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September 30, 2014

Prog Rock Review: Keith Emerson and Greg Lake-Live From Manticore Hall

Release Date: 14th July 2014
Label:   Manticore Records

This particular duo require very little in the way of an introduction, as they completed 2/3rds of one of the biggest names in symphonic prog, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, or ELP. This live recording from 2010, Live From Manticore Hall, brings together Keith Emerson (keyboards) and Greg Lake (vocals, bass, electric and acoustic guitars), with a selection of ELP compositions from the albums, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1970), Tarkus (1971), Trilogy (1972) and Works Vol 1 (1977). The duo also covers a track from the very first King Crimson album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, with Greg being a member of that band at the time.

There is an explanation of the origins and reason behind this particular release, given by Greg on the album, but I will briefly give the information here. The album, Live From Manticore Hall, came about when Keith and Greg were writing together in 2010 and did some versions of older ELP songs to relax and unwind, with both deciding that what was happening could translate very well to an intimate style concert. What you will find on this album are instantly recognizable tunes, but with some experimentation and new slants.

Live From Manticore Hall, is a 10 track live album with a running time of around 77 minutes. The longest track on offer is a version of “Tarkus” stretching out over the 17 minute point, (17:08), with the “Introduction” being the shortest track at just over a minute (1:05).

The opening track on Live From Manticore Hall is the aptly titled, “From The Beginning” (6:09) which has a majestic keyboard introduction from Keith with that instantly recognizable voice of Greg appearing around the 1:30 minute mark. This song flows along so well with the superb guitar of Greg and the piano of Keith adding a slightly different sound to the original. What comes across quickly from this track is how intimate and relaxed the whole atmosphere of this gig is.

“Introduction” (1:05) does exactly what it suggests and leads into the track “I Talk To The Wind” (5:33) from the debut album by King Crimson, and as Greg explains, he had not sung live since 1969. Stunning piano by Keith sets the scene for this beautiful rendition of what is one of my favorite tracks from In The Court Of The Crimson King album. Yet again the powerful timbre of Greg’s voice “nails” the vocals, even after 41 years. This is a re-visitation of an old song, but set in a slightly different style which adds to the class of the original.

“Bitches  Crystal” (6:18), “The Barbarian” (6:22) and “Take A Pebble” (5:20) then follow, with the first having an intro from Keith explaining how he and Greg met up when sharing the billing at the Fillmore West in 1969, as members of The Nice and King Crimson respectively. “Bitches Crystal” highlights the two great showmen on offer on this album, with stunning keyboards and superb vocals/guitar, before moving on to “The Barbarian” which has classic keyboards from the off, and can still send shivers up your spine. “Take A Pebble” gets an explanation as to how it came about from Greg, before they settle into the song with more pristine piano by Keith and lyrics being delivered in crystal clear vocals by Greg.

“Tarkus” (17:08) is a slimmed down version of the title track from the album released in 1971, which ran on for over 20 minutes. As with all the tracks on the album, these revamped versions add to the originals by allowing superb keyboards and guitar interplay to breathe new life into the old classics. 

Next up is the beautiful “C’est La Vie” (6:01) from the Works album and there is a nice little bit of info that Johnny Halliday covered the song and had a French No 1. The acoustic guitar, the voice and the atmosphere make this a simply amazing track.

The penultimate track, “Pirates” (13:30) is also from the Works album and was the “epic” track from that release. The spoken word intro, blending in to the keyboards, drums and bass, produce a superb grandiose chunk of music, which ebbs and flows, recalling vividly the atmosphere of sailing ships and battles.

The finale to the album, Live From Manticore Hall, is the majestic “Lucky Man” (10:35), again with a little intro by Greg. The start allows Keith to show his skills on the moog (apparently the original instrument used in the recording) before the song gets properly started. The moog solo goes on for about 1:40 minutes before the piano takes over, building towards the actual song which appears around 5:30 minutes, with Greg’s guitar and vocal taking center stage. As the song progresses, the moog reappears, as it does on the original and Keith takes the track out to rapturous applause.

Live From Manticore Hall is a superb album, showcasing two giants of the “classic prog” era, but with the twist that the songs are not note for note covers, but, dare I say it, two more mature musicians putting a more mature slant on the music. The atmosphere simply exudes the feeling of laid back relaxation, which Keith and Greg seem to have immersed themselves in, and the whole album simply flows.

The advice for this album is to settle comfortably into a seat and listen to Live From Manticore Hall several times, and be astounded at how “fresh” these old tracks sound. “One To Buy” and “The Experience Will Last Forever” stickers adorn the front cover and this should be a perfect addition to any prog collection.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: From The Beginning, I Talk To The Wind, Lucky Man

Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

September 30, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

September 27, 2014

Captain Beefheart 'Le Nouvel Hippodrome, Paris 1977' Rare Concert Recording Now Available!


London, UK – Much to the excitement of Captain Beefheart fans worldwide, Gonzo Multimedia just released on DBL CD a rare live recording of the Captain in concert at the Le Nouvel Hippodrome in Paris on November 19, 1977! Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter, artist and poet known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band (1965–1982), with whom he recorded 13 studio albums. Noted for his powerful singing voice with its wide range, Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments. His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition. Beefheart was also known for exercising an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians, and for often constructing myths about his life.

During his teen years in Lancaster, California, Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste and formed friendship with Frank Zappa, with whom he sporadically collaborated. He began performing with his Captain Beefheart persona in 1964 and joined the original Magic Band line-up, initiated by Alexis Snouffer, in 1965. The group drew attention with their cover of Bo Diddley's “Diddy Wah Diddy”, which became a regional hit. It was followed by their acclaimed debut album 'Safe As Milk', released in 1967 on Buddah Records. After being dropped by two consecutive record labels, they signed to Zappa's Straight Records. As producer, Zappa granted Beefheart unrestrained artistic freedom in making 1969's 'Trout Mask Replica', which ranked 58th in Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 1974, frustrated by lack of commercial success, he released two albums of more conventional rock music that were critically panned; this move, combined with not having been paid for a European tour, and years of enduring Beefheart's strict discipline, led the entire band to quit. Beefheart eventually formed a new Magic Band with a group of younger musicians and regained contemporary approval through three final albums: 'Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)' (1978), 'Doc At The Radar Station' (1980) and 'Ice Cream For Crow' (1982).

Van Vliet has been described as “...one of modern music's true innovators” with “...a singular body of work virtually unrivaled in its daring and fluid creativity.” Although he achieved little commercial or mainstream critical success, he sustained a cult following as a 'highly significant' and 'incalculable' influence on an array of New Wave, punk, post-punk, experimental and alternative rock musicians. Known for his enigmatic personality and relationship with the public, Van Vliet made few public appearances after his retirement from music (and from his Beefheart persona) in 1982. He pursued a career in art, an interest that originated in his childhood talent for sculpture, and a venture that proved to be his most financially secure. His expressionist paintings and drawings command high prices, and have been exhibited in art galleries and museums across the world. Van Vliet died in 2010, having suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years.

This extraordinary record catches the Captain at his best; live on stage in 1977. A few days after the show he said:

“This band is so good - the best I have ever had! They play with a smile. They really breathe up there when they are playing. After all this time I have finally found the band I'm looking for. It's amazing! Playing with this group is like going for a walk: they are so happy when they play. People I meet from the audience have been coming up and telling me how pleased they are that I have finally found a band that I am content with - and they are right.

“The gig we played in Paris was monstrous. It was three days ago, but I haven't slept since - it was so good! And my voice, well, I can still feel that show in my voice. It hit me so hard I am down to three octaves .... I couldn't get over the way the audience was singing along with it, singing the words back at me in English - and I don't speak a word of French.

“This group, I tell you, I couldn't believe that there were such nice people still around on this earth. True, they are playing what I have written, but they really are playing. This band is moving so fast that very soon I won't have to tell them anything. I really must say this band is the best ...”

Tracks:
1. Hair Pie: Bake III
2. Suction Prints
3. Low Yo Yo Stuff
4. Bat Chain Puller
5. I Wanna Find A Woman That'll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go
6. Abba Zabba
7. Dali's Car
8. One Nest Rolls After Another
9. The Dust Blows Forward and the Dust Blows Back
10. Nowadays a Woman's Got To Hit a Man
11. Click Clack
12. Grow Fins
13. Golden Birdies

Disc II

14. Electricity
15. A Carrot Is As Close As a Rabbit Gets To a Diamond.
16. China Pig
17. Sun Zoom Spark
18. My Human Gets Me Blues
19. Floppy Boot Stomp
20. Moonlight on Vermont
21. Carson City
22. Old Black Snake
23. Pachuco Cadaver
24. Veteran's Day Poppy/Band Intro
25. The Blimp
26. Big Eyed Beans From Venus

To purchase Captain Beefheart 'Le Nouvel Hippodrome, Paris 1977' DBL CD: http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/product_details/15713/Captain_Beefheart_and_his_Magi-Le_Nouvel_Hippodrome,_Paris_1977.html

Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158 (USA), glassonyonpr@gmail.com

September 26, 2014

Progressive Rock Review: Mostly Autumn-Dressed In Voices (Deluxe Edition)

Release Date: 10th June 2014
Label: Mostly Autumn Records

I have just received the latest studio release from the band, Mostly Autumn, called Dressed In Voices (and it is the deluxe version), for review. I can recall reviewing a live release from the band and look forward to hearing what they can do in a studio setting. Mostly Autumn is a UK band formed in 1995, and are heavily influenced by classic 70’s rock, citing Genesis, Renaissance and Pink Floyd as early influences , as well as folk music. The band has released 11 studio albums from For All We Shared (1998) up to this release, Dressed In Voices (2014).

The band at the time of recording this album consisted of 7 members, one of which has subsequently left and been replaced by a person who had previously been a member years ago. On the album are Bryan Josh (Guitar, keyboards and vocals), Olivia Sparnenn (vocals and percussion), Ian Jennings (keyboards, synths and Hammond organ), Liam Davidson (guitars and vocals), Anne Marie Helder ( guitar, flute, keyboards and vocals), Andy Smith (bass) and Alex Cromarty (drums). It is Liam who is no longer with the band, replaced by Chris Johnson, who was a member of the band in 2006/2007.

The 2 disc deluxe edition of Dressed In Voices has a total playing time of around 95 minutes with the main disc, disc 1, the longer of the two at just over 63 minutes and the bonus disc, disc 2, playing just over 31 minutes. The longest track on offer is “First Day At School” on disc 1, which has a playing time of 7:28 minutes and the shortest track is also on disc 1, but appears to be a short link, “See You,” at a miserly 0:23 minutes.

Dressed In Voices is a concept album dealing with a gruesome murder and how that action impinges on the memories, dreams, hopes and expectations. Given the dark subject of the concept, the music surprisingly comes across in a fairly upbeat manner. 


I always feel that the opening track to any album is important, but even more so when that album is a concept album. The opening track on Dressed In Voices, “Saturday Night” (5:09) sets the scene for the story that is about to unfold in the following 60+ minutes. An atmospheric start, with street noises and footsteps, merges into keyboards, guitar and drums before dropping into the 2 voices, Bryan and Olivia, backed mainly by acoustic guitar. Just on the 2 minute mark, the sound erupts with the band in full flow, and Olivia’s voice straddles the music majestically. The track then ebbs and flows from band power to the Olivia/acoustic sections and another input from the “natural” sounds before Olivia’s superb voice drives the track to its conclusion.


A piano and Bryan’s crystal clear voice starts track 2, “Not Yours To Take” (5:01) before the band add some clout to the proceedings, together with some very serene sounding strings. The track builds up in presence and then moves into a guitar passage which certainly seems very familiar. The opening 2 tracks quickly draw the listener into the album. They are stunningly sculpted tracks from a band that is working as a very tight unit.

“Running” (4:33) features the main vocals by Olivia, which highlights one of the huge plus points to this band, in that they possess two vocalists who are individually superb but also harmonize in an amazing manner.
As with all concept albums, the music requires to be heard in its entirety to fully appreciate the scale of what the band has achieved.

The longest track on the first album is “First Day At School” (7:28) and is another example of a simple backing of piano and strings, fronted by the male/female harmonizing. Sparse, stunning and beautiful, this track begins to build after the 3 minute mark and morphs into a solid driving song, complete with little “hook” passages. This is a track of contrasting halves, both combining to provide a super 7+ minutes.

This is a tremendous album which seems to have brought together the perfect fusion of their influences. Previous albums have hinted at this fusion, but, invariably seemed to fall into the prog folk or the heavier side, but this is an example of a band “getting it right.” The band weave between the melodic, symphonic, heavy and Celtic influences seamlessly.

As an additional plus, apart from the 63 minute concept album, there is also the 30+ minute bonus disc containing another 9 tracks.

Dressed In Voices, I think will be an album that is a revelation to the followers of the band, having crafted the perfect album. Yes. I did use the word “perfect,” as this seems to be what the band have been striving to do and now, they have done just that. As a starting point for people who do not know the music of Mostly Autumn, Dressed In Voices is an excellent entry into their world. The album gets better with repeated listens and both stickers, “One To Watch” and “The Experience will last Forever” adorn the cover of this album. Be prepared to create a space on the CD shelf once you have given Dressed In Voices a listen.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Not Yours To Take, Running, First Day At School 

Tracks:
  
Disc 1:
Saturday Night
Not Yours To Take
Running
See You
Home
First Day At School
Down By The River
Skin On Skin
The House On The Hill
The Last Day
Dressed In Voices
The Library
Footsteps
Box Of Tears

Disc 2:
Silhouettes Of Stolen Ghosts
Wastelands
Teardrops of a Flame
Dance Till The Dawn Invades
Stepping Stones
Would You
One You Mean
Skin On Skin
Lady Rainbows
 
Jim “The Ancient One” Lawson-Sr. Reviewer Prog Rock Music Talk

September 26, 2014

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

World-Renowned Guitar Player Steve Hunter Releases Live CD & DVD 'Tone Poems Live'


“Steve is a wonderful musician with great chops and a big heart.” - Peter Gabriel

Los Angeles, CA - For the first time ever, Blues Rock Guitarist Steve Hunter, renowned for his work with Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, is captured on film playing a career-spanning anthology in an intimate setting with some of the worlds finest players.

Also featuring Tony Levin, Phil Aaberg and Alvino Bennett!

The DVD, titled 'Tone Poems Live', was filmed on August 24th 2013 at a recording studio in LA. Alongside Steve was Tony Levin on Bass (Peter Gabriel, King Crimson) Phil Aaberg on Keyboards (Elvin Bishop, Peter Gabriel) Alvino Bennett on Drums (Dave Mason, Robin Trower).

They rehearsed for two days and filmed on the third day as though it were in front of an audience. Fourteen tunes, each played twice, with no overdubs added later. The material was chosen from most of Steve’s solo albums plus a few covers, including ‘Solsbury Hill’ ‘What’s Going On’ and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s ‘Riviera Paradise’.

“The soulful notes that Steve Hunter plays have the perfect balance of fat warm tone, taste and personality” - Steve Vai

This is the first time Steve Hunter has ever been filmed doing his own material plus material of his own choice. Steve is now legally blind and although not out of the question, touring has become more of a challenge. The recording session was produced and recorded by Brian Brinkerhoff and Paul Lani.

Tony Levin: “Steve is one of those wonderful musicians who speaks from the heart”

Phil Aaberg: “There’s something about the subtlety, the texture and the tone quality that he gets with an individual note, to me that’s a great guitar player”

Alvino Bennett: “I’m hearing all three Kings; Albert, BB and Freddy”

Jason Becker: “I can't put into words how much your soul comes out of your fingers. Everyone should see and hear this DVD”!

Watch some of the DVD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68-xsbfVypI

To purchase Steve Hunter's 'Tone Poems Live' DVD:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stevehunter5
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00NLLZBWC/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new

To purchase Steve Hunter's 'Tone Poems Live' CD:
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/stevehunter4
http://www.amazon.com/Tone-Poems-Live-Steve-Hunter/dp/B00N83WL58/ref=sr_1_9?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1411047178&sr=1-9&keywords=steve+hunter
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/tone-poems-live/id910345911

Steve Hunter’s website: www.stevehunter.com
Press inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com

September 25, 2014

Featured Track: Order Of Thieves-Tollbooth Goddess

A new band called Order of Thieves just released a track off their upcoming album titled "Tollbooth Goddess."

Order of Thieves is Rick Habib (drums, vocals), Bob Lord (basses, organ) and Jon McCormack (guitar, vocals) who are veterans of the music world.

"Tollbooth Goddess" comes right out of the gate swinging for a homerun with hard hitting bass, drums and fat melodic chords from the electric guitar.

The vocals are spot on and will sound fimilar to you if rock, pop or progressive rock are genres that you frequently visit.

This is a track full of energy and a steady rockin' beat that does not let up. A killer choice to give listeners a taste of what is to come!