Modern Prog Classics

Over the past week Progzilla Radio has been broadcasting the choice of its listeners of the top 100 Modern Prog Classics – that is, songs released in the past 25 years (since 1990). The full list can be found at, but the top Ten, as voted by the listeners, were:

10: Pink Floyd – High Hopes

9: Porcupine Tree – Anaesthetize

8: Transatlantic – The Whirlwind

7: Big Big Train – Victorian Brickwork

6: Marillion – Neverland

5: The Flower Kings – The Truth Will Set You Free

4: Frost* – Black Light Machine

3: Big Big Train – The Underfall Yard

2: Frost* – Milliontown

1: Big Big Train – East Coast Racer

An Evening with Andy Tillison

For any of our readers in the UK, particularly in the north, this is something that I’ve been working on for a while now, and it’s finally coming to fruition. Ever since we hosted Jon Gomm in our church four years ago, I’ve been wanting to arrange some more gigs, and now it’s happened! I hope as many of you as possible will be able to share in this event: it promises to be a blinder! Tickets will go on sale after 13th April – £8 in advance, £10 on the door.

Andy Tillison gig

Playing the History

About a year ago an album was released of re-workings of a number prog standards called ‘Playing The History’. It was principally the work of Marco Lo Musico, an Italian organist and composer, Carlo Matteucci of Dancing Knights, an Italian Genesis tribute band, and John Hackett. In the liner notes to the CD of the project, the three artists say that ‘the core of our idea is to give a place of honour to progressive rock music on the same level as the works of the great classical composers’, and in order to achieve this they have produced fresh instrumental interpretations, without vocals or drums, of a number of progressive pieces.

The arrangements are based around flute, bass guitar and organ or piano, with the addition (on the CD) of further guitars from Giorgio Gabriel (The Watch) & Steve Hackett  and saxophone from David Jackson (VdGG), and feature works by ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator, Pink Floyd, Anthony Phillips, Rick Wakeman & Steve Hackett, as well as original material by John & Marco. The sound is lyrical and haunting in places: Marco’s arrangement of Steve Hackett’s ‘Horizons for piano and flute particularly stands out, as does the re-working of King Crimson’s ‘I Talk to the Wind’, and one of the new pieces – ‘Bilbo’s Dream’ (come on, it wouldn’t be real prog without some Tolkien references!) is, I hope, destined to become a classic. (Check out the link below) Indeed, John Hackett writes in the liner notes: “With Bilbo’s Dream Marco Lo Muscio has written a masterpiece – it deserves to be heard in concert halls throughout the world alongside the few really good pieces for solo flute such as the JS & CPE Bach A minor sonatas and Debussey’s Syrinx.”

I beleive this is a highly commendable piece of work, and one that shows the durability and timelessness of many of the classics of progressive rock. The album is available from


Believe Again – new material from Yes

A track from the forthcoming Yes album, ‘Heaven & Earth’ has appeared on Soundcloud. I think it sounds interesting, and it’s growing on me with each listen.

Find it here:

[UPDATE: It looks as though Yes management removed the song.  Apparently, it wasn’t supposed to be uploaded yet.–ed., Brad Birzer]

[UPDATE: Yes management has now created this page for providing audio excerpts: –ed., The Dr.]

[UPDATE: Excerpt of Believe Again and full lyrics now available at –ed., John Simms 6/13/14]

Black Vines – The Return of the Splendid Bastards

Since moving to South Yorkshire around 10 years ago, it’s been good to discover the great musical heritage that abounds here. Of note must be the great Joe Cocker and one of Mike’s former Mechanics, Paul Carrack. The Classic Rock Society has two great venues here too, at Maltby and Wath-upon-Dearne, and within popular music of various genres the county has given birth to Human League, Heaven 17, Def Leppard, Pulp and Arctic Monkeys among many others.

To that list we can also add The Black Vines. They may seem like an odd band to be reviewing on this site, but as Brad has mentioned them in an earlier post maybe I can get away with it.


This is the second album by this Barnsley four-piece, and the 10 tracks take up just over 41 minutes of your time, ranging from 2:40 to an almost epic 8:00 for the album closer. This is not ‘prog’ as we would understand it: this is honest, stripped-down, bluesy rock; “a hard-hitting dirty riff-based dirge, full of soul and dark matter” as the band’s own Bandcamp page proclaims. There’s nothing unnecessary or pretentious here: this is music taken down to the bare essentials and delivered with power and panache as only guitar, bass, drums and voice can.

That said, there are some quirks to this recording that give it a certain edge: for goodness’ sake, they use a mandolin on ‘Another Second Chance’! A number of the songs use audio clips of old radio shows in polished English accents as introductions. The opening song ‘Come With Us’ has the time signal (the ‘pips’) near the beginning, which is echoed at the end of the penultimate track ‘Wolves’, giving the impression that the ‘long song’, ‘In From The…Reign’, is some kind of coda, or even a summary of the whole collection. The clip that opens it speaks of ‘listening to Britain’ and urges us to ‘hear that heart beating’, and perhaps that’s what the rest of the songs have been seeking to help us to do.

If it is the heartbeat of Britain, then it is a frenetic one! A pounding beat pervades the music, driven by bass and drums that feature quite high in the mix in many places, though without completely overpowering the riffing of the guitar and the calm but powerful authority of the vocals. This album put me in mind (in places) of Black Country Communion, Wolfmother, Bad Company and The Temperance Movement, and even of some of Hendrix’s bluesier pieces.

There are some wonderful crowd-pleasing moments here, and I have no doubt that these guys will rock in the live setting (I’ve not seen them live, but can imagine that something like ‘Black Boots on Red Dirt’ would go down particularly well). If you like your rock ‘down and dirty’, and on the whole bite-sized, then this may be a band for you: this is what the band themselves call – in good Yorkshire style – “mucky Rock”.