It's a Prog Rock Bonanza Today
BILLY SHERWOOD/Divided by One: Fresh off a Yes reunion tour, the late period Yes-ster settles down in the studio to kick out some prog jams left in his bones from the last go round. Something the typical Yes fan can sink their teeth into, the Yes bass man really gets on base here (that really was working too hard for a pun, wasn't it?)
BILLY SHERWOOD/Collection: Released at the same time as his new 7th album, this veritable best of album recaps the high spots from his first 6 albums, tosses in a few surprises and generally delivers a concise package of the goods for the classic prog fan. Recording it all by himself it's hard to find trip to within to get more personal than this.
DOWNES BRAIDE ASSOCIATION/Suburban Ghosts: The guy that gave Yes a second wind and the guy that proves there's life on contemporary pop charts beyond Max Martin toiling in the background get together for a round two of their previous chance meeting that led to them finding time to work together and bring 80s pop back to the front. Amid all that electronics and all those contemporary trappings, they find the sweet spot where commercial meets prog and come in with an under the radar gem. Tasty stuff from pros that just don't let anything stand in their way, this set cuts across several lines and hits the pop target in the process. An unlikely winner that just doesn't let you down.
SAM COULSON/Electric Classical: The guitar ringer that replaced Steve Howe in the current incarnation of Asia steps out with his first solo album and it shows how the paradigm has changed. Originally first getting traction on YouTube that gave way to his career trajectory, Coulson is giving new voice to some of his fave classical pieces here and he does it without the pyrotechnics you would expect from a rocker. If it wasn't for working out on several different Strats, you would almost think this is a Sharon Isbin record no matter how much of a jump that would seem to shredder fans. Coulson shows he can do it all with this personal set that reaches well beyond. Expand your horizons and check it out.
IAN DANTER/Second Time Around: Danter's greatest asset is that he's a ‘one of us'. A UK sports broadcaster that's the drummer in a long running Kiss tribute band, he's found an outlet for his writing and playing chops as a melodic hard rocker that brings a lot of cred to the table. Right in the genre's pocket, he's showing a lot more on the ball than his contemporaries or victory lapping mentors. If you like the genre, he brings all the right moves. Well done.
DIRTY DOG DISCS
MARTIN TURNER/Written in the Stars: The founding member of Wishbone Ash comes home long enough from a Wishbone Ash revival tour to set down in the studio with his new touring band and lay down contemporary guitar prog rock. Not exactly what you'd expect from under the Wishbone Ash banner but an ear opener nonetheless, Turner and crew even mix eerie surf guitar into the proceedings showing they aren't about letting anything stand in the way of getting through to your ears. A wild ride that shows there's still life left in guitar rock, particularly when handled right.
KEITH EMERSON TRIO: Yes, the long hidden sides of teen age Keith Emerson jamming in his parent's living room as a self styled jazzbo have arrived. How he got from Jule Styne to "Lucky Man" is anybodies guess but here's the young man as a jazzbo vamping on Hank Mobley. Young years aside, he was credible and could have gone on to being a starving jazzbo with just the right amount of encouragement. Fun stuff the real fan with think is really Nice. Don't be a jazz police snob and have some fun with a prog pillar in the times before that kind of rebellion crossed his mind.
IN LIKE FLYNN
CUTTING CREW/Add to Favourites: While this 80s band might have been written off as one hit wonders, leader Nick Van Eede deserved a better fate than that--especially since he proved it in the pudding. This joyful set takes it back to the 80s when pop was more than just anonymous beats, even when he's riding a down in the mouth tip. Expert stuff that is simply fun to hear, this is the kind of stuff that's missing from a lot of airwave today. Check it out.
GREG LAKE & GEOFF DOWNES/Ride the Tiger: Do you realize that if you try as hard as you can the worst thing you can say about Greg Lake is that he's an old geezer? This sort of non record collects some stuff Lake did with Downes that went on to become staples in several respective realms and were generally forgotten about. Not entirely sure is they were originally just supposed to be demos or not but the result here is first class all the way---the only knock being that the record is too short. And to think this stuff has been just sitting around for 25 years. Prog fans rejoice.
YUKA & CHRONOSHIP/3rd Planetary Chronicles: The uninitiated looking at the front cover might think this is a set of girl friend music. The only thing chicky about this set is Yuka is one of the rare women in prog---it's likes she's attending an early comic-com! A welcome softening of the edges of prog, the crew's third set is certainly the charm. Probably having their most cohesive marketing plan yet this is a fine example of next stream imagining of 70s prog. Big, bold and full of brass (not the instrumental kind), this is the kind of stuff a real prog fan can let it all go with. A nice new direction from a new singular voice.
JOHN WETTON/Live via Satellite: One of the most distinctive voices in prog and AOR rock does a little digging in his back pages and comes up with these two acoustic radio broadcasts that take a real look at his back pages. Both never on cd before, one was available only from his website and one was thought to have the tapes lost in a fire. Packaged together, originally recorded a few years apart, you get all the high spots from his days in Crimson and forward. There is some crossover between the two sets but a real fan will pay that no never mind. A champ is a champ and covering him from a few different angles is no hardship. This is the right way to look back over a few generations.
URIAH HEEP RECORDS
URIAH HEEP/Totally Driven: I think the only surprise here that this bunch can still bring the thunder after 45 years. Propelled by the band's longest lived line up with some of the original cats in tow, this double disc of re-recordings, some going back to the start of the century, has got all the crunch of the originals and is easier to get a hold of. Not everybody was hanging around the campus coffee shop 40 years ago and if you were one of the headbangers that wasn't, now looking to recapture days lost in the haze, here's the starting point you were looking for.
Volume 39/Number 28
November 28, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record
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