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March 4, 2015

Prog Rock Reissue Review: Jethro Tull-War Child 40th Anniversary Set

Release Date: November 24, 2014
Label: Rhino/Chrysalis

I really enjoy covering these anniversary reissues of the Jethro Tull catalog. Although it seems like an eternity ago that these albums were first released it is still an enjoyable experience to hear the music in a different way if you are a big fan of the band.

With the 40th Anniversary of War Child (1974) I was transported back to the time I was in the Columbia Record Club and this very album was part of my membership package. It quickly became one of my favorite albums to spin on my little stereo system. Of course now I have my laptop, phone, tablet and a surround system that I can use to hear music. The different configurations of the album offered in the set make it unique. This music pops out at you with crystal clear definition like never before due to the care taken in the remastering process.

War Child was a highly underrated album and I believe it stands up well today as one of Jethro Tull’s strongest outings. With Minstrel In The Gallery coming out in May as another amazing 40th anniversary reissue I am sure I will find myself saying similar things. That is another strong release that I played often and realize today how underrated it was.

The 70s was Jehtro Tull’s strongest and most creatively fertile period. That is a matter of my own opinion however although I think many folks would agree. There is not a bad track on the album.

This is a beautiful set in a book format/case with 2 CDs and 2 DVDs. Steven Wilson continues to apply his studio wizardry to the catalog and does a fine job. The set includes original album and bonus tracks (three previously unreleased), remixed in 5.1 surround and stereo versions and perhaps the most interesting and intriguing segment of the set,  the 10 orchestral pieces (nine previously unreleased) written for the film’s soundtrack which never saw the light of day until now. Four of the tracks are remixed in 5.1 surround and stereo by Wilson and when you hear them in that context it serves as a revelation of sorts. There were big plans for the full on production of the album and stage play but it never happened; 40 years on we finally get to hear what they had in mind.

And who can forget the mega hit single “Bungle in the Jungle” b/w “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day.” And yes I had the 45 and played it a lot and many of my friends liked “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day” better. As time passed the track grew on me and now I feel that was a better track. Again my opinion and taste prevail here.

“The Third Hoorah” promo footage from a January 1974 photo session/press conference where the War Child project was announced is included. It serves as an interesting bit of the bands history and is fun to watch. Ian Anderson updates the listener with his typical witty commentary as the soundtrack.
The 80-page booklet featuring an extensive article on the preparation and recording of the album, a film script synopsis, track-by-track annotations by Anderson, plus rare and unseen photographs are all part of the complete package.

War Child was a superb rendering of progressive rock and remains so. With this remastered set in all the different formats and bonus tracks makes for quite an adventure and it most certainly will give the release new life and a boat load of fans to come onboard the Jethro Tull remaster train. All aboard folks Minstrel in the Gallery is right around the corner! It’s time to paralyze the pumpkin eaters…

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: War Child, Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day, The  Orchestral  War Child Theme


Tracks:
Disc One
01. War Child
02. Queen and Country
03. Ladies
04. Back-door Angels
05. Sea Lion
06. Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day
07. Bungle in the Jungle
08. Only Solitaire
09. The Third Hoorah
10. Two Fingers

Disc Two – The Second Act: Associated Recordings:
01. Paradise Steakhouse
02. Saturation
03. Good Godmother
04. SeaLion II
05. Quartet
06. War Child II
07. Tomorrow Was Today
08. Glory  Row
09. March, The Mad Scientist
10. Rainbow Blues
11. Pan Dance

War Child  Orchestral  Recordings:
12. The  Orchestral  War Child Theme
13. The Third  Hoorah (Orchestral Version)
14. Mime Sequence
15. Field Dance (Conway Hall Version)
16. Waltz Of The Angels”(Conway Hall Version)
17. The Beach (Part I) (Morgan Master Recording)
18. The Beach (Part II) (Morgan Master Recording)
19. Waltz Of The Angels (Morgan Demo Recording)
20. The Beach (Morgan Demo Recording)
21. Field Dance (Morgan Demo Recording)

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck-Write A Music Review Founder

March 4, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk


March 3, 2015

Prog Ensemble Lunden Reign To Release Debut Concept Album 'American Stranger'


“ 'American Stranger' is a masterpiece! Every song is great!” - Dale Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons)

Los Angeles, CA - One of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2015, the debut concept album by Lunden Reign titled 'American Stranger', featuring Lora G and Nikki Lunden, will be released in March. Recorded at Capitol Records in Hollywood, Abbey Road (Studio 2) in London and Stagg Street Studios in LA, Lora and Nikki are joined by platinum-selling producer/composer Luis Maldonado (John Waite, Into The Presence, Lisa Marie Presley), mix engineer Geoff Pearlman (Linda Perry), Morgan Young on drums, Hector Maldonado (bassist for Train) and Cellist Ana Lenchantin (Queens of the Stone Age, The Eels). Lunden Reign was recently chosen as TAXI MUSIC's 'Exclusive Artist of the Month', a great honor from a company with thousands of artists on their roster. (http://www.taximusic.com). Lunden Reign also has signed a distribution deal for 'American Stranger' with Cleopatra Records in Los Angeles. The album will be released on March 17, 2015.

Nikki elaborates about the album's concept, “ 'American Stranger' is a complete story from end to end. It was designed to be a sort of 'rock opera' about intolerance and those willing to stand up to it as well as those it's destroying. The central character is 'Mary' (song #7), a young woman who feels isolated, misunderstood and so disconnected from the world 'I want so hard to be set free, from everyone that judges me. I want to live a live someday, a world away from yesterday.' The song 'Mary' is prefaced by '28IF', 'Hear Me' and 'American Stranger'. In the end she overcomes in 'Hush and Whispers': 'Who cares what I am, it's all insane stop trying to change my life.'”

LORA G (Espinoza-Lunden) is a Composer/Guitarist from Mission Viejo, CA. Lora has a love of composing lyrics with a solid message and music in open-string alternative style. She is also a parent and an activist for the Mexican-American and LGBT communities. NIKKI LUNDEN is a Singer/Songwriter & Multi-instrumentalist who is a 18 year veteran of live performance (solo and ensemble). The Iowa native originally from Franklin, Iowa (pop.143) moved to LA in the fall of 2012 to attend Musician's Institute in Hollywood. Lora G and Nikki Lunden are the core members of Lunden Reign. Currently their lineup includes Matthew Denis - bass, Steve Ornest - guitar and Morgan Young – drums.

Lunden Reign is best described as Soul Stimulating Big Beat Progressive Rock. Their music fuses progressive sounds, ethereal vibes and an array of genres to deliver booming, pulsing, & driving rock. Lunden Reign’s synergistic performances are matched by the relentless desire to unleash layers of haunting melodies through uplifting riffs blended with a harder edge and a progressive big beat. Their music pushes the envelope, exploring every dimension.

Already some of rock’s legends have joined Lunden Reign on stage including PRESCOTT NILES of THE KNACK and DALE BOZZIO of MISSING PERSONS. Their forthcoming album 'American Stranger' (completed and now in pressing) was mastered by Grammy winning Evren Goknar at Capitol Records, Hollywood., with art design and cover design by one of rock’s greatest album designers: IOANNIS. Lunden Reign proudly endorses & records with HIWATT AMPS, UK.

Lora explains how the band recently connected with legendary Dale Bozzio of 80's hit-makers Missing Persons, “Beyond being a legendary singer and composer, Dale is amazing person and a wonderful human being. We met Dale after the great bassist from The Knack, Prescott Niles, performed with us at The House of Blues, Hollywood. Prescott is also the bassist for Dale Bozzio's Missing Persons Band. Dale clicked with us immediately and she guest performed with Lunden Reign at both the LA and Long Beach Pride Festivals.”

Check out the video of Lunden Reign playing Missing Persons hit song “Walking in LA” with Dale Bozzio singing at LA Pride Festival on YouTube:
http://youtu.be/IaK8DpZ85g8?list=PLxoCLLtqY2a5I8zLnhd3IS1qoimyQCc9i

Prescott Niles (bassist - The Knack, Missing Persons): “Every so many years an album comes out that redefines modern music. 'AMERICAN STRANGER' is that next album. Grab some headphones, close your eyes and let your senses explore the music & lyrics of Lunden Reign’s sound. Today the cycle goes full with a long-awaited return to music that touches the soul and embraces the test of time.”

Martha Davis (lead singer of The Motels): “The song 'Hear Me' is wonderful & heartfelt.”

Terri Nunn (lead singer of Berlin): “Lora G is a great songwriter and musician.”

Dale Bozzio (Frank Zappa, Missing Persons): “ 'American Stranger' is a masterpiece! Every song is great!”

Phil Soussan (Bassist - Ozzy, Billy Idol, Grammy BOD): “What an amazing album, incredible songwriting, lyrics and groove!”

In closing, Lunden Reign is more than just music; their lyrics carry important messages about tolerance, love, self-reflection, dignity and inner- strength. 'American Stranger' stands up to intolerance, telling stories about becoming a victim by simply trying to claim ones own identity. It's feeling like a stranger in your own skin and finding the courage to be exactly who you are. There is a re-occurring character, Mary, who represents all of these things. This is her story - how does it relate to yours?”

To purchase Lunden Reign's 'American Stranger' CD: http://lundenreign.com/store/
Distributed through Cleopatra Records: www.CleopatraRecords.com

For more information:
http://lundenreign.com/
https://twitter.com/LundenReign/
https://youtube.com/LundenReign/
https://facebook.com/LundenReign/
https://instagram.com/lundenReign/

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

February 26, 2015

Progressive Rock Review: Aisles-4:45AM

Release Date: October 29, 2014
Label: Presagio Records

Who is Aisles? Aisles is one of the greatest, most creative and talented bands that you have probably never heard of.  Hailing from Chile, the band consists of Sebastián Vergara (Vocals), Rodrigo Sepúlveda (Guitars), Germán Vergara (Guitars), Juan Pablo Gaete (Keyboards), Daniel Baird-Kerr (Bass), and Felipe Candia (Drums).  A progressive rock band with art rock, world, fusion, and other influences, Aisles have created themselves a unique sound that is not soon forgotten.  4:45 AM is their third album and it is nothing short of a masterwork of art.  It is the reason people fall in love with music in the first place.

 “4:45 AM” is a stunning opener that will have you falling in love with this band.  From the rhythmic and soulful music to the emotional and distinct vocals that jump out at you, it is hard not to stand up and take notice of the talent on display.  The music is fresh, popping, and invigorating, or everything that progressive world music should be. “Gallarda Yarura” might as well be the soundtrack to the fantastical dreams of an imaginative child. The music is light and hopeful, making for a very pleasant sounding instrumental.

Do not be fooled by the seemingly upbeat melody, because “Shallow and Daft” can be seen as a tale of what happens when an artist gives up his artistic integrity, as well as a biting commentary on the state of modern popular music.  It is dark, it is lyrical, and it is spot on.  “Back My Strength” is a musical tour de force.  The music rises and falls with the naturalness of an ocean wave, and is grand and majestic as a snow-capped mountain.

A low-key approach is used with great effect on “The Sacrifice.”  The acoustic guitar lingers in the background as the passion and pain in the vocals steal the show.  It is a somber song with the dark beauty of a romantic painting.  “The Ship” is a short interlude that leads into the spacey and hypnotic instrumental “Intermission.”  “Sorrow” is simply breathtaking.  The vocal performances are top notch, as the male and female vocals complement each other so well, in addition to be sounding so beautiful and powerful on their own.  The Latin/Jazz influences present in the song make it stand out that much more. 

With its dark and ominous sounding opening, “Hero” has me thinking a bit of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.  It becomes a bit brighter as the tempo picks up and the keyboards kick in, while the guitar and drums razzle and dazzle. Another change in tempo slows it back down and the atmosphere becomes more mystical.  It is definitely a stand-out song and the one that comes to mind when I think of this album.  The finale, “Melancholia”, is pure genius.  It is a work of art that will take you on an emotional journey that is very reflective.  As the song winds down, there is a calm of looking out into an ocean after a storm has passed and it is magnificent.

If you are in any way a fan of progressive rock, than I cannot recommend Aisles’ 4:45 AM to you enough.  If there is a band to take a risk on, then Aisles is that band to do so, because this album is everything that this type of music should strive to be.  It is fresh, challenging, inspired, touching, and so much more.  A complete experience from start to finish, 4:45 AM is an astounding piece of work for the ages. 

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: 4:45 AM, Sorrow, Hero, Melancholia
  
Tracks: 
01.4:45 AM
02.Gallarda Yarura
03.Shallow and Daft
04.Back My Strength
05.The Sacrifice
06.The Ship
07.Intermission
08.Sorrow
09.Hero
10.Melancholia

Brian McKinnon - Write A Music Review Sr. Staff

February 26, 2015

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

February 22, 2015

Classic Rock Legends Wishbone Ash To Undertake Pilgrimage North America Tour!


Tour to span West Coast, South in April/May 2015

Wishbone Ash, one of the most influential guitar bands in the history of rock, returns to these shores in April 2015 for the first leg of their Pilgrimage North America Tour. Following spring and fall tours in 2014 that featured the group's best-selling “Live Dates” album, this year Wishbone Ash will present classics spanning their 46-year career and showcase selections from their latest release, “Blue Horizon.”

After logging more than 20,000 miles touring North America last year, the group will begin their 2015 spring tour in Vancouver, British Columbia, winding down the West Coast of the US and then heading across the South – hitting cities that include Portland, Seattle, Oakland, San Juan Capistrano, Ramona, Phoenix, Austin and Dallas. Visit www.wishboneash.com/tourdates for the complete schedule.

“The 'Live Dates Tour' went just great,” says bandleader and founding member Andy Powell. “To play Texas and California out West, and Mississippi in the Deep South, for example, was really nice. You realize just how popular guitar-based rock is in these places. We aim to repeat the experience and build on it this year.”

The title of the 2015 tour is a nod to the Wishbone Ash's beloved “Pilgrimage” album, but it's also a fitting way to describe what has become an annual journey filled with familiar faces and places. “Each year when we tour countries on our world circuit, these visits feel like pilgrimages to all our old haunts,” says Powell. “We visit venues we've performed in multiple times over the years. We know the staff there, we often stay in the same hotels, visit the same restaurants, we see the same folks thousands of miles apart. The fans, of course, are the major component. We catch up on their stories and their lives.”

In 2014, Wishbone Ash released “Blue Horizon” (Solid Rockhouse Records) to international acclaim. Praised for its stylistic variety and masterful performances, the album features guest artist, Ireland's Pat McManus, on fiddle for two tracks. “Blue Horizon” also includes two songs written by Aynsley Powell (Andy Powell's son) and one by former Wishbone Ash guitarist Roger Filgate.

According to Powell, the album's diversity reflects the culmination of several factors. “The band basically lives together year-round, so we have a very strong level of communication that translates in our performances and recordings,” he says. “We've come to an era where the industry has to pigeonhole a band as Classic Rock, Prog Rock, Heritage Rock and so on. The truth is that we have always kept our options open and always relied on the musicianship of the players to lead the way. It's fun to be stylistically diverse and this has, in its way, contributed to our longevity.”

While they're making pilgrimages to various parts of the globe, Wishbone Ash will undertake some live recording projects, as well: one a vinyl-only limited release direct from Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, London; another to be recorded over a three-day residency at Le Triton in Paris for a DVD release.

Powell also plans to publish his autobiography this fall. “It's quite an undertaking to put 45 years of being a touring musician in this one band into book form,” he says.

Formed in 1969, Wishbone Ash has to its credit 24 original studio recordings, 10 live albums and four live DVDs along with a DVD rockumentary (“This is Wishbone Ash”). The band is led by founding member Andy Powell on guitar and vocals, trading licks with Finland’s guitar wizard Muddy Manninen. Bassist Bob Skeat, an 18-year veteran of the band and in-demand studio musician, sets the pace with Joe Crabtree, one of the best of Britain’s new breed of drummers whose performance credits include Pendragon and David Cross of King Crimson.

Lynyrd Skynyrd cites Wishbone Ash as a primary influence on their style along with Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden and, more recently, heavyweights like Opeth. All have been transformed by the original, legendary twin-guitar approach of Wishbone Ash. There is no other rock band in history that has done more with the twin guitar concept than The Ash.

Longtime fans and new converts will find that Wishbone Ash offers an undeniable concert experience.

Tour dates and more information can be found at www.wishboneash.com .
To download electronic press kit: www.wishboneash.com/epk

Press Inquiries: Glass Onyon PR, PH: 828-350-8158, glassonyonpr@gmail.com
Interview requests: Kate Goldsmith, kate_goldsmith@wishboneash.com
North American Booking: Steve Ozark, Ozark Talent (785) 760-3143, OzarkTalent@gmail.com

February 21, 2015

Progressive Rock Review: Malcom Smith-We Were Here

Release Date: 25th Nov 2014 
Label: Trope Audio

This review deals with one of the artists I have been unaware of thus far, one Malcolm Smith, who I discovered is the guitarist and founder of the American symphonic prog band, Metaphor. This is his first solo album produced while Metaphor were undergoing a hiatus and is entitled We Were Here.

As with many solo albums, there are guest musicians aplenty helping out on tracks. The musicians involved in We Were Here are, Malcolm Smith (electric/acoustic guitars), Mattias Olsson (drums), Marc Spooner (keyboards), Loren Gustafson (bass), John Mabry (vocals) with Rich Longacre and Craig Launer guesting guitarists on 2 tracks. Marc and John are members of Metaphor, and Mattias is associated with Anglagard, White Willow and NecroMonkey.

We Were Here is a 6 track album, lasting around 48 minutes, with only one track featuring “real” vocals. The longest track offered up is track 5, “Sykiatry” made up of 9 parts and running on for 13:31 minutes. At the other end of the scale, the shortest song, “Peyronie’s Angle” still stretches out to just under 6 minutes (5:58).

The opening track to We Were Here is the shortest on offer, “Peronie’s Angle” (5:58) and has a gentle keyboard opening before an excellent guitar passage fires up, and what sounds very much like a trumpet, but this is not an instrument that is listed, so my thought is that it is keyboard generated. The keyboards get free rein to produce a superb passage with lots of little hooks and riffs that constantly engage the listener. This track motors along and is an excellent vehicle for the skills of Marc Spooner on keyboards. Excellent guitar work takes over around the 4:50 minute mark and takes the track out with a burst of (keyboard generated) “strings.”

“Cavity Research” (6:18) has a very jazzy influenced start, again highlighting the keyboards of Marc. This track builds up layers of sound over some excellent keyboard motifs which propel the track along. There are hints at times of the early jazz rock sound of Chicago (when they were still known as Chicago Transit Authority) floating in and out of the track. The over-riding memory of this track is the stunning contribution of the keyboards.

Track 3, “Monkey Signature” (8:56) leads with a blast from the band and into a keyboard motif, swirling synths and then layered keyboards. Just around 1 minute, the guitar enters and the song just takes off from that point. There is some excellent interplay between the guitar and keyboards, and again the song is littered with those little hooks and catchy riffs. Just prior to the 4 minute mark, there is a stunning sequence with a “flute” and guitar before the electric guitar and keyboards take over the reins of the musical journey. The constant shifting of emphasis between keyboards and guitar together with the subtle and not so subtle, time changes keep the listeners’ ears firmly at attention. There are more of the “trumpet/saxophone” keyboards as the track makes its way out. This is a stunning track on an album that has up to this point, set the bar very high.

“Still-Life” (6:20) is the only track that contains a “proper” vocal and it is provided by John Mabry. Starting with a flurry, the track quickly settles down to an acoustic strum with a burbling synth in the background. The crystal clear vocals by John simply glide over the sparse background. This is a generally slower tempo track than previously shown over the tracks. Around 4 minutes there is a burst of acoustic guitar before a brief keyboard passage, but I feel that this track is all about the vocals. The keyboards do take over around the 5:30 minute point, but that is simply to escort the track out.

The long track, “Sykiatry” (13:40) is built up of nine interconnecting parts. This track has an almost carnival style start with multiple keyboards setting out the themes and at times sounding amazingly like a vibraphone. Some vocalizations appear before the time signature changes and the keyboards are off and running. More of the characteristic keyboards and guitar interplay sweeps through the track and the “flute” returns. The main parts merge together very well and the skill of the musicians is a joy to hear. This is yet another track which just “hits the spot.”

The final track, “Les Canards du Guerre” (6:25) has a very jazzy vibraphone intro with excellent drumming heralding the entry of the keyboards and guitar, although the keyboards again add layer after layer to the sound. I did say that “Still-Life” was the only non-instrumental track, but there is a chunk of spoken word in this track. The track segues into a gentle undulating acoustic guitar and keyboards passage then the electric guitar appears over the top and a time change in the track moves it towards its finale. The final sound that is heard as this track fades is the sound of ducks.

This is simply a stunning album which deserves to be given many accolades, but in reality may not, as it may simply get passed by. I had not been aware of Malcolm Smith, nor his band, Metaphor, and this is an oversight that must be righted. My advice for the album, We Were Here, is very simple, and that is, go out and buy it, at once! Listen to the album many times and appreciate what a tremendous example of progressive rock it is.

5/5 Stars

Key Tracks: Peyronie’s Angle, Monkey Signature, Sykiatry

Tracks: 
Peyronie’s Angle
Cavity Research
Monkey Signature
Still-Life
Sykiatry
Les Canards du Guerre


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

February 21, 2015


Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk