Content tagged 'Progressive Rock'
Snakes & Arrows (Album of the Day)
Canadian progressive trio Rush ended their Atlantic Records tenure on a high note with SNAKES & ARROWS. The 2007 release is among the most well-recorded of the band's career, recalling the richly layered textures of Rush's '70s classics – even if songs like “Far Cry,” “Spindrift” and “The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum)” are darker thematically than their early work. The set was shaped to a degree by the Internet; producer Nick Raskulinecz volunteered his services after seeing online posts about the group's recording plans, and the 'net allowed California-based lyricist Neil Peart to collaborate more easily with bandmates Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson in Toronto. If technology facilitated the recording, the singing and playing are as organic as ever, and “Malignant Narcissism” earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Geddy Lee celebrates a birthday today, and we'll cue up the Top 10 hit SNAKES & ARROWS in his honor.
Air Conditioning (Album of the Day)
Upon the November 1970 release of Curved Air's debut, AIR CONDITIONING, Melody Maker enthused “”At last, something utterly and without doubt a revelation … There's not one boring moment.” It's hard to argue with the U.K. music magazine on that; the 10 originals here blend progressive (“It Happened Today”), classical (“Vivaldi”) and experimental (the band drew their name from Terry Riley's work) influences in consistently inventive ways. Among the first picture discs in rock, the collection features a formidable frontwoman in Sonja Kristina and terrific instrumental performances from guitarist/keyboardist Francis Monkman and violinist Darryl Way. With eccentric arrangements but catchy songs, AIR CONDITIONING may be Curved Air's most accessible album, and it reached the Top 10 in the band's native England.
Wizzard Brew (Album of the Day)
Roy Wood came to fame as the leader of British '60s faves The Move before helping bandmate Jeff Lynne launch ELO. Following those adventures, Wood founded Wizzard, which gave the progressive power-pop of those earlier bands a heavier edge. While non-LP singles like “See My Baby Jive” (which topped the U.K. singles chart on this day in 1973) have a tight, commercial sound, the albums were on the whole more adventurous, and WIZZARD BREW is Wood at his post-Move best. The songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (he qualifies as an entire orchestra here) dishes up an eclectic mix of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll, prog and glam rock on six extended tracks including the 13-minute “Meet Me At The Jailhouse.” Powered by thundering boogie riffs, the musicianship is outstanding throughout, and WIZZARD BREW will surely cast its spell on '70s rock fans.
Images And Words (Album of the Day)
Few bands fused prog rock and heavy metal more brilliantly than Dream Theater, and IMAGES AND WORDS just might be their masterpiece. The Boston quintet's first album for Atco was also their first with James LaBrie at the microphone, and his wide-ranging tenor meshes perfectly with the Berklee-trained instrumentalists playing behind him. From MTV favorite “Pull Me Under” to epics like “Metropolis - Part I: 'The Miracle and the Sleeper'” and “Learning to Live,” these songs are intricate and ambitious without ever losing the listener. Released 25 years ago today, the Gold-certified IMAGES AND WORDS remains Dream Theater's most commercially successful set, and a true progressive metal landmark.
Olias Of Sunhillow (Album of the Day)
As frontman of Yes during the band's 1970s heyday, Jon Anderson had one of the most famous voices in progressive rock, and it's put to excellent use on his solo debut, OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW. The 1976 Atlantic collection, painstakingly produced by the singer-songwriter over the better part of a year, is of a piece with classic Yes albums but features enough twists to remain distinct. There's lavish cover art (though by David Roe rather than Roger Dean), virtuoso instrumental work (almost all by Anderson himself) and a fantastical unifying concept (an alien race led to a new world by the title character). Yes members have released their share of solo sets over the years, and OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW ranks among the very best of them; we'll give it another spin now to celebrate Jon Anderson's birthday.
Heavy Horses (New Shoes Edition) (Album of the Day)
Released between SONGS FROM THE WOOD (1977) and STORMWATCH (1979), HEAVY HORSES was the second in a trilogy of folk-rock albums from Jethro Tull. Lead singer and flautist Ian Anderson explained its particular focus on horses and agricultural life saying, "as a child, my big passion was to get off the leash and explore the local wooded and leafy suburbs." The result was a Top 20 album on both sides of the Atlantic, one whose commercial success was also met with critical praise for its melodies, instrumentation and Anderson's signature flute playing. Now, a 40th anniversary “New Shoes Edition” adds 9 bonus tracks (7 of them previously unreleased), a full May 1978 concert from Berne, Switzerland and an extensive new booklet, making the 3-CD/2-DVD set the definitive version of Tull's HEAVY HORSES.
Good God's Urge (Album of the Day)
Following the dissolution of Los Angeles alternative rock band Jane's Addiction, vocalist Perry Farrell and drummer Stephen Perkins launched Porno For Pyros. The group's second and final studio album, GOOD GOD'S URGE, shows the quartet in a mellower mood than on their debut, though the laid-back vibes are offset at times by such powerful tracks as radio hit “Tahitian Moon.” Other highlights include “Freeway” (featuring Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers), “100 Ways” (with Mike Watt of The Minutemen on bass) and “Porpoise Head” (featuring most of Love & Rockets). GOOD GOD'S URGE reached the Top 20 on Billboard's album chart, and we'll give the collection another spin now to celebrate Perry Farrell's birthday.
Space Ritual (Album of the Day)
Hawkwind had earned a reputation as one of the hardest-gigging bands in Britain by the time they played the December 1972 concerts heard on SPACE RITUAL. These performances were elaborate rock operas, and though you can't see the light show, dancers or Barney Bubbles-designed sets on this double album, the music is spectacular on its own. Drawn largely from previous studio collection DOREMI FASOL LATIDO, the songs tell a sci-fi tale of Starfarers traveling to Earth – a delightfully harebrained concept that, in the hands of the group's classic lineup (including a pre-Motorhead Lemmy on bass), inspired some thunderously heavy progressive rock. “Orgone Accumulator,” “Space Is Deep” and “Sonic Attack” have lost none of their mind-warping power, and SPACE RITUAL will take you on an audio trip across the cosmos.