John Wenlock-Smith’s ‘Best of 2023’

This is a list of the albums that have made a big impression on me this year. They are not in any order although several marked☆ are my favourites and I will nominate one as my album of the year.

Here is the list:

1.OrionThe End Of Suffering – This came out of nowhere and it is a testament to one man’s vision and willingness to create music that he wanted to.

The End of Suffering | Orion (

2. Tribe 3 – Self Titled- This recent release most definitely impresses with its progressive, inspired take on fusion.

CD ‘Tribe3’ | Tribe3

3. John Greenwood  – Dark Blue ☆☆ This arrived, again largely unnoticed, but what a brilliant release, thoughtful, emotional and an utterly captivating listen.

DARK BLUE | John Greenwood (

4. Material Eyes  – Inside Out excellent prog from the North East of England.

Inside Out | Materialeyes (

5. The Michael Dunn ProjectBridge Across The Years ☆ Canadian musicians superb debut release, 40 years in the making.

The Michael Dunn Project

6. The Drinking Club – Really??? ☆ Very Marillion like in places, another great release.

…really?!? | The Drinking Club (

7. Pryzme – Four Inches – Superb French band release excellent album with a fondness for Rush stylings.

Four Inches | Pryzme (

8. Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate – The Light Of Ancient Mistakes ☆ Amazing next adventure for impressive North London duo.

The Light Of Ancient Mistakes | Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate (

9. Downes Braide AssociationCelestial Songs ☆ Excellent new album of epics from the DBA Team.

Downes Braide Association: Celestial Songs, CD Edition – Cherry Red Records

10. Nova Cascade – The Navigator – A musical tribute to Eric Bouilette after his passing, beautifully done.

The Navigator | NOVA CASCADE (

11. Southern Empire – Another World ☆ A strong return for Australian favourites.

Another World CD – GEP

12. Ruby Dawn Beyond Tomorrow ☆☆ A deeply emotional album from Wokingham’s finest.

Beyond Tomorrow | Ruby Dawn (

13. Tiger Moth TalesThe Turning Of The World ☆Deeply Personal album from Peter Jones, largely acoustic but very satisfying.

Tiger Moth Tales (

14. Nick FletcherQuadrivium ☆☆☆ My album of the year. Fusion for today, an album forging forward and beyond while embracing the past.Unbelievably fine music that is beautifully realised.

ONLINE STORE | Nick Fletcher Guitar (

15. Pattern Seeking AnimalsSpooky Action At A Distance – Fourth excursion from some-time Spock’s Beard men along with John Boegehold and a further step forward.

Spooky Action at a Distance (

16. CyanPictures From The Other Side – Second album from Rob Reed’s excellent young project, with Peter Jones and Luke Machin firing on all cylinders.

17. The Emerald Dawn  – In Time ☆ – Beautiful album themed around time and memories and how we perceive them.

In Time | The Emerald Dawn (

18. Dave Foster BandGlimmer ☆ The year’s ‘grower’ album that just gets better with every listen.

Glimmer | The Dave Foster Band (

19. DamanekMaking Shore – A splendidly exciting album from the early part of the year, epic, melodious and really strong.

Damanek – Making Shore – GEP

20. Swan ChorusAchilles and The Difference Engine – My favourite vocal led album of the year, especially the wonderfully poignant track Being There about Peter Sellers, a beautiful song.

Achilles and the Difference Engine | Swan Chorus (

It’s been a tremendously fine year for music. A post-covid boom has inspired some stalwart activities with some excellent and impressive releases, here’s to an even better 2024!

John Wenlock-Smith.

Review – Dave Foster Band – Glimmer – by John Wenlock-Smith

According to the dictionary Glimmer means to shine faintly with a wavering light, which is interesting as I think Shimmer would be an equally meaningful title for what is a rather fascinating album from the Dave Foster Band.  This release is one that uses lots of strong musical passages to get its point across. Through the entire album Dave Foster himself glimmers on the guitar, proving that his association with Steve Rothery is a symbiotic one in which both parties gain significantly in the process.

Take …Or You Steal Some with its creeping bass lines and it’s arpeggio guitar lines that form the thrust of the track. Vocalist Dinet Poortman’s excellent, breathy, and often fiery, vocals add much power and passion to the music the band offer. The song has tasteful guitar work from Dave and a solid rhythm section playing throughout, it’s a rather splendid track that draws you into the music. As does Chasing An Echo which has heavy bass keyboards and slide guitar from Dave that weaves it way through the track hypnotically. This song grows on you with repeated plays, as indeed does the whole album. It’s is a very mesmerising with lots of great highlights and is very ‘Marillion’ in parts, in the sound sculptures it paints, yet it has its own identity and uniqueness retained. Dive In is a little lighter but with a funky backbeat to it, it is a very bouncy number with crashing power chords that elevate the track once again. Dinet’s vocals really grab the attention with her great bland of power and subtlety proving a winning formula. Again, Dave delivers some snake slide guitar that impresses greatly, as does the really excellent solo he offers in the closing moments, blistering stuff! 

Opening track Every Waking Moment is another blistering assault on the ears with lots of feedback and sustained chords and notes being used to good effect. Although it is when the song opens up sonically that the real crunch takes effect, and it is very satisfying when it does. The skill being employed here is very high indeed, especially when Dave delivers another fiery guitar break over a strong throbbing bass part and keyboards. This is really strong and exciting music being played here, barnstorming even. Memory Box is, on the face of it, a somewhat lighter track but don’t be fooled as within its grooves are some searching lyrics about keeping secrets and not being open. This is definitely a radio friendly track with lots contained within its four minute running time. Run is similar with real presence and punch. Again, this rocker is very satisfying, the more I hear this album, the more impressive it becomes. It is a definite grower, the synths looping on this song are most memorable and create a great atmosphere and add to a really good track.

Stigma is another hard hitting track with good power chords alongside a powerful lumbering bass line and good keyboards. This creates a fantastic sound, harmonious and yet powerful at the same time. There are good guitar fills from Dave in this track too, this is a very powerful performance that has melody and dynamism. Another excellent solo rounds the song out well. I love this guitar solo over the crunching rhythm section. I really like this track, it’s possibly the best on the album. The Rules Have Changed is hinged on a spidery guitar riff and more crunchy chord work that drives the song along nicely. The riff is repeated again, as are the punchy chords, which, combined with Dinet’s excellent vocals, work really well and create a great atmosphere. More guitar lines are added as the riff powers up before another fine Dave Foster solo really impresses.

This album has really grown on me over the past few weeks as I find much to appreciate and to enjoy within its grooves. It is a very accomplished and well produced set of songs where nothing outstays its welcome. Several of the tracks are absolute belters and make the album highly worthy of your attention as it is really very good indeed. I highly recommend it, now to check out his earlier releases I think.   

Released 19th May, 2023

Order digital from bandcamp here:

Glimmer | The Dave Foster Band (

Order CD & vinyl from Burning Shed here:

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