It’s been a busy week at the mailbox and on the doorstep. With a clear day off, I decided to listen to all the new music I’ve received since Monday. Capsule reviews follow the jump; albums are reviewed in their descending order on my freshly made up Personal Proggyness Perception (PPP) scale, scored from 0 to 10.
… If you’re a prog fan, that is. Some of what’s in the forecast for the rest of the year:
3.2, The Rules Have Changed, Robert Berry’s one-man tribute to and posthumous collaboration with Keith Emerson; released August 10. Details and a teaser track here.
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Star Clocks. I’ll be writing more about Stewart & Gaskin’s music soon; suffice to say it’s some of the best intellipop you’ve probably never heard. (With Gavin Harrison on drums, no less.) The new album is out August 17; pre-order it and investigate their back catalog at Burning Shed.
The Pineapple Thief, Dissolution. Bruce Soord and the TPT crew are joined by Gavin Harrison — him again! — as drummer and co-writer. Released August 31. Details and a teaser track here; check out Sonic Perspectives’ interview with Soord (which hints at a possible 2019 US mini-tour) here.
Soft Machine, Hidden Details. The pioneer psych/prog/jazz-rock collective is back for a 50th anniversary world tour — and they’re bringing a new album with them! Three members from the 1970s versions of the band plus sax/flute progger Theo Travis (Robert Fripp, Steven Wilson, David Gilmour) tackle new compositions and a couple of vintage classics. Released September 9; watch for a Soft Machine retrospective series from me during the run-up. Tour info here; pre-order options for the album and a sample track here;
Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin & Rick Wakeman, Live at the Apollo. The “unofficial” version of the band (albeit one with two “classic era” members plus the musical mastermind of 90125) weighs in for the band’s 50th anniversary year. Released September 9 in various audio and video formats; details and a teaser here.
Coming soon from In Continuum: the debut album by Dave Kerzner’s new supergroup, with contributions from: vocalist Gabriel Agudo (Steve Rothery Band / Bad Dreams); guitarists Fernando Perdomo (Dave Kerzner Band), Matt Dorsey (Sound of Contact) Randy McStine (Sound of Contact, The Fringe) and John Wesley (Porcupine Tree); drummers Marco Minnemann (Steven Wilson, The Aristocrats), Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard) and Derek Cintron; and special guests singer Jon Davison (Yes) and guitarist Steve Rothery. Release date TBA; more info here.
Coming soon from King Crimson: Based on the liner notes in Crimson’s 2018 Tourbox, we can anticipate: a reissue/revamp of the band’s 2001 album, The ReConstruKction of Light; a related, more exhaustive box focusing on the era of the ProjeKcts and the Double Duo Crimson, Heaven and Earth; and a fresh concert set from the current Crims, Live in Mexico. Release dates TBA. Meanwhile there have been rumblings from Robert Fripp ruling out Europe for Crimson’s 50th anniversary tour in 2019. Does that rule in the USA? Stay tuned …
Coming soon from Marillion: deluxe edition of Clutching at Straws (release date TBA); mass market reissues of the Racket Records live sets Happiness is Cologne, Popular Music (U.S. release in September), Live in Glasgow and Brave Live (U.S. release in November). Clutching rumors to be found in the Lucy’s Friday Questions group on Facebook; live reissue info is here and here.
Coming soon from Steven Wilson: Home Invasion Live at the Royal Albert Hall, with guest appearances by Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree), Mark Feltham (Talk Talk), Dave Kilminster and Ninet Tayeb. (Oh, and a Bollywood dance company). Release info for the video TBA; details here.
Bonus round from the Pink Floyd camp: Nick Mason expects to tour the USA next year with his new band Saucerful of Secrets. The group’s set of early Pink Floyd classics (from the albums Piper at the Gates of Dawn through Obscured By Clouds) went down a storm in London earlier this summer; they embark on a European tour in September. More info on the band and Mason’s box set reissuing his solo albums here.
— Rick Krueger
Several bands have recently released some nice live albums. In no particular order, here are a few of the most notable:
Pineapple Thief: Where We Stood
Wow, when I first heard this, I wondered who or what lit a fire under this group’s collective backside. After watching the excellent film that accompanies this recording, I have to say it’s having Gavin Harrison behind the drum kit. As good as Pineapple Thief’s 2016 album Your Wilderness is, I think the versions from this show are better: tight, energetic, and riskier. And if you ever wondered where Bruce Soord came up with the band’s name, now you can find out. By the way, every song from Your Wilderness is performed here, except for “Where We Stood”. Go figure.
Spock’s Beard: Snow Live
A lot of us fans of the classic Spock’s Beard lineup never thought we would see them reunite, let alone perform the double-album masterpiece, Snow. Well, Neal Morse managed to get all the Beardsters – past and current – together at his 2016 MorseFest, and they delivered a tremendous performance of Snow in its entirety. I’m probably biased (because I was there), but it is quite an emotional experience.
Yes: Topographic Drama Live Across America
I approached this set with trepidation – it is the first recordings of Yes without the late Chris Squire participating. However, as I got into the music, I was very pleasantly surprised. Jon Davison does an excellent job on vocals and acoustic guitar, while Billy Sherwood fills Squire’s huge shoes. Steve Howe is still full of fire, and Geoff Downes is uniformly excellent on keyboards. They perform all of Drama (one of my favorite Yes albums), as well as “The Revealing Science of God” and “Ritual” from Topographic Oceans. Add in “And You and I”, “Heart of the Sunrise”, “Leaves of Green”, “Roundabout”, and “Starship Trooper”, and you have a set to satisfy any Yes lover. It definitely helps that Jay Schellen was able to play drums and assist Alan White. God bless him, but Alan’s timekeeping has gotten a little shaky over past few years. That said, this is a surprisingly strong set of performances from Yes.
Jeff Lynne’s ELO: Wembley or Bust
Holy cow, this is a fun concert to watch! I wish I’d been there in June of this year when Jeff Lynne, supported by a crack band, played songs from every phase of his career, including The Traveling Wilburys. The love for Jeff from the huge crowd is evident, and he delivers an outstanding performance. I had forgotten just how many popular (and beautiful) songs he’s written. Takes me back to my high school days when ELO’s music was inescapable on the radio. How far we have fallen…. Anyway, this show had me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish.
by Rick Krueger
Today is — well, sort of — the official release day for The Pineapple Thief’s Where We Stood concert video. Turns out that, while vinyl and downloadable/streaming audio versions are now available, the Blu Ray, DVD and CD versions have been delayed until early October. Kudos go to the fine folks at Burning Shed for sending along mp3s of the full concert to folks who pre-ordered in those formats!
After just one listen, I’m mightily impressed. Back in my eMusic subscriber days, I ran across the Thief via the albums Tightly Unwound and Someone Here Is Missing, enjoying them thoroughly. A decade ago, high quality new prog was still scarce enough that I absolutely delighted in hearing Bruce Soord and company plowing similar furrows to Steven Wilson in Porcupine Tree. Unfortunately, the follow-ups All the Wars and Magnolia were, as our head Progarchist put it last year, good but bland. Thankfully, 2016’s Your Wilderness was a major step back up, as Gavin Harrison’s stylish, tasty drumming slotted in with Soord’s sleek new tunes and moody guitar lines to hypnotic effect.
So Where We Stood is the right move at the right time, capturing the re-energized Pineapple Thief onstage in London, with an enthusiastic crowd egging them on. Harrison is astonishing and impeccable as always, driving the band with relentless grooves and jaw-dropping fills, locking tight with Jon Sykes’ powerful bass lines. While Steve Kitch’s keyboards conjure impressive atmosphere, Darran Charles and Soord seamlessly slide from badass surf music riffs to full-on metal chording, inspiring Soord to new heights of vocal power and expression. This Thief rocks hard, with guts and class, in the service of first-rate songs from throughout their checkered career.
I’m optimistic that the visuals of Where We Stood will match the excellence of the music; in my opinion, the chance to see Gavin Harrison weaving his percussive magic in close-up is gonna be worth the wait all by itself. Plus the Blu-Ray also includes Your Wilderness, 8 Years Later and bonus acoustic tracks in 24/96 stereo and surround. If you haven’t ordered this baby yet, what are you waiting for?
Ok, so I’m taking a bit to get through my best of 2016. It was a GOOD year. Certainly not when it came to violence or politics, but music. It soothes my upset soul. Thank you, fellow proggers.
One quick note before I dive into part III.
I must mention an album (two parter) that brought immense joy to me this year: the soundtrack of STRANGER THINGS. I’ve had the opportunity to sing the praises of this glorious 8-part nostalgia trip of a Netflix series elsewhere, and I’m terrible at trying to describe and review electronic music. Regardless, this soundtrack captures the mystery of the series just perfectly. I’ve seen the series three times, and I’ve listened to the two-CD soundtrack a million more. Few things will define 2016 as much as this series did.
Ok, back to regular programming. . .
I know, I’m a bit late with this one, but I just wanted to write a review of this beauty, which was released in August this year. I also reviewed Bruce Soord’s solo album which was released earlier this year, but I think that Bruce is way better in his element in his band The Pineapple Thief.
This is a rock solid album, something you can always expect from this band. Not something that I would call 100% progressive rock, but the prog elements can be heard clearly. It also lingers to some post rock moments. I do have to say that this album sounds calmer than other works of The Pineapple Thief.
Gavin Harrison provides the drums on this album, and I have to admit that I didn’t “hear” it was him, which is actually a good sign! I start to appreciate his drum work more and more lately, because I was always afraid that he was that kind of drummer that has the need to fill up everything. Bruce is a good singer, but you have to like his voice.
The album starts with In Exile, which is one of my favourite tracks. The catchy drum rhythm and mellotron sounds make this song very interesting. Later on it gets heavier and more haunting. No Man’s Land starts with a lovely acoustic guitar and Bruce singing. Later on more instruments join and make the song more heavy. Another favourite on this album. Tear You Up is more up tempo and thicker, but it breathes the same atmosphere as the previous song. That Shore has lingering soundscapes and the calm vibe that carries through is beautiful. Take Your Shot is a real rock track that is very accessible and would do great as a single. Fend For Yourself is a more tranquil song that contains a wonderful clarinet solo by John Helliwell (Supertramp). The Final Thing On My Mind is the longest track on the album, and is a real epic. It slowly builds up while there’s a heavy haunting vibe hanging around like fog. Gavin gets enough space to show his talents on this track. Where We stood is an affable song to end the album with. The serene guitar sound also does the trick.
The complete album is a lovely package of songs that can be listened as a whole or just as freestanding tracks. This is something that is certainly enjoyable for a lot of people. Another recommendation from me!
PS: I adore the album cover!
***** Iris Hidding
- In Exile (05:40)
2. No Man’s Land (04:20)
3. Tear You Up (4:53)
4. That Shore (04:36)
5. Take Your Shot (04:34)
6. Fend For Yourself (03:49)
7. The Final Thing On My Mind (09:52)
8. Where We Stood (03:46)
Originally published on Grendel Headquarters, my personal webpage! Go check it out and subscribe!
I’m back! After two months at 10,000 feet above sea level and almost no internet, I have high speed! So, what do I do with my access. . . I record progarchy radio episode 9. Music from The Tangent, The Ben Cameron Project, The Pineapple Thief, Frost*, Oceansize, Riverside, SAND, Karmakanic, Simple Minds, Nosound, Roswell 6, Tool, Threshold, Jason Rubenstein, and Cosmograf.