Friday, February 24, 2012


If you read my review of (re)Production, you got that I was not overwhelmed with Todd Rundgren's last studio effort.

I like the CD of the live Todd concert show from 2010 much better (have not watched the DVD as I type this), but heard a rumour that Todd's next effort is a duets album.

The project is partly inspired by the success of his collaboration with old Philadelphia friend Daryl Hall on "Live from Daryl's House," not once but twice!

Does that mean we'll see a collection of blue-eyed soul duets with Hall and other great singers, possibly Todd's twist on the great American songbook?

Have you paid attention to Todd's career?

According to Todd, "There are no known names. I will be singing duets with people that are YouTube phenomena - writing songs specifically for each of them. It's my cunning way to ensure that the project is a success..."

At least he's writing the songs-a step back in the right direction after the last record.

Buy the Todd CD and DVD here!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



Prog-rock band, Spock’s Beard appeared for one night only in Downey, CA ON September 12, 2010, the one and only U.S. show of the band’s “X” Tour (promoting their CD release, oddly enough entitled X).

The band had not appeared on these shores since since 2007, and band members Nick D’Virgilio, Alan Morse, Ryo Okumoto, Dave Meros, and Jimmy Keegan, reminded fans what they had been missing, slamming down tracks from the new CD from the moment they mounted the stage.

SB’s time away from live performances had been well spent, as the performance was great. The band performed “X” in its entirety and then treated fans to a few tried and true oldies, including “On A Perfect Day”, “Thoughts”, and finished up with “June”.

The CD sound is excellent, and the picture quality on the DVD does not disappoint. The performance was simply amazing. Sadly, it would be the last US show with Nick as frontman.

But what really makes this release stand out is that Arlee Bird (of Tossing It Out fame) and I were fortunate enough to be at the show. And when I listen to the CD through headphones, I believe they brought our applause to the forefront in the final mix!

Okay, so I may be making that last part up, but we were there! Want proof? Check out Arlee's post or my own post.

Even if you were not fortunate enough to hear and see it live, buy the deluve edition CD/DVD and experience an exceptional moment in music history.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Shout Factory is set to release Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Live At Hammersmith Odeon ’75 concert CD on April 10. Recorded on October 9, 1975, at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia Live At Hammersmith Odeon ’75 captures the band performing their first UK concert. The recording has never been commercially available until now.

The recording features the lineup of Todd Rundgren, John Siegler, Roger Powell and Willie Wilcox, which would later become Utopia, with backing vocals by Luther Vandross and Anthony Hinton.

Friday, February 17, 2012


The Classic Todd Album Performed In Its Entirety!

Shot and recorded at the Keswick Theater in Philadelphia on September 14, 2010!

DVD also includes Roy Firestone interview

Finally coming to compact disc and video on  Feb. 28
SONS OF 1984

Now over forty years and 20 studio albums into his career, his work within a group setting, as a solo artist, and as a producer has been consistently excellent if somewhat under appreciated.

Todd is also a guitarist of note, and for an example of his virtuosity just check out Meat Loaf’s classic album, Bat Out Of Hell.

Close to four decades after its original release, Rundgren performed the Todd album in its entirety for the first time as part of a limited six-date sold-out tour. The September 14, 2010, date at Philadelphia’s Keswick Theater, in his hometown, was taped and is the basis for this release.

Todd surrounded himself on stage with a stellar group of musicians: bassist Kasim Sulton (Utopia), keyboardist Greg Hawkes (The Cars), drummer Prairie Prince (The Tubes), sax player Bobby Strickland, guitarist Jesse Gress (Guitar Player magazine editor), and a full choir.

The original release went in a number of directions as if Rundgren was recording whatever came to mind. While each song was impeccably crafted, part of its charm was in the eclectic nature of the music. On stage the songs tend to move in more of a rock direction due to the confines of a static band. Still, he manages to remain true to the original intent of the music, and through It all his voice, stage presence, and guitar expertise all stand out.

The original concerts also featured the Healing album, where the choir played a much more central role. Hopefully there are plans to release this as well.

Buy it here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012



Steven Wilson may be the hardest working man in music today.

Best known for fronting the progressive rock band Porcupine Tree, Steven Wilson is a self-taught musician and producer who keeps himself incredibly busy. In between Porcupine Tree releases, musical side projects No Man and Blackfield, production efforts (Opeth and Anathema) and DVD-Audio release campaigns for King Crimson, Caravan, and Jethro Tull, Wilson somehow managed to find time during 2011 to release his second solo album, a double disc outing entitled Grace For Drowning.
All of his musical projects each express an individual aspect of his musical taste, so one might wonder why the need for a solo outlet for his musical vision. Given his extensive work on remixing and remastering the King Crimson back catalogue, it’s no surprise that their influence is present on Grace for Drowning.

The album’s skill comes in balancing the deeply melodic with the daringly complex, and he devotes the time to explore it, with epic length songs that, while not a radical transformation of Wilson’s various sonic experiments, is a rich synthesis of his artistic vision and a natural progression considering all that Wilson has done up to this point.

Overall, a stronger record than Insurgentes, with melodic moments that expand into grandly beautiful compositions. While Wilson delves into some progressive jazz experimentation, the more accessible melodic material is actually the strongest. The compositions are characterized by dense soundscapes, but each piece is fragmented with lush, easier-to-digest instrumentation.

One highlight, "Deform to Form a Star," may be the most gorgeous song Wilson has penned yet, featuring a lovely but understated performance by Dream Theater keyboardist Jordan Rudess. In true Wilson fashion, the song builds up into a powerful chorus, where he layers multiple tracks of his voice atop each other, creating an incredibly powerful vocal effect.

While Grace for Drowning may not be perfect, the album seems to highlight everything Wilson does right. This is a record that, while by no means an easy listen, is nonetheless highly accessible in many places.

Along with the standard double album, there is a vinyl release, and from Wilson's site, a deluxe edition that comprises of the album on two discs, a bonus third disc with additional content, and a 5.1 surround sound Blu-Ray mix of the record, all housed in a 120-page deluxe art book, comprised of photographs by frequent Wilson collaborator Lasse Hoile.


Saturday, February 11, 2012


Whitney Houston died this afternoon. She was 48.

Houston was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m. in her room on the fourth floor of the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Houston once reigned supreme as the queen of pop music, until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown.

Houston's publicist, Kristen Foster, said the cause of death was unknown.

Houston's end came on the eve of music's biggest night -- the Grammy Awards. It's a showcase where she once reigned, and her death was sure to cast a heavy pall on Sunday's ceremony.

I loved her voice, and was sad that the latter part of her career was so troubled.

Rest in peace, Whitney.

Sony Music Entertainment issued the following statement regarding Whitney Houston:

“Whitney Houston was an icon and a once-in-a-lifetime talent who inspired a generation of singers and brought joy to millions of fans around the world. She had a voice of unmatched beauty and power that changed music forever, and she leaves behind an indelible legacy of timeless songs that will never be forgotten. She also was an important member of the Sony Music family who spent her storied recording career with Arista Records. She will be greatly missed. Our deepest condolences go out to her daughter and her entire family.” .

Tuesday, February 7, 2012



The Living Tree features nine new tracks penned by vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, two British music legends who are former members of Yes.

This is an album that requires a little patience. The songs are delivered with very sparse accompaniement, and if you’re looking for that classic Yes sound, you simply won’t hear it. However, if you give this one a little more time, with repeated listens you will see how it unfolds and deepens and finally draws you in.

These two old friends have created a thing of beauty, and the quiet and sparseness are very powerful, with breathtaking melodies and sensitive, restrained keyboards.

Anderson's voice carries the road dust of many roads traveled over a lifetime. While certain melodies or phrases began to stand out early on, as I listened I could almost hear how a full band arrangement would come across.

Many fan reviews are negative about this collaboration, but having listened for myself, I disagree with the haters. With no instruments besides Wakeman's keyboards, the intimate, quiet sound of this recording is like no other in the Anderson canon, and Jon’s solo career has been all over the map. Given Jon's age, recent respiratory ailments, and the fact that he has not really been heard on record for a decade or so, I was almost surprised to see that he had retained his vocal dynamics, his voice on this recording, very intimate.

These are pleasant and listenable songs, clear and melodic. Not bad for a "retirement" project. You will want to listen to this again and again.