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.
In 2021, Real Gone celebrated its twelfth year online. It’s hard to believe we’ve endured for so long, but that’s down to you – our enthusiastic and still growing audience – coming back every week to explore the more “cult” aspects of a new release schedule as well as continuing to enjoy our occasional dips back into music’s past.
Having long established a house style, our approach remained the same as the past few years: the site has mixed in depth pieces on new albums with occasional “archive pieces”, full length videos, and other bits of musical news and streams. That’s got us through another tricky twelve month stretch. That makes it sound like a prison sentence, but even with the ongoing pandemic hovering over all of us, it’s been far from bad.
All star prog tributes are hardly a new phenomenon. Robert Berry and Yes man Billy Sherwood have been contributing to such releases since the 90s and it’s often resulted in records made with love. Occasionally, they’ve included a few tracks that’ve become essential collection fillers. There’s a Pink Floyd tribute from the 90s called ‘The Moon Revisited’ that brings together a host of famous faces recreating the monolithic ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ from start to finish. Naturally, the record isn’t as good as the original – nobody ever claimed it would be – but a run of tracks during the second half make it a keeper. World Trade’s take on the instrumental ‘Any Colour You Like’ and Robert Berry’s ‘Brain Damage’, especially, showcase veteran talents able to turn their hands to almost anything with ease.
‘Heaven & Earth’, the twenty first studio album from Yes, seemed to spend most of its natural life lurking under a cloud of negativity. The last recording to feature founding member Chris Squire and the first to feature vocalist Jon Davison, it was criticised for “not being proggy enough”, “sounding like a lightweight Yes tribute band” and worse. None of the criticism was especially warranted. ‘Heaven & Earth’ featured some lovely sounds; tunes that featured lots of Yes hallmarks blending with a few poppy flourishes to create an almost spiritual and reflective piece.
The 1991 Yes album ‘Union’ is one that very much splits opinion. Rick Wakeman famously nicknamed it ‘Onion’ as it made him cry whenever he heard it, and even from a fan perspective, it never really connected with a strong audience. Those who liked the poppier route Yes had taken in the 80s found musical kinship in the more commercial tracks – like the lead single ‘Lift Me Up’ and Billy Sherwood’s excellent ‘The More We Live – Let Go’ – but didn’t really like the proggier aspects, while the proggy fans welcomed the return of Steve Howe and a few more adventurous bits but still had no time for the pop aspects still present. It was a case of “too many cooks” – the album took in too much variation and enlisted five different producers – and in an attempt to please everyone, almost ended up pleasing no-one.