“Exploring Echo US’ deep and ethereal past uncovers an ‘Inland Empire’…”
Echo Us is a musical concept project active since the turn of the century. Begun by American composer and multi-instrumentalist Ethan J. Matthews, “Echo Us” literally means “to answer”, or “to connect”. The current format of the project began in 2001. Echo Us would become a vehicle for Matthew’s forays into the world of metaphysics, as much as it was a continuation of his musical and creative world that had begun a decade earlier.
“I certainly believe in going within to find a connection with the outer world. To find the ‘child’ within where everything is open to speculation and wonder…it’s a sort of ‘psychic’ connection for me, and music is simply part of the process.”
‘Inland Empire’ is Echo Us’ seventh full length studio album, and 2023’s epilogue to the original trilogy that ran from 2009-2014. The music compiles almost everything that didn’t fit onto the trilogy – comprising material from ‘The Tide Decides’ (2009), ‘Tomorrow Will Tell The Story’ (2012) and ‘II:XII, A Prior Memoriae’ (2014).
If you’re a fan of ambient, flowing, introspective music along the lines of MikeOldfield, David Sylvian, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp then Echo Us’ gorgeous ethereal soundscapes will delight you. Deep and meaningful with music that will touch your very soul, the ten tracks on this release all combine to deliver a compelling, cinematic musical journey that you must consume in one sitting. Like the parts of those infernal puzzles that must all be solved before enlightenment reveals itself, these delicate pieces fit together perfectly to give an hour of amazing peace and wistful solitude.
When I normally review an album I will take particular tracks and describe what they mean to me and how they make me feel but, if I tried that approach with this release, I would be doing it a huge disservice. Geddy Lee once sang on Rush’s track Prime Mover, “The point of the journey is not to arrive..” and I feel that is wholly pertinent to ‘Inland Empire’, it’s not where this album takes you, it is what happens to you while you are listening to it. I feel that I’m transported to another place, a wistful, alien land where all is calm, collected and we are one with nature.
Every note and every gossamer thin vocal has a place and they combine perfectly to give us something that is almost alive, sentient and aware of its own existence. I would go so far as to say that I actually stopped living for sixty minutes and just existed in my most natural form.
Echo Us create something that isn’t just music but also some sort of metaphysical experience and a shelter from the harsh realities of life. Yes, we will have to come out into the real world at some point but, until then, I couldn’t think of many better places to be.
Multi-platinum selling English supergroup ASIA announce they are to release for the first time ever on vinyl ASIA ‘FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007’ as a 3LP set. Recorded on Asia’s 25th anniversary 2007 world tour, and featuring the reformed original line-up, FANTASIA, LIVE IN TOKYO 2007 is to be issued on vinyl as a 3LP set with booklet, including band photos, and sleeve notes through BMG Records on 24th February 2023.
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of ASIA’s formation, this exciting 18-track live show from their 2007 world tour features the reformed original line-up pooling the talents of lead vocalist/bassist John Wetton (King Crimson), Steve Howe (guitars, Yes), Geoff Downes (keyboards, Yes and Buggles) and drummer Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The setlist focusses on their globally successful 1982 debut album Asia and features key tracks Only Time Will Tell, Sole Survivor and their worldwide anthem Heat Of The Moment along with select tracks from their second LP Alpha and one song each from the band members’ previous bands – Video Killed The Radio Star,Roundabout, Fanfare For The Common Man and The Court Of The Crimson King.
Album artwork is by legendary designer Roger Dean, who produced all the ASIA original albums covers.
By simultaneously celebrating their debut album alongside the legacy of their foundational bands, the four band members crafted a standing testament to their collective impact on the world of music. Fantasia is a clear reminder of the majestic legacy of this incredible band and to the artistic pedigree of the four original members of ASIA.
For ASIA fans, this exciting live show is an indispensable set.
Pooling the talents of bassist/vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, keyboardist Geoff Downes and guitarist Steve Howe, ASIA immediately became the epitome of a supergroup of rock aristocracy and the natural heir to its members’ legendary bands of the 70s – King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Buggles and Yes.
Leaving behind their progressive roots, ASIA embraced the commercial FM rock sound that dominated US airwaves and took that, and the new MTV video channel, by storm. The single Heat Of The Moment was a world-wide monster smash and their eponymous 1982 debut album spent an incredible 9 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard chart as Asia became the biggest selling album of the year and world tour dates sold out.
A second album, Alpha, was released in 1983. The four original members reconvened in 2006 for a world tour, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of that incredible success, and the album Phoenix followed.
While the members were still heavily involved in other projects, they came together again to record Omega in 2010 and XXX in 2012, both albums were acclaimed by their faithful fans and supported by more world tours.
Steve Howe stepped back from ASIA to concentrate on his work with YES and was absent for 2014’s Gravitas. Following this tour came the news of John Wetton’s treatment for cancer, a fight he sadly lost in 2017.
ASIA – FANTASIA LIVE IN TOKYO 2007 – 3 LP SET – out 24th February 2023
Yesterday saw the editor’s top twenty albums of 2022, today we see what made respected contributor John Wenlock-Smith’s list….
John says, “It’s been a great year for music, especially prog, with many fine releases from established and also newer acts. Here are twenty that really struck a chord with me, in no particular order but all worthy of inspection and consideration.”
D’VIRGILIO, MORSE, JENNINGS – TROIKA
In which well known prog aficionados beguile us with their inner CSN&Y. It’s all acoustically in the main but a very strong collection of songs that must warrant a second visit – here’s hoping so at least!
Hats of Gentlemen It’s Adequate – The Confidence Trick
A wonderful and diverse set of songs around the concept that we are being led by arrogant fools whose overconfidence is actually severely dangerous, examples being Trump, Johnson and, more recently, Liz Truss whose overconfidence nearly destroyed any chance of economic growth.
Stuckfish – Days of Innocence
A simply marvellous album that impressed many with its thoughtful lyrics and excellent music.
SiX By SiX – Self Titled
A bit of Saga, a bit of Saxon, add Robert Berry’s muscular bass and you have a blistering rock album with very progressive elements and leanings. Again this one impressed greatly.
Kaipa – Urskog
The long established Swedish folk-proggers delivered a truly graceful album with several epics and more than a touch of vintage Yes, a great set of songs.
Derek Sherinian – Vortex
In which the ex-Dream Theater keyboard man delivers a captivating, electric set of tracks supported by several big name friends including Steve Stevens, NunoBettencourt, Bumblefoot and Joe Bonamassa, to name a few. Blistering in parts and excellent overall.
The Mighty Ra – All Secrets Known
A new band of mainly Welsh prog musicians who began writing together with this rather fine album being the result. An excellent new album with great promise.
Verbal Delirium – Conundrum
This was new to me but what a find! A very classy album with a great vocalist, strong songs and great playing from all, definitely one to discover.
Arc Of Life – Don’t Look Down
The second album from Yes spin off Arc of Life. Jon Davison and Billy Sherwood delivering the album that Yes maybe should have. Epics like Real Time World and Arc of Life were standout tracks in an album of importance and strength.
The Bardic Depths – Promises Of Hope
Literature loving progressive band deliver a fine second album about suicide via a fictional tale of a suicidal queen whose death is prevented by the Gods. Enthralling and with many guests in tow.
Tribe of Names – Evolver
Evolutionary album from ex-Tinyfish man Simon Godfrey & colleagues that sees them stretching their legs musically. There’s a welcome strong Rush influence throughout and its a superb album overall.
Phi Yaan Zek – Interdimensional Garden Party
This very strange but satisfying album occupies a realm the sadly departed and much missed Frank Zappa would have graced with its blend of instrumentals and strong songs. Wonderful weirdness is obligatory with such stunning tracks as Wickety Wickety being enough to make anyone smile. A seriously good album that warrants investigation.
John Holden – Kintsugi
John lives close to me and he delivers a strong fourth album of various pieces with a stellar assembly of guests, a highly varied and ultimately satisfying and enjoyable album.
Pattern Seeking Animals – Only Passing Through
This is the third album from Spock’s Beard writer and contributor John Boegehold. With excellent support from existing members of the band, strong songs and catchy hooks abound.
Red Bazar- Inverted Reality
Another unexpected pleasure with a harder edged sound and excellent vocals from Peter Jones, this was very welcome indeed.
Dave Brons – Return to Arda
Simply divine and beautifully melodic Celtic-tinged music from Dave Brons and friends with a concentration on melody with moments of shredding brilliance. Totally sublime and utterly captivating.
Ghost Of The Machine – Scissorgames
A triumphant debut from ex-This Winter Machine men who, along with sublime vocalist Charlie Bramald, fuse melody and muscle in a devastating combination. Truly awesome, well received by many and rightly so too!
Clive Mitten – Tales From A Misspent Youth Volume 1
Entirely orchestral versions of songs that inspired Clive whilst growing up. His take on key songs from Pink Floyd, Genesis, Supertramp and Rush really are a must to hear. How he brings out hitherto hidden beauties to much loved pieces is gorgeous.
Evership – The Uncrowned King Act 2
The final part of the tale is a sobering statement of intent from fine US proggers Evership and the additional vocals from Saga’sMichael Sadler impress greatly.
David Longdon – Door One
Posthumously released after David’s unexpected death in 2021, this telling collection reveals his continued evolution as a writer and, whilst short, this bittersweet album reminds us of of the great man we lost last year.
So, there you have it, that’s it for 2022 from John and myself, see you on the other side…
Duncan Parsons is the drummer for the John Hackett Band and bizarrely the bassist for Joanne Harris’sStorytime band, ‘On Earth, As it is’ is his latest album of original material.
The album is not a concept as such, although it has songs that share a common central theme. Much of the music is performed by Duncan, although he has managed to get assistance from some very interesting guest musicians like John Helliwell of Supertramp, Dave Bainbridge of Iona and Lifesigns and his fellow John HackettBand members Nick Fletcher and John Hackett himself, who both add graceful parts to the lengthy opener Heaven, the album’s longest track at twenty three minutes. The song opens with seven minutes of instrumental music before Duncan’s vocals join in. This is intoned with a pulsating synth bass line which is very ethereal sounding, there is then a section of massed non-verbal vocalisations which add to the atmospheric nature of the track. Then follows an acoustic guitar section which which dissolves into deep keyboard bass and more vocalisations along with Lizz Lipscombe’s string playing. An urgent bass then picks up the pace and creates a strong platform for Nick Fletcher’s fusion guitar part in which he shreds wildly and, as always, immaculately with a great clear tone. This then gives way to synths that lead to another guitar outburst from Nick that takes the track towards its conclusion, the guitar playing on this section is breathtaking, very fiery and highly impressive. The song ends with synths and guitar lines playing, a really strong opener.
This Day follows and has plucked guitar harmonics from Duncan and bass from the legendary Leland Sklar, whose bottom end anchors everything together wonderfully. The track has Duncan playing a washboard and also John Helliwell elegant clarinet. This has a very satisfying jazz elements to it and the saxophone from John also impresses highly. Fissures of Men is a short, dynamic piece featuring violin, viola and cello all set against a sparse piano but it all sounds really good. This is followed by another shorter track, Finish Line, which alludes to a fractured and possibly broken relationship but, ultimately, the song is about how we choose to be.
Unnecessary Kindness opens with an acoustic guitar and is largely a solo guitar instrumental track and very accomplished it is too with plenty of shades of Anthony Phillips in evidence here, at least to these ears. Three Sixteen is more muscular in tone with some crunchy guitar and a simple, but effective, solo halfway through that is ended by the cello as the vocals begin again. This is followed with a mournful violin and some jolly flute as a contrast then a solid tap on what could be a cowbell leads to the last verse of the song. There’s not a little urgency and a comfortable yet easy guitar line leads to the song’s conclusion. This is a very good track indeed, a clear winner. Lead Us Not is another shorter track with the solid bass of Leland gracing proceedings again, along with the graceful flute of John Hackett. The song seems to be about temptation and how we battle with it and how it leads us to where we don’t wish to be.
There is reprise of the earlier Fissures of Men track but it is only very brief, this leads to the last and second longest track, Valediction (Power And Glory) which closes the album out. This song features John Steel on various guitars and is a very atmospheric piece of music with lots of good sounds and textures. It is all fairly free form in nature but very well assembled, with some fabulous acoustic guitar interjections and a great solo that moves over the sumptuous backing and it all sounds really impressive. Along with Heaven, these two epics bookmark what is a most impressive collection of tracks that certainly makes you think as you listen to this fine album. It is one that most folk will be largely unaware of and more’s the pity, as this is a highly intelligent and articulate album of music.
I first came across Phi Yaan-Zek as many others may have, through the pages and tracks on Prog Magazine, although at that time it didn’t really grab me. I was probably on a different musical phase ,as is often the way with me. However, I recently read a review of his latest album from a writer for The Progressive Aspect whose eloquent words piqued my interest, hence this review.
In all the years of my life I have never really been a big fan of Frank Zappa, although I can clearly see his influence in this music. I certainly like it here, for sure, and definitely in the humour contained within these tracks. Phi is certainly a very fine musician and can play a very mean guitar line when required. He also enlists an extraordinary cast of collaborators, like Andy Edwards and John Jowitt of Frost* and he also has a couple of Aristocrats in tow to give this music much flair and finesse.
It has strong touches of psychedelia along with certain hippyish elements, but these are woven into the overall sound of the album. I am certainly highly impressed by all of this excellent and exciting music, it is all wonderfully produced with excellent guitar skills on display. The music also has jazz elements at times, giving the sound a definite jazz/fusion blend.
An outstanding track is track Wickety Wickety, which is a cross between a rumbling song, something like Nelly The Elephant but with brass embellishments. It is rather a fun piece but utterly engrossing and captivating. This whole album is different, it is definitely a positive sounding album and will imbue feelings of well being and contentment. Above all, this music is good fun and we should all be glad of that, especially at this time. Also notable is Anomaly Temporal with an almost reggae swing and spoken vocal from , this also has a touch of Star Trek to it and rounds out with an excellent instrumental finale.
I really enjoy the instrumental flourishes that abound throughout this very imaginative album, it really is a fascinating and captivating listen. Phi is a very fluid guitarist, think of folks like Steve Vai and you won’t be far off the mark, but he is also very melodic in tone and, whilst he can shred with the best, he works for the track, not just to stun.
This is clearly shown on My Favourite UFO which combines his fine guitar virtuosity with a strong tune to fine effect. This track has a dreamy type of sound and reminds me of 10CC in parts, it also has great bass from Bryan Beller of TheAristocrats. The song speeds up towards its conclusion and this proves very effective, as is the vocal from Ellie Williams. The next track Floating gives room for some free reign musical improvisation which is taken by Phi with Mike Keneally in tow, along with the fabulous and dynamic Aristocrats rhythm team of Beller and Marco Minneman. With Phi’s guitar floating over the top most efficiently and effectively, it really is a sublime piece of intent delivered really well.
Final track The Puffball That Ate My Village is another monster track with a similar pace to Wickety Wickety but with fiery guitar interjections and interplay between Phi and Chanan Hanspal, who play off against each other in a six string orgy of soloing. It’s all highly effective, especially with Andy Edwards‘ drums and Steve Lawson’s majestic bass playing that anchor it all together seamlessly. The song also features lots of guests adding chant type vocals, which really sounds good. When this track end there is a brief pause of about 2 minutes before A reprise of opener The Interdimensional Garden Party plays, this is a fitting close to an exceptional album but wait, there’s more as there is a brief untitled track that is basically the words spoken backwards deliberately.
This is a truly entertaining album with fabulous music and performances throughout. Definitely one of my album of the year contenders, outstanding. In a year that has seen so many really good albums, this one can truly stand tall and proud and I recommend it without hesitation, especially for its weirdness and sense of fun.
Major Parkinson are a Norwegian band who are currently making quite big waves in progressive circles. However, they are largely unknown to me hence this review that will tell you how this music affects me as a new listener.
The album has 17 tracks of various lengths and themes, it opens with Goodbye BlueMonday and what sounds like cinema sounds from bygone days, it’s a brief but engaging piece. Behind The Next Door is a piano led song in which you hear the very different vocals of Jon Ivar Kollbotn whose deep voice is very distinctive and possibly a challenge for some. It reminds me of someone, I’m just not sure who. The track is rather good and grows in strength as it proceeds. Saturday Night is also great, like a lost song from the 80’s with its superb synth bass line that moves the song along with good embellishments before a change of pace with some great female vocals. This is like very early Depeche Mode, it’s actually rather jolly in parts, an upbeat, positive track and the vocals work well together. It’s a very interesting and rewarding track. Ride In The Whirlwind is another brief instrumental vignette performed on grand piano, and very effectively at that! There is real skill on display, it’s another 80’s inspired track, albeit with a darker subject matter. Again, this darker song has an upbeat tone with some great effects employed throughout and I really liked it. At times Live Forever sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song, albeit with far more synths and electronics, but it has that sort of surge to it somehow, again, another impressive track. Sadlands is another brief vignette, one that continues the Bruce styling, although this one includes crowd noises, the grand piano and name checks More Than A Feeling.
Intermezzo has a strident drum pattern and ethereal synth sounds with discordant backing vocals. To me, it doesn’t really say much or go anywhere and I think it is a more atmospheric piece really. Jonas is totally different in that it has an almost choral opening set against heavy synth sounds. This is another very 80’s sounding and influenced track and the sparing use of piano works particularly well. The song is about a friend who was seemingly in the military as it speaks about his rifle. VelvetMoon follows, another brief vignette and one that has another subdued vocal from Jon. This sings about the velvet moon and is very evocative, even if I haven’t got a clue about what he is going on about! Irina Margareta is another filmic piece with a very cinematic sound and great vocals from , who again works well in tandem with Jon Ivar Kollbotn, this song is packed full of dynamics flourishes. This House is rather darker still and speaks of the house where it all happened. Obviously it was something dark and troubling, although we are not told what “it” was exactly, possibly childhood memories and probably not good ones at that! All this is set to a brutal and almost ‘dance synth’ bass riff and music, a strong if not a rather disturbing track at that. The Room carries on in a similar vein, at least musically. This album has a lot of electronic touches, not least on next song Posh-Apocalypse, and is very 80’s sounding at times.
Moma is a furious and brutal track with excellent vocals, Lemon Symphony is a strange little vignette, all very keyboard led and with lots of tremolo effects. It shimmers throughout and is very different indeed. We the return to the 80’s soundtrack for Fantasia Me Now!, another unusual track. This is a longer piece and, again, the combination of Claudia and Jon Ivar’s voices blend together exceptionally well. This is another upbeat song, again the theme is unclear so just enjoy everything as it progresses. Final track Heroes is another piano led piece with an interesting vocal line from Jon along with interjections from Claudia and this closes the album in an interesting way.
In all this album is a very interesting listen, with lots of great touches and strong instrumentation throughout. I’m not sure about all the shorter tracks, although they do add to the atmosphere, even if they somewhat dilute the longer songs somewhat. It is certainly a bold approach to take and you must be the judge of its success though.
This October sees the release of this highly impressive and sonically rewarding third vocal album from Nottinghamshire Prog rock band Red Bazaar, featuring PeterJones (Tiger Moth Tales) on vocals and keyboards.
The album is fairly political in its subject matter with freedom of speech being a major topic. Now, some folks think that politics and music don’t, or shouldn’t, match but, if you think about those 60’s protest songs and the more recent political ones like Another Brick In The Wall, you can see the impact such music can have. Personally I really don’t mind, especially if the sentiments expressed are important ones, anyway back to the album…
Opener One Out Of Three is a hard hitting track opening with soaring synths and a furious drum beat that sets the urgency of the song up well. The track also hinges on an angular guitar riff from Andy Wilson. Its subject matter is the state of the music industry and how cynical it is these days, both manufactured and marketed by those in control with their eyes firmly on profit and not quality and originality. This is a sweeping condemnation of the current scene, one that Peter Jones knows from personal experience as he was previously an X factor contender (coming 4th in the first series) before taking control of his own destiny and writing and performing the music he wanted to rather than being told too. A wise decision that enriched us all with the Tiger Moth Tales series of albums. The track is frantic and very fine indeed, as is the second track Spirit Of Man which opens with ethereal keyboards and an echo laden guitar arpeggio from Andy, accompanied by an underpinning keyboard swell before Peter’s vocal starts. The songs seems to be about keeping going against setbacks and mental health issues. It is a fairly positive song though and tells us that you have within you a strong Spirit Of Man. This is in part based on the mock-Latin phrase “illigetimi non carborundum” which is probably more widely known as “don’t let the bustards grind you down”, strong words but a good song nonetheless.
State Of Disgrace is highly political and critical of those in charge as they write the laws that benefit them most, while the rest of us are encouraged to toe the line or face being silenced by the ruling classes. It comments on the lack of morality and the lack of consequences for those in charge, along with the suppression and subrogation of the rank and file, i.e. Us! It is a very political song with elements of George Orwell’s epic ‘1984’ novel with which it shares several common themes. I really enjoyed this track and agree with the issues it so eloquently speaks of. TakeControl is also another winner featuring both an excellent vocal from Peter Jones alongside a fabulous solo from Andy Wilson in a rather epic track that has it all in its near 10 minute running time, simply astonishing performances and a fantastic song overall.
Smokescreen follows and is a song based on a John Francombe book in which a man punishes his unfaithful partner by setting fire to their home whilst she sleeps. Quite a dark subject matter but well handled by the group and featuring great bass work throughout by Mick Wilson, who is consistently on form on this album. Final track Stop The World continues the politics as it talks about how politicians are creating division and using it to further their own agendas. This is the album’s longest track, working well as a very good good conclusion to what has proven to be an assured, intelligent and well crafted piece of work. Okay, its themes may be a bit dark and political but, for these times of uncertainty and incompetence, especially with modern political life, this is a very telling set of songs, urging us all to speak out and make our feelings known.
I think it is one of the finer albums of the year. I really enjoyed it and the musicianship is excellent throughout, with great vocals from Jones and great bass and guitar work from the Wilsons along with solid, urgent drumming from Paul Comerie. This is an album that really cries out be be heard by a far wider audience than it will probably receive unfortunately. This really is something special and worthwhile and I heartily recommend to all.
KANSAS, America’s legendary progressive rock band, will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2023. To commemorate this landmark occasion, current label InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce Another Fork In The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas for release on the 9th December 2022. A career-spanning collection, it features carefully-selected tracks from across the bands sizable discography, as well as a new version of ‘Can I Tell You’. Originally recorded and released on their 1974 debut, the song is updated by the current line-up, providing a full-circle perspective on the band’s long and continuing history that has seen them release 16 studio albums and sell in excess of 30 million albums worldwide.
Phil Ehart comments: “We are really honored by the commitment that InsideOut Music has put into ‘Another Fork in the Road.’ This is far more than just another greatest hits album. ‘Another Fork in the Road’ is an in-depth representation of the evolving and winding musical journey of the band KANSAS that’s been 50 years in the making.”
Another Fork In The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas will arrive as a 3CD Digipak collection, including extensive liner notes by journalist Jeff Wagner, as well as pictures of rarely-seen memorabilia and archive material, all overseen by founding member Phil Ehart.
The full track-listing is below. Please note, due to licensing restrictions there are minor differences between the European & North American release.
1. Can I Tell You (new 2022 version)
2. The Absence of Presence (The Absence of Presence, 2020)
3. Throwing Mountains (The Absence of Presence, 2020)
4. Crowded Isolation (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)
5. Summer (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)
6. The Voyage of Eight Eighteen (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)
7. Icarus II (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)
8. The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis) (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)
9. Distant Vision (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)
10. The Wall (Always Never the Same, 1998)
11. Dust in the Wind (Always Never the Same, 1998)
12. Desperate Times (Freaks of Nature, 1995)
13. Under The Knife (Freaks of Nature, 1995)
EU Version – Disc 2:
1. House on Fire (In the Spirit of Things, 1988)
2. Rainmaker (In the Spirit of Things, 1988)
3. Silhouettes in Disguise (Power, 1986)
4. Secret Service (Power, 1986)
5. Three Pretenders (Power, 1986)
6. End of the Age (Drastic Measures, 1983)
7. Incident on a Bridge (Drastic Measures, 1983)
8. Play the Game Tonight (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)
9. Crossfire (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)
10. Windows (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)
11. Hold On (Audio-Visions, 1980)
12. Loner (Audio-Visions, 1980)
13. No One Together (Audio-Visions, 1980)
14. On The Other Side (Monolith, 1979)
15. How My Soul Cries Out For You (Monolith, 1979)
North America Version – Disc 2:
1. Fight Fire With Fire (Drastic Measures, 1983)
2. End of the Age (Drastic Measures, 1983)
3. Incident on a Bridge (Drastic Measures, 1983)
4. Play the Game Tonight (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)
5. Crossfire (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)
6. Windows (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)
7. Hold On (Audio-Visions, 1980)
8. Loner (Audio-Visions, 1980)
9. Curtain of Iron (Audio-Visions, 1980)
10. No One Together (Audio-Visions, 1980)
11. On The Other Side (Monolith, 1979)
12. Angels Have Fallen (Monolith, 1979)
13. How My Soul Cries Out For You (Monolith, 1979)
1. Carry On Wayward Son (Two for the Show, 1978)
2. Portrait (He Knew) (Point of Know Return, 1977)
3. Sparks of the Tempest (Point of Know Return, 1977)
4. Miracles Out of Nowhere (Leftoverture, 1976)
5. Magnum Opus (Leftoverture, 1976)
6. Icarus – Borne On Wings of Steel (Masque, 1975)
7. Child of Innocence (Mas que, 1975)
8. Down The Road (Song for America, 1975)
9. Song For America (Song for America, 1975)
10. The Devil Game (Song for America, 1975)
11. Death of Mother Nature Suite (Kansas, 1974)
12. Belexes (Kansas, 1974)
13. Journey From Mariabronn (Kansas, 1974)
Kansas will celebrate their 50th anniversary with extensive touring in North America in 2023. The band is currently comprised of original drummer Phil Ehart, bassist/vocalist Billy Greer, vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, keyboardist/vocalist Tom Brislin, and original guitarist Richard Williams.
With a legendary career spanning five decades, KANSAS has firmly established itself as one of America’s iconic classic rock bands. This “garage band” from Topeka released their debut album in 1974 after being discovered by Wally Gold, who worked for Don Kirshner, and have gone on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide.
Composing a catalogue that includes sixteen studio albums and five live albums, KANSAS has produced eight gold albums, three sextuple-Platinum albums (Leftoverture, Point of Know Return, Best of KANSAS), one platinum live album (Two for the Show), one quadruple-Platinum single ‘Carry On Wayward Son,’ and another triple-Platinum single ‘Dust in the Wind.’ KANSAS appeared on the Billboard charts for over 200 weeks throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and played to sold-out arenas and stadiums throughout North America, Europe and Japan. ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ continues to be one of the top five most played songs on classic rock radio, and ‘Dust In the Wind’ has been played on the radio more than three million times!
The summer of 2020 marked the release of The Absence of Presence, KANSAS’s sixteenth studio album, which debuted at #10 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart. The wide-ranging progressive rock album, released by InsideOut Music, follows-up 2016’s The Prelude Implicit, which debuted at #14 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart.
Man are a band of who you have almost certainly heard, yet may be largely unaware of for various reasons. Their style and sound encompasses both progressive and psychedelic leanings along with a smattering of West Coast sounds. Think of a Welsh version of Grateful Dead and you won’t be a million miles from their influences and their missive.
I became aware of Man through their rather splendid 1975 album ‘MaximumDarkness’, a live set recorded at The Roundhouse in North London, a show which also featured John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service as a guest guitarist.. This one album was highly regarded, especially by my school friend Peter who had also influenced me with his bizarre yet enticing recommendations, ZZ Top’s‘Fandango’ live album and Foghat’s ‘Energized’, among others. He was also a huge Uriah Heep fan but this was his favourite, becoming an admired piece of work, its classic cover and excellent grooves making for a rewarding listening experience.
This new boxset from Cherry Red captures much much more of that sound and era, the sets are spectacular, really capturing the essence of Man who were always a far better band live as that was where they excelled, truth be told. Some bands are far far better live than on record and that was definitely the case with Man. Live they were a force of nature, stretching songs to the max and turning in excellent performances which is why they released so much live material as they were at their best on stage.
This set has 4 CDs and 2 DVDs of live performances. Okay, there is a bit of overlap but that doesn’t really matter, especially if you are a fan like me. I never saw Man live so this is an opportunity to rectify, in part at least. The set is compiled from recordings made for the BBC and covers the period 1972 to 1983. This includes favourites like Spunk Rock, Romain, Life On The Road, C’mon and Bananas, the sound is good throughout and you can hear their influences clearly. I especially like the longer tracks where improvisation is given free rein. There is some very fine music on display here, great dual guitar lines, good slide guitar and a very solid rhythm section prowling things along.
Very noteworthy is the track God Gave Us Turtles that was unreleased at time of recording and later surfaced as the epic album track Scotch Corner on the ‘RhinosWinos and Lunatics’ album, here it is in embryonic form. Also laudable is the live recording of Man’s 1983 Friday Night Rock Show coverage of their Reading Festival performance from August of that year, with great versions of Spunk Rock, C’mon and Bananas. There’s also a great set from The Rainbow on DVD and the long thought lost BBC Schools documentary from 1973. Man were more of an albums band, their music did not fit the mainstream well. It was too hippyish and drug fuelled to fit easily, although it was popular with students and hippies, their ever changing line-up didn’t help much either.
I also really enjoyed the last performance from The Rainbow in 1976 that later emerged on the album ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’ in 1977, their last album before they reformed for The Marquee shows in 1983 and The Reading Festival show. It’s great to have a film of that performance where they are a bit looser and less restrained.
I have to say this set really grows on you as you familiarise yourself with it and it will appeal to fans of Man far more than the casual listener, although it does serve as a good way to get a taste for the band as most of their more accessible tracks feature here. For me though, I’d start with ‘Maximum Darkness’ and work forward from there as most of their albums are worth hearing.
With excellent music, a great booklet and two great DVDs of performances, what more could you ask for? I’d certainly recommend this to listeners as it is an excellent and comprehensive collection compiled with a lot of affection and attention to detail.
“Love Is All” is the second track to be taken from ‘Door One’, David Longdon’s posthumous solo album, which will be released on October 14th, 2022 on CD via Big Big Train’s label English Electric Recordings and white and black vinyl editions via their vinyl partner Plane Groovy. The album will also be available on all digital streaming platforms.
Door One, borrowing the nickname for a recreation ground in Nottingham near where David grew up, has a musical personality that is distinct from his work within Big Big Train, even though Gregory Spawton plays acoustic guitar on ‘Love Is All’. Gregory Spawton: “I sat in on some of the sessions for the album and heard Jeremy Stacey record drums for Love Is All. As the session came to an end, David turned to me and said he wanted some 12-string guitar. David was aware of my passion for the instrument and I recorded my parts for the song a few days after David died. Although he was gone, it felt like it was one last precious moment of making music together.”
David had been accumulating musical and lyrical ideas for Door One over the past few years. He had been recording since April 2021, following the completion of Big Big Train’s Common Ground album. On the night of David’s tragic accident, which resulted in his untimely death on 20th November 2021, he had just returned home to Nottingham from a recording session at Playpen Studios in Bristol with his co-producer and engineer Patrick Phillips. At the time of David’s death, the album was 90% finished. However, David’s partner Sarah, his manager Nick Shilton, Big Big Train founder Gregory Spawton and all the key protagonists involved in its creation agreed that David would want the world to hear the album.
The album’s eight songs are highly personal and follow a lyrical journey from darkness to enlightenment, from the intense and raw sound of the first single ‘Watch It Burn’, channelling David’s love of The Who, to the folk inflected ‘There’s No Ghost Like An Old Ghost’, which recalls David’s Dyble Longdon album with the late Fairport Convention singer Judy Dyble, and ‘Love Is All’, the gorgeous ballad which closes the album.
Door One was recorded with a core of four musicians: drummer Jeremy Stacey (King Crimson, Eric Clapton, Noel Gallagher, Sheryl Crow, The Finn Brothers), bassist Steve Vantsis (best known for his work with Fish), saxophonist Theo Travis (Steven Wilson, Soft Machine, Gong) and David’s longstanding friend and former 1990s Gifthorse band mate Gary Bromham (Bjork, Sheryl Crow, George Michael) who contributed guitar, backing vocals, keyboard parts and textures.
The album’s stunning artwork is by Sarah Louise Ewing, with graphic design by Steve Vantsis. Sarah’s cover portrait of David is from a photograph by Sophocles Alexiou.
DAVID LONGDON ‘DOOR ONE’ LP Side One Into The Icehouse Watch It Burn There’s No Ghost Like An Old Ghost The Singer And The Song Forgive (But Not Forget)
Side Two Sangfroid The Letting Go Love Is All
‘DOOR ONE’ CD Into The Icehouse Watch It Burn There’s No Ghost Like An Old Ghost The Singer And The Song Forgive (But Not Forget) Sangfroid The Letting Go Love Is All