It was in 1973, when Peter Banks parted ways with Ray Bennett and the other lads in his other band, FLASH, that the former YES guitarist and singer Sidonie Jordan came up with EMPIRE, a new prog rock formation destined to deliver three albums and be gone but not forgotten. Following Peter’s passing in March 2013, there’s been a slew of archival releases featuring his playing, and now that ensemble’s previously unheard cuts are to add to this cache. “The Mars Tapes” documents EMPIRE’s stint at LA’s Mars Studios in 1979, around the time of their “Mark III” LP, and catches them in rehearsal – presumably, gearing up for a tour as the 2CD features material from all of their records.
There’s also a Leonard Bernstein classic, and then there’s a bonus track, “Sky At Night,” from the earlier time, when Banks tried to form a band, called ZOK AND THE RADAR BOYS, with Phil Collins who sings and drums on the piece which would end up on EMPIRE’s debut yet features Jon Giblin on bass here, so it might as well be a BRAND X recording. A genuine rarity, even rethought aimed mostly at aficionados. Read the review here.
1. Out Of Our Hands
(c) Far Away
3. Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar And Grill
4. Do What You Want
5. Dancing Man
6. Where Yes Means No
1. Off With The King’s Head
2. Something’s Coming (West Side Story)
3. The Fall Of The Empire
4. When The Banks Overflow
5. Ascending To The Planet Mars
6. Sky At Night (feat. Phil Collins)