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, Nuno Bettencourt, 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’s Michael 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…