, 25 May 1981. Für Helene I was recorded at Arny’s Shack, Bournemouth, August 1980 and was the B-side of their first single. The Cunning Man was recorded at Reading University, 27 June 1980, taken from the archive CD A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Afghan Red was recorded at The Target, Reading, 21 November 1980, while Für Helene II was recorded at Reading University, 13 November 1979. Five tracks are previously unreleased, while a sixth appears on CD for the first time. The 16-page booklet has some new sleeve notes and lots of previously unseen photographs from the archives.
The next vinyl release after Live at the Target was Fact and Fiction, but in between was the 1982 cassette-only Smiling at Grief album, which was the first album with Geoff Mann on vocals. It was released on CD in 1997 by the French MSI label, but that label has been out-of-business for years. This double-CD ‘definitive edition’ contains the original album and the bonus tracks that appeared on the MSI CD, plus a second disc containing the archive release Smiling at Grief Live. The latter is the only known live recording of the four-piece line-up, from a concert recorded a month or so after the studio album. This set also includes three previously-unreleased tracks, including the original demo of Eleanor Rigby and a very different early version of This City. Smiling at Grief Definitive Edition sports new artwork, sleeve notes and previously unseen photographs.
Live and Let Live is a classic British neo-prog live album, the document of Twelfth Night’s final gig with singer Geoff Mann, recorded over two nights at London’s Marquee Club in November 1983. When originally released on vinyl, only 6 of the 15 songs performed were recorded to multi-track and included. This double-CD ‘definitive edition’ is the first time the entire concert has been released. The complete set has been reconstructed, in the actual running order, using the best available sources from those two nights. Five of the songs are taken directly from the original release: The Ceiling Speaks, We Are Sane, Fact and Fiction, The Poet Sniffs a Flower, and Sequences. The End of the Endless Majority has been remixed from the original 24-track master tapes. Also present on the multi-track tape and now included is a recording of Deep in the Heartland. The encores were recorded directly onto 2-track tape by the Marquee team as a gift for the band. Three of these were included on the Cyclops CD reissue (Creepshow, East of Eden, and Love Song), and the remaining two (Art and Illusion and Aspidentropy) were edited together for the Geoff Mann CD Recorded Delivery, and later on the Voices in the Night CD. These five songs have been newly remastered from the original 2-track tape and are now released for the first time complete and in the correct order. Both shows were recorded to video; this source provides the audio for Human Being and Afghan Red. The Collector comes from a show a few days earlier since it was a far better recording.
Art & Illusion (1984) was the first Twelfth Night album with Andy Sears as their singer. The 2010 double-CD ‘definitive edition’ on the Festival Music label includes the seven bonus tracks from the 2003 Cyclops label edition. It adds a bonus live CD containing 12 songs compiled from the Art & Illusion tour, nearly all previously-unreleased. Four of the bonus studio tracks on Disc 1 are alternate versions, while the remaining three are proggy studio versions of tracks that were destined to be part of the next album: Blue Powder Monkey, Blondon Fair, and the 12-minute Take A Look. The album proper was remastered for the Cyclops edition, while the bonus tracks have been remastered for the new Festival Music edition, which includes new artwork and sleeve notes.
Geoff Mann was the much-loved singer for Twelfth Night. After his departure from that band, he pursued a more personal rock music, first releasing three albums under his own name with various musicians but no real band, then two albums with his band The Bond. Peace Offering (74-minutes) contains The Bond album Prints of Peace (1988) plus five demos of tracks from 1987’s Won by One. The Bond was formed at the time Geoff had begun training for ordination into the Church of England, so his lyrics became more overtly Christian. Out-of-print, last copies.
This 1992 CD includes Geoff Mann and Marc Catley’s 1988 collaboration album In Difference plus four tracks from Geoff Mann’s 1984 Chants Would be a Fine Thing LP, three tracks from Catley’s 1987 The Peel Tower Hop EP and one track from his 1986 mini-album This is the Birth of Classical Acoustic Rock. The style is mainly-acoustic progressive rock songs. 75-minutes total.
This 74-minute CD, originally released in 1994, is a tribute to Geoff Mann, who passed away in 1993 at age 36. It includes performances by Pallas, IQ, Galahad, Eden Burning, Pendragon, Jadis, Twelfth Night, Clive Nolan & Alan Reed, and more, performing Geoff Mann and Twelfth Night songs. The fact that all the performers were friends of Geoff makes this all the more heartfelt. The detailed 24-page booklet is full of photos and info on Geoff Mann. This is the 2001 Verglas edition. Out-of-print, last copies.
At last, Twice Bitten on CD! Twice Bitten is the duo of Rog Patterson and Greg Smith, who met at Nottingham University in 1982. A shared love of the work of Anthony Phillips and 12-string guitars led to them writing (in their words) ‘quasi-prog compositions’ and inventing the genre ‘heavy wood’ -- melodic music relying on electric and acoustic stringed instruments with no keyboards or drums. As Rog says: “Frequent appearances at the Marquee in London in support of various proggy luminaries (Twelfth Night, Solstice, Pendragon, and so on) had built Twice Bitten a loyal, if slightly baffled, following.” Twice Bitten released only two cassette albums: Dialogue in 1984 and No Third Man in 1985. Late Cut (2015, digipack) is the CD reissue of No Third Man with the audio cleaned up and remastered, plus two tracks recorded in 2015. One of these is the 12-minute, five-movement Crocus Point, a track Twice Bitten used to perform live but which had previously only been recorded in greatly abridged form. Fans of Anthony Phillips and early Genesis, this album will restore you spiritually. Watch the video for Crocus Point. Read the Progradar review.
Following the dissolution of Twice Bitten in 1986, Rog Patterson carried on in a similar style, releasing the cassette albums M25 (1986) and Talking to the Weather (1987), The Unexpected EP (1988), and the LP Flightless (1989). He toured extensively after Flightless, collaborated with Nigel Mazlyn Jones (whose style is similar) and Anthony Phillips, and became a member of Coltsfoot, appearing on the albums Action at a Distance (featuring a young Steven Wilson) and A Winter Harvest. By this time, Rog was touring regularly with Pendragon as sound engineer, which led to more sound engineering and tour management work. The Flightless CD (2017, digipack) offered here contains the six songs from the LP remastered plus three bonus tracks; one appears on Talking to the Weather and the other two are previously-unreleased. Stylistically, Rog describes his music as “gluten-free Jethro Tull”. Not overly keen on the phrase ‘singer-songwriter’, he regards himself simply as a lyricist who owns some guitars; he takes his lyrics very seriously, and himself not even slightly seriously. Thanks to the Bad Elephant label for rescuing this music.
We would’ve stocked this British CD just for the band name, but it turns out to be an amazing album. It’s a homemade project that doesn’t sound homemade, but it does have the charm of an authentic, hand-knitted prog album. The music was written by father-son team Kevin and Bruce McDade, who play most of the instruments with help from a few others, while father Kevin wrote the lyrics. They did the smart thing in hiring drummer Gareth Roberts, a veteran of London’s West End, then recorded the drums and had the album mixed in a professional studio. The result is an excellent sounding production named Grak (2014, digipack). Paradoxically, it is familiar-sounding enough to make classic prog fans feel all warm and fuzzy, yet it’s also unlike anything you’ve heard before. There are influences of Genesis and Jethro Tull, among others. There are folk instruments including violin, mandolin, acoustic guitar, and bodhran (Irish heritage on display). There are synths and French horns and Mellotron, but there is also heavy guitar sprinkled throughout, and some crazy electronic beats. The 22-minute closer A Sense of Texture has a middle section of manic electronic beats (challenging Mike Oldfield’s Guilty for best prog dance bit), yet it never stops sounding like prog. The music can be quite complex (the 150 tracks of audio on A Sense of Texture crashed the studio’s Pro Tools system), and the mix engineer contributed this useful review quote: “This is flippin bonkers!”. But for all the complexity, there are songs here. If it seems as though modern prog bands are unable to write an actual chorus (you know, something that occurs more than once, makes you want to sing along, and sticks in your head after the music has stopped), Twombley Burwash will remind you how British bands of yore wrote choruses. The band says that the idea of the album was to take the listener on such an enjoyable and challenging journey that, at the end, you’d want to start all over. Sounds like the mission statement of the best prog bands. Read the DPRP review; they gave it 10 out of 10.
Another find for the Bad Elephant label, Under a Banner is led by Adam Broadhurst on acoustic guitars and lead vocals, with other band members on electric guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, and backing vocals. A cellist guests on two tracks of The Wild Places (2016, digipack), which follows two full-length albums plus two EPs. This is at its core passionate and sophisticated Celtic-tinged folk-rock that crosses well into prog by virtue of the expansive arrangements and production, somewhat along the lines of Manning. This is a band that gigs a lot, and the album has a live energy.
Check our DVDs page for Van der Graaf Generator DVDs. Hopefully Van der Graaf Generator need no introduction. Their albums should be in any progressive rock collection. This is the 2005 remastered edition of World Record with bonus tracks, new liner notes and photos. The bonus tracks on World Record (1976) are versions of When She Comes and Masks recorded for BBC Radio One’s The John Peel Show in 1976.
Van der Graaf Generator’s 2011 studio CD A Grounding in Numbers received four stars in Mojo: “While Trisector (2008) was finely wrought but felt a mite flat, the music here, while still driven by Van Der Graaf’s characteristic restlessness and intensity, sounds bolder and full of colour. It’s also their most melodic set since VDGG’s earliest days... Peter Hammill’s singing reminds us why he is the greatest pop star that never was, while the group’s momentum is at times diverted into some knotty unison instrumental passages... ‘No one can ever know what of their own’s very best’ states Hammill on Bunsho, but one feels he knows that this album is pretty high up the list.”
This is the digipack 2CD limited edition of the 2015 Van der Graaf Generator live album Merlin Atmos, recorded on the band’s 2013 European tour. Disc 1 contains Flight, Lifetime, All That Before, Bunsho, A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, and Gog. These are reportedly the first live performances of the full Flight and A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, the latter being the band’s all-time epic, while Flight is Peter Hammill’s epic-length piece from his A Black Box album. If that set list isn’t sufficient to cause paroxysms of delight, this limited edition adds a 70-minute second disc containing Interference Patterns, Over the Hill, Your Time Starts Now, Scorched Earth, Meurglys III The Songwriter’s Guild, Man-Erg, and Childlike Faith in Childhood’s End. As you can see, the second disc is as essential as the first, containing many VdGG classics.
Do Not Disturb (2016, digipack) is the band’s 13th studio album, continuing with the Banton/Evans/Hammill lineup. “Incredibly, the new (and possibly final) offering from Van der Graaf Generator is the best thing they’ve done since their reformation. In a career that has origins dating back almost fifty years, this album feels like the culmination of their noble journey, as if this was meant to be the closer. As such, Do Not Disturb sometimes recalls past glories yet sounds new, groundbreaking, and unlike anything else they’ve done. I hope loads of newbies come across it because at least some of them (the ones that don’t run screaming from the room, as ever) will have a Where have they been all my life? moment and work their way backward, and good for them. As for long-time fans, they will not be disappointed although they may be caught off guard and challenged... It’s amazing that they can sound so fresh, so young even, at this point in their career. There’s no less fire or edge now than there was when they made The Least... forty seven years ago. And they’re taking even more chances.” Read Jim Christopulos’s full review. As Shindig! Magazine said: “VdGG’s ongoing existence is one of the beautiful miracles of our age. It’s a privilege to still have them as fellow travellers.”
White Clouds is the 2008 debut CD by British prog band Vienna Circle. On this first album, they operate in Pendragon and Marillion territory, but the band they really remind us of is Castanarc, the soothing lead vocals having much to do with that. Vienna Circle tend to be more atmospheric than those bands and are more serious and profound-sounding than Castanarc, without getting bogged down in it as some modern bands do. That is, the music remains uplifting, with a spiritual quality. So this is what Castanarc would and should sound like in 2008 in an ideal world. Read the DPRP review.
With Silhouette Moon (2013, 8-panel digipack), it’s time for Vienna Circle to emerge as the next star in the UK prog scene. On this concept album, they build on the strengths of White Clouds, with greater ambition in both music and production. They are no longer very reminiscent of Castanarc or confined to neo-prog. There is more of a Pink Floyd or 1990s Porcupine Tree feel, but the breadth of style and level of originality makes it difficult to assign references. However, it should all sound comfortable and familiar to symphonic prog fans. What we’re trying to say is that a lot of people are going to like this. As Prog Magazine said: “Vienna Circle are one of the most ingenious and compelling bands our homegrown scene has to offer.” The DVD (PAL, all-region, 70-minutes) includes the feature length “Making of Silhouette Moon” plus bonus footage. Watch the album trailer. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
Rick Wakeman - G’olé ($13.99)
It took until 2007 for The Burning (1981) to be released on CD, making it a much sought after Rick Wakeman album. This album is a soundtrack to a horror film, but actually only Side 2 of the LP was music from the film. Side 1 was Wakeman extracting themes from the music he composed for the film and turning them into full-fledged, standalone band tracks featuring a guitarist, bassist and drummer. The reason this album takes some critical hits is that two of the songs from the film don’t feature Wakeman at all. They are a country song and a bluegrass song, so stand by the skip button. The rest of the music from the film is Wakeman alone and, aside from the title theme, is soundtrack-y and appropriately sinister. The band material on Side 1 though is classic Wakeman. 2007 Voiceprint edition.
G’olé is another of Rick’s soundtrack albums. The G’olé film was a feature on the 1982 World Cup. The album features Rick alongside long-time percussionist Tony Fernandez and guitarist Jackie McAuley from the legendary Irish rock band Them. The music here is similar to White Rock and Rhapsodies. 2007 Voiceprint edition.
In 1976, Wakeman was asked to compose the music for the official film of the Winter Olympics of the same year. White Rock became a best-seller, reaching the top ten of the album charts of numerous countries. Unfortunately, Rick does not have the rights to the original work, so he rearranged and re-recorded the various themes, resulting in White Rock II (1999). These seven instrumental tracks were recorded with the help of three musicians, among them guitarist Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith (Return to the Centre of the Earth). One of Rick’s better works. Remastered 2006 Voiceprint edition.
Fields Of Green is a studio album that was originally recorded and released in 1997. The album features a version of King Arthur that the BBC had decided to use as music during their General Election coverage of that year. Also featured on the album is a re-recording of the Yes classic Starship Trooper, which is one of the few Yes songs that Rick regularly performs away from the band. Including a Yes song such as this serves mainly to show how weak most of Wakeman’s own post-1970s songs are in comparison. He also has a penchant for using singers that drive prog fans out of the room. So all in all, Fields of Green is a typical post-70s rock album for Wakeman. This is the 2006 remastered Voiceprint edition.
Out of the Blue features a live performance of Rick’s New English Rock Ensemble in Argentina in April 2001. The track listing: Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Buried Alive, Jane Seymour, No Earthly Connection/The Prisoner, Catherine Parr, The Visit/Return of the Phantom, Starship Trooper/Wurm. This is the 2006 remastered Voiceprint edition.
Stella Bianca (1999) is one of Wakeman’s best post-1970s albums, his second collaboration with singer Mario Fasciano. It blends Wakeman’s style with the Italian symphonic prog style. These CDs have a hole drilled through the back of the case over the barcode.
As for the rest, Wakeman’s recorded output greatly exceeds our ability to describe it, but there is an excellent discography here.
Oliver Wakeman (Rick’s eldest son) teamed with Steve Howe on The 3 Ages of Magick (2001), a concept album that continues the style of Rick Wakeman’s most grandiose albums. It is instrumental, with Wakeman and Howe assisted by Tony Dixon (Uilleann pipes, whistles, flute), Jo Greenland (violin), Tim Buchanan (fretted & fretless bass), and Landmarq’s Dave Wagstaffe (drums). This 2013 slipcased edition on Esoteric has been newly remastered and adds three previously unreleased bonus tracks from the album sessions. The expanded booklet contains notes by Oliver Wakeman.
Mother’s Ruin is Oliver Wakeman’s 2005 studio project. While his recent releases have been instrumental, this one is a vocal album, a band album, and Oliver’s most rock-oriented work. It’s a collection of hard-edged but melodic progressive rock songs, with Oliver writing both music and lyrics. There’s plenty of room left for instrumental work, and while the guitarist is clearly a hard rock guitarist, Oliver’s proggy keyboards are the dominant feature. It’s interesting how much his style resembles his father’s. Oliver states, “Of all the albums I have released, Mother’s Ruin stands as the piece of work I am most proud of.” The lineup includes Dave Wagstaffe (Landmarq) on drums.
Heaven’s Isle is instrumental keyboard music based on impressions of the Isle of Lundy off the North Devon coast. Originally released in tiny quantities in 1997, this is the Verglas re-release featuring two additional pieces. Oliver’s style here is again very similar to his father’s. Check our DVDs page for The Oliver Wakeman Band’s Coming to Town DVD.
1994 British neo-prog on the Cyclops label.
Hill Climbing for Beginners (1974) is the first of two albums for this British prog-folk band who really loved Jesus. This is the Radioactive Records edition. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 2009 edition on Esoteric of Concerto for Electric Violin, remastered from the original master tapes. The label says: “Concerto for Electric Violin was recorded by Curved Air and Wolf violinist Darryl Way for Island Records and was the subject of much critical acclaim and a feature on ITV’s South Bank Show upon its release in 1978. A unique fusion of rock and classical music, the album made full use of synthesizer technology to produce a truly unique work of classical progressive rock. For the recording sessions, Way was joined by former Curved Air colleague Francis Monkman and drummer Ian Mosley (formerly with Wolf, later to join Marillion).” “It is exactly what it says on the package, a full-fledged concerto that bucks every prevalent musical fashion (1978 was the age of punk, after all) by proving that prog wasn’t only alive and well, it was also still capable of startling the unwary listener... Certainly Way’s Concerto withstands comparison with any other rocker’s attempt to blend the classics with more modern disciplines.” Read the full AllMusic review.
Ultra Violins (2013) is the first solo album in over 20 years for violinist Darryl Way, known for his work in Curved Air and Darryl Way’s Wolf. Ultra Violins features Way’s interpretations of a number of a well-known classical pieces as well as a new version of the Curved Air show-stopper Vivaldi, all multi-tracked with some use of other instruments for a full sound. On Vivaldi at least, Way plays electric violin. Way says: “The motivating force behind creating Ultra Violins was to introduce some new material for solo violin that came from the vocal repertoire and the world of orchestral music, rather than music specifically for solo violin.” The CD includes a multimedia section with a music video and a video interview of Way. This album is a real pleasure, and you’ll get smarter just by listening to it.
Children of the Cosmos (2014) is Darryl Way’s first prog album in approximately forever. In addition to electric violin, Way plays keyboards and sings, with his daughter Rosie singing on one track. Both Darryl and Rosie are more than capable singers. Read the All About Jazz, Prog Rock Music Talk, and Examiner.com reviews.
Myths, Legends and Tales (2016) continues the second coming of Darryl Way, making progressive rock again with renewed creativity. As Way says: “As a rock violinist, I have always been searching for that elusive sound, turn of phrase and means of expression that would give the electric violin a legitimate voice in the idiom of rock music. With this album, I feel that I have come closer than ever before to achieving this goal. Myths, Legends and Tales is another attempt by me to fly the flag for prog rock. I’ve raised the flag up the mast as far as I am able and can only now hope that it will be seen and appreciated by the devoted fans of this neglected genre.”
These 2008 editions on Esoteric are the first official UK CD releases of these albums, remastered from the original master tapes. Canis Lupus (1973) has two bonus tracks, Saturation Point (1973) has three. Night Music (1974) was the final Wolf album. Wolf was the band formed by violinist/keyboardist Darryl Way after Curved Air first broke up. The band was full of musicians who would go on to become well-known: Ian Mosley on drums (later Trace, Steve Hackett, Marillion), John Etheridge on guitar (later Soft Machine), and Dek Messecar on bass (later Caravan). Ian McDonald produced and guested on the debut Canis Lupus, while former IF vocalist John Hodgkinson had joined the band on Night Music. These are three excellent albums from an often overlooked British progressive rock band. Read the review of all three albums at Music from the Other Side of the Room. All out-of-print, last copies.
Pandora (2015, digipack) is the debut by a wonderful prog band from Manchester, England who use both female and male vocals in music that is heavily instrumental. “The best praise I can give We Are Kin is to say that, for the sixty-four minutes I listen to Pandora, my life is irrevocably a much better place to be.” Read the full Lady Obscure review. “Pandora is awash with melodic and varied compositions that are multi-layered and complex, plus there is an underlying narrative describing a potential future. You can get lost in it all... This is not music that has been written using a formulaic and predictable ‘prog’ blueprint. For me that will always keep me listening over the rehashing of well-known classic prog tracks.” Read the full The Progressive Aspect review.
And I Know (2016, digipack) is their sophomore effort, more difficult to describe than Pandora, which wasn’t easy to describe to begin with. It’s still under the progressive rock umbrella, but it’s even more quirky (and we like quirky). The album title and three of the song titles combine to form the sentence “And I know that one day we’ll have to say goodbye” and yes, there is poignant beauty here. We Are Kin have a unique vision, and their music fascinates in its balance of familiarity and unpredictability. “This is emotion and expression on a grander scale than a casual listening will allow. It is the complete package.” Read the full The Prog Mind review.
Robert Webb is the keyboardist, singer, and main composer in the band England, known for their legendary 1977 album Garden Shed. His solo album Liquorish Allsorts (2014, 64-minutes) contains long lost gems, recordings spanning over 40 years and from many different recording situations, from early studio sessions to home recordings to his current music work. The 20-page booklet tells the story behind each track. Some tracks include crystalline female vocals from Jenny Darren, other tracks have male vocals, and much of the music is instrumental. Many other musicians appear, varying of course track by track. As you’d expect, the music covers more ground than just the England style, but it still falls under the progressive rock and classical-rock umbrella, and much of it does have at least some England flavor, sometimes a lot. In other words, Webb’s solo music is consistent with his work in England, as opposed to the work of a musician who had disowned his past and since made unrelated music. Robert says that his intent has always been either to make pop music more artistic, or art music more popular. Fans of classic prog will find much to love here.
Rock of Faith is Wetton’s 2003 album, while Sinister is from 2001. Read the ProgressiveWorld.net reviews of Sinister and Rock of Faith.
This is the 2006 U.S. release of John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes’ first Icon CD (2005). This edition includes the bonus track from the Japanese edition, Heat of the Moment ’05, plus two additional bonus tracks There in Your Bed and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes ’05. Assisting Wetton and Downes are Steve Christey (Jadis, John Wetton Band) on drums, John Mitchell (Arena, Kino, Frost) on guitars, Hugh McDowell (ELO) on cello, Ian McDonald (King Crimson) on flute, and Annie Haslam (Renaissance) guesting on vocals on two songs. We know now that this album was foreshadowing the Asia (original lineup) reunion tour. The style of music here will not surprise anyone. It is prog/pop/AOR in the Asia style but mellower and ballad-heavy, featuring Wetton’s unmistakable voice and lush orchestration from Downes’ layered keyboards. Hearing John and Annie sing a duet on the chorus of In the End is alone nearly worth the price of admission.
Never in a Million Years was recorded live during 2005/2006 following the first Icon album, with John Mitchell on guitars and Steve Christey on drums. It features songs from the first Asia album through the first Icon album including some from the 20-odd years in between.
Zero (digipack) is the 2017 remastered edition of the 2002 album titled simply Wetton/Downes, which featured a different cover. It predates the first Icon album, so it has been rebranded as Icon - Zero to bring it into the 2017-2018 series of Icon reissues fully sanctioned by Downes and the estate of Wetton. A couple bonus tracks have been added, one demo and one alternate version. Francis Dunnery (It Bites) and Agnetha Fältskog (ABBA) are among the guests.
Urban Psalm had previously only been available as a DVD* from the artists’ merchandise store, so this 2017 edition is its first general release, now with the audio on two accompanying CDs. The performance is from a special one-time concert in February 2009 in an historic church in London. The rest of the band is cellist Hugh McDowell, singer Anne-Marie Helder (Karnataka, Panic Room, Mostly Autumn), drummer Pete Riley (Keith Emerson), and guitarist Dave Kilminster (Wetton, Emerson, Roger Waters, Steven Wilson,...). This release was fully sanctioned by Downes and the estate of Wetton. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
* No indication is given on the packaging, assume the DVD is PAL.
This is the 2006 debut from Yes drummer Alan White’s side band, which includes Geoff Downes on keyboards and three Seattle-area musicians on vocals, guitar, and bass. Anyone that expects a Yes side project to produce a great progressive rock album in this day and age must feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. This album is a mix of prog and AOR. Singer Kevin Currie sounds like Fish or Peter Gabriel... with a cold. Recent Fish albums are a reasonable comparison in terms of progginess, and there are a few Yes-isms here. So some decent tunes, but the appeal is along the lines of Yes at their most commercial, Asia, GTR, Saga, etc.
Willowglass is an English act that is actually the work of one Andrew Marshall on electric & acoustic guitars, 12-string guitar, classical guitar, bass, keyboards, flute, recorders and drums, with the assistance of a drummer. The ten instrumental pieces on Willowglass’ 2005 debut are pure English 1970s-style progressive rock, with the main influences being Genesis, Camel, Anthony Phillips, and Pink Floyd, in that order. There is plenty of Mellotron strings, plenty of Hackett or Latimer-style electric guitar work, and plenty of the pastoral feeling missing from most modern prog.
Book of Hours (2008) is again instrumental and continues in the same general style while expanding it slightly. In addition to Camel, Genesis, and Anthony Phillips, there are touches of Gryphon and Rick Wakeman. This music has an elegance and a sensitivity that contrasts sharply with the overblown and demonstrative style of so many contemporaneous prog bands, and is a breath of fresh air after all the metal-dressed-up-as-prog being churned out today. Read the DPRP review. The beautiful artwork is by Lee Gaskins. The artwork alone may tell you everything you need to know about these exceptional albums.
Ray Wilson will forever be known as the singer on Genesis’ Calling All Stations album, even though that represents only a brief moment in his career. Change (2003) is his first proper solo album, The Next Best Thing (2004, slipcased jewel box) his second.
Live and Acoustic (digipack) is drawn from a series of 2001 concerts featuring Ray accompanied by his brother Steve on guitar and vocals, and singer Amanda Lyon. The 18 songs include songs from Wilson’s band Stiltskin, from his Cut project, from Calling All Stations, plus covers of In the Air Tonight, Carpet Crawlers, Lover’s Leap (from Supper’s Ready), Mama, Biko, and others.
This is the 2002 Elegy label CD reissue of the 1973 second (and final) LP by Wooden Horse, a folk-rock band with male and female vocals. The band originally formed in Sydney, Australia before relocating to London in 1970. This album is more electric and diverse than their debut. It’s one of those records whose fame stems from the rarity of the original vinyl. The CD is rather more affordable.
xPTs, short for ex-Pretty Things, is original Pretty Things members Jon Povey (vocals, keys), Wally Waller (bass, guitar, vocals), Skip Alan (drums), and Pete Tolson (guitar). They came together to remake the classic 1970 Pretty Things album Parachute, resulting in Parachute Reborn (2012). The material has been extended and reworked, and two new compositions added. Read the Progplanet review.
This 2011 double-CD and DVD (NTSC, all-region, 4:3) contain Yes’ August 1991 concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. This is the concert of the 8-man Yes lineup that was released on Laserdisc back in the day. The tracks: Intro/Firebird Suite, Yours Is No Disgrace, Rhythm of Love, Heart of the Sunrise, Clap/Mood for a Day, Make It Easy/Owner of a Lonely Heart, I’ve Seen All Good People, Solly’s Beard, Saving My Heart for You, Whitefish/Amazing Grace, Rick Wakeman Solo, Awaken, Roundabout. The DVD features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo audio. See our DVDs page for more Yes DVDs/Blu-rays.
The Ladder is Yes’s 1999 studio album, which is a respectable album, but much of Yes’s output from Union on sounds more like a Jon Anderson solo album than classic Yes. This CD has a slot cut through the top spine.
Friends and Relatives (Vol. 1) is a double-CD set consisting of some classic Yes material but mostly a compilation of tracks by Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Wakeman with Wakeman, Steve Howe, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, and Esquire.