On May 1st, John Tout, the symphony driver of RENAISSANCE, passed away. It was John who, having graduated from RUPERT’S PEOPLE, enhanced the classical element in the Annie Haslam-fronted ensemble with his piano and other ivory-laden instruments that went along so well with orchestras. For the less art-rock inclined listeners, Tout’s playing can be heard on WISHBONE ASH’s “Throw Down The Sword” off “Argus” that was elevated thanks to John’s spiritual organ, and on John Lennon’s “Crippled Inside” off “Imagine” – the RENAISSANCE man, erroneously credited as acoustic guitarist, was one of the piano players on it.
The veteran didn’t play much in the recent years, yet he guested on the reformed RENAISSANCE’s "Tuscany" in 2001, and three years later former colleague Terry Sullivan lured Tout out of retirement to take part in his RENAISSANT project. A pity, there’s not much more music to hear John on, but his magic remains even after his passing.
Remembered all over the world for the perennial “Yellow River” that he wrote for CHRISTIE, the band which bore his name and get back in action once in a while even now, Jeff Christie has never stopped writing but, every time and again looks back into his past. When it happens, the singer usually lets previously unreleased tracks out in the open, just like he did on 2012’s "No Stone Unturned", yet now the veteran reworked the the title track of CHRISTIE’s second album, from 1971, for a new single, “For All Mankind,” available currently via iTunes and Amazon. It’s a very fresh take on the classic cut, with a prominent brass section in its arrangement.
There’s no shortage of concert releases from the latest reunion of original ASIA line-up, although the band have moved on by now and Steve Howe left again, while John Wetton, Geoff Downes and Carl Palmer soldier on. And while it’ll take some time before they deliver a stage document with Sam Coulson on guitar, an old one is to hit the shelves on June 9th as 2CD, DVD and Blu-Ray. Titled “Axis XXX: Live San Francisco,” it’s a 2012 recording most fans already have, as the quartet’s performance was televised and broadcast in HD, and then thrown into quasi-bootleg circulation. But while it’s going to be good to have the whole package, it’s a little bit of an overload of ASIA product. Continue reading →