THE PROG COLLECTIVE – Seeking Peace

Formed in 2012, The Prog Collective purports to be the world’s biggest prog rock supergroup. The idea of “supergroup” suggests musicians taking a permanent role; for this band, the reality is somewhat different. Yes, there are a lot of different musicians involved, but many of the famous faces signed up for the Collective only ever play on one or two tracks each. In that respect, as has previously been pointed out, this is just another vehicle for the multi-talented Billy Sherwood to present material that doesn’t necessarily fit his day job as Yes bassist/arranger. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course – the likelihood of Steve Hillage, Richard Page and Dweezil Zappa ever being invited to a Yes recording session is less than zero, so Sherwood’s extra-curricular project is more than valid.

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ARC OF LIFE – Don’t Look Down

An impressive side project for Yes men Billy Sherwood (bass/vocals) and Jon Davison (vocals), Arc of Life formed during the pandemic lockdown of 2020. Using the new band as a vehicle to combine strong melodic structures with some classic prog expansiveness on occasion, the band would quickly make an impression among Sherwood’s many fans. With the presence of Pink Floyd obsessive Dave Kerzner on keys, Sherwood’s old World Trade mate Jay Schellen on drums and his Circa colleague Jimmy Haun on guitar, the band would quickly take on the mantle of “old friends together”, but for lovers of melodic prog rock, their self titled debut LP (released in February 2021) presented a great blend of musicianship and song-based ideas.

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FLASH – In The USA: Live Recordings 1972-73

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.

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THE PROG COLLECTIVE – Songs We Were Taught

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.

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Watch the new video from Yes

The twenty second studio album from Yes, ‘The Quest’ demonstrated how the ever evolving and legendary prog band were still capable of making great music.  With a delicate balance between soaring melodies and complex structures, the album harked back to classic Yes in many ways, but also showed how they refused to become stagnant.

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