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DUNCAN MACKAY

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Duncan Mackay picture
Duncan Mackay biography
Born 26 July 1950 (Leeds, UK)

What do bands like ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT, BUDGIE and CAMEL have in common?

The logical answer would be very little, but the truth is that the common denominator is DUNCAN MACKAY, a guy who paradoxically completed his studios in Violin (He was elected the most promising violin player in UK at the age of 11) but was famous for his keyboard performances.

After earning a music scholarship in Shrewsbury Public School, he finished his studies in 1967 obtaining his L.T.C.L. and L.R.S.M diplomas in violin. Soon was invited to join the famous (In Latin America) SERGIO MENDEZ band (1970).

Is in this days the he works in his debut album "Chimera" that is released in 1974 with Duncan playing Vocals, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Denon electric piano, clavichord, ARP synthesizer, the album was brilliant but it was the year in which Tales from Topographic Oceans and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway were released, and due to the tough and unfair competition, the album never received the credit it deserved, being that people was busy buying music from the already famous icons who were at their peak.

In 1975 he joined Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel with whom they release the hit single Come Up And See Me, Make Me Smile that reaches the peak of the British charts, but in the meanwhile, faithful to the music he loves, works and releases his second album Score that saw the light in 1977, with famous musicians such as John Wetton and Mel Collins (King Crimson), it's only recently that this album has reached the status of Collector's Item.

Around he date of release of Score, Duncan worked with famous musicians and bands as KATE BUSH, ALAN PRSON'S PROJECT, CAMEL and Budgie, and in 1978 releases his third solo album VISA, more oriented towards Electronic music.

In 1990, after working for several years with different bands and artists, MacKay's fourth album is released under the name "A Picture of Sound".

After his last solo release, he continues working and teams Greg McEwan to form REUNION in 2003.

After checking this extensive career, seems unbelievable that DUBNCAN MCKAY wasn't added to Prog Archives before, but this are things that happen when a site manages such a huge database of artists an albums, but at last we are making justice to a great artist unfairly forgotten by us.

Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

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Bletchley Park Project (Shm/Mini Lp Jacket/Bonus Track)Bletchley Park Project (Shm/Mini Lp Jacket/Bonus Track)
BELLE ANTIQUE 2017
$40.44
$46.84 (used)
Picture Of SoundPicture Of Sound
Belle Antique 2017
$37.33
$42.22 (used)
ScoreScore
FRESH RECORDS AFRICA 2017
$94.06
$46.15 (used)
ChimeraChimera
Fresh Records Africa 2012
$29.95
$25.32 (used)
Kintsugi (Japanese Mini LP Sleeve SHM-CD)Kintsugi (Japanese Mini LP Sleeve SHM-CD)
Belle Antique
$39.99

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DUNCAN MACKAY discography


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

DUNCAN MACKAY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.01 | 61 ratings
Chimera
1974
3.77 | 26 ratings
Score
1977
1.96 | 12 ratings
Visa
1980
0.00 | 0 ratings
Heart of the Machine
1988
3.87 | 20 ratings
Duncan Mackay & Georg Voros: The Bletchley Park Project
2017
3.07 | 9 ratings
A Picture of Sound
2017
3.29 | 7 ratings
Kintsugi
2019

DUNCAN MACKAY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DUNCAN MACKAY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Sirius III
1978
2.00 | 1 ratings
Sirius III Mark II
1981
2.00 | 1 ratings
Thrust 2
1983

DUNCAN MACKAY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Chimera by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.01 | 61 ratings

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Chimera
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

4 stars DUNCAN MACKAY (born 1950) is a British keyboard player who's worked with several well-known artists over the years, including Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (1975-1977), 10cc (1978-1980), and also with Kate Bush on her first three albums. This album "Chimera" (1974) is his first solo album. Four further albums followed, "Score" (1977), "Visa" (1980), A Picture of Sound (1993), and his most recent album, "Kintsugi" (2019). Duncan Mackay provided vocals on the "Chimera" album and his brother Gordon Mackay also featured on the album, playing violin and keyboards. The album features two long pieces of music occupying Side One and a long 20-minute suite taking up the whole of Side Two. A bonus track was included in the 2009 CD reissue of the album.

The album opens impressively with "Morpheus", an 11-minute-long symphonic opus. The sonorous sound of the synth hits you right between the eyes from the first few opening bars. As you'd expect, there's plenty of intricate keyboard noodling and dramatic changes of pace to keep the listener entertained, with a few classical motifs thrown in for good measure. Duncan Mackay could certainly give Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson a good run for their money with the keyboard skills displayed here. He's a pretty good singer too, which is just as well with him performing vocal duties on all of the songs contained within. The second of the three long suites on the album, "12 Tone Nostalgia" is another dramatic piece and it certainly does have an air of nostalgia about it. It's enough to make you long for the halcyon days of the 1970's when superb prog albums like this were being released on an almost weekly basis. This 9-minute-long epic might be described as overblown, pompous and pretentious by the snooty music press, but who cares!? To true blue aficianados of Symphonic Prog, this is prog heaven! Side Two of the album is fully occupied by the 20-minute-long suite "Song for Witches." A clap of thunder announces the dramatic opening of this epic song. Again, there are alternating fast and slow keyboard passages, combining synths and piano, and it even features a church pipe organ. It's grandiose, it's triumphant, it's magnificent, but above all, it's a marvellously entertaining 20 minutes of classic Symphonic Prog, and you can't ask for anything better than that. As Duncan Mackay announces with some satisfaction right at the end of the album, "I think that might have been it."

A "Chimera" is described as anything composed of very disparate parts, or perceived as wildly imaginative, implausible, or dazzling, all of which could apply to this complex album. Just as one would expect from such an accomplished keyboard player, this is a very keyboard-oriented album, but it's none the worse for that. It's very much in the style of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Rick Wakeman, with fast arpeggios, complex keyboard runs and constant changes of tempo. You never know quite what to expect on first hearing the album, and it's worth giving the album several listens to truly appreciate what an accomplished work this is. It's classic Symphonic Prog with long extended pieces that YES or any other prog band of the era would be proud of. It's definitely worth a listen, especially for fans of Symphonic Prog generally.

 Thrust 2 by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Thrust 2
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars "Thrust!"

"Thrust2" is the name of a jet propelled car that broke the world land speed record in 1983 (and held on to that record until 1997). This music by Duncan Mackay was the car's "official soundtrack". The track starts out in bombastic, Fanfare For the Common Man style, but ultimatelty lands somewhere between ELP and Kraftwerk, with a jazzy solo coming in towards the middle. The only lyrics is the word "Thrust" repeated. Not a bad track, really!

The B-side of the single, "Project Thrust", contains the same music again, but overlaid by narration about Thurst2 and the land speed record in 1983. Interesting facts, but not something you would play more than once.

Interesting for fans of Mackay and of high speed cars!

 Sirius III Mark II by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1981
2.00 | 1 ratings

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Sirius III Mark II
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars In the pink

In 1978, the year after the release of his second full length album Score, Duncan Mackay released a non-album single called Sirius III. A few years later a revamped version of this track subtitled "Mark II" appeared on a single again, following the release of his 1980 album Visa. For those familiar with Mackay's albums from around this time, it must be said that the Disco stylings of Sirius III is totally different from both the Rock of Score and the laidback electronica of Visa.

Neither version of Sirius III has ever been re-issued on CD, but both are available on YouTube for comparison. The "Mark II" version is longer and the music is overlaid with some snippets of dialogue. Personally, I prefer the shorter 1978 version.

The B-side of the 1981 single is In The Pink, a selection taken from Visa. This album has not seen a CD release, but is likewise available on YouTube. The B-side on the original 1978 single, a track entitled "The Serious Side Of Sirius III" has however proved elusive.

While fun for fans to hear, this music has hardly a connection to progressive Rock or to Mackay's album output.

 A Picture of Sound by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.07 | 9 ratings

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A Picture of Sound
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Visual audio?

A Picture of Sound features music that Duncan Mackay recorded in 1993, but as far as I understand it was not released until 2017. The first track on the disc, called The Opening, was also included as a bonus track on one of the CD re-issues of Mackay's 1974 debut Chimera. This up-tempo instrumental reminds me a bit of the instrumentals that can be found on Alan Parsons Project albums, which is perhaps not surprising since Mackay did session work for the Alan Parsons Project in the late 70's. Some of the other tracks slow things down a bit, but it does not go into easy listening territory, and the whole album is instrumental. The sound is dominated by piano, electronic keyboards and programmed rhythms, and I think that Mackay does everything himself on this album.

I find A Picture of Sound an enjoyable listen, definitely more interesting music than his album Visa from 1980.

 Duncan Mackay & Georg Voros: The Bletchley Park Project by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.87 | 20 ratings

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Duncan Mackay & Georg Voros: The Bletchley Park Project
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Fanfare for an uncommon man

Duncan Mackay has not released many albums since his debut in 1974, five all in all to be precise. The present album, released only last year, is his latest to date. This excellent, keyboard driven album is a collaboration with Georg Voros, the latter being credited for the drums. Mackay himself plays a plethora of keyboard instruments, but who sings and plays the other instruments is unknown. There are some vocals, bass guitar, and a tiny bit of acoustic guitar at some point.

I discovered Duncan Mackay not long ago, after some recent exposure here in the reviews feed. I quickly searched out his debut album Chimera, which I enjoyed a lot, followed by his other albums. The Bletchley Park Project is a very strong album, and the best place to continue after the equally excellent Chimera. I have been playing this album a whole lot for weeks now.

Mackay is an excellent keyboard player, often compared to the amazing Keith Emerson. But Mackay has his own style. He is definitely overlooked, and it is sad to see that this album has yet to reach the audience it deserves. If you like keyboard-driven progressive Rock, you will not be disappointed.

Highly recommended!

 Visa by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.96 | 12 ratings

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Visa
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Fistful of keyboards?

Visa is Duncan Mackay's third album, released in 1980. In being an entirely electronic affair based on synthesizers and drum machines, this album is very different from both his earlier and his later albums. There are no vocals and no other instruments involved. I'm often reminded of Jean-Michel Jarre while hearing this music, which is not necessarily a bad thing depending on your taste. While it is a far cry from the excellent Symphonic Prog of Chimera, I find it reasonably enjoyable.

Taken for what it is, not a bad album. But defnitely not the place to begin your investigation of Duncan Mackay

 Visa by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.96 | 12 ratings

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Visa
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by WFV

3 stars Mackay certainly isn't your average prog rock veteran. Raised in Britain but a native of South Africa since the early seventies, in 1974 Mackay released his Emerson inspired (and very creative and engaging) debut. 77 saw the less prog more pop but still creative Scores. Visa, on the other hand, can be called proto muzak, almost like a soundtrack for the world with only Mackay on all manner of keyed instruments and the venerable Simon Phillips on drums. I happen to like this kind of music and really find this one engaging, in the same way I praise the album Echoes by African Native Wally Badarou
 Chimera by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.01 | 61 ratings

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Chimera
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The "Wow factor". It is the unspoken rule, the acid test ~ and if we're lucky, the result ~ when listening to progressive rock. It's what we all hope for again and again like a junkie who still hasn't gotten it through his head that that first, sweet high is never to be repeated, no matter how hard he tries or how powerful the junk is.

But occasionally if the brain isn't too fried and soul too jaded, an LP stimulates that long-lost remnant of one's virgin moment with a fickle lover. A kiss, a hand down the pants, and the lusty past may be relived. Or at least its memory. So it is with veteran Duncan Mackay's baby from '74, Chimera, and like most Gen-Xers the album is a troubled but astounding individual; Of its time in a big way reminding not a little of early ELP, and yet holding its own with a gifted gene pool during an amenable era for complex art music. More precisely, keyboardist/composer/singer Mackay and his trusty little duo of drummer Mike Gray and bro Gordon on violin are in league with the single-led efforts of Morgan Fisher or Dave Greenslade. And on Chimera, Mackay just lets it go, recognizing the liberties attainable and musical gold hidden there, somewhere, if he looked hard enough.

Luckily he did. 'Morpheus', though problematic, is pure anglophonic gold streamed with Mackay's organs and synths-- derivative to be sure but in the best possible way, even outdoing his much bigger peers, the tiny rhythm sec somehow keeping it all afloat. It moves through blues, baroque, samba, gospel, and hot galactic battles waged with laserbeams and proton missiles. '12 Tone Nostalgia' splits some sentiment but saves it with gritty organ prog that takes on J.S. Bach as good as any of 'em before shooting into orbit for another battle in the atmosphere. Friggin' awesome, and twenty-minute 'Song for Witches' seals it with a juggernaut of dazzling piano jazz-meets-baroque treated with heavy development, introspection, and some humor.

A prog monster that I wouldn't bet against in a knife fight with almost any of the big boys except maybe Wakeman on a good night, Duncan Mackay's introduction is, or was, a revelation. A quintessential vintage prog experience and what a 5-star rating is all about, a chip of Chimera should be placed under the tongues of every aging prog artist to bite down on when things become too much and they long for that absurd and shining moment when rock musicians were the Mozarts of their time. Recommended with enthusiasm.

 Visa by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.96 | 12 ratings

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Visa
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by The Mystical

1 stars ?

After reading a hilariously negative review of this album, I was intrigued. After hearing the album, I was even more intrigued. From the moment I experienced this album I was equally horrified and in love. I do not think I have ever heard anything quite like it. The music is arranged like regular instrumental prog music, but the sound is very synthesised, to a slightly horrific extent. The whole album is very carefree...in fact I can find nothing serious about it at all, and since prog is a fairly serious genre, I think that this will lose more points with other listeners.

I find myself loving this album because it has a light-hearted charm to it. My favourite track is the funky and somewhat atmospheric "Gin-Sing". However, I find the whole experience rather embarrassing can not imagine anybody else enjoying it.

If you are into supermarket jazz, elevator fusion, or ambient waiting room funk, than this is the album for you.

 Visa by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.96 | 12 ratings

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Visa
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars So. On Duncan Mackay's third solo album, he has thrown away his backing band, other than a light drum track by none other than Simon Phillips, completely rid himself of all Keith Emerson imitations from the previous ventures, and has left himself with, well, nothing.

Track after track, Mackay gives us a sound that has the Euro-pop aspirations of Kraftwerk, the synthesizer swirling patches of Tangerine Dream, all bound together with the compositional sensibilities of elevator Muzak.

Mackay, at least, is an adept keyboardist. He does occasionally add some fills that make the ears perk up, but with the material he has given himself it is generally a lost cause.

It's too bad, because I really like his first two releases.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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