There’s a lot to be said about COLOSSEUM but what’s rarely mentioned is this ensemble’s intellectual foundation that, together with mind-boggling musicianship, was one of the reason they were able to improvise to an extent where none of the band’s concert sounded the same as the performances which preceded and followed it. That’s why, with a single live album releases during the collective’s original run of the late ’60s – early ’70s and a smattering of on-stage recordings added to the reissues such as "Valentyne Suite" – as well as the recent flurry of archival tapes made available on Repertoire – the demand for more documents from the past doesn’t seem to diminish. As an answer, the aforementioned German label will issue a 6CD box set at the end of October, titled “Transmissions: Live At The BBC” and comprising the group’s gigs for the Beeb.
Not that he’s ever issued anything even remotely insipid but John Hackett‘s recent releases were particularly strong – be it "We Are Not Alone" which the veteran put out with his band or "Beyond The Stars"(not made available for review) which he shaped in a duo mode with Nick Fletcher – so there’s a little wonder in the fact that the multi-instrumentalist’s new solo album is going to be wondrous, to say the least. Titled “The Piper Plays His Tune” to allude to John’s primary tool, flute, and also to his early fascination with Ian McDonald‘s work with a certain prog ensemble, and scheduled to hit the shelves in November, this record doesn’t adhere to art-rock lines, opting instead for clever pop format – ideal for songs laid down during lockdown.
Steve York always had a great story to tell – a historical background to a photo or a video with him in – and it didn’t feel too surprising, given the bassist extraordinaire graced many a significant ensemble with his sonic presence. Sonic – because York prefered to stay in the back (the background, you see?) and be heard rather than seen. That’s why a lot of rock connoisseurs may not realize it was Steve who laid down bottom end on such remarkable albums as Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English” for which he co-penned a few numbers, or EAST OF EDEN’s “Mercator Projected” that featured not only his four strings but also his harmonica.
Perhaps, this release is a tad too late to the party, yet in times like ours there’s no reason to complain that Dutch premier proggers FOCUS were formed in 1969 but they celebrate the band’s half-century anniversary in 2020. No reason – because getting a reasonably priced box set – titled “50 Years Anthology 1970-1976” – comprising nine CDs and two DVDs feels really special. On the CDs are the ensembles first five albums, newly remastered and augmented with bonus tracks of which many haven’t seen the light of day before, and “At The Rainbow” concert document and previously unissued live recordings, plus the “Ship Of Memories” compilation of rarities – although 1977’s “Focus Con Proby” was left off to remain the only LP from the group’s first lifespan that won’t be included here (one would suspect the decision had something to do with guitarist Jan Akkerman and drummer Pierre van der Linden absent from the Thijs Van Leer-led line-up). Still, the plethora of visual delights on DVDs must compensate for the omission.
It’s been half a century since CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL released their classic “Cosmo’s Factory” that remains fans’ favorite even today, which is why the band’s leader John Fogerty decided to call the video series that he and his kids – sons Shane and Tyler and daughter Kelsy – recorded at their home studio and gradually uploaded to the veteran’s YouTube channel“Fogerty’s Factory” and, later, to lend this title to his new album. There was a digital-only EP issued on John’s 75th birthday, May 28th, when the Fogerty family shot “Centerfield” at an empty Dodger Stadium, but now there’s a full-length album to see the light of day in physical form on November 20th (with vinyl to follow on January 15th). It doesn’t include a lot of CCR classics, yet cuts from the artist’s solo offerings and a Bill Withers cover compensate for that.