In 2021, we unveiled a major redesign and update of the DPRP website.
As you will appreciate, a lot has changed in web-design since the site was created 26 years ago. The new look has meant that some of our older articles and features, no longer fit the new format.
Whilst 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.
This first series is taken from 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 is being re-published over five editions. This is the third edition. Additional reporting and editing by Andy Read.
Le Orme — Live In Pennsylvania
In my eternal prog rock quest, in the late 80s I stumbled upon very positive reviews about Le Orme and their early 70s albums in the mail-order catalogues of Musea (France) and Syn-Phonic and Laser's Edge (USA). I decided to order the albums Felona E Sorona, Collage, and Uomo Di Pezza. During my first listening session I was delighted about Le Orme's music and it'is still my favourite classic Italian prog band.
I compare Le Orme to the captivating sound of Gabriel-era Genesis and early King Crimson because of the stunning blend of (as Edward Macan describes in his excellent book Rocking The Classics) feminine (warm and mellow) and masculine (more aggressive and bombastic) elements. On one hand we have the pleasant vocals, acoustic guitar, sitar and Mellotron, and on the other hand there is the fiery electric guitar and sumptuous sound of Hammond organ and Moog synthesizer.
In 2005, Le Orme was invited to perform at the annual NEARfest in the USA in order to present their new line-up (including original members Aldo Tagliapietra and Michi Di Rossi) and their latest album L'Infinito (2004). It turned out to be a legendary gig, with Le Orme at their peak and an awesome set-list! Here's my review about their DVD. t has the same track-list as can be found on the double CD.
Le Orme starts with five songs from L'Infinito, then the instrumental Il Tuono E La Luce featuring majestic choir-Mellotron samples and then propulsive drum beats, fiery guitar and intense guitar runs on a 'keytar' and the musical brainchild Aldo on a wonderful double-neck (all in mesmerising blue light). La Voce Del Silenzio with howling guitar and beautiful work on piano and Hammond, is followed by the dreamy Shanti.
The very compelling and impressive title-track offers great classical orchestrations, a choir-Mellotron and fat synthesizer flights. We have Aldo on the sitar in La Ruota Del Cielo before Le Orme starts to play songs from their early 70s albums.
Una Dolcezza Nuova (bombastic church organ intro, followed by lush Hammond along varied piano play and warm vocals), Gioco Di Bimba has Aldo on the 12-string guitar of his double-neck and there is a breathtaking version of the mainly instrumental La Porta Chiusa from Uomo Di Pezza (1972) with exciting, bombastic keyboards with Hammond, Moog and church organ).
Cemento Armato from Collage (1971) is loaded with excellent solos on violin, keytar and Hammond and the absolute highlight of this evening, the complete version (nine parts) of the mind-bowing epic Felona E Sorona. We are carried away to a prog heaven with a wide range of captivating and shifting moods, wonderful keyboard work and a splendid grand finalé.
My euphoric conclusion is that this is outstanding thanks to very inspired musicians (with the dual-keyboards as the musical focus), a thrilling tracking-list, a beautiful light-show, several camera positions (even some multi-screen) and a good sound quality. Highly recommended!
Tracing their history back to 1966, Le Orme are generally regarded as one of the premier Italian prog-rock bands. Their final album, La via della seta was released in 2011. This Live In Pennsylvania album was also released as a double vinyl version a year later and re-released in a 2CD version in Japan a decade later.
Owing to the fact that most albums by Le Orme came out before DPRP was created, we have only previously reviewed one of their albums, the 2011 re-release of their 1973 album Felona e Sorona.
Malibran — 10 Anni In Concerto
In the early 90s I bought the LP The Wood of Tales (from 1991) after I had read a positive review. I was delighted about the long track A pyrimid's street featuring hints from Jethro Tull and an ethnic touch. Since then I follow this fine Italian band that showed a more early Marillion influence on their next albums.
This lengthy DVD is a very comprehensive musical overview on their career spanning the period between 1988 and 1999. You can divide Malibran 10 anni in concerto into three parts.
The first part contains live recordings from the second half of the 90s. Remarkable is the powerful, tight and enthusiastic approach by the band showing that live on stage is where Maliban is at its best. On Pyramid's Street we have great shifting moods (from dreamy with flute, twanging guitars and mellow organ, to a propulsive rhythm with Eastern-inspired flute work) whilst in Prelude there is classical interplay between flute and guitar and a Ritchie Blackmore-like guitar solo (between classic and heavy metal).
Most of the other live tracks deliver powerful and sensitive guitar solos from the two guitar players, some nice work on the keyboards, a dynamic and adventurous rhythm-section (especially the bass player) and swirling flute play (often Thijs van Leer inspired).
The second parts features Malibran on TV specials, mainly playback, on one moment the flute player starts the solo too early!
The final part contains amateur live video shots, a bit bootleggy but worth watching because it showcases the enthusiastic performances from Malibran on stage featuring the funny stage antics from the flute player with his 'air-playing' on his flute during several guitar solos and at one moment he takes one of the guitarists on his shoulders! One of the highlights is Le porte del silenzio; a very compelling but short rendition in the vein of early Marillion.
You can argue about the value of the TV specials and the (bootleg) amateur shots, but in my opinion this DVD is almost worth buying because of the first part (almost an hour) featuring the exciting sound and vision of Maliban on stage!
Founded in Sicily in 1987, Malibran are still around playing occasional live gigs. This is the first time we have featured this sextet on DPRP, which is a shame because we are sure that their dynamic symphonic prog sound featuring two guitarists and a sax/flute player, will appeal to many readers. Since The Wood Of Tales they released three other full-band studio albums, ending with Oltre l'ignoto in 2001.
This live compilation was first released on VHS around 1999 with the same track-listing. There is also a CD version from 2000 but with fewer tracks.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band — Unearthed (The Best Of 1973 – 2005)
I have been waiting for this DVD since the format was invented! Finally live footage from the 70s and 80s where we can enjoy the singers who joined MMEB during those years, from Mick Rogers (great effort in Father Of Day, Father Of Night) and Chris Thompson (very distinctive during the 'classic' Davy's On The Road Again) to Steve Waller (with talk-box in Don't Kill It Carol) and Noel McCalla (very inspired in Mighty Quinn).
It's fun to watch the playback performance in the 70s Top Of The Pops TV footage like Blinded By The Light (including wobbly keyboards). This DVD also contains interesting video promo clips like Sikelele (about Manfred's home country South Africa) and Davy's On The Road Again (1978). But halfway it becomes a bit too polished and predictable for me, with compositions like Lies Through The 80s, Do Anything You Wanna Do and For You.
This is no problem because then we can enjoy very exciting live footage from the Swedish TV (1973/1974). We have Black & Blue (a kind of progressive blues featuring a sensational, pitch-bend-driven Minimoog solo), Father Of Day, Father Of Night (very dynamic and compelling with strong drumming, guitar-work and Hammond play) and Martha's Madmann (first a funny but a bit gruesome cartoon about a man with a beard and an axe, then it starts to swing and Manfred delivers a very spectacular Minimoog solo, accompanied by a propulsive rhythm-section, the MMEB trademark!).
The final track is Manfred Mann with his 1968 UK number 1 hit entitled Mighty Quinn (first swinging, boogie-woogie piano work, then a fiery guitar solo, culminating in the band playing Smoke On The Water, everybody freaks out). Also worth experiencing are the "cartoon" tracks like Fritz The Blank with an old man buying more and more cans of 'Instant Sex'. I remember this very well because I have seen the Angel Station tour in 1979 when MMEB performed this cartoon while playing a great instrumental tune.
In my memory Manfred Mann is 'the master on the Minimoog', you can watch lots of spectacular solos on this exciting DVD. The 16-page booklet contains information about every song, including the line-ups.
Formed in 1971, Manfred Mann and hs Earth Band were still performing with a 2022 tour in Europe. Of their 15 studio albums and three live albums they have been reviewed three times on DPRP.
Medina Azahara — En Gira (Live 2000)
This is the second DVD release by Medina Azahara, the popular heavy progressive rock band from Spain, this time from a concert in 2000. If I compare it to the other DVD entitled En Concierto, I am sure this DVD will appeal more to prog-heads, although most songs are tasteful mainstream rock featuring strong, harder-edged guitar-work (with echoes of Blackmore and Vai) and functional keyboard playing (some solos on organ and synthesizers).
The rhythm-section sounds very tight and propulsive, the huge blond lead singer has a very warm and often emotional stage performance. The light show is beautiful (including pyrotechnics) and the crowd reacts enthusiastically to the music, often due to singer Manuel who runs around in search of contact with the fans in the way of David Byron and Mick Jagger, but less theatrically and less self-indulgent.
The best moments on this DVD are the harder-edged renditions from the Triana songs Abre La Puerta (great vocals) and El Lago (emotional community singing), the exciting guitar/keyboard solo-duel, the wonderful ballad Otono, the flamenco-inspired Paseando Por La Mezquita. The final track, A Toda Ese Gente, is a warm goodbye from a very tight and enthusiastic band that is still alive and kicking after 25 years!
Formed more than 40 years ago, Medina Azahara are very much still in action, having released six albums in the past decade and still touring in front of big crowds across Spain. There is more info on this band in Erik's Prog-Andaluz feature.
Various Artists — MoogFest - 2006 LIVE
For me the Moog synthesizer is one of the essential instruments in the classic prog-rock sound, just like the Mellotron, Hammond organ and Moog Taurus bass pedal.
Pictures At An Exhibition by ELP was the first time I heard that fat and powerful synthesizer sound, produced by Keith Emerson on the mighty modular Moog. But it was Rick Wakeman with his dazzling flights on the unsurpassed Minimoog (featuring a patented 3-oscillators system) that really blew me away. I also loved its futuristic shape; a wooden structure and a turning panel with lots of 'magical' knobs. How excited I was to play one, at the home of Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen in 1996 during an interview just before his album Actual Fantasy was released). I was allowed to "touch" his Minimoog and I will never forget how exciting it was to create that mighty Minimoog sound and to use the pitch-bend button.
And during a visit to the home of a Dutch Moog fan I got the opportunity to "play" (I only know a few chords) on a Minimoog, Memorymoog and the spectacular Ribbon Controller; then I realised what a great invention the Moog synthesizer was.
And that's exactly what the keyboard players recall during the introductions of the compositions on ths DVD. From "a whole new voice" to "for the first time you could challenge the guitarist", they are all so thrilled and dedicated. For me, it was moving to hear those very positive words because I am such a vintage keyboard freak, and all those famous musicians are talking as if they are in a huge toy shop; so grateful and happy!
This 2006 Moogfest edition contains performances by Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment), Keith Emerson (The Nice, ELP), Jan Hammer (The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck), Bernie Worrell (P-Funk), Roger O'Donnell (The Cure), The Mahavishnu Project and DJ Logic. Not every artist or song is 'my cup of tea' but they all deliver inspired contributions and you can notice the joy and excitement.
Jordan Rudess was playing on the new monophonic and analogue Moog synthesizer named Little Phatty (it points at the fact that the Hip Hop world often used the fat Moog synthesizer sound) in a very spectacular way, ranging from very fat sounds, to sensational use of the pitchbend button that sounds like a tribute to Jan Hammer. Not strange, because in the late 80s Jordan had founded a trio with Jan Hammer and Tony Williams.
And how exciting that Jan Hammer also appeared on the Moogfest 2006, with the outstanding The Mahavishnu Project. First, this band performed a Mahavishnu Orchestra medley (Meeting of the Spirits/The Dance of Maya), then they were joined by the legendary and very popular Jan Hammer. I am delighted about his work on the Little Phatty Moog (lots of flashy solos) and the renditions of the Jeff Beck-era songs Blue Wind and Led Boots where he freaks out with a sensational pitch-bend-driven, wah-wah-like sound on the Korg synthesizer. (On the albums he had to compete with Jeff Beck and his powerful and often distorted guitar sound!). That's a bit ironical because Keith Emerson, as Rick Wakeman did, left the Moog synthesizer when they got endorsements from the Japanese company Korg.
The final artist is the one who epitomises the Moog synthesizer sound in progressive rock: Keith Emerson. With his powerful and energetic band he delivers great renditions of Living Sin (exciting harder-edged guitar-work), Lucky Man (wonderful blend of guitar and synthesizer) and especially Tarkus with some mind-blowing runs on synthesizer, organ and piano in lots of very dynamic and swirling climates.
It's awesome to watch Keith Emerson playing on the huge modular synthesizer, evoking the good old times of Pictures At An Exhibition and Brain Salad Surgery. It is prog-rock magic!
A DVD not to be missed by any Moog freak!!