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STEVEN WILSON

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Steven Wilson biography
STEVEN WILSON, perhaps most widely known for his role as the frontman for the popular act Porcupine Tree, is an artist from the UK who, through his various side projects, has spanned a vast number of musical ideas and concepts. Some of the styles he has been known to utilize are heavy prog, psychedelic, electronica, post-rock, ambient music, drone, metal, and art rock. Furthermore, WILSON is intensely focused on production values, dynamic mixing and mastering, and all other sorts of building albums that sound best in high-quality systems. In short, WILSON has always been an artist that appeals to audiophiles and fans of meticulously produced music. This shows up strongly in each of his bands and projects, but it plays even more of a role in his solo efforts.

Though some of his earliest musical recordings were demos that predated even Porcupine Tree, his solo releases did not truly start appearing until his "Cover Version" singles began in 2003. Essentially releasing one a year, each "Cover Version" contained a particularly unconventional song that WILSON chose to reproduce and one original song by WILSON. Also, in 2004, WILSON put out his experimental electronic album "Unreleased Electronic Music Vol. 1." Neither the "Cover Version" singles nor "Unreleased Electronic Music" feature any other performers, aside from some input from THEO TRAVIS on the latter.

That trend changed at the end of 2008, however, when WILSON released his first full-length, proper solo album, "Insurgentes." Featuring, among others, PORCUPINE TREE drummer Gavin Harrison, Prog bass legend TONY LEVIN, current DREAM THEATER keyboardist JORDAN RUDESS, and saxophonist/flautist THEO TRAVIS, "Insurgentes" proves rather quickly that it is not simply another ambient or electronic release. Toying with many of the styles that can be seen in PORCUPINE TREE, "Insurgentes" is a mature, laid-back album marked by less metal and more noise than PT's later albums. WILSON has stated that the album draws a lot of influence from shoe gazer, post-punk, and drone music.

Essentially, before "Insurgentes," WILSON used his solo moniker for a final catch-all for some of his music, making it difficult to draw comparisons to other bands. Nevertheless, "Insurgentes" makes it possible to site some bands with similar sound. Of notable similarity or inspiration are RADIOHEAD, JOY DIVISION, GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR, THE MARS VOLTA, and other WILSON projects such as BASS COMMUNION and PORCUPIN...
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STEVEN WILSON shows & tickets


  • Autogrammstunde on 27 Feb 2015
  • Autogrammstunde on 28 Feb 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Corn Exchange, Cambridge on 12 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at St. David's Hall, Cardiff on 13 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 14 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh on 16 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Troxy, London on 17 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Civic Hall, Wolverhampton on 18 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at E-Werk, Cologne on 20 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Rockhal, Esch-sur-Alzette on 21 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Theaterhaus, Stuttgart on 22 Mar 2015
  • An Evening with Steven Wilson on 24 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at l'Olympia, Paris on 25 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Muziekcentrum TRIX, Antwerpen on 26 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Hugenottenhalle, Frankfurt am Main on 28 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Z7 Konzertfabrik Pratteln, Pratteln on 29 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson on 30 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Teatro Sistina, Roma on 31 Mar 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Kongresshalle Alte Messe, Munich on 2 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Ottakringer Brauerei, Vienna on 4 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Divadlo Hybernia, Praha on 5 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at ICE Krakˇw, Krakˇw on 7 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Klub Wytwˇrnia, Lˇdz on 8 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at C-Halle, Berlin on 9 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Congress Centrum CCH, Hamburg on 10 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Train, ┼rhus C on 12 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Amager Bio, K°benhavn S on 13 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Palladium, Malm÷ on 14 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at G÷teborgs Konserthus, G÷teborg on 16 Apr 2015
  • Steven Wilson at Debaser Medis, Stockholm on 17 Apr 2015

STEVEN WILSON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEVEN WILSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 680 ratings
Insurgentes
2008
4.19 | 1200 ratings
Grace for Drowning
2011
4.30 | 1221 ratings
The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
2013
0.00 | 0 ratings
Hand. Cannot. Erase.
2015

STEVEN WILSON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.24 | 133 ratings
Catalogue/Preserve/Amass
2012

STEVEN WILSON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.46 | 112 ratings
Insurgentes - The Movie
2010
4.57 | 210 ratings
Get All You Deserve
2012

STEVEN WILSON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.83 | 81 ratings
Nsrgnts Rmxs
2009
3.16 | 34 ratings
Cover Version
2014

STEVEN WILSON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.71 | 35 ratings
Cover Version
2003
3.62 | 34 ratings
Cover Version II
2004
3.67 | 36 ratings
Cover Version III
2005
3.75 | 36 ratings
Unreleased Electronic Music
2005
3.83 | 32 ratings
Cover Version IV
2006
3.38 | 36 ratings
Cover Version V
2008
4.47 | 58 ratings
Harmony Korine
2009
3.68 | 46 ratings
Vapour Trail Lullaby
2010
3.62 | 30 ratings
Cover Version 6 plus full collection bundle
2010
3.25 | 4 ratings
Demos
2010
4.13 | 39 ratings
Postcard
2011
4.00 | 12 ratings
Cut Ribbon
2012
3.81 | 55 ratings
Drive Home
2013

STEVEN WILSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The biggest shock for yours truly is that i'm not giving this a five star rating. After seeing all the five star reviews when this first came out and hearing Wilson himself saying that this is the best album he's ever been involved in made me assume that I, a Steven Wilson fanboy would be giving this five stars, no doubt about it. Then I heard it. Just to backtrack a bit, I feel that "Insurgents" is the best solo album that Wilson has released(although the live "Get All You Deserve" is possibly even better) with "Grace For Drowning" a close second when it comes to his studio albums. Hearing about the lineup and that Alan Parsons the engineer for "Dark Side Of The Moon" was going to put his magic touch on this recording raised my expectations through the roof. Oh, I wanted to also mention that the great Dave Stewart arranged the strings on this album just like he did on ANATHEMA's "We're Here Because We're Here" album.

Before I get into the tracks themselves I have to say that there are passages on this record that are thrilling to say the least, plus I felt so much emotion at times, this is a really good album. My first listen to "The Raven That Refused To Sing(And Other Stories)" of course began with "Luminol" a song I was familiar with from the live "Get All You Deserve" record. My initial impression of the start of this song was "Wilson has got into Math-Rock?". What! Okay it's actually quite the instrumental display with that drum/bass solo to start but i'm still not into that intro. Love the sound of those keyboards that join in though from Holzman. Guitar and flute follow and check out the keys before 3 minutes. Nice. A calm 4 1/2 minutes in as reserved vocals arrive. I like the pleasant backing vocals that come and go. This is a beautiful section as the piano leads for a while. It becomes majestic sounding then the tempo picks up late. This song is about a man from Wilson's town who played and sang on the street for money but he had passed away. Good song but my least favourite. "Drive Home" is pretty much tied with "The Watchmaker" for my third favourite track on here. Tender vocals and gorgeous instrumental work during the mellow sections. It's simply gorgeous 1 1/2 minutes in(gulp). The guitar and mood before 4 1/2 minutes reminds me of OPETH's "Damnation" album.

"The Holy Drinker" is my second favourite tune. Psychedelic keys to start as drums, guitar and bass join in. So impressive! Check out the dissonant sax from Travis then the mellotron joins in. Vocals before 3 minutes then we get a cool instrumental break with flute before 6 minutes. An eerie calm a minute later then it kicks into gear with power before 9 minutes, mellotron too. "Pin Drop" is okay and it's unusual to hear Steven sing in such a high pitched manner. It turns fuller as the vocals continue. Sax helps out and the contrasts between the powerful and mellow section impress. "The Watchmaker" is very mellow to start with reserved vocals. It starts to build before 5 minutes then settles back again with piano and backing vocals. Beautiful stuff. Killer sound 10 1/2 minutes in and check out Marco on the drums. "The Raven That Refused To Sing" is my favourite song on here. And that surprised me because it was a song I heard first as I watched the cool video that came with it. It reminds me of STORM CORROSION, at least it has that vibe. Piano and fragile vocals early in this haunting yet meaningful track. Sweeping orchestral sounds add to the majesty later on.

So yeah a really good record that I will enjoy in the future, but for my tastes i'll take "Insurgents", and hearing that his new solo album will be more guitar driven really made my day.

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 Cover Version by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2014
3.16 | 34 ratings

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Cover Version
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars In Which Steven Comes Second, For Once

This was Steven Wilson's first true solo album. Unless you count Unreleased Electronic Music Vol 1, this was Wilson's first actual release under his own name, and it's the only actual release under his own name that is a real solo album. Sure, Insurgentes had the whole experimental- weird-[&*!#] solo album vibe to it, but this one has the singer-songwriter, vocals-and-guitar vibe, it's really just Steven singing by himself for the most part, along with some covers of a rather diverse range of stuff. This album was released over several years from 2003 to 2008, as a series of CD singles, each containing one cover, and one original track, most being off-cuts, or tracks that Steven started to write, but never developed completely. And now, we finally have a legitimate CD version of Cover Version, released through Kscope as a single CD or double vinyl.

But honestly, the weirdest part of this album is how weak Steven's original material is in comparison to the covers here. Steven has long been my favourite composer, and I can honestly say that every single one of his albums, with the exception of a couple of No-Man records and I.E.M., contains material that I absolutely love, I just simply adore the way he writes music. But the tracks here that he has penned are just a bit low-end and uninteresting. Even Blackfield, Steven's pop rock project, had some of the best pop songs I have ever heard, and the music here certainly feels closest to that project than anything else he has done.

Pretty much everything here, including most of the covers, is arranged rather simply, with most of the instrumentation on this record being acoustic guitar and piano overlaying each other. On some songs, the piano takes the lead, and the guitar provides accompaniment, but there are songs that flip that. Occasionally, an organ or a mellotron will provide some distant ambience, usually as the track builds, and there are even drums in one track here ('Please Come Home') and a bass makes a brief appearance (played by Steven himself, during 'The Day Before You Came'). But pleasant as they are, Wilson's original contributions to this record rarely feel like much more than interludes, and in the first few listens to this record, I barely even noticed them passing. It's certainly obvious that many of these are scrapped ideas for Blackfield tracks, where Wilson has decided against developing them early on, so what's left is a brief 3-minute venture of vague niceness. Out of the acoustic ones, 'Well You're Wrong' is probably the only one that's slightly memorable, containing a wonderful vocal melody, and is quite a bit happier than many of Wilson's Blackfield material

But on the flip side, the covers here are exactly what I would want from a cover record. Most covers albums take a bunch of tracks and play them, more or less identically to the original, and it becomes the same track with a different vocalist. Here, Steven has taken six songs from completely different fields within the music world, and changed them up to fit his quaint alternative singer/songwriter vibe of this album, despite them all coming from different places musically. I don't know any of the original versions of the songs here, although I'm sure I've heard 'The Day Before You Came' before, I can't really tell whether I have actually heard it or it's because every ABBA song has the same vocal melody. The album opens with Alanis Morissette's 'Thank U', which certainly fits nicely amongst the guitar-and-vocal tracks Steven has penned, but honestly sits comfortably above them compositionally. I won't talk about the rather average lyrics here, but the 'thank you disillusionment' hook line in the chorus is rather beautiful, although Steven certainly strains a bit going out of his range. It's not a massively groundbreaking track, but one simple little hook is all you need to make a singer-songwriter track go from meh to amazing, and that certainly is one of them.

But the real highlights of this album, and I'm sure nearly everyone will agree, are the tracks that foreshadow the dark and mysterious style that Insurgentes would continue ' the covers of 'Sign O the Times' and 'The Forest'. After hearing this, I've decided that I truly must get my hands on that Prince album, because if a skinny white boy can make this track sound bad ass, then the original must be phenomenal. But Steven brings some of his own devices to this track that certainly make it sound like him. This is the only time on the album when Steven's characteristic distorted guitar comes in, ripping the lead riff after that chorus, with him singing the hook in full telephone-voice mode. I'll admit, I'm not too fond of the way the track starts, and how the rather irritating beat continues even into the heavy part. Steven does sound a bit weak (and white) in the verses, but when he gets his metal raging in the chorus, it really pulls off. And then after the second chorus, when you're really starting to get into it'

Wall of [%*!#]ing noise.

Steven's obsession with this wall of noise was my favourite part of Insurgentes, how he'd take a relatively standard track, play it out for a few minutes, then just destroy it in this harsh drone, and it was absolutely amazing. This here, as well as the cover of 'The Forest', is the true seed of Steven's solo project. Once again, I am not familiar with this Cure track, but its origin within the dark post-punk scene is obvious, Steven has taken the darkness and put his own twist on it, with some weird electronics and effects on his voice, and even a driving synth line that reminds me a lot of 'Abandoner', so much that this could actually have been the inspiration for it. I must also mention briefly the Wilson original track here 'The Unquiet Grave' because it is not only the longest here, but it's also the only one that breaks the singer-songwriter vibe of the other originals. It's a textbook Wilson track from his solo albums, dark and moody and covered in mellotron. I would like it, but I have heard that kind of ambience from Wilson at least a hundred times, even down to the exact same mellotron sounds, and the melody isn't terribly unique either.

In the end, the best parts of Cover Version are the parts that would come onto Insurgentes a short time later, but aside from Prince and The Cure, we have a rather nice series of acoustic tracks. They don't break any ground, and they're pretty low-level even compared to Blackfield, but for SW completists, this release isn't entirely unnecessary, and I'll be grabbing myself a copy when the CD release drops.

6.4

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by FXM

2 stars This is vastly over-rated in my opinion. As of 15th August 2014 59% of reviewers have given this 5 stars. That has me dumbfounded!!

Luminol opens the album with some nice bass playing from Nick Beggs. But apart from that it is nothing exceptional.

Drive Home is very heavily influenced by early King Crimson but I find it rather boring.

The third track, The Holy Drinker, starts well but is ruined by Steve Wilson voice, he is a poor singer. The best thing about this is Theo Travis' flute and saxophone playing.

The Pin Drops has that annoying voice again from the start of the track. There is some tasty playing by Theo Travis.

The Watchmaker is much better. This is reminiscent of early Genesis and is my favourite track on the album. It opens with a long acoustic guitar passage with vocals although they are an improvement on what has come before. Unfortunately the track wanders off with some dreadful "doo doo" lyrics that ruins the whole piece although there is some good bass around the nine minute mark.

The album closes with the title track. This is initially keyboard dominant, although as it progresses it reminds me a bit of Anathema. If it had been instrumental it would have been a fine ending to the the album but it is again marred by Wilson's vocals.

Overall it think that the problem with this recording is that it has been produced by a bunch of session musicians and guests rather than a band, it lacks soul. To me it feels like prog-by-numbers rather than music that comes from the heart. Maybe if Steve Wilson had hired a good vocalist who could have put more emotion into the lyrics I would be more impressed but as it is I could not give this more than two stars.

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by JCDenton

5 stars This album is so well-written all the way through. Every track sounds so great, both in context of the album, and they even do very well as stand-alone songs. The best tracks for me are "Drive Home", "The Watchmaker", and "Luminol". I know it's half the album.

There are many oddities about the album. The saxophone honestly sounds like a guitar to me at times. The choice in harmonies also really sticks out, if anyone is so interested in such of a thing, or being aware of that. It can be difficult to describe. I find a meeting between eeriness and beauty, both at the same time present in sections like the later parts of "The Watchmaker" and "The Pin Drop". The instrumental performances are also eclectic and highly expressive. It's exciting. The sound produced on this album, though inspired by groups such as King Crimson, is very distinguished. Steven Wilson has really done something unique here. I'm stoked to see where he will decide to build off of projects like this.

Excellent album.

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by key_of_eh

1 stars Am I the only person who thinks Steven Wilson owes a fat royalty cheque to King Crimson?

I first got into Porcupine Tree at the Fear of a Blank Planet disc and have been an avid follower of all things PT and SW's solo discs up to this one (In Absentia ranking highest). SW has carefully crafted fan-boy fervor among audio aficionados through his 5.1 mixes, unorthodox instrument choices/time signatures/personal music choices. I counted myself as one of them, until this disc. Now, I feel like a disillusioned deacon of the church of Wilson. The excitement and promise of the next project after the musical genius of Insurgentes and Grace For Drowning fell flat on its face with the best track being a throwaway from the Grace For Drowning sessions (Luminol).

Even though the homage to King Crimson began with Grace For Drowning, it was given a pass due to the brilliance and amazement. I didn't mind the obvious KC rip offs, and even lauded the effort. The Raven sounds like an attempt to blend 70's prog with bad 90's rock.

The disc moves from the promise of Luminol to the banality of Drive Home. Drive Home... if Wilson was trying to describe the feeling he gets when he is driving home after a long time away and is just sick and tired of being on the road and just want to get home...then I suppose it was a success. But I have had enough of those feeling to not want to have to live through that same feeling any more than I have to.

Holy Drinker starts well - the 70's influence is strong and it's great. By the time the lyrics start I feel magically transported back to the lame-o musical landscape that was the 90's. The solo break and we are back to the 70's and it's good...but not brilliant. I've heard Yes before.

The Pin Drop is a decent, middle of the disc filler type song. Nothing bad, but nothing great either. Well, ok the guitar solo is interesting to guitarists. But I doubt that aspect is picked up by non-axe folk.

The Watchmaker...just skip this until the 4:00 mark. Beyond that it ranks up there with Luminol. There are great vocal harmonies and the piano and guitar are killer. By the time the bass kicks in at the 9:00 mark I'm pumped for some serious musical masturbation. It doesn't completely satisfy my longing for the crescendo I hoped for, but it's still a good track.

The Raven That Refused to Sing is a "nice" song. It definitely has a end-of-disc feel to it. A nice conclusion. But "nice" is not what I like from Mr. Wilson. I prefer the edgier material that is Harmony Korine, Salvaging, Veneno Para Las Hadas, Raider II, Only Child, Get All You Deserve, Sectarian, and Index. I could list many more.

Tragically, Steven Wilson may be the victim of his own demise. Having built such a strong expectation, one can only out-do himself so many times.

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

5 stars There was once an album called The Incident, by a band called Porcupine Tree, a band above all others I regarded as being at the vanguard of the latest wave of quality progressive rock, taking the genre into the new millennium and beyond. It was an album that I loathed, and felt, well, pretty let down. It was derivative, and one long tangled mess, in my opinion. The love affair was at an end.

As it happened, this was the last PT album released. I purchased Wilson's Insurgentes, the debut solo release, and found it quite excellentat the time, although, tellingly, it has not been played for a long time. I did not bother with the follow up. The love affair was most certainly at an end.

However, when some pretty respected people on this site rated this as a masterpiece, with Tony R stating it was the best prog album of the past 40 years, and when more than a couple of friends whose opinions I rate highly, mailed me to insist that I got The Raven........simply because it was awesome, well I could not resist. This is the joy of this site, that sharing of opinion and influencing buying patterns.

I took my time. This album was released in 2013, and made several critic's album of that year. The accolades are well and truly deserved, and, in fact, the only confusion I have over reading the myriad reviews are those questioning Wilson's motivations in making this album. Aside from being sweet nothing to do with us mere hacks, I believe the answer is fairly straightforward. The motive was to make a fantastic album which not only sounded rich, took his band forward, but also took into consideration the number of influences garnered from being deeply involved in remastering classic prog albums, and blending them with the modern rock movement of which Wilson is such an important part of.

Opener Luminol is a track that has those influences right there in your face. It is so Crimson that it even utilises the Mark II Mellotron that belonged to Uncle Bob and cohorts. It is a track that features sumptuous use of said cranky old machine, and delicious flutes, sax, and clarinet from Theo Travis, who would surely have recognised the Fripp influence from his work with the great man. Also, a special mention here to the thumping bass par excellence by Nick Beggs, who excels throughout. Here, surely, is a man who, above all others, has well and truly escaped from his musical beginnings.

Luminol sets the scene for all else that follows. Not in the influences, per se, but in the sheer breathtaking excellence of a group of musicians who lovingly back their leader's vision of a collective of clever, intricate, and sumptuous musical pieces. Take the second track, Drive Home, staggeringly described as boring by another reviewer. Well, if a delicious ballad, featuring wicked guitar lines and sympathetic vocals delivering a song of redemption is boring, then give me boring any day. I regard it as being quite exceptional, a word, by the way, which amply describes the incredible guitar contribution of Guthrie Govan.

Those are the opening delights. I am not going to deconstruct each and every track, because to do so would, I feel, really take away the whole point of this album, a collection of interesting, really rather introspective, and, above all, intelligent songs that demand listening to as a whole, and burying yourself in the wonder of sounds that range from the symphonic, lush, early Crimson period, through to the jazzy, hard fusion of later Crimson, to some of the rather lush melodic PT sounds which drew me to that band in the first instance, and thence to very classy, and pounding, heavier passages. Most of all, though, this is the vision of a unique talent, one Steven Wilson. No two tracks sound alike. Contained within each track are passages which utilise the vision and myriad influences at play, and, it is fair to say, make this an album which demands careful listening, and repeated listening which brings its own reward. Naturally, of course, the production is top notch. Simply listening to the beautiful, Mellotron soaked, lush feel of the marvellous The Watchmaker's early instrumental passages on my brand new sound system, and every single note from every single instrument is so crystal clear.

This is an album which should be in the collection of every single reader of this review who considers him or her self to be a progressive rock fan, because this album, quite simply, is the epitome of how this genre should sound in the second decade of the 21st century. A fusion of the best of the old and new, but tellingly unique, and a collective of great individuals at the top of their game.

I love it. A masterpiece, fully deserving the full five star review. The love affair is back on, with a vengeance.

Now, then. What was the name of that bloody album I really did not like too much.......?

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 Cover Version 6 plus full collection bundle by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2010
3.62 | 30 ratings

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Cover Version 6 plus full collection bundle
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars In Which Steven Comes Second, For Once

This was Steven Wilson's first true solo album. Unless you count Unreleased Electronic Music Vol 1, this was Wilson's first actual release under his own name, and it's the only actual release under his own name that is a real solo album. Sure, Insurgentes had the whole experimental- weird-[&*!#] solo album vibe to it, but this one has the singer-songwriter, vocals-and-guitar vibe, it's really just Steven singing by himself for the most part, along with some covers of a rather diverse range of stuff. This album was released over several years from 2003 to 2008, as a series of CD singles, each containing one cover, and one original track, most being off-cuts, or tracks that Steven started to write, but never developed completely. And now, we finally have a legitimate CD version of Cover Version, released through Kscope as a single CD or double vinyl.

But honestly, the weirdest part of this album is how weak Steven's original material is in comparison to the covers here. Steven has long been my favourite composer, and I can honestly say that every single one of his albums, with the exception of a couple of No-Man records and I.E.M., contains material that I absolutely love, I just simply adore the way he writes music. But the tracks here that he has penned are just a bit low-end and uninteresting. Even Blackfield, Steven's pop rock project, had some of the best pop songs I have ever heard, and the music here certainly feels closest to that project than anything else he has done.

Pretty much everything here, including most of the covers, is arranged rather simply, with most of the instrumentation on this record being acoustic guitar and piano overlaying each other. On some songs, the piano takes the lead, and the guitar provides accompaniment, but there are songs that flip that. Occasionally, an organ or a mellotron will provide some distant ambience, usually as the track builds, and there are even drums in one track here ('Please Come Home') and a bass makes a brief appearance (played by Steven himself, during 'The Day Before You Came'). But pleasant as they are, Wilson's original contributions to this record rarely feel like much more than interludes, and in the first few listens to this record, I barely even noticed them passing. It's certainly obvious that many of these are scrapped ideas for Blackfield tracks, where Wilson has decided against developing them early on, so what's left is a brief 3-minute venture of vague niceness. Out of the acoustic ones, 'Well You're Wrong' is probably the only one that's slightly memorable, containing a wonderful vocal melody, and is quite a bit happier than many of Wilson's Blackfield material

But on the flip side, the covers here are exactly what I would want from a cover record. Most covers albums take a bunch of tracks and play them, more or less identically to the original, and it becomes the same track with a different vocalist. Here, Steven has taken six songs from completely different fields within the music world, and changed them up to fit his quaint alternative singer/songwriter vibe of this album, despite them all coming from different places musically. I don't know any of the original versions of the songs here, although I'm sure I've heard 'The Day Before You Came' before, I can't really tell whether I have actually heard it or it's because every ABBA song has the same vocal melody. The album opens with Alanis Morissette's 'Thank U', which certainly fits nicely amongst the guitar-and-vocal tracks Steven has penned, but honestly sits comfortably above them compositionally. I won't talk about the rather average lyrics here, but the 'thank you disillusionment' hook line in the chorus is rather beautiful, although Steven certainly strains a bit going out of his range. It's not a massively groundbreaking track, but one simple little hook is all you need to make a singer-songwriter track go from meh to amazing, and that certainly is one of them.

But the real highlights of this album, and I'm sure nearly everyone will agree, are the tracks that foreshadow the dark and mysterious style that Insurgentes would continue ' the covers of 'Sign O the Times' and 'The Forest'. After hearing this, I've decided that I truly must get my hands on that Prince album, because if a skinny white boy can make this track sound bad ass, then the original must be phenomenal. But Steven brings some of his own devices to this track that certainly make it sound like him. This is the only time on the album when Steven's characteristic distorted guitar comes in, ripping the lead riff after that chorus, with him singing the hook in full telephone-voice mode. I'll admit, I'm not too fond of the way the track starts, and how the rather irritating beat continues even into the heavy part. Steven does sound a bit weak (and white) in the verses, but when he gets his metal raging in the chorus, it really pulls off. And then after the second chorus, when you're really starting to get into it'

Wall of [%*!#]ing noise.

Steven's obsession with this wall of noise was my favourite part of Insurgentes, how he'd take a relatively standard track, play it out for a few minutes, then just destroy it in this harsh drone, and it was absolutely amazing. This here, as well as the cover of 'The Forest', is the true seed of Steven's solo project. Once again, I am not familiar with this Cure track, but its origin within the dark post-punk scene is obvious, Steven has taken the darkness and put his own twist on it, with some weird electronics and effects on his voice, and even a driving synth line that reminds me a lot of 'Abandoner', so much that this could actually have been the inspiration for it. I must also mention briefly the Wilson original track here 'The Unquiet Grave' because it is not only the longest here, but it's also the only one that breaks the singer-songwriter vibe of the other originals. It's a textbook Wilson track from his solo albums, dark and moody and covered in mellotron. I would like it, but I have heard that kind of ambience from Wilson at least a hundred times, even down to the exact same mellotron sounds, and the melody isn't terribly unique either.

In the end, the best parts of Cover Version are the parts that would come onto Insurgentes a short time later, but aside from Prince and The Cure, we have a rather nice series of acoustic tracks. They don't break any ground, and they're pretty low-level even compared to Blackfield, but for SW completists, this release isn't entirely unnecessary, and I'll be grabbing myself a copy when the CD release drops.

6.4

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by BatBacon

5 stars A collection of some of the most beautiful songs you will hear in life! I don't know why I didn't see the beauty in this album the first time! Probably because its so different from Grace before drowning, which is the kind of album you expect the first time you hear it. Instead of the instant beauty of Grace? you get this typical neo prog-ish opening, pretty dirty and hard-rocking with a complex, techy rhythm. The kind of opening of an album that makes you go "Aha, so thats what its going be about. Boooooring", because you heard it so many times already in modern prog. But those who know Steven Wilson well also know that he would not do anything even near that boring neo-prog, and this is not an exception! Soon enough the opening song magically turns in to the Wilson-songwriting we all know and love so much, painfully beautiful and sad enough to make the sun cry. If you liked his other work, both solo and Porcupine Tree, you will be very very satisfied with this album!

I will admit it, the first time I heard this album it thought of it as a collection of standard Wilson- songs, sad sounding guitars, metallic but slow drumming and melodies that would fit perfectly at your funeral. Depressing, beautiful, I heard it before. But after some listenings you start to get the hang of the songs here, you start to sing the melodies and understand the strength in them, how insanely emotional they are. You also find that compared to Grace before drowning, all the songs on this album has a life on their own. They feel more memorable and its easier to get a relation with the album.

I will not go into specific songs here, it would just sound pretentious, overblown and boring. Like describing the girl of your dreams: beautiful, mysterious, impulsive, blah blah blah. But I HAVE to mention the title track which is, honestly, one of the most beautiful songs I ever heard, it always moves me to tears. It starts with a mournful and almost silent piano and Wilsons sad but beautiful voice. Just like a great movie it slowly builds up to an epic and deeply emotional explosion with mellotron and Wilson almost shouting out the pensive melody! Its a modern classic! And don't forget to watch to music video for this one, its art when at its best!

When I think about it, its often the albums I hate in the beginning (Porcupine Tree┤s "Fear of a blank planet", Van der graaf generator┤s "Pawn hearts", King Crimson┤s "Red" to mention some of them) that becomes my favorites. Just like a great relationship cannot always be great, it has to have weak periods when everything is tough as well, maybe the favorite album has to be bad and completely inconceivable before you can see the real beauty in it! I think me and The raven that refused to sing have a great future together!

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by TheBear

5 stars You are warned when wanting to vote 5 stars. A good idea that: Do you REALLY think this particular album is an "essential masterpiece"? the site's robot asks.

But the answer for this album is simple and clear:

Yes.

And why? Yes, well, that is of course always difficult to pinpoint. What is it that makes a good album an essential album?

The answer to that is individual.

For this album, it has a lot to do with what Steven Wilson does to the musical genre we all love: He is taking it somewhere new while remaining respectful to the roots. His oeuvre is bewilderingly broad and he is damned difficult to pigeon-hole.

I keep hearing snippets of early Crimson, shades of early Genesis, doses of mid-seventies Floyd and Tull, a lot of early Porcupine Tree and No Man but when I focus on the particular bit, it blends into the genius that is Wilson.

This Raven does sing - and it will refuse to leave my rotation for a long time, that's for sure.

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 The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) by WILSON, STEVEN album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.30 | 1221 ratings

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The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories)
Steven Wilson Crossover Prog

Review by ebil0505

5 stars It's taken quite some time from to truly let this album sink in and as I have learned from other Steven Wilson-associated projects, it paid off well in the end.

What strikes my interest the most with this album is that it is a set of supernatural stories that Wilson conjured up in his mind, and inspired by old folk-lore or something or another. Upon researching the lyrics and learning what each song was about, there then came room for further appreciation. My personal favorite song on the album is "The Watchmaker", and fans of Genesis would probably find the same opinion. Now that I really think about it, each song deserves to be someone's favorite. The entire album is perfectly balanced and everything fits real nice-like. Wilson's ability to produce and write shine brighter than ever, from the fast-paced rhythms of "Luminol" and "The Holy Drinker" to the pure emotional swells of "The Raven That Refused To Sing" and "Drive Home". The chorus of "The Pin Drop" gives me the chills, especially once I learned what the actual pin drop meant.

If you are a fan of Porcupine Tree or anything that has this man's face/name contained within its contents, I wouldn't hesitate to obtain this wonderful masterpiece if I were you. Each moment is without waste, and every note is calculated perfectly.

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Thanks to dean for the artist addition.

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