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DUNCAN MACKAY

Symphonic Prog • United Kingdom


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Duncan Mackay biography
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
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$48.93 (used)
Picture Of SoundPicture Of Sound
Belle Antique 2017
$37.69
$57.02 (used)
ChimeraChimera
Fresh Records Africa 2013
$29.95
$25.00 (used)
ScoreScore
Fresh Records Africa 2017
$20.69
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Spagetti SmoochSpagetti Smooch
EMI
$148.15 (used)
Sirius 3Sirius 3
Pepper
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DUNCAN MACKAY discography


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

4.03 | 57 ratings
Chimera
1974
3.73 | 23 ratings
Score
1977
1.96 | 11 ratings
Visa
1980
3.08 | 6 ratings
A Picture Of Sound
1993
3.92 | 18 ratings
The Bletchley Park Project (with Georg Voros)
2017

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

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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)

DUNCAN MACKAY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Picture Of Sound by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.08 | 6 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.

 The Bletchley Park Project (with Georg Voros) by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.92 | 18 ratings

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The Bletchley Park Project (with Georg Voros)
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 | 11 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 | 11 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
4.03 | 57 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 | 11 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 | 11 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.

 Score by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.73 | 23 ratings

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Score
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars Duncan Mackay, on this, his second solo album, has moved slightly away from the Keith Emerson imitations that permeated his first album. Slightly, because the Emerson sound still appears. On the first track, Witches, a somewhat Spanish sounding symphonic proc piece, Mackay plays Emerson-like riffs on a honky-tonk tack piano, similar in sound to keith's in Benny The Bouncer. Acousic piano appears throughout the album, with Mackay providing obvious Emerson-influenced sounds.

Most obvious are Spaghetti Smooch, which sounds very much like a reworking of the main sections of Tarkus, played in 7 instead of 10, and Time Is No Healer, which owes a lot to Take A Pebble.

Despite the Emerson overtones, Mackay is developing his own style here. He does a nice job of layering piano, keyboard and synths all at the same time without making the songs too busy. One slight complaint is that his reliance on mostly Arp synthesizers makes many of the tones very similar to those used by Larry Fast at the same time.

And Mackay's inclusion of John Wetton and Mel Collins as sidemen brings him firmly into the nineteen seventies progressive rock family tree.

 Visa by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1980
1.96 | 11 ratings

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Visa
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

Review by BORA

1 stars Popcorn anyone?

I am truly horrified by this album, the first ever solo work (I've heard) by Duncan MacKay. If this is Prog, then I don't know what isn't?

Lets make no mistake, Mackay is a familiar name as he had contributed to a number of relatively Prog albums. All of which will be seriously re-evaluated by yours truly as a result of this release, "Visa".

This is not serious music and at best is only "having a fun". More suited to amuse toddlers on children's television than to provide any quality addition to the music scene in general. To release an album like this and accept money for that from hapless people is bordering on criminal.

OK, onto the music - alas there is very little to say about music here. It's more like MacKay is fooling around on top of programmed drum machines. Ah, is it Simon Phillips on drums? I find it hard to believe. If so, then Phillips had become the first walking drum machine - ever. Well, chances are that Phillips may have contributed to a miniscule amount, but much of the beat in general is not performed by human hands.

With this solo work Mackay had seriously discredited himself as a respectable artist and frankly, I won't go anywhere near a release that he is featured on. Capable musician, no doubt, but with this work, I am left scarred for life.

 Chimera by MACKAY, DUNCAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.03 | 57 ratings

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Chimera
Duncan Mackay Symphonic Prog

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

4 stars Duncan and Gordon Mackay honed their skills playing covers of The Nice and Emerson Lake and Palmer, that much is obvious by the three tracks from the original release of this album. Each song is a wellspring of Emersonian impersonations, with Hammond organ volcanic eruptions, nimble mixtures of classical and jazz piano, and soaring synth lines.

The result, while not sounding exactly like Emerson's work, is quite good, but not up to par with the Master's output of the time. Mackay's fingers are just as fast as Keith's, but he lacked the sense of showmanship that Emerson could put into his music. And many times Mackay's imitation gets so close it could be called plagiarism. Where Emerson would playfully quote all sorts of other musicians and songs, Mackay quotes Emerson. There is an organ break on Morpheus that sounds like it was ripped from ELP's debut album (as well as a drum riff from Tank), the aforementioned organ swipes, and even some synth sounds. But while Emerson programmed most of his sounds himself, Mackay's all sound like preloaded patches on his Arp synthesizer.

Not that the Emersonian imitation makes this album less fun. It was about this time that ELP was just starting to lose their mojo, and someone taking up the mantle wasn't such a bad thing.

Later reissues have a bonus track, The Opening, a Tangerine Dream-like piece recorded in 1990.

I know I came down a bit hard on Mackay for the Emerson imitation, but this is really a good album. And later releases have Mackay becoming his own musician.

Thanks to Ivan_Melgar_M for the artist addition. and to H.T. Riekels for the last updates

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