Some Neglected Music of 2017, Part I

By neglected, I don’t mean by the world.  I mean, by me.

In a few other posts, I have had the privilege of listing my top albums, in the order I loved them.  My 2017 list goes, from no. 10 to no. 1: Anathema, The Optimist; Bjorn Riis, Forever Comes to an End; My Tricksy Spirit; Ayreon, The Source; The Tangent, The Slow Rust of Forgotten Machinery; Cosmograf, Hay-Man Dreams; Glass Hammer, Untold Tales; Newspaperflyhunting, Wastelands; Dave Kerzner, Static; and Big Big Train, everything released in 2017!

There are, however, a number of great releases from the year that I simply did not have time to grasp fully or immerse myself in the way I think necessary to review properly.  None of this, however, should suggest–to my mind, at least–even a kind of lesser quality or second-hand citizenship in the world of Prog, or in the republican anarchy that is progarchy.

For what it’s worth, I thought each of the following extraordinary as well, and, I hope, when Kronos allows, time to embrace each in the way it deserves.

***

lifesigns cardingtonLifesigns, Cardington.  I think John Young is a treasure of a musician and composer, and I’m honored to travel this world at the same time as he.  Intelligence radiates from everything the man does, and, even better, it’s an intelligence utterly in the service of good things.  The first Lifesigns was a shock of joy to me.  This one as well, though I’ve just not had the time to dive into it.

When I listen to Lifesigns, I actually think of Young and the band as the anti-Radiohead guys.  Imagine the darkness of Radiohead and then do exactly the opposite, in terms of melody and lyrics.  And, you might arrive at Lifesigns. My favorite track on this new release is nine-plus minute “Different.”

Continue reading “Some Neglected Music of 2017, Part I”

Galahad’s Forthcoming

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From the master, himself–

…And here is the front cover for our forthcoming new ‘Quiet Storms’ album. 🙂

A wonderful photo of Horton Tower in the snow taken by renowned photographer Roger Holman in 1960s. Already familiar to many of my dear friends, we just thought it would make a great album cover and is totally in keeping with the atmosphere and vibe of this new album.
Inner artwork, courtesy of the rather lovely Paul Tippett, and other details will be revealed soon.

–Stu Nicholson

Progarchy Radio, Episode 14

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Part I, 2010.

Our first show since Halloween!  Lots of great music on this one.  Four thirty-minute sets with only minimal talking on my part.  A restrained DJ am I!  Promise.

Set I

  • The Fierce and the Dead, Parts I-III

Continue reading “Progarchy Radio, Episode 14”

Orchestral Galahad

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Re-released today: Galahad’s orchestral version.

Here’s hoping I’m only one of millions who download this rather–not surprisingly–excellent version of “Empires Never Last,” recorded with a full orchestra.  Very nice.  Very nice, indeed.  These guys never cease to surprise and delight me.

https://galahad1.bandcamp.com/track/empires-never-last-orchestral-version

Progarchy Radio Episode 2

Getting far more comfortable with this, though I still have a relatively steep learning curve.  A huge thanks to my somewhat co-host, Veronica Rose Birzer (age 4).

Playlist: Neal Morse Band, Lifesigns, Love Spit Love, Mew

Galahad [transition between these two songs could’ve been smoother!], Frost*, Matt Stevens

Steve Hackett (x2), Kevin McCormick

Enjoy!

 

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Worlds Have Collided: Galahad at age 30

Galahad is a band that knows where it’s been, where it is, and where it’s going.  I love this.  But, then, I love Galahad.  And, so should you.

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Progged to 11.

For the latest release, When Worlds Collide, Galahad has re-recorded a number of its older tracks and meshed them with the more recent ones in a wonderful and engaging two-volume set.  In existence now for thirty-one years and with most of its original members still members (amazing; can you imagine saying the same thing about, say, Yes?), Galahad is neither shy nor cocky, just happily content.  They never wanted to be rock stars, puppets of some record label, or the playthings of some marketing firm.

They just want to be Galahad.  And they do it with such grace.  That grace finds its way into their lyrics, their music, and their very presentation.  If you forced me to make a comparison of the band, I would suggest imagining Peter Gabriel and Tony Levin playing with Ultravox and then progging it up to 11.

Here are the tracks and the dates (original and re-recorded):

CD1

  1. Lady Messiah (1985/2015)
  2. The Chase (1988/2015)
  3. City of Freedom (1986/2015)
  4. Chamber of Horrors (1990/2015)
  5. Dreaming From the Inside (1985/2015)
  6. Room 801 (1990/2015)
  7. Ocean Blue (1996/2015)
  8. Don’t Lose Control (1990/2015)
  9. Exorcising Demons (1992/2015)
  10. Karma For One (1997/2015)

CD2

  1. Empires Never Last (2006/2014)
  2. Sleepers (1992/2012)
  3. Richelieu’s Prayer (1990/2012)
  4. Painted Lady (1985/2014)
  5. Bug Eye (1997/2014)
  6. Singularity (2012)
  7. Guardian Angel (2012)
  8. Seize the Day (Single mix) (2012)
  9. This Life Could Be My Last (2006/2014)

As is obvious from the above track list and the accompanying dates of original recording and the re-recording, the band has been re-creating its sound for years now.  All to the good.  Even the older tracks—regarded as “neo-prog” by the press at their release feel much more dynamic and more “Galahadian.”  Just as a test, I played several of these tracks—all from different releases—in succession to get a feel for just how different When Worlds Collide.  The audio quality is simply amazing.  It always has been, but with all of its confidence and just pride in being in existence for over three decades, Nicholson and Co. give us everything they have with When Worlds Collide.

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No, I won’t be coy.  I think the world of Stu, and this is one of my most-prized possessions.

Sadly, I didn’t encounter the music of Galahad until Lady Alison introduced the band to me in 2012.  Since then, I’ve been hooked.  I own the CDs, I own the authorized band biography, and I consider the lead singer, Stu, a friend and ally.

Whether you’ve loved the band for thirty-one years or if you’re reading about them for the very first time right here, right now, do yourself a huge favor: purchase When Worlds Collide.  It’s a delight for the ear, the mind, and the soul.

Galahad’s SOLIDARITY: When Live is Even Better than Studio

Galahad, SOLIDARITY: LIVE IN KONIN (2015).  Tracks: Salvation I and II; Guardian Angel; Empires Never Last; Secret Kingdoms and Secret Worlds; Singularity; Beyond the Barbed Wire; This Life Could Be My Last; Sleepers; Guardian Angel (reprise); Painted Lady; Seize the Day.

Birzer rating: blissfully stunned.

Out toady: Galahad's latest live album, SOLIDARITY.
Out today: Galahad’s latest live album, SOLIDARITY.

Sheesh.  What to say?  What to write?  Today is the release date of Galahad’s latest live album, SOLIDARITY: LIVE IN KONIN.  As with all live albums, of course, these are songs that had been perfected in the studio and on the mixing boards.  Our ears become rather use to these things of perfection.  And, certainly, few modern prog bands sound as good as Galahad when it comes to the studio releases.  It’s clear that the band comes together in amazing ways, all songs perfectly nurtured and engineered.

I wasn’t, however, quite sure how Galahad’s more recent music would translate live, though I know the band possesses a rather strong reputation as a live act.  As I understand it from my British and European friends, this comes from 1) the tightness of the band; and 2) the rather natural showmanship of Stu Nicholson.

Well, let me just state as bluntly as possible: SOLIDARITY is a gorgeous album.  Not only does the music sound every bit as good as on the studio albums, but Galahad clearly has some fun playing around with live sounds.  Additionally, the band has crafted a concert that has has much art to it as any placement of the tracks on a studio album.  That is, SOLIDARITY sounds like something beautifully crafted as an album, in and of itself.  It’s akin to a brand new studio release.  The positioning of tracks allows the band to present a long and relatively coherent story.  The placement of “Guardian Angel” toward the beginning and the end of the concert But, most of all, it’s Nicholson’s voice that stands out on SOLIDARITY.  If anything, he sounds even better live than he does in the studio!  And, this is about the highest praise I could give any vocalist.

The prog rock world is not only different from what it was a decade ago, but it’s also significantly different from just two years ago.  Galahad has made its own style of music since 1985, and the band has continued to hone that sound in vastly creative ways.

Long live, Galahad!

Grammys Shammies. A Meandering Editorial.

God bless that Stu guy!
God bless that Stu guy!

Having had a chance to listen to a stream (a review copy from the fine folks B/W/R PR) of the new Steven Wilson, I’m very glad to write that it’s profound and good and true and wonderful.  I wasn’t so taken with the last album (the RAVEN one), though I thought the first two solo albums quite astounding.  And, I pulled out my Chicago DVD show of Porcupine Tree.  Sheesh, when Wilson wants to be, he’s incredible.  The last solo album I thought a poor mimicry of the work of that ever-wonderful genius, Andy Tillison.

This new album pays homage to late 1970s Rush, but it does so in a way that honors Rush.  All to the good.

As the Grammy’s are happening as I write this, I remember how utterly disappointed I was with Wilson a few years ago when he tweeted how sad he was not to have won a Grammy.  I responded in my own tweet: “Dear Lord, you are so much better than that!”  Or something akin to this.

I meant it.

A Grammy is an albatrossian weight, not a mark or a sign of anything other than bland, tapioca conformity on a corporate scale.

Not watching the Grammy’s, I can happily report that I’m listening to the brand new, deluxe version of Galahad’s EMPIRES NEVER LAST.  Let me offer another “sheesh.”  What a great album, made even better through remixing and editing.  Glorious.

Yesterday, my family and I devoured the new Neal Morse, THE GRAND EXPERIMENT.  We are all rather smitten.

Today, I listened to all of Dave Kerzner’s NEW WORLD (deluxe edition) as I made Sunday evening pizza.  Again, I’m a rather happy fan.

I also read Bryan Morey’s insightful review of Mike Kershaw’s latest EP, DEPARTURE, featuring lots of FRACTAL MIRROR talent.  This got me to thinking about Greg Spawton and his ability to form communities–not only around himself immediately in BBT, but also through the internet.  Kershaw, Urbaniak, Kull. . . what a crazy bunch of proggers we all are.  And, that Morey.  He’s a natural.

And, now, I patiently await the arrival of the new Glass Hammer.

I’m sorry–what awards show is going on tonight?  Yeah, I’ve got much better things to listen to, thank you very much.

Galahad Wants Fan Input; New Album

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 band@galahadonline.com. In the meantime we’ll look forward to reading whatever comes our way.

Birzer’s take: brilliant!

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