Thursday, 22 December 2016

Prog Magazine


So, more bad news to end the year with. Prog Magazine and it's sister titles, Classic Rock and Metal Hammer are no more! Not because they have not done well, the owners Team Rock have gone under. Prog Mag is actually doing well and in profit, but Team Rock seem to have stretched themselves by foraging into non-publishing arenas. So the magazines have suffered due to mismanagement. This happens all the time. It's the day-to-day workers who suffer. With only a few days till Christmas, many have lost their jobs. Subsequently a crowdfunding page has been set up to help those out of work and already it has raised over £60,000! That shows the level of feeling that readers of these magazines have.

In terms of Prog, I have seen it go from special issues of Classic Rock, to its own full-blown publication. It now has it's own annual awards ceremony and really has helped bring progressive music back into the mainstream and more importantly provided a platform for new bands and artists to show that prog is relevant as a musical force today. I am sure it will be back in some form soon. For now, go to the link below for the crowdfunding page and show your support by giving what you can.



Friday, 9 December 2016

Greg Lake 1947 - 2016

So, we end 2016 as it began and now only a third of my first musical love affair at the age of 12, ELP exists. Greg Lake was the voice of ELP and that first groundbreaking King Crimson album. To many he will also be the bloke who had that hit back in the 70's with that "I Believe in Father Christmas" song. Going by the coverage of his death in the general media, his stature was bigger than Keith Emerson's. He even got mentioned on the ITV main 6 o'clock news! I never thought I would hear the name King Crimson on the news.

Greg had a beautifully pure, choirboy-like voice and not only a wonderful bassist but prodigous on acoustic and electric guitar. Just listen to his classical guitar playing on "The Sage" or his wah-wah guitar on "Still You Turn Me On" which gives this ballad such an unusual edge.

It's still strange to consider that his first major vocal performance was so distorted on 21st Century Schizoid Man", belying his beautiful baritone which would become such a distinctive feature of English progressive rock. But it was clear that Lake's ambitions and abilities could not be contained within King Crimson, which had huge musical personalities like Robert Fripp and Ian McDonald to contend with. Teaming up with Keith Emerson seemed like a natural progression and with Carl Palmer on board, the trio produced an amazing body of work in the remarkably short period between 1970 and 1973. Though they carried on for a number of years after the peak that was "Brain Salad Surgery", the glory days were the early 70's. Like Emerson, Lake couldn't produce a solo career to match the chemistry that the trio realised. But I think Lake looked on those halcyon days with pride and gratitude that he was involved in making such remarkable music. I remember reading an article in the 70's monthly music magazine Music Scene back in the day, where Lake interviewed around the Get Me a Ladder tour hoped that people would still be listening to ELP music in 40 or 50 years time. Well, they are and Greg Lake was such an important part of that exciting time and will be remembered by me and countless others forever!


Thursday, 8 December 2016

Best of 2016 Volume 2

The second in my end of year, favourite tracks, mini-disc compilations. This one sees emphasis placed on what prog does best, the long form epic.

1. Anderson/Stolt - Invention of Knowledge. Surely, this was one of the most anticipated releases of the year. In reality it was good, but overall it was quite tentative and hopefully further collaborative work will see the duo let loose and really go for it!

2. Holon - Time to Go. The second from this wonderful album and another featuring Rhys Marsh on vocals.

3. The Breath - This Dance is Over. Ok, not an epic but the extraordinary vocals of Rioghnach Connolly deserve to be featured in anyone's best of.

4. Karmakanic - God the universe and everything else no one really cares about. An epic, significant song about being insignificant! Jonas Reingold's band have produced their best album and this 23 minute track is the centrepiece and doesn't waste a second!

5. Dream Theater - A New Beginning. The longest track on the bands, lengthy concept album with a great solo by John Petrucci.

6. Pineapple Thief - The Final Thing. Another longest album track, allowing the song to go through some beautifully fluid changes.