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Martyn Hewitt (Faversham, Kent United Kingdom)

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Heaven & Earth
Heaven & Earth
Offered by b68solutions
Price: £6.49

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave, 24 July 2014
This review is from: Heaven & Earth (Audio CD)
Well, I've absorbed the reviews so far and have been intrigued by the range and depth of some of the reviews. Yes are a prog institution spanning the decades and the fact that they are still producing new music is a credit to Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White. Maybe some of the reviewers are content to live in earlier times when, lets face it, there have been several peaks and troughs in the Yes history. When they were good, they were but when it dropped they dropped significantly. Welcome to the Yes roundabout! Considering the changing personnel over the years I find it difficult to see why yet another change is a deficit when reviewing this latest offering. To me, Heaven and Earth is refreshing just like Talk was with Trevor Rabin and Magnification was with the orchestra. Jon Anderson is irreplaceable but Yes demands his style of vocal and give credit to Jon Davison for his imprint throughout this album. Is he the future? Who knows, but he sounds pretty good to me and is certainly not trying to be Jon Anderson, just himself. The other aspect of this album I like is the way Steve Howe really moves to the forefront with some excellent guitar work. Whereas Fly From Here was a harkback to Drama, I see this new album as a move forward with a nod to a more commercial sound whilst never moving beyond the sound unique to Yes. To be honest, I haven't enjoyed a Yes album so much for a long time and I have all the albums! Maybe tomorrow I will stick on Tales of Topographic Oceans, but quietly follow up with Heaven and Earth to experience the contrast and revel in why the core of this band is so good and prevailing. If nothing else this is a brave album and worthy of Yes name.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2014 9:37 PM BST


Distant Satellites
Distant Satellites
Price: £17.14

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A story of two halves, 12 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Distant Satellites (Audio CD)
The first six tracks on this album continue where Weather Systems left off. The vocals are very dramatic and each song reaches a crescendo with both Vincent Cavanagh and Lee Douglas complimenting each other superbly. Highlights, in this respect, are 'Lost Song Part 1' and 'Ariel'.There is a greater emphasis on the acoustic piano (always a million times better that a electric one) and orchestral arrangements, both helping to build an album developing into one of intense beauty, with real feeling. Only the track 'Anathema' sees Danny Cavanagh unleashing a guitar solo.Then it all goes horribly wrong with the awful 'Your Not Alone' which destroys all before with its techno/ambient beat that is both self-indulgent and frankly not very good. 'Firelight' rescues the album momentarily with its church-organ inspired intro to the title track 'Distant Satellites'. Now, I have to say at this point this track just about survives the techno treatment but the album-closer 'Take Shelter' is ruined by it and only recovers when the band discover that they have a drummer and the track picks up more conventionally towards the end. Also, Lee Douglas is conspicuous by her absence in the second half of the album. In many respects, there is more of a post OK Computer Radiohead influence working here but I would not like to see Anathema take such a sharp change of direction in pursuit of some needless experimentation that could alienate their growing and appreciative fan base whilst attempting to broaden their appeal. If you like techno/ambient, you probably won't like Anathema so don't buy it. If, like me, you love Anathema buy it, enjoy the first half and see if you can get to grips with the rest.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2015 12:33 PM GMT


Demon
Demon
Price: £13.55

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A challenge well rewarded, 23 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Demon (Audio CD)
I must confess that having listened to an early streaming of this album I was less than impressed, especially following on from their last excellent album March of Ghosts. Prog fans, however, like a challenge so I bought the cd to give it the full listening treatment and what a gem this album is proving to be. Complex, at times minimalistic but ultimately beautiful describes this ambitious move to steer Gazpacho in a slightly different direction whilst retaining the elements that define their sound. The violin is far more prominent than on previous albums and at times it reminds me of minimalistic contemporary classical composer Arvo Part. Just when the complexity reaches breaking point, the sparse beauty of the violin kicks in and sends you on a solitary feeling; it really is musical contrast at its very best and the album twists and turns without ever losing the plot or becoming over indulgent. Everyone in the band is complimenting each other and all held together superbly by vocalist Jan Ohme. The last track Death Room is a masterclass of everything a creative, progressive rock band should aim for in terms of atmosphere, dynamic and melody. It's just stunning. Gazpacho will probably stay under the radar in the prog pecking order, building up a core fan base along the way who will no doubt continue to marvel at their distinctiveness and originality. Gazpacho will tour this album then go back to their respective day jobs. Maybe thats the secret of keeping themselves grounded and re-energised. Whatever the reason, this band will continue to challenge the listener and hopefully one day will get the wider recognition they so thoroughly deserve.


Man On The Rocks
Man On The Rocks
Price: £7.36

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant, 6 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Man On The Rocks (Audio CD)
This album has certainly divided opinion. Vocals or no vocals, Tubular Bells or Earth Moving. I'm not sure myself so I started by playing the 'instrumental' cd first. Simply, this is the album with the vocals removed and it sounds like it; pleasant but with something missing! So, to the album proper. I have to say I like Earth Moving and I was hoping for something to rekindle that feel. To date, after a few listens I am pleasantly surprised. Luke Spiller gives it his best shot on vocals and the whole album goes from mellow,melodic songs to a more rock orientated sound. The guitar work, as expected, is superb and Oldfield lets rip on Castaway, with ample soloing throughout the album to please the faithful. Little in the way of acoustic guitar for those expecting it. Moonshine is a really catchy Irish-influenced sound but the highlight for me is the last track, I Give Myself Away. Apparently a worship song, but the lyrics can be interpreted how you wish and is beautifully delivered. Oldfield will forever be Tubular Bells, but he is much more and his catalogue has challenged perceptions ever since. For that reason he is relevant and challenging to the listener. His next album will probably be something acoustic and instrumental, who knows? I,for one, like the anticipation. Lets hope for a tour!


Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope
Price: £12.07

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality, 27 Jan. 2014
This review is from: Kaleidoscope (Audio CD)
Those who are familiar with the firstTestimony album by Neal Morse will find much to identify with when listening to this latest monumental album by Transatlantic. I have to say that I was rather anticipating an anti-climax with this album having heard some pre-release material on the internet and on a sample cd. To me the songs Shine and Black as the Sky sounded weak. Placed in the context of the whole album, however, these songs are really strong and make up a collection of tracks that define everything that Transatlantic are about, namely long complex arrangements complimented by shorter, often beautiful, short pieces. It is difficult not to hear the Neal Morse imprint throughout and the cello brings back those Testimony memories. Beyond the Sun is stripped back and allows Morse and the cello accompaniment to bring a serene beauty that will resonate with those who have lost a love one. This song in particular reminds me of the feel of Bridge Across Forever. Roine Stolt's guitar playing is charaterically clear and precise and what more can be said about Pete Trewavas and Mike Portnoy who just keep things ticking along wonderfully. Yes, the formular is pretty much the same as on previous albums and this will no doubt draw criticism within prog circles who demand something just a little more demanding. I, for one, will need to get to grips with the rotating vocal duties for a few more listens! If you like though the security of knowing what you are going to get then all I can say is welcome back to the quality world of Transatlantic and enjoy their latest offering.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 30, 2014 10:44 AM GMT


Life, Love & Hope
Life, Love & Hope
Offered by mrtopseller
Price: £4.99

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trademark Boston, 19 Dec. 2013
This review is from: Life, Love & Hope (Audio CD)
I'm quite surprised at the poor reviews of this album. Yes, it's not a classic and for me the inclusion of three previously released tracks is a bit cheap, but I buy a Boston album for that trademark sound that only Tom Scholz can produce. If Boston had done an unplugged album or gone in a different direction I can only imagine the outcry. The opening track Heaven on Earth is everything you would expect if you love Boston and hits the mark big time. The rest of the album is more of the same culminating in the final track The Way You Look Tonight which for some will come across as soppy but it leaves you wanting more and is a real grower. In fact I would say the whole album grows the more you listen to it and I personally can't keep it off the player. My advice, go on a 45 minute car journey and turn up the volume and remember with Boston you get what you pay for.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 21, 2016 9:29 PM BST


North
North
Price: £16.01

11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class is permanent, 14 Oct. 2013
This review is from: North (Audio CD)
Barclay James Harvest have been at the forefront of progressive music since their beginnings in the mid sixties. Originally comprising John Lees, Wooly Wolstenholme, Mel Pritchard and Les Holroyd, BJH carved out a series of early albums that embraced a style much in keeping with classical influences as rock, with deep sensitive ballads thrown in. The classic Mockingbird was symbolic of this and won many admirers and is still revered today as a prog classic. The album that eventually caught public attention was Everyone is Everybody Else, including Child of the Universe. Following the brilliant Gone to Earth album, Mellotron maestro Woolly left but the band went on to produce many more albums as an augmented three piece, with the Live in Berlin concert recording a highlight. North is a remarkable achievement following Woolly Wolstenholme's reinstatement and subsequent tragic death in 2010. John Lees has nurtured a band of fine musicians to celebrate the unique style of the band and bring it into the present day. On Leave is a moving tribute to Woolly and the identity driven North are real highlights and deserve serious recognition. The album is full of classic BJH but is also full of surprises, not least the brass band led track On Top of The World. This album should usher in a serious evaluation of the impact BJH have had in the progressive rock arena and capture a new audience looking for music played with a bit of class and integrity. Check it out and enjoy.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 17, 2013 9:50 PM BST


Universal
Universal
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.87

20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent music in a magnificent setting, 24 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Universal (Audio CD)
Anathema originally were best known for their metal exploits but have in recent years reincarnated themselves into an accomplished progressive rock band, navigating successfully towards a thoughtful, melodic sound that is truly their own. The magnificence of this performance is only matched by the magnificent setting of a Roman theatre in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Danny Cavanagh stalks around the stage in complete control, taking-in every second with the whole band enjoying what must be a career highlight so far. The orchestra is completely integrated into the sound and is more than just a token presence. The songs draw from there latest masterpiece Weather Systems, the equally impressive We're Here Because We're Here plus a scattering of earlier offerings. The opening two songs, Untouchable part1 and Untouchable part 2 must rate as two of the best songs written in recent times and showcase the exceptional vocal qualities of Lee Douglas and Vincent Cavanagh. Buy it, savour it and wait for the next step in this band's renaissance.


Iv
Iv
Offered by Vinylhead
Price: £4.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classy and pleasant, 5 Sept. 2013
This review is from: Iv (Audio CD)
Blackfield albums contain one common denominator, accessibility. A jaunt through each album is rewarded with catchy melodies delivered with the precision expected from the collaborative talents of Aviv Geffen and Steven Wilson. Play each album on a random facility on your chosen audio and everything makes sense. It's not prog as I understand it, but adds that sophistication that brings simple melodies into another dimension, fusing orchestration and subtle time changes often beyond the reach of those who aspire to achieve it. Lyrically, Geffen throws the gauntlet down by challenging the listener to interpret exactly what he is getting at; I'm still not sure but you can always draw your own conclusions! Apparently, Steven Wilson stepped aside from full participation in the album but the track Jupiter deserves some commercial airplay and could easily sit with the impression that it was composed by Wilson himself. My only gripe is the shortness of the album but I'll comfort myself in the knowledge that Blackfield don't do long, hence no fillers or egos, just class.


Classic Rock Presents: Rick Wakeman s Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Classic Rock Presents: Rick Wakeman s Journey to the Centre of the Earth

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A New Journey, 6 Dec. 2012
Having bought the original Six Wives and King Arthur, somehow Journey to the Centre of the Earth escaped my attentions when first released. I have various snippets on compilation albums so hearing this new version was a fresh journey for me in it's entirety so my review is not compared with the,original. Leaving aside the magazine which is ok but not altogether revealing especially if you have followed Wakeman throughout his career and read many of his ramblings in the media, the music is stunning and fresh. Peter Egan does a great job of narrating and special mention goes to Ashley Holt whose vocal power gets better and better. I have always been a fan of his vocal style since his Warhorse days. As for Wakeman himself, there are few keyboard players with such a recognisable sound and it is clear that he is on top of his game throughout. Yes, there is a bit of padding out here and there but the overall impact is undiminished. For those of a sceptical disposition this album may be a case of living off past glories but with many high profile bands going on the road playing their best albums in their entirety it seems that a time has come to celebrate achievement and musicians like Wakeman are entitled to do so and if it brings a new audience I'll drink to that!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 30, 2012 2:49 PM GMT


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