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IF IT’S OUT THERE, IT’S IN HERE
KING CRIMSON RESTATE THEIR OWN HISTORY
Complete 1969 Recordings portrays the personalities that lived through the year that helped define prog. King Crimson are to clarify the history of their most important year with upcoming box set Complete 1969 Recordings. The foundation of the 26-disc set is their debut album, In The Court Of The Crimson King, which appears in multiple mixes including a 2020 Dolby Atmos version by Steven Wilson. Along with every live recording known to exist from that year are all the studio sessions too – and David Singleton, who mixed those tapes, says it’s the perfect way to set the record straight about Robert Fripp’s outfit. “The history of King
Crimson has been perceived incorrectly,” he says, noting that at one point they’d been told there were no live recordings anywhere in the world, and the master version of 21st Century Schizoid Man had been lost. Over the years they tracked down a stack of live recordings and the Schizoid Man tape turned out to have been mislabelled rather than mislaid. One of the highlights for Singleton was discovering inter-session conversations between Fripp, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald and Michael Giles. “I was astonished and then I chuckled,”
he explains. “For years and years I’d heard stories from Robert about how sessions with the producer Tony Clarke didn’t work out. Robert said, ‘He had me doing things that just weren’t me.’” In the new box set Fripp can be heard complaining about those things, asking, “Why am I doing this?” (The answer, partly, is that Clarke was trying to make King Crimson sound like The Moody Blues.) “I could hear Robert and Ian getting ruder and ruder,” Singleton says. “I thought, ‘I know what I’m listening to!’” He compares listening along to “experiencing the story” of the band’s development. “You can hear the dynamic when they’re talking. In the sessions for I Talk To The Wind you can hear Robert and Ian holding down various keys on the harmonium to get the wind sound without too many notes… ‘More on the bottom and less on the top; it sounds too human!’ “You can hear the personalities – Michael likes to mess around, and Robert is possibly the headmaster. At the end of the take you get marked out of 10 by Robert, as in, ‘I’m not being harsh here but I don’t think we quite got that one.’ You realise it’s young men making an album for the very first time. It’s spooky!” But that’s not all. “There are wonderful musical moments too,” he adds. “You can hear moments when they could have gone another way, they were trying different ideas.” That sense of being in the moment extends, naturally, to the live recordings. “You hear them getting more confident, although I think they
Back in the court: Robert Fripp, left, and King Crimson in 1969.
“At the end of the take you get marked out of 10 by Robert.” 12 progmagazine.com
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This month, Intro was compiled by Chris Cope Jerry Ewing Martin Kielty Hannah May Kilroy Dave Ling Rhodri Marsden Julian Marszalek Alison Reijman Natasha Scharf Nick Shilton Phil Weller Rich Wilson
Roine Stolt and co deliver 21-track epic Islands just a year after their last record.
PRESS/ LILIAN FORSBERG
were always very confident,” Singleton says. “They played games of chicken where they’d basically stop, and it was a game to see how long they’d wait before someone started again!” He argues that the variety of improvisations and the width of music in the live sets suggest that In The Court Of The Crimson King might not have become the iconic “snapshot” it did if they’d thrown everything they were capable of playing onto vinyl. The box set – which King Crimson have been at pains to point out does include previous material, so that no fan feels ripped off – comes with session notes by Singleton, sleeve notes by biographer Sid Smith and an introduction by Fripp. “We tried to think of everything a fan would want in a box, then put it in a box,” Singleton says. “That’s not as easy as it sounds.” Complete 1969 Recordings is released on October 23. For more details and to pre-order visit www.dgmlive.com. MK
FLOWER KINGS DOUBLE UP
Stepping forward: The Flower Kings.
PRESS/ DGM/KING CRIMSON
Only a year after releasing their last album, The Flower Kings are back with Islands. The double-disc, 21-track, 92-minute release will arrive on October 30 via InsideOut after the band put their coronavirus downtime to good use. Echoing the pervading atmosphere of lockdown, which left the chance of playing live out of their near future, the new music touches on the theme of isolation, with the movements interconnecting to form one large suite. “I think we have crossed a lot of borders here,” guitarist and vocalist Roine Stolt says. “We’ve had lots of fun – and we didn’t give a rat’s ass about what kind of style we played, or if it was commercial, as long as we liked it.” With the group’s members spread across the world, the patchwork parts of the record zapped around the globe until they became one. Typically grandiose artwork from the revered Roger Dean adds an extra sheen to the package. Stolt believes that Islands marks another subtle honing of The Flower Kings’ sound, following their well-received 2019 album Waiting For Miracles. “I would say it’s a big step forward – but really it isn’t,” he says. “As I’ve said many times before, I rest in the belief that you really can’t escape from yourself, musically speaking. So in all these later years I’ve just tried to embrace our style, and I tell my bandmembers to do the same. You can only be the best version of yourself.” For more details, visit www.roinestolt.com. CC
WOBBLER GO DIGGING IN THE DEEP ON LATEST ALBUM
Fifth album contains new additions to their sound.
Norwegian quintet Wobbler launch new album Dwellers of the Deep on October 23 via Karisma. The group mine the best of 70s prog – fans of Yes and Gentle Giant will feel at home – but they make it their own, with a keen focus on experimentation. Although the record only has four tracks, it includes the 13-minute By The Banks and 19-minute finale Merry Macabre. Vocalist Andreas Prestmo says the band explored the “ongoing struggle between juxtaposed forces within the psyche.” He explains: “Even though it’s complex and full of contrasts, the natural flow and coherent feel of the songs are at the core of it all. We have matured as songwriters.” The addition of violin and female vocals are two surprises in store. “The album is somewhat unfamiliar – but then, our Wobblerian identity will probably confound people!” Prestmo adds. Visit www.wobblerofficial.com. CC Sounds of surprise: it’s Wobbler!
It’s our biggest poll so far and it’s also been the one with the greatest number of surprises. Turn the page and find out who you voted as prog’s 100 greatest musicians of all time.
e asked. You voted. In your thousands. Almost 80,000 of you to be precise, by far and away the biggest reader vote this magazine has ever undertaken. So the past month has been a heady whirlwind of names, numbers, quotes, frayed tempers, late nights and bleary-eyed mornings – don’t ever let anyone tell you that compiling one of these issues is “easy”. But, thank you all for your votes. Around 50,000 of you voted for your favourite Yes songs in Prog 107 so we can see how important these lists are to all of you and the very fact those numbers keep increasing is a hugely positive sign. Perhaps out of all the polls that Prog has conducted in the 11 or so years since we’ve been going, this one’s thrown up the biggest number of surprises. Of course, all polls are subjective and there are so many factors that come into play beyond simple popularity: sentimentality, who mobilised their fanbase best, favouritism and beyond.
The other thing with polls is if you agree with them, they’re great. If you don’t, well, it’s an outrage, isn’t it? Personally I’d have thought some artists would have been higher, and within some bands, certain members polled higher than I thought they might. On the flip side, it was good to see a healthy number of younger artists mixed in with the legends of the 70s. For us here at the magazine, these polls aren’t just fun (and a lot of hard work), they offer us a guide as to how our readers feel about the genre. It also gives an insight into who’s buying Prog. The appearance of some of the genre’s young and technically gifted musicians suggests a healthy younger section of readers. The Top 10 itself obviously features many musicians you’d expect, but there are enough surprises too to hint that the stranglehold of the 70s, while still strong, could be opening up to allow a more healthy swathe of musicians into the spotlight. One thing that remains unhealthy, however, is the fact that no female musicians featured in
the Top 100. In its original form, progressive music might have tended to be the domain of the white male, both as musician and fan, but that was 50 years ago, and we now live in a diverse and multicultural world. Modern progressive music reflects that and I’d like to think this magazine does too. However, these results suggest that some are still lagging behind. We speak to Rosalie Cunningham about this on page 35. But these are the votes for the best prog musicians (singers get their shout next time, before anyone has a moan), exactly as they came in from you guys. Once again, a massive thank you to everyone who voted. Enjoy the poll and what the musicians have to say. We’re looking forward to reading your thoughts about the poll.
For ou exclusivre Top 100 p la ylist visit Jerry Ewing EDITOR http://bit.l 100_playlisy/ t Compiled by: Mark Blake, Malcolm Dome, Dave Everley, Jerry Ewing, Matt Frost, Rob Hughes, Dom Lawson, Dave Ling, David Mead, Milton Mermikedes, Grant Moon, Kris Needs, Chuck Parker, Chris Roberts, Steve Rosen, Terri Saccone, Nick Shilton, Sid Smith, David West, Jon Wiederhorn, Stuart Williams, Holly Wright, Henry Yates Thanks to the following magazines: Bassist, Bass Guitar Magazine, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Guitar Techniques, Guitar World, Rhythm
THE TOP 200 200. RAY HEARNE 199. ANNA VON HAUSSWOLFF 198. GARY GREEN 197. PETER BAUMANN 196. THEO TRAVIS 195. ERIC STEWART 194. ACLE KAHNEY 193. BRYAN BELLER 192. TON SCHERPENZEEL 191. PIP PYLE 190. JOHN JOWITT 189. RYO OKUMOTO 188. JOHN GOODSALL 187. TROY DONOCKLEY 186. MARTIN AXENROT 185. MARTÍN MÉNDEZ 184. GUY EVANS 183. DAVE SWARBRICK 182. DAN BRIGGS 181. GRAHAM GOULDMAN 180. MICK POINTER 179. BERT JANSCH 178. DAVID SANCIOUS 177. PETER JONES 176. ROBERT REED 175. MICHAEL DUNFORD 174. AMOS WILLIAMS 173. MATT STEVENS 172. JAY POSTONES 171. HUGH HOPPER 170. COLIN BASS 169. ANDY WARD 168. LOL CREME 167. JAKI LIEBEZEIT 166. JON CAMP 165. ANDY TILLISON 164. DEE PALMER 163. ALAN MORSE 162. JERRY GOODMAN 161. KEVIN GODLEY 160. WOOLLY WOLSTENHOLME 159. PIERRE MOERLEN 158. JOHN LEES 157. JOHN YOUNG 156. DIEGO TEJEDA 155. MIKE RATLEDGE 154. CHRISTOPHER FRANKE 153. FRANCIS DUNNERY 152. JEM GODFREY
151. HUGH BANTON 150. PERCY JONES 149. DAVID JACKSON 148. JON HISEMAN 147. DAVE KILMINSTER 146. ADAM WAKEMAN 145. CRAIG BLUNDELL 144. BRUCE SOORD 143. ADAM HOLZMAN 142. PYE HASTINGS 141. LEE POMEROY 140. FREDRIK ÅKESSON 139. CLIVE BUNKER 138. OLIVER WAKEMAN 137. HOLGER CZUKAY 136. DAVE PEGG 135. MARTÍN LÓPEZ 134. DAVID CROSS 133. JOHN GLASSCOCK 132. DAVE SINCLAIR 131. VINCENT CAVANAGH 130. WENDY CARLOS 129. MARTIN ORFORD 128. TREY GUNN 127. JOHN WEATHERS 126. GEOFFREY RICHARDSON 125. JONAS REINGOLD 124. MIKE HOLMES 123. RICK DAVIES 122. LENNY WHITE 121. JAKKO JAKSZYK 120. DANIEL CAVANAGH 119. NICK BARRETT 118. TOM BRISLIN 117. GRAEME EDGE 116. PETER BANKS 115. TAL WILKENFELD 114. DAVE BROCK 113. NICK D’VIRGILIO 112. RICHARD HENSHALL 111. ROBERT JOHN GODFREY 110. CHRISTIAN VANDER 109. JOHN MITCHELL 108. RAY THOMAS 107. TUOMAS HOLOPAINEN 106. PETER BARDENS 105. CLIVE NOLAN 104. MICHAEL GILES 103. RACHEL FLOWERS 102. RICHARD SINCLAIR 101. MISHA MANSOOR
By Grace Alone Rather than spend lockdown learning to bake bread or doing yoga, Neal Morse made a concept album. Inspired by the life of St Paul the Apostle, Morse composed Sola Gratia – by grace alone. He tells Prog about working remotely, trusting his instincts, and being a man without a musical country. Words: David West Portrait: Jim Arbogast
t’s tempting to look for parallels between the Biblical conversion of St Paul the Apostle on the road to Damascus and Neal Morse’s decision, two decades ago, to leave Spock’s Beard in the wake of his own spiritual awakening. Beginning with 2003’s Testimony, Morse has used his music as a vehicle to express his faith and with Sola Gratia he turns his attention to the story of Paul. For anyone who’s a little rusty on their Bible scripture, Paul was a Pharisee who persecuted the early Christians until he experienced a vision, after which he devoted his life to spreading the new faith. He’s a key figure in the New Testament, in which 14 of the 27 books are attributed to Paul. In keeping with Morse’s previous concept albums, such as Jesus Christ: The Exorcist and The Similitude Of A Dream, his message may be spiritual yet the delivery is unmistakeably prog. The kernel of the concept arrived while Morse was on vacation in February, before he came home to write and record the music while in lockdown through March and April.
“Music always should be a surprise. We should be moved and thrilled as we’re working on it. Often it can become like a job; [if] we do it too often and too long we can lose the wonder, so I try to hold onto that.”
Grace notes: the gospel according to Neal Morse.
Reinvention is the key to success. At least that’s how The Pineapple Thief’s Bruce Soord sees it. Since King Crimson’s Gavin Harrison joined full-time, the band have become tighter and more focused than ever. Mainman Soord and drummer Harrison share their Versions Of The Truth from their powerful 13th studio album and discuss how they’ve been able to keep things fresh. Words: Johnny Sharp Images: Joe del Tufo
truth is out there 68 progmagazine.com
“Bruce is actually the easiest person to work with in the world because whatever I suggest, he’s pretty much up for trying it. He’s got a very open mentality.” Gavin Harrison
The Pineapple Thief, L-R: Steve Kitch, Jon Sykes, Bruce Soord, Gavin Harrison.
f any band has got off lightly from the carnage wreaked on the music scene by Covid-19, it’s surely The Pineapple Thief. Their new album Versions Of The Truth was finished shortly after coming off a successful first tour of North America, before lockdown came into force, and while other bands ended up unable to share a rehearsal room or studio, let alone stage, this band’s MO of remote songwriting collaboration didn’t require any adjustment. “We’ve been really lucky,” admits Yeovil-based singer-guitarist Bruce Soord. “The process has always been me and Gav [Harrison, London-based drummer] sharing ideas online, so we just carried on doing what we’re doing.” He also says the fortuitous timing of tours meant they had natural breaks in writing and recording to recharge creative batteries. So could it be that this is a band whose fortunes have permanently turned since the middle of the last decade? That was when they first began setting their sights a little higher than carrying on as something of a subsistence-level, cult concern prog band, and began working with guest musicians such as Caravan’s string arranger Geoffrey Richardson, Godsticks’ guitarist Darran Charles and, most notably, King Crimson and former Porcupine Tree percussionist Gavin Harrison. “I see this as our third record,” Soord admits, “I don’t think of it as the 13th
album. When Gavin joined, then things really started to happen. It seems weird to talk about keeping things fresh and keeping developing with your 13th record; it seems ridiculous. But since Gavin joined it’s felt like a new beginning.” Yet it might well have been the end. Prog asks Soord how he feels about the inability to play live in the current climate, given that he once suffered from crippling nerves playing live, which TPT did only sporadically anyway. And it opens up quite a revealing story about the watershed moment this band went through a few years back. “The reason I felt the stage fright, and I wish I could go back and tell my past self, was because the band just wasn’t good enough. We didn’t rehearse enough, didn’t play enough. Of course the catch-22 is that it’s very difficult for a band when you’re not making money, still have to hold down a day job, play odd shows here and there, straight from a rehearsal room, so it often doesn’t go particularly well. “Because of that I was always thinking: ‘Oh God, how is this going to go?’ I had to drink stage fright away, which is certainly not recommended. One show, I could barely focus on the strings on my guitar. It was at that moment Jon [Sykes, longtime bassist], who saw me wobbling around the stage, said, ‘I want to quit, I don’t want to do this anymore.’”
He changed his mind, but doubts continued, even through the early part of the last decade. “We were doing okay – playing in Europe, doing small shows – but generally the shows were losing money. And then I remember saying to Jon when we started [2016’s] Your Wilderness, ‘This will be our last record – we’ve done well, the band has done good things. No regrets…’ “Then Gav came in as session player, Your Wilderness came out, and things began to take off. It felt like a rebirth.” It would be over-dramatic to say it sounds like one, too – that would be to do a disservice to a strong back catalogue of work The Porcupine Tree have built up since their 1999 debut. But they’re clearly on a roll, and new album Versions Of The Truth is their most conceptually coherent, melodically captivating record to date. Setting the theme with the slowburning unease of the opening title track, it centres around the decidedly contemporary notion that everyone has their own jealously guarded reality, and their truth is as good as yours. “There was conflict with someone who’s very dear to me,” Soord explains. “He said to someone I know, ‘I don’t know which seven versions of the truth Bruce is telling you, but…’ When I was told what he’d said, I thought, ‘Ah, that’s such a profound statement.’ “It made me realise what we’re going though is really horrible, but it’s progmagazine.com 69
Words: Malcolm Dome
ohn Lees is one of the cornerstones of 1970s progressive music. And yet he’s consistently underrated. A quiet, unassuming person, the guitarist/vocalist seemed to
What larks: BJH come clean in a 1968 photo session.
He co-founded Barclay James Harvest in 1966, alongside Woolly Wolstenholme (keyboards, vocals), Les Holroyd (bass, vocals) and Mel Pritchard (drums). They created some of the most enduring music of the 70s with a succession of highly rated albums. In the process, the band became huge stars across Europe, especially Germany. In the 80s, following Wolstenholme’s departure, they streamlined their sound to fit in with the new decade’s demands, and carried on successfully recording and touring until they broke up in 1998. Since then, Lees has put together his own be rather her version of the band, Harvest And Ot initially under the name embarrassed Barclay Jamesreissued in 2020. Short Stories: Barclay James Harvest when given the Through The Eyes Of John Lees Visionary award and, more recently, as the less at the 2018 Progressive Music cumbersome John Lees’ Barclay Awards. But despite that, his James Harvest. He’s also worked impact is undeniable.
“We had that [party] side to us. We always enjoyed a laugh. Our sense of humour was, and still is, a bond that keeps us together.”
on the academic staff in a school. Now at the age of 73, he’s still very much an active musician. Did you have aspirations when you were a kid to eventually become a rock star? Not a rock star, but definitely a musician. I pestered my parents until they bought me a guitar, and played a lot of popular music at the time. I did do graphic design at art school and even worked at an advertising agency for a while. But by the time I was 19 there was only one job for me: a professional musician. Heaven help me! Who would you say were your musical heroes in those very early days? My sister had a boyfriend who was in the RAF and based in Germany. He brought back an Eddie Cochran record that I ended up playing to death. Through him, I also discovered the American blues vocalist Jimmy Witherspoon. And I also loved the Paul Anka rendition of Diana.
KEVIN NIXON/FUTURE OWNS
Every month, we get inside the minds of some of the biggest names in music. This issue it’s Barclay James Harvest co-founder John Lees. The vocalist-guitarist helped form the band back in the mid-60s and continues their legacy in the present day with John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest. From almost meeting Elvis to becoming the first Western act to play an open-air concert in East Germany, BLH were a little band from Greater Manchester who became a very big deal. Here Lees looks back over their career, that fall-out and reveals whether he really thought they were just a Poor Man’s Moody Blues.
A serious man: John Lees, Harvester extraordinaire, onstage in 1978.
Edited by Dave Everley firstname.lastname@example.org
FISH Time gentlemen, please: prog’s great warrior-poet bows out with a career-capping masterpiece. Words: Dave Everley Illustration: Mark Wilkinson
nd so this is it. The end. Last orders on a career that has finished where it began more than 40 years ago, in the heart of Lothian, having circled the globe a hundred times over, taking in all the boozy highs and red-eyed lows life has to offer. The old warrior-poet is draining his glass one final time, proud of everything he’s achieved but aching-boned and world-weary. He’s almost done with this, almost ready to retire to his garden and write books and screenplays. Almost, but not quite. It’s been five years since Fish announced that his next album – this one – would be his last. At times it looked like he’d never even make it this far. The catalogue of woes which have plagued the big man since 2013’s A Feast Of Consequences are enough to fill an entire volume of his oft-mooted autobiography: failed romances and family bereavements, hand surgery, spinal operations, writer’s block, two bouts of sepsis, one near-death experience and a full-blown global pandemic. All that bedevilment could have scuppered Weltschmerz a long time ago. Instead, it’s conspired to produce the best album of his solo career, one that is lush and expansive yet intimate and personal, sometimes angry, sometimes dejected, but never anything less than magnetic. Fish has said that Weltschmerz is an album informed by “the pain of the world”, as the rough English translation of the title suggests. In fact there’s so much pain of the personal, political and societal varieties going on that it’s impossible to cram it onto a single album, hence its 10 songs are spread over two discs. But neither an epic running time nor existential heaviness weigh it down: Weltschmerz is leaner than any 85-minute album has a right to be. Much of what he’s been through in the last few years is addressed here. Eight-minute opening track The Grace Of God begins with the beeping of an ECG machine and the dislocated words of a doctor giving assurances to a patient just before they go under. Against
Weltschmerz CHOCOLATE FROG
The best album of his solo career, lush and expansive. a backdrop of throbbing menace, Fish conjures vivid images of canulas probing under the skin of withered arms and a body ‘pinned down on a table at the mercy of machines’. However halfway through, it suddenly pivots and the song opens up into something grander and more cinematic, all sweeping strings and intricate production (credit to Calum Malcolm: Weltschmerz is by far the best-produced album the singer has released under his own name). Autobiographical threads are woven throughout. The deceptively sparkling Walking On Eggshells updates the themes of toxic co-dependency and volatile relationships he first mined on Marillion’s 1983 track Jigsaw (he’s alluded to the song being based on personal experience). The brooding, nocturnal Little Man What Now? addresses the death of Fish’s father and the bleak emptiness that
followed; depression informs Waverley Steps, the tale of a life unravelling that the singer has implied could easily have mirrored his own. It’s not all bleak introspection and soulsearching. The seething Man With A Stick is an on-the-money takedown of police brutality, while the album’s 17-minute centrepiece, Rose Of Damascus, ties together geo-political upheaval, religious fundamentalism, terrorism, immigration and Fish’s newfound passion for horticulture (at least half of the album’s songs reference flowers or gardening). It’s a grand suite of a song, built on shifting musical and emotional sands, but it’s a world away from the bloated self-regard that sometimes comes with the territory. But mostly, this is Fish singing about Fish in one way or another, whether the jaunty celtic reel of The Party’s Over (‘I’m calling it a day/ Enough of all this bullshit…’) or the unbearably moving Garden Of Remembrance, the story of absence and loss inspired by his mother’s dementia. The latter is made doubly poignant by the fact that it sounds like the closing chapter of a book that opened with 1990’s A Gentleman’s Excuse Me. That’s not the only callback to the past on Weltschmerz. Sometimes they’re barely noticeable, perhaps unintentional, the fleeting recognition of a half-familiar phrase (it’s hard to hear ‘Pandora’s box’ on Rose Of Damascus without thinking of Marillion’s Fugazi). Other times it’s explicit: the closing title track, which sees our man railing against the state of the world, is pretty much Market Square Heroes 40 years on, the blazing fury of youth tamed but still burning. Maybe it’s a deliberate closing of the circle, maybe it’s not. Either way, it’s a hell of a way to finish an album. And a career. Of course, Fish’s career isn’t done, just the side of it that involves making music. Assuming he keeps his promise, it’ll be strange not to have him around: he leaves a giant hole in a scene that’s short on honest to God characters. But as far as valedictions go, they don’t come any better than this.