Merry Christmas Eve: It’s Time for YES, 90125

90125, released November 1983.

Well, this fits perfectly.  Earlier today, our grand master of the sound stream, Craig “Yes, I’m a Folklorist” Breaden, posted about Steve Howe.

Now, as I type this, St. Nicholas and his entourage are screaming across the world, spreading love and joy, and the angels are getting ready to announce the birth of the messiah (not quite in this order, but I’m doing my best to take a trans-temporal position here).

For whatever reason–and, frankly, I’m really not sure why–I’ve listened to Yes’s 90125 every Christmas Eve since Christmas 1983.

Here I am, 34 years later, sitting in my home office, getting last minute Christmas gifts together and, sure enough, listening to 90125.

There’s absolutely nothing about 90125 that should be Christmas-y, but it is and always will be a Christmas album to me.

Drowning in stylistic audacity. . . when we reach, we believe in eternity. . .

Thank you Jon, Chris, Trevor, Tony, Alan, and Trevor.  34 years later, still Holding On.

The Albums That Changed My Life: #9, Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning by Michael Praetorius

by Rick Krueger

By the mid-1990s, more classical music was being recorded and released worldwide than ever before.  Sony’s purchase of CBS Records had triggered a spending frenzy, both by the new Sony Classical and its competitors Polygram, EMI, RCA and Warner.  Occasional crossover chart smashes like The Three Tenors, Henryk Gorecki’s meditative Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, or the odd compilation of Gregorian chant had a glut of major and minor orchestras, choirs and ensembles chasing the next fluke hit — usually with A&R men breathing down their necks to justify the expense.

It was a mind-boggling time to be a classical collector.  Bookstores like Barnes & Noble and appliance shops like Best Buy opened in smaller and smaller towns, with deeper and deeper stocks of CDs.  Mall chains like Discount Records followed suit, and free-standing superstores like Tower Records went even deeper.  Detroit’s local chain Harmony House had a dedicated all-classical store; nearby Ann Arbor, home of the University of Michigan, had at least two or three at any given time.  Whether hitting 28th Street on my day off in Grand Rapids, or driving east to visit family, I knew there would be something great to find no matter where I went — I just didn’t know what.


Continue reading “The Albums That Changed My Life: #9, Lutheran Mass for Christmas Morning by Michael Praetorius”

Big Big Train Christmas Single

While we’ve not heard anything officially from the band, it looks as though they will be releasing a Christmas single on December 8 of this year.  Here’s the writeup that appeared on Amazon’s UK page:

A beautifully festive cover.  I presume it’s by Sarah Ewing.

Three times Progressive Music Award winning band, Big Big Train, will be releasing their first Christmas single on December 8th.

The single is called Merry Christmas and the vinyl and CD versions of the release will feature a b side called Snowfalls.

A donation to the Night Stop homelessness charity will be made for every copy sold.

Big Big Train vocalist David Longdon says: Merry Christmas is a song about rediscovering our childlike belief in the magic of Christmas, despite living in an over commercial and sometimes cynical world. After all, what wouldn’t you give to believe again, like you believed back then?

Bass player Greg Spawton: We wanted Merry Christmas to be a proper Christmas song, so it features the Big Big Train brass band, The Chapel Choir Choristers of Jesus College, Cambridge and, of course, sleigh bells.

The promotional film for Merry Christmas will premiere on 1st December and stars actor Mark Benton who says: When Big Big Train asked me to get involved with the video for Merry Christmas, I didn’t need much convincing. I’m a big fan of the band and love the way they tell stories through their beautifully crafted songs. This song is a real Christmas song with everything you need from choirs to sleigh bells. The video was great fun to shoot and hopefully really conveys the Christmas message. Let’s make it number one in the charts, the money’s going to a great cause. I’m playing triangle and kazoo on the next album but don’t tell the band because they don’t know it yet.

Merry Christmas will be released on 8th December on 7 inch snow white vinyl (with a gatefold cover), digipack CD, hi-res and standard-res download and streaming.

An Arjen Christmas

Hi Ayreonauts!

2017 is shaping up to be a very exciting year… three sold out live Ayreon Universe shows and of course a brand new Ayreon album!

It is almost Christmas, and we just wrapped up the Guess The Artist games for the new album. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Thanks so much for your amazing participation and support, I was looking forward to reading your inspiring comments every time.

I have to say I’ve a very good feeling about this album myself, everything is somehow falling into place. Please stay tuned, we’ll have more news for you in January!

Warm Christmas wishes to you all from Lori, Hoshi and me at the Electric Castle!


Copyright © 2016 Ayreon, All rights reserved.

Donate to Jerry Ewing and PROG/Merry Christmas


Dear Progarchists,

One of the only (well, probably the ONLY!) good things about PROG being shut down is seeing the amount of support being shown for our beloved friends.  On Facebook, everyone from Greg Spawton to Matt Cohen to Mike Portnoy and beyond has offered great words for Jerry and everyone at Prog.

Mike Morton of The Gift has taken this to the next level.  He’s set up a link to help donate to all of those who just lost their jobs.  Remember, they had no idea this was coming at work.  Not only were they let go this afternoon, they were denied pay for the previous three weeks as well.

Continue reading “Donate to Jerry Ewing and PROG/Merry Christmas”

IZZ, Christmas, and Charity


One of my favorite bands, IZZ, just announced two new songs–Christmas songs–with the profits going for charity to help the Philippines.  Truly worthy of our support.

IZZ is pleased to offer original arrangements of two traditional Christmas carols, featuring the inspiring vocals of Anmarie Byrnes on “In the Bleak Midwinter,” and Laura Meade on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”  In the spirit of the Season of Giving, all proceeds will be donated to assist in the relief efforts for the Philippine victims of Super Typhoon, Haiyan. All proceeds will be donated directly to Save the Children. Save The Children is targeting relief efforts at families and children directly affected by Typhoon Haiyan.  Thank you for your generous support for the Philippine people in the wake of this devastating storm.

To order, click here.