Rick Wakeman In Concert as seen by Jon Hinchliffe

Pictures from Rick and the Band on the "Out There" tour are here

Pictures from Rick and the Band in Rotherham are here

Pictures from Rick’s "last one-man" show in Braintree are here

Pictures of Rick and the group at the Daphne Du Maurier Festival, Fowey are
here

Pictures from Rick’s Charity Performance on the Isle Of Wight are here

Pictures from the band performance in Marlborough Aug 2000 are here

Pictures from the An Evening With Rick Wakeman Tour are here

Pictures from The Half Century Church Tour are here

I have commented on quite a few Rick Wakeman albums in my time. See here


The Gospels at Rochester Cathedral Friday 24th July
1992



Ian Lavender (“Pike” from Dad’s Army) is on the Left with White
Hair. Ramon Ramedios is behind the post in the Black Jacket and Bow tie. Then
it is of Course Rick. David Paton is on Bass (in front of the Keyboard) and
Tony Fernadez on Drums. The Choir belonged to the Cathedral.



Nov 22nd 1992 Leisure World, Colchester – The Wakeman
With Wakeman Tour.



Seeing this reminds me how long it’s been since Rick used Lighting
and Dry Ice at a gig in the UK. I guess it was the No Expense Spared Tour



Poor Old Wop (Tony Fernadez) was well hidden wasn’t he?



The No Expense Spared Tour December 1993 Leisure World, Colchester



The First Time I plucked up the courage to have a photo taken
with Rick. He started the long process of signing all my CD’s, LP’s Book and
Videos.



Leisure World, Colchester on 17th May 1996 – The
Wot’s On TV Tonight tour.



I suspect Rick was finally finishing signing all my collection.
Except of course the recent stuff.



The Piano Tour Halstead Baptist Church, Essex On Friday December
13th 1996



Rick was telling a Joke about Never getting Real Candels and
the Church Staff brought him some out. I have a feeling he was Surprised the
staff certainly spent some time hiding them from him. But of course it could
have been a good bit of acting.



During the Encore



Sunday 3rd May 1997 – The 25th Anniversary
Concert Of the English Chamber Choir and Preimer of a New Piece of Work called
“Noah”



The Strings section was The English Players. The Cathedral was
Southwark Cathedral in London



The Never ending task of meeting the fans. This time Graham
Johnson from the Wakeman Discussion list is on the Left.



Ronnie Scots Birmingham on 22 and 23 July 1997 – Rick looking
very casual Stage clothes wise



Doing the Dual during Merlin



Not a clear shot but on the tables in the audience.



Doom Joins on Guitar during Starship Trooper



Ricks Keyboard Set up. The Chords are written out for Lost in
Time, Vienna (I think), Etna, Starship Trooper



This time I was far more interested in talking to Chrissy than
Rick.

Inquisitor Jon

Since I started my Praying
Mantis
Web site I have carried several interviews with the band.

Bernie Shaw (Now
Uriah Heep, Ex-Grand Prix) Interview

Mark Thompson Smith Interview
Interview with
Colin Peel

Dave Potts Interview

Dennis Stratton
(Ex-Iron Maiden) Interview

Steve Carroll Interview

Horakane Interview
with Tony O’Hora

Rodney Matthew
(Cover Artist For Many Bands)

During 2000 I was asked to write a history piece on Praying Mantis for Powerplay
Magazine. This tickled me somewhat as at school, I was always considered poor
at English. I warned them of this but said I would have a go and the results
got used much to my delight.

About a month later Fireworks
magazine asked me to do a new interview with Praying Mantis so I laughed again
and did so and that was used to. Very nice.

I am a very inquisitive person and magazines rarely go into the detail I would
like. I fancied a go at writing an article on Ayreon
or Lane Lane. So I asked
if either magazine was interested and Fireworks said yes to Lana Lane. I did
the interview by phone and trimmed it to the size I thought Fireworks could
use and then it was all expanded out again and published.

Next I fancied doing an interview on Mostly
Autumn
who are a new band I am very keen on. They just happen to have taken
out advertising in Fireworks so again I was approved. My interview was twice
as long as the Lane one so was published in cut down form.

Next I was invited along to a Roger Dean press
conference. He is a famous album cover artist and since I knew some of his work
I thought I would go along. The session was very good and I transacribed it
but Roger didn’t seem keen on me putting it online without a serious rewrite
so that is just sat on my hard disc now. I did put some of this information
on my pages for the exhibition though.

It is good fun being able to interview the bands I like and get the answers
I as a fan want to know.

All Time Favourite Albums

My All Time Favourite Albums are

  1. Black Sabbath – Technical Ecstasy – I don’t expect there are many
    other people that would agree with me on this but I think it is an album you
    either love or hate. I love Tony Iommi’s guitar solos on this and for once
    I even notice the drumming.
  2. Praying Mantis – Time Tell No Lies – I have had this album from day
    one and something about it clicked with me. Actually at the time I was a Dr
    Who Novel "Dr Who and the Darlek 2010AD" and it had freedom fighters
    trying to recapture the Earth. Mantis have a line about "Freedom fighters"
    in one of the songs. That and the fact the music was usual to my ears and
    the vocals delivered in a strange accent just made it a special reading experience
    as the album became familiar to me. Then over the year I just found myself
    returning to it over and over again. As far as I knew in 1994 Praying Mantis
    had died a death and never imagined being album to own the album on CD. Now
    I do their web page 🙂
  3. Rick Wakeman – The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of
    the round table
    – I was into NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal)
    bands when I got this album 2nd hand. I pretty much dismissed it as being
    far to light but over the next few months I returned to it and discovered
    it’s quality. Every time I listening it I find something new to hear in the
    mix. I just love it.
  4. Ayreon – The Final Experiment – A friend sent me this on tape and
    said to give it ago. I played it and thought I had heard it all before. On
    further plays though I got over that bias and just enjoyed the fantastic used
    of singers, guitars, and most importantly keyboards. I was still playing it
    over 70 plays later. Normally I get bored of a new album between 10-20 listens.
  5. Lou Reed – Berlin – I love the lyrics and atmosphere on this album.
    People find it depressing. I just love it.
  6. David Bowie – Hunky Dory – I got this album for Life On Mars and
    it sparked of several interests above. e.g. I wanted to know more about Richard
    Wakeman so got Myths and Legends. And I loved Queen Bitch at tribute to Lou
    Reed and the Velvet Underground so I started looking at his work. I think
    this was Bowie at his best and having Rick Wakeman on Piano made it even better.
  7. Gillan – Mr Universe – I love Ian Gillans vocals and I think this
    album represents him at his best.
  8. ELO – ELO – The first ELO album. It contained Roy Wood who I loved
    from Wizzard and it is great to hear a rock band playing with Orchestral instruments.
    Every ELO album after this just diluted the mix. Such a shame.
  9. ZZ Top – Tres Hombres – I read about this album in an interview with
    Kerrang! in 1980 for some reason I thought I would have to try it and I was
    glad I did. I love the hypnotic rhythm of the beat. A great album.
  10. John Cale – Paris 1919 – This one I find hard to explain. I think
    I rate it so highly because it is so different to everything else in my collection.
    And of course I love it.

It is sad to see I owned all these album by 1982 with exception of Ayreon.
Luckily there an now news bands that are starting
to interest me again.

Honourable mentions go to

  • Ayreon – Actual Fantasy
  • Ayreon – Into The Electric Castle
  • Ayreon – The Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
  • Ayreon – The Universal Migrator Part 2: The Flight Of The Migrator
  • Blackfoot – Maruder
  • Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
  • Black Sabbath – Sabotage
  • Black Sabbath -Vol. 4
  • Black Sabbath -Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  • Pink Floyd – The Wall
  • Praying Mantis – A Cry For The New World
  • Praying Mantis – Nowhere To Hide
  • Praying Mantis – Forever In Time
  • Queen – Queen II
  • Rick Wakeman – Can Hear You Me?
  • Rick Wakeman – Phantom Power
  • Rick Wakeman – Softsword

As can be seen I am pretty keen of the following artists

Plus

If you are interested in what tracks I like most check out my
essential music for a desert island page

Various Reviews

Here are the my opinions of the books I have been reading. I started writing
reviews because I wanted to praise Woman In Whitle on Amazon.co.uk. As I often
the case I thought it might then be nice to have a record what I thought of
books when I read them so I have continued. The dates I finished reading are
their because I have ME and
I am interested in how frequently I am getting through books. I was an incredibly
slow reader even prior to becoming ill!

Talk To Me Baby : The Story Of The Blues Band – Roy Bainton
Wanderers Of Time – John Wyndham
Black Sabbath – An Oral History By Mike Stark
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Beam Me Up, Scotty – James Doohan
Jizzle – John Wyndham
EM Forster -The Machine Stops
Close To The Edge – The Story Of Yes – Chris Welch
The Consolations Of Philosophy – Alain De Botton
Animal Farm – George Orwell
Planet Of The Apes – Pierre Boulle
John Whydham – Exiles On Asperus
The Last Days Of Hitler – H.R. Trevor-Roper
Consider Her Ways And Others – John Wyndham
Inside The Music – Dave Stewart (plus a bit on The AB’ Guide
To Music Theory by Eric Taylor)

John Wyndham – Tales Of Gooseflesh and Laughter
The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
Amazing Stories – October 1965
The Magic Shop By H.G. Wells
Mr Wray’s Cash Box by Wilkie Collins
Arabian Nights – A Selection – Translated by Richard
F Burton

The Hobbit – Graphic Novel – David Wenzel &
Charles Dixon

Chocky – John Wyndham
Desperate Remedies – Thomas Hardy
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert
Louie Stevenson

Genome: The Autobiography Of A Species In 23 Chapters
By Matt Ridley

1-2-3 Magic – Effective Discipline For Children
2-12 – Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D.

All About Attention Deficit Disorder – Thomas W.
Phelan, Ph.D.

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
Black Sabbath Never Say Die! 1979-1997 – Garry
Sharpe-Young

Ozzy Osbourne – The Story Of The Ozzy Osbourne
Band- Garry Sharpe-Young


Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Island Of Dr Moreau – H.G.Wells
War Of The Worlds – H.G. Wells
Catlore – Desmond Morris
Consider Her Ways And Others – John Wyndham

Derren Brown – Tricks of The Mind
How Black was our Sabbath – Graham Wright and David Tangye
The Man From Beyond – John Wyndham
Hypnotic Realities, Hypnotic Therapies, Experiencing Hypnosis – Ernest Rossi & Milton Erickson
Cesar’s Way – Cesar Millan

Talk To Me Baby : The Story Of The Blues Band – Roy
Bainton – 3 October 1999

This book seems to have been completely miss-titled. Or half of it is
missing. For it to be the story of the Blues Band in my view and expectations
it should tell the history and the Blues Band’s life album by album. Instead it
tells the Story Of The Blues Band’s Members. I.e. it gives the members
histories up to the point of joining the Blues Band then it says words to the
effect "And the rest of course you know". Well excuse me but if I
knew that I would not be buying this book. I am fascinated as to how the book
got published like this. Is there a difference in style of Biographies for
Blues artists to that of Rock ones? Very weird and a big disappointment.

Wanderers Of Time – John Wyndham – 2 November 1999

This is a book of long short stories first pubished in the 1930’s. The
longest being Wanderers of time itself. This was a very good read as usual.
Some of the themes seemed a bit familar though. It was a kind of cross between
the later Sleepers from Mars and The Web. Whydham obviously had some ideas he
liked. It amused me how the lead character had to find love but it also
interrested me how it wasn’t the first character introduced or the girlfriend
the original time travel was for. The Second story Derelict Of Space was more
interesting than a good story. I was about the salvage of a Rocket in space
which goes wrong. It was told retrospectively by a main character which is
typical of Wyndham. It’s fascinating that Wyndham predicts Space travel in
great and to my knowledge accurate detail but does seem to have the idea for
computers. It is also odd having space travel and the Third Reich in the same
era. Child Of Power was a story I particularly enjoyed a similar story to
Midwich Cuckoos or maybe Chocky (I can’t quite recall). It was about a child
with ability to sense Electricity as a sixth sense. It could easily have gone
on to be a full book but instead is cut short by an accident. The story as
usual is told by an observers retrospectively this time to people in a pub and
I love the final paragraph. It is a classic! The Last Lunarians was an
interesting story a little bit on the short side. About an ancient race of moon
dwellers accidently brought out of suspended animation. It makes me wonder if
they seriously thought the moon had had life in the past when this was written.
Sadly this was no Star Trek first contact story. Just a mad savages story. The
Puff-Ball Menace is a kind of day of the Triffids. This time set about as
Biological warfare by a country fed up with the West affecting it’s thinking
and being too small for conventional warfare.

Black Sabbath – An Oral History By Mike Stark – 11 November
1999

As is often the case I have mixed feelings about this History. If I had written
a review after reading the Ozzy Osbourne years only it would have been a lot
more negative. At the time I was thinking "Hey I could do this so much
better" There are very few "time of the album" quotes and I would
have liked to see all the quotes dated. I know trips to the British library
would produce a wealth of quotes from the magazines of the days. Weather permission
to use them would be a problem I don’t know.

As it stands that section adds very little to my admittedly  rather good
knowledge of the band. It was however interesting reading Bill Wards quotes
and it was also interesting seeing how they are written word for word like I
do my Praying Mantis interviews. It’s funny how you start noticing these things
when you with you own inability’s try and do them too.

As I say that is what I would have thought. Having finished the book I am a
lot happier. It is all to brief but it does cover each and every lineup and
a lot better than all the other Sabbath books I have seen (some only because
they are written a long time ago). The Editor or someone got carried away with
their spell checker and changed Ray Gillen into Ian Gillan but there is little
an Author can do to stop this type of mistake. I am still waiting for the definite
Sabbath History. I suspect I will wait a long time given the standard of most
of Sabbath’s non album releases but this at least points in the right direction.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – 15 December 99

This was and excellent read. I really enjoyed it. I found it extremely
interesting how my sympathies changed as the story progressed. At first I was
quite amused at the ridiculous extremes of the Brave New World. Especially that
Huxley had decided to replace God with Ford and the Cross with a "T"
for the Model T. But as the book came to an end and the Savage bought back from
an Indian reservations received an explanation of how society had got to it’s
current point and I couldn’t really see anything wrong with it. This worried me
it has to be said. Perhaps it was because it was ideological and there weren’t
many examples of the system failing. The Savage ended up rejecting the new
world and living alone which I understood to a degree. However he believed in
suffering to make his soul pure and was religious which left me baffled as
usual. Since the book was published in 1932 I again took great interest in what
was being predicted for the future. The conveyer belt of Test tube babies and
development was fascinating The Flamingo edition of the book also included a
Forward written by the author in 1944. It was interesting to see how the
authors views had changed. He realised the Human engineering was moving on a
lot faster than he originally anticipated. I suspect it has moved on even
quicker now. Fascinating stuff.

Beam Me Up, Scotty – James Doohan – 4 January 1999

This is an odd book. I obviously bought it for the Star Trek connection.
That was the most disappointing part for me. I found it rather boring reading
which epsidoes Doohan was in. Luckily it took Doohan more than half the book to
get anywhere near joining the cast of Star Trek. The stories he told about the
war and how he became an actor I found very interesting. I am not sure I
completely like Doohan but he seems geniue enough. Perhaps I am a little put
off by his eye for the woman and his confidence in his craft. I am suspect he
is a good actor though. Not the most essential Star Trek read but it is a
reasonable read all the same.

Jizzle – John Wyndham – 28 Jan 2000

This was a collection of short stories

"Jizzle" was an interesting story about a circus
performer buying a monkey in a pub. It brings him fortune but breaks up his
marriage. I guess a classic tale of money doesn’t buy happiness. Or a just
a mischievous monkey

"Technical Slip" was too short to be of any real
interest. A man is dying and is returned to his childhood in exchange for
his savings. There was a technical slip and he became aware of it until it
was corrected. It seems he was able to relive his life several times.

"A Present From Brunswick" was a different take on
the Pied Pipper. I was written in a very Wyndham way but it has to be said I
didn’t really understand it.

"Chinese Puzzle" was a good story about an egg
received in the post that hatches into a dragon. I didn’t understand why everyone
in Wales was talking in bad English though.

"Esmeralda" is a flea. And the story was about her
training and the effect of fleas on the trainers love life. A very interesting
story. I am surprised at another circus related story.

"How Do I Do?" was a good story about a woman breaking
with her fiancée and going to a fortune teller to get some direction
back in her life. She thinks the lady a fraud so the lady makes her see herself
in the ball. Woman are so stereotyped in these stories. Or realistic to the
time?

"UNA" is a story about man induced creation of
life. The result is Una and she takes a fancy to the Animal Welfare officer.
A good story.

"Affair Of The Heart" was a good short story about
a phonetician and his wife going out a for meal. They are accidentally
seated at a table that has been reserved for a couple for the last 30 years.
But all is not as it seems.

"Confidence Trick" was an intriguing story about
a journey on the underground and an apparent crash. They go to hell but one
passenger doesn’t believe in it so they get sent back. I want to say it was
well told but I didn’t really get the point in the end so I am not sure.

"The Wheel" was a good story about a society where
the wheel is banned because of the evil men did with it. Short and sweet but
well told.

"Look Natural, Please!" Is the story of a man going
to a photographer and being inspired to do better. Things later go full circle.
The wife is very stereotyped as is typical in the book.

"Perforce To Dream" is about a novel writer getting
her book rejected because someone else wrote the same book. Both had dreamt
it. It was a good story.

"Reservation Deferred" is an extremely short story
of a dying girl meeting a ghost and getting put off dying because she didn’t
like the Ghosts descriptions of heaven being for men.

"Heaven Scent" is a story about a wonderful new perfume
additive which is guaranteed to make the person of your choice fall madly in
love with you. While it lasts at least.

"More Spinned Against" was a rather enjoyable story
about the wife of a spider collector. She ends up having a chat with a spider
that was really a human cursed by a god.

Overall I enjoyed the book. I am not keen on short stories
and some of these didn’t work but others I thought very good.

EM Forster -The Machine Stops – 28 Feb
2000

I mentioned to a friend what I thought about The Brave New World and she
suggested I read this short story. It was about 40 pages long and I have to
say very good. It is about a society where mankind has perfected the machine
to such a point they all the do is sit in individual honeycomb rooms and press
buttons for all there requirements. Conversation so done with visuals but
any facial expression was hidden by the machine so that thoughts weren’t distracted.
The machine delivers everything to them. Muscles and movement are discouraged.
Everything is done through the machine. (In fact remember this story in later
months it strikes me I am close to living on one of the Honeycombe cell myself
due to my M.E.!

Unfortunately one mothers son (I am slow writing this up and can’t recall
how children happen in this society) seems to be too inquisitive for his own
good. He has a fascination for nature and the stars. Eventually he works out
the machine is dying due to faults in the repair center itself. Eventually
the machine dies and that causes Airships from the days when people had to
travel to crash into the honeycomb living centers and kill the main characters.
It is not clear if the machine stops because of decay or sabotage from people
who had been expelled to live outside the machine because they wouldn’t conform
to society. An Excellent little story. I must check out a full novel sometime.

Close To The Edge – The Story Of Yes by Chris Welch
– 24 April 2000

This book was a treat to read. It seems a long time since I have read a Band
Bio that goes into great detail. From what I can tell a lot of the facts have
been well researched. Sometimes Chris seemed to repeat quotes but I know I
couldn’t have done better. It is interesting to see it happens even in a quality
Journalist written Biography.

I didn’t really feel he got to the bottom of Rick Wakeman leaving the last
time. Maybe he did but I was frustrated by quotes from other band members
which while semi-true didn’t quite give the full picture. The impression given
was that Rick didn’t want to tour. I can’t see this is true given Rick has
done plenty of UK gig over the last few years. I guess it might be true that
Rick didn’t want to do 160 dates tours. The main problems seemed to be lack
of communication between the band and procrastination.

The Consolations Of Philosophy – Alain De Botton –
4 July 2000

“Me? Read a book on Philosophy? No way!”. I am sure this is what I would
have said a few months back. However I have always been interested in people,
their lives and how they interact with each other. So I guess it is logical
that something would eventually catch my interest enough to read such a book
on such a “Stuffy” subject. That something was a series on UK’s Channel 4
called “A Guide To Happiness”. As is often the case when something catches
my interest I wanted a book as a future reminder of what I had seen so I got
the book the series was based on. And I am glad I did.

It is difficult to know if this was philosophy made easy on purpose or if
it just turned out to be that way. Whatever it was a good way to break my
into the world of philosophers and it might well tempt to to read a bit more
about one of them.

6 philosophers were covered on six areas which we can sometimes need consoling.
Unpopularity, Not having enough money, Frustration, Inadequacy, A Broken Heart
and Difficulties. Difficulties was in fact the hardest section for me to get
on with. I think I agreed with it in principle but some of the smaller points
seemed to miss me.

The chapter on unpopularity kind of reinforced my fear of letting the majority
rule a country by votes on each bill on the Internet. The story of Socrates
death seems to show perfectly how people are swayed by the current majority
thinking without actually thinking things out for themselves. With the Power
of the Media I find this really scary.

My favourite philosopher was Montaigne on inadequacy and he is the one I
am most likely to be tempted to follow up on sometime. I wonder if I would
be disappointed though as Alain uses modern examples and explanations in conjunction
with original quotes.

My only problem with the book was it sometimes quotes a foreign language
without translating it. Most long phrases were translated but I guess some
where considered obvious but I didn’t work them out.

I think this was an excellent book and of great interest to anyone interested
in life and being happy.

Animal Farm – George Orwell – 13 July 2000

I got this book out of curiosity. People often quote the line “All animals
are equal but some are more equal than others”. And like 1984 it seems a popular
book. It’s a long while since I read 1984 and I seem to recall it was slightly
hard going. This definitely wasn’t. It calls itself a fairy tale and it has
to be said after my previous book this was a fast compulsive read. I loved the
way the corruption built up so subtly and the way the animals were confused
in thinking what they remembered was wrong. It is very easy to relate this story
to human society. At 5 UKP for a 94page book I thought the price was a bit steep
but nevertheless it was a good story.

Planet Of The Apes – Pierre Boulle – 31 July 2000

First published 1963 this is the book that inspired the Films and TV series.
With 38 chapters in only 180 pages or so I found this book somewhat compulsive
reading and would often read slightly more than I intended because I was reading
chapters and wanted to know what happened in the next only to find it out and
decide with only 3 more pages I should go on to finish the chapter I had started.

I guess the story was in fact a combination of what became the first and third
films. The main characters of Zira, Cornelius, Zaius and Nova existed in this
original tale but the Ape city was slightly more modern than in the films. The
main human character Ulysse spent an amazing amount of time not showing the
apes he was as intelligent as them but I guess it helped the plot in the fact
he and Nova eventually had a baby despite him initially feeling she was more
like a pet than a human.

I liked the reasons give for the human decline and the nice little twist at
the end.

It was also good to read a story that talked about interplanetary travel with
the Theory of Realitivity involved and not just forgotten as an inconvenience.
Thus while it took Ulysse two years to get to the Ape planet in earth time it
was really 500 years.

I couldn’t help thinking this book wouldn’t have been written with the same
emphasis today. In 40 years we have changed slightly and it is odd reading old
views. Of course one of the biggest things to me someone who is 34 is the fact
I have grown up knowing the films and TV series. The concept of a planet of
apes is intriguing not horrifying. It wasn’t till I finished the book I realised
I was mentally imagining the apes as per the films and not the real animals
that someone without the knowledge of the films would have done. This is a shame
really. I will have to read this again sometime with that in mind.

An excellent book and cheap at only 4ukp for a hardback.

John Whydham – Exiles On Asperus – 26 Aug 2000

This is a book of three short stories.

Exiles On Asperus was written in 1933. And is a story about the Arrogance
of humans and how our adaptability can also be our downfall. Asperus seems to
be a small planetoid Whydham speculated would be discovered in our solar system.
It has a population of Bat like people who are intelligent but don’t have our
hands. An Earth ship crashes on the planet and they are taken prisoner. The
prisoners are encouraged to breed and their children are taken away to form
a new society that are willing to help the Batrach. A very good story.

No Place Like Earth is a 1951 story. This was an intriguing story while
I read it but once  I got to then end I was slightly disappointed. Earth
has been blown up somehow and Bert an Earth-man is stuck on Mars. The Martians
are an old race living simply and Bert dreams of the old Earth. After 13 years
a ship of Earth-men arrive from Venus in the only Rocket-ship with fuel. They
recruit Bert to help rebuild Venus. But Venus is like the earth old old using
animals as slave labour and having a dictator as a leader. Bert escapes back
to the life he found unsatisfying on Mars as he now realises how the Martian
philosophy appeals to him.

Curiously there is a love interest but she doesn’t really meet until he back
on Mars. She is more an idea. The woman on Venus were also segregated from the
average citizen on Venus. I don’t think that  the Love was that bigger
motivation though.

The Venus Adventure was published in 1932. I really enjoyed reading
this story. A religious fanatic and a Rich man form a partnership to get to
Venus. Once their they don’t get on and form two societies which hate each other.
After 800 years another ship left Earth thinking they would be first on Mars
and the story is about how things have progressed their.

There were lots of interesting ideas in the story but again the thing that
interested me most is the predictions about the future. I found it fascinating
that Whynham could think it might take Earth another 800 years to rediscover
rocket power. I was also amazed that he had no concept for anything like Televsion.
Surely he would have had Films when he wrote this? But even 800 years in the
future they are still using radios and books.

This is in no way a criticism I just love to see how things have moved along
and things that I take for granted weren’t even thought off. I guess it is amazing
we made it to the Moon only 40 years after this. Mind you we are dragging our
heals on the next step of landing people on Mars and Venus.

He had some interesting ideas of how Venus looked.

The story is written in typical Wyndham style. i.e. a Report by someone on
past events.

I wonder what Whynham’s Regious beliefs were. He made the Fanatics deteriorate
as a society because they had a madness gene in there limited gene pool. The
Rich mans society were more control about how they inbred etc. and were therefore
the more stable society.

Overall I thought the book well worth seeking out in the 2nd hand stores.

The Last Days Of Hitler – H.R. Trevor-Roper – 21
December 2000

I thought I had taken an awful long time to read this book. Probably 3 months
but apparently it was four. I am sure there was at least a month in the middle
where I didn’t read any of it. I guess that was probably longer too.

The first 40 pages of the book were an explanation by Roper of why he wrote
the book and what methods he used. I actually found the explanation of how he
looked for secondary evidence to point in the direction of main evidence very
interesting. He pointed out if something is true lots of seemingly contradictory
evidence will suddenly come together. If it is a lie there will be almost no
contradictory evidence in the overal evidence.

I then got onto the main part of the book and rather bored. There was a lot
of general information on the state of the War and Hitler’s people during the
last two years of his life. I found this stuff incredibly hard to take in and
suspect I wasn’t going flat out on the book which wouldn’t have helped either.

I commented on a previous review that I find having lots of sections and chapters
encourages me to read on. This book proved the reverse. The chapters are
extremely long and there were no sections marks. Therefore when I was getting
tired of reading after my usual 8-10 pages I had no incentive to read on to
the next logical break 2-6 pages away. I tended therefore to just give up.

After a long break of reading current magazines and just being too tired, I
decided to have a serious crack at the book and get it finished. I therefore
have forced myself to read it most days and finish it before Christmas. Luckily
I then got into the detail of the last 10 days of his life which was the last
half of the book. This I found a lot easier to read and I got into it again.
I was surprised at how strong the authors views were on some of the characters.
The book was originally written in 1947 and I was reading a 1973 reprint. I
suspect if it had been written now there would have been a lot more explanation
of why people were described as Ninnies etc.

I found reading the Epilogue quite interesting to read. It was a summery of
why the author thought Hitler a success and then a failure. I don’t think his
views had changed between the 1947 original and 1972 reprint I wonder if they
have now. I also wonder if the author was still about to look at any evidence
produced as a result of the Iron Curtain.

I am glad I read the book but I look forward to reading something lighter next.
That won’t be for sometime though as I had a heap of Back Issues magazines to
read.

Consider Her Ways And Others – John Wyndham – 27 May
2001

This is another collection of short stories. Consider Her Ways is medium size
and the rest a definitely short.

Consider Her Ways – This was a very good story. Like most Wyndham stories half
the fun of the story is in seeing where this story went. It is therefore hard
to give a summary without spoiling it. Basically woman a woman wakes up in a
hospital with memory lose and a strange feeling of being in the wrong body.
Slowly her memory returns and there is an interesting discussion of woman in
society. Especially odd as Wyndham is a man.

Odd – At last in May I am backing to reading a book. I have missed it and it
was really good to start with this nice little story by my favourite author.
It was only 10 pages long and pretty predicable but a god little story behind
why a man was left a lot of shares in a Plastics company.

Oh Where Now is Peggy MacRafferty? – This was an extremely odd Wyndham Story
it just seem to be a story about plucking someone out of obscurity and making
them’ a film star. She was put through a film school and all her character was
lost. Perhaps this was radical when it was written but now it is so common it
was rather boring and very un-Wyndham like.

A Stitch In Time was back to normal Wyndham. A time travel story of sorts.
Nothing to original but again a nice little read.

Random Quest – This was an excellent little story I felt could easily have
been expanded. A man has an accident and wakes up in a Parallel universe where
things are similar but different. He is married in that place and falls in love
with her when he returns to his own universe he is desperate to find this woman.

A Long Spoon – This was quite amusing tale of an accidental summoning of the
devil. The made doesn’t want to make a pact with him so they come up with an
alternative plan.

With Exception of MacRafferty I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Inside The Music – Dave Stewart (plus a bit on The AB’
Guide To Music Theory by Eric Taylor) – April 2001

As a Clarinet/Sax/Wind Synth player I have never understood why chords are
so important to guitarists and bands. I therefore wanted a book to explain to
me what was going on. I had tried The AB’ Guide To Music Theory but it was very
dry and just explained how to read music etc. I found it interesting but not
quite was I was after. I then got a Yamaha QY70 music sequencer as it would
allow me to practice my Wind Synth away from Electricity. This was an expensive
solution to my problem but quite handy as it solved a few other problems I had
such as practicing against midi files from the comfort of my Bed. Anyway another
useful thing is it allows you to write code backings and develop your own songs.
This therefore inspired me to hunt for a book on how to compose music and I
decided to go for this one as it talks from a keyboard point of view while also
mentioning guitars patterns.

It is a well written book and quite amusing. I do know how to read music but
I am not sure it is that essential for reading the book. I think having an instrument
that plays chords probably is though. Especially as 40 of the 104 or so text
pages deal with them. I must admit I got a bit bored by the third chapter on
them. That was my only problem with the book really.

Everything else seemed so simply explained I almost wondered why I needed a
book to explain it. I guess it is just a confidence thing really.

At then end of the book I certainly felt I could have a crack at writing a
tune and in fact I did write a little 12 bar piece. Nothing special but more
than I had done before.

I am not at all musical so I am not sure I would do any more writing but I
feel equipped to play if I want to know. I think after a while I might find
a more advanced book more useful but this book was a good introduction and I
will keep it on hand for future reference along with the AB guide.

Incidentally I got a lot more from the chord chapters than I even did reading
the AB Book. I think it was just too fast for me. It is more like a revision
summary book than a teaching manual.

John Wyndham – Tales Of Gooseflesh and Laughter – 30 May
2001

This one took me a long time to get hold of and when I did I was disappointed.
It contains many of the stories I had just read in Jizzle. This is an Amercan
book hence the duplication but I don’t seem to have come across all the stories.

The Stories I have already read are Chinnese puzzle, Una, The Wheel, Jizzle,
Heaven Scent, More Spinned Against, A Present From Brunswick, Confidence Trick.

I have just read the notes for Teachers and Parents at the front of the book
and they point out short story collections are harder work than novels since
they are sometimes more difficult to understand. I was also amazed "The
Wheel" was supposed be the basis of the Kracken Wakes/Out Of The Deeps.
But that is because they said Re-Birth and I am not good with the American titles!
… A hunt up the loft later and I think Re-Birth is the Chraysalids and I will
make that my next book to read.

I have also found out where the missing stories in this book are from. They
are mainly in The Seeds Of Time. I am sure I read it in my long forgotten past
but clearly I need to read it again. And since I will soon run out of new Whydham
to read I am sure I will.
Back to the teacher notes and I was intererested to see that the choice of the
first and last story in a collection are very important and therefore normally
the best. There is then some discussion of the choices of The Chinesse Puzzle
and Wild Flower and their similar ideas. All very good I thought until I remembered
that in the UK "Jizzle" is the Opener and "More Spinned Against"
the closer.

Compassion Circuit – This was the story of a woman not taking to using a Robot
for house work. She became ill and then saw the benefits of them. The robots
had a compassion curcuit built in them and this had interesting end results.

Opposite Number – Another time dimensions story. This one has the author describing
the arrival of himself and an ex-girlfriend from another dimension and the results
it had. Again a gripping but simple story.

Wild Flower – This one does indeed end "The seeds of Time" so it
should according to the teachers notes be a masterpiece. Sadly and surprizingly
for a 10 page story I found this slow going and rather descriptive. It just
seemed to be about someone who was against technology. I didn’t really get the
point. Perhaps I was too tired.

The Chrysalids By John Wyndham – 12 June 2001

I must have read this book in less time than any other in the last few years.
I probably only did 17 pages a day but that has caused me to worry about eye
fatigue (not strain).

The thing is I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and decided to push the limits
of my ME. I normally read to chapters or section breaks but I kept finding it
so gripping that I pushed on more than my natural limits.

This is the 2nd time I have read this book the first was probably as a teenager
and it may well have been the first Wyndham I read although I do have vague
memories of reading Day Of The Triffids in the third year (age 14) at school.

It is certainly a good story for a child to read as it is told through the
eyes of a ten year old. He develops to a late teenager in the story but it is
still an easy read.

I have to confess I read the book and then wondered where the title came from.
I ended up looking in the dictionary to see if it is a word. The closest I got
was Chrysalis, which is a Pupa in a hard shell. At the end of it what looks
like a new species appears so I guess I now understand the title.

The book seems to be set on a post nuclear war Earth. Specifically in Labrador.
By the descriptions it was USA that was wiped out with a bomb or I guess a massive
volcano.

Life is very simple again and the locals are fanatical about keeping stocks
pure and religion. The writer’s talks with a sailor provide thought provoking
topics. The Sailor points out people don’t really know what is pure and in God’s
image. It is just down to Politics etc. I find the issues raised in this book
very challenging and they probably further reinforce my ideas about individually
and not following societies rules and conventions for their own sake.

The Pupa’s in the story are children that have discovered Telepathy. This creates
some questions in my head that never get fully answered but it doesn’t really
matter.

Wyndham curiously throws in that there is no "Z" in the current language
in Labrador. I find this strange as they were supposed to have found a bible
from the days of the old people.

To a certain extent the end book ends up as an adventure with a happy ending.
I must confess it was not as happy as it could be and I was sad about how one
of the early characters turned out. I guess I wanted a love story to happen
there but it didn’t.

Also having grown up on Star Trek having phasers set on stun the end seemed
surprisingly brutal.

It is very difficult discussing a book without giving the story away. I also
hope I have given myself enough clues so that in two years I can remember the
basic story. I doubt it somehow but there we go.

It is an excellent read and I highly recommend you give it a go.

Amazing Stories – October 1965 ‘ 24 July 2001

I have been buying up books and periodicals with John Wyndham short stories
I don’t recognise the title of. This is one of them and I have decided I will
read some of them to I know what they are.

In this book were the following stories :-

Killer Ship – Murray Leinster – This is only half a novel so I guess not worth
reading

The Eternal Eve – John Wyndham – This was an interesting read it used settlers
on Venus and had local semi-intelligent natives called Griffas. This set up
was used in "No Place Like Earth" from 1951. Another interesting parallel
was that there were Mars colonies but also the key part of the story was that
the Earth had just blown up. In this story it seems there were only a handful
of people of Venus and only 4 women. Without Earth’s control and only poor radio
signals from Mars the men all start fighting for power and for the remaining
woman. One of the surviving women had loved and lost on Earth and had no interest
in settling down for the sake of society and the story was basically about her.
I guess it was slightly predictable but I enjoyed it all the same.

I was originally going to just read the Wyndham story but I figured I might
as well check out the rest of the book.

The Chrysalis by Ray Bradbury – Having just read Wyndham’s The Chrysalids and
wondered why it was so named I couldn’t resist read a story called The Chrysalis.
Now it has to be said my interest in Science Fiction is mild to say the least.
I enjoy Wyndham and Wells and also the classic series of Star Trek but things
like Assimov’s Foundation just bore me. Stuff that makes me tick is stuff that
I can relate to my world. I am not interested in created fantasy worlds etc.
Now reading this story I was very aware I had a lot of prejudice to get over.
In theory Wyndham could have told this and it is possible for it to take place
now but I still felt this was pushing my interest level a bit though. It was
the story of a man called Smith turning Green and rigid and then into a chrysalis.
A friend and doctor watched him as he changes and then he comes out. I won’t
give more away but I was highly unimpressed by the end of the story. The last
paragraph was such a cop out. I had been reasonably interested to find out the
point of the story but it didn’t have one. Oh well. I know I am being tough
on this and a lot of Wyndham’s short stories don’t work for me.

Let’s see how I take to the rest

The Metal Man By Jack Williamson – This was an interesting story that seemed
to be written in the same sort of era as the original King Kong film. An explorer
is hunting for Radium in the jungle and he fly’s into a volcano. There he gets
caught in a strange cloud and he finds his fingers start turning Green. Eventually
he escapes but he runs out of berry juice, which stops him turning completely
to Metal.

The Time Jumpers By Phil Nowlan – This was a poor man’s H.G.Wells Time Machine.
Once they were in the days before USA’s independence it was just a boring story
of looking for the time machine being chased by natives. The woman falling and
them getting caught then escaping back in their time machine. It passed the
time I guess.

Dusty Answer – Arthur Porges – This was a short little story about some inter-planetary
explorers falling into an alien like a giant Trapdoor spider’s hole. It was
OK and could almost have been written for a jungle story here.

The book was OK overall but not really my scene and as usual when selected
my next book from my unread collection I have changed my early intentions.

The Magic Shop By H.G. Wells – 31 Jul 2001

Well here’s a first. I have just read my first E-Text. I normally read in the
bath so there isn’t much point in me reading something large on the Psion but
I got a Program called Tomeraider since it was a cheap and very good way of
carrying a couple of English Dictionaries with me. (I look up far more words
now I can do it on the Psion!). I then had a look to see what other texts were
about and I discovered two of immediate interest one by Wilkie Collins and this
little short story.

I am not sure why it was written really but basically a man and a boy are outside
a magic shop and the boy wants to go in. They do and everything is really magical.
The boy is given presents and then made to disappear and the father gets angry
and tries to follow the shop assistant to find him and finds himself out on
the street with his son again.

It pasted the time of day I guess. I will now see how I cope with a more substantial
piece in 5-minute bursts. It is certainly very handy I can stop anywhere I like
and I won’t lose my place!

Mr Wray’s Cash Box by Wilkie Collins – 27 Aug 2001

I read this on my Psion and thoroughly enjoyed it. It seems reading in five
minute bursts works quite well for me.

This was a ten chapter novelette by Wilkie Collins author of my favourite book
"The Woman in white". This was I guess a fairly simple story about
an ex-Actor called Mr Wray who moved towns after having the audacity to take
a cast of William Shakespeare’s Bust.

I enjoyed the tale for what it was and found Collins chatty Author style rather
unusual. He would often makes his presence felt by saying things like "Well
dear reader I am sure you are itching for me to introduce the villain of the
piece".

I think I will try a full length novel on the Psion now.

Arabian Nights – A Selection – Translated by Richard
F Burton – 2 Sept 2001

The last time I changed books I was feeling adventurous I therefore picked
Arabian Nights out of my heaps of unread books.

I don’t tend to like books that are translated because there are normally still
lots of difficult to read names. This book wasn’t too bad from this aspect.

It is obviously a very old book and the stories are very one dimensional and
politically incorrect. The stories apparently first appeared in the West in
1704 but I am not sure when they were based.

The book contains Ali Barber and the Forty Thieves and Aladdin And The Magic
Lamp. These were all told within the story of Scherherazade and King Shahryar.
I guess I originally bought it because it was cheap and because I was curious
about the above stories.

To be honest I don’t think the stories have much merit and the best one was
The Tale Of Nur Al-Din Ali And His Son.

Aladdin was a lazy good for nothing made good by a merchant that needed someone
to go into a hidden cave to fetch a lamp for him. The Lamp had an all powerful
Jinnee. Aladdin innocently couldn’t give the Merchant the Lamp so the merchant
sulked and locked him in the cave. Aladdin eventually escaped and continued
being a spoilt brat until the Merchant discovered Aladdin was alive and wealthy
and tricked Aladdin’s wife into giving him the lamp. Aladdin of course got it
back and killed the merchant.

It seems in these stories a good person is someone that is handsome as the
moon. They don’t seem to need to be good of character. Woman it seems are devious
unfaithful enchanters that need a good beating from time to time.

In fact in Shahryar’s case. He was a really good person until his wife cheated
on him. He was then force to have sex with another man wife’s wife or she would
wake her husband and tell him and he would kill Shahryar. This severely effected
Shahryar and he vowed no woman would ever cheat on him again so from that day
on he had a fresh virgin delivered everyday and the next morning she was executed.
After three years of this he came up against’ Scherherazade and she cleverly
kept alive by telling him stories until dawn and then keeping him in suspense
until the next night. Arabian Nights stories are in fact are the stories she
entertained Shahryar with.

The book was a reasonable read but mainly from the angle that these stories
were considered good in the not too distant past. In fact I am surprised that
the wedding night text in The Tale Of Nur Al-Din Ali And His Son got past the
censors. It was Pornography really. Perhaps it was suppressed until recently.
It is certainly not surprised the translator was the person that brought the
Kama Sutra to western eyes.

The Hobbit – Graphic Novel – David Wenzel & Charles
Dixon – 6 Nov 2001

I first read the Hobbit as a kid. I really enjoyed it and thought it might
be good fun to get this version of the book so my daughters might get interested.
As it happens my ten year old is currently reading the original book at school
and wants to take this one in to show them. She isn’t actually that impressed
by the story but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it again in this format. The pictures
are well drawn and Gollum looked like I thought he should.

I got thoroughly into the story again so much so it infected my thoughts during
other conversations during the day. This is unusual for me. I had completely
forgotten the ending with the battles over the gold and I was slightly disappointed
it ended up with a war but I guess it was still moral enough for my liking.

I highly recommend it.

PS. My daughter ended up reading the Graphic novel off her on back she enjoyed
it so much.

Chocky – John Wyndham – 3 December 2001

This was the first novel I had read in ages. That and being a John Wyndham
book meant I read it rather quickly.

As I read it was a gripping as usual but I was wondering as I got close to
the end how the story would conclude and weather it would be up to Wyndham’s
normal standard. I think the ending was OK but I suspect the impact of the book
has been lost in modern times. It is clear what is going on in the story almost
from the start. The book was published as a novel in 1968. It might have been
a short story in 1963 but it is hard for me as someone born between these dates
to look back and know if Alien Telepathy is a surprising concept then or not.

The end of they story seemed satisfactory to me and I am now interested to
see what happened in the TV Series Chocky. So now I am going to read Chocky’s
challenge. It seems an ideal story for a follow up. I wonder how a new author
will cope.

Overall I enjoyed this book despite it’s simplicity. I also found some of the
family life relationships a) interesting because they are now quaint but also
b) relevant to some of my circumstances.

Desperate Remedies – Thomas Hardy – 13 Feb 2002

I read the first edition text of this book and it had notes and an introduction
by Mary Rimmer.

The actual book and story I loved. From the very beginning I was in suspense
as to what was going to happen and then why it had happened. For a book from
1871 I was a bit surprised at the scene where Miss Aldclyffe got into bed with
Cytherea. Surely the book wasn’t about a lesbian relationship? As I read on
I discovered it wasn’t but it was an intriguing side track.

I never know weather to read the editors notes as I go through the book in
these stories, so sometimes I did and sometimes I didn’t. I wish I hadn’t as
some emphasised a characters villainous nature before I spotted it myself. The
notes in my view made him out to be more of a villain than I would actually
consider him myself. He seemed a reasonably average person that made a few mistakes
and then dug himself in deeper.

I got the book because it was supposed to have been influenced by Wilkie Collins
and I love what I have read of him. The editor really seemed to have a downer
on Hardy writing a sensational novel and the story in general. It seems a strange
way to attract people to reading a book to me but there we go. I got un-graded
in English Literature despite a lot of hard work, so I will clearly make no
critic. I can just enjoy a book because it is interesting and fun. I don’t have
to care of if the characters in the story were doing the narrators job with
their speech or if there was a bad use of quoted text. If you like a good "sensational"
novel from this period read it. If you are a Hardy fan I suspect you will be
disappointed if not you will probably have as good a read as I did.

The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by Robert Louie
Stevenson – 26 Feb 2002

I read this as an E-book and should have finished it month’s back but I seemed
to lose interest in it.

The book suffers from too many TV and film adaptations and I have also heard
the original as a talking story so I guess there was little new to discover
in reading the original text. It is a good story hence the number of new versions
and I enjoyed reading the description of events in the main part of the book
but once we got to Jekyll’s own statement in the last chapter it was just explaining
the events we already knew about and given that I could remember the explanations
given, that is probably why I lost interest in finishing the story.

I do wonder also if I find the story a little too non-scientific now. I suppose
the story could take place now but it seems highly unlikely to me. But then
again perhaps it could be translated to the drugs required to keep a child suffering
from Attention Deficit Disorder from misbehaving.

I have changed my habits in the last few months and use my Psion less when
resting due to fatigue. It will be interesting to see if I get into another
E-book. I might try a Wilkie Collins I think.

Genome: The Autobiography Of A Species In 23 Chapters
By Matt Ridley – 20 May 2002

I got this book as part of a 3 book set by the Bookpeople. I was actually after
a book on the history of code breaking upon which a TV series was base. However
last time I changed books this one grabbed my attention most. A great choice
it was to.

This really was a great read. To start with I had slight worries as to how
Matt Ridley seemed to be so knowledgeable on so many different topics. I originally
figured he must be a Geneticist but it seems he is more of a Science and economist
Journalist/Researcher. Whatever Ridley’s qualifications for writing on the subject
I gave up worrying and started trusting his research skills by about chromosome
10.

The book is structured so that each chapter is based on each of the Chromosomes.
Some of the links are a bit tenuous but the topics covered work well in the
order presented. Each chapter contains lots of thought provoking topics.

The book was first Published in 1999 and since genetic knowledge has grown
so much in the last few years I assume there have been more developments on
some of the topics covered. I don’t think it should put anyone off reading the
book though.

Obviously the subject matter is a bit technical in places and as I was travelling
on a long journey in a car I thought I would take the opportunity to read the
last chapter to my Girlfriend. I hadn’t realised how I didn’t bother reading
words properly when reading in my head. Actually speaking the words was really
tripping my tongue up and I found I wasn’t able to say or read quite a few words.

Having said this Ridley goes to great lengths to explain everything with good
definitions and examples. The book is definitely aimed at people like myself
and if I can read it and follow it despite having ME I am sure anyone can. And
I highly recommend that they do.

1-2-3 Magic – Effective Discipline For Children 2-12
– Thomas W. Phelan, Ph.D. – 27 Aug 2002

I read this book as my girlfriend had recommended it and we had just managed
to get it back from a friend who had borrowed it for about a year.

It only took me a fortnight to get through which is very good for me and was
made easy by the book being highly readable and having lots of short digestible
chapters.

I have read various self-help books in my time and they always seem to just
be common sense. The thing is you don’t always have time to discover or work
everything out for yourself.

I particularly liked the approach of this book because the author read other
child rearing books and worked out his version of the best method and then got
the parents to try things out and report back to him. Thus the book is written
from the experience of many parents and if applied as stated in the book will
work.

The technique is not magic and it is incredibly simple. If a child does something
wrong. You don’t talk you don’t get angry you just say "That’s 1".
If they persist you continue, "That’s 2" and if they still persist
"That’s 3 take x minutes". The child then has to go play quietly in
it’s bed room for the number of minutes times it’s age. If the child does something
serious like hitting they just get a straight "That’s 3". It is all
common sense stuff and easy to implement.

The book covers the conversation to introduce the new method. And it gives
lots of great conversation examples were the parents gets it right and wrong
in everyday situations such as meals and going to bed etc.

Counting is mainly used for "Stop" activities. IE you need the child
to stop doing something. The book also discusses how to get them motivated for
"Start" activities such as cleaning their room and doing homework.
These are the areas I struggle with more but there are plenty of tips we will
be trying out over time.

Using this method gives you quite a lot of power, which you could abuse so
the book also covers Self-esteem issues. In fact the book suggests you should
praise the child twice as much as you tell them off.

We have four children, two of my own and two of my girlfriends, between 6 and
11 and one of them has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It is for him
that the method has been particularly effective. It is really hard to get the
correct amount of praise in though.

I tend to have a stricter approach than my girlfriend and I think it is more
in line with the book. So far there has been a vast improvement and everyone
knows or is getting to know that I mean what I say. Again it is hard to get
them to appreciate this goes for the good things too. I tried to give Liam a
Piggyback ride into the Sea but even a "’50 if I get you wet" offer
didn’t tempt him to agree.

I have read some reviews of this book on Amazon and it is clear to me some
people have not read this book with an open mind. They seem to have gone in
with a "This is the way I bring my children up" attitude. They are
the people that don’t value the book and method. If you are willing to learn
and try the method as stated then this book will be a’ godsend to you. You will
use it for a while and it will work and then you will come back to it when you
start slipping back into your old methods and you will start browsing it for
tips and support again.

I liked this book so much I am about to order Phelan’s books on Attention Deficit
Disorder and find out what is in store with my eldest now that she is approaching
the end of the 1-2-3 Magic age range.

All About Attention Deficit Disorder – Thomas W. Phelan,
Ph.D. – 23 Sep 2002

This is an excellent source of information on Attention Deficit Disorder(ADD)
or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder(ADHD). However if you have a child
between 2-12 and discipline troubles you would be best to read 1-2-3 Magic –
Effective Discipline For Children 2-12 by Thomas W. Phelan since this contains
all the information you need to get your life in some sort of order again. Once
you are able to relax for the first time in ages this is the time to read this
book. I am not sure it is a book you will want to read from cover to cover,
I did, but I found myself getting impatient wanting to get to the bits of particular
interest to my family. Perhaps the best thing to do is to pick and choose but
then later read the whole book for completeness.

"The What Is ADD" section was excellent if we had any doubts that
Liam had ADHD, which luckily we didn’t as he has been correctly diagnosed, we
would would have had now doubts after reading this section. It described the
situations we get into with Liam perfectly. At this point in the book I was
getting frustrated that although it was listing all the problems it was not
dealing with how to resolve them in the slightest. This is why I recommend 123
Magic first. Once your child is diagnosed and on medication there is not a get
deal more help you can get other than guidance on disciple. This book has a
10 page summary on 123 Magic and another chapter on the older child book Surviving
your Adolescents but they recommend you read the corresponding book for completness.
Once I accepted there was no extra guidance to be had I buckled down and accepted
all the other information I was being offered.

It is hard to explain what I have picked up actually as the having been written
from a browsing point of view, and not a cover to cover read one, it often repeats
itself. Reading cover to cover though you soon feel an expert. You really know
you know the facts by the time you are at the Adults with ADD section.

The chapter I found most useful on the new information front was Classroom
management. Having four children to deal with it feels like a mini-class sometimes
and you need to be careful you don’t favour or ignore the non-ADD children.

In many ways the book seems bleak as you come away knowing full well that there
are currently no overall solutions to ADD. Once you have it you have it. The
best you can do is learn how to cope with it and how to maximise your possibilities
given it. I think reading this book you will be in the best position to be able
to make the best decisions for your ADD child or give the best advice to ADD
friend, or lover. Hopefully the books style will also work for you if you are
ADD yourself and have limited concentration.

The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins – 27 Jan 2003

I finally got to the end of this wonderful book. I read it in two halves due
to other reading commitments and perhaps lost some enjoyment because of it.
I soon got back into the swing of it though and I couldn’t wait to get to the
end.

It seems a lot of people rate this as Wilkie’s best but I found it a little
more straightforward than The Woman In White so I don’t think it was quiet a
good.

It was certainly a good story and I believe it is considered one of the first
Detective Stories. I probably lost some of the pleasure of the book because
I heard it as a talking book in 1994 and also saw a BBC film version. This didn’t
spoil my enjoyment of Woman In White so maybe I am wrong and it is the different
Genre that interests me a fraction less.

I love Wilkie’s use of different storytellers to tell the story and I liked
the way they each had their own quirks. Mr Betteredge’s obsession with Robinson
Crusoe particularly tickled me. Miss Clack and her attempts to redeem lost souls
was also quite amusing but I was glad when she finished her narration as she
was a bit tedious.

I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Black Sabbath Never Say Die! 1979-1997 – Garry Sharpe-Young
– 4 Jan 2004

In February 2003 I moved into a new house with my later to be wife and her
two children and my time for reading completely disappeared. I had no time and
no energy. In mid November 2003 I got this book as I am still buying books I
hope to read sometime and don’t want to risk not being able to get them. Black
Sabbath have always been my favourite band. Or at least their 70’s period with
Ozzy Osbourne. This book doesn’t cover that period but instead covers the merry-go-round
of people passing through the band right up to the time of Ozzy’s return in
1997. There were some good albums during this period and a lot I am less interested
in but I have always found previous Sabbath books really frustrating because
they just dismiss this period. I wanted to know what was going on and why such
strange things seemed to be going on. This book in all it’s 400 page glory does
a wonderful job of explaining that. I actually know the work Garry puts into
his books because I helped him out with an interview of Praying Mantis’s Dave
Potts because he played drums with Ozzy for just one week in the formative days
of Ozzy’s first solo band. I actually started reading that Ozzy book but my
interest in Ozzy is far less than that of Black Sabbath and that was the book
I abandoned on moving to my new house.

I found it a little curious given Garry’s detail that there was no mention
of the Cross Purposes Live album when he mentions other potential live albums
that could have appeared but didn’t. And I also wanted to jump on him for not
mentioning that the first 1997 Black Sabbath reunion gig had Bill Ward on drums
and not Mike Bodine who replaced Bill on the Ozzfeast tour of the USA. I think
I understand what happened there though. The book is not covering that period
which again is a shame but expected given the title. All he was doing in fact
was covering what the various people passing through Sabbath had been up to
since 1997. I think these were the only two points I was a shade disappointed
on. The rest of the book was very comprehensive. No I lie there, there was on
another thing that disappointed me and that was the lack of detail on Bev Bevan
(drummer from ELO’s involvement). Garry normally mentions when he was refused
help but there were no quotes from Bev and Garry’s summary of Bev’s next move
was wrong. Garry could have also mentioned the band Beltch (spelling?) which
I believe Tony Iommi sometimes played in with Bev and Jasper Carrot. I would
have liked to know weather that was true and some details but it would have
been off topic to a degree.

There was so much in this book I didn’t know and even stuff that I hadn’t heard
rumoured on the Internet. It was really great to get answers to a lot of the
points I wanted to know. I said in my review of Oral history I didn’t think
a book would cover what I want to know but this book does a very good job. I
guess the only way we will get to know more is Tony Iommi ever writes a biography.
Given they way he comes across in this book I don’t think that will ever happen.
It seems Tony is a great guitarist and fun person to play with but he is a lousy
band leader and communicator.

This book is an absolute must for anyone that is interested in the non-Ozzy
Osbourne years of Black Sabbath. Well done Garry!

Ozzy Osbourne – The Story Of The Ozzy Osbourne Band- Garry
Sharpe-Young – 28 Feb 2004

Having got back into reading I decided I might as well finish this book. I
think I had read about 60 pages by Feb 2003 I then moved into a house with children
again and lost all enthusiasum and energy to read. This book was written prior
to the Black Sabbath one and consequently I feel rather let down by it. Firstly
I have read a couple of good books on Ozzy. Diary of a Madman by Mick Wall.
I seem to recall this was very good. That covered Ozzy’s public press profile.
This book doesn’t really cover Ozzy at all. It is as the title says the story
of the band. If I had read this before the Sabbath book I would have thought
it very good. Reading it this way round though I felt it was all a bit breif
and rushed. I also felt disappointed some parts weren’t covered as well as I
would have liked. I wonder if Gary tried to get in touch with Rick Wakeman.
I would have thought Rick would have been open to an interview if he had. It
would be a shame if he hadn’t tried. As mentioned in the Black Sabbath review
I was actually able to give a hand in this book as Dave Potts the former Praying
Mantis drummer tried out with Ozzy for a week

What is in the book is very good and very interesting. You do get a good picture
of how Ozzy operates and it does seem interesting there is more to Ozzy music
wise and personality wise that even comes across in MTV’s "The Osbournes".

I do recommend this book but I would like to have seen a little more detail.

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss – Oct 2004

I was bought this book by my wife. To be honest I was a little baffled as to
why. I wasn’t sure if she was trying to educated me or if she was saying I was a
perfectionist and therefore this book was designed for me. Anyone trying to read
my website will know I am appalling at Grammar. But I am a perfectionist in many
respects. This book was therefore an interesting read. It drives me nuts that
people are always pointing out my spelling mistakes etc. I feel as long as they
understood what I was trying to say surely I have communicated correctly. This
book explained the other side quite well to me. I found it made me want to start
another quest for a Punctuation exercise book to help sharpen my skills. (I
failed again incidentally. All books are for children or cover too many subject
areas.) I
certainly want to be like Lynne. I just can’t spell and I don’t remember the
rules of grammar from one month to the next.
I enjoyed a lot of the humour in the book and the discussions of how the current
standards have evolved and even how the experts that are picky don’t even agree
what is correct. I am not sure I could recommend the book but it certainly
sparked my interest and was readable in a period when I was struggling to read.
It won favour
because of its short sections and light nature.

The Island Of Dr Moreau – H.G.Wells – 17 April 2005

I have really struggled to find the time and energy to read in the last year or
so. I have actually started a very good book called "Raising Resilient child"
but I am not always in the mood to read it and when I am it has to be small
bursts because of my fatigue levels.
I switched to reading this book because I saw the film of it. I think the film I
saw was from 1996 or so and I thought the story so bad I just could not believe
H.G.Wells had written it.
The film was based on the book but like the recent Time Machine film it had been
messed up by trying to make it for a modern audience. The original story worked
far better for me and was a much better read.

War Of The Worlds – H.G. Wells – 21 May 2005

Since this was the next book in my volume of four H.G.Wells stories I decided to
continue on with it. I know the story quite well because of the Jeff Wayne War
Of The World’s album. I have also seen a dreadful film on based on the book. As
I read the story it was great to read so many lines that had been lifted
directly by Jeff Wayne and put on his album. He had been very faithful to the
story. It was also interesting to see what he had missed out. I don’t remember
any mention of the Black Smoke clouds killing people. I had also always puzzled
how just one ship the Thunderchild could be the last hope for Mankind before the
Earth was in control of the Martians. The answer was in the book. It wasn’t.
Wayne had just simplified things a bit. I tried to figure how this would be
tackled on film now and decided if it was brought up to date it would not work.
The beauty of reading this is that it is a good look at how things used to work.
There was no mass communication except for newspapers and this story shows their
limitations.
This was an excellent read. I really got hooked up into it. Especially when the
Martians where moving into my area. I don’t think I had picked up where the
Thunderchild section had taken place before.

Catlore – Desmond Morris – Nov
2006

Unless I have missed a book I seem to have spent about a year catching up on
all the Rock magazines I can’t keep up with. The book that broke me back into
read a book again was this one by Desmond Morris. I am and have always been a
cat lover. Back in the mid 80’s I read Morris’s Catwatching book and loved it.
(Mmm I see I have not reviewed it and yet I have two copies of this book as I
bought a new version of it and then my mother-in-law had a copy of the original
print that I read in the 80’s come into her charity shop. I felt sure I had read
it again lately. I guess I will never know)

I was therefore stunned when one day my wife gave me this book. It apparently
first appeared in 1987 and I had never seen it. I was chuffed to bits. The book
is in the same questions and answers format of the original Catwatching book and
is just as fascinating to read. The small chunks also meant I could pick up the
put down the book quite often and consequently means I read the book fairly
quickly again. Whether cat information has moved on or not I have no idea but
this was very enlightening.

Consider Her Ways And Others – John Wyndham – Dec 2006

I saw a TV program called Random Quest on TV and was surprised I
could not remember the story. I therefore started reading the John
Wyndham story which was much better than the adaptation and then moved
onto some of the other short stories in the book again. I then thought
to check here and saw I had reviewed the book in 2001
and totally agreed
with myself (most unusual)

Derren Brown – Tricks of The Mind – Jan 2007

I saw this book on the Bookpeople
website when I was placing an order for the complete James Herriot set.
Derren Browns stage show/TV series has impressed me immensly so I was quite
intrigued by this book and got down to reading it as soon as it arrived. I
really liked Derren’s writting style. It is quite funny and also a bit chatty. I
don’t think it revealled an awful lot but it does give you starters in the
various topics it covers and if you are seriously interested Derren makes
recommendations on what to read next. At present it has got me intrigued and
wanting to read more. Weather time and energy will ever allow it is another
matter. I highly recommend reading it.

How Black was our Sabbath – Graham Wright and David Tangye –
7 Feb 2007

This was a book on Black Sabbath by two of their roadies. The book was an
enjoyable read. In a couple of places the editor seems to have missed some
slight repeating but that is only a minor quibble. I know the Sabbath story
quite well and I guess I was looking for slightly more insight. The authors were
there and had good times with the band but they were not always on the inner
circle as it seems the band kept the internal conflict mainly down to the four
band members. If you are into the band this is a good read but if you are
looking for more facts I suspect there are better books.

Hypnotic Realities, Hypnotic Therapies, Experiencing Hypnosis – Ernest Rossi & Milton Erickson – 30 May 2007

This is a series of three books I have read because I am soon
starting training as a hypnotherapist. This is an odd move for me to make
but after reading Derren Browns book I wanted to investigate some topics further and
I came across some audio tapes of a training course in Inderect Hypnosis
by Stephen Brooks. Indirect Hypnosis is hypnosis where there are no
commands and all the guidance is done subtly and very cleverly. This
course totally fascinated me and I wanted to learn
even more when I finished the tapes. I am still ill with ME and I don’t know
that I can handle the course and even if I can I don’t know that I can
do anything with it once I complete it but I decided to give it a go and
I have signed up to do a course with Stephen Brooks who has just this
year come out of retirement.
From reading these books it is possible that I might even free my conscious sets and manage to overcome the ME in some way. These books
were suggested reading for the course and I have loved reading them.
Typically I read them in the wrong order. So I read Hypnotic Therapies
the 2nd book first. This was great and I think probably be best book of
the three given the knowledge I had from Stephen Brooks tapes. This not
only gave me the language of induction but suggested ways of working
with people so I could enjoy it from several angles. The
Experiencing Hypnosis book was short and I don’t recall too much about
it. It was mainly a mopping up of information missed in the other two
books. The first book Hypnotic Realities was interesting but I devalue
it some what because Rossi was still early in his discoveries and
theories of how Erickson worked. It contains lots of good stuff but it
is certainly a work in progress. Erickson was a pioneer who developed
his own ways with fantastic results. Other people tried to copy him and struggled to replicate
results because they could not see what he was actually doing.
It took Rossi and Erickson working together to crack the problem and
Rossi did a fantastic job of breaking things down and spotting the methods.
These books are a fantastic historical read about the birth of indirect hypnosis.

I am now moving on to the Complete Works of Erickson I just can’t get enough
of these stuff. I am desperate for my course to start in September and I hope it
helps me to improve myself and do things like speeding up my incredibly slow
reading rate. I have tried self Hypnosis tapes on this but they are in direct
language and they just don’t interest me or seem to have any effect. I am
probably just too engrossed in what is going on to relax and let it wash over
me. I can’t wait to see if someone can successfully get me into a deep trance.

Cesar’s Way – Cesar Millan – 17/7/2008

It seems my hypnotic studies have quite rightly stopped
all my non-essential reading. I have managed to fit in this book however. I am a
cat person but we now have a dog. She is a nice dog and while she is only
7months still she is doing well with her training (I think). Since she is not a
cat and she is nothing like a cat in her behaviour, I figured I better read up
on the correct ways to train and deal with her. I started watching the Dog
Whisperer on TV and I liked the approach. I was also interested at how Cesar was
dealing with the humans. The book says he had help in this area and from my
hypnosis training I can see this very well. Anyway I decided to read the book
and it appears to have been written after Cesar’s first series of "The Dog
Whisperer" and during the filming of the 2nd series. As you read it you are
taught over and over the correct way to be. There are certain phrases Cesar uses
such as "Rules Limitations and Boundaries" and "Nose ears and eyes  … in that
order" that get emphasised over and over again. In some respect you get a bit
tired of reading it but in others there is a definite progression of knowledge.
You can probably get most of what you need from the TV series but the book adds
to this by explaining the reasoning. Cesar constantly relates back to pack
activity in the wild and this is really important. I feel there could have been
more in the book but I am not sure what so I perhaps I am wrong. I certainly
would like my wife to read the book now. It does a good job of explaining what
can seem like hard issues to sort out and makes everything really easy.

The Man From Beyond – John Wyndham

Mostly Autumn

Occasionally I write reviews of albums for mailing lists. I have therefore
started to keep them here to.

Mostly Autumn – For All We Shared…
Mostly Autumn – The Spirit Of Autumn Past
Mostly Autumn – The Last Bright Light
Mostly Autumn – The Story So Far
Mostly Autumn – Music Inspired By Lord Of
The Rings

Mostly Autumn – For All We Shared…

This was the first Mostly Autumn album I got. I decided to get it after hearing
"The Night Sky" on a Classic Rock magazine sampler disc. I wasn’t
100% sure about the track but I loved the use of the Violin and the guitars
so I made my purchase.

For some reason I had it in my head this was the 2nd album perhaps because
there were two out when I was looking for the track I found on the sampler.
Looking at the dates it seems to be the first though. I know I liked the album
overall and have subsequently got the others (currently three). But I think
my views on individual tracks vary so while I lay here recovering from seeing
the band on Saturday night I have decided to review all three albums.

Nowhere To Hide – This kicks of with the wind and the sounds of drunken singing.
The track then breaks into a rather Poppy track. It kind of reminds me of ELO
with the violin on it. I would never have guessed the track was Nowhere To Hide
from the chorus. I would have guessed, "I don’t want to close my eyes".
That could in fact be why I am thinking ELO. ELO Part 2 had a track called "Don’t
wanna". Bryan Josh’s vocals seem to have the feel of the guy from the Pogues
to them. I remember when I first got this album I found this track annoyingly
addictive. I don’t listen to CD’s in complete units and often had to skip this
one for fear of over dosing on it. In Moderation it is good. The Violin and
Keyboard backing definitely reminds me of ELO

Porcupine Rain – The previous track goes into atmosphere and then this one
continues the atmosphere adding a guitar doing a single note guitar pattern
that sound a bit programmed. This is one of my favourite tracks especially as
the chorus has "No More Pain, Now" but the "Now" is delayed
a bar and I was consistently getting this wrong when enjoying it live. There
is a good solid keyboard backing and I was going to say "but no fancy stuff."
however it is more complicated than I originally noticed. I think this is a
standard Rock band formation. IE just keyboards and guitars no Violin or Whistles

The Lost Climb – The previous track ends with bird noises and this one starts
with them continuing and some guitar. It reminds me of King Crimson’s "In
the court of the Crimson King" but that is all I have by them so it might
be a bad example. Bryan sounds more Pink Floyd like with his vocals on this.
And the Violin sounds heavily treated and Floyd like at the start of it’s solo
too. I guess it then goes on to remind me of the end of Curved Air’s "It
happened today". Very nice. This then gives way to a lovely Floyd like
guitar solo. Great Stuff. I am not to struck on the vocal part but you have
to have something before such a great ending. The lyrics themselves seem very
deep.

Heroes Never Die – There is a clean break and then some acoustic guitar over
keyboard chords. A Flute then breaks in. The vocals so far have mainly been
Bryan on lead. But Heather is normally backing him up but at a much lower level.
Perhaps as much as 70 to 30. It is interesting how different it seemed at the
gig and how this seems to have changed over the albums but I will stick to this
album for now. This is a very strong song apparently for Bryan’s dad. It’s pace
builds up as it progresses and then we get a great guitar work out at the end.
I can’t get enough of this clean guitar solo style. Excellent

Folklore – Again a clean break and then heavily treated violin over Keyboard
chords. This then speeds up and we get an excellent Jig. Even my daughters who
tend to ignore the music I like wanted to get up and enjoy this one. Once it
really kicks in it has Whistles and flutes? And even a drum break. I am somewhat
baffled as to how this fits with everything else but I love it so what the heck.

Boundless Ocean – This one starts, I think, with flute but I guess it might
be a recorder. It has symphonic keyboard backing and is a fairly gentle song.
It is OK but I prefer the more upbeat stuff. It seems to me Heather vocals are
mostly a fraction behind Bryan’s. This one also ends on a nice violin break.

Shenanigans – Another Jig type work out and I notice the writer is the Violin
player Bob Faulds. It actually starts with the whistles before the whole band
kick in. It is a nice track again. It didn’t please my daughters as much though.

Steal Away – The previous track ends on a crack of thunder and this one continues
the storm. This as a showpiece for Heather’s vocals. They seem very low in range.
Bryan does add backing in places but it is now 70-30 to Heather. Again this
is a mellow track while there is nothing wrong with it, it is not a favourite.
It does pick significantly for the last 90 seconds but they resist giving it
a really big ending.

Out Of The Inn – This starts with an excerpt from Radio 4’s Lord Of The Rings
adaptation. I wonder why? It is another folky jig though. The flute taking the
main lines before handing over to the violin and then the full band let rip
with great guitar. Bryan wrote this so he clearly likes this stuff. The keyboards
have a good backing sound on this. This is the first song where the bell on
the drumming annoys me. I noticed it on an earlier track but it was a lot quieter.
I don’t know why the bell annoys me but I have noticed this style of drumming
a lot of Mostly Autumn tracks.

The Night Sky – It’s back to the wind, which makes me think of the Moors perhaps
a Wuthuring Heights type landscape. This one has a very Floyd like treatment.
The keyboards at the start are fast changing bell types sounds. There are flutes
and then the violin taking part in the build up to the big guitar ending. I
really like this one now. I don’t think Bryan’s vocals are his strongest asset
and that is perhaps why I was cautious about getting more Mostly Autumn based
on this track on the sampler. I am a sucker for Flutes and Violins in a rock
setting and clean guitar solos played with such great feeling get me every time.

Overall I am tempted to say this is my favourite Mostly Autumn album but I
am still fresh to The Last Bright Light and I can’t really remember the Spirit
Of Autumn Past as I listened to it soon after this album and they have kind
of blended in my head.

Mostly Autumn – The Spirit Of Autumn Past

This appears to be the 2nd Mostly Autumn album and it was certainly my 2nd
album by them.

Winter Mountain – The album starts by ending as For All We Shared ended with
the trailing few notes of the guitar solo and then the wind. We then get a very
multi-part song. Flute, lively keyboards and the full band. Bryan Josh does
the main vocal but Heather Findlay is behind him again and also get some parts
where she is more up in the mix. I really like the backing arrangement on this
one. There is a violin break or is it keyboards? I wonder how they did this
without the violin player on Saturday. Heather finishes the vocals on her own.

The Great Blue Pearl – Bryan starts off this one with an unaccompanied vocal.
I would still say Bryan is Lead and Heather backing but the levels must be more
60 to 40 on this track as opposed to 70-30 the previous album. This seems to
be more of a regular rock band format song. Bryan does a nice guitar solo at
the end but the song tends to be just there for me prior to that. It is neither
good nor bad. I just don’t get a big buzz from it.

Pieces Of Love – We get an acoustic guitar start to this one and then a Heather
solo vocal. There is flute backing her up this time. It is a very mellow piece
with a gentle violin solo near the end. There is just one verse but it is sung
three times.

Please – Bryan starts this to a sensitive keyboard backing. Heather joins him
here and there and then the full band join in. This is just the rock subset
again and is far more upbeat. It does go mellow at the start of the last third
and there is a bit of violin but it is mainly a guitar song.

Evergreen – Another acoustic start and more lead vocals from Heather. There
is a 2nd female voice too. I am not if it was Heather still. Then there is a
nice keyboard break. There are more verses and then Bryan switches to Electric
Guitar and we get some great clean soloing again. Liam Davidson can also be
heard too. The sound builds up in volume and Bryan then adds some counterpoint
vocals. It is then time for a big guitar solo and this allows the band to really
take off. An excellent track. The best track so far. It has beauty feeling and
excitement.

Styhead Tarn – A drum start for a change this time and then some keyboards
join in and minor guitar. Then some vocals from Heather and Bryan I would say
60-40 to Heather. It is just the same line over and over and is not actually
written in the booklet. The track builds up as it goes and to my ears is really
just the intro to…

Shindig – which is a flute and violin jig. There is nice percussion and then
the whole band join in.

Blakey Ridge/When Waters Meet – The previous track continues on into this one,
which starts on acoustic guitar flute and the Bodhran. Some bands might have
claimed this was a single track in three parts. Clearly Mostly Autumn chose
to name them the other way.

Underneath The Ice – This one also feels rather like another part of the previous
song but I can’t really justify why. It starts with acoustic guitar. Are I am
finally waking up to the fact Liam is on the album. He is play too but I hadn’t
really noticed. I like the little touch of the Moog/Radio tuning sounding keyboard
and then the violin and fuller keyboard parts. Heather sings some "ah"’s
but it was a 60-40 Bryan vocal prior to that. I quite like this one considering
it is a quieter one

Through The Window – Violin, acoustic guitar and Bryan alone singing starts
this track. This is another gentle song and it has a good use of flute and violin.
For the last third the rest of the band join in and Heather adds to the vocals.
Again I like this one a lot.

The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part 1) – A keyboard start. Almost a piano sound
but clearly electric and something else mixed into the patch. This was is just
a bit of light atmospheric noodleling really. A build up to the start of Part
2.

The Spirit Of Autumn Past (Part 2) – The gentle atmosphere continues into this
part and then a drum comes in with increasing volume followed by guitar. Bryan
alone is on the vocals. The pace continues to build there is some Hammond added
and then backing vocals from several people. Suddenly all the backing stops
and it is Bryan’s voice alone and then back to the level we were at before.
Then time for a bit of violin some more verse then a keyboard break with lots
of hints of Hammond in the background and then to finish the piece some guitar
from Bryan but not a massive solo just excellent playing. Without a doubt my
favourite piece of the album. I love it.

The Gap Is To Wide – Someone walking in puddles or something starts the next
piece. Keyboards and Acoustic guitar prelude a piece of emotional violin and
flute and then Heather’s vocals. There is some sound effect talking and then
more vocals. This a 12 minute piece and about a third of the way in thing start
picking up and there is a choir type backing then half why in Bryan kicks in
with some excellent guitar and now I am thinking perhaps this is my favourite
😉 This one is really moving. It is shame it was not done live Saturday. At
the start of the last quarter Uilleann Pipes take over and I can see why it
wasn’t performed it would require to many guest musicians. A great ending to
the album.

So it seems Heather is being brought out front more on this album and Angela
Goldthorpe is now a full member of the band.

Winter Mountain is a good start to the album but the tracks until Evergreen
don’t do as much for me as the remainder of the album. It therefore makes it
hard for me to decide which I prefer so far. I think the songs that make me
tick make me tick more on this album and if I dropped the album to LP length
by removing the tracks just mentioned this would definitely be the best. I still
think the other tracks are OK though.

This album seems to have had a more clear style and it is interesting to see
how the band progressed. Having originally been confused about the order of
these first two albums I thought it strange that Heather should have taken a
back seat of the second album and then come back in force of the third but of
course I had it all wrong and it all makes sense now I have sat down and through
about it.

One more to go…

Mostly Autumn – The Last Bright Light

I got this soon after release but choose not to play it as I had only just
finished digesting "The Spirit Of Autumn Past". About 10 days before
the gig I suddenly panicked I hadn’t played the album so I stuck it on the bathroom.
I have therefore probably only played it 7-8 times in all. You would think I
would know how this album sounds but I absolutely have forgotten again so it
will be interesting to see my thought as I play it on my Hifi for the first
time.

… Just Moving On – Again we start with the last few notes of the previous
album and this track is only 45 seconds worth of Piano and guitar. Perhaps the
title implies two years have past since the last album and the band have now
lost Bob Faulds on Violin. This means Mostly Autumn have a new sound or focus.

We Come And We Go – This is the first real track and the guitar opening reminds
me of Lou Reed on his recent albums. Bryan is singing and he is unaccompanied
by Heather on this one. I quite like his vocal on this. Heather does start joining
in quietly after the first chorus. The keyboard backing is starting to get more
complex too. Then there are some ah’s add to the sound and then its a minor
guitar break. I friend commented that Bryan sings out of tune and I have to
confess in places on here I wonder if he is right. It doesn’t really bother
me though. I like vocalists with character.

Half The Mountain – Birds and acoustic guitar open this one. Again it is Bryan
singing mainly solos. The band joins in a gentle way and then we get a nice
bit of Flute followed by strong guitar chords. Again the songs build up as it
progresses and I like the keyboard backing. At the start of the last third we
get an interlude which reminds me of Mid 70’s ELO for some reason and then we
get a soaring guitar solo with more choir ah’s. I like the guitar pattern near
the end and before the final solo.

The Eyes Of The Forest – This one is a Heather vocal and it is also her first
song credit. The birds continue on this one and it is a really mellow piece
reminding me of something Curved Air’s Sonja Kristina sings solo I think. There
is another flute break. And there is some Cello. Again as on previous albums
this is fine as a track but doesn’t do an enormous amount for me.

The Dark Before The Dawn – Keyboard landscaping and a Keyboard sound the sounds
like the opening of a Wakeman With Wakeman album (probably just a standard effect)
and things suddenly speed up. Bryan is back on vocals with Heather backing and
there is a really good Flute line going on in the Chorus. The Keyboard effects
sound like they are a bit influenced by a The Who track. At the start of the
end third we get a great guitar solo and I am in heaven again. An excellent
track.

Hollow – Another Mellow keyboard start and another Heather song this time written
by Iain Jennings on keyboards. The track as usual builds up and Heather gets
a second backing line I don’t know who from. The mellow keyboards remind me
of something but I can’t think what. We then get some big guitar from Bryan.
The ending section was still built up but it never really moves out of the mellow
phase.

Prints In The Stone – Flute starts this one and it is a Bryan and Heather backing
song. Again this is a fairly mellow song. Mainly acoustic guitar and flute.

The Last Bright Light – A gentle acoustic guitar start and I am really starting
to worry I don’t like the way things are going. Bryan is on vocals and there
are some Gregorian backing vocals. The chorus type section really picks up and
then it is back to a mellow verse. The chorus then occurs and there is a minor
guitar solo over the mellow bit again. We then get extended Gregorian vocals
and guitar solos. It is not a big ending but it is a very good work out and
quite lengthy

Never The Rainbow – Hammond and pacey start to this one. Yippee. It is also
Heather on vocals and it has to be said I quite like hearing her work out on
something with a bit of meat on it. This is my favourite so far. Oh there is
even a nice Hammond solo. Excellent. Then some guitar. A very nice work out
all round. A long fade out ending shame. I could handle this being longer

Shrinking Violet – I think this starts with recorder or whistles and Heather
is on vocals again. She is definitely getting more solos on this album. And
she is being used less in unison with Bryan. This one is by Heather again herself.
I rather like this one. It is another building up track and there is a multi-person
backing vocal line. About half way through they seem to quote a Whiter Shade
of Pale on the Organ sound. Then there is a guitar solo with lots of "Ah
ah ahh’s" which rather baffled me when I first heard it but I really like
it now. Mmm that is interesting hearing this one now I really remember seeing
and enjoying this one live on Saturday. It is a lengthy but not over powering
solo from Bryan. Another excellent song and contender for my favourite on the
album

Helms Deep – Windy moors and acoustic guitar. The Bodhran is back and this
one is a work out for Angela on the Flute. Again I really like this one. There
are also whistles in the mix too. In the middle we get an organ solo and the
sound of horses and fighting with Spanish bagpipes by Albert DannenMann who
supported Blackmore’s Night in addition to Mostly Autumn. Bryan writes this
one but he is not really visible until the end stage. To end we get a few notes
on the Piano

Which Wood? – Another Flute piece. I believe from the Blackmore’s night tour
and written by Flautist Angela Goldthorpe. Another one I really took a liking
to. Even when I saw them the first time on the Blackmore’s Night tour. I guess
this is a Jig or Medieval folk type tune.

Mother Nature – This is the 12-minute closer. It of course starts gently with
acoustic guitar and some flute. Bryan and Heather sing and I initially thought
it was a 50-50 split but as it progresses I am convinced it is more the usual
60-40. The Chorus really has me hooked on this one. By the 2nd chorus things
are building in intensity and then the band just break in in full. Bryan gets
a line or to alone while the backing line "ah". The Hammond rumbles
and there is then a guitar solo. Mmm can guitar rubble like a Hammond? It sounds
that way again but goes to a guitar solo. A storm then develops and we get lots
of wind and thunder and the band give it a bit more welly even though it is
still only acoustic guitar. The storm dies down and there are some "Oh’s"
and "Ah’s" then a nice keyboard solo. There is definitely Hammond
going on too. Then there is some "Wish you were here" type guitar,
which then gets added to by some distorted guitar holding long notes and then
things fade into the wind. Another excellent track.

So lets see. I like the first proper track and then tend to get a bit restless
and then the album picks up for me again on the 2nd half. Just like "The
Sprit Of Autumn Past" how weird. It would seem they are following a certain
pattern in the layout of the songs and one that leaves a hard rocker like myself
slightly frustrated. Some tracks just exist but others really draw me in and
ensure I will by future releases on release. As I proof read these reviews I
listened to the album and I wondered if I was to hard on the first half of the
album. I certainly enjoy it just not so much on a track by track level.

I expected to miss the violin and I guess to a certain extent I do but I am
still able to fully enjoy what I hear. I certainly love the Flute pieces too.

It is very interesting how Heather is become more prominent in the band. I
wonder how things will progress on the next album. I certainly looking forward
to hearing it is being worked on.

In the mean time I look forward to the DVD from Saturday and quite fancy seeing
them live again.

Mostly Autumn – The Story So Far

This was recorded live at the Mean Fiddler, London (Formerly the LA 2). The
sound is identical to the DVD of the same name but there are fewer tracks, as
this is just a single CD. The track selection and the overall performance make
this an excellent starter for beginners to Mostly Autumn. It is perhaps heavier
representation of their material since the albums tend to have a few jigs and
quieter tracks on them.

Porcupine Rain from For All We Shared opens the set. It gently comes in with
some repeating downward arpeggios on the guitar. Bryan and Heather then opens
the vocals. I would say there is pretty much of equal split between Bryan and
Heather�s level in the mix on this album were as on the original version it
was a definite bias to Bryan. The �No more pain … Now, No more tears …now.�
Chorus always catches me out, as there is a beat between the line and the now.
That quite appeals to me, as it is less obvious. It is a good opener although
not and out and out thriller.

The band go straight into Nowhere to Hide again from the first album. Without
looking at the titles people are more likely to think it is "I don’t want
to close my eyes". On the original album I felt this had a strong ELO feel
to it. But with no Violin in the band it is down to Iain on keyboards to carry
the riff that made me feel that way. He is actually quite well down in the mix
so I suspect the song feels quite different now. I think I prefer this version
if I am honest and the original felt a bit too addictive perhaps sugary.

Evergreen is from the Spirit Of Autumn Past and is one of my favourites. This
is a Heather song. There are some nice keyboards in this. The pace of this starts
slow and gradually builds up. I have just seen this one done acoustically and
it works really well in even in that format which is always a sign of a good
song. Having the Electric guitar in it that makes this even stronger. Towards
the end Bryan comes in with "the river keeps on flowing but the banks are
ever changing" and then it is time for an excellent solo from Bryan. The
pace is also turned up a notch halfway through. Excellent stuff.

A couple of songs from the original set are dropped and we move onto the title
track of The Spirit Of Autumn. Past 2 to give it it�s full title. Bryan is the
main vocalist on this one. He sings "In the breeze I take a deep breath"
which he then does and I really like that. In Nowhere To Hide he sings "Seconds
are stretching into years" and he stretches the stretching. So Bryan obviously
likes to get his emotions across directly. I suppose it might annoy some people
but it works for me. This is another of my favourite songs. It is a pretty laid
back start with a drum rhythm intro. Bryan�s vocal then starts and then after
the breath the acoustic guitar is added. Both Liam and Heather are playing the
accoustics in this song. At the chorus it builds up again with keyboards add
and then Bryan electric�s guitar comes in. After the chourus it is back just
the acoustics. Towards the end Angela adds some flute. There is another chorus
and then some nice keyboards from Iain. Mmm that’s strange I thought there was
a guitar end on this but in this version it is just everybody exchanging lines.

Heroes Never Die again from the first album but more like the remade version
on the Prints In The Stone single. This is dedicated to Bryan�s dad as usual.
Bryan starts with a few doodles on his guitar and then Angie tries to make us
weep (as she says on the DVD) with the flute. Bryan starts the vocal alone but
Heather soon joins him but she is definitely kept at backing levels on this
one. As usual the song builds up as it goes along. About halfway through there
is some the song kicks in and there is a really dirty/bassy keyboard sound.
This doesn’t really work as it just sounds like distortion or something. It
didn’t register it when watching the DVD (although it is there) but it is really
noticeable on when you haven’t got visual distractions. It is the end part of
the song, which makes it a classic. All of the band members that I have spoken
to seem to find this the highlight of the set most nights.

At the gig there were two set and The Night Sky from the first album opened
the 2nd set. Keyboards kick this off with sounds of the sea that I suspect has
been added in after. Heather and Bryan sing joint vocals and then there is some
nice flute from Angie. It is only really halfway through that the keyboard drop
out and the drums come in. There are some nice little Moog type whistles from
Iain in this one and then Bryan kicks in with the solo that made me want to
check out Mostly Autumn when I heard the song on a sampler disc. It is excellent
stuff. I probably prefer the 2nd of this to Heroes. The first half I am still
more cautious about.

Dark Before The Dawn from the Last Bright Light is an interesting choice of
song. I don’t really remember anything about it from the title. This one has
hints of the Who with it’s keyboard rhythms. I really like Angie and Heathers
flutes and Whistles on this. Bryan is the main singer although there are a few
Ah’s from the girls. I then feel there should be a scream as Bryan’s guitar
kicks in for a solo. I don’t know if I imagine it on the original but I always
add it in my head now. It’s a good track especially since it is not an obvious
favourite of mine.

Shrinking Violet from the Last Bright Light is one that has really grown on
my lately and is one of my favourites now. Heather sings but is also on Whistle
along with Angie who add’s backing vocals too. This again builds up as it goes
along. The guitar from Bryan on this is really tasteful. This is such an excellent
tune and performance. I see in my albums review for this song this performance
is where my interest for the song really started to grow.

We lose another jig and move straight onto the out and out thumper Never The
Rainbow from the Last Bright Light. My daughters heard this one day and amazed
me by asking for a copy of it. They really made my day. I don’t often get chance
to influence there taste in music. Heather feels this one is hard to sing live
as the rest of the band risk drowning her out but you can’t tell. Iain gets
a rare keyboard solo on this. A nice bit of Hammond. And of course there is
some great guitar from Bryan. Another excellent track.

To end the official set on the night and end this album we get Mother Nature
from the Last Bright Light. This is another gentle starting song with a biggish
middle and reasonable sized ending. It is interesting how I overlook the roles
of Iain on Keyboards and Liam on 2nd guitar. They can clearly be heard on this.
It is another joint vocal from Bryan and Heather and this time they have three
backing singers too. At the gig there was no Thunder on the middle section and
I am glad to see it has been added in on post production. It is an important
part of the song to me. It is a shame Iain isn’t able to trigger that somehow.
Iain gets a solo in this one too. I must admit I hadn’t spotted it before. I
guess because it is part of the piece rather than an adlib. This is a very nice
combination of arpeggios from Bryan and I assume Iain unless it is an effect
near the end. Another classic song.

There isn’t a weak track on this album and sometimes I feel the sound and performances
are so good it could have been done in the studio. I suspect someone with a
more musical ear might disagree but I certainly can’t hear any faults. I recommend
this to anyone that loves classic guitar playing and great performances. I hope
this really catapults the band to another level like Kiss Alive did for Kiss
etc.

Mostly Autumn – Music Inspired By Lord Of The Rings

When I interviewed the band in August the plans for the next album were to
re-record some tracks for an anthology in October or so and then record a forth
album early 2002. Instead what happened was it was put to them that they should
produce some music based on Lord Of The Rings in a spare fortnight they had.
On previous albums had already written �Helm’s Deep� and �Out Of The Inn� based
on �Lord Of The Rings� so this wasn’t an unreasonable suggestion and the record
company’s sister company were producing a documentary on the Tolkien so it all
made sense. So here we have not exactly the fourth album but an intermediate
release. Material that has already been written the forth album was not used
and everything here except the remakes just mentioned were written freshly for
the project.

My instinct after playing the album for a couple of weeks are that it isn’t
the strongest album they have made but it is a good addition until the new album
is made. Weather that will change after I go through it track by track remains
to be seen.

Overture – Forge Of Sauron – The album starts with hand drums and then a scream
from Bryan. This builds and builds until there is a crash of lightning and the
drums then go to standard rock format and the flute and possibly recorders take
the main riff. There is a very distorted voice saying "One ring to find
them all" etc. There are some strange chords used at the end of the track.
I must ask about them some time. I quite like this track.

Greenwood The Great – This is a Heather vocal track with acoustic guitar backing
and some Violin. For the first half it is very gentle and in the vain of �Eyes
Of The Forest� from the last album. Halfway though we then get the end theme
of the previous track. Then suddenly we some classic Gilmore style soloing from
Bryan. This represents the creatures of Sauron arriving and disturbing the peace
of the forest. Without that knowledge you wonder why the song is this way but
with the knowledge it all makes sense. I feel the track needs some kind of video.
I know some of the music is used in the Tolkien video and I wonder if this is
one of the tracks. I can’t see that they would have the space to do it justice
but it is definitely soundtrack designed to me. A good track all the same.

Goodbye Alone – This starts with a Piano intro from Iain for about 40 seconds
then there is a pause and the track proper begins. The first time I heard it
within 2 minutes I instantly took a liking it this one. Without a doubt this
is my favourite track on the album and I see it has been released (without the
Piano intro) as the single for the album. Throughout the main part of the track
there is a pattern that reminds me of the rain in the Disney song "April
showers". This really hooks my brain. There is excellent violin and flute
with acoustic backing at the start. Then Bryan sings about Frodo’s feelings
to his comfy home in the Shire. Heather joins in on the last verse and the violin
and the flute both continue in the later vocal sections. This track works for
me on so many levels it is head and shoulder above the rest of the album for
me. I having a feeling I am downgrading the rest of the album based on it but
I will see shortly. After the verse finishes we get some more clean guitar from
Bryan. This builds in power and then the drums join in. My only complaint about
this track is it fades at the end. I want more solo and a proper ending. This
is very minor though and I guess I am just greedy.

Out Of The Inn – Is a remake of the track from the first album. I am so familiar
with the track live now there is nothing fresh in it for me and it slightly
annoys me that it comes on next. I suppose once the whole album is no longer
"new" to me it will fit OK but I don’t tend to like new and old material
mixed on albums. This track is in the main film part of �The Story So Far� but
didn’t make the CD of it so it is not unreasonable to add it to the album especially
as it is �Lord Of The Rings� inspired and there is no Violin in this version.
Also of course it is a cracking track.

On The Wings Of Gwaihir – Drums start this track, which has a very strong Pink
Floyd feel to it. There are whooshing keyboards and acoustic guitars. It then
moves to a bit of organ. The main guitar uses a lot of echo. For the last 90
seconds Bryan then takes it up a gear again. I quite like this instrumental.

At Last To Rivendell – The party of travellers are now at the last friendly
house in their journey and this instrumental is the bands idea of what might
be played during the meal. It is very clearly influenced by the kind of music
�Blackmore’s Night� play. It is a nice tune that gradually builds in speed as
the song progresses. It actually starts with a kind of music box feel to it.

Journey’s Thought – We have a nice atmospheric start, which again reminds me
of Floyd. Bryan then starts singing and again I was going to say in a Gilmore
style but it actually reminds me more of a John Cale song on his �Paris 1919�.
It is a rather breathy vocal. There are some nice keyboards from Iain to end
the piece. Another quite laidback track hence my impression this album doesn’t
quiet hit the peaks I like but I like this track.

Caradhras The Cruel – Whoops someone cocked up the mastering on this CD. This
track was supposed to whoosh from the previous track into this one bit there
is a Pre-track 2seconds gap spoiling it. This is a rather heavy track with distorted
vocals from Bryan. Heather also adds her voice as a beautiful counterpart. There
is then a small guitar break and some more Heather, then it is over, a mere
2 and a half minutes. Again very enjoyable but I want more.

The Riders Of Rohan – A Piano intro starts this one. It reminds me of Magnum
or Marillion. This is a Heather songs. Bryan does add some minor backing. Actually
this is more of an Iain song as he wrote it and he has a very busy main line
through out the song. It is lowered in the mix for the 2nd half but it is nice
to hear him playing something a bit more complex.

Lothlorien is a rare female character in �Lord Of The Rings� and Heather and
this track express her beauty rather well. The track is completely acoustic
with just some acoustic guitar and flute.

The Return Of The King – I first heard this track as the opener of the live
set. It stuck me as most unlike Mostly Autumn at the time. I guess it still
is a little heavy by their standards but it is one of my favourites on the album.
Or it would be if it didn’t end on a fade. Having heard it live I know there
can be a proper ending. Now listening to this I keep thinking it will fade even
when we have only just started the song. I guess it doesn’t help that the song
is relatively short at 3.18. I am curious to hear it live again now to find
out how long it is there and weather it had become more crafted.

To The Grey Havens – This is a gentle atmospheric track that just kind of exists
to me. It doesn’t seem like an album ending but then it is about Gandalf and
Bilbo Baggins dying and going to Heaven.

Helm’s Deep is also on the disc as a bonus Video track. The footage is basically
the bonus track from the Story So Far DVD with some illustrations also inter-cut.
The artwork on the album is rather nice and by the Brothers Hildebrandt so I
assume the video pictures are also by them.

So overall I like the album a lot but I feel a couple of song could well have
been extended and added to if the band had had more time. A couple of tracks
also feel like soundtrack tracks which, as a rule of thumb won�t work for me.
�Goodbye Alone� is a fantastic track and it would have been nice to get another
2 or three tracks of that quality but overall I like the album and am very pleased
it was released. I am slightly disappointed at Classic Rock Legend�s quality
control letting the mastering mistake get through but they are not the first
or I am sure the last to have this problem. Hopefully this disc will sell out
and there this will corrected for future pressings.

Magnum Related

Occasionally I write reviews of albums for mailing lists. I have therefore
started to keep them here to.

Bob Catley – The Tower
Bob Catley – Legends
Hard Rain – When The Good Times Come

Bob Catley – The Tower

I was very kindly sent a Promotional copy of Bob Cately’s solo album "The
Tower" today. I got it direct from Frontiers Records in Italy (frontier@Itb.it).
It came in a nice Picture card sleeve of what I assume will be the albums front
and back covers.

The disc is just over 58mins long. And contains ten tracks. Although the last
one is curiously instrumental I therefore assume Bob-less. This is 2nd
solo album I have had this year with a track without the solo artist on it.
(Mark Thompson Smith’s being the other and actually a very good track)

I am notoriously bad at liking an album on it’s first listen so I will not
really comment on weather I like it. Just what I observed.

The first thing that struck me was that I can’t hear Bob in the mix very well.
As the album progressed I decided it might be because his vocals are done in
several layers and perhaps that is why the whole vocals sound muddy to me. I
certainly need to listen to the album at higher than normal levels and I still
was not convinced it was better.

The next thing was there are lots of Keyboards on this. Electric Piano and
lots of atmospheric keyboards that often seem to follow the vocal lines a bit
closely. Thought that might be just one song. In other places the Keyboards
lines are up to the standards I would expect considering I am a big Rick Wakeman
fan.

There was talk by Bob in Hard Roxx Magazine number 35 (available from 106312.2344@compuserve.com)
about the album sounding like On A Story tellers Night Magnum. Perhaps the Lyrics
are but I can’t really see it with the sound. I just recently got my first Ten
Album "The Name of the Rose" and this musically reminds me of Ten
more than Magnum not surprisingly since it is written and produced by Ten’s
Gary Hughes. The are huge amounts of acoustic guitar on the album.

There was a track on the first play that stuck me as being quite enjoyable
and that was "Fear of the Dark" it will be interesting to see how
the album grows on me.

Judging by my 2nd play of Dreams and Madrigal it already is. I do wish the
Mix was clearer though

________________ 8 days Later

Well I have been playing Bob’s The Tower for some time now and I have to say
I quite like it. It is actually much better than I expected it to be when I
heard Gary Hughes had written. I still have not heard much Ten but what I have
heard gives me the impression he has got the right idea but the is something
lacking in the overall result. ie It ok but not quite great. I of course know
that the press and others are praising him to death so perhaps I have not heard
the best side of him.

I am still not quite convinced that Bob has been Mixed very well but now that
I know the songs etc I am not having to concentrate so heard to hear the vocals.

Looking at the titles on the album. I would say my favourite is still Fear
of the Dark. But it is closely followed by Madrigal, Deep Winter and Dreams
and Scream. I enjoy the whole album. I do sometimes wonder about the arrangements
but I suspect I am just being picky. I think I like this album as much as the
Hard Rain album (not that they are similar. Hard Rain sounded a little computer
generated. This sounds real) And that was the album that got me back into investigating
the later day Magnum back catalogue which I had lost interest in.

I think now is definitely a good time to be a Magnum artist related fan. It
would be good too see some of this stuff live.

Hard Rain – When The Good Times Come

This arrived today. It wasn’t what I was expecting. It is pretty much Hard
Rain II. Yes I know that is what I should have been expecting but with all the
talk being about it being done by the band and not just Tony and a computer
I guess I was expecting something different.

It is still too early too tell if I like it or not. But I wasn’t too keen on
Eat It Up and Talks Like A Lady at last years gigs. Eat it up on here is a bit
brassy for me too which I never like for some reasons. It will be interesting
to see how I take too it. Especially as I think I am unlikely to make a gig
this tour.

I guess it does not help that I am listening to the Road to Paradise on my
other CD player. That makes an excellent replacement for the Vintage Magnum
album as for a couple of quid more you get so many more tracks and better sound
quality. I do wish Castle Communications would do more checking on their sleeve
notes though. They always have mistakes like "All tracks are album versions
except at indicated" on disc 1. Which of course contains loads of B sides
and Live versions!

I would also personally prefer the set to not include Eleventh Hour which I
find to be rather inferior to the rest. At least it is at the end. I was therefore
interested to read that it is close to someone best Magnum album 🙂 I Meet
a guy at a Vigilante tour gig in Ipswich who thought similar.

WTGTC is growing already. Actually I liked HR a lot so I should like this in
theory.

__________ A week later.

So how are we taking to this album now? I think I am about to retire it. It
does very little for me. I am a little baffled as to why. In fact I am just
playing the first HR album and it moves me so much more. I thought perhaps I
just have a downer on at present (I don’t like Fish’s new one either) but HR
still picks me up and impresses me like it did when I first got it. Is it because
the songs on WTGTC are more upbeat? Perhaps Tony’s guitar isn’t as nice. It
bugs me that I can’t see why I am not taking to it. Perhaps it needs a rest
and then a play in a few weeks or years. Perhaps it is just a duffer.

Legends – Bob Catley

I had been looking forward to the release of this album but I have had it over
a week now, played it quite a few times and yet I still can’t get into it. I
have therefore been delaying giving my worthless opinion on it.

Lets start with the easy bit. I love the Artwork. It always interesting to
see links to the past in an album cover and the Magnum "M" built into
the window/skylight is just that. I love the look of the cover in general. Much
better than The Tower which was just OK.

When I got the album I had a lot of prejudice to get over. I don’t really like
Gary Hughes writing for Ten. When I first heard their albums I thought they
had a lot of potential but weren’t fulfilling it. Only one or two songs strike
be as being good. The more I hear of his writing the more I can see this is
his style and it just doesn’t really work for me.

I could therefore be despondent about the news that Bob has left Hard Rain
(whose 2nd album When The Good Times Come I also struggled with. Especially
after loving the first album, which then re-sparked my interest in the later
Magnum albums). I can take hope though in the fact that with luck Bob will have
more time to get others to write for him and not just Hughes. I would love to
see more stuff along the lines of Jabberwocky with Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman.
I love listening to Bob sing but it needs to be in the right environment. Being
a non writer he is probably in a difficult and highly risky position and you
have to respect his choice to leave Tony Clarkin and try something new. I wonder
how much arranging and musical input Bob has on the work he produces.

Lets go through the album song by song

The Pain – I am pretty in different to this

Shelter From The Night. Having a keyboard riff throughout this song I quire
like it. I have always been partial to keyboard and that is why I like early
Magnum in preference to the later albums.

Carpe Diem – Mmm this one is quite reasonable too. I like the multi-layered
chorus.

Tender Is The Night – This pretty much just passes time for me on the album.
I can’t say anything is wrong with it but equally I don’t really enjoy it.

Medusa – This song isn’t too bad. I like the chorus again. It does have my
main fault with Hughes writing though and that is the music following Bob’s
vocals.

Hydra – This is another that pretty much annoys me while being sort of OK.
The music is following Bob on the chorus’s again and I just find it to much
and too simple in structure at the same time.

A Beautiful Night For Love – I normally as quite a sucker for Ballads but again
not this one. I sometimes feel the chorus’s go on too much but can’t really
decide.

Too Late – Mmm are all the songs merging into one for me. Ah no. I at least
love the keyboard solo which reminds me of Marillion but that is only a small
part of a long song.

The Light – Pure indifference again 🙁

Where The Heart Is – This one sounds like a Christmas song to me. Again the
music is following Bob almost making him redundant. Or maybe it is better put
that guide vocal track was done in music and they forgot to remove it.

So there we have it. This album still doesn’t manage to move me as much as
The Tower. Since I knew I was struggling with this I dug out The Tower and gave
it a spin again. I had played it about a fortnight ago and thought it not quite
as good as I remembered it. But in comparison to this I positively enjoyed it
yesterday.

Perhaps this review will spark someone into defending the album I look forward
to hearing what people like about it. I am sure anyone that loves Ten will love
this and I hope Bob has another success on his hands. I do hope for future releases
he can vary the song writer so that fans like me can still enjoy his work. Of
course Gary could always revert and improve the style of The Tower. I think
I will include my Tower Review so you can get a feel for my thoughts when reviewing.
I can remember thinking Bob was drowned in the mix on that album and I noticed
he seemed clearer on The Tower yesterday so I guess I have got used to the style
now. I think this album needs a rest now. Perhaps if I put it in my Jukebox
I will come across it on Random play and get curious enough to try it again.
It has worked with some other impenetrable albums.

Secrets Of Astrology – Lana Lane

 This is an odd album to me as it combines artists of my favourite two
bands of the 90’s. Lana after several successful albums decided to try some
new musicians on this album. The Main interest to me is the addition of Ayreon’s
master Arjen Lucassen on guitar.

Astrology Prelude – This is a good opener. Lane is on "Ah" type vocals
and it is a good tune.

Secrets Of Astrology – This is a typical Lana song keyboardwise but it strikes
me a being heavier overall since Arjen is on Heavy Rhythm guitars in most of
it. The song is OK but I am not sure I am as keen on the heaviness. I like the
use of keyboards, as is usually the case with me.

Alexandria – This is by far my favourite track on the album. While I normally
like this softer sort of song on Previous albums it is normally heavier tracks
such as Destination Roswell and Frankenstein Unbound that are my favourites.
Again Arjen is providing Heavy Rhythm guitars and there is a definite Beatle
feel to the backing. Now that I am looking at the track credits it is easy to
recognise Arjen as being the 2nd Guitar solo. I.e. it is typical of the sort
of think he would do on Ayreon. The first guitar solo is by the other guitarist
of the album David Victor from Velocity.

Raining – This is another of my favourite. Again there is lots of heavy backing
from Arjen. Ayreon’s Robert Soeterboek is apparently on Backing Vocals but I
can’t say I noticed. The Guitar solo is David’s.

The Bell – This has a very Orchestrated Classical started. Oh sorry it is a
real String Section. Eric Norlander only providing Percussion on this and there
is no Arjen. I am rather fond of this one. I think this is probably more normal
Lana in style. It also has touches of Louis Clark ELO string arrangements to
it.

Speed Of Sound – This is apparently the controversial track among the fans.
It has that horrid double speed drumming on it. But despite this I actually
think it is OK. Oh Robert is on Harmony Vocals again. He is on quite a few tracks
actually but I wouldn’t buy the album for his contribution. Again it’s a David
Solo. I like the interplay between Erik’s Keyboards and the Guitar solo and
then the main theme. Arjen of course is on Rhythm but I can’t actually spot
what he is doing if I am honest. I guess I would need to watch it performed
or listen in headphones.

Under The Sun – After that heavy onslaught we are on an Arjen less Mellow tune.
Again this is more what I seem to enjoy on this album. I am going to have to
listen the other albums to see if most tracks are like this or the heavy tracks
on this album are just a tad too heavy for me. The song has nice input from
the string section again.

Tarrot – This song is an Arjen Lana co-write. Back with the heavy Rhythm! I
am really not sure I like this aspect on the album. This track is excellent
though. Arjen apparently helps out on Moog too. I think this track would be
more likely to fit on Flight Of The Migrator than Dream Sequencer but possibly
it fits somewhere between the two. I like the patterns of Arjen’s Single note
guitar playing most I think. I suspect that is one of the main things I like
about Arjen’s writing.

Asherah – Arjen gets another guitar solo on this. It has Heavy Rhythm guitars
but slower ones. I am a little indifferent to this track. Mmm it’s interesting
once I know it is Arjen’s solo I can tell it. Never before. Mind you I have
the same trouble playing scales on my Sax. When they are wrong I am not sure
if they are right. When they are right I do know it! I clearly have a strange
brain.

Guardian Angel – Oh this one grates on me. I don’t like the "the white
cliffs of Dover" line. It is very annoying as I like the instrumental breaks
(which include Arjen and of course Erik). Ah this was the one Guitar solo I
spotted as Arjen without the booklet. This track is actually very Ayreon. I
guess that is why I find is so frustrating I hate the Chorus.

Long Winter Dreams – Oh here comes the Rhythm again. I think this track is
pretty much just there for me.

Astrology Postlude – A kind of summary of the album. I prefer the Prelude this
is pretty much just there for me again. There are some nice sections though

Romeo And Juliet – Is the Japanese only bonus track. Again it is OK.

I set very high standard for Lana’s music and this album pretty much meets
them. I certainly think it is better than the first two. I can’t help thinking
it isn’t as good as Garden of the Moon and Queen Of The Ocean though. I really
can’t put my finger on what it is that is missing or not quite there for me
on this album. I suspect I am indifferent to about the same number of tracks
on the other albums so I guess I just don’t get the peaks of excitement. I am
also a little uncomfortable with the amount of heavy Rhythm so perhaps I find
that slightly distracting. I certainly wouldn’t claim it was wrong and I sure
others will enjoy it. I would be interested to hear what others think about
the album though.

Lane Lane – The Ballad Collection

Hopefully my copy of the New album is on it’s way from Japan but in the mean
time I have been on the Ballad Collection for the last week or two. It’s very
good. When I first played it to a friend in the car going to a gig I feared
it might be too slow but I don’t know how I got that impression. I did notice
I now know more of the tracks though.

Where does Avalon come from? This is excellent. I guessed it would be on Love
Is An Illusion from the date but I see it isn’t. Is it a Rocket Scientist track?
I really like the use of Viola on it. I have to say I can’t really see the point
of Avalon Reprise though. There is no Lana or Viola so why bother? To be far
I do like the Reprise it is just if you have the album on repeat it is annoying
hearing it and then the first version again.

Athena’s Shadow is very nice.

Again where does Stardust come from I can’t spot it on an album but it is written
by one of the circle. Again this is OK I am not terribly struck on it.

Through The Fire is Good to hear in the new format. Even though I drink only
once in a Blue moon I must be an alcoholic. Instead of singing to myself “Take
the ashes and turn them to Diamonds” by brain always wants to sing “Take
the ashes and turn them to Cider” I can’t explain how my brain got into
this habit and it really bugs me. Oh it is very interesting to play the 1998
“original” version again. I don’t really get on with that album but
this song is OK.

I think When time Stood Still is far Better than the ELO original. It is one
of my favourite on the album. Especially Erik’s keyboard touches.

Clouds was one of my favourites on Curious Goods. I have to say playing the
original I can’t understand why. This Ballad version is so much better. In fact
it makes me think of Karen Carpenter (ie The Carpenters) but thankfully not
as Cheesy. So who did the original of this?

Heart of Dawn I didn’t realise was a track on it’s own. Both this and Take
a breath I like a lot but I prefer the original mix to the Ballad one. It is
a bit bassier and Lana is more up front.

I have never heard Across the Universe before so was surprised to see it is
presumably a Beatles song. It stuck me more as being a cover of an Abba song
or something. A friend nastily contaminated my collection with some Beatles
albums but it doesn’t seem to be on any so I am curious to hear the original.
That’s the funny thing with the Beatles they have influenced so many of the
bands I like but I tend not to like them themselves. I accepted their albums
since my friend had them in his 2nd Hand shop and he knows I like ELO and Roy
Wood etc and have an Album by Rick Wakeman of Beatles tunes. Across the universe
is good anyway. I think I am not 100% certain. It does seem a little Sickly.

Overall I really like the album.

How sad. Only Live In Japan to go and I am up to date

Lana Lane/Erik Norlander

Occasionally I write reviews of albums for mailing lists. I have therefore
started to keep them here to.

Erik Norlander – Threshold
Erik Norlander – Into The Sunset
Lana Lane – Live Bonus Discs
Lana Lane – Ballad Collection 2

Erik Norlander – Threshold

I have had this album some weeks put it away and then got it out again because
I wanted to compare it to Into The Sunset. At the time I was a little disappointed
with it as I guess I was hoping for Lana Lane Frankenstein Unbound solos in
early 70’s Rick Wakeman type tunes. This album isn’t really like that at all.
It probably compares well to early 90’s Rick albums (when he is in rock mode).

Arrival is really just a two-minute intro soundscape to Neurosaur. This is
a good tune. It uses keyboard that that has a mike attached to it. Or it did
when I have seen Rick Wakeman producing the sounds. I like the main riff. It
is quite a bubbly jolly little thing. The tune has good variety though.

No Cross To Carry is similar in its riffy way to the previous track. I had
to double check we had moved on as I know the album so well and I don’t remember
tunes well as pieces. I guess this tune is following song format in that it
has repeating sections and breaks etc. I don’t think of this when I am
reviewing Wakeman albums so perhaps it is more structured than him. Sorry I
have no other keyboard albums to compare against so they are they only references
I will think off.

Threshold – I guess of the tracks so far they are all using similar sets of
sounds. A Dirty Riffy sort. The breath one. A Soloing Moog type voice and maybe
a couple of others. Erik uses a real drummer on the album and I think this helps
a lot compares to some of Wakeman’s more recent works in this field. It also
has a bass but must confess I am not listening to him much. Around the 5-minute
mark there is a lengthy nothing much happening phase. Lots of scratching sorts
of going on in the background with some programmed rhythms and a solo line.
Then it reverts back to the main tune. I like the piece but don’t really understand
the middle bit. There is nothing wrong with it. It is just there for me though.

Neuro Boogie starts of a bit like Deep Purple’s Lazy although it still
reminds me more of a more recent Wakeman piece. This is a good patterny tune
(Bach like?) with the occasional Lazy type blues break. Around the 3-minute
mark we have a break for a minute before returning to the main themes at the
end. Again I quiet like this.

Trantor Station -Whoops I thought this was Walts Of The Biots and I thought
it a good name. It does sound like Mechanical Robots mumblings at the start.
Again very Wakeman like to me. Perhaps this album is like his 2000AD – Into
the Future most (It’s probably nothing like it if I play it again :-)) 
Again this is a good track. I am particularly drawn to the Trumpet sounding
sections expecting them to appear in places they don’t.

Waltz Of The Biots – Particle Storm to about 2mins is just keyboard soundscaping.
I am never sure if I view this as music, annoying or OK. We then get some Chinese/Japanese
sounding sort of Rhythms before a melody kicks in around 3 and 1/2 mins. Oh
this is definitely reminding me of 2000AD. (Or this album 😉 )

It’s no good, I had to suspended this review to spin through 2000AD. The
keyboard sounds on 2000AD are more varied and slightly different it is also
a faster album but I think there is a similarity in the feel between the two.
I think I prefer 2000AD overall but I have had this album many years and it
was the B side of a Cassette I made with Softsword on it and that is one of
my Favourite Rick albums so it had had a lot more play).

Back to Threshold I definitely prefer the real drumming on this. Around the
6-minute mark in Biots we change again. Ah Keith Emerson on the sleeve notes
mentions Phil Glass. I have only heard his Bowie stuff but I think I can here
what Emerson means here. I quite like this phase of the track. It must be the
Grand Ballroom section. When playing the CD I would probably have guessed the
Cocktails In the Vestibule section was a different tune.

Critical Mass starts with church Organ type sounds, which continue in sections
during the piece. I don’t think I could guess the sections on this one. Around
3.30 we get some bottom end Moog then some horns? And the organ again. Around
5 mins there are some more very Wakeman runs. Then there is some piano. Again
quite a good piece.

Overall I think it is a good album for anyone that likes solo keyboard players.
I am not sure the album is for everyone and I have to be in keyboard only mood
to want to play it. It is quite different from Into The Sunset, which is more
of a song/band-based album.

Into The Sunset – Erik Norlander

This is Erik’s 2nd solo album and it is quite different from his first one.

Sunset Prelude – This album starts with Ah’s and this time they are real ones.
It then proceeds to a full band hard rock track. It has Ayreon’s Arjen Luccassen
and guitars and it gives the album a much more rounded feel. Erik is more into
Lana Lane sounding solos and with a full band obviously has less room for keyboard
sounds. This track in fact seems a little guitar biased until around 1.30 and
then we get some good exciting keyboards from Erik. This is more the sort of
stuff I hoped for on Threshold. It is like the difference between a middling
Wakeman album and one of my favourite ones. It is the excitement factor for
me.

Into The Sunset follows on seamlessly. I wonder what makes a song sub part
and what makes one a new track? These two are clearly linked. Edward Reekers
(Who has sung on Arjen’s Ayreon albums) is vocalist on this track and he is
in good form. Being an Erik solo album we get longer keyboard breaks than we
would on a Lana Lane album. Here there is actually interplay between Erik and
Arjen.

Rome is Burning has Glenn Hughes on vocals. Not my favourite vocalist in the
world but he is OK. Interestingly he was lined up to work with Rick Wakeman
and Keith Emerson during the summer. It didn’t happen but I believe an album
might. Lana Lane (who has also worked with Arjen on Ayreon. (I hate it when
solo artist are referred to by bands they used to be in. EG Wakeman in Yes when
he has probably outsold them solo)) also adds vocals to this. This probably
isn’t my favourite track but it is good.

Fanfare For The Dragon Isle is a short instrumental which is far better than
soundscaping. It leads to

Fly which starts with lots of Arjen. It has vocals by Lana and a little section
at the start by Edward. The tracks on this album are a lot paceier than the
previous album. Lana is pretty much used as Erik uses her on her solo albums.
Including the trick of using her to answer herself, which I really like. In
the middle it calms down and we get some piano work before it moves into some
Hammond and then picks up for more keyboard soloing. This is a pretty good track.

Dreamcurrents reminds me of another band. Perhaps Renaissance. It is Piano
and keys. It then has some Cellos by Cameron Stone (possibly not used on Ayreon.
Yet!). This is a nice gentle piece. Very good.

Lines In The Sand – I must train my brain not to think it is sung "Lions
in the Sand"! It clearly isn’t that but the change of note confuses me.
When I first played the album I thought Robert Soeterboek’s vocals rather rough
sounding. It has to be said I think this is my favourite track though. I don’t
think there is anything wrong with the grit in his vocal at all now. I love
all the solos I don’t think it can go wrong really with Arjen and Erik doing
them. I think Erik is using a smaller subset of sounds on this one. At least
for soloing. Oh I just noticed the Breath keyboard in use too.

On The Wings Of Ghosts has an atmospheric start with some cello before a piano
stats tapping and the band finally join in. It must be a Moog that is doing
most of the keyboard solos. The structure of this song prior to the vocals is
a bit like on Threshold but more enjoyable with the extra guitar. This song
is has the early Ayreon combination of Edward and Robert exchanging vocal lines.
It is very effective as Edward is a lovely voice and Robert the gritty contrast.
Arjen’s heavy rhythm backing didn’t really work for me on Lana’s Secrets of
Astrology but on this album it is perfect. The track ends with a quieter section
with piano and good melodic guitar and then keyboard. It is very good. I wish
Arjen would use Edward and Robert like this again.

Hymn is a very short Lana vocal track, which I assumed was part of ..

Into The Sunset Repise and ..

Sunset Postlude. Nothing greatly different here although I know the album so
well I could be wrong.

And there the album ends and I am surprised it feels so short. I guess there
are only 6 or 7 tunes really. Luckily I bought the Japanese version, which has
a bonus track

Alchemy and Astronomy – Oh the notes about this aren’t in the album (or they
are but not English). Mmm I read them at Erik’s site www.thetank.com. It is
supposed to be reminiscent of Rocket Scientist’s (Erik’s other band) Mariner
song. I am only just listening to that but didn’t make the Connection and RS’s
Escape. I can’t recall that one without playing it. I know where Pink Floyd’s
Shine On You Crazy Diamond references comes from though as the song contains
a good sax solo. It is not often I have my favourite three instruments on one
album. The vocal is by Edward again although it is a very small part of this
17 minute song. I like the Bass work in his vocal section. And I like this song
in general although it doesn’t really fit the album. I certainly think it makes
the Japanese album worth the expense. Actually from Erik’s site it was/is only
16 dollars.

I think this album is an excellent release. It doesn’t quite reach Ayreon heights
for me but I would certainly love a lot more of it. I highly recommend it if
you are into hard rock with good guitars and Moog solos (and in Japan a Sax
solo).

If I am honest this is the sort of music I would like to see Rick Wakeman have
a crack at. It would be interesting to see if Arjen could ever get Rick to work
with him. Rick has a strange taste in Guitar players and is a lot softer these
days so I am not sure it would work out how I would like. I think Erik is as
close to Rick Wakeman as I am likely to find in this area of music. He clearly
has the same obsession with work and writing too. Even better he can right lyrics
and has a more traditional sense of a good vocalist.

Lana Lane – Live Bonus Discs

I got a very pleasant surprised this week. In the post came
two 3 track Lana Lane live discs that I didn’t know about. Apparently they are
give aways in Japan if you know how to fill in the forms. Luckily a very kind
friend was able to get them for me as she had spare forms/tokens

The first disc is a live Covers disc

Long Live Rock’n’roll (Club Quattro – Tokyo – 20 Apr 99)
– It has to be said I approached this with fear. The original Rainbow version
is a classic and I have a definite bias against female vocals. (I wouldn’t have
got into Lana if it wasn’t for the fact I was drawn by Erik’s keyboards.) I
therefore wondered how would this sound and I have to say I am impressed it
comes off pretty well. Lana’s vocals are strong and clear and the band does
a good job. Erik throwing in lots of Hand down the keyboard (which is in Hammond
mode if it isn’t one) and a nice little break with the guitar in the middle.

Seasons End (Club Quattro – Tokyo – 20 Apr 99) – This seems
to be a duet by Lana and Erik. I really like the studio version which is a Japanese
Bonus track on Queen Of Ocean. This pretty much only has a piano keyboard sound.
It seems to have key pressure additional voices to give it that little bit extra
but I miss the extra keyboard voices of the Studio version. Especially Erik’s
little phrase at the end of each line. This is still extremely good though.
Lana can certainly sing. I still don’t like the original Marillion version which
is so drab by comparison. Lana’s vocals are really move me, Steve Hogarth’s
just leave me cold. The keyboards on the original just don’t have the same quality
either. I wonder what made Lana choose the song. Playing the Demo version on
the Marillion Season End remaster I get the impression Lana’s version is perhaps
closer to the demo than the final version.

Dream On (Zippal Hall, Tokyo 29 Oct 98) – This is apparently
an Aerosmith cover. I had never heard it before so to me this is a new track.
Again this is Erik and Lana and despite being an earlier tour Erik seems to
be on the same Keyboard sounds. Lana really well does this well to me. I would
love to have seen Lana live or on Video. I think this track is on a par with
Seasons End so I am glad to have heard it.

The Second is High Energy Live

Evolution Revolution (Banana Hall Osaka – 19 Apr 99 – Hey I
have been there!) – Being full band stuff and live versions of tunes I already
know in this format I think the songs on this disc suffer from the mix. I wonder
how they were recorded. At a guess I would say soundboard DATs. This comes across
well but I have a feeling this is one of the songs that has two Lana voices
answering each other and live of course she can’t do that. Ah again I want to
see it in video I bet Erik it fascinating to watch on the keyboard break and
it would be interesting to see the guitar solo etc.

Night Falls (Club Quattro – Tokyo – 20 Apr 99) – I can’t really
find anything to say about this. It is very faithful to the studio version.
The sound is perhaps better than the first track.

Through the Rain (Club Quattro – Tokyo – 20 Apr 99) – Ah the
drum sound on this one seems a bit odd (hollow? muddy?). Everyone else is OK.
Again this is pretty faithful to the original (as far as I can remember). The
middle guitar break might well be different.

I really would like to know what the set lists were on these
tours. The band if they can’t justify a full video shoot ought to release a
homemade video bootleg (with warnings) for dedicated fans by the internet. I
am sure fans dedicated fans would prefer something to nothing but equally I
am sure the band would be too perfectionist to do something like that. I can
live in hope though. Lana Lana are definitely a band I would love to see live.
I am frustrated to have discovered Lana played here in Britain only a few weeks
before I found her Frankenstein Unbound on a Hard Roxx sampler disc. This being
my intro to the band and the source of my compulsion to get everything I can
by them. I think I am down to the first Rocket Scientist album and the live
video now. Boo hoo.

If you can work out how to get these disc I highly recommend
them. It’s a shame there are no notes for them. I particularly like Erik’s notes
from the Producers desk.

Ballad Collection 2 – Lana Lane

Lana Lane’s first Ballad Collection was so popular that after the last Studio
album they were asked to do another one. It is mainly covers but not necessarily
tracks you would expect to hear.

Nether Lands – This is a track by Dan Fogelberg from his self-titled solo
album. I haven’t got a clue who he is or what the original is like but I love
this version. I don’t like the fact it is the first track on the album though
as sometimes I feel I can overdose on it. I am not sure why but I often feel
the need to jump in the middle of the disc if I know I won’t play the disc all
the way through. Erik is on Piano and Harpsichord and I can well imagining Rick
Wakeman playing the same way. Lana sings the track with her usual clarity and
I therefore find myself really listening to the Lyrics. At about the four-minute
mark there is a little interlude which reminds me of fair ground music for some
reason. Erik is getting a lot of other instrument sounds on this one too

Hands To Heal – This is an original composition by Lana’s long time Stick
player Don Schiff and his writting partner Tully Winfield.  Lana’s voice
is sometimes used to repeat lines with a different effect on it and I like that.
The track fits well on the album but it isn’t a favourite. I wonder if it is
because there is not much Erik on it? There are certainly a fair few guitar
runs on it from Neil Citron.

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – This is of course is an Elton John song and I
was extremely disappointed when I heard it was to be on the album. It is one
of my favourites though. Again Lana brings out the lyrics and I love Erik’s
Hammond including the short hand along the keyboard moments. I also like Erik’s
Moog solo sandwiched between Neil’s guitar solos.

A Place In Time – This was written by Lana herself. I am currently typing
an interview with her up and she was saying how she has been writing on acoustic
guitar recently so it is interesting to hear this is acoustic guitar based now
that I am playing it with knowledge of who wrote it. Again there is less Erik
on it so there is less to excite me. The track is good but not a favourite.

Nevermore – This starts without a break. In fact it starts on a guitar run
which is most unusual. I would never have spotted it was a new song to be honest.
It’s a complete mystery of what makes a new song, what makes a sub part of a
song and what makes an instrumental track. This track has more hints of Erik
in it but it is still a bit Erik light. His backing seems a bit ELO/Louis Clarke
in flavour.

A Place In Time Reprise – This changes at a guitar run again. I am a bit baffled
by why it is here but when I listen to the album as a whole all three tracks
are one to me.

Ghost By My Bedside – The pace picks up a bit for this one and there is some
really nice fretless Bass work on it. I like the rhythm of the lyrics on this.
Strangely Erik’s fairly comprehensive CD notes don’t say whom this was originally
by. It was written by a Gregory Markel though. Erik uses a Mellotron on it so
I guess that is why it feels slightly Beatles like in the background. I like
this one.

To The Last Whale Critical Mass and Wind On The Water. This is by Crosby and
Nash. Bum is a word I used to get told off for saying a kid so I guess the first
part of Critical Mass is a bit rude to me with all that Bum, bum, bum be dumbing
on it 😉 My daughters were at least amused when I suggested they shouldn’t
listen to the lyrics. It is a very good Multi-harmony vocal part. I can’t altogether
see the point but why not start a track like it. The tracks ends with some atmospherics
from Erik, which I assumed was the intro to Wind On The Water but again, I am
wrong. The lyrics for this track are very strong. Incidentally a British person
would never have written them. The lines end in Raise, Vase and face. Brits
pronounce Vase as Var-se. It catches me of guard every time. I was convinced
this sounded like a Steely Dan track when I heard it. Something about the rhythm
has that feel to it to me. I don’t know if the original Crosby Nash song has
this feel or if it is just this arrangement. I very much like the track anyway.

The River Maid – This is another Lana Lane original. Is this a record for
one album? I seem to recall checking past albums and normally only finding one
or two songs by Lana herself. Like her other tracks on the album it is a slower
paced track and which makes it harder to excite me. On Erik is on Lead guitar
on this one. A man of many talents.

Autumn Leaves – Is a Jazz standard and again Erik doesn’t mention by whom.
I would never have guessed it. It is very pleasant although not outstanding.

Innocent When You Dream – I rather like this one. Originally by Tom Waits
it has an interesting vocal melody and some nice Keys from Erik. I think the
key to my liking it is it’s slightly more up-tempo again.

If Everyone Was Listening – Here is the only other Cover I knew prior to the
album. By Supertramp I wasn’t sure if Lana could make it her own. I think she
has though. I have been meaning to compare it to the original for weeks perhaps
I will now. Again Erik is the star for me. I love his backing on this. I am
a bit surprised he replaced the Sax solo (whoops Clarinet I think) with a similar
sound on the keyboard though. The guitar solo from Neil Citron works very well
too. Oh this section isn’t on the original at all. I thought it strange that
Supertramp would have two tracks together with big endings. Mmm I can’t decide
which version I prefer. Both are very good. I think I might just edge towards
the Lana version because of Erik sound at the start of the song.

My guess is that I have played Ballad 2 a least twice as many times as the
original Ballad collection. I therefore suspected I preferred it overall. Since
I have got the Ballad Collection Special Edition I decided to play the first
collection again just as a one off. The first thing I noticed was the use of
the Viola. I am a real sucker for well-used String section instruments so this
kind of made the album a bit more varied and special. I also liked the variety
of having the hand percussion on Through the Fire. I therefore wonder if I do
prefer the original Ballad set especially now the disc has Marillion’s Season’s
End on it. I think the key is both discs are great quality and I love them both.
Ballad 2 of course has the advantage of being all new material to Lana fans
whereas Ballad 1 threw in some Re-mixes of old Lana songs.

Ayreon Album Reviews

Occasionally I write reviews of albums for mailing lists. I have therefore
started to keep them here to.

Ayreon – Flight Of The Migrator
Ayreon – The Dream Sequencer
Ayreon – Ayreonauts Only
Anthony – Pools of Sorrow – Waves Of Joy
Kayak – Merlin
Vengeance – Arabia
Bodine – Three Times Running/Bold As Brass
Ambeon – Fate Of A Dreamer

Ayreon – Flight Of The Migrator

1. Chaos – What blistering track. Ayreon at it’s best. A good use of keyboards
and speed. I like the guitar and keyboard exchange, which goes into Harmonies.

2. Dawn of a Million Souls – A keyboard intro very much in the vein of Final
Experiment goes into a slower paced tune with an interesting Monastery sort
of feel to it. Good changes of pace and a couple of nice guitar solos. The second
one vaguely reminds me of Tony Iommi on Sabbath Technical ecstasy although I
am sure there are better more modern comparisons. An excellent song.

3. Journey on the Waves of Time – A string intro and again we are back into
Final Experiment territory. The Chorus uses Keyboard ahh’s, which rightly or
wrongly remind me of Rick Wakeman’s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. The
is a drum and bass section which goes into a Hammond solo. Excellent stuff.
Are there also hints of Vengeance Flight 19 in this? Perhaps the vocal style.

4. To the Quasar – A nice gentle intro with lots of effects on the Vocal (at
a guess Arjen. I am writing this on a train so no CD booklet). The early section
"The Taurus Pulsar" is probably like something off Strange Hobbies.
At 3.30 or so I assume it becomes Quasar 3c273 and it changes pace pretty much
like Computer Eyes did and becomes more of a Vengeance song. Again great stuff.
It ends with a nice keyboard solo around 7.30 followed by some guitar treatments.

5. Into the Black Hole – Arjen in a Dutch interview was pleased to get Bruce
Dickenson on the album. I sadly have never liked him and this is by far my least
favourite track. It is interesting to hear how Arjen gets him to sound a little
Ayreon like in style but he is still Bruce and I don’t like his voice. I played
it to an Iron Maiden fan friend of mine and he thought it Euro Rock and said
it was OK. He never asked me to give him a copy of the Fish tunes on Electric
Castle either so I have clearly failed in my quest to convert a friend. In fact
in my time I have played The Final Experiment to my little Brother and another
friend who are normally pretty tolerant and they really hated it to the point
of asking to remove it. Perhaps it just isn’t good music to drive to gigs to.

Around 6.30 there is a section that reminds me of Deep Purples Perfect Strangers
riff. I would like to hear the track with someone else doing the vocals. I wonder
what sort of feel it would have. I don’t know all the vocalists on this album
but they all sound in the Ayreon vain to me which is where I got a little lost
with Electric Castle.

6. Through the Wormhole – Ah another song reminding me of the Vengeance album.
Nice programmed rhythms bits of Hammond and good Ayreon vocals again. Good solos
again.

7. Out of the White Hole – Another good song. Typical Final Experiment stuff
but again touches of things that make me think Vengeance.

8. To the Solar System – A slower machine pumping type intro finally breaks
into harder rocking track. Again just what I want to listen to. This is a two
part song but System Alert is real just story content.

9. Sleeper Awake – This starts with a slower section, which really kicks in
about 2 mins in for the main part of the song. Again typical Final Experiment
stuff. Lovely.

So why have I reviewed this album first? Well despite thinking this is a fantastic
album (with the exception of Bruce) I am confused by the fact I think Dream
Sequencer is my preference by a long way. Because Arjen has decided to have
an experiment on us to see which we prefer I find it is kind of like asking
a parent which twin they prefer. Some parents if the are honest might have an
answer but most would say they both have the merits and it is unfair to choose.
Both these albums to me are Ayreon. I would normally have said I prefer Arjen
in heavy mode but now that he has split the songs into types I find I prefer
softer Arjen. I think I would rather not have know this as now I am likely to
start building prejudices against this album. I am glad I sat down and reviewed
it because I have proved to myself I really do love this album. It is certainly
interesting the I am so much more into this album the Lana Lane’s Secrets of
Astrology which I seem put off by because of Arjen’s Heavy Rhythm guitars. This
album is surely a lot heavier and yet I prefer it. Strange. Isn’t music wonderful
you just can’t predict reactions to it? Or at least I can’t 🙂

Ayreon – The Dream Sequencer

Some initial thoughts I played this to my friend on the way to the other day’s
gig and he didn’t complain at all. When pressed he said it was OK rather like
Pink Floyd. To me this albums lyrics are a lot more obviously story driven.

1. The Dream Sequencer – It starts with some story set up as per the Flight
of the Navigator and then goes into cleanly played guitar and keyboard solos

2. My House on Mars – This is one of my favourite although when I was playing
it to my friend in the car I did wonder if he would think it dragged. In the
middle we get some keyboards, which in tone reminded me of Europe’s Final Countdown
if not in what they actually play. Then back to the clean guitar playing. Great
stuff. I very much like the each of vocal lines in this between Johan Edlund
and Floor Jansen. Floor reminds me a bit of Egyptian on Into The Electric Castle.

3. 2084 – This one is of Particular interest to me as it has Lana Lane on vocals
and Erik Norlander on Keyboards as he is on all tracks on both albums. This
would effectively make it a Lana Lane solo track but it has a totally different
feel. Arjen has used her in a very Ayreon female vocalist way. Her voice isn’t
so up front to me as on her solo albums either. Again there are the beautiful
clean guitar sounds and gentle keyboard patterns. There is nothing to flashy
about them they are just great to listen to. I think perhaps the reason I pick
up on the story more on this disc is because the vocals are so clear and a more
vital part of the song. On the Flight Of the Migrator it is easy to lose focused
on them as you listen to all that is going on. On here there is plenty of space
to hear everything. Perhaps my illness is a major factor on my listening process.
I tried driving a car on a straight road again yesterday and I am just not able
to process all the visual information I receive. Perhaps I have the same problem
with my hearing inputs to. Well I feel reasonably sure I do and that is why
I hate double speed drumming as a rule of thumb.

4. One Small Step – Ah this is the one starts in a really Pink Floyd way. The
Pumping Synth sound is very similar to the Machine. I like the way it roams
round to. Edward Reekers is on vocals for this and he is one of my favourite
Ayreon vocalists. I just love his pronunciation and feeling. Obviously this
is another of my favourites. They all are so far! Really nice guitar work again
in the solo. Likewise the keyboard solo.

5. The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq – Another Machine like intro
but it goes in a difference way. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked this one
it didn’t seem to do much. It is again one of my favourites though as I like
the synth patterns going on all through the track. The guitars sometimes take
over this Theme and it sounds really good. I found it interesting that this
was the only real Dutch reference in the song. There seems to be a couple of
English references. As a Brit and one that isn’t good at History anyway I obviously
don’t know what Holland’s teaching of History is like and how much impact Holland
had on the centuries.

6. Dragon on the Sea – A computerised burbling gives way to acoustic guitar
and then another Lana Lane track. She has also been on backing vocals in the
previous two tracks. This track doesn’t grab me as much as the other tracks.
There is a nice synth solo again.

7. Temple of the Cat – This is the single of for the albums. I guess due to
its relative shortness. It has Jacqueline Govert on vocals. This has string
type backings. Jacqueline’ vocals sound like she has a slightly rough voice.
I wonder what her normal style is. I look forward to hearing Lana Lanes version
on the single.

8. Carried by the Wind – Oh this is the Arjen vocal track. I must admit I thought
he did the Shooting Company. That was someone called Mouse though. I love the
patterns of the guitar and synth in this one again. The between song breaks
are very Ayreon.

9. And the Druids turn to Stone – This one annoyed a another friend of mine.
He was cross that Arjen seems to imply the Druids were about at the start of
Stonehenge. I have no idea myself. I really like Damian Wilson’s vocal on this
one. We seem to be getting more Ayreon like backings to songs as opposed to
clean guitar solos by this point in the album.

10. The First Man on Earth – This one has a slight Beatle feel to it. Another
excellent song. I think when I am saying a more Ayreon feel I am referring to
the types of backing and song on Actual Fantasy. This is the album I think this
one is closest to of the previous albums. It struck me the theme is very similar
to The dawn Man as single track for Actual fantasy. This is very superior to
me. For some reason that other track didn’t really grow on me. Perhaps that
is why it was left of the album. I suspect if I read the lyrics I will retract
the above comments.

11. The Dream Sequencer Reprise – Is back to the clean guitar and runs over
a familiar sounding backing.

The Dream Sequencer is definitely my favourite of the two albums. I wonder
of it will manager to knock The Final Experiment of the top of my favourite
Ayreon album list. I have a feeling it might be a tie and will therefore lose
out by being a later release.

It may well also loose out because I do like the fact The Final Experiment
is a mixture of the two styles of these albums. It could well be that if Chaos,
To The Quasar and a couple of other tunes were mixed into this album that I
would have no doubt at all. Certainly from memory that is what made the final
Experiment for me i.e. that fact it took nearly all the things and styles I
liked and mixed them into one great album.

I think I will play Experiment now while I upload this to my PC and then post
it.

Oh this is a ridiculous task. When you listen to any album and think it is
excellent then put on another one and think no this is excellent too. How can
you compare? It seems very unfair. I am only up to track four but somehow I
can tell it has got the edge because it had the grittiness and the beauty at
the same time. It is actually a lot less heavy they I mentally remember it.
Oh Arjen you are you so nasty to your fans by playing with them in this way.
Almost like a cat teasing a mouse. Well done anyway.

Ayreon – Ayreonauts Only

This CD is basically a Christmas present from Arjen to his fans. It is
also a good cheap introduction to Ayreon’s Music.

Over the years Arjen as tried out different vocalists on different songs looking
for that special combination. Obviously this is all down to personal taste Arjen’s
doesn’t necessarily agree with us the fans. It is therefore interesting to compare
the songs on this album with the original album versions.

The first track on the album is one of the few where I don’t really like the
original. Lots of people like Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson’s vocal style but
I am not one of them. "Into The Black Hole" on "Flight Of The
Migrator" was just too depressing for me. This new version is mainly sung
by Damian Wilson. Now I have to confess I am not really sure about his voice
either. Sometimes I like it sometimes I am not comfortable with it. The other
change on this version is Lana Lane, who was used on backing vocals for the
original, gets to sing the chorus. One of my favourite features of Ayreon albums
is that Arjen often uses multi-vocalists in a song. The fact he has done so
here again proves a winner in my book. There is no way I would want to go back
to the original now. It has to be said I am extremely curious to hear the complete
takes of Damian and Lane separately too.

"Out of the White Hole" goes the other way. The original by Timo
Kotipelto is my preferred one as it is less Dickinson/Coverdale like than Robert
Soeterboek. I have to say I am still quite into Robert’s vocal though. I think
I like his voice most though when it is exchanging lines with the softer Edward
Reekers as on "Actual Fantasy". If this had been the original version
I am sure I would love the song just as much but since I am comparing I made
a choice.

The third song is also off "Flight Of The Migrator". The tracks are
all together on the original album but Arjen changed the order here. I wonder
why? Fabio Leone did the originals vocals and on here they are by Ian Parry.
Parry’s voice is one I know and love from the Ayreon albums and I can’t say
which I prefer. Both versions are similar to me. Perhaps because Fabio is still
on backing vocals for this.

Carpe Diem (Chaos) – Mmm,  I am dreadful at remembering instrumentals.
I  would have guessed both versions were very similar but there is more
synth on the original. (Of course when I say original in this review the version
on Ayreonauts is probably more original than the version that made it to the
album. But I mean the original album version). This demo version has a lose
of quality on some of the effects Arjen is trying to achieve but I like the
ideas all the same.

"Temple Of The Cat" must be a favourite of Arjen’s (or one he was
never happy with) we have already had versions by Jacqueline Govaert on the
album. And Lana Lane as an alternative on the single. Now we have an acoustic
version by Astrid v/d Veen. When I first started playing this version I very
much preferred Jacqueline’s rougher vocal style. It has to be said I am now
surprised to find I prefer Astrid’s vocal. I get the impression from bits and
pieces I have read that Astrid is arranging her voice and backing vocals herself.
She does an excellent job and Arjen his hit gold in finding her and taking her
under his wing.

Now I really love Original Hippie’s Amazing Trip. This is a short Medley of
the Hippie Parts from Into The Electric Castle. It’s not really worth comparing
the bits to the original as the sections are too short. The Amazing Flight section
is really good instrumentally. Very spacey and druggy. Mouse’s vocals really
go well with it. Shame it is so short. Anneke Van Giersbergen’s vocal parts
have been left in "Garden of Emotion". Mirror Maze again leaves Edward
Reekers voice in for the alternate verses. (I must find out what else he has
done as I really like his work on Ayreon). Overall this is nicely familiar but
different. Interestingly Arjen hide his voice in effects where as he has left
Mouse’s pretty clean.

Beyond the Lost Horizon is another tricky one for me. When I first heard Ten
I thought they had potential to be a good band. Then I got a few more albums
and heard Gary Hughes’ work with Bob Catley and I realised I hate his production
style and his habit of burying vocals in heaps of instruments doing the same
melody as the vocal line. I was therefore very worried about him being let loose
on an Ayreon track. Luckily from my point of view he does a reasonable job and
his vocal though low level in the mix is still reasonably clear in the mix.
I still prefer the original but this one is OK. Arjen’s guitar work seems slightly
different on this, which of course it should as it is a brand new recording.
Is Arjen not doing Backing vocals on this? He just credits Robert Soeterboek
and Okkie Huysdens.

Charm of the Seer is another good alternative. In fact I think I prefer this
to the original. And I was surprised to read in the Notes that it was Arjen’s
own vocal. I am so used to him treating his voice I hadn’t appreciated this
was him when clear. I perhaps agree that Arjen’s vocal about 2 mins aren’t isn’t
as good. I am surprised I am not that keen on Ruud Houweling’s voice as I really
like this track. I guess in an album context I just don’t think about it.

Eyes of Time is an interesting one. I like Leon Goewie’s voice as a rule but
this performance seems a little of the top. Perhaps I just enjoy Lenny Wolf’s
original phrasing and performance too much and can’t adjust to Leon’s phrasing.
I have certainly not spent the time on this track I have on the acoustic Temple
of The Cat. I have no real problems with the vocals I am just very aware they
are different as I listen to it for about the 7th time. It must be really hard
for Arjen to decide this sort of thing when producing new albums.

The Dance of Nature to my ears is almost the same. Arjen seems to have added
more effects to his voice on the final version. I prefer this clear vocal version
I think I am pushed.

Finally we get to the Non-Ayreon track. Cold Metal from the Ambeon project.
No this one is very interesting and good. When I first heard it I couldn’t get
a grasp on the lyrics at all. I almost thought they were in Dutch until I really
concentrated. Then I noticed it is extremely odd pronunciation probably due
to the unusual rhythm of the vocal lines. The track struck me as Kate Bush meets
Ayreon with a bit of Mike Oldfield’s Moonlight Shadow on the echoing harmonies
in the chorus.

This is supposed to be one of the heaviest tracks from Ambeon so I don’t really
understand why Arjen is teasing us with it. You would think he would release
something representative of the album as a whole if it is not to be Ayreon.

Astrid is apparently only fourteen and it has to be said the lyrics are very
Macabre. It seems to be about someone deciding to Commit Suicide on a Railway
line. Thinking about it, 14 is the year I have stored in my head for when I
work out my own philosophies on life and what it would take for me to commit
suicide etc.

I am really looking forward to the new album to see of the rest of her lyrics
are as off beat and interesting. I also look forward to reading the lyrics for
this track as I find it hard to make my brain focus on the lyrics long enough
to make sure my understanding is correct.

Anthony – Pools of Sorrow – Waves Of Joy

This disc appears to be deleted now but thanks to one kind soul I have managed
to get my hands on it. The only other person I have know to have it was the
former Ayreon webmaster Erik and I got the distinct impression he thought it
highly embarrassing. It is therefore with great interest that I played this
for the first time. While it is not the quality and consistency of Ayreon I
still think it is quite good and imagine I would listen to it as much if not
more than Strange Hobby.

I suppose my first question would by why Arjen preferred to call himself Anthony.
He didn’t mind the track writing credits using Lucassen. I suppose it might
be been to stop English speakers like myself thinking Arjen is pronounced "Ah-Jen"
rather than "Ar-eon"

Wrong Side Of The Street – This song is the "Waves of Joy" in the album title.
"Pools of sorrow" being the end instrumental. This is a bit like a timid Ayreon
song. It could easily be converted to Ayreon but it is not quiet so bombastic
(for lack of a better word). It starts with an acoustic guitar verse and then
moves into the heavy chorus with drums and female backing vocals. Arjen also
chooses to echo the end of his vocal lines. This bit is so Ayreon like, as is
the very clean guitar solo. Good stuff and a great start.

Best Of Friends – This one to me could easily be about the end of Vengeance.
It uses a drum machine backing so is a bit rigid. It kind of reminds me of a
Sweet or 80’s Queen song. I have to say I quite like this too.

Crescendo – This one sounds a bit Scottish? in melody. It reminds me of Slade’s
"Run Runaway" from 83’s "The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome" mainly because of
the guitar melody. Again it suffers slightly from programmed drums. Arjen also
adds some early "Hippy" type effects to his voice at the end. Actually it
might just be phasing. Ah, the potential Slade link has completely made me miss
this is the song that contains most of the ideas for the story of Ayreon on
"The Final Experiment". Crescendo is the "Ayreon" character.

Cry Yourself To Sleep – The opening bars of this are so Ayreon. I am not sure
what the keyboard is but it is then accompanied by Arjen, then Harpsichord (I
guess not real) and trumpet (almost certainly a keyboard sound). This is a very
short track and quite quiet overall. I can’t really figure the meaning of the
lyrics out. Normally that wouldn’t bother me but I get the impression they have
a meaning.

Little Miss Understood – Another song I really enjoy. Not that I have thought
any bad so far. I guess this one has a bit of a Bowie feel too it but perhaps
I am just picking up on the acoustic guitar and the "No, no, no" ala Hunky
Dory’s "Queen Bitch". It definitely has a glam rock era feel to it to me.

Escape – A slow drumbeat with a piano chord doesn’t in fact lead into Bowie’s
"Five years". We have female backing vocals and I suspect bits of John Lennon
lines although they could just be generic phrases i.e. "Give Peace a chance"
and "All you need is Love". Towards the end we get Floyd’s "Great gig in
the sky" type backing vocals. Oh now I have read the lyrics it is in fact a
song about John Lennon. It also mentions John moves his hand on his guitar and
makes it gently weep. So there must be a John Lennon song with a slow drumbeat
that is escaping my brain? Does one also in is ghostly Echoes? I can’t make
out Arjen’s words in these.

Country Girl, City Boy – This one tickles me but I must admit as I played the
album five times in one afternoon it got too much for me. It is a rigid drum
machine again, slide guitar and very country. The lyrics might be a bit sexist
at the start but it does amuse me that he falls in love with a Perfect country
girl she doesn’t return his affection so he tells her she smells like S**t and
moves on.

Summer’s In The Air – Another very Ayreon sounding start. Like the previous
song, and very much in the vein of Cry Yourself To Sleep, this track is less
than 3 minutes. I have to confess I feel it should just be an intro to another
song.

Days Of The Knights – This one has the Slade Runaway style guitar again. This
is the song I expected the Ayreon character to appear in but it is just set
in days of old. Again it uses Harpsichord and trumpets. At 1.59 Arjen has a
phrase he must have used again it is so clearly Ayreon to my ears. My head says
"Charm of the Seer" but I would expect I am wrong. I have just tried to compare
them but I can’t store the phrase in my head long enough to do it.

Not Over You – Again the sort of intro you might find at the start of "Dream
Sequencer". The guitar phrase then made me think Pink Floyd. The vocals however
make me think Robert Plant. Especially "I am not over you baby no, no" but
even before that too. Interesting I have never consider Arjen as trying to sound
like some else vocally before. It’s another very short song again. Arjen also
add’s some effects to his voice here and there. In fact the atmosphere on this
one is very Ayreon.

Night On The Town – Up Tempo again. I think the acoustic and drum machine songs
are rather busker like. I like this one but can’t justify it. Arjen does use
his voice slightly differently on this and again he has female backing.

A-Losing You – This has a more complex backing rhythm and backing singers again.
Mmm, I think I might be hearing hints of Robert Plant in it again. I hadn’t
thought of that before. This is OK but not really me.

Midnight Train – This one reminds me of Country Girl so I was dreading it when
I it came to it on my 5 play yesterday. I am not sure why it is on the album
if I am honest. It reminds me a bit of Matchbox but probably because they is
about the only Rockabilly album I have and this is country. It is up-tempo though.
(As I was uploading this to my PC my juke box happened to play my only other
song of the type. Roy Wood’s "When Grandma plays the Banjo". That is in fact
a favourite of mine as the guitar is very good and the lyrics are quite funny.
I wonder if Arjen was attempting something similar. This song is very American
though)

Pools Of Sorrow – This is a short instrumental and is nice enough but to me
it should have a song on the end of it. 🙂

I wonder how I would have viewed this album before Ayreon. It is certainly
fascinating to listen to after Ayreon. The first half of the album is quite
good. The 2nd side is less so. Perhaps I wouldn’t listen as much as Strange
Hobby given the 2nd half. Time well tell I guess. If you find it
give it a go it is certainly a very interesting listen. I wonder what Irene
who encouraged Arjen "to do this solo thing" but also had to be "painfully
honest" to him had to say assuming it was musically related. Arjen’s brother
Gjalt didn’t even get a non-mention on this one. The family thanks were for
his mum and dad.

Kayak – Merlin

Because Edward Reekers is my favourite Ayreon vocalist I decided to check out
some of his past work. Merlin was recommended to my as the album to try. So
I did. Strangely I then found an article on Kayak in one of my back issues of 
"Progression" magazine and that seemed to think the album was relatively
poor. Or at least side 2 was. This is definitely an album of two halves. Side
1 was a set of songs about Merlin and side two is a more poppy collection of
songs.

The first thing I noticed about the album is I can’t relate the sound of Edward
on these recording to the vocals he has done with Ayreon 15 or more years later.
I can’t really tell why he sounds different. Perhaps he lacks clarity here compared
to Ayreon. Perhaps it’s just the songs are different and therefore so are his
vocals.

Merlin – I think the first thing I notice is this reminds me slightly of Focus
in the way the vocals start gently and lightly with Piano. There is some Brass
and then the song then kicks off proper and we get some nice clean guitar and
some keyboard lines. There are lots of really nice touches in this track. There
is a harpsichord like sound and a pure vocal section. The guitar is the main
star to me. Having said that this is some Moog, which sort of passes me by (not
in a bad way) because it is an unusual sound or arrangement. This is a good
track.

Tintagel – This is a short track and back to Piano and voice. I didn’t realise
it was a track. I just viewed it as an intro to…

The Sword In The Stone – Again a relatively short track. There is in fact a
pause between the tracks but since this also starts with piano and vocal I didn’t
notice. The track then kicks off and is probably one of my favourites of the
album. Again it is the guitars providing the main lines that I like. This is
most unusual I don’t normally pick up on guitars in guitar and keyboard music.
Perhaps it is because this is from 1981 and I don’t like what happened to guitar
solos after this sort of era.

The King’s Enchanter – Again a subtle move into this song so I wasn’t aware
of this track in it’s own right. It has flutes or more likely a recorder providing
the main line on this one. There is keyboard there too but low in the mix. I
very much like this one too.

Niniane (Lady Of The Lake) – A clean break and another Piano intro. Followed
by piano and gentle Edward again. Actually this is probably the closest I get
to recognising Edward. There is also some synth going on in the background but
very low in the mix. About half way through the track starts building up. We
even get some Rick Wakeman type faster piano. Towards the end the guitar kicks
in along with a string arrangement. The track then goes to nothing again. Very
Focus like to my ears.

Seagull – Despite other peoples views I think the tracks on side 2 are OK.
This is probably my favourite on the album. Edward is very strong for me on
this one. It is more poppy but I don’t care. It is far more interesting to hear
than Niniane. Some of the backing vocals remind me of Renaissance.

Boogie Heart – This is up-tempo and very poppy. It uses a telephony sort of
voice in the background that reminds me of similar period ELO. I don’t dislike
the track but equally I am not bothered by it. There is some nice Hammond on
it.

Now That We’ve Come This Far – I find it really strange that Kayak add lots
of keyboards to their tracks but at almost inaudible levels. For the first minute
or so of this track I thought I wasn’t keen on it but I do really enjoy the
chorus. Again Edward sounds really good on this. There are also some nice short
keyboard bursts I like.

Can’t Afford To Lose – This one again remains me of 80’s ELO vocally. I can’t
really make my mind up about this one. I like the keyboard parts but probably
not the song overall. It’s a little too close to the boundaries of my tastes.
The guitar is a very thin one perhaps similar in style to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours
album.

Love’s Aglow – This is another favourite of mine. Edward’s vocals having been
treated somehow. It’s almost like they have been Reversed at the ends. I.e.
Similar to hearing a drum played backwards. It’s the backing I like. I can’t
really say why. There is nothing clever about it. I think perhaps it is just
the overall strangeness of the song I like.

I have been playing this album for some weeks. I don’t find it compulsory listening
but I rather enjoy it when it comes on. I can imagine coming back to it quite
a lot.

I will suspect I will be checking out more Kayak with and without Edward Reekers
on vocals. The best albums were supposed to have occurred before he arrived
so I will see if I agree.

Vengeance – Arabia

I haven’t tried reviewing an album I am not keen on before but since this is
early Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) CD I feel inclined to try.

I have to confess I was surprised this album disagrees with me. I have previously
heard Vengeance’s ‘Back From Flight 19’ and I love it. It therefore seemed likely
I would like earlier stuff. But no this is a completely different kettle of
fish. Even Leon Goewie is different on this.

I am listening to the Pseudonym Records version of the disc, which also includes
a lot of the original Demo’s on the 2nd CD. Despite being a booklet there are
no lyrics for the album just a 2 page set on notes from a Dutch journalist and
lots of dodgy looking photos. Boy can you tell this was the 80’s! I feel that
the notes and information could have been done so much better. Still it is very
cheap for a double CD.

Arabia – This one isn’t too bad. It starts of with an Arabian feel and a shout
of Arabia.’ It is then probably what I was expecting from the album. It is very
hard to know who is doing the Lead Guitars. Arjen seems to do most of the non-Lead
guitar work and Jan Somers is listed as Lead Guitar only so presumably although
Arjen does get a mention on Lead it is not very often.

Broadway – Hollywood – Beverly Hills – This track seems to be very close to
lifting ‘Smoke on the Water’ in the middle section. Again I guess it is tolerable
but definitely less so than Arabia. I think someone on the Ayreon list referred
to Vengeance as being Party Metal. That is probably a good description. I just
can’t relate to this style at all. Something has happened to guitar solos by
this era and they have definitely gone of my taste band.

Castles In The air – This one starts nicely with so Harpsichord and some gentle
vocals from Leon. Probably similar to the sort of thing he does on Ayreon. Then
after 1.45 the track starts proper and I suppose it is Ok. I like the line "She
is everywhere and nowhere at all" I don’t know why. I do like the guitar
solo on this one. I can imagine this comes over live well.

The Best Gunfighter In Town – I don’t like this on at all. It is very American
Metal in nature. Lots of slide etc. There is some harmonica on it. I am at a
loose as to why I dislike this really. I like Electric blues and southern Boogie.
I just don’t list this style. Mmm perhaps this is more George Throughgood blues
and than Gary Moore and perhaps that is my problem.

Children Of The Streets – Again this is tolerable but pretty much just exists
for me. I wonder if the problem is this is all faster paced than Ayreon and
the other stuff I listen too? Presumably faster than ‘Back From Flight 19’ to.

Cry Of The Sirens – We start with the sea on this one. This is a more laid
back track and is perhaps my favourite. At the end it sounds like we were on
a wooden boat.

That’s The Way The Story Goes – Again a tolerable song. It just doesn’t do
much for me. I like the guitar section in it.

Wallbanger – Ah my least favourite on the album!’ Leon’s vocals at the start
sound very mumbly as if he is not sure of them. I guess it could just be because
of the melody he is singing. I do like the fact he screams, "What ever
you do, don’t shout!’ Overall it just doesn’t have any substance. Perhaps this
style of music isn’t supposed to have. What do I know? 🙂

If Lovin’ You Is wrong – This is a ballad but Leon is still screaming a bit
too much for my liking. I don’t think I ever reviewed ‘Back From Flight 19’.
I think I will have to, to see what is so different. Leon still sound like the
singer on there in part on this album but he is in general just too much for
me. Again surprisingly enough I like this guitar break in this song.

How About Tonight – This one reminds me of Dave Lee Roth or his era Van Halen.
There are certainly hints of ‘Ice Cream man’. There was a tinge of country at
the start of it again. I would if Arjen really wants to do country. It seems
to be a regular theme. Again I can’t really take this.

Bad Boy For Love – More slide guitar on this one. Apparently a Rose Tattoo
cover. I wonder why? I suppose this is the style they could be like in general.

Just What My Doctor Ordered – I guess this one is OK. It is pleasant enough
but not what I would normally choose to listen too.

When I got this album I saw the photos and was deeply worried. I played it
and my fears were confirmed. Over plays 4-8 I was unsure what I thought. Sometimes
I liked it and sometimes I didn’t. Now that I have played it on and off for
a month it has got like my attempts to train myself to like Beer. The first
sip is OK. The 2nd is less so. By 1/4 of a pint I am really pulling faces and
struggling! I will leave it to the true Vengeance fans I think. I better see
if the demos are more to my taste I guess 🙂 Then I will brave my other Vengeance
with Ian Parry singing.

To my surprise I do slightly prefer the demo disc. It is poorer quality but
somehow more to my taste. I have no idea why!

Bodine – Three Times Running/Bold As Brass

I bought this the same time as a couple of Vengeance albums. Since I wasn’t
keen on the one I heard I was a worried man. This was even early in Arjen Lucassen’s
(Ayreon) career and therefore even less likely to sound like Ayreon.

The photo on the back of the CD was a bit odd looking. All out of focus but
overall I think the band didn’t look quite as 80’s as Vengeance on Arabia.

The booklet has the same characteristics as the Vengeance one. No lyrics. A
few notes from "Iron Anthony" but no explanation as to why Arjen was
nicknamed that. Again it could have been so much better. Also it was a little
annoying that "Breakin’ Out" was dropped from this set because it
wouldn’t fit one disc. Presumably there is no way of getting this track now.

I have played this disc about 20 times. The first few times I took an instant
liking to the guitar playing but wasn’t sure about the songs. Slowly, very slowly
the tunes have grown on me. I think I still have a lot of play left in this
disc yet.

Let’s get down to track level and see if my views change.

Shout – This one is a bit of a clich’ heavy metal song. The sort of thing you
would expect to hear if the title was "We know how to rock" or "We’ve
got the Rock". I like the guitar breaks they are what make the song for
me. I originally thought singer Alex Joseph Langemeijer was a sort Paul Di’Anno
from Iron Maiden. More recently though I am thinking he is more of a Rory Gallagher.

Battlefield – This is twin guitar music and I guess late 70’s/Early 80’s in
style. It is very much the sort of thing I love to hear and very much the style
I was into when I first got into music. One of the Guitarists tends to use a
lot of Feedback and one tends to be cleaner. I wonder which is which. This track
is good musically but overall it doesn’t really grab me. IE There is no great
hook to my ears.

Black Star Risin’ – According to Arjen this song deals with the film "The
Omen". I haven’t got the concentration to hear the lyrics all through but
this seems reasonable from my memory of the film. Again it is the guitar playing
I love more than the overall song.

Below The Belt – Apparently this was just a jam and that perhaps explains why
it sort of peters out a bit around the three-minute mark. It is my favourite
track on the CD. I absolutely love the guitar work at the start. It’s the feedback
bloke. More your Uli Roth than your Joe Satriani. I wish I knew what the differences
in their style’s were. It is so long since I have reviewed an album where the
guitars turn my on like this. It is very sad IMO that guitarist just don’t play
like this now. Around 2.30 it switches to the none feedback player. I guess
he is more bluesy Rory Gallagher style. Then at 3mins they seem to be lacking
ideas a bit and have a re-think while deciding what to do next. It is then a
fair amount of swapping of licks. It ends on some nice low feedback. Great stuff.
As I say my favourite on this album.

The Force – Now it is back to a regular form song. The compositions are all
credited to most of the band so it is not clear what Arjen’s input as on these.
This song is probably the best overall so far but still doesn’t really hook
me for more than the instrumentals side. There is nothing wrong with the vocals
or anything individually. It just doesn’t have the hook of say Saxon on the
Wheels Of Steel album tracks.

Hard Times – Oh this one is a better overall song. Perhaps because it has a
good riff?’ Probably my favourite "Song" so far. The guitars on this
are particularly good too. Lots of individual stuff but also some harmony lines
too. Oh I have just got to the lines "Hard times is it a girl? Hard times
is it a man?’ I think it is just about picking up girls at rock gigs etc. That
line is sensitive to me though as I have a transsexual sister. Although I always
used to feel the need to challenge male/female stereotypes, since she came out
to the world and me about 2 years ago this has obviously made me challenge normal
views about sex and gender even more.

Rampage – Mmm I wonder if I am warming up to the style of this album the further
I get into it. Again this seems a better overall song than the early tracks.

Free Kick – This is another instrumental. I must admit I guessed this would
be the start of Bold As Brass not the end of Three Times Running. This one is
not as good as Below The Belt but I like the overall feel of the drums on this
one. Sadly for me it ends up as a drum work out. It is unusual for me to even
comment on Drums and Bass so Gerard Haitsma the drummer does well to get my
interest in the first place. It seems a strange choice to end an album on a
drum solo.

Rock Machine – Ah this is the track where the singer sounds very Di’Anno like.
I like the track. My impression is I prefer this album to Three Times Running
but we will see. I think the feedback guitarist isn’t so fedback on this one.

Heavy Rain – This predictably starts with some thunder. Again Axel sounds more
like Di’Anno. This is one of my favourite songs on the set. The feedback is
definitely missing on this album. In fact both guitars seem a bit less up front.
I wonder if the style of guitar on ‘Three Times Running’ caused the songs to
be weaker? Uli Roth was certainly very variable once he left The Scorpions.

Aragorn – This song is OK but not as strong. I love the last 40 seconds of
feedback though. Not many bands record that sort of thing outside of a live
show.

Heavy Metal Heart – On this one Axel sounds more like one of the vocalists
from Molly Hatchet. Again I like this one. The guitar work is good. I wonder
of it just produced more quietly.

Wild Fire Queen – This one start with a bit of a story. I wonder if the film
"The Burning" had been released by the time the band recorded this.
This is by far my favourite song on the set. I guess I really like the vocal
on this. Axel does a good job on it. Again I am edging more for a Molly Hatchet
type vocal style.

Pumpin’ Iron – Another good track.

Regular Rockers – Mmm it kind of sums this song up to. It is just a good song.
I like the guitar break. The Feedback player seems to be more Wah-Wah pedal
on this album.

Well it does seem there were big differences between Three times Running (3rd
album) and Bold As Brass (2nd album). I assume Arjen or Pseudonym have an opposite
view to me as to which album was best. I prefer the overall songs on the 2nd
album but the guitar work on the 3rd. I am surprised the vocal style changed
too.

I highly recommend this album to anyone that loves NWOBHM style hard rock.
There is no relation to Vengeance or Ayreon as far as I can hear. I guess I
will have to see what Vengeance sounded like when Arjen first joined them.

Ambeon – Fate Of A Dreamer

Here is something unusual for me I am going to review an album for a second
time. I was lucky enough to hear and be asked to give my comments on the early
mix of this album. My opinion is hardly relevant to anyone else given my peculiar
reasons for liking what I do, but I was hardly going to turn down the chance
was I?!

Now with the album a few days on the market and at least 60 listens later I
will look at the album in it’s final form and see if my views have changed at
all. The fact I have played it 60 or more times shows I like it and like it
a lot. A normal good album will probably get 10-20 plays before it get filed
away and then it will be pulled out as and when the mood grabs me. It will almost
never get more than 3 plays unless I now like it more than I originally did.

It was very easy to get to 4 or 5 plays with the actual release of this album
and a bit tougher to get to, I guess, 10-15 plays but it seems to be days since
my Carousel has manage to get to the fifth slots so I am quiet fresh with it
today. So lets see what comes out.

Ambeon is a project by Ayreon’s Arjen Lucassen. He had got a new hard disk
system in studio and as an exercise in familiarising himself with it he decided
to muck about with bits of stuff from his old Ayreon tracks and make them into
Ambient tracks. He had wanted to make a gentle album for some time but his Heavy
side nearly always escaped. So even the quiet Universal Migrator album "The
Dream Sequencer" was still a bit heavier than he intended. It might have
been kept quieter if he could find enough female singers he liked and were willing/able
to participate but he couldn’t. It was therefore a coincidence that while working
on this Ambient exercise he heard a recording of Astrid Van Deer Veen. He immediately
loved her voice and asked her if she would like to contribute. Astrid likes
to write and for once Arjen decided to hand over the controls of part of one
of his projects an let Astrid write lyrics for 8 of the 10 songs. The remaining
two being instrumental although Astrid still does backing vocals on one track.

The first thing that strikes me is that cover of the album is very different
from an Ayreon one. It is a straight portrait Photo of Astrid. Quiet amusing
actually and I guess quiet her since she is in a frilly dress and superficially
nice but she then kept her bovver boots on and the angle of the shot sort of
emphases these. I can fully relate to the reluctance to be dressed up.

Inside all left hand pages of the booklet contain more pictures of Astrid.
Finally on the back cover of it Arjen does let us have one shot of him. A very
dark one that half hides his face in the shadows.

Not being the observant sort I almost missed the fact Arjen is shown on the
back of the CD too. He clearly isn’t keen on being too visible.

When I originally reviewed this I was working out which Ayreon track each song
was based on. I was pretty disgusted with myself for only getting about 6 out
of 10 correct. I do know them all now but I think it is a good quiz to try and
work them out so I won’t say. I will just review the album as new completely
new tracks. In reality they are 80% new.

Ok at last to the music: –

Estranged – The album start with a familiar Low Flute riff. There might be
Uillean Pipes too, but I doubt it on this track. The backing is a very moody
low-level synth. I consider this a scene setting track really. Kind of an intro
to the rest of the album. I believe the album is a kind of story or concept
but I must admit even the extra notes before each song in thee booklet I am
none the wiser. This song seems to be about someone changing as time goes on
and leaving the singer behind feeling sad that they can’t change to. I think
this is the softest song on the album it is certainly the simplest. Astrid’s
vocals are very nice but it is still just an intro to me and not really a "proper"
song.

Ashes – This is one of my favourite songs on the album. I guess simple things
please simple minds but I just love the combination of Arjen going chug-chug
on his guitar followed by a Cymbal crash. It’s the simple sort of hypnotic hook
that makes Computers Eyes my favourite Ayreon track. I don’t think I have much
idea what the song is about but the vocals are very good. There are fast running
synth rhythms going on in the background and Arjen takes a couple of solos.
The song picks up speed the further it gets in and drums coming towards the
end. It’s and excellent track and I am sure anyone liking Pink Floyd or Ayreon’s
Dream Sequencer album will love this track and the album as a whole.

High – Again this starts with flute and then the Uillean Pipes appear. (They
are a kind of bagpipe but much better sounding). This is another of my favourite
tracks. To me it seems to be someone wanting to loose their virginity and perhaps
their partner not being ready/willing to loose theirs. I have just restarted
the track as I am too slow at writing and I notice it was 30 seconds before
the flutes "Start the track". There were deep synth tones and the
noise of a children’s playground followed by a bass riff before the "start".
Again I find this a rather hypnotic track. I really like Astrid’s voice on this
one. There are strange little pronunciations that kind of make it hers. I don’t
really know how to describe her voice. It is very good though. I know Arjen
let her do all her own arrangements etc because he didn’t want to stifle her
creativity. "Just imagine if Dave Gilmour and tried to influence the young
Kate Bush" was his thinking. And in many ways I can see the similarity.

Cold Metal – Well this one is the most well known track to Ayreon fans having
been on Ayreonauts Only album. This track has made my top 50 tracks of all time.
The lyrics are so good. It seems to be that last words/thoughts of someone committing
suicide on a railway line. It is one of the heaviest tracks on the album and
in m view will fit any Ayreon album except Universal Migrator. Ah at last I
have heard how this is based on the song it was based on. When I first heard
the album I was disappointed it was only 80% new. To me Cold Metal was a completely
original track and until today I couldn’t hear anything that reminded me of
the original. I wasn’t listening to the background enough!

Fate – This is the first instrumental. The synths are very Arjen. He loves
these sorts of backing patterns and noises. So do I. About 2min 20 in Arjen
comes in with some clean guitar. It is very laid back, I guess ambient sort
of track a bit like the Title track of the Dream Sequencer. Towards the end
Arjen teases us with some low, I think backward, spoken vocals. Then the track
gets heavier with more clean guitar and good synth sounds. Finally the song
tampers off again. A very nice track. I guess a bit like early Pink Floyd in
a way

Sick Ceremony – Is this one about the lose of a loved one? I don’t know but
this is what I get from it. "She degusted on her way down" doesn’t
make a lot of sense to me but it is the line that comes to my head as soon as
the track starts. I really like the way it is sung for some reason. Arjen is
in heavy chug -chug mode on this one at the start. Until I saw him live the
other day I hadn’t really figured out it was guitar.’ I guess I just thought
it a keyboard or didn’t think at all. But it is interesting my perception of
what I am hearing now has been changed because I am clearer on certain instrument
voices. I guess it is like me not knowing who sang what in Supertramp until
Roger Hodgeson went solo and I knew his voice.

Lost Message – The final appearance of the Uillean Pipes and again moody deep
synths in the background. This is another of my favourites again. One line stands
out for the way it was sung "was she murdered by a man thinking that she
was just some bird". I can’t really guess what this is about.

Surreal – Some nice Bass sounds open this one. Then some lovely clean guitar
again. The lyrics on this are very brief but I can’t help wondering is this
is about some kind of incest. The notes before the song notes seem to disprove
me either.

Sweet Little Brother – This is Arjen’s other lapse of concentration into Cold
Metal type heaviness. And again I love the Lyric content. They are so thought
provoking and make you wonder what is going on in Astrid’s life to make her
come up with such interesting topics to write about. Again this a track I think
would fit musically anywhere in Ayreon. Great stuff.

Dreamer – This is the 2nd instrumental of the album although Astrid provides
‘Great Gig In The Sky’ type none word backing vocals. It’s not the only Floyd
reference as there is a Chromatic Scale run which sounds similar to an early
Floyd track and a Berlin period Bowie track. Of course a scale is a scale so
hardly specific to a song or an artist. It is very clear which track this is
based on but it has a new spin. It is mainly a work out for Arjen on guitar.
Great stuff.

The album is 51 minutes long and because I already knew cold Metal from for
Ayreonaut only it seems a bit too short to me. I would have liked another track
probably 2 more on it really. I guess I am greedy but I am clearly getting used
to listening to albums in CD length quantities as opposed to LP ones. I have
noticed a lot of older era musicians think 70 minutes is way too long for an
album, as people haven’t got the concentration. I guess it is also harder work
to get that amount of material written and of the same standard.

It will be very interesting to see how this album sells compared to Ayreon.
I hope it does well it is every bit a good. Perhaps fans of The Universal Migrator
album might find it too soft but I would have thought all other Ayreon fans
would love it and hopefully their will be a lot of non-Ayreon fans that like
if they can only get to hear it somewhere.