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SYMPHONIC PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Symphonic Prog definition

Symphonic is without doubt the sub-genre that includes the most bands in Progressive Rock because for many people it's almost synonymous classic Prog, something easy to understand being that most of the classic and/or  pioneer bands released music that could be included in this sub-genre, except JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD (who still blended some symphonic elements), even KING CRIMSON who very soon expanded their horizons to more experimental music, made their debut with a Symphonic album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" which is a cornerstone in the development of the genre.

The main characteristics of Symphonic are the ones that defined all Progressive Rock: (There's nothing 100% new under the sun) which among others are:
  • Mixture of elements from different genres.
  • Complex time signatures.
  • Lush keyboards.
  • Explorative and intelligent lyrics, in some cases close to fantasy literature, Sci Fi and even political issues.
  • Non commercial approach
  • Longer format of songs

In this specific case the main characteristic is the influence of Classical music (understood as Orchestral works created from the late Gothic to Modern Classical) using normally more complex structure than other related sub-genres like Neo Progressive (That's why sometimes the borderline that divides Symphonic from Neo is so unclear being that is based mostly in a degree of complexity rather than in an evident structural difference)..It is easy to find long keyboard solos reminiscent of Johan Sebastian Bach or melodic works that could have been written by Handel.

As in any other genre, different Symphonic bands had different approaches to Classical music, for example YES and GENESIS are mainly influenced by the Baroque and Classical periods, while EMERSON LAKE & PALMER has a predilection for post Romantic and modern authors like Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Bartok or Ginastera, being that their sound is less melodic and more aggressive.

The peak of the genre starts in 1969 and lasts until the mid/late 70's  (more precisely until the release of A Trick of the Tail), when the genre begins to  blend more mainstream influences that took to the birth of Neo Progressive (a new approach for a new decade).


It is important to remember that even though the creative peak of Symphonic Progressive ended before the 80's, we can find a second birth in the 90's coming from the Scandinavian countries (specially Sweden with ANGLAGARD or PAR LINDH PROJECT) and even bands that still in the 21st Century recreate music from this period like SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN.

Before ending this short description I feel necessary to say (In order to be strictly accurate) that the term Symphonic is not 100% exact, because these bands very rarely played symphonies and was probably used because the music that influenced the genre was performed by Symphony Orchestras, but it is so widely accepted by the Progressive Rock community that would be absurd and futile for anybody to attempt a change after so much time.

Iván Melgar Morey, Peru 2006



Symphonic Team

Current Team as at 01/01/2015

Iván Melgar Morey (Iván_Melgar_M)
Scott Tuffnell (AtomicCrimsonRush)
Anton Fritz (SouthSideoftheSky)
H.T. Riekels (bhikkhu)

Symphonic Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Symphonic Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.65 | 3422 ratings
CLOSE TO THE EDGE
Yes
4.63 | 3164 ratings
SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND
Genesis
4.61 | 2735 ratings
FOXTROT
Genesis
4.43 | 2652 ratings
FRAGILE
Yes
4.42 | 2379 ratings
NURSERY CRYME
Genesis
4.38 | 1965 ratings
MIRAGE
Camel
4.41 | 1311 ratings
HYBRIS
Änglagård
4.38 | 1688 ratings
MOONMADNESS
Camel
4.36 | 2299 ratings
RELAYER
Yes
4.37 | 972 ratings
SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIÈME SAISON
Harmonium
4.29 | 2127 ratings
THE YES ALBUM
Yes
4.28 | 2228 ratings
THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
Genesis
4.27 | 1940 ratings
A TRICK OF THE TAIL
Genesis
4.28 | 1718 ratings
THE SNOW GOOSE
Camel
4.34 | 657 ratings
DEPOIS DO FIM
Bacamarte
4.31 | 870 ratings
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES
Renaissance
4.24 | 1529 ratings
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.25 | 805 ratings
VILJANS ÖGA
Änglagård
4.25 | 760 ratings
HAMBURGER CONCERTO
Focus
4.17 | 1756 ratings
TRESPASS
Genesis

Symphonic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Symphonic Prog experts team

POLLEN
Pollen
SKRYVANIA
Skryvania
WELCOME TO THE FREAKROOM
Shadow Circus
L'ARBRE-CIMETIÈRE
Maldoror

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Latest Symphonic Prog Music Reviews


 1984 by PHILLIPS, ANTHONY album cover Studio Album, 1981
3.68 | 78 ratings

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1984
Anthony Phillips Symphonic Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Prog Reviewer

4 stars To Anthony Phillips is primarily associated with gentle progressive folk/pop/rock with an added sense of baroque music. At least I thinkt that's correct when speaking of his 70's output with what I am mostly familiar. Being a very gifted guitarist and possessing a mild mannered voice the music on "1984" comes across not as a schock but rather a surprise. Now, surprises can be sweet as sugar but also unpleasant in a myriad of ways.

There's a serious 80's sound on this album that cannot be denied and definately not ridiculed. One has to remember the time in which the music was recorded. Given that the electronics of the late 70's and early 80's might come across as cheezy, one must approach this album bearing that in mind. Gone are the guitars (for the most part anyway) and enter all sorts of electronic instruments, including drum machines. I love this approach and find it not only charming and endearing but also great in so many ways.

The novel "1984" is quite something. Dark and foreboding. The words of Orwell may be quite the challenge to transform into theater, movie or music. Some say it can't be done but I beg to differ. The darkness in the novel transforms beautifully into music, especially when conducted in this very much modern (for it's day) and electronic, futuristic fashion.

There is a deceptive gaiety in this opus similar to the songs in the book, made by machines and sporting a cold joy that is lacking in heart and soul. I suppose I really want to say "artificial joy". In the novel Big Brother supplies the citizens with supposedly everything needed, from chocolate to music. It is depressing but extremely evocative and exciting piece of literature. The music of Phillips is, however, not without heart. It is brilliant and manages to portray this false smile of totalitarianism to a degree of perfect splendour. And while the music is cold and futuristic, one feels the love Phillips has put into this project. The result is a very melodious and engaging experience, sporting a multitude of melodies one can't wait to hear.

This is truly the audio companion to the novel and I find it to be one of the finest examples of early 80's prog. While instrumentally lightyears away from his previous work, the essence of Phillips genius is there. Easily 4 stars.

 King For A Day by MAGIC PIE album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.74 | 30 ratings

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King For A Day
Magic Pie Symphonic Prog

Review by tbstars1

2 stars Oh dear! I was really taken with the first two offerings from MP = "Motions of Desire" and "Circus of Life". Excellent music throughout and both very easy on the ear. Things started to go seriously downhill with "The suffering joy" as the band veered away from the symphonic in favour of the histrionic, underpinned by self-consciously odd time structures for dramatic effect. Suffering and joyless would have been a more apt title! I had high expectations of "King for a day", hoping that the band would see the error of its ways and recover its original style, but no - I fear the downward journey is complete.

I have no idea what musical genre now most appropriately befits MP. Aside from "Silent Giant", which knows which side its bread is buttered on and never deviates from straight-on blazing guitars, this is just an unrelenting barrel-ful of mulligatawny soup, richly flavoured in that it contains a few snippets of genuinely excellent melodies, but with far too many dollops of sour cream scattered liberally about, in the very worst tradition of Spock's Beard. Seems to me that the band is now trying too hard to find its sense of direction.

"Trick of the Trade" is bog-standard dad rock, a genre which (I thought) came to an inglorious end some 30 years ago. (Its only redeeming feature was the briefest of snatches which brought to mind a long-forgotten track from the CD Garden Shed by England, which duly sent me scurrying back to listen again to that "lost" classic.)

"Introversion" delivers much of the same, this time interspersed with some slower passages which try (but fail) to lend an extra dimension of subtlety and feeling.

"According to Plan" is yet more run-of-the mill rock, albeit allied to some pretty nifty rhythmic gymnastics and multi-layered harmonies - an effortless graduate from the Spock's Beard school of bombast. Overblown and overly intricate at one and the same time.

"Tears gone dry" kicks off with about 6 minutes of absolutely gorgeous guitar and (later) vocals, but then, inevitably, degenerates once more into powerful dad rock schmaltz which had you running for cover.

"Silent giant" has already been mentioned in despatches.

Which brings us to" King for a day", MP's magnum opus. A veritable 27 minute romp through a range of musical styles with no discernible link between them. If the band had managed to cut out the excess frills and dross, this could have been a truly magnificent "epic". As it is, a terrifically sweeping and dynamic finale (covering the last 7 minutes) comes across as a precious orchid...but you need to struggle through 25 miles of Japanese knot-weed before you get there. Which is simply 25 miles of effort too far.

 Heaven & Earth by YES album cover Studio Album, 2014
2.45 | 344 ratings

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Heaven & Earth
Yes Symphonic Prog

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

1 stars The previous Yes album "Fly From Here" was pretty much a disgrace. So a new lead singer joins the line up for "Heaven & Earth" who is supposed to sound like Jon Anderson. Ok, so everyone knows what Jon Anderson sounds like right? Imagine his voice being washed out of all emotion and feeling, and you will have an idea of what Jon Davison sounds like, the new lead singer. Anderson didn't really have the strongest voice in the world, but at least he had emotion and feeling. Davison has a weak voice and sounds like he is singing songs for a children's show like Sesame Street. Bleah!

If that's not bad or embarrassing enough, the rest of the band sounds like they are as washed out as the singer. And most of them are long time vetrans of the band. This is watered down pop music and that's all it is. It is even worse than a lot of pop music. Madonna has more grittiness than this album.

What a sad thing to happen to what was one of the most important and best progressive bands ever. Now they are hardly even a shadow of themselves. This is not Yes. It isn't even a bad copy of Yes. What it is, is a bad progressive band that sounds like they hardly even knew the first thing about prog, and that just can't be Yes, right? Tell me that it's true that the Yes name was hijacked and is now being held for ransom. This is just terrible and it makes me sad. Where is Chris Squire? It says he is in the band, but I hardly hear any bass, and this is definitely not the trademark bass sound that he is so famous for. What is Steve Howe trying to do here? It's like he is mimicking himself and doing a poor job of it. I don't even want to talk about Geoff Downes, who only shined on "Drama" because of the awesome material he had to work with. Other than that, he is famous for making terrible choices with band line ups.

This album is bad, bad, bad. There is no prog and there is no emotion and everything is bland. I can't take it anymore....Arghhhhhhhhhh! Quick someone put on "Relayer" or "Close to the Edge" before my eardrums decide to revolt and shut down all together. 1 star. Drivel!

 Moonmadness by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1976
4.38 | 1688 ratings

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Moonmadness
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by A_Flower

4 stars Moonmadness is the fourth album from Camel. It is a very pleasent album. As for me, I like to put this one on when it's dumping snow outside and I have a good mug of hot chocolate. Moonmadness is not exactly the "really" amazing album (I like Snow Goose better) but it is one for the ages.

The album starts with "Aristillus" A two minute tune that sounds very ELPish with a spin. The beat in the background that continues throughout is good, and my favorite part is the bridge at a little past one minute. This is a great instermental to start a great album.

The next song is a bit longer and has lyrics. "Song within a Song" After the into, it calms down with some beutiful flute and background keyboard. Lyrics soon come in and it changes. One thing that does sort of bother me in this full album is the vocals. The song continues beutifully, but it's around the three minute mark when the riff hits. This is an amazing moment in prog history. After a minute of this, the song picks up speed and takes you away for the last part.

Then we get another instermental track. A song called "Chord Change" However I always felt they should have renamed it because "Chord Change" is sort of a boring name. Anyway, this starts with a fast beat and some scat after a minute. Then it calms down more and we get a gutiar solo. This part always made me thing of The Greatful Dead. At the four minute mark, it changes with a lick and a keyboard solo. My favorite part of the song. It slowly builds you up and reprises the into.

The next song is a ballad. "Spirit of the Water." It uses flute and piano, but if you think that's cool, just wait until the lyrics start. Pete Barden makes his voice sort of echo, it's amazing. It sounds as though it's echoing underwater! The piano and flute is also gorgeous and the lyrics are also amazing.

The second side opens with "Another Night" this sort of fades in a lot like "Flight of the Snowgoose". Then the gutiar kicks in. It's a pretty cool riff. The song slows down for the chorus, and then goes back. The instermental section starts close to three minutes. I have to admit, there's some pretty amazing drumming in here. The instermental ends at around four and a half minutes and then melody begains again, with another instermental section.

The next song, "Air Born", begains with a flute and piano underneath. Then you here a melotron sound and guitar. Accoustic guitar also is in it, I always loved this in the background. It then takes over the song with flute. This is a beutiful section of the song, but this song becomes amazing around two and a half minutes. Here, we have a guitar solo with keyboard in the background. It takes me away every time. The song ends with another melody, which really kicks in.

Finnaly, we have the final track on the album. "Lunar Sea" An instermental. The into makes sure you know this is underwater. Then the guitar comes in. This is a sort of fade in. I always listen to the bass of this. It's really cool. The song changes around two and a half minutes with keyboard taking over as a solo and an even better bass pattern. This is really good and lasts a while, but then a riff comes in and at the five minute mark comes the coolest transition ever. We then have the first bass pattern with keyboard taking a melody and a guitar as a solo. And around seven minutes comes a transition to the best part of the the whole album, the final riff. This tops everything off and we then get an intro reprise and some strange sound effects taking up the last minute.

Well, overall I think this album is amazing, though I am not giving it five stars. For much of it drags on a bit, though Camel can do that a lot. And, like I said before, the best time to listen to this is when it's snowing hard outside and your snuggles in a warm home with a nice mug of hot chocolate.

RANKING OF SONGS

1. Lunar Sea 2. Song Within a Song 3. Air Born 4. Spirit of the Water 5. Another Night 6. Chord Change 7. Aristillus

 Abacab by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.55 | 953 ratings

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Abacab
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Not having an especially strong connection to Genesis' prog output, I can listen to Abacab and let its merits, flaws, and distinctively '80's vibe stand on its own without feeling cheated that one of my favorite bands just turned their backs on me. I don't think that this is a "love it or hate it" album because there isn't enough good stuff to love, and not enough bad stuff to hate; in fact, reading through reviews here seems like it's a "hate it or ignore it" album. I definitely fall into the second category.

The title track opens to a driving back beat, strong vocals, some raucous synth work. I kind of like it, actually, until we get to the song's midpoint, at which point it goes off the rails and just sort of fritters away 2.5 minutes with keyboard noodling. I can see how this song alone sets the stage for all of the hate that this album gets!

"No Reply At All" is, for what it is, actually pretty fun. It's a solid pop song - upbeat, catchy, with a great feel and strong bass grooves. The synth horns are dated and corny (and performing an ironic call-and-response with Phil), making this song fit very easily into Phil Collins' solo output. Actually, the same goes for "Man on the Corner", which almost sounds like a warm-up for Collin's hit, "In the Air Tonight". These two songs highlight what is probably the best thing about Abacab: Phil Collins being an excellent vocalist.

"Keep it Dark" and "Dodo/Lurker" are easily the album standouts, especially for those clinging to whatever few vestiges of artsy prog are left in Genesis at this point. "Dodo/Lurker" is actually very good; it's dramatic, dynamic, and interesting as it passes through different moods with engaging lyrics. A nice example of 80's prog.

Do yourself and skip track 6, which is definitely the worst song by Genesis that I've ever heard.

Abacab ends with two bland, gutless, and directionless tracks. Which is too bad, because it leaves the listener with a bad impression of the album as a whole, which isn't terrible. My average of this album worked out to 2.6, which I think is about right.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances:2 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

 This One's for England by DISCIPLINE album cover Live, 2014
4.70 | 31 ratings

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This One's for England
Discipline Symphonic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Yes I assumed this was recorded live in England, but no(haha). This is taken from their live performance at RoSfest in 2012. Man I do love this band, and it's unusual for me to feel that each record they have put out is better than the one before. DISCIPLINE play a dark style of music with plenty of mellotron and are often compared to VDGG, so what's not to like? This is a double album with 8 tracks on it including two from the debut "Push & Profit", two from "Unfolded Like Staircase", and four from their latest "To Shatter All Accord" which is the album they were touring on here.

"Circuitry" is a dark beauty that opens with some nasty guitar as the organ floats in. Vocals follow and Matthew is in fine form here. Such a cool section before 3 minutes as it settles with picked guitar and floating organ but I also dig it when it kicks back into gear with some intense drumming and guitar work. A great way to start the performance. "Before The Storm" from "Unfolded Like Staircase" is a top three for me. This moves me for some reason. The guitar after a minute reminds me of ANEKDOTEN. Nice section too before 3 1/2 minutes with the organ and guitar standing out. Powerful stuff after 6 minutes. So freaking good! Mellotron 7 1/2 minutes in and check out the guitar and organ late. This song blends into "Blueprint" where it continues to be picked guitar and organ leading the way. It turns very FLOYD-like before 2 minutes when the organ gets louder. A cool instrumental. "Dead City" is not about Detroit as Matthew mentions in the intro. This song is brighter and more upbeat, catchy even. Some excellent keyboards in this one along with some ripping guitar before 3 minutes. A big finish ends it. "When She Dreams She Dreams In Color" is another top three for me. It's 5 minutes in before the song kicks into gear but I really enjoy those 5 minutes. A calm follows then it slowly builds. An incredible track! The final track on disc one is the almost five minute "Band Introductions" where we hear how funny Matthew Parmenter is. Such a dry sense of humour and man he made me laugh out loud a few times. Fun stuff.

"Canto IV(Limbo)" is my other top three although "Rogue" is right there too, tough choice. Anyway drums and piano pound away to start before it settles some with guitar and more. It then calms right down with reserved vocals as outbursts of power come and go. Love the organ solo after 6 1/2 minutes and the guitar too that joins in. A driving rhythm before 8 minutes with vocals as themes then start to be repeated. "The Reasoning Wall" opens with piano before it kicks in with a humerous vibe. Love how intricate this all is after 2 minutes. It then turns melancholic a minute later and the guitar proceeds to light it up. Vocals and that lighter and humerous sound return 5 1/2 minutes in. "Rogue" is the closer and the longest tune at almost 24 minutes. I really like the tone of the guitar here to start and it becomes very VDGG-like before 2 minutes. A calm after 4 minutes with guitar and vocals before it kicks back in after 6 minutes. This song has so many shades and colours to it as it plays out. Mellotron 8 1/2 minutes in and guitar a minute later. So good! It turns brighter before 17 minutes. What a ride!

I just can't give this less than 5 stars, i'm so impressed with this band and their sound. A must!

 Albatross by ALBATROSS album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.00 | 28 ratings

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Albatross
Albatross Symphonic Prog

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

3 stars An American one-shot symphonic prog band operating in the mid-Seventies, Albatross released a single privately produced album before vanishing, and this inconsistent but nonetheless interesting self-titled album is their legacy. A strong Yes influence is instantly obvious throughout the five pieces on offer here, but the band filled their album with plenty of colourful instrumental variety, and, along with with Mike Novak's distinctive vocals, definitely had their own personality. Albatross deserve credit for their impressive technical skills and energy, and this work is instantly enjoyable and easy to find merit in, especially due to its frequently up-tempo arrangements.

Good on the band for having the confidence to open their debut album with a fourteen minute prog epic! For such a bleak lyric about the end of days, `Four Horseman of the Apocalypse' sure is constantly energetic and infectious! A rich variety runs through several different vocal and instrumental passages here, covering everything from overwhelming symphonic majesty, regal pomp, subtle grooves and dreamier spacey moments with very light classical elements for good measure as well. All of the musicians get to show off their skills - Mark Dahlgren offers plenty of bristling Mellotron used in different ways as well gleaming organ and loopy synth glitches, Dana Williams' lively drumming is rambunctious and commanding, Paul Roe's burning electric guitar soiling is heroic, and Joe Guarino thankfully delivers that thick plodding bass sound listeners love in vintage prog bands.

Mike Novak's boisterous vocal definitely tests the friendship on the quirky and slightly grating `Mr Natural'. Partly a comedic piece, heavy E.L.P-like Hammond organ stabs burst around a slight funk groove and a confident chorus, but the piece is more interesting when it spirals out of control with some delirious synth breakdowns and nice infernal Mellotrons bursts in the middle! The proficient band let themselves down by shamelessly ripping the church organ passage from `Close to the Edge's `I Get Up, I Get Down' section throughout the start and end of the amusingly titled `Devil's Strumpet' (love it!), but thankfully a constant fast tempo and endless tight and tricky peppy instrumental runs with superb interplay between all the musicians shine throughout the entire nine minutes.

`Cannot Be Found' is a mostly melancholic ballad with a wounded romantic lyric and plenty of Wakeman-esque flights of piano fancy and prettiness. It's a nice reprieve from all the busy and bombastic pieces that came before it, benefitting from its compact form and shorter running time, not even lasting four minutes. The catchy and punchy up-tempo closer `Humpback Whales' is, sure enough, a seafaring tale, with a foot-tapping beat thanks to the snappy drumming, and there's plenty of brisk little Hammond, Moog and Mellotron fills and some playful whimsical breaks. A breezy and likeable way to finish the album!

`Albatross' will never be confused for being a long lost undiscovered classic, but there is much worth discovering here, and the album greatly improves on repeated listens. As a prog-rock music collection grows, when you're sick and tired of the endless reissues of the long overdosed on classic titles and bands, little known curios like Albatross are more appreciated and very appealing, so do give the album a chance should you come across any of the CD reissues (an Australian label Great Barrier Records delivered the most recent one in 2014). A very decent work, and all the members of Albatross should look back fondly on the good results they achieved here with pride!

Three stars.

 Academy Of Music 1974 by RENAISSANCE album cover Live, 2015
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Academy Of Music 1974
Renaissance Symphonic Prog

Review by SteveG

— First review of this album —
4 stars Despite it's horrid album cover painting, which I doubt the band had any control over, especially after the passing of guitarist/songwriter Michael Dunford, who had owned many of the group's copyrighted materials, Live At The Academy Of Music 1974 is both a concert and professional high point for Renaissance as it solidified the band's Tri-state area reputation as well as paving the way for the group's acclaimed Carnegie Hall concerts which took place the following year in 1975.

Live At The Academy is another Renaissance concert album, a double CD this time, put out by Pyramid Records that has no credits as to the source of a the radio broadcast tape. The broadcast was originally aired on WNEW FM Radio, who were one of the major FM radio supporters and proponents of the group, especially in their Ashes Are Burning and Turn Of The Cards album release and touring years from 1973-74.

Joining the band for probably their first orchestral concert was a twenty four piece orchestra which pumped up both the band and the concert crowd. Indeed, as this is probably the most raucous Renaissance audience that you will probably ever hear recorded. Everyone from vocalist Annie Haslam through to drummer Terry Sullivan raised their game and the performances are stellar. Especially prominent were the fantastic bass runs of John Camp, who also sounds in exceptional form as a backing vocalist to Haslam. John Tout's fingers literally dance around his piano in an enthusiastic speed and style which is quite unusual and welcome from him.

The concert starts with the now familiar opener Can You Understand? that features Annie in wonderful vocalise and scat style colorings in this song's wonderful melodies. Outstanding.

The concert focuses almost exclusively on songs from Ashes Are Burning and Turn Of The Cards and it's odd not to hear the song in it's now familiar extended encore version. For this concert, Andy Powell, from Wishbone Ash, is once again a guest performer and does a fantastic solo as well as mirroring John Tout's synths in the song's compelling instrumental section. What is also odd and now idiosyncratic is that the band reprise the title rack Prologue from the mark II line up's debut album.

The sound quality is more than decent and sound's exactly as a FM radio broadcast would at the time with an exaggerated top end (bright sounding) along with some very good bottom end that was really never heard in that era's technology of 15 inch woofers and no subwoofers. Also adding the sound is the excellent "in your face" sound mix that shows off every instrument without causing the mix to sound congested.

Live At The Academy is defiantly not for the audiophile as some minor stage buzzing, feedback and offstage chatter can be heard at times, but the band's stellar performance makes a must have for Renaissance fans. 4 stars.

 Order of the Universe by ANDERSON BRUFORD WAKEMAN  HOWE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1989
2.63 | 8 ratings

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Order of the Universe
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 stars Less is less

Order Of The Universe is another single released from the very good Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe album. Unlike the Brother Of Mine single there is nothing here that wasn't already on the full-length album except two different edits of the main song. Hence, in a way you get even less here than on the album. While the unedited album version is the definitive version and one to return to again and again, these edited versions are mainly a curiosity for fans and their value extends to a single listen only. The b-side is Fist Of Fire taken from that same album and is presented in the same version as on the album.

The nice art work by the great Roger Dean probably makes this an attractive collectors item (I don't own it), but considering the musical contents this is only for hard core fans and even for us edited versions of songs we are already familiar with carries a very limited worth.

 Moldau by PELL MELL album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.78 | 8 ratings

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Moldau
Pell Mell Symphonic Prog

Review by presdoug

4 stars Pell Mell's "Moldau" is a truly remarkable record. When I saw that it was recorded in 1981, and read in the band bio that "the old magic was gone", I wasn't expecting much, but boy, am I ever pleasantly surprised with this album.

First off, "Moldau" is in part a homage to Pell Mell's debut album "Marburg" that contained a deeply moving instrumental number "Moldau", based on the famous section of composer Bedrich Smetana's "Ma Vlast" work. On the 1981 album, the Moldau transcription is longer and more elaborate, and in two sections. Thomas Schmitt's violin playing is as wonderful as ever, and the keyboard and guitar work is quite good as well.

Secondly, this record is unusual as it doesn't sound like it was recorded in 1981 at all, but musically would fit in with the mid- seventies prog period. And the band went out on a limb and made this record all instrumental, which really works well, as the playing on every number is interesting and refreshing in it's scope and feeling. There is the track "Gliding", which is the album's most atmospheric piece.(the listener can imagine gliding while hearing this section) Then, there is the multi-part "Dark Valley", which almost sounds like "Variations on a theme", very creative and colorful in it's structure, the final part to Dark Valley sounding like it might fit in with PFM's "Jet Lag" album, and just another example of why this album is not run of the mill, but full of surprises, and so unique in this time and place.

No doubt there is a misconception that Moldau the album is about a band that had lost their previous focus and appeal, but I don't really think so. I can't think of many a European seventies symphonic band in 1981 that despite some personnel changes, was still so in focus and doing something so refreshing, yet connected with past greatness.I give it four stars.

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Symphonic Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
21. PERON Turkey
5BRIDGES Netherlands
7 OCEAN Belarus
ABBHAMA Indonesia
ABSTRACTION LAYER Brazil
ACCENT Romania
ACHE Denmark
ACUITY United States
ADVENTURE Norway
AETHER Brazil
AFTER CRYING Hungary
AFTER THE FIRE United Kingdom
AGNUS Argentina
AGNUS GRAAL Brazil
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