Steve Hunter: Before The Lights Go Out

As Seen On ClassicRockRadio.co.uk

Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews
Spotlight: Steve Hunter – Before The Lights Go Out (2017)
Label: DeaconRecords
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

So I’m getting ready to do some typing centering around the subject of Steve Hunter’s newest studio album; Before The Lights Go Out. And how do I prepare, you ask? (cant do bold to show you on messenger but changed this wording) By listening to Alice Cooper’s – Welcome To My Nightmare (1975) of course. When doing write-ups/reviews, I research a lot before saying whatever it is I have to say on the subject. Alice’s first solo record, Welcome To My Nightmare, has always been one of my Alice Cooper (solo) favorites. His work with the Alice Cooper (band) beforehand primed the fanbase to the max. Surprising I never burned out on ‘The Coop’. Remaining a valid act all this time, Alice continues to record and tour. Doing his own thing as usual, and fronting the super popular Hollywood Vampires. That band simply kicks ass! Add to all this, Alice is back working with original band members: Micheal Bruce_Dennis Dunaway_Neal Smith. They made appearances on Alice’s last record, which was produced by Bob Ezrin; Paranormal (2016). The music Alice has done after departing Alice Cooper (original band) is highly worthy of induction into the RnRHoF (Ohio). Alice Cooper (the band) was inducted back in 2011. Steve Hunter kindly stood in for Glen Buxton (RIP). Alice deserves it on his own merits as a solo artist as well. And while still focused on the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Steve Hunter comes to mind. I ask myself:

“Self, several musicians Steve has backed since his involvement in professional music have been bestowed this honor. Why not Steve?”

I contemplated this. In my opinion, which is what I’m here doing btw, and please forgive the rant, but frankly, Steve Hunter, the accomplished musician that he is, should have been publicly acknowledged by those in Cleveland, bookoo years ago. You’d think, if not hope at least … before the lights go out.

I had the honor or being able to write about Steve Hunter before. In one story that I authored for the Classic Rock Radio (UK) Facebook Page a couple/few years back, Steve played along with whatever I was doing, and gave me a quote to include. I was so proud of that, and still am. A highly talented guitarist, who played with the likes of Lou Reed (RIP), Tracy Chapman, and Peter Gabriel, just to name a few. Experience and ability that enables Steve to play whatever style is called for on the guitar, and who does so exhibiting a creativity and style that is uniquely his own.

Uncle G discusses Steve Hunter – Before The Lights Go Out (2017 DeaconRecords)

Steve Hunter’s ‘Before The Lights Go Out’ is mostly an instrumental effort except for occasionally hearing Steve’s wife Karen beautiful voice. The album’s guitar heavy, as it should be. Electric and softer tones. Overall the new album has a more mature, seasoned approach if compared to the solo work of other ‘rock’ guitarist out there. Nothing that would offend anyone’s ears. Play it around babies, or old folks. It sometimes boogies, and then also play melodies that only someone who studied the instrument for decades, would only know how to play. And performed comfortably. Like the guitar (and over the years other string instruments; mandolin) was an extension of his physical body. Think the guitar Gods; Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, Steve Howe … just to name a few, and expect the same caliber performance from Steve Hunter. Time and time again.

If you like listening to the kind of electric guitar playing, that works its way into your veins while under its spell, then the first track will certainly hook you in as it did me: On The Edge Of Uncertainty. This is what led off the early promo for this album. Steve’s an indie artist, btw. A family affair, Karen (Steve’s wife) is behind the video to this super infectious song. I fell into this track and still have not come up. A new Steve Hunter greatest hit. The audio and video addressing the subject of Steve losing his sight and becoming legally blind; pigmentary glaucoma. Without words, except for the name of the track; On the Edge Of Uncertainty.

Track two, Mojo Man, smokes as much as track one. Another example of a highly skilled musician applying his trade. Joining Mr. Hunter on Mojo Man are guest players Joe Satriani, and Erik Scott. Crank UP the volume and deal with the police later.

Track three is a pretty mellow number; Summer’s Eve. The product was recently given BEST AWARD for ‘down there’. I am not sure exactly by whom. Saw it mentioned on their website. Nice to be appreciated. I would personally agree. Seeing how the opportunity has arisen, I’d like to go on record as a fan of clean and healthy vaginas’. To offer my sincere thanks to everyone who works for Summer’s Eve, past and present. In a way doing the Lord’s work, but without coming out and saying it. Plus Summer’s Eve is all into profit, as any company who desires to stay in business, should be. So no religious overtones. A wonderful line of feminine hygiene products. My personal gratitude, not in song as Steve seemed to do here, but more a public acknowledgment/shout out.

I love track four; Cinderblock. For some reason, I get visions of the backwoods when hearing this. Nothing bad. Someone else hears it, and whatever visions it produces, odds are it’s completely something else. One of many things I dig about instrumental music is that the mind can wander free while interpreting the sound waves heard. Accounts on the listener, but with some, the mind’s eye can sometimes produce scenes like they were straight out of a movie. The brain is rightly stimulated, both music and images blending together to help craft a tale. But nothing like the nightmarish Burt Reynolds movie Deliverance (1972). Even if this song does have a banjo in it (insert smiley face).

Track five is a music video I can see in my mind’s eye. Starts off with a sound of a motorcycle pulling up to a biker bar. Somewhere here in Colorado. On stage, it’s Steve and his band. ‘Softball Deuce’ is the name of the song. As it plays throughout I can see everyone in the bar having a good time. Songs over … the mysterious biker drives away, again with us hearing the sound of a motorcycle.

Next on ‘Before The Lights Go Out’ is an instrumental that’s dedicated to Steve’s wife and called; Tienes Mi Corazón (You Have My Heart). Not a hard rocker. Spanish influenced, and simply beautiful.

Track seven is a lovely tune entitled; Ice Storm. On the quiet side. Thoughts bounce around when hearing with headphones. Wish I stuck with it as a teen and learned to play guitar. Steve’s playing would inspire. Of course, his rockin’ side, but also those quieter moments, as exhibited on this composition.

‘Under The Bodhi Tree’ is kind of Led Zeppelin-ish. Great track! Seriously heavy in places! Helping Steve on the bass is, Andy Stoller. If I had to pick a favorite off ‘Before The Lights Go Out’ … ‘Under The Bodhi Tree’ would be one out of the ten songs that I would have chosen. The other nine would all be contenders as well.

‘The Other Side Of The Coin’ is a pleasant tune from start to finish. Could not be followed by anything better; Happy Trails (Rogers_Evans_Rogers). All songs that appear on Steve Hunter – Before The Lights go Out are written by Steve Hunter, except of course the last; Happy Trails. Karen’s vocals are so right for this country western song of yesterday. Indeed, till we meet again.

“Uncle G” RATES … Steve Hunter – Before The Lights Go Out (2017 DeaconRecords)

Using a one to five-star rating star rating system in which one star back in the day would mean destined for the nearest department store dollar bargain bin, to five stars which would mean it’s the cat’s pajamas … yours truly gives Steve Hunter – Before The Lights Go Out … 5 stars! MR. Hunter is one to keep abreast on. Check out his website and social media accounts. And if financially possible, try to support independent artists like Steve … please buy their products. So to help keep the wheels greased. Motivates and supports future releases. In the case of Steve Hunter, well worth the expense. In my opinion, there isn’t an album that has Steve Hunter’s name on it, that isn’t worth buying. Feel free to add this newest one to the list.

OH … the recording has an excellent sound to it. Rich, deep, textured just right. With good headphones, listening to the whole album is indeed a pleasure.

And I really dig the look of the CD itself. Credited to Karen Hunter/Disc Makers.

Uncle G’s Helpful Web Addresses

Official Steve Hunter Website: www.stevehunter.com

Promotion is done for Steve Hunter by: Glass Onyon PR (www.glassonyonpr.com)

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.

A PERSONAL STATEMENT FROM JOHN WETTON

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
Bournemouth
England
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)

Sources:

John Wetton Statement:

http://originalasia.com/a-personal-statement-from-john-wetton/

Billy Sherwood Statement:

https://www.facebook.com/billy.sherwood.54

Blast from the Past: Billy Sherwood_John Wetton Ad

Billy Sherwood_John Wetton photo Billy Sherwood_John Wetton_zpsbhysgc8a.jpg

Music Review: Neal Smith: Kill$mith & The Greenfire Empire

Originally Published: 28 October 2014
Review: Neal Smith – Kill$mith & The Greenfire Empire (2014 Kachina Records)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

 photo Neal Smith - KillSmith And The Greenfire Empire - cover pre-signed_zpshyd9jd99.jpg

I’ve been familiar with Neal Smith since the 1970’s, ever since I got turned on to Alice Cooper. I’m guessing around 1972 when their song ‘School’s Out’ was first released. Stayed a fan until the dismissal of the group. With Alice deciding to keep his solo career afloat after the huge success of his first solo record, Welcome To My Nightmare (1975), the rest of the guys in the Cooper band saw themselves no longer with a lead singer. It was the end of Alice Cooper, the band. Ends up I lost interest in Alice’s solo career pretty much after his follow up to ‘Welcome To My Nightmare’, with 1977’s Alice Cooper – Go To Hell album. As time marched on I’d play the original Alice Cooper band music every once in a while. Anything new with Alice and without the original guys, I just wasn’t interested. Stayed that way for over a decade. In the 1990’s and aided with something called the Internet, I renewed my interest in the runaway vocalist. In doing so, I started getting a new appreciation for Alice’s solo studio offerings. Fact is he’s worked with a shit load of brilliant musicians since 1975. The coolest thing here was that I could also find out and keep up on the other original band members doings as well. Since then I have managed to somewhat kept up.

Glen Buxton passed away back in ’97. His legend has / will live on.

Michael Bruce just weeks ago played a charity show coming out of retirement benefiting foster kids.

Bassist Dennis Dunaway is going strong currently playing with a can’t be missed rock band called Blue Coupe.

With nineteen studio solo albums under his belt, the year 2014 sees Vince / Alice co-headlining Motley Crue’s BIG farewell Tour. Alice’s last new studio effort was a sequel to 1975’s Nightmare and cleverly titled ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’. To this writer’s delight, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith perform on three songs. This makes the first time the Billion Dollar Babies appeared on an Alice Cooper studio album together since 1973’s Muscle Of Love. Nightmare 2 did well, charting all over the world.

Last, but not least is Neal Smith, who has been musically kicking ass and taking names lately. The RnRHoF member (Alice Cooper) just released the third installment to his KillSmith series. On this outing, all songs are written by Neal, and besides pounding away on the drums, Mr. Smith can be heard on keyboards, guitar, and sharing the vocal duties. Titled, Neal Smith – KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire. Now that the intro and history lesson are over, let’s focus on that.

For starters, ‘KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire’ has very cool cover art, with the front of the CD showing an evil glow-in-the-dark green human skull. Would make for a cool poster. I ordered this new CD from Neal’s own personal website. Doing so, he autographed it, which is a super cool added bonus. He does so on every CD ordered, free of charge! A legible signature too, so it compliments the cover, instead of scribble which would take away from it. Cover / Booklet opens up to reveal more cool artwork as well. Important is the two images provided because they are what sets sail your imagination. For like original Alice Cooper music anyway, it’s all theater for your mind’s eye. KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire is a concept album. Nothing I’d share with a seven year old. Neal’s lyrics can be very adult at times, which can lead to questions like; “Mommy, what are junkies, thieves, and whores?”

In a nutshell, ‘KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire’ is a modern day tale about a special ops military hero nicknamed KillSmith, who takes on the most ruthless, ferocious, and just downright evil drug lord named Diablo the Emerald King. A story that happens around the holidays. Emotionally, a roller coaster ride filled with action and suspense, that besides being capable of ripping your head off, simply rocks out.

 photo Neal Smith - KillSmith And The Greenfire Empire - credits_zps4flgbrnz.jpg

Uncle G’s Favorite KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire Tracks:

All of them really. Enlightening story told in various styles of rock music including industrial, heavy metal, and power ballads. Frankly, I can’t say enough good things about ‘KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire’. Don’t know where to begin, for I’m afraid I’ll miss something. Here I go.

Every musician on KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire project did an excellent job (see accompanying image for credits). Am sure it wasn’t easy for any of them because it’s a pretty ambitious project. Neal’s work on here is just outstanding, so only capable musicians need apply. Back to Neal, I love the cool guitar work he does, as well as his keyboard contributions. Plus behind the drum kit, Neal’s drumming is second to none. Either providing a good foundation or having moments that are absolute bat-shit crazy, such as found on the song ‘Pandemonium’. A real killer drum performance here. Overall, the album is more upbeat than mellow. Together, all eleven songs combine for a stunning example of musicianship and storytelling.

I broke this CD in while heading into Houston from Katy, driving down super Hwy I-10 East doing an average 70 MPH and being able to hear the first six songs usually without slowing down. Sunrise Saturday morning. Driving down the city streets trying to miss red lights is where I got to know tracks seven to the end of the disc. I did this on three other days as well. The rest of the time I’d been playing it almost non-stop on my home stereo. Between the lyrics and the superior accompanying music, I’m able to fully understand and enjoy Neal’s return to theatrical rock.

Rating: Honestly this was way more then I was expecting. More than one song sticks in my head, when not actually playing ‘KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire’ aloud. Impossible to say what songs I like best, but the one that caught my attention first was ‘I Want Money’. KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire is solid in both production and presentation. Using the one to five star rating system, where one star sucks through a long straw, and five stars kicks total ass; Neal Smith – KillSmith & The Greenfire Empire get 5 stars easily. Every song a gem. Different musical styles presented so to keep one’s interest. Feet planted firmly in the rock world. Even with such excellent flamenco guitar work as heard on track four, ‘The Killsmith Overture’. Lady Elizabeth Dellinger could sure hit those notes. Blends in very nicely. This song, I would love to see done live, as well as the rest of this new concept album. Perhaps a KillSmith DVD shot in concert over 2 or three nights someplace that could accommodate? I could only imagine the KILLER encores.

Well done Mr. Smith!

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/nealsmith4

http://www.nealsmith.com

Music Review: Exovex – Radio Silence

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

 photo Exovox - Radio Silence - cover_zpsp4w6enir.jpg

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!

Rating:

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 @ http://www.dalesimmons.com/

Interview: Mark Murdock (Musician)

First Published: Tuesday, 18 June 2013
ClassicRockRadio.co.uk Interview
Spotlight: Mark Murdock
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

 photo Mark Murdock - Cymbalic Encounters - cover_zpsdlgbmh2c.jpg

A few months back I reviewed independent recording artist Mark Murdock’s new CD, ‘Cymbalic Encounters’, along with my positive review, many more followed. Due to good word of mouth and wonderful promotion, ‘Cymbalic Encounters’ is now being unleashed on the world with a previously unheard of bonus track on June 17th. I welcomed the opportunity to ask Mark a few questions.

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Mark, Can you start off by telling us about this new release date?

Mark Murdock: On June 18th ‘Cymbalic Encounters’ is being released worldwide via Gonzo MultiMedia which houses a host of notable Prog artists. I feel ‘Cymbalic Encounters’ has found a nice home with Gonzo. Up to the Gonzo release, the CD has been exclusively available through disk Union Japan and as a digital music download via cdbaby, iTunes, and Amazon. There will be a Bonus Track and an expanded insert with lyrics and more photos on the Gonzo release.

Classic Rock Radio (UK): What has been the most rewarding response to ‘Cymbalic Encounters’?

Mark Murdock: I have received a number of thumbs up for bringing John and Percy together on record, most likely from Brand X followers. I believe it has been a number of years since they have collaborated on any given project. More importantly, of course, is that the music has been for the most part well received. Some key radio programs like CRR Dot EU and stations in Europe aired it and there have also been numerous reviews featured in many key music magazines, all of which I wasn’t really expecting. I initially envisioned the CD would have a sort of an underground appeal amongst some shady group of characters from the late seventies.

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Photo: Behind the Drum Kit … Mr. Mark Murdock

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Have their been any attempts to play this music live?

Mark Murdock: There was an attempt to bring everyone together as a Brand X reunion and Cymbalic Encounters set here in Tokyo. Actually, I was asked by a promoter to do a Japan tour, and had agreement from all Brand X members but one key member. So to make a long story short, without this one key member it was an unlikely sale. So, at the moment I have a three piece group of local musicians, here in Tokyo, where we are rehearsing selected songs in hopes of playing a few local gigs.

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Regarding the songs, I was wondering what was the inspiration behind the song titles?

Mark Murdock: It’s funny that you would ask me that question, Gary. I keep getting asked about the song titles, as the CD title suggests a play on words, Cymbalic and Symbolic.

Songs like ‘Revert To My Senses’, ‘Illusion Nation’ and ‘Until The Sun Is No Longer’ portray a kind of struggle of existence in an unpredictable world.

‘Goodsall Funk Railroad/The Ballad Of Percy Jones’, just came to me as John is a great funk player (Grand Funk Railroad turned into Goodsall Funk Railroad) and Engine Percy from the kid’s show ‘Thomas’ that my son, Preston used to watch on Japanese TV. I’m not all that sure that Percy and John were approving of that. I might have pissed them off actually. I will be careful in the future, (laughs Mark).

‘Sunning Hill’ was the name of Phil’s old flat in Epson, Surrey U.K. (flat 3) that I used to visit when he was playing with Brand X. The flat had purple wallpaper, a red piano and a green painting on the wall of Eno’s Another Green World. They were in real need of an interior decorator. It was like a flashback to the psychedelic 1960’s.

‘Philosophically Sound’ has an intelligent kind of melody similar to a scientific formula. Percy is an inventor at heart so perhaps this song has some kind of equation hidden in the melody?

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Do you plan a follow up to Cymbalic Encounters?

Mark Murdock: Yes, I have a new Cymbalic Encounters in the works now and hoping by fall to have it completed and released. There will be fewer songs than Cymbalic Encounters but have John Goodsall and Percy Jones on board.

 photo Mark Murdock - Cymbalic Encounters - promo pic_zps6osouf3u.jpg

Photo: John Goodsall_Mark Murdock_Percy Jones

“This new batch of songs seems more wide open harmonically.” – John Goodsall

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Any additional featured artists Mark?

Mark Murdock: My son, Preston is playing electric sitar and has a few guitar spots.
Desirably, I would like to incorporate some new guest artists on the CD and I have in fact invited a few respected musicians. Not sure who will end up on the recordings yet. Stay tuned….. Oh, but I can reveal that I have a professional cello player on a few tracks, which is a departure from previous projects I have attempted.

Classic Rock Radio (UK): You live in Japan. Any cool promotion there?

Mark Murdock:The Japanese magazine ‘Strange Days’ interviewed me. It is a popular music mag here which did a three page feature on the CD. They seemed interested in my involvement with Peter Banks (YES – R.I.P). Someday perhaps Mark Murdock will be a household name! Isn’t he the sushi song guy?

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Any closing thoughts?

Mark Murdock: Spread the word

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Thanks for the time Mark. We here at Classic Rock Radio (UK) are confident the Gonzo release of Cymbalic Encounters to be just the start of even bigger and better things. Already looking forward to whatever the next musical adventure will be.

Official Gonzo Media Group / Mark Murdock Webpage

http://www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk/product_details/15561/Mark_Murdock-Cymbalic_Encounters.html

Bonus: Cymbalic Encounters Sample (enjoy)

https://soundcloud.com/markmurdockmusic

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

August 15, 2016
From the Desk of Mark Murdock

Gonzo U.K. and Diskunion Japan released Cymbalic Encounters second CD ‘Exploration of the Southern Constellation’ which like the my first CD features Brand X’s John Goodsall and Percy Jones.

Review: http://classicrockradioeu.blogspot.com/2015/08/reviewcymbalic-encountersexploration-of.html

As a performing unit, Cymbalic Encounters has been appearing around the Tokyo club circuit hosting events. On the playlist, we have been performing songs not only from CD 1 and 2 but songs from my Era-2 CD (Gonzo) which were co-written by Percy Jones. In addition we have played a tribute to Brand X in our show.

Cymbalic Encounters – Exploration of the Southern Constellation

http://www.cdbaby.com/m/cd/cymbalicencounters4

What’s in the works?

CE3, a third CD has been in production for sometime. I actually have more songs that could go onto it, so will be releasing some as singles on CDBaby or Bandcamp soon.

CYMATICS is now available on cdbaby, iTunes, etc. This was a space-themed jazz-rock experiment using the Alpha Syntauri synth with the Apple II computer in 1981.
Percy Jones played a fretless 4 string Wal bass on it.

https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/cymbalicencounters5

 photo Mark Murdock  - In Concert_zpsk2hscplu.jpg

Photo: Mark Murdock – In Concert!

NEW Mark Murdock Release:

Mark Murdock – Era 2 – Eyes Down and Seacloud (CD)

http://www.gonzomultimedia.com/product_details/15877

NEW BAND — MASHEEN MESSIAH — Debut Album will be Released: October 2016

DVD Review: Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives Of Henry VIII: Live (2009)

As Seen On: ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
First Published: 17 June 2015
Uncle G’s Classic Rock DVD Collection
Spotlight: Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives Of Henry VIII:Live at Hampton Court Palace (2009 Eagle Vision)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

 photo Rick Wakeman - 6 Wives Live - DVD Cover_zpseivlblvf.jpg

There is a chain of retail stores in Houston, Texas, named Half Price Books, that buys and sells new and used; books, albums, CDs, cassettes, I think I saw an eight track tape there one day not long ago, VHS tapes, movies on a disc the size of albums, Blue-rays, and DVDs. They also have collectibles. Pre-printed metal signs, key chains, computer games, and whatever other items one could think that would tie in with everything else I just mentioned. A very cool store I try to check out every so often.

On my last trip there, I picked up a couple DVD concert discs. Brand new, and offered at a price lower than what it was when it was a brand new item. Ones a Aerosmith concert from 2013 in Japan, and the other DVD I have chosen, a Rick Wakeman spectacle, professionally recorded in 2009 entitled; Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives Of Henry VIII: Live at Hampton Court Palace. Put out by Eagle Vision. Known for putting out quality concert DVDs / Blu-rays. Again they have outdone themselves. The Wakeman DVD comes with special features, and a nice booklet, giving detailed information about the special performance, and the subjects in which the music glorifies.

Rick Wakeman’s 1973 album Six Wives Of Henry VIII was the second Rick Wakeman album in the first album collection I had. Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (1974) was the first. Then Myths and Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table (1975) my third. Purchased that the first week it came out. I have since that time, purchased various versions of these three classic Rick Wakeman offerings. If an youngin’ wants to know why Rick Wakeman is as famous as he is today, point them to any of those three albums. Or any that came after, which dig into various styles of piano / keyboard playing. I have my favorites; Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record (1977), and Rock N’ Roll Prophet Plus (1993).

Rick’s Six Wives project was extra special to me for various reasons. For one it was a rock instrumental. My Mom, (God rest her soul) being a professional musician and seriously into Herb Alpert back in the 1960’s, introduced me to music without words. A preference today. Songs containing longer than usual passages of time in between lyrics, in my mind is a plus the majority of the time. The band Yes excelled at this, as did many one of their contemporaries such as Pink Floyd, and Genesis, just to name a couple.

My introduction to Rick’s keyboard was the group, Yes. Another reason why the album Six Wives fits my taste, is because various Yes members appear on it. Early nineteen seventies. The Fragile / Close To The Edge / Tales line-ups. All but Jon Anderson, which includes Yes’ two drummers at the time, Bill Bruford and his replacement, Alan White. Some of my all time favorite musicians on the planet. Them being on this album just makes it even better in my book.

This live version recorded over two nights, the first and second of May, in the year 2009, according to the keyboard wizard himself, is Henry and the Six Wives of Henry The VIII, as it was meant to be performed / presented. Long story short, way back when, their were recording limitations. Now the whole piece could be appreciated in it’s entirety, as it was meant to be heard. And as the spectacle as it should be. Besides Mr. Wakeman, a very large number of professional musicians, a robust narrator, and a backdrop worthy of all the work involved to make the show go without a hitch. Again, performed two nights in a row, involving hundreds of people. The DVD I imagine the best of each song performed. So many good moments. Cool bonus features. A DVD worth purchasing, as I assume the CD is as well, in which I need to start seeking out. The additional music flows as freely as the original. If a fan of Mr. Wakeman’s, then this historical 2009 Rick Wakeman concert DVD is a MUST HAVE.

DVD Song Track Listing / Running Order

01. Tudorture/Henry’s Fanfare
02. Tudorture/1485
03. Catherine Of Aragon (2009)
04. Kathryn Howard (2009)
05. Jane’s Prelude
06. Jane Seymour (2009)
07. Defender Of The Faith
08. Katherine Parr (2009)
09. Anne Of Cleves (2009)
10. Anne Boleyn (2009)
11. Tudorock
12. Tudorture (Reprise)

Running Time: 125 approx.

 photo Rick Wakeman - 6 Wives Live - DVD Back Cover_zpswopohvnd.jpg

Rick Wakeman Official Website: http://www.rwcc.com/

Music Review: Asia – Phoenix_Reissue_2016 2CD Special Edition

08 Aug 2016
As Seen On: ClassicRockRadio.co.uk
Classic Rock Reissue
Spotlight: Asia – Phoenix: 2 CD Special Edition (2008/2016)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

The very first day in the USA that the debut album by the super-group Asia came out, I purchased it (vinyl). Was in 1982. At a record store, in a shopping mall located in Eatontown, New Jersey (USA). Brought the new album home. I have remained a loyal Asia follower ever since.

Thirty four years later, and now I have a big stack of Asia releases. All on compact discs. I sold my record collection. My newest Asia addition, this reissue of their eleventh studio effort; Phoenix.

ORIGINAL ASIA – PHOENIX: 2 CD Special Edition (2008 / 2016).

 photo Asia - Phoenix - 2CD Special Edition - cover_zps6hfah7c3.jpg

An official re-issue. A double CD. The first on the band’s own ASIA MUSIC LTD label. Each audio disc similar, yet different in it’s presentation. It’s the ‘Phoenix’ album twice, with Disc One having more music on it, than Disc Two (The American Edition). Two extra tracks at the end of the disc. Located on the first disc that is labeled; The European Edition. Two songs from the original dozen, given the ‘acoustic remix’ treatment; I Will Remember You / An Extraordinary Life. And to give both songs a little extra flavor, playing the cello; Hugh McDowell. Good job!

Now for those who don’t know Asia’s history as much as I, the ‘Phoenix’ album marked the triumphant return of the original band line-up:

Steve Howe: Guitar
John Wetton: Bass / Main Vocals
Carl Palmer: Drums / Percussion
Geoffrey Downes: Keyboards

 photo Asia - Phoenix 2 CD Edition - boolet cover_zpsfcj2qhja.jpg

The first time all together and collaborating on a new project, since Asia’s second studio release; Alpha (1983).

Out of the twelve new tracks, seven would be written by Wetton / Downes. Two songs penned by Steve Howe. One song by the group. One by John Wetton, and then one song written by outside sources.

‘Phoenix’ was in the minds of many Asia followers, a real Asia record. In my ears, more prog-rock than the first two, which I always considered more mainstream prog-rock. Tight and to the point. ‘Phoenix’ is somewhat similar, but has a more adult contemporary feel to it. The instrumental passages are beautifully done. The album rocks with style and grace. When first released in 2007, ‘Phoenix’ charted. Was #73 according to Billboard Magazine. The closing track, ‘An Extraordinary Life’ was a worldwide hit. Album artwork by Roger Dean. And what I considered pretty classy, in Memoriam; Mike Stone (1951-2002). He produced the first two records that the four original Asia members were on.

Uncle G Closing Statement

A real pleasure to find this in my snail mail box. It’s a solid record, created and performed by some of my all time favorite rock musicians. This ‘Special 2 CD Edition’, a must have for all Asia fans. Puts the two versions of ‘Phoenix’ together in one cozy package. Works for me!

Note: Steve Howe would do three studio albums with Asia including ‘Phoenix’ after his return in 2006 (Asia 25th-Anniversary Reunion Tour). In 2013 he retired from the band to focus more on Yes, and his solo career. He was replaced by Sam Coulson. Rumor has it Wetton, Downes, Palmer, and Coulson are in the beginning stages working on new material for yet another new Asia project. Music to my / the stations ears!

Asia – Phoenix: 2CD Special Edition Track Listing:

DISC ONE: THE EUROPEAN EDITION
01. NEVER AGAIN
02. NOTHING’S FOREVER
03. HEROINE
04. SLEEPING GIANT / NO WAY BACK / REPRISE
05. ALIBIS
06. I WILL REMEMBER YOU
07. SHADOW OF A DOUBT
08. PARALLEL WORLDS / VORTEX / DEYA
09. WISH I’D KNOWN ALL ALONG
10. ORCHARD OF MINES
11. OVER AND OVER
12. AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE
13. I WILL REMEMBER YOU (ACOUSTIC REMIX)
14. AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE (ACOUSTIC REMIX)

DISC TWO: THE AMERICAN EDITION
01. NEVER AGAIN
02. NOTHING’S FOREVER
03. HEROINE
04. SLEEPING GIANT / NO WAY BACK / REPRISE
05. ALIBIS
06. I WILL REMEMBER YOU
07. SHADOW OF A DOUBT
08. PARALLEL WORLDS / VORTEX / DEYA
09. WISH I’D KNOWN ALL ALONG
10. ORCHARD OF MINES
11. OVER AND OVER
12. AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE

Good News: Available at a very good price. Check out the Cherry Red Record website for details:

http://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/phoenix-2cd-special-edition/