Zac Brown Band – Uncaged

My great-niece Caroline who is 4 years old loves the Zac Brown Band :). So last night I am watching the Late Show with David Letterman when I see a commercial for their brand new album,¬†Uncaged . I then learned they were to be the music guests on the show. So I watched them perform and found them enjoyable to listen to ūüôā

Deep Purple – Prog Rock

There is no shadow of a doubt that Deep Purple personifies progressive metal. You can feel the steel crunch in the three powerful tracks on Deep Purple’s¬†Machine Head,¬†Smoke on the Water” , “Space Truckin‘”, and “Highway Star“.

Machine Head is often cited as influential in the development of the heavy metal music genre. It is Deep Purple’s most successful recording, topping the charts in several countries following its release. The album reached #1 in the UK, where it stayed for 20 weeks in the top-40. It also reached #7 in the US, remaining on the Billboard 200 for 118 weeks. (Source: wikipedia)

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My best personal memory of Deep Purple was their appearance at California Jam. This outdoor live event was covered by ABC-TV and 250,000 paid fans attended.

Rush – Prog Rock

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Monday  I wrote about progressive metal and Opeth. Rush has been referred to as a key influence in this sub-genre. Let me attempt to see why that might be true.

First of all I sort out my sentiments about Rush. I don’t own any of their recordings. They are a band I respect and recognize for their musical accomplishments. Still after all these decades their songs don’t come immediately to mind for me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. My secondary purpose for writing about Rush today is to resolve the lack of familiarity issue so that I gain a better appreciation for their value.

I can imagine a devout Rush fan reading this blog post and saying, “Hey you dolt, don’t you know that Rush is the best band in the whole universe, get with the program will ya…”

I begin to listen to their top hits on Spotify. It hits me how ever present Rush has been on AOR radio station playlists. “Tom Sawyer” and “Limelight” strike familiar chords within my psyche. I find however I can’t listen to Rush in a lengthy fashion. Something about Geddy Lee‘s voice against the rock backdrop grates on me. I try my best to assimilate their sound but it permeates my consciousness to a certain layer and no more. Rush doesn’t stick to my ribs like other prog rock artists I enjoy.

So where is Rush’s command of progressive metal you might be asking? Well according to those who have studied this in depth they are saying Rush only evidences progressive metal leanings in a handful of songs, most notably their first single, “Finding My Way” and another single “Working Man” is metal (to a lesser degree).¬†Rush‚Äôs definitive album is 1976‚Ä≤s 2112, that album‚Äôs 20 minute title track has metal/hard rock elements but the rest of the album does not.

Tomorrow’s prog rock artist (with more progressive metal chutzpah) is Deep Purple, stay tuned ūüėČ

Opeth – Prog Rock

My first intention when I started this prog rock series was to stay the prescribed course by writing about progressive rock “sentimental favorites” such as Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Yes, Asia, Emerson, Lake and Palmer etc. I soon surmised there are lots of articles already written about these bands. My prog rock goal shifted to music journalist(educator) to learn and share more about what has transpired in prog rock circles.

Opeth 2011

Today’s blog post is about a band from Sweden named¬†Opeth and the prog rock ¬†or heavy metal (depending upon your frame of reference) sub-genre known as progressive metal. Progressive metal is defined as¬†a blend of heavy, guitar-oriented metal music enriched with compositional innovation and complex arrangements, usually expressed through diverse instrumentation and often (but not always) with odd-time signatures. Common, but not essential to define the movement, are the frequent use of keyboards, high-pitched vocals, concept lyrical themes and tracks of longer duration. Similar to progressive rock, progressive metal draws influences from other genres, such as jazz/fusion, ethnic, classical and symphonic music. Progressive rock pioneers such as King Crimson, Deep Purple¬†and Rush ¬†are¬†acclaimed as progenitors of progressive metal. ¬†(My thanks to the¬†Prog Archives Website¬†Progessive Metal Team)

HERITAGE - 2011

Staying linear with King Crimson, Steven Wilson and Opeth the intersection continues with Opeth’s 10th studio recording, Heritage¬†which was mixed by Steven Wilson(who has played on as well as produced various Opeth recordings). I heard¬†Heritage¬†for the first time this morning . I was literally swept away by its warm tonality and lush heavy rock interludes.

A further point of¬†intersection is initiated when¬†Mikael √Ökerfeldt collaborated with Steven Wilson to create¬†Storm Corrosion.¬†Storm Corrosion’s sound can best be described as ambient, epic, enchanting, and orchestral.[1]

Storm Corrosion Gatefold Vinyl Sleeve

It was just announced that Opeth have been nominated in various categories at the inaugural Progressive Music Awards 2012 brought you by Prog Magazine.

Opeth nominated at inaugural Progressive Music Awards

Opeth are nominated in the following categories open to public voting.

Live Event Category: Opeth at Brixton Academy 2011 CLICK HERE TO VOTE
Album of the Year Category: Opeth РHeritage CLICK HERE TO VOTE

Mikael Åkerfeldt has also been nominated in the Guiding Light category which will chosen by a carefully selected council.

Steven Wilson – Prog Rock

I thought it proper to continue the prog rock series with¬†Steven Wilson. The intersection with yesterday’s¬†King Crimson¬†blog post underlies Steven Wilson’s passion for the technological expanse of their music. He has done a superlative job remixing their catalog. Steven Wilson acknowledges that listening to Robert Fripps’s approach and the notes that he chooses has shaped his style of guitar playing.

I plucked this quote from Steven Wilson’s biography on¬†Spotify.

Thanks to a prolific work ethic, self-taught producer, engineer, and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson has gradually become one of the U.K.’s most critically acclaimed artists.

imgI decided to stop off at Barnes & Noble to see if I could find a music magazine to fortify my research for this week’s prog rock series. I was searching for Prog Rock Magazine but little did I realize hiding with the jazz magazines would be a copy of Guitar Player Magazine‘s August 2012 issue. I smiled reassuringly to see Steven Wilson with his Gold Paul Reed Smith Custom 22 on the cover. The cover quote solidified my convictions, “Steven Wilson, Reimagining Progessive Rock”.

My inherent sixth sense of music had led me to find a validated discovery. Steven Wilson has forged a major link ¬†in the chain between the 70’s electric fusion of Miles Davis and King Crimson’s Robert Fripp. This linkage is forged by the the fact that Steven Wilson chose King Crimson’s¬†Lizard¬†as the first remixing effort. Steven Wilson states that he realized how integral jazz was to¬†Lizard¬†and King Crimson.¬†Lizard¬†was made with musicians from the British jazz scene in a very¬†analogous¬†fashion to Miles Davis process with¬†Bitches Brew.

I have listened throughout the day to Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson’s solo efforts. I didn’t intend to over look his other work with No-Man, I.E.M., Bass Communion or Blackfield. It was a capacity issue for me to try to assimilate all of his group projects in a day ūüėČ

I found the Porcupine Tree recordings mesmerizing, equally wildly chilling as they were rich in innovative tonalities.

I became further intrigued by Steven Wilson’s Insurgentes,¬†part documentary/part surreal road movie.

Steven Wilson said this about his second solo album, Grace for Drowning:

‘Insurgentes’ was an important step for me into something new. This record takes that as a starting point, but it‚Äôs more experimental and more eclectic. For me the golden period for music was the late sixties and early seventies, when the album became the primary means of artistic expression, when musicians liberated themselves from the 3 minute pop song format, and started to draw on jazz and classical music especially, combining it with the spirit of psychedelia to create ‚Äújourneys in sound‚ÄĚ I guess you could call them. So without being retro, my album is a kind of homage to that spirit. There‚Äôs everything from [Ennio] Morricone-esque film themes to choral music to piano ballads to a 23 minute progressive jazz ‚Äďinspired piece. I’ve actually used a few jazz musicians this time, which is something I picked up from my work remixing the King Crimson records”[8]


Get All You Deserve, is a new high-definition audio-visual set from Steven Wilson. Directed by long-time visual collaborator Lasse Hoile, Get All You Deserve was filmed in Mexico City during the recent Grace For Drowning Tour. The set captures the spectacular live experience that Wilson and Hoile created for the tour on Blu-ray, DVD and 2CD.

The progressive rock chain link will continue tomorrow when I write about the prog rock sub-genre progressive metal and¬†the collaboration between Porcupine Tree‘s Steven Wilson and Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt¬†on¬†Storm Corrosion.¬†¬†It has been described as being “the last part in the odd trilogy of records completed by (Opeth’s)¬†Heritage¬†and Steven Wilson’s brand new solo album¬†Grace for Drowning.[21][22]

King Crimson – Prog Rock

The focus of the Music of Our Heart blog shifts with electronic music to the genre of progressive rock (Prog Rock).

Prog Rock week commences with a look at the foundation group, King Crimson.They have been active in three different incarnations, 1969-1974, 1981-1984, and 1994-2009. Each nucleus had Robert Fripp as a core member. Robert Fripp along with Steven Wilson(Porcupine Tree) are primarily responsible for the remix of the 40th anniversary archive series.

Discipline Global Mobile (DGM, or Discipline GM) is an independent record label that was founded in 1992 by Robert Fripp. The business model for DGM precludes King Crimson product from being available on iTunes, Spotify or anywhere else digitally.

DGM aims “to be a model of ethical business in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fueled by greed,” according to Fripp.[1]¬†Its policy is that its artists retain all copyrights; consequently, even DGM’s “knotwork” corporate logo is owned by its designer.[2]¬†DGM’s aims were called “exemplary”, and DGM was credited with having expanded “the possibilities of experimental music” and having improved the environment for King¬†Crimson.[3]

In The Court of the Crimson King stands out as the masterpiece in the collection.
King Crimson - In The Court Of The Crimson King - 40th Anniversary Series (CD/DVD-A)

When ‚ÄúIn The Wake of Poseidon‚ÄĚ was first issued in 1970, Melody Maker ran the unforgettable headline: ‚ÄúIf Wagner were alive he‚Äôd work with King Crimson‚ÄĚ. ¬†For an album that shouldn‚Äôt have been recorded by a band that didn‚Äôt exist, ‚ÄúIn The Wake of Poseidon‚ÄĚ continues to intrigue and delight King Crimson fans 40 years after its initial release.

King Crimson - In The Wake Of Poseidon - 40th Anniversary Series (CD/DVD-A)

Lizard, is even by today’s standards, a remarkable and extraordinary album. King Crimson’s third studio album still has the capacity to polarise opinion amongst enthusiasts, and even those who helped make the record in September and October 1970.

Islands, the only studio album from the second performing lineup of King Crimson. ¬†This release fully vindicates the claim that this lineup ‚Äď short lived though it may have been ‚Äď had as much to offer musically as any of the more well-known King Crimson incarnations.

King Crimson - Islands - 40th Anniversary Series (CD/DVD-A)

Starless In Bible Black has often been overlooked. Yet even a cursory listen reveals this to be a powerful record, brimming with confidence borne out of the band’s increasing mastery of the concert platform.

King Crimson - Starless and Bible Black - 40th Anniversary Series(CD/DVD-A)

Released in 1974 after King Crimson had ‚Äúceased to exist‚ÄĚ, Red remains a remarkably powerful document of a group quitting at the top of its game.

Released in 1981, Discipline was a startling reinvention with a new line-up performing radically different material that managed to delight fans, confound critics & pick up a substantial new audience along the way.

30 years on,¬†Discipline¬†remains one of the key albums of the early 1980s and one of the most popular and influential in King Crimson’s catalogue.

King Crimson - Discipline - 40th Anniversary Series (CD/DVD-A)

The descriptions of the CDs in the series is courtesy of King Crimson and Robert Fripp.   (© 2009-2012 Robert Fripp)

Miles Davis – Electric Jazz-Fusion

Cover of "In a Silent Way"
Cover of In a Silent Way

I  should have made this blog post about Miles Davis the first post for the four-part jazz/rock fusion series this week. Miles invented jazz/rock fusion beginning with In A Silent Way in 1969.

My aim with this blog post is to celebrate Miles Davis’s leadership role in forging the electric jazz-fusion genre. It is my favorite Miles period in his evolutionary path.

One definitive work I discovered while¬†researching¬†Miles’s electric period is the book, Miles Beyond: The Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991¬†by Paul Tingen. It covers Mile’s electric period in-depth. His¬†companion Web site which is chock full of information is¬†here.

I found it interesting as I researched the jazz/rock fusion artists the intersection points with Miles Davis. The Miles Davis school of jazz gave birth to¬†Tony Williams and John McLaughlin, among many others. Miles nurtured a rich, mother vein of talent that he mined and shared with the universe. Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Dave Holland, Sonny Sharrock, Bennie Maupin, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, the list of jazz infamous goes on and on…..

John McLaughlin played a key role in Miles Davis’s formation and evolution of electric jazz-fusion. He is featured on¬†In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson, Big Fun¬†and¬†On The Corner.

A pivotal point in Miles Davis’s electric jazz/fusion is the Isle of Wight concert that takes place before 600,000+ people in 1970. The largest human gathering of its time, exceeding the population of Woodstock the year before.

Miles Electric, A Different Kind of Blue documents this event on DVD.