The Progster

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Comic Genius Passes away . .

Ivor Cutler 1923-2006

Only by chance did I find out today that Ivor Cutler died on 3rd March age 83. Unless I missed it, nothing in the news, no BBC Scotland special to celebrate the man who brought us albums such as "Life in a Scotch sitting room Vol 2", "Ludo" and "Dandruff" .

Born into a Middle-class Jewish family in Glasgow, it wasn't until his mid 30s he started writting music, and claims he only performed his songs because nobody else would. A deadpan dour demeanour, delivering songs of incredible silliness, but all with that distinct hint of something more profound. All this, accompanied by the harmonium. Throughout it all Ivor maintained that same deadpan look that he was famous for. A kind of Chick Murray, but with better material.

Spotted by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, they gave him a spot in the Magical Mystery Tour movie.

I remember seeing Ivor play once in the Glasgow Film Theatre in the late 70's, and so many of the audience had tears in their eyes from laughter. When the show was over, and as everyone was leaving he popped back to the stage saying "If anyone is heading back to Edinburgh and has space for me and a harmonium, I'd appreciate a lift".

His work lives on in the many poetry books and childrens books published, as well as his recorded work. For more info - go to : Listen to the sound clip "If your breasts . . ." for a very short, but representitive example of his humour. It simply isn't the same to type the words here, you have to hear the delivery.

``Ivor Cutler is a Glaswegian whose humour is surreal, to say the least. He is a master of anecdotes, monologues, comic songs and poems, commentaries on the more neglected aspects of everyday life, and just sheer nonsense. But very often, if one looks beyond the nonsense facade, there seems to be a glint of a message in it all - whether or not he intended it to be, we will never know.'' -- DA Eger

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Strangefish - Fortune Telling

Well, I finally got a copy of Fortune Telling last weekend from the CRS shop at the Oakwood center, having been unable to travel the previous weekend down to see the launch gig.

This hasn't been out of a CD player all week. Three listens on the way home on Sunday, then in and out of the car and home players all week.

I have to say this is incredibly impressive stuff, and I really have to hand it to the guys on producing an excellent piece of work.

It is inventive, well structured, very well played and simply magical. The use of the violin in some passages, like 360 is inspired. This is an album many of us have waited 20 years for.

I won't go into a track by track crit here, there is so much to comment on. Apart from clear stand out tracks like Keep The Exits Clear and Ignorance of Bliss, one of my favourites is It could Be Me. This is just over 7 minutes, but is a mini epic in its won right with over a dozen interwoven passages through it.

The whole album is crammed full of musical nuggets that take many listenings to take in. From slow linking instrumentals, to the powerful and grand themes, this has it all. If you enjoyed mid 70's Genesis, or early Marillion, I can't recommend this album highly enough. Don't just take my word for it, I played this today to a friend who is a long long term prog rock fan, and she was blown away, and is off to the website to order the CD this weekend.

I'm sure there are many bands, not just prog ones that would kill for a vocal performance like this one. Not to dimminish in any way of course the great musical performance by the rest of the band here, coupled with some excellent solos throughout. I'm sure there will be many comparisons to past bands and singers, but I hear on this CD a fresh new approach while remaining within the traditional bounds of symphonic prog rock, with the emphasis on the rock.

The CD package is also very professional, good layout, good story and high quality graphics and priniting.

If this is what Strangefish can do part time, heavens only knows what more time and money can bring.

The CD is available directly from the band at:

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wetton & Downes Gig

Getting a bit behind here. Last weeked we went down to Rotherham once again to the Classic Rock Society for a gig by John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes of Asia, King Crimson, UK and Yes fame. Assisted by John Mitchell on guitar, and Steve Christey on drums, it was a great night of new Wetton/Downes songs from the latest album ICON, as well as older material like Emma, and even some Asia songs like the US number 1 Heat of The Moment. Add to this a short solo spot by Downes playing Video Killed the Radio Star and Bolero, and an acoustic slot by Wetton, and it was nice mix.

The support act weren't half bad either, 10ACRE who seemed to have half the countries guitarists on stage at the same time!

John Wetton
(ex. King Crimson, UK, Roxy Music, Asia)

Geoffrey Downes
(ex. Buggles, Yes, Asia)

John Mitchell
(Currently appearing in: Arena, The Urbane, Kino and soon to be Frost)

Steve Christey
(Currently with Jadis - Not a great pic, and my only one. Why do drummers hide?)

I am in the process of posting these to my PBase account at: