Lee Speaks About Music… #66

Sprazzi Di Luce (EP) – Conqueror



The EP Sprazzi Di Luce is perhaps quite a different bit of output from the Conqueror in that it’s got more of a contemporary classical popular approach to the music they present here. But the one thing that does remain is the bands distinctive style. It’s nothing unusual for many bands to come out with something a bit different from time to time, and many prog rock bands have done so on a good few occasions.

One of the more modern prog rock bands that came about a couple of years before the Conqueror that springs to mind are the Welsh prog rock band Magenta.

They themselves churned out a couple of really good prog rock albums with Revolutions & Seven. Then they started churning out a bit of pop music with the release of their EP I’m Alive and even their 3rd studio album Home was not entirely prog rock and contained quite a few pop songs on it. But even some of those pop songs are very well written songs and can still speak in leaps and bounds.

I myself am pretty versatile with my own record collection, and even though progressive rock is perhaps my favourite of all genres of music. I also have a stack of other genres in my record collection including pop music. For me personally I like a vast variety of music and the most important thing to me is that the song is very well written and played well by real musicians.

The composition of any song is the most important factor. The best musicians in the world do not always write great songs, and without a great song you have nothing I am afraid. For me the music has to speak to me, and it has to say something. If it doesn’t, it does not necessary mean it’s bad at all. It’s more of a case of it not suiting my own particular taste, and every one of us have individual tastes on that score.

The one thing you will always find in any of my reviews is honesty. I have very much always spoke my mind regarding how music comes across to myself, and all my reviews are based on how the music comes across to me and nobody else. Just because there are certain things I may not like about a particular piece of music, does not mean that it will not appeal, or even speak more to other people.

Having said all that and gone off the subject matter of my review for this EP. You may very well think that this EP is gonna get one of my bad reviews :)))))). Well let’s find out. But as always, let’s first take a look at the packaging. 

The Packaging & Artwork…


Just like most EP’s they come in a slimline Jewel Case. Though I am mainly an albums man myself, I do have a few of these type of EP’s that come packaged this way. The one thing I can always praise about any Jewel Case is that they protect the CD very well, and even if they break, they are easy to obtain and cheap enough to replace.

As is the case with most EP’s as well, they do not come with a booklet. But it does contain all the linear notes of the credits for each song and the production. But unfortunately it comes minus the lyrics. So for all intense purposes of my review here, I am going to have to do the best I can without them I am afraid.

The Artwork.

The artwork on the front cover is an edited photograph taken and edited by Mario Pollino. To be honest I am not sure what it is, but it looks like either a photo taken of a cathedral’s stained glass windows lit up at night time, or some form of tapestry. The artwork was supervised by the bands drummer Natale Russo.

The title of the EP and song Sprazzi Di Luce translates to Flashes Of Light. So that is perhaps what the front cover is supposed to represent. Though personally I would of felt either a streak of lightening or even a camera with a flash light flashing may have been a bit more appropriate.

The EP In Review…

The EP Sprazzi Di Luce was released sometime in June 2009. It contains 4 tracks which are all songs with words, and has a total playing of time of 20 minutes and 49 seconds. Oddly enough each song also features a different line up of the band, and the EP was recorded and produced between January 2008 and May 2009.

The EP contains 2 new songs, 1 cover song, plus a live version of one of their older songs entitled “Pensieri Fragili” to which the studio version can be found on the bands 2003 debut album Istinto to which I have only just reviewed in my last post.

This particular EP came off the back of the extensive live shows Conqueror had been playing over the last couple of years promoting their 3rd album 74 Giorni that was released in 2007. The EP may have came about from the two sisters Simona and Sabrina collaborating together, and the 2 new Conqueror compositions we have here were mainly written by those two.

Apart from the last live track on the EP. The other 3 songs are very much on the short side of things, just like one would get with most pop songs, which generally have more of a chance of getting some radio play with them being over the shorter distance. So did Conqueror intend to make a mini pop album here one might ask?.

Let’s find out as I take you through the individual tracks on the EP.

Track 1. Sprazzi Di Luce.

The EP kicks off with its self titled track “Sprazzi Di Luce” or in English “Flashes Of Light“. This is the first of the 2 new written songs and is credited to Simona Rigano. Natale Russo and Sabrina Rigano. The line-up of the band is as follows:

Simona Rigano: Vocals & Keyboards.
Natale Russo: Drums.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute.
Daniele Bambino: Bass.
Ottavio Leo: (Special Guest) Guitar.

The special guest Ottavio Leo is actually the bands sound engineer and as appeared with the band for the odd song now and then at some of their live concerts. This was the bass player Daniele Bambino’s last contribution to the band, having spent a year with them from 2007 – 2008. He also played bass on Conqueror’s 3rd album 74 Giorni.

Musically the song was written around the piano and the flute and is constructed around those instruments. To be honest the only way I can actually see the bands drummer Natale contributing to the writing is if he actually wrote the lyrics, or contributed some ideas to the direction of the music we have here.

If Natale is the bands lyric writer, all I can say that he has quite a gift with words, especially with all the great poetry that can be found on the bands first 2 albums I have reviewed so far. Though I do suspect that these lyrics are very much different, and are written in the form of a love song, more so than the mythical fantasies we got on their earlier albums.

But without having the lyrics to this song I am only using my own judgement from the expression of Simona’s voice, and how the music presents itself in the way of a fine ballad of a song.

The musical intro with the piano and flute gives it a bit of the prog rock band Camel feel about it. It’s got quite a contemporary classical feel about the music and the combination of the instrumentation works really well throughout the song. To be honest it’s perhaps only the vocal line that gives this song more of a pop ballad approach in reality.

The song does have an uplifting feel about its chorus and it’s quite catchy and bright with its presentation. The song also features some great flute and keyboard interplay with the solos, though the solos are played over the same chord progression we get in the verse sections of the song, so this is perhaps not what I would call prog rock even though some of the other reviews I have read tend to think that it is.

No doubt the song does contain some fine chord progression, but personally for me the music needs to go in more directions than the progression we have here to call it progressive rock.

No doubt others will disagree with my own viewpoint of progressive rock music and see things different to myself. For example many people would say that The Moody Blues were prog rock, yet 90% of their material is nothing more than pop and folk songs I am afraid.

But just as much as I like The Moody Blues I also like what we have here with this song. The song is still a really great composition and is very well structured in the way it’s been put together. It’s actually my favourite out of the 3 studio tracks we get on this EP.

Track 2. E Mi Manchi Tanto.

The 2nd track on the EP happens to be a cover of a 1973 song written by Paolo Morelli who was in the Italian pop band Alunni Del Sole. It’s title translates to “And I Miss You A Lot“. The band Alunni Del Sole were quite popular in Italy back in the 70’s especially around the years of 1973 – 1978 in which they had a few hit records in their own country back in those days.

Unlike the band Conqueror, whose lyrics are impossible to find on the internet :)))))) it’s a doddle to find the lyrics for the band Alunni Del Sole. So I have the lyrics for this one and can you tell straight away that this is a simple love song.

I can also tell you that the lyrics are simple like most love songs, and nothing genuinely to write home about at all. These lyrics are far from clever and have nowhere near the potential of the lyrics that was written for the Conquerors first 2 albums I am afraid.

Although the Conqueror have used Morelli’s lyrics, the one thing they have done is arrange the music to fit their own unique style. To be honest having heard both versions of the song, the Conquerors version is quite different with how they have approached the song. It’s most likely down to them using a faster tempo and slightly rearranging the piano melody lines in the verse sections.

To show exactly what I mean here is the original song by Alunni Del Sole.

And here is Conquerors version of the song you can listen to by clicking on the following link: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/track/e-mi-manchi-tanto

Both versions are very good, and doing a cover of any song is perhaps the hardest thing in the world to do it better than the original song in the first place. And I am certainly not going to say that the Conqueror’s version is better on that score. But it does have its moments, and for me personally the best thing I love about the Conqueror’s version is actually the solo at the end with Sabrina’s sax.

To be perfectly honest Sabrina’s contribution of the flute and sax on this song is to die for, and her job on both those instruments is far more precise than what the original version had. The arrangement is excellent.

The line-up of the band for this song is as follows:

Simona Rigano: Vocals & Keyboards.
Natale Russo: Drums.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute & Saxaphone.
Andrea Trimarchi: Bass.
Mario Pollino: Guitar & Vocals.

This was the bass player Andrea Trimarchi’s first and last contribution to the band as he only joined the band at the beginning of 2009 and left not long after.

There is no doubt that the song “E Mi Manchi Tanto” will appeal perhaps to a lot of Italian’s and over here in England it was something rather very new to me. I do like the way the Conqueror have presented the song in their own style with their own arrangement though, and there is even some magical moments here.

Track 3. Semplice.

The 2nd of the new Conqueror songs on the EP is entitled “Simple” in English. The song was penned by the band vocalist and keyboard player Simona Rigano. It’s the shortest song out of the 4 on the EP and besides Simona herself, the only other musicians who contribute to it are Sabrina on flute and Natale on percussion.

Once again I am afraid I do not have the lyrics to know what it’s all about, but it’s another fine ballad of a song and I would expect that the songs title says just exactly  what it is. Pure and simple is perhaps the best way I can describe it. It’s perhaps not one of those songs that is gonna exactly set the world on fire. But is pleasant enough to listen too is another way of looking at it.

Track 4. Pensieri Fragili (Live Bonus Track).

The finale track on the EP translates to “Fragile Thoughts”. It’s a song from the bands 2003 debut album Istinto only this is a live version of the song played by the same band line-up that featured on their 2nd 2005 studio album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. It was Recorded live in Riposto. Italy on the 19 august 2006.

The band handle the song with ease live, and I like the addition of the flute and sax in the song which was not on the studio version, because Sabrina never joined the band till after their debut album was released. This live version I feel gives it that extra element with her contribution and I prefer this live version to the studio version.

Here is an armature video shot in the audience of the band performing it at a different venue in the same year. It features the same band line-up that’s on this live version and it was played at the Andria Prog-Fest a month earlier on the 14th of July.

Pensieri Fragili” is perhaps one of the bands firm favourites from their debut album Istinto that tends to get played live more times than the other great songs on that album. It’s perhaps not my firm favourite on that album, but it is a great song, and their debut album is full of great songs.

The real bonus of having this live release on the EP is that’s it’s the only official live release of the song that features the band playing it as a 5 piece rather than a 4 piece. The song is also played live on the bands live album Un’altra verità but once again as a 4 piece band. This is also marked down as a bonus track on this EP and for me it’s my personal favourite track on this EP too.


There is no doubt the material written for the EP Sprazzi Di Luce could be seen as a more commercial approach, and the band may have been trying to attract more attention to attain and draw in a wider following. But there is also no doubt that the band have also maintained their true style and originality and even their skills to craft out the music we have here also.

To be honest even though I have not got the Conqueror’s 3rd album 74 Giorni yet. I have listened to the album a couple of times on Bandcamp and that album does have a bit of a pop feel to some of the songs on that album too. So this is perhaps not so much of a change of style from that album in some respects.

There is no doubt that Conqueror have their own uniqueness to the music they present and for me the highlights from this EP are the opening track “Sprazzi Di Luce” and the live version of “Pensieri Fragili“.


To conclude my review of the Conqueror’s 4 track EP Sprazzi Di Luce. I would say in answer to my original question of did the band intend to release a mini pop album. I very much do not think so at all, even if the studio material on EP does lean more to towards the popular side of that pop genre.

I think it’s more of a case of the band playing and recording a few songs that they perhaps felt would not be suited to an album, and so they decided to put them out on an EP instead, rather than just leave them on a shelf and not put them out at all.

But overall personally I cannot fault the material on this EP at all. Its very well written and arranged, and I quite like it. Though I will say it is different to the prog rock style that is on the bands first couple of albums, and even though I got this EP as a gift and never had to pay for it. I would of still brought it because it does provide great listening pleasure and it does have its moments.

The EP Sprazzi Di Luce is available as a digital download of your choice of audio format on Bandcamp for 4 Euro. The physical CD is priced up at 10 Euro on Bandcamp which for me is way overpriced for a 20 minute EP. You can get it from the bands own website for 6 Euro which is more reasonable.

Dreams That Never Die, Remain Immortal…

You can listen to, or even buy the EP from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/sprazzi-di-luce

Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy the EP here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp

The EP track listing is as follows:

01. Sprazzi Di Luce. 4:40.
02. E Mi Manchi Tanto. 4:33.
03. Semplice. 3:45.
04. Pensieri Fragili (Live Bonus Track). 7:51.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s EP Rating Score. 7/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #65

Istinto – Conqueror

C - I


Well for those who read who read my review of the Conqueror’s 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo I posted last month on the February 15th here: https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/lee-speaks-about-music-60/ you would of read that I was that well impressed by this great Italian band, that I would be purchasing their entire discography.

Istinto is the bands 1st album and once again it’s another truly great album that certainly delivers. Though I will say that getting these albums delivered to me, does take some time due to Italy’s postal service not being the best in the world. However even though the items I did send for took 3 weeks to get here, I did get a nice surprise in the package to cater for long wait, making it worthwhile.

I originally sent off for 3 of the bands albums which were Istinto. Stems and their live CD/DVD Un’altra verità. I ordered them from the founding member and drummer of the band Natale who also threw in a nice couple of freebies, which was very generous and kind of him.


The couple of freebies I received was their 2009 EP Sprazzi di luce and a DVD-R which contains a short bit of video footage of the band playing live back in 2006. They play some of the material from their 3rd album 74 Giorni, along with a bit of “Firth Of Fifth” by Genesis plus the video the band made for “Mosaico di Colori” from the bands 2nd great album I have already reviewed.

No doubt I shall be reviewing all the bands 5 albums and EP when I get chance too, and when I have brought their 3rd and 4th albums to complete the collection. But right now let’s get back to this review of the bands debut album Istinto. But first up let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…


As you can see from the photo above the album Istinto unlike their 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo which came in a Digipak, it comes in a standard Jewel Case. This is simply because their 2nd album as not long been re-issued again and comes with a bonus track. I do believe that Storie Fuori Dal Tempo is due to also be re-released on vinyl too.

I have already sited the vinyl release too on the bands record label Ma.Ra.Cash Records. It’s up for sale right now and comes in the form of Gatefold Sleeve and it’s been released as a double album and is priced up at 30 Euro. Though I am not dragging my turntable back out of the loft I am afraid, and I am quite happy with the CD.

But at least it’s now been made available for all you vinyl lovers, though I have to say that’s an expensive game these days.

The booklet that comes with the album Istinto contains all the lyrics to the songs and all the writing and band credits. Unfortunately though they are all in Italian. So once again I am going to have the painstaking job of typing it all out in Italian in my word processor, so I can simply copy and paste them into one of the many translators on the internet. This is because the bands lyrics are nowhere to be found on the net.

I have once again asked the bands drummer Natale if he could perhaps put them on the bands website even if they are in Italian. At least I could simply copy and paste them from there into a translator, rather than type them all out in Italian myself in my word processor first. Hopefully Natale will see to eventually get around to doing this as I have requested. It would save me a lot of hassle for my reviews that’s for sure.

The Artwork.


The albums artwork was done by the drummers aunt Graziella Russo before he was born himself, and here you can see Natale pointing to her original painting on the wall. She did a grand job on the painting too.

The Album In Review…

The bands album Istinto was released back in October 2003. It was the bands debut album, and just like the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo it also features material that was written with the bands previous keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi who left the band in 1998.

Just like I mentioned in my review of the bands 2nd album the original band was formed by the drummer Natale Russo back in 1994. By the time Salvatore Chillemi left the band, the band already had enough written material to put out an album in 1999. But I suspect putting the band together with a new line up took longer than expected. So the bulk of the material that was co-written by Chillemi got spread over the bands first 2 albums, and I have to say both albums are exceptionally superb albums.

There is also no doubt that the band had to work on writing their own material besides doing the arrangements for the previous written material. The band have gone through many line-up changes over the years, but both the bands drummer Natale Russo and the bands keyboard player and main singer Simona Rigano have managed to stay the course throughout Conqueror’s career since the release of this album, and when they started working on it in 2002.

Istinto when translated into English means “Instinct“. The album itself comes with 8 tracks and has an overall playing time of 54 minutes, 21 seconds. 7 of the 8 tracks are songs, and it contains 1 instrumental piece, though the band do focus very well on the musical side of things, leaving plenty of scope and space for the musical interludes to work very well with the vocal sections.

If your into progressive rock, I think you will love what the band have to offer on this album and there 2nd album. The music very much speaks for itself regardless of the vocals being in Italian. To put in a nutshell. These guys have prog rock music down to a fine art, and have done quite a remarkable job of it.

So before I take on the individual tracks on the album. Let’s first take a look at the musicians and credits.

Musicians & Credits…

2003 Group

The 2003 Line-Up Of The Band

Produced by Conqueror at Conqueror and Cultural Association. Sound Engineer: Ottavio Leo. Artwork Cover Painting: Graziella Russo.  Graphic & Photo: Gianfranco Stracuzzi. Booklet Linear Writing by GraficaUnita. Duplication by Duplitape.

Simona Rigano: Keyboards and Voice.
Gaetano Scarcella: Guitar.
Tony Rose: Bass.
Natale Russo: Drums.

The Album Tracks In Review…

There is no doubt that some of the material written for the album Istinto was done a lot earlier back in the 90’s with the likes of the keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi and notably even the guitar player Gaetano Scarcella had a very short stint with the band back in 1995. Though Scarcella also left in 1995 having spent around 10 months with the band, it’s quite intriguing that he rejoined the band in 2002 and left a few months before the release of this album in 2003.

To be perfectly honest it makes me wonder why Gaetano Scarcella left the band having just contributed some superb guitar playing to this quite remarkable debut album. It’s also notable that 2 of the tracks on the album were actually credited to Chillemi, Russo & Scarcella. Though I am sure Scarcella had his reasons for leaving, just as many other musicians have done in many other bands over the years at such pivotal moments in time.

It’s a shame really because there is no doubt that Gaetano Scarcella done some extremely incredible work on this album, and in some ways the guitar work shines more so on this album than any of the other albums. Though no doubt the band always  brought in some great musicians to replace many of those that left over the years.

Even the bands bass player Tony Rose who had only joined the band back in 2002 left the same time as the guitarist before the album was released.

To be honest if I was working with a band that had just made a debut album this good. I do not think I would want to be leaving it that’s for sure. So let’s now take a look at the individual tracks that make up with is album.

Track 1. Storie di Favole.

Just like a lot of the bands earlier albums they tend to base the lyrical content around legends, myths, old fables and ghostly tales. The title of this track translates in English to “Stories of Fables“.

They also tend to present the lyrical content in the same mannerism with the use of poetry to put over the stories they present, and they also perhaps like to present their words and music in the form of a concept album of short stories just like we got on their 2005 follow up album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo I have already reviewed.

This opening track could be seen as the starting point of the many stories that the album portrays, in that it fills one’s mind floating amongst the clouds floating in a world of fantasy, mystery and imagination.

This particular song could also be seen as the albums title track in that it mentions the title of the album “Instinct” in the following sentence “Clouds covering fleeting memories of moments. vulnerable instincts of complicity”.

More great poetry is found in the final paragraph of lyrics they wrote for this song. Which are as follows:

“Frosty waves that take away traces of legends
mysterious shadows
mythical stories of fables
far away from all weather quickly dissolve”

There is no doubt the words are very well written and so too is the structure of the music the band present to them. Speaking of the music on this particular song it does have some really great textures which are very well layered and blended with all the instrumentation we have here.

It contains lush bass lines from Tony Rose that interweave their way along with Natale Russo’s great drums, and the rhythm guitar and keyboards. You also get some great interplay in the small break sections between Gaetano Scarcella’s guitar solos and Simona Rigano’s keyboard solos. All topped up very with her fine voice too. It really is a great opening track and set’s the wheels in motion for the more delights the album has in store.

Track 2. Quartar.

Well I have to confess that I have rattled my brains out trying to find out what the “Quartar” exactly is in relation to the lyrics in this song. The obvious answer would be to say that the word “Quartar” would translate in English to “Quarter”. If that is the case, the only logical way I can see why the band decided on its title, is that it’s the second of 8 tracks on the album, and it could be perhaps seen as the “Quarter” stage of the album.

Though I am pretty sure my own theory of how this title relates to the song is far from the case, and other examples of just what “Quartar” could mean, tend to hark back to the ice and stone age, or the Quaternary period with what I have researched and found that may have some bearings in relation to what the lyrics are about.

For example looking at the lyrics we have here such as “Between the paths of nothingness” and that it also refers to “remains of utopias” and thus a “Message that crosses the boundaries of silence, in the fear of loneliness” which are all found within the lyrical content. Could relate to that Quaternary period.

However I have tried to decipher this fine set of lyrics we have here. I find them quite magical and relating to a time before a lot of things even existed. These lyrics I find that fascinating that I have decided to post them here.

In the clouds of a dream
remains of utopias immerse you, scrutinize you
a play of light and shadow
a breath of joy and melancholy, and a cry of hope

Desire to cry, laughing
to live to cancel

Message that crosses the boundaries of silence
in the fear of loneliness

Silent merciless
of free souls
from violence and hatred

Between the paths of nothingness, traps of anguish
they tend to match dreams
stories of ironic ghosts
mock your madness

in the fear of loneliness
immerse you scrutinize you
a play of light and shadow
a breath of joy and melancholy and a cry of hope

Quartar” is actually one of the 2 songs that was credited to Chillemi, Russo & Scarcella on this album. I do not know which one of them penned these lyrics, but they deserve a very good pat on the back.

Musically the song kicks off with a very dominant theme or melody line played on the piano at quite a hurried pace. It’s also accompanied by the vocals. Then around the 1:17 mark the song comes down from it’s fast tempo with a short interlude on the keyboards, and settles down into a more steady pace as it builds itself along, and gradually finds its way back into that fast paced intro.

The song also features some great chord progression and interplay between the guitar and keyboards. Even the percussion plays a nice role with the use of the clave’s and the rimshot in a small section. It also ends off in great style, and it’s one of my contenders for the top spot on the album.

Track 3. Pensieri Fragili.

Pensieri Fragili” or “Fragile Thoughts” it translates too, is perhaps one of the most popular tracks the band tend to play live from this album. For example a live version of the song from 2007 appears on their 2009 EP Sprazzi di luce and a 2014 live version is also included on their 2015 live CD/DVD Un’altra verità.

Musically it’s quite an interesting song that starts of quite pleasantly with its opening piano melody, a bit further on down the line the guitar adds to its melody and it takes some 3 minutes and 40 seconds for the vocals to come into play. It’s quite a long intro considering the song is only 7 minutes and 48 seconds long.

In some ways the song tends to have more of a pop approach with its brighter melody line and it’s vocal line. Though it does also have some fine progression and we do get some fine keyboard work and a nice guitar solo too. It’s got perhaps a more modern approach to progressive rock, and that is perhaps the best way I can describe it myself.

The songs lyrical content pertains towards never ending dreams, mysterious harmonies and atmospheres, flying across oceans and skies, and all sort of images that hide behind the face of reality in our fragile thoughts.

Track 4. La Strada del Graal.

The 4th track on the album translates to “The Graal Road“. It starts off with a very strong theme played on the guitar that makes quite a bold statement in the same way that perhaps some of Carlos Santana or Gary Moore’s melody lines do on some of their music. This is soon followed up by the opening verse of the song.. Scarcella’s guitar is featured quite a bit throughout this song, and it contains a couple of great little solos too. It also features a cracking keyboard solo from Simona too.

The lyrical content is based around amazing dreams and fantasies as one would expect along their journey on this road. The song is one of the 3 tracks on the album that was written by Silvana Chillemi & Natale Russo. It’s got to be another contender for the top spot on the album and is a really great track.

Track 5. In the Cave.

Well this title is perhaps the odd one out on the album. But only because it’s title is actually written in English :))))))). In Italian it would be titled “Nella Grotta“. It’s also the shortest track on the album. Just as short as it is, it’s another really great track. It’s also the 2nd song on the album that was written by Chillemi, Russo & Scarcella.

The lyrical content is as far as I can make out is based on Greek Mythology. Being that it refers to Eurydice. The fact that it’s also in a cave could pertain to the myth of Inanna’s descent to the underworld. Eurydice and her husband can also be compared to Lot and his wife in the bible, hence these words from the song we have here “do not stop, never turn around”.

Track 6. Cristalli di Solitudine.

My personal favourite track on the album and it merits my top spot award. In English it translates to “Crystals of Solitude“. In some ways musically, this is perhaps the only track on the album that uses those familiar Camel and Marillion influences that were featured heavily on the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo.

Though whereas the bands 2nd album is perhaps more familiar with Camel especially with the keyboard sounds that are used. It’s only really the intro on the electric piano and a few short sections in the song that have that Camel feel to them on this song. It’s certainly got a lot more of Marillion influence with the guitar and keyboard solos we get here.

I have chosen this amateur video shot from somebody in the audience to give you some idea of the song, though for the best representation it would be better to listen this original studio version on Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/track/cristalli-di-solitudine

The video features the same 2005 line-up of the band that featured on the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. This is also a 5 piece band, rather than the 4 piece outfit we have on this album, and I quite like the addition of the woodwind player Sabrina Rigano who contributes another texture to the song with the addition of the flute.

The so called special ending we get in the amateur video is a short burst from the final instrumental track on this album “Entropia“.

The lyrical content relates to the situation of being alone, like being imprisoned abandoned from freedom, the crystals are perhaps enlightened to the drops of rain and the false sense that even the season of spring can sometimes feel like autumn at times. Once again the lyrical content is very well constructed in the form of great poetry.

The song itself is the second song on the album that was penned by Silvana Chillemi & Natale Russo and goes back to 1997.

Track 7. Porte Straniere.

Once again we have another really great song here that translates to “Foreign Doors“. Lyrically the song is pertaining to breaking down barriers of time, and to find the heart to attain other magical goals along our path so to speak. musically it’s quite striking with its melody lines and diversity, and it’s perhaps my 2nd favourite track on the album and very much an high contender for the top spot of the album too.

Once again we get some great solos from the keyboards and guitars and plenty of great progression as the song goes along its path. The band feed off each other so well on this song and it’s a very well constructed piece of work.

Track 8. Entropia.

The finale track on the album is the longest track on the album at just under the 9 minute mark. This instrumental piece would of also have been written back in the 90’s and was penned once again by Silvana Chillemi & Natale Russo.

It’s another high contender of the top spot on the album, that has some excellent transnational changes and chord progression along its path. Beautiful guitar and keyboard solos and is quite haunting too. It’s a really great stand out track and winds up this truly great album in great style.


The album Istinto by Conqueror is an excellent debut album and one I could even consider as a great starting point to get into this really great band. It’s quite a solid album with the material they have came up with and wrote here. Once again the band show great diversity and there is perhaps not as many influences on this album either.

If anything it is perhaps even more of their own style than the album that followed it in 2005. Though I do feel that the bands 2nd album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo is marginally a better album overall. But no doubt if you like myself you are into progressive rock. Both albums do not disappoint one bit, and provide a truly great contribution to this fine art of music.

Just like I stated in my earlier review of Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. One should never put language barriers between the music one listens to and enjoys. The music that the band Conqueror present is way too impressive for that.


To conclude my review of the bands debut album Istinto. I personally think it’s a very strong and very well produced album with the material we have here. It does not disappoint one bit and is a very well structured and crafted piece of work. It does not need my recommendation, simply because the music speaks for itself.

I know that in the interview on the live DVD of Un’altra verità. That the bands keyboard player Simona Rigano felt that this album never got quite the production that their 2nd album got, due to them recording it in a more professional studio.

I honestly beg to differ, because the production on Istinto and the sound quality is superb, and for the life of me I cannot see any difference at all. Both albums are quality all the way.

My personal highlights from the album are “Cristalli di solitudine“. “Porte Straniere“. “Entropia“. “La Strada del Graal” and “Quartar“.

The album Istinto can be purchased from Bandcamp in the form of a digital download of your choice for 8 Euro. Though the physical CD is more expensive from there and is priced at 15 Euro.

You can get the physical CD for 10 Euro plus 2 Euro to cover the postage and packaging from the bands website, or via Paypal by simply sending it too nat@conqueror.it

You can also use the same email to send Natale a message to say that you have ordered it. He may even wave the 2 Euro postage and packaging if you have a nice word with him. Or it may be wise to order 2 or 3 CD’s at the same to save on the postage. It does take time to arrive by post depending which part of the world you live of course.

The Conqueror are a truly great band that have captured the true spirit of progressive rock with their great music. Their music can captivate you, and they do it in great style. No doubt there will be more to come from this great band, and I am looking forward to reviewing their other albums from their great discography.

Clouds covering fleeting memories of moments vulnerable instincts of complicity…

You can listen to, or even buy this album from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/istinto

Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy their albums here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Storie di Favole. 4:52.
02. Quartar. 6:03.
03. Pensieri Fragili. 7:48.
04. La Strada del Graal. 5:59.
05. In the Cave. 4:45.
06. Cristalli di solitudine. 8:28.
07. Porte Straniere. 7:29.
08. Entropia. 8:57.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.

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

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #64

Heavy Horses (40th Anniversary New Shoes Edition) – Jethro Tull

Heavy Horse (New Shoes)


Well the wait is finally over and the 40th Anniversary of Jethro Tull’s 1978 classic album Heavy Horses is finally here. It was officially released on the 2nd of March and having pre-ordered my copy last year on the 11th of December from Amazon it actually arrived a day earlier.

I have to say I love the way these packages are presented in an hardbound book and just like last years 40th Anniversary of Songs From The Wood I reviewed here: https://leespeaksoutaboutmusic.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/lee-speaks-about-music-6/ it comes with 3 CD’s & 2 DVD’s. Though this was not quite the same amazing bargain I got when I pre-ordered Songs From The Wood to which I got in the end for £19.19. This one cost me £30.96 and even though this is the most expensive price I have paid out of all the 9 of these book editions that have been released so far, I have to say is still represents value for money and is worth it’s price point.

Heavy Horses was the 2nd of the 3 folk rock trilogy albums Ian Anderson had planned for the band, and just like its predecessor Songs From The Wood it’s a very well crafted album. With the material that was written for both albums they could of quite easily have made a double album and it would of worked perfectly, simply because both albums contain the same well structured folk rock material and are quite identical in the way they have also incorporated a prog rock feel to some of the songs we have here.

To be perfectly honest it’s very hard to say which of these 2 albums is the best, because they are in reality equally both as good as each other, unlike the 3rd album Stormwatch in this trilogy, which for me personally was a bit of let down and a much weaker album. If anything the 1979 album Stormwatch was perhaps the first real crack or dent in the ice where the bands music started to decline and go downhill with the material that they presented. Some really dreadful albums came after it as well.

I have no idea how far Ian Anderson intends to go with the Jethro Tull discography with these new book editions, but I will certainly continue to buy them regardless of some of those dreadful albums that came after. But there is also no doubt another couple really good albums that came out in the 80’s such as Broadsword & The Beast and Crest Of A Knave. So I would certainly love to see more of these new editions and also the bands classic 3rd 1970 album Benefit get the book treatment too, which is long overdue to be done.

Just looking at the picture here with my Collectors Edison of Benefit you can plainly see something is not right here :))))))))).


So please sort this out Mr. Anderson. Preferably before Stormwatch. Because Benefit is a way better album and a solid album at that, and is even more worthy of this treatment.

Packaging & Contents…

Heavy Horses

Well no doubt if I was giving out awards for the best packages, these book editions would win every time. In my opinion they are far more superior than any package I have ever seen. Constructed with thick quality cardboard just like an hardback book and contains very well made sturdy plastic jewel case inserts to house the discs. I simply cannot fault the package it’s 100% quality and perfect. My highest appraises goes out to the ones who designed them.

You can can see how well the package is in this little video presentation I made of it. Though there are others on Youtube that do show it way better than myself I will say.

The Contents.

Well just like an hardback book it comes with one, and you get 96 pages containing all the information around the time the album was made. There is no real shortage of information here, and it also comes with stunning high resolution glossary photographs and makes a very exciting read.

Besides the book we also have 5 discs. 3 of which are CD’s and the other 2 DVD’s. I have to say despite this being just a release of one particular album you are in for a treat and a feast with the array of bonus material we get here. So let’s take a look further at the 5 discs.

CD 1.

The 1st CD contains the original 9 tracks that made up the original album Heavy Horses plus 9 bonus tracks. They are all new mixes done by Steven Wilson. I have to say these new mixes sound purely and genuinely fantastic. There is no doubt you will get complaints from purists who want the original recordings untouched. But they have nothing to complain about here, because those have been included on the 1st DVD.

I shall review the albums original 9 tracks individually further on down the line, but first let’s take a look at the bonus tracks you get here.

Bonus Tracks.

With a lot of bonus material that gets put on compilation albums and other box sets  artists release from time to time, you generally end up with something you may already have. But there are quite a few gems here that have genuinely never seen the light of day before. No doubt that some of them have appeared on other albums, but even most of them are other versions.

They are all genuine too, unlike some of the bonus material Jimmy Page has put on some of the companion discs that come with some of the Led Zeppelin Deluxe Editions to which I very much think a lot of that material is a complete farce.

To be perfectly honest even though I do have some of the bonus tracks here on other albums, they are not quite like these versions. I would also say that some of the bonus material we have here are a damn site better than some of the tracks that was put on the 1979 album Stormwatch.

For example the song “Jack a Lynn“. Now this is a song I already do have, but this is an earlier version of the song, and although I would not say this version is quite as good as the original version, there is no doubt it’s a very well good written song. It’s up there with what I consider the best song on the album Stormwatch which for me is “Dun Ringall“.

Even the studio version of the instrumental piece “Quatrain” is damn site better than some of the material that was written for Stormwatch in my own opinion. As a matter of fact if Ian Anderson replaced some of the tracks on Stormwatch with some of great bonus tracks that are here, it would of been a better album. But then again I suppose he would of had to have changed the albums title.

Although “Living in These Hard Times” was released on both the 20th Anniversary Box Set back in 1988 and on the 2003 remastered release of Heavy Horses as a bonus track. You get a 2nd version of the song here too, which was never released before. I actually prefer this unreleased version too.

Other unreleased tracks we get here are “Everything in Our Lives“. “Horse-Hoeing Husbandry“. “Botanic Man” and “Botanic Man Theme“. In total 7 out of the 9 bonus tracks have never been released anywhere before.

Both the Botanic Man” and “Botanic Man Theme” were originally done and intended for a TV Series that David Bellamy was going to be presenting. The TV series was put out, however it was not clear if the TV company had heard or received the demo’s, so they was just left in Ian Anderson’s vault until now.

Even though it only states there are 9 bonus tracks. It does also contain a little secret track which has the title of “A Town In England“. Anderson remembers at the time of doing the piece at the time that he had only written and sang one verse on the song. The song was around 6 minutes long but cause he only sang on one verse, he thought he would use that little snippet at the end of the album to round it off.

5 Years later he did go back to the song and do it again for his first solo album Walk Into Light released in 1983 and he re-titled the song “Made in England“.

CD’s 2 & 3.

The other couple of CD’s contain the whole concert that was played at the Bern Festhalle in Switzerland, on 25 May 1978. It was recorded during their European tour between May – June of that year and I am sure all those (like myself) who went out and brought the double live album Bursting Out that got released in September of the same year, they will be familiar with the set list we have here.

The double live album Bursting Out was made up from several songs performed during that European tour from May – June. They did in fact use the following 5 songs from this concert to make up that great live album. They were most of the “Flute Solo“. “Cross Eyed Mary“. “Too Old To Rock n’ Roll, Too Young To Die“. “Aqualung“, “Locomotive Breath/The Dambusters March“.

In some respects it’s perhaps like listening to the Bursting Out live album but this is no doubt different in that your hearing all the songs come from one live show, and some of them are longer tracks, especially “Songs From The Wood” and “Minstrel In The Gallery” to which they play more or less the whole of those songs here, and not just a short snippet of them that you got on the Bursting Out album.

Ian Anderson also noted that when they released the Bursting Out album it had some minor tweaks in the post production, something of which David Palmer was not too happy with at the time. So for this release there are no tweaks and it comes with all mistakes including warts en’ all.

DVD 1.


The menu of the first DVD presents you with the choice of new Steven Wilson mixes or the original flat transfer of the original album in stereo only. The original stereo album comes with only 3 of the bonus tracks which are “Living in These Hard Times (Version 2). “Beltane” and “Quatrain“. By clicking on the Wilson mixes it presents you with the following menu.


This menu presents you with a few more options, for example the track selection and the audio setup. By clicking on “Play Album” it plays all the 9 tracks of the original album only witch have been remixed by Steven Wilson. The other 9 bonus tracks are under the “Associated Recordings” at the bottom of the menu.


The “Audio” menu gives you 3 choices of audio to select from which are DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM Stereo. By default its set to the DTS 5.1 mix. All come in high quality 96K/24 including the original flat transfer of the original album.


The 9 bonus tracks in the “Associated Recordings” of the Steven Wilson mixes also give you the same 3 choices of high quality audio and the same couple of 5.1 mixes and 1 stereo mix. I am so glad they have also done them with my preferred choice of DTS 5.1 and the 96K/24 is also a great bonus.

You also get a great slideshow of pictures on display whilst playing the album and the bonus tracks. They are mainly pictures that came with the original album and some from the time they was recording the album in the Maison Rouge Studios.

DVD 2.


The 2nd DVD contains the whole of the concert from the Bern Festhalle in Switzerland 1978 that we have on the 2nd & 3rd CD’s. Unfortunately unlike the concert that came with last year’s release of Songs From The Wood. This concert is in Audio only and there is no visual film footage of the concert. The concert has a playing time of just under 1 hour and 50 minutes.

The main menu presents you with the track selection and the audio setup, besides just clicking on play concert, and the only bit of film footage we do get on this disc is in the “Videos” section at the bottom of the menu.


The “Audio” menu gives you 3 choices of audio to select from just like the first DVD which are DTS 5.1. Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM Stereo. By default its set to the Stereo LPCM on this menu. All come in high quality 96K/24 including the original flat transfer of the original album.

The only genuine benefit you are getting here seeing as it’s in audio only, is that it comes with high quality audio formats of 96K/24 and it also comes with a DTS 5.1 mix. All the mixes on this 2nd DVD were done by  Jakko Jakszyk.


The only video content that is on both DVD’s are in the “Videos” section on this 2nd DVD. You get the videos  of “Heavy Horses” and “Moths” plus 2 little TV Ads that was used to promote the double live album Bursting Out back in 1978.

You also get a slideshow of concert pictures whilst listening to the live concert, though I do not believe they was taken from this actual concert, and most likely they would of come from the concert they played at Madison Square Gardens in the same year on their American tour.

The 5.1 Mixes.

The 1st DVD.

The 5.1 mixes of the original album and the bonus tracks on the 1st DVD done by Steve Wilson are really excellent. Wilson as done once again a very well detailed mix and as usual he has not gone over the top and paid careful consideration to the placement of the instruments and it’s very well detailed mix that presents great dynamics and clarity.

I also love the attention he as paid to the vocals on this particular mix too. He’s even separated the double track vocals of Ian Anderson as well as the backing vocals by the other members of the band, and they work superbly with the utilisation of the 6 channels and placement.

You are without a doubt hearing things that could never have been heard before and he really as done a superb job here.

The 2nd DVD.

Doing a 5.1 surround mix for a live concert is perhaps a lot harder to work with, simply because most concert footage recorded back in those days lack the dynamics of a studio album in most cases. So it’s a lot more harder for even 5.1 mixes to work and give you something any better than the stereo mix.

Just by looking at the fact that stereo mix is the default on this 2nd DVD and not the 5.1 mix. May have some bearing in relation to it being a very hard job to get the clarity and the dynamics to project so well in a 5.1 mix. Working with a studio album generally will result in the best quality on that score.

Though these days live sound recording has improved vastly since back in the days of the 70’s. Most concerts done today or over the past decade contain just as much high quality as any studio recording. Some are even way better.

The man who had the task of doing the stereo and surround mixes for this concert was Jakko Jakszyk. To be honest he’s done quite a grand job considering this is old audio footage recorded from the 70’s. Though it’s never gonna beat the 5.1 mix of the studio album, and one simply cannot expect it too either.

But I give credit where credit is due, and even though the 5.1 mix is not gonna bring out the dynamics, the clarity works pretty well on this mix and overall it is slightly better hearing the surround mix in relation to the stereo mix, but not by a large margin.

But I do quite enjoy this 5.1 mix and I also like how Jakko’s utilised the 6 channels with the placement of the instrumentation and vocals. Even the flute solo is well effective for its clarity in the way that he has projected Ian Anderson’s slurping and breathing between the front and rear speakers.

Even the use of the heavier percussion also adds to effect being placed in the rear speakers and whacks you on the head. I have to say he’s done extremely well here and this 5.1 mix does have some great moments and is far from anything that disappointing.

Musicians & Credits…


Recorded in January 1978 at the Maison Rouge Studios Fulham. London. Produced by Ian Anderson. Mixing Engineer Robin Black. Front Cover Photography by James Cotier. Back Cover Photography by Shona Anderson. Heavy Horses Surround & Stereo New Mixes by Steven Wilson. Live at Berne Audio by Jakko Jakszyk. CD Master & DVD Authoring by Ray Shulman at Isonic.

Ian Anderson: Vocals/Flute/Acoustic & Occasional Electric Guitars/Mandolin.
Martin Barre: Electric Guitar.
John Evan: Piano & Organ.
David Palmer: Portative Pipe Organ/Keyboards & Orchestral Arrangements.
John Glascock: Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals.
Barriemore Barlow: Drums & Percussion.

Additional Musicians.
Darryl Way: Violin (On “Acres Wild” & “Heavy Horses”).

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The original album Heavy Horses was released in the UK on the 21st April 1978. The album contained 9 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 42 minutes, 25 seconds. The album was recorded at Maison Rouge Studio to which Ian Anderson had just brought and set up at the time.

He sold the studio 4 years later due to the fact that it was forever costing money to update the equipment to the newer technology that was coming out all the time, especially in the 80’s, and it was losing money and costing too much to run. He sold it too Nick Richards who was a member of the band Boys Don’t Cry. He managed to keep it running as a studio for another 4 years before selling it on himself. The property was eventually sold to property developers and was demolished in the year 2000.

In the book that comes with the New Shoes Edition Ian Anderson describes how he could of made a fortune if he had brought the premises for his studio in other locations in London he had looked at first, with how prices in London have shot up today. In the end he just about managed to scrape his money back he paid out for it.

At the time Jethro Tull were making Heavy Horses in the Maison Rouge Studios. Ian Anderson was also doing the production work for Steeleye Span’s vocalist Maddy Prior who was working on her first solo album at the time entitled Woman In The Wings. Nearly all the musician’s from Jethro Tull played on the album including Anderson himself.

Maddy loved both the Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses albums and was amazed that she never got to hear one of the tracks from the album whilst they were making the album and hers at the same time.

Anderson describes his role as a producer as a very important role, and that was to devote and focus the time and attention they was paying him for, to their project alone.  Time is too important to waste on letting other people hear your own songs, whilst you’re supposed to be devoting it to theirs. It’s a very good theory and practice.

So let’s take a deeper look into the 9 tracks that written for this superb album…

Track 1. …And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps.

I suppose lyrically this could be seen as a whimsical tale that was inspired by Ian Anderson’s cat at the time, who he gave the name of Mistletoe too. His cat even got an album credit on the sleeve due to the purring sound that you hear immediately on the intro. It’s very much based on the animals instincts to hunt which is why the mouse is always on the lookout.

I quite like these lyrics and for me personally they sort of remind me of the same sort of subject matter the band Genesis would do with the many creatures they put into their songs back in that golden decade of their early career.

Musically Anderson states in the book we get here that the music was inspired by the rhythm and energy of Captain Beefheart’s drummer Arty Trip on the track “Click, Click” from the Spotlight Kid album. It was something he got to hear whilst the band was on tour in the USA with Beefheart, and even Barriemore Barlow had picked up on it’s strange offbeat.

Though personally I would say there is a lot more to this song than just a drum kit and the musicianship is outstanding with its array of instrumentation. The one thing I always loved about Jethro Tull was the fact that a lot of its members were multi instrumentalists, and that they never went over the top in a studio. This is why they was such a great live act.

There was no doubt that the band were doing English Folk Rock music at this stage of their career in style. They nailed the English Traditional side of folk music and added the element of prog rock to it which gave it very much it’s edge. Personally I do not think no band were quite like it, and they even outdone both Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span in my book, and I am massive fan of both those great bands too.

…And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps” gets the album off to cracking start the interplay with the acoustic guitar and flute works a treat, and so does the interplay between the flute and portative pipe organ in the break. No doubt it’s a contender for the top spot on the album.

2. Acres Wild.

Although “Acres Wild” could be seen as a love song. I myself would consider it more of a great songwriters song and even a classic just like “The Whistler” was from the previous album Songs From The Wood. John Glascock’s bass line on this song reminds me a lot of Dave Pegg from Fairport Convention. He really was a great bass guitarist.

The song also features Darryl Way of the band Curved Air on violin. Another fine musician who Anderson come to notice whilst touring with the band in America.

Even though the song could be seen as a Scottish song with its lyrical content, especially in the chorus, the song itself as all the magic elements that make truly great English traditional folk rock songs, they have even got all the fine instrumentation down to a tee. Another truly great song and contender for the top spot on the album.

3. No Lullaby.

The second longest track on the album happens to be my personal favourite track on the album that merits my top spot award. It’s the heaviest track on the album and certainly the most electrified track on the album too. It’s perhaps the “Pibroch (Cap in Hand)” track of the album that has all that dark heavy prog goodness about it which was also on their previous album.

Ian Anderson describes it as a sort of anti lullaby of a story he told to his son when he was about 1 years old. Just as well his son was only a year old, otherwise he might have had a few nightmares :)))))). The band do a super job on the song  and it’s one of those that gives Martin Barre the chance to fly and really rock it out.

4. Moths.

In some ways “Moths” could be seen as another love song on the album or perhaps the “Fires At Midnight” from the previous album but a bit more batty so to speak. Oddly enough Ian Anderson got his inspiration from espionage novelist John le Carré for the lyrics. Though the book that Anderson read was one of Carré’s one off novels with no genre entitled The Naïve and Sentimental Lover that Carré had writ whilst going through a divorce from his first marriage.

The version of the song on this release is also 5 seconds longer and that was down to Steve Wilson spotting that the original master tape was some 30-40 cents sharp which would of resulted from a faulty MCI Machine running a bit slower at the time. So Wilson has fixed the slightly off pitch correction, and it’s now running at the correctly recorded A440 pitch.

Moths” was the only single release from the album. it was released in the UK a couple of weeks before the album on the 7th April 1978. The much earlier song “Life Is A Long Song” was put on the B-Side. It was also scheduled to be released as a single in the US too with “Beltane” on the B-Side. But it got withdrawn before its release. It’s another very well written song.

5. Journeyman.

Another song very well crafted around a great John Glascock bass line. Though apart from Anderson it was only Martin Barre and David Palmer who contributed slightly to the songs on this album and received any royalties. There is no doubt that these are in reality the songs of Ian Anderson.

Anderson is a an extremely well talented multi instrumentalist who was very capable of playing all the instruments to the songs we have here. It was he who also taught the bands previous bass player Jeffrey Hammond the bass guitar. Anderson also played the bass on most of the songs on the bands next album Stormwatch due to Glascock’s illness and eventually dying in the same following year.

Journeyman” is another great song on the album, and another song about a train taking onboard a day to day journey of commuting with the people and what one sees to occupy themselves with to take away the boredom of all the travelling. It was also the last track on side one of the vinyl album.

6. Rover.

Another firm favourite of mine this song and a classic very well written song superbly arranged with the use of vibes in the percussion department, great use of the acoustic guitar, mandolin and keyboards working off each other and everything that’s thrown into the pot including its lyrical content.

It’s very much another brilliant songwriters song on the album and one that inspired by Ian Anderson’s dog Lupus who appeared on the front cover of the Songs From The Wood Album. Musically this song also has that up-tempo jolly feel about it, just like the “The Whistler” from that album too. It’s very much another contender for the top spot on the album.

7. One Brown Mouse.

No doubt yet another classic on the album and an high contender for the top spot on the album. There is no doubt that this album does contain many classics and all of which could quite easily qualify to merit the top spot on the album.

Once again the portative pipe organ plays a great part on this particular song along with all the other delightful goodies in the instrumental department. I suppose in some ways this also could be one of those whimsical songs that harks back to early Genesis with the lyrical content we have here.

Ian Anderson got the inspiration for the lyrics from a Robert Burns poem “To A Mouse” and looking back into his childhood days when he had a pet mouse and was wondering what was going on behind that tiny brain of it so to speak.

To be honest if I was to put out a single release from this album, this song would of been the one I would of chose and not “Moths“. I also feel it would of sold more copies too.

8. Heavy Horses.

The self titled track of the album happens to be the longest track on the album weighing in at just over the 9 minute mark. Although Ian Anderson was not an horse lover and did not know a lot about them. I have to say the lyrics are exceptionally well written. Though I suppose his move to the countryside and the fact that his wife knew quite a bit about horses and was more fond of the these marvellous beasts lent an hand here.

To be perfectly honest it was a very hard decision for me not to give this the top spot on the album. It is without doubt another classic and I suppose the highest contender for the top spot, and no doubt for many others it may very well be their favourite track on the album.

Once again Darryl Way contributes some excellent violin here, and it perhaps features as more of a dominate role here than what it does on “Acres Wild” on that score. “Heavy Horses” no doubt is a prolific bit of songwriting and a truly remarkable song.

9. Weathercock.

The albums ends off with another super songwriter song done in the style of good old traditional English Folklore. It’s very much another classic in my eyes and once again reflects on the same magical songwriting we got on the previous album Songs From The Wood. Though I have to say Ian Anderson’s Weathercock as somehow changed these days judging by the picture :)))))))).



The weathercat was put up at Ian’s home to remind him of all the great times he had in the past with his beloved pets. It could very well be Mistletoe who inspired the first song on the album. “Weathercock” put this superb album to bed very well indeed.


To sum up the 40th Anniversary New Shoes Edition of Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull. There is no doubt even down to the fact that it did cost me £10 and bit more than the 40th Anniversary Country Set of Songs From The Wood. This package still offers great value for the buck.

Considering your getting a quality hardback book plus 3 CD’s and 2 DVD’s I would say that it’s retail price of £34.99 is about right, and even at that price these particular packages are made of far more superior quality material than what I have seen with box sets that cost over £300. Not only that, they not only look more spectacular, but are a damn site more easier to store as well.

Considering both the book editions of Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses come with the same amount of discs, they both could be seen as equally the same regarding the bonus material. Whereas Songs From The Wood wins on the concert side of things, in that it also comes with the film footage and not just in audio only. Heavy Horses wins on the extra unreleased bonus material you get here.

Both Steve Wilson and Jakko Jakszyk have done exceptionally well with the 5.1 mixes and even if you prefer just the stereo mixes this package is still worthy of its price point. The 5,1 mixes have always been my biggest incentive for buying a package like this, and for me personally it’s a winner.


To conclude my review of the 40th Anniversary New Shoes Edition of Heavy Horses by Jethro Tull. It’s a superb package done of another truly superb album by Jethro Tull. The album Heavy Horses is very much a solid album with the material that was originally written for it. Like I mentioned earlier in my review, it’s very hard for me to say which album out of Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses is the best.

If I did have to choose I would give it marginally to Songs From The Wood. Both albums contain just as many classics and superb well written material that have been so skilfully crafted. Both the musicianship and songwriting skills are very high on the both of these albums.

Considering both of these albums were the very first time Jethro Tull had stepped into the world of English Traditional Folk Rock. They not only was equally on par with the rest of the field, but they may have even outclassed every artist who had worked in this field of Traditional Folk Rock. It’s a truly remarkable achievement, and there is no doubt that both albums made their mark on the world of English Traditional Folk Rock Music.

My only quibble with Ian Anderson these days and in fact for decades now, is that whenever he plays live, he only seems to feature mainly the both self titled album tracks from both of these albums. He may occasionally throw in “Hunting Girl” and “One Brown Mouse” from them. But there is a lot more to the songs that are on both albums, and they certainly deserve more attention paid to them when he goes out and plays live, instead of playing the same old routine all the time.

I cannot recommend these Book Editions highly enough and for all Tull fans I very much think they are well worthy of getting. They are only doing one run of them, and once they are gone (to which some of them already have) you will be paying stupid money to get your hands on them.

A Heavy Horse And A Tumbling Sky, Brewing Heavy Weather

The CD track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. And The Mouse Police Never Sleeps. 3:13.
02. Acres Wild. 3:26.
03. No Lullaby. 7:53.
04. Moths. 3:31.
05. Journeyman. 4:01.
06. Rover. 4:33.
07. One Brown Mouse. 3:24.
08. Heavy Horses. 9:04.
09. Weathercock. 4:04.
10. Living in These Hard Times [#][Version Two]. 3:19.
11. Everything in Our Lives [#]. 3:23.
12. Jack a Lynn [#][Early Version]. 3:49.
13. Quatrain [#][Studio Version]. 3:51.
14. Horse-Hoeing Husbandry [#]. 4:12.
15. Beltane. 5:21.
16. Botanic Man [#]. 3:14.
17. Living in These Hard Times [Version One]. 3:09.
18. Botanic Man Theme [#]. 2:49.

Disc 2. [Live In Concert In Berne, Switzerland, May 1978 – Part One].

01. Opening Music (Quartet). 2:48.
02. Introduction by Claude Nobs. 0:25.
03. No Lullaby. 4:48.
04. Sweet Dream. 6:01.
05. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day. 3:28.
06. Jack In The Green. 3:09.
07. One Brown Mouse. 4:01.
08. Heavy Horses. 9:53.
09. A New Day Yesterday. 3:10.
10. Flute Solo Improvisation / God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / Bouree. 5:31.
11. Living In The Past / A New Day Yesterday (reprise). 1:47.
12. Songs From The Wood. 5:09.

Disc 3. [Live In Concert In Berne, Switzerland, May 1978 – Part Two].

01. Thick As A Brick. 13:24.
02. Hunting Girl. 5:33.
03. Too Old To Rock ‘n’ Roll. 3:51.
04. Conundrum. 8:02.
05. Minstrel In The Gallery. 5:28.
06. Cross Eyed Mary. 4:24.
07. Quatrain. 1:37.
08. Aqualung. 8:08.
09. Locomotive Breath. 5:32.
10. Dambusters March / Aqualung (reprise). 3:29.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 9/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 9/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 10/10


Lee Speaks About Music… #63

The Song Remains The Same (Blu Ray) – Led Zeppelin



Well whilst I was updating my Led Zeppelin collection with the new Deluxe Editions of the bands studio albums, I thought it would be a good idea to update my old VHS Video of The Song Remains The Same with the Blu Ray edition.

To be honest I doubt very much if I could find my old VHS Video has they all got packed away in boxes years ago and shoved in one of the many cupboards somewhere. I do remember it being released on DVD a good while ago as well, and remember a mate of mine updating his VHS Video to that as well. I was going to get it at the time, but it obviously slipped my mind.

I came across the Blu Ray on Amazon whilst I was shopping on their buying the new Deluxe Editions I have been reviewing, and it’s low price of £7 was too much of a tempting turkey to let it slip by. So I just popped it in the basket and brought it on the spot.

To be honest I am glad I did buy it, because I have not seen the film in yonks, and even though I am not a great believer in older films being transferred to Blu Ray that was not filmed in HD in the first place, in most cases you may as well just buy the DVD. Because no way is any old film really in HD even if the transfer may look very good in some cases.

But hey for £7 I was not gonna make a fuss and thought sure, let’s just see how good it has turned out. So let’s take a look to see just how well it turned out, and see if this can be seen as a genuine bargain at its low price point.

The Song Remains The Same (Blu Ray) In Review…

Well most people will know that until the year 2003 The Song Remains The Same contained the only live footage released of Led Zeppelin. It was originally released back in 1976 on a double vinyl album and the film was put on the cinemas and later was released on Video around 1984 here in the UK.

It was not until the 31st of December 1999 that it got it’s release on DVD. I am pretty sure this would of been around the time my mate actually brought it, and it has been at least a couple of decades or more since I watched the film myself.

The Led Zeppelin Live double DVD that got released in 2003 I did very much buy on its release, and still till this day I am totally blown away with how so darn good they restored all that old film footage.

Some of it goes back way before the film footage at Madison Square Gardens captured in 1973 that was featured in this film The Song Remains The Same and yet it looks as if they even filmed it today. Even the 5.1 mix is purely awesome.

On the 20th of November 2007 The Song Remains The Same got re-released again. Only this time it even contained extended footage of the actual concert and extra bonus features that had never been seen before. It was released in 3 media formats and put on DVD. HD-DVD and Blu Ray.

To be honest this release totally slipped by me, and had I have noticed it, I dare say it would of cost me more than double the price I got it for now, some 10 years later.

Even when I ordered it, I thought in my mind that surely they have not done the pristine quality job they did with all the film footage of those concerts that was put on that live double DVD back in 2003. Even though this got re-released some 4 years later.

Well the one thing I can tell you having watched it a couple of times now, is that it certainly did not disappoint, and there was in fact some vast improvements in parts of it overall.

So let’s first of all take a look at the Blu Ray and its contents.

The Blu Ray.

SS 1

The one thing the Blu Ray does not come with is a Main Menu and the film starts straight away when your insert the disc into your player. However it does come with one sub menu (as seen in the picture above) and this can be accessed by hitting the main menu button on your remote control.

The sub menu basically shows you the bonus features that comes with the Blu Ray and does not even give you an Audio Setup to select your preferred audio choice. So once again you are going to have to use your remote control and hit the Audio Button to change the audio.

You get the choices of 3 Audio formats and by default it gives you the best of the 3 which is Dolby True HD 5.1. Which is the original master. You also get the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and LPCM Stereo all come in 48K/24.

All the audio for this release as been remastered and mastered again, and sounds quite spectacular in comparison to earlier releases. The original film was shot on a 35 mm movie cameras and came with a Quadraphonic audio mix on 24 tracks which was shown on the cinemas.

The Bonus Features.

The bonus material not only contains some extra songs that were performed at the live concert back in July 1973 at Madison Square Gardens. But it also contains some interviews and news reels about the robbery that took place at the Drake Hotel where 200 thousand dollars of the bands money they got for the show, was stolen from the hotels safety deposit box.

No doubt a lot of this extra footage can be seen on Youtube these days, but I had never seen it before, so it was quite a bonus and well interesting to watch.

I do however think it was a shame they could not of put the extra concert footage in the film itself, rather than place the 4 extra songs from the show in the bonus section has they did here.

The extra 4 songs you do get are “Over the Hills and Far Away“. “Celebration Day“. “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Ocean“. In total they add up to about 20 minutes extra, but the way they have placed them in the bonus menu is not very good either, because there is no option to play them all at once, and they have placed other bonus footage in between the songs.

The songs do offer you the audio choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo. The other bonus footage is mainly mono. So let’s now take a look at the picture quality.

The Picture Quality.

SS 2

Well I am certainly not going to lie to you through my back teeth and tell you that the transfer of the old film footage onto Blu Ray for this movie is pristine, brilliant, out of this world or very good. Some transfers do come out better than others and it really boils down to a stack of things in reality.

There is no doubt that some old films can be carefully restored with the techniques they have these days, and there are experienced people who work on such things who can do some pretty amazing things.

To be honest I am no expert on this matter, but basically I know how good a film put on Blu Ray (that is filmed in real HD using real HD cameras) looks in comparison to any transfer of an old film.

You simply cannot beat the real thing, and no transfer is genuine HD quality unless it was filmed with HD cameras in the first place. But they can get close. But unfortunately the colours we have on the original footage shot in the 70’s of The Song Remains The Same are very weak and washed out in certain places.

But rest assured it’s not all that bad, and the main part of the film which is the actual concert footage has by far come out the best here. The actual acting parts of the footage will show grain and weak colours, and in all honesty these parts are not gonna really benefit that much from being put onto Blu Ray over the DVD in reality.

SS 3

The transfer will make a slight difference in certain parts of the acting sections depending on the times of the day and the light they had at the time of shooting the film. But in general these sections are not by any means that much of an improvement over the DVD I am afraid. For example you’re going to see grain and washed out colours.

But by no means let that put you off. Because the live stage footage is where you will really benefit regarding the picture quality, and without doubt this may beat the DVD though both will leave your old VHS Video in the dust on that score.

But as for the Blu Ray providing you with a better picture than the DVD. I really do not think so, especially as most DVD Players today can upscale the picture quality very well too, and even playing DVD’s in Blu Ray players will do that job for you as well. If not even better so than your DVD player.

The one thing I was also pleased to see being as this is an old film, is that it displays in widescreen at 16.9 and not the old 4:3 ratio and looks well good for it.

The real difference you will benefit from having the Blu Ray is very much in the sound quality department. This is simply because the Blu Ray caters for uncompressed sound formats, and they are a lot higher quality than what you will find on a DVD.

I can tell you now that the actual sound quality they have remixed for this release will leave any older releases also in the dust. They have done a superb job of it. So now let’s take a look at the 5.1 mix and other sound formats that comes on the Blu Ray.

The 5.1 Mix.

I certainly do not think the surround freaks will be disappointed with this release. The very fact that we have acting scenes as well as a live concert certainly makes more use of the 5.1 surround system, and utilises its 6 channels very effectively well.

Watching a movie that comes with a 5.1 mix on it as always been one of my favourite things about the surround system. This is basically because there is a hell of a lot more sounds to project across the 6 channels than what your gonna find put on an album or a music concert.

Even though 5.1 mixes work very well to bring out the dynamics and clarity for music, films are much more realistic by the use of a 5.1 surround mix.

The action scenes in the movie The Song Remains The Same I suppose are a bit like watching a film about the mafia like The Godfather or Bonnie & Clyde sort of thing. All this particular sort of action contains sounds such as bullets flying across the room, broken glass, doors being kicked in and various other sorts.

All the sounds project so much realistically through a 5.1 system, and in some cases whilst your watching the film you are not only just gonna be hearing things like somebody is upstairs in your bedroom above trashing the place,  and your windows are being smashed in your house, and somebody is kicking in your front door. but your gonna think it’s actually happening.

That is how realistic a 5.1 mix can project over 6 channels. It’s something stereo could never do in a million years I am afraid. Not only will you hear all these things in a film, but the sound will also pinpoint to all the locations in your house it’s coming from, and it can even project itself as far as being outside in your garden, even at the end of your garden path so to speak, which could be 30 to 40 foot away from you. Even if your rear speakers are only several inches away from your ears.

But with any 5.1 system all this can only really be achieved on a surround system in your own home, and set up for the benefit of 1 person only. You cannot get the same out of a 5.1 surround system that they have in Cinema Houses for example.

It’s got nothing to do with how much your system costs either. It’s all about the speaker placement, the correct head height and measurement levels that are measured to one centre seat you are sitting in, in your home.

The biggest majority of Cinema Houses are very poorly set up regarding the placement of the speakers. In most cases the speakers are way too far apart from each other, and will create a gap, just like one will get when they place their speakers to wide apart on a stereo system.

They may have expensive surround systems but in all honesty for what use they are doing with them is a complete waste of space in my opinion, and I have yet to hear 5.1 work well in any cinema house for that matter.

There is just no way any 5.1 system is gonna work properly unless your bang in the middle of it. No 5.1 surround system can cater for all those people in a Cinema House I am afraid. The 5.1 system is a very selfish thing in reality, if you want to get the best benefits out of it.

And by saying being bang in the middle of it, does not mean that you have to be seated in the middle of your room or in the middle of all your speakers so to speak.

But you do have to be central and in the middle even if your seat is set up at the back of your room, You do need to be in the middle of your rear speakers and the front speakers also need to placed correctly so that you are also in the middle of those, even though they are further away from you, or even wider apart from each other.

Your centre speaker should be placed bang in the middle of your front speakers, and from your seat at the back of the room, this is the very thing that is looking you directly in the face apart from your TV from a central point of view.

Has for the subwoofer. This can be placed more or less anywhere apart from a corner of a room, and not too close a wall. It’s good to find a nice spot or even a sweet spot where it works the best for you.

Kevin Shirley was the guy behind the new audio stereo and 5.1 mixes and as done a pretty much a bang on job with them too. Both the film footage and concert footage certainly benefit for it, and are quite a big improvement and very impressive. Much more impressive than the picture quality in reality.

Though I would not say the dynamics are that great in comparison to the Led Zeppelin 2003 DVD. The Celebration Day Blu Ray or even the triple CD of How The West Was Won. But overall it still beats the crap out of the vinyl album :)))))).


I think no matter how bizarre or mad all those rock and pop artists that have gone into making silly films such as The Beatles, The Who and many others have done in the past. The good thing about Led Zeppelin’s film of The Song Remains The Same is that is also features the footage of an actual live concert which I think makes it that more appealing and worthy of owning.

It’s far from like watching something totally stupid, like the film Tommy and the many other ridiculous films that was made, even if you have the odd bit of silly acting you get here. It’s really the concert footage that is the magic we get here in this film that really sells it.

No doubt if you want a concert of Led Zeppelin with its original members then the Led Zeppelin 2003 Double DVD will certainly give you that. But you cannot simply dismiss this amazing concert that was also caught at Madison Square Gardens back in 1973.

I certainly think the Blu Ray makes it even more appealing and will very much refresh and give that extra bit of polish to it all with both the picture and especially the sound quality. Though I dare say the soundtrack of the album will appeal to the biggest majority in the way that it’s more easier to give the album more attention to listening too, rather than watch a film over and over.

However for surround sound freaks like myself. I very much do prefer the film in relation to the soundtrack live album. Simply because I love 5.1 for how it can project things much more sonically and dynamically as a rule. I also like to see the band play as well with my own eyes. Though this is perhaps as not that dynamic like I stated earlier, but it’s still got a greater sound quality about it.

To be honest I am the same with the film of The Wall by Pink Floyd. The fact that I have the film on DVD with a 5.1 mix that is stunningly superb in sound quality and the way it projects through 6 channels instead of 2. I actually prefer playing that to the double album. Even though it’s got Bob Geldoff singing most of the songs, and I much prefer Pink Floyd themselves singing them in reality.


The Song Remains The Same by Led Zeppelin is a film that features a truly great concert and captures the band at the height of their career. There is no doubt this 2007 re-release is by far better than any previous releases of the film. Not only do you get extra bonus footage, but quality wise it’s far more superior to those earlier releases, especially in the sound department.

Regardless of buying it on Blu Ray or DVD I would say they are both a winner and well worthy of upgrading too. Though I do feel the Blue Ray will give you that bit better quality regarding the sound. Though I doubt very much that there is actually any difference regarding the picture quality. If there is, it would most likely be in section of the concert footage only.

But regarding the picture quality, there is no doubt that the Led Zeppelin 2003 Double DVD release beats this hands down, and that is only on DVD, and that is more or less the same pristine quality you got with their much later concert Celebration Day which was filmed in HD at the O2 Arena in London, and is even near enough as pristine as the quality of that Blu Ray.

There is no doubt that they have gone to town on all the 5.1 mixes that come with Led Zeppelin 2003. The Song Remains The Same and Celebration Day. They have done a purely awesome job on all 3 of them. I would even say that sound wise. All 3 of these concerts have superior sound quality over their studio albums. The only studio album that comes close would have to be Led Zeppelin II. The sound quality of that album is far more superior than the rest.

At its price point of £7 for the Blu Ray you simply cannot go wrong, and I am so glad I did buy it again, and it’s given me the chance to enjoy this great film all over again. I love the way the film ends too, because they play the whole of the studio version of “Stairway To Heaven” during the titles.

Even though the titles run out and your left with a blank screen, they make sure they play it all. It’s been remastered with a 5.1 mix too and sounds way better than the new remastered version I have of it on the Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin IV. Even that’s a terrific bonus in my book.

It’s Been A Long Time Since The Rock And Roll…

The Concert Set List is as follows:

01. Bron-Yr-Aur.
02. Rock And Roll.
03. Black Dog.
04. Since I’ve Been Loving You.
05. No Quarter.
06. The Song Remains The Same.
07. The Rain Song.
08. Dazed And Confused.
09. Stairway To Heaven.
10. Moby Dick.
11. Heartbreaker.
12. Whole Lotta Love.

The Bonus Material is as follows:

Bonus Songs (SD, 20 minutes) – Four are included (all never-or-rarely seen before in video form): “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “Celebration Day,” “Misty Mountain Hop” and “The Ocean.” All of the songs offer Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo audio.

Featurette: “The Robbery” (SD, 4 minutes) – This oddity is a vintage fake documentary on the $200M supposedly ripped off from the safe deposit box in the Drake Hotel that features in the film.

TV Excerpt : “Boating Down the Thames: Robert Plant and Peter Grant” (SD, 8 minutes). This except features Plant and Grant being interviewed as they float down the Thames on the Swanage Queen, talking about the film.

TV Report (SD, 3 minutes) – A brief clip from a 1973 TV report on Led Zeppelin’s show at the Tampa Stadium.

Theatrical Trailer (SD) – The film’s original theatrical trailer is presented in only decent-quality video, but if nothing else, it serves to illuminate how well-mastered the feature film on this Blu-Ray actually is.

Lee’s overall Complete Blu Ray Value Rating…

The Picture Quality Rating Score. 7/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 9/10.

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 8/10

The Overall Film Rating Score. 9/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #62

Presence (Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin

LZ - P


The bands 7th album Presence was the fastest album Led Zeppelin had churned out since their debut album back in 1969. 6 of the 7 tracks on the album was written by Page & Plant and a lot of the writing for the album was done during the time of Robert Plant’s recuperating period from a car crash he had on the Greek island Rhodes in the previous year, forcing the band to cancel their tour that year.

Although the album Presence did quite well by hitting the number one spot in the album charts in the UK and America. It was another one of those albums that created mixed reviews from its fans and critics upon its release.

Even though the album eventually went on to go 3 times platinum in America with sales of over 3 million copies in that country it alone. It was perhaps one of their poorest selling albums in relation to the albums that came before it.

The Packaging & Artwork…


Just like all the packaging that these Deluxe Editions come with, they do a grand job at replicating the original vinyl album with it being constructed out of cardboard in the form of a Digipak. Though because they have in fact inverted the front cover and put it on the back. None of them have the original backs of the vinyl album. They have also done the same thing with the booklet too.

Speaking of the booklet once again we get 14 pages of pictures and only 2 pages of information which contain the album linear notes. It even has a couple of pictures of the obelisk and shadows can be seen casting all over it :)))))))). So much for Storm Thorgerson’s idea :))))))). They are not very informative and give you no information about the time they made the album.

Furthermore these Digipaks have been made on the cheap and even the see through sticker that contains the albums track list information printed in white on the back of the cover, comes away with the cellophane when you open it on the biggest majority of them. So you either end up trying to stick it back on yourself without putting creases in it, or just throw it in the bin.

To be honest it made no sense having such a sticker with their last album Physical Graffiti because the cut out windows are on the reverse of the album as well as the front. But I had a lot of trouble with this one and ended up throwing mine in the bin.

Personally I think whoever came up with the idea of inverting the front cover and putting it on the back, and accompanying it with a see through plastic sticker with white writing printed on it. Was not very clever at all, and needed to go back to the drawing board in designing the package.


The albums cover design was done by Hipgnosis and designed by George Hardie. The object on the table is what Storm Thorgerson describes as being an obelisk which is an object that has no mouldings and no shadow. It’s supposed to represent the force of the presence of the band. It looks more like one of those stupid Oscar Awards to me, and is totally ridiculous to say the least :)))))).



Jimmy Page seen the band having a force of a “presence” whilst they was making the album. He seen the Obelisk or the Object as something that could transmit a power or presence into whoever was around them, simply by placing your hand on the top of the object and touching somebody else as shown in the picture below.


Page described the album cover as being quite tongue and cheek and a sort of joke on Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 A Space Odyssey.

The boating marina in the background was an artificial marina that was set up inside Earls Court in London at one of the boating shows they put on their back in 1975. The photograph of the back cover was taken during a summer break in a classroom at London’s Westminster School. The designer George Hardie was married to one of the teaching staff there.

Both Hardie and Hipgnosis were nominated for a Grammy Award for the best album package a year later in 1977. To be honest I have no idea how it got nominated in the first place, and to me it just looks totally boring :)))))))).

Led Zeppelin Presence (2 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The newly released remastered Deluxe Edition of Presence was released on the 31st July 2015. Has with all these new editions you have the choice of either purchasing the album as a digital download, a single or double LP or CD and if you want it all there is the more expensive box set that comes with other goodies thrown in too boot. Though personally I think the box set is well overpriced.

Since I started buying these Deluxe Editions it was only the last album I purchased Physical Graffiti that cost me a bit more has it came with 3 CD’s instead of the 2. All the 2 CD editions up to this point cost £9.99 which was a great price. But this one actually cost me £11.49 and the prices have gone up. It’s not just the price fluctuation you get with Amazon either and they have gone up in all the stores.

CD 1.

The new remasters do sound great and even on CD they do present you with genuine really good sound quality, and I certainly have no complaints on that score. The 1st disc contains only the 7 tracks that were on the original album, and I quite like how they decided not to include any bonus tracks on it either, and prefer all albums to come with the original material that was placed upon them in the first place, and for them to put any bonus material on a separate disc.

CD 2.

I very much think that Jimmy Page was running out of ideas and out of any real unreleased material when compiling a lot of the bonus material we get with these companion discs. The best of the bunch so far is certainly still the one that came with their debut album, though some of the others you might get the odd track here and there that’s worthy of having too, but a lot them do tend to disappoint.

You get 5 bonus tracks on this companion disc and they are all what Page has called reference mixes which are referring to them as actually being the first rough mixes of the album tracks they made for reference. The overall time of the disc is 31 minutes, 32 seconds.

I have to say I am quite confused and may even be “Dazed” too :))))))) as to just what on earth is going on here. Simply because in all honesty some of these so called “Reference” mixes are not rough mixes at all, and some sound a lot better than what the bloody hell they put on the original album in the first place.

To be honest I quite like this bonus disc and even though 4 of the 5 tracks are the same tracks you get on the original album. They do very much sound different. Some of them I think actually are better than the original final mixes that are on the main album. Especially the “Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix)”.

To be perfectly honest I suspect a bit of cheating has been going on here, and these so called “Reference” mixes that supposed to have been made first and was originally recorded for reference are nothing of the sort. They are most likely remixes where Page has perhaps changed some of the tones slightly on his guitars. It’s easy to do with guitar plugins too.

The “Royal Orleans (Reference Mix)” has a completely different singer on it, and to be honest I wish Jimmy Page would of been more considerate when releasing these new editions by providing some proper information in the booklet to actually tell you what the hell is going on here. Even in the countless interviews of him speaking about these Deluxe Editions I have watched on Youtube he does not give you any real information either ffs.

I had to spend awhile researching this particular version of the song which is quite a funny version by the way, and to be honest I still do not have a concrete answer as to who the hell is singing it. But according to form it can be one of two people of the band. It’s ether Robert Plant mimicking John Bonham’s voice or John Bonham himself singing it.

You also get an unreleased instrumental bonus track too entitled “10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod)“. It features John Paul Jones on piano and bass. Backed up by some lovely light guitar touches from Page and some wonderful more perhaps melodic drums from John Bonham.

It’s quite a lovely piece and was penned by Jones & Plant though I certainly feel the biggest majority of it was in fact written by Jones. I would also would of thought it was perhaps something Jones knocked up in between sessions and got a bit bored because Page wanted no keyboards on this particular album.

I really like the piece, and even though it certainly merits being placed on an album, it was perhaps more suited for a John Paul Jones solo album more so than actually being placed on the album Presence. It perhaps does not have that Led Zeppelin sound or element about it, and actually feels as if Jones played everything here too. So I can see why it got left off the album and was not considered to be placed on it.

Musicians & Credits…

Led Zeppelin File Photos

Recorded between November – December 1975 at the Musicland Studios Munich Germany. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive Producer Peter Grant. Mixing Engineer Keith Harwood. Tape Engineer Jeremy Gee. Sleeve Design by Hipgnosis. George Hardie. Cover Photography by Aubrey Powell. 2015 Reissue remastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Guitars.
Robert Plant: Vocals/Harmonica.
John Paul Jones: Eight String Bass/Piano.
John Bonham: Drums.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

The album Presence by Led Zeppelin was released on the 31st March 1976. The album contained 7 tracks and had a total playing time of 44 minutes, 46 seconds. Apart from 1 track credited to all 4 members of the band, the rest of the material was put together by Page & Plant in Malibu were Plant had spent his time recuperating from his accident.

The four members of the band got together and spent a month rehearsing the material at the SIR Studio in Hollywood and later flew to Germany to record the album in Musicland Studio Munich whilst Plant was still in a wheelchair. Jimmy Page spent many sleepless nights rushing to get the backing tracks completed, and the whole album was completed in 18 days.

Page very much wanted to return to a more guitar based album this time around, and go back to their earlier days with more of an hard rock and blues approach to it all, just like the band achieved with their debut album. He decided no keyboards would be needed for this album to take away the lighter edge and airy feel that they achieved on there previous album Physical Graffiti.

So let’s now take a look at the album’s tracks one by one and see if he achieved his goals.

Track 1. Achilles Last Stand.

Well the title of this opening song sort of has me thinking along the lines of General Custer at the battle of Big Horn. Though this is not a western, it does ride along a bit like one with Bonham’s drums racing and galloping along. Plant’s lyrics were inspired by the Atlas mountains in Morocco many miles away from Montana :)))).

It’s the longest track on the album weighing in at some 10 and half minutes, and is even rumoured to have been originally known as the “Wheelchair Song” down to Plant’s accident and not knowing if he would ever be able to walk again.

Jimmy Page layered several guitar overdubs on the song, and even speeded parts up, something of which John Paul Jones felt would of never worked when Page had originally told Jones of his intentions of how he was going to try and make it work.

At the time Page was recording the overdubs to which he done all in one night. The Rolling Stones was also recording their album Black And Blue in the same studios and both Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood dropped in on the band for a listen, and told them that they ought to get in another guitarist, and told Page that he was becoming known as the most overworked guitarist.

Even though the song contained many overdubs and was quite difficult for the band to perform and make it sound good live. They did manage to achieve it, and it featured in many of their live shows.

For many no doubt “Achilles Last Stand” would be seen as a Zeppelin classic. Personally I do not see it like that. and neither does it hark back to the bands earlier material either that their first 4 albums had in the way of true classics. I do think it’s a good song however, and it has to be a high contender for the top spot on this album too.

Track 2. For Your Life.

No doubt this song does have much more of a familiar Led Zeppelin guitar riff and could be much more associated with the bands earlier material than it’s 10 an half minute opener. Jimmy Page uses a 1962 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster on this one. It was the first time he ever used the guitar and it was Gene Parsons who supplied it to him. It’s said to be instantly recognisable by the use of it’s Whammy Bar (Tremolo Arm) and Page later went on to use the same strat when he formed the band The Firm with Paul Rogers in 1984.

The lyrics Plant wrote for the song were based around prostitution and the excessive use of cocaine he observed being used in Los Angeles around that time. Part of the song is also said to be based on a female friend of his who got caught up in that scene back then.

For Your Life” is certainly one of the good songs on the album. It’s got a great change in it, and the laziness and laid back feel works very well.

Track 3. Royal Orleans.

Royal Orleans” is the only song on the album credited to all 4 members of the band. Plant based the lyrics around a true story and event that occurred at the hotel of the same name. The rumour of the event that supposedly happened was that John Paul Jones had took what appeared to be a woman (later discovered the person was a transvestite) in the bar of the hotel up to his bedroom. They both was smoking a joint and fell asleep setting fire to the hotel room.

Though much later in an interview John Paul Jones gave to the Mojo magazine in 2007 Jones cleared the so called rumour of the story up, stating “The transvestites were actually friends of Richard Cole’s normal friendly people and we were all at some bar. That I mistook a transvestite for a girl is rubbish, that happened in another country to somebody else… Anyway ‘Stephanie’ ended up in my room and we rolled a joint or two and I fell asleep and set fire to the hotel room, as you do, ha ha, and when I woke up it was full of firemen”.

Well he would deny it wouldn’t he, and so would anyone else :))))))).

The song itself quite a funky little number, and I am glad that Robert Plant was not trying to do his James Brown impression on it, like he did with that dreadful track on the Houses Of The Holy. It’s not a bad song but it’s hardly gonna set the world on fire never mind the hotel room :)))))).

Track 4. Nobody’s Fault But Mine.

This one featured at many of the bands live shows and I am not surprised either. For me personally this is what I consider to be the classic song on this album, and merits my top spot award. Once again the song does hark back the bands earlier days just like the 2nd track on the album does too. Though just like some of their earlier songs once again it could be said that plagiarism certainly played a part here.

Though even today the song is still credited to Page & Plant I actually think they are lucky they have not had a lawsuit filed against them.

The original song goes way back to 1927 and its earliest recording was done by Blind Willie Nelson. The song with its same title has been covered by countless artists over the years, way before Led Zeppelin were born, and it was Plant who suggested to Page to do a cover of Nelson’s version in the first place.

Page told Plant that he had already written the music and the riff for the song, and it was his own music and not Nelson’s. Well there is no doubt that a million blues guitar riffs can be alike and be played in the same chords. But Page’s riff here does have elements on John Renbourn’s 1968 acoustic version of the song. Though there is also no doubt that Led Zeppelin are also capable of putting their own stamp on the music with how they approach and play it in their own style.

But once again Plant has used lines from the original song and just changed the lyrics to his own way, which anybody could do in reality. But why oh why would you use the same title for Christ’s sake. Surely he never learned nothing from those earlier days with the band and made the same blatant mistakes.

Though they have not been done for plagiarism here. I personally feel that this song was nicked and just by looking into some of the bonus material we have on the companion disc and what I stated earlier about it. I would say that a lot of things Jimmy Page does, is certainly questionable.

It’s got a great guitar riff and features some great harmonica from Plant too. The only thing that is not questionable here, is that Led Zeppelin certainly made it their own.

Track 5. Candy Store Rock.

This one has that beep bop 50’s rock n roll feel about it, and Plant is perhaps getting the vibe from Elvis Presley in how he’s putting over the song with his voice in some respects. “Candy Store Rock” was the single release from the album in America only and “Royal Orleans” was the B-Side. Plant also considered this song as the best song on the album. But then again he was always into the 50’s rock n roll and Elvis Presley.

I think the band do a great job here, and I like the groove and sound of Page’s guitar on it. It sort of gives it a bit more of a modern approach to it all. It’s not a bad song, but it certainly is not my favourite, or even a contender on the album for that matter, in my own personal opinion it’s perhaps “Just Alright” :))))))))))).

Track 6. Hots On For Nowhere.

Another song with quite a funky dance get up and go upbeat and groove, and once again Page takes advantage on the 1962 Lake Placid Blue Fender Strat. The song flows very well. Plant let’s out his frustrations with both Page and the bands manager Peter Grant with the lyrics, and the whole band appear to be having fun regardless of all the frustrations.

It’s another one of those songs that is perhaps not gonna set the world on fire and is quite good when you get into the swing and the groove of it. It’s also a song that the band never performed live, and the only time it ever was done so was in 1999 when Page played it with the Black Crows.

Track 7. Tea For One.

Well no doubt the band are going back to their roots on this one, and it very much sees them slipping back into the same melody lines we got with one of their many classics “Since I’ve Been Loving You“. Which in reality was certainly better than anything on this whole album if I was to be perfectly honest about it.

It’ s another song that the band never performed live in it’s entirety, and it’s easy to see why, because it’s perhaps too close to that older classic, but somehow it does not seem to work as good as it. The opening riff certainly does not marry up with how it changes into the familiar melody lines we are getting here, and is really out of place.

Though Led Zeppelin never performed the song live, it did manage to get done live with an orchestra by Page & Plant in 1996 on their tour of Japan.

Tea For One” if anything is nothing more than a gap filler on the album. It just does not seem to work for my liking I am afraid. I think if your going to try and revive an old song from the past such as this, you have to do it right or not at all. Whereas Eric Clapton did do it right with both “Layla” and “Bad Love“. Led Zeppelin certainly failed in my own opinion.


To sum up my review of the 2 CD Deluxe Edition of the 1976 album Presence by Led Zeppelin. I still think even the extra £1.49 I forked out for it is still value for money, and it’s price of £11.49 can still be seen as a bargain in some respects. You do get quality recordings even on the CD and it sounds really great. I also think the album is very well produced too.

The bonus disc is certainly more of an interesting one. I certainly think there is a few porkies being told as to how some of the material on it came about, and some of it would of been done today rather than yesteryear so to speak. But I quite like it, and you are getting something different here too, plus unreleased material.


In conclusion of my review of the album Presence. I would say that the band attempted to go back to their past a bit with the material that was written for it. In all fairness they had a good go at trying to achieve their goal, but it does not quite measure up to it. But that’s not to say the album does not have its moments. There are some great tracks here, even if they do not quite cut the mustard with their first 4 albums or Physical Graffiti for that matter.

My personal highlights from the album are “Achilles Last Stand“. “For Your Life” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine“.

But I would certainly say this album is a lot better than Houses Of The Holy and has a far better production too. It’s nowhere near a solid album though, with all that is contained on it. There is only really one classic here in my eyes, and overall it’s perhaps a bit better than an half decent album. But that is only my only personal opinion of course. Many others may like this one a lot. Just like Jimmy Page does for some reason or another.

It’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. Achilles Last Stand. 10:31.
02. For Your Life. 6:25.
03. Royal Orleans. 2:59.
04. Nobody’s Fault But Mine. 6:28.
05. Candy Store Rock. 4:11.
06. Hots On For Nowhere. 4:44.
07. Tea For One. 9:28.

Disc 2.

01. Two Ones Are Won (Achilles Last Stand) (Reference Mix). 10:28.
02. For Your Life (Reference Mix). 6:28.
03. 10 Ribs & All/Carrot Pod Pod (Pod) (Reference Mix). 6:48.
04. Royal Orleans (Reference Mix). 3:01.
05. Hots On For Nowhere (Reference Mix). 4:47.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 7/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 7/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 6/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #61

Neal Morse – Life and Times



Well one would most likely associate Neal Morse with progressive rock and he’s certainly without a doubt one of the most prolific writers in today’s world of prog rock music too. I have been a fan of Neal’s work since the year 2000 when I first stumbled upon him in the so called supergroup that was assembled together from 4 other prog rock bands to form the band Transatlantic, who released their debut album SMPT’e in that very year.

Having got into that band I soon discovered that the band he came from originally, he formed back in 1995 and pretty much was that bands main writer. The band went by the rather strange name of Spock’s Beard, and I back tracked on their albums, and brought those too. Though in 2002 Neal quit Spock’s Beard to concentrate on his own solo career and a lot of it was really down to his Christian beliefs and his love of god.

There is no doubt that Neal Morse is one busy guy who gets involved in lots of other projects and bands, and even the output of his solo career comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. For example besides preaching the words of god in the many progressive rock albums he has made under his own name of Neal Morse and more later known as the  Neal Morse Band. He also from time to time makes worship albums. and even pop albums such as the one we have here.

As a matter of fact his first 2 solo albums he made whilst still in Spock’s Beard were pop albums. I think his original intention was to keep his solo career for the purpose of doing something different, and it was only after he quit that band, that he really started to use his own solo side for prog rock as well.

I have to confess I do not have all of Neal’s albums, apart from the prog rock ones, and the other odd pop album he makes now and then.

I do not buy his worship albums, and I am not a church goer and a bit of an atheist myself. Though I have never had anything against anybodies own beliefs, and even though many of his prog rock solo output contains lyrics about god. I have never really had a problem with the lyrics at all. Because for me the music will always come first, and if the music does not speak to me, there is no way I am buying it I am afraid.

Though that is not to say that I do not like great lyrics and ignore them at all. I have always admired great words and my music collection consists of a lot more than just progressive rock. I love great singer songwriters too. I love songs that have true meaning, and can touch you deeply with words too.

Having seen a couple of videos of a couple of the songs that was going to be on this new album of Neal’s prior to its release, very much made me pre-order it.

So as always, let’s start off by looking at the packaging the CD comes in.

The Packaging & Artwork…


Well as you can see the CD comes in a standard Jewel Case. With most artists these days using Digipaks. The Jewel Case might be considered as a bit out of date. Though there is no doubt the Jewel Case does have its own advantages over Digipaks. For one thing they protect the disc better, and they are easy to clean, and cheap enough to replace should you damage the case.

But for looks and the feel of getting something a bit extra for your money. I personally think the Digipak is the way to go, as long as they are not done on the cheap, and merely come with cardboard sleeves to store the disc.

Something like the quality of the last album I reviewed where the Digipak comes with the part of the Jewel Case that holds the CD fixed to the cardboard. And if they can come with a fixed booklet and thicker quality cardboard even better.

There is no doubt it does cost the artist more money to package their albums in a Digipak than a conventional Jewel Case. And the fact that this album came in a Jewel Case for the price I paid for it, it’s certainly going to be losing some points in my overall price point score.

The booklet contains all the lyrics, a few photos and all the other general artist and credits information. The artwork layout was done by The Man In The Mountain whoever he is :)))))))) and the photography was done by Joey Pippin.

The Album In Review…

Life & Times by Neal Morse was released on the 16th February 2018. I pre-ordered it on Amazon a couple of weeks prior to its release and got the album on the day of its release. To be honest I was expecting the price to come down a bit, as is the case with most pre-orders. But it never, and I ended up paying the pre-ordered price of £13.96.

Personally I feel that it’s on the expensive side, especially has it came in a Jewel Case and should of really cost no more than £10. But I dare say your are paying the import price for it to be shipped from America.

The album itself comes with 12 tracks over an overall playing time of 51 minutes, 40 seconds. They are all songs and it does not contain any instrumental tracks. Neal has the knack of writing great songs, no matter what genre of music he takes on, and as always had a good way with words.

To be honest I would not give you tuppence for the biggest majority of today’s pop artists, but if it’s done good enough with real musicians, then it can still speak to me. But it’s very rare I will buy it, unless it’s exceptionally good.

Though by no means am I saying that Neal Morse writes pop music exceptionally that good either, like he does with prog rock. But he is a very talented multi instrumentalist, and always plays with great musicians, and you do get to see another side of this great man’s talent.

He can also write some very meaningful songs too, and most of his pop albums have some great moments as well, even if they are not what I would call solid albums and can contain mediocre material as well.

I would also say that being a fan may have also had some bearing as to why I brought a pop album like this of his in the first place. But as a rule you do end up with a few great songs, and these type of albums he does from time to time, do generally have something that will speak to me.

Musicians & Credits…

Produced by Neal Morse. All tracks mixed by Rich Mouser @ Madhouse Studios. Except tracks 5, 7, & 11. Mixed by Terry Christian @ Soundhouse Studios. Tracking Sessions Engineered by Philip & Nathan Martin. Photography by Joey Pippin. Layout by Man In The Mountain. All songs written by Neal Morse except “Manchester” written by Neal Morse & Geoff Bailie.

Neal Morse: Lead & Backing Vocals/Guitars/Keyboards/Mandolin/Percussion/Bass Guitar (On Track 2).
Richard Brinsfiled: Bass.
Scott Willimason: Drums.
Scotty Sanders: Pedal Steel & Dobro Guitar.
Chris Carmichael: Strings.
Holly Smith: French Horn.
Dominique Caster: Trumpet.
Julie Harrison: Lead & Backing Vocals.
Wil Morse: Backing Vocals & General Input.
Gabe Klein: Backing Vocals & Programming.

The Album Tracks In Review…

The album Life & Times by Neal Morse contains a collection of songs that Neal had mainly written in various parts of Europe and America whilst on tour in 2017. The material he wrote reflects around the subject matter of looking at life in general. Perhaps as one gets older and is content with everything around them. It takes in some of the joys, ups and downs, loves and heartaches along the way. Some of the material is based around his family, friends and people around him, and some fictional love songs are thrown in to boot.

As with most pop songs, they are generally written with more brighter chords and have the knack of hitting you in the face instantly. The songs are all easily accessible and it does not take you long to get into them at all.

Some people like that sort of thing, others prefer songs you have to grow into, which requires a lot more spins and more attention to detail, to take it all in and absorb everything.

To be honest I do not mind either, but in general I quite often find the songs one does have to grow into, are the ones that will last you a lifetime. They are the real stayers. This is where Neal’s albums do differ regarding the output of his music.

Whilst albums such as this one is instantly likeable, it will not be too long before they start to gather dust so to speak. For me personally his best output of music comes from his progressive rock side. My personal two favourite albums from his solo career are Sola Scriptura and the album simply titled ?. Known as Question Mark.

So let’s now take a look at all the individual album tracks, and see what goodies lie in stall.

Track 1. Livin’ Lightly.

Livin’ Lightly (Official Video Release)

The album get off to a nice pleasant start with “Livin’ Lightly“. The song runs along at a nice steady pace, and as a nice airy feel and flow about it. Some fine instrumentation and Neal’s fine voice and Julie Harrison’s fine voice comes into play very well at the end of the song too.  Scotty Sanders does a grand job on the pedal steel guitar, and it gives it that bit of a nice country feel to it, sort of like an Eagles song in some respects.

Speaking of the Eagles it’s perhaps a song that is a bit along the lines of their song “Taking It Easy” in some respects, and the lyrics are perhaps more based around winding down from the pressures of work and taking a well earned holiday break from it all. It’s a very fine song, and even has a relaxed feel about it all as the words suggest. I would even consider it as a contender for the best track on the album too.

Track 2. Good Love Is On The Way.

Good Love Is On The Way” is a very well written song, and one that comes with a very catchy chorus. It’s that catchy it will even have you singing along to it instantly. I even find myself getting out of bed singing it, and I often feel if a song can do that to you, it has to be a great song, and no doubt it is.

In some respects it perhaps gives me that quality feel that The Tremeloes had with one of their great hits “Even The Bad Times Are Good” from 1967 it sort of reflects that quality of well good songwriting we have here. It’s got a nice bridge as well. It’s a really great song and another contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 3. JoAnna.

Another fine song is “JoAnna“. It’s got quite a laid back country feel and the words are perhaps a bit more on a personal level in that they relate to the time when Neal’s son was dealing with a broken down relationship with a woman of the same name we have in the title here.

Once again Scotty Sanders pedal steel guitar is put to great use, and Chris Carmichael’s strings are very well utilised in the song. So far I cannot fault the album and the tracks are very well placed, and each song flows very well along one after another. This has to be another contender for the top spot too.

Track 4. Selfie In The Square.

A song that was inspired whilst Neal was on his European Tour and in Luxembourg. Lyrically the song is based around a day off he had whilst he was over there, and it takes in everything he seen on that day, and sott of wishes his wife was with him instead of back home in America. He’s put all those things into context quite well.

It’s not a bad song and has a pleasant enough feel about it with the use the Neal’s voice and instrumentation. In some ways it gives me a bit of a the feel of one of Gilbert O’ Sullivan’s many songs he writes with a sense of humour to them. Even the nice touch of brass in the little break as a bit of a touch of a Gordon Mills arrangement about it.

Track 5. He Died At Home.

He Died At Home (Official Video Release)

No doubt the stand out track on the album and certainly what I would call a real songwriters song. A very touching powerful, emotional and moving sad story of a song, based on a true event of a young soldier by the name of William Busbee and his grieving mother. No doubt this is Neal Morse at his poignant best.

Once again Chris Carmichael’s strings accompany Neal’s voice and acoustic guitar superbly and so fitting to it all is the French Horn played by Holly Smith. It’s my personal favourite track on the album, and no doubt merits the top spot award.

Track 6. She’s Changed Her Mind.

A change of mood from the previous tearjerker of a brilliant song, to something that is a bit more of a light hearted love song. The song is executed well enough with the instrumentation and Neal’s fine voice, though it’s perhaps not gonna set the world on fire. But never the less it’s pleasant enough, and not that bad.

Track 7. Wave On The Ocean.

Another song that has a holiday feel about it and even a touch of the Caribbean or the Tropics. It’s perhaps a bit like something Paul Simon would of done on his Graceland album with the instrumentation and the whole vibe of it all we get here. It’s not a bad song, and all those who liked Simon’s Graceland album it no doubt will appeal to more than myself on that score.

I prefer Paul Simon’s earlier solo material and his work with Art Garfunkel in relation to anything he did later. So this one does not tick my box so well I am afraid.

Track 8. You + Me + Everything.

A lovely ballad of a song with a great arrangement and a nice bridge too. Part of its melody line reminds me a bit of Marillion’s song “Lavender” though there is perhaps quite a few other songs it reminds me of too on that score. Nothing remotely bad here and very pleasing song for the ears.

Track 9. Manchester.

A song that Neal was inspired whilst being on tour over here in England and in Manchester. Though until the end of song you may feel he is in his own country because he describes Manchester having a coastline and the sea. He co-wrote this one with Geoff Bailie.

It’s all a bit of fun, and has a nice cheerful up-tempo flow and feel about it, and also has that Holiday vibe about it all. Though I cannot say I would be that joyous about being in Manchester myself :))))))). I think the only time they are so joyous there, is perhaps at the football grounds when they are winning :))))).

Track 10. Lay Low.

Another song that’s got a nice country feel to it. It’s a song about finding oneself perhaps and getting away from the hustles and bustles that can stress us out from time to time. I suppose it’s another way of taking a break from it all, and not a bad little song.

Track 11. Old Alabama.

A wonderful country ballad of a song that features both Neal and Julie Harrison taking on the lead vocals. It’s perhaps one of the better compositions on the album, in relation to some of the more mediocre songs we get here, and beautifully done. Though just like many of the other songs we get as this album goes along, I would not say it was in anyway a contender for the top spot on the album.

Track 12. If I Only Had A Day.

“If I Only Had A Day” is another fine song and like most of the songs they very much have that country pop feel about them. Lyrically the song is based upon the differences between either having a year, a month, a week or only having a day to live, and what one would do in relation to what time you had left to live. It’s another fine song and puts a pleasant end to quite a pleasant album.


To sum up The Life & Times by Neal Morse. It’s an album that perhaps has a good few moments with the material he wrote for it. It’s mainly a country pop album, and if that is your personal taste in music, then this album will no doubt float your boat more than myself on that score.

Like I said earlier in my review. I very much brought this album more or less as being a fan, though I will also stress that having heard “He Died At Home” prior to the albums release, that song did very much have a bearing on why I did purchase this album in the first place, because that is really an excellent well written song.

I have always admired Neal Morse as a songwriter, though mostly for his writing in the world of progressive rock. But in reality even if you listen closely to how Neal constructs the music for his prog rock songs, you will see that they are all in reality different songs strung together to make it all up, with musical interludes in between to make it that more exiting.

So he has always been a great songwriter, and that’s how he can also work with songs that have different genres, and why he is so good at what he does.

Even though I think he’s one of today’s most prolific progressive rock song writers, he’s not the guy who could construct his music like Yes did with “Close To The Edge” as an example. That is an entirely different art form in how it’s been constructed, and is not done by stringing a load of songs together like he does.

Yes managed to successfully piece together one song out of the musical structures that make it all up to work as one piece of music. They were the masters of prog rock back in their day, and personally I do not know anybody who did as well as they did either.

Though I love tons of prog rock music from that magic decade, and in today’s world with the many bands who are keeping this great music still alive.

Personally for me, I still think the very first 2 albums Neal Morse did with Spock’s Beard are the best prog rock albums he ever wrote, especially the 2nd album Beware Of Darkness. Though the rest of the albums Neal Did with Spock’s Beard up until 2002 also had some very good material on them, a lot of them also contained some mediocre material on them too, and even songwriter songs like we have here too.

June” from The Kindness Of Strangers album is a perfect example. You will also hear songs like that making up many of his concept albums too.

Effectively Neal Morse as always been a singer songwriter, he just goes about it a bit different when he’s working on his prog rock album’s that’s all. It all adds to the excitement and brings out a lot of his talent and uniqueness.


To conclude my review of Neal Morse’s latest album Life & Times. It’s perhaps an album that the biggest majority of fans who follow him for his prog rock music, would not even buy. But there are many other sides to this great man’s talent and his great way of going about writing songs. He is without doubt a great songwriter, and that is how I have always seen him, and why I would buy an album like this as well.

Though I do have to confess I do draw the line regarding his worship albums. But no doubt I would expect some of them to contain some great songs as well.

Personally on the whole, I would say Neal’s last pop rock album back in 2014 Songs From November is a better album, and it contains a lot more stronger written material.

Though like I said Life & Times does have its moments, and no way have I wasted my money either, and there is still some pleasure to be had even from an album like this, even if it’s not perhaps gonna set the world on fire so to speak.

I do however feel that it’s price point was on the expensive side for an album like this though, and for this money I have even brought some of his prog rock albums that come with a CD and DVD for the same price.

My personal highlights from the album are “He Died At Home“. “Good Love Is On The Way“. “JoAnna“. “You + Me + Everything” and “Livin’ Lightly“.

Overall there is no doubt that for Neal’s prog rock fans the Life & Times album is perhaps a far cry from Neal Morse’s last prog rock album The Similitude Of A Dream which was another superb album.

But if anybody can put a song like “He Died At Home” down, there must be something seriously wrong with them is all I can say, because that is a true classic in my eyes.

I do believe that Neal is also working on another prog rock album with his own band, whilst he was making this album, and I dare say that will be out later this year too. And I shall be looking well forward to that too.

You Can’t Watch Friends Get Killed And Stay The Same Inside…

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Livin’ Lightly. 5:02.
02. Good Love Is On The Way. 3:52.
03. JoAnna. 4:34.
04. Selfie In The Square. 3:55.
05. He Died At Home. 4:57.
06. She’s Changed Her Mind. 4:01.
07. Wave On The Ocean. 4:12.
08. You + Me + Everything. 4:34.
09. Manchester. 4:07.
10. Lay Low. 3:58.
11. Old Alabama. 4:47.
12. If I Only Had A Day. 3:41.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #60

Storie Fuori Dal Tempo Conqueror



I recently stumbled across a track entitled Morgana on YouTube’s autoplay system last weekend, from this album entitled Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by the Italian band who go by the name of Conqueror. I was that impressed I had to investigate the band more. I then found 4 of the bands 5 albums plus an EP that their record company Ma.Ra.Cash Records had put on Bandcamp.

I spent Sunday morning and afternoon listening to all 4 albums and the EP and was even more impressed by now, that much that I wanted to buy this great bands entire discography including their latest live CD/DVD which was released in 2015.

Though I must confess I certainly do not have the money to buy them all at once, and I already have £220 worth of pre-orders on Amazon to pay for over the next couple of months, including Neal Morse’s latest album that gets released tomorrow on Friday.

So I went in search on Amazon to see if I could find the bands albums, so I could get them when I had the resources to pay for them. I immediately found this album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo which was priced up at £11.59 and it was even on Amazon Prime so I could get it delivered the next day for free, being a Prime member. So I popped it in the basket and ordered it on Monday and got it Tuesday.

The only problem I did however find was that most of the bands other albums was ridiculously overpriced by private sellers. Some of these sellers wanted £80 or more for 1 album. Sorry to say but I am not a fool who’s money is easily departed, and no way would I pay that price either. So I located the bands website and found their albums very reasonably priced at around the 15 Euro mark.

Whilst I was there I ordered their live CD/DVD having watched a couple of the videos from it that was posted on Youtube. It was priced up at 18.50 Euro. Which was a lot more respectable than the price of £35 on Amazon which was way too high.

A Brief History Of The Band Conqueror…

The Italian band the Conqueror was originally formed back in November 1994 by the bands drummer Natale Russo. Though back then they was writing their own material and creating their own unique style with the their keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi and various other musicians up until around 1999, it was not until 2002 when Simona Rigano joined the band that they really started to shape up, and in the following year towards the end of 2003 the band got to release their first album entitled Istinto.

Simona is the keyboard player and bands main vocalist. She is quite a talent and comes with an array of keyboards around her in the same way Rick Wakeman does. Although over the years the band has gone through several line-up changes, and both Natale Russo and Simona Rigano are the only 2 surviving members left in the band today.

Today they are also a 5 piece band instead of a 4 piece band which featured on their debut album. Though they do also use the odd session player here and now on their albums, and there is a couple on this 2nd album of theirs I am reviewing here too.

Today’s line-up of Conqueror are as follows: Simona Rigano – Keyboards & Voice. Tino Nastasi – Guitars. Edoardo Ragunì – Bass. Sofia Ferraro – Sax & Flute. Natale Russo – Drums.

I do believe the band are also working on a new album which will hopefully be released later this year. So let’s now take a look at the packaging this great CD arrived in.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The album comes in a very well made Digipak with a Jewel Case Tray to hold the CD in place, and a pocket to house the booklet that comes with it. I quite like the construction of this type of Digipak simply because it offers way better protection for the disc, and you’re not going to be getting any scratch marks or finger marks on it when retrieving the disc, like you would with those that are made on the cheap and are stored inside a cardboard sleeve only.

The booklets linear notes for the band and credits information is in English, though the lyrics are in Italian as to be expected. The albums cover art was painted by Sergio Pacher. The painting is perhaps on the psychedelic side and he called it “L’occhio relativo” which translates in English to “the relative eye”. So maybe somebody is looking down on us and keeping an eye out :)))))).

The band also have their own logo which was designed by Enzo Puglisi of Kopygraphica.


Overall it’s a great quality package and a fine piece of artwork. Now let’s see how the album turned out in my review.

The Album In Review…

Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by Conqueror was originally released back in October 2005. The album contained 6 tracks over a playing time of 1 second over 62 minutes. The album was remastered and reissued in March 2017, and now comes with a bonus track making the overall playing time 70 minutes, 29 seconds. I managed to buy the reissue of the album on Amazon for £11.59 and shall be taking on the album and it’s bonus track in my full review here.

Before I take on all the individual tracks on the album, let’s just discuss a bit more about this superb band that come from Italy.

The band Conqueror are very much a band whose music is based around the many influences from the 70’s era of progressive rock. Besides writing their own material for their own albums, they have also appeared on many other progressive rock tribute albums playing the music of those great bands from that great decade. Such as the music of Yes. Steve Hackett of Genesis. Pink Floyd. Santana. The Moody Blues and even the later 80’s prog rock band Marillion.

I do believe they may have even been playing live along with some of these bands on one of those cruise ships that are quite popular with prog rock bands these days. In some respects I suppose they are a bit like the Italian band The Watch. Only that band mainly focus on doing a tribute of the band Genesis. But they also write their own material and I have seen them live myself, and shall hopefully be seeing them live again this year doing another Genesis tribute concert here in England.

Though unlike The Watch the band Conqueror only sing in their own native language as far as I know of. But to be honest this has never presented me with a problem at all, and I have many prog rock albums from many other countries who only sing in their own native language. For example when the Swedish band Kaipa first started back in the 70’s they only ever sang in their own language. So did Eloy from Germany.

For me personally the music as always come first, and words are only really as good as they are expressed with ones voice in a song. One does not need to know the words, but these days I am pretty sure you can always translate the lyrics on the internet and get the main gist of what the song is about, even if it’s not 100% accurate. If the singer expresses the vocals well enough, and they work with the music as they very much do with a band like Conqueror then that’s fine in my book.

Sometimes it does not pay for a lot of singers who come from foreign countries in relation to your own, to sing in the language of your country. It’s far more easier to use their own language to get the best expression from their own voice. Though some do learn English very well too, to be able to do so.

But personally for myself, no matter what country many artists come from and sing in, it’s never spoilt or stopped my enjoyment and pleasure I get out of listening to such great music, and no doubt this bands music not only speaks for itself, but has plenty to say as well.

Musicians & Credits…

Band 2005

The 2005 Line-Up Of The Band

Recorded at Sonoria studios Scordia CT- Italy between April – June 2005. Produced by Conqueror & Ma.Ra.Cash Records. Sound Engineer: Vincenzo Cavalli. Studio Assistant; Daniela Linguanti. Artwork Cover Painting: Sergio Pacher.  Art Direction: Natale Russo. Booklet Paintings: Graziella Russo. Graphic Project: Enzo Puglisi (Kopygraphica). Photography: Alberto Leo & Lenny. Remastered 2016 at Sonoria Studios.

Simona Rigano: Keyboards and Voice.
Tino Nastasi: Guitar.
Fabio Ucchino: Bass and Bass Pedals.
Sabrina Rigano: Flute and Saxophone.
Natale Russo: Drums and Percussion.

Guest Musicians:
Antonella Cernuto: Harp (On Tracks 1 & 6).
Vincenzo Cavalli: Choir (On Track 4).
Sofia Ferraro: Flute and Saxophone (On Track 7).

The Album Tracks In Review…

All of the tracks on the album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo were written and arranged by the band Conqueror with the exception of tracks 1, 5, & 6 to which were written and arranged by Conqueror and the bands previous keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi who was a key part in the earlier line-up of the band between 1995 – 1998.

So without further adieu let’s take a look at what exciting pleasure lies deep within the surface of this great album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo which incidentally means “Stories Out of Time” in English.

Track 1. Ouverture.

No prizes for guessing what the title of this means :))))) It’s actually derived from the French language and not Italian. But no matter how you translate it in English it means either “Overture” or “Opening” it’s very much a “Beginning” that one would find in classical music that is often meant to be the starting point or introduction of a much longer piece of music, that has been made up in sections.

Most albums by the band Conqueror are mainly concept albums, that tell some story in some form or another, and the concept of this particular album is that it’s made up of more than one story in which the band so skilfully portray and put across with both words and music, and is based around the subject matter of “Out Of Time”. In other words coming from one place or another and not in our time.

This opening piece is very much the “Opening” and is a very skilful instrumental piece that features some excellent piano and keyboard work from Simona Rigano along with guitars, and flutes that one would also associate with early prog rock bands such as The Moody Blues, Genesis. Camel and even Jethro Tull to name a few. It even has a bit of harp played by one of the guest musicians Antonella Cernuto.

You can also get to see how good the bands much earlier keyboard player Salvatore Chillemi was in some respects, and he very much contributed to the writing of this piece. It would also be interesting if the band had any earlier recordings with him on them, and see how much the piece has developed over the years with this incarnation of the band.

There is no doubt the band have their very own distinctive style and its very original too, though you will hear some influences even from some of those bands I mentioned above, especially Camel & Jetrho Tull. There is most likely a drop of other band influences here too, such as Focus and Procol Harum. Though there is a lot more too it all than just those bands in the way music presents itself with their own melody lines and not of the others.

It’s a beautiful piece that has both subtleness and an harder edge in the progression department we get here in the piece. There is no doubt this band are excellent musicians to be able to even play, and go down this splendid road in the first place. It’s a very enjoyable and exiting piece and cracking start to the album.

Track 2. Mosaico di Colori.

The first of the vocal tracks on the album and the title translates to “Mosaic of Colors” . It’s quite a colorful ballad of a song too that starts off with a lovely bit of acoustic guitar played by the bands guitarist at the time Tino Nastasi. Tino had just joined the band in the same year they made this album and also featured on the bands 3rd album in 2007 before leaving. He has since returned to the band in 2016 and will hopefully be on the bands new album scheduled for release this year.

Simona‘s voice is very sweet and her vocal line reminds me of a bit like the 1967 song “The Day I Met Marie” that Hank Marvin wrote for Cliff Richard. Though it’s perhaps best not to associate prog rock with old Cliff :))))))) and I did say it was a bit like it, and nothing more, but her voice does have that refined sweetness about it that Cliff also had and there is nothing wrong with that or Cliff for that matter. Unless he’s doing another Christmas song that is :))))))))).

The one thing you will not find on a Cliff Richard record is the gorgeous couple of lead breaks we get here. The first one being a short section featuring Sabrina Rigano on sax and flute. She also contributes the fine instruments in a short section of the longer lead break too at the start, which also features some great bass lines from Fabio Ucchino who quit not long after his work on this album.

The bands founder and longest member Natale Russo holds it all together on the drums with precise timing very well throughout, and once again Simona gets to fly on the keyboards on this lead section and does a superb job as they all do.

Having translated the words to the song myself. The subject matter behind the words can relate to a dream state mind with wonderful visions of silhouettes flying away in between the horizons of heaven and earth, and taking in the many colours. In some ways they could even pertain to one dying and his soul being lifted up into the horizon.

The words are very clever and very much written like a good poem. Ones wonderful thoughts can only be lost in the wake of my tomorrow, just like a dream that’s no longer there and lost.

Though I must say having just found this video the band made of the song. My own interpretation of the song’s lyrics may appear to be a bit on the milder side in relation to the bizarre goings on here :))))).

Conqueror – Mosaico di Colori

Track 3. No Photo.

Well once again no prizes for what the songs title is about. Though I will say there is a lot more to the lyrics behind the subject of having no photo so to speak. The words are quite haunting in the way of perhaps knowing somebody, but having no real account of who they are, because no photo exists sort of thing.

I quite like the following words in the song to which are “We lose ourselves in the evening in that ray of light that the moon give us for a while”. There is no doubt that the title of the album which translates to “Stories Out of Time” is very well portrayed in these haunting tales, and the stories reflect to not only being in another time, but also in another place. Perhaps in the spirit world.

Musically there are some influences from both Jethro Tull’s Roots To Branches and Camel’s Rajah albums. In that it comes with a touch of the east or the Arabian desert. As it progresses further along we get a touch of Pink Floyd with the guitar. Though once again there is more of the bands own input here too, and the great progression and melody lines are very much their own. It’s another really excellent track on the album.

Track 4. Pagine di Poesie.

Another excellent song that very much has some influences from the prog rock band Camel. The songs title translates in English to “Pages of Poems” and whoever writes the lyrics certainly knows a thing or two about poetry has I mentioned at the end of the 2nd track on the album earlier.

The song tells a tale about a fisherman on a solitary boat on the sea sailing through storms to deliver a piece of poetry, only to be confused in all the fog he may very well have given the poetry to the wrong person.

The song contains some really excellent chord progression along its path, and in many ways some of the changes and keyboard sounds are very familiar to that of Camel’s great 1976 album Moonmadness. It also has that lovely airy feel and flow about it too.

Track 5. Klaus.

No doubt the title suggests a German name and this very short story that portrays a person meeting his fate by accident in helplessness. The squeals an madness can be heard beyond the grave so to speak, and it’s another ghostly haunting story very well put to words in a very poetic way.

Musically there is a lot more of it than the little tale with the words we get here, and it’s quite melancholic with some lovely piano and flute and all the other great instrumentation the band delivers and drives it along very well. It’s another cracking track on the album.

Track 6. Morgana.

The longest track on the album. It weighs in at some 31 minutes, 14 seconds. Morgana is generally a name given to female used in fictional stories and though it can be related to many other mythical and legendary stories such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. King Arthur and those, I am not entirely sure where this mysterious tale come from.

Though the fantasy or fairytale of a story the band Conqueror does portray in this magical story which is in 6 parts, could even be seen as the title track of the album. Because amongst the words in this story, the albums title “Stories Out of Time is mentioned at the end of part one, which takes up 9 minutes, 26 seconds, and is entitled “Dream Revive” or “Dream Revival”.

To be honest having studied the words in this wonderful story that Simona is putting over with her fine voice, the story certainly could be about the days of King Arthur or the Arthurian legend so to speak, and the Morgana in this story could very well be Morgan le Fay who gets portrayed in this story as the lady of the night, rather than the lady of the lake.

The story is certainly set in the days of the knights, kings and queens, vain heroes and magical loves and follies.

Musically the first part opens up a bit like Pink Floyd and then soon settles down into something perhaps a bit more familiar with Camel with the use of flutes, guitars and keyboards. Interestingly Antonella Cernuto’s Harp is utilised better on this track than the opening track on the album. The whole piece contains superb diversity and progression over all 6 parts.

You also get more of a Marillion style as it progresses along. Also the use of the sax can give it a touch of that jazzy flavour that can be found in Steve Hillage and Gongs music and perhaps many other influences as well as the bands own great style.

Parts IV “Morgana Theme” and Part VI “Remote Images” are instrumental sections of the whole 31 minute suite. Whilst Part II “Castle”. Part III “In The Abyss” and Part V “Pure Sapphires” all make up the rest of the story with the first part.

Morgana” is one superb journey over its lengthy distance, and it’s that exciting I wished it could of went on forever instead of the 31 minutes and 14 seconds you get here. It’s what I call “Prog Rock Heaven” and it’s very much my favourite track on the album and merits the top spot award for the best track on the album. It’s very much a masterpiece and ended off the original album in classic style.

Track 7. Altre Storie.

The bonus track that’s included with this remastered and reissued album judging by its title you would think it meant “Alternative Story” in English. It does in fact translate to “More Stories“. Though to be honest this does in fact sound like an alternative version of track 4 on the album “Pagine di Poesie” with it’s opening bass line. But I am pretty sure they are playing segments of all 6 original tracks, and have combined it all into one 8 and half minute track.

It’s a very worthy bonus track to have and the band recorded this song in 2016 with its current line up and it features Sofia Ferraro on flutes and sax instead of Sabrina Rigano who played on the other 6 tracks of the original album.

To be honest I am not sure who is the bass player on this bonus track as it does not state who it is. But it could of been Enzo Carinci who was the bass player at the time they recorded it. Or they could of used the original bass stems or even got their guitarist to play it. Whatever they did, it rounds off this superb album very well indeed.


To sum up the album Storie Fuori Dal Tempo by Conqueror. I would say they have managed to craft out a very respectful album that has all the right elements you would find in progressive rock music from the 70’s. They have managed to successfully fuse classical, jazz and rock music very skilfully together and even the lyrics are great poetry in them self.

Regarding the lyrics being only in Italian in the booklet. I do have to confess like with most artists you can find them easily enough on the internet, and use one of the many translator’s they have on the world wide web to translate them yourself and get a fairly good idea of what they are about.

However I was not able to find the bands lyrics posted anywhere, and I had the painstaking job of typing them all out in my word processor, so I could simply copy and paste them into one of the many translators for my review here.

I did ask the bands drummer Natale if he could get them to me, even if they was in Italian, but he was rather busy at the time I was writing out my review here. So I persevered.

But I will get back in touch with him and it may be a good idea for him to post them on the bands website. Meanwhile if you would like the lyrics I translated to English. I would be happy to email them to you. Just message me on my blog site here, or on Facebook. Or even drop down you would like them in a comment.

You may have noticed that I never listed any other tracks as contenders for the top spot on the album throughout my review. This was basically because I felt no matter how good the other tracks on the album were, there was just no way of them competing with that 31 minute epic masterpiece.

The whole album in reality is really superb with the material you have got here, and I cannot even remotely find one bad track upon it. I love them all and it really is a solid album. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Ouverture“. “No Photo“. “Pagine di Poesie” and “Morgana“.


Overall the band Conqueror have come up with a truly magnificent album with their 2nd album that was originally released back in 2005 entitled Storie Fuori Dal Tempo. It contains quite a remarkable solid body of work with the material they wrote for it. The band themselves are highly talented musicians who know how to craft out well good music and songs.

One should never put a language barrier regarding what one listens too and buys. If you do you are truly missing out on an awful lot of incredible music that has been put out in this world I can assure you. This bands music speaks very highly to me and it’s a damn shame they have not got more of a following. Because quite frankly the band have put in the hours and learnt their skills, and are churning out music that certainly needs more appraisal, and are just as good as the many other greats there are in this field of prog rock music.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and boy are these guys worthy of it. Very worthy I would say.

The best way to grab hold of the bands music is via their website. Most albums are generally around the 15 Euro mark and are on CD only. Though they are working on re-releasing all their albums on Vinyl at some point this year. Some of their albums are also available as a Digital Download for 8 Euro too @ Bandcamp.

I would also say the best way to get hold the bands music is too simply do it through Paypal. You can simply use this email address nat@conqueror.it and type in a message stating what album you want. You can check out the price of the album on the bands website (I have included further on down) and do not forget to add on 2 Euro for postage & packing.

What I will say regarding the CD I have here is that it is genuine quality and comes with a quality production. Though I got this CD for £11.59 which works at around 13.50 Euro. That is perhaps about the right price point for my own country. Though most new CD’s over here can be found for slightly less, or sometimes the same price.

15 Euro may be a little more expensive, but one has to respect that the band Conqueror are not the type of band who have a mass following and are selling them by the bucket load.

Neither could they afford to have them mass produced by the bucket load either, so they could perhaps get them made up at a cheaper price to be able to sell them cheaper, like a lot more well known artists and bands can.

For my overall price point rating score of this review. I have based it on the 15 Euro mark and not the 13.50 Euro price I got it from Amazon. If I did base it on the price point I got the CD for it would score 10/10 no doubt.

No doubt there are many great influences from some great prog rock bands here on this superb album, and even though all bands pick up these great influences along the lines in some way or another. There is no doubt that the band Conqueror do it their own way, with their own unique style.

This is by far not the last review you will see of this great band, and you can expect more to come over the next month or so. They certainly rock my boat, and I highly recommend them.

Stories Out Of Time They Tell Truth, Men Against Time Look For The Grail…

You can listen to or even buy this album from Bandcamp here: https://maracashrecords.bandcamp.com/album/storie-fuori-dal-tempo

Alternatively you can use the bands website to buy their albums here : http://www.conqueror.it/eng/default.asp

The album track listing is as follows:

01. Ouverture. 6:00.
02. Mosaico di Colori. 5:12.
03. No Photo. 7:06.
04. Pagine di Poesie. 6:46.
05. Klaus. 5:43.
06. Morgana. 31:14.
07. Altre Storie # (Bonus Track 2016). 8:28.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 9/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #59

Physical Graffiti (3 CD Deluxe Edition) – Led Zeppelin



The band had decided to set up their own record label Swan Song Records and as well getting other bands and artists singed up to it to release their music, Led Zeppelin’s 6th album Physical Graffiti was their first album to be released on Swan Song Records.

The band had written 8 new songs for the new album, and with a lot of other unreleased material they had recorded during the sessions of the albums Led Zeppelin III/VI and Houses Of The Holy they decided to use that material and make up a double album.

After what I thought was a very disappointing album even though Houses Of The Holy sold more than 11million copies in America alone. The album Physical Graffiti for me personally was a welcoming return to what the band do best, and that is rock and blues music. Though I have to confess the album did have me a bit confused and felt very strange, when I first brought it upon it’s release back in 1975.

There is no doubt that Led Zeppelin had a slightly different approach to the new rock material they wrote for this album. It was not quite the same that we heard on their previous albums, and even the older material they used to make it up with, did not quite sound like it came from those earlier years either. It was most likely down to the albums production that gave it that different feel and sound.

Early Thoughts.

I was still at school and in the last year of it when I brought the album Physical Graffiti back in 1975. I also remember buying it from one of those mail order catalogue clubs that I had joined called Britannia Music.

I have to confess upon first hearing the album I honestly hated practically everything that was on the album, apart from “In The Light“. That track may have appealed to me more because around that time I was certainly listening to a lot more of progressive rock.

The album just sounded completely strange to me at the time, and the fact that I was not liking it, made me send the album back and replace it for something else.

It was not until around the mid 90’s that I decided to buy the album again on CD and the strangeness about it had disappeared and I finally got to enjoy it, and started to have more of a liking for it. Personally I think it was the last very good real studio album Led Zeppelin made.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The one good thing about these Deluxe Editions with the Digipaks is that they replicate the original vinyl album very well, and once again this release is different to the majority of these Deluxe Editions in the way that it’s been very well constructed.

The contents come in a box with the windows cut out to reveal the lettering of the albums name just like the original vinyl album did. Also just like the vinyl album the card with the letters on that also contain the track listing and writing credits is removable from the box.

It’s just as well it is removable, because it is easier to pull the whole of the contents out of the box, than try an pull one of the CD’s out individually and try and get it back in :)))))))).

The original vinyl album also came with cards with pictures of famous people on so that you could use those instead of the card with the name and writing credits to show in the cut out windows.

You can do the same with this box set because they have printed the famous people’s faces on the cardboard sleeves that contain the CD’s.

The 3 CD’s are stored in 3 individual cardboard sleeves. I would of liked to have seen them have a gloss finish on the inside of the pockets, or even in a paper sleeve inside with polyurethane just like the vinyl album had for better protection. But this is quite acceptable and at this price point one cannot really complain.

The bonus CD comes with the artwork inverted on one of it’s sleeve has seen in the picture on the far right hand side. It also comes with a 16 page booklet, and just like most of the others in these Deluxe Editions 14 of the pages contain photographs and only the final 2 pages contain the track listing and writing credits.


The package concept design and linear notes were done by Peter Corriston & Mike Doud of AGI. Corriston was looking for a building that had a symmetrical shape and was interesting enough to fit the square album cover. It was a brownstone tenement block that eventually caught his eye in St. Marks Place in New York City (pictured below).


96 & 98 East 8th Street St. Marks Place.

Although the building was 5 stories high Corriston had to crop the photograph down to 4 stories to make it fit the square album cover. The inner sleeve idea with the pictures of famous people in the windows was done by Mike Doud. Maurice Tate done the tinting treatment and it was Dave Heffernan who done the window illustration and had the idea of cutting them out.

In charge of the photography were Elliot Erwitt, B.P. Fallen, and even Roy Harper took some snaps.

The picture of the dude sitting on the steps of the building with a black dog. Is rumoured to be John Bonham.

The name for the album was inspired by a second hand clothing store located in the basement of 96 St. Mark’s Place called “Physical Graffiti”. There is still a store their today with the same name.

The album cover was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1976 for the best album package. Though it never won. But both Corriston & Doud did win the award for their work on other artists albums like the Rolling Stones and Supertramp respectively.

It’s great to see the original albums package finally make its way onto CD with this new Deluxe Edition release and it looks very well for it too.


Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti Original Artwork Package. (Now On CD)

Physical Graffiti (3 CD Deluxe Edition) Review…

The new remastered Deluxe and Super Deluxe Editions of the bands 6th album Physical Graffiti was released on the 23rd February 2015. It comes in 6 different versions to suit your taste and your pocket. The Super deluxe Edition being the most expensive comes with 3 CD’s. 3 Vinyl LP’s and other souvenir bits & bobs and an hardback book.


Super Deluxe Edition.

No doubt it’s a very nice package, though it does come at a price of £115.99 currently on Amazon. (Please note prices do tend to fluctuate from time to time). Too steep for my pocket and perhaps a bit much in the way that it’s only one album, or a double album that is now a triple album in this case, and you have it twice over with the LP’s and the CD’s. Not sure one really needs the both.

The other versions of the releases come in the shape of a 3 LP & 2 LP Editions and a 2 CD & 3 CD Editions. Plus a Digital Download Edition.

I myself opted for the 3 CD Deluxe Edition to which I purchased from Amazon for £12.63. It was a couple of pound more than the previous albums I brought, and you could of got the 2 CD version for the same price of the others I already purchased at £9.99. But I wanted the bonus disc and in this case I would also say that it was well worth paying the extra too.

It’s also perhaps worth noting that buying these albums from Amazon. You do get a free AutoRip of the album too. So it saves ripping the album yourself onto your hard drive on your computer.

CD 1 & 2.

The overall sound quality of these new remasters even on CD I have to say, is of very good quality, and I can certainly live with them too. I do not really see the need to buy the vinyl album versions at all. But no doubt pure vinyl-lists will most likely beg to differ.

I can assure you when it comes to music, quality is very important to myself, and if I thought these CD’s never lived up to that quality I would be dragging my old turntable out of the loft and spending the extra on the vinyl album.

For me personally no vinyl album is ever gonna match the quality that can be put onto SACD’s. DVD’s and Blu Rays. This type of media is capable of storing much more information, and even the high quality downloads that are available sadly only with the Super Deluxe Edition of 24/96k is better than both these CD & Vinyl Editions. Though that is perhaps way over the odds I would pay myself.

Hopefully in the future these albums will be given the 5.1 treatment and released on DVD & Blu Ray at a more respective price. I shall certainly buy those if they do get done and released.

CD 3.

The bonus disc or companion disc that comes with this release is another one of the better ones, and is really excellent and well worth having. The bonus CD contains 7 tracks and has a playing time of 41 minutes, 29 seconds. Once again we get some early and rough mixes here which are interesting and they are all pretty good.

The highlight of the bonus disc for me has to be Everybody Makes It Through” which is an early version of “In The Light“. This version is really early and has a different structure to it, and it even has different lyrics.

Musicians & Credits…


Recorded between July & December 1970. January – March 1971. My 1972 and between January & February 1974 at various locations. Produced by Jimmy Page. Executive producer Peter Grant. Recording & Mixing Engineers Andy Johns. Eddie Kramer. Keith Harwood. George Chkiantz & Ron Nevison. Artwork Cover Design by Peter Corriston & Mike Doud. Illustrations by Dave Heffernan. Photographers Elliott Erwitt. B. P. Fallon & Roy Harper. 2015 Reissue mastering by Jimmy Page.

Jimmy Page: Acoustic & Electric Guitars/Lap Steel Guitar/Mandolin/Sitar.
Robert Plant: Lead Vocals/Harmonica/Acoustic Guitar (On Boogie With Stu).
John Paul Jones: Bass Guitar/Acoustic & Electric Piano’s/Keyboards/Guitars/Mandolin/String Arrangements.
John Bonham: Drums/Percussion.

Session Players:

Ian Stuart: Piano (On Boogie With Stu).
Iman Karniparinpil: Jews Harp (On Kashmir).
Jack Royerton: Spoons.

The Original Album Tracks Review…

Led Zeppelin’s original double album Physical Graffiti was released on the 24th February 1975. The double album contained a total of 15 tracks spread over the 2 albums. The 1st album contained 6 tracks and has a playing time of 39 minutes, 19 seconds. The 2nd album has a playing time of 43 minutes, 26 seconds and had 9 tracks.

The album was both commercially and critically successful hitting number 1 in the album charts in both America and the UK. Has to be expected most of the albums sold in America and in 2006 it was certified 16 X Platinum because it was a double album selling over 8 million copies in America alone.

Just by looking at the album sales it was pretty obvious that Physical Graffiti contained far less commercial material on it, than their previous album Houses Of The Holy which would of appealed to a more wider popular audience. Their previous album sold 3 million more copies than this one in America and for me personally Physical Graffiti was much more of a solid and way better album, and not so much the mismatched mixed bag we seen on Houses Of The Holy at all.

The original recording sessions for the album took place at Headley Grange in November 1973 using Ronnie Lane’s Mobile Studio. However these sessions very quickly came to an halt and the reason at the time they did so, was because it was rumoured that John Paul Jones was ill. However the real reason was later revealed that Jones was not ill at all, and he wanted to quit the band because of all the pressure of live touring was getting to him.

The bands manager Peter Grant suggested that it may be a good idea for the band to take a break, and resume the recording sessions after Christmas in the new year. This allowed Jones some time to rethink the whole thing over, and they resumed their recording sessions back at Headly Grange in January 1974 and got down the 8 new tracks for the album between January and February.

The album was never intended to be a double from the start, and the reason why it eventually came to be one, was down to the fact that the 8 new tracks the band had recorded, were too long to fit them all on one vinyl record. So they did decided to look back at the older material they never released, and made up the double album with those tracks.

Additional overdubs and the final mixing of the album was done at the Olympic Studios in London in October 1974 engineered by Keith Harwood.

I have to admit that considering the band struggled to make one decent album with their previous release of Houses Of The Holy. Making a double album was going to be a much harder task. But I think the break they took did them a lot of good.

So let’s see how good the double album worked out with my review of the individual tracks. I shall go through the 2 albums individually.

1st Album.

Track 1. Custard Pie.

Well no doubt the band get off to a flying start with the opening track “Custard Pie” and it’s a great rocker on the album penned by Page & Plant. The song is constructed by a really great Page guitar riff and it also features a fine wah solo from him which is fed through an ARP Synthesizer.

I have to admit that “Custard Pie” is quite a strange title to use for a rock song, and a custard pie itself is most commonly associated with comedy, as in having one thrown in your face so to speak. But the lyrics Plant wrote here are very much sexual references that pertain to a woman’s genitals. Not a song to be released as a single no doubt :)))))).

Bonham’s drums are consistent throughout the piece and Page’s guitar riff is very strongly supported by Jones on the clavinet. Plant even throws in a great bit of harmonica towards the end too, to give it that bluesy feel. His lyrics even pay some sort of homage to the likes of several blues songs such as Sleepy John EstesDrop Down Mama“. Bukka White’sShake ‘Em On Down” for example.

Track 2. The Rover.

The Rover” is one of the bands better written songs and was originally written back in 1970 and was intended to be put on their previous album Houses Of The Holy. To be perfectly honest I cannot see for the life of me why they decided to leave it off the album, because this is ten times better than some of the crap that made that made up that poor album.

It was also written and meant to be an acoustic piece when they originally wrote it at the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales at the time. The song was eventually recorded at Stargroves House in Hampshire England in 1972 and penned once again by Page & Plant.

Track 3. In My Time Of Dying.

This bluesy rocker of a song is my personal fave on the first album of the 2 albums we have here. It’s also the longest track on the double album. In some ways it’s a bit like the material they wrote for their classic 2nd album with how it changes it’s direction, and the combination of rock and blues, it carries a bit of weight to it as well.

The song was penned by all 4 members of the band and in all respects sees the band back to their very best. They performed the song live during their 1975/76 tours and both Page and Plant also performed it with other bands much later after the band had disbanded. The song is a very high contender for top spot on the album.

Track 4. Houses Of The Holy.

Recorded at the Electric Lady Studios in June 1972 is another of the earlier written songs the band used to make up this particular album. “Houses Of The Holy” was originally intended to be the title track on their previous album. It’s claimed that at the time that they could not fit it on the album. Just how on earth can you miss out the albums title track one has to wonder?.

Maybe the band never felt the track was strong to represent that album. But in reality this song is not that bad at all, and is better than some of the tracks on Houses Of The Holy which in my own opinion, should never of been on their in the first place.

The song was penned by Page & Plant and has quite a funky guitar riff with some interesting jazzy chords thrown into its equation, and has a great up-tempo feel and mood about it.

Track 5. Trampled Under Foot.

Another bit of funk that features John Paul Jones on the clavinet. Jones credited the inspiration and beat of the song to Stevie Wonder and got it from his song 1972 hit “Superstition“.  The song was penned by Jones, Page & Plant and once again Plant’s lyrics are sexual references based around a car and its parts. Plant got his inspiration for the lyrics from Robert Johnson’s 1936 blues song entitled “Terraplane Blues” which is about a classic car.

The song was released as a single in America only on the 2nd April 1975. The song was often played at their live shows. I think the songs OK but it’s perhaps a bit too repetitive in the way that it repeats itself throughout. But no doubt it does have that Led Zeppelin feel and style about it, but it speaks very little to myself in relation to their earlier material.

Track 6. Kashmir.

Another song that can be repetitive but least it does have more written words for it than the previous track, and some changes along the way too. No doubt the song does have some great progression, though I would not call it progressive rock myself, it’s diversity is perhaps a bit too consistent in the way it changes and repeats itself. In other words it does not have many directions to go along its path. Though some may see this has prog rock no doubt.

The song adopts a touch of the east with its eastern flavour, which was later added by John Paul Jones with his stringed arrangement on the keyboards. The song is actually credited to the other 3 members of the band as it was written without Jones at the time. Apparently he got to the studio late that day.

To be honest I find it rather odd that his name was left out of the writing credits, because it’s his stringed arrangement that is perhaps the most dominant part of the song and stands out a mile. Though no doubt the chord progression was written by Page on the guitar.

Though for my own personal taste I think this song would rock even more if it never had any strings at all. It’s that same eastern touch Jones applied to the song “Friends” from the bands 3rd album. Personally I am not that much into world music that much and it’s that element that is why perhaps I do not really see this song as a classic in the way that many others would.

I still think it’s a great song though, and I suppose it has to be a contender for the top spot on the album too. The song also features Iman Karniparinpil playing a Jews Harp, and it rounds off the first album very well.

2nd Album.

Track 1. In The Light.

The 2nd album kicks off with a track that does have the power to rock, and I would even associate it with progressive rock. It was the only track on this album that spoke to me back in 1975 when I originally brought the album, and sent it back. Since I purchased the album again in the 90’s the album spoke more to me, and a lot more than this one song started to speak to me. Though I must confess this is still my personal favourite track on the double album.

The music was presidentially composed by Jones on his synthesizer, though Page did contribute to the writing of the music too, and the lyrics were written by Plant. I love the section where it comes down with the clavinet played by Jones and Page’s lead section on the guitar is almost theme like and makes a majestic statement.

To be honest this song has less progression than “Kashmir” in reality, yet somehow “In The Light” feels more like a prog rock song to me, and that maybe not just down to its changes but the elements of instrumentation that’s used in it.

Robert Plant stated that the song was one of Led Zeppelin’s finest moments, and it was also Jimmy Page’s favourite track on this album too and I can see why. It’s more adventurous I feel and goes into boundaries the band had never ventured before.

It’s a song that Plant always wanted to do live on stage. But it was never played live due to Jones not being able to create the same sound on his keyboards to get it to be good enough for the stage.

I personally think it’s a magic song and it merits my top spot on the double album award.

Track 2. Bron – Yr.

Another acoustic Gem written and played by Jimmy Page. It’s such a beautiful little acoustic guitar ditty and the shortest track on the double album. Page wrote the piece back in 1970 whilst working on new material for their 3rd album. Just like the song “Bron-y-Aur Stomp” that featured on Led Zeppelin III it’s name came from the holiday cottage they stayed at in Wales.

I like it that much and would even consider this little ditty a contender for the albums top spot.

Track 3. Down By The Seaside.

This another acoustic song that was originally written in 1970 during the time both Page & Plant spent at the Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales. It was penned by them both and they recorded an electric version of the song in 1971 and this was an outtake from the sessions they were recording for the bands 4th album, and originally was intended to be used on Led Zeppelin VI too..

Down By The Seaside” is quite a light hearted song and could be perhaps seen as a pop or folky song. Never the less it’s a very well written song and does not feel out of place on this album either. Plant’s vocals are well suited and Page’s use of tremolo guitar running though a Leslie Speaker adds to good effect. Jones also accompanies it very well on the electric piano too.

Robert Plant later went on to record the song again in 1995 as a duet with Tori Amos.

Track 4. Ten Years Gone.

Originally intended as an instrumental piece written by Page. Then Plant decided to write some lyrics for it. The songs title and subject matter of the lyrics Plant wrote were about a girlfriend he was with 10 years earlier who gave him the choice of either being with her or the music. She never had a leg to stand on :))))))))).

The song got played live during their 1977 tour of America. Later on both Page & Plant performed it live during their 1996 tour of Japan. Page also performed it live with the Black Crows in 1999 along with many other Led Zeppelin songs.

Page used a total of 14 guitars overdubbed to create the harmony section of the song. Its another great song.

Track 5. Night Flight.

This another one of the songs that was originally written for Led Zeppelin VI back in 1971. The song has quite a good 12 bar upbeat feel about it, and reminds me quite a lot like something the Who would of done. Plant’s voice also sounds a bit different on this one, and in some ways is his voice is even almost verging on Roger Daltrey’s with his approach to the song.

The song was never performed live, but they did play part of it now and again in the way of a sound check for some of their live shows. It’s a great little number penned by Jones, Page & Plant.

Track 6. The Wanton Song.

Penned by Page & PlantThe Wanton Song” is another song that contains a Page guitar riff with a hook. It’s perhaps likened to the “Immigrant Song” for its switching back and forth between two notes an octave apart. But I also think it’s opening riff is not that far away from the riff that was used on “Custard Pie“.

Once again Page uses the same tremolo put through a Leslie Speaker effect only he also adds backwards echo which is a technique he used way back when he was the Yardbirds.

The song was played live during their 1975 tours of Europe and America and then dropped. However it was played extensively as the opening track of both Page & Plant’s tours in 1995 & 1998. It’s another great little rocker of a song.

Track 7. Boogie With Stu.

Time for a bit of boogie woogie and this great little number this one that came out of a free form jam at Headley Grange which was recorded on the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio back in 1971. The song features the Rolling Stones band manager and friend of the band Ian Stuart on the Honky Tonk Piano, hence the title here, and I have to say he does a grand job on it too. It even makes me want to jump on the old Joanna too :)))))).

It’s said that Robert Plant played the acoustic guitar on this track. It’s also said that Plant gave the song a working title of “Sloppy Drunk” at the time. Although later on it was discovered that it was the title of a Leroy Carr song that went by the name of “Sloppy Drunk Blues“. But he only ever put his own music to the words of an original 1931 song written originally by Lucille Anderson and done a cover version.

The music to this song “Boogie With Stu” was based more around the music that Leroy Carr put to the original song. However once again Robert Plant was back to his old tricks again and the lyrics he claimed he wrote for the song was very close to those from the 1958 song  “Ooh My Head” written by Ritchie Valens.

Although Valens had died long ago died back in 1959 his music publisher Kemo Music filed a lawsuit which was settled out of court. “Boogie With Stu” was originally credited to all 4 members of the band plus Ian Stuart. But these days Valens wife is also added to the writing credits too.

Track 8. Black Country Woman.

Another acoustic song that was originally written by Page & Plant back in 1972 and recorded in the back garden of the Stargroves Manor House in Hampshire. The song was written at the same time they wrote “D’yer Mak’er” and was intended to be put on their previous album Houses Of The Holy. Honestly it makes me sick to even think of how they could of included “D’yer Mak’er” on the album and not this song. This is a million times better :))))))).

The voice of the recording engineer Eddie Kramer can be heard at the start and an aeroplane flying over the house. Plant based the lyrics around the black country which is close to my own town of Birmingham where both Plant & Bonham were brought up. It’s a great little country blues number to which all 4 band members do a cracking job on it. It was also the B-Side of the single release of “Trampled Under Foot“.

Track 9. Sick Again.

The guys rock it up a bit for the final track on the album entitled “Sick Again“. It’s another song penned by Page & Plant. The lyrics Plant wrote for the song are based around the subject matter of teenage groupies, it said that he felt sorry for all the young girls who hang around the bands hotel rooms offering them favours.

The song had a great bluesy rock feel to it and the band played it live at many of their concerts  and it rounds off the double album very well.


To sum up the 3 CD Deluxe Edition of Led Zeppelin’s 6th album Physical Graffiti it represents great value for the money, and unlike some of the Deluxe Editions that come with these bonus discs, the bonus disc is worthy of having I feel. It’s price point of £12.63 for 3 CD’s is still very much a bargain.

Once again the packaging of this particular release is very well constructed and it’s a very good mini replica of the original 1975 vinyl  album. No doubt it also merits top marks in my overall packaging score rating.


To conclude my review here I would say that the bands double album Physical Graffiti is an album that does not contain a lot of classic songs, or contenders for the top spot on the album with the material they writ for it. I would also say that the material used to make this double album is quite a mixed a bag.

However this mixed bag does have a great variety and feel about it with how everything flows so well and smoothly across the both albums. I also think the production is very strong, and helped and played a big part with how a lot of why everything works so well, especially considering this is an album that’s been made up of new and older material in the first place.

In all respects I cannot fault the album at all, and I really do not think it contains one bad track either. I do however feel that a lot of material here is perhaps not up to some of the higher standards that we got from the material on the bands first 4 albums, and no doubt those earlier albums do contain a lot more classic Led Zeppelin songs.

The highlights for me personally are the following: “In The Light“. “In My Time Of Dying“. “The Rover“. “Kashmir“. “Bron – Yr” and “Custard Pie“.

The album Physical Graffiti is perhaps a more fresher and newer approach to rock music, to what came before it. In many ways it’s a lot lighter, yet it still holds up incredibly well and is a very good album, and very much perhaps a must for fans alike.

I’m about to lose my worried mind…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. Custard Pie. 4:15.
02. The Rover. 5:39.
03. In My Time Of Dying. 11:08.
04. Houses Of The Holy. 4:04.
05. Trampled Under Foot. 5:36.
06. Kashmir. 8:37.

Disc 2.

01. In The Light. 8:47.
02. Bron – Yr. 2:06.
03. Down By The Seaside. 5:15.
04. Ten Years Gone. 6:34.
05. Night Flight. 3:38.
06. The Wanton Song. 4:08.
07. Boogie With Stu. 3:52.
08. Black Country Woman. 4:24.
09. Sick Again. 4:42.

Disc 3.

01. Brandy & Coke (Trampled Under Foot) (Initial/Rough Mix). 5:39.
02. Sick Again (Early Version). 2:22.
03. In My Time Of Dying (Initial / Rough Mix). 11:48.
04. Houses Of The Holy (Rough Mix With Overdubs). 3:51.
05. Everybody Makes It Through (In The Light) (Early Version/In Transit). 6:29.
06. Boogie With Stu (Sunset Sound Mix). 3:39.
07. Driving Through Kashmir (Kashmir Rough Orchestra Mix). 8:41.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus CD Rating Score. 7/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 8/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #58

A Kingdom Of Colours 1995 – 2002 (Box Set) – The Flower Kings



Well I guess I have to thank Tom Fowler for posting his own purchase of this latest box set of The Flower Kings in the Prog Rock Group on Facebook. To be perfectly honest nothing inside this box set is new to me at all, but there was a reason I purchased it, and what it contains again. More about that in a bit in the my introduction to The Flower Kings section of my review here.

Because this is a box set I have very much chosen to review and because it contains quite a few albums, I am merely going to go through the highlights of each album, rather than take on every individual track on them. But first I shall give you a bit of history of the band, and also tell you why I brought these albums again.

The Flower Kings A Brief History…

The main man behind The Flower Kings is the multi talented musician from Sweden known as Roine Stolt. Stolt is no stranger to prog rock, and has been around a very long time. He even goes back to the distant dark days of the 70’s when prog rock was still very much in fashion.

He originally started playing bass in a couple of unknown bands in the late 60’s and later in 1973 switched to guitar. In the following year he joined the Swedish prog rock band Kaipa and in 1975 that band released their very first self titled debut album. Between the years of 1975 – 1979 Stolt made 3 studio albums with Kaipa in which most of the material was written by himself and their keyboard player Hans Lundin.

Because music was changing it’s direction and prog rock was no longer fashionable any more. In 1979 Stolt quit the band. Though the band still did continue on without him. If your into progressive rock I seriously suggest you check out the band Kaipa. They have made some quite remarkable albums including their first 3 albums done with Stolt.

Having quit Kaipa in 1979 Stolt set about making his own music and put his own band together Fantasia and between 1979 – 1983 he made a couple of albums. Though he never really released any of them at this point, and went into studio production and session work. In 1992 he did release one of the albums he made back in 1979 which was the bands self titled debut album Fantasia. But it did not exactly set the world on fire.

A year later in 1993 Stolt noticed a few bands had started to churn out progressive rock again in the way of a revival despite it still not really being that fashionable. A couple of bands from his own country he took note of who went by the names of Landberk and Änglagård inspired him to to once again go back to writing the music he always loved again.

In 1994 Roine Stolt released what was known to be his first solo album to which he entitled The Flower King. The warm response he got back from it’s release spurred him on to put a band together that consisted of the few musicians that he made his solo debut album with (including his brother Michael) and he recruited his best friend Tomas Bodin to play keyboards, and simply called the new band The Flower Kings.

Stolt’s solo debut album The Flower King is a remarkable piece of work and brilliant album. His writing in the world of progressive rock is formidable and once The Flower Kings were launched in the following year of 1995 he was to become one of the most formidable writers in today’s world of progressive rock.

My Introduction To The Flower Kings…

My Introduction to The Flower Kings came about through the Classic Rock Magazine around the time the band had released their 5th album Space Revolver in the year 2000. This particular magazine back then used to come accompanied with a CD with various rock and prog rock artists and bands on it, and was my way of keeping up with what was new out there at the time.

I am pretty sure it was a magazine that got released on a monthly basis and the one band that caught my eye more than anything on one of these CD’s was the newly put together prog rock band Transatlantic. To be honest the song of theirs that was on this CD that came with the magazine, was only a ballad. But one with that much beauty to it that it spoke to me very highly and I just had to buy the album. The song was entitled “We All Need Some Light“.

Having got the bands debut album and very much liking it a lot, I started to take note of the 4 musicians who made up the band. To be honest the only musician in this band I did know was the bass player from Marillion Pete Trewavas. The other members that made up this so called new supergroup Transatlantic at the time were Neal Morse from Spock’s Beard on vocals, keyboards and guitar. Roine Stolt from The Flower Kings on vocals and guitar and Michael Portnoy of Dream Theater on drums.

So I started to check out more of the latter 3 musicians and started to buy their albums too. To be honest I was not so keen on Dream Theater simply because they was more of Metal band than prog rock at that time, and I was well more impressed by both Neal Morse and Roine Stolt mainly because they were both very clever writers of progressive rock music. Even today I still regard them both as the best prog rock writers in today’s world of progressive rock.

It was a few years later around 2005 that I foolishly lent out my collection of The Flowers Kings albums to a friend. It was also the last time I seen this friend and my albums :))))))). Never again as been my motto ever since.

I still have those albums on my hard drive though. Simply because with every album I buy on CD I rip them onto my computer, because a lot of my time is spent on the computer and I only really play the CD’s on my HifFi when the wife is not around or in bed so to speak.

But back in those days I only ever used to rip the albums onto my hard drive in an MP3 format of 192kbps to save on hard drive space. These days I have a lot bigger hard drives and rip them out in 320kbps quality.

A Kingdom Of Colours 1995 – 2002 (Box Set) In Review…

The Flower Kings box set A Kingdom Of Colours was released on the 15th December 2017. The box set contains the first 7 albums that The Flower Kings released between the years of 1995 – 2002. 3 of those albums are actually double albums as well. So has you can see I have quite a lot to get through in my review here, which is why I am only going to be taking you through the highlights of each album.

To be perfectly honest a box set such this is something I would never buy as a rule. I prefer to buy the individual albums. But has I had already brought them once before and lost them by lending them out, this box set provided me with a cheaper alternative of getting them back again.

I also doubt that anybody who had these albums already would actually buy this box set either. Simply because there is nothing really new in here at all. I would also say that in no way would I consider this box set to be seen as an introduction or starting point for newcomers to The Flower Kings. Simply because every album they put out is packed to the brim with far too much material on it in reality.

Getting into any album made by The Flower Kings is gonna take some serious music listening. This is because they tend to cram as much information onto 1 CD as they possibly can. No doubt you get your money’s worth, but in all honesty just one of their single albums is the length of a double album when comparing to the old vinyl album time slot of around 40 minutes. Their double albums are like 4 albums :))))))))))).

I myself prefer the old album time slot of 40 minutes, that way you can get to listen to a lot more albums, and I would even go as far as to say that putting an album out such as the way The Flower Kings do, will put a lot of people off. It’s simply far too much information to take in, and you are going to have to put in more or less the same amount of hours it took them to make the album to reap the pleasure and rewards it does give back to you.

The other things that could be seen for not wanting this particular box set is the fact that none of the CD’s have been remastered and none of them contain bonus material like they did with newer reissues and limited edition releases of the albums. I think Mr. Stolt has been a bit tight there.

The box set was released as a limited edition by Inside Out Records and only 3,000 have been made. Each box set comes with it’s own unique number and it comes at an attractive price point, and I got mine from Amazon for £34.99.

So let’s take a further look at the packaging and see just what you’re getting for the bucks here.

The Packaging & Contents…


The Box.

The CD’s come in a very attractive box which is very well made and constructed. The title of the box set A Kingdom Of Colours I would very much presume that the title they chose, came from looking at all the colourful artwork that was on the original album covers. It really is a very nice presentation.

The Contents.

All the single CD’s are stored in cardboard wallets and the double CD’s come in cardboard gatefold Digipaks (pictured below). To be honest looking at them they represent a sort of mini version of the vinyl albums very well, and come with all the original artwork.


However these type of cardboard sleeves are made on the cheap and even the gatefold Digipaks are nowhere near the construction or quality of a conventional Digipak one would get with an individual release. But to be perfectly honest I have even seen this type of cheap workmanship come exactly the same with box sets that cost as much as £300 plus.

There is no doubt that the individual album releases, will come in a much better quality Digipak than the way they have gone about things here.

But I suppose they have to do something to keep the cost down, and I do not see buying a package at this low price point really as a rip off like those much more expensive box sets on that score, it would also cost more than twice the price of this box set to buy these albums individually.

My only gripe with these type of cheap cardboard sleeves is that I wish they would pay more care and attention to the actual discs that are going to be stored in them.

For example they could put a gloss coating on the inside of the cardboard that house the CD’s to give the disc surface better protection. Or even have them in paper sleeves housed inside the cardboard with a polyurethane lining inside like one gets with a vinyl album to protect them.

Quite often with these type of packages the CD’s are housed in cardboard pockets with no coating on at all, and when retrieving the disc from it’s pocket it is possible to put scratch marks on the discs, especially if it catches the edges when doing so.

CD’s are not indestructible and even though they may still play with marks on them, it’s not gonna do the laser inside your CD Player any good by any means. So I would love to see more care and attention paid to the design of such things.

The box set comes with a very thick booklet, its perhaps more like a book than a booklet to be honest. It provides you with a bit of background on the history of how The Flower Kings started, and all the information that was on the original albums, being as they could not of fitted individual booklets inside each album with the way the single album and double albums have been constructed.

Overall it’s a very nice box set and the chances are that even if I did spend the extra money on buying all the albums again individually. They most likely would of came in the standard Jewel Cases like I had before.

There is no doubt that the Jewel Case does offer more protection, but these days I do quite like the way CD’s are released in Digipaks and they look more like mini versions of the vinyl albums. I think that factor also persuaded me to buy this box set too.

Now without further adieu. Let’s get down to the album reviews.



Back In The World Of Adventures

The Flower Kings debut album Back In The World Of Adventures was originally released on Foxtrot Records back in September 1995. It’s an album that contains 10 tracks over an overall playing time of 71 minutes, 21 seconds. Its perhaps a double albums worth of material in comparison to the album time slot back in the 70’s.

But what I will say is that its perhaps one of my favourite albums by the band, though to be honest it’s pretty damn hard to pick a favourite album by The Flower Kings because there is a lot to be said about all of them, and each contain some pretty amazing songs. But the opening track on this particular album does happen to be my all time favourite song by The Flower Kings.

All of the material on the album was written by Roine Stolt and this is one guy who must be a complete workaholic with the amount of material he has written over the years and still been able to go out and play live, and be involved in many other projects.

As with all albums by The Flower Kings the material is made up of lengthy and short tracks and is a combination of songs and instrumental pieces, though they are very heavily music based, to allow for the musicians to express themselves very well throughout and play their part within its musical presentation.

The music itself presents itself very well and takes in all the genres that make up progressive rock music. It’s a mixture and combination of rock, jazz, jazz fusion and classical influences that make it all up.

It’s all held together by the very capable and excellent musicians Stolt assembled to make up the band. Most of this band line-up managed to stay together through most of the albums in this box set too.

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Lead Vocals/Keyboards. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Michael Stolt: Bass/Voice. Jaime Salazar: Drums (Tracks 1-8). Hans Bruniusson: Percussion/Drums (Track 10). Guest Musician: Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone.

The album Back In The World Of Adventures has quite a wide range of musical styles and influences throughout  the duration of the albums 10 tracks. You will get to hear some influences from early Yes, Genesis, Focus and many more. There is plenty of really great well written material for you to digest and absorb.

It’s perhaps not easily accessible to most people I would of thought. But for those who are already into prog rock it’s perhaps an album that is more easier to get to grips with, and take in this magical dramatic journey into this world of adventure.

My personal highlights are as follows: “World Of Adventures“. “Atomic Prince/Kaleidoscope“. “Go West Judas“. “Theme For A Hero“. “My Cosmic Lover” and “Big Puzzle“.

Back In The World Of Adventures is quite a solid body of work and a solid album in the way that it does not really have a bad track upon it. There are some classics along the course of the album too.

We’re Children Of The Woodstock Nation Lost In Peace and Contemplation…

The album track listing is as follows: 1. World Of Adventures. 13:37. 2. Atomic Prince/Kaleidoscope. 7:49. 3. Go West Judas. 7:47. 4. Train to Nowhere. 3:49. 5. Oblivion Road. 3:47. 6. Theme For A Hero. 8:32. 7. Temple of the Snakes. 1:23. 8. My Cosmic Lover. 6:46. 9. The Wonder Wheel. 4:17. 10. Big Puzzle. 13:24.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.




Retropolis was released on the 25th May 1996. The album contains 11 tracks spanned over a playing time of 68 minutes, 45 seconds. The bands 2nd album is quite different in comparison to their debut album, and tends to be more dramatic.

The dramatic side is also perhaps more like the sound design one would use for films and can be quite cinematic in parts. It feels more of a concept album and the music fits the albums artwork cover like a glove in parts, especially the albums self titled track, and puts you in the picture so to speak.

Though I would not say it’s completely all like that, and these cinematic effects only take part in small parts such as the intro’s and outro’s and in other places in parts. It does also contain very well structured prog rock music, and I suppose one of the other best tracks besides Retropolis I can think of on the album that would put across what I am trying to describe here is “Rhythm Of The Sea“.

Besides the drama a lot of the music is built around very strong themes and has plenty of power as well as subtlety. My personal favourite track on the album is “Silent Sorrow” which has influences from Genesis and Frank Zappa along its path. “There Is More To This World” is certainly another very high contender too.

Retropolis is a concept album that flows along superbly with every track on it, and is another really superb album. Besides the bands main writer Roine Stolt the bands keyboard player Tomas Bodin contributes to the writing and wrote the 3 shortest tracks on the album. His keyboard work is magnificent on the album.

My personal highlights on the album are as follows: “Retropolis“. “There Is More To This World“. “Silent Sorrow“. “The Judas Kiss” and “Flora Majora“.

The Flower Kings produced yet another solid album that contains a solid body of work. It’s an album that works remarkably well from start to finish, and another one of my very favourite albums of theirs.

Though the album consists of the same band land line-up, they did at this stage bring in another guest musician who was to become a more permanent member later on, and Hasse Fröberg was brought in to add to the vocals.

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Lead Vocals/Additional Keyboards & Bass. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Michael Stolt: Bass/Voice. Jaime Salazar: Drums. Hans Bruniusson: Percussion/Drums (Track 10). Guest Musicians: Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone (Tracks 6 & 11). Hasse Fröberg: Vocals (Tracks 4 &7)

I’ll Drown In A Silent Sorrow, I’ve Seen All Too Much, Too Soon…

The album track listing is as follows: 1. World Of Adventures. 13:37. 2. Atomic Prince/Kaleidoscope. 7:49. 3. Go West Judas. 7:47. 4. Train to Nowhere. 3:49. 5. Oblivion Road. 3:47. 6. Theme For A Hero. 8:32. 7. Temple of the Snakes. 1:23. 8. My Cosmic Lover. 6:46. 9. The Wonder Wheel. 4:17. 10. Big Puzzle. 13:24.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 10/10.



Stardust We Are

Released in April 1997 Stardust Were Are is a double album that contains 9 tracks on the 1st album that have an overall playing time of 58 minutes, 32 seconds and the 2nd album contains 11 tracks over a playing time of 71 minutes, 42 seconds.

Just like all albums by The Flower Kings they are very much based in the form of a concept album in some way or another. Though I have to confess this album tends to take in a lot more other subjects to really work in the way of a concept album. But one may feel they are on one big circus ride on this album.

Personally I do not think the album Stardust We Are is as strong as it’s 2 predecessors. Though it does have some really great tracks about the both albums you get here. Most of its strength lies on the 2nd album more than anything else, and it contains the 25 minute epic self titled album track “Stardust We Are“. This is my personal favourite on the album.

The both albums are perhaps more laid back and apart from the odd track here and there it does not contain enough excitement. Though it’s not entirely a bad album and there is some great church and pipe organ on the album too. It can be a bit like all the fun at the fair at times.

 The highlights on the 1st album I chose are “In The Eyes Of The World“. “Church of Your Heart“. “The Man Who Walked With Kings“.

The highlights from the 2nd album are “The End of Innocence“. “The Merry-Go-Round“. “Different People” and “Stardust We Are“.

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Lead Vocals/Keyboards. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Michael Stolt: Bass/Voice. Jaime Salazar: Drums. Hans Bruniusson: Percussion.  Hasse Fröberg: Lead & Backing Vocals. Guest Musicians: Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone. Haken Almqkvist: Sitar & Tabla.

I think at this stage of the bands career a double album may have proved to be bit too much and Stardust We Are is not quite as solid with the material that was written for it. The biggest majority of the material was written by Roine Stolt and once again Tomas Bodin wrote and co-wrote 6 of the shorter tracks on the album.

The album does have its moments though and it’s still a great album to have because there are some excellent tracks amongst the 20 you do get over the double album. In some ways it’s quite strange, and I do tend to play this album a lot, and every time I do so I always for some reason consider it as one of their stronger albums.

So like I said before, it’s not really a bad album at all, and many may give it an higher score than I have here. I think we may have been a bit spoilt with how well the bands first two albums were written.

Stardust We Are, Close To Divine…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

1. In The Eyes Of The World. 10:38. 2. A Room With a View. 1:26. 3. Just This Once. 7:54. 4. Church of Your Heart. 9:10. 5. Porr Mr. Rain; S Ordinary Guitar. 2:44. 6. The Man Who Walked With Kings. 4:59. 7. Circus Brimstone. 12:03. 8. Crying Clown. 0:58. 9. Compassion. 8:40.

Disc 2.

1. Pipes of Peace. 1:19. 2. The End of Innocence. 8:29. 3. The Merry-Go-Round. 8:17. 4. Don of the Universe. 7:02. 5. A Day at the Mall. 0:45. 6. Different People. 6:19. 7. Kingdom of Lies. 5:47. 8. If 28. 2:15. 9. Ghost of the Red Cloud. 4:37. 10. Hotel Nirvana. 1:49. 11.Stardust We Are . 25:03

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 6/10.



Flower Power

The bands 4th album Flower Power was released a couple of years later on the 16th November 1999. Once again it’s a double album and just how many bands do you know that follow a double album by releasing another double album straight after.

The Flower Kings did just that with their 4th album Flower Power. The 1st of the 2 albums contains 21 tracks and has a playing time of 68 minutes, 2 seconds. The 2nd album contains 10 tracks and comes with a playing time of 72 minutes, 47 seconds.

Though the 1st album appears to have 21 tracks. 18 of those are merely movements of one massive suite which is the “Garden Of Dreams” that takes up just under an hour of the first album. Tomas Bodin contributes more to the writing on this album too, and this whole suite was penned by Bodin/Stolt.

Some reviewers over the years have stated that this almost 60 minute epic suite is better than Close To The Edge by Yes. Personally I think whoever wrote those reviews were way off the mark, but no doubt this has been very well put together. But once again I do not see anything on this particular album matching up to The Flower Kings first couple of albums, never mind measuring up to Close To The Edge.

The remaining 3 tracks on the 1st album consist of 2 very short pieces done for effect more than anything else, and even the bands drummer Jaime Salazar contributes to the writing on a couple of them. Though “Ikea By Night” is only himself on the drums and lasts all of 4 seconds :))))))). But the last track on this 1st album entitled “Astral Dog” he contributed to the writing with Stolt on is a great instrumental track and is very Zappa esc with Stolt’s guitar work on it.

The 2nd album contains some great songs and instrumental pieces and kicks off with a song entitled “Deaf, Numb & Blind“. It’s got quite an influence from the prog rock band Camel this one, though no doubt you will find many influences from the great prog rock bands of the past on a lot of The Flower Kings albums.

Once again Tomas Bodin contributes to the writing on the 2nd album and wrote one of the 10 tracks and co-wrote another with Stolt. interestingly the extra vocalist Hasse Fröberg that Stolt brought in awhile back, also wrote one of the songs here too.

Once again we have a concept album here, and even some of the other tracks besides its main feature of the “Garden Of Dreams” tend to hark back to the garden so to speak.

The Flower Kings often referred to themselves as being a kind of psychedelic prog rock band, though I would say that on this album and their other albums they are certainly more along the lines of progressive of rock. Though the one track on the 2nd album entitled “Psychedelic Postcard” certainly does go down that road. But the title of it is perhaps the only reason they do on that score.

The albums title of Flower Power certainly suggests that the concept of this particular album is harking back to the 60’s and those hippie care free days. Though I would not say the music presents itself like that decade of the 60’s at all, and once again the subject matter of the words and individual subjects can be a bit bizarre to say the least. But I suppose those days were a bit hazy for that matter :)))))).

My personal highlights from the whole of the double album are as follows: The epic suite “Garden Of Dreams“.”Astral Dog“. “Deaf, Numb & Blind“. “Corruption“. “Magic Pie“. and “Calling Home“.

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Lead Vocals/Keyboards. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Michael Stolt: Bass & Vocals. Jaime Salazar: Drums. Hans Bruniusson: Percussion & Odd Voices.  Hasse Fröberg: Lead Vocals.

This was to be the bass player Michael Stolt’s last album with The Flower Kings. He chose to leave the band to do his own thing, mainly because his older brother Roine was a great bass player and did most of the bass work on the bands studio albums. Michael was only really more or less needed for the bands live shows. So he chose to leave to get more work. He was even in the first band Roine put together Fantasia and also played on Stolt’s first solo album The Flower King.

Overall the double album Flower Power by The Flower Kings is quite a good album. Though I will stress it took myself a lot longer to get into this album, and in some ways it’s perhaps a bit more inaccessible in relation to their previous albums. I would also say that the material we have here is also better than a lot of the material that was wrote for their previous album Stardust We Are. So there is some power in this plant pot.

Life Was Simple In The Prime of Days…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

1. Dawn. 1:33. 2. Simple Song. 1:48. 3. Business Vamp. 5:02. 4. All You Can Save. 5:02. 5. Attack Of The Monster Briefcase. 3:04. 6. Mr. Hope Goes To Wall Street. 1:46. 7. Did I Tell You. 3:46. 8. Did I Tell You. 2:39. 9. Don’t Let The d’Evil In. 3:11. 10. Love Is The Word. 2:49. 11. There’s No Such Night. 2:43. 12. The Mean Machine. 2:41. 13. Dungeon Of The Deep. 4:24. 14. Indian Summer. 4:13. 15. Sunny Lane. 5:25. 16. Gardens Revisited. 2:56. 17. Shadowland. 2:03. 18. The Final Deal. 4:10. 19. Captain Capstan. 0:45. 20. IKEA By Night. 0:04. 21. Astral Dog. 7:58.

Disc 2.

1. Deaf, Numb & Blind. 11:10. 2. Stupid Girl. 6:49. 3. Corruption. 5:54. 4. Power of Kindness. 4:23. 5. Psycedelic Postcard. 8:42. 6. Hudson River Sirens Call 1998. 4:47. 7. Magic Pie. 8:19. 8. Painter. 6:50. 9. Calling Home. 11:19. 10. Afterlife. 4:34.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.



Space Revolver

The bands 5th album was the very first album I brought of The Flower Kings, It’s another really great album that contains 10 tracks and has an overall playing time of 76 minutes, 34 seconds. The album was released on the 4th of July 2000 and perhaps gave us Europeans something to celebrate too :)))))).

Stolt recruited a new bass player namely Jonas Reingold to the band to replace his brother who had left after making their previous album. Reingold was to become a consistent member to the band and is still with them today.

For many of the bands fans its perhaps a favourite album to them and features one of their many classic tracks “I Am the Sun” which comes in two parts and starts and ends off the album. Originally Roine Stolt wrote the song as one piece and decided in the end to split it into two parts for the album.

It really is a classic and great song over it’s both parts and is my personal favourite track, though there is plenty more on this album that speaks to me very well too, and my highlights of the great tracks on this album are as follows: “I Am the Sun (Part 1)“. “Rumble Fish Twist“. “Monster Within“. “Chicken Farmer Song“. “Underdog“. “A King’s Prayer” and “I Am the Sun (Part 2)“.

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Lead & Backing Vocals/Keyboards/Bass. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Hasse Fröberg: Lead & Backing Vocals/Acoustic Guitar. Jonas Reingold: Bass. Jaime Salazar: Drums & Lip. Hans Bruniusson: Percussion/Mallets/Chains/Voices. Guest Musician: Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone.

Overall Space Revolver is a near enough solid album with the material upon it, to which most of it was written by Stolt. Though Bodin did co-write “Dream on Dreamer” with Stolt and he also wrote one of my many favourite tracks “Rumble Fish Twist“. Hasse Fröberg also wrote “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” and even though he did contribute on the guitar at many of the bands live shows since he joined them, this was the first studio album he contributed acoustic guitar on.

Never Believe What They Tell You, Let’s Move A Mountain…

The album track listing is as follows: 1. I Am the Sun, Pt. 1. 15:03. 2. Dream on Dreamer. 2:42. 3. Rumble Fish Twist. 8:05. 4. Monster Within. 12:55. 5. Chicken Farmer Song. 5:11. 6. Underdog. 5:29. 7. You Don’t Know What You’ve Got. 2:39. 8. Slave to Money. 7:30. 9. A King’s Prayer. 6:01. 10. I Am the Sun, Pt. 2. 10:39.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.



The Rainmaker

The bands 6th album The Rainmaker is another one of my personal favourites. Though it’s not that popular with some of the bands fans, perhaps down to it’s being slightly a bit more modern. But for me personally I love this album to death, and certainly think it’s the most easily accessible album out of the bunch we get in this box set.

The album contains 11 tracks over a playing time of 76 minutes, 59 seconds and was released on the 18th September 2001. I cannot stress enough that even the bands single albums are like double albums, though I would say that you might be grateful for the time slot on this album because it is without doubt a near enough solid album.

This was the last album to feature the bands drummer Jaime Salazar having had a good 7 years with the band he quit for personal reasons, and went on to play for a few other bands.

It’s very difficult to choose a favourite track from this album so I am not gonna either. But if I had to it would be any one of the first 3 tracks on the album. They are all so damn good.

My personal highlights of the album are as follows: “Last Minute On Earth“. “World Without A Heart“. “Road To Sanctuary“. “City of Angels” and “Serious Dreamers“.

The Rainmaker is one of those albums best enjoyed listening to it in its entirety. It was the first album that The Flower Kings released that sparked off mixed reviews from the critics and it’s fans. The album contains some reversed vocals that Stolt also used on his 3rd solo album Wallstreet Voodoo he released in 2005. .

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Lead & Backing Vocals/Keyboards/Hand Percussions. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Hasse Fröberg: Vocals/Vocoder. Jonas Reingold: Bass. Jaime Salazar: Drums & Liptwisting. Hans Bruniusson: Percussive Sculptures/Chains. Guest Musicians: Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone.

Personally I cannot fault any of the material on The Rainmaker even the ballad of a song “Elaine” is a very well written song. I think some of the tracks on the latter part of the album may lean towards Neal Morse’s style of writing, especially “Sword Of God”  and Stolt had worked with Neal Morse in the previous year with Transatlantic and that may of had some kind of bearing on the mixed reactions and critical reviews the album got.

But personally I am also a big fan of Neal Morse myself and love the output from both of these artists. So that may also reflect in my liking of this album, and the overall high rating I gave it here.

I personally feel the album The Rainmaker is a superb body of work and near enough another very solid album that works very well with the placement of all tracks upon it. I personally do not think it has a bad track either.

Fractions Of Time Is All That Is Left…

The album track listing is as follows: 1. Last Minute On Earth. 11:51. 2. World Without A Heart. 4:30. 3. Road To Sanctuary. 13:49. 4. The Rainmaker. 6:02. 5. City Of Angels. 12:04. 6. Elaine. 4:56. 7. Thru The Walls. 4:28. 8. Sword Of God. 6:03. 9. Blessing Of A Smile. 3:09. 10. Red Alert. 1:07. 11. Serious Dreamers. 9.00.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.



Unfold The Future

The last of the albums in the box set is the bands 7th album and once again it’s another double album, and by no means was it not their last double album either. They did go to make one more double, but also most of the bands single albums also came with limited editions in which you also got a bonus disc.

The double album Unfold The Future by The Flower Kings was released on the 5th November 2002. However the version in this box set is in fact a 2017 reissue of the double album, and not the original album. It’s also the only album in this box set that is a reissue too.

According to Roine Stolt he was never ever happy with the original mix of some of the tracks on this particular album, and he said they contained too much compression. So he not only remastered the album but he also remixed 3 of the tracks. They was “The Truth Will Set You Free“. “Black And White” and the “Devil’s Playground“.

The reissue of the album was released on the 3rd November 2017 and was released on a triple vinyl album, it also came with the choice of two other colours too for those coloured vinyl lovers. A double CD was released at the same time, to which he decided to include in this box set.

I have to say the album sounds superb for the remastering and the remixes, but there is some differences with the timing on those tracks he remixed, and the most notable one happens to be one of my favourites and the last track on double album entitled the “Devil’s Playground“.

On the original album this track was 24 and half minutes long. Oddly enough even on the back of the gatefold Digipack it states the timing is 24:30 yet its only got a playing time of 19 minutes 21 seconds on the CD.

My guess is that he’s shortened some of the tracks to be able to fit them all on vinyl, because of the vinyl limitations and restrictions.

Sacrilege! Mr. Stolt :)))))

But I forgive him, because this album really has been brought back to life with all he has done here.

The new reissue of Unfold The Future comes with 7 tracks that have an overall playing time of 72 minutes, 42 seconds on the 1st album and 9 tracks over 59 minutes, 59 seconds on the 2nd album. The overall timing of the both albums comes to 132 minutes, 41 seconds and is missing nearly 8 minutes in comparison to the original 2002 release.

Despite the lack of the 8 minutes on this release, no matter how you look at the the album Unfold The Future I would regard it has the best double album The Flower Kings ever made. Both albums you get here contain pretty much solid material, especially the first album out of the two.

Roine Stolt invited Daniel Gildenlöw of the band The Pain Of Salvation to appear as a guest vocalist on this album. Gildenlöw can be seen backing up the other band Stolt was part of Transatlantic on their live European shows. A couple of years later in 2004 Stolt made him an official member of The Flower Kings.

But because of the United States Visitor and Immigrant status indicator technology (commonly referred to as US-VISIT) He refused to submit biometric data which was required to enter the country. And he left the band just before their US tour in 2005.

I think the only track that may let this album down slightly is “Fast Lane” which is on the 2nd album and was written by Tomas Bodin and features Gildenlöw on the lead vocals.

Speaking of Bodin it was he who brought in the bands new drummer Zoltán Csörsz to replace Jaime Salazar after he quit the band after their last album. Bodin had collaborated with the new drummer on various other projects and recommended him.

Though Csörsz did not last too long before he eventually quit in 2005 after making the bands 8th album Adam & Eve. But did briefly rejoin the band for the making of their 10th album The Sum Of No Evil in 2007 and quit once again.

The album Unfold The Future kicks off with the longest on the whole of the double album. It’s a just under 31 minute epic entitled “The Truth Will Set You Free” that contains 3 subheadings that proceeds it’s journey along which are as follows: Lonely Road/Primal Instincts/From The Source.

This epic was penned by Roine Stolt and for any song that runs over this distance it has to go to many places to keep the attention and excitement for the listener, and boy does it just do that as well. It’s my personal favourite on the whole album and quite a master-class piece of work. There is never a dull moment throughout it.

My personal highlights on the whole double album are as follows: “The Truth Will Set You Free“. “Christianopel“. “Silent Inferno“. “Genie In A Bottle“. “The Devil’s Danceschool” and the “Devil’s Playground“.

The line-up of musicians are as follows:

Roine Stolt: Guitars/Vocals/Keyboards. Tomas Bodin: Keyboards. Hasse Fröberg: Vocals. Jonas Reingold: Bass. Zoltán Csörsz: Drums & Liptwisting. Hans Bruniusson: Orchestral Percussion. Guest Musicians: Ulf Wallander: Soprano Saxophone. Daniel Gildenlöw: Vocals. Anders Bergcrantz: Trumpet.

Overall Unfold The Future by The Flower Kings is another one of their high rated albums, out of the many they have churned out over the first 7 years of the bands career. The band have been pretty much consistent throughout their entire career and never really fail to disappoint.

The Kaleidoscope Inside Your Eyes…

The album track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

1. The Truth Will Set You Free: Lonely Road/Primal Instincts/From the Source. 1:33. 2. Monkey Business. 1:48. 3. Black and White. 5:02. 4. Christianopel. 5:02. 5. Silent Inferno. 3:04. 6. The Navigator. 1:46. 7. Vox Humana. 3:46.

Disc 2.

1. Genie in a Bottle. 11:10. 2. Fast Lane. 6:49. 3. Grand Old World. 5:54. 4. Soul Vortex. 4:23. 5. Rollin’ the Dice. 8:42. 6. The Devil’s Danceschool. 4:47. 7. Man Overboard. 8:19. 8. Solitary Shell. 6:50. 9. Devil’s Playground. 11:19.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.



To sum up my review of The Flower Kings box set A Kingdom Of Colours (1995 – 2002) I would say that it’s most likely aimed at serious record collectors who just have to have everything that their favourite bands put out there. There is no doubt it does offer you a terrific insight in this great bands earlier part of their career, which personally for myself I would consider to be their very best output. Though to be honest I still highly rate the band today.

They are very much skilful and class musicians who know how to craft out great music. Like I said earlier in my review Roine Stolt is no stranger to the world of progressive rock and he’s been in the business since the mid 70’s. He is one of the top writers in today’s world of prog rock and his music very will very much speaks for itself.

The only other way I can see this box set appealing to somebody is if like myself you lost your albums, or even sold them and are thinking of buying them back. This box set is the way to go at its price point and is a bargain that will save you more than half the price of buying them all back again individually. I myself was grateful it was released and am well chuffed with it.

Even though only the one double albums has been remastered I cannot fault the sound quality of the original albums that you get here. The production is very high and they sound superb. In my own experience out of any of Roine Stolt’s production work. The only thing he really does suck at is the work he has done in mixing albums with a 5.1 surround sound mix. But that takes a special mixing engineer to do that, and not many great stereo mixing engineers are really that good at it either.

To be honest I would love to see all these albums done with a 5.1 mix on them, and I would buy them all again. But if Stolt was doing the 5.1 mix himself. I would not even bother buying them (LOL).

I think it would of been nice if they did include the bonus tracks on a free CD to accompany the box set. Some of those limited edition albums I lost that came with a bonus CD were really great. Especially the bonus disc that came with The Rainmaker album. Luckily I still have them on my hard drive, but they are only in 192kbps. But I suppose that will have to do.


In conclusion of my review of the box set A Kingdom Of Colours by The Flower Kings I would say that if your into the likes of Yes. Genesis. Camel. Focus. Frank Zappa and many more bands and artists alike. I think you will like The Flower Kings. They are a band that no doubt have all those influences but present the music to you in their very own way and style, and it’s just as good.

For a box set such as this, you are getting way more for your money here than what you would ever have got in David Glimore’s deluxe edition box set of his Live At Pompeii which I reviewed back in October last year, and that cost £10 more when I brought it. OK it may be different in that it contains 2 CD’s and 2 Blu Rays of one live concert, but even the box set A Kingdom Of Colours comes in, is a way better presentation I personally think.

However personally I would not suggest a box set like this for a first time listener. Because like I said earlier in my review, this is a hell of a lot information to digest and absorb all at once, and is quite a mouthful.

My personal recommendation in the way of a starting point for newcomers. Would be any one of the 4 single albums.

But if you have some of their later albums and are thinking of backtracking on their earlier albums from their discography. I would highly recommend this box set.

The box set offers you quite a saving. It is also a limited box set and you get a certificate with a number from 1 to 3,000. Mine was the number 1,294. So when they are all sold they are not likely to be reissued again.

My final overall complete box set value rating is really based upon the box presentation and the contents on the CD’s and booklet that comes with it. It does not represent the quality of the Digipaks and Sleeves the discs come in, or the fact a box set like this is only really of value to those who do not have the albums. So here are a few pros and cons.

Very well made great looking box that house the contents.
Original artwork and CD’s.
Very good thick quality  booklet.
Excellent price point.

The box set contains nothing new regarding the albums inside.
Pointless for those who already have the albums.
Contains no bonus material.
Way too much material to take in and absorb for newcomers.
The cardboard Digipaks & Sleeves could of been made of better quality.

Lee’s overall Complete Box Set Value Rating…

The Box Set Presentation Rating Score. 10/10.

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #57

Steve Hackett – Wuthering Nights Live In Birmingham (Blu Ray)

Blu Ray


Released on the 26th January 2018 Wuthering Nights Live In Birmingham captures Steve Hackett’s live performance in my own town at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on the 1st May 2017. Hackett is with his regular band of musicians to accompany him, plus some special guests who lend an hand in supporting him on some of numbers he performs throughout the live show.

The concert was from just one of the many shows that took place in 2017 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the last studio album he played on with his old band Genesis and features many songs from that 1977 album Wind and Wuthering.

It’s a concert I never went to myself, but I always enjoy Steve Hackett’s live DVD & Blu Ray releases, and each one gives you something a bit different over the years I have been buying them. I have quite a good few of them too. They give you a chance to see the show without having to leave your seat or home so to speak.

Though nothing will ever beat being there in reality if you want to capture the real atmosphere, but these days with high definition (HD) and high quality sound formats they do help a lot to get near the real thing in some ways.

Are Concert Tickets Too Expensive These Days?…

To be honest I do not go to a lot of live concerts these days, and it’s perhaps mainly down to the price they do charge for concert tickets these days too. I tend to stick to the much smaller venues as well like the Robin 2 in Wolverhampton where you generally pay around £15 to £30 for a ticket. To be honest you could of seen Steve Hackett play that venue for the price of £17.50 back in 2007/08.

Since he’s taken up doing the Genesis revisited material live he’s become a lot more popular again and is playing bigger venues. Ticket prices to see him these days are from around £70 to £90 plus. So for me the price of the DVD & Blu Ray is much more suited to my pocket.

I certainly do not think the price of concert tickets today in comparison to years ago is all down to inflation and the rise one gets in their pay packet so to speak. To be perfectly honest I was earning more money in 1979 than what I could ever earn today. If I was still taking home that money I could perhaps afford the prices that are charged for a lot of today’s concert tickets.

The rise in the price of concert tickets is generally down to a few things. One is perhaps down to the lack of album sales, and in reality it’s very hard for any artist to make a lot of money from album sales in comparison to years ago. You only have to look at how many albums one had to sell to achieve Gold or Platinum status years ago, in comparison to the very little they have to sell these days to achieve that same status.

A lot of that really boils down to the birth of the internet and the home computer. I would even say that the biggest majority of home computer users only ever wanted a computer in the first place because they learned from other people they could get something for nothing. Streaming sites do not help either.

Ripping off any mainstream artists album these days is dead easy, and in some cases you can even get the album before it’s officially released. I am not talking about lesser quality either. Simply because some of the people who work in the music business cannot keep their hands to themselves, and the world is full of these crooks who have no respect for the artist at all.

A lot of other people buy music will also upload it to the internet and put it about on various torrent sites and the likes too. Years ago the artists only ever suffered from being bootlegged with far less inferior quality music being sold in small record stores. But today much higher quality can be had for nothing, which is why the music buying market suffers so much today.

Secondly there is no doubt putting on a live show does cost money, and if artists want to put on a more spectacular show by adding more lighting rigs and lasers and other things that make it that more spectacular. This also costs more money and even the size of the venue will reflect in the higher price of the concert ticket too.

Back in the 70’s a lot of artists put on these type of spectacular shows. But they also lost millions in some cases by doing so. Simply because they never felt it was right to charge their fans any extra for the concert ticket. Giving their fans that bit extra for nothing was what a lot of artists were about back then, and making sure their fans got a great show was a lot more important to them.

These days it’s a lot harder for any artist to do that, and most artists only make any real money from playing live concerts and not from selling records. The cost of putting on a live show with all the extras that comes along with it to make it that bit more special, and pay for the venue to play at with all the extra musicians it takes to put it all over. Does cost money, and a lot of it.

But are concert tickets still being sold at way over the odds?. In some cases with bands like the Rolling Stones charging as much as £300 plus for a ticket. I would say they certainly are, and no way could I afford to see them live. I would love too, but I am sorry to say that is money I simply do not have to throw away. They must think their fans are on the same money they earn ffs :))))))))).

To be honest the price of £70 to £90 plus may seem quite reasonable to see Steve Hackett live with all the costs to put on a show and the bigger venues he’s now playing at. But if other well known artists can do it for a lot less and still continue to do so. I would say that price was too high, and should be no more than £45 per ticket in reality.

During my lifetime I have seen Steve Hackett live on 3 occasions. 2 of those were of his own concerts, and the other time was when he was with the band he formed with Steve Howe known as GTR. All 3 concerts I got to see in my own town of Birmingham and you would have to go back to the early 80’s since I last seen him live.

Having watched this concert a couple of times now, made me take notice of Steve Hackett’s live tour for this year. This year he’s doing another Genesis revisited tour and is playing the Birmingham Symphony Hall again on October the 5th.

I was thinking of going to see him, till I seen the price of concert tickets. The fact that the concert is also nearly sold out, shows that people are willing to pay the price. So there is no real chance of them coming down in price either.

I guess I will have to wait till his popularity wears thin again :))))))).

Wuthering Nights Editions…

DVD Blu Ray

The live in Birmingham concert Wuthering Nights by Steve Hackett was released in 2 music media formats giving you the choice of either the DVD or the Blu Ray. The DVD version comes in a Digipak and it comes with 2 DVD’s and 2 CD’s and is currently priced on Amazon at £15.88. The Blu Ray comes with 1 Blu Ray Disc and is currently priced up on Amazon at £17.99.

I myself opted for the Blu Ray and pre-ordered it from on Amazon 2 months ago back in December 2017. It was priced at £16.99 when I pre-ordered it, but as with all pre-orders they make sure you get it at the price when it’s released, in which a few pennies were knocked off and I got it for £16.21 and my copy arrived on the same day of it’s release.

I do also believe that the Blu Ray does come with 2 CD’s in America only and costs less than the single Blu Ray over here in the UK. Well that’s just typical of those Yanks and they always seem to get everything better and cheaper than us lot :))))))))).

As with all concerts I would sooner have one I can watch rather than just listen to on a CD or even a vinyl album for that matter. So for myself having the best picture and sound quality was more important to me than having the 2 DVD 2 CD package, and was worth paying the extra money for.

Though to be honest the 2 DVD 2 CD set does come in a better package, and looks like your getting more for your money. But the content on them is exactly the same and none of them contain anything different regarding the overall length of the concert footage and bonus material it comes with.

The only difference besides the picture quality is that the concert footage on the DVD comes in 2 parts and you will have to change the disc to watch it all. But that’s not really a problem at all, and your getting quality no matter whatever version you choose.

Blu Ray Contents & Musicians…

SS 1

The Blu Ray Contents.

The Blu Ray contains the whole 2 hour and 27 minute concert that was filmed at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on the 1st of May 2017. In total the band played 18 songs over 2 sets. The first hour or so of the set contains 8 songs from his solo material, the second set consists of 10 Genesis songs. The bonus material consists of a documentary, and 3 videos that were made for 3 of the latest songs from Steve Hackett’s latest album The Night Siren which was also released last year.

The audio options come in 3 formats all of which are in 24/48K and gives you the choice of LPCM Stereo. Dolby Digital 5.1 and the HD Master True Dolby 5.1. The Blu Ray also comes with a 6 page booklet that consists of photographs and linear notes of the musicians and concert and Blu Ray production.

Picture Quality.

No doubt the concert was shot in HD and the picture quality is superbly detailed and pristine. Film 24 done the production and it was directed. produced, filmed and edited by Paul Green who had 8 camera operators onboard with him. Martin Knight was in charge of the concert sound recording and Gentle Giant’s Ray Shulman did the authoring.

They really have done a top quality job as to be expected with Blu Rays that contain real HD footage filmed today, rather than old films that have been transferred to HD for Blu Ray.

Incidentally I just read that the catering was taken care of by Flying Saucers. It must be some sort of new fast food service that Whizzes the food to you :)))))).

The 5.1 Mix.

Has with many of the 5.1 mixes that are on Steve Hackett concerts they are generally very good and have a good engineer behind the mix of them. I would say the majority of them project the right elements and effects into the rear speakers and are panned out very well across the 6 channels of a surround system.

Perhaps one of the most effective and most exiting concerts of his mixed in 5.1. I would have to say is Somewhere In South America. That particular concert was from the tour of his To Watch The Storms album back in 2003.

To be honest it’s one of his better albums that does contain material, that is more familiar with his earlier albums, and is very much more of an electric album that contains a load of effects. Those effects get utilised with great detail on that live DVD of his.

Another concert of his released on DVD in that very same year of 2003 was his acoustic concert he performed live in Budapest. The DVD is titled Hungarian Horizons. Now this concert also comes with a 5.1 mix that is mixed very well. Although none of the instruments are panned in the rear speakers at all, and the only thing they did put in the rear speakers was the actual audience. 

To some 5.1 freaks mixing a 5.1 mix like this may not appeal to them, without everything flying across the room in the other channels so to speak. But this is actually quite an amazing mix simply because it gives you more of the impression of actually being there at the concert itself. It’s literally like you had your very own seat at the concert.

The 5.1 mix for this latest concert Wuthering Nights is perhaps one where the rear speakers only come into effect throughout certain parts of the show. In some cases apart from the audience applauding at the end of each song, that does project out the rear speakers very well, and gives you that sense and feel of being there. In between I suppose it’s a bit like waiting for something to happen at times.

To be honest on some of the songs it does not really happen at all. But when it does boy is it good, and on some of the songs it’s quite mind blowing, especially on “Shadow Of The Hierophant“. The 5.1 mixes and stereo mixes were done by Benedict Fenner of Front House Sound. He’s done a very good job of it too.

The Musicians.

The line up of musicians are made up out of Steve Hackett’s main band that has been with him quite awhile, and other guest musicians that feature throughout certain songs during the concert who have also been featured in many of his live shows. The main band consists of the following:

Steve Hackett: Guitars/Vocals/Harmonica.
Roger King: Keyboards.
Nick Beggs: Bass/Guitars/Bass Pedals.
Rob Townsend: Saxaphones/Woodwind/Keyboards/Bass Pedals/Percussion/Vocals.
Gary O’ Tool: Drums/Percussion/Vocals.

Guest Musicians:

Nad Sylvan: Vocals/Tambourine.
Amanda Lehmann: Vocals/Guitar.
John Hackett: Flute.

Wuthering Nights Concert In Review…

First Set.

The concert kicks off in familiar style with one Hackett’s older songs from his 3rd album Spectral Mornings with “Everyday“. It’s a song that opens perhaps quite a few of his live shows, and is the only track from this album that does gets played at this concert. The band is also joined by Amanda Lehmann for this opener too, contributing some vocals and guitar.

To be honest one may get the impression that this is perhaps going to be one of those oh too familiar live concerts featuring many of the usual songs Hackett plays from his back catalogue and includes a lot of his old classics.

But it’s far from the case, and only 3 of the 8 songs in this first set are from the earlier days of his solo career. They even manage to make this live performance of “Everyday” sound quite fresh, especially with some of the little different touches Hackett plays on his guitar. They really all play it so well and it gets the show off to a really good start.

I am not going to be taking on all the 18 songs that we get on this live concert here individually for my review, and am merely going to point out some of the highlights of the live show. The show does contain some really great performances and even contains a couple of surprises regarding the material Hackett had chosen to play.

Only 2 of the guest musicians make an appearance in this first set consisting of Hackett’s solo material. who are Amanda Lehmann who features on 3 of the songs, and Steve Hackett’s brother John Hackett features on 1 song only. It’s only on the first half of the set they do appear on as well, and the second part of the show which consists of Genesis material only. Nad Sylvan takes on all the vocal songs of the set, bar one to which is sung by the bands drummer Gary O’ Tool.

Getting back to the first half of the set again. The only other two very early songs from Hackett’s solo material that do feature here, are “The Steppes” from his 4th album Defector and “Shadow Of The Hierophant” which is the song that closes the first half of the set and once again features Amanda Lehmann.

Being that Hackett’s latest album The Night Siren was released in the same year this particular concert, it was bound to feature more songs from that album, and 3 of the songs from it do feature in this first part of the show. They do add to making this concert that much different too, and are performed extremely well.

The only song John Hackett gets to feature on is “Serpentine Song” which is from Hackett’s 2003 album To Watch The Storms. Though this song has been performed at many of Hackett’s live shows before, it’s the first time that his brother John has ever played it. His brother used to play on a lot on his earlier shows and I was quite surprised to see him turn up to feature on just the one song here.

But the real surprise for myself in this part of the set, was the song from his 1999 album Darktown entitled “Rise Again” to which I do not think he’s ever performed the song live before. Though he has performed quite a few of the songs from this album live in the past. It was great to see him air it at this show. Hackett sings it very well too, and over the years his voice has improved a lot.

To be honest with many of Hackett’s concerts that have been released on CD/DVD & Blu Ray they do tend to contain many of his more known earlier material. The fact that a lot of it is not featured here, makes it that much more different, and worthy of getting.

Second Set.

The second half of the set is perhaps more familiar, if like myself you have both of his Genesis revisited concerts on DVD or Blu Ray that were both played in London at Hammersmith and the Royal Albert Hall. You may think that being as both of those shows were quite alike with the material they performed live from the Genesis back catalogue. You were getting more of the same here.

It’s also fair to say that both the DVD’s of Somewhere In South America and Once Above A Time are quite alike and also contain some of the Genesis material we are seeing once again here. Those were the very first shows we got to see him perform “Blood On The Rooftops” that featured the bands drummer Gary O’ Tool doing a grand job not only on the drums, but singing it at the same time.

It was fairly obvious that he was going to be singing it here too, and in many ways the song is suited his voice.

Nad Sylvan is the guy who takes on the rest of the other vocal Genesis songs here, and he was the guy who mainly sang the majority of them on both of those earlier London shows. I have to confess I was not that so impressed by his voice on those shows, and a lot of that really boils down to me being very much a fan of Peter Gabriel’s voice.

But on this concert he as really learned them a lot more, and his vocal performance on them is quite impressive to be honest. He does express his vocal range very well on this concert, and it’s not just on the songs Phil Collins sang either from that album Wind and Wuthering that is featured mainly in this set.

In total 5 of the tracks from the album Wind and Wuthering are performed live and the opening track off that album “Eleventh Earl Of Mar” kicks off this second half of the live show.

Out of the 9 tracks that are on the original album. 4 of the 5 of them (they play one after the other) have been played at many of his other earlier concerts, just like this one that opens this half of the show. The only one that had never been played live before was the 2nd track on the album “One For The Vine“. It’s very much one of my favourite tracks on that album, and in many ways enticed me to buy this concert too.

The band do quite a decent job of it too, although the clanging percussion part that features on the studio version, does not get to be quite as well projected here. The sax and wind player Rob Townsend bangs it out on one of those Alesis Drum Pad machines similar to my own. But it was great to see it included here.

I would of liked to have seen them do another song they have never performed live from this album too. And that is “All In A Mouses Night” which is another one of the great tracks on the album. Sadly it was not the case here, but who knows it maybe featured at future shows.

Once the shows main feature of the 40th Anniversary of Wind and Wuthering is out the way, it’s time for a few more earlier Genesis songs to finish off the show with. You get another 5 songs here and one of them has never been played live before. That one was on the B-Side of a 3 track EP entitled Spot The Pigeon which was released in the same year 1977.

Although I am mainly an albums man. I did actually buy this EP on its release and still have it. Steve Hackett says a few words about the song “Inside Out” which is the song that does get its first airing here, and says that it was originally intended to be put on the album Wind and Wuthering but it got left off.

He also felt that it should of been included and it was one of his favourite songs and they could of taken another track off it to accommodate it. He did not say which one, but my choice would of been “Your Own Special Way” :)))))).

Both the opening and closing tracks of the Trick Of The Tail album are also played live here, and the show ends off with “Los Endos” from that album.

The other 2 songs are Genesis classics from the Peter Gabriel era of the band, and are most welcome here. They are “Firth Of Fifth” and “The Musical Box“. Both were performed at their earlier London shows at Hammersmith and the Royal Albert Hall back in 2013/14 but they are quite different on this performance.

The highlight of this particular half of the show for me has to be the latter of those two songs “The Musical Box“. To be honest I do not think the band have ever performed it as well as this before, and you would have to go back in time, to those dark distant days of the early 70’s to have seen it performed this good with the original band.

I take my hat off to Nad Sylvan on this performance, and it’s quite outstanding. The whole band really put on a great show, and in many ways it has you wishing you were there.

The Bonus Material…

The Documentary.

The documentary that comes as one of the extras is around 33 and half minutes long. You get to see Steve Hackett and all the individual members of the band that took part in the show, talking back stage and in and around the hotel they was staying at.

Being has they are in an hotel it’s perhaps a bit different because they do show you footage of some of the guys in their hotel rooms. There is even an upright piano in some of the rooms, and I like the part where they are showing the bands long time keyboard player Roger King in his hotel room. Basically because he lifts up the lid on the old Joanna and plays a nice bit of a jazzy ditty on it :))))).

King even mentions that the Symphony Hall has a Steinway Grand piano and he would of loved to have had that on stage with him so he could have a tinkle on that during the show.

Roger King is an excellent keyboard player and he even uses the same full size weighted 88 key Studiologic midi controller I have at his shows with sampled high quality VST’s to get a lot of the sounds for the Genesis set. Including the mellotron sounds to which Hackett has a special software library of. He does also carry a few more known stage keyboards on stage with him too of course.

It was also great to see both Rob Townsend & Gary O’ Tool being interviewed in the lobby of the hotel. Between the two of them they are a really great comedy act besides both being excellent musicians, and have been playing with Steve Hackett since the very early 2000’s.

Another really terrific musician that is quite impressive and adds to the line up of this band very well is Nick Beggs. Beggs has played bass for Steve Hackett here and there since 2009  when he played on a few tracks on Hackett’s 20th studio album Out Of The Tunnels Mouth which was released back in 2009. He also was in the line up that toured that same album live right up to 2011. It’s another really great Hackett album I like a lot.

He also played on a few tracks on another later couple of studio albums of Hackett’s and he’s not only a great bass player, but plays guitar really well too. It was great to see him on this tour.

Beggs also formed a new 3 piece progressive rock band with Hackett’s keyboard Roger King in 2014 and has also been a long time member of the new wave band Kajagoogoo since 1978 and played with many other artists including the Steve Wilson band.

Besides the main band the other guests John Hackett. Amanda Lehmann and Nad Sylvan can be seen loitering around the hotel and in their rooms just like the rest of the band. These have also played a big part in Hackett’s solo career over the last few years and featured on his studio albums and many live concerts. His brother goes right back to the beginning in 1975.

You also get to see some time-lapse footage of the stage being put together and taken apart and it all adds up to being a nice bonus feature.

The Videos.

The 3 videos you get are songs off his latest solo album The Night Siren. It’s an album that has a touch of the east and other world music influences. A cross between being electric and orchestrated. To be honest I am not a fan of world music and it’s textures and colours. But Hackett does a pretty good enough job on the album.

Though I have to confess it’s not one of his albums I would put up there with his best I am afraid. But that’s perhaps to my disliking of this flavoured music more than anything else on that score. A lot of the inspiration for this particular album would of been inspired from the many exotic places he visits with his wife.

The first of the video songs up is “Behind The Smoke“. It’s the only one of the new songs out of the 3 here that is played live at this concert. The other two video songs are “Fifty Miles From The North Pole” and “West East“.

The total playing time of all 3 videos is around 20 minutes, and just like the documentary it only has a stereo soundtrack which is most common with bonus material.

The videos are very well shot in HD and I would of expected his wife also had a lot to do with them as well. I am pretty sure she is into photography and film.

Steve is getting on a bit now and personally I would of felt that if it was not for his wife he would be not be appearing in these videos himself. I could be wrong and I am only speculating here. But making these type of videos today I hardly think they would make top of the pops sort of thing, even if they are very professionally done and contain some great effects.

But of course we can all be kids at times no matter how old we are, and I bet it was good fun making them too. So fair play to him and his wife.


To sum up Wuthering Nights Live In Birmingham by Steve Hackett. I personally think it offers something a bit more different with the material Hackett and the band are presenting you with here.

Some people may think do I really need another Steve Hackett concert on Blu Ray or DVD?. But for me personally I do not think there is one single person in this whole world, who is capable of playing the same song twice live, and making it sound exactly the same.

Each performance is very much different, and both Steve Hackett and his band like to keep things fresh by adding different textures and colours to the sounds of their instruments, and throw in a bit of live improvisation along the way to make each live show that much different and appealing to the audience.

Each concert can give you as the listener a different buzz, and one will always take away something special away from it. The same can be said for these concerts that have been released on DVD & Blu Ray. They are all different and can even give a reviewer like myself something different to talk about.

Personally I think buying the release of this particular concert is a must for those who were at the same show in Birmingham on the night it was performed. Even if it’s just for a souvenir. I would also say it would appeal to those who got to see the same live tour at other venues where is was not filmed.

But even for the likes of those who never went to see him like myself. It still offers and presents you with an highly entertaining night in your own home watching it, and is worth having.


Steve Hackett’s Wuthering Nights Live In Birmingham is a very good concert and perhaps tries to be different in the way it presents you with 2 different sets taking on Hackett’s solo material in one half, and Genesis in the other.

Both set lists contain material that he has never performed live before, and both set lists contain a different bit of variety about them, in comparison to most of his live shows that feature more of same thing with more renowned material.

The concert was done to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the 1977 Genesis album Wind and Wuthering and the fact that they covered more than half of the original album in this live performance, it was quite spectacular and  I really think they done a grand job of it.

The price point of the DVD or Blu Ray is very reasonable and peanuts in relation to the price of the concert ticket. Personally I do not think you cannot beat being there simply because no cameras can capture everything you are seeing with your own eyes and no recording can truly capture the live atmosphere either.

But what the DVD or Blu Ray will offer you is a very good representation of the actual live show. Both the picture and sound quality are really superb, and a lot of pleasure and enjoyment can still be achieved from it.

Play Me Old King Cole…

The Set List is as follows:

01. Every Day.
02. El Niño.
03. The Steppes.
04. In The Skeleton Gallery.
05. Behind The Smoke.
06. Serpentine Song.
07. Rise Again.
08. Shadow Of The Hierophant.
09. Eleventh Earl Of Ma.
10. One For The Vine.
11. Blood On The Rooftops.
12. In That Quiet Earth .
13. Afterglow.
14. Dance On A Volcano.
15. Inside And Out.
16. Firth Of Fifth.
17. The Musical Box.
18. Los Endos.

Lee’s overall Complete Blu Ray Value Rating…

The Picture Quality Rating Score. 10/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8/10.

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 7/10

The Overall Concert Rating Score. 9/10.