All posts by bradbirzer

By day, I'm a father of seven and husband of one. By night, I'm an author, a biographer, and a prog rocker. Interests: Rush, progressive rock, cultural criticisms, the Rocky Mountains, individual liberty, history, hiking, and science fiction.

‘Fragile’ at 50: Steve Howe Tells the Story Behind Yes‘s Landmark Album | GuitarPlayer

Steve Howe has no idea where the term progressive rock came from, but he makes one thing clear: It certainly didn’t start with him. “I never called us ‘progressive rock’ or ‘prog-rock,’” he says. “As I recall, when I first joined Yes, we all used to call our music different things. 

“There was ‘orchestral rock’ and ‘cinemagraphic rock.’ We never argued about it, but there were a lot of names and terms being tossed about.” So what term did he use to describe Yes’s music? 

Howe laughs. “I often called it ‘soft rock,’” he says. “I thought what I wrote was a sort of soft rock, but the phrase didn’t catch on, at least not with what we were doing. But progressive rock? Where that got started, I don’t know. I think it might have come after the fact.”
— Read on

2022: A Proggy Reflection

I loved Tad’s list of great albums of the year.  I’m in agreement with most of them, and I’m proud to be Tad’s friend and ally in this crazy world.  He’s a man of great insight.  

I will admit, I didn’t give as much time to music in 2022 as I normally do.  I was, for better or worse, spending almost all my free time on my own book manuscript, Tolkien and the Inklings: Men of the West (yes, this is a shameless plug!  Please look for it sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2023).  Whether such a use of my time was worth it or not, time will tell.  In that book, though, I thank not only Tad, Kevin McCormick, Carl Olson, and Erik Heter of Spirit of Cecilia fame, but I also thank Greg Spawton of Big Big Train, Steve Babb of Glass Hammer, John Galgano and Laura Meade of IZZ, and Andy Tillison of The Tangent (and a few others) for inspiration.  I couldn’t have written what I wrote during 2022 without such inspiration.

I would also note, importantly, that the website Progarchy reached its 10th anniversary.  Carl, Kevin, Erik, and a few others helped form it in 2012.  I’m very glad it’s thriving, especially under the loving care of Chris, Bryan, and Rick.  I’m no longer a part of Progarchy, but I wish them the best.

When it comes to 2022, let me start with a few non-music releases.  I absolutely loved Kevin J. Anderson’s (and Neil Peart’s) Clockwork Destiny.  Because of my friendship with Kevin, I was blessed and read the book in manuscript form.  I loved every moment of it, and I thought it was the perfect conclusion to the Clockwork trilogy.  Kevin is an amazing writer, and his imagination really knows no bounds.

I also read, with great enjoyment, Steven Wilson’s Limited Edition of One.  I still don’t quite get why he’s not totally satisfied with his community of fans, but the man’s “interestingness”, like Kevin’s imagination, knows no bounds.  Wilson could write an album about the Hillsdale phone book, and I’d be interested.  Remember phone books?  Of course not.  Regardless, Wilson’s Limited Edition of One (deluxe edition) was one of the greatest releases of the year.  I even gave it away as a gift to two of my closest friends.

I also read Rocket 88’s biography of Mark Hollis, A Perfect Silence.  It was detailed and interesting, but not great.  Hollis’s lyrics evoke imagination, but Ben Wardle’s book really just gave the nuts and bolts of the man’s life.  What about his mind?  His soul?  His heart?  He came from the lower class, but what did that mean about his faith and his view of the world?  All of this was missing from this good but flawed work.  It feels more like a reference work than a biography—with all due respect to Wardle, who clearly did his research.  I just wish he’d stretched his biographical imagination.

Though I didn’t spend as much time on music, as I normally do, I did, however, think the world of the following, released this past year:

Tim Bowness, Butterfly Mind.  Holy Moses, folks.  What more do anyone want?  Plaintive lyrics and progressive pop!  Incredible material from a true master.  Thank you, Tim.  What beauty, you’ve provided.

Cosmograf, Heroic Materials.  Admittedly, one of my all-time favorite artists is Robin Armstrong.  The man is one of the greatest audiophiles (next to Steven Wilson) of our era, and everything he produces matters.  This is an excellent release, a fine contribution to the Cosmograf discography.

Oak, The Quiet Rebellion of Compromise.  Ok, exactly does one say?  This is gorgeous music, whatever its genre (and, to be sure, I’m not sure what genre this is).  I loved the band’s second album, and this one seems like an extension of that one.  Glorious lyrics, glorious music.

Galahad, The Last Adventurer.  Stu Nicholson is a master of lyric writing.  Love this man, and his music.  Nothing he writes is unimportant, and in collaboration with Galahad, freaking brilliant.

The Cure, Wish (30th anniversary edition).  Supposedly, The Cure is about to release an album or two. What does it have to lose?  Everything Robert Smith does is genius, and I’m sure that whatever new the band releases will be genius as well.  Wish, though schizophrenic, is genius as well.  So much prog, and so much pop—all mixed together in one brilliant release.

IZZ, I Move (anniversary edition).  Along with Glass Hammer, IZZ is a favorite American prog band.  Here, we have a re-release of a masterpiece—again, masterful in music as well as lyrics.  Galgano and Meade sing their hearts out. IZZ also released a number of singles this year–all of which grabbed my heart and soul. Because they came as singles and not as a single album, though, they gone generally unremarked upon in the prog community. Please go to Bandcamp and give these beauties a listen.

Tears for Fears, Tipping Point. I’ve never hidden my love of Tears for Fears, probably my favorite pop band. I’ve been a rather diehard fan since first hearing them in 1985. This album is really good, but it’s not great. Had the band employed some proggy elements–especially in terms of song segues, such as they did on Songs from the Big Chair–this might very well have become their best album ever. As it is, Tipping Point feels like another collection of really good songs, but it doesn’t feel like a proper album.

Ultravox, Rage in Eden (40th edition).  I didn’t come to this album until it was five years old.  Yes, I heard it for the first time, sometime in the fall of 1986.  My great friend (and fellow Spirit of Cecilia writer), Kevin McCormick introduced it to me.  Wilson’s remix must be of the English version rather than the American version, for there’s at least one song missing.  Still, Wilson’s remix is wonderful, and I’m very glad to own this anniversary edition.

Glass Hammer, At the Gate.  What can I write about GH that I’ve not written before?  Everything this band does is important.  And, yet, each release—rather than fading away—becomes better and better.  I love to see such evolution in a band.  If critics identified early Glass Hammer, later ones might confuse the band with Rush.  Yet, what can be said definitively is 1) Glass Hammer honors those it loves; and 2) by doing so, always creates its own unique thing.  This is a superb ending to a recent trilogy.  See, also, Steve Babb’s first novel, the irrepressible Skallagrim – In the Vales Of Pagarna.

Ayreon, Universal Migrator, Parts 1 and 2.  I bought the deluxe (something, I’ve been doing more and more, as I get older) edition, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.  There’s nothing substantially new from the original release, but it’s great to hear what modern technology can do with the spacing of instruments and the flow of the music itself.

Gazpacho, Fireworking at St. Croix. I fell in love with this album on my first listen, and then I went a bit crazy. I bought the blu-ray, fell in love with it, and then I bought the deluxe earbook. It certainly vies as one of my two favorite releases of 2022.

Porcupine Tree, Closure/Continuation. I’m guessing that if I could calculate all the albums I listened to in 2022, this would rank as number one (or, two, given how many times I also listened to Gazpacho (just mentioned). I think it’s a great album, but I would rank it in the middle of Porcupine Tree releases. It’s neat, and it’s wonderful that PT reformed. But, this album, as good as it is, doesn’t come close to the wonders of Fear of a Blank Planet or Sky Moves Sideways.

I also want to note, that I’ve very much enjoyed all of Roine Stolt’s remixing and systematic reissuing of albums of The Flower Kings throughout 2022.  The latest—which just arrived and which has made me very happy) is the remix of Unfold the Future.  I hope that Stolt has a chance to reissue the whole catalogue.

I would also like to note, I’ve really not had time to check out Dave Kerzner’s The Traveler, Shearwater’s The Great Awakening, or The Tangent’s Songs from the Hard Shoulder. I very much look forward to doing so.

Finally, I must also note that in 2022, I had a front-row seat to the making of Promises of Hope by the Bardic Depths. I never cease to be amazed by the creativity and imagination of Dave Bandana. So wonderful to see that man make brilliant things.

Here’s to a great and glorious and proggy 2023!

P.S. I want to thank, especially, Burning Shed and Bandwagon USA for feeding my prog habit!

Haken Announces New Studio Album

HAKEN announce release of seventh studio album ‘Fauna’; new single ‘The Alphabet of Me’Following weeks of teasing, progressive rockers HAKEN are pleased to announce their seventh studio album ‘Fauna’, their most genre-busting and conceptually fascinating album to date. The album will be released on March 3rd, 2023, and following the release of ‘Nightingale’ earlier this year, they are pleased to present “The Alphabet of Me”, the second track taken from the record.
Watch the video for ‘The Alphabet of Me’, directed by Crystal Spotlight, here: Ross Jennings comments: “When composing and presenting initial song sketches, we very much had an “anything goes” mentality, and whilst sounding atypically Haken, it was a piece that was all exciting us to explore and integrate into our song canon.
Where the lyrics are concerned, I leant heavily on one of my favourite writers Philip K Dick, for inspiration. Keeping our loose concept of spirit animals in mind, I re-read ‘Do androids dream of electric sheep?’ (Which would later be adapted into the 1982 film ’Blade Runner’) knowing symbolically that animals played a key role in the story. This, along with revisiting both movies from the Blade Runner franchise, opened up some deeper philosophical topics about the nature of identity which have served as a backbone for the lyrical content”
‘Fauna’ sees the band exploring new ideas conceptually as Ross continues. “The premise of the album when we started writing it was that every song would have an animal assigned to it. They all have something related to the animal kingdom that we could write about, but they also connect to the human world. Each track has layers, and some of them are more obvious than others.”
“It reminds me of ‘The Mountain’,” adds guitarist and fellow founder Richard Henshall. “There, we had the idea of not really a narrative-based album, but more the concept of climbing a mountain and overcoming the obstacles along the way. Then we took that and thought about how it could relate to our everyday lives. All of Fauna’s animals relate to us, personally.”
‘Fauna’ also marks the return of keyboard player Peter Jones, whose sounds can be heard permeating the entire album. “What Pete’s brought sonically to the band has played a massive role in why we do have a lot of new sounds on this record,” says Ross. “It’s always a new dynamic when there’s a change in personnel, and this is a fresh and reviving one. It’s certainly helped proximity-wise, with Pete being in the country: Pete and Ray [Hearne, Haken’s drummer] would be at Rich’s place and they’d just start jamming. That’s really key to how the songs start.”
‘Fauna’ will be available on several formats, including Ltd 2CD (incl. instrumentals), Standard CD, Gatefold 2LP & as Digital Album. The albums stunningly detailed artwork was created by Dan Goldsworthy (Charlie Griffiths, Sylosis).
Pre-order now here: tracklisting is as follows:1.     Taurus 04:49
2.     Nightingale 07:24
3.     The Alphabet of Me 05:33
4.     Sempiternal Beings 08:23
5.     Beneath The White Rainbow 06:45
6.     Island In The Clouds 05:45
7.     Lovebite 03:49
8.     Elephants Never Forget 11:07
9.     Eyes Of Ebony 08:32Haken recently announced a co-headline tour with Between The Buried & Me in Europe for early 2023, with support from Cryptodira. These will be the first dates in support of ‘Fauna’, find the full list of dates here: HAKEN are:Ross Jennings
Richard Henshall
Charlie Griffiths
Pete Jones
Conner Green
Ray HearneHAKEN online: MUSIC online:
Spotify Prog Metal Playlist

50% Off All Dave Kerzner

Hello! I posted this on my Facebook and I realized it doesn’t always reach everyone. I wanted to make sure everyone knew about this sale I’m doing this weekend. It was for Black Friday but I extended it through Cyber Monday so that no one misses it! This is Squids Saturday (a lesser known holiday) so here’s the info for you. It’s really simple. HALF PRICE ON EVERYTHING! Best deal I’ve ever done on Bandcamp. Enter this code on check out on my Bandcamp page: bf2022

You save 50% off ANYTHING from CDs to downloads to Blu-Rays to box sets to T-shirts to posters to coasters (ok I don’t have coasters… but I should! Traveler coasters would look nice along with a Traveler mug!). Cheap shipping world-wide (often less than the actual cost we pay). Click HERE to have a look at what’s on my Sonic Elements Bandcamp Page!

I know some of you live in different parts of the world and this half off deal might be a good time to buy anything you were thinking about from my solo albums to In Continuum to SOC, Mantra Vega, tribute albums and more!

Special downloadable album only available this weekend!

Speaking of SOC, also just for this weekend only I’ve made disc 10 of the Corners of the Mind 10-disc box set a downloadable album. It’s listed at $20 but with the “bf2022” discount coupon applied it’s only $10! It has brand new previously unreleased recordings of songs I wrote with Sound of Contact like “Closer To You”, “Not Coming Down” and “Realm Of In-Organic Beings” plus songs from Dimensionaut I’ve done live and in the studio on various albums. In addition to those, I included some bonus tracks of alternate versions of songs from The Traveler that were originally worked on around the time of Dimensionaut!

Have a great safe weekend of music and fun! Thanks as always for your support for not only my music but the many progrock music makers, bands and artists that you love so we can keep this ship sailing! – Squids

Galahad News

Hi Everyone,


We know that it’s not been long since the last news update, thus we could be likened to buses (Galabus anyone!?) i.e. nothing for a long while and then a couple in quick succession!


Firstly, we would just like to thank everyone who has supported and shown so much faith in us by purchasing, downloading or streaming our new album. It means so much as it helps to keep us motivated to keep writing, recording and hopefully performing again at some point, once Spencer, our wonderful drummer, has fully recovered from the return of his brain cancer, for which he has had to endure two long rounds of chemo therapy in the last couple of years. Hence why the lack of live activity as a full band on our part.


On a very positive note though, our new album ‘The Last Great Adventurer’ does which seem to be going down very well in ‘prog’ circles and beyond and has garnered some very positive reviews and responses for which we are very thankful. 


Obviously, we’d like to keep up the momentum for as long as we can by trying to increase and maintain a higher profile which isn’t that easy for a smaller band like us with limited financial and marketing resources and no back up from a large record company as such. In fact, after 37 years on the ‘scene’ as it were there a still many prog/music fans who don’t appear to have heard of us at all!!


However, although as a rule we are not really bothered about band polls as such….BUT…because of the timing and the fact that we do have a new album out there we would be incredibly grateful if you were to support us just a little bit more by voting in this year’s annual PROG Magazine readers poll, which means even more as it is voted for by actual fans. This would no doubt help to increase awareness of the band as PROG Magazine is easily the highest profile publication covering our type of music in the UK and maybe even Europe. 


It would be good to give some of the ‘big guns’ of prog a run for their money for a change.


Obviously, it’s up to everyone to decide whether to vote or not and who to vote for if they do but it would be appreciated very, very, very much by the band if you were to vote for us. 


Choices/votes can be sent by email using the subject header ‘Readers’ Poll 2022′ to: Last day for voting is 28 November.


Thank you so much in advance to those who will support us in this way and please spread the word if you can and feel so inclined.   



Vote In The Prog Magazine Readers’ Poll 2022

It’s time for Prog readers to tell us what progged their word in 2022!




We also have just a couple of other news items:



Karl Groom will shortly commence mixing our next studio album which is provisionally titled  ‘The Long Goodbye’. This was recorded during the same sessions as ’The Last Great Adventurer’ and should be released later in 2023. 



Work is on-going to finalise the LP versions of the new album. We understand from Oskar/Music Mart in Poland that there will be three vinyl versions of this album available, one standard black version plus two limited edition colour versions.


More details will follow on the above as soon as we know, so please keep your eyes peeled on our official band website as well our Facebook page.


I thank that is all for now…..apart from mentioning that we’ve included an MP3 above of a little something that Dean and Stu have put together. J





Is the new iPad lineup confusing? Let’s talk about it.

Last Tuesday, Apple released two new significant updates to its lineup of iPads. First, it brought the M2 chip to the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. Those units also get a new hover mode feature for Apple Pencil. Here’s how Apple describes that feature:

Apple Pencil is now detected up to 12 mm above the display, allowing users to see a preview of their mark before they make it. This also allows users to sketch and illustrate with even greater precision, and makes everything users do with Apple Pencil even more effortless. For example, with Scribble, text fields automatically expand when the pencil gets near the screen, and handwriting converts to text even faster.

In addition, Apple also introduced a new 10th generation iPad (no suffix). This model brings the newer iPad design language to the iPad: uniform bezels and flat edges. As with the iPad Air, the Touch ID sensor has been moved to the Sleep/Wake button. As with all of its no-suffix forebears, the 10th generation iPad is limited to first generation Apple Pencil compatibility. With the 10th generation iPad, Apple also introduced the new Magic Keyboard Folio. Compatible only with the 10th generation iPad, the Magic Keyboard Folio is a two-piece design. It has a back cover with an adjustable stand and a detachable front cover that, on the inside, sports a trackpad and keyboard. In a first for an Apple-branded iPad keyboard case, there’s even a row of function keys. People have accused Apple of copying the Microsoft Surface keyboard case for years, and the Magic Keyboard Folio is certainly the most Surface-y iPad keyboard accessory yet. The 10th generation iPad also moves the front-facing camera to the landscape edge of the iPad, something no other iPad has ever had.
— Read on

50 Years of Kansas

KANSAS celebrate their 50th anniversary with release of ‘Another Fork In The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas’KANSAS, America’s legendary progressive rock band, will celebrate their 50thanniversary in 2023. To commemorate this landmark occasion, current label InsideOutMusic are pleased to announce Another Fork In  The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas for release on the 9th December 2022. A career-spanning collection, it features carefully-selected tracks from across the bands sizable discography, as well as a new version of ‘Can I Tell You’. Originally recorded and released on their 1974 debut, the song is updated by the current line-up, providing a full-circle perspective on the band’s long and continuing history that has seen them release 16 studio albums and sell in excess of 30 million albums worldwide.Phil Ehart comments: “We are really honored by the commitment that InsideOut Music has put into ‘Another Fork in the Road.’ This is far more than just another greatest hits album. ‘Another Fork in the Road’ is an in-depth representation of the evolving and winding musical journey of the band KANSAS that’s been 50 years in the making.”Another Fork In The Road – 50 Years Of Kansas will arrive as a 3CD Digipak collection, including extensive liner notes by journalist Jeff Wagner, as well as pictures of rarely-seen memorabilia and archive material, all overseen by founding member Phil Ehart. Pre-order now here: full track-listing is below. Please note, due to licensing restrictions there are minor differences between the European & North American release.

Disc 1:1.Can I Tell You (new 2022 version)2.The Absence of Presence (The Absence of Presence, 2020)3.Throwing Mountains (The Absence of Presence, 2020)4.Crowded Isolation (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)5.Summer (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)6.The Voyage of Eight Eighteen (The Prelude Implicit, 2016)7.Icarus II (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)8.The Coming Dawn (Thanatopsis) (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)9.Distant Vision (Somewhere to Elsewhere, 2000)10.The Wall (Always Never the Same, 1998)11.Dust in the Wind (Always Never the Same, 1998)12.Desperate Times (Freaks of Nature, 1995)13.Under The Knife (Freaks of Nature, 1995) North America Version – Disc 2:1.Fight Fire With Fire (Drastic Measures, 1983)2.End of the Age (Drastic Measures, 1983)3.Incident on a Bridge (Drastic Measures, 1983)4.Play the Game Tonight (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)5.Crossfire (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)6.Windows (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)7.Hold On (Audio-Visions, 1980)8.Loner (Audio-Visions, 1980)9.Curtain of Iron (Audio-Visions, 1980)10.No One Together (Audio-Visions, 1980)11.On The Other Side (Monolith, 1979)12.Angels Have Fallen (Monolith, 1979)13.How My Soul Cries Out For You (Monolith, 1979)
EU Version – Disc 2:1.House on Fire (In the Spirit of Things, 1988)2.Rainmaker (In the Spirit of Things, 1988)3.Silhouettes in Disguise (Power, 1986)4.Secret Service (Power, 1986)5.Three Pretenders (Power, 1986)6.End of the Age (Drastic Measures, 1983)7.Incident on a Bridge (Drastic Measures, 1983)8.Play the Game Tonight (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)9.Crossfire (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)10.Windows (Vinyl Confessions, 1982)11.Hold On (Audio-Visions, 1980)12.Loner (Audio-Visions, 1980)13.No One Together (Audio-Visions, 1980)14.On The Other Side (Monolith, 1979)15.How My Soul Cries Out For You (Monolith, 1979)Disc 3:1.Carry On Wayward Son (Two for the Show, 1978)2.Portrait (He Knew) (Point of Know Return, 1977)3.Sparks of the Tempest (Point of Know Return, 1977)4.Miracles Out of Nowhere (Leftoverture, 1976)5.Magnum Opus (Leftoverture, 1976)6.Icarus – Borne On Wings of Steel (Masque, 1975)7.Child of Innocence (Masque, 1975)8.Down The Road (Song for America, 1975)9.Song For America (Song for America, 1975)10.The Devil Game (Song for America, 1975)11.Death of Mother Nature Suite (Kansas, 1974)12.Belexes (Kansas, 1974)13.Journey From Mariabronn (Kansas, 1974)Kansas will celebrate their 50th anniversary with extensive touring in North America in 2023. The band is currently comprised of original drummer Phil Ehart, bassist/vocalist Billy Greer, vocalist/keyboardist Ronnie Platt, violinist/guitarist David Ragsdale, keyboardist/vocalist Tom Brislin, and original guitarist Richard Williams.

 For a full list of upcoming dates, head to:

With a legendary career spanning five decades, KANSAS has firmly established itself as one of America’s iconic classic rock bands. This “garage band” from Topeka released their debut album in 1974 after being discovered by Wally Gold, who worked for Don Kirshner, and have gone on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide.

Composing a catalogue that includes sixteen studio albums and five live albums, KANSAS has produced eight gold albums, three sextuple-Platinum albums (Leftoverture, Point of Know Return, Best of KANSAS), one platinum live album (Two for the Show), one quadruple-Platinum single ‘Carry On Wayward Son,’ and another triple-Platinum single ‘Dust in the Wind.’ KANSAS appeared on the Billboard charts for over 200 weeks throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and played to sold-out arenas and stadiums throughout North America, Europe and Japan. ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ continues to be one of the top five most played songs on classic rock radio, and ‘Dust In the Wind’ has been played on the radio more than three million times!

The summer of 2020 marked the release of The Absence of Presence,KANSAS’s sixteenth studio album, which debuted at #10 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart.  The wide-ranging progressive rock album, released by InsideOut Music, follows-up 2016’s The Prelude Implicit, which debuted at #14 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. KANSAS online:


Steven Wilson on Porcupine Tree’s Unexpected, Slow-Simmering Reunion – SPIN

I’m excited you’ll be reissuing the first Storm Corrosion album this year. I know you get asked this a lot, but…have you and Opeth’s Mikael Åkerfeldt talked recently about making another album?
It is the 10th anniversary, so we’re doing a new version, and we’re gonna get together and do some press to promote it. We even talked about recording a new track for the new edition, but we said, “If we’re gonna do that, why don’t we just do a new record?” So the subject certainly has come up. I think we would love to do something else together. I don’t think we’d do a follow-up to that record. I think we want to do something quite different again. I don’t know what that would be, but I know that’s the way he is and what I am. That record is so perfect and definitive in what it tries to do and what it achieves. It’s a little diamond, I think. And I think a lot of people missed out on it because it’s not what they expected us to do. But I know that for some people that it’s their favorite thing that either of us have done. I’ve heard that more and more. There’s a little cult growing up around that record.
— Read on