Lee Speaks About Music… #103

Cocoon – Tiger Moth Tales



I recently stumbled across a multi talented instrumentalist by the name of Peter Jones whilst listening to some other album on Bandcamp to which did not attract my taste buds enough to purchase it. But whilst I was over on Bandcamp I started to glance at the recommended albums on the bottom of the page and stumbled upon this album with Jones doing some old Genesis songs. I played “Seven Stones” from that album and was quite taken by how very well he sang it. Though I have to confess that as much as I can enjoy people doing tributes to Genesis tribute songs are not the sort of thing I would personally buy, though he did do something quite special I thought with that particular song.

The more I actually looked at the guy it also became more apparent to me that this is the same guy who has been touring with the prog rock band Camel and playing keyboards for them. And low and behold it was. Upon on doing some more research into his background and watching various footage I found of him on Youtube. I then found out that he is quite a good guitar player as well, and plays it just like Jeff Healey did on his lap like a keyboard, and when I stumbled upon this next video on Youtube playing and singing GenesisMusical Box“. That just blew me away enough to delve deeper into this guys life and find out more.

Peter Jones is quite young and his musical journey is quite a revelation in the way his own music career has evolved and developed over the years. His debut album Cocoon he put out under the name of his own project Tiger Moth Tales back in 2014 is certainly quite a change in relation to the music he was originally doing beforehand. But before I run briefly through his history and the rest of this truly really GREAT! album. Let’s take a look at the artwork and packaging.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The CD comes in a quality DigiSleeve with a slip pocket on both sides to hold the CD and the Booklet. The 8 page booklet contains all the linear production notes and includes the lyrics and is quite informative. The albums artwork was done by Neil Martin and overall it’s a very neat and tidy presentation and well made package.

Peter Jones A Brief Bit Of History…

Peter Jones was born in Nottingham England back in 1980 and went blind at an early age but music always played a major role in his life since he first heard it, and he had his first piano at the age of 4. By the time he reached 8 years old in 1988 he won the junior final of the BBC’s Song for Christmas competition. Over the years he took up learning to play many other instruments such as the recorder, clarinet whilst still at school, and a bit later after he had left school the saxophone and guitar. Also after he left school he formed a pop duo with his singer friend Emma Paine to which they spent the next 10 years playing pop covers and some original songs around his local town and they went by the name of 2 TO GO.

2 TO GO done quite well and in 2001 they were finalists on the BBC’s Star for a Night which was a British Talent show program that run between the years 2000 – 2001. I suppose in a way both Peter & Emma were a bit like the pop duo Peters & Lee that we got to see in the 70’s. In 2004 the couple entered the X Factor and once again were finalists and came 7th out of the 8 who made the final that year. This allowed them into the National Arena X Factor Tour that took place in 2005. This short video shows the pair of them performing on the X Factor and Peter has certainly changed over the years.

A lot of things have changed since those days and this next video clip taken from an interview with Peter Jones he gave a few years ago, explains how he made his decision to go into making prog rock music these days instead of wanting to make pop music.

I have to say it’s perhaps quite a phenomenal change to make in the first place, but no doubt this guy cannot only play and sing, but he also has the ability to write great music too. His project Tiger Moth Tales has certainly earned him the respect from many prog rock fans over the years, and enough to make even more well known prog rock artists to take note of him and his talent too. Andy Latimer of Camel certainly took note of his talent and he’s done an incredible job for the band since joining them in 2015 to replace Guy Leblanc who passed away in the same year.

The Album In Review…

Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales was released on White Knight Records on the 15th December 2014. The album contains 11 tracks to which are a mixture of vocal and instrumental tracks and it comes with an overall playing time of 69 minutes, 20 seconds. The album itself is very much self produced and written and recorded by Peter Jones in his own personal home studio. He also plays all the instruments on the album apart from the flugelhorn to which a friend of his played and the drums to which he programmed. The biggest majority of the album was recorded on a Tascam 488 Portastudio MK2 which is basically an 8 Track Cassette Recorder like the one pictured below.

Tascam PortaStudio 488 MK2

For the final mix he used some Goldwave software and Audacity and a few other bits of software and that was basically it. I have to say he has done exceptionally well with the production with the use of what little he had in the first place. But the album was originally an experiment and not intended to be released in the first place. At the time Jones had a bit of writers block when it came for him to work on another one of his pop albums, and he could not decide what would be fitting to put out with the way the music industry was going in the pop charts.

At the time he tried to record something he was listening to the children’s program Trumpton and picked up on the music that Freddie Phillips used to write for those sort of programs including Camberwick Green and Chigley. So he decided to play his guitar around those type of tunes and started singing to it and made up some words to fit in with the music. The piece eventually developed into a 9 minute prog rock epic that was to become known later as “A Visit To Chigwick“. Having decided he quite liked his new creation, he more or less continued in the same style to complete the album.

Musicians & Credits…


Written Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones. Recorded at Peter Jones home studio between 2013 – 2014 in Nottingham. Artwork & Design by Neil Martin.


Peter Jones: Vocals/Keyboards/Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Sarod/Saxophone/Melodica/Whistle/Zither/Bells/Percussion/Drum Programming.
Mark Wardle: Flugelhorn.

The Album Tracks In Review…

The name Tiger Moth Tales that Peter Jones came up with for his project is very much inspired by his love of the music done by Steve Hackett and Genesis. Tigermoth is also a story based song from Hackett’s 3rd album Spectral Mornings and there is no doubt that some of the music of Peter Jones is very heavily influenced by Steve Hackett.

I suppose in a way even the record label he is on White Knight Records also has a connection with the name, because the label itself is run by Rob Reed of Magenta who’s own label is Tigermoth Records and White Knight Records is a collaborative record label run by Rob Reed and Will Mackie.

Cocoon is very much a concept album and the word itself can also be seen as a form of self-protection and a sense of security from our early childhood days being protected by our parents and family, and later breaking out of our shells so to speak and coming to terms with growing up and all the things it presents to us. Including the imaginary and mysteries as well as the loss. The concept album is also presented to you in a theatrical, dramatic and even comical way in some cases.

It’s not an album that has a continuous story running throughout it, and is more like a series of events that come out to play during the stages of growing up and coming to terms with things, and perhaps takes in the changes just like the 4 seasons of the year. However my own observation of the 4 seasons is really down to the fact that for some reason there are 4 little ditties on this album named after the 4 seasons of the year, and I am not sure why they have been included. But basically Peter Jones could be seen as a person who is setting children’s stories and tales to prog rock music, and that perhaps reflects even more so on his next album that was to follow it.

To be honest I know very little about Peter Jones. But the one thing I can instantly gather by his music, is that this guy has a remarkable amount of talent and skill, and is quite a remarkable musician who has a truly great gift. Not all musicians have this guys talent I can assure you, and Peter Jones was perhaps blessed with his talent. So let’s take a deeper look into this truly GREAT album as I go through the individual tracks.

Track 1. Overture.

The album kicks off with a 4 and half minute instrumental piece with it’s “Overture” which is basically the beginning or a starting point. To be honest I not sure why he wanted to even have an overture as like I said this is not really a continuous story like War Of The Worlds sort of thing. If anything this piece is more like the sort of thing Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman would of done on albums like Jabberwocky and The Hound Of The Baskervilles which are continuous stories and not an album made up of different stories and situations sort of thing. So this particular track might sound out of place on and album like this for example.

However this quite dramatic, wondrous and adventurous piece does also take in some of the melodies from other pieces that appear throughout the album, the last track in particular. I can even hear some melodies from a track or two on his next album that followed it too though I could be mistaken. So effectively it is not really out of place and is placed as a starting point to portray the events that are about to unfold later on and throughout the album. I like it’s fast pace and it’s perhaps in Galloping mode and could even paint a picture in one’s mind that they are charging or riding into one big adventurous story.

Musically it’s very well structured and because it’s perhaps a bit more keyboard orientated and orchestrated sort of thing, it is something more like what Clive Nolan & Oliver Wakeman would of done rather than Steve Hackett or Genesis. You could also easily associate it with film and TV music as well, but this is also a track I would even be comfortable with listening to it as a track on its own as well. So you do not have to have the bigger picture for it to work. Jones also gets the chance to play sax on the piece as well and that is another instrument he can play very well too.

I also like the sound effects he used at the beginning which sounds like he’s inserting a VHS Video Tape into the machine to give you the impression that he’s putting a film on, and the album also ends off with him stopping the tape and taking it out. Over all it’s a GREAT! track and is a very promising start to what potentially could be a very exciting album.

Track 2. Spring.

The first of the seasonal little interludes that are placed throughout the album which all run for about half minute. They are all field recordings that capture the nature of each season and this season we get the sounds of the wind, river, birds and sheep and this one even gets accompanied by a bit of organ. It’s well apt and represents spring very well, although I am not really sure it fits being placed here as the 2nd track on the album, especially after an instrumental track.

But nevertheless these little ditties are quite pleasant and soothing and they are not long enough to really be annoying. I cannot imagine anyone who has the album on vinyl record, getting up out of their seat to skip the track either :)))))).

Track 3. The Isle Of Witches.

The first of the vocal tracks on the album is a story about 3 witches who dominate an island, and few wizards who decided to go into battle to take back the island and rid the witches of their evil powers sort of thing. The song or rather story itself opens with Jones narrating the words and telling you the story, and I have to say he’s not only got a great singing voice but the expression he uses in his voice for putting over a story like this, is really excellent. It even sounds like he brought in some famous actor to narrate the story for him.

The piece itself is 11 minutes long, and the first couple of those minutes of the track is utilised well enough for Jones to put across the very dark story and it’s like him reading the story to a classroom of kids sort of thing. Even the waves of the sea in the background is very appropriate for the setting. I like the way he opens up the story with the words “are you sitting comfortably” and that instantly reminds me of The Moody Blues song of the same title from their 1969 album On The Threshold Of A Dream which also has a wizard in it with Merlin casting his spell :))))). Although this is a completely different thing, but I wonder if Jones had any inspiration from that song.

The music that follows is very dramatic and there are quite a few transitions along its path, and it really is very well built up with the use of Gothic pipe organ, keyboards, saxophone and it’s almost metal like with the guitars in places and it’s quite a powerful piece of work. Jones also utilises his voice throughout the piece very well too, and you get some screams and all sorts going on vocally. He must be using some effects on his voice and I am pretty sure he is also using a vocoder in some sections to project his voice on parts too.

Overall “The Isle Of Witches” may not be a stand out track on the album, and it can take a bit to get going sort of thing. It’s certainly a track that will require further listens to get to really appreciate it as well, and will perhaps sound a bit like not enough has been put into it over the first couple of spins. But once you have gave it several more listens you will soon find that there is perhaps more in this track than meet meets the eye.

Track 4. Summer.

The second of the Seasonal little interludes presents us with the sounds of summer, such as an ice cream van, the sounds of birds and human voices, the sea and having a bit of fun at the seaside :))))).

Track 5. Tigers In The Butter.

This next song is very much one of the strong contenders for the top spot on the album and is quite an epic near enough 15 minute piece and the longest track on the album. No doubt the Steve Hackett influence is very heavy on this track and it is more guitar based. It sounds very much like something Hackett would of done back in 1983/84 with albums such as Highly Strung and Till We Have Faces. We get a touch of the east as well and Jones plays a Sarod on this track which is an eastern instrument a bit like the Sitar as pictured below.


To be honest I have no idea if Jones is playing a real Sarod or using the sound of one on his guitar. You can never tell these days, but a Sarod is listed in the instruments he played on the album. So I presume he does have one and it does get very well utilised on this track too. I am pretty sure he also uses a Zither on this track too, which is an instrument that is just like an Autoharp. The use of percussion also gets very well utilised in this piece and we have the sound of the jungle thrown into it all for good measure as well. Effectively Peter Jones plays on his own what it would take Steve Hackett and his whole band to do, and Jones throws the works into this cracking song.

Lyrically the words are pertaining to growing up within a family and feeling that sense of security being at home and with your family to keep you free from any harm. It also takes into account some of our wildest dreams and fantasies we might have and takes you through that journey. It’s a very well constructed piece that features great vocals and lashings of great instrumentation throughout. No doubt for many this may very well be their favourite track on the album, and Jones as certainly done the business on it.

Track 6. The First Lament.

Another instrumental track on the album and one that utilises the electric guitar and features a blinding (no pun intended) guitar solo. Speaking of guitar solos it takes something special to come up with a piece like this over this distance of 7 minutes and 40 seconds, and you will certainly be looking at guitar GREATS! such as Gary Moore and Jeff Beck to pull something like this off as well, in the way it’s been done. Like I mentioned earlier that Peter Jones is more of a keyboard player but his skills on the guitar and other instruments are far from anything mediocre, and he has learned how to play all the instruments he plays to a very high standard.

Now as a rule I do not like to post videos of artists unless it’s come from the artists official Youtube channel and they have put it on their themselves or by their record company. But this live performance of the instrumental piece I actually found on Chris Fry’s Youtube channel the guitarist from Magenta. So hopefully I should have no come backs for sharing it here. This is very much an amateur video and to be honest the studio version we have on this album does sound the best by far and totally blows my mind when I close my eyes and just listen to it.

Here Jones is backed up by the band Red Bazar which is a band he also collaborated with and they done an album together entitled Tales From the Bookshelf. “The First Lament” is another strong contender for the top spot on the album and is a blistering track on this really GREAT! album.

Track 7. Autumn.

Time for another Seasonal little interlude and here we are once again by the sea, and celebrating bonfire night by the sounds of things. You also get the sound of a brass band to which I think might be Mark Wardle’s one of the two contributions he lends to the album with the Flugelhorn.

Track 8. The Merry Vicar.

When it comes to theatrics and humour Peter Jones totally nails songs like this one, and you get more of this kind of humour on his 2nd album too. I suppose there are two ways I could describe a song like this and the first would be its the sort of thing that Danny Elfman would of done for the Tim Burton film The Nightmare Before Christmas. To be honest I have always admired Elfman’s work and he’s quite a genius. The second way I could describe it is that it’s a bit like a cross between “Carry On Up The Vicarage” and “Darktown” by Steve Hackett and no doubt there is a quite a strong element of prog rock in a skilled piece like this as well.

This is very much what I call the “Wicked” track on the album and both this track and the one that follows it are both equally as clever and it’s very hard for me to choose which one of two tracks on the album is my personal favourite. In reality because “The Merry Vicar” is very well recorded and is the better recorded track of them both, it should merit the top spot on the album solely. But the way the both compositions are so well structured. I have very much decided to merit this album with 2 winners of the top spot on the album award.

The Merry Vicar” is without doubt an awesome composition that contains some awesome piano and keyboard work and some very heavy metal like guitars and purely ROCKS and PROG ROCKS it’s way along with skilful progression and diversity and some pretty nifty transitional changes. Jones is a very skilful pianist and keyboard player who has the ability to quickly cross styles. No doubt this will be a favourite with most others too and as a funny as a song like this can be, it’s also very much a highly skilled bit of prog rock heaven and it’s certainly a big THREE CHEERS FOR THE MERRY VICAR.

Track 9. A Visit To Chigwick.

No doubt if ever there was a place I would love to visit it would be this delightful place. A place just like places like Camberwick Green, Trumpton, Chigley and Tales From The River Bank were originally invented for the children’s TV back in the late 60’s and early 70’s and featured in a series called Watch With Mother. Freddie Phillips was the guy behind the music for most of these early children’s programs, and I myself even after all these years still remember them well, and the songs and music that accompanied them.

My actual favourite music from these children’s programs was the theme music for Tales From The River Bank which was not by Phillips and was written by Mauro Giuliani and was titled “Raccolta, op. 43, no. 6: Andante in C“. It’s a popular acoustic tune for most guitarists to latch onto and try an play and even Steve Hackett covered it himself. But even the piece that Phillips wrote still had acoustic articulations about them and notable unusual use of devices and utensils for percussion.

Peter Jones has very much taken note of all those acoustic articulations and reinvented a piece of childhood magic just like those good old days, and has created his own imaginary town and a well suitable story and words to boot. No doubt this another one of his Golden classics that just like the previous track merits the top spot award of the album and they both jointly share that award.

A Visit To Chigwick” contains some gorgeous acoustic guitar with fine melody lines and no doubt in parts it even touches on a few melodies from the Wind And Wuthering album by Genesis. The whole 8 minute and 50 second journey is a pure delight to take on and goes through some very subtle and nicely built up transitions along the progression we get here. It also gives Jones the chance to use his Melodica and his voice shines on the piece along with all the other great instrumentation he has thrown in along its path.

This is another video I found on Chris Fry’s Youtube channel which shows Jones mainly singing and playing the Melodica parts and few other bits in the studio. Once again the quality is not as good as the CD but it’s not too bad here on the Tube.

I also came across this amateur video of Jones performing the song live on his own in a more stripped down way with his acoustic guitar and piano, and just had to share this excellent performance of the song as well.

The song is that good it was well worth visiting the place twice, and no doubt Peter Jones truly has a gift, and I myself will certainly be keeping my eyes peeled to catch him live hopefully not too far in the future.

Track 10. Winter.

The last of the Seasonal little interludes that features Mark Wardle playing a bit of  “Silent Night” on his Flugelhorn to the sound of sleigh bells, trampling feet, horses hoofs in the snow and church bells. It’s  winter and that seasonal time of good will to all.

Track 11. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright.

The final track of the albums actually gives you two songs for the price of one sort of thing. Once again there is a Genesis feel to this song and perhaps a touch of The Moody Blues and Supertramp too. The both songs give Jones the chance to use more of his GREAT! singing voice and once again we get some quality work on the piano. guitar and saxophone here too. Both songs perhaps have more of a serious feel and really are excellent quality compositions that fit and blend in with each other perfectly.

Once again I have chosen another video of him I found on Chris Fry’s Youtube channel of him performing the song in a more stripped down way as he’s on his own on this performance. The amateur  video is quite shaky but just how many people do you know that can play the piano and the guitar at the same time. Well this video certainly shows that it can be done, and it also shows the real quality of his voice too.

Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright” could also be seen as the title track of the album, especially the first of the two songs in that the word “Cocoon” is mentioned in it, and it puts the album to bed perfectly. No doubt its very much another one of the contenders for the top spot on the album too.


Overall Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales is a very promising and exciting album and Peter Jones is really an incredible multi talented musician who can play every instrument at a very high standard and at a very well accomplished level, there is nothing mediocre about any of the instruments he plays either. He also comes with quite a voice and vocal range that even allows him to not only to sing, but also use his voice in a characteristic way that not only works very well as a story teller, but his voice could quite easily fit into animated films voicing the characters.

His ability to compose music is also something quite remarkable, and he cannot only write great pop songs as a singer-songwriter, but it can even go beyond the boundaries of prog rock and into film music just like the level Danny Elfman is at when it comes to composing music and lyrics. The world of prog rock really is suited to his music and the fact that he can even throw in some humour and recreate not only his own childhood but even our own with his GREAT! music, is quite an achievement. There is nothing not to like about his project of Tiger Moth Tales and it’s all quite Magical if anything, and a particular style I hope he sticks too.

There can be no doubt that Peter Jones is very blessed with talent and their are not a lot of musicians in this world who have this much talent either. It appears to me that the blind can see more than we can to be able to achieve the skills he possesses and Cocoon is quite a remarkable piece of work and an highly addictive album that will keep you coming back for more. My personal highlights from the album are “A Visit To Chigwick“. “The Merry Vicar“. “Tigers In The Butter“. “The First Lament” and “Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright“.


To conclude my review here of Cocoon by Tiger Moth Tales its perhaps not the first time children’s stories have featured on prog rock albums and even Peter & The Wolf had been done back in the 70’s. But what we have here is very much influenced and highly original material that has been very skilfully thought out and played to a very high level. Musicians like Peter Jones are not ten a penny and they do not grow on trees either. If you are into Steve Hackett & Genesis and the likes of the Moody Blues. Gary Moore. Jeff Beck and many other GREATS! including even Danny Elfman. I am pretty sure you will love this album as much as I do.

Cocoon is quite a solid body of work and truly GREAT! album. You can listen to some of the tracks for yourself free on Bandcamp along many of his other albums, and also buy it from there if you wish. From the link here: https://tigermothtales.bandcamp.com/album/cocoon

After listening to the 3 studio albums on there myself I was totally hooked and had to have the physical CD’s of them. I soon found out that I could buy all 3 of those studio albums from White Knight Records a bit cheaper and with free postage & packing here in the UK. And you can even save £5 if you order all 3 of them at the same time and get them for £25 just like I did. They all come in quality DigiSleeves too as pictured below. The link for White Knight Records is here: http://www.whiteknightshop.co.uk/page26.htm and scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the offer for all 3 CD’s.


I can tell you they was well worth getting as well and have been very well produced. If Peter was to make 5.1 versions of them. I would certainly buy them all again as well, and such superb music would suit 5.1 surround as well with the many instruments he plays.  Coming up next for review will be the 2nd album Story Tellers by Tiger Moth Tales.

Was There Such A Place? Is There A Way We Can Go Back In Time…

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Overture. 4:31.
02. Spring. 0:34.
03. The Isle Of Witches. 11:02.
04. Summer. 0:29.
05. Tigers In The Butter. 14:54.
06. The First Lament. 7:40.
07. Autumn. 0:30.
08. The Merry Vicar. 6:40.
09. A Visit To Chigwick. 8:50.
10. Winter. 0:37.
11. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright. 13:32.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #102

Live At The Apollo (Blu Ray) – Yes



I have to confess that my world of Yes music does not really stretch further than the album Relayer that the band made way back in 1974. Although I did still carry on buying most of their albums up to the year 2001 when they released their 19th studio album Magnification in the hope of them reproducing more of the same GREAT! material that came from the bands output from 1971 – 1974 with the albums such as The Yes Album. Fragile. Close To The Edge. Tales From The Topographic Oceans and Relayer.

But overall I was hugely disappointed from the moment that Yes released Going For The One in 1977. From that moment and onwards, everything just seemed to spiral down the plug hole, and the fact that the band had made so many line-up changes just made it completely worse in my eyes. Most fans of the band may very well even consider an album like Going For The One, one of their better albums. But I guess that would also very much boil down to the fact of when you actually got into the band Yes in the first place more than anything else.

If like myself you was into the band during those earlier years of the 70’s from 1971 – 1974 for example. It’s perhaps easier for those people and myself to plainly see that the album Going For The One in reality was very much not really that much different from the album 90125 they made with a different line-up in 1983. Though in reality both albums are both poles apart and that may even appear to be a ridiculous comparison. But in reality they was both highly commercial albums. Both albums were also aimed at attracting a more popular audience with the material that was written for them.

I think a lot of what really happened regarding the bands writing ability, was that after such a more futuristic album like Relayer the ink from the pen had dried up and they had perhaps gone that forward into the future, it left them no way of going beyond it. So they had to revert to more or less going back to where they originally started at the beginning with their first couple of albums and go back to writing pop songs.

For me personally the only real prog rock song on the album Going For The One is “Awaken“. And that for me personally is the best track on the album and the only track I would also associate with Yes Music. That one track alone is the nearest the band ever got to the music they churned out so well between 1971 – 1974. Personally I do not think they ever got that near to it again afterwards either.

I am not saying that Going For The One is a bad album at all, and in reality its got a fine collection of songs that make it quite a good album if I was to be entirely honest. I also would say that as an album its perhaps one of their strongest after Relayer. But unlike those earlier 5 albums which I can still play with no problem at all and still enjoy today. All the other albums that came after Relayer I can only play the odd track from those albums now and again.

I have brought the odd live DVD or Blu Ray they put out over the years. But to be perfectly honest I never thought in a million years I would end up buying this particular line up of the band. But before I go any further, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The disc comes in a standard Blu Ray case and contains a 3 panel fold out colour booklet which contains the linear production notes along with some photographs of the band. The information is not that informative for example, they tell you that Eugene O’ Connor was the Director of Photography but it does not even tell you who the photographers were taking the pictures.

But I guess they was stills taken from the video footage. It does not even tell you how many video camera operators there was, or who the hell shot the footage. However the camera operators are on the end credits at the end of the concert itself. The design was done by Stuart Green of Eagle Rock Entertainment.

The Release Editions…


Live At The Apollo was released in 5 formats of your choice to choose from if you count the digital download. Oddly enough the fact that none of the physical packages have been bundled up will make this quite an expensive package if you want both the audio on vinyl or CD with a picture as well with either the Blu Ray or DVD. As a rule it’s quite common to see either the DVD or the Blu Ray come with the CD’s in one package which can be quite a saving if you’re looking to have the both. Just as well I am only interested in having the picture and the audio together with the concert, rather than just hearing it in audio only.

The vinyl package is the most expensive at around £35 for the 3 LP vinyl edition. Both the 2 CD and the Blu Ray editions are priced around the same price of £14.99 each and the DVD works out the cheapest option at around £12 – £13. No doubt all these prices can fluctuate and I used Amazon for the price comparison being as they are one of the cheapest outlets. However I ended up ordering the Blu Ray for £14.99 from HMV being as it had sold out on Amazon Prime, and I was not going to be paying the extra price for postage and packaging the other sellers were charging for it either.

Live At The Apollo (Blu Ray) In Review…

Live At The Apollo by Yes featuring Jon Anderson. Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin was released by Eagle Records & Eagle Entertainment Video on the 7th September 2018. It captures the band live on stage from the concert they played at the O2 Manchester Apollo on the 25th March 2017. The concert was released this year in a way of celebrating the bands 50th Anniversary.

Making up the rest of the band they have Lee Pomeroy on bass who has previously featured in Steve Hackett’s band over the years and Lou Molino III on drums who I have to confess I know nothing at all about. But apparently he has worked with Trevor Rabin before on his solo albums, and even played for the likes of Julian Lennon and Kenny Loggins as well as his main band Cock Robin.

The Blu Ray.

SS 1

The main menu screen opens up with a short video from the show of the band playing “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”. Well I say short but it’s actually about 3 and half minutes of it before it fades out and recycles itself to play it again. The menu itself presents you with 3 options “Play”. “Song Selection” and “Audio Options”.

SS 2

By clicking on the “Song Selection” it displays all the songs in the set list for you to choose from. I quite like how it does not load up another screen, and you can simply make your choice from the one menu.

SS 3

The “Audio Options” can also be simply selected from the main screen as well without having to load up a separate screen. By default the audio is set to LPCM Stereo. It also comes with a DTS HD Master Audio for 5.1 surround for sound freaks like myself. The multi-track Soundtrack comes in 24/48K which is the higher quality of the both soundtracks you get here, and the Stereo mix is in 16/48K only.

The Picture Quality.

The film footage was shot in high definition and was done with the use of 6 cameras and operators. You are getting that more extra with the picture quality over the DVD and this picture quality is quite pristine, which is more than I could say for the Neal Morse concert I previously reviewed. No doubt the cameras have captured the band and the concert very well, and they have also done a grand job with the video editing, and it does the band great justice for it.

The 5.1 Mix.

The 5.1 mix was done by Paul Linford and Trevor Rabin and I have to say they have done quite a very good job of it and used the wide space very well over the 6 channels. It’s a lot better and more fuller than the stereo mix as well. I do find the stereo mix is a bit on the light side of things and lacks a bit of bass too. I would also say the stereo mix is perhaps more on the flat response side out of the 2 mixes you get here. The 5.1 mix does project more ambience but still maintains the bass with good use they have made of .1 channel with the subwoofer.

It also presents you with more of a representation of the actual live sound in the arena even playing it straight with no added colourisation or DSP’s. To be honest I never use DSP’s and this recording does in some way sound like its already been recorded with the use of a DSP to represent the ambient sound of the actual arena. In some ways mixed like this,  its not the sort of thing I would generally go for and would not of felt it would work to my liking at all. But it is without doubt way better than the stereo mix and just by listening to the sound of Jon Anderon’s voice alone, you can plainly hear that the microphone has the right amount of reverb for his voice, where it’s more dry and flat on the stereo mix.

Considering that there was no ambient mics placed in the audience to pick up the audience in the first place this is a concert that does benefit more for the 5.1 mix you get here with how well they have done the mix. However the fact they did add the audience afterwards by using parts of another audience in some cases, they have been a bit silly with where they placed the audience in certain parts. This too has been picked up by most reviews of this release and I shall discuss more about it in both my “Fake Audience Causes A Stir” and in my “On With The Show” sections of my review. But overall the 5.1 mix is very good.

Musicians & Credits…


Recorded live at the 02 Apollo in Manchester England on the 25th March 2017. Directed by Blue Leach. Produced by Jim Parsons. Musical Supervision by Trevor Rabin. Audio Mixed by Paul Linford & Trevor Rabin. Music Mixed & Produced at Jacaranda Studios. Mastered by Tim Young at Metropolis. Camera Operators James Cullen. James Cronly. Nick Wheeler. Kelvin Richard. Joe Dyer. Rob Emannuel. Herbette. Edited by Reg Wrench & Tim Thomsett. Production Manager Melissa Morton Hicks. Director of Photography Eugene O’ Connor. Artwork Design by Stuart Green of Eagle Rock Entertainment. Management Brian Lane.

Jon Anderson: Lead & Backing Vocals/Acoustic Guitar/Harp/Percussion.
Rick Wakeman: Keyboards.
Trevor Rabin: Guitars/Vocals.
Lee Pomeroy: Bass/Backing Vocals.
Lou Molino III: Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals.

The Concert In Review…

Like most old venues these days they tend to change the name slightly to cater for those who are now sponsoring the old buildings. And the mobile phone company O2 have sponsored most of them these days, and even though on the front of the cover it states the “Apollo” it’s actually the O2 Apollo these days and was also last year when this version of Yes played there.


As you can see by the building and it’s art deco style its very much like one of those old Cinema Houses built many moons ago just like we have (or rather had) here in Birmingham, and perhaps more like the Shepherd Bush Empire in London. And that is what they was originally built for. The building was built in 1938 and was opened by the actress Margaret Lockwood. Back then and up until the 70’s it was very much mainly used as a Cinema House and was called the Apollo Theatre. Since the 70’s the venue stopped functioning as a Cinema House and has been solely used for concerts. It was refurbished in 2010 and has been called the O2 Apollo ever since.

To be honest I used to enjoy it back in the 70’s when the old Odeon Cinema House in New Street Birmingham used to function as a Cinema House and for concerts. But in the end they put a stop to the concerts and made into one of those multiplex Cinema Houses instead. But most of these venues have more or less the same size capacity although this one holds perhaps a third more than the Odeon and the O2 Apollo has a seating capacity of around 3,500.

Yes Over The Decades…

We are now living in a world where we have 2 bands going under the name of Yes and I have to say it’s just absolutely ridiculous how the name has been so badly tarnished over the years with its many band line ups. Having 2 bands you are perhaps faced with the choice of do you go and see the both? or simply make a choice which band has the best musicians in it?.

To be perfectly frank I would not pay to see either of them live and for those who think that ARW are Yes or even the current line up with Steve Howe and Alan White are Yes. I am sorry to say they are both miles apart from the band I call Yes. But I suppose if you still want to hear the good old Yes music played live, both bands are still capable of doing such a thing.

Though I do understand that Alan White is having a few problems playing drums these days, and at his age being a drummer it does require a lot of physical work. It’s also most likely why Bill Bruford has retired and Jon Anderson did originally approach Bruford to play for their line up of Yes. But he was not interested and was quite happy to be retired and doing the odd bit of teaching drums to students he does these days.

But for me personally there can only be one voice for the band Yes and that is without a doubt the voice of Jon Anderson. The fact that the Steve Howe side of the band picked singers to imitate Anderson’s voice was a very bad decision in my eyes. They turned the band into nothing more than a tribute band by doing such a thing. To be honest even if Chris Squire was still alive now, I personally think more would go to see the ARW side of Yes than the tribute side of it, because it is more original even if it’s not what I personally would of liked to have seen.

But then again if it was not for Squire’s death in the first place there would not be 2 bands going under the same name at all, and it was only down to an informal agreement that Anderson and Squire had regarding the name, which should be used for Squire’s version of the group only whilst he was alive. With both he and Anderson being the longest members of the band Squire was the only member to feature on all of their albums that they made at the time he was still alive. It was Squire’s wife who suggested both bands could use the name in the wake of his death. I suppose it stops all the arguments, but now there may just be a war with their fans arguing over which band is the better :)))))).

Well the one thing I will say is that a line up of Yes without Steve Howe is certainly never in a million years the Yes I knew and loved all those years ago. But I would also say the same to the other line up without Jon Anderson. These very two members of the band are the main ingredients who created Yes Music all those years ago. If back in 1971 the band had recruited Trevor Rabin as their guitarist instead of Steve Howe. I can honestly say that Yes Music would of never existed. They are both good guitarists but both have completely different styles, and Trevor Rabin is a rock guitarist and not a prog rock guitarist and that does make a massive difference I am afraid.

The last time I saw Yes live was on their Union tour back in 1991 at the NEC in Birmingham. The best part of that show was when they only had Anderson, Squire, Howe, Wakeman and Bruford on the stage playing a few numbers. I thought they was mostly overpowered and overcrowded the arrangements of the songs with them all on the stage. It was a bit too much and on the whole, and I felt that when I seen Anderson. Bruford. Wakeman. Howe at the NEC in 1989 they was much better at that concert. Even as impressive as Rabin may have looked when he played more or less note for note along with Wakeman to “Catherine Parr” at that Union concert, never once in my mind did it occur to me that he was the right guitarist for Yes.

Still to this day I do not believe he his right guitarist for the band either, but that all of course depends on what decade of Yes you like the most, and no doubt the 80’s was certainly more of a pop side of Yes than any prog rock side we seen of them in the early 70’s, and to be perfectly honest Howe could not play those 80’s songs like Rabin could either. So if you want to hear songs like “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” then no doubt this is side of Yes you should be buying and going to see in my eyes. But as for the earlier Yes songs from the 70’s there is just no way Rabin can play them like Howe could either. So one may just be questioning why on earth I brought this concert in the first place?.

Well it certainly was not so I could listen to 80’s pop music I can assure you :)))))). And in all honesty even though I knew this concert was being released. I never pre-ordered it beforehand either, like I would with most of the things I buy these days. To be honest I had no intention at all of buying it either. But after watching most of it on Youtube for bugger all there are two things that attracted me to buy it.

The first being I was quite taken away by how so well Jon Anderson’s voice sounds at the age of 73. He’s hardly dropped a note and it’s quite amazing to still have your own voice still more or less in tact after all those years. The second thing that attracted my attention is very much on the arrangement side of things, and just how much my God of the keyboards Rick Wakeman is putting into it all.

I would not by any means say this was the best Yes concert by a long shot. But what you do get here is perhaps something that bit more different with the arrangement side of things, even in comparison to what very little arrangement you got with the Yes Acoustic concert that got released in 2004 with the 1973 line up of the band. But there was another thing that also drew my attention to buy this concert, and that was the many bad reviews it got because the audience was not originally recorded and was overdubbed badly in the mix afterwards.

Fake Audience Causes A Stir…

Being a person who likes to write reviews, I do also like to read other peoples reviews as well. I also like to watch other people such as Darren Lock and such people do talking reviews about music and various other products on Youtube. Which is something I myself do not personally have the confidence to do like they can, and in some respect I wish I could. To be honest I quite admire how Darren Lock presents his reviews but I certainly do not agree with all his reviews.

Unlike myself who is willing to give any album the time of day by playing it at least 7 times over from start to finish before I even attempt to write a review. He can be a guy who in most cases will play an album once, and then makes his own mind up of it. That to me is not a fair review in the first place, especially considering that a lot of the good music in this world does take time to grow on you, and that is generally how many albums will stay the test of time over all those years.

Not everyone is like Phil Collins who writes music to instantly grab your attention by hitting you directly in the face with it. Only to find out later that after a month or so it all wears off and was rather thin in the first place. I am not saying that Collins made bad records by any standards, and they have to be bloody good to have that effect on a person in the first place. But I just found a lot of it soon became outdated. I could say exactly the same about 80’s Yes too.

I also noticed that Darren Lock had reviewed this same Blu Ray of this Yes concert, and a couple of days later he posted a short follow up about the people complaining about the added crowd noise being over the top, to which he started calling them all “wankers” for moaning about it. He even said he had to play part of the concert again to see what all the fuss was about and did admit there was added audience noise, but he did not think it was that irritating as the biggest majority of reviewers were slagging it down for.

So this is very much something I wanted to be able to hear for myself and make my own mind up about it all. I am aware there are many “Trolls” posting reviews on Amazon and a lot of them are not verified purchasers of the product from Amazon either. For example many will complain about how a concert has been badly edited when they have no real experience about film editing in the first place, or they have just started some miracle course learning about it and think they already know it all :))))). Others moan cause it’s not on Spotify so they can hear it for free :)))))).

Others just run a product down simply because they do not like anything about it, and cannot see why it got so many great reviews in the first place. I personally look for the more detailed reviews where at least the person does tend to have some real interest in the product even if it did not quite work out, and the ones that pinpoints the pros and cons about the product. I also widen my search on the net regarding any review and do not stick to one particular site to get what I am looking for.

After all I would not expect anybody to take one review as the bible sort of thing and certainly not my own either. When it comes to any form of music, we all have our own individual tastes, but for this review even though my personal taste of Yes comes from those earlier times in the 70’s and not the 80’s. I am trying not to be completely bias to the later material the band made and put out, and I have always liked some of it to a certain degree.

I would even go as far as saying that it’s good that you can get to hear it again in a concert like this, which does more or less focus on the 70’s and 80’s side of the bands output with the material they are presenting to you here. And that is what really finally persuaded me to buy this concert, not just so I could find out if those reviews about the crowd noise is unbearable.

The other good thing about this concert is that it also comes with a 5.1 mix, and I am a surround freak anyway. Though for this review I have also listened to the concert in stereo only as well, because of all the fuss of the crowd noise. So let’s now take a closer look at what we have here as I go through the concert itself, and see if the added audience spoils the show so to speak.

On With The Show…

The show opens up with an orchestrated intro of “Perpetual Change” and the stage visuals of the band entering the stage (all but Jon Anderson at this point) have an old crackly vintage film look about it all, which I suppose goes with old orchestration that’s being played in this short intro. Visually it’s perhaps not fitting for the Blu Ray and at this point the picture does not even look like its been filmed in HD and perhaps is more fitting with an old film about the Phantom Of The Opera sort of thing :))))))).

Thankfully the intro is very short and the band proceed the show with the short instrumental piece from their 90125 album entitled “Cinema” and by now the picture quality is looking much more like it, nice, pristine and sharp and at the end of the short piece Jon Anderson makes his entrance and the band then actually play “Perpetual Change” and do quite a god job it. The way the band are rolling the numbers of the set list out throughout most of the show is by playing an old 70’s number, followed by an 80’s number and it works pretty well this way I feel too.

As I already stated earlier my favourite side of Yes is very much the early 70’s and not the 80’s side of the band at all. But I have no real problem with this concert and it is a bit of a treat to hear some of these songs from the 80’s again. To be honest most of them I have not heard since back then either. Both the 70’s and 80’s songs have all been given a slightly different arrangement to them, and most of the time it works. I do not expect Trevor Rabin to play those older songs like Steve Howe did, and in reality Rabin would not want to anyway because he would rather put his own stamp into those songs and that I respect.

But no doubt Rabin’s guitar playing is better suited to the songs he originally done with the band and “Hold On” that follows next even gives Rick Wakeman a chance to play a bit of moog on it. He does even more so on “Rhythm Of Love” which is a bit further on in the set, and overall the other members of the band both Lee Pomeroy and Lou Molino III also contribute very well with the backing vocals and harmonies and they all tend to cope with all the numbers in this 2 hour live set.

Bar one song that is, and that song is “And You And I“. There is something not quite right with the performance of this song, and it’s not down to Jon Anderson. He is doing an incredible job on the vocals at his age and it’s not far away from his heyday either. I cannot fault Rick Wakeman here either, but somehow the back line of the band have not quite got it. You can even hear volume levels go up and down in this mix and it appears like they have tried to make the mix work for them to include the song here. I am not saying it’s a disaster by any means but it could of been done better.

But just as that particular song is perhaps lacking that bit of lacklustre, they certainly make it up on “Heart Of The Sunrise” and this to me is my personal highlight of the show and by far the best performance from the whole band. They have more or less nailed this old song of the bands. I was glad out of the songs from 90125 that they also included “Changes“. That was my personal favourite track from that album years ago, and they do justice to it here as well.

Regarding the “Fake Audience” that many reviewers have complained about. There is no doubt that the added audience they have put in the middle of some of the songs, rather than at the end of each song where it’s better suited, was a bit of a silly thing to do. But this has not been done on every song, and even though it may appear to be over the top so to speak, I can honestly say that it’s not that over the top as a lot of the reviewers have pointed out in saying that is has completely ruined the show for them.

I personally think Darren Lock was right, but not by calling them “Wankers” :)))))) but I have listened to this concert 3 times now, twice in 5.1 and once in stereo and it certainly never spoiled my enjoyment of the show. I agree with Darren and all I can say is that people must pay far too much attention to the audience rather than focusing on the band itself and watching what they are doing.

Don’t get me wrong some of the crowd noise is quite loud and does sound pathetic being added to the mix like that, and you can  hear it on mainly the opening songs and “Lift Me Up” in particular. But this is nowhere near as bad as watching something like the American TV program Happy Days where you can hear the audience laugh at the end of every sentence, and the fact that audience did do that, certainly never spoilt my enjoyment of watching that TV program.

I also think they have overdubbed some backing vocals for the 5.1 surround mix especially on “Rhythm Of Love“. But in all honesty none of the overdubs are as bad as what they did with the 5.1 mix of The Way We Walk DVD by Genesis from years ago. I only ever heard that at a mates house many moons ago, and everything they overdubbed in that mix was completely out of sync and no way would I buy that thing :))))).

To be honest the only thing that annoys me about this 5.1 mix is the one part in “Perpetual Change” where they have mixed Jon Anderson’s voice singing the words “Every Day” in the left rear speaker where it sort of echoes like a train in a tube station going down a track. Thankfully it only happens once in the song. But that to me is more annoying than the audience :)))))).

Other highlights from the show are “Awaken” to which they do a bit of a jungle intro and outro to it which is different. “Long Distance Runaround/The Fish” they also cope pretty well with and on “Owner Of A Lonely HeartWakeman gets out his KeyTar to join Rabin on guitar, and they both go for a walk in and around the audience. Overall the band look like they have enjoyed themselves and have had a very good night at the Apollo indeed, and they top it all of off nicely with an encore of “Roundabout” to end the show in fine style.

Now I have not mentioned all the songs they play in the set here, but I cannot really fault them either and the band do a grand job of them. One of the other songs they do is from the Union album and to be honest even though Rick Wakeman did not like that particular album, neither did I, but I felt they could of chose one of the better songs from that album instead of “Lift Me Up“. I actually preferred what they did on the Anderson. Bruford. Wakeman. Howe album in relation to that album and would of preferred something from that or another song from the Yes catalogue.


To sum up Live At The Apollo by (AWR) Yes. I personally think the guys in this line up of Yes put on a really GREAT! show. I also think it was well worthy of buying and even for a fan like myself who is into the 70’s side of Yes this is a show that does not really disappoint at all. Having watched it 3 times already it still gives me enough to want to watch it again. I am not saying this is the best concert you will ever see of Yes, and no doubt I would still prefer to hear them on Yessongs and Yesshows and even watch them on DVD’s like Keys To Ascension and Live at Montreux 2003 with the 1973 line up of the band.

But I can still even enjoy DVD’s like Live from House Of Blues and Symphonic Live and they are all pretty much exciting shows, and to be honest I would rather watch a live concert on DVD or Blu Ray than just listen to a concert in audio only. If it comes with a good 5.1 mix then that is an extra added bonus and is a real winner for me every time. I would not say Live At The Apollo has an excellent 5.1 mix, but it’s quite good and certainly a lot better than the stereo mix. You can also turn the rear speakers down as well, so you do not even have to listen to the crowd. But I never did that, and prefer the crowd in the mix to give it more of that live feel.

No doubt the crowd noise seems to a bit issue with at least 50 – 55% of the reviews but I personally and certainly do not think it overshadows the concert, and I would not let those reviews put you off either, unless you are somebody who cannot watch a TV program where the audience is in the background laughing at every sentence sort of thing. The crowd noise is nowhere near as frequent as that for starters, and to be honest the way some people have described it is as if it was like The Beatles playing Shea Stadium and the only thing you could hear was the crowd for God’s sake :)))))).


To conclude my review of Live At The Apollo I know I originally stated that I would not pay to see either of the two bands that go by the name of Yes these days, and I personally  think it’s a real shame that at the end of the day its come down to all this.  But having watched this concert it does make me wish a bit that I was there, and I may of paid to see them live if the price of the ticket was not too high like most are these days.

There is no denying that Jon Anderson is the real voice of Yes. The fact that he still very much has his voice still very much merits anyone still wanting to see Yes which is perhaps more that I can say for Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull who I could not personally watch live these days, even though I love that band and Ian too.

Watching Jon Anderson even with this line up of Yes on Blu Ray is still very much a delight to see, and no doubt Anderson can still give it more or less his best even at his ripe old age. I am so glad that I decided to buy this concert in the end, and not let my own feelings of how I seen this line up get in the way. You simply cannot turn back the clock to the 70’s all the time and expect it still to be the same today. But even this line up of the band can take you back to the 70’s and the 80’s and they have managed to do a very good job of it all overall.

Dreamer Easy In The Chair That Really Fits You…

The Blu Ray track listing is as follows:

(Total Time 1 Hour 56 Minutes)
01. Medley: Intro / Cinema / Perpetual Change.
02. Hold On.
03. I’ve Seen All Good People
(I Your Move. II All Good People).
04. Lift Me Up.
05. And You & I
(I. Cord Of Life. II Eclipse. III The Preacher, The Teacher. IV Apocalypse).
06. Rhythm Of Love.
07. Heart Of The Sunrise.
08. Changes.
09. Medley: Long Distance Runaround / The Fish
(Schindleria Praematurus).
10. Awaken.
11. Medley: Make It Easy / Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
12. Roundabout.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Picture Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s 5.1 Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Stereo Mix Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Live Concert Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #101

The Similitude Of A Dream Live In Tilburg 2017 – The Neal Morse Band



Well I have been a fan of Neal Morse ever since I first got into the band Transatlantic back in the year 2000. Since then I very much started backtracking on the albums he done with Spock’s Beard and also have followed and collected quite a lot of his solo albums apart from his religious Worship albums that is. I also have most of his live concerts on DVD & Blu Ray he has done particularly with his solo career and like this one with where he has added a band to the end of his name, including the live Transatlantic concerts that were released on DVD.

To be honest because of the way I store my CD’s/DVD’s and Blu Rays on different shelves. I always find myself double (or even treble) checking what I do have or don’t have of  Neal Morse whenever I go and buy something he’s put out. He is perhaps the most artist I have trouble with when ordering anything he puts out, and on many occasions I have nearly ordered something of his I already have. Neal Morse can be very busy at times and can quite often churn out a lot of material with all the projects he is involved in. The fact that I enjoy what he does so much is why I buy a lot of his material including his live concerts which can be highly entertaining to watch.

Though I have to confess that since seeing him live with Transatlantic back in 2010 at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. I would not pay money to go and see him live again. What I find with an awful lot of these newer prog bands is that they tend to drown the audience out by playing way too loud. That was a bad experience I will never forget and since then I have seen other bands like Frost* do exactly the same thing at their live shows. I can honestly say you will not get to hear the real quality of any of those bands live on stage and are way better off by buying the DVD or Blu Ray when it comes out, than paying the price of the ticket to go and see them live.

The Similitude Of A Dream is the 2nd of two albums Neal Morse has written with his main band. It was very much a double album and the original studio version was released back in November 2016. It’s one of his better albums and certainly the best out of the two he has done with his band. Though as to if it can compete with both the albums ? and Sola Scriptura that he done much earlier under his own name. I personally do not think so. However I think this live performance of the album raises the level of the album up a notch more and even works better live than the studio version I feel. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The Blu Ray edition comes in the more thinner version of the plastic case in relation to the normal thicker ones you would get a film in, and they tend to use these thinner cases for music these days. I have to confess I have never a real fan of Blu Ray cases and much prefer the way some artists like Ayreon package their discs in which is more like a cardboard DigiPak the same size as we have here. It’s a lot better presentation and these type of plastic blue cases do look really cheap and flimsy. Even a DVD case is made much more stronger in reality.

However I quite like the hubs that hold the discs in this case and they are a lot easier to retrieve the discs without much effort at all. They are perhaps not the best being as they can quite easily come loose off the hub, especially when being transported, but least they are not like some hubs that hold them a lot tighter that you have the risk of splitting the actual disc if your not too careful retrieving the discs. This presentation is no doubt done on the cheap and you do not even get a booklet with it :))))).

As with most music concerts they covers tend to be a snapshot of the band from the concert. The photography was done by Christophe Pauly and the layout by The Man In The Mountain whoever he may be :))))). All the credits and linear are on the back cover.

The Release Editions…

The Similitude Of A Dream: Live In Tilburg 2017 was released in two editions. The DVD Edition comes with 2 CD’s & 2 DVD’s. The Blu Ray Edition comes with 2 Blu Ray discs only and both are the same price on Neal Morse’s own website to which they are charging $25.00 each. Some other outlets are charging more for the DVD edition than the Blu Ray and I have to say that the price point of these things in my own country I would say are well overpriced.

I opted for the Blu Ray Edition and managed to get it for £14.70 brand new from a third party seller on Amazon called Uniqueplace Dot UK. They themselves were charging more for the DVD edition that came with 2 CD’s & 2 DVD’s and that was priced at £19.82. But I was not interested in having the CD’s and preferred the Blu Ray for my needs. Although the third party may sound like they are based in the UK. They are not at all and you do have to wait a couple weeks for it to arrive.

To be honest I am very wary about using third party’s on Amazon but I have used this seller in the past and the product is the genuine item and brand new, and comes sealed. Some people on ebay are even charging over £19 for the Blu Ray second hand. So it was worth the extra wait to get it at the best price, and for £14.70 that’s a bit of a bargain. Though I certainly do not think it should cost more than £20 for the 2 Blu Ray edition in the first place and £25 at most outlets over here is way above the price it should of retailed at.

The Similitude Of A Dream Live (Blu Ray) In Review…

The Similitude Of A Dream (Live In Tilburg 2017) by The Neal Morse Band was released on the 15th June 2018 and contains the whole of the double album played live along with a couple of tracks from Neal’s earlier solo albums and a couple from their previous album done with his band. The Netherlands is quite a regular jaunt for Neal Morse to pop over from his home country in America, and he has played at the 013 in Tilburg a number of times including with the other project bands he has been involved in over the years.

The venue itself is quite popular with most prog rock bands due to its smaller capacity to which many prog bands could not fill much bigger venues and the only bigger events you may get to see them at is more of and outdoor venues in a festival sort of thing along with a bunch of other acts.

To be honest an outdoor festival may very well be the best place to see these kind of more newer prog rock bands, simply because in an open field you can pick your own spot to get the best sound, rather than them playing at ridiculous volume levels like they do in these smaller indoor venues. When I say newer prog rock bands I am referring to those who came out much later than the 70’s just like Neal Morse who first started out with Spock’s Beard back in the 90’s.

I have never seen any prog rock band who came out in the 70’s play at the ridiculous volume levels these idiots play at, not even in the smaller venues like they play at today either. I seen many back in the 70’s play at the Odeon New Street in my own town of Birmingham which is pretty much the same size venue I seen Transatlantic live at Shepherds Bush. They was loud, but never that loud that you could not make out what the bloody band was playing like they do at them, and the musicians sounding out of tune with one another because the sound was bouncing off all the walls in the place.

The whole concert is spread out over the 2 Blu Ray discs and this as to be the first concert ever I have brought of anything of Neal’s that does not come with any extras in the way of bonus footage. As a rule he videos everything and sticks hours of extra footage on them, you even get to see him and the band eat lunch :)))))) but this one does not even have any backstage footage and comes with Zilch. Maybe the Slough’s they had on the stage and in the audience ate the extra footage :)))))).

Blu Ray 1.

D1 S1

The main menu opens up with an animated picture of the book. The menu itself is simple and easy enough and only gives you 2 options which are “Play All” and “Song Selection”. The Blu Ray only comes with 1 soundtrack which is just your basic stereo LPCM 48/16 format and not a Blu Ray HD audio format at all.

D1 S2

By clicking on the “Song Selection” it gives you the choice to choose from any track from all the songs that are contained on the 1st disc. It also plays a slide show of a few pictures that ran on the screen at the back of the stage during the live concert.

The first disc comes with 13 tracks in total, the first of which is an introduction that is followed by the 12 tracks that were on the original 1st disc of the studio album, and it has an overall playing time of 54 minutes, 45 seconds.

Blu Ray 2.

D2 S1

As you can see from the picture above the 2nd disc opens up with a different animated menu screen which shows some different pictures that appeared throughout the show.  Once again you get the same 2 options to choose from.

D2 S2

“Song Selection” menu shows you all the songs you have to choose from the 2nd disc and you get a slide show of some more different pictures that came from the backdrop they showed during the show. The menus are pretty good, however the fact that it comes with only 1 audio format and very little options has me thinking was it worth putting this concert on Blu Ray :)))))).

The second disc contains the 11 tracks that were originally on the 2nd studio album, plus 4 tracks they played in the way of an encore. This disc comes with an overall playing time of 93 minutes, 35 seconds.

The Picture & Sound Quality.

Well no doubt the sound quality which I have already mentioned is certainly not up to the standards or even fitting for a Blu Ray disc. So is the picture any better? To be perfectly honest no it’s not at all, and there is no real difference between buying the Blu Ray or the DVD. This has most likely been filmed on non HD cameras, put on a DVD and transferred to Blu Ray. If it was filmed with HD cameras they were not the best by a long shot, and this is not what I would call a pristine picture either that you would get with most Blu Rays that have been filmed with quality cameras.

You can very much get the same by playing a DVD in a Blu Ray player simply because it up-scales the picture and that is more or less the quality we have on this Blu Ray. The only real advantage of buying this concert on Blu Ray over the DVD is really down to the fact that you can get it cheaper and nothing really more I am afraid.

But that is not to say that what we have here is really bad at all, and the picture quality is without doubt still very good and so too is the sound even if it is in a much lower audio format and there is no 5.1 mix here. To be honest judging by the 5.1 mixes that have been done in the past for both Neal Morse’s and Transatlantic DVD’s. I honestly do not think you will missing a thing. Simply because the guys who have done the 5.1 mixes in the past have not got a clue how to mix a concert in 5.1 :))))). Thankfully they do a pretty decent job with the stereo mix.

Musicians & Credits…


Recorded live at the 013 Tilburg on the 2nd April 2017. Sound Engineer Rich Mouser. Stage Technician Christian Kuhn. Lighting Director Mateusz Dudar. Camera Operators John Vis. Meriam Verkleij. Geert Jan Schoonbeek. Olivier Dague. Christelle Herbette. Studio Mix by Eric Gillette. Video Content Christian Rios. Photography by Christophe Pauly. Layout The Man In The Mountain. Tour Manager Daniel Schindler.

Neal Morse: Vocals/Keys/Guitar.
Mike Portnoy: Drums/Vocals.
Bill Hubauer: Keyboards/Mandolin/Sax/Vocals.
Eric Gillette: Guitar/Vocals.
Randy George: Bass/Bass Pedals/Vocals.

The Concert In Review…

The Similitude Of A Dream live tour kicked off in North America in the first month of 2017 and Neal and the band played 17 concerts over there between January 14th – February 7th. They also played a total of 17 concerts on the European tour between March 22nd – April 9th along with 2 more shows. The first being Israel on the 12th of April and at the Rosfest in Pennsylvania USA on the 6th of May.

The concert we have here was filmed at the 013 Tilburg in the Netherlands during their European tour on the 2nd of April 2017. The 013 Tilburg is the largest and most popular music venue in the southern region of the Netherlands.


The venue is named after its postcode 013 and contains 2 concert halls inside the complex. The smallest of them holds a capacity of 700 people whilst the largest of the two holds up to 3,000 and the larger of the two is where the Neal Morse Band played. The venue originally opened up back in 1998 and in 2011 the director Guus van Hove of the 013 died of heat exposure along with his girlfriend in the Californian Joshua Tree National Park. He had gone there to try and find the tree that was on U2’s album cover of their 1987 album The Joshua Tree.

Although it’s a bit of a misconception to people thinking that the tree was actually in the Joshua Tree National Park and it is in fact 200 miles away from it. The tree also fell in the year 2000 and the only thing that remains on the spot is a plaque that someone planted in the ground bearing the words “Have you found what you’re looking for?” in reference to the song from the album “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For“. Though it is still a popular attraction for tourists.

D1 S3

The concert opens up like a film with it’s introduction with the orchestral music and the picturesque landscape showing the names of the band that are featuring in the show. They have certainly made a big thing out of the show and it adds a nice touch. Though by the rather nice scenery I wouldn’t of minded watching a film like this, especially with that poor chap whose locked up in the cage :)))))).

After the rather big orchestral intro Neal Morse pops on the screen in a hooded jacket with the hood over his head, looking like he’s just come back from a Klu Klux Clan party :))))). Only it’s all dark and in the darkness his robe does look black, although later on it does appear to be white unless he has 2 of them. He starts off singing the opening track of the album “Long Day” unaccompanied which sets the opening scene of the story to the album and the band explode into action with its musical overture which picks things up very well indeed.

Throughout the show Morse uses masks, cloaks (hooded jackets) and a torch to try an portray and put across the story, and although it may appear a bit odd for him to do this, he’s not usually the Peter Gabriel kind of guy for using such things as a rule. To be honest with him having an hood on it reminds me of the cover of his Sola Scriptura album he done back in 2007. But the one thing I have always admired about Neal Morse is the fact he always puts his heart and soul into the performance and lets himself go.

He always gives it 100% and I could see that when I seen him live with Transatlantic back in 2010. Even though that show was hampered by ridiculous volume levels, there was no doubt both he and the band were giving it all in the performance, and I could see that just by looking at them. I see it in every live concert I have of his on DVD and Blu Ray as well and they are quite exciting to watch.

Since leaving Spock’s Beard back in 2002 Morse became a born again Christian and tends to focus even the prog rock side of his albums with his lyrics around Christianity and Religion. No doubt for some it may put them off, but I myself have never really paid to much attention to the lyrics in the biggest majority of concept and albums, and for me the music will always come first.

To be honest no matter how many times I have read the story behind The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis I still cannot really tell you what it’s about, apart from it’s about some schizo off his head on acid :))))). Yet I still regard that concept album as the best there as ever been. The music and the way the lyrics are expressed is what rocks my boat and even amongst Morse’s lyrics you will quite often find something to grab you and latch onto. As like the song in this concept story the “City Of Destruction“. You can make your own world out of it, and get off on that.

The Similitude Of A Dream is based around The Pilgrim’s Progress which is basically a Christian allegory written by John Bunyan back in 1678. Bunyan was very much into religion and was imprisoned a few times basically because he would not stop preaching. He was first sentenced to 3 months in prison but as he refused to give up preaching it was extended to 12 years. They had certain stricter laws back England in those days unlike we have today, and Bunyan was basically preaching something more along the lines of Catholic religion which was still forbidden around that time down to King Henry VIII bringing in the Church of England in the previous century.


Even after he came out he went back in again for another short spell. He wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress whilst he was inside prison, and he wrote it in a metaphoric way around characters, places and events to deliver a broader message about the real world and events that were going on in it. To be honest even though John Bunyan may of been some religious nut, the story we have here that Morse portrays is perhaps less religious than most of his albums, and we have some quite interesting characters in this one.

It’s perhaps something more like an autobiography of Bunyan’s life being locked up for preaching sort of thing. Like I say I do not really pay too much attention to the lyrics, and I have never read The Pilgrim’s Progress either and merely just read up on a bit of history about it all. But no doubt the lyrics that Morse has written around the subject matter are very well put into context to be able to dramatise it all in perhaps more of an exciting way. I suppose they beef it up that much more and Morse always makes it that more convincing in how he delivers it all. Just as well they do not lock people up for preaching these days, otherwise you will not be seeing another Neal Morse concert for a long while :))))))).

The other thing I quite like about this particular concert is that Morse has utilised his band very well for even them to play a part in the vocal duties, and the guitarist Eric Gillette also has a really great voice to project and portray the lyrics just as well as Morse can do himself. The band do a grand job on all the harmonies and even both Bill Hubauer and Mike Portnoy take on some of the lead vocals on some of the songs too.

What I enjoy a lot about Morse’s music are the musical interludes between the songs and this is really where the prog rock side of things comes into play allowing the musicians more freedom with the interplay and interaction between each other. A lot of the actual songs you will find in a lot of his concept albums are written in the way of normal singer songwriter songs or rock songs, and that’s basically how everything is all pieced together. None of his albums are really one continuous song not even a massive long song such as The Whirlwind he done with Transatlantic.

The Similitude Of A Dream album is certainly no exception either and is written in the same way. But how it’s all pieced and woven together works very well, but in reality a lot of the actual songs are certainly verse and chorus structured just like any song in reality. It’s not exactly what Yes done with a song like “Close To The Edge” for example to which even though it was pieced together with many parts, it works perfectly like one song. But what you do get with an album such as this, is certainly plenty of variety.

The other thing you get with this live concert is some pretty amazing musicianship, and let’s face it just how many artists out there can play a quite complex album like this live in its entirety, and that’s something Neal Morse does with the biggest majority of his albums. To be honest I do not even think Yes have played Tales From The Topographic Oceans in its entirety live on stage. Though no doubt they could play the whole album “Close To The Edge” live blind folded. But of course for any band to be able to pull it all off takes plenty of practice and rehearsing and they have to put in the hours just like Neal Morse and his band have here.

The whole concert is near enough 2 and half hours long and it’s perhaps just as well its been put on 2 discs in 2 parts. I am not saying I cannot sit here for 2 and half hours in one sitting, though it’s perhaps something not many of us could do all the time. So watching it in 2 parts is perhaps more convenient to fit in the time. For this review I am not really going to be taking you through all the tracks, and merely pinpoint very few highlights at all of the tracks and discuss more about the overall production and how it’s been filmed.

I would expect most people who brought this live concert would already have the studio album like myself anyway. But what I will say is that they have certainly done the album justice by this live performance, even if I do not think it’s the best live concert I have by Neal Morse and what I mean mainly by that, is how the concert as been filmed. For example you have 5 cameras filming the show and although I cannot fault the editing, because that is very good. Especially with how they pointed to the individual members of the band when they have their individual moments throughout the concert. But quite often the cameras are focused way too far away from the stage.

Effectively with how it’s been shot you could say it was like being at the concert, where you are struggling yourself to see them on stage if you are not close enough to the stage. But with any concert you buy on DVD or Blu Ray this is something you should not have this problem at all with. And it should be shot in a way where you can see everything more closely just like the difference you would get with watching a live game of football at the ground and watching it on TV. You will always see it a lot more clearer on the TV even if it cannot quite capture the live atmosphere of actually being there.

And before you start thinking perhaps they filmed it this way to try and make it look and sound more like the real live experience. I am sorry to say both the sound and picture quality is quite a margin away from being able to do that, and this is not even good enough to put it on a Blu Ray in the first place. They may just as well of put it out on DVD and CD only. I am not saying that the concert is extremely bad, but regarding the sound and picture quality of his other concerts I have on DVD. They are better.

To be honest I have always preferred to watch a live concert rather than just have it on audio and listen to it, and with today’s technology of Blu Ray and 5.1 they have come on in leaps and bounds and you can get more near the real concert experience, which is something that was never possible years ago. But with this concert you may as well just have it on a CD or a vinyl record, and this is not like most quality Blu Ray concerts that you can put in your player and listen to through your system without having to twiddle around with various settings to get it to sound anywhere near good.

My personal favourite parts are like I mentioned earlier are very much the instrumental tracks such as “Overture“. “The Slough” and so on and musical intervals they play between the songs, but the more stand out songs are perhaps those that do reoccur throughout the concert such as “City Of Destruction” and “Broken Sky” for example. Both “The Man In The Iron Cage” and “The Mask” are also great songs and the latter of those two where Morse actually puts on a mask (Though he does put on the mask much earlier on in the show too) is perhaps another bad example of how far the cameras are too away. Simply because you can hardly make out what the hell he is wearing :)))))).

The 4 tracks you get in the way of an encore are perhaps quite an unusual choice. Although both “The Call” and “Agenda” may not be as much being as they was both from the previous album Morse did with his band The Grand Experiment. You also get “Author of Confusion” from the One album he done back in 2004 and the self titled track from his 2012 album “Momentum“. But nothing from his days with Spock’s Beard and Transatlantic to which you would of got on his other concerts. I perhaps missed something from those two bands he was with as well, and some of those songs were classics in relation to the ones he chose here. But I suppose it’s something different and the band do a GREAT! job of them too.


To sum up the Blu Ray edition of The Similitude Of A Dream: Live In Tilburg 2017 by The Neal Morse Band. The first thing I can honestly say regarding both the Blu Ray and DVD editions, is that in this case you may be better off buying the DVD that comes with 2 CD’s. Because in all honesty the Blu Ray does not give you a better picture and sound quality and it’s a bit of a farce putting it on Blu Ray in the first place.

I doubt very much that the concert was filmed in High Definition, and if it was the cameras they used were pretty basic and not really good enough to do a decent enough job of it in the first place. You get no HD sound quality formats either and regarding the sound quality it’s much more better suited to headphones. Overall this is not a concert that measures up to the higher standards Blu Ray can give to you, and is more fitting to the DVD market.

The DVD is also the better package, and in reality although they are priced up at the same price on Neal’s website, I can perhaps see why other outlets are charging more for the DVD edition. Though I must say for all those idiots in my own country who think that 25 American dollars is 25 British pound, and are charging that ridiculous price. That I am sorry to say is way over it’s price point.

25 US dollars is just over £19 here in England and in reality even considering I got the Blu Ray for £14.70 it’s not really a bargain at that price. I personally think the Blu Ray should cost between £12 – £14 even though it comes with 2 discs, simply because this is not up to genuine Blu Ray standards, and the DVD with 2 CD’s should be priced between £18 – £20. And those are more of a GENUINE HONEST PRICE for the both products.


I am going to conclude my review about the concert rather than the formats its been released on, and even though it may appear in my review that concert was not filmed very well and is perhaps not up to the standards of Morse’s previous concerts he has released. Not by any means should those factors put you off. Simply because this is still very much a concert that can be enjoyed, and I also think that this live version of The Similitude Of A Dream is certainly more exciting than the studio version of the double album, and Neal and his band do a remarkable job of presenting it all to you.

During the time I spent over the last few days of writing this review. I have noticed that Neal Morse just announced that the Morsefest concert from 2017 is being released on the 2nd of November and it is available to pre-order from the 18th September. This is a concert that once again features Neal and the band playing The Similitude Of A Dream again plus Testimony 2 and a few other epics they have never played before.

For this release it also includes a 5.1 Soundtrack and in DTS as well. Though I have to confess regarding any release Morse puts out I would not be expecting too much from the 5.1 multi surround mix and no doubt that will not be as good as the stereo mix either. Simply because he uses engineers who do not have a clue how to do a 5.1 mix :)))))). Just like this release it’s also being released on both DVD and Blu Ray exactly the same way this release was.

But it also comes with a 2,000 copies limited exclusive edition to which you get a 50 page Artbook. 2 Blu Rays. 2 DVD’s and 4 CD’s. No doubt at a very expensive price as well :)))). There is no doubt it may look nice but I think having the concert once is enough for me, and I do not need it on Blu Ray and DVD. If this is filmed by the same camera crew I shall not bother with the Blu Ray this time around and pre-order the DVD.

But does one really need all these concerts? Well my answer to that is certainly not at all. But what I will say is that no concert is alike and hopefully this just might be better than this one I have just purchased. I would even say that if your thinking of getting this concert I have just reviewed. It may be worth hanging on a bit and get the Morsefest one instead. But overall I do enjoy a good live concert and no doubt Neal Morse does put his whole soul and spirit into his performances and I enjoy the experience even more so than the studio versions, even if they may not be as well recorded.

For I Have Seen The Broken Sky Turn Blue…

The 2 Blu Ray listing is as follows:

Disc 1 (Total Time 54:45)
01. Intro.
02. Long Day.
03. Overture.
04. The Dream.
05. City Of Destruction
06. We Have Got To Go.
07. Makes No Sense.
08. Draw The Line.
09. The Slough.
10. Back To The City.
11. The Ways Of A Fool.
12. So Far Gone.
13. Breath Of Angels.

Disc 2 (Total Time 1:33:35)
01. Slave To Your Mind.
02. Shortcut To Salvation.
03. The Man In The Iron Cage.
04. The Road Called Home.
05. Sloth.
06. Freedom Song.
07. I’m Running.
08. The Mask.
09. Confrontation.
10. The Battle.
11. Broken Sky / Long Day (Reprise).
12. Momentum.
13. Author of Confusion.
14. Agenda.
15. The Call.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 5/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Picture Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Audio Rating Score. 6/10.

Lee’s Live Concert Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #100

Garden Shed (Golden Edition) – England



Well I stumbled on this classic album from 1977 thanks to a guy by the name of Yoshiyuki Ooseki who had posted it in the PROG ON group on Facebook. It’s not that often I come across such Gems I missed out on back in that golden prog rock decade of the 70’s especially when it’s a band that came out of my own country. But apparently this is one of those albums that got released at a time when Punk Rock had raised its ugly head, and got very little promotion simply because the music scene was changing.

So for the band who went by the name of their own country England the timing of their one and only debut album Garden Shed that got released back then was certainly not in their favour. Had it of been released a few years earlier, it may have been a completely different story for the band, and by now I dare say they would of been far more successful and this album may have gone Platinum by now in sales.

I have to confess for the name of a prog rock band England may have been a bit of a crazy name to choose, especially has most people may have mistook it as something more associated with the football team, but when it comes to being crazy how many keyboard players do you know who would saw an authentic Mellotron from the 60’s in half :)))))). Well before I go any further, let’s take a look at the artwork and packaging as per usual.

The Packaging & Artwork…


There have been quite a few reissues of the album over the years and I opted to go for one of the more recent releases which is the Golden Edition which comes with 2 CD’s and was released in Germany in 2015. This particular edition comes with the 1997 remaster of the original album on the 1st CD which was remastered by King Crimson’s engineer Tony Arnold. The 2nd CD contains bonus material which consists of old and newer material some of which no doubt has been released on other editions and was remastered by Robert Webb.

It comes in a 3 panel very well quality made cardboard DigiPak with plastic trays to hold the discs in place and a pocket to store the booklet. The booklet is a generous 28 page one and contains all the lyrics, credits and linear production notes along with some pictures. It’s quite informative too and is a very well made package overall.

For those who are after this Golden Edition I do seriously suggest you to shop around, simply because some sellers are wanting an arm and a leg for it. The cheapest price on Amazon was £29.99 and no way on this earth is any 2 CD Set worth that much. Others were charging as much as a £100 for it. I managed to get mine off ebay brand new for £17.99 and it arrived the very next day after I ordered it. It also came sealed and was the genuine item. So do not fall for these idiots who want ridiculous money for it.

The Artwork.

The albums original artwork was of a painting done by Mike Cosford who was a new up and coming artist at the time and had recently done the artwork for the various artist prog rock album Peter And The Wolf. Another excellent album and well worth sorting after too. Webb suggested to Cosford that he wanted the artwork to be based around the label that Robertson’s put on their jars of marmalade.


His reasoning behind wanting the artwork based around the label is that a shed could be seen in a sense a form of something that could be about produce. For example you can store the garden tools in it that can be used in the garden to grow produce. The same as the shed could be used for other activities mostly men got up to and some may have even brewed their own beer in it or grew tomatoes and other things in it.

The fact the brand name Golden Shred rhymed with shed and it’s label could pertain to be seen as an earlier and better English social climate is what Webb seen in it. Mike Cosford also went on to do the artwork for the pop band Erasure. The photography for the other pictures in the booklet was done by Joolz Hooker, Karen McKenna, Maggie Alexander, Stephanie Mackrill, Sue Arber, and Warren Page.

A Brief Bit of England’s History…

Well it’s just as well that this bit of brief of history is about the name of the band and not the country, otherwise I would be here for an eternity :)))). The band England were formed in 1975 by Mark Ibbotson who was the bands drummer at the time, the other members of that incarnation of the band were bassist Martin Henderson, guitarist Jamie Moses and keyboardist Robert Webb. Both Webb and Henderson had previously collaborated on an unreleased album and it was not long after the band had played a few gigs at the Hazlitt Theatre in Maidstone Kent the guitarist Jamie Moses decided to quit the band and was replaced by guitarist Frank Holland.

In the following year in March 1976 having just played a showcase gig that resulted in the band getting a contract with Arista Records. The very guy who formed the band Mark Ibbotson and gave it the name, decided to leave straight away. He was replaced by drummer Jode Leigh and the new line up of the band spent the rest of the year rehearsing and recording new material for an album for Arista Records. But the one thing Ibbotson did leave behind when he left, was his MK II Mellotron and has to what happened to it is quite a very interesting story.

When the keyboard player Robert Webb got together with Mark Ibbotson back in 1975 Ibbotson happened to mention to Webb that he had a MKII Mellotron and Webb took an interest in it and thought it could open up a few more possibilities for the band. They even used it at a couple of the gigs they played at the The Hazlett Theatre back in 1975. But humping something like that around was a bit to much has it took 4 guys to carry it. Another fascinating thing is that when Webb asked Ibbotson where he got it from, he told him he brought it off the parents of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones. Though it’s never actually been proven Webb thought that Ibbotson had no reason to lie.

It’s believed that each member of the Rolling Stones owned a Mellotron at one time or another, and there are numerous photographs that support this. There’s even a MkII under glass at the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, with a plaque that claims that this was Brian Jones’s instrument. However, its provenance is unproven, and it’s more likely that this is one of the other instruments owned or used by the band during their brief ‘oh my god, how can we possibly compete with Sgt Pepper?’ era sort of thing :)))))).

The Mellotron Brian Jones original brought was thought to be the ninth Mellotron to be made, and it was actually made in December 1963 and was originally an MKI Mellotron. Only 55 MKI’s were ever dispatched from the factory to Mellotronics in January 1964. Although the Mellotron was retained as the company’s demonstrator and upgraded to MkII specification in March 1965 and it was a MKII when Jones had originally brought it. No paper records no longer exist to really prove it.


MKII Mellotron

As you can see from the photo above the MKII Mellotron is quite a beast and the fact that it was to heavy to cart around all the time, its most likely why when Ibbotson left the band he most likely left it behind with the band. Though later on in the 70’s the MKII had very much gone out of fashion since the arrival of the MK 400 to which most prog rock bands were using by now. Robert Webb would of no doubt would of preferred to have an MK 400 Mellotron but there was no way he or the band could afford to buy one. The MKII was way to heavy even for him to cart around so he decided to cut it in half and do some of his own modifications to it.

Luckily for Webb he had a fascination for modifying things since he was 14 years old, though not everything he did quite worked out as they was supposed to and were that successful. Although an MKII Mellotron may look like it’s an easy task to saw in half being as it has two keyboards, it’s far from anything as simple as that. It’s also just as well that he also had brushed up and improved on his electronics knowledge to which he did by reading the Electronics Today International Magazine and by taking lots of things to bits.

By 1976, it had become normal for Webb to modify almost every instrument he owned. But quite often his own modifications did not exactly end up looking that good. But he was not really bothered how it looked as long as it worked.


The Half Tron

Well as you can see this hardly a nice piece of furniture any more that would of looked nice in anyone’s home after Webb got his hands on it :))))). To do the job he had to put the one keyboard in another cabinet. and it even looks more like something that you would of seen Keith Emerson sticking knives in and throwing about all over the stage :)))). Although it did look a bit better than the photo of it here and the cabinet was newly painted black with fresh paint. He even called it Black Melly and it was dubbed by many as the Half Tron.

But nevertheless this is very much quite unique and the only Half Tron in existence. As for the other half of the MKII. It ended up in a skip. Black Melly featured throughout the bands 1977 debut album Garden Shed. Whether it really was originally Brian Jones’s MKII Mellotron or not, it was certainly a fascinating story, and the story does not end here either, because after the album was made the band split up and he eventually ended up selling Black Melly to Dillon Tonkin of Quasar in 1982.

Some 21 years later in 2003 he received a phone call from the very person he sold it too. Asking if he was interested in buying a broken Mellotron he had in his garden shed.  Black Melly was in very bad condition though he took it home and called Martin Smith and John Bradley at Streetly Electronics and told them what he had bought. They immediately offered to collect it to see whether it could be resurrected. A decade later in 2013 Black Melly had finally been given a new rebirth and I have to say it looks very much a pretty picture now.

Black Melly

For the full story of Black Melly’s complete history you can find it by clicking on the link below and it was published in 2015 in the Sound On Sound Magazine. A magazine I used to buy myself many moons ago, and I wish I still had kept the mags I brought as well. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/restoration-mellotron-halfatron

After the release of the bands debut album Garden Shed the band did go back into the studio to record more material and paid for the recording session themselves at Surrey Sound Studios. By this time the bands bass player Martin Henderson had already left the band and went to join the Jeff Beck band for his live tour of America. He was replaced by Jaffa and even though they did record more material it was not really completed enough to make a 2nd album. However they did make another album out of it and titled it The Last Of The Jubblies. It was finally released some 20 years later in 1997.

By the autumn of 1978 the band very much decided to call it a day and split up. Although in 1983 the bands guitarist Frank Holland got back together with the bands original drummer Mark Ibbotson and they recorded a couple of singles under the bands name of England. Both were released on the Jet Records “Victoriana” in 1983 and “The London Story” in 1984.

All the members from the band still stayed in the music business one way or another. For example in 1985 Mark Ibbotson became the manager of The Pretty Things and as managed the band ever since. The bands first guitarist Jamie Moses went on to work with Brian May of Queen and has been May’s rhythm guitarist since 1992. He was even part of the bands live touring guitarist when Queen got together with Paul Rogers and has played as a session guitarist for an array of well known artists over the years.

In 2006 both keyboard player Robert Webb and bass player Martin Henderson got back together and formed another incarnation of England along with guitarist Alec Johnson, drummer Steve Laffy and Maggie Alexander on vocals & keyboards to play a live concert in Kikimimi in Japan. They played near enough all the material from their debut album the Garden Shed and a few other songs besides. A live album on CD was also released in the same year on Strange Days Records.

More recently last year a Box Of Circles was released on Green Tree Records on CD and Vinyl. Though this is a compilation album and contains tracks that were never on their debut album and other tracks that got released on other albums over the years to which are more neo contemporary classical style and is completely different to their norm.

The Album In Review…

The original album Garden Shed by England was released sometime way back in 1977. The album contains 6 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 47 minutes, 35 seconds. Way over the allocated time slot to fit on a vinyl record and from listening to some of vinyl recordings of the tracks on Youtube some of them are quite muffled and suffer for it. Though I do not have the original vinyl album at all, but knowing from experience of vinyl recordings an album this long is genuinely going to suffer because of vinyl restrictions, and they overstepped the mark by trying to cram far too much onto it. Resulting in deterioration of the genuine quality of the master tape.

Though to be perfectly honest even though the CD does get rid of all the muffled dirt the vinyl album would of had, I personally think the CD could of been done better. I think it also may of been down to further mastering process that Robert Webb applied to it on top of Tony Arnold’s remastering work that may very well be to blame as well. No doubt the recording on the CD is very clear and very good, but it does sound a bit too high and light and as certainly lost some of it’s weight in comparison to the tracks that have not been effected on the vinyl album.

The 2nd CD that comes in the Golden Edition contains 8 tracks and has an overall playing time of 47 minutes, 51 seconds. This could be seen as a bit of a mixed bag because it contains a live recording from their Live In Japan album from 2006 and some other tracks the band wrote with various line ups as well as the original line up on the original album. it also includes some of the tracks that Robert Webb wrote for his own album Liquorish Allsorts. So there is nothing new regarding the material you are getting here. But if like myself you never had it, no doubt it would be new and seen as a bonus.

The material for the original album was written by the individual members of the band and recorded in various places by themselves on a multi track Revox Reel To Reel Tape Recorder to which they would share out with each other along with their instruments to record. Though they all agreed that all the writing credits should go to the band rather than be credited individually to themselves. The final recordings were done in the studio with the use of the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio at first and then completed at both Air and Morgan Studios in London.

It’s also said that although the original vinyl album was released in a single sleeve they wanted it to be released in a gatefold sleeve and had all the additional artwork for it at the time. But the record company wanted to get the album out and could not wait. But when it was released the album contained some information on the sleeve to which for the price of £1 you could send for a special booklet. Though all those who did send for it never received it, and the booklet never got as far as going to print. The money was never refunded back either to those who had sent for it either, and very much went to help the band out.

Musicians & Credits…


Creative Director Robert Webb. Recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio in Maidstone and at Air and Morgan Studios in London & various other studios. Recording Engineers Robin Freeman & Robert Webb. Executive Producer Bernd Bruhn. Artwork Painting by Mike Cosford. Design, Layout & Typography by Diedrich Ausprunk & Nanette Consovoy. Photography by Joolz Hooker, Karen McKenna, Maggie Alexander, Stephanie Mackrill, Sue Arber, and Warren Page. Linear Notes by Maggie Alexander & Robert Webb. Remastered by Tony Arnold & Robert Webb.


Frank Holland: Guitars/Vocals/Mellotron/Leslie Guitar (On Yellow).
Robert Webb: Mini Moog/Hammond/Harpsichord/Mellotron/Fender Rhodes/Piano/Hohner Clavinet/12 String Guitar (On Yellow) Vocals.
Martin Henderson: Bass/Acoustic Guitar (On Yellow)/Vocals.
Jode Leigh: Drums/Vibes/Percussion/Bass (On Yellow)/Vocals.

The Album Tracks In Review…

When the album Garden Shed was released like I mentioned earlier the record company gave the album very little promotion, and it was just before the album was released that a new managing director of the company was put in place and he had no real interest in those artists that his predecessor had signed up. The only bit of promotion it did get was a full page AD in both the Melody Maker and NME. The Melody Maker described the band as Yes in a Toy Shop and no doubt there are some resemblances to Yes and Genesis on this album and many others too.

Because we have 2 CD’s in this Golden Edition I shall take on the both discs individually starting with the main album first and the bonus disc straight after it in my review here. So let’s take a deeper look at the material we have on both discs.

Disc 1. Main Album.

Track 1. Midnight Madness.

The album gets off to flying start with it’s opening track and was written by the bands keyboard player Robert Webb. The intro he done on his mini moog which you could only use one voice at a time and was recreated from the Revox multi track tape recorder version he recorded before going in the studio. They never had a sequencer back then and he started from the harp like sound which was used throughout the track. Even the fine orchestral brass section was done on the same mini moog.

The piece builds up well from its intro and then vocals come into play and the song opens up and is quite a majestic bit of prog heaven of a track. I cannot be sure but I think Robert Webb was also the bands main vocalist, though no doubt all the band are joining in on the harmonies in a lot of the songs on this a really GREAT! album. The band certainly have a strong back line with both Martin Henderson on bass and Jode Leigh on drums and in some respects it’s a bit like listening to Chris Squire and Bill Bruford.

Robert Webb does some outstanding keyboard work on this track and throughout the album, and even though this band do have some Yes influences, the music is actually more structured around the keyboards in the same way early Genesis could be at times with there more heavier and powerful tracks unlike the acoustic tracks they also done.

So this is not a band like Yes where the guitarist has a lot more to say like Steve Howe did for example in that band, and it’s not an album where a guitarist like Frank Holland is really going to stand out like Howe got too, or even Steve Hackett got to shine on some occasions, and you will have to listen more closely for the guitar because just like Genesis the keyboards have more of a dominant feature along with the bass and drums.

No doubt some of the vocals and harmonies are a dominant feature with this band, and they are really excellent. There are times  in particular when the harmonies are Yes like, but I hear all other sorts of bands with their vocals and they can even be like 10CC, Queen and even Sparks at times.

No doubt all 4 members of this band have great vocal qualities about them. There is even a couple of tracks on this album that do remind me more like Yes was a bit further on down the line in their career and not before this album was made, and this track is one of them with part of its musical structure.

For example the back beat or back line of this song in parts very much remind me a bit like “Into The Lens” that both Geoff Downes & Trevor Horn wrote a few later on and featured on Yes’s 1980 Drama album. It may not perhaps that evident with this song, but there is a song further on this album that I would certainly say that Yes may have heard and ripped part of it off :)))))).

I quite the lyrics to this song as well and they are very fascinating and very well written. It tells the story of a strange person who was in possession of a pocket watch that gave immortality to whoever was the owner of it. It’s all about being caught up in the mythical midnight madness of time sort of thing and it really is a superb piece of work and song that contains bags of chord progression and diversity. It’s also a very strong contender for the top spot on the album, and to be honest there are some tracks on this album that make it very difficult to choose a personal favourite.

Track 2. All Alone (Introducing).

The shortest track on the album is another one that Robert Webb wrote and the fact that it contains the word “Introducing” in brackets may very well suggest that it’s either introducing himself because it features him alone on piano and vocals, or it may be introducing the next track on the album, because it runs straight into it.

This short ballad is perhaps something you could perhaps associate with ELP’s Keith Emerson & Greg Lake in the way it’s put over with the fine piano and vocals. It’s a nice enough little ditty of a song that tones the album down nicely enough over the its 1 minute and 46 second time slot and works very well as an interval between the other material on the rest of the album.

Track 3. Three Piece Suite.

This is a piece that once again was written by Webb and it was actually written back in 1975 and even played live back than when the band were a 3 piece outfit with Mark Ibbotson on drums along the both Webb on keys and Henderson on bass. It was developed more over the following 2 years and I have to say the end result we have here is quite spectacular enough for me to merit it with top spot award of the album.

Strangely enough that first incarnation of the band England with those same 3 members also wrote and recorded a 24 minute epic track entitled “The Imperial Hotel” that never seen the light of day till 2006 when they played at that live gig in Japan. They also played a 10 minute version of it live at that show and gave the original 24 minute epic that was recorded back in 1975 away for free in the form of a 1 track EP at the concert and in the form of a digital download for their fan base on their website.

Unfortunately the website no longer exists and the only way you have of getting hold of it would be by selling a kidney ;)))))). I dare say to somebody who has it would be asking the price of the Queens Jewels for it :))))). From the reviews I read about it, it was not that well recorded and being as I could not hear it for myself and had no way of getting hold of it. I did find it on Youtube and gave it a blast and I quite liked enough to even download it illegally.

Naughty me but if the band want money for it, they should re-release it on an EP or even put it on a compilation album, and I would gladly buy it. But no way am paying silly money for it, especially for something that was given away in the first place.

Getting back to the song “Three Piece Suite” the song goes down quite a few roads with the progression and transitional changes that is along its path. The opening is very early Genesis like even if it’s got birds singing away in it like “Close To The Edge” by Yes. But when the vocals come into play they are perhaps more Yes like but like many songs on this album like I said before, they have so many different vocal phrases and styles they can sound quite like many bands.

For example you even hear some of the softer and sweeter vocals you may find in The Alan Parsons Project or Barclay James Harvest along the section that follows Frank Holland’s lead guitar solo where Martin Henderson’s bass gets a dominant feature also in this vocals section that runs between the 6.00 – 7:50 minute mark. But even more reminiscent are the vocal lines that accompany the up-tempo section that follows that section with the piano and organ, and the vocals that do come into play to the melody at the 8:15 mark are very reminiscent to the pop band Sparks and the high pitch sort of vocals you would hear on their hit record “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us“.

I should also point out that during Frank Holland’s lead guitar solo at precisely the 7:46/7 mark (how precise is that LOL) you get this piercing noise of either somebody screaming or they just got an electric shock :))))) and this can be quite annoying if you are listening to this on headphones like I do myself with the volume whacked up. Oddly enough there is another version of the song that was recorded at the Olympic Studios in London on the 2nd disc, and the piercing screaming noise is not on that version. So my ears have got less chance of getting damaged :)))))).

Three Piece Suite” is a brilliant song that contains lashing of mellotron and keyboards, a tasty guitar solo, drums bass the lot. But I could say the same more or less for the opening and final track on the album as well. It’s got GREAT! lyrics too and this is not about a piece of furniture and is perhaps more of a poetic journey through nature.

Track 4. Paraffinalea.

This next song “Paraffinalea” got released as a single from the album and I dare say just like the album got very little promotion meant that the single never really stood a chance of getting anywhere either. The band did have complete freedom over their album and it was even them who decided to release it as a single.


But as you can see by the picture above the single was only released to radio stations to air and not sold in the record shops. Annie Nightingale gave the single a positive review and thought the band were destined for great things. The B’ Side “Nanagram” was left off the album and is an instrumental piece. It’s very good as well and the original studio version and live version from 2006 is on the 2nd disc that you get here with this package.

There is no doubt that this particular song does sound more like Yes. But there is a difference in just how Yes sounded earlier on in the 70’s to how they sounded much later on in the latter half of that decade. And this is the very song on the album that I mentioned where I feel Yes may have just ripped England off.

Though my theory about this is very much my own theory and it would be pretty hard to prove, especially as the song I am saying it’s like is not even played in the same chords. It’s also not even played in the same tempo either and the instrumentation is also quite different. But I can always latch on to a familiar melody line and that is what we do get in this song that does remind me of the song “Madrigal” that appeared just a year later on Yes’s 1978 album Tormato.

Paraffinalea” is played at a much faster pace and tempo than “Madrigal” but part of the melody line is certainly the same, even down to the fact that I could sing and make the some of the words from “Madrigal” fit into its vocal line. But no doubt England are also very much using Yes harmonies on this song, so in reality they have both ripped each other off :)))). But both are also pretty much very fine and good songs. This song was also written by Robert Webb too.

Track 5. Yellow.

Another fine song and in a way I suppose the title of the song could even be seen as “Mellow” and that is exactly what we have here with subtle melancholic feel the song gives to you.  This song was written by the bands drummer Jode Leigh who was also a multi talented instrumentalist like many of the others in the band. On this track they also swap their instruments around too, and Leigh plays bass on this one and also takes on the lead vocals to which they are double tracked.

The song opens up with the mellotron which is played by the bands guitarist Frank Holland and its a bit like the sound of the mellotron Rick Wakeman used on the Tales From The Topographic Oceans album by Yes. Although the song itself is much more like very early Yes or even some Crosby Stills Nash & Young would of done with how it all flows beautifully along. Holland also plays a Leslie guitar on the solo which was overdubbed afterwards.

Whilst both the keyboard player and bass player play acoustic guitars. Robert Webb on 12 string and Martin Henderson on the 6 string. Webb also overdubbed an acoustic and electric piano on it afterwards too. It’s very much another GREAT! song and one of the shorter ones just like the previous track on the album, and this one simmers the album down very nicely indeed.

Track 6. Poisoned Youth.

The last track on the album is GREAT! piece of prog rock that was written by Frank Holland & Robert Webb. It’s also the longest track on the album weighing in at some 16.15 minutes. Once again we get the Bruford like drums and punctuating bass lines throughout the song, along with lashings of mellotron, great guitar and even all the fun at the fairground with the keyboards.

The vocals and harmonies are also very well done as ever and you even get a touch of Freddie Mercury in this one. It also has all the great diversity and progression with it’s many transnational changes, and its perhaps has both subtly and power about it, with how it all builds up and runs along. It’s very much another contender for the top spot on the album and ends off the album superbly.

Disc 2. The Bonus Disc.

Track 1. Nanagram (Live 2006).

The bonus disc kicks of with a live version of the instrumental track “Nanagram” that was originally the B’ Side of the single “Paraffinalea” that was released for radio stations only. This particular version was also from the Kikimimi: Live In Japan album that got released in the same year of 2006. It features a new 5 piece incarnation of the band that consists of 2 of the original members Robert Webb and Martin Henderson. Making up the rest of the line up is Alec Johnson guitar. Steve Laffy drums and Webbs girlfriend Maggie Alexander who does the odd bit of vocals & additional keyboards now and then.

It’s the only live track you get from their live album on this bonus disc and they tend to do a pretty decent job of it live, though I would not say it was as good as the original studio version which is also included on this disc and from what little reviews I have read about their live album they are not exactly that promising. I have not got the album to make any judgement of my own about it, and it is very hard to get hold of, and even though the reviews are not exactly in favour of the album, those who do have it are charging the crown jewels for it second hand :)))))).

But the other bit of information I did find out about it with my research. Is that the band never had a mellotron on the stage with them, simply because of the cost of the insurance it would of been to transport it with them to Japan. The mellotron and some other instruments were overdubbed later in the studio. So the live recording no doubt is bound to sound that much better than the actual gig itself.

Track 2. Carmina Burana.

This track was previously unreleased at the time this Golden Edition was released back in 2015. However that is not strictly true at all, because it was in fact from Robert Webbs solo album Liquorish Allsorts which was released the year before in 2014. It also appears on the compilation album Box Of Circles that was released in 2017. This is very much an arranged version of “O Fortuna” to which the music was composed by Carl Orff back in 1935. The Latin text that was written in the form of poems and goes back as far as the medieval times way back to 11th and 12rh century and put to Orff’s music would of been something more your Gothic Operatic classical style music.

To be honest this is same sort of evil chanting stuff they would use in horror films and even though the music for the film the Omen was composed by Jerry Goldsmith this particular original composition is certainly something very similar to some of the music that was used in that film. To be honest I am not into opera or even Gothic rock bands and this sort of stuff is really only effective in horror films more than anything else, and it’s not really my cup of tea at all.

However the arrangement we have here is more rocked up, but it’s a long way off the mark to the material that was written for the Garden Shed. And in my opinion the music we have on the album Garden Shed leaves Carl Orff whoever he is in the dust :)))). To be honest this is not the type of tune I would even consider doing a cover of myself. it’s just bloody dreadful and the only people who may appreciate Orff’s composition more are classical music fanatics and horror film fanatics.

But in saying that I prefer Webbs more rocked up arrangement to the original and it’s not bad. It’s a bit of a funky rocked up version and the bass line and drums very much give it the funky groove. However I am not into vocals at all even though they may be doing a good job of it.

This line up of England which is on their latest compilation album Box Of Circles and is the same line up he had with him on his solo album Liquorish Allsorts which does have most of the bands original members but only in parts, and it also has an array of other guest musicians and singers on it. This is more of Webbs England and from his solo album Liquorish Allsorts and nothing like it was back in the 70’s that’s for sure.

Track 3. Fags, Booze & Lottery.

This is another song that is also on the latest album Box Of Circles and I believe it was written by the bands drummer Jode Leigh and Robert Webb. To be honest I quite like this one and this more like something Ian Dury would of wrote (especially lyric wise) rather than the two guys here and is very much just like listening to Ian Dury & The Blockheads and not England :))))). If you are into Ian Dury you will either love this or hate it for being a bit like plagiarism.

Track 4. The Ladies’ Valley.

Another song from Webbs solo album Liquorish Allsorts like many of them are on this bonus disc. Webbs solo album was put together with material that he had done over the last 40 years. He was also commissioned to write some pieces of music by Marco Bernard who was the producer and the guy behind putting together various prog rock artists for his project based on Giovanni Boccaccio’s novel the Decameron to which he completed way back in 1353. Apparently Boccaccio’s contained 100 short stories that became one of the most important books in all history.

Bernard started work on the project in 2011 and gathered an array of prog rock artists from old and new to put his massive project together. Which was released in 3 parts and each part contained 4 CD’s in each box set that got released between 2012  – 2016. Webb wrote 3 pieces for the project 2 of which are on this bonus CD and other one is on his solo album Liquorish Allsorts and all 3 can also be found on Bernard’s musical version of Decameron in parts 2 and 3 of that project.

The Ladies’ Valley” features Jenny Darren on vocals and it’s quite a lengthy track that’s some 7.75 minutes long and is like a game of two halves in some respects. It’s what Webb describes as an exploration of classical orchestra and operatic rock ballad. He was inspired by what Jon Lord did with Deep Purple back in 1969 with the Concerto For Group And Orchestra album. The first part is very much the classical operatic ballad side of things, to which runs into an instrumental orchestra section, and then is beefed up with the drums and keyboards to give you more of a prog section before it finally comes down and goes back into how it all started with the vocal section again.

It’s perhaps something you have to be in the right mood for, simply because the only bit of prog rock here is really in that great keyboard section. The rest is very much contemporary classical music with a lady who has a very good voice. It’s like I said this album is quite a mixed bag, and the very fact that we do have quite a contrast in the styles of the material you get on this bonus disc will certainly conflict with ones listening pleasure.

Effectively this track could be seen like sending for say an album by Yes and them sending you something more like Charlotte Church instead. Which although I have nothing whatsoever against Charlotte Church’s GREAT! voice but the genre is quite a margin off the mark if you catch my drift. Personally I feel it’s a very good song, but placed on an album like this, it’s really out of place and that is where it’s not really going to be given perhaps the right respect it deserves.

To put it in a nutshell. The whole classical side of things here really outweighs what bit of prog rock you get on it, and for those expecting more of the same as we got on the main album on the 1st disc, I can see why they may be a bit disappointed with the 2nd disc you get here. Pretty much most reviews of this Golden Edition also point to that as well, and I can see why.

Track 5. Masters Of War.

Here we have another cover version and basically this is a cover of George Gershwin’sSummertTime” put together with a set of Bob Dylan’s lyrics and sung once again by Jenny Darren in a blues style. This song is also on the compilation album Box Of Circles and once again it’s really down to personal taste, and as much as I do like George Gershwin this is not for me I am afraid. Though I cannot fault the instrumentation and the vocals, but even playing this in fifteen and half bars does not make this prog rock I am afraid :)))))).

Track 6. Three Piece Suite (Olympic Version, 1976).

A slightly earlier and shorter version of the track on the original album, and was recorded in a different studio. The song is more or less the same but you can hear a slight difference particularly in the way its been recorded as well. This is also the first original recording as well and is more of a rougher recording. But just like the version on the main album won my top spot of award of that album, it does here as well. I would even say the slight difference you get here is worthy of having as a bonus track too. It was also included on some other releases over the years.

Track 7. Heebeegeebee.

This is another song that ended up on Marco Bernard’s musical version of Decameron and this early mix uses musical ideas from the 1977 Garden Shed period which survived on a chrome cassette from those days Webb recorded on the multi track Revox reel to reel tape. Though the piece never had any lyrics at the time, Webb wrote some based around the biography of Giovanni Boccaccio.

Most of the keyboard ideas were written when the band England lived together in a house Crowborough Sussex and had the band have been able to continue, it most likely would of wound up on their next album. Steve Unruh of The Samurai Of Prog provided the drums and percussion parts and sent them to Webb via the internet.

I quite like this one and it’s certainly the best of the newer material that’s on this 2nd disc and for me the last 3 tracks on this disc along with the live version of “Nanagram” are the only real prog rock tracks on this 2nd disc, and are very much the best highlights from it.

Track 8. Nanagram.

The original studio version of the B’ Side of “Paraffinalea” that was made back in the days of the original album. This is certainly amongst the better of the bonus tracks we get on this 2nd disc and is great to see they have included it. Even though it’s an instrumental piece this perhaps would of been better putting on the original album in replace of “All Alone (Introducing)” though no doubt the album was already way over its allocated time slot for vinyl and it would of made it even longer.


To sum up the Golden Edition of the Garden Shed by England. There can be no doubt the main album is certainly a GREAT! piece of prog rock heaven that came out of that golden decade of the 70’s. The 2nd disc you get here could not really be seen as a bonus disc, simply because of its price point of £17.99 does mean you are without a doubt paying more for this 2 CD Edition of the album. But in saying that just trying to get your hands on the single disc version will cost you a hell of lot more than the Golden Edition in some places. So you may as well get this instead.

The 2nd disc I would consider worthy of having for the odd few tracks, but it does not work like your getting an extra album, simply because the material is a mixed bag and does not really Gel as a bunch of tracks that would really be suited to fit together like a good album should. To be honest Robert Webb should of used some of the tracks that was put on the The Last Of The Jubblies album because they would of worked a damn site better as a companion disc to the Garden Shed. The other material from his solo album and other albums is really out of place, and the only real newer track that does work is “Heebeegeebee“.

No doubt that Webb was trying to circulate around some of the newer material and you cannot really blame him for trying either. But the fact that the genre is really out of place I feel makes it worse. I am not for one minute saying those particular tracks are bad, but the fact that they do not really belong on an album like this, I feel will put a lot of people off buying the newer material that is on an album like Box Of Circles because they certainly do not fit or belong here, where as they are very much are more suited to make an album like a Box Of Circles work better, and that is the album they do belong on.


To conclude my review I shall conclude it by speaking about the main album the Garden Shed and not the extra disc you get in this package. There can be no doubt that if there is an England album that’s worth having this is the one. It’s very much a solid album from start to finish and I cannot really fault the material that was written for it at all, and it is without a doubt very clever from both the musical and lyrical aspect side of things.

The musicians are also very clever although they may not be a great live act simply because they never really got out enough to play that many gigs at all. They was not together long enough for us to really find out. But no doubt these guys can play and were capable of writing really great songs and it’s a shame they never stuck together and continued doing what they was doing back in the 70’s. But obviously they came out at the wrong time and the music scene was very much changing and a lot of new prog rock bands would have certainly of struggled to get a record deal back then.

I would say for anybody really into serious prog rock this is an album everyone should have in their record collection. Stumbling on it now after all these years very much makes this like some long lost hidden piece of treasure, and is truly quite a remarkable GEM. I would even say that this is kind of album that even if I brought it back on its release back in 1977 I would still very much be still playing it today. Simply because this is really music that was most certainly made to last the test of time, and is an immensely enjoyable album.

No doubt the band have plenty of musical influences like many bands do, and you will hear the likes of Yes. Genesis. ELP. Queen. Sparks and many, many more especially in the vocal presentation of the album. But no doubt they also had their own distinctive style as well. My personal highlights from the main album are “Three Piece Suite“. “Midnight Madness” and “Poisoned Youth“.

There is no doubt that album as good as this should not be ignored and in all honesty it should be more frequently re-issued to stop people charging stupid money for it. Even though I ended up paying £17.99 to get my hands on this album I personally feel the main album alone on the 1st disc was perhaps worth it, just to get you hands on it. But for double CD like this, it should really cost no more than £14.99 in reality and around £12 for a single disc version of the album.

Come Out And Join The Woodland Company…

The album track listing of both discs is as follows:

Disc 1.
01. Midnight Madness. 6:57.
02. All Alone (Introducing). 1:46.
03. Three Piece Suite. 12:59.
04. Paraffinalea. 4:13.
05. Yellow. 5:25.
06. Poisoned Youth. 16:15.

Disc 2.
01. Nanagram (Live 2006). 5:11.
02. Carmina Burana. 4:01.
03. Fags, Booze & Lottery. 4:48.
04. The Ladies’ Valley. 7:44.
05. Masters Of War. 4:28.
06. Three Piece Suite (Olympic Version 1976). 11:46.
07. Heebeegeebee. 5:38.
08. Nanagram. 4:15.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 9/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 7/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 5/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee Speaks About Other Oddities… #3

Album Art The Enticing Factor…


I wonder just how many of us over the many years have actually gone out and brought an album without even hearing anything from the actual record, and brought it purely down to the fact that the albums artwork enticed us to purchase it?. I know I certainly have over the many decades I have been buying music. No doubt I dare say that quite a few of us have as well. But does every picture tell a story, or even the right story for that matter ?.

One should never judge a book by its cover so to speak, and its certainly true one also does not get what they was hoping to get by buying an album just because the artwork happens to look good. There is no doubt the artwork can draw a person in and even entice them enough to buy the actual album, and it may not always be the music that is the attraction, though I would certainly say the music is, and should be the biggest attraction and not the artwork. Especially in the case of if the album that looked so good on the outside, proves to be so very disappointing with what they actually put on the inside with the material they put on the actual album itself.

Selling music is just the same as selling any product in reality. The whole idea of the artwork is all part of the package, and the better it looks, the more appealing and enticing it is to attract the customer to purchase it. For the vinyl collector it could be said that the artwork is certainly more of an attraction than the music itself in some way I suppose. The much smaller compact disc (CD) is not as eye catching in comparison to the 12 inch vinyl album, even though the sound quality of the recording is just as good, and in some cases much better.

These days nearly all recordings are digital anyway and most old analogue master tapes have been transferred to digital simply because they had to preserve them because tape deteriorates over the years. The only real analogue recordings to be found these days, and chances of getting hold of them, Is by going out and buying second hand vinyl albums from many moons ago I am afraid.

So no doubt the biggest attraction for all vinyl lovers is the size of the albums artwork on the cover. Though in all fairness, both music and art can be seen as ART. Although when buying music I would of thought the music was much more important than the artwork that gets put on the cover. That’s most likely why The Beatles opted for a plain white album cover on their 9th studio album that became known as the White Album. Because to them it was always the music that was important to them, and not the packaging.

Over the many years of buying music I have come across some amazing album covers, that in my opinion are much better than the music that is on the record. A perfect example would certainly have to be Led Zeppelin’s 5th studio album Houses Of The Holy. I also think that this is the best artwork put on any of their albums and is certainly more like something Roger Dean would of done rather than the people who were behind it which was Hipgnosis.


No doubt the artwork we have here would of attracted many to buy it, but for me personally the best thing about this album is the actual album cover and not the music on the album. Even the production work on this album was dire, and the material was certainly not up to the bands usual high standards, and was a very poor attempt of Led Zeppelin trying to go more commercial by writing pop songs. To which in reality were not even in league with the many pop artists who were writing songs in a more commercial way and putting them out as singles back then.

This album really sucked and was amongst one of their worst ever albums. I certainly think more effort went into the artwork than the record. I dare say that if you was to make an album cover like this these days, you may very well get arrested and be accused of being some sort of pervert as well :))))))).

Speaking of these days and how things have changed over the years. This next album done by Magenta’s main man Robert Reed shows how not much thought went into this particular artwork he chose for his first solo album Sanctuary. Now this is a guy who chose to emulate the work of Mike Oldfield with what he does regarding his own solo material. To be honest just like him being a fan of Oldfield myself I love what he does regarding this solo project of his, and this is certainly a case of the music being much better than the artwork he chose for this solo debut album of his.


This particular image I had seen on the internet for more than a decade before it wound up being the cover of his first solo album. Even though the water could be seen as life it’s perhaps not how I would describe “Sanctuary”. I would associate it with more of picture of paradise and some sort of safe haven. Even by glancing at the symbol that is formed with the water here, it’s not the symbol of sanctuary either which is more like this below.

Key of Life Symbol

The symbol the water has formed here is perhaps something more like that we seen on Patrick Moraz’s debut album back in 1976. As seen in this artwork of his album below.


To be honest even though the artwork for Robert Reed’s debut album is not as fitting as the artwork done for both Patrick Moraz’s and even Mike Oldfield’s debut albums which may have been more fitting. I personally feel the music speaks better on all 3 albums than the artwork. Though the best artwork of those 3 albums I would certainly give to Tubular Bells as the most fitting to the actual music that is on the record.


Out of the little artwork I have presented here, no doubt the only real artwork out of all 4 of the albums I have mentioned so far. Tubular Bells is certainly the winner when it comes to marrying up the artwork to the music. To be honest it’s very hard to get a perfect match to the music on any album. For example as good as King Crimson’s debut album cover really is, the only song on that album it really represents is “21st Century Schizoid Man“. As for the rest of the material on the album, it says very little in relation to the artwork at all.


I personally feel that the artwork that was done for King Crimson’s much more later album The Power To Believe was certainly more fitting when you are taking onboard all the albums tracks that were written for the album, and not just a single track like “21st Century Schizoid Man” that really pinpoints and focuses the albums artwork on that track alone, and that is not even the albums title either. So how does the artwork done for their debut album really say a thing about the albums title In The Court Of The Crimson King. It doesn’t, no matter how striking it looks.


Whereas the artwork for their 2003 album The Power To Believe is much more fitting and not only suits the albums self titled track, but the rest of the material that was written for it as well. If you are going to match the music to the artwork The Power To Believe is the real winner out of these 2 albums. But that is not to say that the music is better than what we have on In The Court Of The Crimson King and that really is a classic album and one where many would consider even its artwork to be the best. But you cannot deny the fact that it does not fit the albums title and certainly not the biggest majority of the music on the album.

Roger Dean as always been one of my favourite prog rock artists, but not even most of his artwork genuinely suits the music that’s been put on a lot of the albums he done the artwork for. He does not just do artwork for prog rock artists ether. For example this artwork was done for  the so called British Afro pop band Osibisa who were formed in London England back in 1969 and consisted of four expatriate African and three Caribbean musicians. Some may even say they was progressive rock but they had more of a feel for funked up jazz with a load of African percussion thrown into the equation for good measure.


I would even say these guys had a lot of soul in their music too, and was not a bad band at all. But even though they resided in England they very much tried to bring the African Jungle to it judging by Roger Dean’s artwork and this is quite fitting to their self titled debut album. I very much think that Dean had heard the music beforehand to get the right feel and inspiration for the artwork and it works.

Roger Dean’s most noted work would of certainly been for the band Yes. His futuristic vision is bang on for the futuristic music the band present to you in the style of symphonic prog rock. Yes music back in its heyday from The Yes Album up to Relayer certainly sounded like something that was way ahead of its time and came from another planet, simply because there was nothing else quite like it on this planet.




Roger Dean’s work for the bands triple live album Yessongs was certainly breathtaking and fitted the music right down to a tee. The same could be said of his works on the albums Close To The Edge. Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer.



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They are all pretty much outstanding fine pieces of art to which the art of the music they was put to, said it all very much spot on. Both the artwork and music was very much a perfect marriage. My least favourite artwork from the Yes albums I mentioned would have to be the artwork done for Fragile. Though no doubt the fact that it showed a planet with pieces breaking away from it, it did very much fit the albums title.

Although just as colourful as the artwork Dean done for Steve Howe’s debut album Beginnings. The music Howe did on that album did not really match the beauty of the artwork. Though I do quite like the album a lot and it’s cover is Fantastic.



I would even say that Dean’s artwork he did for the rock band Budgie was not exactly fitting to the bands music. But nevertheless they was amazing covers especially my favourite album of theirs Never Turn Your Back On A Friend.


There is no doubt all these works of art done for these albums certainly benefited more on the vinyl album rather than the miniaturised versions of them you get on a CD. Some works of art even gave you something that bit more special being released on vinyl too, such as this classic album of Jethro Tull’s from 1972.


Although the album looked the same size of a conventional vinyl album. It had a newspaper inside and a folded flap to open it up into a full size newspaper just like you would buy in the shops back in the 70’s. It was also the same size of your Evening Standard to which were much bigger than they are these days.


The whole album Thick As A Brick was very much a spoof of a concept album just like the newspaper was a complete spoof with its main headlines about little Milton, and was all done in the same humorous style of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Both the album cover and album went together like two peas in a pod and was a perfect example of some of the quality you got with the vinyl album.

I would even say that if you did not enjoy the music that much, you still got your money’s worth out of the comical satire that was printed in the newspaper. But for me personally this as always been my ultimate favourite Jethro Tull album, and it’s not all about the rather funny newspaper either, and it’s the music that speaks to me the most about this GREAT! package. But no doubt the album cover was certainly a massive bonus.

For my final look at album art and how it marries up to the music on the record. I thought I would return to the same album art designers that I opened up with Hipgnosis. By the looks of things on this album released back in 1973 they was perhaps “Shaping” things up to the music that was put on the record :)))))).


Pink Floyd’s classic album Dark Side Of The Moon may not look that impressive by just looking at the triangular shape and the lines they drew on a black background. If you was to just look at the shape and lines literally and stare them in the face, there is no doubt that it says very little about the music that’s on the record. It’s certainly more boring in relation to the cover done by the same designers who did Led Zeppelin’s album Houses Of The Holy. So just what makes this particular design so special or even interesting ?.

Well no doubt this is an object where one has to use their mind to really make anything out of it, otherwise the shapes we have here are nothing more than your average child would of drawn on a piece of paper at school or at home. Another strange thing that pops into people’s minds about this particular album cover. Is that for some reason in the many TV documentaries and all those who mention the albums artwork. The name Storm Thorgerson immediately springs to mind.

But in reality he had very little to do with the artworks final design we have here at all. But he was the one who got the inspiration for it from this photograph he had seen in a photography book, and the original photo he seen is the one pictured below.


The whole idea in the first place for the albums artwork came from the bands member Richard Wright who suggested to the team at Hipgnosis that he wanted something bold and simple. To be honest the original photo above says a lot more about refracting light from a prism than the flat objects we have on the front of the album cover. George Hardie was also actually the man behind the album covers design and it was he who simplified the original photo that Thorgerson had seen in the book.

Although Thorgerson did suggest to Hardie that the back of the cover should have another prism recombining the spectrum of light. Which basically was an upside down version of front cover as shown in this picture below. (Please note this is not the back of the original vinyl album from 1973 though the image is the same).


Both the albums artwork and the stickers that was originally on the front were done by George Hardie and it was Roger Waters idea to continue the spectrum of light on the inside of the Gatefold Sleeve and the visual representation of the heartbeat sound running through it as shown below.

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The albums design is said to represent 3 elements: 1. The band’s stage lighting. 2. The album lyrics and 3. Wright’s request for a “simple and bold” design. Rather strange since it supposed to represent the title of the album, and I guess you have to use your own imagination and eclipse the idea to work out just how that works. No doubt the music on the album is way better than it’s simplistic design. But over the many years other people may have a much better idea of how they see it with some of the designs they have done around it all.



So to conclude my discussion of album art and how it can entice one into buying music because of the effect it can have on some people. There can be no doubt that it does very much play a part in it all. In the past I have found myself walking into a record shop to buy a specific album I had in mind of purchasing before I left my house. And ended up walking out of the shop with something else instead, just because the artwork was indeed enticing and attracting and drawing my attention to it.

Though that was something I would of done many moons ago, and not so much today. But even though I no longer collect vinyl these days and mainly buy CD’s/Blu Ray’s and DVD’s. I will quite often (particularly when I buy CD’s) end up paying more for it just because it comes in a cardboard DigiPak or DigiSleeve rather than buying it cheaper in a plastic Jewel Case. This is basically because both DigiPaks and DigiSleeves do look more like a miniature representation of the vinyl album, and in all honesty you simply cannot beat how the artwork looks on a 12 inch vinyl sleeve.

My main reason for no longer buying vinyl these days, is really down to storage space and I simply cannot be arsed to keep getting up to turn over the record :))))). To be honest I like all music formats apart from the Cassette. And no way could I go back to using those things again, and in today’s world there is no reason to either. But just because any album comes with a bad artwork cover. The music should be the real thing you buy it for, and not the artwork no matter how good it looks. But it’s a bonus perhaps when they both marry up to each other.