Last year, DPRP celebrated 25 years of bringing you reviews of progressive music from around the world. This summer (2021) we unveiled a major redesign and update of the website.
As you will appreciate, a lot has changed in web-design over the past decades. The new-look has meant that some of our older articles and features, no longer fit the new format, and need to be re-styled. In a few cases, like the one below, older articles got really lost when they were no longer linked to after an index page was incorrectly rewritten. This warrants not just a re-styled reinstatement, but a proper re-publication.
While we shall always prioritise our coverage of modern progressive releases, we appreciate that many readers are also keen to (re)discover music from by-gone times. Thus, over the coming years we shall be (re)publishing some of these "lost" features; those that we feel highlight albums ("hidden gems") that readers will enjoy.
To begin, we have taken a major feature on progressive rock DVDs, first published by DPRP back in 2008. Originally written by Erik Neuteboom, we have updated the information on each band and added links to videos and other DPRP album reviews that were unavailable at the time. The feature will be re-published over five editions. Additional reporting and editing by Andy Read.
After Crying — Live [DVD]
Halfway through the 90s I had my first musical encounter with the unique Hungarian formation After Crying when I got their album De Profundis as a promo CD while working for the Dutch prog-rock paper Background Magazine. To me this is their most captivating prog rock effort since their debut album Overground Music from 1990. A few years ago I witnessed a concert in The Netherlands (only 60 spectators, what a shame!). The lion's share of the track-list can be found on this live DVD, taken from a Periferic Music Festival in the Hungarian capital Budapest, during late 2004.
After Crying's sound is not very accessible. You have to be up for a blend of classical, prog-like 70s King Crimson and ELP and the frequent explorations of avant-garde and experimental styles; often captivating but also often complex!
The band succeeds in making an impression from the very start thanks to some excellent and versatile musicians and some varied and captivating compositions; all supported by a wonderful light show and a great sound.
I shall highlight a few examples of their exciting and alternating music. There is the fiery guitar, Emersonian keyboards and trumpet in Viaduct, a swirling piece featuring two musicians on one keyboard in Burlesque, a dynamic solo on cello in Stonehenge, a Latin-American atmosphere delivering keyboards, trumpet and strong solos on keyboards and guitar in the swinging Life Must Go On, and a great duel between cello and guitar in Cello-Guitar Duet, followed by short compositions that contain solos on piano, drums and trumpet.
At least half of the track-list features the pleasant Hungarian voice of Zoltan Batky-Valentin (via the menu you can subtitle it into English). His vocals fit perfectly to the sound of After Crying.
Again, this is not very easy music to experience (for me sometimes a bit too avant-garde and experimental) but in general I was carried away by this After Crying live performance!
Fact-file: After Crying was established in 1986 and released seven studio albums and four live efforts between 1990 and 2011. An ensemble of ever-changing personnel, they utilised instruments ranging from classical acoustical instruments like cello, trumpet, piano, flute to the instruments of a modern rock band. DPRP has previously reviewed their sixth album Show released in 2003.
Ange — Le Tour De La Question [CD/DVD]
The seminal French formation Ange was the first foreign (non-UK) prog-rock band I discovered in the second half of the 70s, due to the fact that their albums were available on the Dutch Phillips label. I bought their outstanding double live album Tome VI (1977) in the London record store Virgin. It's still one of my favourite French prog albums; what an unique and often compelling sound!
A few years ago a small prog-rock dream came true when Ange toured in Holland, the first time in 30 years. And it turned out to be in De Boerderij in Zoetermeer; 10 miles away from my home. How lucky I was! During that concert I was impressed by the fresh and powerful renditions of the 'classic' compositions, the tight and enthusiastic band, the awesome stage performance by frontman and prime mover Christian Decamps and, last but not least, the varied and modern sound of the modern-day new Ange.
I had expected a kind of symphonic prog dinosaur, but this new and inspired Ange line-up blew me away. In 2005 Ange released a new studio-album entitled ?, it was followed by a tour. This digipack CD/DVD contains a concert in Belgium from that tour. The 11 songs from the CD are also on the DVD (19 songs, including two bonus-tracks) so I focus on the DVD in this review.
For me, it's obvious that they enjoy playing the music, and they seem honoured to support the charismatic French prog-rock legend Christian Decamps. The light show is great, with lots of colours and inventive ideas. The songs sound varied and modern: from acoustic rhythm guitar with warm vocals (Ricochets and Le Ballon De Billy), to jazzy (Histoire D'Outre Rêve with father and son on keyboards), funky (Vu D'Un Chien), or sultry (Jour Après Jour). For Harmonie Christian and his son Tristan deliver a wonderful, very mellow piece on keyboards and vocals.
Of course Ange is rock-theatre. During Vu D'Un Chien we can enjoy a funny scene when Christian is walking with a bone in his mouth and he pulls the female singer Caroline on a chain behind him around the stage (opposite 'human-dog' roles). In Le Coeur A Corps both Christian and Caroline are hidden behind a curtain, they act to be shy, very funny again!
My highlights are the propulsive Fils De Lumière (including a fiery guitar solo with the Chuck Berry 'duckstep', a swinging bass solo with some 'slapping', and a cheerful drum solo), Le Chien, La Poubelle Et La Rose (dynamic with dual-vocals and a spectacular synthesizer with pitchbend-guitar duel, and the breathtaking Captaine Coeur De Miel (my favourite Ange composition), extended to almost 20 minutes. Christian is dressed as a captain with a walking stick and wine bottle and the guitar player delivers lots of fiery and biting solos. In the final part he plays a very sensitive and compelling solo, supported by bombastic keyboards and a super-enthusiastic Christian. This is Prog-heaven and everybody freaks out, goosebumps!
Fact-file: Ange (English: Angel) was formed in 1969 by the Décamps brothers, Francis (keyboards) and Christian (vocals, accordion, acoustic guitar and keyboards). Francis left the band in the 90s, since when Christian has led Ange in various line-ups. Ange have released over 20 studio albums with many more live albums, especially those released by their French fan club. DPRP has previously reviewed one of these, Live Tour 2003-2004 Par Les Fils De Mandrin. The band is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary with a tour across France.
Apocalypse — Live In Rio [CD/DVD]
After releasing the CD entitled Live In Rio (2005), here's the DVD version from this interesting Brazilian five-piece band. The DVD contains the same track list as the CD plus two bonus tracks.
The concert starts with Floydian-inspired guitar work, but then it's mainly early Marillion as the main source of inspiration, especially in the way that the English vocals are mighty close to Fish's distinctive vocals as in the songs Cut and Tears. Most tracks sound fluent and catchy, featuring a strong rhythm-section, lots of flashy Minimoog flights and powerful guitar-play with many howling licks.
I am impressed by the musicians and the tasteful and dynamic compositions, but some songs tend to sound a bit too similar. My highlights are Refugee (wonderful flute play, sparkling keyboards, powerful Hammond organ and expressive vocals), Waterfall Of Golden Waters (pleasant work on Hammond organ and Minimoog), Tears (alternating with a beautiful intro featuring twanging guitars and choir-Mellotron and flashy synthesizers and fiery guitar) and Coming From The Stars Medley (from compelling to propulsive with howling guitar, again strong work on Hammond and Moog and a warm band presentation).
So what about the DVD? Well, it's nice (and sometimes a bit hilarious) to watch the singer (he also plays decent flute) who is so obviously inspired by Fish. His voice, his gestures, a black-and-white mask, his enthusiastic attitude and his warm interaction with the crowd, this man looks like the Brazilian twin-brother of the huge Scottish neo-prog hero. The light show and sound are OK and Apocalypse look inspired and playing with their soul. The extras on the DVD are backstage shots, an interview (via the menu you can use the program for English subtitling), a photo gallery, a biography and finally a discography.
If you want to watch a pleasant DVD by a lesser-known neo-prog band, then this is one to discover!
Fact-file: Formed in 1983, Apocalypse released six studio albums between 1991 and 2011. DPRP reviewed their fifth album Refugio in 2003, as well as the all-encompassing The 25th Anniversary Box Set in 2011. A "best of" compilation released in 1998 provides a good summary of their first four albums.
The band has been inactive for the past decade, although a few concerts were announced. However, main composer and keyboard player Eloy Fritsch has continued with a solo career playing new age / ambient music (amongst many other things). We reviewed his 15th release, Cosmic Light, earlier this year.
Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso — In Concerto: Cio’ che si vede è [DVD]
This is a concert from a Banco reunion tour in 1992. The line-up includes four original members. The crowd is very enthusiastic, and no wonder, because Banco plays an inspired set, featuring lots of 'classics'.
This DVD is not a pure concert because at some moments black-and-white images are shown (from nature to short early 70s live footage). On one hand hand this creates a special atmosphere, on the other hand it's sometimes a bit distracting.
The first track, Il Volo contains black-and-white images from the soundcheck. Then, in colour, we can enjoy the song R.I.P. that shows singer Francesco Di Giacomo to have an impressive, very warm voice. The crowd goes wild. The second part evokes goose bumps when Francesco sings a bit melancholic, supported by compelling piano.
The next composition, L'Evoluzione, starts with sumptuous keyboards, followed by a swinging rhythm, delivering swirling keyboards in the vein of Keith Emerson (Works-era). Moby Dick is an ultra-sweet ballad from the later, more commercial period. The long and alternating track, Il Giardino Del Mago includes terrific interplay, vocal harmonies, a wonderful intermezzo with classical piano and often Keith Emerson-like keyboards, amazing!
Next is 750.00 Anni Fa ... L'Amore, a captivating composition featuring sparkling keyboards. It is a warm piece with warm vocals and piano; again goosebumps. The final song is the catchy Non Mi Rompete, it contains more fabulous interplay, this time with acoustic guitar and electric piano.
At the end all kinds of figures from the famous Venetian carnival enter the stage, what a splendid and spectacular conclusion from a magnificent performance by these skilful veterans. A monumental DVD!
Fact-file: Banco del Mutuo Soccorso (in English: Bank Of Mutual Relief) are often referred to as one of the Big Three of Italian progressive rock alongside Le Orme and PFM. Popular in the 1970s, they continued making music in the 1980s and 1990s, for a while with the shortened name of Banco. Their charismatic frontman, Francesco Di Giacomo, died in 2014. Many of their 15 studio albums are now hard to find, but DPRP has reviewed two re-issues: Banco and the English version of their sixth album, As In A Last Supper.
After a 20-year break, the band released their most recent album, Transiberiana, in 2019 on the InsideOut label, and are touring.
Various Artists — Burg Herzberg 2005 [DVD]
Did you think the days of Woodstock belong to the past? Did you have the idea that hippies are an anachronism? Well, just watch this DVD and I am sure you will be stunned by the images. It looks like the good old times of festivals like Woodstock, Monterey Pop and Stamping Ground (Kralingen Pop) never went away. So many people who are dressed like hippies, parents playing with their children, a happy, peaceful and unconcerned atmosphere, shops selling coloured chains, native american Indian material and art from Africa and Asia.
And what about the music? These bands performed during four days: Ten Years After, The Love Band, Siena Root, Jane, Tito & Tarantula, Big Brother & The Holding Company, The Amber Lights (from Wiesbaden), Ozric Tentacles, W.I.N.D., IQ and finally Manfred Mann's Earth Band.
In general the level of the bands is good. There is a lot of variety, and both the musicians as the audience enjoyed the very special atmosphere! I will give you my highlights of this DVD.
First, Ten Years After including three original members, unfortunately no Alvin Lee but his 'substitute' Joe Googh does a good job. I love his fiery sound, especially on the final part in King Of The Blues. Here we can enjoy TYA at its best, so dynamic and compelling with a heavy guitar solo and a swinging boogie-woogie piano solo.
Then Jane, they manage to create their legendary 'symphonic blues-rock' sound and the crowd is carried away, great to see all those 40+ fans swinging and head-banging. I have to emphasise that guitar player Klaus Walz matches perfectly in Jane with his moving and powerful guitar work alongside Peter Panka and Charly Maucher their distinctive vocals, including the obvious German accent!
A big surprise was the performance by Tito & Tarantula, very passionate blues-rock and it was fun when the singer asked some beautiful and sensual women on stage to dance, soon they were accompanied by two men, an old native USA indian looking man and a quite horny young man who wanted to seduce the two dancing women but in a humorous way that fitted to the great friendly atmosphere on this festival.
The Ozric Tentacles only played one song but it is my favorite: Kick Muck with that mind-blowing wah-wah-drenched guitar lick and a driven synthesizer solo, very exciting ethnic spacerock!
The trio W.I.N.D. delivered hot blues-rock with strong guitar work. Lots of progheads welcomed IQ for an inspired gig, I was blown away by the majestic choir-Mellotron samples blended with moving slide guitar play during Born Brilliant, one of their best post Eighties compositions! The final gig is by Manfred Mann's Earth Band playing Mighty Quinn with fiery and heavy guitar work, we can even enjoy a short tribute to Smoke On The Water.
Although I own most of the described compositions on other DVDs, I am very pleased with the performances on this DVD. They get an extra dimension because of the very special hippie atmosphere on the Burg Herzberg Festival. I hope I can visit this festival one day.