Album Review: Clearlight — Impressionist Symphony

With precious few exceptions, attempting a classical-rock hybrid is at worst a fool’s errand, at best a thankless task. All too often, this most ambitious of goals – bringing together fans of intricate, densely layered orchestral work and searing, heavy rock – ends up pleasing no one. At its most insipid, the result is something

Preview: Moogfest 2014

When the first Moogfest took place (2004) it was a smallish event in New York City, and its namesake – Dr. R.A. Moog – was still alive. The festival focused on the synthesizer technology pioneered by Bob Moog and others, and featured Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, Bernie Worrell and other synth luminaries closely associated with

Progtastic Capsule Reviews for November, Part 1

I am unashamed to admit it: I like progressive rock. I like it a lot. And yet I can’t trot out the boilerplate statement, “The fourteen-year-old boy in me loves his prog,” because at fourteen – even at seventeen – I didn’t really like the stuff. Which is a bit odd, seeing as those years

What’s Old is New Again in November 2013, Part Two

Three more capsule reviews of new-to-you live albums, continuing from yesterday’s blog entry. The Modern Jazz Quartet – Lost Tapes: Germany 1956-1958 Where modern jazz is concerned, taste and restraint need not be synonymous. And there’s no better exemplar of the first without the second than The Modern Jazz Quartet. Throughout its forty-plus year history,

All the Interviews (A-Z)

If, like some of my readers, you’re primarily interested in reading my interviews, features and conversations, then you may find the list below useful. It’s a complete (updated when I remember) index of all my published interviews. Right now there are nearly 1000 here. 1964 The Tribute / Mark Benson 50 Shades! The Musical Parody

Album Review: Days Between Stations – In Extremis

I truly mean no disrespect to the man, but experience has taught me not to get too excited about any musical project that involves Billy Sherwood. He’s clearly a talented musician: skilled and appealing on many instruments including guitar, keyboards and drums, he’s also a fine singer, and skilled at production, engineering, songwriting and so

Album Review: Various Artists – Who Are You

I’m cool with the concept of tribute albums. Hell, I play in a cover band, so I get it. Paying respect to a group or artist is a worthy goal, if perhaps not the world’s most creative endeavor. But for it to be more than an exercise in futility, there needs to be something of

Album Review: The Fusion Syndicate

Progressive rock musicians are — by their very nature and out of necessity – an ambitious, adventurous lot. So it’s not an insurmountable conceptual leap to get a bunch of them together to make a jazz fusion album. And that’s precisely the conceit upon which the self-titled album credited to The Fusion Syndicate is built.

Album Review: Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe – Live at the NEC

There’s an old joke – admittedly not a rip-roaringly hilarious one – about band names sounding like law firms: Crosby, Stills, Nash and (sometimes) Young was the first to be the butt of comments about too many egos for one band (or band name). The tortuously convoluted history of Yes resulted in a late 80s

Album Review: Yes – Open Your Eyes (vinyl reissue)

For some bands, personnel changes are the mile markers by which we chart their history. Members come and go, and (usually) each time, the character of the group changes in some measurable way. For whatever reason or reasons, progressive rock bands seem to engender the most frequent lineup changes; are prog players more difficult to