Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TV Series: BAND OF BROTHERS



   I had seen this series many years ago, but I couldn’t not to mention  it here.
It was maybe one of the 3 best series I have ever watched! I have read the book before I learn about the series, but believe me that didn’t make it any less interesting...
A few days ago I read a really GREAT review about Band of Brothers, so instead trying to write  another review about it yet again, I prefer to copy the link here so you can read it yourself straight from the other blog. Take a look, it surely is worth it!
   The IMDB rating for this series is 9.6!

Rolling Stone magazine's online poll...


                        
                     The best Prog-Rock albums ever!

   Yesterday I read about that, and I thought it would be nice to share it with you.
Rolling Stone magazine made an online poll about the best Progressive Rock album ever.
And here’s what happened: The band Dream Theater put a link at their own site about this poll, asking their fans to vote. Although that is not something “illegal”, the problem was that thousands of Dream Theater fans voted for their albums, and the conclusion was the 6 out of the first 10 albums were the ones of Dream Theater. Not illegal, but not fair as well eh?
   So Rolling Stone magazine decided to keep only their first album in votes and all the others were cancelled. Speaking for myself, I had no idea about this poll! I’m sure that if I had voted the results would be very different! :P (hahaha kidding of course!)
So according to this online poll, here are the 10 best Progressive Rock albums of all times:
1. DREAM THEATER - "Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes from a memory"
2. RUSH - "2112"
3. YES - "Close to the edge"
4. PINK FLOYD - "Dark side of the moon"
5. GENESIS - "The lamb lies down on Broadway"
6. KING CRIMSON - "In the court of the crimson king"
7. GENESIS - "Selling England by the pound"
8. RUSH - "Hemispheres"
9. KING CRIMSON - "Red"
10. RUSH - "Moving pictures" 
 
   Well I agree with many, I disagree with others. But in any case, this is the Top-10 at the Rolling Stone online poll…

Monday, July 30, 2012

TV Series: Sons of Anarchy (Season 1&2)


   As I wrote in a preview post I have heard many things about these series, and I wanted very much to see it. Thankfully a friend gave me the 4 seasons ready, and a couple of weeks ago I started watching it.
I can say many things both good and bad. But I will not! :P
   These series in a few words are: Too many tough guys, too many guns, too much violence, and too many bikes. If you think you don’t have a problem with these ingredients then you should watch Sons of Anarchy. Otherwise don’t…
   The story is about a biker’s club that their members are selling guns as their main activity, (among a few others but always illegal) , and fighting with everybody! Other rival clubs, the police, the federal police, the neo-nazi’s, and in general with whoever tries to get in their way.
   The annoying thing for me is that all these things are happening in a small town in California called ‘Charming’! hahaha. What I mean is that how many clubs with gangsters, how many killings, how many drugs etc can a really small town take? And everybody behaves like nothing is happening! Everything is normal! That thing really bothered me a lot. If it was in New York, Los Angeles or any other big city, I could understand that. But in a small peaceful town??? Hmmmm...
   Watching the first season, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue or not. That’s why I didn’t write any review. I decided to continue, and now that I finished the second season, I must admit that it became a lot better and more interesting.
   Each season consists of 13 episodes of 40 – 60 minutes long. The first and the last are 50-60 minutes. The in-between are usually 40-45 minutes each.
I will continue watching it, and probably my next review will be for seasons 3 & 4 together, unless something really exciting comes up.
The truth is that the second season finishes in such a way that you want to start the third season right away! Hehehe
Well, let’s wait and see what happens… 
 I forgot to mention, that in Imdb the rating for SoA is 8.7.
 Not bad at all eh?
 Here is the trailer video from season 2...

                                                        
                                      

Saturday, July 28, 2012

GFreedom's Juke Box # 10

Here I am again! :)
My usual Top-5 list is ready. This week it was difficult for me to choose, cause I listened lots of music, and lots of great songs as well! After I put some thought on it, I decided which are best 5 ones.
I surely left some great songs out of the list, but that's normal I guess.
So, here we go:

TOOL: Schism (Lateralus - 2001)
VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR: Childlike Faith in Childhood's End
 (Still Life - 1976)
PAVLOVS DOG: Theme from Subway Sue
(Pampered Menial- 1975)
TIM BUCKLEY: Strange Street Affair Under Blue (Tim Buckley - 1966)
RAMMSTEIN: Fruhling in Paris (Liebe ist fur Alle da - 2009)
  Bonus Track: TOOL: 10.000 days (10.000 Days - 2006)

Please allow me this small "cheating". I couldn't decide between Schism and 10.000 days. The second one is by far my most favourite, but because "Nighteyes" has used it 2 weeks ago, I just put it out of the list as an extra track... :)
Now, let's see how many of you are in the mood for posting their Top-5 lists, and see which nice songs you have listened this last week... :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

BLACKFIELD: Welcome to my DNA (2011)


I have to admit that this is a little late.
‘Welcome to my DNA’ album has been released one year ago, but I didn’t have the blog then. 
So now that I can, I will write a review about this album and I hope it is not too late…
   For those who knows Steve Wilson, knows very well how good musician/composer and perfectionist he is. And if you know all these, surely this album came as a surprise.
(For those who don’t know Steve Wilson, I should say that he is the man behind Porcupine Tree, and Blackfield is a side project he has together with Aviv Geffen).
   The first 2 albums from Blackfield are very good works in my opinion. More Pop orientated, but including very nice songs, beautiful melodies, and there are differences in style and sound than Porcupine Tree.
But this 3rd album, I don’t know. It is not a bad album, but it is not a good one either.
The sound has changed, and the style now is more mellow/emotional and for sure darker.
   One thing I learned later on, is that Steve Wilson actually wrote only one song here, and he is participating in 3-4 more. All the rest are Aviv Geffen’s works. And that explains many things. 
Later on I read that Steven Wilson is slowly slowly retiring from Blackfield, leaving the band to Aviv Geffen, because he is going to focus on Porcupine Tree and his solo career.
(As far as I know, Blackfield will release their 4th album soon, and Steven Wilson is making the mixing and production. He will also sing in a couple of songs and that’s all!)
   Welcome to my DNA has some nice moments, but I surely don’t recommend it to Porcupine Tree fans. Is not a bad album, but there is something missing...
And if I had to give a rating, that would be 4/10…

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part.8

                        BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST: LIVE (1974)
   I don't think that proposing a live album here is the right thing to do, but I will make an exception especially for this album. Because I have a long history with this record!
   When I was young, it was very difficult to find this specific album in Greece. (I'm talking about the vinyl version, no cds back then). After almost 3 years that I was searching for it, I managed to find only one copy at a very high price. But I didn't have the money to buy it. So I left some money as a deposit, ran back home, borrowed money from anyone I could, returned to the record shop, and I bought it. And I never regret it! For the following 2 weeks I don't think I listened to anything else! :)
   Now, about the album...
As I wrote in the post about Barclay James Harvest in the Progressive Rock Encyclopedia a few days ago, this record is actually closing their first (and most Progressive) period, in the best way possible!
In this double album you will find 11 songs, all in excellent versions.
'Barclay James Harvest Live' has been recognized as one of the greatest live albums, as almost every song here is improved in comparison with the original version.
The record opens with the 10-minute epic 'Summer Soldier', and continues with a very heavy and long version of 'Medicine man'. Next in line there is 'Crazy City' (I never liked that one) before we pass to the glorious 'After the Day' in an epic version, with its doomy mellotron sounds combined perfectly with the lengthy guitar solos.
   Ok, I will not write about each one of the songs in this record, but inside it you will find some of the best moments of the early BJH. 'Galadriel', 'Negative Earth', 'She Said', 'Mockingbird', 'Paper Wings' and more, are all here and waiting for you to discover them..
                         My Personal Rating: 9/10
By clicking on the following link you will be able to listen to the song 'For No One' taken from this album.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part. 7

                             RUSH: '2112' and 'A FAREWELL TO KINGS'.
   Is Rush Progressive? I would have to say 'definitely yes'. Are they playing Rock? Well, not exactly.
If there was a convenient term to describe their music and style, that would be 'Progressive Hard Rock'.
But in any case, Rush is one of the finest and most skilled bands that appeared in the '70's.
 Don't forget that they are only 3 people in the band's line up. That's all!
 Let's take a look at these two albums now...                                       
   '2112' was released in the spring of 1976, and it's their 4th album. Their 3rd album 'Caress of Steel' didn't sell well, so their company was pressing them to leave aside their Prog experiments, and try to record something more simple. (Caress of Steel  was containing 2 multiparts songs. On A-side the 12 minute-long 'Necromancer', and the whole B-side was filled with the 20 minute-long epic 'Fountain of Lamneth').
   Instead, Rush decided to follow their own ideas and music preferences, and the result was their most famous record by far.
 2112 is considered to be a concept album, but it isn't. The A-side is a concept, containing a Sci-Fi story from the year 2112, but the B-side's songs are unrelated with this story.
   That record was their big breakthrough. Upon its release it entered Billboard Hot 100 album chart, received very good critics, and within the year became gold.
   The band became suddenly famous & started to fill bigger stadiums, their album sales were increasing fast, so now they were free to do whatever they like in the studio.
And what they did was to record another excellent record! One year later, and while 2112 success and fame was still increasing, they released the album 'A Farewell to Kings'. This album has nothing to do with the previous one except one point: It is also an excellent album!                        
   Upon its release it 'stepped' on the continuing success of 2112, and became gold within 2 months in the U.S.A, and later the next year platinum. It contains 6 songs, and almost all of them are equally good!
It also contains the song 'Madrigal', which is one of the shortest songs Rush ever recorded.
   After these two albums Rush's fame reached new levels, and their career took a very big turn.
Rush is still active in our days, releasing new albums and performing live, but if anyone wants to start from somewhere, these 2 records should be a good starting point.
   I'm posting 2 videos here, including one song from each record.
 
                      My Personal Rating8.5 (For both records)...

                                         

video
                                         


   

Morrissey Live in Athens...

   One week ago, Morrissey performed live in front of the Greek audience.
I was not able to be there and watch him live, but I read many reviews about this concert.
I read many complaints about the production, about the place that the concert was held, about the excessive crowd, and finally about the playlist itself.
 But the thing I read in almost all the reviews, is that Morrissey himself was excellent! His voice is still very good, (he is 53 years old), his musicians were brilliant, and altogether they performed the best they could.
I don't know, I wasn't there to have a personal opinion, so I will not write here anything else about this concert. The only thing I will post here is the playlist, so you can have your own opinion about the songs that Morrissey chose to perform live.
  I am not a fan of Morrissey or Smiths, but I do know many songs. In this playlist I saw, I hardly recognize 4-5 songs, whatever that means...
If there is anyone that was there that night, it would be nice to leave a comment with his personal opinion...
Here is the playlist:

How soon is now?
You have killed me
I'm throwing my arms around Paris
You're the one for me, fatty
Shoplifters of the world unite
Ouija board, Ouija board
Maladjusted
Everyday is like Sunday
Last night I dreamed that somebody loved me
I will see you in far off places
Action is my middle name
Meat is murder
Let me kiss you
To give (The reason I live)
Speedway
Scandinavia
When I last spoke to Carol
I know it's over
(Encore)
 Still ill

Monday, July 23, 2012

Greatest Rock albums of all times Part. 17


THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: ARE YOU EXPERIENCED (USA version)

    Jimi Hendrix together with the producer Chas Chandler (former member and bass player in ‘The Animals’)  formed the ‘Jimi Hendrix Experience’ in the UK in 1966, including Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass guitar. One of the most influential bands for the future of Rock music had just been born! The next year they released their debut album named “Are you Experienced”. The album was recorded in London during a 5-month period, and it was released in the spring of 1967. There were 2 versions of this album. The UK version which doesn’t contain all the singles that came out before the release of this record, and the USA one that includes them.
Which are these songs? Purple Haze, Hey Joe, The Wind Cries Mary, and Fire.
The album reached at #2 in the UK album charts, behind “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and remained in the charts for 8 months.
   As for the reception of the album, it has been considered as one of the greatest ever debut
albums in Rock! The TV channel VH1 named it the 5th greatest album of all times in 2001.
In 2003 the USA version of this album was ranked at No.15 on ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine’s list of “The 500 greatest albums of all time”.  ‘Kerrang’ magazine listed the album at No.41 of the “100 greatest Heavy Metal (!)  albums of all time’. ‘Guitarist’ magazine ranked this album at No.1 on the list with ‘The Most influential guitar albums of all time’ and ‘Mojo’ magazine similarly listed it as “The greatest guitar album of all times” in 2003.
  Closing this, I’m putting a review by Keith Adams for the ‘New Musical Express’ magazine (NME), written on April 8, 1967:
“The Jimi Hendrix Experience are a musical labyrinth- you either find your way into the solid wall of incredible sound, or you sit back and gasp at the Hendrix’ guitar antics and showmanship, wondering what it’s all about”…

Saturday, July 21, 2012

GFreedom's Juke Box #9

Hello all!
Another Saturday came, and it is time for my Top-5 list.
This week I didn't have time to listen too much music, but I listened to many different kinds.
Here are my 5 best songs:

 MUSE: Assassin (Black Holes & Revelations - 2006)
 CRESSIDA: Munich (Asylum - 1971)
 JUDAS PRIEST: Dreamer Deceiver (Sad Wings of Destiny - 1976)
 MONICA: Avatar (Monica - 2008)
 FRANK ZAPPA: Directly from my Heart to You (Weasels Ripped my Flesh - 1970)

Let's see your top-5 lists now... :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

THE PROGRESSIVE ROCK ENCYCLOPEDIA: B (Part.2)

           PETER BARDENS, BEGGAR'S OPERA & BIRTH CONTROL
                                 
                        BARDENS PETER
   Peter Bardens was born in London in 1945 and died in Malibu in 2002. He was the keyboardist and a founding member of “Camel”.  In his career he worked with many famous musicians, and he participated in the best and more inspired period of Camel.
   His career in music started in 1965 with “Them”.  For a short period he was the keyboard player in Van Morrison’s first band. After that, he formed his own band called “Shotgun Express” together with Rod Stewart, Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood, and they tried to play soul music for a while before disbanding. In 1970 together with Peter Green he formed “The Village”, and they released one album named “The Answer”.
In 1971 he released another album, but this time under his name, and in 1972 he formed a new band. Camel were born!  In Camel he was the keyboard player, and one of the two main songwriters. (The other one was Andrew Latimer). Together they wrote some of Camel’s best songs, and during his stay in the band, Camel released their most wonderful albums. (Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness etc).
   In 1978 he quit Camel, and joined his old friend Van Morrison. Together they recorded “Wavelength”, (another very good album), and he followed Van Morrison on the album’s promotional tour.
   In the ‘80’s he released a number of solo albums, which had a small success mostly in USA.
In the ‘90’s he formed one more band, under the name “Peter Barden’s Mirage”, together with Andy Ward (ex-Camel), and David Sinclair (ex-Caravan).
   His last concert was in Los Angeles in the summer of 2001. (He had already been diagnosed with brain tumor). In this concert some special guests joined him on stage, such as John Mayall, Mick Fleetwood and Ben Harper.
   He died from lung cancer in January 2002 in Malibu, at the age of 56. He is buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood California…

                                 BEGGAR’S OPERA
   They were formed in Glasgow in 1969 by the guitarist Ricky Gardiner and the keyboard player Alan Park. Their name comes from a novel writen by the poet John Gray in 1728.
In 1970 they signed a contract with Vertigo, and they released their first album the same year with the name “Act One”. The single “Sarabande” from this record entered the singles charts in some European countries. After this album they recruited Virginia Scott as a second keyboard player, and they released their second album (Waters of Change) in 1971. The sound of this album was build around the dual keyboard players, and it became very famous in Germany, mostly because of the song “Time Machine”. After the release of this album the band spent enough time performing live in Germany in order to increase their popularity there.
   Until the release of their third album (Pathfinder) in 1972, many members came and gone, and that continued during the next year as well. They actually reached a point that in their fourth and last album (Get Your Dog Off me) (1973), the band was a trio.
   After this album they were disbanded, and Ricky Gardiner joined David Bowie for the recordings of the album “Low”, and later on joined Iggy Pop for the album “Lust for Life”. He also followed Iggy Pop in the tour which followed.
 As for Alan Park, he worked successfully with Sir Cliff Richard as a musical director.
In the following years, some of the members of Beggar’s Opera made some reunions and they released a few albums, but without any significant success.                                
 
                                                 BIRTH CONTROL
Birth Control was a German band known by their Progressive Hard Rock sound and the provocative album covers. They were formed in 1968 in Berlin from 2 other bands: The Earls & The Gents.
They released their first album in 1970 under their name in the German label ‘Metronome’, but it was nothing worth mentioning, except from the cover that shows a box of Birth control pills. (And a picture of the band in the middle)
After this album they moved from ‘Metronome’ to ‘Ohr’, a company specialized to underground German Rock scene.  In their second album under the name “Operation” (1971) they managed to improve their sound a lot, but again they didn't achieved any regognition worth mentioning. Their sound in this album was a kind of Heavy Rock mixed with Jazz influences.
In 1972 they released “Hoodoo Man” with the weird cover (once more),in which was included their only famous song : The 9-minute long “Gamma Ray”.
After replasing some of their members, in 1973 they released “Rebirth”, maybe their most Prog album.
A second album comes out in 1973 with the name “Goldrock”, followed by a live album in 1974.
In 1975 they released “Plastic People” that was probably their second really Prog album.
In 1976 they released the concept album “Backdoor Possibilities” but it was more a Hard Rock album than Progressive, and it was a failure.
1977 was a very productive year. One live album, one “best of” and a new album with the name “Increase”
Same in 1978, they released another “best of” album (Vol.2), followed by 2 new albums: “Titanic” and “Rock on Brain”
Another Live album is being released in 1979, and the band released 2-3 more records before disbanding in the mid-‘80’s…
In 1993 some of the old members made a reunion, and since then they are releasing  albums on a regular basis, and they are touring mostly in Germany.
   On the following video you can listen to the song "Gamma Ray" performed live from 1974...

                                              

                     

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Spotlights on: BELLAPHONE


   Bellaphone was a Prog-Rock band from Japan. They were formed in Kyoto in 1981 and their discography consists of 2 instrumental albums.
Centered around the keyboard player Mitsutaka Kaki they developed a synth-based symphonic and melodic style, that finally ended up as instrumental project. All the musicians are quite skilled, but the keyboard player and the guitar player are in the front line of the band. Their music seems to be influensed by Camel's sound, but in a more Jazz-fusion style.
   Bellaphone was in very close terms with another Prog band named “Air Soph” and they actually share the same bass player. It is important to mention that the members of this band are not full time musicians. They had the band at the side of their everyday jobs.
   Their first album (Firefly) was released in 1987 and is a small Prog-Rock gem!
It contains 8 songs including one bonus track, the beautiful “Labyrinth”. With the first listening 3 songs catches your attention immediately. (Mistral, Evros, Labyrinth). But after a few listenings you find out more beautiful moments in this album. Their second album (Delphi) was released in 1995, is not so good as the first one, but that’s partially because of the very bad production. But then again, there is a song here that grabs you from the first listening: “Fragments of Biotope Suite-Firefly”. This album also includes a few live songs.
   I’m afraid I have no more information to write here about this band, but for all of you who are fans of Progressive Rock, (and especially of Camel) I strongly recommend to listen at least  Bellaphone’s first album!
   In the following video you can see the song “Labyrinth” in a live performance, so you can have a small idea. Unfortunately I couldn’t find “Evros” nowhere.  (I’m saying “unfortunately” because it is a better song by far!)

video
                                                  

JON LORD has passed...

   Today Jon Lord the keyboard player of Deep Purple and Whitesnake
(for some years), has passed.
He died at the age of 71 from pancreas cancer at the London Clinic.
A friend posted the announcement of his death here in this blog, and I thought to make a proper post about it.
   Although I was never a great fan of Deep Purple,(I like them the normal amount), I have to say that he was a musician I really admired. He co-wrote some of Deep Purple's legendary songs, including "Smoke on the Water".
He released many solo albums as well, and worked with many great musicians in his long and successful career.
 The world of Rock music just lost one of its best members.
 R.I.P Jon Lord. You will always be remembered...
                               Jon Lord 9/6/1941 - 16/7/2012\

                                      
                                             
                             

Monday, July 16, 2012

OZZY & Friends Live in Athens...

A few days ago I promised a review for Ozzy's concert in Athens.
Unfortunately my friend that was there couldn't send me the review. So the only thing I can do, is to find the playlist from the concert, and post it here for you.
   Next to some songs you will see which were the "friends" that played together with Ozzy's band.
The set lasted about 90-100 minutes, and contained the following songs:

Intro
Bark at the Moon
Mr.Crowley
Suicide Solution
I Don't Know
Rat Salad
Iron Man (Slash & Geezer Butler)
War Pigs (Slash & Geezer Butler)
N.I.B (Slash & Geezer Butler)
Fairies Wear Boots (Zakk Wylde & Geezer Butler)
Crazy Train (Zakk Wylde)
I don't Want to Change the world (Zakk Wylde)
Mama, I'm coming Home (Zakk Wylde)
Paranoid (Slash, Zakk Wylde & Geezer Butler)

You can see the song N.I.B in the following video if you want. (of course is from a mobile phone, but it is not very bad. I couldn't find any better ones)...

                                         

Saturday, July 14, 2012

GFreedom's Juke Box #8

Hello again!
Once more it is time for my Top-5 songs for this last week. :)
I want to say something here first. A couple of times I receive emails saying that this Top-5 lists are not in the way they should be. Means that (especially my lists) are very mixed up! Many different kinds of music alltogether.
Well, here is the answer to this: As a person I listen many different kinds of music, depending on my mood, on daily events etc. Every week I listen to a lot of music in general, and many different styles. Maybe one day I'm in the mood for some good old Heavy Metal for example (like this week), some other day I want to listen to Prog-Rock, or Blues etc. So, every time I listen to a song I believe it is far better than the rest, I write it down in a paper. At the end of the week, I look at my list, and usualy I choose the best 5 songs in my opinion, regardles of music style.
So that's why my lists are so mixed up usualy, and to be honest I don't see any harm in that.
Otherwise I had to make my Top-5 Rock list, my Top-5 Rrog list, my Top-5 Heavy Metal list, and so on...
But why? The point is to make something that is fun, and easy. Now, If any of you is in the mood to make lists for different styles, please feel free to do it.
   And after this long prologue, I think I should put down my list for this week eh? :)
So, here it goes:

   BLUE OYSTER CULT: Nosferatu (Spectres - 1977)
   ROY BUCHANAN: The Messiah Will Come Again (Roy Buchanan - 1972)
   SCORPIONS: The Sails of Charon (Taken by force - 1977)
   CANDLEMASS: Samarithan (Nightfall - 1987)
   THE SISTERS OF MERCY: Alice (Alice 12-inch EP - 1983)

And now it's your turn... :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sons of Anarchy TV Series...

  This series I wanted to find and watch long time now. But I couldn't find all the episodes, or I couldn't find subtitles (the English ones). But finally during my last visit in Athens, I met with a good friend and he gave me the first 4 seasons ready. With subs and everything! YEAH!
 (Thank you John!)
   So after I finished watching 'The Killing', I immediately started this one.
I have seen a few episodes so far, and I think this is a good series. (Imdb rating: 8.6)
   But I wouldn't suggest it to girls easily. Too many bikes, too many guns, too many fights, and too many "tough guys"... 
Anyway, I'm still at the start, so let's wait for the 1st season to finish, and I'll write a review...
You can have an idea in the following video.

                                         

                                           

Thursday, July 12, 2012

THE PROGRESSIVE ROCK ENCYCLOPEDIA: B (Part.1)

                           TONY BANKS & BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST
    
                                BANKS TONY
  Tony Banks (born 1950) is a British composer and mainly keyboard/piano player.
He is primarily known for being the keyboardist & a founder member of Genesis.
He and Mike Rutherford has been members of Genesis throughout the band’s entire history.
   From his early years he received classical training in piano, and he taught himself to play guitar.
He met with Peter Gabriel in high School and together they formed a band named Garden Wall.
Later they merged with another band named Anon which included Mike Rutherford and Anthony Phillips. (The first drummer of Genesis) , and with the addition of Steve Hackett, Genesis were born.
   In the band he was the main composer, the keyboard/piano/organ player, and sometimes he contributed to the band with his 12-string guitar.  In very few occasions he was backing the vocalist as well.
   When P.Gabriel and St.Hackett quit the band, he was the first of the 3 remaining members to release a solo album. After him Phil Collins followed.
Unlike Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel, who made significant success in their solo careers, Tony Banks solo albums achieved only modest sales.
   His solo releases consist of a few soundtracks for movies, a few pop-rock albums (In a couple songs Marillion’s former singer Fish is included), and a few classical albums.
  His most recent solo album was released last year, and it is entitled ‘Six pieces for orchestra’ performed by the ‘City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra’.
   Tony Banks lives with his wife Margaret (got married in 29/7/1972) south of London…

               
                      BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST
   Ah, one of my most beloved bands in general, but very underrated in Greece.
I think this will be a long one, so take a deep breath and start reading… :P
In my opinion their 40+-year-career consists of 4 major periods. Let’s name these periods now:
*The Early Years / The Barclay James Harvest Orchestra.
*Big Steps to success
*Going Downhill
*The deaths, and the split up in 2 bands
Ok, maybe I didn’t find any great names for these periods, but that was the best I could think of right now…
Let’s take the story from the start…
It was September of 1966 in Lancashire England, when John Lees, Les Holroyd, Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme and Mel Prichard decided to start a band under the weird name Barclay James Harvest.
Very soon (1968) they did manage to sign a contract with Parlophone for one single only, but after that they moved to the more progressive friendly Harvest label. (Harvest was a part of EMI).
Their first self titled album was released in 1970, gained very positive reviews, but failed in the market.
Their second album ‘Once Again’ (1971), gained good reviews once more, but again the sales were low.
This record contains many powerful and epic songs like “Song for Dying”, “She Said”, “Galadriel” and one of their most famous songs ever, “Mockingbird”. (‘Galadriel’ as you maybe understand was inspired from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J.R.R. Tolkien)
(At this point I have to mention that the band had, since the first record, the support of a full orchestra both in studio and live performances. In fact in some live recordings from their early days you may listen naming them ‘The Barclay James Harvest Orchestra’).
After the release of “Once Again” the band (and the orchestra) started their tour in order to promote the album.
In 1971 their third album comes out under the name “Barclay James Harvest and Other Short Stories”.
Again a very good album,which had the fate of the two previous ones.  After the release of this album and the tour that followed, they started having big problems with the record company.
The company was displeased with the very high cost of having a full time orchestra together with the band, whilst at the same time the sales of their records were very low.
So they decided to let them release one more record. If this album would fail as well, their contract would be over. Unfortunately the band was very tired from the many live shows and stressed at the same time, so their fourth album (Baby James Harvest - 1972) was probably the weakest of the first four. But again it contains some remarkable songs, like ‘Summer Soldier’ and the masterpiece ‘Moonwater’.
   After this album they moved from Harvest and signed a contract with Polydor.  The years of the Barclay James Orchestra had passed.  With their signing with the new company their fate changed immediately. The first album they released in Polydor (and 5th overall) (Everyone is everybody else - 1974), is considered their best artistic moment. Upon its release the album was very well received both from the critics and the radio stations, and the band was invited to BBC radio 1 for a session.
The sales were very good, and this album it is considered the turning point for the band on their way to the top. It contains 9 songs, almost all of them very good, and one of their biggest hits: “Child of the Universe”. With the release of their first live album in late 1974 they are closing their first period in the best way possible. “Barclay James Harvest Live” is an excellent double live record, and for the first time they entered the UK charts, toping at No.40.
Next year, "Time Honored Ghosts" is being released, a good album with a more “soft” sound that reaches at #32 in the UK charts. In 1976 they released the excellent “Octoberon” that reaches at #19 in UK, and made them very famous in Germany. “Octoberon” contains some very beautiful songs and a couple of new hits: ’Rock n’Roll Star’ and ‘Suicide’. (Speaking for myself the songs ‘The World Goes on’ ‘May Day’ and ‘Suicide’ are the best in this record).
But what they could not achieve in the last 9 years and with the release of 8 albums, they did with only one song! In 1977 they released “Gone to Earth” album, that contains the song ‘Poor Man’s Moody Blues’.
That song changed the status of the band in the music business forever, reaching at the highest positions of the singles charts all over Europe, and became a smashing hit!
The next year they released another double live album titled “Live Tapes”, and a few months later the album “XII”. After this album “Woolly” Wolstenholme quits the band to follow solo career for a while, before retiring from the music industry to pursue farming.
   The remaining 3 members decided to continue as a trio, with guest musicians. At the peak of their success they played at a free concert in front of Reichstag in West Berlin, in front of an audience of about 250.000 people. (30 August 1980). They were also the first western Rock band to play in an open air concert in pre-Glashnost East Germany, playing in Treptower Park in 14 July 1987 in front of 170.000 people.
   In the '80's and '90's they would be releasing records often enough, but the inspiration has gone.
In 1998 the musical differences between the members brought the band to an end. John Lees formed a new band called “Barclay James Harvest through the eyes of John Lees” that included also ‘Woolly’ Wolstenholme. Les Holroyd and Mel Prichard formed the band “Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd”.
   Mel Prichard died suddenly from heart attack in 2004. Woolly Wolstenholme suicided  in December 2010 having struggled with depression for many years.
The two remaining members continue releasing records every now and then, play live etc with their own bands, under the names I mentioned before.
   I have 2 videos for you here. In the first video is the wonderful 2-songs medley "The Poet & After the Day", and in the second one is the masterpiece "Moonwater", both with The Barclay James Harvest Orchestra. Sit back & close your eyes, open the volume, and let the music travel your mind...