Yesterday saw the release of a new video for ‘Colors’, the latest track from smalltape’s ‘The Hungry Heart’ album.
The man behind the music, Philip Nespital, had this to say about the song:
“This track might be the most controversial song on “The Hungry Heart“. Not surprisingly it was also one of the most difficult songs I’ve written to date. In light of the social and political developments over the past decade, as well the global protests through the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, it seems to me that the message only grows stronger and more relevant than ever.
The evident truth is that people are actively and passively working against true democracy, with words and actions rooted in fear and hatred. This hatred, though conceived long ago, has been slumbering just below the surface and with the rise of populism globally, it has broken through. While racism, bigotry, and homophobia is unfortunately not unique to Germany, I chose to write the song through my perspective of living and growing up there.
As someone who deeply believes in the principles of democracy, most importantly freedom and equality, I feel the urge to speak up against racism as an ally to those that are being discriminated against. We give racism room to grow if we merely standby and watch or are willfully ignorant and look away. We can do a lot even by bravely speaking up and voicing that we disagree with discrimination and the violation of equality and civil rights for all. My intent and hope is that this core message of allyship and love spreads to all that listen.”
You can watch the video here:
Order the rather excellent album from bandcamp here:
Asia are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of their debut album next year, can you believe it has been 40 years since ‘Heat of the Moment’ first graced our airwaves! That album, of course, was a spectacular success and gave a new lease of life to a disgruntled Steve Howe who had been left in the cold by Yes as they had regrouped around Trever Rabin and Chris Squire. Steve was invited to join John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes in his then latest venture that brought the worlds of progressive music and AOR together in spectacular musical and financial success.
This set consists of five double CD’s featuring hitherto unreleased recordings of Asia in 1982, 1983, 2007, 2008 and, finally, 2010, recorded in the USA, Brazil, Japan and London. These sets are quite different in that the sound is always good and most noticeable is the bass of John Wetton, being often prominent and the band are playing very tightly and obviously enjoying themselves Naturally, many of the tracks are repeated over the five shows, although Carl Palmer’s drum solo moves from track to track as these albums progress.
The first set was recorded on Asia’s first US tour and, obviously, their debut album is prominently featured, although a new track that would appear on ‘Alpha’ was unveiled, albeit in a quite different version to the one that ended up on the album, as this features all four members playing keyboards to a drum machine backing before morphing into a full band performance where Steve Howe gets to wail and Carl Palmer hits things loudly. A lively rendition of Only Time Will Tell stands out with Geoff’s keyboard being prominent and John in fined voice indeed. In fact, Asia have seldom sounded rawer than this and everyone sounds in good form, this performance is particularly feisty and energetic. The rest of this set is fuelled by the balance of songs from their debut, Carl Palmer’s Drum solo and the double whammy of Sole Survivor and Heat of The Moment.
The second set is from August 1983 in Worcester, Massachusetts and this is a mixture of the debut and ‘Alpha’ albums along with Steve Howe’s solo segment of Beginnings/Valley of Rocks/Clap and Carl Palmer’s drum solo in Here Comes the Feeling, culminating in Sole Survivor and Heat of the Moment again.
The third set was recorded in Brazil shortly after the band reformed in 2007 and this set features tracks from their recently released album ‘Phoenix’, which stand up well to their earlier classics. Also Roundabout gets a dusting off here with John Wetton taking on the Jon Anderson parts. Well, he even gets a Chris Squire type sound and tone and his bass drives the song along nicely. It is great to hear these musicians really stretching themselves, though the sound is a bit crackly on this number, for some reason, but it doesn’t detract from what is an excellent version of a great song.
There is a version of Fanfare for the Common Man from Carl’s old band, ELP, and, again, we are in for a real treat here with Geoff Downes’ keyboards sounding not unlike a certain Mr. Emerson, and Steve’s guitar interjects and adds little flourishes throughout before he lets fly with a brief solo. It’s all highly effective stuff, as is the short bass solo from John Wetton. This set also includes a King Crimson track, In the Court of the Crimson King, and The Buggles’ song Video Killed the Radio Star.
Set four is from Tokyo in 2008, just before ‘Omega’ was released. The ‘Phoenix’ album is featured with An Extraordinary Life standing out. Again, solo tracks from each member are included and this is also the longest of these sets at nearly 2 hours in length. The sound is uniformly good throughout and it is great to hear .
The last set in this collection comes from London in 2010 and is a great return to form for the band. Featuring, as it does, lesser played tracks like Finger on The Trigger and Through My Veins from the ‘Omega’ album, along with a Steve Howe solo and the usual Carl Palmer drum solo during The Heat Goes On. The set concludes with Sole Survivor, Go (from ‘Astra’) and Heat of The Moment.
The collection features new art from Roger Dean and a brief, but informative, booklet detailing each of the shows, just a shame that John Wetton is no longer with us to celebrate this significant anniversary. This box set is a wonderful way in which to both remember, and celebrate, a rather rawer and more ferocious Asia than their albums showed. It is a great collection, pricey but worthwhile as Christmas is soon with us!
Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) is back with a new Star One album titled Revel In Time. The new album comes more than 10 years since the previous release and is due out on Feb 18th, 2022 on InsideOutMusic.
Today, Arjen is pleased to share the second single and video for the album’s opening track “Fate of Man.”
Watch the video for “Fate of Man” here:
Arjen has this to say about the track:
“This fast and furious album opener is the second video clip/single of the new Star One album ‘Revel In Time’. The lyrics are inspired by the movie Terminator.
For me this is the most Star One-ish track on the album, reminiscent of ‘Set Your Controls’ from the first Star One album ‘Space Metal’. The lead vocals are by the amazingly talented singer Brittney Slayes of Unleash the Archers and the virtuoso guitar solo is by none other than Michael Romeo of Symphony X. One of my own favorite tracks on the album. I hope you like it too, enjoy!
Video clip edited by Dave Letelier… in true Terminator style :-)”
1] Fate of Man 5:29
2] 28 Days (Till the End of Time) 7:21
3] Prescient 6:34
4] Back from the Past 4:50
5] Revel in Time 4:38
6] The Year of ’41 6:20
7] Bridge of Life 5:14
8] Today is Yesterday 5:46
9] A Hand on the Clock 5:52
10] Beyond the Edge of it All 4:52
11] Lost Children of the Universe 9:46
CD 2 features the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists
The album will be available for pre-order on Dec. 17th and it will come as Ltd. 2CD Digipak, Ltd. Deluxe 3CD+Blu-Ray Artbook (incl. a poster of the cover artwork), and as 180g Gatefold 2LP (incl. the album on CD & an LP-Booklet).
CD 2 features alternate versions of the same songs as CD 1, but with different vocalists. Also available will be a 5.1 mix, a high-res audio version, and an exclusive, hour-long Behind the Scenes video, on the Blu-ray included in the Artbook.
Arjen explains the decision to return with a new Star One album:
“Ayreon is like the mothership for all my music. It contains all the different musical styles that I like to listen to and that I love to create. But I’m always looking for challenges and trying to create something new and original as well. Working within a set of constraints forces you to do that, so sometimes I like to limit myself and focus on just one style. For example, with Star One I focus on the metal-side of Ayreon. That means you won’t hear the exuberantly liberal use of acoustic instruments that are so often featured on Ayreon albums, like violin, woodwinds, cello, horns, dulcimer, mandolin, etc.”
You asked for it, you got it. Karnivool have officially confirmed a Blu-ray release of their ‘Decade Of Sound Awake’ livestream performance on December 10, 2021.
Forced to cancel most of their Australian ‘Decade of Sound Awake’ tour, Karnivool took their full touring production into the Heath Ledger Theatre, Perth to perform their seminal, platinum selling second album ‘Sound Awake’ in its entirety for a special live streamed event.
Shot in a venue singled out for its incredible contemporary design and unique acoustic properties, the historic performance includes a full run through of the Sound Awake album, key songs from their other albums (including fan favourite ‘Fade’, captured on film properly for the first time), and some new material.
Within hours of the May 12, 2021 broadcast, they’d had an avalanche of requests from their global fanbase for a physical version of the visually stunning concert. Never intended for release but with online clamour hard to ignore the ‘Decade of Sound Awake’ Blu-ray will be available to buy from December 10.
Simple Boy Goliath New Day Set Fire To The Hive Umbra All I Know The Medicine Wears Off The Caudal Lure Illumine Deadman Change Fade Roquefort Aeons All It Takes
Watch the DECADE OF SOUND AWAKE video trailer here:
Karnivool acknowledges the Whadjuk Nyoongar people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work, live and play. We pay respects to all Aboriginal elders and people, standing united towards a shared future. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.
Music enriches our lives and lets us experience moments of happiness, and can bring us to tears. But music is something which can be just as impactful through TV shows and films too. There the link can be subtle, like The Fray’s ‘How to Save a Life’ playing in the background of a scene featuring an operation in Grey’s Anatomy to Nina Simone’s track, ‘Sinnerman’ perfectly accompanying Moriarty’s trial entry seen in the drama, Sherlock.
These are just two examples of shows where the music has enhanced the pictures on screen; music isn’t the main feature but these great songs are a perfect fit to complement what’s onscreen. The impact of music in TV is further highlighted by the streaming service Spotify who have recently listed their most played TV soundtracks of all time. Topping the list is soundtrack to the Netflix show, Stranger Things that has been played over 5 billion times.
Strictly Come Dancing is a show that gets a little closer to the music. It sees a host of celebrities pair with professional dancers to compete in ballroom dancing set to contemporary versions of classic hit tracks. A panel of judges scores the couples to determine the best dancers each week, focusing on their moves on the dancefloor. Since it started back in 2004, it’s become a staple in UK households; such is the popularity of the show it’s spawned spin-off shows and the show has taken to the stage too, with venues selling out across the country.
The imagery from Strictly Come Dancing is instantly recognisable, which has led to it being widely used in digital media. It has featured in its own app, Strictly Come Dancing: The Official Game, which is available on iOS and Android. Whilst it might not lend itself to mobile games, the imagery is still used across different games; there is an online slot on Cheeky Bingo called Strictly Come Spinning, which trades on the name and branding but twists it slightly to their own genre. The songs from the show are also available to buy and download, proving its popularity beyond that of just a relatively simple dance contest themed TV show.
There can be some fantastic sounds on the show, which have brought some memorable moments making the combinations of the music and the dancing performance iconic. Let’s take a look at some of them below.
This classic track by Kenny Loggins is well recognised as one of the hit tracks from the 1980’s Tom Cruise movie Top Gun. It’s remained a popular song ever since and will be re-recorded for the soundtrack to the yet to be released sequel Top Gun: Maverick. The dance was performed by TV journalist Charlotte Hawkins and professional dancer Brendan Cole in week 3 of series 15. The New Zealand dancer was the first professional to win on ‘Strictly’, ironically with another newscaster, Natasha Kaplinsky in series 1.
Johnny B. Goode
Chuck Berry’s hit song from the 1950s is a firm favourite on the show; it’s been a song that has been danced to three times in the past, and it’s instantly recognisable. Listed 7th on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 greatest songs, it is a real toe-tapper and a perfect fit for Strictly. In the video above, British Paralympic sprinter Johnny Peacock took to the floor with now two-time winner Oti Mabusi in week 2 of series 15.
The track by Metallica is arguably the most unusual heard on the show, but it’s a fantastic addition. The track from 1991 which has sold over 30 million copies worldwide, isn’t generally linked to dances like the tango, which was seen in series 18, week 8. Enter Sandman was chosen song for semi-finalists, comedian Bill Bailey and his dance partner Oti Mabusi. It was a song that Bailey said he wanted to bring to the show once he was selected to feature because it’s ‘rhythmic, powerful and full of atmosphere’.
While music is there to enhance the TV show, these songs can stand separate from the show they accompany. Good songs have the ability to do that. So no matter if it’s someone like Karda Estra or Metallica, they all have their own place in the hearts of people who just appreciate good music.
As it is nearly autumn again and the nights start to draw in, we will shortly be seeing a whole slew of new releases lined up for the Christmas rollout in order to woo and tempt the faithful and the unwary into parting with their hard earned readies. In to this scenario Esoteric have dusted off the ever popular 1975 album ‘Time Honoured Ghosts’ from Barclay James Harvest, which has been remastered from a newly located mix of the album that had been lost for many years.
The album ushered in a golden era for the Barclays and was very successful, as were it follow ups ‘Gone to Earth’ and ‘Octoberon’ that were reissued a few years ago in expanded versions, again by Esoteric and they have done a lovely job of this fine album here on this reissue.
This version of ‘Time Honoured Ghosts’ differs very little from the version issued by Universal in 2003, well to these ears at least. What is different here is that there is a second disc which offers a 5.1 surround sound mix along with promotional videos shot in 1975 covering the tracks Jonathon, Titles , Moongirl, One Night and Beyond The Grave, although, to be fair, these videos are all shot in the studio with minimal effects other than seeing the band playing them. They are very much of their time we’re talking pre Bohemian Rhapsody here, music videos were very much in their infancy!
The album also has a new essay from Keith and Monica Damone of the Barclay James Harvest website that tells the story behind this new version. Finally, there is a lush fold out poster of the album cover that one could frame if you so wanted and it’s simply gorgeous. The Album espoused the gentle and pastoral brand of progressive rock that BJH operated in and, whilst the album is known to most folks, it is in essence a good distillation of the classic BJH sound.
The album has, as a bonus track, a US version of Child of the Universe that was slated for a release but never was. I’ve always liked this album since the time that Titles was Radio One’s single of the week as its lyrics were made up of Beatles song titles but, in reality, they told the story of the breakdown in the relationship between Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Even though it got heavy promotion at the time of release, it still failed to catch the public’s imagination and so failed to chart, a great pity as it was clever and had a really classy sound. The public are like that though, pearls before swines et al.
In some respects it is a little hard to see who this set is aimed at as any BJH fans should already have this in one guise or another. I guess the 5.1 up-sound mix may appeal to some, although I don’t have a 5.1 system so I haven’t heard it and, as such, can’t comment on how it sounds and what it does for the music. I do like the poster though and it’s good to have the videos, dated as they may be. Esoteric always do these remasters very well, diligently and with care and sympathy, showing great respect for the album which, in this case, it heartily deserved and is worthy of such care and affection.
The album has some classic material on it. Songs like Titles, Jonathon, Beyond theGrave and Song For You are well known staples in the BJH canon and still form parts of their shows, even now, over 40 years on from when this album was released. It is often hard to appreciate the impact this album had when originally released, the album was recorded in San Francisco and produced by Elliot Maser (apart from Child Of The Universe which was recorded at Advision in London and produced by Rodger Bain). Therecord was followed by a UK and European Tour which led to greater success in Germany for the band.
The album stands up as a real classic of the 1970’s and was a chart hit in the UK and still sounds marvellous today, being one of the finer moments of Barclay JamesHarvest’s career. The version of Child of the Universe on this release is significantly different to the one that graced Everyone is Everyone Else album in 1974.
So, if you like this album and fancy a newly remastered version and DVD with surround sound mix, you could do a lot worse that getting this. A great album, now even better than before? You decide…
Legendary British progressive rock band Marillion embark on a UK tour, ‘The Light At The End OF The Tunnel’, in November 2021, ahead of their recently announced 20th album ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ and I sat down to chat with frontman Steve Hogarth about the upcoming live gigs…
Progradar: Hi Steve and thanks for talking to me, I am coming to see the band play on the first night of the upcoming tour, Hull City Hall, on the 14th November and, in a strange kind of synergy, the first time I ever saw Marillion was at Hull City Hall on the 9th July, 1990, so you’re talking 31 years ago!
Steve Hogarth (SH): Blimey! Do you know, I think that was the last time we were there.
Progradar: I’m pretty certain it was too! You know what, I saw you twice before lockdown, at the Royal Albert Hall in 2019 and I also saw you at the York Barbican in 2018, I can remember the songs better, obviously, from the last two but the one that sticks out most in my mind was that one, going back all those years ago. I even remember that Little Angels were the support band, a local band from Scarborough.
SH: Yeh, they were good, I remember them.
Progradar: It’s funny how you can remember these things from all those years ago. Are you looking forward to getting back out there again and playing in front of a live audience?
SH: Yes, very, very much, I think it’s all the more precious because it’s been denied us, you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. I think, for the audience and the band alike, it will be quite something to walk back on stage in Hull. I’m looking forward to it immensely, yes.
Progradar: I went to see Keane at the open air theatre in Scarborough and it just threw it down with rain all through the gig but I just didn’t care, it was spine tingling to see live music again. I am so excited about seeing you guys in November, I’ve been a fan for over thirty years. The ‘Seasons End’ album and tour are where I really got into the band so, to actually think I’m going to get to see you guys where it all started for me, over thirty years ago is a quite a spine tingling thought actually.
Do you find that there is a difference in audiences in the UK and audiences when you go to the continent or all they all pretty much the same?
SH: Yes there is, audiences even vary from one part of the UK to another, to be honest. To be fair, about 18-20 percent probably travel, so there are people in the UK that are moving around. In that sense the geography is not as important but there are certain hotspots in the UK, Manchester, Liverpool are always terrific, Birmingham and London are usually good. Cardiff is a bit of a slow burner, they’re usually quiet but they go nuts at the end.You get used to the kind of dynamics of what to expect from a crowd, after a few years.
Across in Europe, again, certain parts of Germany, you know you are going to have an amazing show. We’ll have a great show in Cologne and Munich, we’ll usually have a great show in Hamburg. Not so much in Frankfurt and Hanover and, if you go over to France, we’ve always had amazing shows in Paris, it’s just about my favourite place to play on earth. Lyon will be good but not that same electric thing you get in Paris.
Over in Holland, it’s only a small country so it doesn’t vary quite as much there but playing Utrecht and Amsterdam is also special as well.
Progradar: I get a strong impression that Marillion fans have a real affinity with the band and you have a real affinity with the fans, do you agree and do you think it helps when you do the live gigs?
SH: Yes, absolutely, like a family. It’s not ‘us and them’ anymore, it’s very much ‘us and us’, we’re all in this thing together. Way back, at the end of the 90’s, when we (together) invented crowdfunding and we found a way to move forward by having fans pre-order the albums we hadn’t even finished yet, that’s almost become a commonplace thing now but it didn’t exist before we did it. That brought us closer together with the fans, it kind of gave us common cause, in a lot of ways.
The feeling of trust when somebody sends you their hard earned money, sometimes quite a lot of it! We are selling these packages where you don’t get much change out of fifty quid, they buy them with no guarantee at all that we won’t just go to Rio and have a party with their money. There’s a lot of faith and trust there and responsibility on us not to let anybody down, that’s pulled us closer together (with the fans) as well.
Progradar: I think for a lot of fans, you genuinely feel involved in what’s going on with a new album. A lot of bands involve the fans in what’s going on so they do feel invested and that helps when you come to the live stage. Fans feel they are going to see people they know, to a certain extent, play a gig. I feel you will have the goodwill from day one of a tour as 70-80 percent of them will have been fans from day one.
SH: Yes, I’ll probably recognise half of the front row just from all the years of doing it and seeing people. Bit by bit, we, as musicians, become conscious of who’s listening to us, I recognise people at the front and it is very much a family now.
Progradar: Do you get many fans who literally pay to go to every gig on a tour?
SH: It’s quite common to see and to get a message from someone to apologise for missing one like, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get down to St Austell”, and we’re like ” I’m not bloody surprised!”. We do, there are people that will travel to all of the shows and wear that like that a badge of honour, there are people who have even travelled around Europe as well! Similarly, Ive met people from all around the world who’ve travelled miles for a show, Americans who’ve just flown in for one gig and flown out again.
A few years ago we did a show at Shepherds Bush Empire and I met a couple of guys in the alley by the back stage door from Venezuela! I asked them what on earth they were doing there and they said we’d come to see you! So, when people are prepared to do that, it’s extremely mind blowing.
Progradar: I’d imagine it’s pretty humbling when you think they could have spent the equivalent of six months salary just to see one concert?
SH: It is humbling, it’s extremely humbling, it makes my head swim. I don’t think I’ve ever travelled more than sixty miles to see a band in my entire life! I can’t imagine getting on a plane and going to see somebody.
Progradar: Like I say, I saw you at the RAH in 2019 and, apart from having the most uncomfortable seats of any venue I’ve been to, it was an amazing gig, do you find that there is a difference in the atmosphere when you play the bigger venues to when you play the smaller ones?
SH: You can’t really generalise because you can amazing gig in a little club and you can have an amazing gig in a football stadium and every size in between. Each venue, and the space of that venue, has its own character. My job is to walk out there on the stage, get a feeling for it and wring it out like a cloth, get the very best out of that space that I can. That’s part of my job, although it’s not necessarily a conscious process to be fair, part of my job is to go, right, what can we do with this then?
Progradar: I’ve been to concerts where they’ve really dragged and I’ve been to gigs, like the RAH and York Barbican gigs, where the time has flown by and I haven’t wanted to leave. We won’t call it working the audience as you say it is not a conscious process but, you certainly look like you’re enjoying it when you’re up on stage?
SH: Yes, to be honest, it’s dead easy to do when you’re meeting those waves of affection that I’m very fortunate to meet. It doesn’t make my job very difficult at all, all I’ve got to do is kind of bounce it back and see it for what it is, not take it for granted. Just go with what is special about a show from one moment to another, the vibration in the hall, I’ve kind of got to have my radar up, to pick that up and acknowledge it.
Progradar: I would imagine that, even if you played the same set list in two different venues, you’re still going to have two different events, two different concerts?
SH: Totally, yes!
Progradar: So, the new album, which you’ve had a bit of fun with, the fans guessing the album name, there were some quite interesting ones that came up in the Facebook group, some humorous ones as well!
SH: Yes, my favourite was‘All Hard Bastards In Doncaster’, that really creased me up!
Progradar: You said that you are probably going to play one or two tracks from the new album, are you excited about giving the new music an airing in that live setting?
SH: Yes I am, because a lot of the stuff on this new album is really quite upbeat and will work really well live. In the end, we decided we would only play one track. When I say one track, it is about ten minutes long, it’s the equivalent of three of anyone else’s.
Progradar: Long gone are the days of tracks like Hooks In You, three and a half minute radio friendly stuff!
SH: Never say never but, we haven’t written a three minute song for quite a while now, it takes us three minutes to get to verse one these days. We’ve got a song called Be Hard On Yourself and I can tell by the nature of how we wrote it that it is going to be great live, it’s really going to kick arse! I’m looking forward to giving that an airing for sure.
Progradar: I’m really looking forward to hearing it, I have been prevaricating but finally got around to ordering the double vinyl today, especially when I saw it was the last day to get your name in the credits! I don’t know about you but, I grew up on vinyl and cassette tapes, then sold it all to make way for CDs and now we are buying vinyl reissues and remasters at ten times more than we we paid for them when they first came out in the 70’s and 80’s!
I have bought good quality pre-owned copies of ‘Holidays In Eden’ and ‘Seasons End’ and boxsetsof ‘Marbles’ and ‘Brave‘. If you pushed me I would say that ‘Marbles’ is my favourite Marillion album, closely followed by ‘Seasons End’.
SH: Great, what’s your favourite track on ‘Marbles’ then?
Progradar: Funnily enough, I have just been listening to it in the car, it’s Fantastic Place, it’s one of my all time favourite Marillion songs. You played it live in York with a couple of my other favourite Marillion songs which are Seasons End and Easter but I absolutely love Fantastic Place.
SH: That’s a feather in my hat because I wrote two out of the three of those songs.
Progradar: There’s also Steve Rothery’s guitar in that song, it has no edges, do you know what I mean? It’s smooth and the solo just bleeds emotion. Leading on to the next question, you’ve also said you are going to play what you consider to be the best of your catalogue. With so many albums behind you, how do you pick the tracks on the setlist? Is it a democratic process, do you get a massive list and then just whittle it down?
SH: Yes, more or less. We all get a vote each, make a list, whatever wins gets chosen. We did decide for this particular tour that we would play what we all personally felt were our most important songs. Anyone who comes hoping to hear a couple of obscurities will probably be disappointed but anyone who’s hoping to hear the really big songs, they’ll be delighted because that is what they are going to get.
Progradar: So I can sort of live in hope that I am maybe going to hear one of my favourite three on the 14th November?
SH: You certainly can, for sure.
Progradar: Not being a musician, I find this quite fascinating, are there songs that you like off studio albums that you think wouldn’t work in the live experience?
SH: There’s certainly a couple, yes. TheFruit Of The Wild Rose has always been very tricky live because, I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, it kind of goes into a groove at the end that is set down by an acoustic guitar, playing a loop and then it kind of kicks off with a guitar solo overlapped and we just don’t have enough guitar players in the band to do both! I’m not a good enough acoustic guitar player to be able to lay that loop down while Steve solos, Pete probably is but then I’m not a good enough bass player to cover the bass duties!
So there are one or two that kind of came into the world as studio works and are a bit of a struggle. I mean, we have still done them but they’re trickier things to roll out.
Progradar: I don’t want to put you on the spot as there’s hundreds of songs you’ve written but, are there a couple of songs that you particularly enjoy playing live yourself?
SH: Yes, for sure, I really like to sing The Invisible Man, that’s one of my favourites to perform. What else would I look forward to doing? I enjoy playing Gaza, I enjoy playing A Few Words For The Dead, to be honest. Seasons End and Estonia, they’re both great to play.
Progradar: I remember Seasons End at York Barbican in 2018, my friend Iain Sloan came down from Scotland, he lives near Edinburgh and is a guitarist in an Americana band call The Wynntown Marshals. We were stood together, almost in tears, it was one of those moments you’ll remember forever.
You said you enjoy playing in Holland and that leads me on to my next question, are you intending doing Marillion Weekends again?
SH: Yes, we absolutely are, we had to keep kicking it down the road. The thing about Port Zelande is that we promote the entire thing ourselves and we’re about half a million quid in the whole before anyone turns up. If, god forbid, the Dutch government decided to lock the country down, it would cost us more money than we could stand to lose, to be honest. So we had to keep postponing it and we moved it to next spring and then we decided we couldn’t even risk that. We moved it again, I think it’s booked in for March 2023 now, it’ll happen but we’ve just got to get through this strange pandemic that seems to be a bit slow to leave.
Progradar: I’m 54 this year and none of us are as young as we used to be. You’ve been touring for donkey’s years, do you find it more tiring now or does just getting out on that stage just infuse you with energy?
SH: I can’t remember, it’s so long ago! I am two years older than the last time I did it so there is a part of me thinking I hope I’m up to this? I’d better get out on the bike and get myself sorted out a bit. I’m going to find out, it may come as a terrible shock!
Progradar: Do you keep fit before you go on a tour, do you do anything extra?
SH: I’ll do a little bit, I won’t do enough because I’m a lazy sod but I should really. I mean, I can’t just expect to remain fit, I’ve got to make the effort. I live in a three storey house so I’m up and down the stairs and get a few steps in but I’m going to have to do a bit more.
Progradar: I really appreciate your time Steve, it’s been brilliant talking to you, just one final question before we sign off. It’s a question I ask everyone who I interview, do you prefer writing and recording and album or do you prefer playing the material live?
SH: Playing the material live, night and day, for me. I hate writing, I hate most of recording, once you get beyond a certain point then it does start to become exciting but that takes such a long time. Whereas to play live is the point of it for me so, hands down, I prefer playing live.
Progradar: I’ll just tag a little bit on the end of that, when you’re on tour, can you hit the same level of enthusiasm at the last gig that you had at the first?
SH: Absolutely, no problem at all, I love it!
Progradar: That’s brilliant, I really appreciate your time and I am so looking forward to seeing you at Hull City Hall on November 14th!
SH: Thanks for your time and thanks for your support man!
Marillion‘The Light At The End Of The Tunnel’ tour starts on 14th November at Hull City Hall.
Pre-order Marillion’s 20th album, ‘An Hour Before It’s Dark’ here:
The release of the first new material from Yes since ‘Heaven and Earth’ has been a long time in coming. During that time there have been many changes to the world of Yes, most notably the sad death of Chris Squire in 2016. There has also been the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic that has wreaked havoc with most people’s plans, a situation that Yes have also been affected by. Here’s what Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes had to say about this period.
John Wenlock-Smith (JWS): Good day Geoff, thanks fore making time to talk with me, how have you been keeping during this time?
Geoff Downes (GD):I’ve not been too bad, I’ve managed to keep myself active. We recorded this new album remotely with Alan (White) and Billy (Sherwood) in the US, Jon (Davidson) in the Caribbean and Steve (Howe) and myself here in the UK, it’s a nice way of working I find.
JWS: Results Seem to be positive, you seem to bring out the best in each other somehow?
GD: Yes, I think it does, it also gives you the chance to sit back and look at it all. We’ve had to do that with this Yes album and I think that we’ve learnt quite a lot by doing it that way. It’s a different approach but, at the same time, it can be creative as well.
JWS: It getting interesting reviews (the album), isn’t it?
GD: Yes, obviously the days of the band being in the studio for months locked away doesn’t really exist these days, as they did in the ’70’s. It’s been difficult with having the rhythm section in California, they were sending us files to review on a regular basis. But, of course, we’re not alone in that we were all locked down for months on end and we’ve had to adapt and respond to that as best as we could. Without the benefit of being able to play any live shows it has put people on a different route forward. It meant taking a more flexible approach to things really.
JWS: I spoke to Steve Hackett recently and he was saying a similar thing, he has had to adjust to a new approach to his music, but at least he is able to go out on tour again now.
GD: Yes, I had an email from Steve asking if I wanted to see him in Cardiff tThe nearest place to where I am in Chepstow) but he was saying I can’t see you though, we do the show and move the whole bubble onwards. So I didn’t get to see him this time, but I’ve seen his show many times at various stages. He always puts on a great show. He really puts a lot into his shows, not just him and his band but in the staging and the lighting and the whole experience and performance really. I’m looking forward to catching up with him again when he comes back round.
JWS: Touring will be happening for Yes again soon though?
GD: Well, yes, we’ve got a tour booked for next May and June in the UK and Europe.
JWS: This is the ‘Relayer’ Tour?
GD: Yes, it’s been postponed twice so we’re hoping it’s third time lucky for it to go ahead.
JWS: Well, the album is very interesting, I’ve heard it all, and the bonus tracks, one of which is obviously a tribute to the Beatles. But the whole album is interesting lyrically, you’re not afraid to tackle some important and controversial issues like ecology and conservation?
GD: I’m not involved with the lyrics per se, Jon was stuck in Barbados for 5 months and I think that’s reflected in his lyrics, global warming, obviously, and I think The Ice Bridge reflects those concerns. There’s nothing worse than musicians standing on a soapbox telling people what they should be doing but, by the same token, it’s true that the band are all getting older which brings its own challenges.
JWS: So what’s happening with the Downes Braides Association? I loved the ‘Halcyon Hymns’ album and wrote a glowing review of it, I thought it was excellent!
GD: Well, Chris has moved back here now from LA and I’m hopeful that we can get together and work on the next one more directly, as opposed to being two oceans apart. So we will have to see how that comes about in due course.
JWS: You also had the Asia albums re-released recently (‘The Reunion Albums 2007 to 2012’) on BMG.
GD: The 40th anniversary of the ‘Asia’ album is in 2022, so those albums are being re-promoted again to mark that event. Those first three albums were very significant and its important to mark those events again fully.
I’ve still got unworked material from a session I had with John (Wetton) before he sadly died so there is potential there to craft something new. I feel that Asia has not run its course and that there is still some life left in the band. Again, we’ll have to see what emerges from those sessions.
JWS: What about a new solo album for you? Surely you must be due for another one soon?
GD: Yes, I have been thinking about doing something, although quite what that will be is very open. I think I’d like to do something in a similar vein to ‘The Light Program’ from 1987, a sort of ‘stream of consciousness’ album of its time but worth revisiting again I think.
JWS: I also read recently that you wanted the keyboards on this new album, ‘The Quest’ to be more analogue than digital, more like earlier Yes albums?
GD: When I was growing up, I was hugely influenced by the keyboard sounds that Tony Kaye used on those early Yes albums. He was a monster on the growling Hammond and when we did the ‘Yes 50’ tour, Tony was a guest on some dates. He still commands the Hammond organ and we became good friends, so that was a big factor for me. Plus, I think the music Steve was making on the guitar leant itself to that classic type of sound, so that’s what I did, and I think it worked okay.
JWS: Tony Has a new solo album out, ‘End of Innocence’, have you heard it yet?
GD: No, but I want to hear it, it’s all about the World Trade Centre and 9/11 isn’t it?
JWS: Yes, it’s a good album.
GD: Does he play lots of Hammond on it?
JWS: Yes, throughout.
GD: I’ll have to ask management to get me a copy then.
JWS: You won’t regret it Geoff, it’s a fine piece of work, very worthwhile. Anyway, my time has gone, I’m afraid, thanks for talking to me.
GD: No problem John, thanks for interesting questions and for knowing your stuff, I’ve enjoyed talking to you, thank you!
‘The Quest’ by Yes is released on 1st October, 2021 and you can order a copy here:
Legendary US progressive rockers Spock’s Beard are beyond excited to be announcing UK tour dates for March 2022.
Alan Morse comments: “We’re just so excited to get back on the road again, we can’t wait to see all our friends we’ve missed so much during this crazy time. We are ready to rock! We’re planning to play some of the Spock’s “classics” we know y’all love to hear, plus some surprises you haven’t heard in a long time – or maybe ever! Come up and say hello! Hope everyone is rested up and ready for a major supernova of prog rock madness, cos we’re bringing it, baby!”
Here’s the complete list of dates:
14/03 – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
15/03 – Glasgow, G2
16/03 – Bilston, Robin 2
17/03 – London, 229
18/03 – Great Yarmouth, HRH Prog
Tickets will go on sale on September 17th at 10 a.m. GMT.
InsideOutMusic recently announced the signing of Mandoki Soulmates, featuring renowned musician, songwriter and producer Leslie Mándoki. On the 24th September, a brand-new expanded version of his ‘Hungarian Pictures’ suite, will be released under the title:
‘Utopia For Realists: Hungarian Pictures’.
A video for the track ‘Sessions in the Village’ can be viewed here:
Leslie comments: “In his belief in the unifying power of music, Béla Bartók created his masterpiece, at a time when the flames of National Socialism threatened to engulf Europe, which served as the basis for our new album. Even more than 70 years after his death, the compositions have lost none of their topicality. So, what could be more natural than to bring them back to social relevance in the guise of progressive rock
Beginning with the piano introduction of my professor Szakcsi, a mastermind of the musical Roma tradition and Hungarian music legend, followed by the soulful performance of my daughter Julia, this song finds its musical climax in the soli of world stars like Cory Henry, Randy Brecker, Bill Evans or John Helliwell, before bringing the different voices together inunison in the grand finale.”
Alongside the original remixed and remastered music, a brand new Blu-ray audio-visual album will be released, combining the recording of the concert film of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with an impressive cinematic realization of the individual musical episodes. It also provides exclusive insights behind the scenes of the Soulmates production live and in the studio, a “making of”. The album will also be released as a standalone Gatefold 2LP+CD+LP-Booklet, and a standard CD jewelcase.
On ‘Utopia For Realists: Hungarian Pictures’, Leslie Mandoki plays together with Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull), Jack Bruce (Cream), Nick van Eede (Cutting Crew), Chris Thompson (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band), Bobby Kimball (Toto), David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat and Tears), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Al di Meola, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Till Brönner, Bill Evans, Cory Henry, Richard Bona, Tony Carey (Ritchie Blackmores Rainbow), Jesse Siebenberg (Supertramp), Steve Bailey, and Julia Mandoki
Mandoki Soulmates staged a global live stream event earlier this year which has achieved over half a million plays on Youtube and over 700.000 on Germany’s leading TV channel ARD since its release.
Watch it in full here: https://youtu.be/gDDpdhuC4Rg The Prog Rock Suite ‘Hungarian Pictures’ as a live concert film, supplemented by studio recordings, films and a comprehensive making-of documentary combined into a holistic audiovisual work of art, is further proof of the indomitable creativity of Leslie Mandoki and his soulmates.
Background on ‘Hungarian Pictures’:‘Hungarian Pictures’ is constructed as a suite, based on compositions and themes by
Bartók, supplemented with the bands original songs. Together with Greg Lake of Emerson Lake & Palmer, and Jon Lord of Deep Purple, Leslie had worked on the seed of this idea years ago.
Leslie explains:“For Bartók, diversity in culture creates enrichment. He believed that it is precisely from these differences that art draws the strength that enables further development. He
mixed sounds and traditional melodies from different regions of the Carpathian Plain in order to set an example against the burgeoning threat of National Socialism (Nazism) through the unifying aspects of music. That unifying impulse inspired Jon Lord, Greg Lake, and me.After completing our Mandoki Soulmates “Wings Of Freedom” tour through Europe, we gave a concert in New York’s Beacon Theater. The Soulmates show was a great success with an enthusiastic New York audience, standing ovations, and positive press reviews.
For me, a former asylum seeker who over four decades ago fled from a communist dictatorship to freedom, this success in the “Land of the Free” is a very special moment.After the concert, I spent a few days with my children in Van Morrison’s former house in
Topanga Canyon, one of the old “hippie” neighborhoods of Los Angeles. I used this free time to reflect on social developments over the past few years.
It became clear to methat we as artists are being challenged to become louder, to be a thorn in the side of society, and to bring progressive jazz rock back to real socio-political relevance. This is how the first ideas for a new album came about. It is the most ambitious and best project we ever worked on.”