Kayak, Nostradamus, 2005

kayak - nostradamusIn my earlier post about Kayak I already mentioned purchasing more albums from them. So now it´s time for their 2005 opus Nostradamus – the fate of man.

Considering the work of keyboard player Ton Scherpenzeel in Dutch theaters, it is not strange that you will find a lot of variety on the double disk. The opening is musical like, with choirs singing and all. And truth be told, they pull it off greatly. You will have understood this is a concept album about the (in)famous French prophet. At times a storyteller is used, though I must confess I am not all too keen on that. It´s not that it is bad, it´s just not my cup of tea I guess.

As said, there is a great variety between the songs at hand. Luckily I don´t feel the story is interfering with the music. A lot of the music is typical Kayak. If you know and like them, this means you will like this as well. Several lead singers (male and female) can be heard. They personify different characters in the story. Some songs rock, some are very subtle, you hear influences from for instance Irish Folk, and it is always melodic. All done with care and competence, without becoming all too predeictable. These guys and girls are too experienced to let things get out of hand. All in all an album that will grow on repeated play, so buy it when you are into classic prog.

Personal play tips: Friend of the Stars, Pagan´s Paradise, The Inquisition, A Man With Remarkable Talent, The Flying Squadron, The Centuries.


Nektar, Book Of Days, 2008

nektar - book of daysThis is the second album I bought from this band. The first being Man In The Moon from 1980. Gives away they have a long history. I don´t know much about that alas, so let´s concentrate on the music.

The first song Over Krakatoa is not what you might expect. Distorded vocals give it a strange sound. From then on things turn into “normal” mode. With 3 songs beyond the 10 minute milestone, there will be much rejoicing in the camp of serious lovers of symphonic rock. Personally I don´t think that is a selling point unless a song needs it. Too much widdly widdly bits, can also prove you try to hide the fact that you have nothing to say behind brainless note playing. But anyway…

I must confess I don´t think the vocals are their selling point. But they don´t spoil everything either. Just kind of regular, nothing special really. A good thing they use harmony vocals to spice things up.
Musically speaking Nektar has a lot more to offer. Nice melodic guitar solo´s, competent musicians, and even the odd organ. A pity they use it rather cleanly. But fans of classic prog can rest ressured, Nektar offer songs with light and shade, time changes, clever arrangements, etc. And they keep it melodic, so all in all it is a positive affair.

I do think this album will grow on me over time, but that is always a good thing.

Personal play tips: Lamorna, Doctor Kool, The Iceman.


Uriah Heep, Celebration, 2009

uriah heep - celebrationDespite being the guitar player in Chinawhite, I am quite fond of the Hammond organ. Some reviewers of our latest album found that out to their disstress ;P. Therefore it is not strange that I like bands like Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. The latter we had the privilege of opening for, for a few years back. Still a great band with lots of playing pleasure.

The disk on offer here contains rerecorded versions of their classics and 2 new songs. These fit in nicely with classic titles like Gypsy,  Stealin, or Easy Livin´.

You may ask yourself; do we need this? My answer would be yes! I think it is great to hear the voice of Bernie Shaw on these timeless songs. Of course, you can hear this live as well (and make no mistake, their recent studio output is absolutely relevant!), but I feel they have succeeded in translating these songs into their current line up. That means only little change when compared to the original, but still sounding as convincing as need be.
And who´s complaining when the songs at hand are this good…

I bought the special edition, which also holds a live DVD, but I have yet to watch that. But I guess I already know what to expect. Though it will be nice to see “new” kid Russel Gilbrook hammering away on the drumkit.


Yes, Drama, 1980 (2004 remaster)

yes - dramaAhh, a controversial album among the Yes fanbase. Must confess I never really understood why! Trevor Horn sounds a lot like Jon Anderson, and musically this is typical YES. Or is it just because the little big man isn´t the one singing? Mmhmm, lets see.

The album is very recognisable, melodic, well crafted, well executed, housed in a Roger Dean painting, great singing from Trevor and Chris. Maybe a little less esotheric. But I prefer it above Tormato every day of the week. So it must be me 😉

This remaster has no less than 11 bonus tracks. Some of which are heavy bootlegged. Of were, as of this release I guess. From the original album I love all songs, so no favorites there. The bonus tracks feature single versions of Into The Lens and Run Through The Light. (BTW, Trevor Horn did another version of Into The Lens, together with keyboard player Geoff Downes, on the second Buggles album called Adventures in Modern Recording. They called it I Am A Camera, which is the subtitle here.) But in my opinion they add little value to the original album.

Other bonus tracks are session recordings. This leaves us with 6 other unreleased songs. Have We Really Got… is a studio jam at best. A rough sketch of what could become a song. Same applies to Song no 4.  No lyrics or vocals, just instrumental.  Dancing Though The Light is Run Through The Light but in a strange dance like fashion. What were they thinking here?

The remaining 3 songs are taken from a 1979 recording session with Jon Andersson and Rick Wakeman present. As the booklet so nicely states, something wasn´t feeling right, so they left… Still, these songs are recognisable Yes material. Just rough, but keep in mind they were working on this material at the time. Being a Yes afficionado myself, I did enjoy hearing these tracks. And as this remaster is available at a bargain price, you should get it if you don´t already own it on CD. I think the 6 songs that form the original Drama release are worth it!


MelodicRockFest II 2010

Howdy Folks,

Coming weekend is the second edition of the Melodic Rock Fest as organised by MelodicRock.com. Alas I won’t be there, but I hope that Andrew (who runs the site) will be able to welcome a lot of visitors to make this happening financially viable. The line up looks killer, so I am sure it will be a great party.

If you like melodic rock and are able to join, visit the Fest in Illinois USA!

Solution, The Ultimate Collection, 2005

solution - ultimate collectionYesterday and today I spent my available listening time to the 3 CD package that is The Ultimate Collection by Dutch classic prog band Solution. It had been sitting on my want list for quite some time, so I was very anxious to find out how it would work for me.

The first disk was the hardest to get into. It is mainly instrumental music, with a lot of sax. Musically very challenging and competent, but takes more time for me to digest. Disk 2 weighed a little less. Some beautiful melodies and also vocals. Makes it easier to enjoy.  The 3d disk is labelled as a bonus disk, but is the most interesting for me. Not only because it contained the only songs I knew before buying this set, but also because this is the most melodic side of Solution. Hey and finally some guitar solo´s! Maybe because a lot of material on this disk is live. It just seems to have a touch more power behind it.

The material on these CD´s sounds excellent, a remastering job done well. Especially considering the time table; 1971 – 1983.

Personal Play tips: French Melodie, On My Own, Black Pearl, It´s Only Just Begun, Runaway

Karl Jenkins, The Armed Man, 2001

karl jenkins - the armed manRecently my father in law mentioned he bought an album based on a song he heard on the radio. He thought I would like it as well so played me the disk. It turned out to be a classical piece by Karl Jenkins, The Armed Man. Subtitle ” a mass for peace” .  The subtitle gives it away I guess. It is a mass, but nog in a strict sense. Songs include a Kyrie, a Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Benedictus as well as several other pieces  of music. Used Languages in the singing are Latin, French, Arabic, English, etc..

He asked me if I would be so kind as to translate the story behind it. I did and thought it was a worthwhile cause. There can never be to much peace in this world, or?
The first minute of the music did not do much for me, some marching drums? Right, heard it before…. He just smiled and said ” wait for the Sanctus”.  And I must confess: that hit me hard. What a great use of harmonics, what a tension. Absolutely stunning and very inspirational.

Despite the rest of the album not being as instant as the Sanctus, I think this is a truly beautiful album with a great message. Highly recommended, even if you´re not religious. Just to make sure, this is a classical piece of work, so no guitar solo´s or hard hitting drums. But worthwhile for any serious music lover. The singing sometimes reminded me of Carl Orff´s Carmina Burana, but all in all, this work has it´s own character. Give it a try!

Personal Playtip: Sanctus, Hymn before Action, Agnus Dei

Site: http://www.karljenkins.com/index.php

Magic Pie, Motions of Desire, 2005

magic pie - motions of desireThanks to a great sell out action from the good folks at ProgRock Records I was able to lay my sweaty hands on a batch of so far unknown bands (to me that is).

An album that I liked instantly upon first play was Motions of Desire, from Magic Pie.  I believe they are from Norway, and recently suffered the loss of all their equipment due to the burning down of their rehearsal room. So hopefully I can encourage some more people to buy one of their records as I believe they deserve it.

Why I like this record?: lot´s of melody, great Hammond playing, riffing guitars, and multi layered vocals always do it for me 😉 The way they are able to combine the strengths of bands like Spock´s Beard, Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, with some pop sensibilities puts them high on my favelist. Plus they don´t shy away from playing epic tracks, without making them sound forced. Just lots of light and shade. Oh, and their guitar player knows his way around the frets, awesome!

The production is spot on, so all I have left to say is; find the albums and buy them! Personal play tips: Change,  Motions of Desire, Without Knowing Why

Site: http://www.magicpie.net/kat/000046.asp


kayak - close to the fireKayak - Coming Up For AirRecently I bought some cd’s from Dutch band Kayak. Kinda lost track of them after Periscope Life (1980), but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised. I listened to “Close To the Fire” (2000) and “Coming Up For Air” (2008).

And some more albums are waiting to be heard.

In comparison to the older work I know, the dynamics have improved. By this I mainly speak of the guitar work; it is at times more heavier than I recall. That said; I like it a lot. Adds more bite to the music. Also the voice of singer Cindy Oudshoorn is a welcome addition to the sound of the band. I should mention however that both albums are recorded with a somewhat different cast.  But the rest of the band knows what they are doing also. Most players are accomplished musicians and veterans on the scene. Shame drummer Pim Koopman died unexpectedly not so long ago.
Still the trademarks of the band are there; melodic, varied, sometimes even radio friendly songs. But for the proggies amongst us, they still know how to write some decent and varied tunes.

Personal Playtips:

  1. Close to the Fire:
    Close to the Fire, Crusader, Two Wrongs
  2. Coming up for Air:
    Alienation, Man in the Cocoon, Time Stand Still

If you haven’t heard from them in a long time; go check them out again, it’s worth it!

Site: http://www.kayakonline.nl/

Hello world!

This is the first post on this new blog. Always exciting 😉

First let me explain a little; as a musician myself I am becoming more and more tired of reviewers who lack the decency of paying enough attention to the music they are about to review. This results in obvious mistakes (ranging from wrong country, wrong discography to making the guitarist the singer, etc.). Also they sometimes don’t seem to understand the effort that goes into recording and releasing an album. Not all music is instant, the least one can do is acknowledge that… In my book good music improves on repeated listening and thus withstands the tests of time.

So I figured, hey, I listen to a lot of music myself, why not share some of my thoughts about it. And while on it, create a platform for others to contribute to…

So here it is, ENJOY and please, feel free to comment!