Now Available As A Podcast…

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NOW AVAILABLE AS A PODCAST…

“Prog-Scure: Obscure Bands on the Prog-Rock Scene (Past & Present)”
Show #7, February 17, 2018

Featuring music from After The Fall, Anthriel, Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, Credo, Dale, Electric Food, Fireballet, Genesis, Heart of Cygnus, Jane, Kraan, Mind’s Eye, Mechanical Poet, Overture, Panic Room, Rough Diamond, Seven Steps To The Green Door, The Shadow Theory, StoneRider, Thieves’ Kitchen, Trillion, Violet District, and White Willow.

Listen or Download: https://archive.org/details/ProgScureShow7

Now Available As A Podcast…

ProgScure_PromoBannerNOW AVAILABLE AS A PODCAST…

“Prog-Scure: Obscure Bands on the Prog-Rock Scene (Past & Present)”
Show #6, February 14, 2018

Featuring music from 3rDegree, Adagio, Angel, Armonite, Babe Ruth, D’Accord, Druckfarben, Epitaph, Gino Vanelli, Ian Gillan Band, Khan, League of Lights, Magnum, Mentor’s Wish, New Trolls, Paradigm Shift, Riff Raff, Socrates, Sweet Smoke, Thirteen of Everything, Twelfth Night, Uriah Heep, and Wallenstein.
https://archive.org/details/ProgScureShow6

Expanded Radio Show

ProgScure_PromoBanner_NewDOUBLE THE PROG-SCURE = DOUBLE THE PROG-FUN!

That’s right, “Prog-scure: Obscure Bands on the Prog-Rock Scene (Past & Present)” is expanding to TWO SHOWS PER WEEK. Not only will Prog-Scure continue at its regular time each Wednesday from 8-11 AM (CST), but an entirely new show will also be presented each Saturday from 1-4 PM (CST). So instead of savoring music from more than twenty artists of the past fifty years each week, you’ll have the opportunity to revel in more than forty, doubling the Prog-Fun!

Coming this week…

WEDNESDAY, 02/14/18, 8-11 AM (CST)
Including music from 3RDegree, Adagio, Armonite, D’AccorD, Druckfarben, League of Lights, Magnum, Paradigm Shift, Uriah Heep, and many more.

SATURDAY, 02/17/18, 1-4 PM (CST)
Including music from Anthriel, Credo, Heart of Cygnus, Mechanical Poet, Panic Room, Seven Steps To The Green Door, The Shadow Theory, StoneRider, Thieves’ Kitchen, White Willow, and many more.

Join me for the shows at http://progrock.com
Visit the chatroom during the shows at http://progrock.com/chat
Previous shows available at https://archive.org/details/@zap_niles

Now Available As A Podcast…

ProgScure_PromoBannerNOW AVAILABLE AS A PODCAST…

“Prog-Scure: Obscure Bands on the Prog-Rock Scene (Past & Present)”
Show #5, February 07, 2018

Featuring music from Agnes Strange, Anyone’s Daughter, Blue Mammoth, Crucible, Crystal Lake, Dave Kerzner, Ethos, Everon, Golden Earring, Harvest, Introitus, Little Atlas, Moonrise, Now, Omega, Pictures, Shadow Circus, Skeem, Vienna Circle, Waste Lagoon, and Xsavior.
https://archive.org/details/ProgScureShow5

This Wednesday, 02/07/18, on Prog-Scure

ProgScure_PromoBannerTHIS WEDNESDAY – on “Prog-scure: Obscure Bands on the Prog-Rock Scene (Past & Present),” hear music from more than twenty artists of the past fifty years, including Blue Mammoth, Dave Kerzner, Harvest, Introitus, Little Atlas, Moonrise, Shadow Circus, Skeem, and Vienna Circle.

Join me for the show at http://progrock.com
THIS WEDNESDAY, 02/07/18, FROM 8-11 AM (CST)

Podcasts Now Available

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Hear or Download My Podcasts

Prog-Scure: Show #1 – Recorded January 10, 2018
Featuring music from After Forever, Ambrosia, Animator, Armageddon, Birth Control, Bloodrock, Grace, Gravy Train, Grobschnitt, It Bites, Legend, Lucifer’s Friend, Magenta, Max Webster, Mindwarp Chamber, Scarlet Hollow, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Siena Root, Stories, and Ursa Major.

Prog-Scure: Show #2 – Recorded January 17, 2018
Featuring music from Abraxas, Advent, Bad Dreams, Beyond The Bridge, Captain Beyond, Damon Shulman, Druid, Ezra, Friar Rush, Guru Guru, Hands, Hellfield, Imminent Sonic Destruction, Janus, Landmarq, Maestrick, Mona Lisa, New England, The Othello Syndrome, Ragnarok, Ricocher, Stories, Think Floyd, and The Watch.

Prog-Scure: Show #3 – Recorded January 24, 2018
Featuring music from Astarte Syriaca, Be-Bop Deluxe, Cell15, Cyan, Dynamic Lights, Epsilon, Frogg Cafe, Gentle Giant, Iluvatar, Journey, King Eider, Maze Of Time, Nektar, Pell Mell, Ritual, Shaolin Death Squad, Simon Says, Violent Silence, Wingdom, and Yezda Urfa.

Prog-Scure: Show #4 – Recorded January 31, 2018
Featuring music from Alan Parson’s Project, Andromeda, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Cressida, Distorted Harmony, The Emerald Dawn, Felony, Grand Prix, Indian Summer, Jack Yello, Kaipa, Kevlar Red, Lord of Mushrooms, Madsword, Moon Safari, Neuschwanstein, Novalis, Phil Manzanera (801), Poverty’s No Crime, Strongbow, Three Man Army, and Welcome.

Uriah Heep – Wonderworld (1974)

UriahHeep_Wonderworld4 out of 5 Stars!

Uriah’s Heep’s Wonderworld shows a highly talented band at the apex of its career that suddenly found itself in a rather precarious position…and I’m not talking about the various poses the musicians display on the album cover.

After the brilliant album Sweet Freedom, not to mention the string of other high-quality releases that preceded it, Uriah Heep had developed some major dilemmas that threatened its future, what with an endless touring schedule, endless drug addictions, endless personal hassles and tax problems, endless…well, you get it. Therefore, the band, in the midst of its growing (and endless) struggles, and in a weakened condition, battled to keep its upward momentum going and eventually released Wonderworld just prior to its talented young bassist Gary Thain succumbing to ultimately insurmountable drug-destruction.

Although Wonderworld at the time of its release received even more crap reviews from the music press than the usual (and typical) amount of crap reviews “Heeped” upon the band (misspelling and pun intended) for previous albums, it was actually a damned fine release overall, with a handful of magnificent songs that still hold power to the present day. Personally, I find the title track, with the grand and glorious introduction featuring Mick Box’s slamming power chords and Ken Hensley’s Hammond and synth melody, one of the best album-openers in Heep’s history. Indeed, “Wonderworld,” within its mere four-and-a-half minutes running time, seemed to encapsulate all the band’s finest qualities—a Heavy-Prog arrangement with alternating dynamics, a seemingly fantasy-lush atmosphere, Gary Thain’s melodic bass riffs and Lee Kerslake’s thundering percussion, inspirational lyrics, spectacular background harmonies, and a dramatic performance by lead vocalist Dave Byron. Acting as the perfect “bookended” mirror of the opening track, “Dreams” closes the album in a similar bombastic fashion, with studio wizardry adding even more lush vocal theatrics to the already haunting tune.

Sandwiched between these two breathtaking tracks, however, are songs with varying degrees of quality. Although I concede that these tunes as a whole may not be the best material the band ever recorded, the majority of them still work for me (yet I can understand why other longtime fans of the group might not appreciate several of them). For me, however, the highlights include “The Shadows and the Wind,” a slow-building tune that showcases more of Heep’s signature harmony vocals, and “I Won’t Mind,” a lengthy and pounding Blues-Rock number quite different from the type of music that made the band famous. Moreover, “We Got We,” “So Tired,” “Something or Nothing,” and “Suicidal Man” may at first seem nothing more than uninspired rehashes of material found on the previous Sweet Freedom platter, there are enough enjoyable and savory moments, enough sonic “oomph” during each song, to keep me interested. In fact, the only tune that generally leaves me cold after all these decades is the piano-driven and orchestrated “The Easy Road,” but at least it closes out Side A, therefore, it’s easy to avoid. (Sorry, but for me, Heep was all about Heavy Metal/Heavy-Prog grandeur, and light ballads just didn’t seem to fit properly within the band’s repertoire.)

Sadly, Wonderworld would be the final Uriah Heep album to include its classic (and arguably its best) lineup of musicians (with Thain soon to be replaced by the talented John Wetton), and although it may not come as close to perfection as its previous four studio offerings, I still find it preferable to many of the albums that came later in the band’s lengthy and patchy career.

One final note: I know many people utterly detest the album cover, but I find it an absolute hoot, clearly remembering how it captivated me back in 1974 while roaming the aisles of my local record store. If anything, it’s definitely unique and attention-grabbing.

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Omega – Omega (1973)

Omega_14 out of 5 Stars!

This Hungarian band’s self-titled album from 1973, thanks to the fuzzy/distorted tone of the guitars and the use of Hammond organ and early synths, often reminds me of other Heavy Prog bands from the same period, such as Lucifer’s Friend, Birth Control, Eloy, Deep Purple, Warhorse, and most especially, Uriah Heep.

Indeed, the Heep influences here are quite numerous. In general, on tunes such as “After A Hard Year,” the grandiose vocal harmonies are definitely “Heep-esque,” and on one track in particular, “Parting Song,” Omega even adds an instrumental passage taken almost exactly note-for-note/chord-by-chord from Uriah Heep’s classic “Circle Of Hands” fade-out/main melody. The instrumentation on the songs “Delicate Sweep” and “The Bird” are in the same class as that displayed on Heep’s Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble album (or even Lucifer’s Friend’s debut release), and on the lengthier closing tune, “White Magic Stone,” an instrumental riff/passage seems almost like a reworking of Heep’s famous “July Morning.”

Yet, despite all the obvious Uriah Heep flourishes, the band is not a direct clone. The English group had a fuller, grander sound overall, often considered Heavy Metal, not to mention a highly recognizable and flamboyant vocalist in the form of Dave Byron, whereas Omega did not. Overall, the guitars lack Mick Box’s fierce, raw power, and the keyboards don’t have nearly as much force as Ken Hensley’s mighty Hammond, and while the vocals are certainly passable, they are hardly delivered with the fiery gusto as Byron possessed. Plus Omega’s vocalist lacks that identifiable stamp when it comes to his tone, range, timbre, and vibrato. And as far as the music goes, in the periodic softer portions of songs when the band adds Mellotron, influences from other acts such as Procol Harum and the Moody Blues rush to the fore. Moreover, two tracks on the album, “Everytime She Steps In” and “The Lying Girl,” are fairly standard and catchy rock ‘n’ roll ditties, sounding almost like tunes by Kiss, Silverhead, or Mott the Hoople, believe it or not, only with Heavy Prog/Heavy Psych influences—and Heep-like keyboards/synths, of course.

Anyway, several reviewers at various music-related websites have called Omega “The Hungarian Uriah Heep,” and for good reason, as detailed above. Regardless, this eponymous album is a classic of underappreciated and obscure Heavy Prog/Heavy Psych, one I continue to enjoy to this day, and any fans of the aforementioned groups seeking additional music from the early ’70s are likely to appreciate the band.

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Warpig – Warpig (1970)

Warpig_14 out of 5 Stars!

This is a damned decent one-off album from a hard-rocking Canadian band with Heavy-Prog and Psych elements, which was remastered and re-released in 2006 by Relapse Records.

Fans of groups such as Captain Beyond, Warhorse, Deep Purple, Birth Control, and Uriah Heep might appreciate this one, as well as those who might be interested to hear what an evil Black Sabbath-esque guitar riff might sound like with a harpsichord accompaniment.

Seriously, that’s exactly what happens on the track “Tough Nuts,” so the band was nothing if not inventive with its instrumentation.

And since the track “Rock Star” has a similar rhythm and vibe, chord pattern, and guitar fills as Deep Purple’s “Speed King” from the In Rock album, I seriously have to wonder if either band heard the other’s demo tapes prior to their own recording sessions, since both albums came out in 1970.

Regardless, it’s a crying shame Warpig didn’t release more material in the ’70s since the band would have certainly and easily fit in with the aforementioned groups and—perhaps?—taken a magical ride to stardom. With so much creativity on display here, it would have been interesting to see how the band might’ve honed its skills and developed on subsequent albums.

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Eloy – Eloy (1971)

Eloy_14 out of 5 Stars!

When German group Eloy burst out of the starting gate back in 1971, the band’s debut album showcased a sound/style that had much more in common with fellow Krautrockers/Heavy Prog groups such as Birth Control, Epitaph, Night Sun, or Jane—or even British bands such as Deep Purple or Uriah Heep—displaying nary a trace of the Pink Floyd-inspired Symphonic Prog/Space Rock that would encompass the majority of its albums in years to come.

Still, with tracks such as “Dillus Roady,” “Something Yellow,” “Song of the Paranoid Soldier,” “Isle of Sun,” and “Today,” this is one of my favorite Eloy albums and I really enjoyed this riff-oriented period of the band’s history, even though this debut album seems fairly dismissed (and dissed) by many long-time fans of the group’s more famous and polished era.

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