Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes (2014)


As Seen on the Website of Classic Rock Radio (UK)

Originally Published: 07 January 2015

Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews

Spotlight: Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes (2014)

By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown

Twitter @GBrown0816


Peter Banks Empire - The Mars Tapes - cover

Imagine my panic when, on the day I set aside to write about Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes, that it’s revealed that the second disc of the two-disc set is…MISSING! Lucky for me, I knew where it was. In an automobile that I rented and gave back to its rightful owner the day before. Listened to both discs driving up and back to San Antonio during the recently passed Christmas holidays. When returning the vehicle I made double sure to look and make sure I didn’t forget anything, neglecting to check the fancy CD player we used the entire four hundred mile round trip. Would have sucked if the CD was lost/thrown away.

A couple days after returning the vehicle, a happy ending took place as I was reunited with the disc at the Enterprise Car Rental place in Katy, Texas. Nice people over there. In the meantime, while missing the second disc, I played the first disc a few more times. Worked out fine, really. Oh, wait…I caught a nasty ass cold, and after that had three back teeth removed in my lower jaw (receiving stitches in my mouth). The pain once the novocaine wore off…Holy Shit! I promise myself that I’d NEVER do that EVER again. It hurt so much. The first few days after was pretty unbearable 24/7. Then every day after that, a tad less painful than the day before. In total, about five or six weeks of agony! And all through this, I’m playing mostly this new Empire / Peter Banks archival two CD project. Now having survived, I can say it helped me through by rearranging my focus. Shifted my attention onto something else. Along with some hot tea and honey, Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes became a cool distraction from everything I was physically having to deal with. Onward through the fog.

I would be remiss if I neglected to mention that I once worked with Peter Banks, trying to help him promote an autobiography, he penned with the help of William (Billy and not William regarding the authorship recognition first name) James; titled ‘Beyond And Before…The Formative Years of Yes.’ This is back at the turn of the century. Sometime after publication, I lost touch. Enjoyed the contact I had with Peter. With him in the United Kingdom and myself in the United States, the phone and fax machine was our main source of communication. Peter was always nice to me, at least until one of my good friends royally screwed up involving getting his wife (after Sidonie) and himself free admittance into an Alice Cooper show, and then hanging out after the show together. The whole thing planned ahead of time. Very professional actually. Never happened. My friend got so involved with what he was doing that he totally forgot about Peter and his wife, leaving them hanging at the door. My part was being a go-between, and setting everything up. I drew up an itinerary, that my musician friend, totally ignored, being caught up in all the excitement. Wasn’t on purpose at all. Was seriously disappointed with the outcome. Again, nothing I directly did. Frankly, I’d be super pissed as well with the traveling that was required, and be it all for nothing. So there went my contact with Peter. Still, I remained a loyal listener. Up to the end, he stayed active, and his playing was still top-notch. Broke my heart hearing the news of Peter’s passing (2013).

Think how shocked I was when towards the end of 2014, here comes along some unreleased Empire music. Of course, I’m interested. Could my review be biased? A distinct possibility, so much so that I’d say YES myself. Be it as it may, I decided the BEST thing to do would be if I went down another path. Therefore, instead of a straightforward review, the following are my impressions, listening to what I believe is one of the best archival projects to come down the pike in a while. From a band led by a man labeled the architect of Progressive Rock. Empire’s music encompassed many styles even containing a hint of what was popular on the charts via record company/companies request. Remember disco? A tune called ‘Dancing Man’ comes to mind that Empire did. Rehearsed to play live as well, as a part of a Empire medley. Included in The Mars Tapes (disc one) for your listening pleasure.

Imagine if you will, a professional, established progressive rock musician trying to jump-start a band to his liking, when music not of his kind, is ruling the airwaves. The promotional norm at the time by newer and younger rockers was to simply talk shit about established bands. One example was labeling the chart toppers “Dinosaurs”. This said with intent to kill interest in them, while at the same time boosting their own popularity. The musical tide was surely changing, and unfortunately, just never in the direction Peter or Empire needed it to go.

Fact is Peter Banks Empire was a band that had three major attempts at becoming a commercial musical act, and failed at doing so, ALL three times. In their defense, years after the band broke up and went their separate ways, the music they created did see the light of day. Three CD’s labeled Empire…featuring Peter Banks, Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III. One Way Records in the 1990’s put these out. Yours truly being the BIG Peter Banks fan, of course purchased all three at the time of their release. Out of print and collector’s items nowadays. Note, knowing I would write something about the newest P.B’s Empire release (The Mars Tapes), I re-acquainted myself with these recordings recently. The third CD of demos/studio recordings, Mark III, compliments this recent release very well. Same musician roster. Here’s the band practicing what would have been a pretty cool setlist if they even got a chance to perform anywhere in front of a paid crowd. And they would have had that, had Mark I have been released properly, and money spent promoting the song, ‘Out Of Our Hands’ been made a single. Could have been a hit, or at least got respected airplay. Its success would have launched the band towards popularity, and that is what makes money and keeps things afloat. As humans mature, sometime during the process most of us learn, and it’s usually always the hard way, that hopes and dreams cost money. Adds up quickly. As does time in a professional recording studio.

Empire had a six-year history with major occurrences happening between projects. This was Peter’s group. He devoted his all to this. The time frame was 1974 to 1980. When the financially, bad times hit, he slept on people’s couches while playing salesman, trying to get the band it’s BIG break. From his own personal accounts, Peter’s attitude came off as ‘all or nothing’. Unlike other rock bands he participated in like Yes or Flash, Empire as a whole had no one to answer to but Peter. With authority came responsibility. At times the money was there, and at others, it wasn’t. Unfortunately, in the business world in which music, like it or not, is a BIG player, deals fall through. Peter’s actions dictated the man certainly tried, doing all he could to make Empire not only the band he wanted, but a success as well. A hard working / well rehearsed musical group that made chart topping albums, and went out on tour. A band that actually played live gigs in front of paying crowds. None of that ever happened to Empire. I conclude what a major shame that was, because the material when presented in the right environment was there. I base this on the three (Mark I, II, and III) now Out of Print (OOP) Empire factory pressed from the now-defunct One Way Records CDs that I have. All these years later since their release is further testimony to a conclusion, with the double CD; Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes.

Let’s talk content. The two CD’s that make up Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes amount to around ninety minutes of unreleased music from what would be the third major, and I guess final line-up of the group. Rehearsal tapes recorded at Mars Studios in Los Angeles, California. Music that represents not only the three past failed studio recordings, but Peter as its star as well. He was the music guy, and his once wife and Empire’s lead singer, Sydney Foxx (nowadays Sidonie Jordan) had the task of doing lyrics. Having been in all three incarnations of Empire, it was her band as well as it was Banks. The truth was it was her lyrics and singing that provided the cohesiveness the band needed. Since her Empire days, Sidonie has seen a variety of success, as did the bands’ drummer, Mark Murdock. He’s currently rocking Tokyo, Japan, with a group called Machine Messiah in which material like that found on this CD, could be heard/seen in concert. Mark also is very involved with a very cool progressive/jazz-rock band called, Cymbalic Encounters. Their sophomore studio release will be out here shortly. Includes Percy Jones and John Goodsall from a band Phil Collins was in at one time called; Brand X. As for the others involved with Empire, we are after all talking a few decades ago; R.I.P.

Did I just speak his name? One of the best drummers in prog-rock history, Mr. Phil Collins is included in Empire’s history, being a session man in the band’s beginning days. Friends of Peter’s, it was another band he was in called Genesis that kept him from perhaps being Empire’s full-time drummer. As an admitted fan of Empire, be it whatever line-up, featuring Peter Banks, I just think it’s so cool he contributes. Makes for an excellent footnote. A man behind the drum kit that I would have loved to have at least once witnessed in person, seeing him play live. With everything else I witnessed over the decades, it’s hard to believe I missed something like that. A lifelong friend with Empire’s final drummer, Mark Murdock also. Phil rocks! Good singer/showman also. Oh…on The Mars Tapes, Mr. Collins appears on disc two. On a song called ‘Sky At Night’. A beautifully layered prog-rock song if there ever was one. Sydney / Sidonie’s vocals shine here, and I dig the tabla playing (by Sam Gobal). Another one with hit potential, and I bet would have been cool to see them do in concert. Give the prog rock band Renaissance a run for their money.

Uncle G Rating: Using the one to five-star rating system with one star pretty much meaning, “pass”, to five stars meaning it’s cool to spend your hard earned cash on, I rate Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes – 5 Stars! From the concept, which would include an awesome representation via the artwork that accompanies this release, by Paul at Studio 3 (as listed in the CD’s credits). Makes for slick looking promo ads as well. A GREAT idea using an obvious Sci-Fi twist based on the name of the studio. Nice work! Progressive rock and Outer Space do go together nicely.

Speaking of Mars, a couple instrumentals found on the second disc of The Mars Tapes by Peter Banks Empire, captures the spirit of the project. The first being a tune called ‘Ascending To The Planet Mars’. Songwriting credits go to Peter and the whole band. And also containing the same spirit is a song called ‘The Fall Of The Empire’, which gets my attention every time played. Always trying to be honest, I LIKE the second disc of Peter Banks Empire – The Mars Tapes more than the first. Different listeners, different reactions. Remember, I’m more into the actual music itself. It’s Peter’s guitar playing that holds my focus. All other players were outstanding, and having to be so to keep up with Peter in the first place.

Note: Please understand what an archival project is before paying all that money for postage. You know, should one be buying the physical CD itself. Available for official download also. The recordings themselves reflect recording devices and techniques reflective of the time the music was recorded. Just pointing out the obvious. Saying that, sounds very well being blasted out of a powerful home stereo system. Comparable or better to that of the One Way Record releases. On the negative side, a couple songs could have had better endings, and not sound so like they abruptly stop. Maybe could have faded out sooner? Maybe due to glitches in the source tapes themselves? A wild guess really. I once was involved with a Billion Dollar Babies three-disc CD archival project called, Complete Battle Axe (2002). Learned many valuable lessons, helping Michael Bruce with that one. Another story for another day. Back to the way a couple songs ended, it’s really the only bad thing I got to say about the whole project. Having worked on an archival project before, was taking an above novice educated guess as to why.

Before this turns into a two-parter, I sign out forever a fan of Peter Banks music. His sound will outlive us all. The possibility of a human being on the planet Mars listening to music Peter was involved with, or better yet, this very recording, will increase as time goes by. In the vast far reaches of outer space…may the vibes proceed the jive. Isn’t that Seventies sounding?

Trevor Rabin – Jacaranda

As Seen On
First Published: 28 July 2012
Spotlight: Trevor Rabin – Jacaranda
Music Review by Classic Rock Radio (UK) American Correspondent Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816


Trevor Rabin - Jacaranda - cover

Then: I, like many other YesFans became aware of Trevor Rabin back when the hit album 90125 came out. Read the name in the credits. When the tour came I checked it out. Yes was now a band with a new focus. They had a hit song with Owner Of A Lonely Heart, and the album was making the charts. All seemly guided by a very competent new guitarist. Not only did he play guitar, but other instruments as well. An all around multi-instrumentalist. Add to that, songwriter. He says ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ came to him while sitting on the toilet. Plus he sings. All this he does very well. A talented musician and performer.

Trevor stayed with Yes, appearing on three other studio releases; Big Generator, Union, and Talk. At the end of the Talk tour, Mr. Rabin resigned from the band to focus on becoming a movie score composer. I always personally loved the medium myself. I grew up admiring the composing skills of John Williams. Another 20th century Beethoven. His scores equated to some of the best classic pieces even written. Typically performed with a symphony.

Not to be confused with songs that appear in movies. A song in a movie would, later on, appear on the film’s soundtrack. Keep in mind, a soundtrack is not a score. A score is typically original music composed and performed just for the film. Could also include dialogue or sound effects from the movie. Think Vangelis – Blade Runner.

When you think of the film Jaws (original score by John Williams), the music you hear in your head is likely to be the main theme which was composed by Williams. The music was meant to envision a shark attack. A short and very effective instrumental.

An example of a song in a movie that would appear on a follow-up soundtrack could be; Aerosmith’s – I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing. Was in the 1998 disaster film; Armageddon. Was a big hit for the band. Appeared in the actual movie during some mushy love scene.

The score or the original instrumental music heard in the background of the film Armageddon, was composed by Trevor Rabin. His first real BIG hit in films. So being a fan of both Aerosmith and Rabin’s, I ended up purchasing both the soundtrack and the score from the film.

After a while, the scores were becoming hard to find or were too highly priced to keep up getting them all. I do have a small collection anyway of his film work.

Here’s a sample of titles that Trevor did the music for:

The Glimmer Man (1996)
Con Air (1997) …with Mark Mancina…before that Trevor also helped Mark with his score to the film, Twister (1996).
Armageddon (1998)
Jack Frost (1998) …does a cameo as Trevor, The Jack Frost Band Lead Guitarist.
Deep Blue Sea (1999)
Gone In 60 Seconds (2000)
Remember The Titans (2000)
The 6th Day (2000)…does commentary on the DVD
Rock Star (2001)
Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)
National Treasure (2004)
Flyboys (2006)
Snakes On A Plane (2006)
National Treasure: Book Of Secrets (2007)
Get Smart (2008)
I Am Number 4 (2011)

Add to this, his guest appearances over the years; Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Manfred Mann, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Seal, Paul Rodgers, Rick Wakeman, and Roger Hodgson just to name a few. And by the way, all this is NOT everything Trevor has ever done. The information I listed, just an attempt to answer the question as to who Trevor Rabin is. People ask me this. So there, in a nutshell, is my answer. Trevor has an official website. Additional information can be found there. I recommend bookmarking/keeping up. A player in the world of classic rock. Someone whose CD’s I automatically purchase based on past performances. My opinion is he helped resurrect the band Yes. Without his help, the relaunch of the group would have never happened, or been anywhere as successful. Worked out well for both. Yes needed the new blood, and Rabin needed a place he could shine.

Now: In May of this year, Trevor released what would be his fifth solo record; Jacaranda. To compare it to previous solo efforts would not be fair. Trevor’s matured as a musician. Not so he’s boring anyone to death. He’s been at this game for a few decades now. The man’s progressed. Kind of funny since he’s made a name for himself doing progressive pop type songs. Where some of our greats remain the same, Trevor’s taken his playing, and composing to a whole other level. In my past columns, I made mention of Twenty Century Beethoven’s. Twenty First Century now. Here’s old school showing itself. Musicians whom I would consider among the ranks of the great classical composers of yesterday. Two Hundred years from now I bet a symphony orchestra on another planet performs the music of this man.

Jacaranda: An almost all instrumental that covers a wide range of different musical styles. Worth every penny I paid for it. When’s the last time you could say that about a CD you purchased?

I knew I’d be writing this review on here. It’s impossible to comment about anything intelligently unless you know at least a little something about the subject matter. So I listened to this CD at least twenty times within the past few days. In the process, I have gotten to know it really well. I love instrumentals. I like when things are changed up some. Which could explain my getting into progressive rock as much as I do. I wrote a few notes alongside song titles. So to cut the suspense, I’ll tell you ahead of time I like Rabin’s Jacaranda very much. Here’s some of why.

Spider Boogie — Quick picking fun jam.
Market Street — Final Eyes 2. At times a similar tone or rhythm that reminded me of.
Anerley Road — Old style start — dream like jazz style — a solid song.
Through The Tunnel: Ball’s to the wall moments.
The Branch Office — nice melody.
Rescue: Very Mike Oldfield like. In a way too beautiful for words.
Killanney 1 & 2 — Piano playing that rivals Vangelis or Wakeman.
Storks Bill Geranium Waltz — like a song heard and applauded 300 years ago.
Me And My Boy — it’s a rocker !! Multi-layered & very cool.
Freethought — feelin’ happy.
Zoo Lake — lazy feeling in an old fashion kind of way.
Gazania — Happy ending.

Trevor plays almost just about everything you hear on this CD. It’s simply incredible. He’s a magnificent player in every sense of the word. Classic rock fans take note. Two current players accompanying Jeff Beck lately are found on here; Vinnie Colaiuta, and Tal Wilkenfeld. Trevor in the liner notes, remarks how happy he was with their appearance on here. Good job producing. They can be heard and enjoyed.

If the song titles sound or read a little strange, it’s due to this CD being autobiographical. In the liner notes on each song, Trevor makes comments with a lot of them being stories of his growing up in Johannesburg, South Africa. Uncle G’s favorite one is from a song called; Zoo Lake. It reads in part: When I was around 17, we use to go out on a rowing for 20 cents an hour and smoke some pot. Hard place to be stopped in the middle of the lake”.

For the classic rocker whose looking to branch out some. For everyone else who likes good music. Hopefully, it won’t be so long between solos for us to get the next one. A fantasy concert would be Trevor doing music from Yes and his films. I’d like to see that, and maybe for one night Trevor conducting the Boston Pops Orchestras. I love to hear them do Endless Dream.

Uncle G’s CD Rating: From one to five stars…Trevor Rabin’s Jacaranda: 5 stars !!

Official Trevor Rabin Website

Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie (Self-titled) Music Review

Spotlight: Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie (Self-titled)

By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown

Twitter @GBrown0816

Buckingham McVie - (album cover)

Just recently I was sent a link to a behind the scenes documentary on the making of a new ‘Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie’ album. First news I heard of this. So I viewed the almost 18 minute (well made) video and made a mental note that when the album became available, that I would make an attempt to give it a listen.

A few days later and I saw a ‘first listen’ announcement compliments of National Public Radio online. Made a tweet about it to alert all my classic rock friends. From then till now I’ve been taking advantage of that kindness and giving the ‘Lindsey Buckingham_Christie McVie’ self-titled album, multiple listens. Is not the usual rock album I favor/review, that I am known for. The music here is categorized: pop rock. Isn’t my usual cup of tea, so therefore I am not labeling it ‘pop-rock’ as it would be meant in a derogatory fashion. When it comes to music, we all have our thing. I’m more drawn to hard, heavy metal, instrumental, and progressive rock more than any other styles of rock n’ roll music. That does not mean that I can’t acknowledge/appreciate good sounds when I hear it. Under the ‘pop rock’ umbrella, millions if not billions of dollars are made every year in the music industry. Stupid to completely ignore, at least for a journalist like myself who covers pop culture in general.

I first learned of the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Fleetwood Mac, back in 1977 when their mega-popular album ‘Rumors’ was released. Age wise, I was 15 years old. My favorite song off it; The Chain. Interesting fact … ‘The Chain’ was the only tune on ‘Rumors’ that was a group composition.  

When the follow up, Fleetwood Mac – Tusk (1979) came out, I purchased the ambitious double album initially on 8-Track. How lucky for teens today that they don’t have to deal with that shitty technology. In between clicks, I over time memorized every song on it. Of course, I had my favorite numbers (the title track Tusk_Sisters Of The Moon), but this write-up isn’t about that particular release. I do recommend if not already having in your rock collection, to add both Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and Tusk. Avoid the old 8 tracks if possible. Goes without saying that the entire Fleetwood Mac album catalog is worth having.

“Uncle G” discusses … Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie (self-titled album)

Released today (June 9th), a new duet album by legendary rock musicians, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. Their first album together where the focus is on them, together as a real duo act. Both known for being in a band that sold countless of records, and whose songs the classic rock station I write for, play every day; Fleetwood Mac. Along for the ride on Buckingham_McVie (2017) is one of the best rhythm sections in all recorded pop-rock music. And also from the group Fleetwood Mac; John McVie (bass), and Mick Fleetwood (drums and percussion). The only other musician credited to Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie is Mitchell Froom (keyboards).

Ten songs make this album, with a healthy combo of material from both featured musicians. Lindsey contributed five songs in which he sings lead vocals, while Christine brings along two songs she wrote herself, and then has three co-writing credits along with Mr. Buckingham. Christine does lead vocals on four songs, and then shares that duty along with Lindsey on what can be perhaps my favorite song on here; Too Far Gone.

Many solid consistencies with this almost forty minute modern pop-rock masterpiece.

For the record, on the new Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie release, the highly skilled drums/percussion of Mick Fleetwood shines, while maintaining the flow, John McVie’s bass work is spot on. Every song!

The melodies and chorus’ are memorable to the point of where I should warn … eargasm material included.

The lyrics, poetry/life reflections, it should be noted, is something one can play aloud around kids, old people, and here in America, Republicans.  

Listening with a very good set of headphones (Sennheiser), the finished product of what happened in the studio once the audio started, presented itself. The album itself has a nice crisp sound, where one can hear each member’s participations precisely as their performance(s) was meant to be heard. The entire ten-song recording has a nice flow, whereas the songs advance, and compliment each other. Playing the album from start to finish makes two-thirds of an hour fly by rather quickly.

Out of the ten songs, there are tracks that sound very much like Fleetwood Mac. The third track entitled, In My World, is one of them. If forty years ago this would be a huge hit on the radio. One of those songs they would play every 15 minutes, throughout the whole day. Track seven is another one; Lay Down For Free.

I got to mention the closing track; Carnival Begin. Clocks in as the longest composition on the album. Has a slow, mellow prog-rock vibe to it. Chill out with whatever adult libation you are into, and turn up the volume. Just what the doctor ordered. Additionally, and being wishful thinking, I’d love to see this song live in concert, along with ‘Too Far Gone’. Would be fun times!

“Uncle G” rates … Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie (Self Titled 2017)

Using a one to five-star rating system, whereas one star means it belongs in the cut-out bin, to five stars which means you can safely spend your hard earned cash on it, “Uncle G” rates Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie … insert a Mick Fleetwood drum roll … 5 stars!

The musicianship involved is what you’d expect from professionals who survived the music business, and turned what they do into an art form. Lindsey Buckingham excels on acoustic guitar, as well as electric. Christine McVie … I think I have a crush on her. So talented a piano and keyboard player, and with the voice capable of giving someone goosebumps. Having John McVie and Mick Fleetwood’s participation, was a smart move. After all, it’s the end result that counts most. No, it’s not a new Fleetwood Mac album. Hopefully, the classic line-up has at least one more studio album in them to release. And damn soon (by the end of 2018). But in the meanwhile, this new Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie should help carry over any follower of Fleetwood Mac jonesing out for new material. In closing “Uncle G” predicts that if allowed (which also means being promoted properly), and played on decent sound equipment, that Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie (self-titled duet album) should do the same as the music that these people were involved in decades ago; entertain the masses.

OH … sell a shitload of albums/CD’s also, but that is an entirely different thing. Another story, for yet another day.

Helpful Weblinks

The Official Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie Website

The Official Lindsey Buckingham_Christine McVie Website

Bonus Video (The Making of the Album… Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie)

Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews: Edible Report (#07)

Recommended Age: 21 +
Uncle G’s FUN 420 Reviews: Edible Report (#07)
Company: Highly Edible (CannaPunch)
Type of Edible Item: Candy Jells
Name: Golden Strawberry Pucks
Contents: 10 Pieces 25 mg THC (Medicinal)
Story and Incidental Photography: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Verts - Strawberry Pucks (2017 04 23)

One day while in Verts Neighborhood Dispensary, located in beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado, my eyes fixated on a rather popular cannabis edible; Highly Edible – Golden Strawberry Pucks. Made by the nice people at CannaPunch. I first learned of them when writing about Dutch Girl – Caramel Waffles (Stroopwafel). Small world. That’s a CannaPunch product as well. I launched the ‘420 Reports’ with this:

“Edible Report #01” … am still receiving GREAT feedback. Thanks to ALL for that.


I started off by practicing what I preach. In doing so, it made me like these jellies right off the bat. The first thing I learned first hand about the item was I could easily regulate my first dose. A simple butter knife helped me cut the first ‘strawberry puck’. I was very careful in doing so. A quarter sized piece (6.5 mg THC). It was early in the evening. I was staying home conducting this test. Jamming out! I love music! When I felt the edible kick in, I was listening to Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells (1973). One of my all time favorite albums. A snippet (intro) was used in the highly acclaimed horror movie: The Exorcist. This 20th century masterpiece also helped kick off Virgin Records. Super successful. As was my first test of ‘Highly Edible – Golden Strawberry Pucks’. With ‘Nano-Extraction Technology – NXT’ … says that on the plastic container/bottle it comes in. To viewers of Star Trek, that would sound very 23rd century like. A promise of faster effects. A promise kept! Under an hour and I was feeling fine. Neither too wired or chilled out. I admit a small dose for me. I did think eating more would be even better. And I was soon to find out.

Over the course of a week, I consumed the whole bunch. The most I ate at one sitting was two full pucks. People rave about the taste by the way. A nice masking of the natural cannabis flavor.


I am finding out that a person such as myself,  who is injured, can instead of taking an ‘over the counter’ pain reliever, digest an edible infused with THC, and feel relieved as well. It can happen. I’m not saying massive pain. Something on a pain scale of maybe 4 and lower. In my case the benefit would mean less; Aleve. I also take Gabapentin 300 mg throughout the 24 hour day. If I didn’t, I could not cope. I get leg pains, bad enough sometimes I could scream (and I do).

I am currently drawing a conclusion that over the course of time, that a steady supply of cannabis edibles could be a contributor to me taking less Gabapentin. Possibly one day wipe out any and all pharmaceuticals in my life. Regarding pharmaceuticals, it’s the side effects that scare the living shit out of me. Cannabis contains nothing that I am aware of, that deeply concerns me. I believe that. Based on the fact I have been partaking, and sometimes very heavily since the early 1970’s. No shit! And plenty out there know me from way back then. For many years a major pothead (and proud of it).


On the recreational side, you’ll get a lower dose of THC. It’s cool. For the average healthy adult pot user, 10 mg of THC and it’s all smiles ahead. A pleasant high. Yet, I’m grateful for the stronger stuff. Distracts from the discomfort I tend to experience, most of my waking moments. Brought on by hard work, and getting older.

I survived my days of testing Highly Edible – Golden Strawberry Puck with ease. A nice working cannabis med to have in the old medicine cabinet. Know your own body … what it can tolerate without you being one of those fools who consumed too much and make the news … and if this kind of edible is appealing to you … I got mine at Verts Neighborhood Dispensary. When last I checked, they appeared very well stocked. Different flavors. Make sure to check out the whole line of Highly Edible (CannaPunch) products. After all, I am (insert smiley face).


Classic rock NEWS: John Wetton Battles Cancer

12 Jan 2017
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

 photo John Wetton - Asia - Dallas TX Banner_WATER MARKS_zpsaker3dod.jpg

Feeling optimistic, I post the following statements. One from musician John Wetton, and the other, a response from musician Billy Sherwood.  Long story short, musician John Wetton who I wrote about several times during my stay with Classic Rock Radio (UK) has cancer. He’s been in treatment for a while now. Better to let Mr. Wetton fill you in from here.


I am disappointed to announce that, on the advice of my medical team, I have to withdraw from Cruise to the Edge, and from the first leg of the Journey tour, March 15 – April 4. I will soon be starting a new medical chemotherapy procedure, under which I will not be able to fly.

I am grateful to the promoters of the cruise. I wish them pleasant sailing and I know my friends on the cruise, both artists and fans, will have a ball on the ocean wave, I will be with you all in spirit.

My good friend Billy Sherwood will fill in for me within Asia, keeping my seat warm during the initial 12 Journey dates. While I am naturally disappointed to miss the beginning of what I know will be an historic ASIA tour, I am intending to return to the stage with Asia later in 2017, dates soon to be announced.I know this decision will be in the best interests of my health and our fans, in the long run.

John Wetton
January 11th. 2017

From the desk of … Billy Sherwood

Re: ASIA: I’ve always loved John Wettons voice, playing and compositions. His work In King Crimson, UK and Asia and his solo works continues to be an inspiration to me. I’ve had the great fortune to work on many various projects over the years with JW, I recall saying after one of the sessions “we’ve worked on so many tributes, what do you think of creating an original piece of work”? he replied…. “Let’s make my new solo record together in your studio”. It was an amazing time, we had always done file share sessions before, now it would be in person, for the 1st time, creating new music with one of my all time heroes in music. We spent 29 days in my studio, and made “raised in captivity”, A record I am very proud of indeed !!!

We developed a great relationship over the years and a friendship that’s endured and one I cherish !!

John has been fighting cancer and bravely pushing forward to recovery…. Always looking to tomorrow in hope, my thoughts and prayers always with him

With the above said… I’m honored to have been thought of and asked by John to stand in while he continues the fight. Of course my heart breaks, understanding the circumstances which have me performing with Asia. It’s a tight knit community in Prog Rock, and Wettons a giant walking within it !! I shall work very hard to maintain the integrity and musical standards expected !!

I have said YES because I know what Asia means to JW and the guys…. and their dedication to the fans of the band. I’m a fan of the music too !!

I hope to represent that unique position on stage with humility, honor and a deep respect for the music, whilst john recovers and until his ultimate return !!!

All my best, see ya at the show !!!
Billy Sherwood

GB Closing Statement

My hope is this new treatment will work, and Mr. Wetton could then be called a; cancer survivor. Fingers are crossed! I’ve been listening to John’s work since the 1970’s. I had the good fortune of seeing John play live twice in my life. Once in California (ProgFest ’97), and the other in Texas (Dallas 2008). My plans for the future is to see John play live again, here where I am now; Colorado. And it will happen. See you there.

Thank you Mr. Sherwood.

Photo: From the Gary Brown Classic Rock Photo Collection (used only with permission)


John Wetton Statement:

Billy Sherwood Statement:

Blast from the Past: Billy Sherwood_John Wetton Ad

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Web Series / Movie Review: Trophy Heads

As Seen On:
First Published: 03 Feb 2015
Uncle G’s FUN Web Series / Movie Reviews
Spotlight: Full Moon Features Web Series: Trophy Heads
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

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I’m sure in the time I have been writing for ClassicRockRadio Dot EU (now ClassicRockRadio.CO.UK) that I mentioned my love for B Horror / Science Fiction movies at least once. Nowadays, mostly independent endeavors seem to catch my attention. A favorite Indie motion picture studio out of Hollywood that I seriously dig, is Full Moon Features. The leader of the pack being one of the coolest Hollywood behind-the-scenes types you ever want to be around. It’s President of the company; Charles Band. The man’s a Jack-Of-All-Trades type being the creator of story ideas, producing, and directing. Since the 1970’s, Charles has been putting forth some of the most outrageous, disturbing, hysterical, and tantalizing entertainment on the planet. Much of it is tongue in cheek, or pulled out by the roots, and served up as an appetizer.

I became aware of what was then Full Moon Pictures, back in the days of renting VHS tapes. Maybe it was their 1996 release with Jacqueline Lovell entitled, Head Of The Family, that got my attention? Puppetmaster (1989)? Subspecies(1991)? Bad Channels (1992)? Demonic Toys (1992)? Whichever one, for it didn’t take experiencing too many Full Moon Pictures / Charles Band films before I was totally hooked. For the adults, add the product pitches and all the cool behind the scenes stuff, and all you need is popcorn and your favorite grown up libation. Weed works just as well. Matter of fact, in some cases it’s more like tailor made.

Trophy Heads is the Full Moon Feature debut into original programming via their own Internet Channel: FullMoonStreaming Dot Com. An original web-series. Five episodes made so far (Season One). Half hour broadcast with commercials for when it appears on cable television. Classified a comedy / horror program. An above average cast of actors. Includes cool cameo’s. Music wise we have Richard Band’s involvement, and his older brother behind the lens. Talented people behind the scenes, for it shows in all five episodes. I watched all five episodes on Hulu Plus. Only reason why I ordered it. Trophy Heads is now out on DVD and Blu-ray. Includes killer special features. Worth the price of admission.

Uncle G’s HIGH-LITES (2014 Trophy Heads_Full Moon Features)

Right off the wooden bat with a bunch of rusty ten penny nails sticking out, is the theme song. I LOVE TV THEME SONGS! At the drop of an eyeball, I could whistle the 1960’s hit ‘The Addams Family’ main and closing musical pieces. So I really do appreciate it when a new television theme song rolls around that’s worth learning how to whistle. The theme to Trophy Heads is serious earworm material. At times I seem to not be able to GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD. Should really see a doctor for that.

The main premise / story works very well. Wonderful actors (Maria Olsen / Adam Noble Roberts) portray a Mother-Son team you’d hate to ever run into. The son’s fixation is on B movie scream queens of the past, and his fear of them getting older and fading away. Mom being the ‘Enabler from Hell’ loses any traces of sanity she has left, and helps junior with his ambitious plans to correct one of life’s major wrongs. Here in Max’s own special way, he recreates scenes from the various actress’ film career. And it’s here when we take it up a notch with the introduction of our victims. Ladies, that if one was into B movies of the past, one might recognize. One Scream Queen (Linnea Quigley) recites one of my favorite lines of dialogue:

“Have you bathed in the blood of the Lord?”

Well that, and I got a kick out of when yet another Scream Queen said:

“I don’t wanna be in your fucking movie!”

Snuff film that is. So who could really blame her?

Rating: Using the one to ten star rating system, whereas one star really, really sucks, to ten stars which means it’s cool to spend your hard earned money on, I rate Full Moon Features Web Series: Trophy Heads – 10 stars! Seriously, I could find nothing wrong. It’s all I come to expect from Full Moon Features and more. Plus, there are BARE BOOBIES! Presented in a way that makes the twelve year old boy still clinging on to life in me smile. Available now on FullMoonStreaming Dot Com, and should you still treasure actually owning the DVD / Blu-ray, try looking first on line at FullMoonDirect Dot Com. Lots of cool shit there besides. OH…regarding FullMoonStreaming…an archive of films that will keep you busy for many years to come. For around seven bucks a month. I might have to look into subscribing to that myself.

Official Trophy Heads Promo Video:

Full Moon Direct:

Full Moon Streaming:

Full Moon Features Official Twitter Page:

Music Review: Exovex – Radio Silence

As Seen On:
First Published: 06 June 2015 NEW Music Review
Spotlight: Exovex – Radio Silence (2015)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

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Everyday I open my snail mailbox, I never know what I’m going to find. Eliminated bills by going paperless, so that cut down on the volume delivered, a little. Now the metal containers contents range from the typical junk mail, that we’re told pays the letter carriers salary so to please tolerate, to correspondence by those unfamiliar with email, or just not having my email address. Items I buy on the Internet arrive on time and unharmed, thanks in part to the Katy, Texas Postal Service doing an excellent job, and then I get total surprises. Could be items from friends, or family. And then last but not least, comes the small boxes and bubble pack envelopes that have music CDs, or DVDs in them. Some I ordered, and some I didn’t have a clue was coming. I think of these as; GIFTS FROM STRANGERS. Those who play along know that if inspired, that I might use their product as something to write about, and thusly tell the world via the world wide web, my hopefully positive opinion of their newest project. Musicwise it could be a musician, or a band that I already know, or a player(s) that I’m entirely unfamiliar with. It happens. In the case of Exovex, I was completely unaware of its existence, up to the time I opened the package it arrived in. Also, the name, Dale Simmons, who is the principal musician in Exovex, didn’t ring any bells. What else to do but put the new CD in my Philips CD player, and press the play button.

As a writer, one will develop a reputation. Those who read my columns on a regular basis know that when it comes to rock, I may prefer hard rock to soft, but I’m a Prog-Head through and through. Stimulates my mind more than, say a three cord, three minute, straight forward rock n’ roll song would. Then again make it upbeat, and possibly I’ll dig that as well.

Fact is Prog-Rock is special to me, be it old school (Yes, Pink Floyd, or Genesis .. just to name a few), or today’s Modern-Prog sound. I certainly don’t confess to enjoying it all. Besides liking something, the flip side would be whatever I hear bores me to tears. Acoustic guitar and voice is hit and miss as far as I’m concerned. Or to my ears, the vocal performance could just out and out suck. Sound out of place. Sometimes I’ll tolerate or even come to enjoy what I consider questionable vocals, if I like the other musicians the vocal performance is associated with. Other times not, with strike one, meaning you’re out. If I can’t make it past two plays, I can’t review it. Apologies ahead of time.

Part of writing is the research. The most important question to me after committing to writing about my experiences listening to Exovex – Radio Silence was; Who is Dale Simmons? Answer is; a professional singer, lyricist, songwriter, guitarist (acoustic, electric, and bass), piano / keyboard player. And besides doing his own thing, was a front man for several bands from the early nineties. Experience to me is a good thing. Dale digs progressive art rock, jazz and funk. He’s also a self proclaimed coffee addict. A little more research and I could tell you his shoe size. Neither here nor there.

Joining Dale Simmons in which he performed and produced all six songs that make up Radio Silence is members of Porcupine Tree, Nine Inch Nails, Devo, Sting & Steely Dan! Featuring Josh Freese (Nine In Nails, A Perfect Circle, and Devo) and Keith Carlock (Sting, John Meyer, and Steely Dan) on drums. The album also showcases two members of Porcupine Tree, Gavin Harrison on drums and Richard Barbieri on keyboards and synthesizers.

If a first timer reading my work, within what is considered the prog-rock realm is, the concept album. Tells a story. Radio Silence tells one of a man who just wants to be alone. For every action a reaction as the man finds out isolation isn’t as fulfilling as he has thought it would be. Official promo for the album states: “The central theme of the album focuses on the downward spiral and ultimate demise of a man due to the psychological and physical effects of a long term, self-imposed isolation.” I conclude, lyrics are brain candy for those once focused. Dale’s vocals ranging from mild to wild.

Musically I hear sounds at times that remind me of prog-music past; David Gilmore late 70’s and forward playing style, and Circa:, a superb modern prog rock band with Billy Sherwood, and among others, original keyboard player for Yes, Tony Kaye. More so comparing vocal sound and style in which is delivered. I also hear 90’s prog-rock group Porcupine Tree somewhat, with their being a good reason as to why. Two musicians from that band make guest appearances on Exovex – Radio Silence; drummer Gavin Harrison, and keyboardist Richard Barbieri. Fit very nicely to what Dale got going on. Each performing on a different number. Other notable players join in, drummers Keith Carlock, and Josh Freese. Credits also include Nicole Neely, adding textures of cello, viola, and violin. If keeping score at home, we have Dale in three positions (all vocals, all guitar work, and all piano / keyboard work except for the one song in which Richard Barbieri kicks ass), Vs a drummer and string position. Nice touch by the way. Wait…Tim designed the CD cover. Bonus point for the win! Ends up being what you hear coming out of the speakers, is three quarters all one guy. Very impressive!


Using the one to five star rating system, whereas one star means it’s not worth investing time nor money in, to five stars which means it’s not only cool to dive in head first and submerge yourself, but also spend your hard earned money on, Uncle G gives Exovex – Radio Silence …5 stars! Spacy prog to seriously rocking out, this album has it all. I would say buy it just to hear Dale Simmons play. He spent years perfecting himself musically. The guitar work on Radio Silence jumps out of my three foot speakers, and takes command of all inside the house. Dale’s piano / keyboard work is just as good. All other musicians contributions are top notch. On headphones, Radio Silence sounds crisp, and alive. A tip of the hat to those behind the scenes. Oh, and I also like the use of voice and sound effects, especially on a concept piece of work. Adds dimension, and believability if done right. Just perfect here! The more repeat listens, the more this brilliant debut album on the whole, will be appreciated. My experience exactly!

For additional information, please check out Dale’s official website @