Review – Beatrix Players – Living And Alive

After a 5 year hiatus, the award-winning Beatrix Players are back with a brand new eight piece line up and an intriguing new concept album.

The band’s sophomore album ‘Living & Alive’ will be available digitally from 22nd Sep 2023 and, for fans of vinyl and cd, it can be pre-ordered now from Burning Shed with a limited edition of just 500 copies pressed on coloured vinyl.

Founding member, writer and vocalist, Amy Birks is joined on the album by her co-writers from the original Beatrix Players line-up, Helena Dove, and guitarist Tom Manning. Also joining this expanded group are doyen of progressive music, flautist John Hackett, guitarist Oliver Day (That Joe Payne, Yes Please), drummer Andrew Booker (Tim Bowness) and storied cellist Jane Fenton (LSO, LCO, RPO, Britten Ensemble etc). Pianist Matthew Lumb and bassist Kyle Welch complete the on-stage octet.

A trio incarnation of the band released the band’s debut album, ‘Magnified’ in March 2017 and they went on to appear as special guests on UK dates with artists such as Steve Harley, Carl Palmer and Big Big Train. In October 2017 they performed two songs at Prog Magazine’s star-studded annual awards event at London’s Globe Theatre and walked away with the best newcomer prize.

With that line-up on permanent hiatus Amy subsequently released two well received solo albums in 2020 and 2022 and picked up Best Female Vocalist award at the 2018 Prog Awards before recruiting a third iteration of Beatrix Players leading to the recording of this brand new album. 

So that’s the story behind the creation of the album, let’s dig a bit deeper, shall we…

“Take time it’s your life, What a beautiful life it could be…”

Great music has the ability to stir emotions and create small oasis of calm and beautiful solitude and ever since I heard ‘Magnified’, I have been hooked on what Amy Birks (on her solo releases) and Beatrix Players can create. Beautiful, wistful and ethereal music that is passionate and emotive in equal measure and that is just intensified on this new release.

Birks says, “Living & Alive is an honest album, that explores how life isn’t just about living, but that it’s about having the courage to really be alive and own it. Simply put; you are your best you, and will only ever be second best if you’re trying to be something other than you…

And Amy is right, there is a raw honesty to the music, a sparsity that is delicate and graceful to songs like Snowflakes, the charming track that opens the album much in the chamber-prog style of the debut album but this group of musicians, and Amy Birks in particular, have matured and have additional facets to their music and songwriting.

“There’s no such thing as an ordinary moment, There’s never nothing going on, There’s never such a day as clear as the day that’s too late, Too late and lacking of any conviction…”

Somebody Else’s Eyes is dominated by the haunting cello of Jane Fenton, painfully melancholy and alluring in its delivery. Oliver Day’s gorgeous playing adds a layer of sophistication to the music and Amy’s vocals are touching and plaintive. This is music that just bleeds emotion in every word and every note. There’s an insistent, almost off-kilter feel to This Is Your Life, implicit in the vocals that hit home with every word. A song with sharp edges among the charm and wonder.

“This is your life and there’s no one to blame, No matter how hard it gets…”

The music has a real bluesy feel to it, John Hackett’s flute flowing jauntily and Oliver’s pin sharp guitar really hitting home along with the superb cello, a rather pleasing track indeed.

Starts Again arrives with a jaunty atmosphere, created by the fantastic musicianship and Oliver’s laid back guitar. Another thoughtful track about how a relationship that’s going astray may work if only we could start again. The delightful chorus and relaxed mood give a feel of a sophisticated folk song with added layers of inventiveness, especially with that impish flute…

“And I doubted many a night, With your eyes poised to strike, And your tongue cut like a knife, It’s just no way to live life…”

Amy co-wrote A Beautiful Lie with John Hackett, a song about a relationship that’s run its course but we’re still living ‘A Beautiful Lie’. Gorgeously simple and shimmering with restrained intensity, there’s an uncomplicated honesty to the song and Jane’s pensive cello adds a touch of elegant sorrow to proceedings. A wonderful, if sad song that will really touch you.

“Dam your love and dam the water, Hold it back to keep control, Dam your love and dam the water, Until the day you overflow…”

Another somber track, Overflow carries on the pared back and less-is-more feel where the vocals add to the tension and pent up emotion. The music works in tandem with the vocals to add a wall of delicious sound, adding to the suspense and apprehension. Purgatory has a really serious tone, dealing with the mental abuse of a child but done in a very sympathetic manner. Amy is not afraid with dealing with contentious subjects and the beauty of the song even adds to the gravitas of the situation.

“Why can’ t you just smile, And wish me well, But you can’t hit a nail, Where it won’t go…”

Painful and yet hauntingly beautiful, there’s a solemn tale at the core of You Can’t Hit A Nail. A melancholy song that bleeds wistful sorrow from the flute and cello and where the vocal performance could have come straight from the stage of a West End musical. Sorrowful and even bitter, why do sad songs say so much? Fragile, poignant and yet, ultimately uplifting, Free has a feeling of emotional release in its heartfelt lyrics and superbly pared back music, just listen to the brilliant guitar playing and the inspiring close to this elegant song.

“There’s a clock ticking inside of me, And it won’t leave me alone, And it’s joined by a friend, my conscience, And it owns my body and soul, And it keeps on beating along to the sound of Me, I Am Me…”

This insightful, charismatic musical journey is brought to a close with the superb Me, I Am Me, bringing the story around full circle. An assertive vocal mirrors the lyrical content and the music has an almost classical feel to it. Powerful, affectional and heartwarming, this song is making a personal statement and one that is delivered with confidence. It is the perfect close to the album.

Beatrix Players return triumphant with the mesmerising ‘Living & Alive’, a collection of songs that are bewitching and compelling and leave you in no doubt of their stature in the music industry of today. The sublime voice of Amy Birks and outstanding musicianship on show have created one of the most outstanding releases of 2023 and one that should be on your list of must buy albums, it really is that good!

Released 22nd September, 2023.

Pre-order digital here:

Living & Alive | Beatrix Players (

Pre-order CD at Burning Shed:

Living & Alive (

Review – The Anchoret – It All began With Loneliness

The Anchoret is a Progressive Metal project that combines prog rock sensibilities with modern metal energy. Mixing fusion sax, flute solos, mellotron vibes and heavy riffs. ‘It All Began With Loneliness‘ offers a unique soundscape that is sure to please any fan of heavy music.

Featuring Andy Tillison (The Tangent), James Christopher Knoerl (Aviations, Gargoyl) and Sylvain Auclair (Heaven’s Cry, Karcius), ‘It All Began With Loneliness‘ was recorded all over the world between August 2020 and March 2022. 

With all the music composed and produced by bassist Eduard Levitsky and lyrics by Sylvain Auclair, this album is an absolute beast and one of the most stand out and innovative releases of 2023 so far. Fair warning though, it does get very, very loud and, to my ears at least, is all the better for it. Like a force of nature, a neolithic musical tour-de-force, ‘It All Began With Loneliness‘ is an utter powerhouse of progressive-metal invention.

The irresistible force of fine prog-metal melody meets the immovable object that is thunderous guitars, monumental drumming and in your face vocals and, surprisingly, it is a marriage made in heaven. And just to take it to another, almost unimaginable level, we get alto-sax, flutes, clarinet and even gospel vocals!! Jesus, it shouldn’t work in any way, shape or form but it just does and it works remarkably well!

The album bursts into life from the first note of opener An Office For…, this opening track lulls you into a somewhat melodic false sense of security before it segues perfectly into the violent wonder of A Dead Man. This piece of music has everything I mentioned above, melody, power, progressive leanings, majestic vocals, monumental musicianship and flutes! Add in one of Andy Tillison’s more extrovert keyboards solos (and that’s saying something!) and you could say that everything including the kitchen sink has been thrown at it and it is utterly magnificent. Of special note must be the utterly stunning and grandiose guitar work of Leo Estalles, statuesque in delivery and intent. You’ve hardly got your breath back from that uber-enjoyable onslaught before you have to strap in again for the thunderous Until The Sun Illuminates, a prog-metal masterpiece of magical musical malevolence. An almighty wall of sound rushes at you with deliberate intent, the occasional lull only giving brief respite from the mayhem around you. This is musical violence that is utterly wonderful, Andy’s keyboards used to great effect to give you temporary shelter from the storm created by the energetic rhythm section. Someone Listening carries on with a maniacal gleam in its metaphorical eye, the musical rollercoaster ride sweeping you up and carrying you in its wake. Sylvain Auclair has a commanding voice perfectly suited to the high energy, pulsating music, it is passionate and forceful but always melodic. The brilliant alto-sax of Juan Ignacio Varela Espinoza provides a clever counterpoint on the opening to Forsaken before the prog-metal takes on a much darker and heavier note and the vocals go all thrash metal on you. I’m not normally a fan but it’s done so well that I have to admit that I love it! The ebb and flow between the elegant sax and the maelstrom of metal is perfectly executed and makes for one hell of an exhilarating listening experience and Leo’s fine guitar playing is always going to add something vital to the mix.

The enigmatic opening to Buried adds an almost middle-eastern feel to the music before the staccato guitar and forceful vocals give primeval force to the song. There’s a building of tension, a clever anticipation being created before bursts of audio stimulus push through, a shorter but exceedingly sharp piece of music. All Turns To Clay is an anarchic helter-skelter of a song, a pulsating and compelling song that mesmerises and fascinates at the same time. The potent guitar riff has you trapped in its spell and the dark, haunting vocals seem to focus directly on you, another fine piece of songwriting. Unafraid has a less manic tempo yet builds menacingly with intimidating, ominous certainty, like a storm gathering in the distance, one you know is going to hit you eventually. Barely restrained like a wild stallion, there’s a violent energy building that strains to be let loose. This incredibly powerful album closes with the most wistful of songs in Stay. Emotive, passionate and heartrending, the musicianship is superb, where before it was all controlled power and dynamism, now it’s about precision, calm and grace, there’s even a Mellotron for god’s sake! It doesn’t get more prog than a Mellotron! Leo shows his class with a heartbreakingly elegant solo, full of fire and passion which, along with another magnificent keyboard solo from Andy, closes the album in rather fine style.

One of the things I love about music is when it surprises you and this debut release from The Anchoret has been a revelation. ‘It All Began With Loneliness’ is an astonishingly good album, in fact jaw-droppingly so, and is already up there as one of my favourites of the year. As prog-metal albums go, it doesn’t get much better than this!

Released 23rd June, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

It All Began With Loneliness | The Anchoret (

Review – I Am The Manic Whale – Bumper Book Of Mystery Stories – by John Wenlock-Smith.

These are my thoughts on, ‘Bumper Book of Mystery Stories’, the new album from Reading based outfit I Am The Manic Whale. Following on from 2020’s ‘Things Unseen’, this new collection of eight themed and linked tracks is a strong return to form as ‘Things Unseen’ was a little to unfocused really. Despite having several great tracks, a few others fell a bit short quality wise in parts. This album has redressed that particular issue clearly and the post-lockdown era has enabled the band to strengthen their musicianship to even higher levels. This is especially noticeable in the more focused bass playing of Michael Whiteman and the ever improving fluidity of guitarist David Addis. The keyboards of John Murphy, and Ben Hartley’s drums, add consistently sympathetic and worthy support to the proceedings.

The album is themed as a set of songs inspired by a book Michael found in an old and strange antique shop that was full of stories for boys. He decided to revisit these tales in song, adding mystery and suspense, to make something rather unique and different. The band even created their own tales that are available in a book as a companion piece to the album (not that I’ve read it, but the concept is a great one!). The music is everything that you have come to expect from this massively underrated band, strong melodies, dynamic pieces, class musicianship and interesting and intelligent songs. There is a lot going on here, there is also a marked improvement in confidence, possibly as a result of a higher standing after the collaboration with Ryo Okumoto’s recent solo album that Michael was heavily involved with, and which no doubt improved his own personal belief in his and his band’s abilities and worthiness.

The album has a mixture of styles and song lengths, from short tracks like Ghost Train (part 1) that opens the album, through to the two epics; Nautilus and We Interrupt This Broadcast…

So let’s delve a little deeper shall we?

Ghost Train (part 1) has echoes of John Finnemore’ s Souvenir Programme’s story elements. I know that Michael is a fan of this fine radio programme and went to some special recordings last year, which possibly were part of the inspiration for this track. The song has a suitably sombre tone as we are told that we are going to embark on an unusual and different type of journey, there’s also has some lively guitar work throughout, David Addis proving just what an inventive and tasteful player he truly is. In fact his playing on the whole album is excellent and inspired as he reaches new heights on several songs, enlivening with some truly melodic, flowing and fluidly inventive playing that significantly enhances the tracks with his combination of skill, technique and intelligence. He adds much icing to an already delicious musical cake. Second track, Patient AB, is based on a true story about a lady who was able to self diagnose a brain tumour that was subsequently found and dealt with successfully. Dream Fortune is based on the old folk tale The Pedlar of Swaffham, who travels to London where he believes he will meet a man who would make him rich. Instead, he is mocked by another dreamer who reveals a story of treasure buried under a tree in Swaffam. The dreamer discovering the treasure in his own garden and using it to fund the repair of the local church A great organ and choir are used to create great atmosphere in this track.

Secret Passage is a thrilling track with a strident bass at the forefront. This track blends images of Narnia and the Famous Five, amongst others, it is quite a robust number with another lovely guitar line in the middle section. It’s this level of skill and lightness of touch that really highlights the strength of this material written by the various band members. This song has an extended keyboard solo from John Murphy that is real delight, it’s great to hear him stretching out here, he is a great player and his contributions are invaluable. The Incredible David follows and is inspired by a story in a book John owned as a child, that told the tale of a boy who had insight into ancient history, with knowledge of things he could never have seen or known. The band have updated the tale by telling it from the father’s point of view and it’s an approach that works well, the song is multi layered with great piano and soaring Steve Vai type guitar in places. This is an album that requires time to allow its treasures to emerge slowly, in their own satisfying manner and that will capture your imagination, as they very much deserve to. Nautilus is influenced by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Captain Nemo. This watery tale has some great guitar in its thirteen-plus minute running time, along with keyboard contributions from Ryo Okumoto, who delivers a great synth section. The song is in five sections and is a very interesting track indeed, Michael’s love of science fiction comes across strongly here.

Penultimate song, Ern​ő​’s Magic Cube, is a sort of continuation of a song from ‘Things Unseen’ that extolled the virtues of Lego, this track being about the Rubik’s Cube and is a direct relation to that earlier song, Build It Up. It is a very 80’s sounding song, again this one makes a good impression. We Interrupt This Broadcast… details the strange incident of a spoof radio transmission which detailed Alien activity and interest. This is the longest track of the album and, again, David sizzles on his guitar, playing a great solo. It concludes an album that really delivers, upping the ante considerably from previous releases.

With stronger material and inspired performances that offer a deeply rewarding listen, this is an album that will draw you back repeatedly and one that is a highly recommended release indeed.

Released 7th July, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

Bumper Book of Mystery Stories | I Am The Manic Whale (

Review – Kurt Michaels – Stones From The Garden – by John Wenlock-Smith

This is the new latest album from Chicago born musician Kurt Michaels whose own career started in 1975. Since then, he has either worked with, or shared a stage with, a veritable cast of luminaries and classic musicians ranging from Chris Squire and Alan White of Yes, Carl Palmer, members of Supertramp and many others.

This album features contributions from Billy Sherwood, Michael SherwoodAmanda Lehmann, John Abbey (John Cale) and Dennis Johnson (Survivor and Dennis De Young). The album is generally AOR with a few touches of progressive rock (especially in the epic track The Road Beyond). The whole album consists of eight songs, mainly of around five minutes duration, although there are a few longer tracks.

On opener Trouble, Kurt sets out his stall pretty well with a bass heavy riff that runs in parallel with his own meaty guitar. There are some great keyboard fills in the mix here too, the song is slightly menacing sound wise and is all the better for it too. The vocals are clear and strong and backing vocals are good too. There is a lot happening throughout, I really like this track as it is both imaginative and clever. There is a tidy guitar break at the five minute mark that plays the song out, it’s a most impressive sounding track. Why Must Life Be Such A Fight follows and this one impresses greatly with its pop sensibilities. Again, good atmosphere is created in this track alongside some interesting musical passages and with some excellent harmony vocals from Kathie Mills. There is also another excellent solo from Kurt, whose guitar work is really fine and focused though out the entire album, this is another excellent track. I’m In Love With That Dream is the first longer track to appear on the album. On this song Kurt’s voice sounds highly reminiscent of the Flower KingsRoine Stolt, which is certainly different but this style works for this song. Good backing vocals from Annie Carlson also impress as does Kurt’s excellent guitar break. This track has a wistful feel to it, with excellent interplay between Karl and Annie’s voices that definitely deepen this feeling. It is another splendid song on what is emerging as a really good album.

Next up is the rather poppy and bouncy Relax…Nothing ‘s Under Control, which has vocals from Amanda Lehmann, who also adds some atmospheric voice tones to this track. This also has quite a funky feel to it, another good track and well performed by all. Forever (So Completely) opens with some neat slide guitar riffs, again the Flower Kings’ type vocals work really well. The song is quite an urgent number with another fluidly impressive solo leading the song along well. Happiness has a sense of yearning somehow. It’s almost like an unattainable target that is being sought and he is striving to reach. It is another wistful song really, with interesting musical backing. More great backing vocals from Kathie Mills make this another winner.

Will I Ever Pass This Way Again? is another searching track where Kurt is thinking about a loved one and how it all went wrong and how he would love to be able to fix and repair the relationship to a better one. This album seems to have a fair few wistful songs of hope and yearning. The final track, and longest and possibly the most progressive of the lot, is The Road Beyond, which runs for just over seventeen minutes The song begins with some guitar harmonics and tones which help create a sense of atmosphere alongside the keyboards of Jim Gully, which allow room for Kurt’s effect laden guitar tones to shimmer and shine. This track is basically a long guitar instrumental that is bookended by brief spoken word passages in which we are encouraged to dwell on how we live and how that affects how we act. The music is moving and yet, somehow, it is also very hypnotic almost like a dream sequence in parts and with excellent dynamics. I feel this would appeal especially to lovers of electronic music as I hear elements of Tangerine Dream here, amongst others It is a most interesting and impressive track as Kurt’s improvisations are really strong and fine. Furthermore, the song keeps the listener engaged and interested throughout its duration. I also hear the shimmering harmonies of Tom Verlaine here in this track, which is also a really interesting and revealing insight, it closes the album on a beautiful note.

This fantastic album will unfortunately pass most folks by, which is sad, as there is much great music to be found within this album. I implore you to check it out and support this fine musician.

Released 7th July, 2023.

Order from bandcamp here:

Stones from the Garden | Kurt Michaels (

Prog Ensemble District 97 Announce New Album Stay For The Ending and Launch The Opening of Pre-orders

Spirit of Unicorn Music are delighted to announce a brand new album from District 97, Stay For The Ending, pre-orders for which have opened today.

Featuring 10 brand new tracks, the album is the culmination of everything this Chicago-based prog rock ensemble has worked towards during their last 15 years. Formed in Autumn 2006, the band draws influences from a diverse array of musical styles, from heavy metal to avant-garde jazz. This broad appreciation of musical genres has continued to inform the band’s latest work and sees them further develop their sound and songwriting to ambitious new levels: upping their game in the areas of composition, performance, arrangement, production and sonics.

Stay For The Ending traverses a vast array of themes with songs exploring the human condition: unity, division, deceit, obsession, detachment, resilience and transcendence. Drummer and Percussionist JONATHAN SCHANG said, “After 15 years of leading District 97, I’m thrilled that we continue to push ourselves to new heights in every realm of our music making. This is the strongest collection of songs we’ve ever assembled.”

The album has been recorded, mixed and mastered by NOAM WALLENBERG (ALAN PARSONS, MAC MILLER). Lead vocalist LESLIE HUNT (AMERICAN IDOL FEMALE VOCAL FINALIST 2007) commented, “This record represents us at our most collaborative and dynamic.  We tried some new things and chased different aesthetics than we have in the past and I think the result is our best sounding album to date with some of our strongest compositions.”

Friend of the band, BILL BRUFORD (KING CRIMSON, YES, GONG, BRUFORD) agrees. In response to hearing the new album, he said, “Quality, expertise and passion – ‘Stay For The Ending’ is a massive piece, of which District ’97 should feel justly proud.”

The Autumn sees the band undertake a number of live shows in the US and Europe, including playing The Bedford in Balham, South London on Sunday 10th September.  SCHANG continues “I can’t wait for the music world at large to hear it both on record and on stage.”

The album can be pre-ordered from Cherry Red Records here:

Vocals: Leslie Hunt
Keyboards: Andrew Lawrence
Guitars, Vocals: Jim Tashjian
Bass Guitar: Tim Seisser
Drums & Percussion: Jonathan Schang

Stay For The Ending
Many New Things
Divided We Fall
Life Cycle
Deck Is Stacked
The Watcher

18th August – Martyrs’, Chicago, Illinois, USA
2nd September – 2 Days + 1 Festival, Veruno, Italy
7th September – Das Rind, Russelsheim, Germany
8th/9th September – Steve Rothery Band Weekend, Poppodium Boerderij, Zoetemeer, Netherlands
10th September – A Sunday in September, The Bedford, London

JOHN WETTON – ‘AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE’ – 8CD box set to be released on 24th November, 2023

On 24th November the first in a series of box sets commemorating the life and music of one of the UK`s most extraordinary and prolific musicians, John Wetton, will be released.  

The An Extraordinary Life box set contains 8 newly remastered CDs, featuring the six solo albums Wetton released between 1980 and 2011. Each album now includes special bonus tracks.  Additionally, two further discs are included which feature a gold mine of rare, live and unreleased material from the vaults, compiled by John`s archivist, Rick Nelson.

Check out trailer for the box set here:

Housed in a sumptuous 12” by 12” box, this set includes a 64-page book with an introduction by legendary artist, Roger Dean and contains comprehensive sleeve notes by Nick Shilton, author of Wetton’s biography, ‘An Extraordinary Life’, published earlier this year. The book also features a raft of photographs taken from the Wetton archive and has been designed by John’s long-time friend, Michael Inns. 

This whole project has been lovingly crafted and compiled with the full blessing of John`s son Dylan and his wife Lisa and is endorsed by the Wetton estate. 

With a career spanning more than four decades, John Wetton`s rich baritone voice and accomplished bass playing has adorned many recordings. In this ‘An Extraordinary Life’ his extensive solo career is captured for posterity all in one sumptuous box set, making this a fitting tribute to one of the UK most loved and respected artists.

An Extraordinary Life

DISC 1: Caught in The Crossfire (1980)

DISC 2: Battle Lines (1994)

DISC 3: Arkangel (1997)

DISC 4: Welcome to Heaven (2000)

DISC 5: Rock of Faith (2003)

DISC 6: Raised in Captivity (2011)

DISC 7: New Live and Unreleased Tracks

DISC 8: New Live and Unreleased Tracks


John Wetton has a unique please in British music history.  In a glittering career spanning more than 40 years, Wetton was a member of several influential and much-loved bands including, Family, King Crimson, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Roxy Music, UK, Asia and Icon.  He also appeared on a host of albums as a guest artist or session player, including for Bryan Ferry, Steve Hackett, Brian Eno, Renaissance and Galahad.  In addition, Wetton had an extensive and accomplished solo career.

Pre-Order link:


Official Website:

Big Big Train sign worldwide deal with InsideOutMusic

Big Big Train | Trieste, May 2023 | ph Massimo Goina

InsideOut Music is delighted to announce that it has signed Big Big Train to a multi-album deal for new studio releases. The band are currently working on a new studio album, expected to be released in spring 2024, and have recently been recording in Trieste, Italy, where lead vocalist Alberto Bravin is based.

Big Big Train bassist/founder Gregory Spawton comments: “We have ambitious plans for Big Big Train and are very pleased to have signed this deal with InsideOut. Having run our own record label, English Electric Recordings, for a lengthy period, it’s clear that the music industry has changed enormously in recent years and we believe that we are best positioned to grow BBT further by becoming an InsideOut band. Over the last decade we had received offers from various labels. When we considered the different options, signing up with the premier label for progressive music was the logical choice. We’re very excited about this new era for the band and working with InsideOut/Sony.”

Drummer Nick D’Virgilio adds: It’s an absolute thrill for me that Big Big Train has become an InsideOut band. Over the years, previously as member of Spock’s Beard and more recently alongside Neal Morse and Ross Jennings, I’ve worked extensively with Thomas Waber and his team at InsideOut/Sony. From experience I know that there is no better label for Big Big Train to be working with. It’s wonderful to join a roster that includes the biggest names in the prog genre such as Dream Theater, Steve Hackett, Jethro Tull, Kansas, Devin Townsend and Yes. We’ve got a lot of new Big Big Train music in the works and with InsideOut’s unrivalled reach across the progressive rock world we hope to reach plenty of folks who may not be familiar with us yet.”

Label head Thomas Waber comments: “We have been in talks with the band for a while and are happy that we can finally announce our partnership. Big Big Train have been proudly carrying the flag for progressive music, and we look forward to helping them on their very bright journey ahead. We are all excited to be stepping on board this particular train!”

Check out a teaser of brand new music here:

In parallel with this deal with InsideOut, Big Big Train will continue to run their English Electric Recordings label and expect to commence a re-issue campaign for previous studio BBT albums in late 2024.

Big Big Train’s latest album, Ingenious Devices, was released on 30th June 2023 (CD, 2LP black and 2 LP sky blue vinyl; Bandcamp) and is available to stream.

The band will embark on their most extensive ever tour in August and September this year, with 17 shows taking place across 9 countries. Big Big Train will also be on board Cruise To The Edge in March 2024. Find the full list of dates in 2023 below:

24th August – The Court Theatre, Tring, UK (warm-up show)

26th August – Cultuurpodium Boerderij, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands

27th August – Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany

28th August – Stora Teatern, Gothenburg, Sweden

29th August – Cosmopolite, Oslo, Norway

30th August – Fryshuset Klubben, Stockholm, Sweden

31st August – Viften, Copenhagen, Denmark

2nd September – 2 Days Prog + 1 Festival, Revislate, Italy

3rd September – Z7, Pratteln, Switzerland

5th September – Neuberinhaus, Reichenbach, Germany

6th September – Victoria Carlswerk, Cologne, Germany

7th September – Colos-Saal, Aschaffenburg, Germany

8th September – Mozart-Saal, Stuttgart, Germany

10th September – Queens Hall, Edinburgh, UK

11th September – Town Hall, Birmingham, UK

12th September – Cadogan Hall, London, UK

13th September – Cadogan Hall, London, UK

Trevor Rabin signs to InsideOutMusic for the release of ‘Rio’; his first vocal-led solo album in over 30 years 

InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce the signing of Trevor Rabin, the South African guitarist, singer, multi-musician, writer and producer. They will release ‘Rio’, his first solo album of vocal material in 34 years on October 6th, 2023 worldwide.

Of the signing and the forthcoming album, Trevor comments: “Signing to InsideOutMusic was the most natural and happy signing. Thomas and I have been friends for a while, and we’ve wanted to work together for a while.  As I got close to completing the project, I called Thomas. It was that simple. I am extremely happy to be working with the InsideOutMusic team and being part of the Sony family.”

InsideOutMusic label-head Thomas Waber adds: “Working with Trevor is a big bucket list moment for me and the label. I became a fan of his signature writing style at the beginning of the 80s and have been following him ever since. He is one of the true greats in Rock Music. ‘Rio’ is everything we could have hoped for and more!”

Although he has carved a lengthy and diverse career, Johannesburg-born Rabin is best known for membership of the band Yes over a 12-year, four-album spell that began in 1983, his smash hit song ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ of the same year topping America’s Billboard chart and inspiring the iconic prog-rock band to cross over into a far larger audience. Rabin was inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame with the band in 2017 and more recently teamed up with former Yes members Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman in the trio ARW.

Given that his previous vocal-led solo album, ‘Can’t Look Away’, was released in 1989 (2012’s ‘Jacaranda’ was all-instrumental), Rabin has kept us waiting for more than three decades for a follow-up. Trevor admits that there was pressure from all sides, including his own family, to have speeded up the process. However, the delay is excusable. Since leaving Yes following the ‘Talk’ album in 1994 and largely as a prequel to touring as part of ARW in 2016, the guitarist entered the time-consuming world of movie soundtracks. Trevor’s name appears as composer for such blockbusters as Con Air, Armageddon, Remember the Titans, Enemy Of The State, Deep Blue Sea, Glory Road, and Gone In 60 Seconds and both National Treasure movies, amongst many others. “Over the past ten years I was having ideas, concepts that I couldn’t implement due to my busy schedule,” he explains, adding: “To be honest, those years flew by in a flurry. I knew that this was the time, and once I found my momentum I worked on the album 24/7.”

‘Rio’, named after Rabin’s grand-daughter, features a painting by Trevor himself and will be available to pre-order from August 4th on several different formats. More information will be available soon. 

Trevor’s social media presence has been newly relaunched, and you can find all the key places to find out more information below. You can also see a video of Trevor checking in here:

NEAL MORSE – The Dreamer – Joseph: Part One – New Prog Epic Released 11/8/23

On the heels of the “Jesus Christ the Exorcist” Rock Opera, Neal Morse has created his latest prog epic, entitled “The Dreamer – Joseph: Part One”. The album tells the classic story of Joseph (the one with the coat of many colors!) using the medium of progressive rock as only Neal can!

The story unfolds with Morse employing amazing vocalists like Ted Leonard (Spock’s Beard, Pattern Seeking Animals), Matt Smith (Theocracy) and Jake Livgren (Proto-kaw, Kansas) to sing the roles of Joseph’s brothers, as they grow dark with jealousy and throw him in the pit.

As well as casting the characters in the story, Neal also sought out the finest musicians for the musical “roles”. So you’ll hear the soaring guitar playing of Steve Morse (Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs) and Eric Gillette (NMB) among others, as this familiar story comes alive through amazing music that will thrill all fans of progressive rock.

The album has everything a fan would look for: from long epics and odd time signatures, to very melodic and song-oriented tracks.

“The Dreamer – Joseph: Part One” is all the elements you would hope for from a new Neal Morse progressive rock album, and more! And this is just Part 1, ending with Joseph in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. “Part 2” will follow in 2024!

“The Dreamer – Joseph: Part One” tracklisting:
Prologue/Before The World Was
A Million Miles Away
Burns Like A Wheel
Liar, Liar
The Pit
Like A Wall
Gold Dust City
Slave Boy
Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Wait On You
I Will Wait On The Lord
Overture Reprise
Ultraviolet Dreams
Heaven In Charge Of Hell (Eat ‘Em And Smile)
Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Eric Gillette
Gabe Klein
Neal Morse
Sam Hunter
Gideon Klein
Steve Morse
Andre Madatian
Mark Leniger
Jim Hoke

Joseph – Neal Morse
Judah – Ted Leonard
Reuben – Matt Smith
Potiphar’s Wife – Talon David
Slave Driver – Jake Livgren
Simeon – Wil Morse
Jacob – Mark Pogue
Warden and Prison Guards – Matt Smith, Mark Pogue, Wil Morse, Gabe Klein, Chris Riley

Pre-order from Radiant Records:

Neal Morse – The Dreamer – Joseph: Part One – Radiant Records


Focus return to the UK, in November 2023, with their THE HOCUS POCUS TOUR 2023-24.  Fresh from the studio, where they are recording their eagerly-awaited new album, they will traverse Britain to give their loyal fans what they always want – a good time and timeless music.

Featuring Thijs Van Leer (Keyboards, flute, vocals), Pierre Van Der Linden (drums, percussion), Menno Gootjes (guitar) and Udo Pannekeet (bass), Focus have 14 dates scheduled at some of their favourite venues – and a few new ones, too.

Focus have so many highlights from their glorious 50-plus years including: Polydor having to close their record pressing plant to other bands for ten days to meet the demand for Focus records; being a favourite of Bob Harris on The Old Grey Whistle Test and to holding simultaneous top ten positions in the UK in both singles and albums charts. Through the decades, Focus remained relevant, their music entertaining live audiences, spearheading advertising campaigns [including the Nike South Africa World Cup TV spot] and Hollywood films [including Baby Driver and Troll movie).

A new Focus era arrived, in 2019, bringing with it a rejuvenated passion amongst the band. Focus released Focus 11, their first studio album for 6 years, complete with brand new Roger Dean artwork. The year was then spent touring from South America to Japan – and everywhere in between – in support of the new album.

With the dawn of 2020 came the 50th anniversary of the formation of Focus. Unfortunately, celebrations had to be put on hold due to global events. 2021 marked the 50th anniversary of the album Moving Waves (1971). The album featured the iconic track Hocus Pocus and following a live performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test in late 1972, a re-recorded Hocus Pocus would reach #20 in the UK singles chart in February 1973, the same week that Sylvia peaked at #4. Moving Waves hit #2 in the UK albums chart in March 1973 as the Focus live tour took the UK by storm.  Hocus Pocus reached number 2 in the USA.

2021 saw the release of the deluxe anniversary boxset Focus50 featuring Blu-ray and CD of the Live In Rio concert and a studio re-record of all of the Focus numbers. Focus returned to touring in 2022 and the band were delighted to be performing, once again, their classics such as Hocus PocusSylvia, and House Of The King together with some of the Focus numbers also making an appearance!

Holding a unique place in the hearts of music fans everywhere, Britain also holds a special place in the hearts of Focus, having toured here regularly through their 50-plus years and so the band are looking forward to their visit later in the year.

Some shocking news!” declares Focus founder and guiding light Thijs Van Leer. “Focus will be touring the U.K. in November!!” he laughs and then, with a deep sincerity: “We always feel welcome, here, we always feel AT HOME!!! Thanx!”


Thursday 9 November        Derby                         Flowerpot

Friday 10 November            Fletching                    Trading Boundaries

Saturday 11 November       Great Yarmouth       HRH Festival

Sunday 12 November         London                       Bush Hall

Tuesday 14 November       Chiselhurst                Beaverwood

Thursday 16 November      Bristol                         The Fleece

Friday 17 November            Howden                     Howden Shire Hall

Saturday 18 November       Tunbridge Wells       The Forum

Sunday 19 November         Sale                            Waterside Arts

Tuesday 21 November       Blackpool                   Waterloo Music Bar

Wednesday 22 November  Kinross                       Kinross Green Hotel

Thursday 23 November      Galashiels                 Galashiels Mac Arts

Friday 24 November            Troon                          Winterstorm Troon Concert Hall

Sunday 26 November         Southampton            1865 Club

Buy tickets here:

Focus are: Thijs van Leer – Hammond organ, flute, and vocals, Pierre van der Linden – drums, Menno Gootjes – guitar, Udo Pannekeet – bass