New Neal Morse Album, Life And Times, In February

Neal Morse rose to prominence as a member of the highly regarded Spock’s Beard. For those who are unaware, Spock’s Beard is a progressive rock band that got its start with Neal Morse and brother, Alan Morse. Not long after their formation, Neal left to pursue more fully, his started solo career. Spock’s Beard still performs and records music with Alan Morse at the helm.

In 1999, Neal Morse released his first solo effort, followed by his second, It’s Not Too Late in 2002. After leaving Spock’s Beard, Neal released a large array of solo works that have endeared him to fans greatly.

On February 16, Neal will release his ninth album (not counting his religious albums or albums with other bands). The new album is being called Life And Times, and will contain mostly acoustic tracks. The new album is being supported by a tour in both Europe and the US.

 

Two Wishbone Ash Album Sets Remastered and Expanded For 2018

Wishbone Ash had enjoyed a strong UK following all the way through their Twin Barrels Burning album, which was issued in 1982. It was followed up by 1985’s  Raw To The Bone. Both albums were released on independent labels as MCA had finished with the band after their Number The Brave album from 1981. For many, the band was still hitting on all cylinders even though they had adopted a familiar and saving ’80s metal sound to stay relevant for Raw To The Bone. Twin Barrels Burning still carried the evolved sounds from Number The Brave and is more reminiscent of the earlier band than Raw To The Bone is. Regardless, Wishbone Ash, admirably helmed by Andy Powell, eventually struggled to maintain an existence with multiple lineups that included the original four for IRS Records (Nouveau Calls – 1987, Hear To Hear – 1989).

Twin Barrels Burning, and Raw To The Bone both disappeared to relative obscurity, forgotten to time, if not for devoted fans, then to the changing times.

On the 19th of December, PledgeMusic will release in limited numbers both classic Wishbone Ash albums in newly remastered and amply expanded editions. After this, Cherry Red Records will be releasing these to the marketplace on wider release, planned for February 2 of 2018. All issues are from the UK and will need importation to the US.

Twin Barrels Burning will be issued in a 2CD package. Not only is the original music remastered, there will be inclusion of three sessions outtakes (“Cat And Dog Fight”, “Go For The Gold”, “Night Hawker”), and the desired American remixes of the original UK album in re-sequenced manner.

Raw To The Bone will also be issued in a 2CD package. The original CD will include the original ten-track album, with the add of five bonus tracks, one from the original 1985 sessions (“She’s Still Alive”), and four from a subsequent 1986 recording session (“Apocalypso”, “Valley of Tears”, “Nkomo”, “Talk To Me”). The added CD will include eight live performance tracks, four from The Friday Rock Show (“Long Live The Night”, “Cell of Fame”, “Love In Blue”, “People In Motion”), and four Live At Hammersmith broadcast from BBC radio (“Living Proof”, “Cell of Fame”, “The King Will Come”, “Blowin’ Free”).

Both titles will also be made available on picture disc vinyl, and two 2CD set bundles via Pledge Music (here).

[UPDATE] Wishbone Ash 30CD Box – The Vintage Years 1970-1991

We now know that this limited Edition 30CD The Vintage Years 1970-1991 Box set featuring a TON of classic Wishbone Ash material including bonus session tracks will be released on April 20 of 2018. The set is limited to only 2500 copies worldwide and will carry a price tag of $337 (US), and £250 (UK).  This set is currently on pre-order.

We also know a bit more about inclusions. The set will not only contain remastered albums (many from original source tapes, as I’ve long understood Wishbone Four, and There’s The Rub original tapes to be considered gone for good) from the Wishbone Ash debut through Strange Affair albums, but also a wealth of bonus material. You can expect ‘rare album outtakes, B-sides, and 12 previously unreleased studio tracks’, all slipcased within mini-LP cardboard gatefold sleeves.

The Live collection will include the first  Live Dates album, Live Dates Volume Two, and Live in Tokyo. The additional live sets include eight previously unreleased live shows, all between the golden era of 1973 through 1980:

  • Portsmouth Guildhall 1973 (2CD) from the Wishbone Four / Live Dates tour.
  • Southampton University 1973 from the Wishbone Four / Live Dates tour.
  • Edinburgh Usher Hall 1976 from the New England tour.
  • Marquee Club 1977 from the Front Page News tour.
  • Newcastle City Hall 1977 from the Front Page News tour.
  • Bournemouth Winter Gardens 1978 (2CD) from the No Smoke Without Fire tour.
  • Guildford Civic Hall 1980 (2CD) from the Just Testing tour.
  • Chelmsford Odeon 1980 from the Blowin’ Free tour.

We know that tracks from the Portsmouth Guildhall show were used in the original Live Dates set. Here, we get the entire show over 2CDs. Unfortunately, that’s all from that album. (This means that a Deluxe Edition of Live Dates is STILL a viable grail set with ALL shows remastered and presented, along with a rich booklet of remembrances, and memorabilia included. C’mon Universal, Martin, and Andy! Please?!)

The Box will also include 156-page book of photos, memories, and other goodies. A 36-poster book is added as are four fold-out posters reproductions of original posters for: Christmas at the Palace Dec 1973, Live Dates European tour – Hamburg Musikhalle 1974, Europe 1975 tour, and the Front Page News tour – Empire Pool Wembley 1977.

A facsimile promo pack from MCA is stuffed into this box along with a 7″ flexidisc of “Blind Eye”. To finish the box, signed photos of the band members will be provided.

You can pre-order here. Don’t assume they will be there when you’re ready. Just sayin’!

Expect another update when we received the exact tracklist of every CD.

 

The Ambient Series: Steve Roach’s Spiral Revelation Up For Grammy Award

Sometimes, the music you love, even the most obscure, are classics that get recognized for their brilliance. Back in January of 2017, I posted a review of an album – something I rarely do these days. The artist is Steve Roach, an ambient magician of note that has created 125 albums thus far! The album, Spiral Revelation, has just been announced for a Grammy Award nomination. Stunning!

Spiral Revelation is nominated for Best New Age Album alongside of Reflection (Brian Eno), Songversation: Medicine (India Arie), Dancing On Water (Peter Kater), and Sacred Journey of Ku-Kai (Kitaro). Not only is this heady company and competition, it also speaks to the fact that Steve Roach is a world-class talent, something that is not lost on MusicTAP readers and fans of ambient music worldwide.

MusicTAP wishes Steve Roach (and by association, Projekt Records, and Spotted Peccary, both which released Spiral Revelation) all the best in this magnificent honor.

You can read my 2017 review of Spiral Revelation here.

For The Holidays: Projekt’s CDs of Holiday Music Are Ethereal Delights

As Christmas begins to round the corner, it’s likely that some of you have already begun to spin holiday music choices. I know I have. And like many of you, I have favorites. Several of my all-time favorites are actually from the same label.

Between 1995 and 2001, Projekt Records released three richly curated Holiday sets, all known as Excelsis. The three volumes were sub-headed to distinguish themselves. Between the three sets are 38 songs, none of which can be properly classified. Many of the tracks found on these three volumes are re-imagined traditional classics, and some are  new compositions.

All the contributing artists are from the Dark Wave genre, moved along with great supportive effort from the Projekt label owner, Sam Rosenthal. And while the music is gothic in nature (as were many of the original old traditionals), they are surprisingly beautiful and completely memorable.

Volume One is sub-titled A Dark Noel. But do not be deterred by the title (if it would threaten to deter you), the music transcends all expectations of sound. On the first volume (issued in 1995), you’ll be treated to a stunning version of “Welcome Christmas” by Love Spirals Downward, which features the beautiful vocals of Suzanne Perry , This Ascension’s haunting “Carol Of The Bells”, the unmatched sounds of Lycia, with their unique rendition of “We Three Kings”,  Area’s incredible version of “O Come Emmanuel”, and a fantastic bar period piece by Faith and the Muse of “A Winter Wassail”.

Volume Two, sub-headed as A Winter’s Song, is filled with equally captivating music. Of the album’s fifteen tracks, my favorite stand-out is “In The Bleak Midwinter”. But the album is generously populated with other songs like Julia Kent’s string instrumental of “What Child Is This?”, Lycia’s “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, The Crüxshadows’ version of the Lennon classic, “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, and Thanatos’ version of “Silent Night”.

Volume Three – a prelude – was a response to the popularity of the previous two releases, but only issued as a nine-track Maxi-CD. Nevertheless, it beautifully caps off a rare and memorable trilogy of sets that you may not have heard the contents of. It displays Lynn Canfield’s lovely “Edelweiss”, “Aspen Glow” by Lovespirals, Frolic’s enchanting “Angels We Have Heard On High”, and an alternate version of “Silver and Gold” (first heard on the second volume) by  Faith & Disease.

Of the three CDs, the first one is completely sold out in physical form. However, it can still be purchased digitally here in a ‘name your price’ offering (here). The others are still available (here, and here).

Please understand that you WILL be surprised by what you hear. I highly recommend all three volumes!

 

The Damned, Stiff Singles 1976-1977 7″ Vinyl Box In January

When the musical climate began to shift after 1975, The Damned were one of the few bands out in front of the trend. They released Damned Damned Damned in 1976 on Stiff Records, a growing influential label that also gave stage to Elvis Costello and a host of other popular rising talents. The debut album gave us “New Rose” followed by “Neat Neat Neat”. There was no doubt that a new style was coming and these mentioned singles were a strong forerunner of the genre of punk rock! Stiff Records ran its course after about ten years, ceasing operations in 1986. However, it lit the way for Ian Dury, Lene Lovich, Nick Lowe, The Pogues, Devo, and many others before shutting its doors.

The Damned released five singles (with B-sides) for Stiff Records in the UK before leaving the label. The first was the previously mentioned gem, “New Rose”, flip-sided by a non-album track, “Help”. Their second single, “Neat Neat Neat” helped push the single trend further with a flip side of two cuts, “Stab Your Back”, and “Singalonga Scabies”. If you still have those, then you’re quite the collector. But if you don’t, BMG along with Pledge Music, will release a Boxed set of 7″ vinyl singles with the original Stiff label. The Box is being called The Damned, Stiff Singles 1976-1977.  In addition to the vinyl singles, there will be a Damned embroidered patch.

The singles included are as follows:

Single1:

A – New Rose
B – Help

Single2:

A – Neat Neat Neat
B – Stab Your Back
B – SingalongaScabies

Single3:

A – Problem Child
B – You Take My Money

Single4:

A – Don’t Cry Wolf
B – One Way Love

Single5:

A – Stretcher Case Baby
B – Sick Of Being Sick

The Damned, Stiff Singles 1976-1977 Box is scheduled for January 26, 2018.

The Damned are currently recording a brand new album expected o be released in 2018 at some point!