10 Years Old: FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET, Porcupine Tree

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Ten years ago this month, Porcupine Tree released its magnum opus, FEAR OF A BLANK PLANET.  I’m sure that many of you in the progarchy community would respectfully (or otherwise) disagree with my belief that this was PT’s finest moment.  Is it really the magnum opus of the band?

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PT, FOABP, 2007

Or, maybe to put it differently, is it the finest moment of Steven Wilson, version 1.0?

Well, this might be the subject of a much longer post. . . .  But, for now, let’s stick with FEAR.

Though much heavier than the albums prior to IN ABSENTIA, FEAR has everything that a prog fan would want.  The lyrics are top notch, the album is a concept, and the playing is flawless and immaculate.

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soundstreamsunday: “Rudie Can’t Fail” by the Clash

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theclashFor the Clash there was no leaving politics off-record or offstage, and more than any of the mainstream punk or post-punk bands, except for maybe Gang of Four, they worked the seam in rock’s goldmine that pitted the disempowered and disenfranchised against authority, entitlement, and impunity.  No mistake their hit cover of Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought the Law.”  They gave punk a much-needed edge that went beyond simple nihilism, stoking it with purposeful aggression that, even as an act that in part it was, absolutely rocked.  The Clash were also a band in the way the British loved their bands, from the Beatles to the Faces — laddish, swaggering, a drama of excess unfolding — a story of their empire in microcosm.

I’m a latecomer to the Clash’s London Calling (1979), but I’ve been listening to it on and off over the last 20 years or so, and in terms of British rock I think it’s the natural next step after the Stones’ Exile on Main Street — like that record it is a glorious, sprawling double album by a band so at the top of their game that they became a cultural filter.  Rather than American blues, though, the Clash relied heavily on Jamaican music as a launchpad, investing the songs with an utterly contemporary feel that at once gave the finger to the British post-colonial Man while celebrating the multicultural consequences of empire.  Ironies abound.

For years I honestly thought that the “Rudie” in “Rudie Can’t Fail” was just the name of the song’s central character.  This is because I’m generally uneducated in Jamaican music, where the “rude boy” as anti-hero has been kicking around since the 60s.  It just goes to show what a great song this is, with it’s big undertow of a riff and the back-and-forth singing of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones.  It’s an ebullient shout-fest with horns, a big-hearted victory lap for punk.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section above.

Album Review: Big Big Train — Grimspound ★★★★★ @bigbigtrain

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Big Big Train (BBT) blew me away with the double LP of Folklore. (And yes, that is how you have to think of this band: in terms of the analog experience they engender.)

Folklore is such a toweringly great album, how do you follow it up? Perhaps the only thing you can do is assemble Folklore outtakes or B-sides, which is what Grimspound purports to offer us.

But that is not quite accurate: Folklore was the outcome of such a supernova explosion of creativity, that what BBT had was simply an overabundant creative surplus to draw from, in order to issue in a sequel.

As I heard the first track, “Brave Captain,” I was thrilled. It ranks with the most exciting of BBT’s songs. But then, on first listen, the rest of the album settled into a series of songs that sounded like nothing new, but rather more of the same thing that BBT has become good at.

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THE SOURCE Understandably Delayed in North America

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This from Mascot and Arjen–for which I say, no worries!  Eager for the final product when it arrives.

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Dear Ayreonauts,

Here’s some important news about your Ayreon-The Source pre-order.

There is a delay in processing the orders from US and Canadian addresses. A few weeks ago, Arjen visited the Mascot warehouse in the Netherlands to sign thousands and thousands of Earbooks, vinyl, CDs, and what-have-you. After that, everything had to be shipped to our new fulfillment center in Albany, NY. Usually we process mailorder from our cozy New York office, but Ayreon is such a big project, there’s simply no room for that… 🙂

The shipment took a very long time to be processed by US customs, longer than usual. This delay is beyond our control, but we apologize for it anyway.

Everything has now been processed by US customs, and is now on its way to the MerchNow fulfillment center, where all your orders will be packed and sent out. Our order system is not linked to them, so you will receive 2 shipping notifications: One from MerchNow, one from MLG.

Of course, all these delays mean that you will not receive The Source on the release day, April 28. We are very sorry about this, but the logistics around this album ran into a few more bumps than expected. We really, really, really appreciate your support for Ayreon, and we thank you for your patience while you wait for your Source-goodies to arrive.

Until MerchNow has processed your order, we are not able to give you a status update. Please don’t ask us where your order is, or if it has been shipped. We simply have to wait until MerchNow gets back to us with an update. It’s also not possible anymore to update your order, t-shirt size or address.

Again, our sincere apologies for the delay. We hope you like… No, you WILL like The Source!

Kind regards,
The friendly folks of the MLG Webstore