Carrying on from where we left off in June 2011, here’s The European Perspective’s review of the great progressive rock albums released in 1977. They said that punk killed prog in 1976, but nothing could be further from the truth – as this collection of music proves. I’ve ignored the ‘Europe only’ rule this time around, so you can get Happy The Man and Rush alongside old show favourites such as Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd.
The only time work ever really stopped at Grace Brothers was when a new European Perspective went live.
Listener’s requests this week, in another largely extemporised show – could this be the way of the future? New albums from Fish, Magenta and Haken loom large, as well as an excellent new track from Knifeworld.
Pope Francis gives the ‘thumbs up’ to Vatican reform and to the latest, compact edition of The European Perspective.
For the first time ever, this week’s European Perspective is the product of ‘making it up as we go along’! New albums from Magenta, Haken, Regal Worm and Moon Safari, requests for Robert Wyatt and Kevin Ayers, and some other great British and European progressive rock music that I just plucked out of my music library and thought you all might like to hear.
Next Monday Bad Elephant Music, the record label I run with James Allen, will release Simon Godfrey’s Shineback album, Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed. Pre-orders are starting to drop through letter boxes, and I’m getting proper excited.
I’ve been hearing this music now in varying states of completion for the last two years, ever since Simon first played me some bonkers instrumental demos – which I believe comprise part of the title track. The last time I listened to the full album was back in April, when it went to Wolf Studios for mastering, the mysterious process of turning a final mix into something that sounds amazing on CD. Many musicians I know interviewed on Gadgets Page say that they find it extremely difficult to listen to an album once they’ve finished it, and I think I’d started to feel just a tiny fraction of that sensation, having listened to the rough mixes, then the final mixes, then the mastered versions of the songs many, many times.
This evening I felt a sanity check was in order, as I’ll soon be responsible for bringing this puppy into the public domain. I have to admit to certain sense of trepidation when approaching the record again. A lot hinges on this release, both for the label itself and for James and I personally, as we’ve invested a lot of our time and money into it. Furthermore it’s an important release for Simon, who is a close personal friend first and a business partner second. He’s poured a lot of his heart and soul into this album – more than he’ll ever admit himself – and its release comes at a pivotal moment in his life, having embarked on a career as a full-time musician and also going through massive transformations in his personal circumstances.
So if, after giving it a break, I thought the album wasn’t very good, then I was in trouble.
Happy to say, I needn’t have worried. The album still knocks me out. If you buy a copy – and I’d really like it if you did, for more than the obvious reasons – then I urge you to give it a listen through in one go. It’s quite a trip, taking you through lush soundscapes (May You Live In Interesting Times, The Clock Of The Long Now, The Saint Of Doors), banging four-to-the floor electronica (Bedlam Days, Here Come The Envoys, Crush Culture) widescreen progressive pop (Fears Aren’t Toys, Passengers) and one bonkers progressive rock song (the ten-and-a-half minute title track).
But the main reason I urge you to listen to the whole album is so you arrive at the end of the journey fully prepared for what is, to my jaded, nearly fifty-year-old ears at least, is one of the most moving, brilliantly conceived pieces of popular music ever – the final track, Myowndreamland. I won’t try to describe it…it’s just over four minutes long, but it’s the culmination of all that’s gone before, both thematically and musically. Listening to the album again today it has the same ‘tingle’ effect it gave me the first time – the exact same sensation I had and still get when listening to the closing section of Genesis’ Supper’s Ready, Yes’ sublime, gnomic epic And You And I, Oldfield’s guitar at the end of Ommadawn Part 1, the brass band in Roy Harper’s When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease, and in more recent years, the title track from The Underfall Yard by Big Big Train. Myowndreamland has virtually nothing in common with any of these songs except it’s power to leave me speechless.
So I think you should buy this album, not just because it’ll make two middle-aged record label owners slightly less indebted, but because it’s bloody good. If you’re a progressive rock fan you’ll enjoy the sense of adventure, the odd time signatures and the barnstorming guest performances from Messrs. Burke, Bennett, Ditchfield, Rogers and Stevens. If you enjoy your electronica you’ll lap up the soundscapes and beats. If you’re a pop fan you’ll appreciate the beautifully constructed songs, with the deft lyrical touches of Rob Ramsay, Simon’s long-time writing partner. And if you’re someone who, like me, is a bit silly and enjoys the feeling of being able to say “I heard that before everyone else got interested” then you’ll definitely want a copy of Rise Up Forgotten, Return Destroyed.
So have a look at and listen to the promo on YouTube, check out the single, Passengers, on the BEM Bandcamp site, and then order the album from Nellie’s Merch Desk. If you get your order in before the official 1st July release date you’ll be able to claim an exclusive bonus download of a track that’s not on the album – not because it’s not any good (it’s a superb song) but because it didn’t fit thematically. Bloody concept albums.
Oh, and my mate Simon made this album, and he’s topper. That’s probably the main reason you should buy it.
A very special bonus show this week, entirely dedicated to the Celebr8 progressive rock festival. In its inaugural year the promoters Jon Patrick and Geoff Banks have put together a superb lineup of British acts over two days, Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th July, at the Hippodrome, Kingston-upon-Thames.
As well as tracks from all of the bands playing, I interview Jon about how the festival came to be, the bands who are playing, and just what it’s like to put on an event on this scale.
Yes, The European Perspective is back! I have returned after a nice, relaxing break from podcasting with a selection of new choonz (as the kids say) to stimulate your ear drums, soothe the savage beast, and keep small children amused for hours.
Lots and lots of new albums this time around, both from established prog mainstays (Galahad, Quidam, Citizen Cain) and veritable whippersnappers on the scene, such as Syd Arthur, Coalition and Coralspin. One thing you can be sure of, though – quality guaranteed throughout!