Steven Wilson interviewed about his 5.1 mix of Close to the Edge:
Mettler: Do you consider this one of your best 5.1 mixes to date?
Wilson: There are a lot of magical moments on there, yes. At the same time, I was absolutely terrified to do this mix. It’s almost like rewriting The Bible, isn’t it?
Mettler: Since it is such an iconic album, you must have felt some level of added pressure before you even cued up those tapes in your studio.
Wilson: I did. And the same way The Bible defines the way people live their lives, Close to the Edge has defined some people’s musical taste. For better or worse, you have to realize you could be messing with people’s minds, in a way. So that’s terrifying. But I enjoyed it, and I came away with more admiration for the record than I had to start with – which is no mean feat, because I thought it was terrific to start with.
Mettler: Close to the Edge is one of those benchmark records that I always come back to for a full-album listening experience.
Wilson: It’s a bona-fide A-level masterpiece. I think “masterpiece” is an overused word, but there are some records that deserve being called that, and this is one of them.
Yes is coming to Canada:
In March 2014, iconic and Grammy-winning rock band YES bring their concert tour to Canada, unveiling a true classic rock triple-header by performing three of their most popular albums in their entirety, all in one concert: 1971’s THE YES ALBUM, 1972’s CLOSE TO THE EDGE, and 1977’s GOING FOR THE ONE.
Music audiences across Canada will experience the albums – each representing an important milestone in YES’ career which encompasses sales of close to 50 million albums worldwide – performed from beginning to end.
Chris Epting of AOL’s Noisecreep.com said: “Yes demonstrates why they remain one of the most vaunted and respected musical forces in progressive rock among both fans and players alike… Singer Jon Davison, now a year into his role as frontman demonstrated from the outset that he is more than up to the task… At one time it was about exploration, experimentation and an elegant, seamless blending of many musical styles into one space-age storm that remains inspired, atmospheric and very hard to categorize. This was a feast for the followers; faithful renditions for the many die hard starship troopers that were no doubt reliving many scrapbook Yes memories over the years. But the show was not about mere nostalgia. This is a band that still feels strangely new, simply by doing what they do, pushing the boundaries and presenting songs that, like the wildly colorful and original Roger Dean artwork that represents them, are just beautifully designed and built to last.”
I can’t miss this!
Concert of a lifetime!
And my detailed concert review will be posted right here at Progarchy.com.
I had the great privilege of speaking with one of America’s foremost political commentators yesterday, Tom Woods, about progressive rock. It turns out that Tom is a huge progger. I shouldn’t be surprised. I think we’re both the younger brothers of Neil Peart. We really had a field day talking about CLOSE TO THE EDGE, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, THICK AS A BRICK, PASSION PLAY, IN ABSENTIA, and THE FINAL CUT.
We talked “third wave prog,” too.
Tom was especially interested in the founding and purpose of progarchy. And, for what it’s worth, Tom is as smart and insightful as he is kind. A true gentleman. Here’s a link to our show yesterday. Enjoy.
Also, in September, Tom talked with Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson. Also worth checking out.
Here’s the link to Tom’s website: http://www.schiffradio.com/f/Tom-Woods
If you have any free time today, check out the excellent symposium re: the re-release of a number of Yes albums over at the Dutch Progressive Rock Page. DPRP is always great, but this is spectacular, even for their very high standards.
Andy Tillison, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, and David Elliott’s guest reviews are especially good. Not surprisingly.
And, our own lovely progarchist, Lady Alison, also contributes rather lovingly. Lovely, lovingly. Lots of love.
Nice to wake up to this, this morning. A beautiful rendition of a Yes classic. Morse’s and Stolt’s voices especially add to the atmosphere of the song.
Transatlantic’s new album out late January, 2014 (Insideout).
It’s the power and the glory
It’s a war in paradise
It’s a cinderella story
On the tumble of the dice
—Neil Peart, “The Big Money,” 1985
It would have been impossible to avoid Power Windows in the Fall of 1985, I being a senior in a Kansas high school, even if I had wanted to.
And, I didn’t.
Every where I turned that fall—in ways far more than any other Rush song since Tom Sawyer—I heard “The Big Money.” MTV played the video repeatedly (we didn’t have MTV, but friends did), and our wonderful local radio station—KICT95 out of Wichita—had it in constant rotation. Of course, being a massively obsessed Rush fan since first encountering them in 7th grade detention, I was thrilled to see Rush get so much attention.
Sadly, though, I became overly saturated with “The Big Money.” It’s the only Rush song that has ever grown tiring for me. For years, it stood up there with “Stairway to Heaven.” I just shut both out of my mind, flipped the radio dial when either played. As Power Windows is one of my all-time favorite albums, this has been rather difficult for me to accomplish. For nearly two decades, though, I merely started the album with the second track, “Grand Designs.”
Then, on September 18, 2012, at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan, standing next to my good friend, Dom, Rush played it as the second track of the Clockwork Angels tour. Straight from Subdivisions to The Big Money to Force Ten and then, three songs from Power Windows in a row: Grand Designs; Middletown Dreams; and Territories. Half of the album! Freaking brilliant. Poor Dom. He’s only a college student, and he had to hear my sound byte reminiscences for every track. I was reliving a huge part of my high school experience.
Seeing “The Big Money” live made me realize why that song is so wonderful. Alex, Geddy, and Neil brought immense energy to it (and Force Ten, as well—the most rocking version I’d heard from Rush; Alex even played one of his best guitar solos for this song on this tour). Suddenly, whatever tiredness and reluctance I’d felt about “The Big Money” over the last several decades dissipated at the moment the opening few notes began. Add video of spinning and printing dollars as well as the Three Stooges, and I was sold. (Sorry, bad choice of words). But, really, everything was perfect—the drumming, the bass, the guitar solo. And, of course, the Austin Powers moment at the end: “One million dollars!”
Now, as of the end of 2013, I’m back in and with those autumn days of 1985. Let “The Big Money” reign. I’ve also re-discovered my love of Led Zeppelin 4.
But, the point of the post is not to praise “The Big Money” specifically, but to remember Power Windows. I’m happy to praise both! And, frankly, I’ve been offering praise of Power Windows since it came out, but only with the caveat that The Big Money is a weak point. Now, in 2013, I realize how wrong I was. The whole thing deserves praise, and one cannot separate any song from the whole. It is what it is, and it’s a thing of immense beauty.
In Contents Under Pressure (by Martin Popoff), Neil argues that he sees Power Windows and Hold Your Fire as two sides of the same coin, separate from Grace Under Press, but also from Presto. Certainly, there’s an argument to be made here. In terms of bass and drums, Power Windows and Hold Your Fire, have the most distinctly jazz feel of any Rush albums. At times, taking the rhythm section alone, the listener might be enjoying a Chick Corea album from the same time period. In production, though, Power Windows comes across as rather raw power, while Hold Your Fire feels rather lush. Whatever similarities—and they are many—the albums seem very different to the listener. Again, as Neil states, the first is an extrovert, while the second an introvert.
As a fan, though, I tend to hear consistent themes in Moving Pictures through Hold Your Fire. Moving Pictures stresses the need to be an individual against the crowd; Signals warns that being such an individual will cause pain, but is worth it; Grace Under Press deals with recovery from such persecution (sometimes in the hallway, sometimes in the concentration camp); Power Windows deals with excellence against conformity; and Hold Your Fire pleads for restraint in the now comfortable individual looking at those he’s made uncomfortable.
Granted, these themes are, for me, autobiographical, in the sense that I grew up with them, and each album plays a key role in my own understanding of the world. That is, these themes might not have been intended by Peart, and, admittedly, perhaps I’m alone in seeing them this way. As I’ve mentioned before, Neil Peart has influenced me as much as anyone in my life—ranging from Plato (I teach western civ for a living, so allow me a little pretense here) to St. Paul to my mother. Plato-Paul-Peart!!! The three Ps.
- Moving Pictures: 7th Grade
- Signals: 9th Grade
- Grace Under Pressure: 11th (Junior) Grade
- Power Windows: 12th (Senior) Grade
- Hold Your Fire: sophomore year of college.
In terms of wordplay and poetry, Neil is at his best on Power Windows.
In The Big Money, Peart considers the good and the evils of what we now refer quite commonly as “Crony Captialism.” As with much of this album, the shadow of cultural critic, socialist-turned-libertarian and anti-war novelist, John Dos Passos, hangs over The Big Money. Dos Passos also called his style “The Camera Eye.” 1936’s The Big Money concluded Dos Passos’s famous U.S.A. Trilogy. Much like Peart, Dos Passos traveled incessantly, offering a fine cultural criticism over everything he surveyed.
Grand Designs, track two, comes from the final part of the “District of Columbia,” trilogy published by Dos Passos in 1949. It examines individual genius in line with nature and against nature. In the conflict of style and substance, Peart is also referencing the grand Anglo-American poet, T.S. Eliot, and his 1925 poem, The Hollow Men.
The third track, Manhattan Project, anticipates the history-telling prog of Big Big Train, offering a rather neutral analysis of the development of the first three atomic bombs. Interestingly enough for Peart, he continues to harken back to religious language and themes, specially Catholic, referring again and again to “a world without end.”
Marathon echoes a number of other Peart songs, but it does it with extraordinary energy. A celebration of the battle of the Athenians over the Persians in the Fifth Century, BC, it also, of course, deals with the virtue of fortitude.
Territories offers a scathing criticism of propaganda, nationalisms, and nation states. In his criticisms and in the clever examples, Peart echoes the anti-statism of Mark Twain.
Taken, most likely, from the famous 1925 sociological report of Muncie, Indiana, entitled Middletown. Not surprisingly, given the state of sociology in the 1920s, the report considers the every day habits and desires of rural Americans. In his own Middletown, Peart examines the life of rural America as well as the dreams of those wishing to escape, generally unfulfilled.
Emotion Decter is one of Peart’s most Stoic songs, offering something against both the extremes of optimism and the cynicism of despair. In the end, in a common Peart theme, man must restrain his reaction toward others, recognizing that one does not need approval of another should integrity already exist in the original act. A true man judges himself.
The final and most proggish/artistic song of the album is Mystic Rhythms. Rush ends with wonder at the intense diversity of the world and of all of the universe.
Power New Wave
Finding a producer for Power Windows proved difficult at first. After replacing the long-lived Terry Brown (every album up through Signals) with Peter Henderson (Grace Under Pressure), Rush found their third producer in Peter Collins, best known for his work with Nik Kershaw and Blancmange. Making the connection to Britain even stronger, Rush recorded much of the album at Abbey Road Studios and in parts of London. They also worked with Anne Dudley of the Art of Noise, who directed the strings.
Though Power Windows rocks with full force throughout almost all of the album (the final track, Mystic Rhythms, being the very proggy standout), it has also a strange New Wave feel to it. Ok, this needs explaining. Neil and Geddy sound as though they’re playing in a rocking jazz band from the 1980s, but Alex sounds as though he could be playing for The Fixx. Alex, like Jamie West-Oram, seems to be creating immense but punctuated guitarscapes. One of the things that makes Power Windows so effective, is this strange but powerful synthesis of jazz bass and drums with New Wave guitar. In ways that Drama (some of the same production crew worked on both) attempted to be for Yes in 1980, Power Windows succeeds at bridging prog, rock, New Wave, and jazz. I think Drama is a fine album (in fact, a favorite), but I think that Power Windows is truly successful at this attempt to bridge genres. Perhaps, of course, Power Windows couldn’t have come about without Drama first—but an exploration of this would be well beyond the intent of this post.
Suffice it say, I love both.
- Martin Popoff, Contents Under Pressure (2004).
- Jerry Ewing, ed., Prog #35, Special Edition (April 2013).
- Neil Peart, Roadshow (2006).
- Power Windows liner notes (1985).
- Jim Berti and Durrell Bowman, Rush and Philosophy (2011). This book includes an essay by the brilliant economist (and philosopher), Steve Horwitz.
Yessongs, taken from the Close to the Edge tour, arrived in the world in 1973. Happy Birthday, Yessongs, my first prog love. And, what’s not to love? My two reasons why. Enjoy.
Thirty years ago this month, after being presumed dead in the wake of the ‘Drama’ album, Yes came roaring back into the music scene with ’90125′. Commercially, ’90125′ was a spectacular success, yielding their only #1 single as well as several other staples for that era of rock radio. ’90125′ also brought in scores of new Yes fans, and became a gateway to progressive rock for many who were previously unaware. However, with established Yes fans, ’90125′ proved to be a lighting rod of controversy.
For some established fans, myself included, it was a joy to have Yes back as an active band, even if their new album wasn’t a full-blown prog album. But to many established fans, this music simply wasn’t Yes.
At the center of the controversy was the new guitarist, Trevor Rabin, who was the only Yes rookie on the album. Rabin, while a fantastic talent in his own right, had significant stylistic differences with his predecessor, Steve Howe. As a co-writer of every song on the new album, his imprint on the new music was larger than that of any other member. And this music was a sharp departure from anything Yes had previously done. Thus, with the membership change and the change in musical direction, many older fans declared “this is not Yes”.
So was it Yes? Was it Yes save for the new guitarist? And what to make of this strange new music (in Yes terms, anyway)?
Yes, it was definitely Yes
A cursory examination of the membership makes it hard to declare the band that created ’90125′ anything other than Yes. Four of the five members on the album were Yes veterans. Three of them – Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, and Tony Kaye – were original members of Yes. The fourth, Alan White, had originally joined Yes more than a decade prior, and was firmly established in the band. Calling the band Cinema, as they were before Anderson’s return, would have been odd, to say the least. In fact, I’m willing to bet most of the “it’s not Yes” crowd would have said “well, it’s really just Yes” had they tried to get away with calling the band Cinema. Four established Yes veterans with Jon Anderson on vocals is, for all intents and purposes, Yes. And thus an album created by such a band is, for all intents and purposes, a Yes album. When Anderson reconnected with Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill Bruford in 1989, they may have called themselves Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe for legal reasons, but everybody knew is was really just another incarnation of Yes. Otherwise, why call the shows on your tour ‘An Evening of Yes Music Plus’?
One person who was decidedly a fan of the new band – Rabin himself – was also against calling it Yes. I have sympathy for Rabin’s position, given that he took the brunt of the criticism from the established Yes fans. Still, there was nothing else you could call this band, with four veterans in the lineup including Anderson on vocals. It simply would not have been credible to call it anything else but Yes. With a different vocalist – or with the pre-Anderson lineup, the Cinema name would have worked. Once Anderson came on board, Yes was the only name that would do. The band that did ’90125′ was not Cinema. It was Yes. Yes with a new guitarist? Sure. A Yes wherein the newest member had the most impact on his first recorded output with the band? Undoubtedly. But still Yes. There is simply no other credible band name for the lineup that recorded ’90125′.
Even with as radical a departure as this album was from its predecessors, it’s hard to think musically of ’90125′ as anything other than a Yes album. Certainly, it had a heaviness that was rarely heard on previous Yes albums. The intro to ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ telegraphed early on that this was going to be a different kind of Yes music. ‘Hold On’, ‘City of Love’, and ‘Changes’ produced more power chords than had been heard in any previous Yes album. The music also had much more of a 80′s feel to it, and Tony Kaye’s description of it as sometimes being dimensionally sparse was fitting.
Still, there were more than a few common threads with previous Yes works. And despite Anderson’s late entry into the project, there is no doubt that his creative impact on the final product was second only to Rabin’s. No other song exemplifies this more than ‘It Can Happen’, in particular when the Cinema version is compared to the final Yes version. The Cinema version of ‘It Can Happen’ appears, among other places, on disc 4 of the YesYears box set. The lyrics on that version were those of a rather sappy love song. Even keeping in mind that this is more or less a demo version, the music was relatively mundane. In contrast, it is clear that Anderson had completely rewritten the lyrics by the time the final version was recorded. The rewritten lyrics have much more of the trademark cosmic mysticism that infuses so much of Anderson’s output. Moreover, the music has much more in terms of ‘Yessy’ touches to it, beginning with the sitar intro. If a Yes fan had entered a cave in 1979 and emerged in early 1984 to hear ‘It Can Happen’ on the radio, he or she might have concluded that Yes had never broken up or had gone through the turmoil of the intervening years. The final version of ‘It Can Happen’ clearly sounds like a Yes song, and, 80′s production values notwithstanding. It would not be out of place in the earlier Yes catalog.
Various vocal arrangements on the album also tie in nicely with Yes music past. In ‘Hold On’, a multi-part harmony is sung on the verse that begins with “Talk the simple smile, such platonic eyes …”. This bears a lot of similarity to the final chorus of “Does It Really Happen” (“time is the measure, before it’s begun …”) from ‘Drama’. And of course, ‘Leave It’ is a vocal tour de force that begins with a huge five-part harmony that is unmistakably Yes (this was the second song I heard off of this album, and the one that told me “Yes is back!”). In the previously mentioned ‘It Can Happen’, Anderson and Squire alternate on lead vocals, with Squire singing lead on those portions that serve as a transition from the verses to the chorus. And finally, Anderson’s delivery on the album’s finale, ‘Hearts’, is not something that sounds unusual to the experienced Yes listener.
Other notable connections to previous Yes music includes the ebb and flow of ‘Hearts’, Squire’s bass work on ‘Our Song’ and ‘Cinema’, and the keyboard intro to ‘Changes.’ Had this lineup of musicians released these same songs under the guise of Cinema, I would have scratched my head and asked “why didn’t they just call themselves Yes?”, and I doubt I’m alone in that aspect.
What Rabin Brought to the Table
As we’ve already noted, ’90125′ represented a significant shift in direction for the band, possibly more so than any other shift in their history. And there is little doubt that much of that shift is due to the presence of Rabin. It’s one thing to bring a new member into a band. It’s quite another that the new member has such an outsized creative contribution to the finished product, and this was certainly the case on ’90125′.
I’ll start out by saying that I like Howe’s guitar work better than Rabin’s. In his book ‘Music of Yes’, Bill Martin described this difference perfectly, noting that Rabin divided his lead and rhythm guitar work in a fairly conventional manner, as opposed to Howe, who most decidedly did not. As a prog fan, it shouldn’t be surprising that I prefer the unconventional to the conventional. But that does not change the fact that Trevor Rabin is an exceptional guitarist in his own right. Nor does it change the fact that Rabin brought certain things to the table that Howe did not.
One thing Rabin brought through his guitar playing was a much harder edge (or heaviness, if you prefer) than Howe ever did. Much of ’90125′ flat out rocks, as Rabin had a knack for delivering a bone-crushing power chord at precisely the right moment. There were occasions on previous Yes releases where I wish Howe would have unleashed, one notable example being ‘Release, Release’ from the ‘Tormato’ album. Listen to Shadow Gallery’s version of this song on the tribute album ‘Tales from Yesterday’, and you’ll probably understand what I mean. Comparing live versions of ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ with Rabin to those done with Howe (sans Rabin) provide another demonstration of what I mean here.
The heaviness of Rabin’s guitar in Yes music was a good fit for its time and place. Yes was not going to survive as a band by doing the epics of the 70′s. They were going to survive by other means. And while this did pull them closer to the mainstream, they never fully jumped into it the way their prog-rock peers Genesis did in the 80′s. While Genesis largely ditched their progressive past to become to pursue top-40 hits, Yes under Rabin merely dipped their toes into the water a few times (with ‘Owner’ being the prime example on ’91025′) while otherwise producing album-oriented rock that was just outside the mainstream.
Another of Rabin’s strengths was his capability as a multi-instrumentalist. Although not known by many, Rabin did most of the keyboard work for the three albums that featured what we call the Yes-West lineup. While he was no Rick Wakeman (but who is?), I am comfortable saying he was actually a better keyboard player than Kaye. This stood out to me while listening to Rabin’s piano solo on the ‘Talk’ tour, in which he demonstrated a dexterity that Kaye never did during his time in Yes. While ’90125′ is more of a guitar-driven album to be sure, it does feature some interesting keyboard work, and the most interesting parts thereof were almost certainly played by Rabin.
However, where Rabin’s contribution to Yes really shines in comparison to Howe is in his abilities as a vocalist. Rabin was much more than a merely capable lead vocalist. With a rather smooth voice, he was indeed quite a good one. This gave Yes a previously unknown vocal versatility which was used to great affect on songs like ‘Leave It’ and ‘Changes’, where he and Anderson take turns singing lead. Rabin’s backing vocals on other songs like ‘It Can Happen’ added to the overall vocal picture in a synergistic manner. And on harmony vocals? Wow. Rabin’s voice fit with those of Anderson and Squire so perfectly it’s almost frightening. While I have no qualms saying Howe was a better guitarist, I similarly have no qualms saying that Rabin’s voice was a much better fit than Howe’s in harmonies with the voices of Anderson and Squire. From a vocal standpoint, the version of ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’ that appears on ’9012Live’ is far and away my favorite, as the harmonies of Rabin, Anderson, and Squire are very powerful. Overall, the vocal dimension brought to Yes by Rabin infused the songs, both old and new, with an energy previously unknown to them.
When I look at the above and assess Rabin as a member of Yes, I can say two things for certain. Number one, he fit into Yes in a manner much different than that of his predecessor. Number two – he did so with virtual perfection given the time of his joining the band.
The Final Verdict
I’ll close out here by discussing two points that are seemingly contradictory. The first is that ’90125′ is not a progressive rock album, the second being that ’90125′ is a very important album to the overall history of progressive rock.
I described ’90125′ earlier in this piece as a work of album-oriented rock that was just outside the mainstream. Indeed it’s hard to imagine any work which includes the creative imprint of Anderson being within the mainstream, and even the band’s big hit from this album was unconventional compared to other #1 singles. The common threads with Yes music past as noted above also keep this album out of the mainstream of rock music. In contrast, the hard rock playing of Rabin and simplification of the other instruments in the band (most notably, Squire’s bass on several songs) push ’90125′ closer to the mainstream – and further away from prog – than any previous Yes album.
Despite the direction of the music, ’90125′ nevertheless earned its place as being an important album in prog history. Due to its popularity, ’90125′ literally brought millions of new fans to Yes. Not all of these fans became progressive rockers, but many did. It is not by any means uncommon to come across a prog rock fan who first came to the genre through Yes and ’90125′. I’ve met more than one fan who first became aware of Yes through this album, and subsequently took a liking to their back catalog. The connections to the old music within ’90125′ certainly helped in this aspect. So too did their willingness to respect their past during their live shows by playing many of their 70′s classics, such as ‘Roundabout’, ‘Starship Trooper’, and the previously mentioned ‘I’ve Seen All Good People’, among others. Contrast this with Genesis, whose 80′s music bore virtually no resemblance to their 70′s output, and who almost dismissively reduced their progressive past to nothing more than a medley during their live shows.
It is undeniable that ’90125′ served as a catalyst for introducing a new generation of fans to progressive rock, even if it was not itself full-blown prog. Moreover, it gave Yes a new (and rather long) lease on life. Love it, hate it, or feel somewhere in between, ’90125′ and the Yes lineup that created it are both owed a debt of gratitude for doing their part – no small one at that – in keeping the prog flame alive. And therein lies the true, lasting impact of this controversial album.
Feel free to call me a “Glass Hammer Junkie.” Steve and Fred might not approve, but it is the truth. Ever since my great friend, Amy Sturgis, introduced me to their music, days or so before LEX REX appeared in 2002, I’ve been hooked. As you can see by the accompanying photograph, I’m pretty much a completist as well. After all, why like anything halfway? Besides, Glass Hammer isn’t a “half-way” kind of love. You either love them completely, or you don’t know them.
Some reviewers have–in an almost obligatory way–compared their music to that produced during the first decade of Yes. As Babb has joked, GH admires Jon Anderson and Yes deeply, but he’s merely acknowledging the debt in his own music, not mimicking it. And, frankly, from my perspective, GH has much more of a “Leftoverature” feel than a Yes one. Regardless, Babb and Schendel are artists, pure and simple, indebted and original all at once.
There is so much I could write about GH, a book really. But, for now, let me state that there will be more much about GH at progarchy, as well as an extensive analysis and history of the band over at Carl Olson’s brilliant, Catholic World Report. Additionally, we’ll have a long interview with GH co-founder, Steve Babb.
As many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of labels, as they tend to narrow the beauty of a thing. If you forced me to label Glass Hammer’s music, though, I’d probably claim it as “Ransom Prog,” the kind of music Elwin Ransom would’ve written while on Malacandra. For one (or three, really) of the things to love about GH is the “voice” of the band. And, I don’t mean the vocalists. There are lots of vocalists for GH, and there have been since the band’s beginning, the release of their first cd back in 1993, twenty years ago. There quite good. I’m especially fond of Susie Bogdanowicz. Phew, can she sing or what? Her rendition of Yes’s “South Side of the Sky” is simply breathtaking. The vocal equivalent would be Dawn Upshaw singing Gorecki’s Third Symphony. Yes, Bogdanowicz is THAT good.
The real voice of the band, however, can be found in three very different things. Second and third, the distinctiveness of the bass and keyboards, a profound mixture of the punctuated, the soaring, and the lush. But, first and foremost, are the lyrics. Glass Hammer contains some of the best lyrics in rock history. No exaggeration. Last year, just as 2012 was winding down, I was utterly blown away by Perilous. I even held up my “best of” because of the album. It went from not being on my radar in October to being one of the top releases of the year by early December. The music is, certainly, excellent. But, the lyrics are top notch–meaningful, imagist, and philosophical.
I think the lack of recognition of excellent lyric writing is one of the great faults in reviewing and assessing this third wave of prog (as our own Brian Watson labels it). After all, look at the lyrics of Spawton, Longdon, and Tillison, the lyrics of the Tin Spirits, of Gazpacho, or Ayreon (the plot of Ayreon is also mind boggling–but this is for another post), and others. The lyrics for GH are at this top. They are as good as the music, and the two–lyrics and music–serve one another. The lyrics are at once mythic and deeply moving. Here’s just one example from Inconsolable Secret:
This is where we draw the line
And here is where we make our stand
You’ll gather all our forces here for
Here we stand on hallowed ground
And here the foe will surely fall
We’ll send his army scattering for
This is where we draw the line
And here is where we make our stand
Now sound the trumpets, form the battle line
Hold the line
Babb’s lyrics reflect those of the Beowulf poet as well as the poet of the Battle of Maldon. Certainly, Babb is drawing upon these medieval sources, and, probably, a bit of Chesterton’ s Everlasting Man.
There’s a really nice review of the rereleased and remixed version of Glass Hammer’s masterful, Inconsolable Secret, over at http://www.progrocket.com. Sadly, I can’t figure out who the author is, or I’d give her or him explicit credit.
One of the quintessential modern-day symphonic progressive rock bands, Glass Hammer recently re-released their 2005 album The Inconsolable Secret. The new “deluxe edition” contains all the original material from the two-disc album, as well as a third disc featuring remixes of several of the songs, two with new vocal tracks from present lead singer Jon Davison, who is currently the lead singer for Yes. Glass Hammer is led by multi-instrumentalists Steve Babb and Fred Schendel.–Progrocket.
To keep reading this excellent review, click here.
For Glass Hammer’s official website, click here.
(yes, we love Billy!–Thanks to Glass Onyon for keeping Progarchy so well informed).
YES founding member and former lead vocalist Jon Anderson joins Raiding The Rock Vault At The Las Vegas Hotel Casino for five shows 9/20-24
Las Vegas, NV – Jon Anderson, founding member and former lead vocalist of the definitive progressive rock band YES, will guest star in RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT, the Ultimate Classic Rock Concert Experience, Sept. 20 – 24. The co-writer and singer of cosmic classics, including “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “Roundabout,” “Going for the One,” and “Close to the Edge,” whose time with the band spanned five decades, will sing in the show for five special performances.
“Jon Anderson is an icon,” said RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT creator, director and producer John Payne. “He is one of the biggest names in the history of progressive rock and I’m really excited for him to lend his voice to the show.”
The story of classic rock comes to life in RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT, which takes audiences on a magical musical journey, traversing the genre’s history from the ‘60s through the ‘80s. The hard-rocking show features classic anthems from The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, the Eagles, Queen, Van Halen, AC/DC, Journey, Free, Bryan Adams, Supertramp, Toto, Deep Purple, and more, truly boasting “The Greatest Set List Ever.”
The show’s all-star lineup includes Howard Leese [Guitar] (Heart), Tracii Guns [Guitar] (LA Guns, Guns n’ Roses), Robin McAuley [Lead Vocals] (MSG, Survivor), John Payne [Lead Vocals and Bass] (Asia), Paul Shortino [Lead Vocals] (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), Jay Schellen [Drums] (Badfinger, Asia), Andrew Freeman [Lead Vocals and Guitars] (Lynch Mob, The Offspring), and Michael T. Ross [Keyboards] (Lita Ford, Hardline).
Ticket prices for RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT range from $49 to $125 (plus fees) for a special Rock Star Package (which includes tickets in first five rows, t-shirt, concert program, album, meet-and-greet and VIP pass). Special discount tickets for $39 are available for locals. For an up-to-date schedule or to purchase tickets, visit the LVH box office or log onto thelvh.com, vegas.com, or ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 702-732-5755 or 1-800-222-5361.
About LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino: LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, a world-class destination, offers a unique blend of amenities and excitement with all your favorite table games, hottest slots on the market, incredible restaurants, endless entertainment, more than 200,000 square feet of meeting space and the world’s largest race and sports SuperBook®. LVH – Las Vegas Hotel & Casino provides a range of culinary adventures including exhibition-style Japanese cuisine at the world-famous Benihana, fine steaks at TJ’s Steakhouse, Pan-Asian dining at 888 Noodle Bar, authentic Japanese sushi at Teru Sushi, a traditional buffet that features tastes from around the world, and more. LVH boasts a strong entertainment schedule led by world-class headliners in the LVH Theater, as well as a variety of on-going production shows in the Shimmer Cabaret. Its proximity to the Las Vegas Convention Center and its designation as a Monorail station (connecting it to the Las Vegas Strip) makes it the ideal hotel for conventions and visitors alike. For more information or to book accommodations, call toll free at (800) 732-7117 or log on to www.thelvh.com or connect with us on our social pages www.thelvh.com/Hotel/stayconnected.
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