This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/02/26/fairport-convention-505050/

If there was any justice – and music taste – in the world, Fairport Convention would be treated in the U.K. with the same reverence as, say, The Band in the U.S. After all, they have been with us for 50 years, and have helped keep British ‘roots’ music alive and rocking for 48 of them. They have also seen pass through their ranks some of the most iconic British musicians of the last half-century – the guitar wizard Richard Thompson, the tragic and brilliant singer/songwriter Sandy Danny and the impish demon fiddler Dave Swarbrick among them.

The current line-up may all be heading rapidly towards their 70s but they still exhibit musicianship of the highest order. Dave Pegg’s bass playing is still fluid and inventive, Ric Sanders has total mastery of fiddle and bow and Chris Leslie seems able to play every instrument known to Humankind. And Simon Nicol is still there, the only founding member from 1967. Yet, as I know from experience, Fairport are virtually unknown to the majority of people with ears. But everyone has heard of One Direction. Go figure.

Of course, Fairport are a long way from their glory days and the albums that I think every Prog fan would acknowledge as essential folk-rock classics – Unhalfbricking, Liege And Lief and Full House. They were created during one of the most fertile and exciting periods of British music by youngsters barely out of their teens and filled with ambition, energy and arrogance.

One cannot expect the same cutting-edge approach 25 albums later so the latest release, celebrating their 50th anniversary, is not a patch on the early, groundbreaking work. Fairport are a gentler, more sedate band now, their repertoire filled with pretty but sometimes forgettable ballads.

With 50:50@50 what we get is, as the title suggests, a game of two halves – 50% studio and 50% live. The studio tracks are mostly Chris Leslie compositions – he has a good ear for melody, some interesting lyrics and a nice voice but his songs struggle to escape a general sense of pleasant blandness. Only with Devil’s Work, an amusing and spirited warning about the perils of DIY, does he create something that sticks in the musical memory long after the others have faded.

Among the live tracks, Ye Mariners All and Lord Marlborough have become too polite and Jesus On The Mainline is lacklustre and cheesy, despite featuring Robert Plant on vocals, but The Naked Highwayman is great fun and John Condon, about the youngest Allied soldier killed in the First World War, is a moving ballad sung with real feeling by Simon Nicol.

For me, though, Fairport’s most interesting work is being provided by violinist Ric Sanders. His instrumentals range from the languid, jazzy Portmeirion to the sprightly Danny Jack’s Reward – tunes that frequently stretch the band’s musicianship further than anything since those rocked-up jigs and reels of the late ’60s and early ’70s. Ric is the one who is still creating challenging, interesting music for his colleagues to get their teeth into.

But us Fairport fans don’t really follow them for the occasional studio albums that we probably buy out of a sense of loyalty, play once and then tuck away in the CD collection, never to be heard again. It’s the joy of seeing them live on their winter tours or at the annual Cropredy Festival, the warm glow of nostalgia, the feeling of being with a bunch of people you have virtually grown up with.

And it’s the bitter-sweet poignancy of Meet On The Ledge, Richard Thompson’s stately anthem that some interpret as a reference to the afterlife – “When my time is up I’m gonna meet all of my friends”. As we all join in the chorus we think not only of those band members who have gone to the great gig in the sky – Sandy and Swarb, Martin Lamble, Trevor Lucas, Bruce Rowland – but also our own dear departed family and friends, and our own mortality.

Blimey, this has got depressing, hasn’t it? And it shouldn’t be, because Fairport have given me a lot of joy over the years. So all together now: “Away with the buff and the blue, and away with the cap and the feather! I want to see my lass who lives in Hexhamshire!”

I feel better now.

TRACK LISTING
01. Eleanor’s Dream (3:12)
02. Ye Mariners All [live] (4:37)
03. Step By Step (4:36)
04. The Naked Highwayman [live] (4:46)
05. Danny Jack’s Reward (expensive version!) (4:36)
06. Jesus On The Mainline [live] (3:43)
07. Devil’s Work (3:33)
08. Mercy Bay [live] (7:02)
09. Our Bus Rolls On (4:53)
10. Portmeirion [live] (5:38)
11. The Lady Of Carlisle (4:55)
12. Lord Marlborough [live] (3:25)
13. Summer By The Cherwell (3:16)
14. John Condon [live] (6:05)

Total Time – 64:19

MUSICIANS
Simon Nicol – Vocals & Guitars
Dave Pegg – Bass, Mandolin & Backing Vocals
Ric Sanders – Violins & Keyboards
Chris Leslie – Vocals, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Banjo, Ukelele, Whistle, Harmonica
Gerry Conway – Drums
..and loads of guest musicians playing fiddles, flutes, clarinets, trumpets and saxes on Danny Jack’s Reward

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Matty Grooves
Catalogue#: MGCD054
Year of Release: 2017

LINKS
Fairport Convention – Website | Facebook

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Abba – Eagle

The Wonderstuff – Radio Ass Kiss

Arena – Bedlam Fayre

Kyros – Monster

Detour 33 – Sleeping With .44

Tom Slatter – Name In A File

Agents of Mercy – Last Few Grains of Hope

Combination Head – Combination Head

Stewart Bell – The Probability of Improbability

William D. Drake – Heart of Oak

Patrick Moraz – Cachaca Variations

dEUS – Secret Hell (Live)

Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud

Galleon – Ghost Ship

 

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/02/26/carl-palmers-elp-legacy-world-tour-dates/

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy announce “EMERSON LAKE & PALMER LIVES ON!” World Tour

PRESS RELEASE:

A celebration of the late Keith Emerson, Greg Lake and the instrumental rock classics of ELP Carl Palmer, among the most renowned drummers in rock history and a founding member of both ELP and ASIA, has announced an extensive 2017 World Tour, EMERSON LAKE & PALMER LIVES ON!, a musical celebration of his late band mates Keith Emerson and Greg Lake and their group, ELP.

“I will deeply miss Keith and Greg, both of whom the world lost in 2016,” said Palmer, as he prepares for the longest solo tour of his career. “It is now down to me to carry on flying the ELP banner and I will be playing that great music with my band for many years to come. The outpouring of support from ELP’s fans has been astounding, so, I felt I owed it to them to continue the music we made as a group.”

The tour comes with the international release of a DVD/ CD combo featuring Palmer’s 2016 Pictures At An Exhibition tribute to Keith Emerson (that featured Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, Vanilla Fudge keyboardist and vocalist Mark Stein and drummer David Frangioni, who made guest appearances) and the band’s Live In The USA CD. The official release of these titles will be through M.I.G, a German-based record and video label.

In addition to Palmer’s compelling stage show, the tour will also highlight his collection of fine art, recently done in conjunction with California’s Scene Four Art Studios. Palmer recently created two new images: Welcome Back (dedicated to Emerson) and Lucky Man (dedicated to Lake). The images in these collections are the result of collaboration between Palmer and the acclaimed Los Angeles Art Team, Scene Four and feature a series of signed and numbered prints of stunning visual images constructed by capturing rhythm. The images combine motion, color, and lighting into some of the most compelling fine art visuals ever created. These very limited Palmer art collections are available at Carl Palmer.

Palmer will present bold, new arrangements of the best-loved instrumental music of ELP, and other composers. A multi-media experience combining music and video projection, the show promises to be among the most musically compelling tours of the year. Carl Palmer ELP Legacy is a red-hot power trio that features Palmer on drums and percussion; guitarist Paul Bielatowicz and bassist Simon Fitzpatrick.

“Since 2001, I have been playing with my own power trio, replacing the keyboards with electric guitar,” says Palmer. “I felt that was the only honest way to approach the music of ELP. I didn’t want to have a singer trying to sound like Greg Lake. ELP did so much instrumental music, this format made sense to me. The idea was to re-invent the music; there will be several new classic ELP tunes this time around.” Palmer also recently launched his official ELP website: Emerson Lake & Palmer Worldwide

In between dates on his extensive Emerson Lake & Palmer Lives On! tour, Palmer will be performing in North America, with his other world famous group, ASIA. ASIA will be the special guest of Journey on its 2017 arena tour during March, April, June and July. (See all the dates Carl Palmer Tour Dates). An extensive summer package tour, which will also feature Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy will be announced soon, as with additional fall US and Canadian shows.

Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy will play nearly two hours and drum enthusiasts can expect an evening of compelling percussive skills, from the man who brought the drum set to the forefront of rock n roll music.

Visit the Carl Palmer Tour Dates page for all the dates.

SOURCE: Carl Palmer

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/02/25/blackfield-blackfield-v/

If you are reading this then Blackfield, the well-known collaborative project between Steven Wilson and Israeli artist Aviv Geffen, probably need little or no introduction. There have been four albums previously, the last two, Welcome to my DNA and IV seeing Steven take a bit of a back seat, but with V his contribution is back to being a fuller remit.

What Blackfield provide could be described as prog/pop, but certainly here there are lush melodies aplenty with somewhat reflective lyrics which can be viewed as a little sombre. But here is the trick; the music lifts the songs above that creating an uplifting atmosphere at times.

This album was recorded in a variety of studios in Tel Aviv and London, and of course in Steven’s No Man’s Land in Hemel Hempstead, the production duties split between Aviv and Steven but with Aviv taking the greater share. There is also a guest producer, the renowned Alan Parsons, who contributes his skills to three songs, also providing backing vocals on How Was Your Ride. The album was mixed by Steven Wilson and Simon Bloor, doing seven and six tracks respectively.

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Opener A Drop in the Ocean starts things off gently with some atmospheric strings from the London Session Orchestra arranged by Aviv, we then get straight into the more upbeat Family Man which is more rock orientated. The string arrangements appear on a further five tracks, adding lush textures and a fuller feel to the overall atmosphere. None of the songs outstay their welcome, the longest being four and a half minutes; this is a concise and consistent effort and there appears to be room between all the instruments in the mix, allowing each to have its own voice and make its contribution felt. Life is an Ocean is a good example of this, with a beautifully placed piano throughout, and the same can be said for the piano played by Mike Garson on October combining well with the overall keyboard sounds. Alex Moshe provides backing vocals on a number of tracks, also sharing lead vocals with Steven on Lately, her voice adding another dimension to these songs.

It would be difficult to close this review without discussing the first promotional release, 44 to 48, written, produced and mixed by Wilson, which contains reflective lyrics that could maybe relate to most people at some time in their lives. A well-constructed song which has Steven’s trademarks all over it from the opening few bars, well paced and atmospheric with some good guitar phrasing. It’s just a shame that the end seems to fade to a sudden stop.

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This is a very good album and appears to be a return to form; indeed it could possibly be their best effort since Blackfield and Blackfield II. This is definitely in the vein of a prog/pop/rock album; it does what it says on the tin, so to speak. It has the trademark acoustic guitar, with stabs of electric wrapped around it with piano and strings to create a certain ambience that is recognisably Blackfield. I don’t think I need to make any recommendations here; if you are a fan of Steven and Aviv’s work you most likely have this already, if not you probably intend to get it. Enough to say that I have enjoyed this album and if you not familiar with Blackfield this is a good place to start.

BLACKFIELD

TRACK LISTING
01. A Drop in the Ocean (1:36)
02. Family Man (3:40)
03. How Was Your Ride (3:59)
04. We’ll Never be Apart (2:55)
05. Sorrys (3:08)
06. Life is an Ocean (3:27)
07. Lately (3:25)
08. October (3:31)
09. The Jackal (3:57)
10. Salt Water (2:41)
11. Undercover Heart (4:02)
12. Lonely Soul (3:51)
13. From 44 to 48 (4:31)

Total Time – 44:43

MUSICIANS
Aviv Geffen – Lead & Backing Vocals, Keyboards, Electric & Acoustic Guitars & Bass String Arrangements
Steven Wilson – Lead & Backing Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Piano, Keyboards & Drum Programming (track 12)
Tomer Z – Drums
Hadar Green – Bass
Eran Mittelman – Piano, Hammond Organ & Keyboards
Omri Agmon – Acoustic Guitar & Space Guitar
Alex Moshe – Backing Vocals
Alan Parsons – Backing Vocals
Mike Garson – Piano
The London Session Orchestra

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Kscope
Country of Origin: U.K./Israel
Date of Release: 10th February 2017

LINKS
Blackfield – Website | Facebook

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This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2017/02/24/eclection-eclection/

This album is a real throwback to the late 1960s.

Eclection made their first public appearance supporting Tom Paxton at the Royal Festival Hall in 1967. Their debut album was originally released on the Elektra Records label in 1968, amidst the era and the sounds of Peter, Paul and Mary, The Seekers and their ilk. Probably best described as progressive folk rock, the band yield some interesting connections, namely, Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway, who later formed Fotheringay with Sandy Denny, and Georg Kajanus (known then as Georg Hultgreen) who went on to form ’70s pop outfit Sailor.

The songs on Eclection’s self-titled album have a broad sound, thanks to intelligent use of strings, and are all fairly simple. As Georg Kajanus explains, most of the songs were written by a Norwegian who couldn’t speak English very well, which is a fair summation. In fact, Eclection is a particularly international group, as well as the Norwegian Hultgreen there were Australians Kerrilee Male and Lucas, Canadian Michael Rosen and Briton Conway.

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The music is of its time and the lyrics tend to be a tad simplistic but the tunes are very convincing with some great refrains, the opening numbers, In Her Mind and Nevertheless, showing exactly this. At times the orchestration reminds me of The Moody Blues, and Kerrilee Male was a great vocalist and a looker to boot. The band were good instrumentalists too.

Featuring three bonus tracks originally released as singles in 1968, including the re-make of Please recorded with vocalist Dorris Henderson following the departure of Kerrilee Male from the band, this is another fine expanded remaster from those incredible folks at Esoteric. Again the remastering is spot on and the disc sounds awesome with great dynamics and sound, and as always there is an excellent booklet which tells the story of the band and this, their sole album, with rare and previously unseen photographs and liner notes featuring exclusive interviews with Georg Kajanus and Gerry Conway.

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It is a very fine album which comes highly recommended if you like Fotheringay, The Seekers or even Fairport Convention, an example of early genre merging music that was not uncommon in the late ’60s.

So, not a major marker on the progressive rock road map but certainly an intriguing and worthwhile diversion.

TRACK LISTING
01. In Her Mind (3:59)
02. Nevertheless (2:52)
03. Violet Dew (3:51)
04. Will Tomorrow Be The Same (4:19)
05. Still I can See (3:39)
06. In The Early Days (4:27)
07. Another Time Another Place (4:11)
08. Morning of Yesterday (3:06)
09. Betty Brown (4:58)
10. St George and the Dragon (Up The Night) (5:09)
12. Please (2:53)
13. Mark Time (2:52)
14. Please (Mk.II) (2:56)

Total Time – 48:26

MUSICIANS
Trevor Lucas – Bass, Vocals
Georg Hultgreen – Guitars, Vocals
Gerry Conway – Drums, Backing Vocals
Kerrilee Male – Vocals
Michael Rosen – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Trumpet

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Estoterc Recordings
Catalogue#: ECLEC2552
Date of Release: 26th August 2016

LINKS
Eclection – Cherry Red Product Page

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