Waiting For The Sun (78)
100 Years Overtime (94)
Real World Trilogy (97, 3 CD Box Set)
As Wakeman with Wakeman, with Rick Wakeman:
With Jeronimo Road:
With Ozzy Osbourne:
Adam Wakeman (in concert with father Rick, 1997)
Adam Wakeman is one of two sons of Rick Wakeman who is also a progressive rock keyboardist (the other is Oliver Wakeman). Adam plays keyboards for metal icon Ozzy Osbourne and also has his own prog band, Headspace. Previously, he was in another progressive rock band named Jeronimo Road which had not released an album, but there has been a recent release of previosly recorded material. He toured with Rick (in fact, that's him featured in the GEPR Webzine article about Wakeman Live in Rio de Janiero ... sadly, the author never mentioned him by name ...) and released several albums with him as Wakeman with Wakeman.
Adam is curently touring as keyboardist with Ozzy Osbourne, and is also working on a concept album with Headspace, to be released early in 2010.
Below is a link to YouTube video of a short-haired Adam Wakeman on tour with his dad, doubtless the same tour as was written about in the Wakeman Live in Rio de Janiero article. It's not too bad for a bootleg ...
|Links||[See Headspace | Wakeman, Oliver | Wakeman, Rick]|
Solo and with Oliver Wakeman Band:
Heaven's Isle (97)
The 3 Ages of Magick (01, w/ Steve Howe)
Chakras (02, Commissioned New-Age album)
Spiritual Enlightenment (03, Commissioned New-Age album)
Purification by Sound (03)
Enlightenment and Inspiration (03)
Mother's Rain (05)
Oliver Wakeman Band - David Mark Pearce (guitars), Oliver Wakeman (keyboards), Paul Manzi (vocals),
Paul Brown (bass) & Dave Wagstaffe (drums).
Oliver Wakeman is the eldest of two sons of Rick Wakeman who is also a progressive rock keyboardist (the other is Adam Wakeman). He has a number of solo keyboard albums and also leads the Oliver Wakeman Band.
Along with his own albums, Oliver has collaborated with Clive Nolan (Pendragon, etc.) on two albums, Jabberwocky and Hound of the Baskervilles, and with Ayreon on The Human Equation, all of which featured large all-star casts of musicians. He was the recipient of the Classic Rock Society's "Best Keyboard Player" award for three consecutive years (2006, 07 & 08).
Oliver has also been in hig demand as a touring keyboard player, having toured as keyboardist for Bob Catley's Magnum, Strawbs, and until VERY recently, he had replaced his father Rick in Yes. A recent (April 9, 2011) posting on his site regarding this said, "The decision to leave Yes did not originate with Oliver and, as of this moment in time, we do not know which of Oliver's many contributions to the recording will exist on the new Yes record [Fly from Here]. Oliver did write and perform on a number of the new Yes album recordings. As to whether his parts, or the songs, will remain is unknown at the moment. However, we imagine that with this lineup change, fans should expect to hear Geoff [Downes] on the album, not Oliver. -- Fred Trafton
[See Ayreon |
Nolan, Clive |
Wakeman, Adam |
Wakeman, Rick |
Click here for Oliver Wakeman's web site
Piano Vibrations (71)
The Six Wives of Henry VIII (73)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (74)
The Myths & Legends of King Arthur & The Knights of the Round Table (75)
Lisztomania (75, Soundtrack)
No Earthly Connection (76)
Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record (77)
White Rock (77, Soundtrack)
Animal Showdown (79)
Rhapsodies (79, 2LP)
I'm So Straight I'm A Weirdo (80)
1984 (81, w/ Tim Rice)
The Burning (81, Soundtrack)
Rock n Roll Prophet (82)
Cost of Living (83, w/ Tim Rice)
G'ole! (83, Soundtrack)
Glory Boys (84)
Silent Nights (85)
Lytton's Diary (85)
Live at Hammersmith (85, Live)
Crimes of Passion (86)
Country Airs (Original) (86)
The Gospels (87)
The Family Album (87)
Creepshow II (87, Soundtrack)
A Suite of Gods (88, w/ Ramon Remedios)
20th Anniversary Limited Edition (88, Compilation)
Zodiaque (88, w/ Tony Fernandez)
Time Machine (88)
The Word and The Gospels (88)
Black Knights at the Court of Ferdinand IV (89)
Sea Airs (89)
In The Beginning (90)
Night Airs (90)
Phantom Power (90)
Aspirant Sunrise (91)
African Bach (91)
2000AD Into The Future (91)
Rock n Roll Prophet Plus (91)
The Classical Connection (91, Compilation)
Aspirant Sunset (91)
Aspirant Sunshadows (91)
Best Works Collection (92, Compilation)
Country Airs (92)
The Classical Connection 2 (93)
Wakeman with Wakeman (93, w/ Adam Wakeman)
The Heritage Suite (93)
No Expense Spared (93)
Classic Tracks (93)
Unleashing The Tethered One - The 1974 North American Tour (93)
Live On The Test (94)
The Stage Collection (94)
Lure of the Wild (94)
Wakeman with Wakeman - The Official Bootleg (94, w/ Adam Wakeman)
Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits (94)
Light Up The Sky (94, EP)
Wakeman with Wakeman Live (94)
Rock & Pop Legends (95)
The Piano Album (95)
Cirque Surreal (95)
Romance of the Victorian Age (95)
The Seven Wonders of the World (95)
Rick Wakeman In Concert (95)
Almost Live in Europe (95)
The Private Collection (95)
Simply Acoustic Video (96)
Can You Hear Me? (96)
Tapestries (96, w/ Adam Wakeman)
The New Gospels Video (96)
The Word and Music (96)
The New Gospels (96)
Fields of Green (96)
Welcome a Star (96)
Fields of Green '97 (97)
Fields of Green Maxi-Single (97)
The Piano Tour Live (97)
Simply Acoustic - The Music (97)
Rick Wakeman Live Video (98)
Master Series (98)
Official Live Bootleg (99)
Stella Bianca alla corte de Re Ferdinando (99)
The Art in Music Trilogy (99)
The Natural World Trilogy (99)
White Rock II (99)
The Masters (99)
Return To The Centre Of The Earth (99)
Chronicles of Man (00)
Christmas Variations (00)
Rick Wakeman Live in Concert 2000 DVD (00)
Rick Wakeman Live in Concert 2000 CD (00)
An Evening with Rick Wakeman Video (00)
Recollections - The Very Best of Rick Wakeman (00, Compilation)
The Caped Collection (00)
Morning Has Broken (00)
Preludes to a Century (00)
Out of the Blue (01)
Classical Variations (01)
Two Sides of Yes (01)
Treasure Chest Volume 1 - The Real Lisztomania (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 2 - The Oscar Concert (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 3 - The Missing Half (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 4 - Almost Classical (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 5 - The Mixture (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 6 - Medium Rare (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 7 - Journey to the Centre of the Earth + (02)
Treasure Chest Volume 8 - Stories (02)
Two Sides of Yes - Volume 2 (02)
The Yes Piano Variations (02)
Hummingbird (02, w/ Dave Cousins)
The Wizard And The Forest Of All Dreams (02)
Out There (03)
Rick Wakeman at Lincoln Cathedral (05)
Live At The BBC (07)
Retro 2 (07)
Rick Wakeman - Nov. 2001
Photo by Eugene Poliakov
Sea Airs (1989) contains the type of music that represents the good side or best of what is called "New Age" music. It is part of a piano trilogy (Country Airs, Sea Airs, Night Airs), and is very pleasant, almost soothing stuff. You can relax or study to it or whatever... Nothing spectacular, just an imaginative and musically successful disc from The Rick Wakeman New Age Collection. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the release A Suite of Gods (1988?), also part of Rick's New Age recordings. This almost intolerable music is a Tenor Opera sung in English (badly) by a Ramon or Remedios or somebody. At any rate, I just can't find much of any redeeming quality in this album. For me, it ranks (reeks) at the bottom of all of Rick's vast output. Perhaps if you "dig" this type of music especially, you might not rate it as Rick's worst (but again, it's not that good within the genre, either). I love Rick's work (even many "undervalued" ones like the recent Classic Tracks (1993). I just can't stomach A Suite of Gods, and wanted to warn Rick fans: BEWARE!... -- James Warren
Rick Wakeman, keyboardist extraordinare, has had a quite prolific and
varied solo career. Most are familiar with his first, and possibly best,
the Six Wives of Henry VIII. Recorded when he was in Yes, it showcases his ability as a keyboardist,
writer, and arranger. His second and third releases are also considered
classics of his repetoire, but denounced by some as being too
"pretentious," since they use full orchestra and choir.
Journey to the Center of the Earth is based on the Jules Verne
novel of the same name, and was recorded live. It mixes instrumental
tracks, vocals, and narration to form a grand concept album. One weakness
felt by some is Wakeman's poor choice of vocalists. Arthur, while
similiar in scope, is a studio recording. It is musically strong,
recounting tales of knights and such. Some great keyboards here.
Lisztomania is the soundtrack to a film by Kurt Russel, starring
Roger Daltry. It is a rock opera about Liszt. White Rock is the
soundtrack to a film about the 1976 winter olympics. This is one of his
stronger efforts, made up of all instrumental keyboard type pieces. Great
minimoog jamming on the title cut. In '76, his group was called the
English Rock ensemble, and was pared down from a full orchestra to
standard rock instrumentation plus a few horns. No Earthly
Connection is a strange album. It is supposed to be about the
universality of music, or something like that. It's kind of strange, and
musically kind of cheesy. However, in '77 saw him return to Yes and return to form. Criminal Record is
one of his best releases, helped by Alan White and Chris Squire. Six
pieces having to do with criminal justice, it showcases Wakeman at his
best. A great keyboard album [this is the album in which he uses the
Birotron, a Mellotron substitute he
co-invented with David Biro -Ed.]. His swansong with A&M records,
Rhapsodies, is a mixed bag. It has some great uptempo keyboard
songs (including his version of "Rhapsody in Blue"), and a
couple nice piano ballades, but also included are some cheesy/goofy pieces
that you'll want to skip over. Since it is a two album set, he should
have put the best cuts onto one record. Would have made it much better.
Throughout the '80s and '90s, he has put out many things ranging from
concept albums, modern rock, new age keyboards, and solo piano. Here are
descriptions of most of these albums, by a few different people:
1984: This is a conceptual album based on the novel of the same name. One of the tracks features vocals by Jon Anderson, and the lyrics are, as below, by Tim Rice. The music has a "rockier" edge than Cost Of Living, but there is no shortage of Wakeman's lead and chord work on keyboards. Features full orchestra on some cuts. Vocals provided by Chaka Khan and Jon Anderson, a few instrumental. One of his better '80s output.
Cost Of Living: This effort seems to somehow bridge the gap between the earlier symphonic, conceptual works, and the later, keyboard-rock releases. The music contains snatches of vintage Wakeman, with dramatic keyboard passages, and wall-of-chords. The lyrics are by Tim Rice, and reflect his background in composition for theatre/musicals. The CD concludes with a narration of Thomas Gray's "Elegy - Written In A Country Churchyard" over a keyboard background, and makes for a compelling ending. In conclusion, anyone who enjoys Wakeman's work will probably enjoy this CD.
Black Knights At The Court Of Ferdinand IV: Featuring the operatic Italian vocals of Mario Fasciano and the multi-keyboards of Wakeman, this work is quite reminiscent of much of the Italian progressive music of the seventies. The keyboards are much in the forefront, with echoes of Wakeman's work on Six Wives ... and ... King Arthur... coming to mind, with a more digital sound, on certain tracks. Parts of the CD also sound like PFM-meets-Tangerine Dream (I kid you not!). An excellent piece of work that should not disappoint Wakeman-philes.
Night Airs: The final work in his trilogy of solo piano excursions, providing conclusive evidence of Wakeman's virtuosity on the piano. All the tracks are very well developed, with a strong nod to classical composition techniques, mixed in with melodic rock influences.
Family Album is a simple, new age album. The pieces are named after all the members of his family (wife, mom, dad, kids, pets). They are based around piano, with simple synth orchestration. One piece (NIna) would later be re-done with lyrics as "The Meeting" from the AWBH album.
Phantom Power "The music on this CD was composed and recorded especially for a 1990's relaunch of the 1925 Universal Screen version of "Phantom Of The Opera"...operatic rock to fearful ballads, covering the spectrum of moods that encompassed the 90 minute epic," (quoted from the liner notes) describes the music on this CD quite well. There are tracks with vocalists, and short instrumental tracks, all of which are dominated by the melodic keyboard work of Wakeman. It is similar in spirit to the recent Freudiana soundtrack by Eric Woolfson and the Alan Parsons Project, and at times is reminiscent of mid-to-late-period Mike Oldfield, a la Five Miles Out and Islands.
The Classical Connection: Fusing the concepts of his piano solo trilogy with his past, Wakeman presents virtuosic piano arangements of many of his classics, augmented by the spare guitarwork of David Paton. Including many of his "hits," such as "Catherine Of Aragon," "Merlin The Magician," and a couple that I cannot recall seeing on earlier releases, such as "Elgin," this is the latest offering from Wakeman on the UK Ambient label.
Aspirant Sunrise/Aspirant Sunset/Aspirant Sunshadows/Classical Connection II/African Bach: the "Aspirant" series consist of more ... er ... meditative music, gentle compositions featuring keyboards and piano. Classical Connection II is a follow-up to the first one, and features piano with minimal accompaniments, except on a couple of fully orchestrated tracks and also includes a version of "Birdman Of Alcatraz" from Criminal Record. African Bach features vocal-fronted keyboard rock, similar in style to the 1984 and Cost Of Living releases, but seemingly more aggressive.
The Private Collection: As the title implies this is a collection of Wakeman's music. However, only two of the titles are from releases that I know, while the remaining seven are new to this CD. The music varies between fully orchestrated and symphonic pieces, such as "The Battle" from Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, to solo piano pieces, a couple of which are in excess of 10 minutes apiece. This collection sums up much of what Wakeman has been involved in during the eighties, and is a fine addition to the collection of anyone who enjoys high-quality, technically brilliant, keyboard music.
2000 A.D. Into The Future: Features a Roger-Dean'ish cover. To quote the liner notes "...is a collection of virtuoso digital and analogue keyboard playing...and was originally conceived for a series of futuristic films...." The music does convey that theme fairly well, and is at times similar to others in the genre, such as Yanni, without the latter's tendency towards sameness. One of the tracks even sounds as if it were inspired by Mark Shreeve!
Softsword (King John & The Magna Charter): Based on music composed for the grand finale of a UK Dickens Festival. This CD features regulars Chrissie Hammond, Stuart Sawney, and David Paton. The music, as usual, features the keyboard pyrotechincs of Wakeman, and combines the symphonic aspects of his earlier works with dramatic vocals. Five of the eleven tracks are instrumental.
Wakeman With Wakeman/A World Of Wisdom: The collaboration with son Adam is well crafted keyboard rock along the lines of 2000 A.D., while World Of Wisdom features tunes sung by comedian Norman Wisdom set to the music of Rick Wakeman, perhaps of most significance to Wakeman- collectors.
Crimes Of Passion: A somewhat obscure 1986 soundtrack. Most of the tracks are instrumental, and have Wakeman accompanied by Tony Fernandez and Rick Fenn (of Mason/Fenn fame). Musically, this release is not one to blaze new trails in the jungle of keyboard rock, but is, ultimately, listenable, comparable in style to 1984, Cost Of Living, etc.
Rock 'N' Roll Prophet: "It takes an album of music such as this to really know who your friends are...," an appropriate observation under the circumstances. The combination of a steady beat, bass, and vocals seem to indicate an attempt to make a dance album, and on that basis, this is a reasonable piece of work, I suppose. However, coming as it does from Wakeman, this is more of a curiosity, or to be less charitable, an aberration. The music has its moments, but I would personally recommend this only to inveterate Wakeman-philes. The CD reissue has four bonus tracks, all instrumental, recorded in 1993, which are more along the lines of the recent works such as 2000 A.D. and the like, and do rescue this CD to some extent.
Classic Tracks: This is a German release featuring a re-recording of three prime Wakeman tracks from the seventies. They are "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" (just under 32 minutes in length), "Catherine Howard," and "Merlin The Magician." Wakeman plays keyboards with all the flourishes and solos that harken back to his glory days, accompanied by four, relatively unknown, American musicians. The contemporary interpretations are pretty energetic, and manage to maintain the spirit of the older compositions, and should be quite acceptable to anyone who enjoyed the originals.
Suite of Gods: A bit of Wakeman new age stuff with a pretty good opera singer. It took me a while to get used to the bombastic singing on this, but other than that, it's pretty good, although not one of my most listened to Wakeman discs.
No Expense Spared: A weak follow up to his first album with his son Adam, who is a decent keysman in his own right. Basically Rick let his son write most of the stuff, and it tends to be a bit more in the straight pop/rock type vein, although Rick does grace the disc with many of the solos. Personally, I'd say get this one near the end of your collection unless you've heard and liked Adam Wakeman's solo stuff (Soliloquy I think his album is). It is NOT like the first WwW disc which in my opinion kicks serious ass.
Greatest Hits is a two disc recording, basically re-recordings of older tunes. They differ from Classic Tracks in that everything is instrumental. Disc one is his versions of various Yes tunes, while disc two are some of his best known works, like "Journey," etc. Great, lush, keyboard album, IMO. It blurrs the line between progressive and new age, so if you don't like that, stay away, but a definite must for all Wakeman fans.
Time Machine is a slick rock production. It features a few different vocalists. The tracks with Ashley Holt can be unlistenable (why does Rick keep using this guy?), but three of the tracks feature Tracey Ackerman, a great female vocalist. Modern, uptempo rock with some good keyboard action sums this one up.
Silent Nights is another more accessable album. Features mostly uptempo rock vocal tracks, with a few new agey instrumentals to balance things out. Not bad for this type of thing, but a couple of tracks are on the cheesy side.
Live at Hammersmith is obviously a live recording, from 1985, with the same bandmembers as on Silent Nights. However, all the pieces are from Six Wives, Journey, and Arthur. I think it's a great live recording, with updated renditions of his classic pieces.
The Official Bootleg is a two disc recording of the tour. It features selections from Journey, Arthur, Six Wives, a couple from the WwW studio albums, and a couple rock covers. Great keyboard artistry from father and son, backed up by Tony Fernandez and Alan Thompson. Solos galore.
Zodiaque is a simple new age album, with 12 pieces based on the signs of the zodiaque. I really like this disc to relax to. It is made up of simple synthesizer arrangements, with electronic percussion ably provided by Tony Fernandez. All instrumental.
Heritage Suite: The prolific keyboardist emerges again, with a collection of piano compositions, in the style of Country Airs and Classical Connection. The pieces herein vary from the upbeat to the introspective, with scattered riffs that recall passages from his solo works from the seventies. The concept underlying this release is the inspiration that Wakeman has drawn from the natural splendour and cultural heritage of the Isle Of Man, a place which he calls home.
Light up the Sky is a four song EP. The first two are vocal tracks, which are nice and upbeat. The third and fourth are instrumental, and I like the fourth one in particular, "The Bear." Shows echoes of his glory days, and shows he's still got it. -- Alan Mallery, Ranjit Padmanabhan, John Santore
I was around when Wakeman was with Yes the first
time, and it was during this time that he released The Six Wives of Henry
VIII. I played that album to death, learning every note, every nuance of the
album. I even tried to play some of it (badly) on piano by ear. If I had met
Wakeman in those days, I would have fallen on my knees and grovelled before
him, like Wayne and Garth before Alice Cooper: "We're not worthy!". I waited
with bated breath the release of his follow-up album Journey to the Center
of the Earth. I heard he was going to use a symphony orchestra to go along
with his multi-keyboard setup, and I just couldn't imagine anything cooler than
To say I was disappointed would be perhaps a bit too strong. But it certainly didn't meet up with my expectations. The songs were a bit boring and simplified compared to Henry VIII to accomodate the vocals, the synthesizers too "live" sounding and buzzy, the lyrics were cheezy beyond pardon, and that vocalist made me want to barf every time I heard him. I thought "nice try, Rick, but no cigar". My grovelling days ended.
After this, Rick did Myths and Legends of King Arthur, which I thought was sort of OK, and then several more which I found to be very boring. Rick sort of fell off my radar screen, and I hadn't bothered to listen to anything he'd done in the last 20 years or so. But recently I read a review in a gamer's magazine (of all places!) extolling the virtues of playing the new Rick Wakeman album while playing Dungeons and Dragons. The new album was named Return to the Center of the Earth. The reviewer talked about the original Journey album and obviously felt the same way I did about it, so I figured that if he disliked the old one for the same reasons I did, I might enjoy the new one as he did. So I "hinted" to my wife and got it for a birthday present.
The bottom line is: it's actually pretty cool. It's more new-agey than the original, not as progressive to be sure. But, the narrator is Patrick Stewart of Star Trek The Next Generation fame, and he can make even the most silly and purple prose (which this certainly is) sound very important and compelling. The vocalists are far more well-matched to the pieces than on the original recording, and the recording quality is ... well ... 25 years ahead of the original recording, and sounds like it. The buzzy synths are gone, and the keyboards now actually integrate well with the orchestra and choir. OK, the lyrics and narration are every bit as cheezy as the first time around, but this is supposed to be bombastic and overdone. I really think that Wakeman pulls it off this time. I would recommend this album to most symphonic prog lovers, and Wakeman fans in particular.
And to gamers? That reviewer was right ... this album kicks butt as background music for playing Dungeons and Dragons. Like you care. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Strawbs, The | Yes]|
This is a partial discography, focused on prog-related albums and famous associates:
Islands (71, w/ King Crimson)
Ian Wallace and Bob Dylan on tour. Original caption: "You're Fired." "I know."
Ian Wallace (born September 29, 1946 in Bury, England) is best known to GEPR readers as the drummer for King Crimson for the Islands studio album (1971) and subsequent live album Earthbound (1972).
Chronologically, in the realm of progressive and related rock, one of his earliest bands was The Warriors, along with Jon Anderson (in his pre-Yes days, known then as "Johnny Anderson"). Wallace was also briefly a member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, but never recorded anything with them. In May 1972, at the end of King Crimson's US tour, he and fellow Crimson members Mel Collins and Boz Burrell left to join Alexis Korner's Snape. In 2003, he had begun to return to his progressive roots, joining 21st Century Schizoid Band and playing on progressive offerings from Jakko Jakszyk and Fission Trip.
Wallace has played drums for many big name stars outside of the prog arena as well. He worked with Peter Frampton in 1975, Bob Dylan's band in 1978, Ry Cooder in 1979 and Don Henley in the 1980's and 90's. The list of bands and artists he's played with in the studio and on tour includes Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Johnny Hallyday, Keith Emerson, Roy Orbison, Jackson Browne, The Travelling Wilburys, Eric Clapton, Alvin Lee, Crosby Stills and Nash, Brian Eno, Larry Coryell, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Steve Marriott, Badger, Al Kooper, Glen Frey, Tim Buckley, Lonnie Mack, Billy Joel, Otis Spann, Sting, Steve Winwood, Bob Seger, Jimmy Buffett, Procol Harum, Robben Ford, Linda Ronstadt and Warren Zevon.
On August 10, 2006, Wallace was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He died on February 22, 2007 in Los Angeles.
[See Anderson, Jon |
Fission Trip |
Jakko Jakszyk |
King Crimson |
21st Century Schizoid Band]
Click here for Ian Wallace' web site
Mother Universe (72)
Cosmic Century (73)
Stories, Songs, and Symphonies (74)
No More Love (77)
Blue-Eyed Boys (79)
Wallenstein - Jürgen Dollase, Jerry Berkers, Harald Grosskopf and Bill Barone
Wallenstein were one of the seminal bands of the krautrock movement of the early seventies, who adopted a more symphonic approach, with music led by the fast and furious keyboards of Jurgen Dollase, accompanied by the percussive talents of Harald Grosskopf, both of whom are legends of the German prog scene. their first four releases Blitzkrieg, Cosmic Century, Mother Universe, and Stories, Songs, And Symphonies, constitute the pinnacle of their work. They drifted towards a slightly more commercial approach on subsequent releases. The music on these CDs varies between the early space-rock style of German bands such as Amon Düül II, albeit with a greater degree of refinement, on Mother Universe, to full-blown symphonic rock, on Blitzkrieg.
Blitzkrieg was one of the monsters of early German prog. With the
possible exception of Amon Düül
II and Can, they may be one of the first
truly progressive German bands I know of. Blitzkrieg leads off true
to its name with the wild 10-minute "Lunatic," a driving piece of slashing
guitar and cascading electric piano arpeggiations with some fantastic
drumming by Harald Grosskopf and lots of phase-shifting to give it that
extra-spacy feel. Truly mindblowing. The other three tracks showcase
Jurgen Dollase's superior piano playing with occasional injections of
Mellotron. Bill Barone's
electric guitar scontributions give it some raw
rock power, and overall I believe this to be one of the classics of German
prog. Highly recommended to all.
Mother Universe shows Dollase stretching out on a greater variety of keyboards (organ, clavinet), but suffers overall from a surplus of vocals, mostly by bassist Jerry Berkers, who sounds something like David Bowie with a sore throat. Still, they manage to shine on the instrumental passages of "Braintrain," "Dedicated to Mystery Land" and the title song. "Relics of Past" is a lovely ballad.
Cosmic Century began the first in what seemed an endless series of lineup shifts: Berkers quit to go solo (he had one LP, Unterwegs to show for it. Haven't heard it.), his replacement being Dieter Meier, later of Swiss electronicians Yello! [This is not correct ... see last article in this entry. -Ed.] Also added during this period were Achim Reiser on violin and Dollase's brother Rolf on flute. I haven't heard this one.
Meier and Rolf Dollase quit. Meier was replaced by Jurgen Pluta. The resulting quintet recorded Stories, Songs and Symphonies, an ear-pleasing collection of songs mixing chamber music (piano, violin) with Barone's bluesy guitar and a rock rhythm section. A little bit of Mellotron and synth is used, but very subtly. The emphasis is on Dollase's gorgeous piano playing, which is neatly complemented by Reiser's violin. The two long tracks, "Your Lunar Friends" and the title song, are the focal points of the album. The other songs, save three short neo-classical pieces at the end, are lighthearted tunes reminiscent of Caravan. Dollase's pleasing baritone graces all the vocal tracks.
After Stories..., Barone, Grosskopf and Reiser left. A new guitarist and drummer were added for No More Love, the first professionally produced (by Dieter Dierks) Wallenstein album. The difference in sound quality is immediately evident. The sound here is a lot less subtle than on previous albums; Dollase uses a lot of synths, clavinet and string- ensemble, even organ on one track, while new guitarist Gerd Kloecker is multi-tracked most of the time. Vocally, the emphasis is on strident harmonies, a bit like a cross between Yes and Rush. Best songs: "Backstreet Dreamer," a high-energy prog-rocker, the title song with its varying moods, and "On An Eagle's Wing," the first half of which is a hot synth/guitar jamming duet. The other songs are more melodic, "I Can't Loose" [sic] being the best of these, the corny rocker "JoJo" the worst. Worth it for the hilarious Hipgnosis-esque cover-art alone, No More Love is sadly supposed to be their last good album.
For 1978's Charline, the entire previous line-up was sacked, a new one installed, with Dollase the only original member left. Reportedly the style changed to light, commercial FM radio rock a la Toto, Journey, etc. I'd advise stopping at No More Love.
|Wallenstein are one of the better symphonic bands from Germany. Their best is supposed to be Blitzkrieg but I haven't heard it. What I have heard are Mother Universe and Stories, Songs and Symphonies. Led by keyboardist Jurgen Dollase, Wallenstein serve up a fiesty dose of symphonic Prog ala Novalis though less spacy. There are plenty of fiery guitar solos and, of course, ample doses of swirling organ, synth and Mellotron. The vocal sections aren't much to write home about (or here, either) but the long instrumental passages are very nice. Two four minute songs but the rest are in the 6-8 minute range. Stories, Songs and Symphonies is similar but with more focus on violin, piano and electric guitar. There's a classical bent to a couple of the songs, namely the three part, six minute "Sympathy for Bela Bartok." Of these two albums, Mother Universe is probably the better introduction to Wallenstein, but I reckon Blitzkrieg would be even better. Drummer Harald Grosskopf would later go on to Ashra.|
|The article about Wallenstein says that bass player Dieter Meier was later a member of Yello. This is a mix-up. Wallenstein's Dieter Meier died in 1986 as you can read at Harald Grosskopf's web page. Yello's Dieter Meier is still alive. -- Martin Grabsch|
[See Ashra |
Kirsmacher and Grosskopf]
Click here for Wallenstein information on Harald Grosskopf's web site.
Queen of Saba (72)
Walpurgis' sole release, Queen of Saba, is a typical representative of the German underground scene from the very early 1970s. Overall, the sound is somehwat similar to Jane though this is a bit more dated sounding. The first few songs are short with pretty bad vocals singing about love and the hippie "we can live together" ethic prevalent during that era. The album improves with the later songs when they hit the seven and ten minute guitar jams that define the "krautrock" scene. There is a bit of added dimension to the music as there is some congas and flute in addition to the usual bluesy/psych guitar assault. There is also a few brief acoustic guitar solos though it's usally present as a rhythm instrument. Also, Jurgen Dollase of Wallenstein guests on keyboards. Really, if it wasn't for the singing this wouldn't be a bad representative of the German underground vibe but for now I'd recommend Jane or German Oak instead.
Steve Walsh was born in St. Joseph, Missouri, but his family moved to Kansas when he was young. He is probably the most famous for his contributions to Kansas as both keyboardist and lead vocalist on all but a few of their albums. He sings lead on many of Kansas' biggest hits, including "Carry On Wayward Son", "Dust In The Wind" and "Point Of Know Return". He was a guest vocalist on Steve Hackett's solo album Please Don't Touch. He also fronted a band named Streets which released two albums in 1983 and 1985 while he had parted company with Kansas for a time, but this band is a straightforward rock band and probably not of much interest to most GEPR readers. However, Walsh has also released several solo albums that may be of interest.
The latest of these is his 2005 release Shadowman. This album features anthemic rockers designed for mass appeal without selling out to "big label" hit-making, and has many progressive and prog-metal influences evident throughout, though it never crosses over into what most (non-prog-loving) people find "boring" or "overblown" about prog. These are songs, not prog epics, but still have enough harmonic and sonic twists, turns and special effects to satisfy those of us with more progressive tastes. There is a lot of "southern rock" feel to most of the songs on the album, reminiscent perhaps of The Allman Brothers or a less fusiony Dixie Dregs and of course Kansas ... in fact, David Ragsdale plays violin on the song "After". But don't worry, there's not a twangy guitar line or a whiney vocal to be heard on the whole album. This album is Rock, with a capital R, and Walsh's trademark hyperactive vocals are used to good effect, in the best "Point of Know Return" style. There's also some Prog-Metal moments supplied by Symphony X's Michael Romeo.
Having recently suffered through a long string of self-produced garage studio albums, it was also a pleasure to hear how much excellent studio production can do for an album ... the studio technique and sound quality on this CD is spectacular! Walsh's voice always cuts through perfectly no matter how crunching the guitar or how screaming the keyboards. This is tough to do right, and Shadowman never fails to deliver. Walsh has produced a fine album in Shadowman, and it should enjoy a lot of positive response, not only from Walsh and Kansas fans, but also from prog fans and anyone who wants to hear some good old rock and roll performed with the kind of energy and power "the way it used to be". Count me among the fans. -- Fred Trafton
Schemer-Dreamer began as an outlet for Steve's songs that the band
Kansas didn't pick to record even as Steve
himself was feeling the need to stretch his own songwriting wings. A very strong effort
which suffered because of the record company's unwillingness to put any promotional
dollars behind it.
Recorded at the peak of Kansas' popularity, Schemer-Dreamer has a more straightforward rock appeal to it than the average Kansas record. Songs like" Every Step of the Way" tell the stories of Walsh's struggles to become a recording artist without compromising his music and artistic vision or selling out for the sake of money and fame. In "Just How it Feels" he reminisces about his grandparents influences on his life in as poignant a fashion as I've ever heard ... Allen Sloan (Dixie Dregs) adds a beautiful violin arrangement to the song which makes it the most "Kansas" sounding song on the album. Walsh also enlists the talents of Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse on "Wait Until Tomorrow" and Kansas members Richard Williams and Kerry Livgren add their solid and melodic guitar playing to "Schemer/Dreamer" and "You Think You've Got It Made".
Throughout his career Steve's songwriting has been overshadowed as fellow band member Kerry Livgren penned the bands more successful songs ("Dust in the Wind", "Carry on Wayward Son") but Walsh remains a strong writer who is still uncompromising as ever and refuses to repeat himself or write the same song twice. Still hailed as one of Rock and Roll's premier voices Steve Walsh epitomizes the true artist with a career that spans 30 years and continues on into 2006 as he still regularly performs with the band Kansas. Schemer-Dreamer is a must have for any true Kansas and Steve Walsh fan!! -- David Tenneyuque
[See Hackett, Steve |
Click here for a Steve Walsh fan web site
A Dream Within A Dream (83)
|Comparable to Galaxy.|
The Orange Album (77)
|Although labelled as a progressive rock band [in Jerry Lucky's book "The Progressive Rock Files"], the only thing I can really find progressive about them is that Rush producer Terry Brown had a hand in this album. They basically sound like a run-of-the-mill '70s rock band (I am reminded of Ted Nugent's less inspired moments), and they can be somewhat dull at times. Every once in a while, the band breaks into a multi-part vocal harmony that gets your hopes up, but then resumes the all-to-simple music. Don't bother with these guys. -- Simon Karatsoreas|
Wapassou (75), Messe En re Mineur (76), Sallambo (77), Ludwig (78), Genuine (80), Orchestra 2001-Le Lac D'Argent (86)
French progressive rock band with instrumentation oriented around a keyboard/ violin/guitar/drums (in that order of prominence) setup. They play what is often described as a spacy-progressive rock, and have to date released six albums, including one with the aid of an orchestra. Their best is probably Messe En Re Mineur, which is a single 40 min. track on two sides of an LP.
Sort of a chamber progressive band, who's early albums featured no percussion and were sort of like a more melodic version of Univers Zero (albeit quite a bit earlier.) Their best is supposed to be Messe En Re Mineur Since this is the only one I have, I haven't been in a rush to get the rest. Can be quite mesmerizing at times, though.
Interesting French symphonic progressive with lots of violin. Most feature side-long compositions, and a very strong classical influence (Bach, etc.) The band consists of Freddy Brua (keyboards), Jacques Lichti (violin) and Karen Nickerl (Guitars). Only the last album features a drummer. Some vocals on the first album, but the rest are nearly all instrumental. Their first album is different from the rest, with sort of an Art Zoyd-ish feel, but very substandard. The last ..Lac D'Argent is a much more polished album with an instrumental pop feel, beautiful stuff, but very different than the others. Best places to start are Messe En Re Mineur or Ludwig.
I have their self-titled first album from 1975. Essentially, the band consists of keyboards, violin, and female vocals in French. Various guest musicians contribute occasional oboe, flute, or other instruments. Due to the lack of drums and bass, and the prominence of the violin, the band has a dreamy "chamber ensemble" feel. If the writing were a bit more inspired they might have been an excellent band. Unfortunately, the music fails to be very involving. Messe En Re Mineur is said to be their best so I'd look there first.
Wappa Gappa (95)
A Myth (98)
Wappa Gappa in Paris, 1999
The basic sound of A Myth (Musea FGBG 4250.AR) follows the formula coined by Japanese symphonic groups in the 1980s: strong guitars, big synths and bigger melodies crowned with powerful female vocals, simpler than classic symphonic prog yet more extreme in almost every way than the British neo-progressive rock. The musicians are supposedly originally from Mongolia, however, so they don't follow this already well-established formula to the letter. Guitarist Yasuhiro Tachibana adopts a somewhat raunchier-than-average guitar tone and also supplements his powerchords and lyrical leads with an occasional bluesy solo and acid-spiced sonority that project the music back to the late-1960s psychedelic rock, beyond the usual time frame that Japanese symphonic bands tend to draw from. Similarly, vocalist Tamami Yamamoto's very capable voice stretches from graceful high-register gliding to assertive rock utterance, but on "The Banquet (Utage)" she adopts a reedy tone and an undulating verse melody of Asian modality that is more grating to an ear attuned to Western popular music than the skittish riffs and psychedelic wah-wah guitar solos that underlie it. "The Underground (Chikatetsu)" has pop vocal melodies on what is essentially Rainbow-style hard rock with a bit more progressive-style solos from Tachibana and keyboardist Hideaki Nagaike.
Most of the longer tracks are still on the symphonic pipeline established in Kansai in the early-1980s: bigger-than-life vocal episodes, ranging from precious to powerful, alternate with instrumental solos and limited ensemble action. Most of the transitions work pretty seamlessly and without too much artificiality, even if some of Nagaike's brass patches raze the eardrums unnecessarily. Bassist Keizo Endo, on the other hand, provides two of the most stylish solos on the album, the fretless melodising on "The Lion Hearted King (Shishi-Oh)" and a brief growling coda on "The One and Only (Yui Itsu)". The elegantly underplayed ballad "Pilgrimage of Water (Mizu No Junrei)" allows him room for a few more lovely fretless lines and blossoms briefly into a keyboard-swelled vocal rhapsodising whose effect even the slightly heavy-handed guitar solo cannot evaporate. The finale, "Floating Ice (Ryuhyo)", is also notable for the elegance of its vocal lines and rich keyboard work (Hammond and various silky and spacey synthesizer tones), which elevate tremendously what could otherwise have been a rather ordinary neo-progressive powerballad.
Overall this album brings a bit of variation into the Japanese symphonic subgenre, even though not all those experiments are beneficial. Not the best and by no means the worst of its kind. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|Links||Click here for Wappa Gappa's web site. Try all three languages, these are entirely different sites.|
For A Knave (91)
The Fear of Make-Believe (95)
|Paul Ward was a member of the UK electronic duo Quiet Point. This [For a Knave] is his first solo release, on the Surreal To Real label. For a Knave falls within the framework of electronic music, but is powered by strong rhythm and bass, comparable at times to Tangerine Dream's better soundtracks. The music is very melodic, and makes for upward of an hour of well constructed electronic rock.|
Warhorse (70), Red Sea (72), Vulture Blood (83)
A Deep Purple spinoff with Nick Simper on bass. As with Deep Purple, there is a lot of Jon Lord style organ. Personally, I think Deep Purple does it much better.
Vulture Blood is a compilation.
[See Deep Purple]
And It Came To Pass (70)
Peace For Our Time (71)
Warm Dust (71)
Dreams of Impossibilities (72)
|British band with a sometimes Canterbury-like, sometimes more brassrock-like sound. Imagine a mixture between Caravan and early Chicago (around 1970) and you get an idea of their music. When they go into longer tracks, they develop an excellent, dense music dominated by flute and saxes, the great organ by Paul Carak and the deep and strong vocals by Dansfield Walker. Listen to "Turbulance" or "Wash My Eyes" from And It Came, "The Blind Boy" (an 18 minute suite) from Warm Dust or "Justify" from Peace (an anti-war concept album) to find the strongest moments of this band. Unfortunately one can also find some not too progressive brass/blues rock titles, too (e.g. "Lead Me To The Light" from Warm Dust). Dreams was a German release that contained all titles from the And It Came DLP (except for one) and three tracks from Peace. -- Achim Breiling|
Kylyn (79), Kylyn Live (??), To Chi Ka (80), Dogatana (81), Talk You All Tight (??), Ganaesia (??), Lonesome Cat (82), Mobo I (83), Mobo II (83), Mobo Club (85), Mobo Splash (??), Ooka-Ranman (Mobo Live) (??), Concerto de Aranjuez (??), The Spice of Life (87), The Spice of Life Too (88), Kilowatt (89), Romanesque (??), Pandora (91?), O-X-O (??)
He's one of the best guitarists I've had the pleasure of hearing. Most of his stuff is fusion. Just about all of it is really hot. I have all of his domestically-released (US) albums, and the Japanese release of Mobo (it has an extra 20-25 minutes of music on it). I'd suggest either Panorama or Mobo Splash as a starting point. Spice of Life and Spice of Life Too both have Bill Bruford and Jeff Berlin on them...the second has Peter Vetesse as well. He's also played with the likes of Wayne Shorter, Patrick Moraz, Tony Levin, Alex Acuna, Lenny White, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Michael Brecker, Omar Hakim, Steve Jordan, Marcus Miller, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespere, and Peter Erskine. The caliber of this roster should say something about the caliber of the musician. Other than the albums listed above, Mobo and Kilowatt are probably the next best.
I have his Spice of Life album and it is excellent fusion. Kazumi plays electric guitar, while bass and drum chores are handled by Jeff Berlin and Bill Bruford, respectively. There is a high degree of musicianship on this masterpiece. The style is probably closer to David Torn's Cloud About Mercury than to Mahavishnu Orchestra or Tribal Tech. Watanabe uses space between the notes very effectively and there is more than a hint of Eastern influences on some songs. At times, Kazumi's guitar is a fiery blend of exotic spices while other times he weaves an absorbing atmospheric texture of sustained notes mixed with brief runs. Excellent fusion and highly recommended.
Twilight (97, as The Night Watch)
The Watch - (not in photo order, I believe Stucci is missing) Simone Rossetti (vocals,
live theatrics), Ettore Salati (guitar), Roberto Leoni (drums), Marco Schembri (bass),
Fabio Mancini (keyboards?) and Simone Stucchi (studio engineer, but considered to be
a band member by the band)
There are those who disparage The Watch is "nothing more than a Genesis clone band". They play original compositions, but they sound so much like the old Peter Gabriel era Genesis that you might as well call them a tribute band. Look, I understand that it's traditional for prog fans to turn their noses up at such unoriginal behavior. But I love the old Peter Gabriel era Genesis, and I miss them. So when somebody comes along who can imitate them as perfectly as The Watch, I'm not going to complain. I'm going to enjoy it. These guys are fabulous.
Besides, to hear The Watch's vocalist and frontman Simone Rossetti tell it (in a Progression Magazine interview by John "Bo Bo" Bollenberg), "All of the band loves Genesis, so of course we want to create that kind of atmosphere if we can. But although few people believe us, it all comes naturally. The way we compose and arrange our music results in a '70's-like feel, which gets ever so close to authentic Genesis. We are all very proud of that." Well, if they're just doing what they want to do, and it results in very Genesis-like music that I enjoy, why in the world should I complain about it?
On Ghost, vocalist Simone Rossetti imitates Gabriel's vocal mannerisms with perfection, and even plays flute and wears makeup. The band seems to need three keyboardists to make up for Tony Banks, and these are Gabriele Manzini, Sergio Tagiloni and Gino Menichini, though Menichini seems to be more involved as a sound designer than a player. Their synth soloing, Hammond work and Mellotron chorales sound just like what Banks sounded like circa Nursery Cryme through Selling England By The Pound. Guitarist Valerio Vado imitates Steve Hackett's sustained, soaring, sliding electric guitar style. And so on. The music is compelling in its own right, even where it blatantly echos some particular Genesis tune in some aspect. And they do sometimes break free of the mold for awhile and do something Genesis might have done if only they had progressed in their progressive mode instead of becoming a pop band, and this is great. I thoroughly enjoy Ghost, and recommend it to anyone who likes Genesis and doesn't need everything they hear to be new and different all the time.
For Vacuum, guitarist Vado has been replaced by Ettore Salati. The band here stretches out from their early Genesis sound and into a more modern sound, especially in the recording quality, which has moved from "good" on Ghost to "crystalline clarity" on Vacuum. This coupled with Salati's less Hackettish guitar approach and some digital keyboard timbres mixed with the "vintage" analog keys make them sound a little bit less like Genesis, though there are still plenty of Genesis stylings on this album. "Out of the Land", for instance, has very Lambish chorused arpeggiated guitar and "Taurus pedals" bass with the soft, plaintive Mellotron strings playing behind Rossetti's vocal ... it's nothing if not vintage Genesis. Still, on other parts of the album, the guitar is swallowed up by the symphonic keyboards and you have to really listen to hear it in the mix at all. This isn't a bad thing, it just sounds less Genesis-like, which works well for the songs where they break free of the mold a little. The bottom line is that I think Vacuum is even better than Ghost, and I can recommend it easily. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for The Watch's web site
Click here for The Watch's MySpace page
Energetic Disassembly (85)
Control and Resistance (89)
|Texas based band who invented "technical metal" subgenre, Watch Tower were the first group to mix harsh metallic sounds with jazz elements (ie, thrash metal meets Allan Holdsworth and other fusioneers). Rather shyly on debut, but far more decisively on Control. This was also due to different line-ups on both recordings (same rhythm section, different guitar players and vocalists) and slightly different zeitgeist when both recordings emerged. When talking bout line-ups, rhythm section (Doug Keyser-bass, Rick Colaluca - drums, electronic drums) was technically proper on both releases, but that we couldn't say for guitarists. Billy White pales in comparison with Ron Jarzombek (today in Spastic Ink and Gordian Knot), who has distinct, hickupy style probably inspired by Holdsworth, where musician plays fastly and even accelerates, then suddenly stops, again accelerates, again stops, than catches the riff for few seconds and again rushes into mentioned quick alternating of go!'s and stop!'s. Vocalists (Jason McMaster and Alan Di Tecchio), were both on helium for the most of time and are great singers, with the former being closer to melodical styles of singing, while Di Tecchio seems to be able and prepared to satisfy in every singing area. For GEPR-readers, debut is not that important, Control and Resistance makes better starting place. But if one becomes fan of the second, will probably wanted to (at least) hear the first one nevertheless. Musically, Control and Resistance is leaning slightly on VoiVod (era Dimension Hatross), for it is bizarre, cold and is quite atmospheric (though not in the same way as VoiVod). Lyrics are dealing mostly with abusing of high tech esp. weapons; alienation in technological world, and sundry variety of dangers, preying all around in modern times (no safety gained even after all these milleniums). "Mayday in Kiev" is deals with Tchernobyl catastrophe. On the whole, Control and Resistance is very adventurous album, and was long time lonely (but brightly shining) star within the progressive metal subgenres and beyond. Actually, it was the most complex work in metal music until Cynic released their astounding Focus. Nowadays, 'tis still on the second place in the category of complexity. As their sound isn't easy to emulate, they nevertheless have some adherents, which unlike Cynic , move squarely on paths WT have trodden. Spastic Ink, with Jarzombek as a leader, continue where WT have stopped, furtherly developing and pushing ahead the boundaries of heavy fusion sound. And Control and Resistance still shines. Like Rigel. Essential!! -- Nenad Kobal|
|Links||[See Gordian Knot | Jarzombek, Ron | Spastic Ink]|
The Second Day (75) Damburst (76)
Damburst seems to be some sort of concept album about a struggle between man and nature. The band that made the album is named Water, and they include among their personnel ex-members of the old 60's proto-prog band Sandy Coast. Also, they include a harmonica player, unusual for a prog band. The gentle flute playing, churning string-synths and sustain-filled guitar-solos on tracks like "Sail away" remind me mostly of Camel. There are also some more mainstream rock pieces, but they aren't really offensive enough to make me skip them, though most of them aren't especially exciting or distinctive. The vocals are occasionally memorable, resembling Roger Daltrey on "Damburst II". Not a record to get enthused over, but not bad. -- Mike Ohman
Waterfall (72, reissued 2003)
Waterfall - Corry Knobel and Eliano Galbati
Black Rills Records in Switzerland specializes in recovering lost prog recordings of Swiss bands, re-mastering them and re-releasing them on CD. Other releases reviewed in the GEPR included Kedama, Rumple Stiltzken Comune, Starglow Energy, Lizard and Welcome. On the good side, the quality of Waterfall is as good or better than any of the other Black Rills releases, and the music is pretty good. On the downside, these songs don't seem very progressive to me at all. They're interesting '70's rock with a large dose of folk and R&B. The closest thing to a prog tune is the album closer, "Waterfall - The Unknown Light" which at least has the requisite length, clocking in at 13:40.
The most memorable tune is the gimmicky second cut, "Play Hiding", where the band members make deep-sounding statements about themselves, and a huge stadium-full of people wildly applaud at everything they say. Something on the order of "We're young, we're beautiful, and we sure aren't wrong [wild applause]." It's fun, and surely indicates that the band aren't taking themselves too seriously ... perhaps even poking fun at those who do.
Waterfall is a re-release of an album that had only a limited pressing ("We got caught at customs trying to smuggle the first 500 copies into Switzerland"). The whole album was recorded in Italy on a budget of 7000 (I don't know if this was Dollars, Lira or Swiss Francs), including mastering and pressing the vinyl. Considering this, the recording is good, but consists only of guitars, bass and vocals by composer Corry Knobel with Eliano Galbati on precussion and a couple of guests playing a bit of piano. The album is short, but the CD also includes two bonus tracks recorded the year before in a Swiss studio. Even with these, the CD's length is only a bit over half an hour.
Waterfall will never become anyone's favorite album, but it's not bad. If you're going to order something else from Black Rills anyway, you might as well give this one a try too. -- Fred Trafton
Click here to order Waterfall from Black
Ghost of Talk (98, EP)
|Basically a synth-augmented power trio a'la 80s Rush, Waterfront Weirdos were one of the more promising up-and-coming Finnish progressive acts in the late-1990s, but unfortunately they broke up with only a couple of demo tapes and this self-published mini-album to remember them by. The 27-minute Ghost of Talk (Weird Geezer Records WfW CD-001) has three songs worth of up-tempo, guitar-based neo-prog that draws its influences from Rush and Marillion, comparable to the likes of Everon. Peartian drumming and frantic, often metallic guitar riffs in changing tempos and metres dominate, with synths colouring the sound here and there. While not overtly derivative, the first two songs are clearly indebted to Rush, while the third and best song, "Untouchable Areas", adds guitar leads and atmospheric vocal sections more akin to Marillion. Their melodic and structural constructions are generally strong if sometimes patchy: on "Talk to Me" the thinness of melodic cushioning reveals the jaggedness and discontinuity of the basic trelliswork of riffs a bit too clearly. Lyrical influences are more obvious in their well-written verses crammed with dense, anguished Fishisms. Hard-hitting without being too heavy, Ghost of Talk does suffer, like many neo-progressive releases, from inadequate vocals which are not terrible but still unsonorous even with all the effects applied to them. Unfortunately this promising debut became an obscure and long out-of-print footnote in the history of Finnish progressive rock. -- Kai Karmanheino|
|Magellan has a song titled "Waterfront Weirdos" on their 1994 album Impending Ascension. This song concerns homeless people who live by the waterfront. This is doubtless the inspiration for this band's name, and perhaps even their sound. -- Fred Trafton|
Frames of Mind (82 w/ Brad Allen)
In Time (85, w/ Coco Roussel)
Thought Tones Vol. 1 (90)
Early Solo Works (91, Compilation of first two)
A Different View (91)
Sampler (91, Compilation)
Thought Tones Vol.2 (92)
Wet Dark and Low (92)
Kinetic Vapours (93)
Holographic Tapestries (95)
Beauty Drifting (96)
Rolling Curve (00)
The Unseen (00)
The Gathering (01)
Music For The End (01)
This Time and Space (03)
Flying Petals (04)
World Fiction (05)
Ex-Happy the Man, Camel keyboardist who has been quite active in the field lately, producing a number of albums close to the electronic/new age side of Happy the Man. Try Labyrinth, some of which is on the Early Solo Works CD.
Kit was the main keyboard player in Happy the Man. Later he joined Camel for an album and a tour. Since then he's released several solo albums. All his albums are very different, some great, some fairly disappointing. The two Thought Tones albums are ambient releases of processed industrial noise (yawn!). A Different View is an album of very straightforward classical pieces (mostly Satie), nothin' special. Azure is a very low-key new-agey album with some nice moments and interesting compositions, but I think maybe too mellow for most readers. All of the the others are fair game: Frames of Mind features one side of vocal tracks and a second side of sequenced electronic sounding stuff. In Time is probably the best, most upbeat, and the one I'd recommend for starters. Sunstruck is good too, but has a few very mellow tracks in the Azure vein. Wet Dark and Low is fairly upbeat and is quite good. If you're still confused, get Sampler - it's very inexpensive for the CD and contains over 70 minutes of music.
Kit Watkins' 1989 solo release, Azure, showcases his compositional ability with a wide variety of synths and assorted machines. The music tends toward that of contemporary keyboard musicians such as David Lanz, but has a much more sophisticated, adventurous approach, including every prog-head's delight, odd time signatures.
[See Camel |
Happy the Man]
Click here for Kit Watkins' web site
An independent LP only release Assembly offers up a brilliant smorgasbord of blistering fusion, instrumental rock, and clever electronics, all played very tight, driven by Watson's guitars and synths, with drums by Dave Webb, and other musicians guesting. Very rare and out of print five long tracks, each with a slightly different focus, plus the multi-part title opus.
As an avid collector, I have had the opportunity to sample a mind-numbing quantity of progressive music over the last several years, ranging in quality from the abhorrent to the sublime. Once in a while, I even stumble across a real gem. Of the few "real gems" I've discovered, Ken Watson's Assembly LP is one of my all-time favorites. Thankfully, Larry Kolota at the Kinesis label has seen fit to reissue this difficult-to-find album (only 600 copies of the original LP were pressed) on CD, complete with 20 minutes of bonus material that is equally and unequivocally excellent. In addition, the CD boasts superior sound quality (thanks in part to Bob Katz at the Digital Domain, who performed the honors of digital mastering) and new cover artwork. In the past, Ken's music has been described as killer jazz-rock fusion and more than once, likened to that of the Dixie Dregs. Although not entirely inaccurate, I think that both assessments are more than a little misleading. While there is definitely some jazz influence as well as a surplus of hot fretwork, the material really does not fit anywhere within the mold of the fusion label. Neither would any of the compositions (or arrangements) be mistaken for those of Steve Morse. If forced to make a comparison, I would have to say that Ken's style falls closer to a mix of Kenso, Happy the Man, and Zamla Mammaz Manna. An impressive composer and guitarist who doubles quite effectively on keyboards, bass, and percussion, Ken plays most of the instruments on the recording. He is accompanied by two drummers (David Webb on the tracks from the original album and Craig Riches on the bonus tracks), both of whom work miraculously well in the demanding and highly-original environment created by Ken's compositions. Also featured on a few of the LP-derived tracks is Terry Morgan, a keyboardist (also the CD's recording engineer) who contributes some mean Mini-Moog solos as well as an original composition. In addition, Buddy Stewart plays a sprightly bass on the CD's first cut and Greg McPhereson contributes a jazzy piano introduction to one section of the multi-part title track. But what really stands out, even above the top-notch musicianship, is the quality of the compositions. Rhythmically and harmonically complex and varied yet remarkably easy to sink one's teeth into, Ken's compositions transport the listener through an ever-enjoyable roller coaster ride that is as comfortable as it is exciting. When played at a sufficient volume, you are practically guaranteed to feel as though you've traveled somewhere magical and returned just in time to put the disc back in its jewel box. If your hunger for great music puts you in the mood to make a wonderful new progressive discovery, I can't recommend this disc highly enough!
Ken Watson's Assembly is probably the best CD I purchased in 1994. Weighing in at over 60 minutes, the disc is a combination of reissued material from 1985, plus 20 minutes of new material, and is all instrumental. When you compare Ken Watson to other guitar virtuoso's like Eric Johnson or Ronnie Montrose you immediately realize the primary difference: Ken's chop's are easily as good as any of these other guitar heroes, but compositionally he writes circles around them. This is by far the most well balanced album I've heard in years, and considering that almost all of the instruments are played by Ken himself (he adds live drummers - hooray for no drum machines!) this is even more incredible. Typically I find that albums by a single musician tend to be relatively flat - all of the music tends to sound the same stylistically. Not so with Assembly, which incorparates several different moods and styles without appearing contrived. The influences and sounds have been pointed out in the previous reviews (Happy the Man, Kenso, etc), but I'd add that even if you usually shy away from instrumentals you should give this a listen. Buy this disc - you won't miss the vocals! I'd like to thank Larry Kolota for finding this and reissuing it. It would be a crime for music of this caliber to lost under the mass of mediocre neo-progressive clones immitating the old masters. We definitely need to support independant artists like Ken Watson if we want to continue to hear music of this quality (Read Ann Rayn's The Fountainhead if you want to understand my fears of mediocrity taking over the world). -- Jim Watts
Ken Watson's Assembly was easily one of the best CD reissues of 1993. The CD contains the original 40 instrumental minutes of the original Assembly album, plus an addition 20 minutes of bonus material from a planned second LP that never materialized. On this album, Ken Watson plays guitars, most keyboards and some percussion. He is joined by David Webb (for the original LP music) and Craig Riches (on the bonus material) on drums. Both are excellent foils for Watson's guitar and keyboard work. A few friends help out with some extra work on a few tracks; most notable is Buddy Stewart's bass on "Skeletons in Armor" and Terry Morgan's keyboard work on "Yuppie Jazz" and sections of "Assembly Parts 1-5." Assembly is an album of progressive fusion that is not readily comparable to anyone in particular, with a couple of exceptions. The opening "Skeletons in Armor" is not unlike some of Scott Henderson's work with Tribal Tech or the Players session with Jeff Berlin, Steve Smith and T Lavitz. "Next X" is the most recognizable, as Watson shows off his fondness for Happy the Man. In fact, in some ways, Ken Watson's Assembly seems a guitarist's alter-ego for Happy the Man, with the jazzy styling and use of counterpoint (listen to the clavinet, bass and guitar at the final parts of "Assembly," with Morgan even turning in a killer mini-moog solo a la Kit Watkins in "Assembly Part 3." "Yuppie Jazz," written by Terry Morgan, made me think of Chick Corea's Elektric Band at double speed, at once a humorous poke at contemporay fuzak and a showcase of daunting chops. The three bonus tracks only enhance an already fine album. Great stuff and definitely recommended, particularly to fans of Happy the Man, Kenso and other bands in that style. -- Mike Taylor
Where Are We Captain (76), New Atlantis (77)
Mind Journey (84)
Out of Time (97, Recorded 86-88)
|One shot electronic duo [John Dyson and David Ward-Hunt], who recorded a relatively popular album Moonwind that got rave reviews from the new age press. Sort of like a sickly sweet cross between early eighties Tangerine Dream and Kitaro.|
|The LP release of this British synth duo's work vanished quickly with the demise of Audion, but now the CD is available, with a long bonus track. This is prime electronics, influenced in equal parts by Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd.|
[See Dyson, John]
Click here for a Wavestar/John Dyson web site
A Candle For Judith (71)
Concerto For Electric Guitar and Violin (78), The Human Condition (87), Under the Soft (91)
Former violinist with Curved Air. He split in 1973 and formed Wolf, recorded three albums (Saturation Point, Canis Lupus, Night Music), then returned to Curved Air for their last three albums. Wolf's sound overall was more of a direct rock sound, with violin driving, and a touch of fusion, and as great as they sounded at the time, today the three Wolf albums sound very dated, and I wouldn't recommend them except to completists, especially at their Japanese import prices. In the Post-Curved Air period, Way has released several albums, each very different: Concerto For Electric Violin and Synthesizer was a classical oriented piece with Francis Monkman (also ex-Curved Air) The Human Condition is a series of very classical pieces performed with Opus 20 (a chamber orchestra). It wasn't until his latest Under The Soft, that he came back to an instrumental rock setting; this is an exceptional album driven by Violin and synth, with strong and soaring melody lines and brilliant arrangements. This one is highly recommended.
Darryl Way made his fame with Curved Air and his own band, Wolf. I've heard a couple of tracks from these bands and they are very good. But the only Darryl Way CD I own is Under the Soft. Yawn. This CD borders on new age in many places. Way plays violin and keyboards, with guitars by Pete Haycock (of Climax Blues Band fame; he has a very good guitar album on IRS) and drums by Stewart Copeland. The writing is weak and the arrangements are boring. The violin is also buried in the mix. There is no intensity to Way's playing. I've heard one cut from his Canis Lupis album which was far superior to this work. I picked this up at a used CD store and it's going back in trade for something else.
[See Curved Air | Trace | Wolf, Darryl Way's]
We All Together (??)
We All Together 2 (74)
When I first saw the band We All Together in GEPR couldn't understand why was it
mentioned and to be sincere, still can't get it because even though they are really
good musicians, always standed very far from Progressive Rock and Psych.
This Peruvian band from the early 70's was greatly influenced by the lighter side of the Beatles (Paul McCartney). In their first album (We All Together) they have four covers, Tomorrow, Some People Never Know and Bluebird from McCartney, as well as Carry on Till Tomorrow from Badfinger. The funny thing is that some of their original songs like Ozzy and Dear Sally sound very much like Harrison and Lennon tunes.
Their second album (We All Together 2) has also a cover of Band on the Run from McCartney and a strange song Follow Me If You Can which sounds very much like Roundabout from Yes, maybe their only aproach to progressive rock. The other original themes have much in common with Beatles. You'll find the songs list will be diferent sometimes, because the Cd's have been released years after the band broke and the original tracks are not always the same as in the old LP format.
The Band members led by singer and (sometimes) composer Carlos Guerrero are competent musicians and must accept that the sound of the band is simple but effective. It's sad that a group of really good musicians didn't tried to develop their own sound.
Progressive fans should stay with their predecessor Laghonia, band that has an original and Prog/Psych oriented sound, but if you like early 70's Beatles or Wings music, We All Together is your band. -- Iván Melgar Morey
Weather Report (71)
I Sing The Body Electric (72)
Mysterious Traveller (74)
Tail Spinnin' (75)
Black Market (76)
Heavy Weather (77)
Mr. Gone (78)
Night Passage (80)
Weather Report (81)
Domino Theory (84)
Sportin' Life (85)
This is This! (86)
Live and Unreleased (02)
Forecast: Tomorrow (06, Box set compilation including a DVD)
|One of the original fusion bands to break out of Miles Davis's classic Bitches Brew line up. With Wayne Shorter on sax and Joe Zawinul on keyboards, Weather Report were probably the most successful at blending jazz and rock into a truly unique format. The most accessible would probably be Heavy Weather with the classic Zawinul tune "Birdland," which was later popularized by The Manhattan Transfer. The album also features bassist Jaco Pastorius. Earlier albums are more experimental, and to me, is where the band really shines. Shorter was the strongest writer of the duo and his haunting soprano sax always brought an air of mystery to the music. Zawinul's writing dominated later albums (post 8:30) and the music suffers for it. One half of I Sing the Body Electric is live and is fantastic. Ralph Towner is also featured on the Shorter penned "The Moors" to good effect. Other great albums are Tail Spinnin' and Mysterious Traveler. I don't recommend anything after the live 8:30.|
|Many consider them among the best fusion bands. I have a few of their albums and would say that Heavy Weather is their best album, but I Sing the Body Electric has a more progressive feel to it.|
[See Caldera |
Click here for Weather Report:
The Annotated Discography web site
Fully Interlocking (68)
Theraphosa Blondi (69)
I Spider (70)
|Features Dave Lawson of Greenslade.|
|I heard the title-track of I Spider once. Lots of churning Hammond organ, otherwise totally unlike Greenslade. Dave Lawson's vocals don't seem quite as...er...strained as they do in Greenslade. Pretty good early prog, if this track is representative. -- Mike Ohman|
|This British 7-piece (two guitars, two drummer, bass, flute/sax and vocals) started with some kind of brassrock. Their first sounds like a poppy version of early Chicago, with a lot of brass and string orchestra, dominated by the Chris Farlow-like, but a bit too pathetic vocals of John L. Watson. Only some tracks, e.g. "Green Side Up" develop a vaguely Canterbury like jazzrock feel (nice flute and jazzy guitar and bass). Despite the liner notes calling this inventive, experimental and spectacular it sounds very aged. Theraphosa was a much better effort. Brassband and strings are gone and some tracks, especially the sidelong "Like The Man Said", feature great Canterbury-like jazzrock. The best release, truly a masterpiece, was I Spider. Dave Lawson (organ/Mellotron and vocals) came in and strongly influenced the band (they also "changed" their name from "The Web" to "Web"). All tracks on I Spider are his compositions and are dominated by his organ and his vocals. This is great music, an intense and driving Canterbury-like, brass- and jazzrock with quite heavy and weird sax and guitar solos and strong vocals. A comparison would be Tempest, Colosseum, Mogul Thrash or Warm Dust. I Spider is highly recommended to all interested in early British prog. After this, the band went on under the name of Samurai. -- Achim Breiling|
|Links||[See Greenslade | Samurai]|
Underground w/ blues vibe and acid guitar.
|Space psych, from the Kosmische Musik label and featuring members from many bands on that label.|
|This is another off-shoot of the Cosmic Couriers/Jokers musical swindle. Wegmuller himself was not a musician but a Swiss painter who devised a semi-coherent story-line around the archetypes displayed in the set of Tarot cards he had painted. Throughout the double album he can be heard speaking and whispering in Swiss-accented German through the haze of echoes and phasing, in a style that now sounds much more comic than cosmic. The actual music behind his utterances was dreamed up and performed by a group of top Krautrockers, including Klaus Schulze, Harald Grosskopf and Jürgen Dollase [Wallenstein], Manuel Göttsching, Jerry Breckers and Walter Westrupp. The three first sides of the album feature elementary electronic excursions, psychedelic blues-guitar rock and a few interesting folk-style themes on acoustic guitars, piano, organ and Mellotron. The final side is one long flux from floating keyboard chords to guitar-fuelled spacerock crescendo, sort of like a Reader's Digest version of Ash Ra Tempel's first album. For some Tarot is the Rosetta stone of Krautrock. I find that after three decades of erosion and changes of musical climate many of the contributors' own albums have retained far more substance, charm and credibility than this motley pack. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
|Links||[See Ash Ra Tempel | Cosmic Jokers | Göttsching, Manuel | Schulze, Klaus | Wallenstein | Witthüser and Westrupp]|
Weidorje featured Bernard Paganotti (bass,vocals) of Magma and Patrick Gauthier (keyboards) of Heldon, along with Alain and Yvon Guillard (Magma's horn section), Jean-Philippe Goude (keyboards), Michel Ettori (guitar) and Kirt Rust (drums). Their sound could be characterized as an instrumental Magma circa Üdü Wüdü. They were together for several years in the late 70's, but only managed to produce one self-titled album. The Musea CD reissue has two long bonus cuts which were destined for their second album which never came to be. This is an essential album for all fans of the Magma school.
An offshoot from Magma, Weidorje's sole release carries on in the zuehl tradition but even more into the fusion realm. As with Zao, if you prefer instrumental work and are curious about the zuehl school of musical thought, then this band and Zao are good places to start. I actually prefer Zao over this band but only by a small margin, as both are top notch. With Weidorje, the emphasis is more on keyboard interplay. The sax is still there and guitar has been added. And, like the Zao, the fusion groove is hot. The voices are used as instruments and no words are sung.
This glorious one-shot Magma offshoot is every bit as awesome as its impressive lineage suggests. Bassist Bernard Paganotti had already proven himself worthy of the title of bass monster on Magma Live, among other albums. But this late 70's band he led frees him from the benevolent dictatorship of Christian Vander and reveals him as a first-rate composer and bandleader (which came to full fruition in his latest band Paga). With Weidorje, his 16 minute "Elohims Voyage" expands on the Üdü Wüdü philosophy, and is bursting at the seams with classic monster riffs and brilliant melodic tension. The twoPATRICKGAUT keyboard players (Patrick Gauthier and Jean-Phillipe Goude) really flesh out the arrangements and add a healthy dose of jazz fusion. Sort of a midpoint between Magma and Zao.
[See Cruciferius | Gauthier, Patrick | Goude, Jean-Phillippe | Guillard, Alain and Yvon | Magma | Paga]
Pandora's Garage (92), Primitive Earth (??, w/Walter Whitney), Critical Path (??, w/Joe Venegoni)
American Frippoid guitarist whose album Pandora's Garage is a nice blend of ideas and styles, sometimes low key, sometimes upbeat, but definitely not Rock. Very experimental at times, like Heldon maybe. Recommended.
[See Delay Tactics]
|Neo-prog fans may be interested in Wejah's Renascenca which has been described to me as sounding like Pallas.|
Welcome (75, released on CD 2000)
Welcome Back (79)
Welcome is both the name of the first album and the band for this trio of Swiss
musicians. This album has been remastered for CD by
Black Rills Records, one of a batch of obscure Swiss proggers on this label. They
recorded only this and one other album before disbanding in 1981, largely undiscovered.
As for what they sound like, take Fragile-era Yes, kick out Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman and replace them with Keith Emerson ... well, maybe Jurgen Fritz of Triumvirat ... on distorted Hammond and synthesizers, give Jon Anderson a cold and a German accent. Now, kick out Eddie Offord too and replace him with an inexperienced studio man and you have a good idea of what the Welcome CD sounds like.
But that's a bit negative-sounding. Yes, they owe a whole lot of their sound to Yes, but the compositions are good, and the Hammond playing is quite complex and enjoyable. The Andersonesque vocal harmonies are sometimes a little off, but I blame this more on the care taken during the recording process (or lack thereof), and not the band themselves. This is a good band, and a reasonable recording, and I'm glad that Black Rills has reissued this recording on CD. If you like Yes and Triumvirat and can forgive some less-than spectacular recording quality, then you will probably enjoy this CD. I did. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here for Black Rills Records|
Fronted by the vocals of Gitta Lowenstein, whose voice evokes memories of Annie Haslam, and accompanied by the melodic fretwork of Gerd Heuel, the result is a work that sounds like Renaissance with a more active guitarist. The backing is provided by flowing keyboard chords, in a manner that recalls another obscure German band, Epidaurus. The standout is the final 10+ minute track that is a microcosm of melodic, symphonic, progressive rock. All in all, very melodic piece of work that should appeal to those who like their keyboard sounds to be full and their chords to be minor.
German progressive folk-rock band with female lead vocals. When listening I am sometimes reminded of Camel, other times of the Japanese Mr.Sirius, and yet other times of some of the german symphonics like Epidermis. Anyway, it's a very solid album that most readers would enjoy, a lot of powerful guitar, organ, plenty of instrumental stretches. English vocals.
Creation is a decent, though not outstanding, Prog/Psych release from this early '80s German quintet. The music eases back and forth between the (sometimes heavy) Progressive and Psychedelic realms. The female vocals are in English. Gitta Lowenstein will remind you quite a bit of Annie Haslasm. The music is dominated by Gerd Heuel's guitar though organ, piano, Mellotron and synth are also heard. Some of the guitar leads help lend the Psych aura to Werwolf's overall sound while the keyboard work keeps the band with a Prog perspective. Some songs (e.g., the instrumental section of "Way to Paradise") will remind you of Solaris from their 1990 album. Other times, you'll hear traces of Pink Floyd, the trademark heavy guitar of the "krautrock" style, and some West Coast flourishes. As a whole, though, I'm reminded of bands such as Earth & Fire and Sandrose, with their European stylings and femme vocals. The lyrics are Werwolf's attempt at calling for world harmony. As with most such lyrics today, they are dated and sometimes rather trite, but well-meant. Some people have a hard time getting past Lowenstein singing about "The Journey to the Land of the Flying Pigs" but I always get a grin, though I have no idea what the song is supposed to be about. There are two instrumental and two vocal songs in the five minute range, and two songs longer than eight minutes with vocals and extended instrumental passages. Fans of Earth & Fire, Sandrose, etc., would probably enjoy this album a great deal, but if you're new to the progressive scene, there are many other bands you should explore first..
Fans of intense and bombastic symphonic synth: this is your wet dream. Michael West presents us with five songs of non-stop, high-intensity keyboard pyrotechnics, produced by Mastermind's Bill Berends. West's attacking arsenal is a battery of Yamaha, Roland and Oberheim synthesizers, aided and abetted by sequencing software for the Commodore 64. Berends, who also helps out with some bass work and sequencing, knows how to present this upfront music and uses his experience to full effect with West's music. Falling somewhere between the melodic, solo keyboard work of Covenant's Dave Gryder and the intense presentation of Mastermind and Golgotha, West delivers titles like "Cunnilingus," "Supreme Military Dictator" and "God-Sex-Money" (interjected with a humorous quote of "My Favorite Things" from "The Sound of Music") with a high sense of drama, furious sense of pace, and with enough breathing room to *just* prevent a serious case of whiplash. Just check out the intense 5G assault near the end of "Overture from Physical Love"! The aggressive drumming of Daren Shaltis is the perfect foil for West's keyboards. The writing, however, is a bit linear and could use the input of additional musicians to increase the diversity. Some solos, such as the "trade-off" at the end of the title tracks, and some parts of the 15 minute closer, "I Know You Know," run on too long while deciding which path to next follow. Mainly, though, I'd like to see a guitarist added for diversity. Geez, what if West joined up with Mastermind? You'd better run for cover.... -- Mike Taylor
Caught In The Crossfire (80)
King's Road 1972-1980 (87)
Wetton/Manzanera (with Phil Manzanera) (87)
Battle Lines (94, aka Voice Mail)
Chasing The Dragon (95)
Akustika: Live In Amerika (96)
John Wetton, an exceptionally talented bassist/vocalist/songwiter, is
perhaps best known to the general listening public as the voice behind Asia's "progressive pop" hits of the '80s. To many
(but not all) fans of progressive rock, however, that is an era best
forgotten. Instead they would harken back to what many consider the glory
days of the mighty King Crimson, between
1972-74, in which Wetton's distinctive vocals and thunderous bass brought
a new, sharper and weightier sound to that band's output over the course
of two studio allbums (Lark's Tongues in Aspic, Starless and
Bible Black) and one live recording (USA). This period in King Crimson's history is considered to be
their best as a live-performance unit, a fact attested to by the release
(and wild popularity) of a four-CD boxed set of their concert work during
this time (The Great Deceiver).
Others would point to the late 70's, when Wetton fronted UK along with progressive legends Eddie Jobson, Bill Bruford and Allan Holdsworth on their debut album (UK), and with Jobson and Terry Bozzio for their sophomore (Danger Money) and live (Night After Night) albums.
Fans of Mogul Thrash, Family, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Bryan Ferry, Wishbone Ash, Atoll, Brian Eno, Gordon Haskell, Pete Sinfield, Peter Banks, Bill Liesegang and Steve Hackett may call attention to his contributions to those artists' work, either as a full-time band member or guest musician.
What is less known, and rightfully so, is Wetton's solo work. Even the most ardent detractors of Asia's output would be hard-pressed not to find some redeeming qualities in their music when compared to his solo debut, Jack-Knife, and it's sucessor, Caught In The Crossfire. These albums, which are both thankfully out of print, can only be described as absolutely wretched attempts at pop fame. The songwriting is pathetic, the arrangements are pathetic, and the playing is deeply uninspired. So much so, in fact, that I remember clearly thinking that I had be listening to another artist other than Wetton when I first heard "Eyesight to the Blind," a single from his debut. Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way, and it's safe to assume the commercial and critical failure of these albums led Wetton to cofound Asia. (Those with a masochistic sense of curiousity should check out his 1987 release King's Road 1972-1980, a compilation of his work with King Crimson, UK and his solo work from this period. The five tunes from his solo discs ruin an otherwise tight, solid listening experience.)
In 1987, with Asia's future uncertain, Wetton resurfaced with a promising partnership with Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera on Wetton/Manzanera. Many prog fans probably remember the extreme disappointment they felt when finding this album to be yet another clunker, filled with light pop tunes and undistinguished playing. Nowhere could Wetton's thick, monstrous bass be heard, nowhere could Manzanera's shimmering, silvery leads be heard. Even the vocals, Wetton's signature even at his worst, were lame. What could have been a shining moment was instead a dreadful embarassment. I remember taking this album to a record trader the same day I bought it. (Again, masochists take note: This album is scheduled to be rereleased as One World in early 1997.)
After briefly rejoining and touring with Asia around 1990 (only to leave again soon), Wetton again tried the solo act route with Battle Lines (released as Voice Mail in Japan). This album was a left-field surprise: not exactly a triumphant return to his progressive roots, but certainly not a pure-pop washout, either. The singing is very strong, the production is state of the art, and the songwriting hovers in that same area as Asia's did (progressive/pop), yet it does not sound at all like Asia. It also features King Crimson leader/guitarist Robert Fripp as a guest muiscian on a few tracks. Wetton followed this with 1995's fine effort Chasing The Dragon, a live-in-Japan concert recording of his best work with King Crimson, UK, and Asia as well as his better solo stuff. Following so closely on the heels of Battle Lines, many fans began to herald the "return" of the mighty John Wetton. Indeed, there did seem to be a sense of renewal in Wetton's work, and there were even rumours of a UK reunion with Jobson.
Meanwhile, Wetton released Akustika: Live In Amerika. As the title clearly states, this is yet another live album, which may seem like a holding pattern to some, but it's all-acoustic format lends a fresh perspective to the songs (most of which are the same as those featured on Chasing The Dragon). The warm, intimate and light approach to this type of music may not appeal to some, but I enjoy it. Certainly, Wetton's audience is appreciative, at least.
Wetton also recorded a new studio album in '96 with Robert Fripp, Steve Hackett, Bill Bruford and other progressive musicians, entitled Arkangel, which is slated for an early 1997 release along with his official biography, "My Own Time." The buzz on this record is good, and is fueled in no small part by Wetton's announcement late in 1996 that he will be headlining the 1997 Progressive Rock Festival in Los Angeles. My hunch is that Wetton may have a few surprises for those of us who gave up on him as a progressive artist and serious musician. As the Asia song goes, "Only Time Will Tell." -- Rick Tolbert email@example.com
[See Asia |
King Crimson |
Mogul Thrash |
Click here for the John Wetton web site
Wha Ha Ha (83)
|Bizarre synth-rock from Japan on the Recommended label. -- Mike Ohman|
|Apparently a vinyl-only compilation of tracks drawn from three obscure records released only in Japan. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
Lovesongs of the Forsaken (95)
Sorrow of the Angels (98)
Chapter One: 1989-1999 (02, Double 12" LP)
Of Empires Forlorn (03, 2 slightly different versions exist)
Vast Oceans Lachrymose (Planned release in 06)
While Heaven Wept 2003
Not simply doom metal, but epic doom metal, While Heaven Wept considers themselves to be one of a small number of bands working in the genre. The music on Of Empires Forlorn is slow, heavy and mournful, with lyrics that sing of depressing subjects ... such as walking among bloody fields strewn with the corpses of loved ones while the singer is dying himself, devoid of all hope. Words like "forlorn", "forsaken" and "hopeless" figure prominently into the lyrics, giving an impression of utter despair, dully incessant pain and impotent anguish. This isn't just doom and gloom, it's doom and gloom on a massive, global, epic scale.
But despite that, the music is enguaging and interesting. Vocalist / guitarist / keyboardist / band leader Tom Phillips lists a number of metal bands among his primary influences, including unsurprising names like Rush, Fates Warning, Voivod, Candlemass, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but also a number of prog bands that might seem at odds with this bunch, including Marillion and Grobschnitt and even spacey electronic artists like Kitaro and Vangelis. There's even several heavier classical and neo-classical composers listed, including Beethoven, Bach and Arvo Part. Listening to Of Empires Forlorn carefully, you can hear all of these influences. In spite of the heavy guitar orientation of the album, the last cut, "From Empires to Oceans" (or is it "Sorrow of the Angels"? I'm not sure which version of the CD I have) is basically a string (machine) ensemble which sounds like a morose variation of "Pachelbel's Canon" more than anything else, without any drums or guitar.
Phillips takes issue with Mike McLatchey's definition of doom metal in the Guide to Progressive Rock Genres. Though he agrees with the general description that "doom metal is usually very slow, heavy, dark music whose structures often tend to long, epic lengths", he disagrees with other parts of the definition, including the idea that "doom" is related to "death" metal. He says, "this starts off on the wrong foot right off the bat; if anything doom is related to Heavy Metal and the NWOBHM more than anything else considering the "forefathers" of the genre (Black Sabbath, Pentagram, The Obsessed, Saint Vitus, Witchfinder General, Trouble, Hell, Desolation Angels, Requiem, Candlemass, Revelation, Penance, Count Raven, Paul Chain, etc.) all existed in the early 80's or prior, with exactly ZERO death metal influence/vocals. This hybrid of death/doom didn't appear until the early 90's, and was really more the case of death metal bands playing slow, and taking influence from the aforementioned doom bands". Phillips seems to be an expert on the subject, so I tend to believe him. He says he has a vast collection of metal music, and adds, "It's the second largest genre in my collection after prog!".
While Heaven Wept is working on a new album titled Vast Oceans Lachrymose. After several bad experiences with record labels who have folded out from under them, their current plan is to independently release the album, which is nearly complete as of this writing. Phillips also sent me a CDR with some of their "newer material", which I assume contains some of these recordings, and if anything I like them even more than Of Empires Forlorn. It may even be a bit less depressing. But don't let that stop you from trying out this excellent band! -- Fred Trafton
Click here for While Heaven Wept's web site
Ho Hum (71)
Pedal Giant Animals (07)
Frank Wyatt (keyboards) and Stan Whitaker (guitars)
OK, I'll just make an embarassing admission right off the bat. In spite of my broad exposure to prog in all its variations, I'm completely unfamiliar with Happy The Man. Yep. It's true, I've never heard any. But I recently learned on the Internet that HTM alumni Stan Whitaker and Frank Wyatt had started a new band called Oblivion Sun, so I e-mailed them to ask for more information. Frank Wyatt sent me a nice response, and asked if I had heard about the other project they had recently finished recording called Pedal Giant Animals, which was really the impetus for forming Oblivion Sun. I hadn't heard of it, so Frank sent me a copy for review as soon as it was released.
Wow. If this album doesn't make every "best prog album of 2007" list by the end of the year, then life isn't fair. You can hear the influences I typically hear attributed to Happy The Man, including Genesis (particularly in the vocals) and Canterbury, but they are influences only, not rip-offs. This music is refreshingly original, extremely professional sounding, intricate without being snooty or bombastic, and has a really nice "feel-good" vibe to it without falling prey to new-agey-ness. Some of the pair's statements on their web site make it sound like this is an album of adult pop with some progressive tendencies ... don't you believe it, this is a prog album recorded with the professionalism of an adult pop band like Toto or Peter Gabriel's albums, but without the "world music" influences. "The Mists of Babylon" is right off of an old Gong album, with glissando guitars slithering in space underneath a sax solo and hypnotic drums. "Chapter Seven" is a guitar-oriented tension-builder that sounds like a mix between "Larks Tongues in Aspic" and '80's King Crimson. "The Leaf Clings ... Quivers" and even the title song "Pedal Giant Animals" are very reminiscent of Hatfield and the North or National Health. Don't worry, this is prog all right! And yet there's also "Love", which is a huge arena rock-styled ballad (though even this also reminds me of Peter Gabriel's vocal stylings on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway) and some other mellower pieces without weird time signatures or other prog oddities. And yet these songs fit right in with the others to make a really cohesive listening experience. This is a great album by some real pros. I can't imagine a prog fan who doesn't need this album in their collection.
Sigh ... I guess this means I'll have to go buy some Happy The Man now. In the meantime, I'll play this CD until the bits fall off of the disk. Great stuff, you need to own this one! And now I'm really looking forward to that Oblivion Sun album, currently waiting for drummer Chris Mack (Iluvatar, Puppet Show, Jeremy Cubert Project as well as Pedal Giant Animals)'s arm to heal up after surgery before they can get into the studio to record it. But that should be happening soon. And Oblivion Sun is planning on touring, and playing songs from Pedal Giant Animals as well. I can hardly wait! -- Fred Trafton
[See Happy The Man |
Jeremy Cubert Project |
Oblivion Sun |
Click here for a web site about Pedal Giant Animals, including ordering information
Crimson Waves (90)
|Japanese progressives, complex yet accessible, powerful guitar with nice keyboards and symphonics used appropriately. Reminds me of Gerard sometimes. Vocals are in Japanese and English. English lyrics are incomprehensible.|
|Links||[See King's Boards]|
Venusian Summer (75), Big City (77), Adventures of Astral Pirates (78), Streamline (78)
Drummer for the electric fusion era of Return to Forever.
[See Return to Forever]
White Noise: An Electric Storm (69)
White Noise 2 - Concerto for Synthesizer (74)
White Noise 3 - Re-Entry (80)
White Noise 4 - Inferno (90)
White Noise 5 - Sound Mind (01)
David Vorhaus - he's holding a Kaleidophon controller
The original article here ticked me off so badly that I had to get rid of it. But, since everyone's allowed their point of view, I'll repeat it here with my comments. Like many GEPR entries, I don't know who wrote it, so I'll just have to call him "the reviewer".
"(also go under the name of David Vorhese (SP?))." -- That's David Vorhaus. At least the reviewer indicated that he wasn't sure. I'm not sure what exactly was meant by "go under", but David Vorhaus was one of three participants in the creation of the first album and the sole creator of the next four. He's also made a few albums under his own name, and has engineered several important prog albums, including Fred Frith's Guitar Solos and Art Bears' Hopes and Fears. Vorhaus is not some weenie fiddling with synths in a home studio, as the previous review made it sound. He's one of the pioneers of electronic music, which I'll talk about in greater detail later. But think about this: An Electric Storm was released in 1969. Do you know when the first commercial synthesizer was built? It was after 1969!
"At least 3 albums, first has a bunch of ears on the cover and is top notch stuff. Maybe Curved Air meets Heldon." -- Strange. An Electric Storm has a lightning bolt on the cover, and Concerto for Synthesizer has a bunch of goldfish in a tank. Re-Entry is an alien planetscape. None of these has ears on the cover. So I'm not sure which one he's recommending to you. But "Curved Air meets Heldon." seems like it might describe Concerto for Synthesizer better than An Electric Storm, so that would be my guess.
"Other two albums are bogus and well worth avoiding" -- Assuming my guess (above) is right, the reviewer is talking about An Electric Storm and Re-Entry. I haven't heard Re-Entry, so I'll reserve judgement on that one. But I have heard An Electric Storm, and it's simply one of the most amazing pieces of electronic music ever created. It originated in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, famous for the electronic score for Dr. Who. Vorhaus, having moved to the UK to study both electronics and classical music (and avoid being drafted), met several members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and collaborated with them (Delia Derbyshire and Brian Hodgson) for An Electric Storm. They built a studio/science lab using borrowed gear and improvised equipment. Every chord in the album was assembled from individually-recorded monophonic tones created on a pre-production VCS3 edited together with tape splices. The photo above shows the production VCS3 just to Vorhaus' right, partly hidden by his arm, so this is a later photo. Vorhaus is later said to have stated his opinion that An Electric Storm contained more tape splices than any other album in the history of recording.
However, by 1970, the first Moog modular synthesizers became available, and the techniques used for An Electric Storm became obsolete, and nobody made music this way any more. Therefore, An Electric Storm doesn't sound like any other album made since.
By the time White Noise 2: Concerto for Synthesizer was released in 1974 (this time a solo Vorhaus album), synth albums had become more commonplace and it didn't cause much of a stir. I have the album, and in spite of some of the nay-sayers, I think it's quite good. A bit on the thin side for my tastes these days, but for its time it was pretty innovative. I don't have any of Vorhaus' subsequent albums, so I can't say much about them. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for White Noise' web site
Click here for White Noise' MySpace page
Click here for a recent interview with David Vorhaus
Ignis Fatuus (95)
Ex Tenebris (98)
Storm Season (04)
Signal to Noise (06)
White Willow (Sacrament line-up) - Jacob Holm-Lupo (Guitar), Johannes Sæbøe (Bass),
Sylvia Erichsen (Vocals), Ketil Einarsen (Woodwinds), Aage Schou (Drums),
Brynjar Dambo (Keyboards)
This band from Norway combine many elements from the past and present. White Willow is reminicent of early Genesis or even the mellower parts of Änglagård but bringing in more of a Renaissance period sound with their two classically trained vocals (the third song titiled "Song" sounds right out of a Renaissance festval). VERY impressive singing in both English and Swedish that is very hard to find today. Ignis Fatuus is a collection of various recordings made between '92 and '94. These recordings features TONS of lush Mellotron along with Moog, cello, flute and even sitar! -- Phil Slatterley
White Willow is one of the latest Scandinavian bands to fit into the broadly progressive rock realm. Ignis Fatuus is a beautiful and sublime blend of folk, classical and renaissance musics in a gothic matrix, with seemingly few rock elements. White Willow is based around a core set of members and numerous guests. The main musicians are Jan Tariq Rahman on Mellotron, mini-moog, Fender rhodes, clavinet, various synths, crumhorn, recorders, sitar and a variety of other instruments; Tirill Mohn on violins; Audun Kjus plays flutes, whistles, Humbran pipes and sings; both Sara Trondal and Eldrid Johansen are the primary vocalists; Jacob C. Holm-Lupo is the guitarist, playing a variety of acoustic, classical, 12-string and electric guitars; Alexander Engebretsen is the 5-string bassist. "The Drummer" (which is how he is credited in the nicely produced CD booklet) is a drummer who desires to make his name as a jazz musician and thus is anonymous here. Finally, a dozen guests contribute cello, choir and vocals, guitar, bass or percussion. First in line of the dozen tracks on Ignis Fatuus is the six and one-half minute "Snowfall." An understated yet warming song, "Snowfall" sets the mood for the entire disc. Leading off with the dual vocals of Trondal and Johansen over Mellotron, their delicate duet soon gives way to acoustic guitar, flute and brooding cello, which is, in turn, followed by a quiet, simple but very effective mini-moog passage, with warm, rounded tones. In the same vein as "Snowfall" is "Lord of Night," which is augmented with bass pedals and synthesized organ. The brief "Song" is a renaissance-styled vocal piece with a tenor solo and four-piece choir. Other titles indicative of the overall mood of Ignis Fatuus are "The Withering of the Boughs," "Lines on an Autumnal Evening" and "John Aee's Lament." Occasionally, Rahman changes the mood briefly, quickening the tempo with the organ solo mentioned above or with the mini-moog solo that ends "The Withering of the Boughs." Indeed, it is often Rahman who guides the song with one or more of the many keyboards at his disposal. His solos are melodic, tasteful and very effective within the framework of each song. Each solo is enveloped within the other instruments such as recorder, classical guitar and crumhorn, and glazed with Trondal's ethereal vocals. Comparisons of style can not be readily made. Occasionally -- only occasionally, and particularly when supported by the bass pedals -- Rahman's keyboard work reminds of Tony Banks, while the crumhorn and recorders reminds of Gryphon. The guitar and overall feel of "Cryptomenysis," particularly the beginning, is somewhat reminiscent of Landberk (as is the gothic air of the album), yet the folk influence dominates. The lyrics are an important aspect of the subtle but definite gothic aura of the album. References to gravestones and fairies, snows and mists, as well as many references to the dark (the moon, "nocturnal spectral beasts," the night) add netherworld qualities to the already somber music. Ignis Fatuus will not be for everyone. Fusion freaks will find it too boring, while symphonic fans will find it lacking in layers of lush keyboards. Quiet and reflective, White Willow's music will appeal to those who enjoy gothic and folk elements in their music. If you are one of those, I recommend Ignis Fatuus highly. -- Mike Taylor
Ignis Fatuus is exquisitely gorgeous music; the closest comparison I can think of is Landberk's Riktigt Äkta. If that doesn't help, think delicate and ethereal, but definitely progressive (i.e. this is not New Age twaddle). The composition and playing are marvellous and subtle yet still intense: nothing here will pound you over the head saying "Listen to us, can we ever PLAY!", but after a number of listens, you will be saying to yourself, " ... can they ever play!." -- Greg Ward
Ignis Fatuus features a beautiful blend of folk, classical and rock music. Their instrumentation goes beyond the usual rock format to include classical guitar, flutes, horns, violin, cello, sitar and sublime classically trained female vocals (in English). Sustained use of acoustic instruments insure a certain softness to a sound which only occasionally shows its rock elements. The result is melancholic music inspired by medieval folk themes with the addition of an electric and symphonic touch that evokes The Court of the Crimson King. -- Paul Charbonneau
The power of Ignis Fatuus (Laser's Edge LE1021) lies in its subdued melodies, its stylish arrangements which cleverly combine rich acoustic instrumentation with Moog, Mellotron and rock guitar tones, and its idiomatic fusion of folk and gothic elements with symphonic rock. Indeed, at a time when the catch words of modern prog were faster, heavier and more, White Willow stood apart from the crowd by delving into mellow melodies and atmospherics where less is more and there is no hiding behind techno-flash or walls of synthesized sound. When everything works, it results in excellent songs such as "Snowfall", "Lord of the Night", the timeless "Song" or the otherworldly "Cryptomenysis". However, in some places the music fails to sustain my interest. I don't know whether it's the pristine but often undynamic sound, lack of truly memorable melodic material on some tracks or whether the band simply fails to get the best out of what they are working with, but there are a few tracks that remain insubstantial no matter how much you try to get into them. As strong a debut album as Ignis Fatuus is, it falls short of classic.
Ex Tenebris (LE1029) presents a more stripped-down and unpolished arrangements that unexpectedly end up giving the sound more depth and haunted ambience than the first album's more refined production. "The Book of Love", for example, is based simply on acoustic guitar and dual vocals, with Mellotron and rhythm section eventually layered in for a nice build-up, but the more refined melodic writing keeps the interest up. "Leaving the House of Thanatos" and "Helen and Simon Magus" are more band-oriented in the first album style, with warm, acoustic vocal sections alternating with harsher and darker instrumental sections dominated by electric guitar and gothic organ. There are also a few truly dark and chilling moments on this album, like "A Strange Procession ..." with its rolling tympani and spectral Mellotron. In addition to improved sound and melodies, the third improvement is the new vocalist Sylvia Erichsen, whose clear voice punctures the music's darkness with choirgirl-like buoyancy while still having enough depth to avoid sounding feeble. The album's highlight, for me at least, is the 13-minute closing track "...A Dance of Shadows" which slowly rumbles and evolves through melancholy themes, spooky Mellotron and theremin textures and a resonant open-string guitar arpeggio to twice resolve its tension into what is one of the most hauntingly beautiful vocal melodies I have ever heard. So while Ex Tenebris is a moodier and has fewer formal features of prog than Ignis Fatuus, I find it the stronger overall album.
Sacrament (LE1034) combines the best of both worlds. A more cohesive and fuller group sound is evident throughout the album, with thundering organ, swirling synths and melodic lead guitar expanding and contrasting the acoustic folkiness that is still the basis of their sound. On the other hand, the limpid melodies, enchanted vocal stylings and spectral atmosphere of Ex Tenebris are still evident especially in "Paper Moon", "Gnostalgia" and the beginning of "Anamnesis". It is in "Anamnesis" and the closing track "The Reach" that White Willow open up a bit more, with heavier guitar and more strident vocals from Erichsen, giving this album a greater dynamic range and a less sedate feel than either of the first two.The one instrumental track, "The Crucible", even has fast-paced Tull-like flute excursions that contrast nicely with a more ponderous symphonic section with its Hackett-like solo. Their strongest work to date, Sacrament strikes the best balance between White Willow's folk, gothic and symphonic rock elements. - Kai Karmanheimo
Updated the latter half of 2001:
I just saw these folks at NEARfest 2001. In spite of the fact that their airline lost their equipment (I assume this means they were playing on borrowed equipment from other bands), they did an incredible set of music. There were several times when I felt that the notes they were playing would be a harmony if they were only a half-step higher (lower?) ... still, their set impressed me enough to go to The Laser's Edge table and buy their entire 3-CD discography.
The recorded output has none of the "not in harmony" problems I heard in the show, though they definitely use some oddball harmonies. I'm not sure if I really hear Celtic influence in their music or if Sylvia Erichsen's vocals just remind me so much of Loreena McKennitt that I think I'm hearing a Celtic influence. At any rate, the music mixes progressive, folk, gothic and even some light classical into an emotional and satisfying blend. All three albums are great, even the first one Ignis Fatuus, which hangs together as an album quite well in spite of being a collection of unrelated recordings.
But the crown jewel in their discography is clearly their newest album, Sacrament. It is by far their most mature recording, both musically and from a production standpoint. This is the one I would recommend to someone who wants to hear White Willow as a starting point album. There is a warning label not to turn it up too loud at the beginning or it might blow your speakers when it gets suddenly loud later. The album does have a wide dynamic range, but I wouldn't be too concerned as long as you don't crank the first part up to ridiculous volumes right off the bat. This album has enough smooth ethereal vocals to make it a good starter album for anyone you might want to get into Progressive Rock, with lots of intense prog and "resting periods" of softer, more ethnic folky sound, with great vocals. I thought "my wife would like this" when I heard them at NEARfest, and I was right ... especially Sacrament. But all three CD's are highly recommended. -- Fred Trafton
Since my last entry, White Willow has gone through a lot of changes. The current line-up, with a soon-to-be-released CD entitled Signal to Noise, is Trude Eidtang (vocals), Lars Fredrik Frøislie (keyboards, electronics), Jacob Holm-Lupo (guitars), Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (woodwinds), Marthe Berger Walthinsen (bass guitar) and Aage Moltke Schou (drums, percussion). Beginning with their 2004 release, Storm Season, they are said to have moved to a heavier sound, and this was their best-selling album to date. Following Storm Season, Sylvia Erichsen left the band, and has now been replaced by Trude Eidtang for Signal to Noise, due to be released next week as of the time I'm writing this.
White Willow (2011 line-up) - Sylvia Skjellestad (vocals), Jacob Holm-Lupo (guitar), Ellen Andrea Wang (bass), Ketil Vestrum Einarsen (flutes), Lars Fredrik Frøislie (keyboards) and Mattias Olsson (drums).
I loved the earlier work of this band (as I mentioned above), and I need to get caught up with the latest ... meantime, this is the latest news from the band, along with a corrected link to their new web site. -- Fred Trafton
[See Änglagård |
Gösta Berlings Saga |
In Lingua Mortua |
Click here for White Willow's web site
Le Masque D'Arlequin (06)
|'70's-styled heavy metal (I wouldn't call this prog-metal) with lots of synth and guitar soloing. Sort of a "goth" feel, or maybe I'm just influenced by the album cover of a guy in a white mask and hooded robe standing in a gothic cathedral. Some of it sounds like it could be the soundtrack for a "B" horror movie. Not bad, but it didn't really do that much for me. Vocals in French. It's quite possible I would enjoy this more if I understood the lyrics. -- Fred Trafton|
Click here for Whitechapel's
web site (in French only)
Click here to order Le Masque D'Arlequin from Musea Records
Stress (77), Tsunami (79), Stress (80)
[See Lockwood, Didier | Magma]
Hard and Horny (69)
Tombstone Valentine (70)
Wicked Ivory (72)
Live Music From the Twilight Zone (75)
Nuclear Nightclub (75)
Lucky Golden Stripes and Starpose (76)
Dark Album (78)
Rumours on the Rebound (79, Compilation)
Light Ages (93)
Fresh Garbage (00, Unreleased Studio & Live material)
Wigwam Plays Wigwam - Live (01, Live)
Titan's Wheel (02)
Some Several Moons (05)
|With the talents of Jim Pembroke and Pekka Pohjola, Wigwam are a classic of the Scandanavian progressive scene. There is some great interplay between all the musicans. The music is dominated by piano and organ. There is somewhat of a Canterbury feel to the music, though it is unmistakably Scandanavian in nature. It gives you the feeling they were doing this to stay warm! :-) Fairyport has a great jam called "Rave-up for the Roadies" which includes a guest appearance by well-known Finnish guitarist Jukka Tolonen and makes this album a great starting place. Being is also recommended. A must have of Scandanavian progressive.|
|Wigwam is back after fifteen years with a new studio album (Light Ages) and continues straight from where they left in '78. This is a very strange reunion because it's just as if they never disbanded but continued to do the same stuff and even improved themselves during the fifteen-year-gap. As good a place to start listening Wigwam as any, and a promising start (or continuation) for the future of this cult band.|
|I only have heard Nuclear Nightclub, which is only sporadically progressive. On the whole, it's mostly a vehicle for the quirky songs of Englishman Jim Pembroke. Save the vocals, this is not unlike some of Kevin Ayers' work. Best songs: "Kite" and "Simple Human Kindness". Most progressive: "Pigstorm," an instrumental, and the spacy "Bless Your Lucky Stars," which might as well be (the vocals are phase-shifted beyond comprehension). -- Mike Ohman|
|Wigwam's existence as a band was divided clearly in two periods: first with Pekka Pohjola and Jukka Gustavson as creative forces. The second period (Nuclear Nightclub and since) with guitarist Rekku Reckhardt and Jim Pembroke. Pohjola and Gustavson left the band after English tour about 1975, Gustavson for religious reasons and Pohjola for his solo carieer. Wigwam's first albums were heavily influenced by Beatles (Hard and Horny), The Band and Stevie Winwood. First progressive album was Fairyport. Being was almost totally Gustavson's vision. -- Sasha Mäkilä|
|Links||[See Group, The | Gustavson, Jukka | Made in Sweden | Pembroke, Jim | Pohjola, Pekka | Tasavallan Presidentti | Uni Sono]|
Pleasure Signals (78)
Danny Wilding (guitar) and Pete Bonus (flute) joined by their friends for a pretty decent fusion effort. Their friends just happen to be members of Brand X, plus a few other decent chaps. Pleasure Signals would fit not too uncomfortably in the Brand X discography, somewhere around the Product or Do They Hurt? era. Use of the flute and Wilding's guitar style are about all that serve to differentiate. The LP was also famous for the picture disk version. Find one and find out why.
Book of Hours (08)
Willowglass - Andrew Marshall (multi-instrumentalist)
Willowglass is the project name for UK multi-instrumentalist Andrew Marshall. He has so far released one eponymous album in 2005, and according to his web site, is nearly finished with a second album.
I've only heard the MP3 samples on his web site. These all instrumental pieces remind me of '70's Camel or the more uplifting, less dark cuts from CotCK/WoP-era King Crimson. Heavy use of acoustic guitar (particularly 12-string) and flute backed by drums and lots of Mellotron. If you want headbanging, adrenaline-pumping heavy rock, look somewhere else. Willowglass is quiet, pastoral and very pretty music with a hint of nostalgic lamentation. Quite nice. -- Fred Trafton
Willowglass released a second album entitled Book of Hours on May 26, 2008. -- Armel Patanian
Click here for Willowglass' web site
Click here to order Willowglass from Doug Larson Imports
|Underground; organic explorations w/ acid guitar. Seasons is hard-rock/prog, like Deep Purple with flute. Morning features lots of Mellotron and is much more progressive. -- Mike Ohman|
Wind's nine-year career, some of which unwound under the name Corporal Gander's Fire Dog
Brigade, was hampered and eventually ended by mounting debts first brought on by a manager
who absconded with the band's money during a Vietnam tour, leaving the musicians to sell
their instruments to raise money for tickets back home. However, its testament was two
interesting, though quite different albums.
Seasons is close to the psychedelic heavy rock sound of Deep Purple or Vanilla Fudge, especially in songs like "Dear Little Friend" and "What Do We Do Now". These tunes are heavy on roaring guitar and organ riffs and robust harmonies supporting Steve Leistner's rather Steve Miller-like vocals. However, the latter track and the 15-minute "Red Morningbird" break the heavy barrages with melancholy bluesiness a'la Procol Harum, acoustic guitars and flutes, or weeping harmonica strains straight out of Ennio Morricone's bag of patented tricks. Elsewhere they throw in pseudo-classical piano and alternatively melancholic and racocous psychedelia, charmingly dated sounding at places, but the grainy, haunting sound of expertly-harmonised vocal melodies on "Springwind" is compelling. The whole album is a pretty obvious mishmash of influences (e.g. the closing chorale of Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets", itself indebted to Ligeti, was of course often imitated by later groups, but "Red Morningbird" has Leistner recreating the wailing Ummagumma version almost to a note), but should have diverse enough material to attract fans of both early metal and early prog.
Morning traded most of the heavy electric guitars and organs for acoustics and the nostalgic sweep of Mellotron strings. "Morning Song" is very much in the Procol Harum mode, with pseudo-Baroque organ chords rubbing shoulders with R&B-ish bass lines and doo-woopy vocal harmonies, while "The Princess & the Minstrel" is a folky ditty that fluctuates between irritatingly cutesy-woozy refrains and Leistner's storytelling, spoken with a German accent that is as thick as it is wide. But songs like "Dragon's Maid" and "Carnival" gush with dynamic and earnest romanticism that is unburdened by too much bombast or complexity. The overall album sound is closer to the song-oriented and folk-tinged approach of British bands like Spring than most of Wind's German contemporaries, though at their best Wind were a couple of steps ahead of their cousins across the English Channel. This too has its peaks and valleys, but from a progressive point of view this is the more solid and better preserved of the two.
The band recorded a single called "Josephine" before their final collapse. This piece of bratty music hall rock'n'roll is included on the CD version of Morning, a fact that doesn't improve the album a bit. -- Kai Karmanheimo
|An Australian band that evolved out of Sebastian Hardie, they only released one LP, Symphinity. Windchase is another symphonic progressive masterpeice with the emphasis a little more on the mellifluous guitar leads of Mario Millo punctuated by Tony Banksian keyboard-wall-of-sound.|
|This Australian band, half ex-members of Sebastian Hardie, played a energized progressive-fusion rock that at times reminds me a lot of Santana. Good stuff, but tends to be a little underdeveloped. Lots of good stretches, though. By the way, these guys sound nothing like Sebastian Hardie.|
|Windchase was founded by guitarist/vocalist Mario Millo and keyboard player Toivo Pilt, both survivors of the recently dissolved Sebastian Hardie. Symphinity continues along the same symphonic and highly melodic trail that Sebastian Hardie, blazed through the Australian music scene: Millo's Latimer-influenced guitar leads splatter against Pilt's grandiose keyboard walls while the rhythm section keeps things cooking nicely, propelling rather than leading things. Interestingly, Millo and Pilt write separately, both writing four tracks, and both taking a short solo piece, on piano and acoustic guitar, respectively. Though Camel is the obvious role model for these blokes, they play across the spectrum, with "Horsemen to Symphinity" being a primarily instrumental symphonic stretch (and an excellent one at that), while at the other end "Flight Call" is a poppy, though still lavishly-arranged number like the mellower parts of Breathless. "Glad to Be Alive" has a string arrangement that coats the vocal sections with too much syrup, but the main melody is gripping and the instrumental sections are delightfully bouncy with chiming tuned percussion used for a good effect. On the stately "Gypsy" Millo's guitar reaches perhaps its most emotionally wrenching orbit, while Pilt gradually layers keyboards behind his soloing, adding harmonic and textural complexity to a relatively straightforward composition (I especially like the way he occasionally "shadows" Millo's guitar with subtle harmony lines on a synth). "No Scruples" is an up-tempo number with very Genesis-like organ work and a middle section where Pilt gets to coax a few wild solo licks out of his synth. In contrast to the more song-oriented material, the album's longest track "Lamb's Fry" is essentially a jam-piece where Millo goes for a fuzzier and more psychedelic solo style when not providing wah-tinged comping for Pilt's explorations on synthesizer and Fender Rhodes; it also sounds rather fragmented and dated, and is the album's weakest link. Throughout the album the power of this music is in thoughtful, colourful arrangements and inspired performances that transcend the deceptively-simple structures and accessible melodies, and when all these elements click, the music is nothing short of magnificent; however, this is not everywhere, and some pieces could have been developed further. Overall not as good an album as Sebastian Hardie's Four Moments, but still a minor jewel in the crown of melodic, accessible symphonic prog that especially Camel fans should find compelling. Musea's CD re-release (FGBG 4333.AR) includes a live version of "Horsemen to Symphinity", performed in 1998 by Millo and his solo band. -- Kai Karmanheimo|
[See Millo, Mario |
Click here to order Simfinity from Musea Records
|Alaskan folk-prog with Mellotron. -- Mike Ohman|
[Editor's Note: Though it's GEPR policy that band members don't write
reviews for their own bands, when a member of an obscure band with little info
on them writes to me, I will make an exception. Here's one now ...]
I'm one of the original members of this group.
This band formed in Alaska in late 1972. All members belonged to the Baha'i Faith and many of the gigs the group played were associated with Baha'i community events. Original members were:
Prior to returning to Alaska and retiring from professional music, the group also performed at various venues in Oklahoma, Hawaii. Band members including Gary Lamar, Marshall Murphy, and Gavin Reed, along with vocalist Barbara Taylor, performed casual gigs for a number of years, based out of Anchorage, Alaska, while they were all resident there, until the mid-1990's. -- Gavin Reed
Across the Circles Edge (92)
Neo-prog band from Ireland, with a sound not unlike others in the sub-genre, although the Genesis influence is not so overt and immediately apparent. Their first CD Across The Circle's Edge is on the SI Music label, and is very typical of the other bands on that label. A good band, hopefully their second outing will show a bit more brilliance and originality.
The Winter Tree (11)
The Winter Tree's Andrew Laitres
The Winter Tree is the new album from Magus. Well, not quite. Magus changed names to The Winter Tree, because as Andrew Laitres (f.k.a. Andrew Robinson) explained to me, "There are way too many bands around the world called Magus or Simon Magus, Dark Magus, Magus Beast, etc. so I decided to change it." OK, are we all straight on that? Good. Then let's move on with a review of the new album.
To tell the truth, I've always been a bit ambivalent about Magus' music. It always sounds pretty cool to me for the first few minutes of a song, then seems to repeat the same passage over and over until I'm way beyond tired of it. Sort of like many Saturday Night Live skits do. But I believe The Winter Tree has addressed this issue nicely. The music is more varied within each song as it progresses. The vocals seem much better too ... this in itself adds a lot of interest. It's still a bit on the gentle and new-agey side for me, with a lot of shimmery digital keyboards and acoustic guitar. Not bad if you're going for a snowy, cold feel (well, The Winter Tree, ya know? By the way, yes the name is inspired by the Renaissance song). But as long as you don't mind your prog a bit on the "easy-listening" side of the spectrum, this is a really nice album. There's also some electro music that's not bad later on the album ... think later Vangelis like Albedo 0.39. There's some digital spaciness too, and an instrumental song (the last cut, "The Adventures of Prince Caspian") featuring organ and an analog (sounding) synthesizer. Nice variety.
In summary, The Winter Tree is well-recorded, well-orchestrated, well-composed and well-performed. If you've never heard any Magus albums before, never mind them ... start with The Winter Tree first. -- Fred Trafton
Click here for The Winter Tree's web site
Lessons Never Learned (92)
As far as I know, Wisehammer's 1992 cassette release of Lessons Never Learned was their only release. If you like Terraced Garden, you'll like Wisehammer. Carl Tafel of Terraced Garden contributes on this release with his guitar, vocal and e-bow work. They remind me of Steve Hackett, Spectral Mornings-era, with a bit of Robert Fripp thrown in. Being from Canada, you can hear a bit of Rush and Saga, during the melodic parts. Nothing to comple. A bit jazzy and bluesy at times. -- Ray Martell
Wishbone Ash (70)
Argus (72, Remixed/Remastered/re-released 2002)
Wishbone Four (73)
Live Dates (73, Live)
There's The Rub (74)
Locked In (76)
New England (76)
Front Page News (77)
No Smoke Without Fire (78)
Live In Tokyo (79, Japan only)
Just Testing (80)
Number The Brave (81)
Hot Ash (81, Live)
Live Dates II (??)
Twin Barrels Burning (82)
Raw To The Bone (85)
Nouveau Calls (87)
Here To Hear (89)
Strange Affair (91)
Live In Chicago (??)
Classic Ash (??)
Time Was (??)
Blowin' Free (??)
Live in Geneva (??)
Live - Timeline (??)
Best Of Wishbone Ash (97, Compilation)
BBC Live (??)
Trance Visionary (??)
Psychic Terrorism (??)
Outward Bound (??)
Bare Bones (??)
Live Dates III (??)
Bona Fide (??)
A very good band, but I'm not sure that I'd call them "progressive." The
line-up for the first several albums was Andy Powell, guitar; Ted Turner
(not *that* Ted Turner), guitar; Martin Turner (no relation to Ted), bass
and lead vocals; and, Steve Upton, drums. They quickly gained a reputation
for banging the hell out of their instruments in concert. I never saw them live,
but a friend of mine who did rated them as the best live band of the early
'70's, better even than The Who. This is a bit hard to believe on the basis
of the first album. Only the second half of the ten-minute "Phoenix" hints
at how exciting they must have been. The rest is competent hard rock by very
good, but not great, musicians. The opening tune, "Blind Eye," begins with
two of the dumbest lines ever recorded: "You turned a blind eye/To
everything I ever said." Lyrics were never their strong point.
Pilgrimage, to my ears is their best. There are four instrumentals, including the outstanding track, "The Pilgrim." With its jagged riffing and several sections it is perhaps their most "progressive" piece. Other standouts include an energetic version of Jack McDuff's "Vas Dis." Argus, their third, is probably the most progressive-sounding album. The emphasis is on the songwriting and arrangement. The songs are longish, with several sections and extended instrumental passages. The playing throughout is very good, but the lyrics and Turner's vocals can't quite sustain the weight placed on them. It was a disappointment, though I retain a soft spot in my head for "Warrior."
When my copy of Wishbone Four vanished, I didn't bother to replace it. They had simplified their sound, apparently in a futile bid for radio play, and I lost interest. Ted Turner left the band after Live Dates and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield. Martin Turner left after Just Testing. John Wetton replaced him on Number the Brave, followed by Trevor Bolder after Wetton left to form Asia. It's possible that some of their later studio albums are good, but I haven't heard them. Of the two live albums I have, Hot Ash is the better. The compilation The Best of Wishbone Ash is a good place for the curious to start. -- Don McClane
Click here for Wishbone Ash's web site
Carnival of Souls (96)
The Wishing Tree's Hannah Stobart
Original entry 2/23/01:
After thirteen years, Steve Rothery and Hannah Stobart resumed their collaboration to produce Ostara. Rothery resides in the UK while Stobart lives in California in the USA. She's married to former Enchant drummer Paul Craddick, who also lends a hand on this album. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||[See Enchant | Legend | Marillion | Transatlantic]|
Cry For The Moon (92)
Trips und Träume (71)
De Jesusspilz (71)
Bauer Plath (72)
Live 68-73 (73)
Original entry 10/16/03:
The German underground rock movement of the early-1970s is generally associated with electric and urban sounds, a soundtrack born out of West Germany's industrial rise from the ashes of the Second World War and its simultaneous search for cultural identity independent of both the discredited pre-War German ideals and the overwhelming Anglo-American popular culture. Yet it had its pastoral side as well, a cosmic folk sound displayed in the music of bands like Hölderlin and Bröselmaschine, and in that of Bernd Witthüser and Walter Westrupp.
Trips und Träume (CD ZYX Music OHR 70036-2) is essentially a low-key acid folk release: seven tracks based on voices, acoustic guitar and melodic patterns loosely grounded in home-grown folk music and modulated by blues, jazz and pop currents, as was typical of German folk at the time. However, the band create their own stretched and convoluted arrangements with the help of traditional folk instruments, such as zithers, mouth harps and flutes, used in a most untraditional ways. Hypnotic drones and shimmering textures waft by, while only electric bass and a bit of pretty unrock-like electric guitar intrude in this surreal session. There are also more overt eastern influences, such as in the raga-like "Orienta". While low-key in arrangements, the songs are enjoyable, and the instrumental "Illusion I" is actually quite striking with its solemn melody, shoestring organ tones and xylophone. The dragging, blues-inflected "Trippo Nova" with its sedate vocal, static choir and noodling guitars is the only miss. The absurd lyrics and the overall vibe do suggest the inspiration comes from illegal intoxicants; this is confirmed by the hilarious closing track "Nimmt doch einen Joint, mein Freund", which, perversely enough, reminds of a country and western tune and has its silly lyric sung in tittering Deutslish. More psychedelic than progressive but very nice all the same.
Der Jesuspilz/Musik vom Evangelium (ZYX Music OHR 70037-2) is a more ambitious piece, showing not only increasing sonic experimentalism but also widening conceptual scope, as the duo present their wacky and slightly apocryphal reading of the Gospels. Both are best represented by the excellent "Schöpfung" where Witthüser intones in an echo-hazy voice redolent of some bargain-basement biblical epic, the creation of the world out of "mushroom crumbs" (well it would have to be, right?), while behind him the music grows from spattering of acoustic guitar and windchimes to an electric guitar-powered freakout, only to collapse back to foggy flute melodies and moribund vocal drones right out of the Orient.
The expanding arrangements are probably explained partially by the growing role of engineer Dieter Dierks, the sonic svengali behind the "Kosmiche" sound of many contemporaneous German bands. He contributes waves of glacial Mellotron on the album's best track, the haunting "Erleuchtung und Berufung", one song that unarguably benefits from the use of a children's choir to lend it not so much an angelic as ethereal air. Unfortunately, the rest of the album does not sustain the same quality, instead it gets bogged down by the jokey "Liturgie" and patchy rambles like "Teil I: Versammlung" which highlights some stylish accordion, but also annoying kazoo solos over extended instrumental noodling. While it definitely has its moments, I find this album the least rewarding of W&W's three studio efforts.
Bauer Plath (ZYX Music OHR 70035-2) is, IMO, their masterpiece. It cuts on rambling psychedelia in favour of more concise, folkier songs with well-honed, earthy melodies. Yet they are given a progressive bent by stylish and rich arrangements with major contribution from Wallenstein's keyboard maestro Jürgen Dollase [and drummer Harald Grosskopf -- Ed]. Some examples include the booming choir interjections and gentle Mellotron colourings of "Vision I", the sprightly synth fills on the title-track and the solemn organ and piano cadenza at the end of "Die Schlüsselblume". The effect is quite marvellous, suggesting that the pastoral fairytale world of happy farmers, dancing elves and magical flowers, as depicted in the lyrics, is already overcast by the first fumes of impending industrial revolution. The arrangements are primarily designed to support the vocals and so there are few independent instrumental sections, but in songs like the 8-minute fable "Der Rat der Motten" the gradual layering and unlayering of mandolins, keyboards, bass, percussion and kit drums over voices and acoustic guitars creates effective progressive-style dynamics and textural shifts. The aforementioned "Die Schlüsselblume" and the album's longest track, "Das Märchen vom Köningssohn", extend the song structures further beyond the verse-chorus format with more rhythmic variety and the interspersion of the folky melodies with a more classical-style harmonic material. Again, this album will not be for progressive rock purists, but those who liked Hölderlins Traum, the first Bröselmaschine album or just quirky folk-prog in general should have no trouble eating up Bauer Plath, crumbs and all. -- Kai Karmanheimo
[See Grosskopf, Harald |
Lieder Von Vampiren, Nonnen Und Toten (70)
|Though credited solely to Witthüser, Lieder Von Vampiren, Nonnen Und Toten (ZYX Music OHR 70038-2) features playing, singing and writing contributions from his busker-buddy Walter Westrupp on nearly every track. However, compared to the duo's other releases, this music is rather tame and unsurprising acoustic folk, with Witthüser's guitar and mouth organ and Westrupp's frugal horn or percussion embellishments serving as the only accompaniment to the vocals. They dubbed this a "pop-cabaret". Some of these simple songs are quite ear-pleasing, if you're into streetcorner serenading, but hold no candle to the surreal atmosphere of Trips und Träume or the progressive folk of Bauer Plath. Probably the songs can best be appreciated through the sometimes ironic, sometimes just ludicrous lyrics about not just vampires, nuns and the dead, as promised in the title, but also that friend of children, Flipper! -- Kai Karmanheimo|
[See Witthüser and Westrupp]
Carrycroch (78), Second (79)
French spacey fusion band that put out a couple of LPs and a couple of singles in the late seventies. Pretty nice music - nothing totally impressive, but very much in the French style that Carpe Diem exploited to full potential.
Wobbler - (not in photo order) Lars Fredrik Frøislie (keyboards, vocals),
Martin Nordrum Kneppen (drums, recorder), Kristian Karl Hultgren (bass, sax,
recorder), Tony Johannessen (lead vocals) and Morten Andreas Eriksen
(electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, tambourine, kazoo)
It wouldn't be fair to posit that Norwegian progsters Wobbler have staked new ground; in fact, they don't seem to have the desire to do so. Both the Mellotrons that open their debut album and its 30-minute epic title track speak to a heart-on-sleeve reverence for times and music of yore.
From the first few moments of the opening track, "Serenade for 1652", we are plunged into a brooding but fabricated darkness, suggesting, along with its title, a Nick Drake or Robert Fripp influenced view of the baroque, replete with strings and minor chords. Suddenly, what sounds like a huge, amplified and reverbed intake of breath is heard, leading smack into the organ-driven complexities of the title track's opening moments. These sudden dynamic and textural changes define this group's retro-sound, as they do the genre overall. A long-drawn string swell may glide unceremoniously but satisfyingly into acoustic guitar and flute reveries, and Wobbler have the stereotypical gestalt down perfectly. The music has time to breathe, grow, develop and build, so that when what serves as the chorus comes back some 20 minutes into the track, the journey seems complete.
The other tracks -- the shortest of which is 12 minutes -- follow similar models, and the readily apparent influences range from ELP to Gentle Giant. The latter is a rather unfortunate case, as the vocals on this disc do not even hold a candle to GG's well-executed multivalent voiceovers, but this is really the only drawback to a solidly produced and very well-performed disc. -- Marc Medwin
Wobbler has close ties to White Willow. Wobbler leader and keyboardist Lars Fredrik Frøislie has been White Willow's keyboardist since Storm Season. White Willow band leader Jacob Holm-Lupo produced Hinterland, and White Willow woodwind player Ketil Vestrum Einarsen appears as a guest on Hinterland.
Frøislie also leads a second band, In Lingua Mortua, a heavier, darker project begun in 1999 but without a released album as of this writing. -- Fred Trafton
[See In Lingua Mortua |
Click here for Wobbler's web site
Canis Lupis (73), Saturation Point (73), Night Music (74)
Band featuring former Curved Air violinist Darryl Way, future Marillion drummer Ian Mosley, future Soft Machine guitarist John Etheridge, and future Caravan bassist Dek Messecar. Excellent and ripping prog rock with a violin lead. Very classical and sort of a cross among Curved Air, Cressida, Spring, and classical bands like mid-period PFM or Trace, ELP, etc.
Darryl Way originated in the classically oriented progressive rock group Curved Air, and, with his band, Wolf, generated three releases. Saturation Point and Night Music are the second and third. The lineup featured some of the future luminaries of the prog rock scene, including John Etheridge (later to Soft Machine), Dek Messecar (who would go on to Caravan), and Ian Moseley (later to Trace, Marillion) providing the basis for Way's often frenetic lead violin. The music was in a mold similar to Curved Air with a large percentage of instrumental passages on their second release, Saturation Point, released in 1973, and moved to a slightly more refined style in their last Work, Night Music, with some of the musical interludes similar to mid-period Caravan.
[See Caravan | Curved Air | Soft Machine | Way, Darryl]
Unleashed (91), The Chase (92), Year of the Dog (94)
One of the finest Celtic rock bands from to come along in the past few years, Wolfstone plays a high-energy blend of Scottish folk music and progressive-edged rock. Unlike a lot of rock-n-reel bands, who go for a coarse sound (e.g. The Pogues), Wolfstone places a premium on musicianship and melodic richness. The obvious comparisons would be Fairport Convention and Songs in the Wood-era Jethro Tull, but they're a lot harder-hitting than Fairport, and a lot more traditional than Tull. Several folks have said that Wolfstone sounds like Kansas playing traditional Scottish folk tunes. A little tough to imagine, but the comparison is apt, especially on their original instrumental compositions, like "The Howl" Although all of Wolfstone's albums are solid, the real way to experience their music is to go and see them live. These guys tour regularly in the UK and in North America and it's definitely worth going to see them. They have a massive stage presence, with seven musicians (one drummer, one bassist, two guitarists, one keyboardist, one fiddler, and one piper/flautist/whistler), and they really put out much more energy in their concerts than can possibly be captured in the studio. -- James Chokey
Stuart "Woolly" Wolstenholme was a member of Barclay James Harvest from 1967 to 1979; he played keyboards on all their albums from 1970 to 1979, and was responsible for the lush walls of keyboards that was an integral part of BJH's sound (similar to Pinder's work with the Moody Blues). Maestoso was his only solo release, from 1980, that places rock within an orchestral and symphonic setting. Musically, comparisons could be drawn to mid-period BJH and some of the early to mid-period works of the Moody Blues.
[See Barclay James Harvest]
A Quick Step (75)
Obviously this band has heard bands such as Fantasy and Cressida, as that's what they most closely resemble. The band features dual guitars, keyboards and flute among its instrumentation. There are some nice Mellotron passages, which are always welcome. The main problem is that the band wear their influences too much on their sleeve. Which is not to say that they plunder from their sources, which they don't. They just don't have anything unique and new to add to the style, but they execute it OK if unspectacularly. Also problematic is their singer, whose thin, raspy voice becomes quite unpleasant over the entire course of this album. -- Mike Ohman
Tarot (71), Somnabular (73), Vibrarock (76), Tombac Vibe (??)
Electronic vibraphone (!) music. -- Mike Ohman
Fusion and jazz five piece outfit that sounds somewhat like Return to Forever without the funk. Wooden Ear also lack a little bit of Return to Forever's intensity, although they are quite good musicians and the compositions themselves are strong. Main instruments are the usual keyboards, guitar and sax. Keyboardist Christian Darré's style is comparable to Chick Corea, so even when they don't sound like Return to Forever, they still sound like Corea's Elektric Band. -- Mike Taylor
The Big Picture (92)
Woodenhead have been around the New Orleans for many years and apparently have several albums out. Privately released, The Big Picture is the only one I've seen on CD thus far. Woodenhead is comprised of four very talented musicians: Jimmy Robinson on guitars and guitar synth (and the focus of the instrumental music), Paul Clement on bass, Fran Comiskey on keyboards and Mark Whitaker on drums. The only problem is their style is derivative (or *heavily* inspired, if you prefer) of the Dixie Dregs. Robinson even handles "violin" on his guitar synth. The band does have some good ideas and bits of originality but I'd like to see them step out of the Dregs' shadow more often. Much more often. For example, the blues-inflected "King Rootin' Tootin'" reflects much of the traditional blues heard in New Orleans. I'd love to hear Woodenhead blend the jazz and blues in a more original way. I'm sure they're capable of it. The Big Picture is good stuff if you like the Dregs and don't mind another band that sounds just like them. But if you'd prefer more originality in style, well...you've been warned. I don't know if their other releases are like The Big Picture or not.
The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk (69)
|Well, I don't know what to do with [the former GEPR entry under Maria Monk]. I'm really sorry but this is completely false information. There was not the group or person called Maria Monk. The mentioned album The Awful Dislosures Of Maria Monk was recorded by the group Woody Kern (UK) - I'm sure because I've got this album - originally released on Pye 7N 17672. Woody Kern [is] a progressive outfit whose album has bluesy tinge. Personnel: Steve Harris - drums, Mike Wheat - bass, John Sanderson - ts[?], flute and violin, Rik Kenton - guitar and keyboards. Kenton was later (briefly) in Roxy Music. -- Ryszard Ryzlak|
[See Roxy Music]
The World Of Oz (69)
Window of Heaven (96)
|World of Silence is a swedish heavy progressive band, close to Dream Theater. The second album is a little bit more progressive (more light guitars, and lot of keyboards). Good vocals, poetic lyrics. -- Alain Ruelle|
World Trade (89) Euphoria (95)
Euphoria is a good album. Chris Squire cowrote two songs with group leader Billy Sherwood. Strong melodies and bass playing, although song structures may be a bit basic for some prog heads. -- J. Drake
Worlds Collide is Arlington, Texas-based musician John Paul Eargle with the help of a
few friends. John adds the "Paul" to his name to differentiate himself from his uncle,
John M. Eargle, who is known in the music industry as an engineering and recording guru,
and has written several well-known books on recording and microphones.
Portal is a demo to showcase John's talents to film producers and record company A&R execs. But the packaging is very professional (really nice computer-generated cover art!) and it's an enjoyable listen in its own right. Perhaps John has taken some pointers from his uncle on recording technique, because the quality of this CD is very high from a production standpoint. The instrumentation is synthesizer-heavy, but there is also electric and acoustic guitar work scattered liberally around. There are occasional real drums supplied by drummer Rob Price, but most of the drums are synthesized.
There are basically two sorts of compositions on this CD. The first three cuts are very cinematic and are obviously supposed to entice movie producers to use John for their projects. Highly reminiscent of Chris Franke's (ex-Tangerine Dream) work for the Babylon 5 TV series, they are full of orchestral stabs, brass choirs and tympani rolls, making for very dramatic "soundtrack" type pieces. The remaining parts of the album combine symphonic keyboards with almost dance-able percussion tracks and spacey synth effects, coming across sounding a bit like Enigma or Delerium. Or maybe a new-agey version of Alan Parson's Project. None of the compositions are bad, but they are all very much "easy listening" in that there's nothing difficult about them at all. Even the odd time signatures flow easily and don't seem hard to comprehend.
John was also a member of Dallas-based band Script, but they are not active at the moment. John appears to be somewhat internet-phobic, and does not have a web site or an e-mail address. But you can write to him at the address below if this sounds interesting to you, and I'm sure he would be glad to sell you one of his CD's. For my own part, I like this album, but I also have a large collection of Chris Franke's Babylon 5 soundtrack CD's, so go figure. -- Fred Trafton
Land mailing address for John P. Eargle:
Solo synthesist from the east coast area. The multi-layered tracks from his album Woz tend to concentrate less on melodics and more on sort of a rhythmic psychedelicism, with interesting effects and growling tonations. This would be a nice soundtrack to your next hit of acid!
Wet Dream (78)
Broken China (96)
|Keyboardist with Pink Floyd. His album Wet Dream explores some of territory not unlike Floyd circa Obscured by Clouds and thereabouts, with less emphasis on guitars and virtually no vocals. A very good album.|
[See Pink Floyd]
Power of the Picts (69)
Fathers, Sons and other Elusive Beasts (99)
I Think It's Time to Split (01, EP)
A Lifetime of Autumns (02)
Pete Wulforst ... he claims he doesn't recall striking this "pose" ...
Pete Wulforst is about as "independent" a musician as you could ask for, creating his own brand of music in his basement studio. His primary instrument is guitar, though he also does a creditable job of playing keyboards, bass and singing. Drums are handled by an Alesis SR-16 drum machine, though Wulforst generally programs his own patterns rather than using "out of the box" rhythms. The albums listed in his discography are available directly from him (see e-mail below), as are a number of compilation CDR's. I've heard his A Lifetime of Autumns CD and a compilation CD. Many of his songs are available from MP3.com [no longer available - Ed.].
Wulforst's album A Lifetime of Autumns is mostly instrumental, though there are two cuts with vocal tracks. The guitars range from very bluesy to more prog sounding. Keyboards are of the digital variety, and are used mostly for background orchestration and "sweetening", though there are some parts where the keyboards are in the forefront. The sound quality is very ... odd. Not bad, just unusual. Songs sound like they use too much or too little compression, and instruments aren't balanced in the "conventional" way. The guitars always sound a bit rough ... distorted in an unusual way. It's quite a unique sound, and takes some getting used to.
Wulforst's admiration for Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa come through on several of the cuts on the compilation CD, particularly "Yeti", which Wulforst manages to rhyme with "Serengeti" and "I'm going to Tibeti", all of which somehow reminds me of "trudging across the tundra, mile after mile" and dire warnings about eating yellow snow.
If you'd like to try something a little unconventional, e-mail Wulforst for info on ordering his CD's. I've found them to be quite entertaining, and they seem to be getting more and more "prog" as the years go by. He blames the GEPR for this (in part) because he's been listening to prog bands recommended in here lately, and it's been influencing his style. For the better in my opinion. But this guy really needs a band. His own writing is interesting, but he'd benefit from the inputs of other band members as long as their tastes were somewhat similar.
Wulforst was also a guest artist on the OHO CD Recollections which came with Progression Magazine Issue #41. -- Fred Trafton
|Links||Click here to e-mail Wulforst at firstname.lastname@example.org|
Rock Fantasia Opus 9 (81, re-released on CD in 2002 w/ bonus tracks)
The old GEPR entry for this band simply said, "Offbeat symphonic prog". What a terrible
review for such an interesting and innovative band! And how very nice of Musea to
re-release this gem on CD for a new generation of listeners to enjoy!
Originally released in the early '80's when Prog was thought to be dead, Wurtemberg was a French band with several musicians from the French '70's pop rock scene, led by instrument-maker Alain Carbonare. That's right, Carbonare made many of the stringed instruments used on this album, including a psaltery, lyre and dulcimer. The heavy use of these acoustic string instruments and the compositional style both make this music very medieval-sounding, but it also mixes electric instruments into the overall sound. The result might almost be called progressive folk, but not in the usual sense. Really, this reminds me a lot of Clearlight's Symphony but without the drug-induced spaciness or the eastern mysticism. Instead, we have these medieval european style string instruments playing with Verdeaux-like piano (and electric guitars and Hammond organ too, though these take a back seat to the acoustic instruments for much of the album). The sound is refreshingly innovative and pleasant to listen to. Complex and virtuosic, the sound is progressive without being challenging or threatening.
Musea's 2002 CD re-release features two bonus tracks, both arrangements of classical pieces. The first is J. S. Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", and the second is a brief excerpt from Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 4th Movement. These are well done, but are so faithful that you might as well be listening to a classical album. Still, a nice touch to fill out some of the extra time available on a CD. Recommended to those who don't need crunching, chugging electric guitars or spacey synthesizers to believe an album is prog ... or those who would just like to take a rest from that sound for the space of a CD and get into something warmer and more organic. -- Fred Trafton
Click here to order Rock Fantasia Opus
9 from Musea Records
The End of an Ear (71)
Rock Bottom (74)
Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard (75)
The Animals Film (82, Soundtrack)
Nothing Can Stop Us (85)
Old Rottenhat (86)
A Short Break (92)
Flotsam Jetsam (94, compilation)
The End Of And Ear and Rock Bottom are truly two of the most innovative albums ever recorded by this genius ex-Soft Machine, Matching Mole drummer/vocalist. Rock Bottom was recorded after Wyatt's accident in which he fell out of a building and became paralyzed from the waist down. Very haunting and very emotional. The End Of An Ear was Wyatt's experimentation in vocal technique. No lyrics, just voice and incredible music. I love it a LOT.
|A Short Break is a collection of 5 tracks by Robert Wyatt recorded into a 4-track machine in his home, and seem to be more in the nature of rough works, as might comprise a demo. Wyatt is accompanied by piano and sparse percussion, with music that harkens back to his earlier days. This item is probably more in the nature of a memento to those who enjoy Wyatt's style, or are collectors of the genre (Canterbury, I suppose), rather than a release of great musical merit.|
|Dondestan is great. I love this guy's voice. Songs are mainly sad and whimsical.|
|A genius. Get them all. Rock Bottom has the amazing "Alifie" and "Alifib" which get my vote for his greatest tracks. Ivor Cutler adds bizzarre verse too. The line-ups of Rock Bottom and Ruth contain Mike Oldfield, Fred Frith, Richard Sinclair, Ivor Cutler ... produced by Nick Mason ... hear or regret.|
|His End Of An Ear album is not unlike the experimental edge of the stuff he was doing with Soft Machine, many tracks done entirely with vocals. David Sinclair of Caravan guests on organ. Weird, especially the two almost unrecognizable, very long versions of Gil Evans' "Las Vegas Tango." Rock Bottom is a good deal more listenable, yet still highly unconventional. Mostly consisting of Wyatt's voice, keyboards and some light percussion. -- Mike Ohman|
[See Harris, Don "Sugarcane" |
Mantler, Michael |
Matching Mole |
Click here for the Robert Wyatt web site