Posted on March 26, 2017
Kansas is a place in America as well as a rock band with prog roots. We review Masque here with interesting results.
1. “It Takes a Woman’s Love (To Make a Man)” Steve Walsh 3:08
2. “Two Cents Worth” Kerry Livgren, Walsh 3:08
3. “Icarus – Borne on Wings of Steel” Livgren 6:03
4. “All the World” Walsh, Robby Steinhardt 7:11
5. “Child of Innocence” Livgren 4:36
6. “It’s You” Walsh 2:31
7. “Mysteries and Mayhem” Livgren, Walsh 4:18
8. “The Pinnacle”
If you feel like buying this album and helping us out with some of our super secret projects you can by purchasing via our affiliate link with the two unassailable and oppressive mega-multinational corporations which are strangling the lifeblood out of the music industry.
Posted on March 19, 2017
The final PFM review we’re going to do in this run and all we can say is wow what a run. Great band man. This is definitely one for your collection. The sound and style moves on again from the last album, what can we say? I dunno, you’ll have to watch the video to find out 🙂
Posted on March 12, 2017
We continue our look at Premiata Formeria Marconi this week with their second album Per Un Amico. Last weeks review was a revelation, can they continue to surprise or will out expectations render us incarcerated…
I haven’t been this excited about an album since Load by Metallica.
Posted on March 5, 2017
A brand new band this week! Premiata Formeria Marconi. A great Italian band that invented the radio. Which is great. Seriously this is an interesting foray into proper Southern European prog. This is a mashup of Italian Opera and Suicide Metal. It sounds great!
You should really consider owning this album if you don’t already own it!
When I come back from the flooring shop I’ll put some affiliate links up so that you can buy it and give us some money at the same time 😉 Or just type ‘Storia In Minuto’ into Amazon or something. It’s bound to come up.
Posted on March 5, 2017
Editor’s note – this is a response to Sam’s re-review which can be found here.
The road to Prog is paved with good intentions. That doesn’t mean it has to end up with at a dinner date with Beelzebub in some rank Burger King, being forced fed forbidden snake burgers at a service station on the M42. That privilege is reserved for a period of music known as the ’80s’. Send in Vanilla Ice!
Close To The Edge was indeed made with the best of intentions.
It is a milestone in the history of prog and a good album. Good musicians were on a journey in the right place at the right time. Well, the time and place depends on which bit of the album you’re listening to. Literally seconds worth of music were recorded at a time in various studios between concerts. After several weeks of painstaking debate and frustration the bits were sellotaped together into a single cohesive piece.
Given this mode of operation it wouldn’t be surprising if the first side ended up like Rick Wakeman’s solo career – patchy. Yet somehow, cohesive it is. It works fantastically well as a complete piece and is a landmark example of how a 20-minute rock song can be structured. This little nugget and Supper’s Ready by Genesis are often considered the standard bearers of how it should be done.
Anyone who reads Sam’s meditation on the profound meaning behind Close To The Edge would be astonished at the success of this track given Jon Anderson’s aura of mad hippy nonsense. At this point in time he was just a guy from Accrington with big ideas and a fantastic sense of melody and scale. No, really. He didn’t know what he was doing, but what he was doing was awesome. Obviously, it helped that three of the other musicians in the band were at the height of their respective muses, and the other not reaching his best yet simply because he was going to soar even higher.
The four sections flow together to create a journey from one extreme to another. The crazy atonal – one chord intensity of the intro gives way to the ‘story teller’ second section which also introduces the main theme, then into the serene beauty of ‘I get up I get down’ and finally into a section of intense jamming with that euphoric key change as we arrive at our destination.
… or whatever arrangement of nice sounding words and bullshit you want to use to put the musical experience into text. The guy who runs the Yes fan club cried the first time he heard it, man.
It’s easy to see how you could hang it onto Siddartha, but if the music tells the story of the journey of enlightenment, you could frankly apply it to pretty much anything you like. It might even be about Star Wars. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Siddartha thing was draped over the music as an afterthought – ‘This music is utterly amazing and I can’t put it into words! Let’s find some words that are ‘good enough’ to match the music.’
The overwhelming success of this method would of course lead to them starting the process with ‘profound text’ and making a lot of music to match it.
As history proves, you don’t *really* do that. Doing that kind of thing ‘for real’ simply compromises the music like some awful Lloyd Webber schlock. Not that Tales From Topographic Oceans is as bad as Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s not as good as Close To The Edge but it is good. But for sanities sake let’s not go down that rabbit hole.
So that particularly terrible idea isn’t what happened here. Much is said of Yes’ lyrics simply having phonetic meaning and to most (yeah, not all…) Yes fans the Siddartha thing isn’t really relevant. The music transcends, man. You don’t need the music to be about some book on transcendence or something to see that.
Maybe Jon had the right idea after all? About the music, I mean, not any of the stuff Sam said, which for legal reasons we must stress aren’t true. Probably.
Sometimes you have to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks, or in this case maybe a better metaphor would be to throw a mellotron at some money hungry bath-water-wasting musos whilst shouting ‘play’ repeatedly in 17/8.
Importantly it should be pointed out that despite the adulation the first side receives, the second side is just as highly regarded. The closing track – Siberian Khatru, despite the nonsense title, is a pretty straight forward rocker and became one of two main concert openers over the years. The super catchy Hendrix style riff possibly being written by Bill Bruford, or at least matching his style of later solo pieces. Which is a good thing.
More significant than this, the opening track to the second side – And You And I is an even bigger achievement than Close To The Edge in some ways. Representative of a more straightforward uplifting Yes, soaring over our lives in a wave of positivity … or something like that. Maybe that’s where their future lay if what the industry experts claimed – that they were destined for Pink Floyd levels of success – were to be true.
Industry experts talk crap.
When the band reformed in the 80s, without the bass player or name, both of which were messing about in America in a more streamlined version of the band, And You And I held a special significance for Yes fans. Bruford who had left for pastures Fripp and Jazz after Close To The Edge was duped into returning. He sacrificed musical reward and self-realisation for bags of money, nice recording studios and stadiums packed out with adoring fans. Whilst displaying his usual refreshing sarcasm and dry humour when recalling this era, his recount of them playing And You And I for the first time is one of astonishment at the deafening wave of applause the band were treated to. ‘Classic Yes’ had returned and it was this song that signalled it more than any other.
Like so much art, the music on this album ‘just works’. The personalities involved, all the subsequent stuff that happened and stories of farmyard-themed recording studios aren’t relevant here. Bill Bruford calls it luck, and it does appear that way. Just the right people at the right time. Alternatively if you’re a bitter journo who never got to be in a band and are a bit miffed you can’t follow this actually not that hard to follow music, the wrong people at the wrong time led to success of the wrong music.
And lo, it was foretold in the tomb of prog, the book of mad time signatures, the pamphlet of ridiculous wizard capes, the town crier of neo-classical jazz-folk-metal hybrid music, the blog of hated by people who’ve never heard it music, the tweet of not really that difficult and actually quite catchy music, the newspaper of multipart harmonies…
…that Close To The Edge is really quite good. Better than that, it’s awesome! Steven Wilson thinks so, he remastered it.
So why doesn’t Sam like it? If he likes Metallica and Top Gear, a singer that sounds like a girl just isn’t where it’s at.
So why doesn’t Sam like it? If he likes Metallica and Top Gear, a singer that sounds like a girl just isn’t where it’s at.
“If that was my album, and Jon Anderson was singing, I would say delete that track [in a Swedish accent]” – Sam, yesterday. Possibly.
Posted on March 3, 2017
If you would like to request a band or an album leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the list. Please have a look at the list before submitting. When we’ve got a nice little collection we’ll turn it into a poll to see what people are interesting in seeing.
If leaving a comment is too arduous and you twit then you can message us @wentonking. Use a hashtag like #request or something like that. I don’t really understand twittering…
The Lizard Wizard
The Beach Boys
The Bonzo Dog Band
The Alan Parsons Project
Brian Eno (Here Come The Warm Jets, Taking Tiger Mountain, Another Green World, Before And After Science)
Ash Ra Tempel
Blonde on Blonde
Danger! High Voltage!
Breakfast In America – Supertramp
Brother Where You Bounds – Supertramp
Pat Metheny Group – Pat Metheny Group
Dixie Dregs – Dregs of the Earth
Carcass – Heartwork
In Flames – Whoracle
At The Gates (band) – Terminal Spirit Disease
Dark Tranquillity (band) – Skydancer
Dark Tranquillity – The Gallery
The Faceless (band) – Planetary Duality
Death (band) – Individual Thought Patterns
Nile – Annihilation of the Wicked
Dying Fetus (band) – Purification Through Violence
Elastica – Elastica
Emperor (band) – In The Nightside Eclipse
Burzum (band) – Filosofem
Voodoo Soup (1995) vs First Rays of the New Rising Sun (1997)
First Base by Babe Ruth
Quadrophenia – The Who
Egg – Egg
Script For A Jester’s Tear – Marillion
Komara – Komara
Into The Labyrinth – Dead Can Dance
Toward The Within (live) – Dead Can Dance
Garmarna – Vengeance
Sabotage – Black Sabbath
Melon Collie – Smashing Pumpkins
Infinite Sadness – Smashing Pumpkins
Posted on February 26, 2017
A band we had never heard of at the cutting edge of melodic death metal … according to Wikipedia anyway. This is their first album with a solid lineup and it’s been requested. Cool let’s review the sucker.
Posted on February 25, 2017
Close to the Edge
“What we have here are a gay couple of witless dicks who are full of shit.” (TheYairisan, 2016)
Yes has a dedicated following, not unlike Scientology1 and I had been slightly-kind of-extremely dismissive of the Chairman of the Board of the Yes cult – Jon Anderson.
Every now and then I still feel the shadow of those sinister people following me, filming me, driving really close to the back of my car. Occasionally I still get a heavy breather on the phone, gently whispering ‘I get in, I get out.’ It happens less often now, ever since the police protection program, but it was pretty hairy for a while.
Unfortunately for us Youtube is a visual platform. Fortunately it is a very popular platform. Therefore it was important that we did absolutely no promotion whatsoever so that nobody would watch it and realise that we have nothing to say and no reason for doing it. Making a Youtube channel that nobody would ever watch was preferable to going down the pub of a weekend where we would look nervously around the room, hoping that nobody would try to engage us in conversation or point out that we were drinking coffee (Kev – decaf).
It wasn’t long before we bumped into the ‘what next?’ problem…
Yes was the second band we covered – six albums, one a week, reviewing every song, you can imagine how arduous that was – earphones on, push the rock up the hill, get to the top, watch rock roll back down, next album – Tales From Topographic Oceans – bollocks.
Given their widespread adulation, I can’t shake the feeling that maybe I’ve been wrong about Yes. There has always been a little inkling in the deep recesses of my dark place that I might have missed the boat somehow. Perhaps a sense of guilt about the amount of time I put in, maybe I was a little negligent, maybe my ears were just not tuned in. I like Genesis, does it make sense that I don’t like Yes? A guy who digs Marmite has got to like Bovril right?
I’m off on holiday for a couple of weeks soon. I was going to listen to Zappa but whoah if I liked Yes that could make the 16 hour plane flight sort of bearable, couldn’t it?
Sufficiently motivated I now feel like I’m ready, but which one should I start with? The prospect of listening to Tales From Topographic Oceans again is a little nauseating and a song about a Roundabout, I don’t think so…
The last Bruford album – Close To The Edge – is the one for me, it is their Selling England By The Pound, unquestioned by Yes fans and unanimously well received. What could go wrong?
There is something of the Sesame Street house band about Yes – Animal on drums2, Ralph on keys3, Mr Snuffleupagus on bass, Ernie on guitar and Big Bird channeling Beaker on vocals. Instead of songs about triangles and the letter E, some hippy bollocks about Karma and chickpeas or some such shit, but similar nonetheless.
I always hated Big Bird. He was such a boring lamppost of a character. He wandered in when nothing particularly interesting was going to happen and said some boring stuff. The Cookie Monster was fantastic, a real standard bearer for the greed inherent in the modern capitalist system, Elmo was cute and adorable, Bert and Ernie pushed at the periphery of what was socially acceptable. Big Bird was shit. A complete personality black hole who had trouble counting and spelling. He was what? Thirty-five years old or something like that4.
I don’t hate Sesame Street and I don’t hate Yes. It’s Big Bird I’ve got the problem with and similarly it’s Jon Anderson I have the beef with. It’s like he looked at the Beatles in the White Album era and thought, wow thats the direction my life needs to go. The world moved on, he didn’t.
I can imagine him sitting on the balcony of a beach hut, secluded from the world, his Apple notebook flipped open, josticks burning, hummus, olives and home-made bread on the table whilst the sound of the ocean creeping up the soft sand mesmerizes and stupefies a lightly dozing Golden Labrador under a wooden bench.
Anderson reaches into his pants, rams his hand up his ass, rummages around until he finds a huge stink nugget. His cavernous butt puts up a fight but eventually he pulls it out, looks gleefully at the effulgent dripping down his fingers and lobs it at the screen of his colorful Mac book pro. That is it. The album – 4th Declension – finished.
He lets out a gleeful sigh, rolls a joint and trundles off down the beach to crack one off in the sea. Literally loving nature.
Maybe I’m not approaching this with an open mind..
Give it long enough and you should be able to tune Jon Anderson out – like tinnitus. After five albums5 he should be imperceptibly offensive, like a fart on an aircraft carrier. Yet for some reason each album is like another dose of white torture. Training can prepare you to persevere with the monotonous and noninflected syllables of crap that bounce off the diaphragm of your speaker, the true progger has done the time, can see past the rubbish, can forecast the exciting pay off. The true progger sticks it out.
Quoth Kev – “I liked it immediately”, he likes to prove me wrong.
The average human being needs things like tonal variation to keep things interesting for nineteen minutes. This is where Jon Anderson falls short – apart from the ridiculous subject matter of his music – the guy started singing a song in 1969 and didn’t finish until 1980. When most people look at track titles on an album, they think ‘ooo these must be different songs’, the fucking idiots, this is Yes! The USP of Close to the Edge was a song that lasted the whole length of one side of the album, this is of course subterfuge, the actual gambit was making a song that lasted a whole career, punctuated by periods of silence – under the pretence of writing new albums but were actually extended weed and meditation breaks, with one simple rule – do what the hell you like as long as it sounds the same.
Jon Anderson’s apparent lack of awareness about how ridiculous his approach to music is can only be equaled by the absurdity of the band, apparently over burdened with talent, sticking Bruford and Wakeman on the side lines. Two musicians with greater reputations cannot be found6 and somehow they were on the subs bench, a crime of profligacy against Hector the Prog god. Well I say somehow but really it is obvious what happened – the whole basis of the album was bat shit bonkers. Two perfectly ordinary people with at least one foot in the real world would not be able to engage with this bollocks. So they ostracized themselves and hoped for plausible deniability.7
Twice I’ve tried to read Siddartha to see what all the fuss is about. A story about a cocky teenager that buggers off on the path of enlightenment with his mate – Govinda who has a huge man crush on him – judging people, having conversations and engaging in some really clunky story telling.
“Just loved the way Siddhartha was written: beautiful words, peaceful rhythm, simple plot, and so many “quotable” passages that gives you a lot think about it.” – Review of Siddartha on Goodreads.
What I actually read was – ‘Siddartha suddenly realised all teaching was a load of old tosh and the world seemed different to him’. Yeah great story. It’s right up there with – “the famous man looked at the red cup.”8
I’ll give you a clue if you haven’t read it, Siddhartha makes it, he becomes like a super guru. What the hell Close to the Edge has to do with this completely bypasses me.
Rick Wakeman: Seriously? You want to put one mans journey to the realisation of the **ineffable** oneness of everything – that time doesn’t actually exist and that reality is only the present and there is no past and no future, that everything: the rock, the river is it’s own past and future and that there is no pain and suffering, that everything is just one side of an infinitely sided oneness which cannot be communicated via words, can only be experienced…that? You want to put that on the album?
Jon Anderson: Exactly!
Steve Howe: Genius man.
When you read it like that, it actually sounds impressively ambitious and that’s just side one. Side two has even more nonsense, I’m surprised they didn’t try and distill quantum mechanics into the liner notes.
After listening to the album for a bit, and you get past all that crap, there is some awesome music there. You just need to get to the point where you can tune in to it. Steve Howe is a wonderful plinky plonk guitarist, Rick Wakeman’s solo’s aren’t all like ear ache, in fact some of it is amazing. You’ve also got to appreciate the time that it came out. It must’ve sounded other worldly. From a reviewers point of view the anecdotes are quite good as well. Bits of tape being chucked in the rubbish and the notoriously difficulty of recording the bloody thing, it’s all great stuff.
I bloody love Close to the Edge. This makes me angry. It means that I was at least partially wrong – the Universe must have had a slight hiccup or something. I still stand by my criticisms: Jon Anderson should not be let within three hundred miles of any sort of writing implement. This is no way to make an album. Speaking as a vegetarian peace monkey myself who actually found the book kind of rewarding in the finish, I can honestly say that this album adds nothing to it.
But as a piece of music. Once you can get that ringing out of your ear there is some great stuff to enjoy. The organ solo at the end of Close to the Edge is amazing and the other two tracks are pretty solid. Kev’s convinced that Bruford had a lot more to do with Siberian Khatru than is widely let on, that fact doesn’t make it any more or any less interesting or enjoyable.
The weakest part of the album is every vocal section, unfortunately they are necessary because otherwise it would sound like a mad mans notebook of noodly doodlies and not in a good way. You could argue that this is in fact genius. The insipid malaise that the vocals inspire draw parallels with the steady drone of the river that Siddartha learns his final lesson from. He has to listen really hard to learn the final lesson in much the same way you have to listen really hard to enjoy Close to the Edge. Is that genius? Fluke? Or am I staring at clouds and seeing dragons? I don’t know.
Egging it is difficult. 4 seems so cruel given the scope of what’s going on but out of three, two of the tracks are decent but not awesome. Even though instrumentally it is perfectly fine with some excellent bits, the most memorable thing on the album is the ‘I get in, I get out’ nonsense. This is not a good motif.
Close to the Edge is a perceived as a Prog milestone and therefore we should be looking at five or six eggs, but it’s not. There aren’t enough of those jaw dropping moments it is a solid 4 egg album.
There will be a lot of Yes fans who disagree strongly and hopefully they will leave some lovely comments telling me so. I’m a lot more positive about it than when we initially reviewed it, on the current trajectory it will be bumped up to a 5 egg album in about fifteen years. It is a notable album that’s a good yardstick for judging other albums by and not wholly offensive. Sure I’ve taken a swipe at Jon Anderson, mostly because it’s funny, but his metaphors are so cryptic that it could have been about crop rotation in the 14th century9 and it wouldn’t have changed very much. It’s just a shame that something so inventive musically can have such boring vocals.
TheYairisan (2016, Oct) Re: Tales From Topographic Oceans review. In the Court of the Wenton King part 14. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdYSMas4FX8&lc=z13tuxjwhl24tv3mp22ehlrrpofwddr4w04
Siddartha for Those Who Haven’t Read It
A precocious kid called Siddartha did lots of ablutions in the river until he decides to leave to seek enlightenment with his mate Govinda. After really putting his foot down his Dad lets him leave and they bugger off.
They join a bunch of guys who fast a lot and beg a lot. They do it for a few years and Siddartha decides that he’s not learning anything. So they bugger off from there as well. They run into a living Buddha and Siddartha says to him ‘learning is for chumps’. Govinda decides to stay and follow the Buddha guy. Siddartha leaves and everything looks and feels different.
He stays with a ferry guy for a bit and then goes to the town and learns business and sex. He’s really good at it and eventually gets suckered in, he becomes like the towns folk. Then after a couple of decades or something he thinks ‘shit’. He has sex with Kamala, his ‘teacher in the ways of love’ one last time and then heads back out into the forest.
Man is Siddartha depressed. He tries to chuck himself into the river but catches himself at the last moment. Govinda finds him and looks after him but he doesn’t recognise him. Then he does ‘oh wow how you’ve changed’ etc.
Siddartha has no money and then remembers the ferry man. He always got a good vibe from him. He thinks he’ll go bum around with him. Which he does and they listen to the river a lot. Ages go past, they really get on quite well. Then the Buddha is on his death bed and everyone is travelling to see him along with Kamala with her son Siddartha!
Kamala sits on a snake and dies.
Young Siddartha doesn’t want to live with his Dad but his Dad tries to make him. Young Siddartha runs away. Old Siddartha goes after him, realises that he has to let go when he gets back to Kamala’s garden and goes back to the Ferry.
Siddartha listens to the river a lot, it tells him something about the universe and time and all that crap, the old Ferryman wanders off into the woods. Govinda turns up to use the ferry. Again he doesn’t recognise Siddartha. He asks him to teach him a lesson, Siddartha tells him to kiss his forehead … Govinda realises Siddartha has become like the Buddha.
Awesome! Mission accomplished.
1 Defintiely not a religion.
2 On secondment from the muppets
3 Also seconded from the muppets
4 Complete guess, no doubt he was like 8 or something but that’s just not believeable.
5 Yes – (1969), Time and a Word (1970), The Yes Album (1971), Fragile (1971), Close to the Edge (1972)
6 Bruford obviously had very little reputation at this point but nonetheless.
8 Stewart Lee satirsing Dan Brown’s writing style – https://youtu.be/-yUDh_IErT4?t=39s