Tag Archives: Classic Rock Presents Prog

Prog 73 out tomorrow

prog-73-full Issue 73 of Prog Magazine, which went to press before Team Rock called in the administrators, is in the shops tomorrow.

What would have been the magazine’s final issue assuming it had made it into distribution is instead the first issue of a new era for the magazine,

It goes without saying that tributes to one of the greats of the genre who passed away last year have a lot of prominence,

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Future Publishing buys Team Rock Titles

Amidst all the doom and gloom, one piece of good news. The Guardian is reporting that Future Publishing is buying Metal Hammer, Classic Rock and Prog magazine from Team Rock’s administrators, securing their immediate future.

Thirty-year-old Metal Hammer magazine and stablemates Classic Rock and Prog have been given a new lease of life after being saved from closure by Future Publishing, owner of titles including Guitarist, Total Film and T3.

The titles, along with the Golden Gods Awards and the Classic Rock Awards, suspended publication and faced closure after owner TeamRock, which fashioned itself as the self-styled “home of rock and metal”, went into administration in December.

No word yet on how many former staff are likely to be rehired, but let’s hope for the best. These are good people who are passionate about music.

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Filling the Hole

As an independent blogger, I was sometimes annoyed that so many prog bands sent their press releases announcing new records, tours or even new lineups exclusively to Prog Magazine, who would frequently announce things before they appeared on the band’s own websites. But I understand why the bands all did it; Prog has a reach no independent blogger could match, and if exclusively was their price, it was a price worth paying as far as the bands were concerned.

Prog’s sudden and unexpected demise leaves a huge hole.

Independent bloggers can’t hope to fill a hole that big, but we’ll try to do whatever we can. I try ro curate the news section of this site rather than copy-pasting every single press release that shows up in my email. But it goes without saying that any of the bands who feature on this site regularly (You know who you are, and so do our readers) won’t be ignored.

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Prog goes Nigel Tufnel

Prog Magazine has attempted to compile a list of The 10 Sexiest Prog Songs. You can argue whether or not the songs chosen fit the theme or no, but this throwaway line did rather stick in the throat.

These days, of course, prog has got well sexed up with the proliferation of scantily clad females fronting acts such as Touchstone, Mostly Autumn, The Reasoning, Panic Room and beyond.

It’s hard to read that line without it coming over as gross, sexist and a little bit creepy. The implication is to reduce talented musicians and songwriters to eye-candy for male audiences. The frontwomen of the bands mentioned above deserve better.

It does make you wonder if the author of that article has ever seen the likes of Touchstone or Panic Room live. Checking the byline, it’s by someone who’s definitely been seen at their gigs, and really ought to know better.

As one regular commenter to this blog said on another forum:

If he thinks those people are scantily clad, he clearly doesn’t get out enough. He should come and walk round Newcastle on a Friday night.

Quite.

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On listening to the cover disk for the current Prog Magazine, I get the impression that 90s Dream Theater is the new 80s Marillion when it comes to new prog bands whose technical skill exceeds their creative imagination.

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Prog-gate “The Prog Corruption Blog”

I really try to steer well clear of backstage politics in the Prog world. But sometimes things happen on public forums that leave me no choice.

There has been something of a ruction in the community over a mysterious blog calling itself the “Prog Corruption Blog”, which claimed to “try to address corruption, scamming, vote canvassing and poll rigging in the world of Progressive Rock Music as dedicated and professional artists are forced out of popularity polls and charts by PR driven outfits“. There was but a single post, which made the claim that the reader’s poll in Classic Rock Presents Prog had been rigged in favour of Panic Room and The Reasoning, two bands recently signed by Esoteric Antenna. The whole thing reeked of an agenda, and read like the work of someone with an axe to grind against either the bands, the label, or both.

I learned of this blog from a link posted in the comments on another post in this blog, I immediately bought it to the attention of CRPP and two of the bands because I felt they needed to know. To say that there was then a significant sewage/ventilation device interface incident would be an understatement. Certainly some of those parties considered the contents of that blog libellous, and there was talk of lawyers.

A few hours later, after a number of angry comments including some from a member of one of those bands, the entire site disappeared.

If you read the whole thing before it got taken down, it was less an attack on the CRPP Poll, and more a direct attack on the professional integrity of two bands and their record company. There was also an implied personal attack on Panic Room’s frontwoman Anne-Marie Helder, suggesting that she did not deserve the Best Female Vocalist of 2011 award because the band “had played no more than half a dozen pub gigs”. (Obviously untrue, we’ll get to that later)

It’s now being suggested that the author writing under the false name of “Beverly Myers” is in fact male. I’m not going to argue with someone with a Master’s degree in psychology on that point. It’s notable that the (probably male) author adopted a voice that read like a crude caricature of 1980s hairy-armpit feminism to make his dubious points. I now believe he has a misogynistic agenda – not only are two of the bands female-fronted, but the record company is also run by a woman.

Given that the author has lied about his identity, nothing else can be taken at face value. The whole thing is full of distortions, half-truths and outright lies which cannot be put down to mere poor research. It should certainly not be dismissed as “a bit of harmless internet fun” – it’s a clear and deliberate attempt to damage several people’s means of earning a living. It’s already diverted a lot of their time and energy away from creating and promoting their music towards countering these malicious lies.

One of the bands has also dropped hints that they have strong suspicions as to the identity of the perpetrators (note the use of the plural here). While I don’t want to speculate on their specific identity, it does feel like the work of a fan or maybe even a member of a prog band made up of ugly blokes who’s bitter that the record label had passed over their dated 80s-style neo-prog in favour of two bands in question. That would put the sneering references to “bands fronted by pretty girls”, “beauty contests” and “they aren’t proper prog” in to context.

Somehow I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this by a long way.

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Has Classic Rock presents Prog Jumped the Shark?

I am very disappointed by the way this month’s Classic Rock Presents Prog has published an appalling attack on one of the bands I follow in the guise of a review.

Even though the review of the actual gig was very positive, the reviewer devoted more space to unfair, inaccurate and deeply damaging nonsense accusing the band of lacking professionalism regarding promotion than to the actual music. Exactly what is this supposed to achieve?

Reading between the lines, which I know is always dangerous, it seems as if their “crime” appears to be spending their time touring the length and breadth of the country playing before actual paying punters rather than spending it schmoozing with self-important music journalists who never venture beyond the M25.

I’m thinking of other bands who I won’t name who seem to have to spend as much time travelling to meet up with the London-based hacks as they actually do out on the road. That to me epitomises the fundamental rottenness of the “Music press as gatekeeper” model of the old-style music business.

It’s sad to see Classic Rock Presents Prog descending into the “Build ‘em up, knock ‘em down” mentality normally associated with style-over-content rags like the NME. I had, perhaps naively, thought this magazine was above that. They’ve done a lot for this band in the past, now they give every appearance of having turned against them for reasons that appear to have far more to do with music press politics than with music.

My copy is now in the bin.

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Touchstone, Islington Academy 2, 5th March 2011


Photo © Roger Allen

Islington O2 Academy saw the final night of the “Prog 2.0 tour” came to London, with rising stars Touchstone topping the bill.

On record at least, openers Enochian Theory are a prog-metal act with a nice line in atmospherics, and have been compared with the mighty Opeth. But tonight’s performance suffered from a very poor mix, with overpoweringly loud drums drowning out the guitar and bass, losing a lot of the subtlety. While they’re clearly talented musicians, their songwriting and compositional skills have yet to reach the level where their music can survive that sort of treatment from the soundman. I’m sure I’ve seen their frontman before somewhere – he certainly looked as though he wouldn’t have looked out of place behind a model railway layout at DEMU Showcase. Saying that, I certainly wouldn’t write them off, and there’s a lot of potential for the future.

Jurojin were a very different beast. They started as a straightforward four-piece prog-metal act, up to the last few numbers when they were joined first by a tabla player, than by virtuoso violinist Anna Phoebe. At that point they morphed into a kind of folk-metal-world music fusion that sounded like an utterly different band from what we’d heard at the beginning of the set. Like IOEarth when I saw them last summer, there music is going off in many different directions, and they need to pick one and run with it. The last part of the set was genuinely exciting, and that feels to me like the direction in which they ought to go.

As for Touchstone, well, they were the band everyone came to see, and their tight high-energy performance delivered in spades. As for most of the past year and a half, the setlist drew heavily from their second album “Wintercoast” with a few selected songs from their earlier “Discordant Dreams”, including a great version of “Being Hannah”, a song I don’t think I’ve heard live for a while.  As always, Kim Seviour makes an great frontwoman and visual focus for the band, but one thing that was very obvious this time was how much Moo Bass’ playing dominates the sound. From the machine-gun riff of the title track of “Wintercoast” onwards, his bass both drives the rhythm and acts as a principal lead instrument, leaving Rob Cottingham’s keys and Adam Hodgson’s lead guitar to add colour to fill in the sound. Like Panic Room the weekend before, with performances like this they seem destined for far bigger things.

While I’d hardly say the O2, with it’s overpriced beer and often indifferent sound and atmosphere was a favourite venue of mine, this was certainly the best gig at this venue I’ve seen to date. With the tour promoted by Classic Rock Presents Prog, attendance was very good indeed, with over two-hundred and fifty through the doors. And nice to see Porcupine Tree’s Steve Wilson in the crowd.

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The Prog Factor!

The latest issue of Classic Rock Presents Prog came out today, containing the results of 2010 readers poll, in which I remembered to vote this time!

It’s great so see so many of the bands I’ve travelled around the country to see feature a lot in the results. Both Mostly Autumn and The Reasoning did well, with MA’s “Go Well Diamond Heart” and The Reasoning’s “Adverse Camber at #3 and #5 in Best Album. The Reasoning also made #4 in Best Band, and Mostly Autumn’s “The Night In Leamington” at #5 in Best DVD, the latter very creditable when you consider the other four were Rush, Transatlantic, Porcupine Tree and Opeth, all bands of far higher profile

Not only that, Anne-Marie Helder, Kim Servior and Olivia Sparnenn took the top three positions in Best Female Vocalist. Not only lovely people, but three are great singers who have paid their dues slogging around what’s euphemistically knows as “the toilet circuit” for several years, and it’s certainly time to see them start to get the recognition they deserve. They’re all real singers who don’t need auto-tune and can very definitely cut it live, which is more than can be said for far too many of today’s chart-toppers. Forget X-Factor, it’s the Prog Factor that really counts.

And we shouldn’t underestimate the significance either. Classic Rock Presents Prog is not a subscription-only niche publication with a limited audience, it’s a widely-available newsstand publication with a readership of more than half that of the NME.

The other big prog news this week is the announcement of the several of the bands who will the playing the Classic Rock Presents Prog stage at High Voltage in July. Jethro Tull will be one of the headliners, with Mostly Autumn, Spock’s Beard, The Enid, Caravan and Pallas also on the bill. This is looking like a fantastic weekend already.

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