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KIT WATKINS

Crossover Prog • United States


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Kit Watkins picture
Kit Watkins biography
Keyboardist Kit Watkins was the child of two classical piano teachers. After learning to play the piano at a very young age, Watkins played keyboards in cover bands, progressing up to songs by ELP and Rush. In college he met guitarist Stanley Whitaker, who introduced him to even more of the prog rock world. In 1973 Watkins joined Whitaker's band Happy The Man.

In 1979, after only releasing two albums (more would be released later), Happy The Man broke up. Watkins then joined Camel, and recorded I Can See Your House From Here with them. Since then Watkins has released numerous keyboard based solo albums, as well as albums with Coco Roussel and Brad Allen. His solo work ranges from Happy the Man style progressive rock to ambient music to electronic variations of classical pieces.

Many of Watkins' albums are available for free downloads from his website under a Creative Commons license.

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KIT WATKINS Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy KIT WATKINS Music


Wet, Dark & LowWet, Dark & Low
East Side Digital 1992
$24.99
$6.99 (used)
SunstruckSunstruck
East Side Digital 1993
$6.60
$2.62 (used)
AzureAzure
East Side Digital 1989
$39.98
$29.99 (used)
Thought Tones, Volume 1Thought Tones, Volume 1
Linden Music
$6.99
$2.99 (used)
Holographic TapestriesHolographic Tapestries
One Way Records Inc 2000
$31.99
$16.99 (used)

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KIT WATKINS discography


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

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

3.33 | 11 ratings
Labyrinth
1980
1.56 | 3 ratings
Frames Of Mind (with Brad Allen)
1982
3.70 | 7 ratings
In Time (with Coco Roussel)
1985
4.00 | 4 ratings
Azure
1989
3.05 | 3 ratings
Sunstruck
1990
0.00 | 0 ratings
Thought Tones - Volume 1
1990
2.00 | 1 ratings
Thought Tones - Volume 2
1991
3.82 | 3 ratings
A Different View
1991
3.90 | 2 ratings
Wet Dark And Low
1992
4.00 | 1 ratings
Circle
1993
0.00 | 0 ratings
Kinetic Vapors
1993
3.90 | 2 ratings
Holographic Tapestries
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Beauty Drifting
1996
3.00 | 2 ratings
This Time And Space
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
SkyZone
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Field of View
2019

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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Music For The End
2001

KIT WATKINS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

KIT WATKINS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 In Time (with Coco Roussel) by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.70 | 7 ratings

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In Time (with Coco Roussel)
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

Review by MovingMazes

5 stars This Kit Watkins (everything else) and Coco Roussel (mainly drums and percussions) album is great. One of the best in Kit Watkins huge discography. But many are. They both played in the "Happy The Man" (HTM) band. (Kit Watkins was one of the original members and is in the lineup of the first 3 albums of the HTM group, while Coco Roussel, only appears on "Happy The Man 3rd - Better Late...", I think) (also recommended) There are really great songs on this album. They are all instrumentals. No guitars. The ones I prefer/recommend are these (all instrumentals, in minor mode, my preferred mode): - 7/8 Segue : A 7 rapid beats piece (thus the name). Very short (under 2 minutes) - Forte : it reminds me of a song of HTM "Labyrinth" , because it starts with the same chords, but then goes into something different. (This song, Labyrinth, is on HTM "3rd Better Late", composed by Watkins, and also appears on another solo album of Kit, "Labyrinth", on which Coco Roussel is also playing drums and percussion.). Kit Watkins' music, in general, is labyrinthic, a little bit hypnotic too, and very versatile at the same time. A beautiful song. - Do You Mind? : A 5 beat piece. Very nice. Perhaps my favorite on the album, and 7:16 long. - In Time : The song that gives the album its name. - Over The Andes : A very punchy song that ends with Kit showing his great keyboard soloing abilities. - Spiral March : One of the strangest song or this album. - Après-MIDI : (with MIDI in capital letter... is it an allusion to the MIDI standard that helped replacing recorders with sequencers, at least for keyboard players? Maybe). My favorite on the album with "Do you mind ?". it has some similarities with a Genesis song, but is quite different as well. Very quiet and moving, and with a happy ending (major mode). - Bob's Tune : a very quiet song which makes me thing of Eric Satie... and then evolves into something completely different, (with drums appearing, and keyboards much jazzier and more rhythmic. It ends with drums only.

With Kit's music, in the early albums at least, and this one is to be categorized as such, there is more punch than in the latest, that are more ambient, I would say.

There are also interesting harmonies, and evolving things on basic patterns. So, both surprises and something we can stick to.

The reason I give this album 5 stars is that with 8 songs I really love, the overall quality is very high. And the 5 other songs are nice too. Approx. 55 min in total.

 In Time (with Coco Roussel) by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1985
3.70 | 7 ratings

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In Time (with Coco Roussel)
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

Review by Dreamer of Pictures

4 stars I bought this CD direct from Kit Watkins, obtaining the original with the black & white cover, not long after it was released.

For Happy the Man fans, mostly this music is a treat, very much in the vein that HTM mined with such enthusiasm.

Forte was for years my very favorite song, rich and deep, with some minor key phrasings interspersed with bursts of major key sunlight.

Another favorite is Over the Andes, a song that veers between a monumental effort through a cold and endless environment and the incandescence of achieving a major goal. Those kids of contrasts are a hallmark of solid satisfying prog rock.

Bob's Tune starts with a truly enchanting high register keyboard solo, and at 1:44 segues into a far more intense rhythm section, very upbeat. Eventually the original melody recurs atop that choppy rhythm. It wraps up with a drum solo, including some tuned drums.

If you like the start of Bob's Tune, Pastel will probably suit your tastes too.

Do You Mind is a minor key gem, starting off with quiet questions and ending with very energetic and even forceful answers.

On my phone, in addition to Forte: everything except Sprites, In Time, Spiral March and Apres-MIDI. That's 9 out of 13 I carry around with me.

This CD and the Coco CD Reaching Beyond were pretty much the last of Kit's output that centered on prog rock. You can hear some of his later interests developing here, certain mechanical aharmonic tactics and even some ambient material. Ambient later became a big theme for Kit Watkins.

Full disclosure: I shot a lot of concert photos for the reunited HTM and for its successor, Oblivion Sun. You can seem some of those on their web sites.

It used to be that you could download this CD in MP3 format from Kit's site. As of the week I write this (Dec 22, 2015), the free downloads seem to be disabled.

 Circle by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Circle
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

Review by dsbenson

— First review of this album —
4 stars Circle is an a very good ambient album, and with the exception of a few 'active' tracks, excellent for falling asleep. I'd put it in the same general territory (though not nearly as high up) as Wendy Carlos' Sonic Seasonings, or some of Eno's Ambient albums.

Definitely not prog music, unless you want to consider this in an "ambient progressive" category.

To me, this is headphone music, and not something I could listen to over speakers. And most definitely not while driving.

One of the things that's worth listening for is the way that Watkins blends together the nature sounds in a decidedly non-natural way, mixing different insects and animals for a non-nature effect.

 Frames Of Mind (with Brad Allen) by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1982
1.56 | 3 ratings

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Frames Of Mind (with Brad Allen)
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars A frame of mind I'd rather not be in

After having played with American Prog band Happy The Man and then briefly in the legendary Camel in the late 70's, Kit Watkins recorded his first solo album Labyrinth in 1980. While continuing to tour with Camel in the early 80's, Watkins teamed up with someone called Brad Allen to create the present album. Unlike the wholly instrumental, light Prog of Labyrinth, 1982's Frames Of Mind is a vocally dominated, quirky Pop album. This music is actually not very far away from the least good, least memorable, and most poppy songs from Camel's 1979 album I Can See Your House From Here (on which Watkins played). There is absolutely no sign of Prog here, but instead a rather eclectic and quirky mixture of New Wave, Synth Pop, and World-Music. Not really my cup of tea.

The first two tracks are absolute embarrassments and the worst of the lot. What follows is rather incoherent and disjointed, but with occasional decent moments. Watkins is a good musician and I'm sure he would have been capable of making a better album, but as it stands Frames Of Mind is aimless and occasionally even downright tedious.

 Labyrinth by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.33 | 11 ratings

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Labyrinth
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars I can see your Camel from here

I am both a very big fan of Camel and a fan of the solo albums of keyboard players in general, so I guess it was just a matter of time before I would check out Kit Watkins. Watkins was recruited to replace original Camel keyboardist Peter Bardens in the late 70's and he appeared on the 1979 Camel studio album I Can See Your House From Here. Before that he played in the American Prog band Happy The Man.

Labyrinth was Watkins' first solo release and even if it is a bit too much on the easy listening-side for my tastes, it has a few traces of the late 70's/early 80's Camel sound. Even if Watkins did not appear on Camel's excellent 1981 studio album Nude, he did appear on the writing credits (together with Andy Latimer) on one instrumental piece called Docks. This same composition also appears on the present album, here under the different title of Mt. St. Helens. I recognized the tune it immediately, but I have to say that the Camel version is much better and more powerful. This version comes across as a bit lazy by comparison.

The album as a whole is actually rather lazy for the most part, though it is not New-Age music by any means (with the exception of the final three tracks). The music is entirely instrumental and strongly keyboard dominated. For me it is a pleasant listen, but not anywhere above that. There is very little to grab my attention, and this is not an album I would play more than once or twice.

For fans and collectors only

 Labyrinth by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1980
3.33 | 11 ratings

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Labyrinth
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

Review by Dreamer of Pictures

4 stars Kit's old band, Happy the Man, recorded both Labyrinth and While Chrome Yellow Shine for the band's third LP. Their label Arista cancelled the contract, and the third album eventually was released on plastic by Kit's homebrew label Azimuth, and (much later) on CD.

The version of Chrome here really captures the essense of the subtle, even haunting mood of the song, omitting the guitar-centric middle verse with the upbeat tempo in the HTM version.

I especially admire the pair of tune Two Worlds / 4 bars 1 unit, which I believe are a homage to Genesis, the band that the HTM members most admired and sometimes covered.

The Song Spring 1980 is a simple tone poem, wonderfully melodic and a welcome change from the more fully instrumented other pieces.

The song Labyrinth was inspired by Watkins' rides on the Washington DC Metro subway system, and the cover photo collage was taken in a DC Metro station by Watkins.

Also on my iPod are just about all the other tunes on the CD, excepting the spooks and the three Cycles tunes.

Note that Kit now provides from his web site a free download of this entire album as MP3 files.

Full disclosure: I have been shooting photos of HTM and the Wyatt/Whitaker successor Oblivion Sun for 11 years. Some of my photos are on the band web sites.

 Holographic Tapestries by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.90 | 2 ratings

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Holographic Tapestries
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

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

4 stars This album follows the sound Kit Watkins devoloped on "Wet Dark And Low". The songs here, and there are a lot of them, have lots of rhythm in them. And, like most of Watkins' previous work, plenty of odd time signatures as well.

Like the previous album, Watkins uses a harmonized trumpet sound on a few track. This along with the treibal rhythms, sounds quite a bit like some of Jon Hassell's works. But that's only a few of the songs here. The real joy here come in the synth sounds Watkins uses. While not sounding strange, each synth patch seems perfect for the music he's written.

The songs are not terribly complex. Watkins lays down the main tracks, and instead of soloing, he has other short synth sound dance in and out around the music. It's very nice, and often mesmerizing.

 Wet Dark And Low by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1992
3.90 | 2 ratings

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Wet Dark And Low
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

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

4 stars On this album, Kit Watkins pays tribute to Robert Bly, the author of the book Iron John (I think it has something to do with a metal toilet - it must be very cold in the winter). And it is uplifting. Here Watkins finally veers away from his descent into ambient (new age) music.

The songs are energetic. Most are driven by percussion. And on a few songs, particularly Brave Water and Slinky, he uses a harmonized trumpet sound, that gives the music a strong resemblance to Jon Hassell's works.

Another great track is Funky Duty, sort of a honky tonk blues in 7 and six.

The only disappointing piece is Setting Iron John Free, a softer song that doesn't come close to evoking freedom. But it's good to hear Watkins playing more complex music again.

 A Different View by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1991
3.82 | 3 ratings

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A Different View
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

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

4 stars Both of Kit Watkins' parents were classical piano teachers. And (surprise!) he was taugh to play at a very early age. On this album, Watkins pays tribute to his parents with this set of mostly relatively obscure classical pieces, played Watkins style on an array of keyboards.

The album is very compelling, and extremely interesting, although I do question Watkins' choice of opening and closing the album with different versions of Erik Satie's 1st Gymnopedie. This piece, a perennial favorite of new agers, is one of the most boring soporific pieces ever written. And on top of that, those of us old enough to remember will forever associate the piece with an awful old Geritol commercial ("My wife, I think I'll keep her").

That song aside, the album is an excellent selection of classical works played mostly electronically. And it can be played at dinner parties.

 Sunstruck by WATKINS, KIT album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.05 | 3 ratings

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Sunstruck
Kit Watkins Crossover Prog

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

3 stars Throughout the nineteen eigties, Kit Watkins seemed to be moving steadily away from progressive rock and toward new age. And this album, with it's lighness, continues on that path. Luckily for us, despite the new age inclinations, Watkins has at this point still retained his affinity for odd time signatures and experimental sounds.

As light as this album is, there are plenty of moments that catch the ear and make you want to listen. And the long airy tone poem pieces toward the end of the album are nice for introspection.

But I hope this path is not one that Watkins stays on for too long.

Thanks to evolver for the artist addition.

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