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EMPIRE

Crossover Prog • United Kingdom


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Empire biography
EMPIRE was a band project, or rather three band projects, set up by former Yes guitarist Peter Banks when his band Flash folded. The initial start of this venture came to be while Banks was out recruiting musicians for a brand new line-up of Flash. While meeting various possible candidates he met singer Sydney Foxx (Sidonie Jordan), and they soon developed a strong personal and professional relationship, the former leading to them marrying and the latter to the band assembled given a unique moniker - Empire.

The first album was recorded in 1974. However, the record labels weren't at all interested in the final result, and Empire disbanded. Banks and Foxx moved to the US shortly after. In 1977 a new line-up was assembled and a second album made. The record labels didn't take much interest in this second effort by the band either, and Empire dissolved yet again.

A third attempt with a new line-up came to be in 1978, but yet again the record labels found the end result wanting. Empire eventually dissolved in 1980, ending the professional relationship between Banks and Foxx - their personal one had disintegrated some time before.

In the 1990's US Record label One Way Records took an interest in these recordings, and decided that these titles were worth releasing. In 1995 they issued the first of these under the moniker Empire featuring Peter Banks as Mark I, with Mark II following in 1996 and Mark III in 1997.

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EMPIRE shows & tickets


  • 80-35 Music Festival on 10 Jul 2015

EMPIRE discography


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

2.53 | 11 ratings
Mark I
1995
2.75 | 4 ratings
Mark II
1996
1.31 | 4 ratings
Mark III
1997

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

EMPIRE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

EMPIRE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Mark III by EMPIRE album cover Studio Album, 1997
1.31 | 4 ratings

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Mark III
Empire Crossover Prog

Review by lordjim

1 stars To be honest, this isn't much more than a series of demos recorded while the band was disintegrating and the only track that remotely deserves attention from any prog fan is the final one (Foundation), which is an extended instrumental and doesn't even sound as if it was recorded at the same time as the other. The remaining tracks are fairly lifeless attempts at pop/soft rock with the only notable moments being Foxx's vocals on 'Far Away', a softer, melodic song and Banks' guitar solo at the end of 'Destiny' (which is a re-working of a song from the 'Mark II' album anyway). There are a number of instrumental tracks (presumably out-takes) available on Youtube from the Mark III line-up that are better than most of this album (although the sound quality of these isn't up to much, to be honest). I'd give this one a miss.

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 Mark I by EMPIRE album cover Studio Album, 1995
2.53 | 11 ratings

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Mark I
Empire Crossover Prog

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

2 stars If the imprinting that Peter Banks has given to the Yes music is somewhat present also in Empire, I don't understand why he hasn't influenced the album sleeves at all. The side projects of Peter Banks after YES feature some of the worst album covers ever seen.

Luckily what the picture on the album front seems to promise is not maintained. When Peter's guitar is left free the music can be as good as what Howe was doing in Yes, but some parts are just too cheesy, and it's a pity because everything happens inside the same song: good guitar riffs, pieces of songs which could feature on Going For The One and boring unexpressive melodic parts that it would have been beteer be left to ABBA or other pop bands. Not that I dislike Abba when I voluntarily listen to that kind of music, but when I listen to supposed prog, this is not what I expect.

Out of Yes and (not very) commercial Pop, it's interesting how good Sidney Foxx sounds when she can sing what is probably her natural genre, the soft jazz-blues of Someone Who Cares, while she sounds almost inexpressive on other tracks. Not her fault for sure. She sounds good also on "For A Lifetime", it's the song that's so cheesy that I don't think I've ever listened to its entirety without skipping it. Imagine if it has an excellent final that I have missed... "Hear My Voice On The Radio" is not better. It's like Aniie Haslam's solo works, the kind of things which has caused the Renaissance's voice to be rejected from PA.

But there's also a 12 minutes track which starts like Wakeman and Squire are playing. It's still a kind of radio-friendly melodic song, not helped by the vocals. Sydney is an excellent vocalist, but singing those things is not her pot. Unfortunately the song looses quickly its progressive potential. We are in the same situation of the first two tracks: good moments, sometimes excellent, jeopardized by trivial and cheesy melodies. Again, it's not Sydney's fault if what they write for her is so bad. The instrumental parts are so good,sometimes, that's really a pity. The influence of Genesis, other than the obvious YES appears clearly in the second half of this song, probably brought in by the guest appearance of Phil Collins. A missed opportunity for a masterpiece totally ruined by the sung parts.

On the last track Banks shows that he could play both as Howe and Hackett, something that I think he doesn't need to demonstrate as I think he was one of the best rock guitarists ever. On this song, which is mainly acoustic and based on classical guitar, Sydney's voice is perfect. Between a jazz performer in a smoky club and Annie Haslam's slow songs with Renaissance, this song is the only very good one but not enough to save the album. Its second part has again something of Genesis and Renaissance. There's room for some very good guitar before returning to the initial theme.

One very good song is not enough to suggest an album that's for collectors (of Peter Banks) only.

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