Friday, March 19, 2010

Prog News Catchup - Week of March 15th 2010

Firstly, I must apologize for the lack of updates recently. I've been pretty busy with another project I'm working on. Fear not, fellow Proggers! (Prog-fans? Prog-o-maniacs? Proggies? Now I've gone too far.) I'm always keeping an eye on the newswire and have accumulated all the recent infos from the vast and ever-expanding world of Progressive Rock. (Seriously folks, I don't think the word "Progressive Rock" has been this popular since 1975. It's sorta freakin' me out here.)

A quick update on the Steve Hackett/Renaissance tour:
Thanks to kind Prog Rock Blog reader (and concert promoter) Kimberly Zimmer, we now know that the tour will feature Steve as the headliner and Renaissance as the opening act. Sounds like a dream concert for any self-respecting fan of Prog Rock. This does, however, shatter my dreams of an epic 20-minute version of Shadow of the Heirophant featuring Annie Haslan on lead vocals. A man can dream can't he? Also, thanks to our kind tipster, we also have the first known date on this tour. Steve and Renaissance will be stopping about five and a half hours north of me in Montreal on July 9th. (you're welcome for the free plug). As dates become available for the rest of the tour, you'll find them on Steve Hackett's website.

If you're not familiar with the guy, Les Claypool is the bass player and lead singer of one of the 90's more interesting rock bands, Primus. There's hardly any doubt that this guy is very influenced by a whole spectrum of Progressive bands. One clear influence is the Canadian trio Rush. Mr. Claypool will be playing tribute to his heroes by performing Spirit of the Radio at the induction ceremony into Canada's Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 28th. Should be a great show.

Hey look! Some British columnist actually agrees with me! Wowie Zowie. Of course he seems to have missed all that Porcupine Tree have done to encourage the idea of "The Album".

Looks like the British press is really seeing this as a victory for artistic integrity. Aren't these largely the same publications that have been putting this kind of stuff down for most of the last 30 years? Makes ya think, don't it?

My favorite quote is as follows: "For me, it's quite a grown-up record," he says. "It's not easy listening. And I love stuff like that: that you don't necessarily like at all at first, but grows on you. And I think some of these songs are like that, or particularly these arrangements." Mr. Gabriel is one awesome dude. Who agrees?

Now this is an interesting interview. Mr. Hackett talks about how Prog is gaining greater appreciation by the general public. Banks and Rutherford seem to agree that Supper's Ready is Genesis' finest hour (or maybe Mama, but then again maybe not). In my own opinion, its the more ambitious material, such as The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Supper's Ready that will truly define Genesis' legacy in the future. Despite being bigger commercial successes, Invisible Touch and We Can't Dance will fade into oblivion. Agree? Oh, and a reunion concert with Peter? Don't count on it happening. Ever.

I feel like I'm living in bizaro land. You have to understand, I grew up listening Prog Rock in a time where it was practically non-existant in the mainstream press. Whenever the world Progressive and Rock were mentioned in the same breath, it was in a condescending tone. Prog was a mistake of the past. Right? Am I the only one who remembers this? Now, in the face of Pink Floyd's court victory and Genesis Hall of Fame induction, everyone is jumping on the Prog Rock bandwagon. What? Where? Whoo... this isn't going to last, is it?

This album features a one-off acoustic performance of many classic PT tracks. For whatever reason, since its initial release it has become increasingly rare and hard to find. If you missed out on picking up this gem, you can do so once again at Porcupine Tree's online store Burning Shed. They also have lots of hard-to-find vinyl versions of PT albums, and my personal favorite DVD-Audio versions of Fear of a Blank Planet and The Incident. Trust me here, you haven't heard Porcupine Tree until you've heard them in 5.1 Surround Sound.

You know how I tend to rant about the terrible audio quality of most modern so-called "Remastered" CDs? Well, these guys hate that kind of audio-mutilation more than I do. I really hate how the current Rhino remastered version of The Yes Album sounds. It's too loud and distorted. This is meant to be a smooth-sounding symphonic Prog masterpiece for crying out loud! If you are even minutely interested in this sort of nitpicky audiophilia (and I know, I know, most of you aren't) this should be a highly anticipated release. Or, you can just keep playing your original vinyl version, which sounds fantastic.

What's Jon Anderson up to? It's pretty clear that he's been booted out of Yes by the rest of the band. He's clearly more than healthy enough to tour, since he's been going non-stop for the better part of the last year. He's currently making his way across North America. Click on the link above to go to his webpage and see all the details. The tour starts next week in Vancouver.

While official word on this front is still lacking, careful study of Robert Fripp's online diary is clearly leading me to believe that the next in the series of King Crimson remixed/remastered are almost done. While Fripp talks about spending time with Steven Wilson working on the surround sound versions of Wake of Poseidon and Islands, there is a bubbling rumour that Beat will also be in the next batch of 5.1 Crimson albums. Stay tuned to the Prog Rock Blog for more information on these releases as they become available.

While Zappa stopped communication with him on fairly bad terms, it is still a sad to note that the original manger of The Mothers of Invention has passed away. In addition to co-founding DiscReet records with Frank, he was also the manager of Tom Waits.

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