Monday, 31 August 2015

Bill's Been Busy!


Simply, Bill Nelson is one of my life long musical heroes. Ever since I head Be-Bop Deluxes Modern Music back in the day I have followed Bill's musical inventions ever since. I was even a fully paid up member of the Bill Nelson Fan Club, which produced the wonderful magazine Acquitted By Mirrors, where apart from Bill's projects I was introduced to the world of Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie amongst others.

I am glad to see that a lot of his work during the 80's and 90's is being re-released via the Esoteric label. They produced a truly wonderful 8 CD box set representing his recorded output through the decades a few years back, which ably demonstrates what an extraordinary body of work he has produced as band leader and solo artist. They also re-released the hard to find 6 CD box set, Noise Candy earlier this year. They have faithfully reproduced the original colourful design, apart from the booklet which is separate and sits inside a flap within the box. I have the original which suffered from the notorious manufacturing problems like disc trays coming unstuck and booklets falling apart. Luckily, I don't believe they have reproduced those.

Currently he is in a hyper productive mode, even though he has suffered from some health problems recently. This year already he has released 4 albums of new material. The quality is very high indeed. He programs each album thoughtfully to give a cohesive feel to each set. His working method is fast, but the amount of consideration, detail and inspiration in all he does is breathtaking. These releases are limited to 500 copies, so you need to get in fast.

I hope his health improves and I know even now he is busy beavering away in his studio producing even more music. I suppose for him that is the best therapy there is!




Friday, 28 August 2015

Gong SHM Papersleeve Editions




I have at last listened my way through the Japanese SHM CD editions of the Gong catalogue. To my weary and aged ears they are a very good improvement over the old, worn out Virgin issues. Not hard really! But Gazeuse is the star of the lot. It was a very well recorded and produced album anyway, but the remastering brings out a lot more detail and separates the instruments a lot more that you hear stuff I hadn't heard even from the original vinyl. Francis Moze's bass is very prominent and the percussion is crisp with Pierre Moerlen's kit very well presented. Gong Live etc was also a bit of revelation in terms of detail, though not sure why the second disc started with Oily Way rather than Radio Gnome Invisible, which should have been the first track on record 2, if both discs were representing the original vinyl discs. No matter, it sounds the best I have heard digitally. Angels Egg and You are no better than the remasters, though maybe sounding less processed. I think they suffered a bit from the use of no noise processing, which doesn't seem to come through as much on these discs.

So overall, these discs are a nice upgrade compared to the existing CD's. Not too difficult as mentioned as they date back to the 90's apart from Angels Egg and You. The Japanese have done a very nice sympathetic remastering here and together with fantastic packaging these are the best digital versions available.



Thursday, 13 August 2015

October is the month!


October has become one of the most important months as regards release schedules. Already announced is the epic 14 disc Steve Hackett box set. Now just announced is the next King Crimson box set. This time it is based around the THRAK album and we have 16 discs in a box simply titles THRAK BOX. The impressive part of this set are the two Blu-ray Discs which are packed to the core with high resolution stereo and surround files of various mixes, permutations and live material all from that period of the band. It does look like Panegyric have again gone to town to produce one of the most spec heavy boxes around.

Panegyric have also just announced that the next Steve Wilson Yes remix job will be Fragile. A lot of us were hoping for Tales from Topographic Oceans, but it will be interesting to see what Mr Wilson does with this first Yes album to feature Rick Wakeman. There are some tasty extras here too, especially a piece called "All Fighters Past" which includes elements that would later appear on Siberian Khatru and Topographic Oceans.

That will do to be going on with!



Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Tony Banks - A Chord Too Far


As the season of the box sets approaches, here's one to be going on with. A 4 CD compilation taken from the solo work of Tony Banks. Out of all the Genesis members who embarked on solo careers, Banks had the least commercial and critical success. On the face of it that is very surprising considering his huge contribution within Genesis as composer and keyboardist. Banks has been quite vocal in his dissapointment in his lack of solo success. I would even go as far as to state that he appears quite bitter about this state of affairs. That was quite evident in the recent BBC documentary about Genesis where he seemed quite aloof, especially to Steve Hackett who has enjoyed a solid solo career with his own material as well as his Genesis Revisited projects.

Personally, I am not familiar with any of Banks's solo albums and so decided to take the plunge with this set. Surprisingly I have enjoyed most of what is on offer. You can hear the Genesis DNA throughout which is no surprise but for me there is nothing overly poppy or twee, which did permeate a lot of latter day Genesis. There is even a 17 minute epic here in "An Island in Darkness", which would have made a superb Genesis track. But Genesis weren't really doing epic by then. Mixing songs, instrumentals and orchestral pieces gives a balanced, but broad introduction of the Tony Banks oeuvre. I love Banks' electric piano playing on the Genesis albums and there's plenty here which does anchor some of the songs in familiar territory. But overall this box set is a great showcase for what he has been up to outwith the confines of the band and I think many will be surprised at how good a lot of the material is. Excellent package as well, thanks to Phil Smee for that.



Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Gong SHM Papersleeve Editions


Just received this Disk Union box set of papersleeve SHM CD's of Gong's albums for the Virgin label. All apart from Flying Teapot as that languishes in licensing hell! They all have been marketed as new masters, although the Japanese booklets don't appear to mention that as far as I can tell. I quickly compared the Virgin CD of Gazeuse to the SHM and there is a time difference of about 3 seconds, so that is a good first indicator that this is a different master. It is good at last to have a mini LP version of Gong live etc, which includes the complete double albums spread over two discs. The Virgin CD missed off a track so as to squeeze the album onto a single disc. The SHM has the die cut sleeve and all the inserts, as do all the discs which have mini facsimiles of booklets, inserts, posters etc. Now to give them all a listen!