Here we are with yet another look at what has been visiting the CD player at TWR HQ along with some new reading material too…
First up the new album by Simon Collins. U Catastrophe is the first album by Simon that I have had the opportunity of hearing. The album’s title track opens the proceedings and it is a hard rocking little number which gets things off to a good start. All I’ve Left To Lose continues in a similar vein with some bass playing that the likes of Metallica would be proud of! Difficult to believe that this is Phil’s son but he has proudly made his own mark on music and this is another excellent effort.
Simon Collins: U-Catastrophe. Razor & Tie 7930182988-2
Moving on we have an album featuring the unlikely pairing of Chris Squire and Steve Hackett. Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir set tongues wagging last year and from recent comments by Chris and Steve a potential touring partnership next year is on the cards. Chris’ love of choral music should be no surprise - he was a chorister himself at one point and this album is his tribute to that music.
Opening with the traditional song Adam Lay Ybounden a truly glorious rendering of the tale of Adam’s temptation in the Garden Of Eden - recapitulated here in the plainsong style which is one of the glories of medieval England but given a modern twist by the presence of Chris and his band - I love it! I Saw Three Ships is another favourite from the days when I used to go a-carolling myself and once again the use of the band gives the traditional an entire new lease of life. The rest of the album is cast very much in similar vein and is very enjoyable. Our very own Mr S Hackett esquire shines on several tracks too but the album is enjoyable for what it is; a fresh and yet respectful treatment of some truly wonderful music!
Chris Squire: Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir. Stone Ghost CV 009.
Keeping things roughly within the Genesis camp, we have this unusual album of transcripts of music from Steve Hackett for grand piano and pipe organ! Yes, pipe organ. Put together by a talented Italian musician; Marco Lo Muscio this is an unlikely combination that actually works rather well. Tribute albums can either be a real treat or a complete nightmare, thankfully here we have a musician who is not only talented in his own right but also obviously a dedicated fan of the music he is paying tribute to. The album opens with a wonderful rendering of Horizons on grand piano and it works incredibly well. This is followed by a suite of pieces from Bay Of Kings which once again, shows how right Steve was to describe the acoustic guitar as the “small orchestra” because the piano and in particular the pipe organ on the latter tracks; Kim and Cast Adrift really give an entirely new viewpoint on these established pieces from Steve’s repertoire. The rest of the album continues to mix pipe organ and piano bringing many more of Steve’s classic pieces vividly to life in a totally unexpected way - an album which will continue to surprise you every time you listen to it - excellent stuff!
Marco Lo Muscio: New Horizons Drycastle Records DR-020
Next up is the new album by Peter Hicks and Nick Magnus. Flat Pack is the first album length collaboration between the two former members of Steve Hackett’s band and as such it is a delight to hear them in harness together again. Not what you would expect though, no Prog Rock opus here, instead a solid album of great songs. Opening with Outside, Looking In which is a marvellously catchy tune whose main theme reminds me of the theme tune to the Bergerac TV series for some reason! The calypso-tinged Am I Fooling Myself follows and this is one which I personally can see in the charts - a great tune with a marvellous vocal by Peter whose singing has definitely got better with age! The Leaving (Derek’s Song) is one of those poignant “leaving is such sweet sorrow” songs which they don’t seem to do much these days and for me at least has echoes of vintage ELO about it. The closest the album gets to Prog is the first of the Magnus /Hicks tracks; Just Remember Where You Heard It First with its tongue-in-cheek look at the tabloid obsession with bad news. This one is almost an old boys’ reunion too as Dik Cadbury puts in a welcome appearance with a driving bass line.
Back In Your Arms Again is a wonderful love song delivered with a really impassioned vocal by Peter who also shows that he is no slouch in the guitar playing department either while Nick puts in a typically understated keyboard part. Chance Encounter picks the pace up a little with a driving refrain in an unusual time signature which makes it catchy but impossible to dance to! New York City Winter really evokes the feelings of longing for home in the heart of the Big Apple. Once again I can’t help but feel shades of Supertramp’s Breakfast In America here maybe it’s just the keyboard sounds Nick is using - either way another song with hit written all over it.
Jack Knife is a driving song with a vengeance, Peter’s vocals are augmented by his stabbing guitar playing and Dave Storey’s impeccable percussion drives the song along at a fair lick. Run That By Me One More Time has shades of Sentimental Institution all over it, especially the sound effects intro and the Big Band sound throughout. Pete’s vocal is superb here, a perfect replica of that era’s sound. Absent Friends has a wonderful harpsichord intro giving it an instant Christmas feel to it, appropriate for the time of the year really while First Light, a short keyboard instrumental closes the album with a quiet resolution.
This album was quite a surprise, a million miles from the Prog of yore, what we have here is an album of superbly crafted songs many of which would grace the charts if there were any justice. Both Peter and Nick have shown themselves capable of creating excellent music with thoughtful lyrical content and this is an album which I shall be enjoying for years to come - excellent stuff!
Peter Hicks and Nick Magnus: Flat Pack Beach Hut Records BHCD16074701
No round up would be complete without mention of the latest offering from David Myers. David, as some of you may know has been keyboard player with The Musical Box for several years but aside from that I can verify that David is an incredibly talented musician in his own right. David Myers Plays More Genesis follows on from his previous album which has already been reviewed in a previous edition of TWR.
If you liked David’s previous album or the Genesis For Two Grand Pianos album, then you will love this release. David has certainly set himself a challenge this time round with some of the most difficult tracks from the Genesis catalogue being given the Myers treatment. The album opens in dramatic style with Burning Rope, given the full cinematic treatment here. “Cinematic” is a wise choice of words because if ever there was a tune that should find a home in the world of cinema this is it, and as such it is a marvellous opener to the album. This is followed by the melancholy sweetness of Evidence Of Autumn, another underrated composition of Tony’s and once again, David delivers it in superlative style.
Fountain Of Salmacis is not a track which you would suspect of being capable of being given the solo acoustic piano treatment, but here it is. A genuine surprise, and a delight David manages to capture something of the spirit that was inherent in this piece as a demo and once again, it is a delight to hear.
The rest of the album is almost like a trawl through many of my personal favourite Genesis tracks and in each case, David has managed to reinvigorate my enthusiasm for the original music by providing such an inspirational rendering of each and every track. If you enjoyed the first album by David, then this one will provide you with just as much (if not more) enjoyment and I heartily recommend it.
David Myers: David Myers Plays More Genesis. Octave Musique OCT 2 7010
Another unusual offering here, a transcription for Classical acoustic guitar of the classic Pink Floyd album; Dark Side Of The Moon. Being the perverse sort of person that I am, I have never fallen for the hype that surrounds this album, always preferring its successor; Wish You Were Here. However, as with the album mentioned previously, this recording piqued my curiosity sufficiently to giver it a listen and once again I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. It is obvious from the start that Danny knows his stuff, and the playing on the album is impeccable and definitely worth a listen if you are a Floyd fan or indeed a fan of good music!
Danny Monzerol: Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side Of The Moon Transcription For Classical Guitar. Octave Musique OCT 2 3638
Finally this time round we get to yet another unusual take on an old favourite. “Rewiring Genesis - A Tribute To The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway”. I had heard and ( I think) reviewed Tim Buckley’s re-working of this album a few years ago and enjoyed it. This time we have a version brought to us by one of the session musicians the band used on Calling All Stations: Nick Di Virgilio no less! Nick is an impeccable drummer and his work with Genesis and indeed with several other bands including Spock’s Beard is probably well known to a lot of you.
Trying to re-interpret a classic like The Lamb… is always a risky business and one which is always open to complete failure. Nick has managed to leave the essential spirit of the album intact whilst giving it an entirely new look. I never thought I would say that The Lamb… swings but it sure does here! Brass playing, syncopated rhythms and funky bass lines all help to make this an extremely enjoyable romp through Rael’s world once again - great stuff!
Nick Di Virgilio: Rewiring Genesis - A Tribute To The Lamb.
New reading matter has reached us as well. I had heard that Robin Platts had written a follow-up volume to 2004’s Genesis Inside & Out. The original book was an insightful and highly informative look at the band’s story with a host of comments from many people who have previously been overlooked or unavailable. I was therefore, expecting more of the same with this volume: Genesis Behind The Lines 1967 - 2007. However, fundamentally, what we have here is a re-jigging of the original work. Yes, there are additional comments by people who were not in the first volume; especially the likes of Adrian Selby and John Burns who do give an insight into what it was like to work with Genesis. Sadly, this additional text sheds little real light on the story which is disappointing. Lavishly illustrated again, mainly in black and white with the emphasis being on record and bootleg sleeves, this is one for collectors only really.
Robin Platts: Genesis Behind The Lines 1967 - 2007. Collectors Guide Publishing Inc ISBN 9781894959674. $17.95 (USA) $18.95 (Canada) £11.95 (UK).
I would have reviewed Mario Giammetti’s latest book: Anthony Phillips - The Exile here but sadly, a copy has yet to reach TWR HQ - next time, Mario!
That rounds the reviews up for this edition. My thanks to Paul Gibbon and mon
cher ami Canadien Alain Granger for sending in some of the items featured here.
If you wish to have anything reviewed in our next edition send them in to our
editorial address and we will do our best to give ‘em a mention next time!