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ALAN SIMON/Big Bang: A French cat that never met any bombast he didn't like gets commissioned to make the soundtrack for a French theme park about space. So, he went out and did it right. NASA pitched in. 120 musos stepped up with a lot of fame in their ranks and now we can tell Tomita and his synths that he's no longer needed. Strap in and go galactic on this self contained work that makes it sound like you are as spaced out as you think you are---in space. If you still have a sense of wonder, you'll think this is as cool as I do. Well done throughout.

CROSS & JACKSON/Another Day: Sorry, but I can just see these two prog vets sitting around re-enacting the ‘what do you want to do' scene from "Marty". The ex Crimson and ex Van Der Graafer finally decided to make some new prog rock--but do it old school. Often sounding like it might have been filtered though a Zappa generator with some Miles elephant funk thrown in for good measure, perhaps this foretells a McDonald & Giles reunion. When classic prog is what you know best, why go for anything else? They know what the real fans want.

MARTIN TURNER/Beauty of Chaos-Live at the Citadel: Here's a real you-are-there experience. This brick containing 2 cds as well as a DVD contains the entire performance of that evening. With Wishbone Ash classics mixing with solo career highlights, this is some serious hard rocking shredderooney. The might be no way to hide Turner's geezer status in pics, but when the picks are flying, he's as back in the groove as you could want. It's loaded with the kind of rocking that keeps you going long after the naysayers mumble you've passed your shelf date. A reminder of how things were that you wish were still that way.

FERNANDO PERDOMO/Out to Sea: In the same way that you have to give props to jazzbos that were born after cats like Miles, Tatum or Coltrane died but understand and respect tradition, you have to give this prog guitarist the same kind of props. Coming of age in the age of grunge, Perdomo finds his way back to the 70s when shredding was shredding and FM played music that drilled right to the center of your skull. With some real prog chops under his belt, his first all instrumental album is a blazing blisterer of hot stuff. Never playing a lick just for the sake of playing it, this cat is totally bad to the bone. Hot stuff throughout.

WISHBONE ASH/Raw to the Bone: Originally recorded well into their disillusionment years, this deluxe 2 cd reissue of a late 80s Ash date gets augmented with new mastering, unreleased bonus tracks and some BBC dates. Sounding very much like the arena rockers they once were even with changing up their sound and fury, it's still fist pumping rock that hits hard and is a tonic for the true believers. This ain't nostalgia no matter how old it is.

WISHBONE ASH/Twin Barrels Burning: A double cd deluxe reissue of an 80s date loaded with the spirit of keeping on keeping on. They had been to the top of the mountain, made some bad career choices and were once again rocking like upstarts with something to prove. This should have been dripping off 80s AOR radio, but alas. Loaded with unreleased goodies for real fans, this is hard rocking journeyman rock from the time when groups that consistently sold 100,000 were respected. A solid dose of hard rocking hard stuff, sounds like this once ruled American suburbs as raging hormones were in a state of looking for release. It sounds like timeless rite of passage music to me.

PETER BANKS/Self-Contained Trilogy: In which we find the super shredder's 90's output remastered and all collected under one roof. Certainly one that changed with the tides (not necessisarily the times), he pursues his love of instrumental rock showing just how hot you can burn without upping the flames. A fully loaded collection of guitar rock by one who helped define it's contemporary vocabulary, hard core shredders may find this too mellow but guitar rock fans have a real treasure chest on their hands here. Check it out.

PETER BANKS/Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky...The Anthology: A look at Banks' career, mostly pulled from the 90s anthology of all that decade's works, there are some ringers here that should ring your bell as well. With a few sides from "Two Sides" that finds him in stellar company and a few unreleased goodies, prog guitar rock fans have a wonderful buffet here from a talented cat that deserved more than lapsing into journeyman status. Often timeless playing is in these grooves and non-devoted followers of fashion can air guitar this to their hearts content.

DARRYL WAY/Vivaldi's Four Seasons in Rock: Just like jazzbos were screwing around with classical on the way to working their way into suburban rec rooms 60 years ago, rockers were pulling the same prank for the same reason 50 years ago. Way was the first to rock up Vivaldi and here we find him expanding the concept from just one track to an entire work. This is the first time Vivaldi has had a full on rocked up treatment like this and you have to wonder how Way beat Bond to that punch. Whatever. It might be loud and electric but it doesn't sound like it's that radical. The young ‘uns might get into this when dad is spending some quality time with his second family and wants to relive his own youth through new ears. This set proves Way knows the way.

TED & MAJELLA/Better Together: However you felt about Ritchie Blackmore getting all Renaissance Faire after marrying his hot, young wife will probably color how you feel about Wishbone Ash's original shredder going all new age after marrying his hot, young wife. To be fair, Turner was already pissed off when he left Ash in 1974 and this positive, non drippy set of sentiments was powered by him being pissed off with the way things are now. It's the underlying rock chops that reach and make this more than a vanity project. Yes, the spirit of "Imagine' does flow through this and it might sound new age but it's far from your typical new age set. Think of it as sophisticated singer/songwriter material. They hit the target more than not and leave some dandy stuff in their wake.

Volume 41/Number 189
May 8, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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