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Red Sedan Special & Competition


It most have been about 10 months ago when I first heared from Red. As so many other bands and artists he sent us a copy of his first CD. I was blown away by this stunning debut album called Sandstone, but at the same time I was horrified by the terrible quality of the recording. At the time I wrote a review of Sandstone which never got published because it turned out that the CD was not publically available. Red had decided to refrain from releasing it independantly and would instead use it as a demo to convince a label to give him the budget for a proper recording. Since DPRP only wants to review material that is actually available to the readers for purchase, we refrained from mentioning the CD at all in our CD Review column.

A lot has happened since. Red got back together with his buddy Steve McGregor and has been working on a new project for the past year. The concept album that was the result was initially called 'Nemesis', but they decided to change it into 'Rock's Colliding' because some people didn't find 'Nemesis' very original.
As for the band name, the nam 'Red Alert' had to be dropped as well since there was already a band operating under the same name. Instead the project will be released under the name Sedan & McGregor. Red: "I mean, why not ! It's a new band anyway, so it doesn't really matter what name you give it because you have to start building awareness from scratch !".

In the beginning of March I received a package including a CDR, some documents and a colour repro of the albums artwork. Being rather curious about the result I immediately put on the disc. I was totally speechless. Let me just say that as a member of the DPRP team I am proud to present new talent that might well gain the same status as Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis or Marillion. Rock's Colliding is a masterpiece that would not be out of place as the Y2K record in our 'Counting Out Time' column.

When I sent Red my first reaction he was delighted and after a quick chat with Steve he decided to make 50 copies of the album available to DPRP, together with 25 CDR versions of his solo debut to give away as extras !
So, here it is, the Red Sedan special and Rock's Colliding competition. Read on and maybe you will win one of these works of art !

What you'll find below is a brief background history on Red, reviews of Sandstone and Rock's Colliding and the competition. Let's start at the very beginning .....

Who is Red ?

Red was born in 1974. His parents, mother a classical violin player and father a construction supervisor, named their son after the King Krimson album that was released a couple of weeks before Red's birth. His parents love for progressive rock music (King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, etc) and the constant violin rehearsals of his mother Red was taken along to, rubbed off on their little boy. At the age of 5 they gave him his own violin, but Red didn't seem to be interested in any instrument which was played above the shoulders. He therefore switched to acoustic guitar and by the age of 12 he had learned to play guitar, bass and drums.

During his teens Red played in various bands in the Manchester/Birmingham area, among which The Grasshoppers (a reggea band experimenting with soft drugs) and Death Do Us Part (a heavy metal formation). Red's will to play with these extremely different musical styles proves his open-minded view on music. In the end however, he left these bands because he wanted to play more progressive rock styles and wanted to participate more in the writing process.

When Red met Steve McGregor from Inverness at a musicians convention in 1994 they became close friends and started jamming on a regular basis. Steve played in prog-metal band Bitten By Bats, who released an album called Undertaker in the mid nineties. The album featured the marvellous Music from the Spheres epic, as well as a track called Blinded by the Moon that ended up on various compilation albums.
Initially there were plans for Red to become a member of the band, but owing to personal circumstances Red could not find the time to participate in the recording sessions for the album. Nevetherless, bits from the McGregor/Sedan jam sessions ended up in Music from the Spheres and Red even got a writing credit for that song.

In the period 1996-1998 Red composed and recorded songs for his own solo CD, meant to be send to record labels and to convince them to make the budget available for a proper studio recording. The result was Red's debut album Sandstone ....


Red Sedan - Sandstone
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:N/A
Catalogue #:N/A
Year of Release:1998
Time:52:12
Info:E-mail Red Sedan

Tracklist: In the Flesh (regtime) (3.14), Raining Cats and Dogs (5.44), Crawling Chaos (7.56), See if I Care (1.24), Sandstone Silhouettes (11.34), Retain your Sanity (4.09), Gotcha! (8.21), Silhouette Suite (9.30)

The CD opens with a remarkable track. In The Flesh (regtime) is a jazzy reggae version of Pink Floyd's song from 'The Wall'. It sounds rather strange at first but after playing it a couple of times I really started liking it. It's probably some sort of legacy of Red's Grasshopper period.
Raining Cats and Dogs is a bluesy tune with howling guitars and wonderful vocals by Red (he's a damn fine singer !). The middle piece is a rather 'Starless'- like bass break. The use of a Moog synth gives the track a more prog rock feel.

Crawling Chaos is a very experimental instrumental piece that starts with the sound of a bedsheet being torn to pieces. Slowly a very atmospheric and menacing bass comes in and before long the guitar starts a solo that sends shivers down your spine. Steve McGregor plays some weird mellotron on the tune.

See if I Care is a very short track with an enormous list of lyrics. In slightly less than one and a half minute Red sums up all of the major conflicts he's had in his life with his parents, friends and 'the system'. Imagine Billy Joel's 'We didn't start the fire' with just an incredibly fast playing bass guitar. The track ends with the screamed words 'See if I care !'. Personally I could have done without this one.

Sandstone Silhouette is THE highlight of the CD. In about 12 minutes we are taken through 4 musical themes played with the most sincere compassion I have ever heard. The track features a 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond'-like opening, a middle piece that features the venomous style of early Marillion, an intermezzo with the only lyrics of the song and a closing section with an Wurlizer/Sitar duel. Amazing stuff. Steve McGregor plays keys on this track.

Retain Your Sanity is a acoustic guitar ballad about one of Red's former girlfriends who suffered from a weird form of homophobia. Nice but nothing special.
Gotcha! starts with acapella vocals by Red and later goes into the heaviest part of the album featuring killer drums and very high-pitched guitar solos. A bit to much on the hard side for me personally but a great composition nevertheless.

Silhouette Suite is another highlight. As you might expect from the title, there are certain links with Sandstone Silhouette. Both tracks have the same short lyrics and some of the melodies are the same. Basically Red reworked the piece and made the heavy parts very peaceful and the other way around. The Wurlizer solo from the other track is now played on violin by Red's mother ! Wonderful !

The demo CD comes in a little carton sleeve with a black and white cover pasted on the front and the tracklist and credits paste on the back. The CD itself is a home-recorded CD-Rom like we've seen a lot recently at DPRP. The sound quality of the recording is pretty awful and Red hasn't spend a lot of time mixing the thing properly. On the other hand, the quality of the compositions themselves is amazing. It's been years since I've heard arrangements and song structures this daring and adventurous.

Conclusion: 7 out of 10 (with good sound quality and mixing this would have been a 9 !).

Ed


Moulding the Rock

"Ever since the first time I met Steve at a Bitten by Bats gig, we've been toying with the idea of doing a concept album together", explains Red. "Initially I had planned to join his band but that never really came to be. If I would have participated, one of the albums by Bitten by Bats would have been a concept album. The only thing that was left of the various ideas we had was the track Music of the Spheres of which both Steve and I are still very proud."

Steve McGregor: "It must have been around July last year. I was taking a nap in the garden - it was great weather - when I was woken by my mobile. It was Red. He was completely berserk and kept on raving about this marvellous idea he had. He had written this whole story about a comet that was heading towards the earth. The whole thing seemed to be inspired by a couple of 'disaster movies' he had rented. Although it sounded pretty daft Red had actually given a nice twist to the story by combining it with the plot of a short tale by horror writer Ramsey Campbell. In the concerned tale a similar asteriod, comet or whatever turns out to be a living being !"

"It took a while to convince Steve, especially since my quest to find a record label willing to re-record and release Sandstone had proven to be unsuccesful so far", said Red. "Steve liked the idea but we lacked the funds to finance it and we might end up with a great album that nobody wanted to put on the market. We let the idea lie for a couple of days until something amazing happened. My grandfather passed away after a long lasting period of a rare disease he had brought back with him from a trip to Africa. It was a rather sad time, especially since I was very close with him. Grandfather was always the one that supported me most in my musical career. He once told me that he admired my courage; he'd also wanted to be a musician when he was young, but he never dared and it was something that was just 'not done' in his childhood. Grandfather was delighted when dad brought a beautiful violin player home as his girlfriend."

"And then one day Red called me again", continues Steve. "I could hardly calm him down and he kept on yelling "I've got the money Steve ! I've got the money !". Turns out his grandfather, a rather wealthy guy, who died a couple of weeks prior to that, had left part of his money to Red, under the condition that his grandson would use it to record and independantly release his very first professional record !"

Fall 1999 saw Red and Steve getting together to write the music and lyrics for what at that time was still called 'Nemesis'. They settled in a little castle in Scotland that had been one of granddad's properties (this probably inspired the track Heading for the Hills). Writing went extremely well and in December 1999 they returned to the midlands with a 50 minute concept, featuring 9 tracks.
Red's mother, who had been part of several recording sessions with the London Philharmonic, recommended the Abbey Road studios in London, which were booked for an extensive period in January and February. At the same time they attracted US artist John T. Snyder to do the cover artwork for them.
Besides several guest musicians (see the review below) the recording sessions also featured the full Philharmonic Orchestra, which had been working with Red's mother for several weeks on the final piece of the album, a re-written version of Sandstone Silhouette, complete with new lyrics.

In March 1999 the mixing of the album, which had been re-named Rock's Colliding, a pun on the album topic and the musical style, was finsihed. It should be widely available later this month. DPRP received an advance copy and is proud to present you the first review of and album that will change the future of prog ....


Sedan & McGregor - Rock's Colliding
Country of Origin:UK
Format:CD
Record Label:Nemesis Records
Catalogue #:NEM001
Year of Release:2000
Time:51:29
Info:E-mail Red Sedan
Tracklist: Galactic Static (0.25), Panic on Broadway (4.56), A Mind's View I (1.23), Evacuation (11.43), A Mind's View II (2.12), Heading for the Hills (6.21), A Mind's View III (3.26), The Other Side of the Mirror (4.29), The Eye of the Comet (16.34)

The first thing that I noticed about Rock's Colliding is the cover. Besides the wonderful illustration of one of the scenes from the story it does not feature any album title or the names of McGregor & Sedan. Quite daring if you ask me. On the other hand, it might increase the curiosity of the people who come across it. According to Red, the two are planning to use stickers on the jewel boxes in case it should become a problem.

The album opens with half a minute of 'space sounds'; Galactic Static. Red and Steve got the noises from a friend that NASA works in a radioscope centre. It creates the same mood as the opening sounds on Pink Floyd's Division Bell. At the end you hear the sound of a large object 'wooshing' by, immediately followed by a TV Newsflash in which the newsman announces that a large comet has been detected and is heading straight for the Earth.

Thus begins Panic on Broadway, an uptempo song capturing the fear and chaos caused by the news announcement. Red: "I'm not sure why I picked Broadway as the scene of the song. I just had this mental picture of all the big theaters bursting open and a big stream of screaming people coming out. In a way it doesn't really make sense, but on the other hand it's a nice contrast from the normal situation. I could have picked Wall Street or Picadilly Circus just as easily. The rest of the story was just written around the Broadway concept."
The song is a real rocker with a blistering guitar solo by Red and a Moog solo by Steve. An amazing opening that sets a perfect mood for what's to come.

The album features three parts of A Mind's View, which are used to switch the story to another location or person. In the first part, a short ballad, we hear how a Broadway actrice thinks of her young child back home in England. Seemingly the experts cannot agree on the place where the comet will hit the earth and the scared mother fears the death of her daughter. The piano playing and guest vocals by Steve's girlfriend Julie make this a very emotional little piece that brings tears to your eyes.

The story switches to the perspective of a young girl in London (the actrice's daughter). Through her innocent and naive eyes we see how London gets evacuated because the chances of the comet hitting the earth are 75% in that area. This long track features a long heavy middle piece that again captures the mood of panic and chaos and features some themes from the Broadway song. In the second half a bass solo by Grasshopper bass player Malcolm Leigh and a poem recited by Red, as read from the girls diary, form beautiful variations.

A man called Steve is one of the people that coordinate the evacuation and he has taken the little girl under his wing. In A Mind's View II he thinks of his love, who's spending some time in the Scottish Highlands. Seemingly caused by the cosmic waves of the comet the cattle in the north of the UK has turned against the humans and he wonders how she's doing up there. The song features the same melody as in part one, but is more uptempo this time. Interestingly enough the last two lines are sung by Steve and the Broadway actrice together.

Heading for the Hills finds us in Scotland where the population is on the run for the wildlife and cattle that has turned against them. They try to take refuge in a castle on a hill. This song is very folky and doesn't hide McGregor's background. It features all kind of flutes, bagpipes, weird pounding drums and has the mood of an ongoing chase. Great stuff !

Interestingly enough the third part of A Mind's View is sung by the 'inner thoughts' of a dog. The pet, that in a strange fit of madness attacked his owner, suddenly realises what he has done. He also gets a flashback from one of his early ancesters, a wolf. The song continues with reprises of Steve and the actrice and returns to the dressing room of the actrice several minutes before the news announcement. All in all a strange place & time shift.
The track itself features a heavy first part (dog to wolf) with a guitar solo by Michael Jones, the guitarist from Death Do Us Part and an acapalla ending.

In The Other Side of the Mirror we go back to the past of the actrice and find out that her father was a wizard that predicted this event. As a young girl her father had shown her a magic mirror in which she had seen herself years later in the dressing room on Broadway. This sounds rather strange, but it becomes an important part of the plot of the story. The song itself is a very catchy and melodic piece that would not have been out of place on an Alan Parsons album. Martin Johnson from Grasshoppers plays a saxophone solo on this track.

And then the finally, The Eye of the Comet. Without spoiling the plot for you, I can tell you that the comet turns out to be something that's not comet at all and a crash into new York (not London as predicted) is foiled by the main characters of the previous songs, that seem to have a weird psychic bond.
Eye of the Storm is a marvellously re-written version of Sandstone Silhouette from Red's debut demo. The Wurlizer/Sitar deut and violin solo by Red's mother are still present, but the whole piece is enhanced by a wonderful backing performance of the Philharmonic Orchestra. This track left me gasping for breath. It's been years since I heard something this beautiful !

The booklet contains more wonderful artwork by Snyder, as well as the lyrics and a brief summary of the story. The inside of the inlay behind the transparent tray shows a stunning piece picturing the title of the last track. All in all this is a very well packaged CD !

A marvellous piece of work ! This one will go down in history as one of the classics in prog. I would be highly surprised if any other disc will surpass it this year. I can therefore predict that this will become the Year 2000 choice for Counting Out Time. It certainly wouldn't be out of place between the masterworks of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, Marillion and IQ ! Everybody just has to buy this. Your prog collection is not complete without it !

Conclusion: 9.5 out of 10.

Ed


Competition

We are raffling 50 copies of Rock's Colliding among the participants of this competition. And that's not all. Half of the winners will also get a copy of Sandstone, Red's debut album. Be one of the first people to hear a revolutionary album that will go down in history as one of the all-time prog classics !

To have a chance on winning one or even two CDs, just answer the following simple questions and hit the 'Send to DPRP' button.

Name



E-mail address



Which Bitten by Bats song did Steve and Red compose together ?



Martin Johnson plays sax on Rock's Colliding. In what band did he 
also play ?



In what studio was Rock's Colliding recorded ?


To read the story behind this special, click here.

Success !

 

 


1999 - Dutch Progressive Rock Page