Monday, 25 July 2016

Music Review_Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind

ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
24 July 2016
Music Review: Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind (2016)
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816


Am pretty sure my admiration for progressive rock concept albums started back when I began seriously getting into collecting record albums.

As a kid in my single digits, and entering my teens, I had 45's (singles) of whatever bubble gum / novelty songs that caught my ear. At around age twelve, from hanging out with my school friends, and sometimes their older siblings, I became exposed to more of what they were playing on the FM radio stations, then the AM ones. Bottom line, rock n' roll was my thing. I'm drawn to music having a catchy melody, and many times over, with a solid beat.

My first real rock album; The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band (1967). Then came bands like Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, and Yes. Time wise for myself being the first half of the nineteen seventies. Records albums around then cost on the average of five dollars. Double albums more. To help keep in perspective, the minimum wage was under three dollars an hour.

My parents were both dead by my 12th birthday. I was thrown into foster care. No one gave me money. Having no real skills, I did what I could do to make a buck, so I could buy the things I wanted. This would include selling weed. A typical joint would go for a dollar. Rolling twenty in the morning, I'd have them gone by the evening. Doing that, and working full time as a dishwasher at age 16, I managed to keep myself in cigarettes, and I always had a pretty cool record collection. Saw a lot of concerts too. Even with not being able to play an instrument, music was definitely my thing.

An LP record as it was back then, and still is today, was typically a collection of songs. Whereas a single would play out, side A and side B at say ten minutes, an 33 RPM album would clock in playing both sides, at around two thirds of an hour. When playing LP's, I got into the habit of listening to the whole release, and wasn't into skipping around the record, only listening to the hits. Occasionally a song I labeled a stinker would be included in the mix, but I try not to focus on that too much, and just hang in there till the next track. This is where CD's were cool. One could program the player to not play a song(s) one disliked. No more having to walk over to the turntable, and moving the needle, if a song didn't interest you. I enjoyed the advancement in technology, but frankly it didn't really matter much to me. All that time I had trained myself to persevere, when I heard a tune I wasn't into. That and maybe I was too lazy to bother trying to learn how to program the newest advancements in playing music. Easier to put in the disc, press play, and let it go till it was over. I'm a CD guy nowadays. Vinyl to me, was always a pain in the ass. My CD count is in the thousands. And if a disc has more music on it that I don't like, more than I do, I simply just don't play it anymore.

One type record which was designed to be played from start to finish, and not skipped all around, was the concept album. This is where the lyrics were all about one idea. Like Yes' Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973). Some even told a story, such as Nektar's Remember The Future (1973), or Spock's Beard - Snow (2002). Many bands / musicians saw success doing this while others were mocked / laughed at; Styx - Kilroy Was Here (1983). My best loved concept albums were by keyboardist, Rick Wakeman. His 'Six Wives of Henry VIII' (1973),'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' (1974), and 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' (1975), was one solid piece of work, after another. The subjects of each release intrigued me. I got into how the stories were presented, and of course I dug the music. Another one I could not play enough times by Rick was his 1977 release, Criminal Record. Yes' Chris Squire (RIP), and Alan White both contributed to this record. The album contained three thirds of what was then Yes. Squire and White was one of the absolute best bass / drum teams in all rock n' roll music. They played together in and out of Yes for over forty years. These guys were amazing!

Uncle G Discusses … Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind


First off, I became aware of Leon Alvarado a couple years ago. Was sent an EP CD he put out called, 'Music From An Expanded Universe', for possible review. I ended up doing so praising it not only for its musical contents, but it's cover art as well. A year and a half later (give or take) I get another package in the mail with Leon's newest release. A forty one minute full length concept album entitled, 'The Future Left Behind.' Includes guest players Billy Sherwood (Yes - Circa:) on guitar, and a legendary musician I already mentioned; Rick Wakeman. He's credited with a Moog solo on the second track (Launch Overture), and extra keyboards. Seeing how Leon plays keyboards himself, it's figuring out, and then knowing the different styles of the two men to guess who's playing where. The majority of the keyboard work is Leon. That much I know. Leon also takes care of the drum work. On top of that, the sci-fi story is by him, and he writes all the all the songs on 'The Future Left Behind' except for one where he shares songwriting credit. That would be with guitarist Johnny Bruhns (Circa:) on a number called; To Be Loved. An outstanding acoustic guitar number performed by Johnny, who appears on that one track.

What I labeled a sci-fi story, takes place in the 22nd century, if my calculations are correct. The Earth as we know it, has gone to shit. Blamed on pollution, and overpopulation. The wealthy get to live life anew, being blasted off into outer space, and living in one of the many huge space cities, that orbit our planet, and also that of Mars. A work in progress for those there, and also for the poor people left behind. For they need to come up with a solution to the planet's problems, or die trying. We learn all this through a narrator. No singing, thus not through lyrics. Instead in between instrumental tracks, we hear the story unfold before us. A brilliant job done by Steve Thamer, who at first listen I thought was Michael Dorn (portrayed Worf on Star Trek: The Next Generation). Oops … my bad.

Music wise I have my favorite tracks. One would be 'Launch Overtune' that I also stated included the Moog playing of Mr. Rick Wakeman. Another song on here, 'The Ones Left Behind' reminds me of Rick, and his backup band; The English Rock Ensemble. And I really dig the last track; The Star Seekers.

Uncle G Rates … Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind

Using the one to five star rating system in which one star means it's absolutely dreadful, to five stars which means it's safe to spend your hard earned disposable cash on it, I rate Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind … 5 Stars! I wish in places it rocked out a tad harder. Genuinely, music wise, I find it hard to complain. Also, I can't say enough good words about the story. A solid futuristic, apocalyptic tale that inspires intelligent thought.

In closing, I strongly recommend to the consumer to shell out the extra money and get the physical CD. The total packaging really compliments what you hear. The artwork / photography stands out. Comes with a very well done booklet, that includes the story in written form, plus comic book illustrations. I can't say enough good things here. Leon Alvarado - The Future Left Behind, is really, really well done! Okay to buy the download as well. The rest so they say, is icing on the cake. 


For more information: http://www.leonplaysmusic.com

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Interview_Neal Morse

ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
Interview: Neal Morse (The Neal Morse Band)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

                                 Photo: Neal Morse

Intro: ClassicRockRadio.co.uk welcomes American multi-instrumentalist / singer / composer Neal Morse. A co-founder / past member of Spock’s Beard. A current member of progressive rock groups Transatlantic / Flying Colors. Has a successful solo career, in which Neal launched over a decade ago, a part of which consists of; The Neal Morse Band. The year 2015 gave us a new studio album written by all five members called; The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment. Was followed up by a successful tour. Now in 2016, stemming from that, a brand new 2 CD / DVD which includes a ‘making of documentary’ and the band in concert (same as audio). Also available on Blu-ray. Released by Radiant Records; The Neal Morse Band – Alive Again. It is our pleasure here at Classic Rock Radio to be able to ask Mr. Morse, some questions about this release, and of course while at it, some inquires about himself. Let us begin.

Q & A

Classic Rock Radio: The one hour and three minute long documentary, ‘Inside The Neal Morse Band 2015 Alive Again Tour’, covered roughly a five month time span. From a two day rehearsal with the band in Tennessee, to the end of the tour overseas. A brilliant fly on the wall look at what that was all like. One thing it didn’t address, was the creation of the set list. Now we’re told how your solo spot would change from one show to the next, with even the rest of the band members not knowing what you were going to perform each evening. The rest of the show seemed to be set in stone. Taking into account that you’re touring the group’s latest studio recording, The Grand Experiment (2015), so a given that some of those tracks get played, how did the rest of the song selections that made up the set list, come about?

Neal Morse: We kicked it around a lot, Mike always has a lot to do with the set lists. But, as I recall, on that tour we kept changing the encore slightly. But we couldn’t vary it that much as we had only learned so much material. But, I would say, as far as the set list goes, it was a band decision with Mike at the helm. As for my little solo acoustic spot, I really enjoyed changing that up every night. Some nights I didn’t know all the words, but it was still cool. It’s fun to be spontaneous you know?

Classic Rock Radio: Speaking of the set list, one song, ‘Harm’s Way’, was included from your time with the bearded ones; Spock’s Beard. Played flawlessly by The Neal Morse Band, as a matter of fact. Six Spock’s Beard studio albums to pick from, that you were involved with. It must have been difficult at best to select just one Spock’s Beard number, if that’s what was originally intended. Now keep in mind that I’m happy with your choice, so it isn’t like I’m complaining any. Why Harm’s Way?

Neal Morse: You’re right. We thought about a lot of different Spock’s songs to do. Someone suggested that one and I went with it because I can really feel that one right now for some reason. Some songs you really connect to at different times of your life, and that one I really felt connected to on the tour.

Classic Rock Radio: Do you think in future tours we might get to see The Neal Morse Band incorporate any Transatlantic, Flying Colors, or even a Dream Theater song into the show? Either answer, yes or no, could you please elaborate why?

Neal Morse: Sure! I’m sure we’ve done some Transatlantic before. At least “We All Need Some Light “and “Stranger In Your Soul”, but I can see us doing some of those songs. The reason why is because we all really love the music, and it’s nice to do some things that surprise the audience sometimes, and not just do your latest album. We always like to mix it up a little bit and I think the audience does too.

Classic Rock Radio: Speaking of Dream Theater, for those readers who are not aware of the story, how did you meet up with their ex-drummer Mike Portnoy, and how did it come about you two working together?

Neal Morse: Somewhere around ’97 or ’98, Mike called me on the phone. We had a mutual friend that gave him my phone number, and we had a very nice chat. I was really grateful because at that time he was saying such marvelous things about SB, I mean, he was just glowing about us in some of his interviews, so the first part of our conversation was me telling him how thankful I was that he was doing that for us! And then he mentioned that he was thinking about doing a side project with me and Jim from Fates Warning. Jim wasn’t available, and so I suggested Roine Stolt from the Flower Kings, and Mike brought in Pete from Marillion, and so Transatlantic was born. Since then Mike and I have made more than 20 albums together. Crazy, huh?

Classic Rock Radio: Hard to tell by just listening to the two audio CD’s that help make up The Neal Morse Band – Alive Again product. Yet another bonus of watching the DVD is witnessing your band do something I first saw done by progressive rock legends Jethro Tull, on their Songs From The Wood Tour. This would be the trading up of each others instruments. With y’all being skilled multi-instrumentalists, perhaps easy to do. For the audience, many fun moments. How did the idea come about to incorporate this bit into the show?

Neal Morse: Well, I knew right from the beginning that Eric and Bill were crazy good multi instrumentalists because when they auditioned on YouTube they sent in multiple audition tapes on different instruments. It was crazy! Plus they both sing great! Anyway, I always wanted them to show people all the ridiculous stuff that they can do, and Randy as well, while Mike goes to bass and me to the drums. Lots of fun! We call it the “switcheroo”.


Photo: Left to Right: Eric Gillette, Randy George, Neal Morse, Mike Portnoy, and Bill Hubauer

Classic Rock Radio: Seeing the certain hardships one might encounter from touring by watching the documentary that is accompanied with The Neal Morse Band – Alive Again DVD / Blu-ray, can one say the recording process is understandably better than hitting the road supporting the album? Also, in the documentary, and I also just read a new interview with Ringo Starr where he pretty much said the same thing, that the hassles of traveling are all worth it, just for the performance. Besides being exhausted, how do you feel at the end of the night after the gig is over? Also, are you heavy into self evaluation?

Neal Morse: Of course, it depends on the show. But, generally I feel pretty good after our gigs. Sometimes it’s just an amazing experience! When the spirit and the music touches just right, there is nothing like it! And other times you feel like maybe you missed it a little. But I try not to do too much self-evaluation. Because, many times you’ll find out later, at a gig you thought didn’t go so well, that someone’s life was changed! So, you just gotta flow with it as best you can, and be glad you can do it all!

Classic Rock Radio: One more question from watching the ‘Alive Again’ DVD. When the camera’s turn to the audience, it’s hard not to notice many of them with cell phones in hand. What’s your opinion on the subject? Are you okay with fans taking pictures / recording audio / video while watching the show on their cell phone screen, or would you personally prefer they turn them off, and experience the concert without them?

Neal Morse: Personally, being someone who films a lot of stuff himself, I don’t really mind. I think it’s just the way things are now anyway. Actually, it was years ago now, but someone on a comedy website. It said something like “wrestling battle of the Prog all stars” and it said “here comes Neal Morse, weighing in at 300 pounds. 180 pounds of his natural weight, and 120 pounds of camera and recording equipment he has strapped to his body to film and sell it later on his website!” Haha! So, far be it from me to give anyone a hard time about filming things! God bless you all.

Closing: On behalf of Classic Rock Radio and myself, we’d like to thank you Neal for the time answering our questions, and we wish you much continued success in whatever the future holds.

WebLinks:

Official Neal Morse Website:

www.NealMorse.com

Radiant Records:

http://www.radiantrecords.com/

Spock’s Beard Official Website:

http://www.spocksbeard.com/

Promotion: William James at www.glassonyonpr.com

Photos courtesy of www.NealMorse.com

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Classic Rock Radio Movie Review - The VVitch_A New-England Folktale

14 July 2016
Uncle G’s FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: The VVitch_A New-England Folktale (2015)
Age Suggestion: 16+

By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816


The odd spelling of 'The Witch' jumped out at me first; The VVitch. Followed by the subtitle; A New England Folktale. It certainly catches the eye, which I'm sure it was intended to do. I actually passed on this movie when first seeing it offered on Netflix, and then did so a few more times, before finally deciding to give it a go. After the third or fourth pass but continuing to notice the film's poster, I figured what the hell. And also, Netflix's summary sparked an interest. The story itself, takes place in the 17th century. After all, I am on record as saying I do like historical period pieces. It was also categorized, an indie horror movie, and as anyone knows who read my movie reviews before, know I also dig independent B horror films. Sometimes having less money, means the ones involved try harder. Doing more with less. Two quick examples; John Carpenter's Halloween / Sam Raimi's Evil Dead.

Opening up another browser, I decided to do a little more research before committing to the selection. I found out the film was released at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival (Winner: Best Director), and then made available to the masses, the beginning of this year. Is said to have cost about three million to make, and up to this point, grossed over thirteen times that according to the website, Box Office Mojo. Out on disc a couple months ago. Putting everything together, 'The Witch' certainly met my criteria. Added it to my Netflix queue, and before I knew it, the Blu-ray was in my snail mailbox. That evening, having some candy and a cold drink, I watched the previews that were also on the Blu-ray, and then settled in to view the main feature. 



The story starts showing a family in a courtroom like setting, being banished from the Puritan colony, in which they were making a home. Possibly, a difference of opinion. The next scene shows a beat up horse and carriage departing the settlement and venturing off to parts unknown. Inside, a middle aged man of strict religious beliefs, his wife, their four children of various ages, and all their earthly belongings. Off they went, heading deep into the forest to find themselves a new place to call home. Upon finding land that the elders believe will suffice their needs, they settle in, building a home and farm in the process. At first, it appears to be the ideal life. The couple has another child. But all is not what it seems to be. For sharing the same woods as them, is a witch. The nastiest of it's kind. The newborn disappears. Their harvest is deemed worthless. An older child after going missing, returns naked and evidently bewitched. These chain of events, have the otherwise tight knit family unit, question their own past actions, and what children that are left, accuse each other of wickedness. And all while this is going on, they had best keep an eye on their outside critters. For one especially is keeping an eye on them. 

I conclude after seeing 'The Witch' that it was superbly written and directed. All by one man, Robert Eggers. Unbelievably, his first time receiving director's credit. The man hit a home run! Besides a well written story, 'The Witch' is spot on regarding its verbal and visual authenticity. And as for the horror aspects of it, I can say that what's brought forth on the screen is capable of sending shivers of terror down the spine of many. Frankly, I was not expecting a movie of such high quality. One would think it launched Mr. Eggers and all those associated career's, well into Hollywood's stratosphere.

Uncle G Rates … The VVitch - A New-England Folktale (2016)

Using the same rating system as the IMDb website uses whereas one star means it's horrible, to ten stars which signals it being the best possibly created, I give the indie motion picture The VVitch - A New-England Folktale … 10 stars! Regarding the actors, the one portraying the family, especially deserve high praise. And a tip of the hat for those behind the costumes. The sets as well. A well done job indeed! Count me as as to being a new follower of writer / director Robert Eggers. His solid script, and a vision as to how it should be filmed, clinched my regard as to The VVitch - A New-England Folktale, being a motion picture that if a fan of these type films, simply shouldn't be missed.

Blu-Ray: Includes very good bonus features, including a documentary called, "The Witch: A Primitive Tale", which acts as a behind the scenes / making of the film, and also a very informative half hour Question and Answer Session with experts from the time period (1700's), plus the writer / director, and one of it's stars, the very beautiful and talented, Anya Taylor-Joy.








Saturday, 9 July 2016

New Music Review_MJ12 - MJ12_debut album

ClassicRockRadio.co.uk 
New Music Review
Spotlight: MJ12 - MJ12 (2016 Gonzo Multimedia)
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816


The four man ensemble that makes up MJ12, are all seasoned professionals, and as a group, been playing together for some time now. A little experimentation at first with the drums and bass remaining constant, and others coming in and out of the fold. A good time, I assume was had by all, but still the bassist and drummer had their favorites. Two guys, and when all was aligned just right, the quartet was formed. Next came music, written to fit their style, and for two whole days in the summer of 2015, at Shelter Island Studios in Manhattan, the foursome banged out the nine tracks that make up MJ12's debut album.

For those wondering about the name of MJ12, I'll let bassist Percy Jones explain; "We took the name of Majestik 12, which was supposedly a group of 12 scientists and engineers assembled in the late 1940's to investigate unidentified flying objects."

Then Mr. Jones goes on about their being an ongoing debate as if the group actually existed or not. True or not, what a cool ID for a band. Their music, a combination of jazz / fusion / progressive rock. All instrumental, with catchy song titles like, 'Guns And Pussy.' A pretty solid track by the way. All about weapons and felines (insert smiley face).

So I mentioned the incredible bass player, Percy Jones. From Brand X fame. For the first time in years, Brand X is getting ready to go back on the road. I'll supply a link to a website at the end of the story so one can find out details about that. But don't stop reading this yet. For MJ12 is a quartet with three other musicians, who are all as equally talented as the legendary bassist. If I may introduce; Stephen Moses (drummer / trombonist), Dave Phelps (guitarist), and rounding out the band, a man who played in some of the best jazz bands ever assembled on the Earth, saxophonist Chris Bacas. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is MJ12.

Uncle G Discusses … MJ12 - MJ12 (debut studio release)

Starts off hot right off the bat with a number called; Call 911. You hear Percy and Stephen right away. An almost eight minute track. In parts, David's guitar smokes. If I was going to compare his playing to someone's, just to give you, the reader a good indication as to what I was hearing, it be King Crimson's Robert Fripp. The man's certainly no slacker. Equally strong contributions throughout the whole disc. As are Stephen Moses. A drummer whose worth finding out more about.

Icing on the cake is Chris' saxophone. Gives the music a different sound altogether in contrast to having a keyboardist, in which some of these fusion line-ups have, that I also dig as a rule. Moving onto other tracks, Chris' playing also adds in my opinion an avant-garde feel. Keeps things fresh, and not typical.

Eight more selections follow. Some moments sounding more traditional jazz, while others more experimental. The second song, Bad American Dream Part 2, starts off with that Percy signature bass playing. Each note played, deep with a profound sound. Slow and melodic. All three band members follow suit. At the three minute mark it's Geritol time. Guitar screams. Chris Bacus is wailing. Percy and Mr. Moses are right there. Another fun listen, and we're just two numbers in.

The longest track is next; Talk Time. Just over nine minutes. On the proggy side. Kind of has a sci-fi movie score feel to it.

The rest of the CD is a mixture of compositions with each one having a place for each member to stand out, and to also emphasize the fact that MJ12 is a group that's on top of their game. Includes the aforementioned Firearms And Vagina … oh wait … my bad … Guns And Pussy. Original compositions. All group composed except 'Talk Time' which was written by saxophone extraordinaire; Chris Bacas.

Uncle G Rates … MJ12 - MJ12

Using the five star rating system in which one star means it's bargain bin material, to five stars which means it's a serious must have, I rate MJ12's debut studio release … 5 stars! A fusion lover's delight! It's a very well done / good sounding instrumental record. Speaking of, it reads along with the credits; "Note: No compression was applied to this recording, so don't be afraid to crank it up." For followers of this type of music, you can't lose.

Weblinks:

Brand X Official Facebook Page (reunion news): https://www.facebook.com/OfficialBrandX/

Percy Jones Official Website:
http://www.percyjones.net

To Purchase MJ12 CD:

http://www.gonzomultimedia.com/product_details/15925 (USA and Canada)

http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/product_details/15925 (Europe)

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Interview_Jon Anderson

26 June 2016
Jon Anderson Interview with Classic Rock Radio
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816


Intro

Classic Rock Radio: Congratulations on the new release / collaboration with Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings / Transatlantic) entitled, Invention Of Knowledge. For those unaware, it's available now through InsideOut Music, via your favorite music retailer.


Q & A

Classic Rock Radio: Invention Of Knowledge is a little over an hour long, and is comprised of four musical compositions. The longest being the title track, that comes in at almost twenty four minutes, to the shortest track which clocks in at around a little over eleven minutes. Was it imagined from the start that the songs on this new collaboration with Roine Stolt, be longer pieces of music, or did it just work out that way?

Jon Anderson: I always felt we should work on the long form musical journey concept right away...Roine's vision and mine were so on the same path...and after I sent him the songs I had in mind, he very quickly replaced some of the original music and sent his unique take on them, which really helped me add lyrical ideas and make everything connect and expand to create the design that it became, it was always a great surprise to hear the music evolve the way it did.

                          Photo: Roine Stolt_Jon Anderson

Classic Rock Radio: How do you know when doing lyrics for a song, that it's complete? When finished, do you ever go back to it for a re-write, or do you just move on to something new?

Jon Anderson: Interesting question, I seem to write lyrics as I sing that first idea, in my minds eye, I get a feeling of what I want to say, and the words flow out like a fountain of expression, later on as everything starts to click, I change a word or phrase, sometimes it's a last minute idea that needs a word changed...but it's always fun, and at times, I will listen to what I wrote 30 years ago like 'Song of Seven', and think 'wow, I was really dancing an interesting word dance, lyrically'.

Classic Rock Radio: As a long time fan of your music, I can comment that the music of Anderson / Stolt - Invention Of Knowledge sounds remarkable so much like a Jon Anderson album would / should sound like. I take it you were pleased with the outcome. Being progressive music, how would you compare it to some of your other past musical accomplishments?

Jon Anderson: I truly feel that this album is like the 'corner stone' of my artistic life...as though I can really move forward and challenge myself more and more, and I thank the musical Gods for introducing me to Roine..I'm very excited for people to relax and enjoy the journey...

Classic Rock Radio: Having worked in various studios creating music with groups / individuals, and then also by using a computer and sharing files back and forth as is how this album was created, what are the pros and cons of working each way?

Jon Anderson: Well as I say 'we are all on the same planet,' so the Internet is an amazing tool for progress, in a way it cuts out the meandering that can happen when you have a group of people looking for a musical or artistic breakthrough all in one room, I do remember the days, when I would go home, thinking, 'that was a waste of a day'.

With this new form of creating via the Internet, I find it so much easier to go into my studio, or on my 'laptop' download the music from someone out there, and all of a sudden I'm singing ideas that I would never of thought of, that's the beauty of the modern studio system..

Classic Rock Radio: Lastly, and knowing how busy you have been keeping yourself as of late, do you think it possible that Anderson / Stolt might be hitting the road for some concert dates? If not a full tour, then just maybe a few shows for recording.

Jon Anderson: I really feel it would be just the best to perform 'Invention of Knowledge', plus another couple of songs we didn't finish, and maybe 'Open' with a large choir and orchestra, I think it would be a dream to do that.



Official Jon Anderson Website: www.jonanderson.com

Official Flower King (Roine Stolt) Website: http://www.flowerkings.se/



Saturday, 2 July 2016

Music Review_Armonite - The Sun Is New Each Day

ClassicRockRadio.co.uk New Music Review
01 July 2016
Spotlight: Armonite - The Sun Is New Each Day
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816


One day here recently I get a package in the mail, all the way from Italy. I opened it to find a music CD, and a very politely written letter asking me if I'd be so kind to do a review. Made a positive impression. Along with the request, it also came with a press release. Having just made a cup of coffee, I take a sip, and give it a read. Off the bat it states that the recording was produced by Paul Reeve. I recognize the name having seen it in the credits of Muse's debut studio album; Showbiz (1999). One of my favorite releases from Muse to this day. 

Next I see that Armonite - The Sun Is New Each Day, was mastered by Geoff Pesche, at the Abbey Road Studios. That sparked my curiosity, in which I find out while doing a little research that he's worked with a army of talent, including one of my favorite musicians, Mike Oldfield.

Just about hooked at this point, I decided to research Armonite itself. Out of Italy, Armonite was formed in 1999. Labeled a prog-rock group. They put out one album (Inuit), toured a bit, and called it quits. Fifteen years later, two members of that project, the classical-trained violinist (electric; The Sun Is New Each Day) Jacopo Bigi, and keyboardist / composer Paolo Fosso decided to bring Armonite back, and doing so added a couple new players to fill out the group. One was Dutch drummer Jasper Barendregt, and a name I knew immediately, bassist Colin Edwin. This guy played with Porcupine Tree. I had the luck and the pleasure of being in the front row, standing right in front of Colin back in 2005 when the band played in Houston Texas, and was touring their eighth studio album, Deadwing. His playing was simply extraordinary. And then I got to see Porcupine Tree again, also in Houston, when they toured their next studio album; Fear Of A Dead Planet (2007). In my opinion, one of the best progressive hard rock albums of the 21st Century. So what's not to like? I advanced Armonite - The Sun Is New Each Day, to the front of the line. Started giving it repeat plays.

                            Photo: Paolo Fosso_Jacopo Bigi

This new Armonite studio offering, The Sun Is New Each Day, clocks in at around thirty-one minutes. Consists of nine tracks. All instrumental with some slight verbal audio thrown in, which compliments the music nicely. The band keeping to its roots, it's indeed a true progressive rock album. Very keyboard heavy. The electric violin gives it a unique sound. Music rocks! Nothing boring that motivates sleep. And the drums and bass are spot on, as expected with musicians of this caliber. 

Uncle G Rates … Armonite - The Sun Is New Each Day

Using a five star rating system, whereas one star means it's stinks, to five stars which means it's a must have, and especially if into instrumental prog-rock music, I rate Armonite - The Sun Is New Each Day … 5 stars! This is an excellent recording. Is enjoyable from start to finish. And for a limited time, is completely FREE for the taking. No shit! It's as easy as going to the band's website, and following the easy instructions on how to download. Reason being is simple. To help ensure that the music itself, gets heard. A BIG expense for Armonite to absorb, but is hoped to be reimbursed by fans buying tickets going to their shows. Dates in which can be found on the group's website. I strongly recommend downloading 'The Sun Is New Each Day', and if possible, supporting the band anyway one can.

Honorable Mention: Cool cover artwork by AquaSixio (Cyril Rolando)

Website - http://www.armonite.com

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/armonitemusic

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Classic Rock Radio Movie Review - The Boy

28 June 2016
Uncle G's FUN Movie Reviews
Spotlight: The Boy (2016)
By: Gary "Uncle G" Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816



Released in the beginning of this year, The Boy, in which I caught this past weekend on Blu-ray thanks to Netflix, kept me glued to my television screen, from start to finish. One reason being it's lovely star; Lauren Cohan. Followers of the television show, The Walking Dead, will easily recognize the name, for Lauren plays Maggie Greene, a character that was introduced to the program on season two of the drama. In the film, The Boy, she plays Greta, a young woman who leaves the States, and goes to the United Kingdom to be a nanny. While doing so, escaping a relationship with a seriously controlling guy, who when angry, like many other dicks out there, becomes violent. Enough so that Greta had to have a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching or contacting her. Not that it stops him, but I'm getting ahead of myself. A lot of disturbing, and spooky shit happens up to the time we finally get to meet the horse's ass. Once we do, it's obvious why she left the United States (Montana) to escape him. 

'The Boy' is described as a ninety eight minute psychological horror film. Written by Stacey Delay, and directed by William Brent Bell, who was also behind the scary 2012 film on exorcisms; The Devil Inside. A movie I admit I have not seen yet, but after seeing 'The Boy', I looked up what other movies Mr. Bell directed, and finding that, added it to my Netflix queue. Am looking forward to seeing it. Back to 'The Boy' , besides Lauren Cohan, it also stars Rupert Evans (Hellboy). He plays a likeable sort, who delivers groceries on a weekly basic to the Heelshire estate. The rest of the cast is a rather small group. A fine job by all involved. I especially liked Jim Norton, and Diana Hardcastle who portrays Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire, the elderly, parents of eight year old Brahms, aka 'The Boy'.

Now I mentioned Lauren Cohan's character, being a nanny. And I mentioned the people she works for, the Heelshire's, and their eight year old son, Brahms. But I didn't yet say the story takes place in modern day, while Brahms was killed in a fire, back in 1991. So the eight year old boy, Greta finds out soon enough, is a life size porcelain doll, being treated by the Heelshire's like it was a real human little boy. And before leaving Greta with the doll / boy, she's informed Brahms is not like any normal child. Lucky for Greta, Brahms approves of her. Something he didn't do with the rest of the nannies who applied for the job. Greta is pleasing to the eyes, whereas the others might have not been? Or maybe they just thought it ridiculous to babysit a toy, which in return upset the young lad? And as peculiar as this all is, Greta needs the job / money. So having the approval of the Heelshire's as well, who by the way appear quite wealthy, and pay weekly in cash, they go off on holiday, leaving Greta with Brahms, and the rather large home to themselves. The first getaway in ages for the older couple.


                                             Photo: Lauren Cohan as Greta

As what any normal person might do in this situation, for as soon as the parents of 'The Boy' are gone, Greta immediately concludes the doll as creepy, and covers it up with a blanket, proceeding to do more housesitting, than babysitting. Her routine a normal one, ignoring not only Brahms, but also the daily rules regarding caring for the pretend eight year old boy. Something Brahms don't like, and slowly but surely makes her aware of it.

                                                  Brahms aka 'The Boy'

Rated PG-13, 'The Boy' does all it can to focus on it's star Lauren Cohan in various stages of undress, without having her downright showing any naughty bits. The same formula with countless of horror movies before this one. We see Lauren in her panties briefly. We see Lauren in the shower. We see Lauren wearing only a towel. We see Lauren wearing a nightie that from the top half, leaves little to the imagination. And for those with foot fetishes, we see Lauren, or a stand in, for several seconds walking barefoot across the floor. No complaints from me. Not that I'm into feet. A movie's purpose, at least in this sense, is to entertain. Where some actresses are just eye candy, Lauren Cohan is not only a pretty lady, but she's a skilled, talented actress as well. Her character Greta over time starts to believe the doll, is real. And that's when things start to get really interesting.

Uncle G Rates … The Boy (2016)

Using the same one to ten star rating system that the IMDb website uses, whereas one star means it sucks, to ten stars in which means it's a cinematic masterpiece, I give the feature film 'The Boy', a solid … 8 stars! Watching it, I did kind of feel like I been there, and done that before. Whereas I'm older and seen a shitload of horror movies in my life, someone younger might think differently. The movie itself was a success financially, and served as a nice vehicle to show that Lauren Cohan could be a box office draw. Is just as good in my opinion as actress Jennifer Lawrence, and as I already implied, way more pleasing to the eyes. But then, I always preferred brunettes over blondes.

Official Website

http://theboymovie.tumblr.com