Recently, there was an overabundance of Peter Hammill’s archive solo material released, with a new multi-disc collection in the pipeline, but the same can’t be said about VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, the band he masterminded and found fame with. The situation is to be remedied soon, as April 26th will see the deluxe reissue of “The Aerosol Grey Machine”I: their debut album, released in 1969 and celebrating its 50th anniversary in September, turns into a box set. There’s a remastered version of the record in it, with “Giant Squid” reinstated, alongside another CD with rare cuts, an LP and a 7-inch single – originally planned yet withdrawn – plus book containing photos and Sid Smith-written essay, and a replica of 1968 poster designed by Hamill. Of course, it’s not the greatest album by the ensemble, but that’s where their route to greatness began… and possibly, that’s where a new reissue programme starts.
While his solo career goes on forever, Todd Rundgren’s UTOPIA didn’t spend a lot of time on stage from 1985, when they promoted "POV", and their 2011’s reunion wasn’t long – which can’t be said of the band’s last year’s get-together, when they played more than 30 shows. One of those, preserved for posterity on May 22nd, 2018, will be released as a concert album on April 5th. “Live At Chicago Theatre” is featuring, alongside Todd, the ensemble’s mainstays, the mighty rhythm section of Kasim Sulton and Willie Wilcox, with keyboard player Gil Assayas, drafted in shortly before the tour started.
If there ever was an ensemble whose very name demanded a deluxe reissue of their catalogue, it would be – of course – BE-BOP DELUXE, whose melange of classic rock influences not only made them a classic band but also positioned the British combo in the unique spot between prog and new wave. Last year saw an upgraded re-release of the artists’ 1976 near-masterpiece “Sunburst Finish”(detailed here but not available for review), while April 26th is the day when this album’s predecessor “Futurama” – the collective’s sophomore effort – is to be out, given the same treatment. Recorded as a trio of Bill Nelson, Charlie Tumahai and Simon Fox, it’s an interesting work to say the least, particularly because there was a couple of tracks – “Music in Dreamland” and “Jean Cocteau” – that defined Nelson’s subsequent solo career, although the rest of cuts is just as good, and the 3CD/1DVD box set will be its ultimate, if limited in run, realization.
It’s a pure coincidence, of course: this March will the appearance of new records from not one but two former members of the mighty HAWKWIND: reedman Nik Turner and bassist Alan Davey.
Going first, on March 8th, is Turner’s “The Final Frontier” – a follow-up to his "Life In Space" from 2017. In Nik’s words, it looks back on classic psychedelia, so it might be a detour from the veteran’s latter-day stretch of spaced-out jazz rock. Themes are the same, though, which is not bad.
When it comes to Simon Phillips, ambition becomes meaningless, because there’s nothing the famed drummer isn’t able to achieve. Still, when he unveiled a video, or rather a mini-film, to “Escape The Maze” (see below) – a piece anticipating the arrival of the “Origin Of Species” album – it was impossible not to be stunned by the quality of its story and the music per se: if a single had such quality, what could one expect of a full-length record? More so, the website of DarWin, as this project is named, presented an immersive simulator of the earth resources management, and set the bar even higher.
And now, finally, the entire sci-fi concept is ready for exploration, in a digital form, with a CD release scheduled for February 25th, augmented with a comic that tells the story, too. It features, on various tracks, three orchestras, the members of Phillips’ PROTOCOL project – bassist Ernest Tibbs, guitarist Greg Howe and keyboard player Dennis Hamm – as well as another ivories operator, Jeff Babko, and more outstanding musicians. So it’s much more than progressive rock – or if it’s not, it’s progressive in a real sense of this word.