The Twenty Seven Club (CD/DVD)

Magenta's latest finds them returning to an overtly progressive rock sound and the music is all the better for it.  The Twenty Seven Club is a concept album based around famous rock stars that died at the age of 27 (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hedrix, Kurt Cobain, ao).  The core lineup is Rob Reed, Christina Booth, and Chris Fry.  For this album the band is rounded out by guest drummer Andy Edwards of IQ.  Reed's keyboard work is back in the fore and Fry's Howe-isms on guitar always bring a polish to the music (and grin on the face).  Christina Booth's voice is a real gift and she shines as always.  Overall the music makes some overt references to Yes and Genesis so you get that old school flavor that the band hasn't offered in many years.  The album arrives in a special edition with a bonus DVD.  You get the complete album in a 5.1 mix, documentary footage and a promo video for one of the tunes.  Highly recommended.

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  • Nimbus is the band's first album with Spanish vocals. Its a concept album that will appeal to any fan of symphonic rock.
    $15.00
  • "Easily the “odd-duck” of the major Cardiacs records, the most controversial, and probably the hardest to get into at first. Some fans actually think this is an outright failure. Tim Smith has been quoted calling it his favorite record! The album’s fumbled release is part of the it’s weird reputation – it was the first full-length by the new stripped down line-up (already grounds for fear in the hearts of fans), and it was set for release on Rough Trade. But the label tanked and the album sat in the vaults for years until Smith’s label eventually released it with a different master. When I first heard it, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. The sound is definitely way different from “On The Land..” (though if you’ve heard “Sing To God” first it won’t be a huge surprise). The production is odd and harsh and obviously put together in the late 80s/early 90s. The songs are often really violent and complex, with a lot less breathing room than even before. But like all this band’s work, the compositions started to reveal themselves, and now I have very few bad things to say about any of these tunes. Is this my favorite Cardiacs record? No. But it’s cram-packed with amazing tracks and ideas. The opening track is a Cardiacs staple – the majestic anthem “Home of Fadeless Splendour.” Done entirely as a large-group-chant, it sort of sounds like a German political rally song, albeit one with Smith’s patented melodic style. It’s a genius tune. Next is the crazy and head-dizzying “She’s Hiding Behind The Shed,” one of my favorites. There seems to be a more trashy sound to some of these songs – the energy and thrust taking precedence over melody and intricacy (that’s particularly true on “Shed” as well as the pedal-to-the-metal “Anything I Can’t Eat”). “Goodbye Grace” is another trashy poppy standout. There’s another side to the record as well – a psychedelic 60s pop vibe represented by “Day Is Gone,” the absolutely beautiful ballad “Helen And Heaven,” and the incredible indescribable haunting closer “Snakes-A-Sleeping.” That last track has the best psych-out ending I’ve ever heard on a record – just hilarious and terrifying!!! I’ve come to appreciate every track here, though it definitely took some repeat listens and a push through the unappealing production  (“Core” has a fantastic vocal melody, “For Good And All” and “Bodysbad” are both insane and magical Smith-ian wonders). Not the best place the start, but a wonderful one to end up at!" - Madnest
    $18.00
  • "Temperance is back with the sophomore release “Limitless” and as predicted/foreshadowed, the album takes a more distinctive directional turn towards Amaranthe, but fortunately, with enough Delain and Italian songwriting/musicianship to balance. Over the year since the release of the debut from the musicians who were once known as Bejelit, I began padding my mind with enough psychic cushion to soften the distraction of glitzy "popcore" keyboards while straining to hear what lies beneath. Pushing aside the glitz will reveal the heart of Italian power/progressive still beating – one that produces excellent songwriting, fantastic solos and a vocalist who can actually sing rather than belt out "Cavalleria Rusticana." If you can bear the glamour and core style vocal distractions, in many ways “Limitless” is superior to its predecessor. Unfortunately, even a strong will may not be able to overcome.Let's get one thing straight - a band should not be faulted for trying to make a living. What many call “selling out” is akin to deciding that every band must cater to the whim of every listener, with no care towards the lives musicians try to lead – especially in this day and age. Temperance has molded its sound in a way to make itself globally appealing, keeping an ear to the trends that will allow the group to circle the globe and realize a dream. This doesn’t mean everyone has to like that style, just look around – there are thousands of bands that can garner one’s attention. The same can be said for Amaranthe, which has cracked the U.S. market, sadly something that Olof Morck’s incredible fantasy power metal act DragonLand has yet to do. Temperance recently cracked the U.S. market and “Limitless” will only widen the door to hopefully an east coast run.What “Limitless” presents is a formula that is currently hot: the three singer mold – one female, two male (harsh/clean) - and elements of symphonic, pop, core, Scar Symmetry-esque modern metal, all creating a symbiotic relationship. It all boils down to whether you find it palatable or not. Apparently, this works and finds appeal with a large fanbase – where fans can bounce and have their fun. I’m sure hordes of teenage fans will fall for tracks like “Here & Now” and “Save Me.” Temperance plays it so well and is actually superior to bands like Amaranthe because rarely do the Italians completely abandon their roots. Patience and endurance will reveal that the heart of Bejelit still beats. You may take the renaissance out of Italian metal, but you can never take away that neo-classical training. It still shines…just buried beneath overbearing modernization.You can hear it in songs like “Side By Side” and “Burning,” two of the best songs the band has written, the former being the favorite. Marco Pastorino is among Italy’s best guitarists (with a voice to boot) and his riffs, solos, and melody lines are as great as ever, even if they are completely slathered by techno/dance style keys. Chiara is as uber talented as she is super attractive. However, if it were up to me, nixing the keyboards completely along with the harsh core vocals would allow the real music to breathe, but surely that would undermine what the band is trying to accomplish here. Bottom line…we don’t always get what we want. Other notable tracks include the Delain inspired tracks “Amber & Fire” and “Stay," "Mr. White," and the gorgeous piano driven “Goodbye.”As far as production, “Limitless” sounds top notch and expertly mixed. You can take Simone Mularoni’s name as your stamp of auto-perfection. For fans seeking bands with supercharged pop, core, modern influenced styles along the lines of Amaranthe, Temperance plays it with more style and grace than all of them. For fans of the classical influenced power/progressive style of Bejelit – it really is still there, only entombed behind a wall of glitz for which it will take “limitless” concentration to block the distractions." - Metal Underground
    $15.00
  • Follow up to 2011's Disobey once again finds this Scottish band clinging to the British neoprog sound that helped define the genre.  To their credit there is a bit more playing than most of their brethren.  I particularly like the ornate keyboard work.  Nothing wrong with some old school prog sounds to remind us how it should be done.
    $13.00
  • So here's my personal confession...after Neal left I felt that Spock's Beard lost their way.  Nick is a fine vocalist but there was something quirky about Neal's writing that had a reverential old school quality that I found lacking.  The albums didn't grab me.  Nick left and Ted Leonard took over on vocals.  Whether it was Enchant or Thought Chamber, he's always stood out and he fits Spock's Beard quite well.  The new drummer Jimmy Keegan slipped into the blend with no dificulty.  The result is (to my mind) a resurgence from this band.  Ryo Okumoto always puts on a show - in particular his heavy reliance on Hammond organ reminds me quite a bit of Steve Walsh.  In fact the sound of the whole album has a Kansas vibe. Coincidentally David Ragsdale guests on one track.  I'm not sure I can remember the last time I said this about a Spock's Beard album - Highly recommended."Very few bands are so recognizable that you know who you are listening to within 2 seconds.  That is all it takes at the beginning of the first track on The Oblivion Particle to know you are listening to Spock’s Beard.  There is no slow buildup or keyboard swells, just straight BAMM!, here we go.  And if the opening notes don’t get you, the organ 5 seconds in will.  The band’s 12th studio album, this one the second with singer Ted Leonard and drummer Jimmy Keegan, is a culmination of years of perfecting a sound and identity, one that not even 2 major lineup changes could fracture. With this new album, Spock’s Beard up their game again and show that this lineup is here to stay.If there was a track that defined what Spock’s Beard are, it might be the opening track, “Tides of Time.”  There are certain checklist items that mark their sound and they are all in this track.  The organ, the harmonies, the acoustic breakdown, the rocking middle and the epic ending.  Each member finds their moments to shine on this one and it provides a jaw-dropping sound overload that could leave one satisfied at that moment; only there is another 60 minutes to go.The album zigs and zags through a few more experimental moments, mixing in some surprises with more traditional Prog elements.  The album’s second track and first single is “Minion”, is a perfect example.  The opening a cappella harmonies provide the sort of memorable chorus and harmonies we’ve come to expect from the group.  While, the following distorted keyboard section is also standard Spock’s Beard.  But the verse and middle of the song is much darker and takes us on a surprising journey.The most unique song the album is the brilliantly titled “Bennett Built a Time Machine”, which the album’s cover is based on.  Drummer Jimmy Keegan takes lead on the vocals here and sounds incredible.  His voice actually fits the track better than Leonard’s probably would have.  The song is one of the album highlights and helps keep the record from sounding redundant.  It is almost a pop song most of the way through until turning on the jets and shifting into Prog mode.There are some heavier moments such as “Hell’s Not Enough” and “Get Out While You Can”. “The Center Line”, however, might be the most similar to something you might have found on their group’s previous album “Brief Nocturnes…”  The track opens with an expansive piano recital piece, before turning into a combo Prog-Western bounce with acoustic guitars carrying the groove. Ted’s voice lifts the choruses flawlessly and creates an almost cinematic soundscape.Even with all of these great moments, it is the album’s closing track that is the best song on the album.  “Disappear” might be one of the best songs the band has recorded since Neal left the group.  “We could disappear, you and me, we could be, anyplace else not here” sings Ted in the chorus as he wonders what might be if we left with no one knowing what happened.  The song is really the closest thing to a ballad on the album, but it doesn’t stay that way for long.  2 minutes in, the song stirs into a frenzy just before a brief cameo by Kansas’ David Ragsdale, appearing with his violin.  Of course, the big epic orchestral ending takes us home as Alan Morse provides the finishing touches with his unique finger picking soloing excellence.Spock’s Beard are Prog rock’s most reliable unit.  They have yet to disappoint and always provide comfort to their faithful fans with music that is both inspiring and breathtaking.  And while The Oblivion Particle shows a harder edged Spock’s Beard, it also displays a group that shows no signs of slowing down and is ready to take on all comers." - The Prog Report 
    $12.00
  • "Problems with the Mushroom label delayed the release of Magazine, which eventually went platinum and peaked at number 17 on the album charts. Only the hard-rocking "Heartless" made it into the Top 40, and the album didn't really live up to Heart's last few efforts. 1976's Dreamboat Annie showed stronger songwriting, while Little Queen had a lot more bite to it. Magazine lacks in energy and, to a much greater extent, fluency. The songs sound careless and scrambled together, and while some of the blame can be placed on the label controversy, it's apparent that the Wilsons seem unconcerned, for the most part. "Here Song," "Just the Wine," and the predictable "Without You" all have weak seams in both the writing and the articulateness of the tracks as a whole. 1978's Dog & Butterfly shows more interest and rock & roll vitality than its predecessor, making Magazine an album even the band likes to forget about." - All Music Guide
    $6.00
  • "By titling their third album Fear of Music and opening it with the African rhythmic experiment "I Zimbra," complete with nonsense lyrics by poet Hugo Ball, Talking Heads make the record seem more of a departure than it is. Though Fear of Music is musically distinct from its predecessors, it's mostly because of the use of minor keys that give the music a more ominous sound. Previously, David Byrne's offbeat observations had been set off by an overtly humorous tone; on Fear of Music, he is still odd, but no longer so funny. At the same time, however, the music has become even more compelling. Worked up from jams (though Byrne received sole songwriter's credit), the music is becoming denser and more driving, notably on the album's standout track, "Life During Wartime," with lyrics that match the music's power. "This ain't no party," declares Byrne, "this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around." The other key song, "Heaven," extends the dismissal Byrne had expressed for the U.S. in "The Big Country" to paradise itself: "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens." It's also the album's most melodic song. Those are the highlights. What keeps Fear of Music from being as impressive an album as Talking Heads' first two is that much of it seems to repeat those earlier efforts, while the few newer elements seem so risky and exciting. It's an uneven, transitional album, though its better songs are as good as any Talking Heads ever did." - Allmusic Guide
    $6.00
  • German reissue packages the two albums from this now defunct band at a budget price.  Superb progressive metal from Eastern Europe....
    $5.00
  • Tremendous pedigree follows this new Swedish band. Dionysus was put together by Johnny Ohlin, guitarist from the late lamented Nation, and drummer Ronny Milianowicz late of Sinergy. Fronting the quintet is Olaf Hayer who has sung on Luca Turilli's solo projects. The album was produced by Edguy's Tobias Sammet and mixed by Tommy Newton (Helloween and Ark). This is well crafted melodic power metal with touches of speed and neoclassical guitar. To my ears this sounds like Angra or perhaps a stripped down version of Rhapsody - it's more direct and less bombastic. I was a big fan of Nation so it's great to hear Johnny Ohlin playing again.
    $12.00
  • This is confusing and perhaps some Italian customer can provide an explanation.  Some years ago New Trolls splintered (well more than once actually) and lawsuits ensued.  Over the years various members of the band have reunited in different lineups presenting their iteration of New Trolls.  Surprisingly most of these releases are actually pretty good.  At the present I believe there are (or were) 4 different versions of New Trolls and the lawsuits continue to fly.  This is a release by four of the members: Gianni Belleno, Giorgio D'Adamo, Vittorio De Scalzi, and Nico Di Paolo. They are recording under the name La Leggenda New Trolls.  This is a continuation of the Concerto Grosso series and as such the music was composed by Luis Bacalov.  The band is augmented by Orchestra del Teatro Carlo Felice of Genova.  Its an immaculate recording and stays faithful to the sound of the first two albums with the exception that half of the vocals are presented in English.The kicker (as I understand it) is that this is actually a posthumous release.  De Scalzi and Di Paolo lost a lawsuit which prohibits them from using the New Trolls name.  If I've gotten the story wrong I'd love to be set straight.  I find it all very odd but at the same time they all seem to turn out quality albums.
    $18.00
  • "The return of Iron Maiden's "classic" Dickinson/Harris/Murray/Smith/McBrain lineup (plus third guitarist Janick Gers) in 1999 led to an incredibly successful world tour that saw the New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends commanding stages with the same unmitigated power and authority as they had during their mid-'80s heyday. But the question remained as to whether the reconstituted group would be able to carry this momentum into a studio setting and recapture the songwriting chops of its glory years. This question made Brave New World one of the most highly anticipated metal releases of 2000, and thankfully, the eventual answer to that question was a resounding "YES!" In fact, the album pretty much picked up right where the "classic" lineup had left off on 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son: with a faithful rediscovery of Iron Maiden's best-loved sonic aesthetic and compositional quirks, updated only insofar as was necessary to measure up to new-millennium recording standards. In every other respect (and much like Seventh Son of a Seventh Son), Brave New World's meticulously orchestrated three-guitar attack still allowed for a greater sense of space than early Maiden albums (as well as the use of subtle keyboard textures in a supporting role), while boasting a beefier, in-your-face mix à la Piece of Mind or Powerslave. The remarkable pipes of singer Bruce Dickinson actually seemed to have benefited from a less grueling touring schedule over the previous decade, and his renewed songwriting partnership with bassist Steve Harris (and other assorted bandmembers) yielded several new Maiden live standards such as punchy first single, "The Wicker Man," and the positively anthemic title track. Also worthy of special mention were Harris' emotional solo copyright, "Blood Brothers," Adrian Smith's distinctive solo licks throughout "The Fallen Angel," and six-string stalwart Dave Murray's Arabian-flavored contributions to "The Nomad." These highlights notwithstanding, a more lucid appraisal revealed that Brave New World was no Number of the Beast, once the initial euphoria died down. But as comeback albums go, its excellence was undeniable, and announced not only Iron Maiden's triumphant return, but an important turning point in heavy metal's long, arduous climb back to respectability after years of critical abuse." - Allmusic
    $13.00
  • "Ashent, an Italian Progressive Metal band, return in 2012 with their third release, Inheritance. This being a milestone for any band, it also sees Ashent returning after a period of change, with changes in the band's lineup. After the 2009 release of Deconstructive, Ashent announced three new members would be filling in: Titta Tani (Goblin,Daemonia, ex-Necrophagia, ex-DGM) on lead vocals, Gilles Boscolo on keyboards and Alessandro Cossu on second guitar. And so, with lineup changes like these, it comes as no surprise that Ashent are redefining themselves a bit. Inheritance finds Ashent taking a very unique stance on Progressive Metal, melding together various styles and sounds to create a somewhat unusual blend. Along with what might be considered the "typical" combination of Progressive Metal instruments with heavy guitars and synths, Ashent mixes in some Mellotron, Hammond, and Saxophone. This gives their sound an almost Neo Prog take on Progressive Metal. And dynamically, Ashent swings between more atmospheric and mellow sections to some louder, chaotic blends. Ashent has a way of using chord progressions where they fill every chord out to the point of almost bursting, adding dissonant tones to the more conventional structures. This is not only achieved with the instrumentation (often combining atmospheric keyboards that are reminiscent of Devin Townsend with some heavy, rhythmic guitars) but also with some very full harmonies in the vocals. Add to this a very dynamic rhythm section, and the music can at times be a little overwhelming. And Ashent deploys many different textures throughout the album, with modern synths, orchestral parts, sequencers, choirs, and even some fusion, making for a very dynamic experience. All this combined also gives them a sound that has a very new, crisp and modern feel to it. This is definitely an album that breaks the mold, and as such will leave some scratching their heads, while others will praise it highly." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $14.00
  • "Few bands of the era offered as much variety in material from night to night. King Crimson’s propensity for improvisation & fondness for playing its newest material – often unreleased on record at the time of the concerts - is legendary. Fewer bands still, whether by accident or design, recorded so many of their live shows.Starless offers an in depth overview of one of the era’s most significant bands in its most celebrated live line-up.Autumn 1973: As King Crimson’s second lengthy US tour of that year was coming to a close, a short series of UK concerts for the end of October, followed by a more extensive European tour in November was already planned. Three of these concerts; Glasgow, Zurich & Amsterdam, were recorded as full multi-track recordings, with material from the Amsterdam show being used as core material for the January 1974 recording of Starless & Bible Black. From mid-March to the start of April, the band was on the road in Europe again, promoting the album with their final European concerts of the decade, prior to undertaking a further US tour. A number of these concerts were recorded on stereo reel to reel machines, fed directly from the signal as sent to the PA system on the night of the performance. These soundboards are often referred to as “The Blue Tapes”, named after the outer colour of the original tape boxes & are especially valued for both the quality of recording & performance.This boxed set presents eighteen CDs of live concert performances, seven of them mixed from the 1973 multi-track tapes and a further eleven presenting the complete run of “The Blue Tapes” for the first time. CDs of the ORTF Paris TV performance & the 2011 stereo mix of Starless & Bible Black also feature. Two DVD-A discs & two Blu-Ray discs contain concert & studio recordings in stereo, quadraphonic & full 5.1 surround sound – all presented in high-resolution audio."
    $190.00
  • The Japanese jazz scene is finally getting the attention it deserves.  Long written off as just a scene filled with copycats of American and European artists, jazz fans around the world are now discovering that there was some amazing music being created there.  Some of the musicians like Terumasa Hino and Masabumi Kikuchi crossed over into the world jazz scene but for the most part many of the musicians there only gained popularity in Japan.  One of the most important Japanese jazz labels from the 70s was Three Blind Mice.  It was started in 1970 by producer Takeshi "Tee" Fuji.  The label adhered to strict audiophile standards and all of the releases on the label featured exemplary sonics.  The music of Three Blind Mice tended to fall into three facets of jazz (they would crossover from time to time).  Some of the artists play very traditional straight ahead jazz.  Frankly while this stuff appeals to audiophiles its not that appealing beyond the sonics.  There was also an experimental side to the label featuring a lot of free jazz blowing.  The third aspect, which to my ears is the most interesting, is the area where the label explored modal jazz, often with an electric element.  Very little of it would be hardly be called fusion, but a rock element would sometimes be present.  This falls into the realm that has been broadly tagged as "kosmigroov".The label only existed in the 70s and the rights to the catalog has now passed over to Sony Music.  Think Records in Japan has started a limited ediiton reissue campaign of the Three Blind Mice label.  They arrive in mini-LP sleeves and are manufactured using Sony's proprietary Blu-Spec process.  We are cherry picking titles we think should have your attention.  More will follow in the near future.I don't know what the back story is on this album but it has to be a funny one.  Easily by far the most out of place release to have come out on Three Blind Mice.  As far as I can tell its the only progressive rock album to have been released by the label.  The cover art would make you think of some weird Japanese pop band but it couldn't be further from that.  Jimmy, Yoko & Shin consists of Jimmy Shironaga (acoustic guitar, electric bass, and vocal), Yoko Sumiya (electric keyboards), and Shin Okabe (drums/percussion).  Apparently they won first prize in the Japanese Jazz Grand Prix.  Perhaps the prize was a record deal with TBM?The album consists of three tracks - one of which is only 3 minutes long.  Large parts of the album sound like outtakes from the first Emerson Lake & Palmer album with an injection of Canterbury.  Interspersed vocals are in Japanese and are based on 1000 year old Japanese literature (as if we would know the difference!).  The whole craziness is sewn together with the wonderful audiophile production that we expect from Three Blind Mice.  Highly recommended.
    $29.00