In terms of their very limited studio output, Flash were, and remain, one of the most overlooked bands of the early 70s. Despite featuring two ex-members of Yes – Peter Banks (guitar) and Tony Kaye (keyboards) – their work isn’t often mentioned with the revered tones it so deserves. Their first two albums (‘Flash’ and ‘In The Can’) are home to some brilliant sounds, mixing elements of blues and prog with bits of hard rock. Although sometimes less fussy than the band Banks and Kaye left behind, Flash’s work is no less grand. At their best, they could fuse jazz rock elements with ethereal vocals (‘There No More’), or hit upon a great 70s rock groove and pepper that with obvious Yes-like flourishes (‘Children of The Universe’). Their work could occasionally be derivative of Yes; their albums sometimes felt like cobbled together collections rather than truly cohesive works, but Flash were never dull.
Although often billed as the world’s biggest prog rock supergroup, The Prog Collective is actually more of a revolving gang of musicians. Working with an incredibly fluid line up, it’s merely an umbrella name that allows multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood to call on various friends according to their appropriate talents. If this sounds like a similar set up to one of Sherwood’s many tribute albums, it’s with very good reason. The Prog Collective’s main difference – at least on their first two albums – came from the idea that the gathering of talent would record original material. It’s also clear that Sherwood believed, perhaps correctly, that the mystique of a “prog supergroup” would attract more listeners than one of his many solo projects.
Space Rock is a musical label that instantly conjures a few pre-conceived ideas. It’s become synonymous with long, prog-like arrangements, heavy droning riffs – some of which could be considered a precursor to the US-centric stoner/deep psych scenes – and other-worldly synth freakouts. This isn’t entirely unfair since space rock pioneers Hawkwind have relied heavily upon various combinations of those sounds and moods throughout their career, but, as this box set shows, there’s more to it all than that, and a world of bands beyond the obvious practitioners. Taking a voyage through a twenty year stretch of cult noise, ‘This Was Your Future’ serves up various treats too marginal to be considered obvious nostalgia for a lot of people, but somehow manages to be accessible enough to retain the interest of the vaguely curious. …And who better than to guide you through this world of free festivals and hazy noise than Hawkwind’s very own Dave Brock?
For a band once considered to be the epitome of counter culture and not in it for “the bread, man”, it sometimes seems as if the twenty first century Hawkwind are just a machine churning out new products. December 2021 brought the career spanning, anthology ‘Dust of Time’ – their fourth release in under two years. Although it was beautifully put together, it didn’t give hardcore fans much they wouldn’t already own. However, it successfully covered a lot of musical ground, and for the keen eared and eagle eyed, a couple of rarer BBC recordings could be found within its sprawling eighty one tracks. It’s hard to please everyone, but the six disc box set had a really good go.
Following the release of their eighteenth studio album ‘FEAR’, Marillion found themselves somewhere near the top of their game. The recording had gained them a vast amount of praise, and the subsequent tour saw the band sell out London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Not a bad result for a band that some quarters of the press had previously written off. Although a rather dense listen, ‘FEAR’ covered a lot of musical ground, and had plenty of moments that suggested the band were in a more creative space than they’d been for some time. Between some dark arrangements, politically charged lyrics and a desire to make their listeners think, it felt like Marillion’s most complete sounding work for some time. Not necessarily their “best”, but arguably their most coherent.