CD1, Remastered Original Mix: Child Of The Universe (5:06), Negative Earth (5:33), Paper Wings (4:18), The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (4:45), Crazy City (4:07), See Me, See You (4:36), Poor Boy Blues (3:05), Mill Boys (2:47), For No One (5:11); Bonus Tracks: Child Of The Universe (US single mix) (2:54), The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (original mix) (4:50), Maestoso (A Hymn In The Roof Of The World) (5:29)
CD2, New Stereo Mix: Child Of The Universe (5:35), Negative Earth (5:43), Paper Wings (4:18), The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (5:33), Crazy City (4:39), See Me, See You (4:38), Poor Boy Blues (3:04), Mill Boys (2:58); Bonus Tracks: Child Of The Universe (US single version new stereo mix) (3:40), Negative Earth (original mix) (5:36), Child Of The Universe (remake Of US single) (3:36)
DVD, 5.1 Surround Mix and 96 kHz / 24-bit stereo mixes: Child Of The Universe (5:35), Negative Earth (5:42), Paper Wings (4:18), The Great 1974 Mining Disaster (5:51), Crazy City (4:39), See Me, See You (4:38), Poor Boy Blues (3:05), Mill Boys (2:58); Bonus Track: Child Of The Universe (US single version) (3:38)
Everyone Is Everybody Else was Barclay James Harvest's fifth album, and their first for Polydor Records, recorded and released in 1974. The band's tenure with EMI and the Harvest label had produced four solid albums, only one of which, Once Again, had really gained any measure of popular success, and the costs of touring with the Barclay James Harvest Orchestra had accrued considerable debts to the label. Indeed, the advance from Polydor had largely been eaten up by servicing these debts, and so the pressure was on for the band to replenish their finances by creating a successful album that would not only expand their audience, but bring in a live audience.
In spite of these pressures, one of the first songs the band recorded was one that had already been rejected by the group a few years earlier. Child Of The Universe, was a John Lees song that didn't fit with the style the band were exploring, when first presented to the group in early 1972. That didn't stop the band from recording a version intended for a Lees solo album, A Major Fancy which was shelved following the termination of the EMI contract and didn't see the light of day for almost 40 years. It is somewhat ironic then, that the song has become one of the band's most iconic and best loved numbers. Some credit for the reassessment of the worth of Child of The Universe must go to producer Rodger Bain, who was an unusual choice given his association with heavy rock bands.
Although Bain was tasked with beefing up the group's studio sound to make it more representative of the live experience, there was no real change in musical direction, with the album containing the usual mixture of melodic, mid-paced, finely tuned numbers, albeit without any accompanying grandiose orchestral arrangements. The exclusion of the orchestra did give the band more space, which did allow the quartet's instruments more freedom and presence in the final mix. This can be best appreciated in the new stereo mix presented on the second CD of this collection. A heavier edge is noted on, in particular, Paper Wings with its end section really ramping up the tempo and Pritchard's thunderous drumming backing Holroyd's soloing guitar to great effect, again something that is enhanced in the remix.
Contemporary events were the source of a couple of the album's songs, with the near-disastrous Apollo 13 mission providing drummer Mel Prichard the inspiration for his lyrics to Negative Earth, which blended perfectly with Les Holroyd's music. The miner's strike of 1974 that bought down the sitting Conservative Government was, not surprisingly, alluded to in The Great 1974 Mining Disaster, although the opening lyric provides a link to Negative Earth:
"Heard a song the other day, about a Major out in space, and although the song was rather grey, it took me far away."
Somewhat self-referential and not sure how Holroyd must have felt about his song being thought of by he guitarist as being "rather grey"! The origins of '...Mining Disaster' were a bit more esoteric than social commentary and arose from a suggestion that the band should try and write more commercial songs, more akin to The Bee Gees! Taking umbrage at the suggestion, Holroyd proceeded to rewrite the Brothers Gibb's 1967 hit New York Mining Disaster 1971, rather successfully too.
Crazy City was also a bit more of a heavier number than previously attempted, particularly from the pen of Les Holroyd. Although in truth it is mainly the fuzzed electric guitar on the intro and outro that lends the heaviness, as throughout the bulk of the song the acoustic guitar is most prominent. The backing vocal arrangement also suggests that Holroyd had been listening to Suite: Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby, Stills and Nash for inspiration.
The largely acoustic Poor Boy Blues was chosen as the first single, somewhat bizarrely given it's affinity with the country rock of The Eagles, and failed to perform on the charts. That was probably for the better as it was not a good advertisement for the album, being probably the least representative track. At least it makes more sense in the context of the album, where it is intertwined with Mill Boys, with each song borrowing the middle eight from the other.
The album's standout track is no doubt the closing number For No One, the lyrics of which provide the album with its title. It is a mini symphony where keyboardist Stuart 'Woolly' Wolstenholme comes into his own on the Mellotron. Given the quality of this song and the importance it played in live concerts, it is very surprising that it is not included here as part of either the new stereo or 5.1 mixes. It is most likely that the original master tape has gone missing, although no mention of this is made in the accompanying booklet. A great pity, as the new mixes don't give the full album experience.
As is typical for Esoteric releases, the packaging is great and there is plenty of bonus material to get to grips with, although unfortunately only one album outtake, Wolstenholme's only writing contribution to album sessions, Maestoso (A Hymn In The Roof Of The World). Although recorded and intended to be included right up to the last minute, it was Bain who blocked its inclusion as he felt it was out of place amongst the other material. Listening to it now, one can't say he was wrong.
Two more versions of Child Of The Universe are also included, one of which, the US single version, appears on both CDs and the DVD in the original remastered mix, the new stereo mix and 5.1 surround sound mix. The other version is a remake of the US single, absolute heaven for the completist. The remaining two bonus tracks are the original mixes of The Great 1974 Mining Disaster and Negative Earth, and I am presuming these were ones that were done before the album was finalised.
Overall this is a sumptuous repackaging of a very strong album by BJH. Although it might seem excessive to essentially have three copies of the same album on one release, each version has a lot to offer, in particular the 5.1 mix which offers up a much brighter sound and almost offers a complete re-interpretation of the album. Considering the price and what is on offer, this is a lovely set.
Skylight (3:14), Phaze Ulysses (3:29), Never the Same Thing (5:20), Bow to Thee, Absurde (3:43), I Don't Know (7:06), Nature of the Beast (4:23), For a While (5:38), Eye's Pie (4:05), Prequel (5:20)
This is one gigantic trip, man! This album will have you gliding back through time to the days when Pink Floyd was still Syd Barrett's band; to the time that Status Quo was writing Pictures of Matchstick Men, or when The Byrds wrote their famous Eight Miles High or The Doors their Spanish Caravan. Psychedelic sounds rule this album, yet with the spirit of Tony Iommi waiting in the wings to add some darker riffs. At least, towards the second half of the album, the band does sound a wee bit heavier than at the start.
What is interesting, is that this is only a three-piece at work, which is surprising when you listen to a track like Never the Same Thing. It sounds as if there are more people at work, yet it is only David Lines, multi-instrumentalist and singer, together with Thomas Chollet on bass and steady drummer Dom Salameh. They have written and performed all the tracks on their own.
So if you are in for music that mixes the heavier type of Black Sabbath and maybe even King Crimson (if you listen to Bow to Thee, Absurde), with more easy-going psychedelic sounds, then this album might be something for you.
In the time it took spinning in my CD player, I must say it was the combination of the two types of music that provided the spark. The music they make may not be the most adventurous you will hear in the realms of prog, but the album makes for a good listen. A Devil's Din is a trio from Canada with a bass player that knows his chops, something which also goes for the drummer and the guitar player, yet the music has quite a different approach from the one taken by the three men from Toronto. It would be nice to see and hear these men in live action too.
Ministry of Life (8:08), She Said (4:29), Human Rhythm (4:58), Tonight (4:18), Friends and Enemies (4:38), It's Over (4:39), Where is the Love (4:55), Stay Low (4:20), Heaven Blessed (4:25)
The news of a new Esquire album is certainly not a usual event. Coming 20 years after their last release, No Spare Planet definitely came as a bit of a surprise.
Formed by Nikki Squire and multi-instrumentalist Nigel McLaren in the early 80s, the band released their much under-appreciated debut in 1987. This was followed up in 1997 by the album, Coming Home. Since then, things have been relatively quiet. Regrettably, the excitement around this new album is somewhat dampened by sadness. It is dedicated not only to Nikki's ex husband, Chris Squire, who passed away in 2015, but also to Nigel McLaren who left us in the same year. This album represents the final recordings that he and Nikki wrote and recorded together. It is certainly a testament to his significant talent.
Ministry of Life opens up the album, and is easily the most progressive piece of music ever released by the duo. Within its eight minute length, the song goes through several twists and turns and prominently features Nikki's unmistakable vocals. In fact, Nikki's voice is one of the most distinctive elements of Esquire. There is a proggy-pop feel to the entire album that mirrors their previous work. In fact, Human Rhythm reminded me a bit of Blossom Time from their debut. Squire and McLaren have a way of celebrating a great pop hook, without sacrificing progressive elements. I will admit to being a sucker for well-written and performed prog/pop, and hearing this new Esquire music was a joy.
That said, the success of the album doesn't rely on nostalgia. Though reminiscent of earlier work, the songwriting and performances on No Spare Planet stand strongly on their own. Tonight is a more straightforward track, but nonetheless memorable. Friends & Enemies provides an opportunity to hear lead vocals from Nigel, which adds a layer of pathos to this excellent track.
It's Over is a sweeping Yes-like number and Where is the Love is a great example of how this duo can take a simple melody and turn it into something that sounds so much bigger. Stay Low is another strong song with a great chorus and great work from Nikki. Heaven Blessed, also sung by Nigel, ends the album in an effective and touching fashion.
On par with their debut, No Spare Planet is an excellent album and an unexpected gift. Standing as a tribute to the extremely talented McLaren, it is also proof that we need to hear more from Nikki Squire. Twenty years is too long of a gap between recordings. If you love accessible progressive music, you can't go wrong with this album. A welcome surprise and a truly entertaining listen.
Dårskapens Monotoni (10:30), När Jag Var En Pojk (10:40), Vi Lever Här (6:20), Det Tysta Guldet (10:20), Spår Av Vår Tid (5:40), Tonerna (17.20), Monoliten (5:45)
Sweden is a country with a rich prog heritage and Kaipa is undoubtedly one of their finest exports. Formed in 1973, they released five albums before folding in 1982. Following a long hiatus, they reformed in 2000, led by keyboardist Hans Lundin, and continue to this day with seven favourably reviewed albums to their credit. The original albums have recently been reissued, although to mixed reviews, with the three albums from the 70s standing the test of time, more so than the two from the 80s.
Roine Stolt was Kaipa's guitarist from 1974 to 1979 and from 2000 to 2005, and it was he and Lundin that shaped the sound of the band. Taking time out from The Flower Kings, in 2014 he formed Kaipa Da Capo for the purpose of recreating the Kaipa sound of the 70s. So Kaipa Da Capo should not be confused with the current version of the Kaipa. Dårskapens Monotoni is a collection of new material and sees Stolt reunited with original Kaipa members Tomas Eriksson (bass) and Ingemar Bergman (drums), along with Roine's brother Mikael Stolt (vocals) and Max Lorentz (keyboards).
Remaining true to the original Kaipa, the songs are sung in Swedish, augmented by some wonderfully expansive instrumental themes that capture the spirit of the 70s. With the rich sound of the Hammond B3 organ to the fore, Lorentz favours analogue keyboards including Mellotron, Mini Moog, Rhodes electric piano, pipe organ and grand piano. Roine's guitar playing is a showcase for his versatility, taking in prog dynamics (Dårskapens Monotoni), the weeping technique of Dutch maestro Jan Akkerman (Det Tysta Guldet), blues solos (Tonerna), and even funk (När Jag Var En Pojk). Mikael's singing on the other hand does take a little getting used to, with an earthy, occasionally bluesy drawl (à la Tom Waits) that is very different to his brother's.
Written by Lorentz, the aforementioned Tonerna clocks in at 17-plus minutes, allowing the keyboardist and Stolt to indulge in some (untypically) lengthy but tasteful soloing. The guitar riff intro is very similar to Yes' Astral Traveller, but overall the piece brings Focus to mind.
It isn't all about showmanship and virtuosity however, there are some memorable themes and vocal melodies with Vi Lever Här and Spår Av Vår Tid standing out (the latter is pure mid-70s Genesis with its rippling acoustic guitar and haunting Mellotron strings).
With Stolt's production also evoking the sound of the 70s (the drums in particular have a very natural, live timbre) this album compares favourably with the first two Kaipa albums Kaipa (1975) and Inget Nytt Under Solen (1976), and almost scales the dizzy heights of the third album Solo (1978), which is high praise indeed.
Overture & The Prophecy (4:27), Moon vision (5:35), Run (3:03), Liar (5:04), Digital Captivity (4:35), Cyborg Surgery (2:11), NDE (2:53), Cold Resurrection (5:21), Cruel Thing (3:07), Metadrive (3:38), Lullaby Of Memories (5:52), Mankind Theme (5:22), End Titles (1:49)
In terms of reviewing, my new year resolution is to step out of my comfort zone a little more. So once a month I shall be reviewing a new album, from a genre that I would normally not encounter. I expect a few disasters, a few puzzlers and (hopefully) a few gems.
So to kick-off the year, here's my first non-comfort-zone review; an album of modern-day electronica. Over Reality is the first release by Metadrive, a band formed in Italy back in 2014. Information about Metadrive is non-existent. The website and Facebook addresses given in the album booklet do not exist. I am unclear whether the band still exists.
According to the brief paragraph on their label website (MaRaCrash), the band's line-up is somewhat unusual, being composed of double keyboards and drums. There are three people in the band picture in the booklet, but no names or instruments credited. The 13 tracks heavily feature guitars and vocals. Whether those are other instruments played by the same three members, or whether they have additional guest members, I have no idea.
Which is all somewhat of a shame, as Over Reality is a really enjoyable and well executed collection of electronic-based pop/rock.
This is a modern take on the 80s electronic music I heard in my teenage years but with a big dose of alternative rock added. Think Jean-Michel Jarre meets New Order, with the melodic intent and guitars of U2. The keyboards dominate. The synths are keeping an atmospheric background whilst the parpy keyboards add melody and rhythm.
Two things take this album to a higher level. Firstly the songwriting is excellent. The tracks are mostly on the short side but across the album, they cover a lot of ground. The melodic lines are faultlessly memorable. There is not really a standout track nor a weak one. The quality is consistently good. If I had to select something, then the mid-album pairing of Digital Captivity and Cyborg Surgery is my favourite.
Secondly the excellent vocalist (whoever he may be) is powerful and instantly grabs the listener's attention. Nothing new or innovative, just top quality electronica-based pop/rock with a great singer and memorable songs. A good start for my new year's resolution.
Deathanity R3, now what could that mean? The Maryland prog rockers have taken the time and energy to re-record their original 2008 Deathanity album, at least as far as the vocals are considered, then remix and remaster it.
Nowadays that seems to happen a lot to "classic" albums that are loved and admired, but also when an artist thinks that their previous take on the music, either in its production or in its performance, is not up to the standard they would now prefer. Here Odin's Court have also taken into account that their current singer, Dimetrius LaFavors, is quite an accomplished vocalist, who is now such an elemental part of what the band is about. So R3 must have appeared the logical step for both band and singer.
I never heard the original as a whole, yet I did get to know Odin's Court through their Turtles All the Way Down, and my memory was not the most favourable, mainly due to the overwhelming use of double bass drum on that album. So my expectations weren't too high when giving the album a first spin. The use of double bass drum however seems to be far more balanced than in their most recent effort. I must say I do appreciate the fact that the band did their utmost to modernise their debut. Yet, all in all, even with a better production, little could be changed about the way the songs are built. Even though I can hear the various influences that the band tries to give a home to in their music, it does ask for a lot of concentration to completely follow through on what the music is all about. Ideas abound throughout the album and we get some very sensitive and beautiful guitar parts by Matt Brookins. Sadly he also gives us several shots at shredding that, to these ears, undo the magic of the more sensitive parts.
So how does the album as a whole come through?
It is a nice touch that the band uses sounds and voices just like Pink Floyd and Roger Waters, yet the music on this album is quite distant from the music created by David Gilmour, Roger Waters cum suis. The music seems to be more steeped in the heavier part of the music spectre, than in the progressive part. Admittedly, as Animaulic goes to show, the music sometimes develops in a progressive way, yet the lack of consistency of the album gets in the way.
The album has leanings to mid-period Fates Warning, perhaps even mid-period Queensryche, which can lead to an album that captivates and holds attention for the whole of it. But I think it would take an outside producer to make that dream come true. Yes, the R3 version and Dimetrius's singing makes the music sound better, however that doesn't warrant an overnight sensation.
Matt Brookins has the ideas and can play a very fine guitar. He doesn't need the shredding he sometimes turns to. Odin's Court's rendition of Ode to Joy (Beethoven's Ninth), shows that. Sometimes down-playing on tracks renders them far more effective. This version, with all its effects, comes across as cringeworthy; they really are an overkill to the trac, with the double bass drum delivering the final blow. Rainbow's version on their Difficult to Cure album does without the use of as many effects and comes over as more natural and superior. Even without that comparison, the album's lack of consistency on one hand, and the overuse of shredding on the other, make for too little to be thoroughly enjoyable.
Although their albums haven't been convincing so far to the reviewers at DPRP, I dare express the hope that the band will succeed in that sometime. This time around though, that simply didn't work out.
Aerodrome (4:41), A Very Bad Girl (3:20), Baker's Dozen (4:10), Chances Passing (4:00), Dance For Me (2:37), Halfremembered Summer (4:29), Honest Jim (4:56), Highway Code (6:33), Doing Time (4:14), Guano Blues (3:39), Saving You From Drowning (5:14), So We Meet Again (4:06), Takeaway (4:13)
Considering that you are reading this review on a progressive rock website, I think it is fair to mention that Takeaway is not a prog album. Far from it actually. So why review it on DPRP you ask? Well, if you are a prog fan unfamiliar with his name, you are likely aware of some of Richard Palmer-James' previous work. Starting as an original member of Supertramp, he later co-wrote material for King Crimson during the amazing years that produced Larks Tongue in Aspic, Starless & Bible Black and Red. He also continued to write and record with John Wetton over the years. In my estimation, if you co-write classics like Starless & Lament, you warrant a place in progressive rock history and on DPRP.
At 69, Palmer-James has released Takeaway, his first full-fledged solo album. Amongst the rock, blues and folk song structues, his story-telling style is presented in abundance. This is one of those albums where you get caught as much in the details of the lyrics, as you do in the music itself. In fact, I found the lyrics to be the most intriquing element of Takeaway. Tracks like Aerodrome, Half Remembered Summer, Saving you from Drowning and the title track, paint lyrical tapestries that are brilliant. Although musically the album can be a tad redundant, it is without doubt a lyricist lover's dream.
Palmer-James' somewhat gruff singing voice lends well to the material and reminds me of similar work by Fish. In some ways, I wish he had been a bit more adventurous musically, but the album's laid-back feel is definitely consistent. Overall, Takeaway is filled with smart, straighforward rock that should rightfully find an audience. If the lack of prog elements alienates you from it, recommend the album to a friend who loves blues rock. They will find a lot to like about it. The score above is based on a rock music judgement, not a prog one.
Kingdom Of Dream (17:49), Short Jazzing Expression (3:12), March Of A Dying Beauty (4:37), Waves (7:49), Source Of Confusion (7:22), Strange Images (10:44), Closed Within (6:06)
Thrilos is a long-lost Polish progressive rock band that few of you will ever have heard of.
Back in 1997 they had finished their debut album Kingdom Of Dream, and with a record deal in place, they were ready to thrill us. Unfortunately the record company suffered a last minute change of heart and cancelled the deal. Thus for almost 20 years Kingdom Of Dream merely gathered dust on the shelves, until Lynx Records heard about this sad story. So two decades after finishing their debut record, it is finally released.
To appreciate this album it helps if you know this story. You can then place what you hear into the picture of the progressive music scene of its time. Thrilos is/was Katarzyna Sroka (violin), Barbara Glowoc (flute), Adam Berda (vocals, guitars), Stanislaw Sroka (guitars), Dariusz Plachetka (keyboards), Marcin Tomaszewski (bass) and Karol Papala (drums).
The album opens with a bold statement of intent. The near 18-minute title track builds slowly and beautifully from modest keyboard lines, to guitar and then a flowing flute. The tension grows as each of these instruments, plus the drums, slowly develop and build their melodic lines to fill the gaps. Subtle changes to the mood and rhythm maintain the interest. The song is mainly instrumental, with vocals in the final third. This has many of the elements that characterise post-rock today, albeit with a more folksy, as opposed to rock, intent. This is the best song on the album.
As the title suggests, Short Jazzing Expression is exactly that. Featuring some clever twin guitar/flute soling and swathes of keyboards, this is an enjoyable intermezzo, which together with the opening track, places all of the band's influences on the table.
The rest of the album mixes up these folk, atmospheric prog and jazz influences, with the guitars, flutes and violin taking turns to accompany the keyboards. It is all very pleasantly consistent. It never gets too adventurous and keeps itself confined to a moderate, pedestrian pace. The weakest point is the vocals. Adam Berda does not have a bad voice but it is heavily accented and very muddled in the mix. He sings in English but it is very hard to make out any words. Like his notes, they tend to murmur into one another.
So top marks to Lynx Music for uncovering a genuine lost disc, as Thrilos deserve to have this album finally released. For fans of Satellite (for the atmospherics and guitar) and Believe (for the use of the violin) this is worth a listen, especially the excellent opening track.