Lee Speaks About Music… #160

Still Alive – Tiger Moth Tales

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Pete Jones is back with a new Tiger Moth Tales mini-album and this is the 5th studio release in the discography of the project to date. It was also not intended either has Jones had already been working and recording new material at Fieldgate Studios for his new album in the project which for various reasons beyond control was not ready for release yet. You could say that the album we have here came out of the desperation brought on by the effect the Coronavirus leaving many musicians out of work by not being able to get out there and play live. What we are getting here is a bit of an unexpected surprise and the material for it came out of the blue and was written very quickly.

There is no doubt the Coronavirus has had a massive effect on many musicians and its already forced Jones to put out loads of live albums in the form of a Digital Download on Bandcamp this year and we also saw the first physical Tiger Moth Tales live album A Visit To Zoetermeer Live released earlier in the year back in February. Who knows we might even get to see another studio album from this GREAT! project of his get released by the end of the year and 2020 has been a very testing year for us all so far?

Still Alive contains material that was inspired by the current events of the Coronavirus and it reflects different moods of his own alternating feelings that can be from visions of a doomed world and a growing tone of madness to a desire to see the positives and the spirit of endurance and survival as he put in his own words. The album also comes with a live bonus DVD that captures a session from the Tiger Moth Tales band, filmed live in front of an intimate audience at the fabulous Rockfield Studios in 2018. The question is does it live up to the standards you would expect from Tiger Moth Tales? Before I go into that let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The CD & DVD comes in a very well-presented cardboard Di-Cut Gatefold Digisleeve that has slip pockets on the inside to hold both discs as you can see in the picture above. It does not come with a booklet and all the linear production notes and credits have been printed on the back and inside of the Digisleeve. It also contains the lyrics to the self-titled album track (only) and a bit of formative information. However, it does tend to cater more for the DVD regarding the linear production notes and credits and it’s lacking quite a bit of information on the new mini-album including all the instrumentation that Pete Jones played on the album and the artwork and sleeve design credits.

I pre-ordered my copy on the 13th July from White knight Records for £12.75 which includes £1.75 postage & packaging. This is the cheapest way to obtain the album I find although when it comes to new releases White knight Records are not always on the ball and you will be dead lucky to get it on the day of the release. I actually had to go chasing my copy and finally got it 17 days after it’s released date which is why this review is late. The only way you can really be assured of getting the album on its release date is to buy the Digital Download instead.


Like I mentioned both the artwork and design for the album appear to be missing from the linear production notes and credits and as far as I can make out the artwork for the cover of the album is a modified version of a stockpile photo that was originally done by Kitsana Baitoey of Thailand, The original photo had been noodled around with by Baitoey herself as you can see by the picture below, and it’s fairly obvious that someone else has noodled around with it to get the album cover we have here.

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Kitsana Baitoey’s original bit of noodling of a half alive and half dead tree standing at the crossroads is a concept of how climate change has changed and was done to save the environment. I rather think another nice bit of noodling as been done here that fits in very well with the albums title and the present situation that is bestowed upon us by the Coronavirus as you can see below.


I have no idea if the original photo was purchased because it is licensed under copyright protection and sold as a stockpile photo. But through my own personal experience of noodling around with photos and images that can be found on the world wide web. You can very easily avoid copyright protection laws by doing your own bit of noodling and adding other images to it to change the look of the original photo or image just like what has been done here. Although I myself do tend to avoid using copyrighted photos and images to be on the safe side, especially ones that are watermarked and are for sale.

The Album In Review…

Still Alive by Tiger Moth Tales was released on the 1st of August 2020. The mini-album itself contains 6 tracks spread over an overall running time of 32 minutes, 7 seconds which is quite short but easy enough to digest and what they call these days a mini album or even an EP to which this release was also branded as. Although back in the ’60s and ’70s it was certainly nothing unusual for an albums worth of material to have a playing time of around 30 – 40 minutes and since the birth of CD in the ’80s things have perhaps gotten out of hand.

As mentioned earlier this album sort of came out of the blue and was quickly put together at Pete Jones’s home and is the work of a one-man operation regarding the writing, recording and all the vocals and instrumentation upon it.

There is no doubt that Jones was taking advantage of the lockdown situation and Still Alive is very much a mini-album that contains material that was written to portray the present situation of the lockdown. In many respects, I can also see why this particular album has been branded as an EP simply because the main core of the album is most certainly the albums self-titled track and it’s been bookended to start and finish that way.

Oddly enough even though we have a good 32 minutes here it actually works more like an EP than an album and it all seems to be over in no time at all. It’s very unusual for myself not to see anything done over this time slot as an album and even Jean Michel Jarre’s debut album Oxygène was only 30 minutes and it works as an album. An EP to me is about twice as long as a vinyl single and contains 3 or 4 tracks at the most and in general, they are around 12 – 14 minutes long and that is exactly the feeling I get every time I play this new release. I also get the feeling that very little was written for it even though that might not be the case.

Throughout the 50 years, I have spent listening to music I cannot recall ever coming across something like this where 30 minutes’ worth of material does not feel like an album and I have albums that were even a couple of minutes under that time slot that I would call albums and not an EP. I am even struggling to call this a mini-album and it has to be the most bizarre thing I have ever come across.

However, what is not bizarre is the material we have on Still Alive and it’s not out of place with his project of Tiger Moth Tales either. Pete Jones has always had the knack of bordering across a wide range of styles and will often write songs that can be both serious, light-hearted and humorous and will throw in the odd bit of prog along the way and all those qualities reflect on this new release. It also has some prog-rock influences from other artists thrown in for good measure which I will go into more detail later on in the album track section of my review. But for now, let’s take a look at the free DVD that comes with it.

It might very well have been that Jones himself thought that there was not enough material to make Still Alive into a full album that he threw in a live DVD to make up for the price that was charged for the physical package. But I am going to be perfectly honest and I can honestly say that the inclusion of the live DVD definitely feels like you are getting something more extra for your money and I personally see it has a really GREAT! bonus item to have.

To be honest, I was over the moon when he released the live album A Visit to Zoetermeer back in February this year and that was his first official physical live release in which the live CD was also accompanied by a DVD of the same performance. I myself much prefer to sit and watch a live concert than just listen to it on vinyl or CD and in this day and age its more of the norm for many artists to put out live concerts on DVD & Blu Ray and I have a good few hundred of them that I can still immensely enjoy watching over and over.

The DVD captures the Tiger Moth Tales band playing live at the fabulous or perhaps more famous Rockfield Studios back in 2018. It’s pretty much the same bunch of musicians from another band he plays with namely Red Bazar who supported Jones at Zoetermeer back in January 2019 and the only real difference is that it was filmed in front of a small intermediate audience in a recording studio rather than a live venue.

Funny enough I also have the band Frost* playing live at Rockfield Studios back in 2013 (as you can see in the picture below) and this is another really excellent and enjoyable CD & DVD package to have. However, there is a major difference between the two live concerts that were filmed live in the studio.

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The Rockford Files

The differences between A Visit To Rockfield and The Rockford Files is that the Tiger Moth Tales band really have been captured live and it has not been tarted up like the so-called live performance that Frost* did at the same studio. It’s blatantly obvious that The Rockford Files is more or less a studio recording and not so much of a live recording at all and it was in fact produced and filmed by Rob Reed of Magenta.

The Rockfield studios itself has a ton of history and is one of the most successful recording studios outside London and is situated just outside the village of Rockfield, Monmouthshire, in Wales. It was set up by Kingsley and Charles Ward in the early ’60s and was more established as a studio around 1963. Over the past 57′ years it’s been running as a recording studio there have been literally thousands of well-known artists who have made their classic albums and records here over the last 6 decades.

Studio Collage

Rockfield Studios

The list of artists and bands that recorded at the studio is way too vast for me to mention them and most of the biggest names in the world of pop, rock, and many other genres have recorded here and even Queen’s smash hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” was made here. However, I did find this short promotional video presentation on the Tube well fascinating and inciteful and it’s well worthy of taking a look at.

I have no idea what month in 2018 that Jones and the band played at the legendary Rockfield Studios but it must have been earlier on in the year and well before the release of his 4th studio album Story Tellers Part Two in October of the same year. I shall give my review of the live concert later on but first, let’s take a look at the DVD itself.

The DVD…


As you can see the DVD’s menu is pretty basic and very much the same one-page menu system we saw on the live at Zoetermeer DVD. There is no separate menu for the couple of bonus tracks and those tracks will automatically play after the live concert. But overall, it very easy to navigate your way around and simply choose to play all 10 tracks or pick a specific track you want to play.

Picture & Editing Quality.

The 8 tracks of the live concert on the DVD were filmed at Rockfield Studios by Andrew Lawson as part of the Quiet Room Sessions back in 2018 and also edited by him. He’s done quite a good overall job of it. However, the actual picture quality has nowhere near the pristine job that the Dutch filmmaker John Vis did for the A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD to which was captured by high-quality HD Cameras and even the DVD had the exact same pristine sharp quality appearance of a Blu Ray.

The first of the couple of bonus videos “Still Alive” was filmed at various locations by Mark Wardle. It also contains various selfie videos sent in by the fans and was edited by Chris Jones (no relation to Pete). Both have done a very good job here. The final bonus video “Hygge” was filmed at Fieldgate Studios in Penarth, Wales by Andrew Lawson. He may have also of done the video editing has this is a solo piano performance, unlike the video of the same song that was filmed by Andrew Lawson and directed and edited by Robert Reed that was included on the A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD.

But it would not surprise me in the least if Rob Reed also Directed & Edited this video as well because you can see a TOP JOB! was done on it. But then again it could also be down to the lighting and the fact that it was filmed in a different studio. Overall, I would say that both of the bonus videos do have more of a quality HD look about them than the actual concert itself.

Sound Quality.

The sound quality on the DVD is pretty much the same quality that we had on the A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD. It’s a very basic format they have used and it would have been better if they included a lossless format such as LPCM for example rather than a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo 48K 448kbps soundtrack. However, it’s quite good and you may have to turn it up a bit to get the best out of it through speakers and it’s perhaps more a headphone mix, and headphones may give you a better result.

Musicians & Credits…


All Music Written, Recorded & Produced by Peter Jones. Recorded at Peter Jones home studio sometime in the summer of 2020. Album Cover Artwork Noodled by somebody. DVD Concert Video Filmed & Edited by Andrew Lawson at Rockfield Studios Wales in early 2018. “Still Alive” Bonus Video Filmed by Mark Wardle, Edited by Chris Jones in the summer of 2020. “Hygge” Bonus Video Filmed & Edited by Andrew Lawson at Fieldgate Studios Wales 2018.


Peter Jones: Vocals – Piano – Keyboards – Electric & Acoustic Guitars – Irish Whistle – Melodica – Percussion – Drum Programming.

Still Alive Tracks In Review…

Much of the material that is found on Still Alive reflects different moods and was inspired by Jones own alternating feelings from visions of a doomed world and a growing tone of madness to a desire to see the positives and the spirit of endurance and survival. The project itself started with the albums self-titled track which was originally based on a suggestion from his friend Mark Wardle who suggested the idea that he should write a song for the village where they live concerning these times that have been bestowed upon us from the effects of the Coronavirus.

In many ways, the mini-album kind of works like a concept though I would not say everything is entirely fitting to it in that way although the biggest majority of the material does sort of tie in with all the madness. In many respects, another reason as to why this works more like an EP is really down to how different the material sits and fits with each other and it does not quite gel quite like an album, even the track placement will sound out of place. So, let’s now delve a bit deeper as I take you through the individual tracks.

Track 1. Still Alive.

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There is no doubt that the opening self-titled song reflects upon the present concerning times created by the situation that has been bestowed upon us by the Coronavirus. It also takes in the heritage of our forefathers and how history as shown us the way to fight and survive. Jones has very much taken on the songwriter’s role and this is very much a very skilful well-written song and excellent piece of song writing. Lyrically it’s up there with the best of songwriters and I would even go as far as saying that he has excelled himself when he wrote this heartfelt meaningful song.

Even musically this is very different from anything he’s done before and here he is very much stepping into the Celtic folk realm and folk side of things. Although when it comes to this man’s talented skills on multiple instruments nothing surprises me and Jones is the sort of person who could quite easily sit at a piano and play you the same song in an array of different styles. Besides the use of his guitar and keyboards, he also utilises both the Irish Whistle and Melodica into the song and both the vocals and the harmonies work extremely well as you can see in the official video that was made for the song.

Like I mentioned earlier “Still Alive” is very much the core and central focal point of the whole mini-album and effectively could easily be the “A” side of a single or EP with the rest of the material being perhaps a bit more minuscule in relation to its strength. Though that is not to say the rest of the tracks are all “B” Sides and do not have their own strengths. However, I would say that this is the standout track on the album and is my personal favourite which is very much why it merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 2. The Mighty Fallen.

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I have to admit before hearing this next track the title we have here gave me the vision of it being something more adventurous and likened to some of the material that he wrote for both Story Tellers albums. I would also say that the title we have here would have very much suited some of those whimsical children’s stories that were written for those albums. I would even go as far as to say that I was a bit disappointed when I first heard this was an instrumental piece and I am still not convinced the title could have been put to better use.

The one thing that immediately struck me when I did hear this piece for the first time was that it sounded very blatantly out of place following the previous song. But once you’ve spun the album a few times you do get used to it. The other thing I felt was that it seemed way too long and it is the longest track on the album weighing in at 7 minutes, 27 seconds. Though that might be down to the last couple of minutes where it does tend to drag on a bit over the same ground but that sort of disappears after you’ve played the album a few times as well.

The one thing I should point out though is that this piece is far from “minuscule” and it is a very well-constructed piece of work and no doubt for many it may even be their favourite track on the album. I would also say that it’s a very TASTY! piece of work and features some excellent keyboard and electric and bass guitar work from Jones. It also has a bit of funk thrown in and it’s perhaps a bit familiar with some of the material Jeff Beck does on his albums although the guitar work may also run along the lines of Gary Moore and Snowy White sort of thing.

Overall, I think “The Mighty Fallen” is a really GREAT! track and one that will go down well at his live shows in the future. I would also say that it’s good to have another guitar instrumental like this and I suppose in some ways it runs along with the same sort of vane we got with “The First Lament” from his debut album with its bluesy guitar style. However, unlike that particular instrumental piece “The Mighty Fallen” does not quite have the same bite and it does feel out of place on an album like this.

Track 3. Golden.

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This is a heartfelt song that runs along with the same sort of lines with its presentation and style like we got with “Matchgirl” from Story Tellers Part Two released back in 2018. The same sort of animated video was also put to it has you can see here with the video that Chris Fry (Magenta) posted on his Youtube channel. The song has been edited down to half it’s length to fit the video however it still very much has the same vibes.

The video no doubt fits very well with the songs lyrical content which pertains to the sadness and struggles life can bestow upon us and how there are also some golden moments we can look back upon. You could say that Jones does have the same blood as Elton John & Tim Rice and even Phil Collins running through his veins when it comes to writing this sort of material for animated films such as The Lion King, Tarzan, and other sorts. He’s a big softie at heart and a caring soul.

There are not a lot of words upon this mini-album and you could say that in some respects that both “Still Alive” and “Golden” are the only two real songs on the album in that they contain most of the lyrical content. This is very much another fine piece of song writing although its light-heartedness might not sit that well with PROGSTERS! and it might be the other madness that is to follow that will be more appealing to their taste.

However, this song could easily be seen as another single or even be a very fitting “B”-Side for the opening track and as much as I am more of a prog-rocker myself. Music for my ears has always been about how well it’s written, played, and presented and this song has all of those qualities and is another GREAT! song.

Track 4. Lean Into Madness.


This is the shortest track on the album and its title has a sort of early Spock’s Beard ring about it. It also contains very strong Frost* and Steve Hackett influences along this path of madness and it’s a very effective GREAT! piece of work that has come out of the madness that is now bestowed upon with the present situation of the lockdown. I would also say that it’s most PROGMATIC! track on the album.

Track 5. Whistle Along.


Well I don’t think any album would be complete without there being a touch of humour somewhere along the way and that is something Jones does have plenty of and this is quite a magical merry-go-round ride into the madness and another excellent piece of work. This is very much a keyboard-driven track and its been very cleverly put together along with some banters along the way with his voice adding to the fun of it all.

I am even hearing some quirky moog sounds that remind me of the sounds that Rick Wakeman used around 1979/80 on albums like Rhapsodies and Rock n’ Roll Prophet. Plus, a lot of his own influences and the same kind of madness he injected into “The Isle Of Witches” from his debut album Cocoon. I also love the way he ends it all off in a sort of Spike Milligan humorous explosive way and it really is a GREAT! track.

Track 6. Still Alive (Reprise)

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The album closes off very well with a reprise of the opening track of the album and this is very much a shorter alternative version that is more stripped back and a few different words have been added to it. It’s also perhaps a bit more subtle and laidback and along with the acoustic guitar we get an accordion and maybe even a touch of a harmonium sounds played on his keyboard along with his melodica and some subtle percussion that rounds it all off in a military fashion right at the end that ties in with lyrics. It then leaves us with the peaceful and pleasant sound of the countryside.

A Visit To Rockfield Live Concert In Review…


Peter Jones: Vocals – Keyboards – Guitar.
Andy Wilson: Guitars.
Mick Wilson: Bass – Backing Vocals – Vocoder – Clarinet.
Paul Comerie: Drums.

Well, I have already touched on some of the aspects of the live DVD that comes in this package earlier and I thought it only fair to give it a brief review. As with any live performance, there is going to be something a bit different regardless of how many times they have played the same songs.

I don’t think there is a musician in this world who is capable of playing any song twice and giving it the exact same performance and that is why that when musicians work in a studio they can often do many takes to get what they consider to be the best and what they want out of it. A live performance is an entirely different ball game and the room and margin for error are vast and not every performance is played to perfection and perfection may never be achieved.

What you are getting on this DVD is a genuine live performance, unlike the Frost* DVD I mentioned earlier, and although it might not have been captured as well as Jon Vis and his camera crew did of the same band on the A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD. It’s filmed very close up and has been very well edited with the different camera angles to capture the individual musicians at the right time.

There are still some magical moments I can take away with from watching this live concert performed in Rockfield Studios. The other notable thing is that the setlist is also different and this was very much recorded before his 4th studio album Story Tellers Part Two was even conceived and it only features material from his 1st and 3rd studio albums Cocoon and In The Depths Of Winter.

The concert itself is quite short and has an overall running time of 68 minutes, 8 seconds. It’s perhaps a bit strange that Jones decided to only play 3 of the songs from In The Depths Of Winter which would have been his latest album at the time. However, I am certainly not complaining, and Cocoon as always been my personal favourite album of his and you get quite a big chunk of it here and the 5 pieces you do get are mostly classics from that album. It would, however, have been nice if he included something from his second album Story Tellers Part One, and “The Piper” would of went down a treat at this concert.

The band kicks off the show with two or you could even say three of the tracks from his debut album and they are the first and last tracks from that particular album. The “Overture” is up first and I am so glad he decided to do this one because this instrumental piece does incorporate some of the melody lines from other tracks along the Cocoon album and that is how cleverly Jones very well structured that album and it is by far the most PROGMATIC! album he has ever done still today.

This is then followed by the two-part song “Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright” and here you do get the full blown-up version and not just the “Feels Alright” section like you got on A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD. This performance for me surprisingly is one of the standout moments of the live concert and it even brought tears of joy welling down my eyes in particular on the first section of the song.

There is a reason why I said “surprisingly” and that is really down to how I hear this two-part song originally on the studio album. It does come across like a couple of pop songs stitched together and it is perhaps one of the least PROGMATIC! tracks on the album.

The difference between listening to a live concert and watching a live concert is like night and day and with how close up this concert was filmed you can very much see all the progression that has been put into the musical side of things. Having watched this performance of the song you would literally think twice about calling it a couple of pop songs stitched together and this is one of the magical moments I can really take from this live concert.

There are moments when playing live can shed more light onto something you might not have thought was particularly that interesting or grabbed your attention hearing the studio version. This can be said when either listening or watching a live performance of some songs and quite often a live performance may help to shed a bit more light on the matter to help you appreciate it a bit more.

The next 3 songs that Jones and the band roll out are all from his 3rd album In The Depths Of Winter which happens to be my least favourite album and still the one I stay clear from the most and take it from me I have heard it enough times to give my own opinion of it and it’s not like I have not tried to give it the light of day so to speak. With the studio album, I find the tracks are too long, overcooked, badly placed, and run along the same ground quite too often. There is not enough variety to spice it up and I find it extremely hard to stick on and listen to its entirety without having to turn it off.

I am not saying that the album does not contain some fine progression and some fine moments. But it’s mostly the same sort of progression Tony Banks used on the Genesis album …and Then There Were Three which does not really speak a lot to me and can be too tedious. I would even say that there was a lot more variety on that Genesis album too and I also may have been very generous in giving the In The Depths Of Winter album when I reviewed it a 6 out of 10 rating.

Though I will say hearing the songs from that album played live in some ways does let me appreciate them a bit more, although that might be down to the fact that I have not got to listen to a whole album’s worth of them. Even though we have 3 of them strung together here I certainly would not say that they represent any form of a highlight of the show but I was pleased to see “The Tears of Frigga” here and that was my personal highlight out of the 3 tracks from that album.

Though that’s not to take anything away from the other couple of songs and it was nice to see the bassist Mick Wilson accompany Jones on the piano with the clarinet on “Migration” and the “The Ballad of Longshanks John” is perhaps one of the better tracks on the album and they did another fine performance here though I did perhaps enjoy it a bit more on the A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD.

It’s time for a jolly good bit of fun next and it’s back to the Cocoon album for the final 3 songs and “The Merry Vicar” will always be one of the highlights for me no matter how mad it might appear and come across. I love the progression in this song and even though many of the silly songs that Jones does on his Story Tellers albums have a certain variety of madness about them. They do tend to have bags of diversity and progression and quite a touch of genius about them in my book. They also give you plenty of variety which is something that is certainly lacking on his 3rd studio album. Yes, it’s audience participation time folks although judging by this small intermediate audience I don’t think they were aware of it and were a bit reluctant to join in 😁

Tiger Moth Tales CLASSICS! are coming out of the woodwork for the final part of the show and no doubt both the next couple of songs are classics. Next up we have another really GREAT! performance of “Tigers In The Butter” no doubt just like it perhaps stole the show on the A Visit to Zoetermeer Live DVD it’s very much another highlight with this fine performance. You will also notice how Andy Wilson shreds the guitar a bit differently at the end of what he did later at Zoetermeer and its GREAT! see both him and Jones in action on the guitars.

Like many of Tiger Moth Tales live shows the best is saved to last and “A Visit To Chigwick” has always been my personal favourite song of all of them. Once again Andy Wilson supports Jones on the guitar here only it’s acoustic and he does a splendid job of it. I honestly cannot take anything away from all the musicians and even the drummer Paul Comerie puts in a solid performance on many of the songs throughout the show. I love some of his pattern play too. No doubt the song was the perfect choice to round off what can only have been a really GREAT! night.


To sum up Still Alive by Tiger Moth Tales. I would say it’s hard to put it up against his other albums for any sort of comparison because of how the material works in which it does feel more like an EP with its self-titled track being the central focus point. The way that most of the tracks tailspin into one another does give you the impression that Jones was teeing with the idea of some sort of a concept album though I am not sure it really works that way at all.

The material does not really GEL! like an album and in some respects some of the tracks may have been suited for other albums in the future or as bonus tracks for reissues or remasters of his earlier albums and I could even see this as more of an add on more than anything else. What I will say though is that it’s certainly not lacking in variety and there might be a bit too much of it for all the tracks to really Gel with one another and sit like they would on an album.

But of course, all of the observations I have just outlined in the first couple of paragraphs are really of myself trying to make this work as an album when the fact of the matter is that it has been branded as an EP and if you look at it has an EP none of those things will ever matter. Personally, I cannot fault one single track out of the 6 you get on this EP and every one of them is very much true to Peter Jones formidable style and fit in with the material that he has always written so well for his Tiger Moth Tales project. This really answers my original question that I posed at the end of my introduction regarding it living up to the standards you would expect from Tiger Moth Tales.


In conclusion, I would say that the rather well extended Stay Alive EP holds most of its strength within the well-written songs “Stay Alive“. “Golden” and “Stay Alive (Reprise)” and those are perhaps the highlights of this EP. However, I would also say that those were the least PROGMATIC! tracks on the album especially in relation to both “Lean Into Madness” and “Whistle Along” and those tracks might not be quite up to par with some of the more PROGMATIC! classic tracks that Jones has written in the past, but I do feel they could also be amongst the highlights for the PROGSTERS! including myself. I cannot exclude “The Mighty Fallen” either.

In many respects, what you are getting here is the seriousness, the quirkiness, the humorous, the bizarreness, and all the madness all thrown into one magical melting pot and it all adds up to a very TASTY! recipe and one I can certainly enjoy listening to over and over just as I am sure others might as well.

The other thing you are getting here is a live concert on DVD and that in itself adds GREAT! value to the physical package and the fact that you can also watch it makes it more worthwhile getting over the Digital Download. Both the Physical and Digital releases can be found here: https://tigermothtales.bandcamp.com/album/still-alive-a-visit-to-rockfield-2 priced at £11 and £7 respectively and they both include the EP and Live Concert and I highly recommend you check it out.

This Is Just Another Reason To Survive…

The EP Track Listing is as follows:

01. Still Alive. 5:06.
02. The Mighty Fallen. 7:27.
03. Golden. 5:58.
04. Lean Into Madness. 2:56.
05. Whistle Along. 7:21.
06. Still Alive (Reprise). 3:19.

The DVD Track Listing is as follows:

01. Overture. 4:20.
02. Don’t Let Go, Feels Alright. 11:43.
03. The Tears of Frigga. 6:43.
04. Migration. 3:04.
05. The Ballad of Longshanks John. 3:26.
06. The Merry Vicar. 7:32.
07. Tigers in the Butter. 14:09.
08. A Visit to Chigwick. 9:11.

Lee’s overall Complete Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 8/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus Live DVD Rating Score. 8/10

The EP Rating Score. 8/10


Lee Speaks About Music… #159

Love is – Steve Howe



Well 2020 is certainly not a very good year and there seems to be a lack of anything really new or good coming out that is tempting my taste buds right now, so much that I have had to resort to buying Steve Howe’s latest album Love Is. I have to confess I have not brought anything from Howe’s solo career for Donkey’s years and I would very much have to go back Donkey’s years to when even Yes really spoke to me.

Things have got that bad this year that it’s even got to the point of pre-ordering an album before its release date is becoming a waste of space. For example, I brought this album out of desperation whilst waiting for the latest Tiger Moth Tales album to arrive which is an album that was released on the first of this month and I pre-ordered on the 13th of July and right now it’s the 10th of August and it still has not arrived. By the time I get to review the album his next album might be out at this rate 😁

I have spent much of 2020 twiddling my thumbs with what little as came out of it in the music department so far and I only happened to stumble upon this new release of Howe’s by watching Darren Lock on the Tube giving one of his most boring reviews ever and not really telling you anything about the album apart from it was OK!. It intrigued me enough to investigate it and seek out a few tracks from the new album on the Tube I could listen to, having heard the first 3 or 4 tracks out of the 10 I immediately popped over to Amazon UK and purchased it. It also came with a free digital download so I could listen to the album before CD arrived the next day.

Like I mentioned it’s been a while since I last brought a Steve Howe album and his live album from 1999 Pulling Strings was the last one I brought which really is an outstanding album with a really GREAT! live recording. I did, however, buy both Beginnings and The Steve Howe Album upon their release back in the ’70s and still consider both of those studio albums as his personal best. Ever since I heard Steve Howe on The Yes Album back in 1971 he has always been my personal favourite guitarist and I have always admired him for his versatility. As far as prog rock goes, I personally don’t think you will ever come across another guitarist like him.

Almost 50 years have passed since those golden days of the ’70s and these days Howe still continues to play with Yes and has a few other side projects going on besides such as Homebrew and his own jazz trio to which I have heard snippets of here and there.

His latest album Love Is is the first solo album release we have seen from him since Time back in 2011. Many of his solo albums I have heard in the past were down to my older brother buying them though I never found them interesting enough to go out and buy them. Like I mentioned I did buy this album out of desperation and here in my review, I shall tell you how it all turned out. But before I do let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The CD comes in a cardboard gloss printed 2-panel Gatefold DigiSleeve and it’s one of those where you can retrieve both the CD and booklet from the inside or outside of the case because they have not sealed any of the slipcase pockets. It comes with a 12-page booklet that contains the linear credit and production notes, lyrics, and a bit of informative information about the album. Overall, it’s quite a tidy and nice presentable package and I purchased my copy from Amazon UK for £11.49 which is good value.


The design and layout of the album were put together by Douglas & Glen Gottlieb otherwise known as the Gottlieb Brothers. The actual cover artwork itself is made up of photos taken by Steve Howe and it’s perhaps how he himself visualized the album title and the material he wrote for it. I think he has very much captured the right vision here and it’s almost like a throwback to the ’60s but not in a psychedelic way but in more of a peaceful and tranquil way. You could say he’s natured and nurtured the way love is.

The Album In Review…

Steve Howe’s 14th studio album Love Is was released on the 31st of July 2020. The album contains 10 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 43 minutes, 20 seconds which is a very comfortable playing time and easy enough to take in and digest. The album’s material is made up of 5 vocal & 5 instrumental tracks and they have been spread evenly along the albums playing time.

Some of the material for the album was recorded at Langley Studios which is Howe’s own recording studio that he set up in the residential farmhouse where the Yes worked on the material for The Yes Album back in 1971 to which is on Langley Farm in Devon, England that Howe very much went onto buy. Most of the album was recorded, mixed, and mastered at another residential studio in another part of the English countryside situated in West Sussex known as the Curtis Schwartz Studio.

Studio Collage

Curtis Schwartz Studio

Curtis Schwartz is an American composer, producer, sound engineer, and multi-instrumentalist and he set up the residential studio back in 1984. His own production work varies across a wide range of musical genres and musical interests from Hip-hop, Rock, Dance, Pop, Jazz, and Classical. The studio itself features a Steinway D Concert Grand Piano which came from Elton John’s home in Los Angeles.

Many other artists have recorded their albums at the studio such as the likes of Siouxsie & The Banshees, Snowy White & The White Flames, Steve Harley, Jimmy Ruffin, Cutting Crew, Go West, Salena Jones, and Nine Below Zero to name a few. The drummer Carl Palmer also reckoned that it was “The best f***ing drum sound I’ve ever had” and that’s just one of the quotes you will find on the studio’s website.

Most of the instrumentation and vocals along the album was done by Howe himself and was written produced and engineered by himself. He does, however, have his son Dylan Howe playing drums on all tracks and current Yes vocalist Jon Davidson contributing bass guitar to five of the tracks along with a few vocal harmonies. There are no solo guitar instrumental tracks along the course of the album which is perhaps unusual but nevertheless, I do feel the written material is strong enough to hold up and is still very much worthy of a CLAP 😊 so to speak.

Musicians & Credits…

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All tracks Written, Engineered & Produced by Steve Howe. Recorded at Langley Studios Devon UK, and Schwartz Sound Ardingly UK. Further Engineering & Mixing by Curtis Schwartz at Schwartz Studio. Mastering by Simon Heyworth at SAM Chagford UK. Artwork Cover photos Steve Howe. CD Package & Design by Gottlieb Brothers.


Steve Howe: Lead VocalsElectric, Acoustic & Steel Guitars – Bass Guitar (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9) – Percussion.
Jon Davison: Bass Guitar (tracks: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10) – Harmony Vocals.
Dylan Howe: Drums.

The Album Tracks In Review…

In the booklet, Howe has written a short essay detailing and describing his own input into the material upon the album. He sees it as an attempt to work in the same way as an artist who paints and draws and details all the colours and textures and how it relates to how his instruments have stolen many years, hours, minutes and seconds over the past half of century. I suppose you could say in a way it’s a bit like the title of one of his songs from his debut album Beginnings many years ago “Pleasure Stole The Night“. However, it runs a bit deeper than that and reflects upon the others who are around him and the steps they have taken through a life lived together and apart.

You could say that the album’s title Love Is covers a lot of ground and having listened to it a good few times you can certainly hear that it’s musical and lyrical presentation reflects upon the finer ingredients and varieties of spices that make up a pleasant journey through life. So, lets now take a deeper look into the album as I take you through each track upon the album.

Track 1. Fulcrum.


The album gets off to a very promising start with the first of the instrumental tracks on the album and its title reflects on a point or a thing that plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation. The one thing you will always get with Steve Howe is plenty of variety and that reflects on the many stringed instruments he plays he has at hand in his collection. As with most of his solo albums he also gives you a chart in the booklet detailing all the instruments he used on every track, and on this particular track, he has made excellent use of his Gibson Les Paul Junior, Steinberger GM4T, Martin MC38 SH (signature model) and a Rickenbacker 4001 Bass.

The only other person who accompanies him on all five instrumental tracks along the album is his son Dylan on drums and it’s obvious that Howe has put a lot of thought into both the composition and arrangement side of things on every track on this album without going over the top. In many ways, he’s created the perfect balance of colours and textures with how he has layered everything so well. The other thing you will never be short of with Howe is progression and he has bags of it when it comes to any musical genre and is a virtuoso on the guitar.

Fulcrum” is a really GORGEOUS! piece of work that crosses styles of country, jazz and melancholy that all blend and meld in with each other perfectly and is executed with precision, finesse and a jolly good dosing of diversity. You will hear some of his familiar Chet Atkins influences with his picking style and a slight touch of Duane Eddy with the plucky vibe, you could say that pleasure has very much stolen the night listening to this BEAUTY! and it’s very much a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 2. See Me Through.

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The first of the vocal tracks on the album has quite a happy and uplifting bounce about it and runs along at quite a hurried pace. The lyrical side of things is pertaining to a prayer asking God for the strength to carry on sort of thing and are written in a way to show that God exists by the things around you that science cannot really explain or prove. I quite like how he’s gone about the lyrics here though I have to confess I am not a believer in God or Science for that matter. But I have nothing against anyone’s beliefs and they could believe in fairies for all I care. But for me personally, life is what you make it and it’s hard enough getting on with it without wasting time searching for answers to life and the universe.

The vocal side of things is handled by both Steve Howe and Jon Davison (who also plays bass on all the vocal tracks) and their voices work very well in unison with one another throughout the track. Howe as never really been much of a singer and he perhaps has a voice one would have to acquire a taste for to even accept him as a singer. It is something you have to get used too more than anything else and it’s never been his strong point. However, I do feel he has got better in his ripe old age and his voice perhaps works better on this album more than anything he has done in the past.

This is the only track on the album that Howe uses his beloved Gibson ES175D along with a Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul Junior, and a Martin SOM 45. Overall, “See Me Through” is quite a catchy little number and is a very good well-written song that has GREAT! pace to run it very well through the mill and enjoy. I also think the lyrical content is very well written too.

Track 3. Beyond the Call.

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This next instrumental piece is my personal favourite track on the album and it’s quite a THEMATIC! piece that utilises both acoustic and electric guitars very well. It’s perhaps got a touch of Mike Oldfield about it with the fuzz textures and on this particular track, he uses his Steinberger GM4T along with his Martin SOM 45 and Rickenbacker 4001 Bass.

There is plenty of progression and some nice transitional changes along its path as you will hear by listening to it on Youtube posted by the record company. His son Dylan does quite an outstanding job on the military role section and it really is a GREAT! piece of work and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 4. Love Is A River.

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The albums self-titled track which has been slightly extended by a river which very much pertains to how both life and love can flow when all is well and how you find your way down its stream very much reflects upon the lyrical content that this fine song pertains too. This is very much the standout song on the album and it’s also the longest track on the album though there are no long tracks on this album at all and Howe has very much very well crammed all the progression, diversity and the quintessential side things in just under 6 minutes here. It’s also the most Yes like track on the album too.

On this song, Howe’s vocals do take the lead role and are backed up by some fine harmonies by Davison and you can hear how well his voice has matured over all these years and it works very well on a song like this. This is one of the 3 tracks on the album that uses his Fender Steel and it’s also accompanied by his Gibson Les Paul Junior and a couple of acoustic guitars which are a Martin J12-65M and Martin SOM 45. He also plays a Gibson F4 Mandolin and it’s a very well-crafted song and a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 5. Sound Picture.

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Another quite THEMATIC! instrumental piece that is perhaps a bit of an unusual road for Howe to go down but he makes it work to his particular style very well indeed. Here he is blending bluesy and jazzy vibes with other textures and going down the odd prog avenue with the diversity the piece displays. He really gets to fly on this one too and from here onwards it’s an all-electric affair and on this particular track he’s using his Fender Stratocaster with a Gibson Country Western and his Rickenbacker 4001 Bass. Overall, it’s another GREAT! piece of work done by him and his son on the drums.

Track 6. It Ain’t Easy.

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It’s time for another song and “It Ain’t Easy” is quite a catchy little number that runs along at a steady mid-tempo pace. It could even be seen as the single from the album with its raunchy feel and it crosses styles between the country blues and rock. Howe is playing on his Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul Junior, and Line 6 James Tyler ’58. The lyrical subject matter is based around life in general with growing and learning and once again Davison’s harmonies running more or less alongside Howe’s but Howe’s voice is more upfront. It’s another well-written song and a GREAT! job by all has been done here for sure.

Track 7. Pause for Thought.

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The one thing about the instrumental tracks along the album is that they tend to have their own way of singing to you and this is another very well worked out instrumental piece that contains much of Howe’s GREAT! finger work and precision on the guitar. It sounds like they have keyboards on this one even sounds like he’s playing an acoustic guitar and its amazing what FX you can get these days.

The synth sounds are coming from his Line 6 Variax + Boss GP10 Synth Setting 51 & 54 and he uses quite an array of guitars on this one and he’s dragged out his Fender Telecaster along with his Fender Steel, Gibson Les Paul Junior, Gibson F4 Mandolin and Rickenbacker 4001 Bass. Overall, “Pause for Thought” is another truly GREAT! instrumental stand out track on the album and another fine piece I would put in contention for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 8. Imagination.

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This next song pertains to the beautiful world of imagination and opens up the mind of lovers looking into it through telescopic vision to get the bigger picture and understanding so to speak. Something along those lines anyway. He plays his Steinberger GM4T and various other guitars on this track and it sparkles with some of his familiar lead runs along its journey. Interestingly enough his vocals on this track are more reminiscent of how he sang on his earlier albums and you will hear those tonal qualities in his voice unlike the tracks on the rest of the album. Jon Davison’s harmonies only play a partial role in the chorus sections and it’s perhaps not the best of the vocal songs on the album but it has some pleasantries.

Track 9. The Headlands.

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The final of the instrumental tracks on the album is another lovely piece of work where Howe utilises his Fender Steel guitar to sing and the other guitars on this track are his Fender Stratocaster and Rickenbacker 4001 Bass. This actually the shortest track on the album but a very TASTY! job has been done on it. A headland is a coastal landform characterised by high, breaking waves, rocky shores, intense erosion, and steep sea cliffs and Howe is flying over it all on this one and it’s another really GREAT album track and another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!

Track 10. On the Balcony.

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Howe ROCKS! things up a bit for the final song on the album and utilises his Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul Junior and Line 6 James Tyler ’58 very well. Once again Howe’s voice handles the lead vocals very well and Davison’s bass and harmonies lend good support and it gives his son Dylan a chance to pound the drums that bit harder. It rounds off the album very well and is another fine song.


To sum up, the new solo album Love Is by Steve Howe. I could perhaps sum it up in one word and say it’s LOVELY! Because it really is a very satisfying album that takes you on a pleasurable ride throughout its entirety. I think it’s a very well balanced album to with how the instrumental and vocal tracks have been placed to run in adjacent order one after another and it works very well that way for it. It really is an album that you can just stick on and enjoy from start to finish.

However, if you are looking for some of his more adventurous classics such as “Beginnings“. “Ram“. “Pennants“. “Look Over Your Shoulder” and “All’s A Chord” from his first two albums, for example, you will not find anything that quite measures up to that calibre here. But nevertheless, this album still has enough in the tank to deliver some very well executed and precision skill on the guitar despite it running more along the lines of a contemporary popular or easy-going album and there is also still bags of progression that has been thrown into the pot. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Fulcrum“. “Beyond the Call“. “Love Is a River“. “Pause For Thought” and “The Headlands“.


In conclusion, Love Is by Steve Howe may not have enough heat to set the world on fire but is a very comfortable album to sit with, enjoy and get some satisfactory pleasure from. I do also feel that it’s more than just a guitar album with how well some of the songs along the album have been very well written. Although as a selling point it’s perhaps got more chance of reaching Howe’s audience rather than stretching outside of those boundaries bringing in new listeners.

Is it a must for Steve Howe and Yes fans alike? Personally, I would say YES! because it is one of his stronger albums and contains quite a strong body of work. It’s been very well produced and both the writing and arrangement has been very well worked out. There is nothing remotely bad on the album and I’ve played the album a good 20 times now and am still enjoying it and it represents GREAT! value for the buck.

Given the fact that Steve Howe is now 73 years old. I rather think he’s come up TRUMPS! here and it still shows he is very well capable of still delivering the goods. Love Is I personally feel is an album that is not over the top and is very well balanced to give one some pleasurable moments and satisfaction. Howe’s skill on the guitar is also still very evident and I have always loved his versatility and diversity and it still shines here.

Love Is A River Finding Its Way…

The album tracklisting is as follows:

01. Fulcrum. 4:26.
02. See Me Through. 4:26.
03. Beyond the Call. 4:50.
04. Love Is a River. 5:54.
05. Sound Picture. 3:26.
06. It Ain’t Easy. 4:24.
07. Pause for Thought. 3:39.
08. Imagination. 3:54.
09. The Headlands. 3:12.
10. On the Balcony. 4:59.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.

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

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.