Album Review: Rick Wakeman – No Earthly Connection

I had my initial doubts about this one, and with good reason. Among music fans, Rick Wakeman is a polarizing figure. One either loves his work or despises it. For those in the former camp, his keyboard playing, composing and arranging show a deft, assured and endlessly creative master. Both as a highly in-demand sessioner

DVD Review: Rick Wakeman – Made in Cuba

Rick Wakeman has quite a reputation. Both as a man and a musician, he’s cut a rather indelible figure since his ascendancy on the music scene in the early 1970s. While the classically-trained keyboardist got his start as a session keyboardist, working on albums by David Bowie and many others, he headed down the household-name

Album Review: Detective — s/t

By the mid 1970s, having one’s own boutique record label was a symbol of Having Arrived. The Beatles started it all with Apple, and within a few years, The Moody Blues had Threshold, Deep Purple had (naturally) Purple Records, and The Rolling Stones had their own eponymous label. So it came as little surprise when

March Through Time: Yes

I love Yes. The progressive rock brand has a distinctive style that has served it well for more than a half-century. I’ve been lucky enough to see the group live onstage a few times, and I’ve interviewed no less than eight of its musicians (some more than once). Their career has had its ups and

Album Review: Various Artists — Still Wish You Were Here

My standard disclaimer where tribute albums are concerned is that the concept if dodgy on its face, and that it rarely succeeds. But for every rule here is an exception, and I’m holding in my hands the most recent example thereof. Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here is a monumental album, one best not messed

Album Review: Badfinger — No Matter What: Revisiting the Hits

The appearance of this CD in my mailbox elicited a cringe: would it be terrible? A crass attempt to capitalize on the reputation of a band that made some of the best music of its era? An undistinguished, middling effort? Something else? The cover art and packaging did not allay my fears. A Union Jack?

Hundred-word Reviews: January 2021 #1

Welcome to 2021. Let’s hope it’s better for the world’s citizens than 2020 was. Some things, at least, never change. And one of those is my commitment to covering music that might otherwise escape readers’ notice. My hundred-world review entries are an attempt to do just that. Here are five new releases you should know

Yes’ ‘Drama’ at 40: A Critical Look Back at the Band’s Most Controversial LP

It’s accepted conventional wisdom now that the 1980s were a tough time for progressive rock. The subgenre enjoyed its heyday – commercially and critically – beginning in the very late 1960s and continuing into the mid- to later part of the ‘70s. And while the revisionist notion that punk “killed” prog is wildly overstated –

Moraz and Moog’s Field Trip

[This feature originally appeared in Electronic Sound Magazine.] On a Spring afternoon in 1975, Swiss keyboard virtuoso Patrick Moraz found himself bounding through a field in upstate New York, carrying with him a synthesizer. Accompanying him on this unlikely outdoor jaunt was the electronics pioneer Dr. Robert A. Moog. “We used to have field trips

Prog in Disguise: The Buggles’ ‘The Age of Plastic’ at 40

The late 1970s were an odd time for popular music. Today’s listeners know that punk made its mark in the middle ’70s, but it’s worth noting that from a commercial standpoint – especially in the U.S. – punk rock was a comparatively insignificant phenomenon. Instead, its effect was felt mostly in the ways in which