Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weidorje Video

Just found this on YouTube...I had no idea any video of this band existed. I reviewed their one and only album here. I wish the quality of the clip was better but it's still pretty cool to see these guys in action. Gotta love Bernard Paganotti's jumpsuit! ;-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cervello - Melos

This one gets overlooked a lot by the Italian Prog fans but in my opinion it's one of the best things to come out of Italy in the 70s! I actually picked it up completely at random many years ago...I knew absolutely nothing about it except that it was a band from Italy. Like you, I usually do a bit of research on some of the various prog sites out there before buying something, but it's always nice when a surprise like this comes along.

This is a very dynamic album. A very heavy sound at times, with lots of great guitar work, but plenty of nice lighter moments as well that use the the flute, vibraphone, and acoustic guitar. In fact, it's a pretty wild ride...the quiet passages linger for a bit and then tend to give way to sudden outbursts and cool odd-meter vamps. The vocals may be a tad on the harsh side for some tastes, but I think the aggression here suits the music well.

Cervello is: Gianluigi Di Franco (vocals, flute, percussion), Corrado Rustici (guitar, flute, vibes, voice), Giulio D'Ambrosio (sax, flute, vocals), Antonio Spagnolo (bass, acoustic guitar, flute, vocals), Remigio Esposito (drums, vibes). A couple of these guys were in the band Osanna, a group that I'm only vaguely familiar with (add another thing to the list...!). Again, the guitar work in particular is outstanding, but also the way the group uses the flutes and saxophone in addition to some interesting guitar tones. They really get some very interesting sounds going, to the point where you might actually be fooled into thinking there are keyboards on the album. Through their creative arrangements and use of additional instruments, they sound larger than a five-piece group.

I highly recommend this recording for Italian prog fans. It was out of print for a while, but I believe it's now available again on Japanese mini-LP CD.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oral History Live! With YES at the Experience Music Project in Seattle

This looks pretty cool, I wish I lived near Seattle...

[The text below is taken from this page on the Experience Music Project website.]

Join us for an intimate interview with the band YES, hosted by Jacob McMurray, EMP|SFM's senior curator.

As a dominant force for more than four decades, YES has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, stretching the boundaries of progressive art-rock with their dynamic instrumental contrasts and abstract lyrics. Their symphonic use of sound and innovative musical styles continues to make them one of the most successful and long-standing group in rock history and their amazing career continues to defy many of their contemporaries, as they continue to add new, young fans to their following.

Band members Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White will take part in the interview.

Please note: The event starts at 8:00 pm.
Monday, June 29, 2009
8:00 pm
Ticket Info
Free to EMP|SFM members; $5 general public, 206.770.2702 or 1.877.EMP.SFM1.

Tickets go on sale to EMP|SFM members June 11 and to the general public June 15.

Comp tickets must be claimed at least 15 minutes prior to show time or they will be released to the rush line.
JBL Theater
325 5th Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

In Heavy Rotation This Week

Premiata Forneria Marconi - Storia Di Un Minuto
My favorite PFM album and one of the best of the whole Italian prog scene, I think. "Impressioni Di Settembre" and "La Carrozza Di Hans" are personal favorites. Someone over at Progressive Ears recently posted an English translation of the lyrics and it's really added to my appreciation of this brilliant recording.

Capitolo 6 - Frutti Per Kagua
This one is relatively new to me, and so far I'm really loving it. Another great Italian band that only recorded one album, but these guys sound pretty unique, not like the typical Italian prog sound. The flute features prominently here. The side-long title track is a real trip, and really plays more like a suite made up of smaller parts.

Leviathan (self-titled)
A strong effort from this little-known American group from 1974. This is a very dynamic group that combines progressive rock, hard rock, and folk, with plenty of heavy guitar and organ work, but an equal portion of quieter, more reflective moments. The 2nd cut, "Angels," is an example of one of these quieter moments, and it's absolutely beautiful. A lot of great Mellotron playing on this record too.

King Crimson - USA
I've always thought this was a great snapshot of King Crimson in their prime. The live versions of "Larks' Tongues in Aspic (Part II)" and "21st Century Schizoid Man" here are staggering. And I love John Wetton's aggressive, distorted bass work throughout the record. I've always had a soft spot for "Asbury Park" too.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jon Anderson is Back

Somebody posted these links on the Progressive Ears forum and I thought I would share them here too. As many of you know, Jon has suffered from asthma and respiratory ailments for the last several years. Apparently at one point he had an asthma attack so severe that it nearly killed him. He now seems to be mostly recovered and is sounding great again! On Saturday June 6th he played a small show in Grover Beach, California to celebrate his wife's birthday. This was his first performance in several years.

Another video is here: Jon Anderson performs "Sweet Dreams"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Shout-Out to Progressive Ears

When I started this blog, I had wanted to put in a plug for this site, but mysteriously it happened to be down at the time I made the first attempt. In any case, that was clearly just bad timing...they have been up and going strong since then.

Progressive Ears
is a great online forum that I joined years ago and then took a long hiatus from. I have been back online there lately and it's a great group of folks and a terrific source of info about prog rock. As I type this, there are threads on PFM, Yes, Simon Phillips, Ruins, Oblivion Sun, Marillion, DFA, etc., etc...

If you're not familiar with the site, check it out at

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Weidorje is a juggernaut of a band, driven along by Bernard Paganotti's aggressive fuzz bass-playing but possessing a collective spirit that is clear from listening to their music. They were an offshot group of the infamous Magma, a band that to be honest isn't really my taste, judging from the few things that I've heard. But I sure dig this record a lot.

This is a powerful sounding group. The personnel is: Bernard Paganotti (bass and vocals), Patrick Gauthier (keyboards), Michel Ettori (guitar), Kirt Rust (drums), Alain Guillard (saxophone), Yvon Guillard (trumpet and vocals), and Jean-Philippe Goude (keyboards). Compositions are by Paganotti, Gauthier, Goude, and Ettori and the interesting thing is that, in keeping with what I said about the "collective spirit" here, there is a real similarity in the writing...these guys were smart composers and clearly all knew how to write for this group. If I didn't know otherwise, I might have guessed that the tunes were all written by one member, or a combination of all the members together.

"Elohims Voyage" begins omniously, dark and sinister in tone, with a simple opening theme that is eventually augmented by wordless vocals. The tune builds and re-builds over the course of its 16 minutes, developing into a heavy groove generated by the rhythm section, with the brass, keyboards, and guitar helping to launch the attack. The initial theme is expanded and new ideas develop in reaction to it. "Vilna" involves a similar exploration of themes, a deconstruction and reconstruction that is exciting to listen to. All while Paganotti and Rust are hammering away underneath. The beginning of "Booldemug" is exciting, with its happy keyboard intro that leads into another killer bassline from Paganotti and then more swirling melodies from the horns. This is the most upbeat tune on the album, and it's a brilliant closer.

The CD on Musea adds two live bonus tracks which give a sense of how strong this group was in concert: "Rondeau" and "Kolinda." The latter track brings up another interesting point I have always wondered about with this record. Paganotti delivers a magnificent bass solo, but there are parts of it that almost sound verbatim like bits of Chris Squire's solo on the live version of "Ritual" from the Yes album Yesshows. Even the bass sound is almost identical. Is it possible that Paganotti was a Squire fan? We may never know.

I've been the proud owner of this CD for many years now, and it's a recording that I come back to over and over again and it never disappoints. Though it was the only release from this band, according to the liner notes there are appearances by the group here and there on some of the members' solo releases. I'll have to start digging for some of those.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Landberk - Riktigt Äkta

I picked this CD up many years ago after I heard the closing track "Undrar Om Ni Ser." Though I liked it the first time I listened, it was one of those things that really started to grow on me even more after repeated plays, and when it had finally taken hold I just had to buy the CD. The whole album is really this way for me; it doesn't knock you over the head, but slowly works its way into your bloodstream.

Landberk hail from Sweden. Their music is dark and melancholy, but not oppressive. The songs are actually quite beautiful, and they take their time to develop. If you're expecting lots of flashy keyboard work and blinding unison leads, you won't find them here. There is lots of space, plenty of room to breathe, and some of the longer tunes (like the one mentioned above) build very nicely. Take your time with this one-- don't listen on the road or when you are busy with something else. Listen to this album with the lights off and just let it soak in.

The guys in Landberk are clearly great musicians but they know how to hold back and play tastefully. Keyboardist Simon Nordberg contributes some beautiful Mellotron work. Guitarist Reine Fiske is a team player but when the time is right he comes to the forefront with some searing, gut-wrenching guitar solos. Bassist Stefan Dimle and drummer Andreas Dahlbäck provide a solid foundation punctuated by appropriate outbursts. And even though I don't understand the language, it's clear that vocalist/guitarist Patric Helje is an expressive, emotional singer.

The aforementioned track that brought me to this album is still one of my favorites, but surprisingly, the other track here that stands above the rest for me is the bonus track "Tillbaka." Though the tone of it doesn't fit in with the rest of the album-- it's a short, upbeat track with a simple pop song structure-- it's absolutely brilliant. It's very catchy, with a angular guitar riff and prominent Melltron, and a burning guitar solo from Fiske. I don't know whether this bonus track is on other CD issues or not. The one I have is the Record Heaven CD from 1995. This one is worth seeking out!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


This album always makes me smile. I know it's supposedly been made superfluous now by a number of other releases, remasters, etc. that also include the extra tracks that were at the time previously unreleased ("America" and "Dear Father"). But I always come back to this particular compilation. It's a really nice selection of tracks from their first two records, and as far as the extras?...they are amazing.

"America" is pretty commonly known by now of course, and it's an absolutely brilliant rendition, but the one song from this record that always gave me chills? "Dear Father." It has all the components of a classic Yessong...the impeccable musicianship, strong melodies, and sense of drama, but most importantly...emotion. When I say this song gave me chills I mean it literally. Listening to this song as a kid was like a religious experience for me. To this day it gives me goosebumps. It actually boggles my mind as to why this was originally left off the Time And A Word album, as I think it's stronger than most of the other songs on it (and I love that album). The song has been added to the Rhino remaster of Time And A Word, thus correcting this terrible oversight, but it also brings me back to another reason why I need to own Yesterdays: I hate the sound of the Rhino remasters. But that's a discussion for another time. ;-)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For the Mellotron lovers

If you are a fan of that great old Mellotron sound, then you may well have already found this, but I'm going to post it here has lots of great info and tasty tidbits about the sound we know and love. And there is a nice list of recordings featuring the Mellotron on the site here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I don't agree with Robert Fripp

You see, Robert apparently doesn't care for the King Crimson album Lizard. I know sometimes artists are too close to the creation of their own work to judge it, and it appears that there are some difficult personal feelings for him around the making of this particular album and some of the people involved. But for me, as a listener who knows little to nothing of the background...I think it's a pretty darn good record. I just put it on the other day and was remembering how good it really is.

Here's one of Robert Fripp's Diary entries on the DGM Live site that pretty clearly illustrates his distaste for this album:

Is it Crimson's best record? No. And to be fair, it has some awkward moments, overly dramatic parts, and one bit that sounds like the lost soundtrack to a late-60s spy show (the middle section of "The Battle of Glass Tears"). But I'll admit to even enjoying the goofy horns that lead off "Indoor Games." The opening track "Cirkus" is classic Crimson, and the mournful "Lady of the Dancing Water" is simply beautiful. And with Jon Anderson's stunning guest appearance on "Prince Rupert Awakes"?...well, how can you go wrong? I'd actually like to hear the story behind how Fripp and Anderson hooked up for this, I don't recall ever seeing anything about that.

I think Lizard is a very good album, maybe not in the same ranks as In the Court of the Crimson King or Larks Tongues in Aspic, but easily on the level of other early gems In the Wake of Poseidon and Islands. Any fan of Crimson will enjoy this one.

AREA: International POPular Group

Area has to be one of my favorite discoveries from the Italian scene. I always find these guys a bit hard to describe because they are sort of all over the map musically, melding influences from Mediterranean to experimental, yet they have an instantly recognizable sound. And they somehow also manage to include in that combination two of my favorite genres-- progressive rock and free jazz-- and somehow make it work. They are not your typical Italian prog rock group.

At this point I've got six of their albums: Arbeit Macht Frei, Caution Radiation Area, Are(A)zione (live), Crac!, Maledetti, and Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno, Gli Arrabiati Restano! My personal favorites at the moment are the first one and the last one. My understanding from reading some other articles on the web about them is that that last one (Gli Dei Se Ne Vanno...) is not as highly regarded as the others, but in my opinion it is actually one of their best. Really catchy melodies on that one, but at the same time it also has some of their most avant-garde oriented material and some nice vocal acrobatics to boot. Demetrio Stratos was just a monster of a singer. Stratos also released a couple of solo vocal albums...I've heard one of them and it's pretty unreal. He died in 1979 (age 34!) from aplastic anemia. A true tragedy, and I wonder the same thing that I wonder about Jimi Hendrix or John much farther would he have gone with the music if he had lived longer? It's hard to imagine.

I don't think any description I give here will really give a sense of the Area sound. So as John Coltrane said "Let the music speak for itself"...

As Stratos seems to be such an integral part of the Area sound, I have not yet had the guts to check out Tic & Tac (1980) or Chernobyl 7991 (1997), which obviously do not include him. But I'd appreciate any comments from anyone who has heard either of these. I'm definitely curious. In fact, if anyone has recommendations or info on any of the material with Stratos that I've missed...any of the live recordings, or Rock Exhibition...and I think there are maybe a couple of others?...I would love to hear from you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

England - Garden Shed

I have been pulling this disc out a LOT lately. This has to be one of my favorite 'non-mainstream' (in other words, not Yes, Genesis, ELP, Crimson, etc...) prog releases. I'm kind of amazed that England didn't go on to do a whole lot more, but then again, I guess they were coming in sort at the end of the genre's popularity (1977).

While their sound is clearly influenced by a lot of the 'bigger' names from the UK, they really have their own sound and put their own stamp on it. Some progressive bands of course borrowed so heavily that they just ended up sounding like a bad copy of the bands who influenced them. Definitely not the case here. I hear the spirit of a lot of the classic 70s British prog, but this album is really pretty unique. To me it feels a bit like the 'lost album' of some band that you always hoped was out there, except in this case it's not by any of the bands you would expect...and it makes me scratch my head and wonder "where did these guys come from?"

The songs are intricate but tuneful, musically interesting but never to the point of over-complication just for the sake of it. Lots of strong melodies and hooks that really stay with you. The songs build nicely and have a real sense of drama, without going overboard. The playing by all the musicians is spot-on perfect. Personnel is: Martin Henderson (bass & vocals), Franc Holland (guitar & vocals), Robert Webb (keyboards & vocals), and Jode Leigh (percussion, vocals & bass). And Mellotron lovers, rejoice! There is plenty here for you.

"Three Piece Suite" is a highlight for me, but there is really not a bad track on the album. I'd also like to mention "Yellow" which is a beautiful ballad, and provides a nice break from some of the high-energy music on the rest of the album. I can't recommend this recording highly enough. If you are a fan of Yes and Genesis but consistently find yourself disappointed with the "clones," this is the album for you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great first albums in prog rock

It is often said that it takes a band several albums to really hit their stride and create a great work of art. For many bands, their "classic" release is their third or fourth album...possibly their second...but not usually their first. And that makes sense to a great is definitely pretty unusual to have your sound and style together on the first try. But I can think of a lot of progressive rock bands that came right out of the gate with a brilliant first release:
  • King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King ... Not my absolute favorite of theirs, but obviously very, very strong.
  • Premiata Forneria Marconi - Storia di un Minuto ... This is in fact my favorite PFM album, with Per un Amico a close second.
  • Emerson, Lake and Palmer (self-titled) ... I probably prefer Tarkus or Pictures at an Exhibition to this, but still, what a debut!
  • Triumvirat - Mediterranean Tales (Across the Waters) ... Though this goes against 'conventional wisdom,' I much prefer this one to their later albums, even Illusions on a Double Dimple.
  • Area - Arbeit Macht Frei ... Once again, this is my personal favorite even though a lot of folks prefer Caution: Radiation Area or Crac!
  • Supertramp (self-titled) ... Seriously, if you haven't heard this, PLEASE check it is an incredibly beautiful record, and in my opinion much stronger that anything else they released. This is one of my favorite records of all time. And it is more "prog" than any of their other releases, whatever that means... ;-)
  • Yes (self-titled) ... Well, of course! I love everything they ever did. Some people think the first couple of albums are weak, but I think they are both gems.

On the Silent Wings of Freedom

One of my favorite songs from my favorite band-- YES. This is a great video clip, which I think was actually aired on MTV at one time (back when they actually showed music videos, remember that?). It's interesting not only because it shows the band in the studio, but because the version of the song here is different from the one released on Tormato. Towards the end of the clip Chris Squire stops the tune because he doesn't like the feel or the bass sound or's not quite clear. But they discuss it for a bit, then try again and finish the tune. Pretty cool stuff.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Progressive Rock Links

There is so much information about progressive rock on the web that it is absolutely staggering. Here are just a few of my favorite sites that I continue to visit to expand my own knowledge of the genre...

Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock

Italian Progressive Rock



Welcome to The Prog Blog / Atomic Rooster

I'll be blogging here about some of my progressive rock faves. My interest in prog really comes from being a huge fan of Yes, ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, and Marillion as a kid. The internet has introduced me to lots of other bands since that time...some things that have blown my mind and others that are not my cup of tea. But you won't see a lot of griping and criticizing of bands I don't like here...I'd rather go down the first road and talk about the music I love. I'll leave the negative press for other people to waste their time with.

Lately I've been listening to some Atomic Rooster and really digging it. In Hearing Of and Made in England. That first one in particular is brilliant. The track "Breakthrough" has got to be one of the greatest of this genre...killer keyboard work on this one, and I can't get it out of my head. Vincent Crane is a major force on the keys. Browsing online, I notice that England tends to get lesser reviews from folks, mostly due to the addition of vocalist Chris Farlowe. This I don't understand, personally...I think Farlowe sounds genius. Definitely an acquired taste as his voice is quite affected, but man there is some soul in that throat. Great stuff. Actually there's a YouTube video of Rooster performing "Breakthrough" with Farlowe (Pete French was the vocalist for the original version on Hearing) and I really like it. Check it out here.