I've been hitting the trusty credit card and down-loading a lot of music ... new prog and old prog. The UK magazine PROG has been a great source of finding out what is new and what new bands are doing interesting material. Also I have been re-discovering some old favourites that are getting new recognition. Three "oldies" have really inspired me to re-think how I am writing music. First is Patto's first album Patto. I couldn't believe this band especially Ollie Halsall's guitar playing when I played in in 1970. Hasn't lost any of it's impact . .. amazing. The second was Gentle Giant's The Power and the Glory. Re-mixed by Steve Wilson (of Porcupine Tree fame and the great The Raven That Refused To Sing - awesome new prog) this 1974 masterpiece is unbelievable.. brit prog at it's best. The final oldie is UK (the first prog "supergroup" - Alan Holdsworth, John Wetton, Eddie Jobson and Bill Bruford) Their UK album and the live In the Dead of Night seemed to evolve King Crimson, Yes and many other early prog bands. Of course, to me, as a guitarist, it has some of Alan Holdsworth's best ensemble playing, As good as it gets!
I have also been listening to the new wave of prog/fusion. Of course, like so many others, I really, really like Dream Theatre and Images and Words re-ingited my belief that prog was still alive and growing, While I admire the new supergroups such as Transatlantic and Flying Colors, I am really liking Umphrey's McGee (Jake Cinningere, Brendan Bayliss, Kris Myers and Ryan Stasik) and Dee Expus Project whose album Half Way Home is really great .. fantastic bass from David Anderson especially. Finally, after turning off the growling death metal vocals of Opeth, I love Pale Communion (the song The River is a masterwork) Opeth's main man Mikel Akerfeldt listed David Crosby's If I Could Only Remeber My Name as one of his favourite albums. One of mine too .. check out Laughing with Joni Mitchell, Jerry Garcia and Graham Nash ... wow. I have also just discovered MoeTar. They are awesome .. clever, great lyrics, unbelievable playing. They remind me of Frank Zappa at his best but more elegant. Also enjoying Magnolia from The Pineapple Thief (shame about the name) and Hybrid Child by District 97 - sort of Mahavishnu Orch with great vocals by American Idol finalist Leslie Hunt and awesome cello from Katinka Kleijn. Reminds me also of the wonderful Rob Mackenzie's Mackenzie Theory - one of my favourite Oz bands from the early 70's with the electric viola of Cleis Pearce going nuts. I am also really liking Marillion, Fear is a wonderful example of new prog.
There must be something in Brisbane's water. Two wonderful prog bands - Arcane and Caligula's Horse are from Brisbane and I really love their stuff. Lead guitarist in Caligula's Horse - Zac Vallen is really, really good. As I am from Brisbane originally I guess some of that water got to me as well .. 68 years earlier :-) I am also liking another Oz band Teramaze .. Her Halo is a great album .. go Oz.
So, after all this, I believe that progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion or whatever name (see What's in a name? page) we want to give this innovative, creative music is alive and well. Paying tribute to the past without plundering it,
Thanks to PROG magazine for helping.
The state of prog ... healthy