Saturday, 14 December 2013

Reissues of the year - 2013

Here is a list of some of my favourite reissues, remasters, box sets, live albums etc. Whether it's a last ditch attempt by the record industry to keep physical product like the CD afloat, there has been a very healthy set of reissues and box sets this year. I have said it before and I will say it again, recorded music is just not an aural experience. For the serious music afficionado, downloads are not enough. Music is for the whole senses. I want to look at something when I listen to my music. The packaging is just as important as the sound. Also, I want to own and touch what I am listening to and experience the ritual of putting on a disc. It's all part of the listening experience. Long may it last.

King Crimson - The Road to Red Fripp's gone completely bonkers with this mammoth set of live Crimson. Can you have to much Crimson? Maybe!

Hawkwind - Warriors on the Edge of Time after many, many years languishing in the void, not only is this classic reissued at last, but given the Wilson treatment. Esoteric do us proud!

Anathema - Universal best live album of the year and superb film by Lasse Hoile. Unusually emotional.

Yes - High Vibration SACD Box Set i know Wilson is doing these, but there is something about SACD that is so natural. I just love this set.

Bill Nelson - Getting the Holy Ghost Across at last properly reissued with the original artwork. Another winner from Esoteric.

Rush -Vapor Trails remixed it has taken a while, but this now sounds listenable.

Harold Budd - Budd Box sumptuous little box set. All Harold's best stuff.

John Martyn - The Island Years mammoth box set that does justice to Martyn's legacy

Family - Once Upon a Time justifiably won Prog magazines design award

Yes - Close to the Edge 2013 Remix Wilson again. Every type of CTTE all in one package

Kenso - Complete excellent packaging of this superb Japanese prog band

Yes - The Studio Albums 1969-1987 how to get mini LP set of Yes's albums at a very affordable price. Bargain of the year.

Nick Drake - Tuck Box all Drake's work in one box. Nice mini LP sleeves with booklets and all at a great price too


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Albums of the Year - 2013

Well, everyone does it! Lists of their favourite albums of the year. I cannot put them in order as preferences change from day to day. But here are my top 30 favs. Head and shoulders above the rest.

Riverside - Shrine of New Generation so atmospheric and so emotional

Haken - The Mountain completely bonkers. Covers every form of prog

Sound Of Contact - Dimensionaut lush. Very, very lush

Sand - Sand even better than NAO

La Maschera Di Cera - Le Porte Del Domani Italians doing what Italians do so well

Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused To Sing is this too obvious?

Von Hertzen Brothers - Nine Lives commercial prog. Great, great songs

Anima Mundi - The Lamplighter symphonic prog in all it's glory

Spock's Beard - Brief Nocturnes and Dreamless Sleep always reliably superb

Comedy Of Errors - Fanfare & Fantasy great to see some superb Scottish prog here

Big Big Train - English Electric Part 2 as good as Part one. How do they do it?

Days Between Stations - In Extremis so good. Nice epitaph for the great Pete Banks

The Opium Cartel - Ardor it's not White Willow. Different, but just as good

Fish - A Feast Of Consequences truly back on form. Gorgeous packaging

Magenta - The Twenty Seven Club always a pleasure to experience retro prog at its finest

La Coscienza Di Zeno - Sensitivita simply, RPI at its very best

Dream Theater - Dream Theater settling very nicely into their new lineup

The Flower Kings - Desolation Rose nearly been going for 20 years and still producing the goods

Believe - The Warmest Sun In Winter without a doubt their best yet. Mirek Gil's guitar playing is superb

Vienna Circle - Silhouette Moon hopefully this release will get these guys better known. They deserve it

Kingbathmat - Overcoming The Monster yes, a monster of an album. Big, big sound

Quickbeam - Quickbeam great Scottish band. An almost chamber folk charm

The Fierce and the Dead - Spooky Action best instrumental album in years

Ayreon - The Theory of Everything Arjen is back, doing what he does best

Nosound - Afterthought Giancarlo produces some of the best atmospheric music around at the moment

Rhys Marsh - Suspended In A Weightless Wind maybe not an album, but some sublime cover versions

Solstice - Prophesy not really familiar with this band. But love the extended arrangements. Great playing

The Tangent - Le Sacre Du Travail Andy Tillison's masterwork. His most complex and ambitious album yet

Airbag - The Greatest Show On Earth this took a while to grow, but it did. Superbly atmospheric and Floydy

Il Tempio delle Clessidre - alieNatura RPI album of the year. Elisa Montaldo is a prog superstar


Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Last Pile


Here is the last pile of 2013 releases, dominated by Big Big Trains "English Electric: Full Power" in more ways than one. It has been a bumper year indeed!


Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Yes - The Studio Albums 1969-1987 Box Set


There were groans around the world when this box set was announced. Another box set! After the cheapy original albums, 5CD set and the Japanese SACD box and the Steven Wilson CTTE remix. So much Yes! But actually Rhino haven't done too bad a job on this set. They have attempted to reproduce the original LP sleeves. Gatefolds are all there, including the double gatefold for GFTO. In order to show the titles on the spine, the single sleeves are a bit too roomy and the CD easily slips out. At least they have the lettering. There are no inner bags, so no lyrics for CTTE or Relayer for instance and no info at all for Tormato.

As there are no booklets, all track info is only printed on the CD, which is a bit of a problem when listening to the disc and want to know what is playing. The quality of the sleeves, card and printing is not too bad. Not up to the standard of the Japanese mini sleeves of course, but much better than normally passes in the West for card sleeves. The original label designs are also printed on the discs which is a nice touch.

If you are a Big Generator fan, then you will want the box as this is the first time the remastered edition has been made available outside of the Japanese versions. You also get all the remixes which were included on the Japanese SHM mini LP version of 2009.

If you have a set of the original Rhino's and want to replace those by this box as a space saving exercise or as an upgrade away from jewel cases and digipaks then the box has it's merits. You could put all the original booklets into the single sleeve wallets with no problem and between the folds of the gatefolds. They will still all fit into the box.

I got my box for under £30, which is remarkable for a 13 disc set with all the bonus tracks, housed in a nice sturdy box. You could argue for a few quid more, they could have produced a reasonable booklet with all the album credits at least. But it's still a nice set for what it is.


Sunday, 1 December 2013

More piling


Here is some more pileage of 2013's bumper crop of releases. It's becoming quite clear that progressive based rock music is very healthy thank you very much. I ain't finished yet!