Titles marked [co] have slots or holes punched in the case, or in some cases, just a hole punched in the barcode area of the traycard. Titles are arranged alphabetically.
A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-T | U-Z
The Way Things End (2011, 61-minutes, digipack) follows a 2001 debut CD and 2003 EP for this French band. Akin are definitely a contemporary prog band, i.e., the lead guitarist sometimes plays metal, there is nothing in the music to suggest they’re French, and we wouldn’t be surprised if they’d never heard of Atoll, Mona Lisa, Pulsar, Magma, etc. The core of the band is seven persons including female lead vocals (in English), keyboards, flute, guitars, bass and drums. What elevates this album above the pack is the presence of a string quartet, not used for a chamber music flavor but rather in the manner of any rock band that features violin, viola, or cello prominently. Other guests add third world instruments. File Akin somewhere in the vicinity of The Reasoning, though Akin are distinct. When they add metal to the mix, they begin to sound as pedestrian as any prog-metal band, but when they leave it out, they stand above their peers. Read the Sea of Tranquility review.
We’ll spare you the use of the term “supergroup” and just say that Amaran’s Plight is a band comprising Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery), DC Cooper (Silent Force, Royal Hunt), Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), and Kurt Barabas (Under The Sun). Michael Sadler (Saga) sings on two tracks. From that list of parent bands, one can get a good idea of the style on Voice in the Light (2007, 79-minutes), which is bombastic symphonic prog and prog-metal, in the style often associated with the Magna Carta label, Magellan included. Ayreon is another reference point. An excellent album, but clearly one with more appeal to the Dream Theater set than to fans of classic 70s prog.
Aquí y Afuera is the 2009 debut by an symphonic prog band from Chile, instrumental on this first album. Being a young band, the drummer and especially the guitarist play in the metal idiom half the time, but it is keyboardist Alonso Quijada that distinguishes Anachronos from your garden variety prog-metal band. The guitar may be mixed as loud or louder than the keys even when doing nothing more than chugga chugga as metal guitarists are wont to do, but the music is dominated by Quijada’s classically-influenced keyboards, primarily piano. Everything of harmonic interest is in the keyboard parts, and Quijada uses samples for occasional touches of South American folk that add spice. Recommended to fans of modern bombastic prog.
These are all related projects centered around the talents of guitarist and composer John Miner. If you unearth your dusty copy of Progression Magazine issue 46, you’ll find a feature article on Heaven’s Café and an interview with Miner. Heaven’s Café is a musical theater production that has been staged in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and Art Rock Circus is the progressive rock band providing the music for it. Probably because of the theatrical production, Heaven’s Café Live has been the label’s best seller, though here Art Rock Circus is a trio with no keyboards. It definitely has that rock opera style, and Miner’s guitar playing frequently recalls Roye Albrighton of Nektar, though Art Rock Circus is not as symphonic nor as clever as Nektar on Nektar’s better albums.
A Passage to Clear has some keys and female vocals throughout and a generally languid feel. Mantra Sunrise was Miner’s band prior to Art Rock Circus, though it’s unclear when this CD was recorded – no dates appear on any of the CDs. Mantra Sunrise is also a predominantly languid album, fairly psychedelic, with male vocals that suggest Jim Morrison/The Doors. The 20-minute suite Land of Sprinagar may remind one of the first Nektar album. At times the production on these CDs is not exactly state-of-the-art, though that makes these CDs sound even more like the product of an early 1970s band. Most though not all of the music falls within the boundaries of progressive rock, and as mentioned, there is a degree of psychedelia as well.
Banco del Mutuo Soccorso, or Banco for short, are along with PFM one of the two pillars of Italian progressive rock. This is the 2010 edition on the Esoteric label of one of two English-language albums Banco recorded for ELP’s Manticore label. As in a Last Supper is the English-language version of Come in un’Ultima Cena (1976).
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.
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. Read the DPRP reviews. Watch the album preview video. This is the single CD jewel case edition. Note there is a 2CD digipack edition on our British page that 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.
Barclay James Harvest are a British band who released their first album in 1970, known for their unique brand of soft symphonic pop. 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 surprisingly, Nexus is the highest-rated, post-1978 (after XII) BJH studio album at Prog Archives; read the many reviews there. See our British page for more BJH CDs.
Imaginary Orchestra, the 1996 debut CD by Al “Alfy” Betz, is a fine 74-minute CD consisting of two long suites of instrumental symphonic rock and classical, dominated by Betz’s grand piano. Other musicians add guitar and bass. The rock passages are stately and elegant rather than high-energy, leading some reviewers to describe this as ‘Enid-lite’. Read the Proggnosis and Aural Innovations reviews.
Artist Paul Whitehead has spent his life creating unforgettable images for progressive rock bands (Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator, many others). His lifelong interest in science fiction led to the creation of the Borg Symphony, a collective of musicians assimilated from various countries, primary among them Italian keyboardist Alex Carpani, who is also credited with composition. Ode to Hero Tixe first appeared in 2006 as a CD-R, but this December 2012 edition, which comes in a simple cardboard jacket (no booklet), is the first replicated CD edition and is considered the first official release. It is primarily a symphonic and rhythmic electronic music work with aspects of progressive rock, an other-worldly feel and sparse narration. There are industrial sounds, grinding guitars, and neoclassical musicians (flute, violin, bowed cymbal and Theremin), creating music with the feel of a sci-fi movie. Read the Music Street Journal review.
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.
Chilean Jorge Campos (who was residing in Canada last we knew) is probably the most important and innovative bass player in Latin America. He has been a long-time member of both Fulano and Congreso. These CDs are the 2007 reissues of his albums Machi (2000) and La Ausencia de lo Sagrado (2003). Machi has four bonus live tracks that take the total playing time up to 75-minutes, while La Ausencia de lo Sagrado has three live bonus tracks and now runs 59-minutes. Campos plays various basses but also adds numerous other instruments including electric guitar and keyboards. Three other musicians appear on Machi while a larger number of musicians appear on La Ausencia de lo Sagrado, though the lineup varies from track to track. The music is mostly instrumental and the sound palette is much closer to modern King Crimson than to the symphonic bands. Of course Fulano and Congreso are better reference points for those familiar with those two Chilean prog bands. Campos’ music is best described as a blend of ethnic fusion and progressive rock with particular emphasis on innovative bass sounds.
Classically trained at the University of Bologna in composition and piano, composer/arranger Alex Carpani continues the great Italian keyboard-centric prog rock tradition. On his second CD The Sanctuary (2010, digipack), Carpani is assisted by two members of his live band: Ettore Salati on guitars and Fabiano Spiga on bass, while drums are handled by Gigi Cavalli-Cocchi (Mangala Vallis, Moongarden). The cover art is by Paul Whitehead. Watch the album preview video. See our Italian page for more Alex Carpani CDs.
This is the U.S. edition on Renaissance Records. 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. Beginning with their third album 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. 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.
Clepsydra are a Marillion-influenced band from the Swiss city of Lugano, an Italian-speaking city, though Clepsydra sing in English. They are one of the most accomplished of the second-generation neo-prog bands (or third-generation prog bands, however you want to look at it), meaning bands that came to prominence in the 1990s and appear to have taken their inspiration directly from Marillion, only indirectly from Genesis. Hologram is Clepsydra’s 1991 debut. Clepsydra’s four CDs were remastered in 2014 for the 3654 Days box set and later released individually. The edition for sale here is the original and is half the price of the remastered edition. Note this does not come factory-sealed.
No relation to the Belgian band, this Cos is a pseudonym for Mark Costoso, who handles nearly everything himself on this 2002 CD. And as one man sounding like a full band, this ranks up there with the best of them, as there is almost nothing in the music that gives away the fact this is not a band. Costoso lists his influences as Yes, Kansas, Genesis, King Crimson, UK, Gentle Giant, and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, but it is the Rundgren and Utopia influence that dominates this album. While some of this is very derivative of Rundgren and Utopia, consider that the other bands mentioned have been mimicked ad nauseam, whereas there have been few Utopia imitators despite Utopia’s recognizable sound. Like a Utopia album, you get Rundgren-esque ballads, a few rockers, and a lot of proggy material incorporating strong pop songwriting. The CD is 72-minutes long so there’s room for it all. Costoso is a more than capable singer, and there are those lush, Utopia-trademark harmony vocals as well.
Cross is a Swedish neo-progressive/neo-symphonic band with excellent English vocals and an accessible style. Playgrounds (2004) further develops the style heard on Secrets (2000) but relates even more closely to the Spektrum CD, and all the Spektrum members guest on Playgrounds. The mid-to-late 1970s Genesis influence is present, particularly in the keyboards, and Cross’ style is now close to Galleon as well as Jadis and other melodic symphonic prog bands. Read reviews. This is the U.S. edition on ProgRock Records.
This is the original 1998 edition of Visionary Fools. See our Scandinavian page for more Cross CDs.
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.
Demians began as the project of Frenchman Nicolas Chapel, who you can call the French Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree). Wilson himself consecrated the 2008 Demians debut Building an Empire thusly: “One of the most assured and accomplished debut albums I’ve ever heard, the textures and dynamics within the music are breathtaking. A must for everyone that appreciates the art of epic and ambitious 21st century rock music.” That quote probably tripled sales of the CD, but it was deserved. Mute (2010) is the second Demians album. Read reviews at Blistering and Sputnik Music.
Russian guitarist Sergey Dudin has several albums to his credit; these are probably his two best. Eternal Call dates from 1999; this is the 2006 MALS label reissue with a bonus video track. This is for all intents and purposes the Russian Pink Floyd (circa Dark Side of the Moon / Wishing You Were Here), with lyrics in Russian. Assisted by a drummer and several other musicians, Dudin does his best David Gilmour impersonation, and all of the essential Pink Floyd elements are there. 62-minutes of bliss for the Floyd fan.
Mirage (63-minutes) dates from 1995; this is the 2007 re-edition. A bassist and drummer are listed, but at least some of the bass and drums are programmed. Whether or not the title is an intentional reference to Camel, there is some Camel influence, but the music is much closer to the progressive rock albums of Jeremy (American Jeremy Morris, who released two albums on the Kinesis label, a few on MALS, and a slew of them on his own label). Dudin and Jeremy have similar lead electric guitar tones and styles -- Dudin is a bit more demonstrative but just as lyrical -- and they both usually play over a bed of symphonic keyboards and straight-forward rhythms. The album is instrumental except for the majestic last track, which features a guest vocalist (English lyrics).
Eternal Eclipse of Frost (1999) is Italian band Dunwich’s third and arguably best album. Here Dunwich play heavily orchestrated symphonic prog with gothic overtones, influences of medieval and renaissance music, beautiful crystalline female vocals in Italian with male choral vocals supporting. Their more esoteric instrumentation includes hurdy-gurdy, Celtic harp, and string quartet. Some of this even sounds like Loreena McKennitt gone prog. Note that while this album is heavier than their previous two, Dunwich would next appear in 2008 with an almost entirely new lineup and more of a prog-metal style. Don’t judge this Dunwich by that one.
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. See our British page for more The Enid CDs and info on the band.
This is the 2008 debut CD by a Los Angeles prog band whose lead guitarist Peter Matuchniak is British and was a member of the early 1980s neo-prog bands Mach One and Janysium. Kudos to you if you remember those bands -- Mach One managed only one vinyl release along with a couple cassettes, while their alter-ego Janysium had only two cassette releases. Evolve IV may not be the most progressive band on earth, but their songs combine catchiness and lush vocal harmonies with prog rock stylings and arty twists and turns. Evolve IV blend a number of different styles and influences, even an American sound vaguely resembling the Eagles. It’s a collection of songs that grows on you. Read the Jerry Lucky and DPRP reviews. “Intense, inventive and melodic, Decadent Light is a triple-threat tour-de-force of solid musicianship, strong songcraft and remarkable production quality. Highly recommended.” [Nick Tate, Progression] This is the ProgRock Records edition.
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.
Fernwood is the duo of Gayle Ellett of Djam Karet and Todd Montgomery, playing contemporary instrumental acoustic world music. The instruments are all made of wood and are from the Irish, Greek, Chinese, Moroccan, Indian, and Balinese traditions. Despite all the exotic instruments, the music is often conventionally western and therefore familiar, sometimes even suggesting Anthony Phillips. Overall the music is haunting and strongly cinematic. Almeria is from 2008, Sangita (digipack) from 2009. Read the DPRP reviews of Almeria and Sangita.
In an era when it is nearly impossible to produce an original style of rock music, Chris Fournier carved out a unique style and sound under the Fonya banner. Call it (mostly-)instrumental sci-fi symphonic progressive electronic space rock, the marriage of progressive rock’s energy and sophistication with a wall of spacey synth sounds. Driving bass runs over dreamy keyboard washes alternate with intense electric guitar-propelled sympho-space-rock. Eddie Jobson hinted at this on his solo works, but Fonya mastered it. The first five Fonya CDs were released on the Kinesis label. The first four are out-of-print: Wanderers of the Neverending Night (1992), Soul Travels (1993), In Flux (1995), and Earth Shaper (1999).
After the artistic and critical success of Earth Shaper, one had to wonder whether Chris Fournier could continue to improve upon the Fonya formula. Perfect Cosmological Principle (1998, 71-minutes) makes it clear that he did. The music is instantly recognizable as Fonya: the prominent bass guitar propelling the music forward, the lush synthetic/symphonic sound, and the best MIDI drumming in the business. But now there are lots more of those soaring electric guitar leads that take the music out of orbit, plus the use of acoustic guitar to give greater warmth to the mix. The compositions demonstrate great complexity and nuance. As icing on the cake, there’s a remarkable version of portions of Yes’s Gates of Delirium. Read review quotes.
Upper Level Open Space (1999) sees a further refinement of the Fonya style, broadening the timbral palette to include more electric and acoustic guitar while also experimenting with some more obviously electronic sounds. Anyone still skeptical of programmed drums owes it to themselves to listen to this album, as the drums are nothing short of amazing. No matter how active and intense it gets, a relaxed vibe permeates the music, making this perfect for late-night listening. Read reviews.
Sunset Cliffs (2000) is the first Fonya album since the debut to feature vocals, this time by Chris Fournier himself. As with many space-rock bands, the vocals are not the focus and are kept low in the mix and heavily reverbed. Instrumentally, the gradual shift toward a more guitar-oriented sound continues, though of course there are still plenty of synths.
Centric Jones is the latest permutation of Fonya. Chris Fournier teams this time with drummer Tobe London plus various guests. Chris plays bass, guitars, keyboards, and electronic percussion; Tobe plays drums, acoustic/electronic percussion, and keyboards. The Antikythera Method (2012, 70-minutes) is the new pinnacle of the Fonya style, still recognizable as such, but with more diversity due to the input of additional musicians. There are some stellar drum performances here, and this new intensity in the rhythm section means that Centric Jones can stand with any space rock band you care to name. But significantly, this is much more structured and symphonic than space rock, really a progressive rock/space rock hybrid that dips into Genesis and Yes territory. The Antikythera Method adds the vocal talents of Laurie Larson and Tessa Anderson, with Steve Unruh (violin) among the guests. This is a fantastic CD that is in danger of being overlooked. It features an amazing interpretation of Yes’ Then, and the final track Antikythera Mechanism embodies all that is good, holy, and true in instrumental progressive rock. Two decades on from the beginnings of Fonya, and Chris Fournier’s music may still not have peaked. “This album was 70 minutes of sheer unadulterated, undiluted delight. From start to finish.” [AlternativeMatter.net] Read the Jerry Lucky and Prog Archives reviews.
Electrum band leader Gino Foti has since turned his attention to world fusion music. All these CDs are 2006 releases. Foti plays bass and keyboards and adds loops and samples. Guest musicians are used on only a small number of tracks. Here are Foti’s descriptions:
Sphere of Influence (67:11) - Centered around the universal “Union of Opposites” concept, the compositions contain a dynamic balance of rhythm, melody, and harmony by integrating ethnic sonorities into a jazz-rock palette. Merging diffractive musical arrangements with cohesive ensemble playing, dense percussive layers with ethereal instrumental textures, this release is imbued with both vibrancy and sensitivity, all spearheaded by Foti’s bass guitars.
Orbis Terrarum (66:10) - Exploring the relationships between diverse musical traditions and the dichotomy of rhythm and melody of the bass guitar, this aural travelogue blends intricate ethnic rhythms, spacious melodies, and flowing solos with the passion, intensity, romanticism, and introspection usually associated with first-generation jazz-rock and world fusion artists.
Bhavachakra (68:45) - Inspired by the Buddhist “Wheel of Life”, this collection of ambient soundscapes, acoustic and electric textures with Asian and Indian influences and synthesized exotic atmospheres is meant to direct the listener through all the guideposts of transmigratory existence, evoking myriad memories and emotions along the way.
Vedic Mantras (64:57) - Traditional Vedic chanting is combined with modern instrumentation and elements of jazz, rock, and European classical music in a variant of East-meets-West fusion. Featuring the Taittiriya Upanishad, one of the most important writings of ancient Indian philosophy, the arrangements were carefully constructed to retain the devotional mood and integrity of the sacred texts while creating a multi-genre sonic palette.
Gazpacho’s fifth album Tick Tock (2009) is a natural evolution from Night and of equal quality. This is the original 2009 edition. Read the DPRP roundtable reviews. See our Scandinavian page for more Gazpacho CDs and much more info.
Ghost Circus is a collaboration between Dutch musician Ronald Wahle (guitars, keys, drums) and American Chris Brown (vocals, guitars, bass, keys). Cycles (2006, 56-minutes) is an intelligent and impressive debut with a full-band sound. It is melodic modern progressive rock with touches of prog-metal and sophisticated pop/alternative. Brown has a slightly gruff voice that is very much in-vogue, while the instrumental passages are unmistakably symphonic prog. If you crossed Marillion’s Marbles with Riverside, you’d probably end up pretty close to Ghost Circus.
The 1968 album The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles & Fripp was where it all began for King Crimson. Robert Fripp and Mike Giles went on to form King Crimson the next year, and Peter Giles resurfaced there later. The album is a brilliant example of late 60s psychedelic pop and proto-prog, sometimes recalling Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd or The Moody Blues, but with its own style and a very English sense of humor. The Brondesbury Tapes (72-minutes) is a set of 21 songs, demo recordings made in 1968 that had languished for decades in a private collection. It ranges from alternate versions of the Cheerful Insanity songs to songs that form the bridge to King Crimson. On the latter, Ian McDonald and Judy Dyble appear as guests, and Pete Sinfield makes his first appearance. The music is mono but the audio quality is much better than you’d expect. Peter Giles wrote the detailed sleeve notes.
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). Click the mp3 icon above for all the info on the album plus several reviews. This is the single CD jewel case edition. There is a limited edition digipack 2CD on our British page.
These are a subset of Esoteric’s 2013-2014 reissues of Gordon Giltrap’s band albums, newly-remastered from the original tapes, with booklets that feature a new essay and interview with Giltrap. Airwaves has five bonus track, The Peacock Party has four. See our British page for more Gordon Giltrap CDs and much more info.
Superb progressive rock and progressive pop with a subtle folk influence, hard not to like these Brits. 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.
Greylevel are a Canadian (British Columbia) outfit who debuted in 2007 with Opus One. Hypostatic Union (2011, 68-minutes) is their second, the band having added two more members to become a quintet. The music is modern prog in the melancholy Porcupine Tree vein. Read the Prog Archives and Background Magazine reviews.
The Guardian’s Office is Fruitcake drummer/composer Päl Søvik’s other band, but this time he leaves the lead vocals to Tony Johannessen. After the opening hard rocker, this sounds like Fruitcake with a better singer. Like Fruitcake, the instrumentation is decidedly of 1970s-vintage, dominated by a ‘dirty’ organ sound, bass pedals, and a dated electric guitar tone. Lots of references to early Genesis, but the arrangements are more straightforward (and it goes without saying that the songwriting is not on the same level), so call it neo-prog with 70s instrumentation. Interesting to note that Päl Søvik was a member of Folque, who were Norway’s Fairport Convention. If you listen closely to The Guardian’s Office, you may detect some Norwegian folk melodies sneaking in. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
“Claire Hamill established herself in the 1970s as a songwriter who walked a line between classically influenced, near mystical prog rock and the more polished, formal sound of a Jimmy Webb... 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] This Esoteric edition has four bonus tracks. See our British page for more Claire Hamill CDs.
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.
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.
Immovable Mover (2003) is the debut by an impressive one-man studio project from Michigan, the work of Dave Gastambide. The state of the art in music software and sample libraries is such that we should no longer be surprised at what can be achieved by a single talented musician working in a home studio. The music is vocal-heavy mainstream prog, most closely resembling Rush, Saga, or the more commercial side of post-1970s Yes, though Gastambide’s voice is in a lower range than either Geddy Lee or Jon Anderson. Fortunately, Gastambide’s voice is strong enough to carry the songs. The CD comes in a simple printed jacket (no booklet).
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.)
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.
Jeremy Morris is best known for his Pilgrim’s Journey and Celestial City CDs released on the Kinesis label in the 1990s. Still Waters (2004) is a reflective, peaceful album consisting of instrumental songs performed exclusively on 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars. Still Waters is for fans of the acoustic work of Anthony Phillips, Gordon Giltrap, Steve Howe, Leo Kottke, and Steve Hackett. Jeremy revisits themes from Celestial City and Pilgrim’s Journey here.
Home in the Sky (2005) consists of instrumental songs performed exclusively on grand piano, similar to Jeremy’s earlier album Fruit Tree. See our U.S. page for more Jeremy CDs.
Carptree keyboardist Carl Westholm goes the Ayreon route with his Jupiter Society project, creating epic space operas using different vocalists and musicians on different tracks. Most of the musicians have a metal background, and to some extent the music sounds like a heavier, more metallic Carptree. While Jupiter Society tends to stay more grounded in symphonic rock than similar prog-metal projects, the metal aesthetic still dominates in the doomy melodies, the invariant plodding tempo, and the generally ponderous feel. First Contact Last Warning is from 2008, Terraform from 2009. Read the Jerry Lucky reviews of First Contact... and of Terraform. See our Scandinavian page for the newest Jupiter Society CD.
14 track compilation from our favorite Dutch band, covering 1976-1981. It picks up after the band’s best two albums (their self-titled second and Royal Bed Bouncer), though it includes two live renditions of songs from those earlier, more progressive years. While it does favor some of their more accessible tracks, it’s still a decent overview, and The Last Encore was still a very good album, while Starlight Dancer and Merlin have their moments.
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.
We’ve stocked the Lana Lane CDs because of Lana’s close association with Rocket Scientists and Erik Norlander. If we had to give a one sentence description of her many CDs, we’d say the energetic numbers tend to sound like a more progressive Heart, while the ballads have other influences, including The Beatles or Alan Parsons Project.
El Dorado Hotel is from 2012. Read the Sea of Tranquility and Dangerdog reviews.
Gemini (2006) is an album of cover tunes, impeccably played and recorded. It contains classic rock covers from the late 1960s and the 1970s, sung by Lana Lane with Norlander on keys, Vinny Appice on drums, George Lynch on guitars, Mark McCrite on guitars and harmony vocals, and Kelly Keeling on vocals.
Lady Macbeth (2005) as usual features Erik Norlander, the other Rocket Scientists and Neil Citron, plus the Dutch musicians from Lana’s European touring band and the bassist from Pain of Salvation, not to mention Kelly Keeling (the singer from some of Norlander’s albums) on harmony vocals. Expect another heavy symphonic AOR album. This U.S. edition is identical to the Japanese and European editions and includes a bonus Quicktime video of one song.
Return to Japan is an over 2-hour double-CD that chronicles the vocalist’s last four Japanese tours from 1998-2002. Disc One contains full-band performances, while Disc Two contains acoustic duo performances of Lana Lane and Erik Norlander from 1998-2002 along with remastered full-band versions of Lana’s renditions of the classics In the Court of the Crimson King and Long Live Rock ’n’ Roll. Return to Japan includes a full-color 20-page booklet with extensive liner notes by producer Erik Norlander and live photos from the Japanese tours.
Winter Sessions (2003) includes 11 new recordings of both originals and select covers set in a moody and atmospheric style, with lush arrangements featuring both acoustic and electric instruments. Contributing musicians include drummer Gregg Bissonette (David Lee Roth, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, ELO, etc.), guitarists Neil Citron, Mark McCrite (Rocket Scientists), and Peer Verschuren (Erik Norlander’s Music Machine), Don Schiff on NS/Stick, David Schiff on flute/oboe/sax, and of course keyboardist extraordinaire Erik Norlander.
Covers Collection (2003) contains 11 recordings of classic hard rock and progressive rock songs spanning the 1970s through the 1990s, as always produced by keyboard and studio wiz Erik Norlander. Guest musicians include drummers Greg Bissonette, Nick D’Virgilio, and Ed Warby, guitarists Mark McCrite, Arjen Lucassen, Neil Citron, and Gabriel Moses, and fretless bass icon Tony Franklin. Highlights include Kansas’ The Wall, Led Zep’s Kashmir, Argent’s Hold Your Head Up, and Uriah Heep’s Weep in Silence (co-written by John Wetton). Now out-of-print, last copies.
Secrets of Astrology (2000) runs over 73 minutes and features Ayreon guitarist Arjen Anthony Lucassen and drummer Ed Warby on every track. Erik Norlander continues to handle keys and much of the writing. This is the U.S. edition.
Love Is an Illusion special edition reissues both the 1998 remixed version plus the original 1995 version of Lana’s first album on a 2CD set, with three bonus tracks added.
Ballad Collection special edition is a 2CD containing 24 songs. One disc comprises the 1998 Ballad Collection CD, a collection of Lana’s ballads including two Rocket Scientists tracks, but they were rerecorded, the new arrangements generally more progressive than the originals. A cover of Marillion’s Seasons End is added as a bonus. The other disc was recorded in 2000 and includes many covers of songs both well-known and obscure.
The rest of the Lana Lane CDs are Japanese editions. Project Shangri-la (2002) continues her by now well-established style of progressive-tinged AOR/pomp-rock, featuring Erik Norlander, Mark McCrite, and Don Schiff from Rocket Scientists. This Japanese edition includes a bonus track written by John Wetton specifically for this album. The Best of Lana Lane CD (now out-of-print) runs 73 minutes and contains a 9-minute live version of King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King performed with Rocket Scientists.
The Think Tank Media Sampler Vol. 1 CD (1999) contains 11 tracks spanning 74-minutes from Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane, Erik Norlander, and Neil Citron. This is a fully-packaged jewel box CD.
Laserdogs is largely the work of Greg Lounsberry, who on Frankenclown (2005) handles vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass, mandolin, and drum programming, with the assistance of a drummer on one track. Lounsberry says that he tried to avoid any sounds or effects that occurred after 1974, using mainly tremolo, Leslie, and Echoplex. The multi-tracked vocal harmonies are noteworthy. The result is a progressive rock/pop with an early 1970s sound that resembles Haze on their guitar-dominated tracks, especially since Lounsberry’s voice is close to Paul McMahon’s. Or think of Phil Manzanera circa Listen Now and K-Scope teaming with Todd Rundgren. There is a sense of humor in the songs, one of which is 18-minutes long.
The Rocket4357 Project is Lounsberry’s band circa 1998, with other musicians on guitar, bass and drums, and Lounsberry playing guitar-synth in lieu of keyboards. It’s a most enjoyable progressive rock album with some pop flavoring, with superb songwriting and excellent warm vocals, driven by electric & acoustic guitar and guitar synth. This is reminiscent of Phil Manzanera’s best works, with touches of later Marillion (one song is entitled Mr. Hogarth) and 1980s King Crimson. Seven tracks, the odd-numbered tracks are instrumentals. This one is a shrinkwrapped CD-R.
Legacy are a U.S. symphonic prog band out of North Carolina with a fine 2000 debut. We’re reminded of early North Star especially in the vocal department, while instrumentally it leans more toward Yes, with lots of symphonic textures. Other good reference points might be Alaska and Glass Hammer in the same time frame.
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 progressive rock fans, and they can write songs.
This 3-disc set is by Jethro Tull tribute band Living With the Past, led by Ray (who tends to omit his last name), the man responsible for the very Tull-like 1995 CD Somewhere in the Universe. The six-piece band was joined by former Tull (and Fairport Convention) member Dave Pegg on bass, mandolin, and vocals. The DVD contains the tracks Thick as a Brick, Living in the Past, To Cry You a Song, Cross-Eyed Mary, Salamander, Level Pegging, Life’s a Long Song, Skating Away, Budapest, Broadsword, My God, Tull Medley, and Locomotive Breath. The two CDs contain the same audio as the DVD. Ed Unitsky provided the artwork. Counts as 1.5 CDs for shipping.
Majestic is the project of American multi-instrumentalist Jeff Hamel. The discs in these jewel box editions of Ataraxia (2010, 78-minutes) and Arrival (2009, 77-minutes) are pro CD-Rs. Whereas the previous Majestic CD Descension suffered from weak vocals courtesy of Hamel himself, he brought in singer Jessica Rasche for Arrival, which is part of the reason Arrival is a huge improvement. The Sea of Tranquility reviews will tell you what you need to know, in particular “Arrival does not feel like a one man band in the slightest. The sound is so rich and full it is hard to believe this is the work of one man.” OK, the drums sound like samples and the production is project studio quality, but those are the only clues. There isn’t just a single prog style here. With the slight metal influence, the overall feel is of a modern progressive rock album, and the Majestic press kit does mention Porcupine Tree, Riverside, Dream Theater, and Ayreon (Stream of Passion should also be tossed in there). But the classic prog content is also impressive, with a lot of Pink Floyd, a little Genesis and Yes, even Tangerine Dream style electronics are employed. Here is an mp3 of excerpts from Arrival.
As for Ataraxia, “This is easily one of the best albums of 2010... Last time round I suggested that the sound of Majestic sat somewhere between Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, but with Ataraxia, I would suggest that Majestic have moved further into the classic era of prog, with the whole album having a more seventies feel, but somehow this is all done without sounding in any way retro... With Arrival, Majestic suggested that they were a band destined for great things, and here, only one album down the line and they’ve only gone and bloody well proved it! Absolutely stunning!” [Sea of Tranquility] “Ataraxia is a whole new thing in a whole new quality level when compared to [Majestic’s] previous works.” [Proggnosis] Read the full Sea of Tranquility and Proggnosis reviews. See our U.S. page for more Majestic CDs.
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. In One Era (74-minutes) combines both of Geoff’s solo albums I May Sing Grace (1984) and Psalm Enchanted Evening (1985) on one CD and features artwork for the booklet and cover that he completed just before his premature death in February 1993, and a disc design that Geoff had painted but never used.
Tales from the Engine Room contains interesting remixes of six songs from This Strange Engine in the electronica style.
Mastermind are an American heavy progressive band but, at least originally, not a metal band. They are very bombastic and ELP-like on the early albums, with Bill Berends’ guitar synth playing the role of Keith Emerson’s keyboards. Their debut Volume One was originally released on cassette in 1987. This is the 1996 remastered CD edition on Cyclops, with two bonus tracks.
Mastermind changed their style on Excelsior! (1998), which is entirely instrumental and was the first to feature keyboardist Jens Johannson (Stratovarius). This is a superb album that adopts the Mahavishnu Orchestra fusion style while retaining some of Mastermind’s former melodic bombastic symphonic style. After that, Bill Berends must have decided that metal was where the money is, as Angels of the Apocalypse (2000, 70-minutes) changes style again. Mastermind added singer Lisa Bouchelle, and this album combines progressive rock, fusion, and metal. Mostly metal. Apparently drummer Rich Berends got a double pedal for Christmas because he uses it non-stop. Every song. Every bar. (There’s a reason drummers rarely use a double pedal outside of the metal genre...) The CD features a cover of ELP’s The Endless Enigma (12:18) as one of two bonus tracks. The double pedal intrudes even into this song. Someone please confiscate it.
Originally formed at the University of Maryland, Might Could is an instrumental group of three crafty acoustic guitarists and a bassist, the latter being Luis Nasser of Sonus Umbra. The title of their debut CD All Intertwined (2005, digipack) gives away their style, and Wood Knot (2007, digipack) is in the same style. 1980s King Crimson’s interlocking guitars style may come to mind, but Might Could’s approach is more classically-influenced, emotional, melodic, and bounteous, less of a mathematical exercise and not confined to pentatonic scales. There is a rock sensibility to it even if it isn’t rock. We’re reminded of Swiss guitarist Thomas Diethelm, but since that’s probably not much help, just rest assured that this is about as exciting as acoustic guitar music gets, and a sure bet for fans of California Guitar Trio.
This is a very good, mostly-instrumental King Crimson style band from Cuba, also reminding one of the French band Tiemko at times. There are also touches of Present or Univers Zero. The album is a 53-minute collection of their best music, recorded in 1993. Read the Progressor review.
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. 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. Check our British page for more Bill Nelson CDs.
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. “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.
Erik Norlander is known as the keyboardist for Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane, and the John Payne version of Asia, not to mention numerous albums under his own name. His first solo album Threshold was first released on the Kinesis label in 1997. Threshold special edition is the 2CD remastered reissue. Disc One contains the meticulously remastered version of Threshold and adds four bonus tracks (one of which appeared on the 1997 Japanese pressing). Disc Two contains live and alternate versions of the Threshold tracks plus a high-res Quicktime video of Trantor Station live at ProgWest 2001. The booklet has been expanded to 20 pages. On Threshold, Norlander is joined by Don Schiff (Rocket Scientists) on bass and Greg Ellis (the Matrix films, Vas, Steve Stevens) on drums for an all-instrumental progressive rock showcase, playing an arsenal of keyboards both state-of-the-art and vintage, the latter including Mellotron, modular Moog, Hammond Model D, and (borrowed from Keith Emerson himself) the behemoth Yamaha GX-1. Certainly there are Wakemanesque and Emersonian passages, but one also finds an original style, one that incorporates electronic music into a rock context. Norlander manages great variety without leaving the realms of progressive rock, and his very expressive lead synth sounds add another original touch. Keith Emerson wrote the liner notes. Read extensive review quotes.
Hommage Symphonique (2006) is an album of cover tunes, impeccably played and recorded, 66-minutes of symphonic prog with a very intelligent selection of tunes (see Prog Archives for the list). Norlander is joined by Kelly Keeling on vocals, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and Don Schiff on NS/Stick, bowed guitar, and contrabass. Mark McCrite is among several guests, and so the current Rocket Scientists lineup is more or less here. Norlander adds many creative touches to these songs.
Stars Rain Down (2004) is a 75-minute live CD recorded over the course of three years during Erik’s European tours. Songs are culled from Erik’s previous three solo albums and two Rocket Scientists albums. His backing band includes Kelly Keeling and Lana Lane on vocals, Don Schiff on NS/Stick, and Dutch musicians Peer Verschuren on guitar and Ernst Van Ee and Ed Warby splitting drum duties. The CD features a 20-page full-color booklet featuring extensive liner notes and tour photos.
Surreal (2016, digipack) is the follow-up to 2009’s The Galactic Collective album, a full-band, high-energy rock album with Norlander’s keyboards to the fore. While The Galactic Collective contained re-recorded existing compositions, Surreal is new material: five instrumental tracks plus one track with vocals by Lana Lane. The rhythm section is the same as on The Galactic Collective: Mark Matthews on bass and Nick LePar on drums. Another familiar face is percussionist Greg Ellis, who played on three other Norlander solo albums including his 1997 debut Threshold. Rocket Scientists members Don Schiff (cello, NS/Stick) and Mark McCrite (acoustic guitar) guest. Surreal also highlights the guitar work of Alastair Greene and Jeff Kollman, two of Los Angeles’ finest axemen and stellar musicians that Norlander has worked with on other projects.
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.
We’re aiming this CD-EP (2004, 26-minutes) at fans of Kate Bush and the similar female artists who have followed in her wake. Pale Beneath the Blue is the moniker used by Rhonda Everitt (voice, piano), helped by other musicians, primarily the Human Factor production team of Blake Althen and Paula Bellenoit. Rhonda has six great songs here, with the hallmarks of Kate Bush’s eccentric style, including the clever backing vocals. As he has shown on the Human Factor CD, Althen is quite adept at using the tools of modern music production (loops, samples, software) and making the end result not just palatable for prog fans, but full of subtle and tasteful details (such as guitar samples from Peter Maunu of Group 87 fame.) OK, the final song is targeted for radio and is danceable, but even that one’s pretty interesting with its twisting bass line. Listen first to the songs Untitled and One I Open.
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. 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. These cutouts have a slot sawed through the jewel box spine. See our British page for more Pallas CDs.
This 2CD set includes the entire output of Pelican, who were one of the first Icelandic prog bands. Included are their LPs Uppteknir (1974) and Lítil Fluga (1975), plus three non-LP bonus tracks. After the release of Uppteknir, Pelican were the biggest band in Iceland. Despite the Icelandic album titles, Pelican sang in English, and in fact their LPs were recorded in Massachusetts! They even toured the U.S. east coast, playing to as many as 1,000 people, an audience size that seems almost impossible now for a prog band. In addition to progressive rock, Pelican’s music included Beatles-esque pop, pysch, and American rural rock. But they never lost their Icelandic flavor and their sound remained distinctive. Listen to Á Sprengisandi (an arrangement of an old Icelandic folk song), Instrumental Love Song, Amnesia, and Sunrise to Sunset.
Point of View are an excellent Polish prog-metal quintet singing in English, and like most prog-metal bands, nothing in their sound reveals their country of origin. Disillusioned is their 2007 debut. Reviewers have mentioned Fates Warning, Queensryche, and Dream Theater. Point of View have a good keyboardist, and there are times when they sound like Satellite, and times when they sound like Satellite with metal guitar overdubbed. Read the Proggnosis review.
This is a double-CD containing live recordings from the 7th annual Progday festival in North Carolina. The featured performers are Yeti, Sigmund Snopek III, The Muffins, Polydactyl, Azigza, and Ars Nova.
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). Adventures in Neverland (2012) is The Reasoning’s fourth. The music is somewhat heavier and the prevailing mood darker than before, which may have something to do with what the band had been going through with the disappearance of guitarist Owain Roberts. The contrast between that mood and the relative fragility of Rachel Jones’ vocals is a defining characteristic of this album. Read The Midlands Rocks review. Check our British page for more The Reasoning CDs and more info.
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.
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. See our British page for more Renaissance CDs.
Ring of Myth’s 1996 debut CD Unbound was released on the Kinesis label. Read extensive review quotes. The follow-up Weeds (2005) was released on the Canadian Unicorn Digital label. See our U.S. page for all the Ring of Myth CDs and all the info.
Rose Among Thorns was the 1990s band centered around singer Elaine Morgan, who has worked with The Albion Band, Fairport Convention, Alan Stivell, and more recently in Dar Ar Braz’ 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.
Sensitive to Light is the new band formed by guitarist/keyboardist/composer Vynce Leff of the French band Saens. The most obvious difference between the two bands is that Sensitive to Light is fronted by Scottish female vocalist Jenny Lewis, who possesses a beautiful voice. Coming from a folk/Celtic background, her clear voice adds purity to the overall sound. Their 2006 debut Almost Human is out-of-print. From the Ancient World (2008, 60-minutes) is their second and is slightly heavier at times. It features rich instrumentation and a guest saxophonist playing melodically. As a female-fronted symphonic prog band, Sensitive to Light should appeal to the same fans as Magenta or Glass Hammer (when GH use female lead vocals anyway). Sensitive to Light are less Yes-influenced and closer to the Marillion side of things than either, but there is plenty of diversity from track to track, and they don’t skimp on instrumental content.
Whether with his band Planet X or under his own name, ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian makes some of the best heavy instrumental keyboard rock and fusion you’ll hear, with virtuosos on each instrument. As always, Sherinian recruited a number of name musicians for his sixth album Molecular Heinosity (2009, digipack), namely Virgil Donati (Planet X), Tony Franklin (Whitesnake), Brian Tichy (Foreigner, Billy Idol), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy Osbourne, Black Label Society), and some new talent.
The guests on Sherinian’s fifth album Blood of the Snake (2006, digipack) include John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Zakk Wylde, Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony Franklin, Simon Phillips, Jerry Goodman, Billy Idol, and others. This is fusion-prog-metal because it says so on the sticker on the cover. The emphasis is usually on demonstrative playing, but Sherinian does slow things down on several tracks for some sensitive and melodic music. There are two vocal songs, which won’t be the highlight for prog fans, but the instrumentals more than make up for them.
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. This CD is now deleted as with all CDs on the defunct Eclectic label.
Excavations of the Mind (2010) is the debut for Sky Architect, a quintet of relatively young Dutch musicians including three from a Rotterdam conservatory. They come right out and state that they are interested in reviving the symphonic progressive style of the 1970s. Sky Architect are a bit hard-edged, dark, quirky, and technical. Beyond a vague sense of King Crimson or Gentle Giant, they don’t really call to mind specific bands. There are lots of vintage keys including Mellotron. It would have been nice to hear some suggestion of Focus, Kayak, Supersister, Trace, Finch, or any other Dutch 70s progressive rock instead of only British influences, but it’s not uncommon today to find young European prog musicians unaware of their own heritage. Nevertheless, this is a very promising debut by a band who’ve gone back far enough in their listening to find the real, undiluted prog. Mark Wilkinson created the CD artwork. Note drummer and backing vocalist Christiaan Bruin is the guy responsible for the Chris CDs. Check our Dutch page for more Sky Architect CDs.
These are the first two albums (1971, 1972) from Dutch progressive jazz-rock band Solution, who are somewhat similar to Secret Oyster. These 2012 editions on Esoteric are newly remastered from the original master tapes. The booklets have fully restored original album artwork and a new essay. Divergence includes the track Fever which was omitted from the previous CD edition. Read reviews at Prog Archives.
This is the 2013 Esoteric label reissue, newly remastered from the original Decca master tapes and including a booklet that fully restores 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 their next two albums, 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 and has much more violin. Read the AllMusic review. See our British page for Time Will Pass.
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).
Svann is a Polish progressive rock band formed by ex-Abraxas members, with a very good female singer named Anja who apparently also sings for a gothic rock band and owns the title “The Queen of Polish Gothic Rock”. This 2003 album, whose title translates as The Boundary of Black and White, reminds us a bit of the Czech band Stromboli, but Svann are at once more progressive, more symphonic, and more contemporary. Svann play modern progressive rock, more linear and urban (as opposed to pastoral) than classic prog, but still very romantic, ambitious, and texturally rich. Gabriel-esque atmospheres and rhythms, some creative use of percussion loops, and a few heavy passages characterize their music. 64-minutes, vocals in Polish.
The Dream Mixes (1995) contains 67-minutes of Tangerine Dream tracks from the albums Tyranny of Beauty, Rockoon, and Turn of the Tides remixed by Jerome and Edgar Froese, plus four new tracks in a similar style. To quote the back panel, this album energizes the famous TD sound with an infectious beat. This is actually one of our favorite wide-awake-listening Tangerine Dream albums. The rhythms are not the monotonous thump-thump of techno but rather tasteful rhythm patterns that change every few bars. Perhaps TD had listened to the high-energy EM of Mark Shreeve and Andy Pickford and thought they’d better not let those upstarts eclipse them.
Architecture in Motion (1999) is the soundtrack to the film What a Blast. This is the U.S. edition on Miramar.
The Live in America 1992 DVD (NTSC, all-region) is the same video released in 1993 on VHS and Laserdisc under the title Three Phase. This DVD is the 2003 edition on Respect Recordings (RESPECTDVD2). The live footage is from a concert at Seattle’s Paramount Theater in October 1992. There is also archival footage and home video.
For those only familiar with John Tesh’s later, overly romantic output, his early material composed as soundtrack material for various television sports programs is actually rather proggy, along the lines of Yanni’s earliest work (who followed the same career trajectory). These are intense symphonic rock instrumentals suitable for workouts or driving. These two CDs are both from 1992. The first contains music composed for the Ironman Triathlon, while The Games contains music composed for the NBC telecast of the Barcelona Olympic Games. Tesh has a full band with him on both recordings, including a violinist.
This is the 2012 debut CD (66-minutes) for Swedish quintet Tucana, who describe themselves as “a baroque prog band who mix progressive rock with classical orchestral arrangements, a bit rock opera-ish and sometimes on the heavy side.” We’d call it prog-metal. The vocals are of the overwrought, faux-operatic metal style, and the music is ponderous and rarely goes more than a minute without metal guitar. On the plus side, there are string arrangements. For a more considered opinion, read the Sea of Tranquility review.
In March 1984, Twelfth Night played three gigs over three weeks at London’s Marquee Club with new singer Andy Sears. For the third date in the series, the band was captured for the TV series Live from London. The film was eventually released as the Creepshow video in late 1984. The band performed excellently, as the Marquee had become their second home. The 24-track audio master tapes were subsequently remixed by the band, while the filming was done by Trillion Pictures Ltd and re-edited by them afterwards. The songs performed are: The Ceiling Speaks, Human Being, We Are Sane, Fact and Fiction / The Poet Sniffs a Flower, Creepshow, Art and Illusion, Love Song. See our British page for more Twelfth Night titles.
Chicago’s Umphrey’s McGee are well-known in jam band circles, yet here they are far more of a progressive rock band than a jam band, with a much greater connection to King Crimson, The Dixie Dregs, and Frank Zappa than to The Grateful Dead. Mantis (2009) is their most progressive album to date. Improvisation plays only a minor role, as it is mostly composed. Try to imagine Steely Dan as a progressive rock band and you’ll have a good idea of the sound of Umphrey’s McGee. They have the requisite rhythmic complexity, instrumental virtuosity, and flair for the dramatic. This is the 2CD edition released on the British Freeworld label. The second disc contains 7 live tracks plus 3 studio tracks taken from Safety in Numbers and Anchors Drops.
“Chicago’s finest progressive jam band concentrates on its progressive side with this sixth studio release, leaving behind the formless jams (see their Live at the Murat). Instead, they jump head-on into the old progressive rock style of Yes, King Crimson, and early Genesis, with gargantuan multi-part songs featuring seriously ambitious arrangements. As the lead single Made to Measure might suggest, their songwriting has progressed as much as their ambitions. In that sense, Mantis might arguably be the group’s most commercial effort even though, ironically, the band is challenging its fan base and risking commercial suicide. For pure prog rock bliss, check the super-catchy 7/8 time guitar-keyboard riff in Cemetery Walk.” [Prefix]
Volume 2 of the Polish Art-Rock series includes tracks from Ankh, Golem, Zywioly, Mediana, Gargantua, H.D.R.M., Pawel Ziobrowski & Friends, Bordo, and RSC, with a 20-page booklet in both English and Polish. The quality of music presented here is very high, all progressive but covering a respectable range of styles. Note the discs are CD-Rs.
Subtitled Music Inspired By and In Tribute to Gentle Giant, A Reflection (2008, 77-minutes) is the fifth in a series that began in 2004. Musicians from around the globe, all members of the On Reflection Gentle Giant mailing list, created original music inspired by Gentle Giant. The degree of GG influence varies, and the music does extend beyond the GG universe, but GG were nothing if not eclectic. It all remains within the progressive rock universe though, it’s all quite professional, and the amount of creativity and talent showcased here exceeds all expectations. It was professionally mastered. This isn’t just for Gentle Giant fans then but for most prog rock fans, an excellent prog album that stands on its own. Alan Kinsman, who wrote liner notes for some of the Gentle Giant CDs, wrote the liner notes for A Reflection. “It is not very hard for good musicians to copy others, but to learn from them, then convert this knowledge and experience to create something as unique and innovative as this work, that’s a different story.”
Ex-Zappa drummer Chad Wackerman’s 1993 CD The View is instrumental fusion in the Allan Holdsworth vein, not surprising given that Wackerman and Holdsworth are long-time collaborators, and Holdsworth is the guitarist on six of this album’s 13 tracks. Wackerman is among the drummer elite.
This 1999 album 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. See our British page for more Rick Wakeman CDs.
This is the 2009 edition on Esoteric, 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. See our British page for more Darryl Way CDs.
Brazilian progressive rock band Wejah were last heard from in 1996 with their Senda CD on the now defunct Progressive Rock Worldwide label. Their first album was released in 1988, so one has to be patient with this band. Springtime (2007) is their third, and whereas Senda was instrumental, Springtime has vocals in English, though the vocals still take a backseat to the instruments. The music is flowing in the way Camel’s music is, but Wejah have a more open, less symphonic sound, slightly more jazzy and spacey, and less polished in the production department. Not that Wejah play much actual jazz, but their guitarist favors a ringing, jazz tone, occasionally adding a little crunch. Keyboards are present but it’s the guitar that defines Wejah’s sound.
John Wetton & Geoffrey Downes’ first Icon CD was released in 2005, foreshadowing the Asia (original lineup) reunion tour. The music was prog/pop/AOR in the Asia style but mellower and ballad-heavy, featuring Wetton’s unmistakable voice and lush orchestration from Downes’ layered keyboards. 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. See our British page for more Icon titles.
This NTSC Region 1 DVD is a collection of Yes music videos spanning 1977-1987 (Going for the One through Big Generator) with two live tracks from 9012 Live. There is commentary from Yes members introducing each video. The songs are: Wondrous Stories, Don’t Kill the Whale, Madrigal, Tempus Fugit, Into the Lens, Hold On (live), Leave It, It Can Happen, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Rhythm of Love, Love Will Find a Way, I’ve Seen All Good People (live). The audio is advertised as Dolby Digital 5.1.
The 2008 The New Director’s Cut DVD (NTSC, all-region) contains two previously-unreleased, full-length concert performances featuring the classic line-up of Yes, recorded at the N.I.A. Birmingham and Glastonbury Festival during their 35th anniversary world tour. It includes behind-the-scenes footage and narration by Roger Daltrey. The track list: Siberian Khatru, Magnification, Don’t Kill the Whale, In the Presence of, We Have Heaven, South Side of the Sky, And You and I, To Be Over/Clap, Show Me, Rick Wakeman Solo, Heart of the Sunrise, Long Distance Runaround, The Fish, Awaken, I’ve Seen All Good People, Roundabout. 16:9, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround and Dolby Digital stereo audio, 256-minutes total.
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.
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.
End of the Age (2002) is the debut CD from Zen Rock and Roll, composed and recorded in the spirit of the British symphonic rock movement of the early 1970s. It reminds us a bit of the American band Netherworld, who were similarly inspired. There are just three long tracks spanning the album’s 45-minute length, but Zen Rock and Roll are able to sustain interest throughout the compositions, with plenty of twists and turns and good instrumental interplay, while themes are well developed and pleasant melodies recur. It’s full of Mellotron and flute and the usual symphonic goodies. See our U.S. page for more Zen Rock and Roll CDs.