The Progarchy Interview: Aaron Emerson and Chris Welch on Keith Emerson

Rocket 88’s new biography of prog pioneer keyboardist Keith Emerson has been getting a lot of attention in these parts. Last week it was my privilege to talk with Chris Welch (the venerated British music journalist who assembled the new book) and Keith’s oldest son Aaron. Their reminiscences of the man and their insight into putting together a unique kind of biography made for an animated, engaging, enjoyable conversation! A full transcription follows the video.

So, it’s great to talk to Chris Welch, legendary music journalist, and Aaron Emerson, son of the even more legendary keyboardist Keith Emerson, regarding the new book that Rocket 88 is putting out!  I’m waiting for my hard copy, but I’ve also seen a preview copy, and it’s just a sumptuous book, with so much wonderful insight and information.  So, my first question is: how did this new book come about, and where did each of you become involved in the process of putting it together?

Chris Welch [CW]: Shall I start, Aaron?

Aaron Emerson [AE]: Go ahead, yeah.

CW: Great.  I was approached by the publisher last year, Rocket 88, and they told me about – they do some wonderful other books on rock music; you’ve probably seen them.  And the format they wanted was interviews with all the family and fellow musicians.  And the idea was to do a real portrait of Keith’s life.  And that was the best way to do it, in the words of the people that knew him best.  My job was to assemble the interviews, do all the talking and recording the interviews, and that took a long time, actually.

And of course, it’s quite emotional talking to family members about their loss, about their husband, their father, grandfather and friend.  So was quite an emotional process, I have to say.  But I was glad I did it; I was very proud and pleased to see the result, actually.

Aaron, do you have anything to add to that?

AE: Many years ago, my dad released a biography called Pictures of An Exhibitionist.  And it was up to that point.  And I know he was always wanting the story to continue.  And when we were going through, selling things like  – in the attic there was so much of pictures and newspaper clippings that he’d kept all these years, and all stored up.  And when the idea was brought up, I thought it was a great idea to put it all together like a coffee table book.  So, it’s like a biography, but everyone gets a chance to talk about their experience with Dad, and how his life effected them.

So, you hear many stories, and put together with many pictures not seen before, which I thought was a nice thing to do.

Yes, the results, as I said – it’s a gorgeous book.  Aaron, you and I talked a bit about who you talked to, and who you may have inadvertently missed talking to.  But my other question is, what was the range of reactions when you asked people about Keith Emerson?

AE:  Everyone jumped to do it!  Everybody wanted to join; everybody wanted to have a chat and talk.  There was just too many people; we got everyone in there, and everyone’s got lovely things to say. Go ahead, Chris.

CW: I was very surprised to talk to Jeff “Skunk” Baxter in particular, who obviously was famous for his work with Steely Dan.  I remember interviewing him years ago.  And it was great to know that he formed a friendship, a relationship with Keith when they formed a band [The Best] that played — only in Tokyo, I think it was.  A great sort of a supergroup that they’d got together. 

And he was full of praise for Keith, and called him the greatest keyboard player in the world!   Coming from someone from his background, his reputation, that was a great tribute, I thought.  It was great to hear an American musician praising a British musician, because American musicians tend to be the groundsetters, the pacesetters, and the best in the world anywhere.  But for him to say Keith was one of the best is really nice!  I was very impressed.

I remember at the tribute concert I have the video of, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter did this amazing chicken-pickin’ solo on “Hoedown”, which was absolutely perfect for the context!   But as you say, the worldwide respect [Keith] had as a musician is so core to, I think, his long-lasting appeal. 

Chris, you got to know Keith beginning in the 1960s as I understand, just as the progressive tendencies on that British rock scene were accelerating.  What, in your view, was his ultimate influence on that scene?  What kind of role did he carve out for himself?

CW: In that era, the early rock scene in the 60s — there were a lot of keyboard players in that stage in London, where I was based.  There were bands like the Graham Bond Organisation and Brian Auger’s Trinity, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames.  So, the Hammond organ was very popular, but mainly as a kind of jazz instrument, rhythm and blues.  When Keith came along, he introduced so many different facets to using the Hammond organ to introduce classical music.  He was a master of all of that!

So, the combination of his feeling for rock and roll, jazz, blues and classical music, this was quite new and refreshing, I thought.  And it came to a head with The Nice, which I saw in its very early days, actually.

I could tell you a quick story about the first time I met Keith.  Whenever you’d meet Keith, he always had a piano somewhere near him!  Surrounded by keyboards and pianos.  The piano was the central point of his life.  When I first met him, it was in a flat in Earls Court in London — in David O’List’s flat, he wasthe guitar player in The Nice.  The first time I met him, he didn’t say anything; he just sat down at the piano and played [Dave Brubeck’s] “Blue Rondo a La Turk”.  That was the introduction; that’s the way he talked to people was through the piano!

Of course, he was quite shy, actually, a quite shy person.  Hard to believe when you saw him leaping about onstage.  But he could be quiet.  But we always got so very well!  That was our first meeting; he played me the piano.

Let me ask one more quick follow-up.  From The Nice, he moved on to Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which was probably, at least in terms of worldwide fame and impact – I guess to call it the height of his career is the best I can come up with, though I don’t think it’s adequate.  Did that period, especially the early 70s where it seemed like ELP could do no wrong – did that period change him at all?  How did he cope with what I imagine was a great deal of added pressure?

CW:  In a funny way, I think ELP gave Keith more confidence.  He was growing frustrated with The Nice, because he had all these ideas.  And they were great musicians and all friends.  Keith hated the idea of breaking up The Nice, but it was something he felt he had to do, if only to express all the ideas.  He wanted to be a composer as well as a man famed for jumping about with knives and a dagger! [Laughs]

That wasn’t Keith at all really – he was really into composing, writing, creating music, tackling ideas that other people had.  He had great respect for the great classical composers.  Eventually they accepted him, the ones that were still alive!  Living composers like Aaron [Copland], the man who wrote “Fanfare [For the Common Man]”.

Yes, to have the respect of Copland and [Alberto] Ginastera, I’m sure was incredibly fulfilling for him.

CW: Yes, so, that’s what Keith wanted.

AE: “Creole Dance” [by Ginastera] is one of my favorites.  When I saw him play that, it was a fantastic song!

Yes, I heard him do that live with [Greg] Lake and [Cozy] Powell and it was mind-blowing.  Aaron, you had a very different experience.  Your first impression of your dad, well, was as your dad!  I guess I have to ask you overall, what was he like as a father?

Continue reading “The Progarchy Interview: Aaron Emerson and Chris Welch on Keith Emerson”

Rocket 88’s “Keith Emerson”: Man and Myth in Images and Words

Keith Emerson was one of my most lasting musical heroes. His swashbuckling performance style, his virtuosic playing and his remarkable compositional mix of aggression and lyricism turned my head at the tender age of 16, sending me headlong into the vintage highlights of Emerson Lake and Palmer’s catalog, along with their numerous attempts to recapture lightning in a bottle over the decades. So when Emerson committed suicide on the eve of a Japanese tour in early 2016, it hurt — and none of the tributes to the musician and the man that followed could completely take away the sting.

Emerson’s career in and contributions to ELP have been well served in print throughout the years – there’s the fan-based band bio The Show That Never Ends, Edward Macan’s in-depth musical analysis Endless Enigma and Emo’s own bawdy, devil-may-care memoir Pictures of an Exhibitionist. Now, the British publishers Rocket 88 (who issued an “as-told-by” ELP book last year) are about to release Keith Emerson, “A lavish, fully illustrated book in which family, friends, colleagues, and fans talk to author Chris Welch about [his] life, work, and legacy.”

Rocket 88, whose fine books on Porcupine Tree and Talk Talk already grace my shelves, have done a first-class job. Scoff at the coffee table book format if you choose, but the mouthwateringly rich treasury of images — ranging from family and early professional snaps of a young Keith to widescreen shots of him in his pomp onstage — turns out to be utterly essential to the story told here. Long-standing rock journalist Welch, who knew Emerson throughout his career, proves a strong enough focal figure for the narrative to hold its own; without putting himself forward, he’s consistently able to coax out both the outline of Emo’s life and the raw material behind his myth through interviews with his partners, children and grandchildren (two of whom have followed in his footsteps as piano players), relatives, colleagues and peers in the music industry.

The tale told here is one of a life lived with bracing gusto and deep devotion to the muse — but also a life into which shadows fell, then gathered. In the wake of ELP’s late-1970s meltdown, Emerson bounced from project to project — solo albums, film soundtracks, a joint project with Greg Lake and drummer Cozy Powell (who I caught live in 1986), the trio 3 with Carl Palmer and Robert Berry — none of which gained lasting traction. The ELP reunion in the early 1990s (which I saw in concert in 1993) showed promise; but brought down by the rise of grunge and cumulative nerve damage to Emerson’s right hand from years of driven playing, it shrank to opening act status for Jethro Tull and Dream Theater, with the plug pulled after the trio disagreed on production credits for a comeback album.

Here’s where the book becomes most revealing, especially as Emerson’s later partners, guitarist/vocalists Dave Kilminster and Marc Bonilla, detail their experiences. Briefly reviving his innovative late-60s band The Nice, then manfully working to re-establish himself as a solo artist, Emerson’s stars refused to align; first Kilminster (who I saw with Emerson opening for Scorpions and Tesla in 2004) was poached by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, then Emo’s follow-up tour with Bonilla (promoting an excellent 2008 album) was cut short by focal dystonia in his right hand. From out of the blue, ELP pulled together one more time for a London festival show in 2010, winning acclaim despite Emerson’s physical problems and growing stage fright. But in the wake of Palmer’s refusal to continue and unexpected major illness for Emerson, nothing further followed.

There were alternatives afoot, as Emerson began an intriguing transition to orchestral conducting. And he continued to be loved and valued by the musical community in Los Angeles, where he’d settled with longtime partner Mari Kawaguchi. His spontaneous sense of fun, his love for his family, and his constant flow of new musical ideas all remained. But growing depression poorly treated, an increasing aversion to demanding Internet-based fans, and a hectic schedule with little to show for it all took their toll — and on March 11, 2016, a final spiral of despair led to tragedy in the classic sense. Keith Emerson, brought low by the thought of the heights he’d once scaled and his inability to live up to the standards he’d previously set, took his own life.

The impact of that tragedy still lingers, and it undeniably colors the final chapter of Keith Emerson, as his family and friends struggle to make sense of life without Emerson and remember the joy he brought into their lives as a musician and a human being. Their reminiscences and their mourning, as much as anything in this compelling book, bring the man out from behind the shadows of the myth, where he ultimately wins our respect and empathy. In the end, it’s this eyewitness testimony of Emerson’s triumphs and struggles — the highs and lows of a regular guy thrust into a larger than life story — that make the book well worth reading for fans of ELP in particular and of progressive rock in general.

Classic and limited Signature Editions of Keith Emerson can be purchased directly from Rocket 88, with November delivery currently expected.

— Rick Krueger

Keith Emerson – The Official Illustrated Story

The big, big news just keeps on coming this week. From progressive rock-friendly publishers Rocket 88, via The Prog Report:

KEITH EMERSON is a new lavish and fully illustrated book in which family, friends, colleagues, and fans talk to author Chris Welch about the life, work, and legacy of Keith Emerson from before The Nice and ELP through 3 to The Keith Emerson Band. Illustrated throughout with previously unseen photos from family, friends, and professional photographers, this official celebration will tell the remarkable tale of Keith’s musical evolution, his personal relationships, and the creation of his astounding musical legacy. Includes new interviews with Keith’s children, ex-wife, close personal friends, Mari Kawaguchi, Carl Palmer, Rick Wakeman, Lee Jackson, Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter, Alan White, Dave Kilminster, Marc Bonilla, Rachel Flowers, Darius Brubeck, Geoff Downes, and others.

The book draws on the private Emerson family archives for photographs of Keith at home, at work and play. Close family and friends share memories and stories from throughout his life, revealing the true man, while fellow musicians from the worlds of prog, rock and classical attest to Keith’s talent and dedication, while others who worked with him tell of his spirit, generosity and sense of humour.

Keith Emerson celebrates the life and legacy of the man who first played the Hammond organ like a lead guitarist, introduced the European classical music tradition to rock fans with The Nice and helped create the template for prog rock with the very first Moog synthesizers with ELP. He also wrote movie soundtracks, performed with world-renowned jazz musicians, and toured the world as a solo artist. All of that and more is explored in this deluxe book.

As a happy owner of last year’s “in their own words” ELP book from Rocket 88, I’m excited about this project. Keith Emerson is one of my two great progressive rock heroes (Robert Fripp is the other), who influenced not just my listening, but also my ultimate vocation as a musician. So I’ve already registered at (which gets you a special discount when pre-orders begins, allows you to have a name printed in the book, and puts you first in line for receiving your copy).

— Rick Krueger

Kruekutt’s 2021 Favorites!

I thought I didn’t have a big list of favorites from this year’s listening — until I revisited my six-month survey from back in June and added in the good stuff I’ve heard since then! The listing below incorporates links to full or capsule reviews, or other relevant pieces on Progarchy and elsewhere; albums I haven’t written about yet get brief comments, along with my Top Favorites of the year. Most of these are available to check out online in some form; if you find yourself especially enjoying something, use that Christmas cash and support your choice with a purchase! And the winners are . . .

Continue reading “Kruekutt’s 2021 Favorites!”

The Best Prog Bands You’ve Never Heard Of (Part Nineteen): Touch

Featuring vocals reminiscent of Ian Gillan and keys that may call to mind (dare I say it?) Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson, Touch produced one of America’s early progressive rock albums – and one of its finest. Yet despite having fans and supporters such as Kerry Livgren, Jimi Hendrix, and Mick Jagger, Touch remained relatively obscure, as bandleader and keyboardist Don Gallucci refused to tour the album. Unfortunately, that spelled the end for the band, and they never released a second album. Thankfully, we have an impressive selection of songs from their lone effort. Here are some of the highlights:

“We Feel Fine,” a rollicking opener of a song, makes for a fine introduction. Jeff Hawks immediately puts on display his impressive vocal range, but Gallucci shines on the organ, and Joey Newman gets to show off a little bit on guitar.

The Beatles come to mind upon hearing “The Spiritual Death of Howard Greer,” an acid-rock epic that tells the tale of a sad stick in the mud. It may remind listeners of “A Day in the Life” or a darker version of “The Diary of Horace Wimp.”

Odysseus and his crew may disagree, but “Down at Circe’s Place” is a wonderful tune and the most psychedelic piece on the album. An instrumental (although there are some spacey wordless vocals courtesy of Hawks), the tune opens with a catchy piano riff and features a wonderful cacophony of sound at the climax – sans guitar: Gallucci’s keys and John Bordonaro’s percussion drive the madness.

The second and final epic on the album, “Seventy-Five,” is the strongest and most progressive track. Hawks can shriek like Gillan or croon like Greg Lake depending on what is called for; it is an impressive vocal performance to say the least. Newman finally earns a spot front and center to display his talents on guitar, and he does not disappoint.

This is not an album to ignore: the musicianship is top-notch and the overall quality something you will not typically find in some of these older, more obscure releases. It’s time to give Touch a go.

Stay tuned for number twenty!

Got Live If you Want It!

As the demigods of the US postal service would have it (and OK, ordering from Amazon, Burning Shed and others had something to do with it), a lot of the CDs that have landed in my mailbox lately are live albums (or have a live element). “So whadid ya get?” Glad you asked . . .

District 97, Screenplay: the first live effort from the grassroots Chicago group intended for mainstream distribution, this double disc set is a comprehensive showcase for their gutsy blend of prog, metal and fusion. Disc 1 is a headlong romp through their fine album Screens, recorded onstage in the Netherlands; along with a new track, disc 2 serves up delectable live takes on their back catalog plus covers ranging from John Lennon (a snippet of “Jealous Guy”) through Bill Bruford (two tracks performed in my vicinity at Progtoberfest 2018) to King Crimson (with the late John Wetton on vocals). A perfect introduction for D97 newcomers, and a delightful celebration for fans already in the know. Available direct from the band.

The Keith Emerson Tribute Concert – Fanfare for the Uncommon Man: Five years in the making, this 2 DVD/2 CD combo pack, recorded at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theater two months after Emerson’s devastating suicide, is the best tribute to him I could imagine. Post-ELP collaborator Marc Bonilla wrangles a impressive rotating cast of star players through a setlist that captures both Emo’s audacious, aggressive swagger and his sophisticated, heart-wrenching lyricism. Toto’s Steve Porcaro (organ on “The Barbarian”), Emerson protege Rachel Flowers (piano on a complete instrumental version of “The Endless Enigma”), CJ Vanston (piano on “Take A Pebble”) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess (multi-keys on a complete “Tarkus”) all shine in the keyboard chair; guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter turns Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown” into a chicken-pickin’ delight. And when Eddie Jobson takes over Emerson’s iconic modular Moog synthesizer to play that solo on “Lucky Man,” the chills down my spine are unstoppable. Available direct from Cherry Red Records.

Peter Gabriel Plays Live: PG’s initial live album, restored to its original length and running order after far too many years in an edited version. Touring colleges and universities in the American Midwest to support the Security album, Gabriel and his backing players wove together high-contrast monochrome textures, brutally stark rhythms and chantlike volleys of vocals to conjure up an intense, ritualistic experience. Having seen this tour in the flesh, I can attest the album does a great job capturing the tour’s immersive, primitivistic grandeur — as well as including jauntier highlights from earlier albums and the goofy, otherwise unreleased “I Go Swimming.” Available direct from the artist or via Burning Shed.

Liquid Tension Experiment 3: Yeah, this one’s a stretch . . . but hey, the bonus disc of improvisations was recorded live in the studio! Initial opinion among fellow fans seems divided on the uncanny ability of John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, Tony Levin and Mike Portnoy to pick up almost exactly where they left off 22 years ago. Do you prefer your progressive music to explore farther-out frontiers each time, or to dig deeper in a previously fruitful vein? Me, I get into both approaches — and while LTE certainly plows similar instrumental prog-metal furrows as on their first two albums, there’s plenty of jaw-dropping, face-melting, heart-wrenching, smile-inducing gold in them there grooves! Available from Inside Out and Burning Shed. Oh, and I’m confident you’ve never heard a version of “Rhapsody in Blue” quite like this:

— Rick Krueger

News of the World … of Prog

Big Big Train’s announcement of the Passengers Club and North American tour dates were just the tip of the iceberg this week!  In other progressive rock-related news:

King Crimson and The Zappa Band (the latter an authorized project of Frank Zappa’s estate, featuring alumni from his 1980s bands) will tour the USA and Canada in June & July.  One tour date (at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts) in Virginia has been announced for June 30th; others will be announced soon.

The three-part Emerson Lake & Palmer epic “Karn Evil 9” is being developed as a science-fiction movie, to start production later this year.  ELP managers Stewart Young & Bruce Pilato will serve as producers, along with Carl Palmer and Radar Pictures (developers of the Jumanji and Riddick franchises).

Plenty of great album releases are on the way as well, including:

Tiger Moth Tales’ live CD/DVD A Visit to Zoetermeer, out on February 21 and available to pre-order on Bandcamp;

John Holden’s Rise and Fall, the follow-up to 2018’s well received Capture Light, out on February 29;

Fernando Perdomo’s Out to Sea 3: The Stormout on March 6;

Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble’s The Red Planetout in April.

Time, it would seem, for the world of prog rock to awaken from its long winter’s nap!

— Rick Krueger



kruekutt’s 2018 Favorites: New Albums

Here are the albums of new music from 2018 that grabbed me on first or second listen, then compelled repeated plays. I’m not gonna rank them except for those that achieved Top Favorite status, which I’ll save for the very end. The others are listed alphabetically by artist. (Old school style, that is — last names first where necessary!) Links to the ones I’ve previously reviewed are embedded in the album titles.  But first, a graphic tease …

Continue reading “kruekutt’s 2018 Favorites: New Albums”

3.2, The Rules Have Changed: Rick’s Quick Takes

“And I hold the love of who you are
The passion your hands brought to my ears
The music’s blood became our bond
A good man, that we honor here.”
— Robert Berry, “Our Bond”

Robert Berry has pulled off something remarkable.  The Rules Have Changed, Berry’s new effort under the moniker 3.2, succeeds at a daunting task — paying deeply felt homage to the late, great Keith Emerson, whose shocking death thwarted the collaboration the duo were planning after 30 years apart.  Painstakingly crafted, packed with inspired musicianship on songs that tackle weighty, thoughtful themes — matters of life and death, in fact — it’s music created to touch the heart, and to last.

My first, astonished impression was how completely Berry assimilates Emerson’s style and sound, makes it his own, and takes it to thrilling new places.  True, there was already material to work with before Emerson’s death — an unused composition from the early days of 3, Emerson’s ideas that later formed the backbones of three more songs, as well as Berry’s Celtic-tinged “This Letter” and the upbeat single “Powerful Man.”

But beyond the achievement of playing every instrument himself — Carl Palmer-style drums, bass, guitar, and virtuosic keyboards — Berry is absolutely dialed in to what made Emerson’s music so special.  The eight songs here take expansive, unpredictable forms, launching inventive salvos of extended melody and harmony,  deployed in a dizzying mix of classical, jazz and rock idioms that shoulder each other aside with gleeful abandon.  Whether the tune’s a collaboration or a solo effort, Berry nails this every time.  All the classic Emerson colors are present and correct, too: lyrical grand piano; detuned uptempo boogie licks; spitting, sinuous Hammond organ lines; majestic multi-tonal synthesizer riffs and pads; and of course, lead Moog solos that will melt your face off.  (Berry’s no slouch on lead guitar and bass, either.)

Crafting lyrics to match the impact of this music had to have been an uphill struggle — but again, Berry has risen to the task.  He celebrates the sweet mystery of love for all it’s worth — love of parents and children in “Powerful Man,” love of a spouse, kids and grandkids in “This Letter.”  He confronts the challenges of leaving a legacy (“What You’re Dreamin’ Now” and “Your Mark on the World”) and time’s inevitable passage (“One by One”).  The title track, in memory of Magellan’s Trent Gardner, and the Emerson tribute “Our Bond” look loss, despair and death itself in the face, courageously grieving without flinching.  Even the ultimate question — does anyone guide our path? — turns up as the subject of “Somebody’s Watching.”  In sum, these lyrics are powerful, rich and mature, with nary a cliche in sight — exactly what was required.

I’m not exaggerating: this fine album pays the best tribute possible to Keith Emerson, taking the potential embodied in 3’s 1988 debut, To the Power of Three, and realizing it to the full.  Robert Berry never stood still after his halcyon days with Emerson and Palmer, as his solo albums, production work, and collaborations with Greg Kihn, Ambrosia, Alliance and December People attest.  Still, The Rules Have Changed may well be the achievement of his career; it honors a mentor he respected and loved and reveals his own talent and passion in action at the highest level.  Here’s hoping Berry can bring the planned international tour of 3.2 (complete with 3’s live guitarist Paul Keller) to a town near you soon!  In the meantime, listen for yourself:


— Rick Krueger

“Eight Miles High” — Three Views

The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” was released as a single on March 14, 1966, eventually reaching number 14 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.   Influenced by Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar and John Coltrane’s Africa/Brass album, it was one of the first (if not the first) glimmerings of psychedelic rock.  And thus a progenitor of prog?  I think so.

Check out three views of this pioneering tune for yourself.  First, a Byrds promo appearance lip-syncing for an unknown TV show.  Note David Crosby’s brilliant outfit, complete with Russian hat:

Of course, “Eight Miles High” has been covered numerous times.  Back in 1988, it was the one of the key tracks on To The Power of Three, the collaboration of Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Robert Berry.  How Eighties is this?  Check out Berry’s headless Steinberger bass!  Emerson’s keytar!  Palmer wielding a Dynacord electronic drum controller at the front of the stage!  Plus the, uh, dancers “playing” snare drums in the background.  Goodness!  (Though it does serve as a reminder that Robert Berry releases his posthumous collaboration with Keith Emerson, 3.2: The Rules Have Changed, on August 10.)

Three years later (ouch) in 1991, “Eight Miles High” was one of the cover tunes on Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s album Spin.  Since their 1981 version of Lesley Gore’s “It’s My Party” had snagged number one on the British single charts, Stewart and Gaskin had been bringing a thoroughly proggy attitude to the synth-pop duo format.  Spin is no different, mixing quirky originals with fresh takes on Rufus Thomas’ “Walking the Dog,” Joni Mitchell’s “Amelia,” Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” — and the Byrds.  One bonus feature of the album: the precocious pre-Porcupine Tree percussion of Gavin Harrison.  Check out the spectacular drum fill that kicks off this version!

Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin’s new album Star Clocks, featuring “eight Dave Stewart originals alongside a cover of an iconic 1960s song,” is out on August 17.  Pre-order it at Burning Shed.

Bonus track: Stewart & Gaskin’s samurai/Beach Boys/cathedral bells version of “It’s My Party,” with special guest video appearance by … Thomas Dolby?

— Rick Krueger