ISSUE 2016-042

Reviews in this issue:

Steve Hackett - The Total Expereince: Live in Liverpool
Steve Hackett - The Total Expereince: Live in Liverpool
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 2016
Time: 148:35
Links:
Track List:
CD 1: 1 Corycian Fire Intro (1:15) 2. Spectral Mornings (5:39) 3. Out of the Body (2:29) 4. Wolflight (9:13) 5. Every Day (6:46) 6. Love Song to a Vampire (8:49) 7. The Wheel's Turning (8:08) 8. Loving Sea (4:13) 9. Jacuzzi (4:13) 10. Icarus Ascending (6:09) 11. Star of Sirius (4:36) 12. Ace of Wands (6:27) 13. A Tower Struck Down (4:31)
CD 2: 1 Shadow of the Hierophant (11:45) 2. Get 'em Out by Friday (9:12) 3. Can-Utility and the Coastliners (6:01) 4. After the Ordeal (6:46) 5. The Cinema Show (11:00) 6. Aisle of Plenty (1:29) 7. The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (4:47) 8. The Musical Box (12:15) 9. Clocks (5:53) 10. Firth of Fifth (10:20)
Steve Hackett is a true legend of the progressive rock genre. 45 years after his first album with Genesis, Steve continues to record vital albums and his live tours are more popular than ever. While many of his peers have stopped recording or just tour past glories, Steve still strives to create his best work. Though it could be argued that his touring of classic Genesis material was a bit too reflective, it allowed audiences to hear this great music performed by a key member involved in its creation. Seeing a tribute band like The Musical Box is exciting, but there is nothing like seeing Hackett perform the material. The shows were a celebration of a great era of the band and the fans showed their appreciation by buying tickets in droves.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Genesis Revisited shows that I attended, but I was very happy when Steve released the studio album Wolflight in 2015. I was even more pleased when he announced the Acolyte to Wolflight with Genesis tour. Steve has recorded such great music throughout his entire career that it seemed almost a shame that he had only been touring Genesis music over the previous few years. That ship ran its course and when I saw Steve and band on the Wolflight tour, there seemed to be a newfound energy coming from the stage. It was a fantastic show and Steve's solo material was met with enthusiasm by the crowd. Though the concert only covered a limited portion of Steve's overall solo work, it was nonetheless great to hear the classic material as well as tracks from Wolflight. The Total Experience: Live in Liverpool presents a document of that compelling tour.

It was a wise decision to dedicate the first half of the show to his solo material and the second half to classic Genesis. This set included several songs that were not performed on the Genesis Revisited tours. With the popularity of those shows, it seems logical that Steve will need to dedicate a portion of all future shows to Genesis material. That is a positive for many reasons and if it helps fill the seats, all the better.

The band that Steve utilized on the 'Wolflight to Acolyte' tour was second to none. Long time bandmates Roger King, Nad Sylvan, Gary O'Toole and Rob Townsend were joined by Roine Stolt on bass and guitar. This was a stroke of genius and provided for some great guitar interactions between Steve and Roine. The show in Liverpool also included Amanda Lehmann guesting on the full version of Shadow of The Hierophant. This rendition is fantastic and truly one of the highlights of this collection. John Hackett also joined the band at this particular show for an acoustic version of the classic Jacuzzi.

Steve has released a number of live albums in recent years, but the tours have been very memorable and it is great that these official recordings and DVD's are out there. Live in Liverpool didn't only bring back great memories of the show that I saw, it is also a truly entertaining album. What's not to like? The Genesis material is performed impeccably, but the real fun is in listening to the live performances of the earlier solo and Wolflight material. In many cases, these versions rise above the studio recordings. I don't know that I would classify this album as essential, but very few live albums fall into that category. If you are a fan of Steve and you want to hear some excellent music performed impeccably, you can't go wrong here.
Conclusion:
Patrick McAfee: 9 out of 10

Lucifer's Friend - Live @ Sweden Rock 2015
Lucifer's Friend - Live @ Sweden Rock 2015
Country of Origin: Germany
Year of Release: 2016
Time: 61:15
Links:
Track List:
Intro - Awakening (2:35), Pray (4:01), Fire and Rain (5:38), In the Time of Job (4:46), Keep Going (5:39), Hey Driver (4:18), Riding High (7:20), Moonshine Rider (5:39), Did You Ever (4:36), Burning Ships (6:14), Ride the Sky (4:18), High Flying Lady (6:06)
Lucifer's Friend is a well-known name among (prog) rock fans and probably do not need a lot of explanation. Formed in 1970 and releasing their self-titled debut album shortly after, they became a household name, mixing heavy hard rock and early progressive influences.

Frontman of this German band was British singer John Lawton, most famously known for his work as a lead singer for Uriah Heep as the successor of David Byron. Lawton joined Ken Hensley and the rest of Heep in 1976 after 6 albums with Lucifer's Friend. The band released two more records and broke up in 1982. They briefly reformed in 1994 for another record, and 20 years later they reunited in the current line-up, including original members Lawton, Peter Hesslein on guitar and Dieter Horns on bass. The keys are played by Jogi Wichman and the drums by Stefan Eggert.

This line-up is full of power, as one can hear on the live record Live @ Sweden Rock 2015. This was only their second concert since their reunion and Lawton admits that "we were all of course a bit nervos." None of the nervousness can be heard here, the band is in full form.

Following the release of their Best Of Awakening, which also included some new tracks, this show presented great hits from the 1970s and some of the mentioned new songs.

After the introduction, the band "awakes" and starts off directly with a new song: Pray, which captures the band's typical heavy 70s sound and reminds of Ride the Sky, but still sounds fresh. The fans probably loved it. The band knows how to handle their instruments and Lawton is and has always been a great vocalist.

Fire and Rain is next and comes from the early 80's period and leans more towards it musically. Keep Going is bluesy as ever, Hey Driver has that early 80s feel á la Foreigner to it. Still they rock, and the overall sound and music reminds of their fellow acts Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Unfortunately the band never reached the same level of success.

Further into the set, as penultimate song, the band play their classic Ride the Sky. This gem has lost nothing of its appeal, one also hears the reminiscences to Zeppelin.

This live record is a great proof that the band is back again. It can be summed up nice by John Lawton, who says: "This live album represents the band in full flow and with a new studio album planned in 2016, we hope to go on 'Riding the Sky'". Let's see what the future will bring! The band seems ready for it.
Conclusion:
Philipp Röttgers: 8 out of 10

Mayfair - My Ghosts Inside
Mayfair - My Ghosts Inside
Country of Origin: Austria
Year of Release: 2016
Time: 40:21
Links:
Track List:
Loss (2:46), My Ghosts Inside (2:45), Desert (3:50), Blinded by Your Light (4:14), When Angels and Demons Meet (6:21), Our Fire Starts Here (1:27), Ghostrider (4:52), Boom (2:57), Andermal (4:30), Schrei es raus (2:17), Until We Meet Again (4:22)
In 1989, Mayfair formed in Austria, a progressive metal band comprised of Mario "Le Fate" Prünster on vocals, René on guitars, and brothers Little and Mötle on drums and bass respectively. They released three albums before splitting up in 2000. However, in 2010 they reformed with Johannes Leierer taking over on bass and Jolly picking up the drumsticks. My Ghosts Inside is their second album since reforming.

Initially, my reaction to the album is a good one. Opening track Loss is reminiscent on early 2000s era Anathema, slow and clean guitars, atmospheric and tense which sets the scene for a well crafted album that dives through the waters of progressive metal to emerge as a mature and complex creation at the other side. This then evolves into a more "metal" track, with heavier guitars and harsher clean vocals, complimented by some growls. Johannes Leierer shows off his skills on the bass around the midway mark with a nice break. Overall I would say the album's title track is a more similar affair to the likes of Megadeth. These two tracks in particular I would say are fairly representative of the album; both showcasing the areas the album flits between throughout and they definitely set the tone for the album.

The album seamlessly traverses the gaps between melodic and heavy and dark yet atmospheric. Sometimes it is more akin to a metal song, other times it drives through the progressive feel, and sometimes it melds these together to create something altogether different. The main criticism I would have would be that harsh growls are occasionally sounding a bit out of place and not executed as well as they possibly could be. However, Mario "Le Fate" Prünster more than makes up for this with his clean vocals as they are, to be honest, absolutely spot on and suit the tone of the album brilliantly.

Album closer Until We Meet Again is a throwback to the opener, being chilled out and atmospheric and I must say, after listening to this album I hope we do meet again and I look forward to their next venture.

While not necessarily an album I'll return to frequently, but one I'd be happy listening to when I'm in the mood for something on the 'lighter' side of my music taste. The album is not quite the style I would normally go for, but it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Fans of mid-90s Megadeth, Anathema, Messenger, and other elements of old prog such as Rush and Yes will likely enjoy this album.
Conclusion:
Calum Gibson: 7 out of 10

Anthony Phillips - 1984
Anthony Phillips - 1984
Country of Origin: UK
Year of Release: 1981/2016
Time: 68:46
Links:
Track List:
1. Prelude '84 (4:19) 2. 1984 part 1 (9:06) 3. 1984 part 2 (15:28) 4. Anthem 1984 (2:27), 5 Prelude '84 (early stage mix) (4:28), 6. Ascension (5:18), 7. 1984 Part One (early stage mix) (12:51), 8. Sally Theme (1:15), 9. Science & Zechnology (1:20), 10. Respect (0:59), 11. Church (0:51), 12. Military (1:39), 13. Power in the Land (1:45), 14. 1984 Part Two (early stage mix) (4:26), 15. Anthem 1984 (early stage mix) (2:12), 16. Poly Piece (demo) (16:39)
Before getting into total details on the reissue of this Anthony Phillips album, I first must call out the actual remastering that has been completed. Being quite familiar with the original, I have to say that this work has never sounded better. Not to use too strong of a work, but the remaster is immaculate. In many ways, 1984 is an album that is very reflective of the era in which it was recorded. Suffice to say that this new remastering has made it sound fresh again and the packaging by the good folks at Esoteric is also fantastic.

Upon release, 1984 was an extreme change of pace for Phillips. His past solo releases were more rock or acoustic oriented and he was predominantly known as a guitarist. This album was not only keyboard dominated, its very structure and content could easily be called ground breaking in some ways. There are few albums that I can easily compare it to. The shift in style confused some fans and reviewers. With the passage of time, the album can now be viewed on its own merits and without the element of surprise. In the name of disclosure, I have loved 1984 since the first time that I heard it. It just seemed like such a daring album to release in the 1981 music scene and its audacious qualities are still apparent 35 years later. The enthusiastic comments by Steven Wilson that are included in the CD booklet express this fact in perfect terms.

Consisting of four connected pieces, the album is a musical and sonic masterpiece. The sheer creativity of the music is dynamic and even listening to it all of these years later, I was still taken aback by its adventuress qualities and depth. It also made me wish that Phillips (or anyone) would revisit this type of material. Whereas more straightforward progressive rock has been reproduced in large quantities, this type of symphonic, keyboard dominated instrumental work is much more rare.

I have read criticisms about the electronic percussion utilized on 1984, but a recognition of the technology of the time is essential. Personally, I wouldn't change a thing about the album and I especially enjoy the keyboards that Anthony used. Included in this release are early stage mixes, demos and most interesting, the Rule Britannia Suite that was recorded at the same time (tracks 8 - 13). It serves as a great companion piece that includes snippets of music that Anthony used in later releases. Most notably, Sally's Theme, that became Sally on the Invisible Men album. The piano driven demo, Poly Piece is also a nice addition.

In terms of reissues, the new release of this classic and somewhat underrated album comes highly recommended. It is the text book example of a recording that demands being listened to from beginning to end. A true musical roller coaster, it absolutely exudes creativity. A career highlight and one of the most unique pieces of music in Anthony Phillips illustrious discography. A similar presentation of the later keyboard dominated Phillips album, Slow Dance, would be equally as welcome.
Conclusion:
Patrick McAfee: 10 out of 10

Various artists - Lion Music Presents: Antonio Vivaldi - A New Season
Various artists - Lion Music Presents: Antonio Vivaldi - A New Season
Country of Origin: Italy
Year of Release: 2016
Time: 40:18
Links:
Track List:
1. Flute Concerto in D Major, Op. 10, No. 3, RV 428, "Il gardellino": II. Cantabile (1:58) (by Mathias Holm Klarin), 2. Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno": I. Allegro Non Molto (3:36) (by Charly Sahona), 3. Sonata No. 1 in C major, "Il pastor fido", Giga Op. 13, No. 1, RV 54 (3:59) (by Lars Eric Mattsson), 4. Concerto Op.4, No.1 in B flat major, RV 383a: Allegro (2:51) (by Pier Gonella), 5. Concerto in G Minor for Flute, Oboe, and Bassoon (F.XII, n.4) RV103 (3:43) (by Ashent), 6. Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" Largo (3:31) (by Lord of Mushrooms), 7. Flute Concerto in F Major Op. 10, No. 1, RV 433, La Tempesta Di Mare (3:09) (by Robert Rodrigo), 8. Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 8, RV 315, "L'estate": Presto (5:31) (by Mistheria), 9. Piccolo Concerto in C maj RV442: Allegro (4:48) (by Patrik Carlsson), 10. Concerto No. 1 in E major, Op. 8, RV 269, "La primavera" Allegro (3:15) (by Grönholm), 11. Concerto for Two Mandolins in G major, RV 532, Andante (3:57) (by Condition Red)
Following on from their previous two releases in this style (the first featuring the music of Bach and the second of Mozart), Lion Music have now released Lion Music Presents: Antonio Vivaldi - A New Season, arrangements of the music of Eighteenth century violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. This is Vivaldi, Jim, but not as we know him.

Lars Eric Mattsson, founder of Lion Music, has brought together bands on the label's roster, to adapt movements from Vivaldi's concertos and sonatas in their own prog-metal style. The standard of musicianship here is outstanding, as you would expect, and they deal with the intricacies of Vivaldi's music well but without really bringing any emotion over from their classical origins.

The album opens well with the Wishbone Ash twin guitar layering of Mathias Holm Klarin's (of Mindsplit) concise contribution. Other tracks that work well include the Italian band Ashent, that has atmospheric keyboards and well delineated guitar chords rather than a showboating solo; the French band Lord of Mushrooms has a piano opening and controlled wah-wah guitar in an adaptation that is well though through. Swedish prog-metallers Condition Red's take on a mandolin concerto has nicely balanced synths and guitars, and Lars Eric Mattsson's sonata movement has an organ replacing the strings, in a cool piece of baroque 'n' roll (sorry – couldn't resist).

However, the rest of the album's prog-metal Vivaldi sticks very much to the same template, displaying great technique at the pickup end of the fretboard, whilst drums and bass pound away. It all begins to sound a bit too similar. The ones that work the best come over as a prog-metal versions of the classical-prog rock band, Sky.

In isolation most of these tracks are passable, but as a whole they become a bit of blur, and repeat plays often eliminates any charm they might have possessed on a first listen. If you were to come across an individual track on an internet radio show, you would probably think - yeah entertaining enough, but you would have forgotten it thirty minutes later.

If you are a fan of any of the artists featured on Lion Music Presents: Antonio Vivaldi - A New Season then I would recommend (legally) downloading those particular tracks.
Conclusion:
Martin Burns: 5.5 out of 10

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Published Sunday 21 August 2016

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