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CLIVE NOLAN

Neo-Prog • United Kingdom


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Clive Nolan biography
Clive Nolan is a British musician, composer and producer who has played a prominent role in the recent development of progressive and symphonic rock.

Born in Gloucestershire, he was a pupil at Wycliffe College and King's School, Gloucester. He completed his B. Mus and M. Mus degrees at London University where he studied composition, orchestration and conducting. He has been the regular keyboard player in Pendragon (1986-present), Shadowland (1992-present), Strangers on a Train (1993-1994), Arena (1995-present) and Caamora (2006-present) as well as writing music and lyrics for Arena, Shadowland, Caamora and numerous other projects.

Nolan is the founder member of The Caamora Theatre Company formed to produce and perform the Clive Nolan musicals. The premiere of 'She' took place in Katowice Wyspianski Theatre in Poland in October 2007. Subsequently, full theatrical performances of 'She' were performed in January 2010 in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, followed by the eight-man 'She in Concert' variation in Holland in September 2011. In February 2012 theatrical version of 'She' debuted in the UK in Cheltenham Playhouse Theatre.

He was voted Best Keyboard Player by Classic Rock Society in the years: 1995, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2009, 2010, and 2011. In 2010 the Bolivian government awarded him with the title of Honorary Visitor to Santa Cruz, Bolivia for his theatre work in the city of Santa Cruz.

Biography with thanks to the official Clive Nolan website http://www.clivenolan.net/index.php

Photo by Neil Palfreyman

See also:
- Arena
- Caamora
- Pendragon
- Strangers on a Train
- Shadowland
- Nolan and Wakeman

Clive Nolan official website

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AlchemyAlchemy
METAL MIND 2013
Audio CD$10.66
$9.95 (used)
JabberwockyJabberwocky
Import
Inside Out Germany 2003
Audio CD$89.56
$24.99 (used)
Alchemy BoxAlchemy Box
Box set · Import
Metal Mind/Mvd 2013
Audio CD$70.65
$121.84 (used)
Skeletons In The CupboardSkeletons In The Cupboard
Clive NOLAN 2003
Audio CD$24.83
$7.45 (used)
Otra VidaOtra Vida
ALTAGAMA 2013
Audio CD$9.98
ConflictsConflicts
Audio CD$99.99 (used)
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CLIVE NOLAN discography


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

0.00 | 0 ratings
Conflicts
1991
4.02 | 101 ratings
Alchemy
2013

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

CLIVE NOLAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.40 | 7 ratings
Alchemy Live
2013

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

2.00 | 3 ratings
Skeletons In the Cupboard
2003

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

CLIVE NOLAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.40 | 7 ratings

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Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars Earlier this year I was provided with some downloads to review, and although I noted that one was a new album by Clive Nolan I didn't pay it any more attention than any of the others, as although we have known each other for many years, I wasn't aware what it was. When I eventually listened to it for the first time I was blown away, so much so that I immediately purchased the album and a t-shirt! Since then I have played at least part of the album once a week, every week. It has become the 'go to' album in the car when my youngest daughter is with me (her favourites are "Ambush" and "Burial At Sea" while I always go to "The Unwelcome Guest", "The Warning" and "The End Justifies The Means"). It is rare for me to play music for pleasure (get out the violins and handkerchiefs) as I am normally listening to the next set of albums I need to review, but there is something incredibly compelling about this piece of work that brings me back time and again. The last time I can remember an album having this much impact on me was 'Snow', and I know I didn't play that as much as I have this. But, this isn't a review of the double CD of 'Alchemy', but rather of the five disc set which is 'Alchemy Live'. Two CDs of the performance, an additional CD of bonus numbers, a DVD of the live show, and then a further DVD containing loads of bonus material which gives a real insight into how this all came together.

For those who haven't heard 'Alchemy', it is a musical that brings together prog rock with many other styles, and while the musicians are all top class, it is the singers and arrangements that steal the show. It is a story of good over evil, with Clive being the good Professor Samuel King while Andy Sears is the evil Lord Henry Jagman. For the original album Clive brought in a good number of people he had worked with previously, and then it was decided that a full-blown live performance would take place at Wyspianski Theatre, Katowice, Poland. Although this has been written as a full musical, time and money dictated that this performance would see the singers standing in front of microphones, with the band onstage throughout. Mark Westwood (guitars - Caamora), Scott Higham (drums - Pendragon), Claudio Momberg (keyboards - Subterra) and Kylan Amos (bass) do a wonderful job, with backing tracks provided by Penny Gee (violin) and Ian Stott (horn).

Virtually all of the singers who were on the album are here with three exceptions. So as well as Clive and Andy we have Agniescszka Swita (Amelia Darvas), David Clifford (William Gardelle), Victoria Bolley (Eva Bonaduce), Tracy Hitchings (Jane Muncey), Damian Wilson (Captain Joseph Farrell) and Paul Manzi (Milosh). So in Andy, Clive, DC, Tracy, Damian and Paul we have singers all used to fronting bands. The 'new' singers are Sohelia Clifford (Jessamine), Christopher Longman (Ben Greaves) and Chris Lewis (Thomas Anzeray). So, just four musicians but 11 singers, and what an incredible night this was.

One thing that I noticed when playing this is that there are a few times when a voice goes slightly sharp, which is great as it proves that if you were there that night then this is what you would have heard. Now, I can't believe that anyone is going to buy a five disc set unless they already know the material, so instead of a full track by track review, here are just a few highlights.

First off, Andy is the consummate villain. He was born to play this role, and of all those involved is the most theatrical of the main roles, and at the same time he is singing better than ever. When he hit the high notes in "Deception", which is only the second song, I knew we were on for a good night. Agniescszka is a star throughout, with incredible range and pitch, and her duet on "The Warning" with Victoria is a joy to hear. But, I have to confess that the song I was waiting for was "The Unwelcome Guest" which starts as a duet between Tracy and Christopher before Victoria and DC join in on one of the most complex vocal arrangements of the whole performance, as they all sing different lyrics and melodies. But, although it is still a standout song with a stunning performance from Tracy, I felt that Christopher's voice is just too smooth for this, and lacked the edge provided by Paul Menel in the studio. Also, it must be a nightmare to count in and Claudio was trying to help by providing some additional notes but it doesn't really come off.

Sohelia is DC's young teenage daughter, and her voice belies her age as she owned the role of Jessamine and her major solo, "Desperate Days" is a triumph. But her dad is no slouch either, and "Amelia" among others shows what a wonderfully clear voice he has. Paul plays the part of a pirate to perfection in "Ambush" and relishes the role he was given, while Damian could never be anything but the consummate professional. With his hair tied back, and beard in place, can this sailor captain really be the same singer that has fronted so many bands?

Then of course there is Clive. This was his night, the culmination of years of work, and the result is just staggering. He more than stands his ground with the rest of the singers, and given that he is normally a keyboard player in the background that is no mean feat. But, if I was to point to just one song, one line, in fact one word, that makes this indispensible to those who already have the studio album then that would be Victoria in "Treachery", where when confronted with Jessamina who she believes has betrayed them, she calls her "bitch". That one word, is sung with such power and passion that the hatred is palpable and makes this all feel so very real indeed.

Metal Mind have brought together an incredible package, with a five disc fold-out digipak, each side showing a photo of one of the singers, and a 40+ page booklet with all of the lyrics plus more photos, details of where all of the songs from the bonus CD come from. Some of these are original demos, while others are songs that never made it to the final album or morphed into something else.

Of course, as well as the music there are two DVDs containing the complete show plus loads of additional material including interviews, fundraiser footage, 'Making Of' etc. The result is something that is worth far more than the lousy 5/5 I can give it. Looking at the Top 2013 in PA, I can see that 'Alchemy' is currently at position 22 (a travesty) so there are obviously many people who have purchased the studio album, and if they love that half as much as I do then this is an absolutely essential purchase. I wasn't able to get to the Cheltenham shows in September (something to do with living on the other side of the world), but until I do manage to catch up with this wonderful cast then this is something to which I will often be returning.

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 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.40 | 7 ratings

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Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

4 stars Clive Nolan is widely known in the Prog community as the keyboard player in Pendragon and Arena. But he also has many side projects like Caamora, Strangers On A Train, The Cast, Shadowland and of course his solo career. His newest work is called Alchemy Live (2013). The original project, Alchemy (2013), was released early this year, but it was Clive Nolan's idea to take the musical to the stages too. Alchemy (2013) is a Victorian story set in 1842 that tells the old Alchemist tale.

The album started to be written by Nolan in 2009 after his first musical She (2008) and it ended up being recorded on CD, but being Nolan involved in theater and musicals for quite some time he always intended it to go live on stage. So finally, in February 2013 a big 21 people team of musicians landed in Katowice, Poland, to stage the story of Alchemy. Aided by a handful of Prog singers and a great band, Nolan delivers a delightful piece of work.

The names involved in this project are no strangers to any Prog fan: Tracy Hitching (Landmarq, Strangers On A Train), Andy Sears (Twelfth Night), Paul Manzi (Arena), Damian Wilson (Threshold, Headspace and solo), David Clifford (Red Jasper) and Agnieszka Świta (Caamora) are the voices. And Mark Westwood (guitars - Caamora), Scott Higham (drums - Pendragon), Claudio Momberg (keyboards ? Subterra) and Kylan Amos (bass) are the band.

It's obvious that the singers are not actors and because of that the concert lacks a bit more of representation for a live event. But this leads us to the main thing here, the music! The 2 hours of Alchemy Live (2013) and its 27 songs are great and absolutely well- rehearsed and played. And the story is more than interesting with a truckload of details to sink in. The fact that each character is played by a different voice helps a lot to make you interested.

In the end each of us have its favorites voices, but for me the ones that stand out are Andy Sears, David Clifford (besides his love weak songs), Paul Manzi, Damian Wilson (he only does a small appearance, but he's always great), Soheila Clifford and Nolan himself proves to be a great singer!

Musically, Alchemy is as wide and full of influences as a musical can be. For me the strongest and the most interesting parts are when many vocals join together in counterpart melodies. On the production side, besides some weak images that appear in every new scene, the overall quality of the show is very positive and professional. The booklet of Alchemy Live (2013) is a case apart. A 44 pages one, in an old, book kind layout with all the lyrics, details and many pictures.

As bonus content on the simple DVD edition we have interviews with Clive Nolan, Agnieszka Świta, David Clifford, Scott Higham and Mark Westwood. We also have a Making Of, a Photo Gallery and Destop Images for your computer.

Recommended not only for Pendragon and Arena fans but for every musical fan around!

(Originally posted on progshine.net)

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 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.40 | 7 ratings

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Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by progbethyname

5 stars Clive Nolan's Rock Opera, Alchemy Comes To Life By Way Of A Live Theatrical Performance Complete Inside A Wonderful, 5 Disc Boxset. 

Yes. The contents inside this Boxset are nothing short of pure gold. If one is a fan of the Alchemy Musical, then there is no question that any person adoring Alchemy for its unique nature is absolutely gonna love what is painstakingly put together in this wonderful, 3CD/2DVD package. 

Firstly, it is amazing to think about how much money and production really goes into making a full-fledged musical Rock Opera. Clive Nolan and CO had to perform many many low budget performances to raise money in Zoetermeer, Holland in order to set up a grand stage production complete with lighting designers, On Stage technicians, costume and make up designers as well as many camera and sound equipment/microphone technicians. Obviously, the goal was met by the many enthusiastic fundraiser performances, and the performance of Alchemy got its full justice on Sept 2nd&4th/2013 in Katowice, Poland at the Stanislawa Wyspiańskiego Theatre. Wow. Say that ten times fast. 

The Live Performance, which you will of course see and experience wonderfully on the first DVD in full (Act 1&2) with a 5.1 surround sound digital audio format to boot, so you the watcher and listener will be carried away into the world of Alchemy through a high quality audio and stage theatre production. How's that for immersion? 

As for the cast of Actors/Singers and session musicians, the line up still remains almost the same as the list of performers on the studio album version of Alchemy. 2 line up changes have been made where The Jessamine Character played originally by Noel Calcaterra has been replaced by Soheila Clifford, who does a great job indeed playing the flighty pick pocketing, deceiving yet loyal servant to Professor Samuel King (Clive Nolan.) Also the bully, servile minion to Lord Henry Jagman (Andy Sears) Ben Greaves originally played by ex IQ's Paul Menel is replaced adequately by the younger looking Christopher Longwood, who in my opinion looks more fitting for the part and performs extremely well in the live show, especially on the track The Unwelcome Guest. Longwood's vocals are not as rough as Menel's, but still gets the job done through the use of his younger, more smooth sounding vocals.  All in all, everything else remains the same and the replacements don't hurt the quality of Alchemy's live theatrical performance; In fact, I rather enjoy the live performance of Alchemy more than the studio album version for many reasons actually. Firstly, seeing and hearing Andy Sears (Twelfth Night) live and in the flesh performing as the main villain, Lord Henry Jagman really knocked me out. Sears is nothing short of a true professional in the theatrical arts and his vocal delivery is one of the best I've seen or ever heard with in a musical opera. I thoroughly enjoyed performances of the Prologue/Overture, deception, Jagman Arrives, Treachery and of course my favourite The End Justifies The Means...the hairs on my arms and neck stood up seeing and listening to that track in particular. The song, The End Justifies The Means is my personal and absolute favourite performance of any track on the entire Alchemy project. It is simply incredible and something that will be remembered from me for many many years to come. 

Moreover, The 2nd DVD consists of some terrific and thoughtful bonus content. You get a clever and original Alchemy Advert, which is intelligently brought to life with some clever graphics and compelling storytelling. Also, we are treated to what is called 'Stings', which is a brief introduction and synopsis of each character. I especially enjoyed the one for Lord Henry Jagman "Do Not Be Fooled By His Playful Exterior, He Is Actually A ruthless Piece Of Work!" very true, indeed! Other content contains an interview with Clive Nolan and drummer Scott Higham (Pendragon), who just has such a wonderful personality and approach to music in general. Also, we as the viewer are treated to the fundraiser tributes, which is very candid live and intimate footage of a few short performances in Alchemy. Quite interesting, but not the best sounding. Lastly, and most importantly Clive Nolan discusses very candidly the "7 Themes" of Alchemy, which is an important breakdown by how Mr. Nolan was able to piece together and compose the Alchemy musical itself and how certain rythems and note progressions are tied together for repetition and unity for the Alchemy musical structure/project itself. A very wonderful, informative piece of knowledge indeed. 

As for the CD content...well 3 CDs that is. The first 2 CDs are just the DVD pressings live performance put onto compact disc...just in case you don't feel like watching the musical, but the 3rd disc is really where it's at because it contains 16 bonus tracks of unreleased material and it is very interesting to learn how some of the songs evolved into the finished products they became to be, as heard on the Alchemy studio album. Songs like, The Unwelcome Guest is vocally performed by Clive Nolan himself along with Ambush and Burial At Sea to name a few. Also, there are a few completely different tracks that were originally going to be used in Clive Nolan's first musical, "She." Some examples are tracks,"Snow Chase" "Invisable" and "The Holy Bond." All of these tracks really take you through the mind  of how Clive Nolan likes to write and conceive music in a theatrical/musical way. Honestly, all 16 bonus tracks are great as well as very interesting, and you could argue picking up this box set for this disc alone...well...maybe not quite. 

Therefore, The luscious Alchemy Box set in my opinion is an absolute must have, and it is equipped to give you an extensive and comprehensive breakdown of the Rock Opera itself both musically and storytelling wise. All in all, I cannot imagine my progressive music collection without this Box Set and I know it is sure to entertain me for many more years to come. There is no question that this is probably thee best box set of 2013 and it definitely gets awarded a masterpiece rating. The contents are rich, the artwork plus packaging is of very high quality and the photos are beautiful while the actual performances are breath taking. You can't ask for anything more, so ask yourself this question...."Do You Believe?"

One other thing, I would just like to take a moment and say thank you to my dear friend here on PA, Mr. Michael H.(Aussie-Byrd-Brother) for his wonderful enthusiasm and high class, thoughtful collaborations when discussing the mastery with me that is, Alchemy! Thank you very much Michael. Your knowledge and passion for music in general goes unnoticed. I look forward to many more Prog adventures with you in the future. 

  

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 Alchemy Live by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover DVD/Video, 2013
4.40 | 7 ratings

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Alchemy Live
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars The idea behind this project was not to do a progressive rock opera, but a musical in the tradition of some of the past. Clive Nolan has taken so much time in the last seven years to do "She" and now "Alchemy", that he would like to see this show take by someone else. The story of Alchemy is set in the Victorian days and is about the search of artefacts in order to unearth the secrets of alchemy. To realize that story, Nolan has to use plenty of characters dressed in ancient costumes with a choir and musicians which, for some he has worked in the past. The choir ensemble is very impressive and the singing takes a lot of space in this musical. Mark Westwood on guitar and Kylan Amos on bass are low profile, while the keyboards and drums are more up front. The musicians are a support to the singers and characters and are intentionally in the back of the stage. We are far away from the Neo-Prog genre of Arena and Pendragon here, but more into a symphonic art-rock style where classical arrangements and plenty of singing are in the heart of the show. There is also one character who is a real opera singer.

A nicely done concert by the Metal Productions crew, and this time the surround mix is louder than usual, maybe a bit too much in the back speakers. This theatrical production bring another dimension to the music, it would have been more impressive to see it live, but not everyone can go to Europe, so this is the occasion to have a good taste of this great live experience.

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 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 101 ratings

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Alchemy
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by herrkaiser

5 stars Well, is this somewhat pompous ? Yes! Is it a bit pathetic ? Yes! Does it border to "Kitsch" ? Sometimes! Is it pure Prog? No!

Do I love it ? You bet!!!

This is simply beautiful music. Ok, if musicals are totally not your cup of tea, you might not like it. Otherwise, get it!

There are so many great singers, wonderful melodies and dramatic moments, I can hardly make out any weak parts, which means something as I am normally pretty critical.

Some of the songs bring even tears to my old eyes, which is rare.too :-)

My favorites:

Burial at Sea Desperate days (what a singer!) Amelia The girl I was Street Fight

the only little critic I have is the cover, but that's just a matter of taste.

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 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 101 ratings

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Alchemy
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars 2013 has already had numerous stunning progressive releases, but none come more grand, over the top and ambitious as Clive Nolan's theatrical progressive rock opera musical `Alchemy'. A double CD comprised of two acts, the result of over four years work by the artist, and not only is he in the absolute best form of his career, he's assembled a stunning roster of vocalists and musicians to bring his captivating and wondrous musical to life. It's a work that bridges symphonic Neo Prog, stage plays and theatrical drama seamlessly, and is truly a work that eclipses all his other musical output. It's so good, in fact, that you wonder just where the artist can go from here.

`Alchemy' is a dark Victorian tale, full of treachery, obsession, murder and grand adventure. A rich variety of characters weave through the narrative, all voiced by an amazing who's-who of Neo associated artists, and all can be very proud of their efforts here. Mr Nolan himself, in the best vocal form of his career, is professor Samuel King, joined by the lovely Victoria Bolley and Noel Calcaterra in a race against time to stop the ruthless Lord Henry Jagman, played with wicked delight by Twelfth Night's Andy Sears. He's after the long-lost secrets of alchemy for his own nefarious and greedy desires, and as we all know, everyone loves a great bad guy, and Sears has such a repulsive, slimy role here that is truly infectious! He's backed up by brutish thugs such as Paul Manzi (in even better form here than his recent Arena studio debut, although anyone who has seen their `Rapture' live DVD will know what a charismatic talent this guy is) and Paul Menel, sounding nothing like he did during his IQ days! Add in terrific smaller performances from Landmarq's Tracy Hitchings, and a commanding and somber single appearance from Threshold's Damian Wilson to great effect.

But everything is especially anchored by the deeply romantic and tragic relationship that develops between a victim of Jagman's treachery, Amelia Darvis (Caamora's Agnieszka Swita), and an associate of Professor King, William Gardelle (David Clifford of Red Jasper). Clive Nolan asks the listener `Do you embrace the thought of love at first sight?', and the innocent, whimsical and stirring relationship that develops between them over the two act set is impossible to resist. I may have been painfully burned once or twice by romance in my life, but this brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye and encourages me to hold on to that feeling! Their grand musical duets that are reprised throughout pieces such as `Amelia', `The Girl I Was', `Sanctuary' and `Aftermath' will have you singing along and breaking down every time!

There's numerous other highlights, whether it's the rollicking sing-alongs `Quaternary Plan' and `The Tide Of Wealth' that will have you clapping along in no time, sinister chanting choir pieces like `One For The Noose', punchy Nightwish-styled hard-rock pomp in `Street Fight', or the malevolent gothic pantomime sensory overload of `Highgate'. Lord Jagman declares his repulsive intent in the infectious and delirious `The End Justifies The Means', while both Eva and Jessamine's characters offer a glimpse into their mindset and motivations with `Share This Dream' and `Desperate Days'. The dialogue between the various characters always ensure the listener knows just what is going on, and it fires the work along at a cracking pace. Clive's keyboard and orchestral arrangements are stunning as always, as is the band he has formed alongside him to bring this amazing story to vibrant life.

Mr. Nolan has created a historically rich world full of likeable (and loathable!) characters that deserve to be revisited, so let's hope if he's not too burned out by this experience that we might see a sequel, or better yet, a full trilogy. There's plenty of stories to tell here, and this really does feel like it just might be a new beginning for the artist. He has never sounded so personal, focused and driven, and there has not been a grand, theatrical and ambitious double work as successful since Pink Floyd's `The Wall'. From a progressive rock point of view, fans of albums such as Rick Wakeman's `Journey to the Centre of the Earth', or anyone who might enjoy a less metal version of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Ayreon projects will find endless music to appreciate here. I personally can't wait for the live DVD due out soon to see how it all comes together visually too.

Album of the year for me, no doubt about it.

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 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 101 ratings

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Alchemy
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by progbethyname

5 stars CLIVE NOLAN CREATES A THEATRICAL ROCK OPERA THAT IS NOTHING SHORT OF PURE GOLD. 

The clever and very gracious, CLIVE NOLAN is back with another solo effort, called ALCHEMY which is in my opinion,  NOLAN's latest and greatest solo effort to date. ALCHEMY was 4 years in the making and is centered around a very deep conceptual story that is set with in the epoch of 1842 London. 

First of all, what should be known about NOLAN's ALCHEMY is that it is an album neither typical in terms of musical style or structure in Neo prog land and it does not fit the typical criteria with in the Neo Prog genre that we are so familiar and accustomed to hearing from NOLAN's other works: PENDRAGON and ARENA. ALCHEMY a rock opera and a very good one at that!! It also may not be to everyone's musical tastes, specifically for those who very much enjoy the Neo Prog sound and genre for what it typically is or sounds like. To be clear, since NOLAN has a reputation as being one of the King's of Neo Prog, this is not an album that sounds like PENDRAGON, SHADOWLAND and ARENA for that matter. ALCHEMY is a project that is completely fresh, innovative and almost broadway like in terms of musical style and theatrics. Needless to say, its different!

Now, I don't want to get into heavy specifics about ALCHEMY's plot lines or storytelling because it would be like me telling you the whole story, including the ending, of a movie that you haven't even seen yet. That to me, just doesn't seem fair, so I will only get into very brief specifics by how the ALCHEMY album is laid out. 

THE ALCHEMIST is a 2cd album that is comprised and divided into 2 ACTS. Each cd corresponds to one ACT of the storyline or plot if you will, so their is a way you can have a clean break or intermission if you will (I gotta pee!) since this album is 2 hours long! Again its set up like a play or an opera if you will, but don't let the length of the album detour you cause the ALCHEMIST is a well thought out and clever conceptual album in vein of what ARIEN LUCCASSEN did with his album, THE HUMAN EQUATION; in fact, the initial structure and outline of the ALCHEMIST composition is very Similar to what one would experience while listing to THE HUMAN EQUATION, but far less Metal oriented. There are a lot of characters and session musicians. Specifically NOLAN captures his theater, play writing style in a broadway musical like fashion to depict a new side of his musical character with the album, ALCHEMY. NOLAN structures the album with a great list of players ( actor/vocalists) and session musicians. The list of players in the ALCHEMY album comes to a total of 11. Many female vocalist make up the list of characters used in the album.  One of the main characters AMELIA DARVAS, who is played by AGNIESZKA SWITA has an incredible voice greater than that of a canary. She sings with such power, emotion and grace. I feel that vocally, SWITA's voice was best showcased on the tracks AMELIA, THE GIRL I WAS and AFTERMATH. A truly moving and romantic inspired performance. Listeners will be thrilled! Other notable character mentions include ARENA's PAUL MANZI who plays MILOSH. A villainous, almost pirate like thug who is corrupted easily by the idea of wealth(gold). Also, NOEL CALCATERRA (quite the looker as displayed in the cd's booklet;) plays the duplicitous JESSAMINE. She has a wonderful voice as well and allows the listener to really feel her emotion throughout the story. Other man characters include ANDY SEARS who is the main antithesis, LORD HENRY JAGMAN and actually has a musical theater background. Also, a very interesting yet very small part appearance is made by ex-IQ's PAUL MENEL who plays a fawning patsy to JAGMAN, named BEN GRIEVES. MENAL's voice is nothing to that of how it was when with IQ. A more rough and aged voice takes place on ALCHEMY from MENEL and it's mostly in a narrative style. Last and certainly not least, CLIVE NOLAN plays the protagonist professor SAMUEL KING. I must say right off the bat, that CLIVE NOLAN's vocals weather in the forum of narrative or not are very good! That's right. Clive can sing. Key highlights of NOLAN's vocal high points are greatly shown on songs KING EXPLAINS and SANCTUARY. Such a delight and I was truly surprised at what he can do vocally. His voice carries a lot of romance with the character that he portrays and it's so incredibly interesting to see and hear  NOLAN in this way. It's like he is stripped down and uncut. Haha the real CLIVE!

As for the muscians. A set list of 7 take the on the role of creating a clever orchestration for ALCHEMY. IAN SCOTT, who plays the French horn, which is simply sublime and creates a lot of mood and suspense on tracks AMBUSH and STREETFIGHT. PENNY GEE, who is the wife of PETER GEE's PENDRAGON, plays a very spirited violin filled with emotion, especially on tracks BURIAL AT SEA and AFTERMATH. It's just amazing how an instrument can convey the mood of a character or scene! :) Other musicians include SCOTT HIGHAM on drums, who I am not familiar with but none the less plays well in relation to music theater appropriations. MARK WESTWOOD on Guitars who has a classical background and displays that very well throughout the album, even though the guitar factoring is very sparse throughout the album on ALCHEMY. None the less some guitar solos are present. CLAUDIO MOMBERG plays  an additional Piano role to accompany the wizardly of CLIVE NOLAN's Keyboards/orchestration. It's a nice addition. MOMBERG's grand piano sound is such an important element to the overall sound on ALCHEMY because of the diversity it brings, and that's what ALCHEMY's sound really represents....Diversity.  Also the Bass, played by KYLAN AMOS is not overly dramatic or present on ALCHEMY, but still adds a nice crunchy background in relation to NOLAN's already flawless keyboard playing. Overall, I have to say that the company of musicians here is stellar and it was very nice for me to be introduced to them for the first time in this way, except CLIVE of course cause i all ready know and love his work. Anyhow, great  performances from all, and  I hope the listener will appreciate them as much as I have on this album. 

Thus, ALCHEMY so far is gonna go down as one of the very best releases of 2013. Many proggers young and old, will appreciate this clever, very adventurous and ambitious album set forth by Mr. Clive Nolan. I feel the album has enough diversity to attract any kind of prog listener out there, especially for those who appreciate the music from AYREON. So weather your a fan of Metal, classical and broadway I think you, the listener, are in for a serious treat. I do recommend having the physical copy the album cause ALCHEMY has beautiful artwork and some important prologues for the listener to read, which helps get a full understanding of each scene and how it is set. Lastly, there is a beautiful, topographic map of the story's setting in 1842 London. I think one really needs to appreciate the amount of work and presentation that was put into this album. There is quite a bit to it, so having the hard copy of the CD I feel is essential and more respectable as well to understanding the true nature of the album itself. 

All in all, this album gets a 5/5 from me. I really can't think of another album this year (2013) that has grabbed my attention by way of a wonderful story combined with excellent musicianship. ALCHEMY is the most adventurous Progressive album in the last 10 years for me and I'm sure the album, especially the incredible story,  will be enjoyed and shared by many for years to come. Highly recommended. It's a full fledged masterpiece and an essential edition to anyone's Prog arsenal.  

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 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 101 ratings

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Alchemy
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

5 stars It has been more than twenty years since I first made contact with Clive, and since then I have followed his musical adventures with great interest. I spent one Summer holiday playing Shadowland's 'Ring of Roses' almost constantly as one of my daughters (who was all of five years old at the time) declared that it was the most amazing thing she had ever heard. Fast forward to 2004 and another of my daughters had me play 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' constantly as she was of the same view with this particular album (and she was older at eleven). Me, I have enjoyed everything Clive has been involved with, from Strangers on a Train and Pendragon through Shadowland and others and have always enjoyed our chats in various pubs and venues. But, having seen photos of the Polish show of this album, would it live up to expectations?

I initially received this as a digital download to review, but it wasn't long before I bought the CD and the t-shirt (literally) as I just had to have the complete package in my hands. To say that this is by far Clive's greatest achievement may be quite a statement to make, but playing this through just once will ensure that you agree with me. Clive has brought together some great musicians to assist him in providing the wonderful backdrop, but it is the singers that steal the show. This is much more than 'just' a concept album, it is a full-blown musical, and even though there is further explanation in the detailed booklet that comes with the double CD set, the lyrics and narration ensure that the listener knows exactly what is happenings. It is a quest, a fight of good against evil, with Professor King (played by Clive) and his colleagues attempting to foil the dastardly plot of Lord Henry Jagman (Andy Sears).

In all there are eleven characters, with most of the singers well-known to the prog crowd, but it may surprise some to discover that vocalists such as Tracy Hitchings (Landmarq), Damian Wilson (Threshold etc) and Paul Manzi (Arena) actually have fairly small roles. The other main male role is taken by David Clifford (Red Jasper) who is William Gardelle, while the two main female roles are Agnieszka Swita who plays Amelia and Victoria Bolley who plays the part of Eva. As I said, it is the singers who steal the show, with all of those involved putting in stunning performances. I honestly believe that Andy Sears has channelled all of the anger and angst that he used to perform 'Creepshow' into a full-blown performance that has him singing better than he did 20 years ago. Clive is a revelation, as surely this can't be the same person who supports Nick in Pendragon, while DC was Red Jasper's drummer, not their lead singer (although he has now taken that role), yuet comes across as a polished performer of real class. Add to that the incredible sopranos of Agnieszka, Victoria and Noel Calcaterra who plays Jessamine and it is an incredibly powerful mix.

But, there is much that makes this a compelling album. For me one of the major elements is the complexity of the vocals, which sometimes means that three or four singers can all be singing different melodies and lyrics against the same music backdrop, mixing and melding together in a way that is hard to comprehend yet is in such clarity that every word and nuance is fully heard and understood. There are songs such as 'Quaternary Plan' or 'Tide of Wealth' that brings together elements of 'Fiddler On The Roof' with 'Mary Poppins' as the listener wants to join in the chorus, while others are far darker and harder. There are showstopping ballads, with room for every one to shine.

To me this is the logical progression on from 'Journey To The Centre of the Earth' and the aforementioned 'Hound of the Baskervilles' with 'Les Mis' and 'Fiddler' also making important contributions.

I was dropping my youngest daughter at the bus stop the other day (she is 16, I am blessed with four daughters and I've tried to train them all in the joys of music, with differing levels of success), and she asked me what I was playing. I told her, and she said 'it's really good, and the singers are incredible aren't they?'

'Nuff said. I can't imagine hearing a finer piece of work for a very long time indeed

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 Alchemy by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.02 | 101 ratings

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Alchemy
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars UK composer and musician Clive NOLAN should be a familiar name for just about anyone who has ever had an interest in progressive rock, and in particular amongst those with an interest in the neo-progressive part of the genre. With more than 25 years as a member of Pendragon and tenures in a myriad of other bands and projects over the years, he has been a highly visible and productive contributor to the genre. As a solo artist his output has been more rare and under the radar however, "Alchemist" is his third ever solo production. This double CD was released by Metal Mind Records in March 2013.

While I'm not an expert on either rock operas nor musicals, my impression is that Clive Nolan has made himself a good quality product of the genre with "Alchemist". High adventure with a solid dash of tragic romance is a mix that tends to go down well, and with compelling moods, symphonic oriented motifs aplenty and strong, distinct high quality lead and backing vocals throughout this is a compelling and easy to like creation. If you enjoy musicals in general this production is well worth getting familiar with, and if you loved Nolan's previous rock opera "She" I can't see any reason for you not to become just as fond of this one.

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 Skeletons In the Cupboard by NOLAN, CLIVE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
2.00 | 3 ratings

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Skeletons In the Cupboard
Clive Nolan Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars Not much to say about one of the finest keyboard players in prog history.Nolan was born in the born 30th of June 1961 and received his B. Mus and M. Mus degrees at London University where he studied composition, orchestration and conducting.He has a huge career as a leading member of Pendragon, Arena, Shadowland, Caamora and many other projects, where anyone can find some of the best symphonic, Classical and Ambient keyboard textures ever performed by a musician.In 2003 Nolan released the archival album ''Skeletons in the Cupboard'', including mostly lost compositions from his extended career.

Unfortunately this work is not really representative of Nolan's talent, containing plenty of non-prog tracks.Three out of the twelve pieces belong to The Cast, a precursor band to Shadowland, performing in late-80's.All of them have a Pop/Art Rock feeling, far from Shadowland's sound, with easy-going tunes and careful use of synths and guitars, where the final result is decent but far from Progressive Rock.Shadowland are represented by two tracks, the highlight being the 10-min ''Jigsaw'', one of the classic tracks of the group in a typical Neo Prog vein.A few others are credited to Nolan's various collaborations, like the two Partners in Crime's cuts with Andy Smith on vocals, Tina Riley's ''In My Heart'' or the dance mix of Tracy Hitchings' ''Beauty and the Beast'', all of them have a Pop Rock/New Wave/Synth Pop approach with the dance mix sounding totally out of place.The last track ''Quantum Leap'' is a collaboration between Nolan and Martin Orford, a keyboard-led instrumental composition close to the styles of JADIS and IQ with some nice synth flights.The 14-min. instrumental ''Old Priest Suite'' was originally composed as a soundtrack for the film of the same name and is built around Nolan's keyboards with references to Ambient, New Age and Electronic Music, some moments sound flat, others are better with a richer sound.Propably the killer track of the album is the opening ''Walk on water'' with Nolan on vocals and keyboards, later included in Caamora's self-titled EP with Agnieszka Swita behind the microphone.Excellent, uptempo and powerful Neo/Art Rock with some very catchy musicianship.

The best cuts of the album appeared later in one form or another in different albums of Nolan's projects, the rest sound fairly uninteresting and far from the style Nolan has chosen for his music career.Recommended only to die-hard fans and archivists of Progressive Rock.

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