Upbeat: that’s how Maartin Allcock has always been. He may have gone on occasional rant about the state of the world affairs, but when it came to music, Maart was all about bringing pleasure to this mortal coil – on solo records, with JETHRO TULL and FAIRPORT CONVENTION albums, with MANCUNIA, the trio Allcock seemed so proud of, on Cat Stevens’ songs, including Yusuf’s latest LP. Sadly, he also proved to be mortal, and the veteran’s appearance at Cropredy last month turned out to be his final one. Maart planned it this way, though, having had announced he had terminal cancer, having had left social media and hoping to retire until the time would come to leave – which, Allcock said in his dignified public announcement, would be before next summer. And the time came on September 16th, when the 61-year-old artist passed away peacefully.
His contributions to folk-rock and other genres were immense, but to those outside it Maartin’s spirit should shine the brightest on a piece he co-penned with Robert Plant, “Colours Of A Shade” – where he also played basically all the instruments. Godspeed you, master.
John Hackett is no stranger to duo records, as "Sketches Of Satie" might suggest, yet if that one saw him interpreting classical oeuvre in the company of a certain sibling, the album the renown flautist is to issue via Esoteric Antenna on October 12th with guitarist Nick Fletcher inhabits a prog-rock domain. Picking up where JOHN HACKETT BAND’s "We Are Not Alone" left off – although the two musicians found their special rappiort much earlier, having already released two joint CDs – “Beyond The Stars” will add some heaviness to adventurous moves; that’s why there are drummer Wayne Proctor, last heard on KING KING’s "Exile And Grace", and six-string bassist Simon Hall to help create a well-rounded sound on eight songs and one instrumental which often veer away from the work’s principal genre to draw on symphony and jazz. While, in Hackett’s words, it’s not a concept album per se, it has particular themes running through, especially of travel – whether in a car, on a ship or hurtling through space.
The labyrinthine story of Welsh rockers MAN is a convincing testament to their persistence and ability to retain the ensemble’s original shtick no matter what – and no wonder that fans believe in it. That’s why, perhaps, the veterans’ new release – 2CD and DVD recorded on-stage in Stuttgart on March 10th, 2016 and available separately from September 14th, 2018 – is titled “Faith.” It features songs, more than half of this set, from the group’s 2015 offering – their first in nine years – “Reanimated Memories” as well as classic material. Looks like it’s the group’s last recording with keyboard player Phil Ryan, who would die soon thereafter yet…
Recent period saw David Cross of KING CRIMSON fame closely working with kindred spirits of various striped, his talent and ability to read other people’s minds shining on "Cold Sky Blue" that pairs the veteran with Sean Quinn, on "Another Day" where Cross collaborates with his namesake Jackson from VDGG, on "Bartok in Rock" that finds him help DIALETO explore classical avant-garde (and there’s their live record to be reviewed here soon), on "Midori" by STICK MEN, on “Crossing The Tracks” which places Cross’ strings into different environments (to be reviewed ASAP as well)… And yet, there’s a new one, to be issued on October 26th: “Ends Meeting” – the result of 2006’s sessions between David Cross and Andrew Booker.
This spring, Steven Wilson performed a series of shows at the Royal Albert Hall in London, where the prog avatar – with the help of Ninet Tayeb on a few numbers – played a good portion of “To The Bone” as well as the chosen cuts from his previous records and the PORCUPINE TREE back catalogue. The reviews were raving, and those who couldn’t make it to those evening, will soon have a chance to experience, to an extent, the atmosphere that reigned there and then. On October 26th, Wilson is to release “Home Invasion – In Concert At The Royal Albert Hall”: the recording of what looks like the March 29th set list – as a package of 2CDs and DVD or Blu-ray.