The Progressive Aspect

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/20/eroc-grobschnitt/

TPA’s Basil Francis recently put together a review of Grbschnitt’s mammoth 18-disc boxset 79:10 and got in touch with drummer Eroc to discuss the history of the band…


I wanted to start by asking you, how would you describe Grobschnitt to somebody who had never heard of the band before?

Grobschnitt was a unique German band of the ’70s and ’80s, presenting outstanding music and show elements at first into our local German province and later all over Germany in the biggest halls and venues. The band was a self-developing, hard-working “family” in which everyone’s voices and opinions were welcome, regardless if they were a musician, roadie or friend. The motto “one for all – all for one” describes the group perfectly, but our internal motto was “one for all – all against one”.

Grobschnitt at Kapelle Elias, 1971The roots of Grobschnitt date back to the mid-‘60s where we started out as a beat band, later developing into R&B, underground, soul and psychedelic music. Grobschnitt showcased a wide variety of styles: starting out somehow swingy and jazzy in 1971, we switched over to more concert-oriented prog rock in the mid ’70s, got rockin’ harder in the early ’80s, also touching German new wave slightly and always had a great improvisational playground with Solar Music, a constant highlight on each and every Grobschnitt gig from the beginning in 1971 until the end in 1989. Most of all the band was known for their unique stage-acting.

We were voted in ‘78 and ‘79 as best German and best international act by many magazines and hit No. 1 as “best band of the year” in the 1978 Rockpalast TV competition. To the community of their fans, Grobschnitt was the most important German band of all times; for many even the world’s best act.

Three years ago, you released the 79:10 box set, featuring every live and studio album by Grobschnitt as well as a wealth of bonus tracks. How long did the project take from start to finish?

We started out in 2012, working as hard as back in the old days. Myself and our former guitar player and manager Lupo, my friend and schoolmate from the ’60s, spent days and nights, weekends and months to raise this project from our vaults, filled up with thousands of photos, live-recordings and memories from 23 years of making active music. Three years later in April 2015 it was released by Universal and went straight into the German charts on spot 24, among and above many contemporary albums of today’s famous acts.

The reason for the name 79:10 is that each disc in the set lasts exactly 79 minutes and 10 seconds. How were you able to achieve this?

Well, it needs some knowledge and experience to get a CD matching exactly the Red Book Spec’s length of 79:10 down to the frame. But since I am working in the professional studio field since 1971 and in the digital mastering field since 1999 it’s quite a regular task for me, especially with such an unbelievable amount of material like my live recording archives from Grobschnitt. Then you can juggle and adjust the tracks and if a few seconds don’t match 79:10 in the end, a precise fade or some applause may help. I think to deliver that collection of 18-CDs with each disc reaching the maximum length is another typical Grobschnitt idea and so great for the customers, who get as much music as possible.

Does the finished 79:10 box set meet your original vision? Is there anything you couldn’t put in the box that you wish you could?

We have more than ten times more photos being worth to be shown in that set. Same goes for the audio material. I have hundreds of recordings from our gigs which add up to nearly 1,400 all in all. Lupo and I were and are frenetic collectors and archivers; boxes with material were piling up to the ceiling when we started our search. To give you a clue: in 1981 and 1983 I even hired a professional photographer to follow us on tour, shooting each concert. In the end, I had more than 3,000 pictures only from that period. When we started the conception of the 79:10 box booklet, Universal offered us 40 pages or so. But we had boxes filled with photos and press clippings from the past 40 years piling up to the ceiling. Finally we chose about 1,000 pictures to be restored, which I did myself with Photoshop and similar tools. Same goes for the audio files, which were all completely remastered by me from the original tape-sources. Throughout the working process, more and more material was found and more and more old stories and anecdotes came back to our minds, so we ended up with 100 pages. Honestly said: it could well have been 500. On the other hand – it was breathtaking when the box was finished. To hear and see it all done, put together professionally by our friends in the art and graphics department at Universal, who did an unbelievable job, too, was in many cases far above our visions…

Grobschnitt, THG Hagen, 1973

When did you first begin learning the drums, and who were your influences?

I started out drumming on old buckets and tin-cans in 1964. Together with a classmate who owned a clarinet, we performed songs by Mr Acker Bilk and Chris Barber. That sounded more authentic when I eventually got a real drum cymbal from my parents for Christmas. Later my influences switched over to Keith Moon and Ginger Baker and I got my first real drums (a used Premier kit) in 1966.

By the time Grobschnitt formed, progressive music had already achieved some popularity. Which bands were you listening to at that time?

Grobschnitt formed in early 1971 out of our former beat band The Crew, founded in summer 1966, which already had two of the later Grobschnitt-members besides myself on board: Wildschwein (vocals, guitar) and Lupo (lead guitar). In the late ’60s, The Crew performed mainly blues, beat, R&B, soul, later also psychedelic and underground material. Many acts of the sixties were our favourites. Lupo and I were initially digging those melodic instrumental bands like The Tornados, The Shadows, The Ventures and The Spotnicks. Later I switched over to Cream, Them, Yardbirds, Kinks, Pretty Things, Beatles and Stones, later to bands like Love, The Electric Prunes and always to Frank Zappa and his Mothers.

When Grobschnitt was formed we were mainly into swing and jazz and progressive music wasn’t on our list at all. That changed later in 1973/74 when the keyboardist Volker “Mist” from Bremen joined us. He was a huge fan of Yes and Genesis and brought that into the band. I myself was not so fond of these and called it “college rock”.

I’d like to talk a bit about Rockpommel’s Land, which quickly became my favourite album when I was listening to the box set. Grobschnitt was a notoriously comedic and satirical band, so when I saw the Roger Dean-esque cover of Rockpommel’s Land I was asking myself whether you were trying to write a parody of a Yes album, or just write a solid concept album with symphonic prog influences. Can you explain the band’s thought process?

Volker Mist, 1978The idea came from Volker “Mist”. As I have said, he was a fan of Yes and Genesis at that time and wanted to set up a solid concept album, according to his own visions. So he and Lupo and Wildschwein started out composing melodies and structures at first, later our bassist Hunter and me joined in for the basic grooves and rhythmic parts. It was a rough concept with some very nice hooks and melodies, but it was far from being perfect during the first months. We rehearsed each day for hours and hours more than half a year.

I worked on the lyrics in a very extraordinary way: Volker had the idea of a little boy experiencing adventures during a trip to a magic country. Wildschwein had the idea of singing ‘la-la-la’ phrases in many parts. And for me, the challenge was left to write an English (!) text fitting exactly on these ‘la-la-la’ notes and making a true sense by telling that particular story of a little chap in wonderland. So I invented terms like ‘Rockpommel’s Land’, ‘Ernie’, ‘Maraboo’, ‘Mr Glee’, ‘The Blackshirts’ and all that. It took me some weeks but finally, Wildschwein had his lyrics fitting exactly on his melodies.

The rest was rehearsing, rehearsing and rehearsing. We were so damn good at that time that one could have woken us up at 3 in the morning and we would have performed the whole Rockpommel’s Land perfectly without the slightest mistake. When we showed up at Conny Plank’s Studio in 1977 to record the album, the very first evening after soundcheck we warmed up playing Rockpommel’s Land completely through. Conny’s chin fell down and he said: “Well, I should have recorded that, it was absolutely great”. We laughed and then did it again just for fun with the same level of perfection. Conny had never produced any band before playing that precisely. Afterwards, he called us his “little health-resort orchestra”…

The level of detail and dexterity in this particular record sets it apart from other Grobschnitt releases. According to your liner notes, it took many more months to write, record and produce than any other album in the band’s career (rather like Yes’s Close to the Edge). For a band used to being silly on stage, how did the serious approach affect you?

Somehow, we hated it; at least Hunter and I did. I remember when we both took our walks around our rehearsal hall which was located near a high school in a park close to the woods. We rapped about the world, our girls and drank a beer or two outside, while Lupo, Wildschwein and Volker (we called him “Mr Cantor” because he was ruling us from above his keyboard castle with his cigarette-tip) were working like dogs inside the hall, so that we sometimes could hear the sound up in the woods. When we had to get back later we walked in holding hands, because we feared the next bollocking from Mr Cantor, asking why we lazy sows had stayed out so long.

Rockpommel’s Land was nothing but hard work and perfection. On stage, I hated it because it consisted of so many breaks and rhythm changes and stood miles away from Solar Music, which was the true musical playground for every one of us each night. But we were professional enough to perform it with the same passion and pride like all of our other music. And when I hear it again today, decades later, I really love it!

The band are well known not only for the astounding music but for their energetic and lengthy live shows featuring theatrics and pyrotechnics. When was it decided that this would be the norm for Grobschnitt?

Eroc, 1979Our “stage-act” presenting costumes and fireworks and much more was pure development. In the late ’60s The Crew started out with “happenings” on stage beside the music, because we wanted to entertain our audience more than other bands. And since I spent my apprenticeship at a chemical laboratory at that time I showed up with all kinds of self-mixed coloured fire, fog, custom designed bombs and other goods on stage, which were rather frightening at the time. We ran slide-projectors, we messed around with religious costumes in some show-acts and performed complete nonsense with The Crew, besides performing our music. And that wasn’t forgotten and was developed when we reformed to Grobschnitt.

Did the three hour shows never wear you out?

Never!!! The first half of the shows were tightly arranged with Rockpommel’s Land and structured songs like Father Smith or Mary Green, while the second half was our “freestyle” ruled by Solar Music. And every musician was looking forward to it each night, expecting new happenings and musical adventures.

For example: in 1978 we played 98 gigs throughout Germany and Switzerland, each night a 3-hour show or longer. And each concert was always new to us because the German mentality of the audience differed a lot throughout the country. In the Ruhr Valley area, for example, people were sometimes slightly bored by the political gags we made. In Bavaria they laughed about it a lot and in Switzerland we got frenetic applause for exactly the same insert. And same for the music: while some people yawned during Rockpommel’s Land, urgently awaiting Solar Music, others did it just the other way round – they gave standing ovations at the end of Rockpommel’s Land and fell asleep or even left the hall during Solar Music. That was really stunning for us all the way through.

Grobschnitt, Phillips Hall, Düsseldorf, 1981

Before reading through the notes in the 79:10 box, I had no idea just how much Solar Music meant to the band and its fans. The piece clearly went through many changes, as can be heard on the many versions featured. What do you think stayed the same over time, that kept Solar Music from being something else altogether?

Solar Music was and still is our signature piece. For us musicians and for most of the audience every single version each night was a new adventure. Limited by very few arranged parts we had our playground for spontaneous ideas and “risks” on our instruments, pushing the whole thing so many times into new and unexpected directions, especially in the early phases from 1973 to 1978. And the fans knew and felt how we lived this sometimes up to a one-hour “event” on stage, combined with visual effects like light shows, fire, fog, costumes and much more. Lasting all of the years with Solar Music was that typical theme in Dm, invented by Lupo, our lead-guitarist, somewhere in 1968 in the days of The Crew, together with some composed structured parts building the “basement” of Solar Music. These were changed only a very few times in 18 years.

The box set also touches on your passion for recording music, as evidenced by the brilliant Solar Music – Live album. How did you get into recording and remastering?

I started out recording in 1963 when everyone in my class had his own tape-recorder to get the latest hits cheap and fast from the radio. I got my first Schaub-Lorenz SL 100 (4-track, 2-speed) machine at the age of 12 from my parents for Christmas and was the hero of our school because that one was the ultimate dream of everyone: it was technically great and had an outstanding design. And I had a vision: for copying the latest hits for my friends without carrying my beloved tape-machine through half of the city I needed a second one. So I convinced my parents that I must get a second identical recorder and in 1965 this dream came through (see picture). Not only that I now could copy tracks for my mates – I also invented stereo (with one tape running across the two machines) or the phasing effect by synchronizing one machine to a turntable and much more. From that day on one of the recorders followed me each afternoon to our rehearsal and many times to our gigs. Today I have a huge archive with songs from between 1966 and 1969 from The Crew, the predecessor of Grobschnitt. Later in 1970, another dream came true: my first professional Revox A 77, bought from my first earnings at my first job. And later they all followed: Revox A-700, Revox B-77, Tascam TSR-8, ITAM London 16-Track, Studer A-80, Studer A-810, Otari MX-5050, Otari MTR-90 24-track and some more.

Grobschnitt - Quartier Latin, Berlin, 1981

Why did you choose to leave Grobschnitt after Razzia?

I had earned quite a lot of money with my instrumental hit Wolkenreise in 1979/80 and bought a complete 16-tracks studio equipment. So we could start recording and producing our albums with the most important factors “unlimited time and space” on our farm. The result of that period were Illegal and Razzia and my own Eroc 4, all of which I recorded and mixed with my equipment. During the work for Razzia, our keyboarder Volker Mist suffered from private problems and wanted to change some things in his life. He intended to settle back to his hometown in Northern Germany with the result of coming down 150 miles once a week for rehearsing with the band. But that was definitely not the way which had brought us up to what we were in 1982, and so the band decided he had to leave Grobschnitt forever.

We finished the album Razzia without him and I played all the keyboards on it. Later we tested new keyboardists and when I was on holidays the band decided (without asking me) Jürgen “J.R.” Cramer from Bremen to be our new one.

Since Volker Mist and I had spent the most time together in the band (I remember our parts in Solar Music when we well performed like Hardin & York, or countless rehearsal hours where we two developed melodies and rhythmic parts for future Grobschnitt songs), I had lost my “right hand” when he was fired. That was the first piece for the bucket…

The new keyboarder who hadn’t been my first choice was the second. And some more followed which in the end forced me to leave. Honestly said, with Grobschnitt I had reached everything I had dreamt of in the ’60s: popularity, albums, playing the biggest venues, TV, radio, musical milestones and a lot of money. In German, there goes a saying “just leave when it’s on top”. So I made up my mind to stay for one more year in the band, to enable a “smooth” takeover. It was a parting in friendship and I left Grobschnitt all my parts of the technical equipment, except my drums and my studio gear which I needed for my next step in life: founding a pro recording studio…

How did it feel listening to and remastering the Grobschnitt albums that you didn’t appear on?

When I first listened to Kinder und Narren in 1984 and later to Fantasten, I wasn’t amused, so to say. For me, this wasn’t Grobschnitt any more, and maybe for a number of the old fans, too. The band had recorded these albums in my own new studio with my partner on the controls while I was absent. The sound was okay, but the music and the messages made me sometimes head out into the woods to cry bitterly.

Today my wisdom of elder age and the blankets of time make it much easier for me. I’m professional enough to give each kind of music and style the perfect sound it needs. And some of the songs from 1984 to 1989, for example Könige der Welt or Go For Love, have grown on me and I really like them. So remastering these was as much challenge and fun, just like doing all the other albums from Grobschnitt.

Grobschnitt, Gruga Hall, Essen, 1981

You also recently remastered the entire Novalis back catalogue for the Schmetterlinge box set, released last year. How close were Grobschnitt and Novalis back in the ’70s?

On one hand, we were very close because Hartwig Biereichel (drummer of Novalis) was the A&R at our record-company Metronome at that time and we’re still friends to this day. On the other hand, we hated them because they were far too polite and stiff on stage and didn’t carry guns and knives like we did. We were a rough and tough bunch of soldiers and they were wearing frilled shirts. That couldn’t go together.

What is your favourite Novalis recording?

None. I still don’t like them.

What is your favourite Grobschnitt recording?

Razzia. And maybe Drummer’s Dream. And also a piece called About My Town, which we performed in 1971 including a long solo by our two (!) drummers.

What is next for you?

To make ends meet, like all those decades. I’m working on mastering, remastering and mixing projects each day, even on weekends. Last year the number of productions I have done since 1999 reached 2,000 complete projects! You can see them all on my website by clicking on “mastering ranch / productions”. For me it’s the best job I can imagine and I hope to can carry on for many more years…

Grobschnitt, Gruga Hall, Essen, 1981


[You can read Basil Francis’ review of Grobschnitt’s 79.10 boxset HERE.]


LINKS
Eroc – Website
Grobschnitt – Website | Facebook

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/19/dave-stewart-barbara-gaskin/

Bush Hall, London
Friday, 24th August 2018

I must own over a dozen albums where the ivory tinkler is one Dave Stewart, a man who was synonymous with underground progressive music in the 1970s. Dave’s ubiquitous nature was briefly highlighted in my personal history of progressive rock, which can be found HERE, if you have the inclination and the time – it’s a bit of a beast!

For all that, I know hardly anything about Dave’s later career as an alt-pop maestro, in partnership with his wife Barbara Gaskin, who was, of course, one of the Northettes in that fine, and to re-use a word from my prog history, “unhinged” jazz-prog band Hatfield & The North. I am here out of curiosity, and at the recommendation of my long-time gig going companion Phil W, who was missing Richard Thompson playing his new album at Towersey Folk Festival just to see this rare appearance by tonight’s stars. I’m not supposed to mention that, though. 😉

Fast forward over 40 years from Dave’s riding the underground prog train, and here we are queuing outside the rather grand and quite lovely venue Bush Hall, half a mile or so down the road from Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Ironic that after the long, hot, and dry summer we’ve had that Phil and I should suffer a thorough drenching earlier in the day on Tottenham Court Road. Taking time out to dry off and eat far too much pasta in our usual venue in Old Compton Street, we later arrive at the venue sated but somewhat slightly damp.

Chewing the fat with a fellow queuer for a good ten minutes before we both realised that I had reviewed his album a year or so ago (thankfully favourably, or it might have been awkward!), and meeting up with some fellow musical surfers in this charming venue were highlights of the evening, but what you want to know about is the gig, is it not?

Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin

The audience came from far and wide, as Dave found out while calling out a list of countries’ names, getting responses from audience members from all over Europe and further afield. “Now this is beginning to sound like the Eurovision Song Contest”, said Dave after one lone “Yay!” to the question “Finland?” got the biggest cheer of the roll call. The multi-ethnic crowd witnessed a stellar performance covering the many albums and singles Stewart & Gaskin have released from the 1980s to date. The duo are known for their esoteric cover versions too, and plenty of these were also given airing.

Barbara Gaskin was in fantastic voice throughout, occasionally giving proud parent-like sidelong glances in the direction of young guitarist Beren Matthews as he leapt around in enthusiastic glee while wringing concise but still thrilling solos out of his instrument. This lad is a bit of a find, and a name to keep an ear out for. Drum gun-for-hire Gavin Harrison, shielded behind a screen, was a veritable powerhouse, but you knew that already.

Dave Stewart conjured all manner of sounds from his bank of keyboards, the opening song Wings On Our Shoes containing oboe, clarinet, and flute solos alone, and a gorgeous piano solo was the highlight of Heavy Heart. Emperor’s New Guitar was unexpectedly heavy, and if keyboard players didn’t “shred” before, they do now.

The cover of Levi Stubbs’ Tears was preceded with one of Dave’s many humorous intros: “Marcus Bath, are you here?”… silence… “Well that’s too f**king bad, because you requested this song!”, to much guffawing from the audience.

Although confessing to being a Chelsea fan – well, none of us are perfect after all! – Dave told us that Into The Arms Of Mikloško was named after Ludek Mikloško, West Ham’s goalkeeper from the 1970s, and was the only football song ever written from the point of view of the ball. You can’t get much more esoteric than that. There was a classic distorted synth solo in this one, and the song ended with a solo evocative of the tone generator Hatfield sound.

Cloths Of Heaven was dedicated to absent friends after Dave noted that most of his bandmates from those heady ’70s days are no longer with us. A poignant moment.

The evening was rounded off by a couple of storming covers for the encore, and we all went home, or back to our hotels, more than happy. A thoroughly good evening’s entertainment, it has to be said!

Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin

[With many thanks to Billie Grammer Harbottle, who took more and better notes of the evening than me, and without whom I could not have compiled this review.]

SETLIST
[An approximation, cobbled together from various sources over a protracted period. This is the reason for the undue delay in publishing this review. The actual setlist proves as elusive as a 4/4 time signature in an Egg song!]
Set one:
Wings On Our Shoes
Emperor’s New Guitar
Heavy Heart
Ride The High Atlantic Wind
Levi Stubbs’ Tears
Set two:
Let Me Sleep Tonight
Arms Of Miklosko
Summer In The City
Different World
Cloths Of Heaven
Afraid Of Clowns
~ Encore:
Walking The Dog
Shakin’ All Over

MUSICIANS
Dave Stewart – Banks of Keyboards & Sundry Electronica
Barbara Gaskin – Vocals
Beren Matthews – Guitar, Vocals
Gavin Harison – Drums

LINKS
Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin – Website | Facebook

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/18/lazleitt-on-the-brink/

Lazleitt is an eclectic progressive rock project led by Alex Lazcano, from Washington, DC and their debut album is a very good musical work of art, and may well have this band following their album title, On the Brink to stardom.

Alex Lazcano is a founding member and guitarist of the now defunct progressive rock band The Oracle, from Naples, Florida, which changed its name to Spent. In 2010 he released The Better to Lick You With under the project name Violet Glower. As well as Lazleitt, Alex has started work on another project, a rock opera entitled Dr. Yellowbrain: A Psychological Rock Opera which is still a work in progress.

First up, Alex Lazcano has a hard to place voice, which makes everything he sings sound new and fresh. He is somewhere between Weird Al Yankovic and Chris De Burgh – imagine that mix (and I mean the Weird Al comparison as a compliment). On the Brink is a fantastic voyage, a concept album which will make you think, learn and relax to some pretty wonderful music. The orchestration Lazcano uses throughout the story makes this small group sound much larger than it is; those keys are used to awesome effect early in the Intro, and throughout the completely instrumental three or four tracks that follow.

Just like any great progressive concept album, Lazcano sets up the opening with a preview of what the story is about with lyrics and vocals, then he lets it go as keyboards, bass, lead guitar and drums take over. The First Trail delivers more of the story before IQ-like majestic keyboards and guitar take over. Beyond The Door There Is No Pain, the longest track on the album, includes probably the best instrumental playing; the bass is Geddy Lee/Chris Squire-like, the guitar solos are overwhelming, and the keyboard work is wonderful.

Most of the story is told with instrumental interludes and guitar solos, well supported with deep bass and drums. John Pomeroy’s flute playing is a wonderful addition to the mix on Spinning Clocks and The Eighth Paradigm. The acoustic guitars are also well appreciated. The only drawback to the whole project is that sometimes the rhythm and melody seem to be repeated. The melodies are great, but at times they are repeated too often.

Get this album of pure progressive rock overtures and melodies. Listen to something different with some of the wonderful instrumentation and music you remember from the past.

TRACK LISTING
01. Intro: The Doorway (4:28)
02. Tangential Wisdom (2:19)
03. The First Trail (2:04)
04. The Flame (On The Brink) (2:00)
05. Beyond The Door There Is No Pain (7:36)
06. The Second Flame (4:11)
07. Spinning Clocks (1:45)
08. The Eighth Paradigm (2:55)
09. The Riddle (1:50)
10. Parallel Dreams (1:42)
11. The Second Trail (1:02)
12. Through The Gates Of Life (2:38)
13. Finale: Memories Of A Battle (2:42)

Total Time – 37:12

MUSICIANS
Alex Lazcano – Rhythm, Lead & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Percussion, Vocals
Jorge Cortes Cuyas – Drums
John Pomeroy – Flute
~ With:
Eric Gillette – Lead Guitar

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 31st August 2018

LINKS
Lazleitt – Facebook | CDBaby | HearNow

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/17/franklin-mint-scrage/

Franklin Mint hail from Bristol, not far from my place of residence, a city which has an interesting musical heritage with a number of great bands and a wide choice of live venues. The band rose from the ashes of a prior outfit called Gargantuant, on their Facebook page describing themselves thus: “From the dismembered corpse of Gargantuant emerged a new band with the same strange intensity and familiar punch-in-the-face riffs but this time wearing bunny slippers. Halfway between Prog and Punk yet sounding like neither, deadly serious but laughing all the way to the bottom of the cliff.”

The Facebook page continues the air of mystery surrounding the band, all members are listed with the title ‘Mr’ and a first name, furthermore they cite their influences as “tides, gravity, the Moon”. What is clear is that their music, which blends elements of rock and punk with progressive leanings, gives the listener an upfront and exciting listen. There’s an angry edge at times coupled with some great riffs, which become increasingly catchy on repeated plays. The music has an original slant with influences appearing to be in the vein of the great NoMeansNo (NMN), with touches of Primus at times, which leads to some interesting music.

This debut album comprises ten tracks, averaging around four to five minutes each, and it’s an exhilarating forty seven minutes which has that ‘hit repeat’ effect. Opening song Animal Balloons has a fresh but in your face start, which gives way to a slightly more sedate pace punctuated with stabbing riffs. This is followed by Narcissus with its rumbling drums and bass supporting some great guitar and vocals, to me reminiscent of NMN.

The focus on guitar riffs with excellent support from the rhythm section continues throughout the album. Keyboards are used sparingly but to great effect and Mr Nick delivers the vocals with clarity and a preciseness reminiscent of NMN’s Rob Wright, with touches of Captain Beefheart. It all works well with the music. There are some great riffs spread throughout, some holding the anger, but this goes along with what the band are trying to achieve lyrically.

The song used to promote the album, Shark vs Sheep, begins with an Alt-Rock feel before the riff changes, getting more urgent to accompany the vocals, and what unusual lyrics they are; “There are sharks in the water and snakes in the trees. Like a lamb to the slaughter. Not the bees, not the bees.” Odd maybe, but these words get inside your head and you start to repeat the song in your mind along with the great music. This track segues into the next, Wormhole, which has a gentler, almost mellow start before a crashing guitar changes things and ups the ante.

Bullies and Thieves begins with some spoken words, delivered with a melodic slant before the rest of the band crash in, driving things forward. Silk Lined Casket has some urgent guitar that grabs your attention while the vocals deal with a wish to have someone installed in the said casket, the introduction of the keyboards adding a sinister feel. Tiny Gyroscopes ends the album, a song whose lyrics deal with a body washed up on a beach; with a sweeping keyboard start, the rest of the band join in to continue with what at first appears a mellow piece, again gradually picking up pace and intensity towards the end.

Overall this is a very good debut album, giving clear pointers to where Franklin Mint could take things on future releases. Repeated plays reveal hidden depths beneath the sometimes full on music and ‘in-your-face’ riffs. An enjoyable mix of great playing, vocals and song writing which I feel is well worth investigating.

TRACK LISTING
01. Animal Balloons (5:04)
02. Narcissus (3:19)
03. Silk Lined Casket (5:00)
04. Skulls and Bones (4:18)
05. Luna (5:56)
06. Bullies and Thieves (3:11)
07. Marmalade (5:45)
08. Shark vs Sheep (4:09)
09. Wormhole (4:43)
10. Tiny Gyroscopes (5:48)

Total Time – 47:08

MUSICIANS
Mr Nick – Vocals
Mr Mark – Bass
Mr Al – Guitar, Keyboards
Mr Andrew – Drums

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 1st June 2018

LINKS
Franklin Mint – Facebook | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/16/shineback-dial/

Do you remember 2013? Here are some fun facts about that year:

Natalie Coleman won Masterchef, Jorge Mario Bergoglio won Best New Pope and the words “twerk” and “selfie” were added to the dictionary. Notable and factual events, all. It was also the year that two brothers, Ronald and Reginald Elephant launched Bed Elliott Music with the first release from Shineback, BEM001, Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed.

The Elephant Brothers’ label (or “ElBro”) has released many more things and a fair amount of stuff between 2013 and now, but for Shineback it seems like a delay of almost Tool-like proportions. “Seems” is the operational word here. Shineback, basically Simon Godfrey and long-time collaborator Robert Ramsay, were not just being a bit tardy. For Simon there was his involvement with Valdez and their album This and gigs and festivals, plus an ongoing suite of semi-retrospective releases and a fair bit of dog-walking. Then there were the critically acclaimed solo albums, Motherland and Confound And Disturb by Simon and Robert respectively. Then, in 2017, there was Minotaur, a Shineback EP.

Seemingly being able to write songs as he left the womb, continuity and evolution are, paradoxically, evident in all of Simon Godfrey’s work. He has made a name for himself, albeit the name he already had, which is Simon Godfrey. He uses this name a lot, whether as a member of Valdez or in his Black Bag Archive Volumes I, II & III, or as Shineback. Why, then; “Shineback”? What even is a Shineback? Is Shineback an alter-ego? I couldn’t even begin to guess. That’s why I contacted the man himself and cheekily bothered him for a while using MyFaceSpaceTubeMessengerBook.com. Pure gentleman such that he is, Simon didn’t tell me to go away.

PL: Hi Simon, guess who’s doing the TPA review of Dial! Sorry to bother you. I was wondering, if you have a few moments, if you could explain what a Shineback is so that I can use it in my review.

SG: Hello Phil. I hope all is good with you. That’s an interesting question and one which nobody has asked before. While Shineback is very much a project in which I am the captain and engine room of creatively, I consciously decided that with this musical endeavour, I wanted to reach into areas which I could clear hear in my head but struggled to inhabit technically. As a result, the idea of collaborating with musicians that possessed such skills became a core tenet and so the music I made was reflected back to me through the technical gifts of the guests I approached, hence the name, Shineback. Plus, the domain name was free 😊

PL: Am I really the first person to ask? Surely not!!!! I’ll quote you on that answer!

SG: You absolutely are!

PL: Well, that is rather splendid! You seem a pretty skilful musician to me, but I see the benefits of using other musicians. It’s like properly seasoning an already flavoursome dish.

SG: That’s a great way to describe it.

PL: I’ve had a first listen to Dial. It’s really different to RUF,RD. [then randomly changing the subject] I know that you and Mr. Ramsay go back a long way. Should I regard Shineback as a Godfrey/Ramsay partnership or a multi-musician collaboration or something else altogether? Do you feel like it is your baby or do you and Robert share it like a Mum and Dad? If so, which one of you is the Mum?

SG: Shineback is definitely my baby but Robert is as close to a collaborator as it’s possible to get. To be honest, this time around Robert has been less involved on a day to day basis as we now live and work in separate countries. In addition, the majority of his attention is elsewhere as he’s working on a new book right now but I trust his judgment completely and any suggestions he had to make regarding this album was always taken seriously.

PL: Thanks Simon. I’ve got loads to go on now. I wish you all the success with Dial that you’d wish yourself. So… You’re the Mum? I’m going to say you’re the Mum.

SG: Pretty much. Lol.

Thank you for your time, Simon!

Oh yeah, Dial! I should have asked him more about Dial! Ah well. You’ll have to make do with what I make of Dial.

To give my impression of Dial I thought a comparison with earlier Shineback recordings and a smidgelet of track analysis is relevant. Lies and Consequences, the opening of the album, is feel-good pop/rock with many component parts, opening with a section that will initially deceive you into believing this is a quiet departure from the occasionally frenetic precedent set back in 2013. A smattering of somewhat jarring guitar feedback settles down into the opening verse that eventually gives way to an energetic bridge and a chorus that spreads out to deliver its hook. This is thick crust Simon Godfrey but with a Shineback topping. Then at 5:37 – Bang! There it is. Pure Shineback. I suspect that Lies and Consequences may become many fans’ favourite album track. I support this hypothesis by saying it is the first track from Dial with a full video out there on the Interwebs.

Lies and Consequences is not, however, typical of what follows. I dwelt on it because it sits somewhat apart from the rest of the album. Consider Her Ways with its AOR overtones, a hook big enough to catch a whale and its majestic and unashamedly Mozzarella guitar solo replete with fret tapping, is the track I voted “Most Likely To Smile Wryly At Proglodytes”. And yet track one nor track three set the tone for the whole album. This IS a departure from the debut Shineback release!

Four tracks in and we’re at the title track. Different again! Lots of lovely guitar and a smashing distorted bassy bit at the end.

Eight tracks in and it becomes even clearer that the album Dial is not baked using anyone else’s best-selling recipe book. There’s still that blend of pop and rock but now with a smattering of Industrial seasoning. Moreover, EDM is still in there… somewhere, but it doesn’t appear to be informing the flavour of Dial. It is more a garnish. Consequently, it feels wild in places, nailed down in others. In the spirit of genre-defiance (or is that conformity?) there’s an epic fourteen-minute song, that I suspect is the illegitimate lovechild of Eddie Jobson and Mike Rutherford. Evidently, they gave it up for adoption and it grew up snorting the dust from Simon’s Black Bag.

The stand-out track for me is Let Her Sleep. It is about as different from Simon’s already distinct yet diverse body of work as you can get whilst still retaining elements from his musical lexicon. You might need to listen a bit harder to hear them, but they are there. It leans positively away from anything remotely “prog” and towards the afore-hinted-at industrial. Then the sound snaps back to a more “traditional” Shineback sound with My New Reward.

Mr. Godfrey has continued to develop his considerable and sophisticated song-writing skills. Each track on Dial feels tidier, less …frenetic. I’d seen this trend emerging in Minotaur’s four diverse songs. To my ear this is one of the best-sounding records he’s produced. All of this without regard for genre.

The musicianship is smashing. Simon Godfrey is stamped through Dial like a mildly Ramsay-flavoured stick of rock. There’s fantastic playing and added continuity from the guest musicians, many of whom were on Rise Up… and are making a return appearance on Dial. Even so, I don’t think a single track sounds like another, let alone any songs from the first album.

Lots of music has been brought into this World by Simon Godfrey since Pope Francis twerked his way to becoming Masterchef. In some respects, few things not Shineback are just as they were in 2013. Sure, some facts have changed; the World is now universally acknowledged to be quite flat, idiots can achieve the highest office, “Twunt” and “glamping” are now in the dictionary – fun facts all – but, reassuringly, Kenny Tutt is still Pope and Masterchef is still won every year by Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The continuation of the progressive trend from Rise up… to Minotaur is the same, but musically; Dial sounds sufficiently new.

Should you spend your hard-earned cash on it? High quality songs seem to fall out of Simon so it was a good bet that Dial would be worth a punt. I pre-ordered this album without hesitation. Even though I’m lucky enough to have got my paws on a promotional download I’m more than happy to have paid for the CD and at the time of writing I’m still look forward to playing the CD for the first time!

Incidentally, the credits for additional guests reads like a musical further reading footnote! There’s some top-shelf playing talent throughout on all the instruments. It would be unfair to single out any of the players. Having said this, some of the guitar is just stand-out stuff and the keyboard playing sets it apart from being a guitar-band album. All contributions are amazingly sympathetic to the songs and none of them steal away the songs’ limelight. All the performances give Dial a definite band feel.

It is, therefore, worth expanding on that list as a footnote, showing in parentheses what the other artists are up to. I hope it helps you to explore the elements that make up a whole Shineback: Dec Burke (AudioPlastik/Frost*/Darwin’s Radio). Hywel Bennett (Dec Burke Band). Joe Cardillo (Valdez). Tom Hyatt (Valdez, Echolyn). Ray Weston (Echolyn). Matt Stevens (The Fierce And The Dead). Karl Eisenhart (Pinnacle). Daniel Zambas (We Are Kin). Henry Rogers (The White Orchids, Final Conflict, Touchstone, DeeExpus, Nerve Toy Trio, Final Conflict, Shineback, Touchstone, Edison’s Children, Touchstone, Mia Klose, Touchstone, Edison’s Children, Heel, Puppet Rebellion, Puppet Rebellion, Touchstone, Heather Findlay Band).

Henry Rogers alone should keep you busy for a bit!

TRACK LISTING
01. Lies And Consequences (6:57)
02. I Love You From Memory (6:46)
03. Consider Her Ways (4:51)
04. Dial (9:50)
05. Here I Am (2:52)
06. The Gentleman (7:16)
07. Me vs. Me (4:59)
08. Without Words (4:54)
09. Let Her Sleep (5:05)
10. My New Reward (5:16)
11. Kill Devil Hills (13:57)

Total Time – 72:56

MUSICIANS
Simon Godfrey – All Instruments
Robert Ramsay – Words & Spoken Word
~ with:
Ray Weston – Vocals
Henry Rogers – Drums
Dec Burke – Guitars
Matt Stevens – Guitar
Hywel Bennett – Guitar
Tom Slatter – Guitar
Karl Eisenhart – Guitar
Tom Hyatt – Bass
Joe Cardillio – Keyboards
Daniel Zambas – Keyboards

ADDITIONAL INFO
Record Label: Bad Elephant Music
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 14th September 2018

LINKS
Shineback – Website | Facebook | Twitter (BEM) | Bandcamp

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/15/genesis-revisited-steve-hackett-looks-forward-to-his-orchestra-tour/

“This is probably the one and only time I’ll ever tour with an orchestra – unless it goes so well!” says Steve Hackett as he prepares to take his Genesis Revisited Tour on the road across the U.K. in October.

The decision to undertake this tour was cemented following the critical success of last year’s one-off U.S. performance of the Genesis Revisited music with his band and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the charismatic Bradley Thachuk.

“That was great, it was sold out and it went extraordinarily well, it was just fantastic! I thought ‘Is this really me up here with a full orchestra?’ When you’re a kid you’re drooling outside music shops working out if you can afford a guitar or an amp. All these years down the line and suddenly you’ve got the chance to do eight dates up and down the country, with two dates in London, with an orchestra plus a group. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!”

Whilst Steve will not neglect work from his own extensive solo catalogue, the centre piece of the shows will be music from his time as one of the classic Genesis line-up between 1970 and 1977 with tracks including Supper’s Ready, Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, Firth of Fifth and The Musical Box.

“I was very lucky to have joined a terrific band,” Steve reflected, “and, as everyone worked together, it became stronger. We were allowed to influence each other and something filtered. We were bound to be affected by each other and it was wonderful to watch everyone’s individual development. To be in a band where you happen to be a fan of all the ideas that the other guys are bringing in to it, that was thrilling. To contribute to it, as well, that was something else, so I’ve got many happy memories.”

Steve’s intricate guitar work, which would become such an integral part of the Genesis sound over those years, featured heavily from the outset, very much to the fore on The Musical Box, opening track on Steve’s debut Genesis album Nursery Cryme (1971). His solo track Horizons (Foxtrot, 1972) became a signature piece whilst his guitar solo on Firth of Fifth (Selling England By The Pound, 1973) was a highlight of one of the best-loved prog albums of all time.

Voyage Of The Acolyte (1975) was Steve’s first individual outing, as Genesis took stock in the wake of front man Peter Gabriel’s departure, reaching number 26 in the U.K. album charts.

Steve Hackett with Orchestra - Photo by Armando Gallo“Pete had something special, I missed him greatly, yet at the same time it gave one more space. I was starting to write more and more, and having more of a hand in the direction of the band.”

Genesis continued as a four-piece, with Phil Collins stepping up to the mic for the first time, and the albums A Trick Of The Tale and Wind And Wuthering took the band’s popularity to new heights.

“But I wanted to take it a stage further. I wanted to have a parallel solo career but that wasn’t on offer at the time, it was discouraged within the band. I had a choice to make and I had to see where my own personal development would lead. I was leaving not because I was at odds with the Genesis music, far from it, there was so much really great stuff. I had hoped that the band might one day become an orchestra, instead of getting smaller and smaller. You play yourself into a corner that way.

“Decades later I came back to the Genesis idea and thought what if we involve more and more people. I made a couple of albums that included orchestra and friends who were in terrific bands like Steve Rothery (Marillion) and John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia).

“John (1949 – 2017) and I touched on each other’s lives, feeling like brothers and feeling honoured to be in each other’s company. In a way that’s really emotional but I think John’s still out there, with us in spirit. Chris Squire (Yes, 1948 – 2015) said I was one of the few guitarists he’d met who didn’t feel threatened by the idea of working with an orchestra. I said ‘Oh no, why would I?’

“I started to get interested in orchestras when I was a kid. I never wanted to go the route of the conservatory and the academy and study piano. Guitar was always a symbol of freedom, so I always came to it instinctively. I was listening to Hank Marvin, the Stones, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Hendrix and all of that at the same time that I was exposed to Segovia playing Bach. All the trappings were stripped away and it was such amazing music that he was playing. I thought ‘Wow!’ It sounds like the guitar is as unlimited as keyboards, miracles can be performed and I never thought that I would end up recording some of that stuff.

“Later in my life I did an album that had six pieces of Bach on it and much of the same material that I heard Segovia playing, doing it in an updated modern studio, but essentially it was the same thing. The old magic – that’s what we’re looking for.

“So unless I’m making an album that’s just me and my guitar, there are rock players on it as well as classical players. It’s all one and how fantastic to all be in the same layers and be in the same room at times.

“The first single I bought, as a kid, was The Shadows’ Man Of Mystery and the first album I bought was Ravel’s Bolero, because I loved the idea of the way it grew and grew and it took you over, like a march through time. I notice that a lot of people who don’t really like classical music, very much, find that may be the one piece they can listen to, that and Hall Of The Mountain King, because they both reach a crescendo, something that starts small and becomes overwhelming. They become emotionally overwhelmed by it. That’s the idea of music, it ought to be overwhelming.”

Funnily enough, while listening to Steve’s most recent studio album The Night Siren (2017) I noted a marked similarity in the ending to the track West To East which rises to a crescendo just like Supper’s Ready (Foxtrot, 1972).

“Interesting that you would say that because by the end of that there are a number of singers and a number of ad-libs and in recent years I think I’ve sometimes allowed myself to have not just one guitar solo playing but sometimes two and even three on the latest album. At the end of Supper’s Ready you’ve got the set line and the improvisation over it. Supper’s Ready, back in the day, that’s something that I do live with the orchestra and we take it to the mountains! We improvise and allow it to take off and it’ll be different every night.

Rob Townsend, Steve Hackett & Jonas Reingold - photo by Cathy Poulton“Genesis’ music is still developing and under the baton of Bradley Thachuk who’ll be with us, a Canadian conductor who we worked with in Buffalo in the States. And I’m looking forward, of course, to doing a live album of all of that, and mix it in surround sound. It’s a wonderful opportunity to go mad on detail!”

This has already been a busy year for Steve, having a new studio built at home and working on his next album, due to be released in the new year, continuing his interest in working with world musicians.

“I’ve been working on a new album, we’re just putting the finishing touches to it now, and it’s taken the best part of 6 months. I have a new studio built in the roof, but that took so long to do that we ended up recording in the living room while that was being put together. I like that.

“I saw my old pal Peter Gabriel, recently, and I remember with his Real World Studios project, very impressive – been to see it, but he said ‘I prefer working in the cow shed!’, albeit a converted one. He was working in this little, tiny area while other people were going to work in big, flagship Queen Mary-sized studios. Steven Wilson, he’ll say his studio is the size of the monitor screen – and a not-very-big screen at that! The most important instrument is the brain, I guess.

“Peter and I were talking and comparing notes. He’s done lots of various stuff involved with world music and I think that at times you have to share the phone book and say these guys might be interesting to you and I recommend this guy.

“World music, to my mind it started perhaps with The Beatles and, arguably, with George Martin even before that, with his comedy records such as Boom boody-boom (Goodness Gracious Me, Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren, 1960). It was already heading towards India and other continents. I think he facilitated that all-inclusive style.

Steve Hackett - Broken Skies Outspread Wings“You can trace a thread through from that and what the individuals in Genesis have done since: Phil with his big band or Pete with an orchestra or me working with South American drummers. Ideas start out small with doodles, and alone in a bedroom with a guitar or a piano, and if you’re lucky you get to work with the whole wide world. I love it!

Steve is also set to release a special 6CD & 2DVD collection titled Broken Skies – Outspread Wings (1984-2006) on the 5th October 2018 via InsideOut Music.

Following on from 2015’s Premonitions, this special art-book compiles the albums Till We Have Faces, Guitar Noir, Darktown, Feedback 86, To Watch The Storms and Wild Orchids, all newly remastered, alongside a host of bonus tracks. In addition to this, 2 DVD’s are included which feature several recent live rarities and 5.1 mixes of selected songs, together with the glorious Somewhere in South America live DVD capturing a set in Buenos Aires. This is rounded off by brand new artwork from Roger Dean, beautifully presented as a 60-page book with liner notes, rare photos, lyrics and more.


Steve Hackett and his band are playing eight special U.K. shows in October, where they will perform with a 41-piece orchestra, with some dates already sold out:

Steve Hackett Genesis Revisited | Band with Orchestra
01/10/18: Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
03/10/18: Bridgewater Hall, Manchester*
04/10/18: Royal Festival Hall, London*
05/10/18: Symphony Hall, Birmingham*
07/10/18: Sage, Gateshead
08/10/18: Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
10/10/18: Regent Theatre, Ipswich
11/10/18: Palladium Theater, London
*SOLD OUT SHOW

You can visit the TPA Gig Guide for these dates and more from across the progressive rock spectrum…


LINKS
Steve Hackett – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Geoff Ford (Photojournalist) – Website

This news story was originally published here: http://theprogressiveaspect.net/blog/2018/09/14/camel-2/
The Forum, Bath
Tuesday 11th September 2018

Let’s talk about guitarists for a moment.

There are innumerable mindbogglingly talented players around, deploying all of the tricks and techniques that the human brain (and fingers) can conjure up, but how many of these find a unique voice and manage to sustain a career over five decades? I’m sure we can all think of a few, but a name that should feature highly on any such list is that of Andrew Latimer.

Andrew LatimerIn another universe, Latimer would be revered as a national treasure and lauded as the supreme talent he is, as it is mention of his name to just about anyone outside the fanbase or the wider prog-sphere will no doubt result in the response, “Who?”. This only goes to underline how screwed the world currently is.

Andrew has spent a lifetime coaxing Camel, his vehicle of choice, through the arid landscape of the music industry, occasionally having to pick himself up and dust himself off after one particularly bruising fall or another, but despite it all he continues to bounce back and astonish with his emotion drenched playing, not least after an extended period of inactivity due to serious ill health that lasted a decade and seemed to have put paid to the band for good. Only the most optimistic of souls would have anticipated Camel hitting the road again, but so they did in 2013 for the ‘Retirement Sucks’ tour, taking in the U.K. and a smattering of dates in Western Europe. A last hurrah? Not so, 2014 took them to more southerly climes, familiar Camel alumni Ton Scherpenzeel replacing ailing keyboardist Guy LeBlanc, but tragedy had not yet done with the band as LeBlanc succumbed to his own illness prior to the run of shows in 2015, adding hugely to the emotional tug of those performances.

Colin BassWith Scherpenzeel being a committed non-flyer, what was to be done when Japanese shows were floated in 2016? A fortuitous recommendation led Andrew to multi-instrumentalist Peter Jones, probably known to some for his Tiger Moth Tales project, who completed the dates with aplomb. Roll on to 2018 and there’s no stopping the current line-up of Latimer, Jones, long-standing bassman Colin Bass and Canadian drummer extraordinaire Denis Clement, another veteran having been associated with the band for 18 years now.

This tour has been the most extensive that Camel have undertaken since their reactivation, culminating with a return to the Royal Albert Hall in London, a mere 43 years since their last appearance at that hallowed venue. So here we are in Bath with only a handful of dates remaining before ‘The Big One’. I’d heard reports that the band were well drilled and on point, but nothing prepared me for what an outstanding performance this would turn out to be. From the taped intro of Aristillus the band were comfortable, confident and clearly enjoying playing together. The sound was superb, hats off to all concerned as the levels and balance was spot on and crystal clear. Without a word the whole of the majestic Moonmadness album unfolded before us in the first half, culminating in a blistering version of Lunar Sea, probably the best I’ve ever seen. Jones’ contributions are immediately apparent and the band seem lifted by his talents, there’s a clear bond and they seem to realise the depth – in keys, vocals and saxophone – that Pete brings to his role. The playing from everyone is simply superb, Bass dexterously nailing down the bottom end with a wonderful tone and adding some lovely vocals, Clement injecting power when required while deftly adding detail, and above it all Latimer, ringing every ounce of feeling out of his instrument in a masterful performance that had me spellbound.

Camel

After a brief interval we’re back for a second half that kicked the show into the stratosphere. It was just astonishing, the band moving from pinnacle to pinnacle in a dynamic set that took in some of the finest moments of later albums, skilfully accented with some older classics, the band comfortably negotiating the twists and turns whilst adding a new spin to some of the material – I for one had never contemplated the funky edge now given to some of the material from Dust and Dreams – and it works a treat. End of the Line was retooled to such an extent that many thought it was a new number, Pete taking the lead vocal here and on a couple of others and bolstering the three-part harmonies to glorious effect. There’s even space for one of his many party pieces, playing sax and keys at the same time. The man is a master of his craft and in Camel he has found an outlet that suits his prodigious talents, long may the association continue and hopefully many more people will be turned on to Peter’s phenomenal skills.

No screens or extravagant lighting this time, but they were not missed. The interplay between the band was superb, but ultimately we have to return to Andrew Latimer. Every time he stepped forward to take a solo I was on the edge of my seat, not least during Ice which genuinely reduced me to tears. I don’t often get this gooey at a gig but there’s something special about Camel, and Latimer in particular. I have honestly not been so enthralled by a performance for many years and this was without doubt the best Camel show I’ve seen in 35 years of fandom. Beautiful, engaging, highly skilled but speaking to the heart, for me this one was just about perfect.

With a dig into the archives for a blazing Lady Fantasy crowd pleaser to finish, the band absorbed the adulation and I was left spent, exhausted after a roller coaster of a show that had ticked all the boxes, and added several new ones. Magnificent.

But the evening was not over, and getting the opportunity to meet the band afterwards was a dream come true. I’m told that I didn’t make a gibbering fool of myself when talking to Andrew, I can’t confirm whether this was actually the case…

For anyone heading to the Royal Albert Hall next week, you’re in for a very special treat.

Camel - Band

[No photography allowed in Bath so all images are from the Leamington Spa show on 9th September, courtesy of Mark Busby Burrows and used with his kind permission.]

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SETLIST
Aristillus (Taped Intro)
Song Within a Song
Chord Change
Spirit of the Water
Another Night
Air Born
Lunar Sea
~ Interval ~
Unevensong
Hymn to Her
End of the Line
Coming of Age
Rajaz
Ice
Mother Road
Hopeless Anger
Long Goodbyes
~ Encore:
Lady Fantasy

MUSICIANS
Andrew Latimer – Guitars, Flute, Recorder, Vocals
Colin Bass – Vocals, Bass
Denis Clement – Drums, Recorder
Peter Jones – Keyboards, Vocals, Saxophone

LINKS
Camel – Website | Twitter