Thirty years into a band’s career is hardly the point where one would expect to find adventurous songwriting and career
defining songs, however that is exactly what Marillion have done with their 17th studio album, Sounds That Can’t Be Made. Arriving four years after their last proper studio album, Happiness Is The Road, STCBM took time to fully develop. Due to their solid business model and early adaptation to internet/online based marketing Marillion have developed the ability to work within their own timeframe, never rushing quality for the purpose of meeting release dates. In fact the album was to have been released prior to the band’s North American tour in 2012 but recording was still ongoing at the time. They are perfectionists when it comes to their craft and on this album it shows in all its glory.
Progressive rock giants Yes are currently touring across Canada with their 3 album tour, playing their classics Close To The Edge, Going For The One and The Yes Album (in that order). Reviews have been stellar, and the band is on fire (you can read my review of last year’s Toronto show here). In the meantime, the group have announced a summer tour of the U.S. along with their new album, Heaven and Earth, the first to feature new vocalist Jon Davison and second in a row to include keyboardist Geoff Downes.
Downes has got to be one of the hardest working men in music today. Along with his commitment to Yes, he and his colleagues in Asia have just release their new album, Gravitas, a memorable collection of songs that once again highlight the special songwriting tandem of Downes and bassist John Wetton. Geoff was kind enough to talk to us via email about Asia, Gravitas, being on the road with Yes and much more.
Andy Burns: Thanks for taking the time to talk to Biff Bam Pop again, Geoff! 2014 is already shaping up to be a big year for you – the new Asia album Gravitas is about to drop, you’re continuing the Yes Three Album tour, and there’s a new Yes album in the pipe. First question – how do you manage your time?
Geoff Downes: This year is particularly hectic, and it’s a credit to the management teams of both Yes & Asia for managing my time in this regard. Despite the tough schedule, it’s really exciting for me to have the two albums coming out, and of course performing on the tours as well. I think I can adapt to each band fairly quickly, but this year will certainly raise a few challenges.
Andy Burns: The new Asia album, Gravitas, is big and bold and confident, which is great considering you have a new, young guitarist in the band. How did you discover Sam Coulson?
Geoff Downes: I think it’s a very strong album, and both John & myself are really pleased with the way our compositions turned out. It’s always something of an unknown area when we start writing an album, but eventually the bits all start to fall into place. Having Sam (who was recommended to us) on board has also helped really bring the project to life.
I don’t think I’ve gotten a good handle on this particular pop-culture world or its increasing popularity over recent years. Still, I do love its visual aesthetic: Victorian era and/or ol’ West appeal, mashed with retro-future, steam-powered technology gizmos. Brass and metal. Gears and cogs.
In fact, Biff Bam Pop! has its own Steampunk representative, writer Marie Gilbert (the Steampunk Granny), who would do much better at describing the genre than I ever could.
Still, that doesn’t change the fact that I know something cool when I see it – and that cool thing comes out today…with a musical element you might not have expected.
Steampunk, meet famous Canadian prog rockers, Rush.
Today, let’s all meet Clockwork Angels.
Regular readers of Biff Bam Pop will know that your Editor-In-Chief is a massive fan of progressive rock, with my all time fave prog band being Yes. This morning I read the sad news that original guitarist Peter Banks had passed away a few days ago. Yes has had an astounding eighteen members pass through their ranks over their 45 year history, and with virtuoso Steve Howe guiding them through the 70’s and new millenium, and wunderkind Trevor Rabin reigniting the band for the 80’s, it’s easy for Peter Banks to be forgotten.
Truth be told, Yes’ debut is a personal favourite. The band is cookin’ and much more rock oriented than their masterworks would have you believe. With Banks and original keyboardist Tony Kaye, the band simply played in a way they never would again. As legend has it, The Who’s Pete Townshend was hugely impressed with Banks when he saw him perform live.
So tonight raise a glass to an unsung guitar hero. Rest In Peace, Peter Banks, and thanks for helping Yes begin their trailblazing journey
Roxy Music is one of the premminent art rock band of the 70’s, having introduced the world to legends Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno. The band’s back catalogue has been collected in the brand new Roxy Music: The Complete Studio Recordings Box Set, out now, compiles the band’s eight studio albums alongside a two-disc collection of b-sides, extended mixes and more. Check out our unboxing after the jump to see what’s contained in the collection, and keep your eyes open for a review of the music coming soon! Read the rest of this entry
One of Canada’s highly regarded progressive rock bands has always been Saga. Songs like Wind Him Up, The Flyer and On The Loose are ingrained in our rock and roll psyche and are probably being played on a classic rock radio station at this very moment. While the band has always possessed a unique sound, their brand new studio album 20/20 is a timeless addition to Saga’s catalogue. It marks the return of lead singer Michael Sadler to the fold after a multi-year absence, one that, as he explains below in our exclusive email interview, wasn’t due to any sort of band turmoil. Get the scoop of Sadler’s return to the fold, 20/20 and Saga playing live after the jump.
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Edison’s Children is the culmination of efforts between Marillion/Transatalantic bassist Pete Trawavas and Eric Blackwood. Their first album In The Last Waking Moments…was released to critical acclaim in November 2011. The album is a first in that it features all 5 members of Marillion on different songs. Darrin Cappe caught up with Eric, Pete and Wendy Pastore at The Opera House on Wed June 20 2012 just prior to the Marillion show. Read on after the jump!
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Can a band that’s been around more than 40 years really hit the heights of yesteryear?
In the case of Yes, the answer is…well, you know.
Last night in Rama, Ontario, the band (one of my favourites) kicked off their summer tour, which also serves as a North American introduction to their new lead singer, Jon Davison, who has some pretty big shoes to fill. Did he do it? Find out after the jump?
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There was a time when one could argue that The Smashing Pumpkins were the biggest band in the world. In the mid-1990’s, after the loss of Kurt Cobain and before Radiohead’s OK Computer and the resurgence of U2, there was Billy Corgan’s shaved head, lanky body and iconic ‘Zero’ shirt representing a generation. But by the late-90’s, and for the first decade of this millennium, The Smashing Pumpkins became a revolving door of members, even officially breaking-up and reuniting (albeit with a new band) in 2005. The band’s output during this period can be best described as disjointed, self-indulgent and more of a Billy Corgan solo endeavour than a true band experience.
Add It To The Collection: Canada’s greatest exports since hockey are back with their 20th studio album, Clockwork Angels, which sees the 38-year-old band delivering a new twist on the sound that can only be described as Rush. The 12 tracks on Clockwork Angels form a narrative that tells the story of a young man travelling through a dark fictional world. The album has a very big, cinematic feel to it, but even if a sci-fi/prog-rock concept album isn’t your thing, there’s enough melody and great riffing on Clockwork Angels to make this album as listenable as anything the band has ever done.