Every year when we do our Holiday Gift Guide I make sure to throw some prog rock into the mix. I love the genre, and there always seems to be some cool new stuff coming from the bands I’m into. This year was no exception.
From A Page Studio Tracks Plus In The Present: Live From Lyon
This release came as a complete surprise to all of us Yes fans. With the full cooperation of current Yesmen Steve Howe and Alan White, keyboardist Oliver Wakeman, who toured with the band from 2008 – 2011 compiled the unreleased studio tracks he worked on with Howe, White, Chris Squire and Benoit David for From A Page. They amount to 26 minutes of previously unheard material which also happens to be some of the best music Yes has made in the past 30 years. The four songs contained work beautifully together and demonstrate that both Wakeman and vocalist David were more than capable of living up the band members whose shoes they had stepped into (in the case of Oliver, the shoes just happened to belong to his legendary father, Rick Wakeman).
Along with new album art from Roger Dean and a booklet written by Oliver that details the recording process for these songs, From A Page also contains the previously released In The Present: Live From Lyon from this lineup with a previously Japan-only bonus song now included. The release is a pleasant surprise that is an integral piece of Yesmusic.
You can order From A Page exclusively from Burning Shed here.
2018 marked the 50th anniversary of Yes, and the band hit the road for a celebratory tour that featured music from throughout Yes’s huge catalogue. This collection features the majority of the set the band played nightly, minus a few repeats from their previous live album, Topographic Drama. The playing is excellent of course, and there are guest appearances from alumni Patrick Moraz on ‘Soon’ and original Yes keyboardist Tony Kate, who shines on the final three songs ‘Yours Is No Disgrace’, ‘Roundabout’, and ‘Starship Trooper’.
You can order 50 Live here.
Heaven and Earth
Another year, another absolutely massive King Crimson box set for fans of one of the genre’s greatest bands. Heaven and Earth contains 18 CDs, 4 Blu-ray discs (1 video and 3 audio content) and 2 DVDs (all audio content) that trace the band from their fractalization and experimental explorations in various forms through to their double duo line-up of Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn. You’ll find an outstanding new version of their 2000 studio album The Construkction of Light featuring newly recorded drums by Mastelotto, hours and hours live performances and so much more. Along with all the music, Heaven and Earth also contains copious liner notes and memorabilia.
This is a lot to take in to be sure, and not for casual King Crimson fans at all. However, for those willing to take a deep dive into a less-appreciated era of the band, there is a lot of amazing music to be discovered.
You can order Heaven and Earth here.
The Later Years 1987 – 2019
Of all the titles here, this is the one I don’t currently have in my possession. It’s out on Friday, December 13th and, believe me, I am counting down the days. The Later Years collection features remixed and re-edited audio and video across 18 discs, with the big selling point for me the new version of Pink Floyd’s 1987 album, A Momentary Lapse of Reason. The original edition featured little to no performances from Floyd members Nick Mason and Richard Wright, a fact that David Gilmour has now rectified. This new edition features newly recorded drum parts from Mason along with a healthy use of Rick Wright keyboards that were either not originally included from the studio or that have been brought in from live performances. I can’t wait to hear it.
The Later Years also includes previously unreleased live shows from Venice and Knebworth, surround mixes of the post-87 Floyd studio albums, lyric and photo books and much more.
You order The Later Years here.
Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition
Yes, I know The Beatles aren’t prog rock, but come on! The second side medley on Abbey Road is pretty darn proggy in my book. This gorgeous set was released to honour the 50th anniversary of what many figure is the greatest album the Fab Four ever recorded (let’s not fight about it – everybody has their fave; Abbey Road is mine). Contained in this Super Deluxe set is a new remix from Giles Martin, along with a wide assortment of previously unreleased takes that show how the band developed the album along the way.
Like all these box sets, there are beautifully illustrated liner notes that go into great detail into about the recording of such a pivotal recording. There are lots of box sets out there devoted to particular albums. This is one of the best.
Get the Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition here.