Marillion – F.E.A.R (F*** Everyone And Run)

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Marillion’s 18th studio album – ‘F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone And Run) – was released on September 23rd, and once again the band deliver impressive music with a message. Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

With just 6 tracks spanning the 68-minute cd, the controversially titled ‘Fuck Everyone And Run’ is an honest, if at times depressing insight into Steve Hogarth’s  current world view. Change is coming, not for the better, and we have brought it on ourselves.

It’s best to let the Marillion front man describe the album’s main themes: ”This title is adopted not in anger or with any intention to shock. It is adopted and sung (in the song “New Kings”) tenderly, in sadness and resignation inspired by an England, and a world, which increasingly functions on an “Every man for himself” philosophy. I won’t bore you with examples, they’re all over the newspapers every day. There’s a sense of foreboding that permeates much of this record. I have a feeling that we’re approaching some kind of sea-change in the world – an irreversible political, financial, humanitarian and environmental storm. I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that my FEAR of what “seems” to be approaching is just that, and not FEAR of what “is” actually about to happen.”

Three mammoth tracks account for most of the album; the five part ‘El Dorado’ kicks off proceedings and clocks in at over 16 minutes long, ‘The Leavers’ also consists of five parts and is over 19 minutes in length and ‘The New Kings’ is over 16 minutes long spread over four sections. The multi-sectioned suites can be attributed to the band’s working methodology.  The band jam for weeks and studio engineer Mike Hunter extracts the highlights after endless hours of sifting through the music. Very much in the style of a committee, the band then rank these snippets and further develop the ideas they find promising.

Like all Marillion output, the listener really needs to dedicate the time to listen to the album a few times. Only after the fourth or fifth listen did it all start to click into place.  Full of melody throughout, ‘FEAR’ finds guitarist Steve Rothery’s evocative solos and keyboard player Mark Kelly’s lead lines share the limelight with Steve Hogarth’s vocals. Underpinning everything as usual is the reliable rhythm section of Pete Trewavas (bass) and Ian Mosley (drums).

‘El Dorado’ begins in an acoustic pastoral English style and is a lament at the disillusion felt by many people in Britain today, hence the lyric “We’re not green, we’re just pleasant.”  Occasionally reminiscent of Pink Floyd, the instrumental passages are rich and complex. ‘Living in FEAR’ is the most instantly accessible song on the album with its catchy chorus a kind of antidote to the seriousness of the rest of the material. ‘The Leavers’ would have to be my personal favourite on the album, a song which deals with the transient nature of many people in and around the touring world of rock musicians. The shorter ‘White Paper’ deals with the inescapable fact that we are all getting older, before ‘The New Kings’ sees Hogarth attacking the corrupt, self-serving elites (bankers, corporations etc) who ‘Fuck Everyone And Run’ – as in the banking collapse of 2008. The coda ‘Tomorrow’s New Country’ brings things to a gentle end.

Marillion of course have been doing things their own way for a long time now,  free of any record company interference. Once again crowd-funded (this time via Pledge Music), ‘FEAR’ draws from a wide colour of sounds, textures and emotions. It’s more consistent than its predecessor (2013’s ‘Sounds That Can’t Be Made’) and could even rival some of their strongest albums, 2004’s ‘Marbles’ or 1994’s ‘Brave’.

Click here to read my review of Marillion’s recent concert at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall.

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Marillion:

Steve ‘H’ Hogarth
Steve Rothery
Pete Trewavas
Ian Mosley
Mark Kelly

F.E.A.R. Track Listing:

1.El Dorado (I) Long-Shadowed Sun
El Dorado (II) The Gold
El Dorado (III) Demolished Lives
El Dorado (IV) F E A R
El Dorado (V) The Grandchildren of Apes

2.Living in F E A R

3.The Leavers (I) Wake Up In Music
The Leavers (II) The Remainers
The Leavers (III) Vapour Trails in the Sky
The Leavers (IV) The Jumble of Days
The Leavers (V) One Tonight

4.White Paper

5.The New Kings (I) F*** Everyone and Run
The New Kings (II) Russia’s Locked Doors
The New Kings (III) A Scary Sky
The New Kings (IV) Why is Nothing Ever True?

6.Tomorrow’s New Country

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Riverside – Eye Of The Soundscape

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Released via InsideOutMusic, Riverside’s ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is described by the band as a complementary instrumental album including 13 experimental and highly atmospheric compositions, which showcase their ambient electronic side.  Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

Warsaw based Riverside’s ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is a double cd consisting entirely of  instrumental pieces recorded over the last few years. Although this release was already in the planning stages before the untimely death of Piotr Grudzinski in February 2016,  it now represents a poignant send off to the band’s much missed guitarist.

‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ is the band’s seventh album and contains over 100 minutes of often ambient music spread over two discs. In truth, Riverside fans who already have the band’s cds are only getting four new tracks (around 35 minutes worth). The new tracks are ‘Where The River Flows’, ‘Shine’, ‘Sleepwalkers’ and ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’.

All the tracks from the limited edition bonus cds of ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’, and ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’ are included here, and the collection is completed by two 2016 versions of songs from the ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ album. (‘Rapid Eye Movement’ and ‘Rainbow Trip’).

There’s plenty of variety contained in these instrumentals, ranging from the out and out ambient drift of ‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ to the upbeat ‘Machines’. ‘Night Session – Part Two’ has a lonesome sax accompanied by an offbeat drum pattern, and ‘Promise’ is a gentle acoustic guitar dominated piece. ‘Sleepwalkers’ is soft techno with an inquisitive synth melody and  ‘Rainbow Trip’ is delightfully mellow – the track ‘Where The River Flows’ is included below and gives a fairly good indication of what this release is all about.

‘Eye Of The Soundscape’ should be seen as a bridge between the first six Riverside albums and the next studio release. Taken at face value, this is a smooth compilation of (mostly) relaxed instrumentals with unobtrusive drum beats pinning the music. If this is your introduction to Riverside, I’d recommend you check out the last two cds, 2015’s ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’ and 2013’s ‘Shrine Of New Generation Slaves’

The loss of guitarist Piotr Grudzinski might have reduced Riverside to three members, but the good news is they are committed to carrying on as a three-piece, with a live guitarist to be added for gigs. Two shows have already been announced in their native Poland for 25th and 26th February 2017 – marking the anniversary of Grudzinski’s death.

More details can be found at Riverside’s website.

CD1 (50:03):
1. Where The River Flows (10:53)
2. Shine (04:09)
3. Rapid Eye Movement (2016 Mix) (12:40)
4. Night Session – Part One (10:40)
5. Night Session – Part Two (11:35)

CD2 (52:26):
1. Sleepwalkers (07:19)
2. Rainbow Trip (2016 Mix) (06:19)
3. Heavenland (04:59)
4. Return (6:50)
5. Aether (08:43)
6. Machines (03:53)
7. Promise (02:44)
8. Eye Of The Soundscape (11:30)

 

 

King Crimson – On (And Off) The Road (19 disc Deluxe Box Set)

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‘On (And Off) The Road’ is the latest in DGM/Panegyric’s super deluxe King Crimson box set series. As opposed to previous sets which concentrated on individual albums, this one breaks the mould by covering the band’s three 1980s albums – ‘Discipline’ (1981), ‘Beat’ (1982), and ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ (1984). Review and photos by Tim Darbyshire.

It’s November, so it must be time for another super deluxe King Crimson box set! This one weighs in at 19 discs –  11 x CD, 3 x blu-ray, 3 x DVD-A, 2 x DVD – and provides a thoroughly detailed overview of King Crimson in the 1980s.

Each of the three studio albums represented here have their own cd, blu-ray and DVD-A discs with the latest Steven Wilson 5.1 surround mixes and ‘new’ stereo mixes.  Of special interest is CD 5 entitled ‘Fragmented’, taken from the aborted 1983 studio sessions in Champaign, Illinois.  There’s plenty of live concerts and videos included too. This includes the final concert from each of King Crimson’s tours of this era: Japan 1981 (new to CD), Germany 1982 (new mixes for this edition), Canada 1984 (issued as ‘Absent Loversin ’98 but remastered for this edition). Everything is  presented in the high quality we’ve come to expect from these expansive DGM/Panegyric box sets.

The sturdy 12″ x 12″ box contains 5 six-panel triple digipaks, a 12″ x 12″ card with the other 4 discs, 2 concert posters,  a 1984 Japanese tour replica concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and a 40-page album sized soft cover book.

The book contains previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleeve-notes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries and new interview material with all band members written by the excellent Sid Smith and David Singleton. The extracts from Fripp’s diaries are particularly interesting, documenting the thought processes behind reforming the band.

Seven years after the demise of King Crimson after the album ‘Red’ in 1974, Robert Fripp decided it was time to return to the ‘first division’ and put together a quartet of musicians under the guise of Discipline.  Fripp, who had spent many of the interim years in New York, was au fait with the New Wave bands on both sides of the Atlantic and accordingly recruited Americans Adrian Belew (Talking Heads, Frank Zappa, David Bowie) and Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel). Bill Bruford – a link to previous incarnations of King Crimson – completed the quartet, and although the music bore little resemblance to Fripp’s 1970s band, Discipline changed their name to King Crimson as the project gained momentum.

The three resulting albums – 1981’s ‘Discipline’, 1982’s ‘Beat’ and 1984’s ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’ – have a more updated New Wave sound, partly due to Belew’s distinctive vocals and second guitar. Fripp was also looking to create ‘gamelan’ style of interlocking rhythms – an early influence for the math-rock bands of today? – and his complex arpeggios dovetailed with Belew’s range of angular guitar sounds.

Although ultimately short-lived – the band was dissolved after the 1984 tour by Fripp – this line up remains a popular one among aficionados. It was also the first time in Crimson history that the same band had recorded more than one album. Interestingly, until the very recent inclusion of ‘Indiscipline’ in the setlist, the 1980’s period has been ignored by Robert Fripp and the latest incarnation of King Crimson as they tour today.

Clearly, as with all box sets, this release isn’t aimed at attracting new fans. As the 1980s led us to commercialism and certain prog bands’ biggest selling (and worst) albums, King Crimson avoided falling into that trap. As a result, these three albums sound more current than most of Yes’ or Genesis’ 1980s output. The new mixes are (predictably) sonically stunning, and the plethora of material contained here makes this box a must-have for any fan of 1980s Crimson.

Luckily Robert Fripp owns all the rights to King Crimson’s recordings, a process that was not without a struggle. This of course means he has the freedom to release these large box sets. Somehow, sadly, I doubt we’ll ever see ‘Close To The Edge’ or ‘The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’ receive the same treatment……

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Full details of box contents (from Burning Shed website):

Disc 1 – Discipline:

1. Elephant Talk
2. Frame by Frame
3. Matte Kudasai
4. Indiscipline
5. Thela Hun Gingeet
6. The Sheltering Sky
7. Discipline

Bonus tracks:
Selection of Adrian’s vocal loops
Alt. mixes of The Sheltering Sky & Thela Hun Ginjeet mixed by Steven Wilson.


Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2011). Mastered by

Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Disc 2 – Live in Japan:

Taken from an audience cassette recording at Kokusai Hall, Tokyo on December 18th, the final concert in 1981. Audio restored & newly mastered at DGM by David Singleton and Alex R Mundy 2016. (1)

Disc 3 – Beat:

Neal and Jack and Me
Heartbeat
Sartori In Tangier
Waiting Man
Neurotica
Two Hands
The Howler
Requiem (extended version)

Absent Lovers (instrumental studio recording)

Mixed and produced from the original
multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and
Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by
Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Disc 4 – Live at Alabamahalle:

Recorded September 29 in Munich, the
final concert in 1982. Remastered and
recompiled 2016 by David Singleton
and Alex R Mundy with six tracks
from new audio sources. (2)

Disc 5 – Fragmented:

Mostly recorded January 17-30, 1983
at C.V. Lloyd Music, Champaign, IL
Recording Engineer: Gary Platt,
Produced by Robert Fripp and David
Singleton. Two new bonus tracks 2016. (3)

Disc 6 – Three of a Perfect Pair:

CD – 2016 Stereo Mix:

Left side:

1. Three of a Perfect Pair
2. Model Man; Sleepless
3. Man with an Open Heart
4. Nuages (That Which Passes
5. Passes Like Clouds

Right side:

1. Industry
2. Dig Me
3. No Warning
4. Larks’ Tongues in Aspic III

Additional tracks:

1. The King Crimson Barber Shop    
2. Robert’s Ballad    
3. Shidare Zakura    
4. Industrial Zone A    
5. Industrial Zone B    
6. Industrial Zone C   


Mixed and produced from the original multi-track tapes by Steven Wilson and Robert Fripp (2016). Mastered by

Simon Heyworth and Robert Fripp (4)

Discs 7 & 8 – Absent Lovers:

Live at The Spectrum, Montreal, July 11th, the final concert of 1984. Mixed by David Singleton & Robert Fripp from the original multi-track tapes for the DGM release Absent Lovers (1998). As newly recompiled in high-resolution for inclusion on Disc 15

Disc 9 – Are You Recording Gary?:

An insight into the inner working of the band, and the familiar heard in an unfamiliar way. Edited & assembled by David Singleton from original album session tapes, with additional downmixes by Alex R. Mundy

Disc 10: – Discipline (dvd-a):

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2011 mix & additional tracks in 24/96 and Album rough mixes in 24/48
Video content: Old Grey Whistle Test (4)

Disc 11 – Beat (dvd-a):

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix; original mix; 2016 mix & Alternate Album in 24/48
Video content: Heartbeat promo; two tracks live in Munich (4)

Disc 12 – Three of a Perfect Pair (dvd-a):

Audio content: 5.1 surround mix;
original mix; 2016 mix in 24/48
Video content: Sleepless promo (4)

Disc 13 – Discipline (blu-ray):

Contents as Disc 10 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content:
Moles Club French TV interview
Live in Frejus 2016 audio & video transfers

Disc 14 – Beat (blu-ray):

Contents as Disc 11 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content:
Complete Alabamahalle TV broadcast (widescreen format).

Disc 15 – Three of a Perfect Pair (blu-ray):

Contents as Disc 12 (audio 24/96) plus:
Video content: Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan (Widescreen format).
Japan April 29th 1984 Part Show;
Japan April 29th 1984 (single camera);
Japan April 30th 1984 (single camera).
Audio content: Absent Lovers
High resolution and surround sound
­
Disc 16 – Live at Moles Club:

Taken from an audience cassette recording of April 30, 1981, the very first performance by Belew, Fripp, Bruford & Levin, while still called Discipline. Remastered and recompiled 2016. (2)

Disc 17 – Europe 1982:

A newly discovered unreleased live album. Mixed by Brad Davis & Robert Fripp in 1983. Taken from the concert in The Arena, Frejus, August 27th 1982. Plus four bonus tracks from the remainder of the concert

Disc 18 – More Neal and Jack and Me (dvd):

Video content: The Noise – Live in Frejus as previously released on the DGM DVD Neal and Jack and Me (2002). Plus Three of a Perfect Pair – Live in Japan – re-assembled from newly discovered master reels with previously unseen footage. Both in their original 4:3 standard definition format.

Disc 19 – The Town and the City (dvd):

Audio content: Live in Philadelphia, Asbury Park, Cap D’Agde, Frejus 24/48 high-resolution stereo, Europe1982, previously unreleased live album 24/96 high-resolution stereo
Video content:
Alabamahalle TV broadcast in its original
4:3 standard definition format.

Also includes:

40-page album-sized booklet with
previously unpublished photos by Tony Levin, and sleevenotes incorporating Robert Fripp’s diaries, new interview material with all band members written by Sid Smith and David Singleton

2 concert posters, concert programme, setlist, concert tickets, press releases, promo photo and other memorabilia

1) Previously available as a download only from http://www.dgmlive.com
2) Released in an earlier format in King Crimson Collectors’ Club.
3) Partly released in earlier format in King Crimson Collectors’ Club.
4) Available in King Crimson 40th Anniversary Series

YES – Tales From Topographic Oceans Definitive Deluxe Edition

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Forty three years after its original release, the controversially divisive ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ has just been released by Panegyric in two different deluxe formats. A 3 x cd/ 1 x blu-ray disc version – reviewed here, and a 2 x cd/2 x DVD-A version. Review and pictures by Tim Darbyshire…….

‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is the fifth Panegyric release in the series of expanded YES editions including Steven Wilson 5.1 Surround mixes, new stereo mixes and high-resolution stereo mixes of the original music. There’s a wealth of extra material on blu-ray edition (see full track listing below). Steven Wilson has produced the new mixes with the approval of the band and previously unseen restored artwork (overseen and approved by Roger Dean ) adorn an expanded booklet which contains new sleeve-notes  (including a new essay from Sid Smith), and archive material.

The package is superb, and of course the sleeve must be one of the best album covers created by YES’ unofficial sixth member Roger Dean. But what about the music?

After the high of 1972’s near perfect ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘Tales from Topographic Oceans’ is the sixth studio album by YES, released in 1973 on Atlantic Records. Presented as an 80 minute double vinyl album with one track on each side, its concept is based on singer Jon Anderson’s interpretation of four Shastric scriptures from a footnote in ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Paramahansa Yogananda – a book he was introduced to by ex-King Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir at Bill Bruford’s wedding.  This footnote described four bodies of Hindu text, collectively named the shastras, that Yogananda described as “comprehensive treatises” that cover “every aspect of religious and social life, and the fields of law, medicine, architecture, art, etc” that “convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism” This fitted Jon Anderson’s quest for a big theme for the next Yes album. He wanted a limitless large-scale composition.

Ambitious, stellar and triumphant? Or overblown, pretentious nonsense?  ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ is loved (mostly by fans) and loathed (by music critics) and has sometimes polarized the YES fan base, as well as the band itself.

Jon Anderson and Steve Howe thrashed out the structure and themes of the double album while on tour in early 1973, and understandably remain supportive of the music. They had the task of ‘selling the concept’ to the rest of the band. Chris Squire and debutant drummer Alan White knuckled down, but Rick Wakeman left the band after never really embracing the wide-ranging themes of the album and the direction the music was taking the band.  Despite this, Wakeman’s contribution to the album are stellar, providing colour and atmosphere throughout and of course the minimoog solo towards the end of ‘The Revealing Science Of God’ remains one of the highlights of his contributions to any YES music.  Squire in particular comes to the fore during ‘Ritual’, which rounds off the album and includes some of the most beautiful parts of any YES song in the  ‘Nous Sommes Du Soleil’ sections.

Steven Wilson remains a strong advocate: “I worked on and off for about 3 years on this new mix in my quest to do it justice. I hope it will satisfy the people who agree with me that it may just be Yes’ pre-eminent masterpiece.”

Sonically I’d say it’s one of the best new mixes Steven Wilson has done for YES. There’s a new clarity and increased depth to all the instruments making this definitive edition a joy to revisit. As with all the Wilson 5.1 surround mixes, additional instrumentation can be heard, sounds that used to be lost in the muddy original mix. For those who continue to be put off by four twenty minute pieces of music, there are five ‘single edits’ – sections chosen by Steven Wilson to highlight the strength of the song writing on the album.

To my mind,  time has been kind to ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’. Although controversial in 1973, YES was always pushing boundaries and refusing to bow to corporate record company pressure to repeat the formula of past successes. Today it seems like no big deal for a band to produce long form pieces.

The point of this reissue probably isn’t to win new fans, but rather to reward existing fans. The blu-ray disc is stuffed full with different versions of the album and interesting extras (see below).  I’ve always ranked this album just outside the Top 5 best YES albums – after ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘Relayer’, ‘Going For The One’, ‘Fragile’, and ‘The Yes Album’. My mind still tends to drift a bit in the first half of ‘The Ancient’, but ‘Tales’ is clearly part of the hot streak YES was on between 1970 and 1977.

YES played Side 1 (The Revealing Science Of God) and Side 4 (Ritual) live to enthusiastic US audiences in 2016 – see my reviews here and here.

 

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TRACK LISTING:
New Steven Wilson Stereo Mixes:
CD 1:
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41

CD 2:
1. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
2. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36
3. Dance Of The Dawn (Studio Run-Through) 22:23

CD 3 (Blu-Ray set only):
1. High the Memory (studio run-through) 20:36
2. Giants Under the Sun (studio run-through) 17:18
3. Ritual (live, Zurich, April 1974) 23:11
Bonus single edits:
4. The Revealing Science of God (single edit) 3:54
5. The Remembering (single edit) 2:50
6. The Ancient (single edit) 3:26
7. Ritual (single edit I) 4:20
8. Ritual (single edit II) 3:47

2016 full album mix, plus an extended Dance of the Dawn and 5 single edits, all mixed by Steven Wilson.

Blu-Ray and DVD-A #1 (Region 0, NTSC):

New Stereo Mix (24/96 LPCM):
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
5. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36

DVD-A #2:
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround (24/96 LPCM):
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
5. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36
Flat Transfer from original master tape source (24/192 LPCM):
6. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
7. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
8. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
9. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44

Exclusive to the Blu-ray version only:

New Stereo Mixes (24/96 LPCM):
The “alternate” album:
1. Dance of the Dawn (studio run-through) 22:23
2. High the Memory (studio run-through) 20:36
3. Giants Under the Sun (studio run-through) 17:18
4. Ritual (live, Zurich, April 1974) 23:11
Single edits:
5. The Revealing Science of God (single edit) 3:54
6. The Remembering (single edit) 2:50
7. The Ancient (single edit) 3:26
8. Ritual (single edit I) 4:20
9. Ritual (single edit II) 3:47

New Stereo Instrumental Mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio (24bit/96khz):
1. The Revealing Science Of God (Dance Of The Dawn) 20:18
2. The Remembering (High In The Memory) 20:32
3. The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun) 18:41
4. Ritual (Nous Sommes Du Soleil) 21:44
5. Dance Of The Dawn (extended version of The Revealing Science of God) 22:36

Vinyl transfers (24bit/96khz):
UK needle-drop:
1. The Revealing Science of God 20:27
2. The Remembering 20:38
3. The Ancient 18:34
4. Ritual 21:25
US banded promo needle-drop*:
1. The Revealing Science of God 20:27
1a. 3:30
1b. 6:17
1c. 3:21
1d. 4:30
1e. 2:55
2. The Remembering 20:38
2a. 4:40
2b. 3:06
2c. 8:10
2d. 1:45
2e. 3:06
3. The Ancient 18:34
3a. 3:15
3b. 4:19
3c. 2:17
2d. 3:56
4. Ritual 21:25
4a. 5:25
4b. 6:42
4c. 5:20
4d. 4:18

*the “banded” US promo album had the songs divided into shorter and more “radio friendly” segments in the hope of airplay from DJ’s and radio programmers adverse to 20-minute songs……

Band Members:
Jon Anderson – lead vocals, harp, cymbals & percussion
Steve Howe – electric 6- & 12-strings, steel and acoustic guitars, electric sitar & backing vocals
Chris Squire – acoustic & electric basses, timpani & backing vocals
Rick Wakeman – grand piano, RMI Electra-Piano, MiniMoog, Mellotrons, Hammond C3 & pipe organs
Alan White – drums, piano (Track 4), vibes, Mini-Moog, Moog drum, tubular bells & assorted percussion

Anthony Phillips – Private Parts & Pieces V-VIII: 5CD Deluxe Box Set

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The latest instalment of Anthony Phillips reissues – courtesy of Esoteric Recordings (Cherry Red) – features the more obscure ‘Private Parts & Pieces V – VIII’ and include a bonus 5th cd – ‘Private Parts & Extra Pieces II’.  All the albums have been newly remastered and are housed in a high quality clamshell box.  The package is once again adorned with stunning  artwork by Peter Cross and an informative 24-page booklet with insight from Ant in conversation with Jonathan Dann. …….Review by Tim Darbyshire.

The albums included are ‘Private Parts & Pieces V: Twelve’ (1985), ‘Private Parts & Pieces VI: Ivory Moon’ (1986), ‘Private Parts & Pieces VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars’ (1987),  and ‘Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England’ (1992).

‘Private Parts & Pieces V: Twelve’ is the first cd in the ‘Private Parts & Pieces’ series to feature just one instrument. All twelve pieces, named after the months of the year, are performed on  12-string guitar. There’s some lovely parts of course, but ‘Twelve’ was never a favourite of mine back in the day due to its one dimensional approach, and listening to it again now after a long absence, my feelings haven’t changed.

‘Private Parts & Pieces VI: Ivory Moon’, subtitled ‘Piano Pieces 1971-1985’ is a collection of piano based material gathered over the years. Interestingly, these include ‘Winter’s Thaw’ and ‘The Old House’ from 1971 which were among the demos Ant played to Mike Rutherford in 1972 with the view to making a solo album. Also included is a version of the Genesis song ‘Let Us Now Make Love’. The band never recorded the song in the studio, but a radio session version from 1970 has subsequently appeared on two Genesis box sets.

‘Private Parts & Pieces VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars’ reverts to the more broader palette commonly associated with Ant’s ‘Private Parts & Pieces’ series. ‘Slow Waves, Soft Stars’ includes a number of improvised synthesizer soundscapes – partly due to the acquisition of a Roland Jupiter 8 – and the album did generate some interest in the emerging New Age  genre. It’s an atmospheric collection, but a more pleasant and balanced collection than the previous two with guitar and keyboard sharing the workload.

‘Private Parts & Pieces VIII: New England’ was originally released in 1992, 5 years after ‘Private Parts & Pieces VII’. This is – in my opinion – the best of the albums in this set. It’s more like a traditional solo album, with two tracks containing vocals – ‘Unheard Cry’ and ‘Sanctuary’ – and saxophone complimenting the guitars and keyboards.   Ant’s career at this stage had been bolstered by his signing to Virgin Records. Virgin were issuing his entire back catalogue on CD for the first time and the impressive ‘Slow Dance’ had just been released.  ‘New England’ also differs from other ‘Private Parts’ releases in that all the material was written specifically for the project.

This set is completed by ‘Private Parts & Extra Pieces II’, which once again sees Ant delving into his seemingly endless archives. All 19 tracks on this cd are previously unreleased, and are a nice mix of guitar and keyboard pieces.

‘Private Parts & Pieces V-VIII’ is available now from Burning Shed.

Hopefully ‘Slow Dance’ will be the next in this excellent reissue series……..

My review of ‘1984’ is here.

My review of ‘Sides’ is here.

My review of ‘Wise After The Event’ is here.

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Tracklisting:

DISC ONE:PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES V:
TWELVE

1. JANUARY
2. FEBRUARY
3. MARCH
4. APRIL
5. MAY
6. JUNE
7. JULY
8. AUGUST
9. SEPTEMBER
10. OCTOBER
11. NOVEMBER
12. DECEMBER

DISC TWO:
PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VI: IVORY MOON

SUITE: SEA-DOGS MOTORING:
1. (I) SUNRISE OVER SIENNA
2. (II) BASKING SHARK
3. (III) SEA DOG’S AIR
4. (IV) SAFE HAVENS
5. TARA’S THEME (FROM MASQUERADE)
6. WINTER’S THAW
7. THE OLD HOUSE
8. MOONFALL (FROM MASQUERADE)
9. RAPIDS

BONUS TRACK
10. LET US NOW MAKE LOVE

DISC THREE:
PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VII: SLOW WAVES, SOFT STARS

ICE FLIGHT:
1. (I) FLIGHT OF THE SNOW PETREL: GLACIER BAY
2. (II) FLIGHT OF THE WHALE-BIRDS: BLIZZARD MOUNTAIN
3. (III) FLIGHT OF THE ALBATROSS: ICE ISLAND
4. (IV) WHITE HEAVEN
5. (V) CATHEDRAL OF ICE
6. BEACHRUNNER
7. END OF THE AFFAIR
8. THE GOLDEN PATHWAY
9. BEHIND THE WATERFALL
10. CARNIVAL
11. THROUGH THE BLACK HOLE
12. PLUTO GARDEN
13. SOSPIRANDO
14. ELEVENSES
15. GOODBYE SERENADE
16. BUBBLE AND SQUEAK
17. VANISHING STREETS
18. SLOW WAVES, SOFT STARS

DISC FOUR:
PRIVATE PARTS & PIECES VIII:
NEW ENGLAND

1. AUBADE
2. INFRA DIG
3. SANCTUARY
4. LA DOLOROSA
5. NEW ENGLAND SUITE (I)
6. NEW ENGLAND SUITE (II)
7. NEW ENGLAND SUITE (III)
8. LAST GOODBYES
9. SUNRISE AND SEA MONSTERS
10. IONA
11. CATHEDRAL WOODS
12. IF I COULD TELL YOU
13. JAUNTY ROADS
14. SPIRALS
15. PIECES OF EIGHT (I) PRESSGANG
16. PIECES OF EIGHT (II) SARGASSO
17. PIECES OF EIGHT (III) SEA-SHANTY
18. IN THE MAZE
19. UNHEARD CRY
20. NOW THEY’VE ALL GONE

DISC FIVE:
PRIVATE PARTS & EXTRA PIECES II:

1. CATHEDRAL WOODS LINK
2. JONGLEUR
3. SANCTUARY (PIANO MIX)
4. EMERALD FOREST
5. UNHEARD CRY LINK
6. SKYLARKS OVER THE WATER
7. SIR ISAAC (FROM MASQUERADE)
8. ACROSS THE FORBIDDING HORIZON
9. END OF THE AFFAIR II
10. AUTUMN FALLS
11. BEACHRUNNER II
12. HIGHLAND DAWN
13. SANCTUARY LINK
14. UNHEARD CRY (GUITAR DEMO)
15. MOONFALL (FROM MASQUERADE) (DEMO)
16. PLUTO GARDEN (ALTERNATE MIX)
17. CATHEDRAL OF ICE (ALTERNATE MIX)
18. A PLACE TO REST
19. THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS

King Crimson – Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)

kc-radical-action07

It’s clear that this latest King Crimson offering from DGM/Panegyric is no normal live album. Based on their 2015 performances, the lavish packaging contains 3 audio cds, 2 dvds, a blu-ray disc and a 36-page booklet with tour photographs. This is the ‘Tour Edition’, also available is a 3cd/1 blu-ray standard version…………Review by Tim Darbyshire.

‘Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)’ is actually the third live offering since Robert Fripp reassembled King Crimson in its current incarnation in 2014. 2015’s ‘Live At The Orpheum’ (recorded in 2014) was a 40 minute mini-album taster, and this year’s ‘Live In Toronto’ (recorded in 2015) is described as a ‘full raw concert performance from a single night in Toronto’ in the ‘Radical Action’ press release.

Things are certainly different this time – this is King Crimson after all. The audio cds are presented as individually themed ‘virtual studio albums’ with no audible audience – featuring a representative example of every song/piece performed by King Crimson on its 2015 tours of the UK, Canada and Japan.

‘Radical Action’ is described by the band as  ‘the most fully realised audio and visual statement from this band to date’.  The visual content is taken from a complete filmed performance in Japan in 2015 and is offered in high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround audio. The blu-ray also features ‘picture off’ mode, allowing the listener to enjoy the hi-res stereo/5.1 surround versions without the picture and in one continuous sitting. For information, there is nothing on the dvds that isn’t on the blu-ray, but I guess they are included for those people who don’t own a blu-ray player.

So what about the actual music? The set list is expansive, full of classic Crimson – ‘Red’,
‘One More Red Nightmare’, ‘Epitaph’, ‘Starless’, ‘The Court of The Crimson King’ and ’21st Century Schizoid Man’, all perfectly executed of course – unsurprisingly the quality of the musicianship is peerless. Early versions of new songs are also aired – ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Radical Action’ – which are yet to be recorded. Only the 1980s era is ignored, with no songs from any of the three albums ‘Discipline’, ‘Beat’ or ‘Three Of A Perfect Pair’.

The three cds are ‘themed’,  CD1 is called ‘Mainly Metal’, CD2  ‘Easy Money Shots’ and CD3 is ‘Crimson Classics’. It’s a different approach, if you prefer some crowd noise you’ll need to watch the blu-ray/dvd. It also means the running order is tampered with  – again if you’re after a single concert from start to finish,  the double cd ‘Live In Toronto’ would fit the bill perfectly.

The video style of the performance (filmed in Takamatsu, Japan) is creative.  As there’s very little movement on stage, most of the time during the video we are treated to two or three images overlayed, presumably designed to make the film more interesting – see the video clip of ‘Easy Money’ included below.

Watching the three front-line drummers/percussionists interacting is fascinating at times…….Bill Rieflin in the centre of the three often seems to be in the eye of the storm as thunder and chaos in the shape of Pat Mastelotto and Gavin Harrison surrounds him. He also provides the much needed mellotron sounds for the likes of ‘Starless’ and ‘The Court Of The Crimson King’. The back-line is made up of bass/stick player extraordinaire Tony Levin,  Mel Collins (returning to the fold) on saxes and flute, Jakko Jakszyk providing vocals and guitar, and of course, Robert Fripp on guitar and keyboards.

It’s hard to fault King Crimson/DGM/Panegyric’s output these last few years. The super deluxe box sets they have been producing  – often running to nearly 30 discs – are a fan’s dream (if a little hard on the wallet) and are testament to Robert Fripp finally owning and controlling his back catalogue after a lengthy legal battle.

The entire product is superbly put together, both musically and in the way it’s packaged – even if the cyclops image isn’t to everyone’s taste! The discs are housed in 2 triple digipacks and fit neatly into the rigid outer case with the accompanying 36 page booklet. I’m sure if you were lucky enough (as I was)  to see any of the shows in the last couple of years,  ‘Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)’ will be a welcome addition to your collection.

Order now from Burning Shed (includes free cyclops postcard).

 

 

 

——————————————————————–

King Crimson:

Mel Collins: Saxes & flute
Robert Fripp: Guitar & keyboards
Gavin Harrison: Drums
Jakko Jakszyk: Guitar & voice
Tony Levin: Basses & stick
Pat Mastelotto: Drums
Bill Rieflin: Drums & keyboards

———————————————————————

CD 1: Mainly Metal

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part One
Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)
Meltdown
Radical Action II
Level Five
The Light of Day
The Hell Hounds of Krim
The ConstruKction of Light
The Talking Drum
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part Two

CD 2: Easy Money Shots

Peace
Pictures of a City
Banshee Legs Bell Hassle
Easy Money
VROOOM
Suitable Grounds for the Blues
Interlude
The Letters
Sailors Tale
A Scarcity of Miracles

CD 3: Crimson Classics

Red
One More Red Nightmare
Epitaph
Starless
Devil Dogs of Tessellation Row
The Court of The Crimson King
21st Century Schizoid Man

Blu-Ray and DVD 1/2: Audio/Video performances:

Two DVDs featuring a complete filmed concert performance in stereo and 5.1 surround

Blu-Ray featuring a complete filmed concert performance in high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround audio.

Threshold Soundscape,
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part One
Pictures of a City, Peace
Radical Action (to Unseat The Hold of Monkey Mind)
Meltdown, Radical Action II
Level Five, Epitaph
The Hell Hounds of Krim
The ConstruKction of Light
Scarcity of Miracles
Red
VROOOM
Banshee Legs Bell Hassle
Easy Money, Interlude
The Letters, Sailor’s Tale
The Light of Day
The Talking Drum
Larks’ Tongues in Aspic Part Two
Starless
Devil Dogs of Tessellation Row
In the Court of the Crimson King
21st Century Schizoid Man
Suitable Grounds for the Blues
One More Red Nightmare

————————————————————-

King Crimson are currently on tour in Europe:

King Crimson – Sep. 03, 2016 Aylesbury Friars at the Waterside Theatre
King Crimson – Sep. 05, 2016 Aylesbury Friars at the Waterside Theatre
King Crimson – Sep. 08, 2016 Stuttgart Beethoven-Saal
King Crimson – Sep. 09, 2016 Stuttgart Beethoven-Saal
King Crimson – Sep. 11, 2016 Berlin Admiralpalast
King Crimson – Sep. 12, 2016 Berlin Admiralpalast
King Crimson – Sep. 14, 2016 Prague Forum Karlin
King Crimson – Sep. 15, 2016 Prague Forum Karlin
King Crimson – Sep. 17, 2016 Zabrze House of Music & Dance
King Crimson – Sep. 18, 2016 Zabrze House of Music & Dance
King Crimson – Sep. 20, 2016 Wroclaw National Forum Of Music
King Crimson – Sep. 21, 2016 Wroclaw National Forum Of Music
King Crimson – Sep. 23, 2016 Copenhagen Falkoner
King Crimson – Sep. 24, 2016 Copenhagen Falkoner
King Crimson – Sep. 26, 2016 Oslo Sentrum Scene
King Crimson – Sep. 27, 2016 Oslo Sentrum Scene
King Crimson – Sep. 28, 2016 Oslo Sentrum Scene
King Crimson – Sep. 30, 2016 Stockholm Filadelfiakyrkan
King Crimson – Oct. 01, 2016 Stockholm Filadelfiakyrkan
King Crimson – Oct. 03, 2016 Hamburg Mehr! Theater

King Crimson – Nov. 02, 2016 Antwerp Stadsschouwburg
King Crimson – Nov. 03, 2016 Antwerp Stadsschouwburg
King Crimson – Nov. 05, 2016 Milano Teatro degli Arcimboldi
King Crimson – Nov. 06, 2016 Milano Teatro degli Arcimboldi
King Crimson – Nov. 08, 2016 Florence Teatro Verdi
King Crimson – Nov. 09, 2016 Florence Teatro Verdi
King Crimson – Nov. 11, 2016 Rome Auditorium Conciliazione
King Crimson – Nov. 12, 2016 Rome Auditorium Conciliazione
King Crimson – Nov. 14, 2016 Torino Teatro Colosseo
King Crimson – Nov. 15, 2016 Torino Teatro Colosseo
King Crimson – Nov. 17, 2016 Monte Carlo Opéra Garnier
King Crimson – Nov. 18, 2016 Monte Carlo Opéra Garnier
King Crimson – Nov. 21, 2016 Madrid, Madrid Palacio de Congresos
King Crimson – Nov. 22, 2016 Madrid, Madrid Palacio de Congresos
King Crimson – Nov. 24, 2016 Barcelona, Catalonia Auditori del Forum
King Crimson – Nov. 25, 2016 Barcelona, Catalonia Auditori del Forum
King Crimson – Nov. 27, 2016 Marseille Le Silo
King Crimson – Nov. 30, 2016 Vienna Museumsquartier
King Crimson – Dec. 01, 2016 Vienna Museumsquartier
King Crimson – Dec. 03, 2016 Paris Salle Pleyel
King Crimson – Dec. 04, 2016 Paris Salle Pleyel

pmr-business-card-vista-stylized-letters

Review ‘Discovering Steve Hackett’ 5cd set

discovering-sh-5

InsideOut music have just released a budget priced retrospective collection of five of Steve Hackett’s less well known rock albums……..Review and photos by TIm Darbyshire.

This collection comes after last year’s mammoth ‘Premonitions’ deluxe box set reissue of the Steve Hackett Charisma albums (see my review here) and features every Hackett rock album from 1984 to 2006 (with the exception of the collaborative ‘Feedback 86’ released in 2000). The albums included are ‘Till We Have Faces’ (1984), ‘Guitar Noir’ (1993), ‘Darktown’ (1999), ‘To Watch The Storms’ (2003), and ‘Wild Orchids’ (2006).

The five albums come in card sleeves, replicating the front cover artwork of the original releases and a thin outer slipcase to house them. There’s no booklet or additional information, but this is a budget release and should be judged accordingly.

Taking its name from a C.S.Lewis novel, 1984’s ‘Till We Have Faces’ was Steve’s second album after leaving Charisma, (the all acoustic ‘Bay of Kings’ preceded it in 1983) and in some respects it’s a natural successor to ‘Highly Strung’, with contributions from Nick Magnus and Ian Mosley . However, the album was recorded in Brazil and adds World Music elements, particularly Brazilian percussion.  Highlights include the lengthy ‘Matilda Smith-Williams (Home For The Aged)’ and the minor chart hit ‘A Doll That’s Made In Japan’.

Steve of course teamed up with Yes’ Steve Howe in the mid-80s to form the supergroup GTR and released his second album of solo classical guitar pieces ‘Momentum’ in 1988, but it wasn’t until 1993’s ‘Guitar Noir’ that he resurfaced with an electric album.

‘Guitar Noir’ – as the title suggests, see Steve using a much darker guitar sound, but Steve’s signature smooth guitars style is also there – notably on ‘Sierra Quemada’. ‘There Are Many Sides To The Night’ has some lovely acoustic guitar, as does the short ‘Walking Away From Rainbows’.  ‘Vampire With A Healthy Appetite’ became a stage favourite for many tours.

1999’s ‘Darktown’ continues the dark themes of ‘Guitar Noir’ with the tracks ‘Omega Metallicus’ and ‘Darktown’. ‘Man Overboard’ and ‘The Golden Age Of Steam’ hint at a more familiar Hackett sound. Although the subject matter is largely dark – including ominous narration on ‘In Memoriam’ – this album has plenty of light and texture, with ‘Twice Around The Sun’ being a highlight. Long time Steve Hackett collaborator Roger King makes an appearance on this album.

For me though, it’s 2003’s ‘To Watch The Storms’ that is a real return to form, and the best of the 5 cds in this set. Coincidentally it also marked Steve’s return to the UK touring circuit with a full electric band for the first time in 10 years including Gary O’Toole, Rob Townsend and of course Roger King all three of whom are still with Steve today.

Highlights are the King Crimson-esque  ‘Mechanical Bride’, the beautiful ‘Strutton Ground’ and ‘Serpentine Song’ and the catchy ‘Brand New’ – which wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Spectral Mornings’.

The set is completed with ‘Wild Orchids’ from 2006. Stylistically it follows on from ‘To Watch The Storms’ without reaching the same creative peaks for me. ‘A Dark Night In Toytown’ kicks things off in raucous style, ‘A Girl Called Linda’ provides light relief and the album’s closing tracks ‘The Fundamentals Of Brainwashing’ and ‘Howl’  provide great atmospherics.

For the price of this Limited Edition set, it’s a no brainer. I paid 16 Euros including shipping to Canada – a welcome addition to the collection, even if you only need one or two of the discs.

The next studio album after ‘Wild Orchids’ was the triumphant ‘Out of the Tunnel’s Mouth’ (2009), and from then Steve really seems to have been on an upward trajectory, both artistically and commercially.  ‘Beyond The Shrouded Horizon’ (2011) and ‘Wolflight’ (2015) have left fans of Steve’s music looking forward to the anticipated release of his new album in 2017.

 

Full track listing:

Disc 1 – Till We Have Faces
1.    What’s My Name
2.    The Rio Connection
3.    Matilda Smith-Williams (Home For The Aged)
4.    Let Me Count The Ways
5.    A Doll That’s Made In Japan
6.    Duel
7.    Myopia
8.    Taking the Easy Way Out
9.    The Gulf
10.    Stadiums of the Damned
11.    When You Wish Upon a Star
Disc 2 – Guitar Noir
1.    Sierra Quemada
2.    Take These Pearls
3.    There Are Many Sides To The Night
4.    In The Heart Of The City
5.    Dark As The Grave
6.    Lost In Your Eyes
7.    Little America
8.    Like An Arrow
9.    Theatre Of Sleep
10.    Walking Away From Rainbows
11.    Paint Your Picture
12.    Vampire With A Healthy Appetite
13.    Tristesse
Disc 3 – Darktown
1.    Omega Metallicus
2.    Darktown
3.    Man Overboard
4.    The Golden Age Of Steam
5.    Days Of Long Ago
6.    Dreaming With Open Eyes
7.    Twice Around The Sun
8.    Rise Again
9.    Jane Austen’s Door
10.  Darktown Riot
11.   In Memoriam
Disc 4 – To Watch The Storms
1.    Strutton Ground
2.    Circus Of Becoming
3.    The Devil Is An Englishman
4.    Frozen Statues
5.    Mechanical Bride
6.    Wind, Sand And Stars
7.    Brand New
8.    This World
9.    Rebecca
10.  The Silk Road
11.   Come Away
12.  The Moon Under Water
13.   Serpentine Song
Disc 5 – Wild Orchids
1.    A Dark Night In Toytown
2.   Waters Of The Wild
3.   Set Your Compass
4.   Down Street
5.   A Girl Called Linda
6.   To a Close
7.   Ego And Id
8.   Man In The Long Black Coat
9.   Wolfwork
10. Why
11.  She Moves In Memories
12.  The Fundamentals Of Brainwashing
13.  Howl

discovering-sh-1discovering-sh-2discovering-sh-3discovering-sh-4

 

Anthony Phillips – 1984 Reissue Review

Esoteric Arts have just released ‘1984’ the latest album in their excellent Anthony Phillips deluxe reissue series – review by Tim Darbyshire

AP 1984 1

This is a 3 disc deluxe digi-pack edition of the album. Disc 1 contains the new 2016 stereo mix of the album. Disc 2 contains the bonus material and is identical to the second disc of the 2008 Voiceprint version. Disc 3 contains the new 2016 5.1 surround sound mix of the album on  DVD-A. Also included is a two-sided poster and a 16-page booklet with photos and extensive liner notes – including the customary excellent new essay written by Jonathan Dann. There is a short forward written by Steven Wilson, as this is his favourite Ant album.

Originally released in 1981 ‘1984’ is a radical departure from the more pastoral feel of the albums that preceded it – ‘The Geese And The Ghost’, ‘Wise After The Event’,  ‘Sides’, ‘Private Parts And Pieces’, and ‘Private Parts and Pieces II: Back to the Pavilion’. With relatively few audible guitar parts, ‘1984’ is an instrumental electronic album – mostly synth based with some vocal effects and a variety of percussion. It was also the first Anthony Phillips album not to feature the intricate artwork of Peter Cross.

The album itself is based around 2 long form pieces – ‘1984 Part One’ and ‘1984 Part Two’ bookended by ‘Prelude ’84’ and ‘Anthem 1984’. It’s never dull, often melodic and to these ears at least,  has survived the test of time. All synths and drum machine programming is done by Ant, with percussion provided by Morris Pert of Brand X fame. Use of drum machines was becoming de rigueur at the turn of the ’80s, see Genesis and ‘Duke’ for example….

Stylistically, ‘1984’ remains an anomaly in Ant’s back catalogue. ‘Slow Dance’ (released 1990) also contains long instrumental pieces, but these are orchestrally lush. Ant followed up this album with 1983’s ‘Invisible Men’ – a collaboration with Richard Scott which was totally song-based.

Time for a slight gripe; despite being a decent digipack, I’m baffled why Esoteric chose to change the format of these deluxe reissues. All the others to date have been housed in rigid clamshell style boxes – see photo below. ‘1984’ bucks this trend and also looks slightly odd as the thick spine doesn’t have the  artist or title on it.

Track Listing:

CD 1:

1: Prelude ’84
2: 1984 Part One
3: 1984 Part Two
4: Anthem 1984

CD2:

1: Prelude ’84 (Early Stage Mix)
2: Ascension
3: 1984 Part One (Early Stage Mix)
4: Sally Theme
5: Science And Technology
6: Respect
7: Church
8: Military
9: Power In The Land
10: 1984 Part Two (Early Stage Mix)
11: Anthem 1984 (Early Stage Mix)
12: Poly Piece (Demo)

DVD: 5.1 Surround Mix

1: Prelude ’84
2: 1984 Part One
3: 1984 Part Two
4: Anthem 1984

AP 1984 1AP 1984 2AP 1984 3AP 1984 4AP 1984 5AP spines

 

 

Big Big Train – Folklore

Released May 27th on the band’s own English Electric label, ‘Folklore’ is Big Big Train’s much anticipated follow up to 2013’s impressive ‘English Electric (Full Power)’. Can they do it again?  First impressions by Tim Darbyshire

Big Big Train are purveyors of modern progressive soul music, making classic pastoral-style English progressive rock with each track telling a story – fitting for an album called ‘Folklore’.  According to vocalist David Longdon, ‘Folklore’ completes the ‘Albion trilogy’ of releases, the others being ‘The Underfall Yard’ (2009) and ‘English Electric (Full Power)’ (2013)

Big Big Train is made up 8 musicians; founder members bassist Greg Spawton and guitarist/keyboardist Andy Poole, vocalist David Longdon, drummer Nick D’Virgilio (Spock’s Beard), guitarist Dave Gregory (XTC, Tin Spirits), keyboard/double bass player Danny Manners, violinist Rachel Hall (Stackridge) and  guitarist/keyboardist Rikard Sjöblom (Beardfish). A  brass quintet comprising Dave Desmond – trombone, Ben Godfrey – trumpet and cornet, Nick Stones – French horn, John Storey – euphonium and Jon Truscott – tuba and a string trio (Lucy Curnow – violin, Keith Hobday – viola,  and Evie Anderson – cello) further augment the impressive sound palette.

Ideally I would prefer to review this album in 6 months’ time, once it has had the chance to ingrain itself into my psyche. Big Big Train are an acquired taste – a band that demands repeated listens. For instance, I didn’t fall for ‘English Electric’ instantly, but now regard it as essential. ‘Folklore’, after 5 or 6 proper listens is already growing. Initially it didn’t appear to hit the consistent peaks, but each listen is revealing more to me. Either way, it’s already my favourite album of 2016.

The title track kicks off proceedings with a folky celtic-flavoured scene setting fanfare. (See video below).  Things quieten down for the start of ‘London Plane’ (with plenty of flute and Hammond) and the gentle ‘Along The Ridgeway’ with beautiful acoustic and brass passages, leads into ‘Salisbury Giant’, a short piece led by Rachel Hall’s violin and David Longdon’s plaintive repetitive vocal. Equally evocative is ‘The Transit of Venus Across the Sun’, again with more colliery style brass, which contains a first for Big Big Train – a trancey chanted chorus sung in Latin.

‘Wassail’ brings us back into familiar territory, having been issued on the 2015 EP of the same name. ‘Wassail’ is probably the most upbeat song on the album and refers to the English pagan ritual of praying  in order to ward off evil spirits and bless the apple trees so that they would yield a bountiful crop.

Only Big Big Train could get away with a 7 part track about a pigeon (‘Winkie’) saving the lives of the crew of a downed World War II plane. Told in just over 8 minutes, ‘Winkie’ seems rushed, even though it’s an interesting story. ‘Brooklands’ – about the now disused racetrack in Southern England clocks in at just over 12 minutes and showcases the the whole range of the band’s sound.  The album’s closer ‘Telling The Bees’ is currently the stand-out track for me (along with ‘The Transit of Venus Across the Sun’) – possibly because it’s the simplest and most direct. It recounts the tradition of bee-keepers telling their bees what’s happening in their lives, and one case in particular where on the bee-keeper’s death, the bees left the hives and went to his funeral.

There are many standout performances contained in the 70 minutes of ‘Folklore’, with vocalist David Longdon – who was the other candidate when Genesis chose Ray Wilson to replace Phil Collins – shining throughout. Rikard Sjoblom provides fluid guitar lines to compliment Dave Gregory’s jazzier input, and Greg Spawton’s deep bass pedals really add warmth to a beautifully recorded album.

These are busy days for the band, with ‘Folklore’ closely following the release of the live in the studio blu-ray ‘Stone And Steel’.  An EP of  ‘Folklore’ leftovers (possibly to be titled ‘Skylon’) is in the works, and a re-recording of their early albums is planned for next year with the release of a 3 cd set ‘The Station Masters’.

Having successfully transitioned into a live band with a series of sold out dates in London in 2015,  Big Big Train are planning more live dates in 2017.

CD tracklist:
Folklore
London Plane
Along The Ridgeway
Salisbury Giant
The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun
Wassail
Winkie
Brooklands
Telling The Bees

The double vinyl version also includes ‘Mudlarks’ and ‘Lost Rivers Of London’ which were both previously available on the ‘Wassail’ cd EP.

A high resolution audio version of the album is available from the band’s Bandcamp site.

For more detailed information, read David Longdon’s Folklore blogs where he describes the background stories to ‘Telling The Bees’,  ‘Folklore’, ‘Winkie’, and ‘Wassail’. Similarly, Greg Spawton’s blog details the stories behind the other tracks on ‘Folklore’.

The ‘Folklore’ sleeve liner notes have been made available as a downloadable PDF file here.

bbt folklore 1bbt folklore 4bbt folklore 3bbt folklore 2bbt folklore 5

Anthony Phillips – Sides (Deluxe Reissue)

Esoteric Recording’s excellent series of deluxe reissues of founding Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips’ back catalogue continues with Ant’s fourth solo album – 1979’s ‘Sides’. Review by Tim Darbyshire.

Hot on the heels of the reissue of ‘Wise After The Event’ comes ‘Sides’. Following the same clamshell boxed format as the other reissues, this set is a 4-disc deluxe edition of the album. Disc 1 contains a 2016 stereo remix of the album. Disc 2 contains the bonus material (as on the Voiceprint 2010 double cd re-release). Disc 3 contains a remastered version of the original stereo mix of the album. Disc 4 contains a 2016 5.1 surround sound mix of the album on DVD-A. The deluxe edition also includes a double-sided full colour poster and a 20-page booklet with photos and extensive liner notes including a new essay written by Jonathan Dann. The whole package is once again adorned by beautifully intricate artwork from Peter Cross.

Musically speaking, ‘Sides’ is a departure from the pastoral progressive style Ant had developed on ‘The Geese And The Ghost’ and ‘Wise After The Event’. Ant’s record label at the time asked for a more song based approach to appeal to a wider mainstream audience. Consequently, for me the album has less appeal than its predecessors. That said, there’s still plenty to enjoy on ‘Sides’ – ‘Magdalen’ and ‘Nightmare’ especially are more progressive sounding, whilst ‘I Want Your Love’ and “Lucy Will’ are lovely ballads.

As ever, Ant is supported by an impressive list of musicians on this album, notably Michael Giles, John G Perry, Dale Newman, Morris Pert, John Hackett and Mel Collins along with producer Rupert Hine.

The new stereo mix  (by Simon Heyworth and Andy Miles) sounds fresh and warm, as does the 5.1 surround mix.  Although not my favourite album by Ant, I did enjoy revisiting ‘Sides’ for the first time in many years. Next up in the series is ‘1984’, Ant’s predominantly keyboard based 1981 album which will be released by Esoteric on June 24th.

AP Sides 1AP Sides 2AP Sides 3AP Sides 4

Track Listing:

DISC ONE: CD:
SIDES NEW STEREO MIX
1. UM & AARGH
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE
3. LUCY WILL
4. SIDE DOOR
5. HOLY DEADLOCK
6. SOUVENIR
7. SISTERS OF REMINDUM
8. BLEAK HOUSE
9. MAGDALEN
10. NIGHTMARE

DISC TWO: CD:
SIDES DEMOS, OUT-TAKES AND EXTRAS
1. UM & AARGH (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
3. SISTERS OF REMINDUM (ALTERNATIVE MIX)
4. LUCY WILL (ORIGINAL MIX)
5. MAGDALEN (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
6. SIDE DOOR (ORIGINAL MIX)
7. UM & AARGH (7” SINGLE VERSION)
8. SOUVENIR (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
9. BLEAK HOUSE (ALTERNATIVE MIX)
10. NIGHTMARE (ALTERNATIVE MIX)
11. CATCH YOU WHEN YOU FALL (INSTRUMENTAL MIX)
12. BEFORE THE NIGHT (DEMO)

DISC THREE: CD
SIDES THE ORIGINAL STEREO MIX RE-MASTERED
1. UM & AARGH
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE
3. LUCY WILL
4. SIDE DOOR
5. HOLY DEADLOCK
6. SOUVENIR
7. SISTERS OF REMINDUM
8. BLEAK HOUSE
9. MAGDALEN
10. NIGHTMARE

DISC FOUR: DVD
SIDES THE 2016 5.1 SURROUND SOUND MIX
1. UM & AARGH
2. I WANT YOUR LOVE
3. LUCY WILL
4. SIDE DOOR
5. HOLY DEADLOCK
6. SOUVENIR
7. SISTERS OF REMINDUM
8. BLEAK HOUSE
9. MAGDALEN
10. NIGHTMARE