My tastes in music are it seems rather dated. Most of the bands I like originated
in the 70’s. In fact it was quite some time until I found a band I even wanted
to try that originated after 1985.
Suddenly though in the last couple of years I have started to find new bands
I like again. I don’t know if the music scene is changing back to my taste or
if it is the power of the internet and CD sampler discs on magazines. Whatever
the reason I don’t suppose the music I like will ever be played on mainstream
Radio so I figure it is my duty to encourage others to like good music. Hence
The first and probably best find of recent times is Ayreon.
A friend of mine from the Rick Wakeman list sent me a tape one day and suggested
I might like it. It was Ayreon – A Rock Opera. I played it and thought "Mmm
I have heard this sort of thing before but it has got good keyboards on it".
I carried on playing it. Quite often I start getting bored of an album after
about 10 plays. Therefore when I found I was still enjoying the album after
20 plays I thought there was something in it. Since the album wasn’t available
in the UK and Ayreon was a Dutch artist I asked my friend (who is also Dutch)
to send me the discs. They (for there was also a 2nd album "Actual Fantasy")
duely arrived and I was still playing them another 20-30 plays later. I was
well and truely hooked. To my mind it is a perfect combination of Rick
Wakeman type keyboards and hard rock guitar. Arjen Lucassen also has a tendancy
to use a more than one lead vocalist in a song. I think this a great technique.
As I write there have now been another 2 sets of releases and although Arjen’s
use of vocalists has changed he is still producing great music. I am eagerly
awaiting the next album and his current side project called Ambeon.
When Hard Roxx was still
in magaine format one of the sampler discs contained "Frankinstein Unbound".
Again I was totally drawn in by the keyboards. I decided I had to have more
and found a fans web
site on Lana and asked if the track was representative. I was told it was
and that the Japanese edition of the CD was worth going for as it had a great
cover of Marillion’s Season End on it (This is now available in Europe on the
Ballad Collection) I therefore ordered the disc. I didn’t think Frankeinstein
was completely representative as it was the most keyboard and rock driven track
on the album. The rest of the album was softer and the keyboards reminded me
of Louis Clark’s String arrangements on ELO albums. Lana’s voice despite being
female (which certainly used to be a handicap to my tastes in the past) was
very good. "Season’s End" was my 2nd favourite track on the album.
This surprised me as I am not keen on any of the tracks on Marrilion’s "Season
End" album. Lana sings this really beautifully and the lyrics are so much
clearer and meaningful on her version. It’s a great track I had completely over
looked on the Marillion original. I have since bought all Lana’s albums, keyboard
player Erik Norlander’s solo albums and will eventually catch up on all his
previous work with Rocket Scientists.
By sheer coincidence Arjen Lucassen heard Erik and Lana were fans of his music
so the three then meet up and and worked on each others projects.
The next band I got into was White Heat. I heard a track called "What
is mine" on a Classic rock magazine sampler disc. This was a twin guitar
work out and again I was really drawn to it. I therefore decided to check them
out on a full album. Too my knowledge they have only released one "Witches’
Brew". I was slightly disappointed by it as "What is Mine" is
by far my favourite. I do very much like the album though. As I say it is twin
guitar in style but the Bass work reminds me of the limited amount of what I
know the Red Hot Chile Peppers to sound like. I think it is the lack of pace
on some songs that intially disappointed me but it makes the album varried.
I look forward to seeing a new album to see how they progress.
I think also on the same Classic Rock sampler disc was "The Night Sky"
from Mostly Autumn.
Strangely I had just seen a subset of 3 of them play support for Blackmore’s
Night. It struck me the sort of music I would love to get sheet music for for
my Wind Synth. Hearing this sample it was completely different. This was more
Pink Floyd like. I was intirgued and got the album "For All We Shared".
This is a very varied beast. It is Celtic/Folk Jigs with Rock and Pink Floyd
like guitar. They are an 8 peice from York, England and used Voilins and Whistles
in addition to the usual rock band set up. I don’t think I have a favourite
on the album although my daughters love one off the Jigs enough to dance around
the room to it. As I have the first album on order and look forward to getting
their third. I would also like to make a trip to Yoko to see them Live sometime.
When I was round my girlfriend’s one day I found an album in her collection
called "Four Cello play Metalica" by Apocalyptica.
That sounded interesting despite me not like Metalica so I put it on. It was
excellent Heavy Metal played on Cello. I recongnised the occasional phrase but
overall I couldn’t relate the music to the originals. Perhaps because I don’t
know the tracks but I suspect it is more likely the way I listen to music. I
find instrumentals on different instrumental really hard to remember. I liked
the album so much I ordered their third album "Cult". I didn’t really
no what to expect from it. This time it was original compositions except for
In The Hall Of The Mountain king whch was loosely bassed on the Classical piece.
As usual it took a long time to get into my brain but it looks like an album
I can’t put down. It is also the main inspiration for me finally getting round
to writting this page just now.
I found on a sampler disc for Powerplay
Magazine. The track was called "Senzafne" and was a strange track
to put out in the UK really since it was in their native Italian. Rick Wakeman
has released two great albums with Mario Fasciano who sings in Neopolitian Italian
so this didn’t put me of at all. I was also extremely attracted by the use of
beautiful female vocals counterposed by gruff Death Metal type grunts from the
male 2nd Vocalist. The band stretch the boundaries of what I like without making
me lose interest. I seem to prefer the two Mini albums to the first full album
(which strangely isn’t much longer than the mini albums and is certainly short
for a modern CD release) but I could be a little confused as I took them all
in at the same time near enough. I am now looking forward to the 2nd album and
will watch out for them playing live preferably not as a support act.