Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Holidays

On behalf of everyone here at the Prog Rock Blog (pretty much just C0ops and myself) I'd like to wish our readers from all around the world a happy holidays.

Progressive Rock music is truly such a global phenomena. It's really one of the very few things that can actually break down global barriers and bring people together from different cultural backgrounds to really agree on a common truth: we listen to the best music in the world. And it really is in so many ways.

It's global in every sense. The bands who create this music come from all over the globe. For us listeners and fans it doesn't really matter where they come from. We can open up our ears and hear sounds that introduce us to all other cultures and religions. A quick glance at the list of artists on progarchives.com and one can see that there is not a corner of this planet that our wonderful genre doesn't include. And while the European acts tend to get the bulk of the spotlight it's not hard for any of us to listen to music from Asia or South America and get equal joy out of it.

There are few genres that advocate peace and harmony like Progressive Rock does, and I think we should all be proud of this genre that has brought us together from all over the world. I invite you all to take time over the next week and listen to an album you've never heard before. If you can make it something that is from another part of the world then your own. I'm sure you'll find that there's plenty to discover.

Once again, have an excellent last week of the year and we shall return in 2007.

Don't forget,
Keep the Prog alive!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Video: Interview with Jonas Reingold from the Flower Kings

It has been a bit of a slow news week in the world of Prog. We're going to borrow some excellent work from the great folks at Morow.com Prog Rock Radio. Check them out at www.morow.com for some excellent Prog Radio with a focus on the more modern Prog acts.

This interview is actually fantastic. Jonas is a great guy and it really gives you insight into what it's like to be a member of the Flower Kings. It runs over 20 minutes so book off some time to watch it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Porcupine Tree's New Album release date.


This is just a rumored date as of now, but the sources are pretty reliable with these things.

PORCUPINE TREE : Le prochain album du groupe devrait sortir le 16 avril 2007.

For those of you who don't understand the French, it means that the group's next album should be out the 16th of April 2007.

It should be a Progabration. (prog-celebration)

Fripp + Lifeson + Porcupine Tree = A Fantastic 2007 in Prog!

Looks like the next Porcupine Tree album is going to be even better!

Alex Lifeson With Porcupine Tree: The new issue of "Carbon Nation", the Porcupine Tree magazine, includes the news that both Alex Lifeson and King Crimson's Robert Fripp will each be guesting on the next album by Porcupine Tree currently set for release on Atlantic Records next April. Both Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart have expressed their appreciation for the progressive rock band, and engineer/producer Paul Northfiled has also worked with both bands


From an excellent source!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Video: King Crimson - Red

Finally! Some rocking Crimson on cold December's eve.

ANNIE HASLAM IS A ‘WOMAN TRANSCENDING’. And she's tapping Steve Howe and Mike Rutherford!

Um, I could have read it wrong.

ANNIE HASLAM IS A ‘WOMAN TRANSCENDING’
Former Renaissance lead singer taps Mike Rutherford, Steve Howe, Tony Visconti, London Symphony Orchestra,other top musicians and songwriters for solo career compilation....
As a holiday treat for her loyal fans around the world, legendary rock vocalist ANNIE HASLAM has scoured the archives of more than three decades’ worth of her solo recordings to present WOMAN TRANSCENDING her first CD release in four years.


More here and here.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Excerpt from Robert Fripp's most recent online diary

There has been a terrible lack of Crimson coverage on the blog and I'm terribly sorry for this. We're waiting for the band to get back to work next year but until that happens I present to you an excerpt from Mr. Fripp's diary, as well as a link to read the rest of it. It's dated December 1st 2006. If you're like me, you'll find his writing style amusing and fascinating. Enjoy.
Listening to Soundscapes in Nagoya: Fantasia On The Scheme Of Schizoid is beginning. What’s a fantasia, then? shouts the man, now long overdue for a high colonic, who also shouted you’ve got six strings – play them! at the third G of G3 in the Royal Albert Hall (2004). Certainly dear Sir! Your slightest wish is my most emphatic command!

From the Encyclopedia Britannica…

in music, a composition free in form and inspiration, usually for an instrumental soloist… In England the fantasy or fancy for keyboard, lute, or viola had a late flowering at the time of Henry Purcell (1659–95)… Some composers have exploited the fantasia for its programmatic, or descriptive, possibilities… While appealing particularly to the romantic imagination, the fantasia served, from the beginning, also as a vehicle for instrumental elaboration of vocal music.

This Schizoid Fantasia would not be easily confused with the original Schizoid.

Read the rest here.

Acoustic Tull CD Planned

EMI is intending to release the "Best Of Acoustic Jethro Tull" in March 2007 featuring some bonus acoustic tracks recorded live in concert. That's all we know at the moment, although I'm sure you can use your imagination and guess what's going to be on it. Too bad it doesn't look like a new studio album is in the works anytime soon.

Video: David Gilmour , Richard Wright, David Bowie - Arnold Layne

In tribute to the late Syd Barret, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Wright have recorded a special version of Arnold Lane to be released this Christmas. There will be two versions coming out, one will feature Rick on lead vocals and the other featuring (for some reason) David Bowie (the only non-prog guy that can make prog seem mild mannered and vastly non-pretentious next to his silly and over-the-top antics). All this in preparation for Dave's upcoming live DVD that should be out some time next year. Here's the video of the Bowie version of Arnold Lane for you to enjoy.

Genesis 5.1 Surround Sound Reviews.

The first ever reviews of the 5.1s are now online. While I would have liked a bit more detail the overall sentiment seems positive.

Click here to read Simon Funnell review.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

New Pain of Salvation 'Scarsick'

The new Pain of Salvation album will be released through Inside Out on January 22nd 2007. It's going to be yet another vast and complex concept album by the looks of it. It's been a while since the last ambitious album "Be" and I'm really looking forward to see what direction they'll be taking this in. Head to the Pain of Salvation website for more information about the album and the upcoming tour. Here's the track listing for the album that runs just under 70 minutes.
01. Scarsick
02. Spitfall
03. Cribcaged
04. America
05. Disco Queen
06. Kingdom Of Loss
07. Mrs. Modern Mother Mary
08. Idiocracy
09. Flame To The Moth
10. Enter Rain

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Another Yes box-set? Are you kidding me?!?


So I personally don't understand the point of this release but here it is. Basically it's going to be a 5 disc set including the complete albums Talk, The Ladder, Open Your Eyes and Magnification. It will also include as a bonus the complete show that Yes did at the Montreux Jazz festival back in 2003. While it's great that they are finally officially releasing this excellent show, it's frustrating they have to do it in this manner. What if you already own the other albums? What if you own one or two of the albums? What if you just have Magnification? Why do you have to buy them again just to get at this Live CD? You know it's going to be way overpriced as well. Apparently the Live CD isn't even the full performance (they wouldn't be able to fit in on just one disc anyway). If you have any more information on this then I do please send an email. I'm left scratching my head at this.

A ProgCast in crises

As you probably know we have not been able to get an episode out in quite some time now. I'm officially going to be putting the show on hiatus for the rest of the year while we try to see how we can make this work. Its been a struggle getting this thing done with our crazy schedules and all the sickness that's been going round the past few months. We'd like to thank you all for your time and attention during the shows we have made. In the mean time I'm going to bring this blog back to life during the month of December so check back here often. If you don't know what an RSS feed is you should really do a google search for it (use our proggy search on this page if you wish). It will make checking up on this blog easier then ever.

So while the podcast is down and out for the moment we should have all the news and reviews here in text form. Thanks for reading and keep on proggin'.

Paul Di Meglio

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Video: The Flower Kings - Pioneers Of Aviation

Enjoy this extended live version of the instrumental off the latest album. I hope to be reviewing this very live DVD in the future.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

ProgCast - Episode 7


On this edition of the ProgCast we do a round up of all this week's news, including a possible Rush tour in the works. We then break down all the news that has come out over the past few weeks surrounding the much anticipated Genesis reunion. Email us at progrockblog@gmail.com Detailed show notes will be posted soon.

Download MP3 here.

Monday, November 13, 2006

ProgCast - Episode 6 - Genesis Press Conference Special





Download MP3 here.







All the news from the Genesis reunion. Includes the entire press conference and news on the SACD releases.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Video: The Genesis Trio lineup in action.

We're still working hard on that Genesis special, but in the mean time take a peak at what the trio will be like attempting to play the older (and better) stuff.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Sickness strikes again!

Well I hate to say this but it seems as though the germs have won once again. Yes indeed, I have been hit heavy with the coughing sneezing sore-everything bug and I can't seem to shake it. What this means is that I couldn't record a show this week with Mr. C0ops. Don't worry friends, all hope is not lost. I may find a guest host to fill in for this week and at least get all the news out of the way while I rest up for next week. Keep an eye open this Saturday night for what should be something that seems to be episode 4.

While you're at it mark Tuesday, Noverber 7th in your calendars as Genesis release a post-Halloween suprise and let all the details about their upcoming tour out of the bag. The Prog Rock Blog ProgCast will be your number one source as we will dig the details and bring it to you in a special edition all-Genesis ProgCast the following day. Keep your MP3 player locked on your favorite source for ProgNews the Prog Rock Blog ProgCast.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

ProgCast - Episode 3

Download MP3 here.

News
Sample New Spock's Beard songs.
Chris Squire says 'stay away' from new Syn album Armistice Day.
Details from Mike Portnoy on new Dream Theater album.
Genesis tour details.

Album Reviews:
Steve Howe - Natural Timbre

Debate:
Lyrics in Prog, a waste of time?

REVIEW: Steve Howe - Natural Timbre

This album marks a bit of a turning point for me as an album reviewer (review-ey?, review-writer-type person?) Up to now I've either written about an album that I've had little to no emotional connection to and have given it a mediocre-ly decent review, or I've written about an album that is really close to my heart and have given it a much deserved high rating. The following review may be a bit of a challenge for me as it's an album that is really close to my heart, but I cannot justly give it a perfect score. Allow me to explain why.

When Steve Howe released his Natural Timbre album in 2001 it seemed to go by without much of a blip on the Prog Rock scene's radar. It was considered essentially just another release by Howe in these, the later days of his career. It seemed to flicker by without a hoot or holler. It barely sold anything. It was, at least in commercial terms, a flop. I find this to be a tragic occurrence indeed.

When I happened upon this album, it was in a used CD shop here in Toronto. I was in this store with my girlfriend and she was the one who first noticed it. The rare occurrence of finding an album by such Prog Rock giant that we've never heard before seemed to be justice enough to pick it up for ten bucks. And a worthy purchase it was. The first thing that should be noted of this album is that it is entirely acoustic. No electric amplified guitar is found anyway on the entire disc. This is a noteworthy fact considering that Howe is probably best known for his electric guitar pyrotechnics that can be found on epics like Awaken and such. The trick here is to not think typical Howe. It is not an album filled with his acoustic 'solo' pieces such as Clap or Mood for a Day. These are complex layered acoustic guitar pieces with the occasional solo guitar track sprinkled in for taste.

Using modern recording technology to it's fullest, Howe as created a full guitar ensemble by overdubbing himself many times on each track. What this means is that each track is layered with a plethora of guitars each providing a layer to what turns out to be a very dense pieces of music indeed. Not dense in the sense that they're hard to listen to, but in the sense of depth of sound.

The range of guitars that Howe plays include banjo, bass, dobro, mandolin, percussion, autoharp, twelve string guitar, koto, mandola, mandocello, Hawaiian Lap Steel guitar and of course the traditional six string acoustic and Spanish guitar. Any number of combinations of these guitars can be featured in the same song. Backed by his son Dylan Howe playing a perfect drum part as well as the occasional inclusion of Anna Palm on Violin, each track is a true treat.

The last few tracks are noteworthy because Howe has done acoustic renditions of some Yes classics. Your Move, To Be Over and the middle section Starship Trouper are all arranged in a beautiful way, featuring all the layers of acoustic guitar and even lead guitar parts playing the role of lead singers.

The hardest thing for me is not giving this album a perfect score. For me personally this is an amazing beautiful album. I love it more then most albums I own in my vast collection, but this is not true for most Prog Fans. It is not a traditional Prog album as it is completely acoustic, which alone may drive away some hardcore Howe fans. However if you want to hear this amazing Prog legend in a stripped down setting and want to hear one of his own personal favorite albums he's ever been a part of then you should check this out. What you might find is a truly gorgeous album filled to the brim with fantastic melodies and jaw-dropping musicianship. I highly recommend this to all Yes fans who want a laid back acoustic album with all the talent that is Steve Howe

8.5/10

Video: Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso - 750.000 Anni Fa...

This is really magical footage of the legendary Italian Prog band. The beauty created with just piano and voice is amazing. Please enjoy this and share it with anyone who loves life.

Friday, October 20, 2006

About Podcasting

It's fair to say that we've launched the Podcast version of our site without really explaining what Podcasting is exactly. A TV show from France called "Plein Ecran" (or 'Full Screen' in english) has done an excellent mini-documentry on why some people believe that Podcasting may soon replace the way we consume TV and Radio. If you visit our site and have stayed away from our Podcast, then I highly recomend you take 15 minutes to watch this. Although the program was originally in French, it has been translated to English.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Have no fear, a new episode is nea....um..well soon!

We have finally got around to recording episode 3 and it will be out by Saturday Afternoon (Toronto Time). It should be a pretty good episode too so be excited!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No ProgCast this week.

Mr. C0ops and I did begin recording the show last night like we planned, although things eventually proved to not work out. We were half way through the show when my MacBook (which was recording the show at that time) decided to crash, losing what was recorded up to that point. Since both C0ops and I are in the middle of mid-terms at school this week we felt it best to simply hold of the show for this week and put together a better, more planned-out episode for next week. We hope you understand our difficult situation and please bear with us. In the mean time, if you have any news, reviews or opinions you'd like us to share with everyone else, please send us an email at progrockblog@gmail.com and we'll post it right here on the blog for all to read and comment on.

Thanks for all your loyalty and understanding.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Video: Steve Howe - Sketches in the Sun

Just came back from watching this man live here in Toronto. Full review will be featured in this week's ProgCast.

Enjoy this video in the meantime.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

PROGCAST - Episode 1

Download MP3 here.

Show Notes:
Anderson/Wakeman tour is back on.
The Flower Kings at the "Bass&Drum 2006" event in Stockholm
Fragile Original Master Recording
Bill Bruford on the North American drum tour.
Boz Burrell 1946 - 2006
Ladies of The Road - Free MP3 in tribute of Boz

Reviews:
Samlas Mammas Manna - Klossa Knapitatet
Steve Hillage - L

Debate:
How do you define Progressive Rock?



Update: This link should work now. We're working out the final kinks but should have this show available in iTunes and as an RSS feed in the next few days. Also work is underway for episode 2 which should be out this weekend.


Enjoy!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

REVIEW: Steve Hillage - L

In 1976 Steve Hillage would come out with his second solo LP “L”. L is fairly unique as a Hillage album, as it begins with a 6 minute Donovan cover and ends with a 6 minute Beatles cover. Gone is Gong as Steve's supporting band and say hello to Todd Rundgren's Utopia. Todd Rundgren does not actually play on the album but he is featured as the producer. The only returning member happens to be Miquette Giraudy, who probably kept her job due to her personal relationship with Hillage himself (the two are life long partners.)

I can imagine the difficulties involved in trying to follow the tough act of Fish Rising. To Hillage's credit he does an excellent job. L is the night to Fish Rising's day. Gone are the fishy tales and multiple epics and enter the East-Indian influence, spruced up folk songs and Utopia's hardcore Jazz Fusion. You are also guaranteed at least one excellent Hillage solo each track. One thing that remains static is the wild meandering of spacey glissando that Hillage provides.

As stated earlier the album commences with Steve's exceedingly agreeable cover of Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy Man. What Hillage does to Donovan's folk/rock song, is akin to what Jimi Hendrix did to Bob Dylan's All Along the Watchtower. Despite the fact that in no way does Hillage sound like Hendrix in this song (SH is more spacey.) Sonja Malkine is brought in to play the 15th century Hurdy Gurdy instrument, which is pretty much a mechanized violin.


Just when you can't take anymore hurdy gurdy you are presented with part two, which has nothing to do with Donovan Leich and all to do with glissando. Perhaps Steve could not help but have the Hurdy Gurdy played on more then one song. What starts out as a relaxing ambient piece of music, quickly transforms into Utopian jazz fusion and then into an exhilarating tablas sequence. The lyrics featured are mantras like, indicating heavy Hindu influences on Hillage's mind in that time period. Hinduism will be revisited again on this album in the form of Om Nama Shivaya.

Side one ends with Electric Gypsy which reminds me of Hillage songs to come on albums such as Motivation Radio and Green. Indian influences are not apparent on this track; all though I would like to know what influenced the lawn mower or perhaps an airplane's propeller sound that commences this track?(feel free to suggest what this sound actually is)

Om Nama Shivaya the opener to side two is a traditional Hindu mantras that has been progged up by Hillage. Miquette's vocals on this song really add a touch of authenticity as they sound quite fitting. Despite being a religious mantras it is not offensive to the non Hindu.

The mantras is quickly followed by my vote for song of the album in the Lunar Musick Suite. Perhaps the answer to the Solar Musick Suite, L.M.S is entertaining from beginning to end. Electrically charged from the first note there is not a pause in action.....Then out of nowhere the Don Cherry trumpet solo comes when you least expect the ex-hockey coach and controversial Canadian Broadcast Corporation hockey analyst to show up. It is as if they cut out a solo from Jazz's golden era and stuck it in a foreign country and it works amazingly (if you lost me I don't blame you.) In terms of complex space jams this Musick Suite competes neck and neck with its predecessor.

The album concludes with George Harrison's It's All Too Much which is another quality cover. L also it suffers from being released right after Fish Rising and constantly compared to an album that is really of a different Hillage era. The big criticism of this album is the lack of original material, besides that there is nothing to complain about and I really recommend you take a listen.

My Rating: 8/10
My favorite lyrical moment: Om Nama Shivaya

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

REVIEW: Samlas Mammas Manna - Klossa Knapitatet

If you’re at all familiar with the television program Star Trek: The Next Generation, then you would know of the story of Data. Data is a young ambitious android with dreams of become more human. One of the obstacles in his path to become more human is his inability to laugh. You see my friends, robots don’t have a sense of humour. What is more human than being able to laugh at others misfortunes? His human friends attempt to lend a helping hand by trying to teach Data what is funny. Week after week they would show him funny clips and tell him various jokes. The problem is that the rest of the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation were not very funny. This, I think, is probably the main reason Data never laughed.

Now, consider for an instance if Data happened to have in his collection a record or two by the Swedish band Samla Mammas Manna? This would have made his dreams of laughing so much more feasible. This is a very funny band. The album currently under review, Klossa Knapitatet is an amazing blend of Swedish folk music, jazz fusion and a wacky sense of humour. These guys are so much fun to listen to.

From the first track to last this is a very fun listening experience. Since Swedish is not a language I at all know I’m not going to name any track by name. I don’t really have to actually. Most of the songs flow into each other so it’s a complete listening experience.

Now you may be asking, “but Paul, if you don’t understand a word of Swedish, then how are you so certain of the comedic value of this record?” That’s a valid question my friends, and one that warrants explaining. You see, these songs are all, for the most part anyway, entirely instrumental. That means that it’s in the arrangement and composition that these guys will tickle your funny bone. That’s no easy task but it’s pulled off with the sheer silliness of the performances.

Featuring loads of accordions, bicycle bells and other strange sounding novelty items, as well as the occasional wordless vocal in a very silly falsetto, the things you hear on this album will surely make you giggle. I’m not trying to take away from the quality of the music here. Perhaps the most outstanding thing about this album is the fantastic musicianship and the absurdly complex compositions. Music of that quality, so it seems, can be quite funny. It’s serious music presented in a silly way.

In the futuristic world of Star Trek, it seems that this Swedish band has been forgotten through the sands of time. Thankfully the show is nothing but a fictitious estimate of what the future may have in store. Don’t let it be true. Pick up a copy of Klossa Knapitatet today and help all the androids of the future laugh. Because even robots deserve to have a sense of humour, don’t you think?

7/10

Friday, September 22, 2006

Blog and Podcast update

Good news fellow Prog Rockers. Mr. C0ops and I have just finished recording and mixing the test pilot episode of the "Progressive Rock ProgCast". We had a few technical issues and it ended up being a little longer then we want it to be in the end so we're not going to release it to the public.

We're just working out some final touches on planning the first real episode and we should be recording it during the absurd hours of this upcoming Tuesday night. I'm going to spend this weekend working on an updated logo and finding a cheap webhosting service for the podcast. What this means is the first episode shall be ready to download before the end of next week.

I'm also going to be setting up an email address so you can send us any questions/comments/complaints etc... That should be done by this weekend.

I have a busy weekend ahead of me. Don't forget to keep checking back so you can be the first to hear the show.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Musical Box

Short documentary on The Musical box, the Genesis tribute band.



Currently on tour. Check out http://www.themusicalbox.net/ for more info.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Mostly Autumn.

I know I just posted a video of them, but I'm pretty addicted to the whole english folky sound right now so you'll have to BEAR with me. (That might be a pun, but I don't think they have bears in england.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saturday, September 09, 2006

How dare I be so Beautiful?/Willow Farm

We now present the first in home made Prog videos. This is one of my favorites. This guy does this section of Supper's Ready justice with just an acoustic guitar and his entertaining face. Fantastic!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

We're off for a week. But we'll leave you with a gift.

So Mr. C0ops and I are off to tackle yet another annual canoe trip for the next week. We'll be back on September 4th or 5th with the 'NEW' Prog Rock Blog. Full of lots of Proggy goodness. We'll also try to get our first Podcast out to you guys by the middle of the month. For those of you who have enjoyed the videos I've been posting over the past little while, I'm going to leave you with a link to an entire Yes concert on Youtube. It's from the 1975 Relayer tour and features everybody's favorite swiss rock star Mr. Patrick Moraz.
Enjoy it my friends! And keep on Proggin.
Click here for the concert.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Video: Yes - Madrigal

Rick's using Jon's face as a keyboard. One of the most violent Yes related videos ever maybe?

This is a promo video for Madrigal, taken form the Tormato album in September 1978.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Video: Renaissance - Running Hard

Run Annie run! From 1983, clearly not the band's prime, but still great to see them in concert.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Video: Hatfield and the North - Halfway Between Heaven and Earth

You can catch these guys LIVE this September in Montreal. Check out Le Festival des Musique Progressive for more details.

New Mostly Autumn album + Video

Head over to Mostly Autumn's Website for new on the upcoming album called Heart Of Full Sky.

Here's a video of my favorite track from the band that I would call a good mix of Pink Floyd and Renaissance. It's the Lord of the Rings inspired Helms Deep.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Video: PFM - Impressioni Di Settembre


I had a chance to see these guys live in Toronto last year. The kings of Italian Symphonic Prog.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Montreal Drum Fest gets proggy

Bill Bruford has announced he'll be heading to Montreal for the annual Drum Fest this November. Click here for more information.

Here's a great clip of Bill playing live with Prog Legends Allan Holdsworth and Jeff Berlin. The song's called Beelzebub from Bill's Feels Good to Me album. Enjoy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Flower Kings are Everywhere

The Flower Kings are going to be releasing their new live DVD on September 25th. It contains a complete concert filmed earlier this year. Includes plenty of great tracks from the new album. Go to TFK official website for more information. While your there check out the tour dates and try and catch them live in North America this October.





Just to get you in the mood here's some live Flower Kings performing Church of Your Heart from Stardust We Are.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Video: Curved Air - Vivaldi

WOW! The Jimmy Page of the violin. Weird sounds! Female singer! Fish! This video has it all. And make sure you watch the last 2 minutes. Classical Rock at it's best.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Video: Steve Howe - To Be Over

The quality isn't the best, but this audience recording does a good job at capturing Steve's beautiful acoustic rendition of the Yes classic To Be Over:

New Name: The Prog Rock Blog

So as you know we've taken a bit of a break from posting reviews. Why you ask? Well the truth is we decided that we need to take this blog in a new direction. First thing we're doing is changing the name of the site from "Prog Rock Reviews" to "The Prog Rock Blog". The URL stays the same. However, if you were subscribed to the RSS feed using the feedburner.com/ProgRockReviews address you should go and change your RSS reader to point to feedburner.com/ProgRockBlog from now on.


The change of name signals a slight change of direction. We will start writing album reviews again in September, that's not changing. But we're adding plenty of new features to the site. We'll try to become a prime source of Prog Rock related news. In addition we will be testing out the possibility of Podcasting. The Prog Rock Blog Podcast (PRBP, i guess) will be a weekly roundup of the latest in Prog Rock. We'll review albums, recommend artists and keep you posted on what going on with your favorite bands. It'll be a bit of an experiment at first but we hope that with your feedback we can make it one of your favorite podcasts to listen to each week.

So let us know what you think. If you have any suggestions then submit them to the comment section. We should have an email address ready to go by the time we relaunch in the fall. Until then I'll continue to post videos daily.

Keep on Proggin'

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Video: Steve Hackett - Shadow of the Heirophant

Ok, so bass player Dik Cadbury isn't quite the best choice to replace the amazing lead vocals of Sally Oldfield, but he does a decent enough job on this classic Hackett epic:

Video: Steve Hackett - Serpentine Song

This is one of the great tracks from Steve's 'To Watch the Storms' album. Look for his new album that should be coming out on September 11th. It's going to be called "Wild Orchids".

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Video: Frank Zappa - King Kong

Un peu de Zappa pour vous? This is a clip of the Mothers playing the classic "King Kong" from the Uncle Meat album. It's really good!

Video: Genesis - Suppers Ready

It simply doesn't get better folks. All 23 minutes of it. This is fairly common footage, but if you've never seen it before you're missing out on the peak of prog rock. Sit back and enjoy it my friends.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Video: Caravan - Golf Girl

And now here's one for those who thought the Kansas video could have used more cheesy 70s production values. You're going to dig how they keep showing the band memebers names. This one's from 1971 German TV:

Video: Kansas - The Pinnacle

Sorry about the delay folks. We're planning to get things going again in September we promise. Until then we'll try to entertain you with whatever prog related videos we find on Youtube. For those who doubted Kansas could be cool, enjoy this video from 1974:

Sunday, July 09, 2006

State of the Blog

This is an official statement to say that this blog is NOT dead. We should begin posting again very soon. Sorry for the delay.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

ESSAY: Why Prog Is Not Cool (and why that's a good thing)

WARNING: The views expressed in the following piece are those of a somewhat crazy man. They do not necessarily reflect those of the Prog Rock community on a whole. If at any point during the reading of this post you feel deeply offended or car sick STOP reading, it's only going to be worse. Instead, perhaps you should close your web browser or RSS reader and go outside to get some fresh air. DO NOT send in a complaint email, you'll only make things worse. Ok, I think that's it. No wait! One more thing. I'm not in anyway a bitter or angry person. I'm actually really nice once you get to know me. Ok, now onto the essay.

Jon Anderson is not cool. The way he talks, the way he sings, what he sings about etc… nothing about the man is cool. If you at any point in your contemporary young hip and happening life want to be considered cool, then you would never be caught listening to Yes in public.

Then let's say you happen to be a teenage boy growing up in the early 2000s. (This situation is hypothetical, and even though it did happen to me, let's pretend it didn't). If you cared about your social life, and wanted to function as a normal part of society you'd listen to U2 or Coldplay or some other mind numbing crap like that. (Offended yet? That feeling is only going to increase!) But you don't. You love this obscure weird genre known as progressive rock. (You'd be committing social suicide is what!) You try to push it upon your peers. Listen to this, it's cool! (But it really isn't)

So your friends, being the nice caring folks that they are, try and go along for the ride. They listen and pretend to like it. They pretend until they are out of your site and then they put on some *enter name of popular band in 2002* and then get drunk and pass out. The reason they do this is because Prog Rock is not cool.

Not cool? (Now the Prog fans are offended, but don't be yet). How could it not be cool? Because angry is cool. Simple songs that have lyrics about drugs and sex and murder are cool. "Well" you say, "Some Prog, deals with these smutty subject matters. Does that mean that angry dirty Prog is cool?" I'd hate to tell you this, but no, Prog is never cool. Why? Because music is not cool.

Confused yet? Allow me to explain. The music listeners of the mainstream don't care for music. They don't care that behind the melody is somebody who understands scales and notes. They hear the catchy tune, they listen to the lyrics and that's it. When it comes to Prog, music is king. It doesn't matter that some tiny man with a high pitched voice is singing about a seasoned witch calling you from the depth of your disgrace and rearranging your liver to the solid mental grace. That's not what's being judged. It's the composition of the music. It's the ability of the band members to compose complex arrangements and play them with skill that impresses Prog fans.

Music also exists in the mainstream. Even the most simple of electronic music requires at least a basic knowledge of time signatures. It's just that the average music 'fan' doesn't care. The people behind the big record companies know this. Instead of trying to educate fans by pushing music that is actually musically inovative and interesting they go back on a simple formula that hides the insides and focuses on the outter shell. Because in today's world image is all that counts. And don't give me any of this less is more bull crap because I don't believe the feeling you get after King Crimson's Starless from the Red album could have been achived without the long instrumental buildup section. If you have never heard that song then do yourself a favour and do so as soon as possible. If it doesn't stir your emotions then you are missing out on one of life's treats.

But why Paul? Why is it like this? Who created this horrible anti-music world that we currently live in? You really want to know? Well I have a great answer for you: Teenage Girls.

With their short attention spans and their mind focused only on themselves and their sexual awakening, teenage girls are a main consumer of music. They buy music more then anyone else. They all buy the same couple of discs too. They're the reason we have albums sold in the record numbers that they are sold in. The fact that they tend to listen to music with the speaker planted firmly between their legs may be the only logical explanation behind songs that repeat "you're beautiful" over and over and over again. (because that kind of stuff is void of music as well as any real emotion.)

After all I've told you, aren't you glad that Prog Rock isn't popular? How can you not be proud of listening to this genre? It's time to put on your smug hat and dance around the room. Oh, and if you are doubting the motivation of the paragraph on teenage girls, my next essay will expand and explain my reasoning behind this. For now just be happy that Prog is not cool. Besides, who wants it to be cool? Not me.

Monday, June 05, 2006

REVIEW: Thomas Bodin - I Am

A Thomas Bodin album? Isn't he that guy who writes the 30 second piano interludes between the epic-length pieces on all the Flower Kings albums? Why would he want to make a solo album? It's 60 minutes long!? So you're telling me this album consists of 120 thirty-second solo piano pieces? Well, not quite...
You see, the Thomas Bodin that we know from the Flower Kings has been keeping something from us all these years. We all know the guy has great chops, we've heard his fantastic keyboard solos all along. It's in the song writing category that he's been shocking many people lately. Its either Mr. Roine Stolt didn't want to give the guy a chance, or it said specifically in his FK contract that he's only responsible for those 30-second interludes.

Whatever the reason for holding back all these years, it's a good thing he started releasing solo albums. Although I've only heard two of his albums so far, the one currently under review and Pinup Guru, I can say with quite confidently that this guy is one heck of a songwriter.

This album, his first one to feature lyrics, is a true Prog epic (in every way possible). It's pretty much an hour long piece split into three tracks. (As things tend to go quite often in this wonderful genre of ours). Each track is labelled after a letter from the album's title. I, A and M respectfully. If you try to break it down for a track-by-track comparison you'd be wasting your time. Don't bother. Instead do the thing you must do with most Prog albums. Listen to the entire album as one. It's a concept album, one that has more in common conceptually with a Pink Floyd album then what you're used to hearing from the Flower Kings. Bodin decides it's best not attempt singing himself, instead passing on the duties to fellow Swedes Anders Jansson, Helene Schönning and his wife Pernilla Bodin. English isn't Bodin's first language, but you would not know it as he manages to pen some very emotionally powerful stuff in his second language.

Changing the focus from lyrics to music, this is a stunning treat for the ears. The keyboards are present, as expected, and current Flower King members Jonas Reingold and Marcus Liliequist fill the rhythm section. The result is a mix of familiar FK tones and colours (including a quotation from The Truth Will Set You Free), and a surprising harder rocking edge. The music alternates quite nicely through all sorts of moods and atmospheres. It's a roller coaster ride of great strong emotions.


Mr. Bodin has a strong future in the world of Prog Rock. I plan on getting all of his solo albums up to date and any ones that will be coming out in the future. If you’re a fan of emotional and melodic Prog with great musicianship and melodies then this is for you. Even if you don't like the Flower Kings I'd venture to guess you might enjoy this album. Prog on!

8/10

Sunday, May 28, 2006

REVIEW: Gryphon - Red Queen to Gryphon Three


Let me start by saying that although Gryphon made good albums before and after, none would be as flawless and of the same quality as this one. There is not a moment between Opening Move and the end of Checkmate that you could call padded or forced. As you may have estimated the theme of this album is the game or to others the sport of chess (if I have deeply offended you because Chess is neither a sport nor a game then you will have to deal with this.) It is not the organization of the pieces but the music that tells the story from the movement of the first pawn to the ending by checkmate. This is not any game of Chess as it is a mythological match and one that does not have to conform to our current reality, therefore Gryphons are welcomed.

Gryphon did not originate as a progressive rock band as their first album was a folk album nothing more, nothing less. However it was clear from their 1973 album Midnight Mushrumps they had changed musical directions and were now a glorious Prog-folk band. Their sound was evolving particularly under the influence of another prog rock great Yes. Some say Gryphon were guilty of transforming their own sound into something that was not them. I believe the increase of complexity in their sound was due to personal growth as musicians and not just because they wanted to be like Yes. At any rate if you heard their first album the symphonic prog influence is noticeable on the following albums.

The Bassoon does not ultimately make Gryphon a revolutionary band but it does help establish Gryphon’s unique sound that is truly of another time and place. The bassoon is used frequently and adds a middle age folk sound to what is really a pure prog album. Listening to the album one feels like they are on a mystic spiritual journey for which no paid guide is necessary (possibly 20 bucks at the local record shop.) The current lineup of Harvey, Gulland, Taylor, Oberle and Nestor is in my opinion the bands best lineup and they handle their instruments with unbelievable authority. Note that Brian Gulland (bassoon) and Graeme Taylor (Guitar) are the only band members with writing credits on all tracks.

One criticism of RQ2G3 (and there are not many) involves the musical diversity from one song to another. At first listen the album may leave the feeling that you have heard four slightly different songs. If you are experiencing this problem I recommend that one treats this album as a one song album (like Jethro Tull’s A Passion Play or Thick as a Brick another Prog folk band that we all know well) with different themes that occur throughout its duration (i.e. one being Checkmate and another being Lament.) If find if you treat the album in this manner the similarities between each song become irrelevant and you can spend your time enjoy two side longs instead of lamenting which song you are listening to at that point in time.

It was fitting that North America discovered Gryphon on their tour with their idols Yes that occurred just after the release of RQ2G3 during the Relayer Tour. I’ll have a second spasm with gates of delirium any day! The only legitimate criticism of the album in my mind of this album is that musically the entire album is too similar. This lack of diversity in my mind does not warrant harsh criticism as musical integrity is not compromised. If you love the genre you love the album a must have for any prog rock junky, there is no other way of putting it!

My Rating: 9/10
My favorite lyrical moment: N/A

Friday, May 26, 2006

ESSAY: Why We Love Prog

What the hell is this crap? I’ve been listening to this song for three minutes already and they haven’t started singing yet? How could you listen to a twenty-minute song? Would you get bored out of your mind? This sounds like happy little elf music.


OK stop right there! Don’t even bother to continue. I know what you’re going to say and quite frankly I’ve heard enough. It’s not an easy life being a fan of such a ridiculed genre of music. Besides a brief moment in the early to mid-seventies the very name “Progressive Rock” has been a curse word in the music industry. Why do we like Prog? Are we just simply trying to be different? Are we just all really insane? There’s got to be more to it. There will always be a place in the world for Prog Rock. I’m going to tell you why.

Nothing was cooler then Prog in the early 70s. If you owned a copy of Yessongs you really knew you were listening to the best music ever made. That’s just how things were. Then why did critics hate it so much? Any avid fan of the genre will tell you that when it comes to music, less isn’t always more. It all goes down to what you expect from music. To understand why we like this music and why the rest of the world hates it you really just have to break it down to expectation.

The average person listens to music on a very simple level. They are listening for either a repetitive rhythm that they can dance to, or they want a repetitive melody that isn’t too difficult to recall. They might not know it, but all the pop music they hear on the radio uses traditional tonality and keys that have been used in the western world for countless centuries already. It fallows a very strict format and never strays from it. To them, music sounds ‘good’ if it falls into this style. If they don’t hear a scale that is familiar to them, they immediately state that the music sounds ‘bad’ or ‘out of key’ (not knowing technically what out of key means). If you played a modern piece of pop to somebody who’s played nothing but traditional Japanese music their entire life they’ll probably call Brittany Spears nothing but atonal random crap.

The average Prog fan has a wider spectrum of allowed sounds they find listenable. Song structures can change, the tone colour can be different and the whole thing might be played without a strict tonal centre, still they find it enjoyable.

Yes’ keyboardist Rick Wakeman always says that to be able to properly break the rules you have to master the rules first. It’s true that the average Prog musician may be more trained in the rulse of music, but their knowledge allows them to really explore a creative universe that is not open in popular music. A Prog band uses longer song lengths and complex song structure to bring more emotional possibilities to the music.

A critic might say that Prog Rock is void of any emotion. If you know anything about Prog, you’ll know that it’s really the most emotional music ever. A song like Close to the Edge may be hard to listen to at first, but any one of the song’s many fans will tell you that it brings them to tears every time. Prog Rock creates a possibility of making powerful music by breaking the rules.

I’m not sure if this was a well written piece, but I hope that my argument has at least struck a chord with you. You listen to this genre because you expect more from music. You want music to effect you and change you. Prog is so many things, it’s fun and emotional. It’s just as often catchy and melodic as it is jarring and atonal. It’s Rock music without the rules. It’s diverse and has no boundaries. For all these reasons, Prog has survived all these years of criticism and hatred to be a true global genre. It definitely is underground, but it’s underground everywhere.

Don’t give up on the music you love because everyone else hates it. Just know that you listen to some of the most wonderful music ever made, and it’s all yours.

Long live Progressive Rock, may it live forever.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

REVIEW: Mago De Oz - Finisterra

We all know Prog Rock is a melting pot of music ideas and genres. Any possibility under the sun has been mashed into another in an often violent and sometimes unpleasant way. This album falls as the perfect example of genre mashing. (I’d like my steak with a side of mashed genre please!) This is the only album by this band that I own, and the only one I plan on getting by them for at least a while. They are mainly a Celtic influenced band. They are mainly a Heavy Metal band. Um... which one? Both! And if the strange merger of music from the northern British Isles being combined with the crunch of Dream Theater wasn't a hard enough image to put between your legs without getting cramps, then you better get comfy and adjust your boxers before reading the next paragraph.

These fine Celtic Metal lads are Spanish. Yup! You read that quite correctly. Spanish Celtic Folk Metal. I’ll give you a second to regain consciousness. (…….) Fell better? Good. Let’s continue.

This two-disc album (!) follows a pretty strict formula. Either the song will start off with a pretty folksy section and then explode into a barrage of crunchy metal goodness, or the other way around. (Picture Mostly Autumn had an unwanted child with Metallica. Gory image indeed!) The melodies sound to me like they are lifted right from the pages of Ireland's folk-lore, but it all rocks as hard as Symphony X.

The problem is it all sounds very similar. Don't get me wrong. I really enjoy this album. Who wouldn’t love head banging in a green field with sheep and green beer and whatever other imagery you associate with such places? It just ain’t a horribly dynamic listen. It all plods along at a very even pace. Even though I've listened to the entire thing 4-5 times already I still can't pick out which tracks are better then the next. That’s this album’s biggest flaw for sure.

The one track that may be the most striking is the 15 minute long title track at the end of the second disc. It starts off with a powerful Carl Orff-ish choir chanting, then moves through the different hard rocking and softer violin lead movements with skilled charm. It even reprises some of the better moments from earlier in the album, so you don’t have to waste your time listening to all 19 tracks that came before. It's a really good track, highly recommended.

What can I say? It’s good! It’s good for maybe 40 minutes at most. I can’t take an hour and fifty minutes of this regardless of how much Guinness I’ve been drinking. Listen to the sample track on Prog Archives and decide if you really must have the rest of the album. I’m happy I have, and recommend it to you if you’re as amused by such silly things as I am, but don’t bother if you’re terrified of gothic-looking men with dark long black hair wearing kilts. (I don’t know for a fact that’s what these guys look like, but I wouldn’t be surprised…) It’s not dark scary metal either. It’s all very happy and bouncy. It’s a fun album. Nothing life changing, just fun. Thus my mediocre rating below.

6/10

Monday, May 15, 2006

REVIEW: Harmonium - Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison

This being a music recommendation site I would be committing a great horrible sin by not recommending this album. That being said I will be the first to admit that this is not the most uncommon of albums. That being said I will say what needs to be said. It’s outstanding. Note for note, cut for cut. Not a second of this album goes by without me being in the happiest of inner places. Now I know what you’re saying. “Hey, Paul, that’s great! Really! It’s rather sweet that you get emotionally aroused by this album. I really feel for ya. But I’ve never heard of this Harmonium before. Would you care to shed some light on them?” I will reply by ending the current paragraph I’m typing and start a new one which will give you a bit of back information about the band in question.

Ah! Welcome to the second paragraph. Let me tell you about this adorable little French trio. First of all, they’re Canadian. French Canadian to be specific. They began their life in 1974 with a quite charming debut folk album. Well, Folk with major Prog tendencies. When they went into recording studio for their second album, they decided to take the beauty of pastoral folk of the first album and add even more Prog flavour to the mix. This was Quebec in the mid-70s after all! Vive la poutine libre! The result is one of the most beautiful albums I have ever had the pleasure of listening to in my life.

Acoustic guitars. Like them? You’ll love this. Like your acoustic guitars with just the right amout of added woodwinds (flutes etc…) and soaring majestic mellotron? You will be in heaven! It’s charming! It’s beautiful! It’s relaxing! It’s catchy! It’s melodic! It’s emotional! AH! Exclamation marks everywhere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE this album.

You know you’re in a good place when you hear opening flutes of the first track Vert. It adds just the right symphonic tone to be joined in perfect harmony (HARMONIUM) with the acoustic guitars that shall join in late. When you hear the vocal harmonies enter you’ll know exactly what this band is all about. Did I mention they sing in French? Beautiful. The second track is the black sheep of the album. Dixie is a sort of beautiful folky ragtime-ish dancing number. It’s still as charming and beautiful and catchy as anything on the album, it just kind of stands out compared to the rest. The clarinet solo is a nice touch and also adds to the unique feel of the song.

Depuis L’Automne
stands out as my personal favourite track. It has two main parts divided by an ambient midsection. The moods and melodies created during the 10 minute length of the song will have you in tears. The final motive in the song, the part that goes "Si c't'un rêve réveille-moi donc/Ça va être notre tout ça sera pas long/Reste par icitte parce que ça s'en vient" WOW! Powerful! It builds and builds and repeats this wonderful melody until it explodes in an orgasmic mellotron blast! Can it get any better?

That was a rhetorical question…some how… Either way, YES it can get better. The Epic Histoires Sans Paroles, clocking in at just over 17 minutes, is so good I’m not going to even bother explaining it here. Go out and buy this album already and hear for yourself. Vive L’Harmonium! Vive forever man! This album is perfection.

10/10

REVIEW: Ian Carr's Nucleus - In Flagranti Delicto

For my first review I undertook the challenge of reviewing an album and band (Nucleus) that some would say does not belong in the Progressive rock genre at all. Prior to reviewing the music I think it is important to clear the air on the classification of Nucleus and other bands on the periphery of Progressive rock. To me they are just that the periphery of Progressive rock. If Nucleus is just a Jazz band with Prog rock tendencies, I believe our musical taste can transcend the hazy classifications that we have impose to simplify the vast world of music. Worst comes to worst I have recommended or discredited music of another genre (G-D forbid), after all to this day Gentle Giant dislikes the fact that they are classified as a Progressive rock band while most of us consider them the Nucleus of Prog.

The cover design of this album provides us with the type of effort that only rivals “Close to the Edge”. So I would like to go out of my way to commend Heinz Bahr on such a profound design that leaves you lamenting that bit of white in the far-north of the record and what type of criteria the band used to come across such exquisite work. (Please feel free to leave comments on what you think Mr. Bahr is trying to relate)

Now that the confusion has been dealt with lets take a look at Nucleus’ In Flagranti Delicto. This is one of those live recordings where the crowd is respectful to the musicians by being completely non-existent other then a golf clap after the completion of each song and solo that helps remind you that this is indeed a live record. Despite being a live album, do not expect the classics to be featured, these are brand new songs with the exception of Heyday from the Snakehips Etcetera album.

One thing you will notice is that Ian Carr and his band are flawless in execution and are obviously on the same page. The first track titled Gestalt gives you the understanding to why this is now Ian Carr’s Nucleus as his Miles Davis esque trumpet solos is much appreciated in this 11 minute jam. These beautiful solos are a reoccurring theme throughout. Another element that immediately affects the listener is the superb meanderings of the aptly named Werimu Aata Teransiamoa Karataiana’s bass guitar.

Mysteries is really a classic Jazz Fusion jam where certain members of the team takes a solo and then returns to the main tune. If you are expecting solos for the sake of soloing you have come to the wrong place these men solo as if it might be their last. W.A.T.K’s bass solo on this track is awe inspiring from start to finish you will not be disappointed (one of my favorite parts of the album.)

The second half of the record is considerably different from the first half. Gone is the classic Jazz and a welcome to more fusion. It commences with Heyday the most rock oriented, none the less quite enjoyable. It represents the black sheep as it’s a nice break from hardcore jazz and features Geoff Castle who gets a chance to display his skills on the mini moog. For most of the album Castle’s duties are laying a phenomenal under-layer of electric piano in support of those who happen to be soloing. On the second half he is much more in the fore front of the operation.
The title track, In Fligranti Delicto, if you are in the grey this saying is synonymous with “being caught in the act” usually a sexual one (in this case the act of playing music). For example: Paul DiMeglio was In Flagranti Delicto while robbing a record store (in this case not sexual and quite fictional.) This track is both the most interesting listen and the best on the album. It has almost has a Gong feeling straight from the Radio Gnome Trilogy with Smyth and Allen no where to be found.

The music speaks for its self; it is self-evident that this album has both quality and quantity as the musicianship is awesome. This is in no way one of Nucleus’ revolutionary or life changing cuts but it does demonstrate true cohesiveness outside the studio and receives a B or B+ in my book. If you are a fan of Mahavishnu Orchestra or any Jazz oriented progressive rock scheme I would get your hands on this one. Enjoy yourselves.

My Rating 7/10

Sunday, May 14, 2006

REVIEW: The Flower Kings - Paradox Hotel

There has been so much already written about The Flower Kings. They have set the standard for the proficient contemporary Progressive Rock band, and continue to record music at a breathtaking pace. How the hell do these guys do it? The band’s critics would most likely suggest that they merely release track after track of void hook-less jamming and that every single song sounds exactly the same. With the most recent release, however, I think they have proved that they are in fact song writing masters.

When I first got the new album in my hands I was a bit surprised. The album art is a radical change from any of their previous releases. I was wondering if this meant that they were signalling a new musical direction. I was slightly disappointed when I played the first disc and was struck by the ‘at-first-listen’ dull sounding stereotypical epic opening track (not including the silly sound effect ‘track 1’). My first reaction was this: “Oh, now they’ve done it. This is horrible!!! Boring! No Dynamics! I hate you Roine Stolt!!! BLAAAaaaaa”. It was tragic. Maybe all those critics were right about the Flower Kings all along? I didn’t touch the album again for a week. Then I remembered that this is how every Flower King album sounded to me on first listen! Hope!

Putting on a brave face I placed disc one back into the CD tray for my second attempt at the album. Wow! What a FANTASTIC album! I’m going to state officially right now that this is my favourite FK album. Even more so then my previous favourite Space Revolver. How can my feelings about this album change so quickly? Here’s how.

The 21 minute epic makes for a horrible first listen, and perhaps it wasn’t such a great way to start the album. If you give it two or three spins, however, you’ll notice that it’s full of some of the best melodies in Flower King’s history. You’d think that after as writing as much music as Roine Stolt has in his long career that he’d begin to run out of ideas. No way man! This is great stuff. The third track, Jealousy, shows that he’s also becoming a better singer with age. The way he sings lyrics like ‘your pain brings me joy’ with such a sweet ironic tone will surely amuse you greatly. In tracks like Hit Me With a Hit Stolt spells out he has no interest in commercial success with one of the albums most catchy melodies. Great stuff.

The rest of disc one is all excellent stuff. From the soaring instrumental Pioneers of Aviation, where the feeling of flight is achieved through melody, to dark Beatles-like Lucy Had a Dream. Self-Consuming Fire reminds me of a slower tune from Wetton era King Crimson. Powerful and beautiful. The last track on the first disc does exactly what it says it does, and End On A High Note. It’s inspired by Yes’ And You And I and does a great job bringing back that feeling.

Minor Giant Steps and Man Of The World are both so good that they may be my two favourite tracks. Mr. Hans Froberg has really taken his singing to new levels. On the last album he might have been outdone by Pain of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlow, but here his voice is soaring. He also got to write a song on this one. Life Will Kill You is a great rocker that shows of Froberg’s excellent vocal abilities. In fact him and Gildenlow may be the best modern Prog vocalists currently active. The Unorthodox Dancinglesson might as well be right of Larks' Tongues in Aspic, and I mean that in a good way.

I’ve had the hardest time keeping the length of this review down. I could have written so much more! It’s really that good. Is it the best Flower King album? Probably not. Is it my favorite Flower King album? Heck yes! I don’t know if that makes sense, but if you’re a fan of well written melodic Progressive Rock you can’t help but love this album. The first few listens are going to bore you to death, but if you stick to it you won’t be able to get enough of it. I can promise that. The only thing missing from making this album is originality, which the Flower Kings never really attempt in any of their releases. Regardless, this album is about excellent song writing. If that’s what you’re interested in I would not hesitate in getting this album. Way to go Mr. Stolt, this is truly a remarkable album.

9/10

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Preamble for our Constitution of Progressive Rock

If you are here, chances are you’re a fan of the often neglected genre of music known as Progressive Rock. To those of you who don’t enjoy Prog Rock, you may tend to think of any music that falls into this category as overblown, overcomplicated and totally inaccessible. Those of us who love the genre, know that the genre is home to some of the most emotional, creative and exciting music ever created.

The lack of commercial popularity that has been associated with Prog Rock since the early 1970s has pushed the bands and fans of the genre underground. Much to the disappointment of Prog’s many critics the Progressive Rock movement is still as alive as ever. The past five years alone have seen a gigantic surge in bands who are willing to wear the seemingly unmarketable tag of Prog Rock to be able to create music that is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable, while at the same time creating music that is simply unforgettable. In fact, the recent popularity of bands such as Tool and The Mars Volta, may be a sign of the general public wanting a change in what the corporate industry of modern Rock Radio has been producing as of late and have had enough with the status quo.

As the production rate of Progressive Rock climbs, so does the catalogue of music a fan must sort through in order to discover new music. This is where we come in. There are already many sites dedicated to providing large catalogues and deep introductions to the genre. If you are looking for that service we suggest you visit the links provided on this site.

The best way to think about this site is as a sort of Prog Rock Blog. What we plan on offering here is a sort of music recommendation service. We are not planning on writing reviews of the standard ‘classics’ of the genre such as Close to the Edge, or Selling England by the Pound. Instead we are going to dig deep into the genre and pull out the forgotten gems, both old and new (contemporary). We plan to analyse (or perhaps dissect) the albums and tell you why we believe that particular piece is right for you. In addition to reviews, we’ll also be writing short essays on various topics concerning Prog Rock. We hope this will help you better understand us and our music tastes so you can figure out where you stand in relation.

We don’t plan on doing reviews on request, and reviewing your favourite album would be ignoring the point of this site. The idea is to get you into new music. As a fan, you already know that Progressive Rock is a vast and diverse genre, spanning countless subgenres and styles. Naturally, this means that not everything reviewed here will exactly fit your taste. We will try to link reviewed albums to ones that you already know and enjoy. For example, this way if you happen to be a big King Crimson fan we’ll tell you that the album we’re reviewing may sound similar in tone to “In The Court of the Crimson King” (opposed to Beat?)

We welcome you to send in your comments to any post on this site. However, we must screen each comment before hand. Blogs on blogspot tend to get spammed, so we hope to curve such activity here.

We hope that you can use this service to help broaden your music collection and your music mind.
Keep the Prog alive!

Paul Di Meglio & David Cooper

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Welcome!

I'd like to welcome you to my new blog. The first review won't be out for a while. Please check back every so often.

Keep on proggin'.