Review – SiX BY SiX – s/t – by John Wenlock-Smith

This album is a new collaboration between Saga guitarist Ian Crichton, Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler and Robert Berry (ex Keith Emerson & Carl Palmer’s 3 project), it combines classic rock elements alongside more progressive ones. The good news is that it sounds glorious and there are plans to reconvene for a further excursion next year.

Album opener Yearning To Fly begins with the sound of a passing train before a very Rush sounding guitar line is played by Ian along with some stylish keyboards by Robert Berry, all underpinned by the powerful drums of Nigel Glockler who certainly pounds those skins, giving this opener some real punch. There is a very fluid guitar solo on which Ian let’s rip before the song returns to the chorus once again, as an opening statement this certainly makes a strong impression. I love the way in which these three lock in together and create something both new and yet somehow familiar, well to Saga fans anyway. Second Track China is another belter with a distorted opening guitar and a monstrous bass. Again, the mixture of muscle and melody is highly impressive , as are the vocals, which together work well. Another excellent guitar solo and that fabulous chorus make this another strong song, I am really enjoying this album so far. We then have a longer song, Reason To Feel Calm Again, which has lots of burbling synthesisers that propel the song along with ‘bagpipe’ sounding guitars. Very unusual but it works, making a great sound, really different and inventive. The song settles into a groove as Ian solos fluidly, gathering pace as the fine bass  holds it all together.

The Upside of Down is hinged on a steely Robert Berry bass line, which shows him to be a fine player who can both drive the song and pull the beat along well. It is a joy to hear this busy bass really making a strong impression, there’s also lots of ringing guitars throughout the track amid some signature tones and tricks that Ian has used with Saga to good effect over the years. Here, it sounds totally fitting for the sound that the band make together. The song Casino impresses with more great musicianship from the three men. The balance of power and melody is pretty near perfect on this album, all very impressive stuff I must say. The interplay between the rhythm section and the guitar is captivating and the production certainly helps in this too as it is clear as a bell. Live Forever is gentler at the start with a delicate guitar part amidst the great keyboards and sounds a little like an early Magnum effort. This is a prelude to another monster of a track, The Last Words On Earth, which opens with church organ before a brutal riff barges in. There are fabulous dynamics to this song and it’s very hard hitting in sound with lots of muscle and power at play, simply magnificent. A monstrous fiery solo takes this song off into the stratosphere to the songs conclusion, it’s truly awesome stuff.

Skyfall (not the Adele Bond theme!) follow, an intelligent number with lots happening throughout and a typical Crichton solo takes the song to the end of its course. It’s now into the home straight with the last two tracks. Battle Of A Lifetime is acoustically driven initially before the whole band crash in. The chorus is marvellous, as is the funky Berry bass that hold all this together and is joined by one of Ian’s classy solos with lots of string squeals and pinches. Again, it’s different and yet highly effective. Final song Save the Night is another longer song with lots of staccato playing from Ian and great bass from Robert, alongside the powerful drums that make this song have some real presence and cloud. The song has an urgent pace to it and closes out what has proved to be a highly impressive debut album.

Whether this translates into some live action remains to be seen but all parties are keen to do more and, if it’s a good as this is, then I say go for it! This debut release is a remarkably assured and polished debut that packs a punch with some great playing from all concerned,  I heavily recommend that you listen out for this one.

Released 19th August, 2022.

Order from the band here:

SiX BY SiX – China (lnk.to)

SiX By SiX, featuring Ian Crichton, Nigel Glockler & Robert Berry, announce release of eponymous debut album 

SiX By SiX is the exciting new trio formed by Ian Crichton (Saga), Nigel Glockler (Saxon) & Robert Berry (3; Emerson, Berry, Palmer), and their eponymous debut album is set for release on 19th August 2022 via InsideOutMusic/Sony Music. 

This hugely accomplished trio of musicians is also pleased to announce their first single ‘Yearning to Fly’, and you can watch the video now here:

The roots of SiX By SiX can be traced back several decades to when Glockler and Berry were together as part of Yes guitarist Steve Howe’s continuation of the band GTR.  Then there’s the Asia connection, where Crichton and Glockler contributed to sessions and recordings, while Berry was the link for his guitarist friend Pat Thrall joining that band. 

Time marches on, paths cross and fate brings these three musicians together, born from a conversation with an industry insider in the UK who connected Ian Crichton in the Toronto area with Robert Berry outside San Francisco, who in turn reached Glockler at his home on the south coast of England.   

Powered by Glockler’s dynamic drumming, the result is an expansive guitar-driven pallet, paired sonically with the unique flavour of the Crichton/Berry songwriting collaboration, which they are very excited to present on this debut album.

Ian Crichton comments: “Throughout my career, I’ve been very selective about what to get involved in outside Saga and when opportunities have arisen, I have said ‘no’ far more often than I have said ‘yes’. When Robert’s manager contacted me in 2020 and explained what Robert was seeking to do creatively and how my guitar could be central to the musical vision, I was intrigued. Now it’s over 18 months and many Zoom calls later, but crucially Robert, Nigel and I have also spent plenty of time together at Robert’s base in northern California. We’re three experienced players from three different countries, and with our six hands, we’re here to break the rock music mould. SiX By SiX is a band that we’ve built together and nurtured into a unique style that I’m very proud of.”

Nigel Glockler continues: “When Robert and Ian first approached me about becoming part of this band, I felt very honoured to be asked and absolutely thrilled to be working with a couple of guys I’ve admired for a long time.  Robert and I first met during GTR days and we’ve kept in touch ever since. My path has crossed with Ian many times on the road over the years, so once the three of us got together in California it was like a meeting of old friends. Musically it immediately clicked and working within the framework of a three piece allows us to branch out in all directions and really push ourselves. I’m best known as the Saxon drummer, but I’ve always been a massive fan of progressive rock – Genesis and PFM are amongst my favourite bands! SiX By SiX is just the beginning of an exciting journey – bring it on!!” 

Robert Berry adds: “After working with the genius of Keith Emerson and losing that musical partnership in 2016 following Keith’s death, I faced a daunting question: whether to bring down the curtain creatively or seek something inspiring which would reach new musical heights. My intuition was to lean into a dramatically more guitar oriented direction. But which guitarist is as impressive as Keith was as a keyboardist? At my manager’s suggestion, an incredible meeting of minds, style and future goals was struck with Ian Crichton. Was it luck, timing or destiny? I think it was all three because 3 is my lucky number. Ian and I were determined to keep this a 3 piece band (there’s that number again) and needed a drummer with a similar mindset and who is a solid, heavy hitter. My friend Nigel Glockler was the perfect fit. And with this extraordinary combination of friendship, musicality, and humor, a Brit, a Canadian and an American have come together as the brand new band SiX By SiX.” 

Available as a Limited CD Digipak, Gatefold 180g LP & as a Digital Album, now available to pre-order here: https://sixbysixband.lnk.to/SixBySix 

The full track-listing is as follows:

1. Yearning To Fly

2. China

3. Reason To Feel Calm Again

4. The Upside Of Down

5. Casino

6. Live Forever

7. The Last Words On Earth

8. Skyfall

9. Battle Of A Lifetime

10. Save The Night

Background:

Ian Crichton is best known as one of the founding members of Saga, alongside his brother Jim. Saga went on to sell roughly 10 million albums world-wide and continue to perform around the world. As the driving force behind SiX By SiX, Ian takes a cunning turn, in assembling another potent band but one that focuses on his guitar prowess.  This time with established players, each with a celebrated past, refined skills, and unlimited potential. 

Nigel Glockler began his career in 1980 as the drummer for the British band Krakatoa. In 1981 he found an opportunity with singer Toyah.  By the end of the year, he joined metal legends, Saxon. Except for two brief absences, Nigel has been behind his massive drum kit as an integral part of Saxon ever since.His powerhouse drumming is the engine that drives SiX By SiX’s songs forwards relentlessly.

Robert Berry first gained international attention with San Francisco-based Hush, releasing well-received recordings and then touring the USA. In the mid-1980s Berry’s first solo album garnered positive reviews in the most influential trade publications and attracted the attention of several major labels. At the suggestion of one of those labels, Robert moved to the UK to work with guitarist Steve Howe (of Yes fame) along with drummer Nigel Glockler in an effort to revitalize GTR. When GTR stalled, Robert partnered with British rock legends Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer to form ‘3’.  With Emerson and Palmer, Robert achieved a top ten charting single and toured the USA. Robert’s melodic sensibilities complement Ian’s extraordinary guitar and Nigel’s signature drumming perfectly.