Lots of music being added to the play list. Lets get right to it:
Mile Marker Zero - Out of the Ground, Into the Fire (2008)
These guys are a bit more metal than the typical band you will here on 70's English Prog, but I like a lot of their sound. Like Porcupine Tree, they bounce between the aggressive guitar and soft vocals and, at times, sweet melodies. Their suite, "Past Life", is a winning attempt to pull this all together into a 70's like epic. A band worth checking out. And you can do that at http://www.mmzband.com
Peter Hammill - Singularity (2006)
We are all getting older. Peter had a heart attack not too long ago. For an artist who was already searching deep into his own psyche there was no reason to believe this would be a light CD. It starts with some upbeat tunes, but otherwise travels typical PH ground musically. It is really about the lyrics which is one of the reasons I've been playing so much Peter Hammill over the years. Few prog bands/artists can really stand tall when talking about their lyrics. This is a powerful CD on those terms alone.
Various Artists - A Reflection - Yet More Music Inspired by and In Tribute to Gentle Giant (2008) / Giant for Another Hour (2006)
For prog fans, these two CDs are a fun ride. Some of the songs are very obviously inspired by Gentle Giant. Some are not as obvious, but interesting none the less. There are plenty of songs that stand on their own here and that they may remind you of Gentle Giant is an added bonus. You can pick these CDs up at CDBaby. Here are a couple of links: http://cdbaby.com/cd/gianthour3
Mary Fahl - From the Dark Side of the Moon (2006)
I'm not sure how this CD ever saw the light of day. Actually, it officially hasn't seen the light of day. The only way to get it is through Ebay (plan on spending about $50). Mary, has a potent voice and so the prospect of hearing her power through Pink Floyd's great achievement was too hard for me to resist. Of course vocals are only a small part of "Dark Side of the Moon" and so I was surprised at the unique approach that David Werner and Mark Doyle took. Of course this isn't better or even as good as the original, but it is a nice diversion and always a treat to hear Mary sing.
Strawbs - The Broken Hearted Bride (2008)
Always known for their ability to be "dramatic", The Strawbs open this new CD with power and passion that would have blown us away 30 years ago. "The Call to Action" is so good, they do an instrumental version near the end of the CD. With a fiddle blazing, they are the Strawbs of old. Unfortunately, this is the best song on the CD. But still, it is a solid CD and if you were/are a Strawbs fan, you will want this in your collection.
Renaissance - Turn of the Cards (1974)
One of my all time favorite albums. With songs like "Mother Russia" and "Running Hard", Annie Haslam's vocals shine. They may be the best of the classical influenced bands of the 70's.
Renaissance - Scheherazade (1975)
Almost as good as "Turn of the Cards" this CD doesn't have a bad song on it. "Trip to the Fair" is unique and challenging and accessible all at the same time. Side 2 (on the album) is "Song of Scheherazade", a 24 minute interpretation of the story of Scheherazade.
Renaissance - In the Land of the Rising Sun (2002)
Annie Haslam is in her 50's and can still send shivers down my spine when she sings. Her voice may not be quite as exact, but there is more passion there now and the bulk of the band that has been reassembled is playing the music beautifully. This is supposedly the last live piece we will ever see from this classic classical rock band. It is sad, but they have left us with music that will last the ages. Trust me, when you hear this live version of Ashes are Burning, you will be moved.
Dave Cousins - Duochrome (2008)
On the road in the U.S. this year, the leader of the Strawbs created a wonderful live CD. Most of the music is from the last few years, but the highlight of the CD is his version of "Beside The Rio Grande". Dave's solo music is a reminder to us Americans that there may be a strong difference between English folk music and our folk music, but performers like Dave Cousins have no problem bringing the passion.
Roxy Music - Country Life (1974), Stranded (1973), Siren (1975)
In America, "Love is a Drug" from 1975's "Siren" is about all most radio listeners know of Roxy Music. Back in the 70's, in college stations across the country though, Roxy Music was a staple for any worthy progressive station. Part glam rock, part prog rock but always the coolest guys on the planet, Roxy Music's best music is still vital today. Probably their best albums are the first 2 with Brian Eno. We will get to those next time.