Album Reviews

Issue 2022-061

Blueminded — Break The Silence

Blueminded - Break The Silence
Walk The Line (5:14), We Belong Together (4:37), More Than Meets The Eye (4:11), Fly (4:48), Too Long (5:04), Gerry's Song (7:12), Why (4:27), Follow You (4:05), Can't Wait A Lifetime (4:16), Fall From The Sky (4:19), In Dreams (4:31), Break The Silence (5:11)
Jan Buddenberg

Too give my prog(metal)-minded ears some well deserved rest once in a while I tend to listen to other genres like melodic rock, AOR and occasional pop orientated music. Finer Dutch examples crossing borders between some of these styles are The Hague's For Absent Friends and Morgendust who hail from Zwolle. Blueminded, located in the most southern region of Holland (Limburg) is the latest discovery that falls mid-centre of these "close to the edge" categories.

The origins of the band date back to 2012 when guitarist and composer Jörgen Koenen asked some of his musical friends to finalise and record several of his songs. Their combined efforts leads to an eponymous first EP in 2014. The four tracks included surface again on the subsequent Seize The day from 2016, which next to Koenen sees the return of vocalist Rob Rompen, completed by Franco Millevoi (bass), Loek Aalders (keys) and Sander Korff (drums). Despite many enjoyable songs, with the excellent Journey styled Call On Me as a magnificent AOR highlight, it failed to meet success and Koenen decided to call it a day.

Two years later, in a new line-up that, next to returnees Koenen and Rompen, includes John Eijkenboom (drums), Michiel Hartholt (keys) and Richard Ritterbeeks (bass), Blueminded makes a restart and When Lights Fade sees light of day. In addition to compositional growth, this album shows a more mature and fuller sound with elegance of depth in arrangements designed by this new group of excellent musicians. Slightly less interesting from a prog point of view, due to the higher pop content of the songs, it's still a worthy successor with plenty of beautifully crafted and well-written music. Holding this upward trend firmly in hand the silent period leading up to Blueminded's new album Break The Silence has now been broken, and hears the band delightfully reinstating their elegant prog-values, while simultaneously introducing Björn Koenen (guitars) as their sixth member.

From the moment the album starts, it's evident the band is firmly influenced by pop music from the 80s. Not only in overall accomplished sound which thanks to mastering by Jens Dreessen, who also did Rammstein's recent album Zeit, resonates beautifully transparent with modern crystalline clarity and warmth, but also through era-recognisable elements of Genesis, Sting, Muse, Talk Talk, and Simple Minds. With Jörgen Koenen's guitar sound and bass lines showing a U2 likeness, embraced by new wave elements flowing in a The Fixx manner, the uplifting and catchy Walk The Line thus marks a fine start towards the celebration of these magical years.

This becomes even more cheerful in We Belong Together which will convince Sting to look no further if ever in need for a new backing group to perform The Police songs. Together with the song's dynamic drive, sweetness of backing vocals (Mandy Debruijn, Ron Bormans), happy melodies and a lovely Saga/Marcel Singor twist in its instrumental break, it oozes irresistible radio friendliness and sublime sing-along earworm potential. To a certain extent this is revisited in appealing hit-potential fashion in Can't Wait A lifetime.

These elements actually apply to a variety of songs, most strikingly in the energetically memorable Too Long. If this incredibly catchy and dynamic "I should have written this" Robby Williams composition doesn't set a jam-packed arena aflame through its impressively shout-able "Right Now!" chorus. I don't know what will. Counterweight to this vigorous track one finds the beautiful earthiness of Fly, levitating on pristine bass emotions and warm sensitive vocals that ignite visions of Castanarc, while Tears For Fears also comes to mind thanks to the exceptional musicianship and high level of arrangements.

The wonderful and slow burning intensity of More Than Meets The Eye, uplifting Ten Sharp pop feel of Why, and the atmospheric album closer Break The Silence are delivered with the same sense of pop sophistication and show a magnificent band where every musician constantly serves the song in the most intricate way possible. This attitude gives wings to Fall From The Sky which, next to a symphonic appeal and a wealth of musical interpretation and instrumental embellishments, is highlighted by a richness in alternating melodies played with compelling drive.

The remaining songs prove that Koenen can also write excellent prog-laced songs in addition to all these beautifully varied and entertaining pop songs. In the haunting and mysterious In Dreams this leads to exciting darker neo-progressive atmosphere in which guitar work grabs hold as it peeks shortly into lush corners of IQ's Widows Peak. In addition to the songs immaculate pace and the superb guitar melodies this song is a great example of Rompen's majestic vocals who, blessed with an excellent versatile voice, immerses it with elements of scare and fright then relieves it with reassuring vocals in the song's brilliant awakening chorus.

As an essential part of Blueminded, Rompen binds all songs perfectly together with his voice, navigating his way with a tailor-made vocal uniqueness that delivers all sorts of emotions, passion, melancholy and melodic strength with ease and soothing comfort which is simply stated mesmerising. In the stunningly attractive proggy Follow You, enriched with opulent Rush decorations and a brilliantly enchanting journeying Neal Schon impression from Koenen, this works equal wonders.

Amidst all the aforementioned beauty, one finds the album's pinnacle moment Gerry's Song, which harbours elements of Genesis and a pristine atmospheric build up graced by a luxurious solo from Koenen. Guided along by touching guitar that radiates a divine Enorm (from the Eastern part of my country, for those interested) progressive expression it is especially the song's instrumental symphonic coda that impresses. Building momentum as an overwhelming classically orientated symphonic passage embraces elegant bombast it marks a return to paradise which will meet the approval of those in favour of neo-progressive rock that shares a likeness with Mystery.

In the end Break The Silence is a very welcome and excellently fine-tuned effort filled with lush pop moments, many of which given their own individual and delightful prog-spin that sets them apart from the crowd. A beautifully balanced and thoughtfully designed album, filled with excellent well-written and executed songs, that shows a band in a constant upward motion towards wider deserving recognition. An album I was actually counting on Morgendust to make, but to my surprise Blueminded have.

For those who have a warm heart for Dutch prog music, as well as fans who have a high regard for the vibrant 80s this is a highly recommendable and fully satisfying album worth checking out. Not tomorrow or sometime next week, but Right Now!

Manuel Cardoso — Delirium

Manuel Cardoso - Delirium
Sea Maiden (5:25), The Clown (4:55), The Pain (4:22), Cantata (Of Love And Death) (6:37), Heaven (7:39), Commitment To Love (1:22), Lord Of Doom (3:30), Delirium (6:17), Salutation (5:31), Nostalgia (5:02)
Jan Buddenberg

Manuel Cardoso (aka MC Frodo) is the lead guitarist and founder of the Portuguese symphonic prog group Tantra who during their years of existence, with a period of inactivity, released six to eight albums to date. Or is it five? The sources are unclear. Most recently Cardoso's name is associated with Artnat's The Mirror Effect (Tantra, Artnat, Mirror - see what he did there?), a new band project aimed at prolonging Tantra's sound longevity with a new line-up. A musically complex album that demands time and effort from symphonic/progressive prog endurers, but once invested gives joyous entertainment. A confusing one at times, but still.

Confusion is the word I'd have to use again to describe the various inconsistencies surrounding the promotion of Cardoso's new solo album Delirium. One of those is the fact that the accompanying press statement mentions the release of only five previous Tantra albums (Misterios E Maravilhas, Holocausto, Terra, Live Ritual, The Lost Tapes) which completely erases Humanoid Flesh and the original 2005 Tantra version of Delirium (check out MusicBrainz and Discogs) from existence. To add to the confusion Cardoso's active Bandcamp site, next to adding curiously new track titles, clearly states the band to have ceased in 2004 which is one year prior to Delirium's apparently posthumous first edition?

The front cover as on Bandcamp. Checking various websites for clarification, randomly maintained by Cardoso, proves useless as they are flooded by inactive links or are simply vanished from sight like any of Artnat's websites. And the actual artwork of the album, shared only once on his Facebook page, only adds to the confusion to whether this is a Tantra album. The front cover reads "Manuel Cardoso's Tantra Delirium", while the side of the CD mentions it to be "MC Frodo's Tantra Delirium".

About to throw in the towel, the booklet finally sheds some light, reinstating the existence of Humanoid Flesh, while Cardoso shortly addresses the reasons as to why Delirium's first edition never should have seen light as a Tantra album. In short: it didn't follow Tantra's musical path and standard, although some would argue otherwise. To make a long story short, after rearranging and renaming tracks and partially rerecording guitars, all bass parts and various key and drum parts, Cardoso is now finally happy to share the album as it should have sounded in the first place.

As a concept album that explores "a dreamlike voyage of a being in search of reason and realization, across several of our human existence challenges, passions, hardships and struggles", it sounds perfectly fine and fresh. And for those acquainted with Tantra, it shouldn't be a surprise that the eclectic nature of the music is as challenging and perplexingly unfathomable as the music presented on Artnat's recent The Mirror Effect, minus the various jamming improvisations.

Admittedly, some of Cardoso's vocals are peculiar, turning from alienating and strange into ordinary, finally becoming somewhat pleasant from Heaven onwards. Seeing the vast majority of the material is instrumental this doesn't really affect the musical enjoyment, but it takes some getting used to. Much like the music which takes serious time and effort on the listeners part before it starts to share its secrets.

Some of those lovely secrets are hidden in plain sight, like on Sea Maiden - The Vision, where the astral entrance washes into symphonic galactic oceans of Yes that fizzes with fullness of variety and unexpected twists underneath a magnificent Steve Howe guitar sound. In a way, this song turns back the clock instantly to 1973 if it wasn't for its modern production. The frivolous The Clown continues in much the same manner, twisting and turning at centrifugal speed and showing Tantra at its core with blistering swirly synths and experimental drift, very much in likeness to Tales From Topographic Oceans. The performances of Cardoso and his array of guesting musicians are formidable throughout, as are the songs arrangements, but it's no easy feat to comprehend all that's happening in the song's structure. In the underlying structures¸ more action takes place than some bands will accomplish in a lifetime.

The Pain applies tension and subsequently flows in a more melodic fashion with excellent guitars that changes scenario, as female vocals enter the musical scene and creates a whimsical character that's carried onwards by beautiful guitars from Cardoso. With Cantata (Of Love And Death), the music seems to submerge in calmer waters, but this is only an illusion as it soon turns to Yes and ABWH complexities again, accompanied by fine bass play and eclectic synths.

Heaven shortly revisits these uplifting Yes surroundings and proverbially leaves earth's Gates Of Delirium to enter divine stratospheres. It climbs ever higher with excellent spiritual guitars and choirs occasionally mindful of Anima Mundi. It provides a wonderful resting point on the album as it floats beautifully through magical nebulas of enchanting prog and finally descends into acoustic serenity. After transcending into brief Yes-clouds, it settles down in the intricate romanticisms of the acoustic intermezzo Commitment To Love.

With sultry sax staging a steaming "cinema noir" atmosphere, the hypnotic Lord Of Doom ensures a rapid descent into the corners of the mind. Psychedelic space rock flashes Hawkwind through its many pulsating and invading synths. It marks a final eruption of ritual fragments reminiscent of Yes, when the Delirium slowly transforms it towards feelings of complacency.

Flying through a liquid maze of howling guitar melodies, touching upon David Gilmour's storming technique, it lands in the classically inspired Salutation, which opens up the magnificent closing chapters of Cardoso's concept. Enchanting and cinematic in scope, this well-crafted, compelling piece of music shows a splendid build-up with a lush symphonic feel. At the same time, it manages to ignite nostalgic visions of the Hungarian Omega and Didier Marouani's Paris-France-Transit through its resonating choirs. It grabs the attention effortlessly with mighty guitar work and epic sense. It sails into the impressive and greatly designed Nostalgia, which ends the album in euphoric style.

More or less freed from the initial complexities, Nostalgia reaches into jazz with dreamy melodies, while Cardoso's gracious guitars pave the way towards feelings of liberty, gratification and eternal peace. A marvellous finale to an album that surprisingly keeps on delivering and captivating with each turn.

As with Artnat, this is not your average cup of prog, but once it starts to embrace you as a listener it doesn't let go. You see yourself pouring a refill. Fans of symphonic prog with a perseverance for complex 1970s inspired prog should certainly check this album out, for there's an infinity of ideas and enigmatic musicality awaiting them. Who can resist that?

Dream Vision — Rêves

Dream Vision - Rêves
Le début (2:57), Âme (3:20), Limerence (6:22), Le spectre (3:52), Anxiété (3:17), Ombre (6:30), Voici le dernier jour (7:08)
Calum Gibson

Slovenia has long been a country associated with metal, with the popular Metal Days festival happening there each year (a five-day metal festival in superb surroundings? Been on my bucket list for years). And now, Dream Vision have emerged to bring what they describe as a mix of electronic blackgaze and post-rock, with influences from post-black and depressive black metal. Sounds right up my street!

The short album opens with some melancholy atmospherics and cleans before what can only be described as what I would expect Sonic to work out to enters. I admit I'm slightly at a loss to fully articulate the overall sound and vibe. Limerence has more of a blackgaze / dreampop feel to it, combining the tremolos and lighter sounds similar to Opale by Alcest, as if Neige had been quite depressed and into clubs when he wrote it.

Anxiété starts off the second half of the album, with some repeating electronics overlaid with simplistic bass lines but backed by screams of frustration and despair until again, the last minute brings more of the depressive black metal into the fold with the screamed vocals.

I'm unsure how to describe this album. It is both “funky” and “danceable” and filled with despair and melancholy. I fully applaud the attempt to combine electronic and depressive black metal (two genres I do quite enjoy, albeit the metal more so). But to quote Lazlow from Grand Theft Auto 3, “it's kind of like putting ice cream on pizza; both are great, but they really shouldn't go together”.

Another slight criticism would be there are points where the instrumentation does sound slightly out of time. So could maybe do with a bit of extra proof-listening.

However, if I could say one thing to the individual behind the music it would be that I think you missed the mark here, but it is an interesting musical concept so definitely give it another go. I will be looking forward to it!

If your music taste has the likes of Perturbator and Gunship as well as An Autumn For Crippled Children and Psychonaut 4 (which coincidentally, mine does) then give Dream Vision a try. While it didn't quite sit right with me, I can see the appeal, and it may work for you.

Movers — Futurist At The End Of Time

Movers - Futurist At The End Of Time
The Race (6:06), Futurist At The End Of Time (1:49), Spiders In The Woodwork (8:41), Leviathan (4:51), All In Good Time (4:49), Marcus’ Desolation Chapter II: War Of The Heavens (14:26)
Sergey Nikulichev

More than once, when writing reviews, I find myself thinking about making a negative feedback on a record that failed to impress me. Then, miraculously, when I push the play button for the very last time, something changes and I discover new redeeming qualities in an otherwise ordinary record. Futurist At The End Of Time is exactly an example of such a perception twist of mine.

Movers are a young band from Atlanta, GA, playing a blend of prog and psychedelic/space-rock since the beginning of the third decade of this century (damn, I am old!). Their first self-titled album was released in 2021, as a trio, and with the second release Futurist At The End Of Time the band expanded to a quartet and engaged itself in doing local live shows, an effort that I can only applaud to. The YouTube videos certify that the band's confidence on stage grows rapidly.

Structurally, the album follows the pattern of the first release with shorter tracks concentrated in the first half of the album, and a gigantic epic sprawling in the end. A format not unfamiliar to you, dear readers, since the times of Rush, which seems to be one of the major influences on the band. Traces of those Canadian forefathers' influences are also very noticeable on the opener The Race (which remains my favorite track here, I loved the line “...around the world, nothing is uncharted, but something is always new...”, very Peart-y) and Leviathan with a prominent, unmistakable sound of Rickenbacker bass. Elsewhere, the band is more inclined to jam/psychedelic type of music, which is almost opposite to rather focused and tightly-packed music of Rush, see both Spiders In The Woodwork and All In Good Time

My problems with the record start on the second track, a short acoustic number with disjointed vocals and chord strumming, the value of which escapes me. Similarly, on the rather ponderous epic Marcus' Desolation, Chapter II (see the band's first album for the start of the story). Here, Movers failed to catch and hold my attention throughout the playing time, and mostly because of the rather loose attitude toward melodies, hooks and vocal performance, an observation not invalid towards the rest of the album.

If you easily tolerate an inaccurate vocal performance and just love jam music and Rickenbacker grooves, Movers can be of interest to you. A bit more accent on the compositions, and they can reach wider audiences in the future.

Parallel Minds — Echoes From Afar

Parallel Minds - Echoes From Afar
Feel The Force (9:37), 2. No Fate (5:54), 3. Angel's Battle (5:02), 4. Stay (5:56), 5. Monkey On My Back (7:25), 6. The Hiding Place (4:42), 7. Our Last Resort (5:33), 8. Mythic River (6:32), 9. Provider Of Sins (6:21), 10. The Greater Gift (12:09)
Sergey Nikulichev

If there's any inherent quality in the prog-power genre, it should be defined as “bombastic music”, right? Fans would have a hard time, scratching their heads and trying to remember a non-bombastic representative. And, with a couple of exceptions, there are none, I think. Parallel Minds, a relatively young band from France, is another epitome of the above fact. Even looking at the cover, one can appreciate the cinematic pathos and highbrow concepts, that the CD holds.

When reviewing the band's previous, sophomore effort Every Hour Wounds... The Last One Kills (superb title by the way), Jan Buddenberg mentioned Savatage influences, which are more or less gone here. What stayed for good, however, is the groove-metal charms of Machine Head and Pantera, which entrance so many metal bands these days, albeit with a Symphony X or Rhapsody-styled audio production approach. Comparisons in such a crowded genre as prog-power are inevitable. And an interesting thought occurred to me, that whenever I spot an influence of a well-known band to the music of Parallel Minds, it comes from a late-career period, be it Blind Guardian or Symphony X, or any other genre titan.

Listening to three tracks of Echoes From Afar, I was as tired and weary as if running a half-marathon with supermarket grocery bags in my hands. Starting from Feel The Force and for the duration of the next four tracks, the Michael Romeo styled rhythm juggernaut seemed to be all over the place in a suffocating manner, careless of the listener. After subsequent attempts to conquer this mountain of sound, I remain firm in my biased opinion, that it should have been made less complex.

But as much as the album stumbles in the first half under its own weight, it gathers good pace starting from the second half, abandoning the Symphony X / DGM territory to float closer to the areas of Blind Guardian (circa Beyond The Red Mirror)and Pagan's Mind.

The Hiding Place ironically serves as a hiding place after the first half, being a ballad with duo acoustic guitars and, guess what, a bombastic coda.

The track Our Last Resort is, one, my favorite track of the CD and, two, an epic speed-power metal track in the vein of Manticora or the above-mentioned Blind Guardian. Although the voice of Stephane Fradet differs much from that of Hansi Kursch, the band does well and captures the “narrative” spirit spotlessly.

Mythic River, indeed, evokes memories of Savatage with Zak Stevens on vocals, so Jan's point is not completely ruled out.

The epic The Greater Gift does not become dull, and that's a considerable achievement in today's prog-power scene, where epics are usually bleak shred-fests, indistinguishable in their self-indulgence. Here, The Gift is a dramatic in its shifting moods and stuffed with good melodies which gives a listener minutes to headbang, minutes to breathe, and minutes to contemplate instrumental acrobatics.

Echoes From Afar may be a polarizing effort. It does all the right things, with a bit of over-doing and, for me, too heavy reliance on cinematic sound production. This should not overshadow the superb instrumentation skills, passion and interesting compositions that can be found in abundance here.

Rick Wakeman — The Myths And Legends Of Rick Wakeman

51:54, 75:30, 61:30, 48:05
Rick Wakeman - The Myths And Legends Of Rick Wakeman
CD 1, Live In North America 1974: Journey To The Centre To The Earth, Pt. 1 (26:45), Journey To The Centre To The Earth, Pt. 2 (14:00), Anne Boleyn (7:27), Concerto for American Commercial TV (3:40)
CD 2, +ive At Winterland Ballroom 1975: The Journey To The Center To The Earth, Pt. 1 (12:20), Catherine Howard (11:29), Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight (5:27), Anne Boleyn (8:56), The Forest (6:43), Arthur And Guinevere (14:41), Merlin The Magician (7:26), Catherine Parr (8:25)
CD 3, Live at Hammersmith Odeon 1976: Music Reincarnate, Pt. 3: The Spaceman (3:41), Catherine Howard (10:02), Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight (5:15), Arthur (7:22), Music Reincarnate, Pt. 4: The Realisation (4:37), The Forest (6:55), Catherine Parr (8:22), The Prisoner (6:59), Merlin The Magician (8:13)
CD 4, The Maltings 1976: Recollection (12:22), Music Reincarnate, Pt. 4: The Realisation (4:39), Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight (5:14), Music Reincarnate, Pt. 3: The Spaceman (3:38), Catherine Parr (7:52), The Prisoner (6:52), Merlin The Magician (7:26)
Geoff Feakes

In a decade noted for its musical excesses, one man in particular had a reputation in the 1970s for his ambitious albums, extravagant concerts and flamboyant stage presence. In addition to six albums with Yes, two with Strawbs and hundreds of recordings as a session musician, Rick Wakeman released eight solo albums before dwindling record sales and changing musical tastes brought the era to an unceremonious close. Rick himself later quipped that in 1980, he couldn't get a job as a piano tuner.

During his prime, the blonde keyboard wizard could do no wrong as far as fans were concerned, and although he was popular with the press, his albums were often criticised for perceived musical pretentiousness. Even Rick's record company had little faith in his seemingly uncommercial style and were initially reluctant to release Journey To The Centre To The Earth which went on to become the label's first album to top the UK chart.

This box set gathers together four live shows recorded over a three-year period of 1974, 1975 and 1976. The music performed is taken from the studio albums The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, Journey To The Centre To The Earth, The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights of the Round Table and No Earthly Connection released between 1973 and 1976. Only the film soundtrack Lisztomania from 1975 is unrepresented which is not surprising given that Rick disowned the album shortly after it was released.

As the concerts fall within a relatively short time frame, especially discs three and four, unsurprisingly there is a degree of repetition. Catherine Parr and Merlin The Magician for example are played in three out of the four shows, but it's interesting to chart how the pieces developed over time.

1974 was a particularly eventful year for Rick. In January his best known work Journey To The Centre To The Earth was unveiled at London's Royal Festival Hall, in May he quit Yes, and in July he suffered a heart attack following a show at London's Crystal Palace Bowl.

Undaunted, in the fall he embarked on a coast-to-coast trek around North America with his band the English Rock Ensemble, backed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir of America who were assembled in New York for the tour. The set was divided into two parts, the first containing material from The Sixth Wives Of Henry VIII performed by the ERE and the second devoted to Journey To The Centre Of The Earth in its entirety with the orchestra and choir.

As such, the sequence of tracks on CD 1 are not as they were performed, and it's not the full setlist. Nonetheless, it's an entertaining document of the period with fine performances all round. The orchestra in particular are superb with none of the timing issues that dogged the London Symphony Orchestra's performance on the album. Shakespearean actor Terry Taplin's theatrical narration on the other hand lacks the story-telling charm of David Hemmings' delivery. The show is said to have been recorded "live somewhere in Canada" and was originally released as the bootleg LP Unleashing The Tethered One - The 1974 North American Tour in 1974, and again on CD in 1994.

The following year, Rick and his entourage returned to America to promote The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur album which included a show at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco on 2 November 1975. This time he was backed solely by a seven-piece ERE due to the huge expense of touring with the orchestra and choir in 1974. Nonetheless, the horn section, along with Rick's orchestral keys, do a fine job of reimagining an abridged Journey. Rick plays fast and loose with some of his original arrangements including an extended Catherine Howard which features a long, and I do mean long, acoustic guitar solo from Jeffrey Crampton. Ashley Holt's singing is also a little ragged in places, particularly during Sir Lancelot And The Black Knight. The show was recorded for American radio and was released on CD as King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Rick Wakeman In Concert in 1995.

The concerts on discs three and four were performed just seven weeks apart during the 1976 European leg of the No Earthly Connection tour. Both were recorded by the BBC; the Hammersmith Odeon show on 17 June for the Radio 1 In Concert series and the Farnham Maltings performance on 27 April was staged for the TV programme The Old Grey Whistle Test. Both were previously released on the 2CD Live At The BBC in 2007, and the Maltings recording appeared earlier in 1994 on the Live On The Test CD.

The six-piece English Rock Ensemble that played on the album also backed Rick on the tour; namely Ashley Holt (vocals), Roger Newell (bass guitar, vocals), Tony Fernandez (drums), John Dunsterville (guitar), Reg Brooks (trombone), and Martyn Shields (trumpet). Your reviewer was fortunate enough to catch the No Earthly Connection tour on the fifth date, the 20 April at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester.

Unsurprisingly, there are similarities between the two shows although the Maltings set was clearly condensed to accommodate the constraints of a TV broadcast. Both performances include three pieces from No Earthly Connection along with a selection from the previous albums. The performances are solid throughout, and as you would expect from the BBC, the sound quality is first-rate. Again, it's a reduced setlist. During the tour, Anne Boleyn, Listz's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13, and The Warning were also played at certain venues.

Although the recordings here have been previously released, this four disc collection comes nicely packaged in a clam-shell box with a 16-page booklet. It goes without saying that it's a must for fans who remember with affection the pomp and splendour of Rick's shows in the 1970s.

Album Reviews