Magnum’s debut album ‘Kingdom of Madness’ had a long and somewhat difficult birth. An album had been completed by the end of 1976, but for reasons best known to themselves, the Jet Records label sat on the tapes. Magnum continued to write new material and gig constantly, and subsequently, the album was given an overhaul. A few older tracks were sidelined for newer songs and a rejigged long-player eventually appeared on record shop shelves in August 1978. This possibly didn’t help the album’s fortunes in the short term; instead of being released at a time when the record’s prog and pomp styles were still in vogue, Magnum were left with a fantasy themed album drifting in the unsure waters of punk and new wave bands. It only scraped the UK album chart’s top 60.
There have been various Genesis related tributes over the years. From Magna Carta Records’ all-star prog-fest ‘Supper’s Ready’, to critically acclaimed live shows from The Musical Box, to Steve Hackett’s own ‘Genesis Revisited’ series of recordings and tours, they all have their place. They also have one thing in common: they are heavily weighted towards the band’s output from 1971-76.
By comparison, the band’s founding guitarist’s contribution to the band is all too often overlooked. 1970’s ‘Trespass’ is an important transitional album taking Genesis from vaguely psychedelic pop in a Moody Blues vein to the ground breaking, sprawling and epic sound that would later be celebrated and Ant’s distinctive playing was a huge part of that. Even more overlooked is Ant’s extensive solo career, but a group of musicians from New Hampshire have taken giant steps to put that right with their 2019 release ‘Which Way The Wind Blows’. Chances are, the world at large would have little interest in a group of musicians from the Rocking Horse Studios sharing their interpretations of music that isn’t already widely known, but that gathering of friends have taken extra, important steps towards making sure their tribute is as broadly appealing as possible: ‘Which Way…’ features some cracking guests.
There have been various Genesis related tributes and revisitation recordings over the years – not least of all from former guitarist Steve Hackett – but the solo works of the band’s first guitarist Anthony Phillips have all too often gone unheralded by comparison.
This October, musicians associated with the Rocking Horse Recording Studio are set to put that right. Along with the help of their more famous guests – including the legendary Steve Hackett and Supertramp man John Helliwell – ‘Which Way The Wind Blows’ takes a new look at some of Anthony’s great solo works.
With a name like Astrosaur, you’d half expect this Norwegian trio to be a full on doom metal band. Appearances can deceive, of course, and their 2019 release ‘Obscuroscope’ is nothing of the sort. Its six pieces of music are lengthy and complex; there are elements of trippy space rock and a few stoner-ish tropes, but in the main, the release delves deep into a world of complex post rock and post/progressive metal sounds that should appeal to prog fans who like things at the heavier end of the scale.
“The public perceives metal and academia as rivals” reads the Astrosaur website, somewhat pompously. Whether that’s true of not, at least half of their second album would’ve benefit from far less musical academia and far more actual tunes. With Astrosaur’s brand of prog, it really is all about the flashy self-indulgence…and for anyone whom isn’t actually a musician, this works hugely towards the album’s detriment.