Downes Braide Association – Skyscraper Souls

As Seen On Classic Rock Radio (UK)

Uncle G’s FUN Music Reviews

Spotlight: Downes Braide Association (DBA 3) – Skyscraper Souls (2017)

Label: Cherry Red Records

By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown

Twitter: GBrown0816

Downes_Braide - DBA 3 - cover

On first listen, I wasn’t immediately drawn in. Neither was a good friend of mine. My advice to him was to not forget our ‘play twice rule’. It was agreed upon over twenty fives ago between the two of us that if we listened to something twice and hated it … that we would move onto the next musical offering. My buddy, KDiddy, a brother from another mother, always seemed to have a bigger musical palette then I did. Our taste in music is similar but at the same time, different. For over a quarter century now, we have been turning each other on to each other’s music collection. Between us both, we could seriously set a playlist for a 24/7 radio station. Would be second to the best classic rock station already on the PLANET; Classic Rock Radio (UK).

So it ends up when playing DBA 3, that I got past the ‘play twice rule’ easily. Every listen thereafter helping me conclude that this newest studio release from Geoffrey Downes/Christopher Braide … exceeds anything I would ever hope for in a modern-day progressive rock album. Not that I completely gave up hope on such a thing. 

Uncle G’s … Past First Impression(s)

A well engineered/mixed recording. Perfect length. Piano/Keyboard heavy. An abundance of lyrics. Keys and vocals unite! Stand out backing musicians. Beautiful artwork by Roger Dean. Am jumping around … I conclude DBA 3 Skyscraper Souls; “ a work of genius!” I’ll explain.

Was shocked when the CD started. Vocals at the very beginning. The more you listen, the more the eardrums respond. The brain awakens. Something exciting is about to happen. And it does! Track one entitled ‘Prelude’ will also help give this nine-track album, a very nice outro. Lead vocals by Christopher Braide. I was told by the sweetest lady here in Fort Collins that Chris’ singing really stood out. That he had a nice tone. She’s a musician herself. Peer to peer evaluation. I will tell folks that Chris’ vocals are pleasant to these ears. So many kings of keyboards worked with singers whose performances make a person want to spew. I actually own a lot of Geoff’s music catalog. The man has done better than most celebrated piano/keys players regarding vocalists; Asia – RIP John Wetton.

It’s track two, the title track, Skyscraper Souls, that is totally mind blowing. Clocks in at around 18 minutes. Totally seamless. And this is where the word ‘masterpiece’ comes in. Accompanied by complimenting backing vocalist. Intelligent lyrics akin to the kind of poetry one reads under a tree, escaping the everyday pressures of being an adult. Amazes me each and every time I give it a spin. All nine songs contain lyrics worthy of paying attention to. Adult musings/observations. I try to sing along, but when I do the dogs in the hood gather, and then start vocalizing loudly in my general direction. Widdled it down to it now being a sing-along, or a request from the entire pack to get me to stop.

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Vanna (photo by “Uncle G”)

Typically when playing music, I listen to an album, from start to finish. No skipping around like it’s a greatest hits offering. I recommend those interested, to do the same … DBA 3 Skyscraper Souls. Rewards are plentiful. A wonderful array of professional musicians are included to help complete the nine compositions. Three core players: Ash Soan (drums_percussion), Andy Hodge (bass), and Dave Colquhoun (lead guitar). Andy Partridge (multi-instrumentalist_singer) is on four tracks. Various talented background singers; Matthew Koma_Tim Bowness. Guitarist Patrick Howley guests on; Angel On My Shoulder. Throw in the flute (David Longdon), a trumpet (Matt  Bourne Jones) and a cool guy doing narrative: Barney Ashton Bullock. All tracks are written and produced by; Geoffrey Downes and Christopher Braide. For myself … what’s not to like? Awashed with reminders of the 1980’s; The Police, Toto, and a group called; The Buggles. Remember them? Not a hard rock offering by any means. There are upbeats moments where you can wiggle your bum while under the DBA 3 influence.

Gary “Uncle G” Brown RATES … Geoffrey Downes – Christopher Braide: Skyscraper Souls (2017)

Using a one to five-star rating system whereas one star would mean it’s not even worth a free download, to five stars … the best of the best. “Uncle G” gives DBA 3 – Skyscraper Souls … 5 STARS! I played this on hundred dollar headphones … wow! Could only imagine what DBA 3 would sound like on … two hundred dollar headphones! Maybe one day the opportunity will present itself?

Helpful Websites

Official Roger Dean Website:

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

Classic Rock Radio (UK): Classic Rock Vaults

As Seen On:

Written by: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

Classic Rock Radio - Vaults



Hard for me to believe, the time has gone by so quickly. I remember as if it was yesterday.

The year was 2012. There I was in my townhouse, located in southwest Houston Texas, USA. It’s early in the morning. I have awoken and was now in my daily routine of drinking coffee and spending time on the Internet. Wearing briefs and not boxers. On Facebook, I was still a newbie. A large reason why I signed on the mega popular website was due to a half brother. From another mother, and a whole decade older than yours truly. A cool cat or so I thought. And a tale I’ll elaborate more on, at another time. Meanwhile, I’ll tell the story about how I met UK’s radio personality, Jon Kirkman aka ‘Mister Classic Rock Radio’. The title has a nice ring to it, I think. Not that anyone calls him that to my knowledge.  

Back in the last part of the 20th century, in my spare time, I was helping a few professional musicians with their world wide web social media; Yahoo Groups. Jon Kirkman signed on to both the one I was coordinating for Michael Bruce (original member of the Alice Cooper Band) and one I was doing for Peter Banks (original member of Yes). Through private emails, and instant messages Jon and I got to know each other. The results were that we became very good friends. Having the love of prog-rock in common, we ended up doing a few snail mail trades. Cassette or on recordable CDs. I bet in my storage unit located a thousand miles away, that I still have everything Jon sent my way. In their original mailing envelopes. And I kept my promise to this day of not doing trades with certain items; interviews that Jon conducted.

With all the communicating Jon and I did back and forth, it came out that not only was I an Internet music trader (motivated by Michael Bruce) but that I was into acquiring radio ‘interviews’ as well. In the real world, I routinely worked my ass off. A full (40 hours) and a part-time job (20 hours) when needed. I’ve kept employed being available seven days a week. Team player (insert the sound of laughter). Plus my eyes were always open to making money on the side. The collecting I always considered a hobby. Healthier for me than doing pints, sitting in a pub all night.  And much cheaper.

Now, remember, when Jon subscribed to Yahoo Groups that I was the administrator of, he didn’t say anything about being a radio DJ (disc jockey). Or that he did projects outside of that, such as authoring music reviews or CD liner notes. Having mutual friends as well, I remember when finding out all that, thinking it was pretty cool. Interesting way to make a living. I knew a few others in radio. Later on came Jon’s MC gig doing cruises that focused on classic rock acts such as Yes, or The Moody Blues. Not ever able to go myself, Jon in the past, has brought me back some items that he knew I’d like. Always appreciated! To this day we have a very solid friendship. No need to communicate with each other every day. We’ll an email or phone call away. Both of us admitted musicaholics. No getting away from it, and why would we if we could?  

Classic Rock Vaults

Besides listening to music on the radio in the 1960’s and 70’s as a youngin growing up on the New Jersey Shore (USA), I also listened to the news, radio theater, and interviews with people I liked or interested me. Or believe it or not, sometimes to people I absolutely hated, just to get into their mindset some. Nowadays, someone like the retired entertainer David Letterman comes to mind. Out there talking downright shit to anyone who will listen. Others similar to him; Roger Waters. Usually political and somehow interested/involved in America’s political system.  Strongly disagreeing with the words I may hear, I still intently listen to their message and respect others point of view. I do this also to question my own instincts. Check to see if mentally I am on the right path.

Back then I was very inquisitive. What I heard out of those crappy speakers that I reluctantly called my own, helped satisfy that natural desire as a youth to learn. And what do you know, I just so carried that over to adulthood. To this day I’m still curious if the carpet matches the drapes, and love with a passion, the old and 21st century radio presentation. Music-wise and or intellectually. Just as good, yet another behind the scenes story about how the members of my favorite band Yes, all hate one another. Check it out. There are TWO Yes’ now. Divorce wiped me out. I can’t afford to see one. That can change. My choices; Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman on their next tour? Or Yes featuring Steve Howe and Alan White is touring this summer with Carl Palmer (playing the hits of ELP dedicated to Greg and Keith), and some Todd dude who hates Republicans and requests that none go to the concert. Cracks me up! Hopefully, he’ll  rescind that, forget the politics, and play the music he’s known for. Entertain the masses. Better for business.  

Back to the subject at hand, now with the Internet, there are no limitations to what you can find. Including, if you poke around right on this very website,  a Keith Emerson interview from 2002, archived and presented by the man who conducted it. For a Classic Rock Radio (UK) listener, a new choice that perfectly compliments the experience one gets when tuning in, and spending time digging around our shit (said in a complementary way … of course).

If not for being a contributor to Classic Rock Radio (UK), and getting a free membership to our new Classic Rock Vaults, I would bend over backward to join. Well, being older now that might not be physically possible for me to do anymore. The cost is mere pennies a day. New stuff being added all the time, hand picked by Jon and the crew. It’s my kind of thing. Interesting interviews with musicians who make the music I like listening to the best. And Mr. Kirkman … this guy could easily win any classic rock trivia contest. The man does his homework. One can easily tell by just kicking back (careful not to fall out of the chair), turning up the volume, and enjoying all that is located in the Classic Rock Vaults of Classic Rock Radio (UK).

Uncle G’s Picks

In the fifth, I’ll take ‘Undignified’ … only joking!

PLAYING NOW (Classic Rock Vaults)

Jay Schellen: Jon interviewed him very recently; Cruise To The Edge 2017. What a cool guy! To replace Alan White (drummer for John Lennon_Yes) you gotta be good. And that Jay is. Seasoned professional. I have been following Jay’s career for some time now. In my opinion, Jay Schellen is; the real deal!

Billy Sherwood: Again, filmed on the last ‘Cruise to The Edge’ … tickets for the 2018Cruise To The Edge ON SALE NOW … just sayin’. Billy chats to Jon about a tour he did with original Yes keys player Tony Kaye a few years back, his career in general which includes being a member in Yes and Asia, and an up and coming tribute album to his dearly departed friend, bass player and also an original member of Yes, Chris Squire. Filled with information fans would dig knowing.

Ian Anderson: Chats with Jon just last year about a re-issued Jethro Tull album from way back called; Jethro Tull – Stand Up (1969). The band’s second release, and their first with guitarist Martin Barre, who stayed with the group up until a few years ago. I saw Jethro Tull twice in concert; 1977 and 1993. Superior musicians. Fun music! The ‘Stand Up’ reissue is a ‘Steven Wilson’ project. What a musical genius he is! If unaware, check out a band he was in called; Porcupine Tree. Again, Jon Kirkman conducts a perfect conversation, making for a very informative and entertaining presentation. What one expects if aware of Jon’s work.

Wrapping this up, I feel ‘Classic Rock Vaults’ is a wonderful premium addition for our loyal listeners, that is certainly worth every penny charged. A couple pounds a month … a few bucks a month. Helps support the station (example; maintenance fees), and opens the door to conversations you just haven’t heard yet.  So what are you waiting for?

Oh, if we could get a favor out of you? Please pass on, and tell your friends! Classic Rock Vaults … a new feature here at Classic Rock Radio (UK). Updated frequently. So keep tuning in … and on behalf of myself and the wonderful people here at Classic Rock Radio (UK) and Classic Rock Vaults … THANKS! Hope y’all enjoy … feel free to give feedback or suggestions to anyone on the staff.

Classic rock NEWS: John Wetton Battles Cancer

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

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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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Uncle G’s 5 Picks

06 Dec 2016

Uncle G’s 5 Picks
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

The newest Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame Inductee Ceremony will take place next April. Voting for the 2017 event started this past October 18th and ended last night (Dec 5th) at 11:59pm. The nominees were as follows: Bad Brains / Chaka Khan / Chic / Depeche Mode / Electric Light Orchestra / J Geils Band / Jane’s Addiction / Janet Jackson / Joan Baez / Joe Tex / Journey / Kraftwerk / MC5 / Pearl Jam / Steppenwolf / The Cars / The Zombies / Tupac Shakur / Yes

Uncle G’s Honorable Mentions

Only because other acts deserve to be acknowledged beforehand: The Cars … GREAT band! Ripe for the 2018 outing for sure. And ‘Journey’ … not that I ever liked them much. I have friends who dig them. I can’t say they totally suck. My own personal CD music collection, which I am sure has well over 3,000 different titles … not one ‘Journey” anything. Yet, if a song of theirs came on the radio, I might not change the channel.

Oh, one more: Joan Baez. An exceptional musician. Large fanbase. She played Woodstock. But I can’t call myself a fan. Just not the type of music (folk) I prefer listening to. I would think she deserves being inducted, before say someone like Michael Jackson’s sister. Joan’s been around over five decades now. Long overdue.

Uncle G’s Top 5 Picks

My choices are: ELO / J Geils Band / Kraftwerk / Steppenwolf / Yes

Yes: Always a favorite band of mine. I got into them back in the first half of the 1970’s. My first real rock concert was Yes, touring their 7th studio album; Relayer. Every band / musician that I saw after, I always compared. Getting to see Yes in concert, and especially while back in the 1970’s, remains some of the best rock experiences in my life.

Note: I never been a follower of the RnRHoF. Can’t say I agree with whatever all their policies are. I ‘picked 5’ for the same reason I usually pick my favorites for the Oscars. Not that I personally care about the institutions that are behind them, but because ‘to me’, my selections are the ones that I really do feel should receive the praise that comes with them being selected.

Music Review_Circa: Valley Of The Windmill

As Seen On
Spotlight: Circa: Valley Of The Windmill (2016 Frontiers Records)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

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The newest Circa: record has recently hit the store shelves; Circa: Valley Of The Windmill. I ordered mine from Amazon Dot Com, a few days after it was released. Was a reasonable price, and it arrived in good time. The pre-sale promotion had me hooked. Four songs, for a total of around fifty minutes. The longest of them, the closing number entitled ‘Our Place Under The Sun’. Almost nineteen minutes. Just knowing that can make a long time progressive rock fan like myself, damn near wet themselves. After all, one characteristic of progressive rock, is the composition of longer musical arrangements. Now, throw in a quote from Circa: guitarist and vocalist Billy Sherwood saying how ‘super proggy’ the new release is, and it’s purchased without even hearing one note played. At least it was that way for me.

Circa: been around since 2007. This is their fourth studio effort. Joining Billy Sherwood, is original Yes keyboardist, Tony Kaye, who’s been with Circa: like Billy, from the beginning. Other players have come and go. Circa: 2016 also includes Scott Connor (Drums and Percussion), and Rick Tierney (bass). ‘Valley Of The Windmill’ is produced by Circa:, and was recorded and mixed by the master himself, Billy Sherwood.

Uncle G Discusses … Circa: Valley Of The Windmill

The first track called ‘Silent Resolve’ starts off for a few seconds real mellow like, and then kicks in. It’s the one song out of the four, that has continually stayed in my head, pretty much since the first play of the CD. For the most part up-tempo, as is the rest of the album. All musicians involved do a great job, but it’s Billy’s guitar work that for me makes this song so infectious. And speaking of which, this album marks the first time Billy played lead guitar and not bass on a Circa: studio offering. Does fantastic!

It’s the second track entitled ‘Empire Over’, where I can say it’s Tony’s playing that really makes the song for me. I love hearing his keyboard work, which is not only outstanding on this song, but throughout this whole album. Fans of Mr. Kaye work will rejoice knowing he’s don’t hold anything back, and that his trademark Hammond sound, is here in all it’s glory.

The rest of the album sparkles. Behind the drum kit, Scott Connor is there keeping things lively, along with Rick on bass. The lyrics are sharp, and holds one attention. Billy’s a fine lead vocalist, and always has been. The last two songs as as good as the first two. Bonus: Circa: Valley Of The Windmill has a cool looking album cover to boot. It’s the pure definition of a real progressive rock album, inside and out. Looks like one … Sounds like one … MUST be one!

Uncle G Rates … Circa: Valley Of The Windmill

Using the one to five star rating system, whereas one star would equate to drinking warm beer out of a can, and five stars equaling the best draft beer available in a chilled mug on a hot Summer day, I rate the new Circa: record, Valley Of The Windmill … 5 stars! Would like to see the band tour this record. At least do a few shows and have them filmed for audio / visual release. Am sure fans would be more than interested. I’d try to make one show if I could. California here I come?

Music Review: The Prog Collective – Epilogue

As Seen On:
First Published: Sunday, 29 September 2013
Spotlight: The Prog Collective – Epilogue (2013 Purple Pyramid)
By: Gary “Uncle G” Brown
Twitter @GBrown0816

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Since arriving in my mailbox, the newest from Billy Sherwood’s The Prog Collective called Epilogue has been occupying all my spare time. I simply fell into it, and have been stuck in all its groovy prog-ness ever since first opening it up.

Like the debut Prog Collective recording, the foundation for this second offering called Epilogue, has been put in place by ex-Yes member Billy Sherwood. A multi-instrumentalist with over twenty years experience as a professional musician on stage and behind the scenes. I reviewed Billy’s work for Classic Rock Radio Dot EU on more than one occasion. My review of the first Prog Collective mentioned something about it being more on the melodic side than being a real rocker. A little time later and the second offering from The Prog Collective comes out called Epilogue. It not only addressed the issue I had, but in my ears took my suggestion. For there is enough real rocking out moments included in Epilogue so as to motivate the wiggling of any prog-heads bums should they be so inclined to do so. Am happy about that, for playing rock music in general is the reason I started listening to many of the superb players that are included in this fine new release.

The songs here are presented in typical prog-rock style; airy yet meaningful lyrics, long instrumental passages, different time changes, and styles of playing. That in a nutshell is, at least to me, what a good definition of what prog-rock is. Yet it’s also way more. Those who admit to being a fan know what I’m talking about. Hard to describe but I do know this. Prog Rock music fans are real music fans. We appreciate more than anything musicians who dedicate themselves to their craft. In prog, that’s pretty much commonplace. So prepare to come out of the shadows. Prog Rock fans unite.

The first song on the CD is also the first song to get stuck in my head titled “Are We To Believe?” Besides Mr. Sherwood, who is always doing something on every song, giving him some help here is Rick Wakeman (Yes), Colin Moulding (XTC), Steve Hillage (Gong), and Mel Collins (King Crimson). When Mel’s part comes in, I was immediately reminded of another Sherwood project called The Fusion Syndicate. Also on Purple Pyramid Records by the way. Came out last year. A solid CD and worth seeking out if you haven’t already. Anyway…so back to Epilogue, the CD starts off sounding like…well…prog rock. From the mainstream to those musicians so involved they sleep with their instruments (U Know Who U R), and simply never losing focus of what real prog rock sounds like.

Let me remind you that each song on Epilogue contains a who’s who of super-star prog rock musicians. John Wetton (UK / Asia), Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater_Billy Idol), and John Westley (Porcupine Tree_Steven Wilson) are on the second track with an another example of what a prog rock song should song like. Titled “What Can Be Done?” reminds me of some of the work Mister Wetton did when he was with the group King Crimson.

When I heard the third track for the first time called “Adding Fuel To The Fire”, I knew we had a winner here. It’s the rock in prog I always find most rewarding. The guest stars are Fee Waybill (The Tubes), Steve Morse (Deep Purple), and John Westley (Steven Wilson_Porcupine Tree).

“Tomorrow Never Comes” is yet another superb song found on this album. An old acquaintance, Peter Banks (original Yes guitarist) is on it. One of his last performances sadly, for Banks passed away in the first part of this year. On keyboards, Larry Fast (Nektar_Peter Gabriel) and providing wonderful vocals, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air).

“Shining Diamonds” is a showcase to display a knock-out lineup of Alan Parsons (The Alan Parsons Project), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Patrick Moraz (Refugee_The Moody Blues), and Chris Squire (Conspiracy). The latter of the two, their first time on a new recording since the seventies (Yes – Relayer / Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water). Long overdue with both of their performances as good as any previous collaborations.

The seventh song is “Memory Tracks” with Billy Sherwood playing all instruments and just a tad help in the vocal department from none other than Roye Albrighton from the super prog rock band Nektar. Together their vocals make this one of the best singing performances on the album. Warning…this song also includes crazy cool keyboards. At around the 5:10 mark, just as the harmonies fade, crank up the volume. One of the best songs on the whole CD. A wonderful showcase for displaying Mr. Sherwood’s musical abilities.

“Just Another Day” is Billy Sherwood on lead vocals, with Gary Green (Gentle Giant) and Tony Kaye (ex-original Yes & present day Circa:) on keyboards. Segments into the closing number real well. The title song “Epilogue” contains some serious rock drumming from Jim Cuomo (Fireballet), and get this, spoken word from Hollywood’s William Shatner. For this is one of his BETTER musical moments.

Check it out, prog rock in of itself was made to include such things as Shatner’s spoken word performance. The Moody Blues and Rick Wakeman have included narrative in some of their biggest sellers. Leave it to Billy Sherwood to be able to find just the right vibe so as to present the iconic actor in the right environment. That and Cumom’s drum work is exceptional.

Rating: Using a one to five star rating system, Uncle G gives The Prog Collective – Epilogue 5 solid stars. Having played it enough times so when I hear it now, I know I’m playing a superbly finely crafted prog-rock album. Am looking forward to additional Prog Collective projects coming down the pike. Purple Pyramid take notice. The Prog Collective is a winner, as is their newest CD Epilogue.

Update: Billy Sherwood is now again with the band Yes, replacing co-founder Chris Squire, who passed away in 2015 (27 June).