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.

Irving Babbitt and the Crisis of Nationalism, 1915 ~ The Imaginative Conservative

In the 1910s, one of America’s greatest humanists, Irving Babbitt (1865-1933), surprisingly decided to dive into the realm of political theory and, to a lesser degree, practical politics in his many writings. Up to this decade, Babbitt had written literary and cultural criticism, defenses of the liberal arts, and explorations of Chinese philosophy and religion, but little to no politics. This changed with the advent of World War I, and Babbitt decided to apply all that he had done prior to the decade to the political philosophies of Nietzsche, of internationalism, and, especially, of nationalism. In a series of articles in The Nation in 1915, Babbitt perceptively analyzed the world, its recent past, and its most likely future. Indeed, if anything, Babbitt’s words were deeply prophetic and should have been heeded by all.

All modern European history began, Babbitt declared, with the French Revolution. Though it had proclaimed a sort of radical internationalism, it had devolved very quickly into a brutal and violent nationalism, with “Viva la nation!” becoming its unholy war cry.

Infected by the ideologies and “isms” first propounded by the French, modern Europe had, too, devolved into particular chaoses of national units. “Europe is to-day less cosmopolitan in any genuine sense of the word than it was at almost any period in the Middle Ages. Moreover, the type of internationalism that has broken down so disastrously, as well as the type of nationalism that has overthrown it, are both of comparatively recent origin. ‘The sentiment of nationalities,’ says Renan, ‘is not a hundred years old.’ And, he adds that this sentiment was created in the world by the French Revolution,” Babbitt explained. The so-called brotherhood of the Jacobins, Babbitt reminded his readers, was not so much one of universal love, but rather an alliances of “Cains, men whose hands were stained with blood and who looked on one another with incurable distrust.” The French, Babbitt continued, moved from universalism to particularism to “bestiality.”
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2022/01/irving-babbitt-crisis-nationalism-1915-bradley-birzer.html

The Flower Kings–A Million Stars

The Flower Kings launch new single “A Million Stars” from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’Photo: Lillian ForsbergProg icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for March 4th, 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the second single from the album “A Million Stars”.

Roine comments: “Never to shy away from simple melody, this is The Flower Kings at their more accessible end, but still with a trademark TFK sound and symphonic textures.”

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/k0RiSF1Lwac‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting
1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 
2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 
3.Blinded (7:45) 
4.A Million Stars (7:11) 
5.The Soldier (5:23) 
6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 
7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 
8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 
9.Revolution (5:59) 
10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 
11.Letter (2:25) 
12.Evolution (4:47) 
13.Silent Ways (5:01) 
14.Moth (4:31) 
15.The Big Funk (4:39) 
16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 
17.Shrine (1:08) 
18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 
 
‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak,
as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album.
 
You can pre-order the album now here:
https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecree

Listen to the album’s first single “The Great Pretender” here:
https://youtu.be/03NFABil4yoThe band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
 
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
 
Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
 
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA
11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada
12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada
14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway
4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK
 THE FLOWER KINGS online:
https://www.roinestolt.com/
http://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings
https://www.instagram.com/roinestolt8112/
https://www.facebook.com/pale.rider.127

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.insideoutmusic.store

www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

Toundra’s El Odio

TOUNDRA – release 3rd and last single “El Odio. Part III” of the “El Odio” trilogy

Premiere of “El Odio” short film on Jan 10th

 Photo by Sergio AlbertToundra are enchanted to be releasing “El Odio, Parte III”, the third and last part of their 22-minute-long piece “El Odio” off of their new album “HEX”. For the video of “El Odio. Parte III”, the band once more collaborated with Asturian director Jorge Carbajales again.

Watch the video here:
https://youtu.be/_knouen7nMQAnd the band is just as excited to be announcing the launch of the full short film “El Odio” on January 10th (1PM CET) via Youtube. Stay tuned for more info.
 
“HEX” is available as Ltd. Edition CD, 180g Gatefold LP (incl. the album on CD) and as Digital Album. Click here to pre-order the album now:
https://toundra.lnk.to/Hex
 
Toudra “HEX” (45:25):
1. El Odio. Parte I (8:07)
2. El Odio. Parte II (6:44)
3. El Odio. Parte III (6:53)
4. Ruinas (5:01)
5. La Larga Marcha (5:50)
6. Watt (7:50)
7. FIN (4:57)
 
“HEX” will be released on January 14th, 2022 via InsideOutMusic.TOUNDRA online:
http://toundra.es/
https://www.facebook.com/toundra
https://www.instagram.com/toundra/

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
InsideOutMusic.Store
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Spirit of Cecilia Radio Progcast 1

This is the first of our Spirit of Cecilia Radio Progcasts, episode one–featuring music by Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, Galahad, IZZ, The Bardic Depths, Kevin McCormick, NAO, No-man, Wobbler, and The Tangent. All songs used by kind permission of the artists/labels.

And, with the fiery and enthusiastic commentary of Dave Bandana, Brad Birzer, and Tad Wert.

Among our topics: how much we miss David Longdon (RIP); if the Flower Kings are diverse in their musical offerings; if disco can be prog; just what the number 42 is about; if The Tangent simply rocks; what kinds of instruments Wobbler uses; how McCormick, NAO, and No-man owe something to Mark Hollis of Talk Talk; and just how much we love prog.

Enjoy!

Coming Soon. . . Spirit of Cecilia Radio

Featuring music from Karisma, Bad Elephant, and Gravity Dream Labels, as well as bands/acts such as Big Big Train, The Flower Kings, Galahad, Nosound, Giancarlo Erra, Cosmograf, The Bardic Depths, IZZ, North Atlantic Oscillation, SAND, Tim Bowness, The Tangent, Glass Hammer, Kevin McCormick, Lifesigns, Dave Kerzner, Fire Garden, Kalman Filter, and more to come.

New Video from the Flower Kings

The Flower Kings share new single “The Great Pretender” from upcoming album ‘By Royal Decree’Photo: Lillian ForsbergProg icons The Flower Kings recently announced the release of their 15th studio album ‘By Royal Decree’, set for March 4th, 2022.  Now, the band are pleased to share the first single from the album “The Great Pretender.” The album is now available for pre-order.
 
Check out the new track here:
https://youtu.be/3IyGvwYhvTY‘By Royal Decree’ Tracklisting
1.The Great Pretender (6:55) 
2.World Gone Crazy (5:04) 
3.Blinded (7:45) 
4.A Million Stars (7:11) 
5.The Soldier (5:23) 
6.The Darkness In You (5:13) 
7.We Can Make It Work (2:48) 
8.Peacock On Parade (5:15) 
9.Revolution (5:59) 
10.Time The Great Healer (6:12) 
11.Letter (2:25) 
12.Evolution (4:47) 
13.Silent Ways (5:01) 
14.Moth (4:31) 
15.The Big Funk (4:39) 
16.Open Your Heart (5:17) 
17.Shrine (1:08) 
18.Funeral Pyres (7:14) 
 
‘By Royal Decree’ will be available as Ltd. 2CD Digipak,
as Ltd. 180g 3LP+2CD Box Set as well as Digital Album.
 
You can pre-order the album now here:
https://theflowerkings.lnk.to/ByRoyalDecreeThe band are back at their most creative, flowery and playful – mirroring the 70’s melting pot of folk, symphonic, electronic, jazz, blues, funk & prog. On the new album they have looked for more organic and vintage sounds, still centered around the foundation of drums, bass, guitars and the iconic Hammond, grand piano, mellotron & Moog synthesizers.
 
The album also sees the return of founding member Michael Stolt, who takes up bass guitar and vocals, alongside the line-up of Mirko DeMaio on drums, Zach Kamins on keyboards, Hasse Fröberg on vocal & guitar and Roine Stolt on vocal & guitars and Jonas Reingold on bass. The band convened in the middle of 2021 at Fenix Studios in Sweden to record through the fully analogue Rupert Neve mixing desk. The album also features beautiful cover art, once again created by Denver-based artist Kevin Sloan.
 
Next year’s tour will also see the band revisiting their early years, performing tracks from ‘Retropolis’, ‘Stardust We Are’, ‘Flower Power’, ‘Space Revolver’ and ‘Back In The World Of Adventures’. This will coincide with the release of newly remastered editions of The Flower Kings albums on CD & Vinyl later in 2022. The first confirmed live dates are as follows:
 
30th March 2022 – Katalin, Uppsala, Sweden
31st March 2022 – Musikens Hus, Gothenburg, Sweden
1st April 2022 – Södra Teatern, Stockholm, Sweden
1-7th May 2022 – Cruise To The Edge, USA
11th May 2022  – TBA, Quebec City, Canada
12th May 2022  – TBA, Montreal, Canada
14th July 2022  – Rootsfestival, Notodden, Norway
4th Sept 2022  –  HRH Festival , UK
 THE FLOWER KINGS online:
https://www.roinestolt.com/
http://www.facebook.com/TheFlowerKings
https://www.instagram.com/roinestolt8112/
https://www.facebook.com/pale.rider.127

INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.insideoutmusic.store

www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
http://spotify.com/progrockessentials

Troika’s First Video, JULIA


Nick D’Virgilio, Neal Morse & Ross Jennings share first single and video for “Julia” from debut albumNick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, ex-Spock’s Beard), Neal Morse (Transatlantic, NMB, ex-Spock’s Beard), and Ross Jennings (Haken, Novena) are pleased to announce their debut album titled ‘Troika’ will be released on Feb 25th, 2022.  The album is now available for pre-order here:
https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/Troika
 
Today, the band is also sharing the album’s first single “Julia”.  You can watch the video by Christian Rios here:
https://youtu.be/Y31eVTnMIxIRoss had this to say about the track:
“With my original demo clocking in at around the 8-minute mark and possibly leaning too close to ‘prog epic’ than the singer/songwriter vibe we were attempting to present on this record, Neal arranged my lengthy ballad into something more concise, in-keeping with the album’s essence and writing in a powerful new chorus in the process! 
 
“This one was all about the 3-part vocal harmony interplay and ‘pull-at-the-heartstring’ lyrics which deals with themes of regret and forgiveness in the context of a broken father-daughter relationship.”
– Ross JenningsTracklisting:
1.Everything I Am (5:43)
2. Julia (6:07)
3. You Set My Soul On Fire (3:22)
4. One Time Less (4:53)
5. Another Trip Around The Sun (4:39)
6. A Change Is Gonna Come (4:24)
7. If I Could (4:02)
8. King For A Day (5:47)
9. Second Hand Sons (4:43)
10. My Guardian (3:43)
11. What You Leave Behind (4:16)
 
‘Troika’ will be available as Ltd. CD Edition / Gatefold 2LP+CD / Digital Album. Each format includes a bonus alternative version of the track ‘Julia’ and is available for pre-order here: https://dvirgiliomorsejennings.lnk.to/TroikaRecorded during lockdown, the process began with Neal Morse writing some acoustic songs that he thought would be enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. He already knew how well his voice blended with former Spock’s Beard band-mate and Big Big Train drummer/ vocalist, Nick D’Virgilio who came on board and, considering a third man, the Americans sought out Haken’s Ross Jennings from the UK to complete the trio. All three found they had songs that would benefit from the three part harmonic blend, and so they pooled their resources, inputting creatively into each others compositions.
 
Neal comments: “What a great pleasure it’s been to work on this album with these amazing artists! It was kind of funny… We had been working on the songs remotely for several months before I finally heard all of us singing together at the same time. The first time I brought the faders up, I knew we had the magic!“
 
Nick adds: “I’ve known and worked with Neal for over 30 years and I’ve been a big fan of Ross and the music he makes for a long time. I felt confident right away that this would be a fun project to be a part of. I was so right.”
 
Ross comments: “Receiving ‘The Call’ from Neal to participate in this project was somewhat of a prayer answered… As a long time fan of their work, I’ve been singing along to Neal’s & Nick’s records for years, so it felt really natural for my voice to slot right in.”
 
The tracks took shape with the musicians recording all of the music and vocals separately, yet the eclectic performances burst with the energy and excitement of the collaboration. Acoustic anthems, charged rockers and sensitive ballads are all part of the mix, and the unique blend of Ross, Neal and Nick’s voices and styles have created an album in which you will encounter these musicians in a way you’ve never heard before.D’Virgilio, Morse & Jennings ONLINE:
https://www.facebook.com/ndvofficial/ 
https://www.nickdvirgilio.com/ 
https://www.instagram.com/ndvirgilio/ 
https://twitter.com/NDVmusic
 
https://www.facebook.com/nealmorse/ 
https://twitter.com/nealmorse 
https://www.instagram.com/neal_morse_official/
 
www.rossjennings.co.uk
https://www.instagram.com/rossjenningsofficial/ 
https://www.facebook.com/rossjenningsofficial
https://twitter.com/RossWJennings
INSIDEOUT MUSIC online:
www.insideoutmusic.com
www.youtube.com/InsideOutMusicTV
www.facebook.com/InsideOutMusic
www.twitter.com/InsideOutUSA
www.insideoutmusic.store
Spotify Prog Rock Playlist

Rest in Peace, David Longdon

It’s finally hitting me that we live in a world without David Longdon. What a tragedy, what a loss. I first received the news of his death during lunch. Uncharacteristically for me, I was eating lunch while checking things on my iPad. Two things happened at once–I saw the notice from Louder.com and my phone rang. It was my awesome friend, Tom Woods, making sure that I knew the news. Seriously, the phone rang within seconds of me reading the Louder.com post.

A few years ago, Tom and I had the great fortune of interviewing David for Tom’s rather famous podcast. Tom and I have bonded over many things, but few as precious as the hour we spent with David. David was, to be sure, a master craftsman, an original, and a true-to-life gentleman. While Tom and I were barely concealing our fanboy excitement, David offered us nothing but gratitude and clarity.

When I was at Progarchy.Com, I had the pleasure of “talking” with David over email, and I’ll never forget when I first heard the magisterial song, “A Boy in Darkness”–about child abuse. I emailed David, asking him (and hoping against hope that my suspicions were wrong) if the song was autobiographical. No, he assured me, it was not! Thank, God.

To be sure, Longdon and Spawton were the greatest rock musical writing duo since McCartney and Lennon. Their loss will be felt for a generation or more.

I first heard David Longdon’s excellence in 2009, receiving a mix from the mighty Carl Olson with a Big Big Train song on it. I was, from the first moment, hooked. I still consider The Underfall Yard one of the best rock albums of all time. It ranks up there with Selling England by the Pound, Close to the Edge, and Spirit of Eden. I would also–and, yes, I’m throwing the gauntlet down–argue that Longdon had the single best voice in all of rock.

So, David, thank you for everything. A life beautifully lived. There’s so much more to be said, but my brain and soul are still processing a world without you.