PopCult Note: For this entry in the Gift Guide, we turn the controls over to Herman Linte, the presenter of Prognosis, the weekly progressive rock show heard every Monday at 3 PM EST on The AIR. We’ll be back at the end of Herman’s suggestions to tell you about the Prognosis marathon happening today.
Good Day! I would like to thank Mr. Panucci for this chance to offer my suggestions for holiday gifts for the discriminating admirer of Progressive Rock. To begin, I will look at new releases by veteran bands that prove there is plenty of life left in the progressive movement. Mr. Panucci has informed me that he will provide links where you can order this music online, but asked that I remind you to try and order them locally, first.
The Prelude Implicit by Kansas finds the American prog-rockers returning to the studio for the first time in sixteen years with a new vocalist, a new guitarist and a new committment to their original sound. All of the familiar Kansas elements are there, but there is a newfound vigor. The Prelude Implicit could easily have been released in the era that produced their classics, Leftoverture and Point of Know Return.
This is a striking and surprising return to form for one of the unsung greats of progressive music.
Do Not Disturb by Van Der Graaf Generator may well be their final studio album, according to Peter Hammill, but it finds the band still producing complex and innovative music with a clarity that belies their age. This is a band that started producing vital work more than four decades ago, and they continue to defy logic and expand their horizons.
Do Not Disturb is the band’s 13th studio album and was recorded in the closing months of 2015 and the Spring of 2016. A true group effort, Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans continue to follow in the tradition of Van Der Graaf Generator by delivering an album that is both powerful and possesses and emotive beauty. Do Not Disturb is another highlight of the band’s career, during which their music has been influential on successive generations of musicians. It is surely one of the key album releases of 2016.
Marillion, founded in 1979, have, over the course of 17 albums, become one of the most commercially successful prog revival band of the 1980s and are still one of the most outstanding representatives of their genre.
F E A R, the band’s eighteenth studio album, features 5 brand new tracks consisting of 17 parts – and the feeling within the band themselves is that they may well have produced their best ever work. Marillion has certainly not mellowed with age: Whilst the album title itself is certainly provocative, it s not meant to be offensive. The title itself features as a line in the track The New Kings and is delivered as a plaintive falsetto.
F E A R sees the band taking on the big themes: “The New Kings” looks at the ravening beast that modern capitalism seems to have evolved into. “El Dorado” examines the notions of political entitlement and the modern challenges for the UK. “The Leavers” examines the impact of a transient life on the road for those constantly waving goodbye. F E A R. finds Marillion in top form.
Radical Action To Unseat The Hold Of Monkey Mind is a 3 CD/1 Blu-Ray set by the current incarnation of King Crimson, which listeners of Prognosis should be quite familiar with. This is a comprehensive and immersive account of the 2015 live incarnation of the ever evolving entity that is King Crimson.
It has been stated many times that King Crimson is not so much a band as it is ‘a way of doing things’. With the release of Radical Action comes the most fully realized audio and visual statement from this band to date, running to three themed CDs and a Blu-Ray disc offering the filmed content along with an audio-only option in lossless high resolution stereo and surround sound. The set includes at least one performance of every song/piece of music played by King Crimson in 2015, some pieces originally composed in 1969 the year of the band’s inception, others composed/initially performed at a variety of points since, some new to the tour, all arranged for this specific line-up.
The box includes a 20-page booklet and is presented in two mini-vinyl style gatefold sleeves in an outer slipcase. There are three CDs – presented as individually themed ‘virtual studio albums’ with no audible audience, and one Blu-Ray featuring a complete concert performance in high-resolution stereo and 5.1 surround audio, complete with ‘picture off’ mode allowing the music to be heard independently in pristine, lossless audio. No true fan of progressive rock should go without this.
Turning to the vast catalog of progressive rock, this budget-priced six CD set offers up an impressive playlist of progressive rock tunes, serving both as a wonderful introduction for the newly-minted fan of complex music, and also as a good reminder for the grizzled veteran listener who wants to rekindle his passions.
Expect a grand mix of artists like Steve Hackett, Ian Anderson, The Nice, PFM, Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, Keith Emerson, Dweezil Zappa, Adrian Belew, Soft Machine, Gong, Hawkind, Caravan, Tangerine Dream, Brand X, Procol Harum, Curved Air and many more. This being a budget release, it is delightfully devoid of the typical subjects. You won’t find YES, Genesis, Jethro Tull, King Crimson or ELP here, but you will find several members of those bands, reassembled in various conflagrations, playing some surprising songs (many of the tracks on this collection were recorded for various tribute albums on the Magna Carta label years ago).
This is a diverse and massive assortment of progressive rock at a very low price.
I would like to thank PopCult for giving me the opportunity to recommend a few progressive music choices. Remember: Keep moving forward.
Thanks to Herman for providing this entry in the PopCult Gift Guide.
You can tune in to The AIR until 5 PM Monday for a marathon of Prognosis, hosted by the esteemed Mr. Linte. Check it out on this embedded player…