Category Archives: Music

Music Podcast Roundup

If you aren’t subscribed to Anthony Rowsick’s ProgWatch podcast, you should do it right now! He consistently has informative interviews with all kinds of artists in the progrock arena, as well as featuring the best songs from new and classic prog albums.

Tony’s latest episode is Part One of a two-part interview featuring Glass Hammer’s co-founder and bassist Steve Babb. There are lots of great Glass Hammer songs as well as interesting anecdotes from the early days of this seminal group. You can listen to it the entire show by clicking here.

Meanwhile, over at Roie Avin’s excellent Prog Report, the second part of his Neal Morse Band profile is up. It is an in-depth history of Neal Morse’s career, and definitely worth hearing if you are a fan of Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse, Transatlantic, and Flying Colors (Phew, Neal really gets around!). Click here to listen.

Finally, in case you missed it, the boys at Political Beats, Scott Bertram and Jeff Blehar, discuss the entire Electric Light Orchestra discography with guest Jack Butler in exhaustive detail. And when I say exhaustive detail, I mean 2 hours and 46 minutes’ worth. You can download the episode by clicking here.

I’m interested in hearing from our Spirit Of Cecilia readers if any of you listen to any other music-related podcasts, and how you access them. I still use an iPod nano with iTunes for a lot of my podcast listening, but I also use Castbox on my phone. Are there any podcasting apps that you are especially fond of, like Stitcher or Podbean? Let us know in comments. Happy listening!

 

Jacques Barzun and Hector Berlioz ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Even Berlioz’s own countrymen have been loathe to champion him as one of their own, perhaps because his music is not conventionally “French,” but cosmopolitan in both its style and content. Claude Debussy famously called his compatriot a “monster.” Berlioz, it is true, drew inspiration for his dramatic works—his symphonies and operas—not from French sources, but from Goethe, Byron, Virgil, and Shakespeare. His seeming betrayal of his inheritance of French culture provided the background for a debate in the early 2000s, as the bicentenary of his birth loomed, about whether the composer’s remains should be moved to the Pantheon in Paris, the burial site of many of France’s cultural heroes. (President Jacques Chirac decided that they should not.)
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/02/jacques-barzun-hector-berlioz-stephen-klugewicz.html

Mark Hollis, Rest Your Head ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Despite the gravitas of the music and the lyrics, The Colour of Spring sold well enough that EMI gave Hollis and Friese-Greene free reign on the fourth album, Spirit of Eden. Along with famed audio engineer, Phill Brown, the two men went fully mystical. Renting an abandoned church for fourteen months, Talk Talk did everything possible to create timelessness in the sacred space. Relying on the lighting of the stained glass and lava lamps, the band spent over a year trying to capture specific sounds, piecing them together as a whole. Side one of the album became one eighteen minute track, begging the Lord to rage against injustice. Over its nearly twenty-minute length, the song moves from the sound of sea scapes to an utterly cacophonous passion, finally resolving with a recognition that a man is inherently flawed and, thus, unable to perfect all things. The album concludes with “Wealth,” a lyrical rewrite of the famous prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2019/02/mark-hollis-rest-your-head-bradley-birzer.html

Spreading the Good Word of Prog

Tony Rowsick, the host of my favorite music podcast, Prog-Watch, invited me to be a “Guest DJ” on the latest episode (#603). I had a really hard time narrowing my choices down to four songs, but I eventually settled on ones by U.K., Big Big Train (of course!), Sanguine Hum, and Glass Hammer.

You can stream the episode here, or catch it via iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, etc. ( Just search for Prog-Watch)

If you are a lover of prog rock, then you need to subscribe to Prog-Watch. I have discovered more great artists through Tony’s show than any other source. He is also an excellent interviewer of prog’s biggest stars as well as up and coming ones. It comes out weekly, and it is well worth the time spent listening. As Tony would say, “Until next time, be good to each other, and Prog On, my brothers and sisters!”

Ghost Rider

“Parking my motorcycle in front of a motel at the end of a long day on the road could certainly be sweet, like finally exhaling after holding my breath all day, but best of all was setting out in the morning. Whatever torments the night had brought; whatever weather the new day threw at me, when I loaded up the bike and swung my leg over the saddle, my whole perspective changed. Focus tightened into the mechanics and mentality of operating the machine, and awareness contracted to that demanding paradigm. As I let in the clutch and turned the throttle, my world-view expanded as i moved into a  whole new paradigm of landscapes, highways and wildlife. Infinite possibilities” p42, Ghost Rider

Not just the perspective, Neil Peart manages to express the very exact thoughts, emotions and even words any long distance motorcyclist would have endured. Brought back very distinct memories, even though my own experiences are from a totally different part of the globe.

Album from the archives — circa 2008-2010.

Welcome to Wayand

This Strange Engine by Marillion (1997)

This Strange Engine (1997)

Twenty-two years ago, Marillion released its album, THIS STRANGE ENGINE.  It should be remembered that this is the fifth album to feature the voice and lyrics of Steve Hogarth.  As such, reviewers still had to compare the Marillion of Fish to the Marillion of Hogarth.  While THIS STRANGE ENGINE earned its just share of good reviews, it also had reviewers crying that while Fish had innovated, Hogarth rested. 

AllMusic went so far as to label THE STRANGE ENGINE “ordinary.”

If only.

Granted, Marillion had just come off two of its most powerful and unrelentingly intense albums–BRAVE and AFRAID OF SUNLIGHT–but this should not lessen the power of THIS STRANGE ENGINE.  Rather, it should add context.

Yes’s 90125: My Favorite Christmas Album

Ok, ok, it makes no sense. I know, I know. Yes, 90125, Christmas? What the heck, Birzer?

And, if you pushed me, I still couldn’t tell you why with any reasonable explanation why 90125 is my favorite Christmas album, but it is.

I can feel no sense of measure

No illusion as we take

Refuge in young man’s pleasure

Breaking down the dreams we make real

Like almost every male of my generation, I purchased 90125 within a week or two of its arrival in the music stores. Combining old Yes, Trevor Horn’s growing signature new wave production, Trevor Rabin’s soaring and BIG guitars, libertarian, ponderous, and (mostly) optimistic lyrics, plus some of the best vocal harmonies of the 1980s, 90125 was a wonder.

I had grown up with Fragile, Close to the Edge, and Yessongs, but I had no prejudice against the new direction of Yes. This was crisp excellence and nothing less. Granted, I missed the intricacies of Roger Dean’s artwork, but the Apple graphics were pretty good and interesting–especially given the Jobs-ian minimalist trends of the day.

Music, good for you!

Music, good to you!

So, why Christmas? Well, because once I bought the album in early November of 1983, I couldn’t stop listening to it. Long before digitized music, I listened to the vinyl with headphones, over and over again. And, one of my most vivid memories of 1983? Laying down on my bedroom floor, staring out the window into the night sky, listening to 90125 with my huge and glorious headphones on Christmas Eve.

Reasonable? No. After all, 1983, Yes, Christmas, 90125. . . Stranger Things, indeed.

Jigsaw puzzle traitors
Set to spill the beans
Constitution screw up
Shattering the dreams
Blood flows in the desert
Dark citadels burning too
Watch! Look over your shoulder