Back in the 90s, Neal Morse was one of the most talented people to emerge on the prog rock scene. With elements of Gentle Giant and Yes mixed with the Morse Brothers’ distinctive own style, Spock’s Beard gave prog a real kick up the arse with their first three albums. Their third album ‘The Kindness of Strangers’, especially, marked the band as one of the new breed of greats since it blended some great proggy ideas with the pop charms of Jellyfish and Crowded House to create a record that mixed excess with a truckload of melody. It was a disc they would never better. In the early 2000s, Neal found religion and left the band for a solo career. His albums from then on featured some reasonable music but divided fans due to some very heavy handed and preachy lyrical concerns.
Having gained mass popularity from their 1967 debut single ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, Procol Harum’s career started with such force, it seemed they’d have nowhere to go but down. In the late 60s and early 70s, of course, bands weren’t always expected to follow their success – or even achieve success – instantly and that kind of open minded thinking really worked to Procol’s advantage. Across a series of varied but enjoyable albums released between 1967-1970, Gary Brooker, Robin Trower and company were given plenty of room to experiment. With the quirky pop of ‘She Wandered Through The Garden Fence’ (1967), they showed they could hold their own in the psychedelic world; with huge suites (‘In Held ‘Twas In I’, 1969) and an assortment of themed tracks on ‘Home’ (1970) they more than entertained the hardened prog fans; occasional Vaudevillian tendencies showed they also had a sense of fun and with various classically infused tracks they showed themselves as a cut above most musicians of the era. Prog, rock, pomp and even straight blues – for Procol Harum, nothing seemed off limits and yet their early works all still had a genuine coherency that some of their peers lacked.
Following last year’s exhaustive box set of UK recordings, John Wetton fans will soon have another reason to celebrate. Before the end of 2019, the Wetton estate will release a deluxe box set of various solo materials, accompanied by a hard-backed book.
Although the final tracklistings and some of the small details are currently under wraps, it is believed that a couple of the albums will be expanded to two disc sets and various rarities will join the much loved albums.
More details can be found in the below press release.
Formed from the ashes of several local acts in 2016, Swedish melodic metal band In Silence took a while before they got around to recording their debut EP. Like most bands, they honed their craft with various live shows before releasing any studio material, but ‘One For All’ kick starts their recording career with a bang. The three featured songs are hugely contemporary for the time of release and the production values are nice and sharp throughout. Simply put, there’s nothing about this recording that sounds low budget, half-arsed or like the work of a band that wasn’t absolutely ready.
A year on from Redbait’s debut EP ‘Red Tape’, their follow-up release ‘Cages’ presents the St. Louis hardcore band in an especially confronting mood. Given the state of the world at the time of release that’s hardly surprising, but even so, the EP’s opening number ‘Capital Gains’ is particularly sharp and aggressive even by their previous standards. In a seventy five second howl of rage, the band move through several aggressive styles, each one clearly showing a band that’s not to be messed with…and certainly not about to take things lying down. A huge buzz of bass feedback instantly signifies something great is afoot and within seconds, the track explodes into a slab of crust-punk fury with a message that’s particularly pointed as the band calls for a “working class liberation” for “all ages, all races, all genders and all wage earners”. This is hard to gauge without a trusty lyric sheet, of course, but between a furious vocal performance that mixes hardcore shouts and black metal inflections seamlessly, a brief instrumental breakdown leaning towards more of a metal sound and a huge climax featuring male and female voices absolutely screeching, this is a powerful opening statement for fans and first-timers alike.