Thursday, November 16, 2006

William Neal

I was recently emailed the latest ELP Digest. Within was a link to Martyn Hansons web site, author of books on ELP and The Nice. On there I then found a link to artist William Neal . He was responsible for the covers for both “Tarkus” and “Pictures At An Exhibition”. For me “Pictures At An Exhibition” is very important. That was the first LP I ever “listened” too and the sleeve was the first I actually “looked” at. The experience of hearing the music and seeing the sleeve design set me on a musical journey which has lasted 35 years up to the present day. Good the see that the man is still working, now based in the south of Scotland.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I never ever thought I would see this picture! The classic line-up of Gong - Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Didier Malherbe and Steve Hillage! Forget Pink Floyd at Live8, this is what any self respecting progger would wish to see. The band recently performed at the Gong UnConventional Gathering in Holland on the 5th November. And by all accounts they were storming! Prior to the full band playing, The Steve Hillage Band did a set playing some of the afvs like "Solar Musick Suite" and "Fish Rising". So good to see Steve embracing his legacy once again! Won't be long now to those remasters!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Manning ~ Anser's Tree

I have posted this to Amazon, but as it may take a while to get put on there I wanted to include it here as I think it is so good it warrants as much exposure as possible.

One thing I did forget to mention was Ed Unitsky's gorgeous artwork. Always a joy to see Ed's artwork as it really adds another dimension to the listening experience. The work he has done for Guy and The Tangent is quite exceptional!

Barely a year since his last opus, Guy brings us another first class collection to revel in. Amazingly he has upped the ante yet again. “Anser’s Tree” is surely his most complex work yet, both musically and thematically. Seven songs linked genealogically, each concerning characters inhabiting certain periods of time over a 500 year period. Though the songs easily work in isolation, Guy’s ability to weave vivid tales has always been a trademark of his writing. Here he expands on simple storytelling by linking each character to portray how elements of the person we are can be traced back to our antecedents. The premise that there is a genetic flow through our family tree is a powerful concept, especially as I am presently looking at my own family tree. But Guy deals with even more than this as the track “Professor Adam Logan (2001-2094)” looks at the potential consequences of global warming. This is taken to a speculative conclusion on the final track “Dr. Jonathan Anser (2089-????)”, where the character strikes a solitary figure in the aftermath of the planets destruction, trying to find his roots to not only understand himself, but mankind.

Musically, Guy has dressed his powerful and engrossing narrative in some of his lushest and compulsive settings and arrangements yet. The opening “Margaret Montgomery (1581-????)” has a gorgeous folk tinged feel to it, with Stephen Dundon’s earthy flute really to the fore. Things get a bit more proggy on the next track, “Jack Roberts (1699-1734)” with lots of excellent Moog courtesy of Andy Tillison. The sax break by the ever excellent Laura Fowles really brings this piece to a fantastic conclusion. This may be my favourite piece on the album. “Joshua Logan (1990-2048)” is wonderfully exuberant with some nice mellotron washes and scintillating electric guitar playing from David Million. More mellotron strings are featured on the concluding track “Dr. Jonathan Anser (2089-????)” adding to the melancholy air of the protagonist’s final journey. Everything before has led to this moment and the album ends with a militaristic build up, the saxes squalling into the foreground before fading out into nothing! A powerful and emotive finale to what for me is an exceptionally thought provoking and highly distinctive album.

Over the course of eight studio albums, Guy Manning has developed a growing reputation for producing quality songwriting. He is also a more than able multi-instrumentalist. For me the last few albums have clearly shown someone at the top their game, producing work of a standard that is rarely equalled by most not just working in the prog genre but in rock music in general. “Anser’s Tree” may be his most significant musical statement yet. In fact I know it is!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Been Some Good Listening!

There have been some very good new releases over the last few weeks or so. Also the last batch of Peter Hammill remasters have just been released. I forgot how good those albums are!

Bill Nelson ~ Return To Jazz Of Lights
Almost as good as last years very wonderful “The Alchemical Adventures of Sailor Bill”. On the strength of his current work he is definitely hitting a bit of a peak. This is original and beautifully played stuff. “Getting The Holy Ghost Across gets a CD release very soon, at last!

Manning ~ Anser’s Tree
I need to do a full review of this. Guys most ambitious album yet, both musically and thematically. Barely a year since his last, how he maintains this quality is astonishing. I even get a name check! Ta.

Jakko M. Jakscyck ~ The Bruised Romantic Glee Club
I have been waiting for this for a while and just got it. So not had a chance to fully digest the 2CD’s of material on offer. The first CD is original stuff, the 2nd covers by some of his favourite artists, i.e. Henry Cow, King Crimson and Soft Machine. The version of “Islands” is beautiful and may be the definitive version. Good to hear Dave Stewart back on keyboards too!

Rocket Scientists ~ Revolution Road
Erik Norlander, who I am a fan of, features here on this 2CD gem. Very melodic,
wonderful playing and production. Stuffed with gorgeous prog and absolutely no filler at all!

Iona ~ The Circling Hour
For me, their best without a doubt. Surprised by how punchy this is.

Coming up, newbies by Spocks Beard, Pineapple Thief and Loreena McKennitt.
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