THE UNDERTONES Positive Touch / Sin Of Pride [released 3rd August 2009]
2-CD: The Undertones 3rd and 4th albums saw the band initially enjoy the freedom of working without a record company and then sign to one that had reservations about their move away from the short sharp pop punk vignettes of their debut LP. The results showcase a band flexing their musical muscle as influences as diverse as Motown, Orange Juice, 60s garage music and Dexy's Midnight Runners are evident in two unique albums that were rightly celebrated as `one of the truly classic pop albums of all time' (Melody Maker on Positive Touch) and `an immaculate conception of pop' (NME on The Sin Of Pride).
GORDON GILTRAP As It Happens [out now]
2-CD: Gordon signed a recording deal in the late sixties and recorded two albums before playing on the 1970 album by folk-rock band Accolade. Gordon's third album was his first for a major label (MCA) and was entitled A Testament of Time. Shortly after the release of this album Gordon started to pursue an instrumental style, which reached, it's height on albums like Visionary, Perilous Journey and Fear of the Dark. Gordon's career has taken him through many styles including folk, rock and classical. He is probably best known for his hit single Heartsong which was a hit in the late seventies and was featured on the album perilous Journey. It was also featured as the theme tune for the long running BBC television program The Holiday Program. In addition to working solidly with his own Gordon Giltrap band in the late seventies and early eighties Gordon also worked extensively as a solo artist and even worked with Cliff Richard in the nineties on Cliff's musical adaptation of Wuthering Heights Heathcliff even writing two pieces of music for the show.
DREAM THEATER Black Clouds & Silver Linings [released 27th July 2009]
2-LP: Dream Theater's latest progressive metal masterpiece includes A Rite Of Passage & Wither. Dream Theater return with over 70 minutes of new music. Progressive metal veterans Dream Theater have announced Black Clouds & Silver Linings as the title of their tenth studio album. The band commenced work on the album – their second for Roadrunner Records, following up 2007's Systematic Chaos in October last year. Drummer Mike Portnoy and guitarist John Petrucci are once again at the helm as producers, while Paul Northfield mixed the record. The band will embark on a world tour in support of the album beginning in Europe throughout June, which will be followed by the second edition of the bands progressive nation tour featuring Zappa Plays Zappa, Pain Of Salvation and Beardfish throughout North America in July/August
ENO/MOBIEUS/ROEDELIUS After The Heat [out now]
LP: Originally released in 1978, Brian Eno's second album collaboration with Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster is full of blessedout instrumentals, made up of repeated synthesizer patterns and sustained guitar. Reminiscent of the ambient style from Eno's collaborations with Robert Fripp, After The Heat is a classic piece of German kosmische musik.
PROCOL HARUM Broken Barricades [released 3rd August 2009]
CD: Procol Harum squeezed the recording of their fifth album Broken Barricades in between tours, as was their custom. Besides the rolling title track, the opening songs on both sides of the album (Simple Sister and Power Failure) were storming rockers. The latter particularly emphasises just what a striking drummer BJ Wilson was – one of the few players who could actually make a drum solo interesting (significantly, following a Joe Cocker session a few years before, Wilson had been Jimmy Page's first choice to join his new band, Led Zeppelin, on the drum stool). On its release in 1971, Broken Barricades further enhanced Procol's standing. Three tracks were co-written by guitarist Robin Trower, who demonstrated his frustration with the restrictions placed on his playing by the 'Procol sound'. Trower had been particularly upset by the premature death of Jimi Hendrix in London the year before, and the album's Song for a Dreamer paid tribute to the man now recognised as rock's most innovative guitarist. With Trower on fine form, writing the album's obvious choice for a single, Poor Mohammed, and playing some of the best guitar of his career, Broken Barricades is hard rock and roll, with an accent of finely-wrought musical heaviness, occasional brass adding inflection to the group's exceptional playing. Broken Barricades is also Keith Reid writing searingly direct words, Gary Brooker providing appropriately powerhouse music, singing most soulfully, and pumping his piano with abandon and BJ Wilson and Chris Copping laying down a rhythm that is always interesting and accessible. A quick reminder of the way we were in 1971: to obtain Procol Harum's Broken Barricades, you had to go into a record shop and buy it – with ready money. Of course, you might decide to splash out on John Lennon's new LP, Imagine, instead… or that saucy new record from The Stones, Sticky Fingers… or Carole King's beguiling Tapestry… or Led Zeppelin's fourth… But if you persevered and went for Broken Barricades, the shop assistant would know exactly where to find it – printed helpfully on my original copy is the instruction: 'File Under: Progressive Rock'. And Procol just kept on progressing. Rock bands had worked fruitfully with orchestras before, notably The Beatles and Deep Purple. But Procol took the bull firmly by the horns with their next release, the ground-breaking Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra….
PROCOL HARUM Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra [released 3rd August 2009]
CD: Procol Harum already had some experience with orchestral performance by the time Live in Concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra was recorded (in Alberta, Canada, November 1971) and this experience no doubt helped them to make what was a landmark in the notoriously tricky area of rock-classical fusion. The fact that they had a full symphony orchestra and choir as their 'backing band' meant that already symphonic songs like A Salty Dog, Whaling Stories and In Held 'Twas in I now came even more spectacularly alive. "It's like seeing something on an eight-millimetre film and then suddenly seeing it on seventy-millimetre Panavision with stereo…" Gary Brooker reflected proudly at the time. While contemporaries like Pink Floyd, Yes, and Emerson Lake & Palmer were still limbering up, Procol really pushed the envelope with their Live album. And their efforts did not go unrewarded… 'Of all the rock-orchestral fusions this one really does work. A very complete and highly talented album which should help dispel this group's image of the 1967 one-hit wonders,' wrote Disc. 'One of the finest pieces of music released this year…' opined NME. The Live album gave Procol a surprise UK hit with Conquistador – one of the very first Brooker and Reid collaborations. To cash in on this Top 20 success, Procol's American label rushed out The Best Of…, a competent, eleven-track compilation which was of interest at the time for rounding up some notable 'B'-sides – Lime Street Blues, In the Wee Small Hours of Sixpence, and Long Gone Geek – that were previously unavailable on albums. Later that same year, buoyed by their collaboration with the ESO, Procol played a well-received gig at London's Rainbow Theatre with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and London Chorale ('Tickets £1.50, £1.25, £1.75p'). But one gig was never enough… Back then, to keep your name in the public eye you had to go out and tour – and keep on touring. Like so many years, much of 1972 was spent on the road; but the band already had their minds on another project, which still ranks very high in the Procol pantheon… the very wonderful Grand Hotel…
PROCOL HARUM Grand Hotel [released 3rd August 2009]
CD: Grand Hotel was released in March 1973 and, as so often during those heady years, it had to fight to be heard. Around the time of its release it was competing with Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (still the best-selling album ever released by a British band), Paul McCartney's Band on the Run, and a brace of albums apiece from Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and Roxy Music. But despite the intense competition, Grand Hotel once again proved Procol worthy of their place among those major players. Many were surprised that the theme of the Grand Hotel did not extend over the whole album – to form, dare one say it, a concept album. But Keith Reid confined his concept to the title track: "'Dover sole and oeufs Mornay; profiteroles and peach flambé…' I was very pleased that no-one had come up with that rhyme before," Keith told sleevenote writer Patrick Humphries. Certainly Grand Hotel is a brilliantly evocative moment. Brooker's stately melody supports Reid's gorgeously decadent lyrics, and as with Liza Minnelli's Cabaret the previous year, there was something louche and slightly illicit about what Procol was promising here. Elsewhere, the poignant For Liquorice John, the wry A Souvenir of London (a single that was banned by the BBC as it concerned catching an STD, albeit none too obviously) and the elegant Fires (Which Burnt Brightly) offered further proof of the band's astounding versatility. NME acknowledged the title track as 'a masterpiece of musical perfection and lyricism', while Richard Williams, in a glowing Melody Maker review, reckoned it 'stands with Whaling Stories and A Salty Dog as the group's finest achievements (they are, too, almost unique in that the more ambitious they get, the more they succeed)'. As the wider pop world became captivated by glam rock, Grand Hotel cemented itself into a category quite rare in the early seventies… grown-up rock music. The band were still dogged by their rather Gothic image, although those seeing Procol in concert on the Grand Hotel tour will have noticed that, as they swung into the title track, an official photo of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips (a nod to the impending royal wedding) was projected on stage to a mighty cheer.
CANNIBAL CORPSE Limited Edition Coloured Vinyl Albums [released 10th August 2009]