News from the world of Prog

Prog Head

[FONT=&quot]BIG BIG TRAIN have announced that founder member Andy Poole is to leave the band.[/FONT]
[FONT=&quot]Poole founded BBT with Greg Spawton in Bournemouth in 1990, where he originally played bass, and has been in every incarnation of the band since.
In a short statement, Poole says: 'Dear All, it has been a long old trip aboard this train and now the time is right for me to disembark: I am ready for new and exciting adventures. Thank you to my fellow crew and passengers. I wish you a fabulous and fulfilling journey. Warmest regards. Andy.'
The band's own statement reads:

[FONT=&quot]'Andy Poole will shortly be leaving Big Big Train. Big Big Train would like to thank Andy for the significant part he has played in the band’s journey and we wish him well in his future endeavours. BBT will continue with the seven-piece line-up of D’Virgilio/Gregory/Hall/Longdon/Manners/Sjöblom/Spawton alongside the five-piece brass band led by Dave Desmond.'


Prog Head

A long-awaited PYLGRYM album is finally going ahead. If work will proceed according to the schedule, 'The Divide' can be released later this year. It's really interesting to hear what these gentlemen bring after their debut CD 'Pilgrimage' (2004). :cool:

The Divide (art-cover).jpg
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John Watt

bazoom-boombastic... oh... all those names... all this archival ephemera,
I'm not surprised it also comes down to seeing lots of real, and unreal, estate.
And no... I'm not anticipating what it takes to create their next release,
after the divisions that result in "Divide"... Pillgrim... no... no...

Prog Head! I'm breathlessly awaiting your next release,
from what has to be your new band, "The World of Prog".
You've got it all, just put it out.

Prog Head

Essex based prog group TAMARISK will release a brand new record 'Breaking The Chains' in February. It should be their first new album for 33 years! The band, who formed out of the ashes of Chemical Alice in 1984, released two cassette EP's during their original incarnation. Singer Andy Grant has teamed up with original keyboard player Steve Leigh, who also worked with Quasar and helped form Landmarq in 1990. Thunder guitarist Luke Morley appears on the new record, as well as drummer Graham Cutill, guitarist Ed Rome and bassists Matt Black & Chris Davis. :cool:

Tamarisk 2017.jpg
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John Watt

Prog Head! Now I see your professional recording act limitations,
and it's nothing musical, or music appreciation, or musical font content,
it's a hang-up about promoting yourself, or just being too shy.
Let me see if I can help, not being known for being too patient.

The head of progressive music in the Frederik Magle domains' "Progressive Rock Music Forum",
known internationally as "Prog Head", has announced his intentions to record and release,
"The World of Prog Head".
This world is already known to encompass the world, the world of progressive rock,
with the kind of commentary career only Prog Head has, with almost every known progressive rock band.
You might want to see him, you should want to be him, but you only need to listen to him.
And if he ever starts commenting on his own music, Prog Head will surely be the one big domain boost,
that will elevate the as-yet-untitled Frederik Magle into the Hall of Ragnarok as Fredrikantbillus,
finally making it as a one-name celebrity.
They might even plant a big branch into the ground, as a god symbol, we can all carve our initials into.
Prog Head! Let other nations do crop circles, or make geographic symbols you can only see from outer space,
you just need to start a band to tour with your musical sensibilities.
If I can, please, make one request.
Please visit the Jimi Hendrix Park in Seattle, for even just one album liner photo.
But be careful to avoid any zombies or Nirvana fans, it's hard to tell the difference.

The World of Prog, we should all be living in it,
and a citizenship requirement should be everyone having their own light-weight studio headphones.
It's time King Crimson left Electric Ladyland, to experience living it up in Prog World.
And don't forget a link for t-shirt and hoodie sales.
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John Watt

I can only agree, because that's what you're doing for me.
It's nice to be back with my own computer set-up, having sound again.

Not to break your heart, but the library was selling some older CD packages for $1,
buying ones with two discs, oh yes, dig these discs, disco era compilations.
I'm hearing some songs and thinking, I used to play these... without remembering how.
It might have played disco gigs, but I was tap-dancing on the foot-switches,
trying to sound like every other guitarist, even if I didn't figure out the tricky parts.
If anyone asked why I wasn't playing the solo like the record,
I'd say I have my own tricky parts to play.

Prog Head

Guitarist Alex Lifeson shared an update on the current status of RUSH. - 'We have no plans to tour or record any more. We're basically done. After 41 years, we felt it was enough.'


Prog Head

Singer/drummer Simon Collins and guitar player Kelly Nordstrom have left SOUND OF CONTACT. The group was working on a follow-up album, but earlier this month announced that they would not be appearing at 2018's Cruise To The Edge citing 'logistical difficulties beyond our control.' :(

Sound Of Contact.jpg

John Watt

Prog Head, this should make you feel good.
I first saw Rush in 1970, when Mike Rutsey was the drummer.
Alex and Geddy were rich boys from Toronto, doing a Led Zep tribute, half of their repertoire.
They also were one of the first rock bands in Ontario to use a big, three-way bin P.A. system,
with arena style lighting, with roadies working around them as they played.
Alex just played guitar while roadies did everything except play his Crybaby pedal for him.

Alex and Geddy both had the same suits on, Alex in pink satin and Geddy in pale blue.
That was pants and suit jackets with big cuffs with frilly white shirts underneath, and long long hair,
when men around here were growing out their hair for the first time.
When they weren't onstage, they stood beside it, as if they were guarding their equipment,
standing there with their arms folded before them.
It was a $2 cover charge in this downtown Hamilton bar, so I went over to say hi.
They were very approachable, both shaking my hand, when some musicians don't do that,
not just because of any arrogance, but not wanting someone to try some strength thing on them,
bar life being rough around here.
Geddy played a Rickenbacker, a fragile bass for road work, surprising me with that.

Mike Rutsey, who you can only say was a John Bonham style drummer, and very, very good,
had what looked like a beat up, small set of drums.
He was sitting at the bar, wearing a t-shirt and scruffy jeans, so I sat beside him and we talked.
I knew King Bisquit Boy and Crowbar, two Hamilton bands that played at our Welland high school a lot,
and other high schools in Welland.
They're the bands that Dan Ackroyd grew up with, using some of their songs for the "Blues Brothers" movies.

When Alex and Geddy came to the St. Catharines Musicians Union, looking for a new drummer,
they were looking for Bill Smith, well known in the Niagara Peninsula, both hard rock and progressive rock.
But he was pushed out the back of a moving van coming back from a gig in Fort Erie,
and wasn't playing, so they took the recommendation of Steve Boyuk, union head, and went to see Neal Peart.
Neal was a Keith Moon clone, setting his drums up on a slanted riser, with a fan beside him blowing his hair.
After playing around locally, he moved to England for many months, trying to make it there, and came back.
His parents owned a big furnace business for building contractors and Neil had the money.
When Bullrush, a band he was in, played a matinee at the Atlas Hotel in Welland, where I always went to jam,
he sat behind his drums with his arms folded, sticks up in the air, and wouldn't let anyone else get behind them.
He was great to jam with, playing with everyone else who got up.
He had long hair like a lions' mane with a big moustache curled up around the ends, and was over 6'2", very tall for a drummer.
His first wife managed the "Sam the Record Man" store in Welland, and he hung around there to be with her.
I'd see him in the store and talk with him. His cousin Mike worked there and drummed in a new wave, pop-rock band we started.

When Rush first came out with Neal on drums, one of their first gigs was at the Welland Arena,
Neal coming back big as a concert act for the Welland Rose Festival, an annual event that still goes on.
But the festival organizers, yes, this is Welland, ripped them off by not paying them all the money,
equipment was stolen from inside the arena and equipment was stolen out of the truck out back.
When they drove away Neal was giving everyone the finger and Geddy was yelling we're never coming back.
Too bad, because as you know, they only got better and bigger.

I'm not surprised they're retiring, as a touring Rush band.
One sign that Rush was becoming more of a party, or trip down memory lane,
was them starting to do cover tunes, pop cover tunes, as part of their set.
Knowing Geddy as going from imitating Robert Plant to being Geddy,
if he was doing cover tunes I would say do some Neil Young, even if I'm not a big fan.
They could have done a beat heavy version of one of his early slow songs,
for a big hit, for sure. I'm thinking before "Needle and the Damage Done".

It can't be easy being Rush now, having to use all those samples and pre-sets,
if not Geddy standing behind a keyboard with his bass strapped on and using bass pedals,
just to play some oldies.
When Alex made news by getting arrested for some kind of bar fight in Florida,
a long time ago, you knew he was changing.
Geddy was mean to Neal when Neal came back from his motorcycle riding, after his wife died.
He would make him come and practice every day like it was a day job,
forcing him to keep playing and playing while he stood their conducting him,
angry that his five year absence forced the band to stop touring and recording.
You know it's not going to last forever when people start acting like that.

Neal was racing from gig to gig on his bike at speeds over a hundred miles an hour,
with a roadie riding along, and for me, that's not only taking a chance on scraping your hands,
that's taking a chance with your life. That's almost suicidal for me, never knowing that deep stress.

What made Rush big in the rock music business, what their true, enduring contribution is,
was when they realized they were making albums but not having any hit singles.
And to make more money for themselves,
they decided to take their best songs and put them out again as a double live album,
as new product, the first hard rock band to do that, and their first Billboard chart seller.

And yes, I know the club manager and folk singer who posed nude for that one album cover.
He never got naked for me, or the audience in his brothers' bar, Winchesters.
When we were high school students, I got him a gig playing at an afternoon auditorium music show,
at our high school in Welland. I got another St. Catharines musician, Jamie Schneider, at the same time.
Jamie went on to play violin and acoustic on a Nova Scotia television show.

The only time I ever played Rush tunes was in the only hard rock trio I was ever in.
The bassist wanted to do "Fly by Night" and "In the Mood", so we did.

"Logistical difficulties", yeah... you could say that about Rush too.
When Alex got fat and started wearing, uh, street clothes, a shirt and jeans,
you know he was giving up.
Just because Rush kept it together and kept touring and putting out albums,
liking to travel around the world, and fly to Paris for some nice wine and a supper,
they became the third biggest selling rock band in the world, after the Beatles and Stones.

Out of the three of them, I can only see Geddy as coming out in another band.
I haven't seen him for years, but I respect him the most for staying in good physical shape.
I'd be interested in knowing if he has to shout to talk, singing out loud for all these years.
"Fly by night, away from here, living day to day"... yeah... they certainly did that their way.

This is the first time I heard that Rush was retiring, and it does make me feel a little sad,
because they've been such a huge presence here, for almost all of my life.
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John Watt

Prog Head! You are such a listener, are you also a reader.
There a lot I left out, not talking about many of the personal aspects of Neal Pearts' life.
He wrote a book about them, part of his healing process, and it's very personal.
The death of his first wife, followed by the death of his daughter, are all known around here.
His wife died of cancer, a very sad and lingering death.
He bought his daughter a big new SUV to drive to university, leaving home for the first time,
and as he followed her out onto the provincial highway, she had a rollover and was killed.
That's why he took off on his motorcycle for five years, and wrote a book about it.
He's got a couple of other books out there, at least one for sure, but I haven't read any.
You should read his first book, a very different description of life than the Beatles or Stones.
It's too easy to be duplicitous, or hiding behind lies, here in the officially bilingual country of Canada.
He never talks about drugs, and both he and Alex always deny using any.
At least Geddy talks about them getting together, and it seems they liked hash the most.

Randy Bachman is the worst for that, as far as being someone who's really been around around here.
It could be the fact that as a Mormon he's trying to keep his public image in synch with his family and church,
but he was one of the worst partiers backstage. But the became cool in the United States.
When Randy and his bassist, both of them being at least over three hundred pounds,
face each other and dropped to their knees onstage to make the whole auditorium rock over the P.A.,
everyone would cheer, their biggest, oh yes, biggest onstage move.
Bachman-Turner Overdrive were the biggest selling rock band for one year.

When I said Rush were the first to use three-way P.A.s with arena style lighting,
with attentive roadies, that was using it in bars as playing six and three-nighters.

It's too bad your not local with me,
because it would be interesting to see your comments on the bands of southern Ontario.
Being shunned by American record companies kept us being more of a live performance business,
some bands being out there for eight or ten years before they had a record or cassette out.
And what was the big line for rock bands promoting themselves in Ontario?
"We're bigger in Texas than Z.Z.Top".
Especially if it was Miss Nude Texas stripping during the afternoon. She toured even more.

Prog Head

STRANGEFISH are putting the finishing touches on their newest album titled ‘The Spotlight Effect’ which should be the group's first studio release in 12 years. This CD isn’t a conceptual piece of music although the seven songs (including 19 min epic) do have a theme of sorts. :cool:

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John Watt

I'd like to add some recent developments for Rush members.
This is old, but Neal Peart had a bit part in a movie about an air drummer,
who entered a competition, Neal showing up at the end for a few minutes as a judge.

Now, Alex Lifeson has a continuous part in a new television series starring Jill Hennesey.
She began as a prosecutor on the first Law & Order and played a Boston mortician in her next series.
This new show, called "Crawford", has her owning a corporation that manufactures cereal for human consumption.
The show is going to be broadcast on television this summer,
but as of January the 3rd, 2018, it's available as streaming from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
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Prog Head

LANDMARQ announce they are parted company with Tracy Hitchings, after 20 years as lead vocalist. Whilst the band remains UK-based, Tracy has been living, and married, in Australia for the last three years. This has inevitably presented a range of logistical difficulties in keeping the band together and maintaining a long-distance working relationship. Landmarq is now actively seeking a new lead singer to join the group and become involved in the writing and recording of the next studio album and future gigs.


Prog Head

DUKES OF THE ORIENT will release their self-titled debut album on February 23rd via Frontiers Music Srl. This band has its origins in 2007 as Asia Featuring John Payne, that continued on after Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes left to re-form the original 1982 line-up. John Payne recruited Erik Norlander to join Guthrie Govan, Jay Schellen, Jeff Kollman and Moni Scaria for tour dates in the US and initial recordings, some of which endured to appear on the Dukes of the Orient studio album... Following the death of original Asia vocalist, John Wetton, in early 2017, Payne and Norlander decided that these recordings should give birth to a new group, both out of respect for Wetton and for clarity with the Downes-led Asia. :cool:

Dukes of the Orient.jpg

Prog Head

Legendary US sympho-proggers STARCASTLE are now focused on writing material for their new studio album, follow up to CD 'Song Of Times' (2007). While I'm not able to provide many specific details at this stage, the band do have a goal of releasing later this year. :cool:


Prog Head

Below you can see a front cover for the upcoming Spock's Beard album entitled 'Noise Floor'.

Spock's Beard 2018.jpg

The new album will be released as a 2CD digipak (featuring an EP of material from the same sessions), gatefold 2LP + 2CD and as digital download.

Track-listing is as follows:

Disc 1 – 'Noise Floor'.

1. To Breathe Another Day
2. What Becomes of Me
3. Somebody's Home
4. Have We All Gone Crazy Yet
5. So This Is Life
6. One So Wise
7. Box of Spiders
8. Beginnings

Disc 2 – 'Cutting Room Floor'.

1. Days We'll Remember
2. Bulletproof
3. Vault
4. Armageddon Nervous.

Prog Head

THE PROGNOSIS who previously performed on stage a varied set of classics from Pink Floyd, Genesis, Camel, Supertramp, Focus, Caravan, King Crimson, ELP, Jethro Tull etc, will release their debut album 'Still Waters" in May.

The Prognosis - Still Waters (front cover).jpg

There should be five tracks of original material.