Saturday, March 13, 2010


Prog Music for March 2010

Sometimes it is good getting to the party late. When the folks who represent Syzygy offered to send me their latest CD, I had already heard good things about them, but had never actually heard them. I opened the mail the other day and to my surprise I found the entire 3 CD collection by the band, including their first work "Cosmos and Chaos" which was recorded under the band name, Witsend. In a short period of time, I was able to hear the growth of a group of musicians over their 16 years together.

Witsend (Cosmos and Chaos - 1993)/Syzygy (The Allegory of Light - 2003)/Syzygy (Realms of Eternity - 2009)
Although you can hear lots of bits and pieces of other prog bands in the their music, it is in no way derivative. What is most distinctive about their sound then as it is now, is the even balance of electric guitar, acoustic guitar and keyboards. Somehow prog rock turned into prog metal and the softer acoustic instruments disappeared. With it went much of the dynamics that made prog rock so interesting. Syzygy must understand that because the acoustic guitar finds its way into nearly half of their songs throughout their 3 CD career. The biggest change between Witsend and Realms of Eternity are the addition of vocals. I believe there is only one song that really has vocals on the Cosmos and Chaos CD, whereas most of the songs on Realms have vocals. This is classic prog rock with blazing guitar and keyboard solos along with interesting and complex melodies and musical themes. The second half of Realms of Eternity is a prog rock opus featuring 7 or 8 separate but beautifully linked pieces. Syzygy has quickly become one of my favorite active prog bands. I'm so glad they found me.

Egg (Egg - 1970)/(The Polite Force - 1971)
The key to understanding what Egg sounded like was seeing in the credits of Egg "Tone generator" as one of the instruments that Dave Stewart, keyboardist for National Health among many other great prog bands, played. This is early progressive, with a jazz/fusion sound to it and plenty of noddling around on a tone generator. The CDs now available have bonus cuts that include single versions and B-sides to singles. They made singles out of this stuff? Really? All kidding aside, for those who want to explore the earlier days of progressive rock, heavy on the psychedelic, do check them out.

King Crimson - In The Court of the Crimson King 40th Anniversary Series (2009)
There is one reason to buy this CD: The 5.1 mix that was created by Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree. It is a fine way to enjoy one of the more important records to come out of the 70's progressive scene. Still, the quality of the actually recording, especially the drums, leave a lot to be desired compared to what can be done today. But, if you love this CD, and you are a traditionalist who believes that the original sound the band heard is all I want to hear, AND you have a stereo capable of playing a 5.1 audio DVD, then you should seriously consider adding this to your collection.

The Electric Light Orchestra (No Answer - 1972)/(II - 1973)/(On the Third Day - 1973)/(The Night the Lights Went Out in Long Beach - 1998)
Somehow I've pretty much left ELO out of the stream (there are a couple of ELO songs running I believe). They really go pretty pop in the later days, and truthfully, looking back, they were pretty pretentious with their mixing of pop and classical. But then, wasn't that really what prog music was all about; pretension? Okay, that was a bit tongue in cheek, but as I went back and listened to these first CDs and a live album from that era, I couldn't help but remember back to those days when this seemed to be the future of music. So, I'm throwing this poppy, pretentious stuff into the stream, with no embarrassment and only tune on my lips.

Cirque Du Soleil - Kooza (2008)
The current version of Cirque just blew through town and was, as always, an amazing show. Over the years I've always thought their music was the closest many people would ever get to experiencing progressive rock. With their fake language songs and very movie soundtrack style, Cirque's music has always been able to hold its own next to the prog world. The CD is much more assessable than anything I've ever heard from Cirque, but there were several songs that fit the prog format.

Kraftwerk - Autobahn (1974)
It was the turning point for the band as they started to bring in real melodies and vocals into their sound.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Music for November 2009

Lots of music coming your way...

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe - Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe (1989)
Straddling prog and pop, the bulk of the most famous version of Yes put together an interesting group of songs. The closest they come to their classic days is the cover of the CD. And maybe that is why they didn't call themselves Yes. Still a very interesting CD to listen to.
Illumination - Jamie Craig (2008)
Continuing where he left off with his last release, Jamie Craig continues to walk a beautiful path between prog and new age music. Always an enjoyable ride.
Emerson Lake & Palmer - Works Live (1977)
Technically ELP was one of the best groups of musicians to ever play prog rock. Throw in an orchestra and there are moments on this CD, were the power overshadows the egos.
Camel, The Snow Goose, Rain Dances, Breathless - Camel (1973,1975,1977,1978)
I have no idea how these never made it into my CD collection. I went looking for one of them awhile back and realized I only had them on vinyl. A quick look online took care of that problem. Watching Andy Latimer play guitar at the Roxy in Los Angeles back in the mid 70's continues to be one of my favorite guitar moments as he closed his eyes, twitched his lips, and... and... played. The late Peter Bardens looked like a teenager up there. What an amazing show. "Camel" showed them in there still 60's psychedelic mode. "The Snow Goose", was a beautiful trip with lots of Andy's flute. There are still songs on "Rain Dances" that move me. "Breathless"... I don't remember if I ignored it or never saw it come out, but it sure felt like a first listen for me. I love Richard Sinclair's vocals and although this CD seemed to move Camel in a more pop direction, well... Did I mention I love Richard Sinclair's vocals?
The Answer - Peter Bardens (1970)
Speaking of Peter Bardens, this rare CD (I saw a copy on Amazon for $70) is very 60's psychedelic. But there are moments when you see a bit of Camel. It was definitely a long way from his days with Van Morrison.
King Crimson - Live at Asbury Park NJ (1974)
It was a great time to be a prog rock fan. What else is there to say!
Port Mahadia - Echoes in Time (2007)
Ahhh... Songs about the sea. A story. A theme. Soaring guitar solos. Like Porcupine Tree, Port Mahadia can move from crunching guitars to beautiful melodies. Almost as good as taking a 45 minute vacation.
The Incident - Porcupine Tree (2009)
2 discs in this release. Disc 1 is one song (or a suite of songs actually), "The Incident". As always, there is a mix of blistering and potent guitars and then brilliant melodies. Deadwing is still my favorite PT CD, but songs like "Time Flies" will keep me coming back to this CD. Disc 2 is 4 additional songs that feel a bit like leftovers; especially after being completely enthralled by "The Incident".
Renaissance - Live at Carnegie Hall (1975)
This is the band at their peak, playing like no other band before or since. It is beautiful and gripping, with amazing stories and, of course, Annie Haslam's exquisite voice. If you only buy one Renaissance CD, this probably is the one to have.
So, Security, Secret World Live - Peter Gabriel (1984,1982,1993)
Do I really need to talk about any of these? Some of the best music (prog or not) the '80s had to offer. His early digital productions proved that music could be mind blowing. His live productions were second to none.
801 Live Collectors Edition - 801 (2009)
I have mixed feelings about this double CD. The original 801 Live was... perfect. Maybe the greatest live album ever. It wasn't just the songs, but the post production and the pacing of the album. They took "Golden Hours" and "The Fat Lady of Limbourg" out for a reason: They messed up the pace of the album. With these two songs back in, we get a better feel for the entire concert, but I'm not sure I like it any better. Still, it is great to have two more 801 songs to enjoy. Disc 2 is from rehearsals and all of the songs except "Golden Hours" are on it. This disc doesn't have the energy or the post production for that matter, that first disc has, but it is really interesting to hear slightly different versions to these songs. But you tell me what you think. We'll get that entire 2nd disc into the play list for you to listen to. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 02, 2009


Prog Music for May 2009

Modest Midget - Partial Exposure (2009)
There is hope for progressive pop with this EP (a full CD to be coming soon) from the Netherlands. The pretty melodies are surrounded by an intelligent design that is at times ethnic and then can suddenly sound almost classical, with classic prog guitar soloing and wonderful instrumental passages. I can't wait to hear the whole CD.
Steven Wilson - Insurgentes (2009)
The leader of Porcupine Tree gives us a solo album that is brilliant in it's sound and style. Ripping through anthems, techno blasts and pure evil and beauty, Steven creates a dark, passionate sound-scape. Don't download this CD. You must pick up the combo back with the DVD and 5.1 version. OMG! What a treat! 
Cannata - My Back Pages Volume 1 (2009)
I'm not one to get into cover albums, especially when the idea is to just make the original sound better instead of making it your own. But that is what Cannata does, and... well... it's a fun ride. There are over a dozen tracks on here that you should know by now; everything from Bowie to Tull to Donavon. And truthfully, they do a great job of recreating the songs. The production is top notch and the vocals often are spot on. This was, as I said, a fun ride. I will probably put one or two of these tracks on the stream.
Cannata - Mysterium Mganum (2006)
This is really what Cannata is about: Classic 70's prog rock with solid vocals, big arrangements and soaring solos. Had I come across this in the late 70's I might have ignored it for being too commercial. Today I see the value in softening the edges of prog sometimes. To find out more about this solid CD go to  
Yes - Symphonic Live (2002/2009)
If you were lucky enough to see the Yes tour back around the turn of the century with an orchestra, I don't need to tell you how good this double CD is. Yes, lots of great live Yes, with most of the songs augmented with a full orchestra. "The Gates of Delirium" alone makes it worth the price. 
Renaissance - Dreams & Omens (2008)
I don't think there can ever be enough Renaissance CDs. This live CD from 1978 is Renaissance at their peak. Too bad it is only one disc. 
Gnidrolog - In Spite of Harry's Toe-Nail / Lady Lake (2004)
This double LP set (both albums were recorded in 1972) on 1 disc was recommended to me by one of my listeners. Like Van der Graff or Gentle Giant, this bands vocals were never about sweet melodies, but instead were just another instrument that defined the sound. The first LP is more psychedelic and disjointed. The band really picks up steam in the "Lady Lake" half, bringing home the instrumental intensity that we so loved from our early prog bands. 
Gentle Giant - The Missing Piece (35th Anniversary Edition) (2005)
Gentle Giant was being forced out of the music biz by punk rock, but they weren't going without a fight. This under appreciated disc starts off in fairly commercial fashion, but after a blistering attack on the punk movement, "Betcha Thought We Couldn't Do It", they return to more classic GG material. This CD has held up very well over the last 30 years. 
Fripp & Eno - No Pussyfooting (2008)
This 1973 release has been augmented in ways that only Fripp and Eno can do. Two songs are reversed and the other is at half speed. If you've never experienced ambient music, this is a great place to start. This is really music to do other things to. Listening intently is nearly impossible without serious drugs. 
Peter Gabriel - Passion (1989)
This soundtrack for the Scorsese film was a nice diversion for Gabriel, allowing him to stretch in ways he hadn't before. Only rarely do you hear pieces that sing out: This is a Peter Gabriel track. The sound is very electronic with lots of Middle Eastern themes thrown in. 
Peter Gabriel - Us (1992)
You really just can't have enough PG, can you? This CD could be subtitled, "Peter going through therapy", and with that comes some of his best lyrics ever, as Peter struggles with life, sex and relationships. Come on, kiss that frog. 
Jean-Luc Ponty - Enigmatic Ocean (1977)
The great thing about being a college DJ in the seventies, was not having to worry about labels. Was Ponty Jazz or rock... or both. It didn't matter. This was a new form of music and we loved it. Jean-Luc Ponty's jazz based violin influenced countless numbers of violin players and epic adventures like this LP were why. 

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Prog Update for November

Apell - Reconstituted (2008) 
This CD starts out with a couple of jazzy pieces with vocals (including a nice cover of "Don't Let it Bring You Down" from Neil Young and "Long, Long, Long" from the Beatles) but the heart and soul of this CD is the sometimes funky and always interesting instrumental pieces. The sound is at times techno but it reminds me more of the high energy pieces by Tangerine Dream than of the 90's techo scene. Not that this is in any way dated. The sounds and ideas are fresh and at times funky and alive. And just for good measure, the songs actually sound like their titles (I can just see the "Hash Browns" frying on the stove).
Big Blue Ball - Big Blue Ball (2008)
This project, the brainchild of Peter Gabriel, was recorded back in the 90's I believe and was finally finished up this year. It features, along with Peter, Sinead O'conner, Karl Walinger (of World Party fame... he also helped produce) and Joseph Arthur along with some world music stars. The music bounces (like the pun?) around between pop and world music. It is an interesting group of songs. If you like all of Peter's dabblings in world and other styles of music, you will no doubt love this. 
Ian Tescee - A Traveler's Guide to Mars (2007)
If you've ever been to a planetarium show with the cool projector that puts the stars and planets on the ceiling and the cool space music (for me, growing up, it was the Griffith Park Observatory), then you know what this CD is all about. Ian has created music that is not only worthy of any observatory but will sound really good on that cool stereo system you just bought to support you new flat screen TV. The CD owes a lot to Tangerine Dream and the other German space rockers of the 60's and 70's, but the music sounds fresh and alive. In the sub genre of electronic music this is the best I've heard in some time.
Roxy Music - Roxy Music (1972) & For Your Pleasure (1973)
This is how it all began. With Bryan Ferry writing, Eno filling the sound with keyboards and tapes and Manzanera's cool guitar licks, this was Roxy Music at their best (in my humble opinion). 
Roxy Music - Viva! (1976)
Eno had left the band (and took his full name back... Hmmm, do you suppose that Bryan Ferry didn't want to have 2 Bryan's in the band and that is why he was only known as Eno?) and was replaced by the great Edwin (later to be called Eddie) Jobson on keyboards and violin. What we have here is Roxy Music doing what they do best, play live. Songs like "In Every Dream Home a Heartache" sound so much better live. The power, the sexiness, the intensity is here. One of my favorite live albums of the 70's (although it is way behind "801 Live"). 
Jethro Tull - Carnegie Hall, NY 1970 (from the 25th Anniversary box set) 1993
Ian and band sure knew how to rock back in the old days. But I never noticed that his raps sounded a lot like Eddie Izzard. :-) The pre-Aqualung version of My God is interesting in how he later toned down the lyrics. This CD alone makes the box set worth having. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Music for October 2008

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
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: and
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. 

Monday, May 26, 2008


Music for May

What a weekend. The radio station hard drive was failing and bringing down the station was my only choice. While it was down though I was able to get a couple of things done. The long awaited updates to the play list happened and more important, I was able to get a backup system in place for the next time. I also updated some of the older files to a higher format. Hopefully some of the songs will sound a bit better. So, lacking sleep and wishing the weekend had just started, here is the music I added to the station this weekend:

We start with some new music from Quidam and Cary Clouser...

Quidam - Alone Together (2007)
Like Porcupine Tree, Quidam bridges that gap between pop and progressive so nicely that if you are a prog only kinda listener, you hardly feel guilty. You'll find some beautiful melodies and pretty (okay, handsome) vocals throughout, but you are never far from a searing guitar solo. The sound has a strong 70's vibe but with a very modern feel. This is one of my favoriteprog releases in some time.

Cary Clouser - Finger Paintings (2008)

Cary is an indie prog artist with loads of talent. This CD is very much a one man effort with a little help here and there from a couple of bass and guitar players. But you won't know that by listening. There is a full produced sound here with an emphasis on piano based pop/prog. There is some fine soloing and nice vocals. Someone to keep an eye on. .

And then we have some oldies that are new to the play list.

UK - Night After Night (1979)

After UK lost its drummer and guitarist, you would think that Eddie and John would have hung it up. But they brought on Terry Bozzio and really, who needs a guitarist when you have great violin and keyboards from Eddie. Well, maybe a guitarist would have helped fill in a few holes in the sound, but otherwise, this live CD brings back lots of good memories. Thanks to Mark for recommending this CD.

Steeleye Span - The Journey (1999)

This live recording from 1995 brought back all but one of the Steeleye Span members for a memorable concert. You can easily see by listening why I have picked this band as the main representative of English folk for my prog broadcast.

Frank Zappa - Zappa In New York (1978)
There was nothing like seeing Frank Zappa live and this R rated double CD is worth every minute of it. Frank may never have been lumped into the progressive rock category, but there wasn't a rocker alive making more sophisticated music.

Traffic (multiple discs)
I only had a couple of songs from John Barlyecorn Must Die and Low Spark of High Healed Boys on the stream. These are fantastic CDs that get airplay on classic rock stations. But they are part of the sound that made up progressive radio back in the 70's, so I decided to add the other songs from these CDs. If they are not in your collection...

And I've started bringing more ripped vinyl to the play list.

Procol Harum - Grand Hotel (1973)
Because of their success, Procol Harum can be a hard band to categorize. There is no doubt though that this particular album is far beyond the standard fare that was the classic rock of the 70's. Unlike most prog rock of the time though, the lyrics are equal to the amazing musical journey.

Pulsar - Strands of the Future (1976)

One of the best progressive bands to come out of France, Pulsar mixes moody atmospheres with melodies that often feel like they belong in a scary midnight movie. And then... an acoustic guitar may come out of nowhere and make you feel all better again. If you like the space music that came out of Germany, Pulsar takes it to the next level.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


New Music for February 2008

I've got some new music along with a few old ones to add to the play list. As always, a big thank you to the artists that send in their music. Even though the focus of the broadcast is 70's music, there is plenty of music today that fits right in. And if it does, I'll play it. And also thankyous go out to all of the kind listeners who have written in over the years. I always enjoy hearing from you. Thanks for the stories. Hope you enjoy the music.

Jamie Craig - The Lost Dream (2007)
Back in the 70's a friend of mine used to refer to progressive music as soundtrack music; and with good reason. Bands like Tangerine Dream easily moved into the soundtrack business after gaining worldwide fame. Continuing on in the "soundtrack style" tradition is Jamie Craig, who has put together a handful of mood inspiring recordings. It is easy to listen to these songs and get lost as they carry you away. Somewhere between 70's prog and New Age you will find "The Lost Dream". It is an enjoyable trip.
The Neil Campbell Collective - Particle Theory (2007)
This is a strong collection of prog/jazz music. What many hard core prog fans won't admit is that a good melody can be just as important as the sound scape. And there are some beautiful melodies that lead you along. Whether it is the cello from Aria or Neil's keyboards from the title track, there is a beauty to go along with the intelligence.

And from the vaults...
Cirque Du Soleil - Saltimbanco (1992)
Their music has always captivated me. It is always unique and inspiring. I believe it will fit in very nicely with the great music from the 70's.
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)
This is embarrassing. How did this one escape getting put into the play list. A great album from a band that was in their peak period.
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel (1977)
Another oversight. An all star cast gives Peter a great start as a solo artist.

There are more "oversights" coming. I just can't keep up. As long as you all keep listening, I'll keep getting the music to you.


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