We’ve always spent most of our time together laughing. . . . After sound check, we have dinner together, and it’s just us in the dressing room for about ½ hour or forty minutes. We all catch up on stuff that’s going on day to day or in our lives or whatever. And it’s also a chance for us to have some laughs, and we always do that, every single day that we’re together. We do that. It’s been a very important part of our longevity, for sure.
–Interview with Alex Lifeson, January 26, 2015. Q107/Toronto
The full interview is just under 20 minutes, and it’s a blast. Well worth your time. For the full thing, go here.
Today is the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. May we never forget the martyred and abused.
Is now available through iTunes, Soundcloud, and Kscope.
Highlights from Steven Wilson, The Receiver, TesseracT, Nordic Giants, Gavin Harrison, No-Man, and The Pineapple Thief.
And, of course, Billy Reeves–a highlight in and of himself!
Stu Nicholson, a bardic wonder of England, has just posted the following on Facebook:
Next week Galahad will start recording tracks for the up and coming 30th anniversary album ‘When Worlds Collide’ and as such we’d like to get ‘fans’ of the band involved in the project. Thus, we’d like to hear your thoughts on the band (clean and preferably positive!) in no more than a couple of sentences and we’ll endeavour to include them within the booklet of the release. Please send any thoughts/anecdotes you may have by email to email@example.com. In the meantime we’ll look forward to reading whatever comes our way.
Birzer’s take: brilliant!
Just now (10am, Central Standard Time), Zee Baig, mastermind behind one of the best American prog bands, Fire Garden, has released a solo song. It is beautiful, haunting, and earnest. “Yeh Jahan.”
Please check it out here:
To purchase the first album from Fire Garden, SOUND OF MAJESTIC COLORS (and you should!), go here: http://firegardenmusic.bandcamp.com/album/sound-of-majestic-colors
This is a fascinating interview with Neil Peart about his new drum kit for the upcoming R40 tour. The drum makers built the entire kit from a 1,500-year old piece of Romanian wood.
Thanks to Eric Hansen and Power Windows for first sharing this.
This from the always excellent folks at Glass Onyon:
Legendary Singer/Songwriter Jon Anderson’s “Mysteries Of Music” Special Now On Soundcloud!
Asheville, NC – Legendary singer/songwriter Jon Anderson’s “Mysteries Of Music” special is now on Soundcloud! In this 40-minute special, Jon talks about his own musical development as well as his appreciation for World Music and the sounds of nature. The soundtrack includes many examples of these topics, as well as the YES masterpiece “Awaken”.
In other news….
Jon Anderson and Jean-Luc Ponty have announced the formation of a new ensemble – The AndersonPonty Band! YES’s original singer/songwriter for 35 years, Jon Anderson has had a successful solo career, which includes working with such notable music artists as Vangelis, Kitaro, and Milton Nascimento. International jazz superstar Jean-Luc Ponty is a pioneer and undisputed master of violin in the arena of jazz and rock. He is widely regarded as an innovator who has applied his unique visionary spin that has expanded the vocabulary of modern music. Together these two music icons form a musical synergy that is unparalleled! This past September the APB band gave a special live performance at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado. The show was filmed and recorded and is scheduled for release on CD/DVD this coming spring! Tour plans for the AndersonPonty Band are also currently in the works.
Check out the official AndersonPonty Band Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/andersonpontyband1
Says Jon, “I am very excited listening to the live show we did in Aspen, the mix’s and video are coming along great, so you wonderful peeps out there will have something new to listen to this spring time.”
GONZO Multimedia recently released of a new charity single “The Family Circle” by Jon Anderson and former Counting Crows bassist Matt Malley. The money received from the single will go to the following charities: Flutie Foundation – http://www.flutiefoundation.org (Jon Anderson), Sahaja Yoga Meditation – http://www.sahajayoga.org (Matt Malley) and National Autistic Society (Rob Ayling, GONZO Multimedia president).
Listen to a sample of the track here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hATdN-XMBSQ
To purchase Jon Anderson & Matt Malley’s “Family Circle”: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/famil … d911786898
For more information:
Jon Anderson’s official website: www.JonAnderson.com
A few things! I’m trying to start a “tour fund” to pay for flights etc to get Europe to play – if anyone wants to buy something from:
It’s greatly appreciated. Im actively pursuing gigs at the moment and this’ll be this year’s project alongside writing new music.
Some really good UK gigs coming up, especially looking forward to getting back to play our first gig in Manchester in three years and playing with Jon Gomm and Slayer legend Dave Lombardo:
With The Fierce And The Dead:
Your support is very much appreciated.
The Flower Kings, BACK IN THE WORLD OF ADVENTURES
1995 Foxtrot Music/Insideout Music
71 minutes; 10 tracks: Back in the World of Adventures; The Prince/Kaleidoscope; Go West Judas; Train to Nowhere; Oblivion Road; Theme for a Hero; Temple of the Snakes; My Comic Lover; The Wonder Wheel; Big Puzzle.
All lyrics and music by Roine Stolt (b. 1956).
In 1994, famed (justly so) Swedish guitarist, Roine Stolt, released a solo album under the title of the FLOWER KING. Less than a year later, he formed—around himself and the band he’d used for the FLOWER KING—the Flower Kings. It’s never quite clear who the FLOWER KING exactly is, but he seems be the embodiment of Jesus. Or, at the very least, a very peace loving Johannine hippie Jesus, and his betrayer is Judas Iscariot. In the opening song of the 1994 album, with the same name as the album, Stolt sings:
We believe in the light we believe in love, every precious little thing
We believe you can still surrender, you can serve the Flower King
And, in the grand song, “Humanizzimo,” Stolt becomes even more blatant:
Did someone pray for the long lost souls
or the tired ones who lost their goal
When the seventh angel rise his sword
Can you hear the one voice of the Lord
With the blood of Jesus on the nail
we turn the balance on a scale
In pain and fearless suffering
lies a message from the King of Kings
I don’t know if Stolt has any particular religious leanings, but he’s obviously very, very pro Jesus. At times I’ve wondered if he’s Roman Catholic, as he possesses a truly sacramental view of the world, but he might also—logically, given the Swedish background—be Lutheran. Again, I’m not sure labeling the song writer with any particular denomination totally matters. Stolt clearly loves what is humane, true, good, and beautiful, and his religious views are more poetic and mythic than “in your face.”
It would be hard to exaggerate the importance of the album to what we love as our current and overwhelming deluge of progressive rock. In 1990, prog looked pretty much dead as a genre. Sure, there were plenty of rock, pop, and so-called alternative bands—Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews, Phish, and Smashing Pumpkins were the most obvious–employing aspects of prog, but almost no one admitted to the label.
Then, 1994 hit.
Marillion’s BRAVE and Roine Stolt’s THE FLOWER KING emerged as though from the gods themselves. How could these albums not be prog? They were as prog as prog could be. Unapologetically, blatantly, and deliriously prog. As our beloved progarchist friend, Andy Tillison, would later explain, this was the beginning of third-wave prog, a wave that has lasted for at least 19, maybe 20, years.
In many ways, though, 1994 would prove a trial run, a glimpse, merely, of what was coming. It was 1995 that witnessed the full arrival and onslaught of third-wave prog. Consider the releases: THE LIGHT by Spock’s Beard; AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT by Marillion; and THE SKY MOVES SIDEWAYS by Porcupine Tree.
And, of course, there was the first official Flower Kings’ album, BACK IN THE WORLD OF ADVENTURES. The title couldn’t be more perfect, and we might as well refer to it as the opening statement of third-wave prog. Stolt, indeed, was joyously leading us back to the adventure that had seemed to have fallen so undramatically in 1980 or so.
The first Flower Kings’ album begins with the title song, an upbeat psychedelic excursion. “Welcome back. . . welcome back to the world.” One of the nicest things about Stolt’s writing is his uncanny and ingenious ability to mix taste and class with exploration. Though his writings fits so nicely in the genre of rock, its playfulness has much in common with jazz fusion. And, Stolt is eminently smart and inquisitive.
Soaring vocal harmonies (rather complex at times), jazz-like runs, and humane and gorgeous lyrics help define almost all of Stolt’s music. In recent years, he’s revealed a darker, more critical side in and with his lyrics, but this has been well earned. On Desolation Rose, the latest album by the Flower Kings, Stolt’s observations are wise and sad rather than bitter and distraught.
Interesting sound effects and atmospherics emerge unexpectedly around every corner of the first album. Whistles, trains, dings, scratches, bells, Latin rhythms, woodwinds, references to Hitchcock movies, and a general state of contentment pervade the entire work. Some songs don’t even reach the two-minute mark, while the opening and final tracks exceed 13 minutes each.
Interestingly enough, BACK TO THE WORLD OF ADVENTURES is roughly divided between instrumental numbers and vocal numbers—but the album is merely a shadow of what is and was to come. Mystery had beckoned and Stolt consented. Don’t get me wrong. BACK is an outstanding album in every way, but it really is only a beginning of a majestic journey that continues to this day. Reviewers and admirers almost always point out how “prolific” Stolt is. What an understatement. Not only would 11 more studio albums from the band follow—with Stolt leading all—but there were still solo albums, the Tangent albums, Transatlantic albums, Kaipa albums, Agents of Mercy albums, and . . . the list continues. Looking at Stolt’s complete discography is simply mind boggling. Never a moment of dullness in the Swede’s life. I envy his biographer.
Twenty years old. Happy birthday, Flower Kings. Sadly, I didn’t meet you until your fifth birthday. Still, it’s been a brilliant decade and a half ride with you.