Electric violinist/guitarist Joe Deninzon has a new live box set out now, as well he’s joined Kansas for their upcoming 50th Anniversary tour dates! Read info from both press releases below –
Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius Released a Live Box Set (two CDs, two DVD/Blu-rays)
Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius have released their new live box set,
Behind the Curtain (Live at ProgStock) is out on Melodic Revolution Records. The collection on two CDs and DVD/Blu-rays show this treasured electric violinist/singer-songwriter’s history of favorites in the past decade and a half in the rock scene.
“Game of Chicken” is a race to self-destruction. The country-inspired “Climbing,” and Joe’s co-write with Alex Skolnick “Heavy Shtettle,” are just part of Stratospheerius’ sound. There are topical songs for speaking up against corrupt and hypocritical leaders, “Behind The Curtain,” “The Prism,” and “Take Your Medicine.”
(Live at ProgStock)features eclectic covers. King Crimson’s “Frame by Frame” a Queen-esque approach to muse’s “Hysteria,” and an unrehearsed cover of Chick Corea’s “Spain” with blind piano and flute virtuoso Rachel Flowers and Alex Skolnick.
Behind the Curtain (Live at ProgStock) is three years in the making; the collection is made up of his 2019 and 2021 live performances at the ultimate Northeast progressive rock festival, ProgStock. Writes festival attendee John Giordano in the new issue of UK’s The Progressive Aspect, “The performance is so alive, I can almost feel the discomfort of the old theatre seat on my bum. Wow!”
Part of the (Live at ProgStock) celebration includes the only USA show for the group this spring and summer at the Iridium, NYC, May 31. Special guests for this performance and party are Randy McStine (Porcupine Tree), and Bill Hubauer (Neal Morse). Randy and Bill and Joe have shared bills and recording projects through the years.
Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius’ previous studio album, Guilty of Innocence reached #4 on the Jamband/Relix charts in North America, and broke the European Top 200 Indy releases at 72. The group, which has 5 albums out, is signed to Melodic Revolution Records.
The band KANSAS is excited to announce the addition of violinist/guitarist Joe Deninzon to the band. He is replacing the departing David Ragsdale.
Joe Deninzon has been hailed by critics as “The Jimi Hendrix of the Violin,” because of his innovative style on the “Viper” seven-string electric violin. Joe is the lead singer and violinist for the progressive rock band, Stratospheerius, which has just released their 6th album—a box set with double live CDs/DVD-Blu-rays– Behind the Curtain (Live at ProgStock)(Melodic Revolution Records). He can be heard on over a hundred albums and jingles as a violinist and string arranger.
Deninzon has performed and/or recorded with the Who, Bruce Springsteen, 50 Cent, Sheryl Crow, Ritchie Blackmore, Alex Skolnick, Smokey Robinson, Les Paul, Peter Criss from KISS, Michael Sadler, Renaissance with Annie Haslam, Kurt Elling, and as a soloist with Jazz at Lincoln Center and the New York City Ballet. A BMI Composer’s Grant recipient and winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, he has written solo works for violinist Rachel Barton Pine, and in 2015, premiered his Electric Violin Concerto with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra.
Joe holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Violin Performance from Indiana University and a Master’s in Jazz Violin from Manhattan School of music.
KANSAS original member and drummer Phil Ehart comments, “We are extremely excited for Joe Deninzon to be the newest member of KANSAS. We believe KANSAS fans will enjoy what Joe will bring to the band. We are excited to kick off the KANSAS 50th Anniversary Tour. As the paragraph in the band’s first album said, ‘KANSAS IS A BAND’ and we remain so to this day.”
Deninzon adds, “As a lifelong fan of Kansas, I am overwhelmed and humbled to have been invited to join this legendary band! I have the deepest respect for Robby and David and will do my best to honor and build on their musical legacy.”
Joe Deninzon’s first performance with the band will be in Pittsburgh, PA on June 2 at the Benedum Center during the premier date of the KANSAS 50th Anniversary Tour – Another Fork in the Road.
A complete list of KANSAS 50th Anniversary Tour – Another Fork in the Road is below. Ticket and VIP Package information can be found at KansasBand.com.
KANSAS 50th ANNIVERSARY TOUR – ANOTHER FORK IN THE ROAD CONFIRMED DATES:
June 2, 2023 Pittsburgh, PA Benedum Center for the Performing Arts
June 3, 2023 Baltimore, MD The Lyric Baltimore
June 9, 2023 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
June 10, 2023 Glenside, PA Keswick Theatre
June 16, 2023 Fort Wayne, IN Embassy Theatre
June 17, 2023 Detroit, MI Fisher Theatre
June 29, 2023 Toronto, ON Massey Hall
July 1, 2023 Rochester, NY Kodak Center
July 7, 2023 Cincinnati, OH Taft Theatre
July 8, 2023 Indianapolis, IN Clowes Memorial Hall
July 14, 2023 Minneapolis, MN State Theatre
July 15, 2023 Chicago, IL The Chicago Theatre
July 21, 2023 Wausau, WI The Grand Theater
July 22, 2023 Milwaukee, WI The Riverside Theater
July 27, 2023 Kansas City, MO The Midland Theatre
July 29, 2023 St. Louis, MO The Fabulous Fox Theatre
August 4, 2023 Des Moines, IA Hoyt Sherman Place
August 5, 2023 Omaha, NE Orpheum Theater
August 18, 2023 Knoxville, TN Tennessee Theatre
August 19, 2023 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
August 25, 2023 Denver, CO The Paramount Theatre
August 26, 2023 Salt Lake City, UT Eccles Theater
September 6, 2023 Vancouver, BC Queen Elizabeth Theatre
September 8, 2023 Seattle, WA The Paramount Theatre
September 9, 2023 Portland, OR Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
September 12, 2023 Boise, ID Morrison Center for the Performing Arts
September 14, 2023 San Francisco, CA Golden Gate Theatre
September 16, 2023 Los Angeles, CA The Orpheum Theatre
September 17, 2023 San Diego, CA Balboa Theatre
September 19, 2023 Tucson, AZ Fox Tucson Theatre September 22, 2023 Albuquerque, NM Kiva Auditorium
September 24, 2023 El Paso, TX The Plaza Theatre
October 12, 2023 Worcester, MA The Hanover Theatre
October 13, 2023 Brookville, NY Tilles Center for the Performing Arts
October 20, 2023 San Antonio, TX Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
October 21, 2023 Sugar Land, TX Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land
October 26, 2023 Huntsville, AL Von Braun Center – Mark C. Smith Concert Hall
October 27, 2023 Memphis, TN Orpheum Theatre
November 3, 2023 Charlotte, NC Ovens Auditorium
November 4, 2023 Durham, NC Durham Performing Arts Center
November 16, 2023 Dallas, TX Winspear Opera House
November 17, 2023 Tulsa, OK Tulsa Theater
December 1, 2023 Savannah, GA Johnny Mercer Theatre
December 2, 2023 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre
January 12, 2024 Jacksonville, FL Florida Theatre
January 13, 2024 North Charleston, SC North Charleston Performing Arts Center
January 19, 2024 Fort Myers, FL Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall
January 20, 2024 Clearwater, FL Ruth Eckerd Hall
January 27, 2024 Melbourne, FL Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts
January 28, 2024 Fort Lauderdale, FL Broward Center for the Performing Arts
YES, who are Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison, Billy Sherwood & Jay Schellen, have released their new studio album Mirror To The Sky on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music this week. “This is a very important album for the band,” says Steve Howe, Yes’ longest serving member, master guitarist, and producer of Mirror To The Sky.“We kept the continuity in the approach we established on The Quest, but we haven’t repeated ourselves. That was the main thing. As Yes did in the seventies from one album to another, we’re growing and moving forward. In later years, Yes often got going but then didn’t do the next thing. This album is demonstrative of us growing, and building again.” For Yes, that “next thing” is a collection of high energy, intricate, lush and layered new studio songs for an album which adds to the band’s much heralded legacy, while charting a path to exciting future times ahead.
To celebrate, the band are pleased to launch a video for the albums closing track ‘Circles of Time’
Mirror To The Sky is available now on several formats, all featuring artwork by long-time Yes artist & collaborator Roger Dean:
Ltd Deluxe Electric Blue 2LP+2CD+Blu-ray Artbook with poster
Ltd Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook
Ltd 2CD Digipak
Standard CD Jewel case
The blu-ray editions include the album as Dolby Atmos, 5.1 Surround Sound, Instrumental Versions & Hi-Res Stereo Mixes.
Phoenix was the first of 3 studio albums from the reunited original line-up of ASIA. Released in 2008, following up the Fantasia (Live In Tokyo) release. At the time I thought Phoenix was a good album, and over time I’ve come to really appreciate those 3 albums (along with Omega and XXX), all made for a great set of follow ups to the band’s first 2 from 1982 and ’83. Standout tracks and favorites would be the opener “Never Again”, “An Extraordinary Life” – both of which would’ve been huge hit singles decades earlier, as well as “Alibis”, and ” Parallel Worlds / Vortex / Déyà”. Phoenix never came out on vinyl when originally released, so this will be a welcome addition to many Asia fans’ collections. *Check out the press release and links below…
ASIA are a multi-platinum selling, English Rock band who formed in 1981 and celebrated their 40th Anniversary in 2021. ASIA announce the release of Phoenix for the first time as a 2 vinyl LP set on 26th May. Phoenix was originally released in 2008 and was their first studio album with the original line-up in a quarter century.
In terms of sound this emotional, compelling comeback album sees Asia continue the very high standards from where they left off in 1985, as ever displaying suppleness when stretching out into multi-part suites while retaining a knack for big, arena pop hooks.
Their 1982 self-titled debut album reached number one in several countries, including 9 weeks topping the US charts, with lead single ‘Heat Of The Moment’ making the top 40 in over a dozen, including US #4.
This is the second of four critically acclaimed ‘reunion’ releases (2007-2012) featuring vocalist John Wetton ex of King Crimson, guitarist Steve Howe and keyboard player Geoff Downes from Yes and drummer Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer.
The sleeve comprise unique artwork by world famous rock music artist Roger Dean.
Fans of British singer John Lawton will have a 2CD compilation celebrating John’s life in great music to be issued July 7. John, who passed away June 29, 2021, had been recording for over 50 years, and was best known as the lead singer for German progressive hard rock band Lucifer’s Friend, as well the singer for Uriah Heep in the latter half of the ’70s. He also recorded & toured with The Les Humphries Singers in the ’70s, and later recorded with such bands and projects as Rebel, Zar, Gunhill (a band he formed in the ’90s), The Lawton-Dunning Project, (his own) John Lawton Band, OTR, and The Intelligent Music Project, plus a few solo albums, and various guest appearances (notably with Uriah Heep years after he left). John’s last album was 2019’s Black Moon with Lucifer’s Friend.
Celebrating The Life Of John Lawton is a collection of 33 tracks, spanning his career from the early ’70s until 2015. And it appears to be a well thought out set, as opposed to something predictable. It is actually more about some of the rare recordings he did, singles, guest appearances, and one-off projects and albums he was a part of, including previously unreleased material . I don’t see any Lucifer’s Friend songs, or too many Uriah Heep titles, but this does touch on most of the bands and projects I mentioned above. So, this will be an essential purchase for fans of John’s career. The man put out so much great music, that this will be an excellent celebration of his work.
*Artist royalties donated to British Heart Foundation charity to research “Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm”.
DISC ONE 1 Corner Street Girl 2 Little Chalk Blue 3 Out Here 4 Is There Anybody There? 5 Eloise 6 Me And My Harley 7 Stargazer 8 Broadway Nights 9 Heart Of The Night 10 Dirty Tricks 11 Colgate Gel 12 Set The World On Fire 13 Back To The Highlands 14 Someone Sings 15 Come Together 16 Wise Man 17 I Am Alive
1 Feelings 2 Tonight 3 It’s A Long Way To Go 4 Mama Loo Impromptu Jam 5 I’ll Be Here 6 Written On The Wall 7 Been Away Too Long 8 Mamonama 9 Shine 10 Ride On 11 Salvation 12 River of Dreams 13 Fairytale 14 Rain 15 Rock ‘n’ Roll Is My Thing 16 Things We Can’t Do
Hard to believe this album is 21 years old this year. When it came out I received it to write about it. I thought it was ok at the time, but not overly enthused. Wanting to hear some Boston, I pulled Corporate America out over the last couple of days, and although I still don’t think it’s their best, it is better than I recall. The band at this point expanded by Tom Scholz with a number of newer recruits. Brad Delp is still there, though he’s not the only lead singer. Fran Cosmo (who sang on 1994’s Walk On) is also on this, as is his son Anthony (who wrote a number of tracks), and Kimberley Dahme.
Corporate America starts out good with “I Had A Good Time”, not as heavy as previous Boston, but still rockin’, promising and recognizable – a Scholz penned track that he played everything on, and Brad Delp sang on. Overall Corporate America is a more varied sounding album, plenty of ballads, but with more upbeat tracks like “Stare Out My Window” (penned by Anthony Cosmo, who adds guitar, and is sang by Fran Cosmo), “Someone” (another penned by Scholz and only featuring him and Brad Delp) and “You Gave Up On Love” (also penned by Scholz – who also plays almost everything here, and gets a vocal credit, along with Kimberley Dahme (lead vocal), and guests Charlie Farren and Beth Cohen) – are all really good Boston tracks, even if they lack the heaviness of the band’s early approach.
There are a couple of surprises here too, the first being the acoustic ballad “With You”, penned and sang by Kimberley Dahme, an excellent song that is only recognizable by Scholz’ guitar solo plastered over top; this one should’ve been a single and a hit. Corporate America also a live version of their 1994 hit “Livin’ For You”, which was originally on Walk Away, sooo not sure why someone felt the need to put a new version here(!?) But it does make for a good ending.
Anyway, this one charted briefly (Billboard #42), then disappeared along with the band for another decade. They did tour this album in 2003, and Scholz filed a lawsuit against their record company for not doing enough to promote the album. (see article). But, it is a good album, and a nice listen, despite lacking that ‘killer’ Boston rock track. (RIP Brad Delp)
The band Boston has filed a breach -of- contract suit against New York – based indie label Artemis Records and CEO Danny Goldberg, seeking damages in excess of $1 million. The action, filed June 24 in New York Supreme Court, claims that while Boston was told by Goldberg that its 2002 album “Corporate America” -the band’s first for the label -would be “the highest priority” for Artemis, the company “[failed] to execute almost every element of [the Boston marketing] plan.” An Artemis spokesman says the company has not received the suit and has no comment. Released Nov. 5, “Corporate America” has sold 119,000 copies to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan. – CHRIS MORRIS, Billboard, 2003, 07-05
6CD Treasure Trove Of Recordings From THIN LIZZY Vocalist PHIL LYNOTT’s Swan Song Project GRAND SLAM Knocks It Out Of The Park!
Phil Lynott’s passing in 1986 was and is one of the great tragic losses of music history. A mere 36 years of age when he passed, Lynott founded and fronted one of the best rock bands of the ‘70s, Thin Lizzy, and was certainly the most popular rock singer to emerge from Dublin (prior to the Bono Era). Although his struggles with substance abuse would profoundly shape his latter career, his artistic talent continued to shine through in his post-Thin Lizzy projects including the fledgling rock group that seemed to have the potential to overtake the great Lizzy, Grand Slam!
Lynott started working with Magnum keyboardist Mark Stanway as part of Lynott’s live solo band in 1983 and by 1984 would eventually solidify a line-up that included guitarist Laurence Archer, rhythm guitarist Doish Nagle, and drummer Robbie Brennan and change their name to Grand Slam. Although the group never issued an official studio album, they played numerous shows around Europe and cut a series of demos that proved Lynott still had incredible songs in him and a brilliant career ahead. Grand Slam songs such as “Sisters Of Mercy” and “Nineteen” were so good they eventually ended up on some posthumous Thin Lizzy albums!
Now those songs and those live performances have been remastered to their absolute best sonic quality and packaged in a deluxe 6CD box set to be released on June 9. Slam Anthems is a true treasure trove of superb new mixes of Grand Slam songs as well as killer full concert recordings that feature songs from throughout Lynott’s stellar career. Each disc comes packaged in its own wallet with rare band photos and the whole box features a 20-page full-color booklet filled with informative liner notes from music historian Dave Thompson.
For a small taste of what’s in store, check out the newly remixed version of “Nineteen” that is being released today to all digital stores as well as the accompanying video, which cuts together rarely-seen footage of Lynott along with photos of the band on stage and in the studio!
Phil may be gone, but Grand Slam lives on in the current incarnation of the band, led by Laurence Archer. They have a re-recorded and remixed version of their previous release “Hit The Ground” coming soon, as well as a brand new studio album in the works.
TRACK LIST: DISC 1: 2022 REMIXES 1. Breakdown 2. Crazy 3. I Still Think Of You 4. Crime Rate 5. Dedication 6. Military Man 7. Look In These Eyes 8. Harlem 9. I Don’t Need This 10. Sisters Of Mercy 11. Nineteen 12. Hot N Spicy 13. Sarah
DISC 2: OREBRO 1983 1. Yellow Pearl 2. Old Town 3. Sarah 4. A Night In The Life Of A Blues Singer 5. Look In These Eyes 6. Parisienne Walkways 7. Solo In Soho 8. King’s Call 9. Baby Drives Me Crazy 10. The Boys Are Back In Town 11. Still In Love With You
DISC 3: LIFFORD 1984 1. Nineteen 2. Yellow Pearl 3. Sarah 4. Parisienne Walkways 5. Crime Rate 6. Young Boy 7. Night In The Life Of A Blues Singer 8. Cold Sweat 9. Dear Miss Lonely Hearts 10. Whisky In The Jar
DISC 4: LONDON 1984 1. Nineteen 2. Sisters Of Mercy 3. Crime Rate 4. Military Man 5. Dedication
DISC 5: GREAT YARMOUTH 1984 1. Yellow Pearl 2. Nineteen 3. Harlem 4. Parisienne Walkways 5. Cold Sweat 6. Sisters Of Mercy 7. Crime Rate 8. Military Man 9. Dedication
DISC 6: DEMOS 1. Nineteen 2. Crime Rate 3. Crazy 4. Sisters Of Mercy 5. Whiter Shade Of Pale / Like A Rolling Stone 6. Military Man 7. Hot N Spicy 8. I Don’t Need This 9. Harlem 10. I Still Think Of You 11. Gay Boys 12. Breakdown 13. Look In These Eyes 14. She Cries 15. Slam
NEWLY REMASTERED ALBUMS EXPANDED WITH RARITIES, AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED CONCERTS AVAILABLE JUNE 9
Alice Cooper was unstoppable during the 1970s when the band released four consecutive platinum albums and five Top 40 hits like “I’m Eighteen,” “School’s Out,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and “Elected.” Rhino will reissue two of those platinum albums – Killer (1971) and School’s Out (1972) – with newly remastered sound, rare recordings, and previously unreleased live performances.
Both Deluxe Editions will be released on June 9 as 2-CD sets and 3-LP versions on 180-gram vinyl.
The vinyl versions for both Deluxe Edition recreate the original album sleeves down to the smallest detail. For Killer, that means a gatefold sleeve that opens to reveal a detachable 1972 calendar with a photo of Cooper in the gallows. The cover of School’s Out looks like a wooden school desk and opens to reveal the LP wrapped in a pair of panties. The band stopped including the underwear following a controversy as to whether or not they were flammable. Thankfully, the lacy unmentionables in the new Deluxe Edition are not a fire hazard.
Both sets come with booklets that include track-by-track commentary by band members and former Creem Magazine editor Jaan Uhelszki, plus liner notes by Bill Holdship, also a former Creem Magazine editor.
SCHOOL’S OUT (DELUXE EDITION) begins with a newly remastered version of the 1972 original, which peaked at #2 on the albums chart. Essential tracks like “Luney Tune” and “Alma Mater” are joined by “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets.” The latter is an homage to West Side Story, a significant influence on the band. The song incorporates lyrics from “Jet Song” from the 1957 musical, which led to an unlikely songwriting credit for Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim on an Alice Cooper track.
The Deluxe Edition contains rarities like the single versions of “School’s Out” and “Gutter Cat vs. The Jets.” Two previously unreleased tracks are also included, an alternate version of “Alma Mater” and an early demo for “Elected,” a song that would appear in 1973 on the band’s first #1 album, Billion Dollar Babies.
Alice Cooper’s concert in Miami on May 27, 1972, adds even more unreleased music to the collection. The show was recorded a few weeks before the band entered the studio to record School’s Out. The live performance features standout versions of “Halo Of Flies,” “School’s Out,” and “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” a song that gives Cooper a chance to show off his impressive harmonica skills.
KILLER (DELUXE EDITION) introduces a newly remastered version of the original release, which peaked at #21 on the Billboard albums chart. Along with the singles “Under My Wheels” and “Be My Lover,” the record also includes “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” “Desperado,” and the prog-rock-inspired epic “Halo Of Flies.” The bonus material features alternate takes for “You Drive Me Nervous,” “Under My Wheels,” and “Dead Babies.”
The collection also gives fans an unreleased live recording of the band’s performance at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival in Puerto Rico on April 2, 1972. Recorded a few months before the band returned to the studio to make School’s Out, the show previews “Public Animal #9” from the upcoming album. The band played most of Killer during the concert, including “You Drive Me Nervous,” “Under My Wheels,” and “Halo Of Flies.” They also tapped the group’s 1971 album, Love It to Death, for live versions of “Is It My Body?,” “Long Way To Go,” and the smash hit “I’m Eighteen.”
KILLER: DELUXE EDITION Vinyl Track Listing
LP One: Original Album Remastered Side One 1. “Under My Wheels” 2. “Be My Lover” 3. “Halo Of Flies” 4. “Desperado”
Side Two 1. “You Drive Me Nervous” 2. “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” 3. “Dead Babies” 4. “Killer”
LP Two: Live at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival, Puerto Rico (April 2, 1972) Side One 1. “Public Animal #9/Be My Lover” * 2. “You Drive Me Nervous” * 3. “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” * 4. “I’m Eighteen” *
Side Two 1. “Halo Of Flies” * 2. “Is It My Body?” *
LP Three: Live at Mar Y Sol Pop Festival, Puerto Rico (April 2, 1972) Side One 1. “Dead Babies” * 2. “Killer” * 3. “Long Way To Go” *
Side Two 1. “Under My Wheels” * Studio Extras 2. “You Drive Me Nervous” (Alternate Version) 3. “Under My Wheels” (Alternate Version) 4. “Dead Babies” (Alternate Version)
YES are set to release their new studio album Mirror To The Sky on InsideOutMusic/Sony Music on the May 19th. “This is a very important album for the band,” says Steve Howe, Yes’ longest serving member, master guitarist, and producer of Mirror To The Sky. “We kept the continuity in the approach we established on The Quest, but we haven’t repeated ourselves. That was the main thing. As Yes did in the seventies from one album to another, we’re growing and moving forward. In later years, Yes often got going but then didn’t do the next thing. This album is demonstrative of us growing, and building again.” For Yes, that “next thing” is a collection of high energy, intricate, lush and layered new studio songs for an album which adds to the band’s much heralded legacy, while charting a path to exciting future times ahead.
Jon Davison comments: “I, along with my Yes band mates are excited to announce that the second single from our new album, Mirror to the Sky is out now. It’s entitled, ‘All Connected’, and it’s a longer piece, clocking in at a challenging 9 minutes. Steve added a beautifully poignant instrumental steel part which starts the journey. This section emotionally builds and crescendos into a glorious lead way for the vocals to begin telling their story. Billy composed complex and compelling musical themes which I helped to arrange, and we both composed vocals and lyrics, each of us singing our respective parts, making for a rich vocal tapestry.”
Billy Sherwood adds: “The initial idea came from a musical sketch I’d created using the idea of our “connectivity” in regards to communications in the modern age. It’s very exciting to know YES are maintaining that edge and energy we all know and love, this track is firing on all cylinders. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did creating it.”
Mirror To The Sky will be available on several formats, all featuring artwork by long-time Yes artist & collaborator Roger Dean:
Ltd Deluxe Electric Blue 2LP+2CD+Blu-ray Artbook with poster
Ltd Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray Artbook
Ltd 2CD Digipak
Standard CD Jewel case
The blu-ray editions include the album as Dolby Atmos, 5.1 Surround Sound, Instrumental Versions & Hi-Res Stereo Mixes.
YES are Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Jon Davison, Billy Sherwood & Jay Schellen.
MAD PAINTER have released their 2nd album Splashed. The album (reviewed elsewhere here) features 17 tracks, including the singles/videos “Illusion” and “Rock and Roll Samurai”, as well as a few covers, a diverse mix of classic rock, pop, and ballads. The band’s singer, keyboard player, and songwriter is Alex Gitlin, who I’ve known for many years. Alex is extremely knowledgeable about his ’70s classic rock, glam, and pop acts, And fashions! In this interview, Alex discusses the band’s history, the songs from Splashed, the band’s live show, and future. Enjoy the read. *Check out Splashed, as well as the links below.
Can you tell me a bit about the band (players), just how you connected and mutual influences?
The band’s been around since early 2016, but it was a totally different, and ever changing, line-up. We recorded our first album, which came out only digitally (YouTube, Spotify). For it, I gathered all the songs I’d written most recently and rehearsed with “embryonic” Painter in 2014-15, before Mad Painter Mk I even materialized. There were some ferocious rockers on it like Beware of the Dream, the title track, etc., which are still very much part of our live show. The aforementioned album was done in one weekend, then our producer took the tapes, drove back home and added his own guitar and production and mixing. We had no control over it at all. The result came out charmingly primitive, the sort of low-fi sound that our bassist Kenne Highland affectionately calls Garage Prog.
We went from strength to strength for a couple of years, playing shows as a trio, without a guitar, or hiring a guitar player for one gig. Those weren’t the happiest of times. Sometime before the lockdown of 2020, we got together with Kenne, Alan Hendry on drums and Al Naha on guitar, and jammed, getting a totally different and fresh vibe from it. We all felt enthused and encouraged and decided to continue as a unit. Alan and Al also play in Kenne Highland’s Airforce, an altogether different band, which Painter occasionally shares a bill with. It just felt right, and that’s how the patented Painter sound was born.
Kenne’s a big fan of late ’60s rock and blues, the fuzzier the better. He loves Vanilla Fudge, The Move and Small Faces. Psychedelic stuff. We all have our own influences and musical favorites, but we do converge somewhere in the middle, sort of overlapping on Mountain, Grand Funk, Spooky Tooth, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Procol Harum and Iron Butterfly. In a practice, you’ll often hear him say, “let’s do the Vanilla Fudge version”, that just means long, drawn-out, fuzz-drenched and with screaming organ and guitar.
The guys in my band are ’60s and ’70s punk fans, so anything from The Fugs, Blue Cheer and MC5 to Iggy Pop, you get the picture. Personally, I’m not big on punk, but Kenne started out his musical career in 1976 with the Gizmos in the MidWest. And he’s been rolling ever since. You can look him up on Discogs under Johnny & The Jumper Cables, The Gizmos, Afrika Corps, Hopelessly Obscure, etc.
Where did the songs from the new album come from — ie; time period, circumstances, etc…?
The lyrics to our two singles, “Illusion” and “Rock And Roll Samurai”, were written by my friend Dmitry M. Epstein, circa 2017. I rehearsed them with the first lineup but they didn’t make the cut for the album, as we just weren’t ready at the time it was recorded. We did have a second recording session a year later, but it was aborted. Luckily, it produced good quality demos, which this current lineup took as templates. Same can be said for The Moon and San Michel, completely different in style, but same time frame and trajectory. Whereas the two aforementioned singles are heavy rock in the Uriah Heep vein, San Michel is nostalgic ’70s pop with French flavor and The Moon is simply a Queen-lite pastiche. I’m not much of a singer, I have a limited vocal range, but I was thinking of Freddie, Brian, John and Roger when I wrote that number. It’s silly, whimsical and English, much like “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon”. Julie Gee has provided the kind of background vocals that would emulate that style. Another couple of numbers, soft ballads, “I’ve Been A Fool” and “I Live For Love”, are once again leftovers from the prior lineup that were not captured on the first album. “Fool” was written after I watched “Jersey Boys”, a biopic about Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, while “I Live For Love” was me trying to pay homage to my heroes Paul McCartney and Jeff Lynne (ELO). Both heavily orchestrated; since I didn’t have the luxury of an actual string orchestra, I had to do it all on my Juno synthesizer. I hated for so many songs, however disparate stylistically, to be languishing in the vaults and gathering dust. So we’ve revived them. Talk about reviving! Three more numbers had been waiting their turn for nigh on 25 years! Back in 1997, while I was in between bands, I recorded demos of “I Don’t Know”, “Lie To Me” and “A Friend In France”. And it wasn’t until the year 2021 that the right opportunity presented itself and we’ve collectively brought them back to life. It was a dream come true. While the original demo of “I Don’t Know” sounded a bit like Gilbert O’Sullivan, who I’ve always liked, the album version has that mid-70s disco feel a-la “I’m On Fire” by 5000 Volts. I’m really proud of this number, it’s the kind of a song I grew up listening to, and the string arrangement really gives it the most authentic of auras.
Both “Lie To Me” and another ballad, “Let Him Go”, despite being almost 25 years apart, are autobiographical. A lot of my lyrics are, actually. On “Let Him Go”, while recording vocals, I was thinking of Freddie Mercury, I could never match his greatness, EVER, but he inspired this number in a huge way. But also Frank Sinatra, especially “That’s Life”. The jazzy organ solo is very much of that “ilk”, although I’ve listened to Jimmy Smith and other Hammond greats before daring to record it.
The album has 17 tracks, so it’s very much a “kitchen sink” project. It’s quite diverse, and some people find the variety to be a good thing – a little bit of something for every taste. Others think it’s incredibly inconsistent (or schizo, as I would call it!) It’s like that by design. It’s a bit of a milestone, a roundup of everything I’d had to hold back prior to the recording sessions, which started in early 2021. There was this period of forced inactivity between the very last gig we played at the Jungle on March 8, 2020 and when we cautiously got back together again for a jam in Sept. 2020, right after my birthday. After sitting home for six months with absolutely nowhere to go, it felt so good to be jamming again, therapeutic even. And towards the end of that year, we landed in Peabody, at producer Tom Hamilton’s home studio, to lay down tracks for the Airforce. That was my introduction to Tom. He’s an ace and knows exactly what feels and sounds right for Painter. He’s the only producer I’d ever trust my music to. So during a break, I got on a zoom call with a few friends including John Lawton, who’s no longer with us. I remember that evening so well. John didn’t look or sound very cheerful, but then this was in the middle of the pandemic, a lot of people were affected emotionally. And on top of it, Ken Hensley had just recently passed. Little did I know this would be the last time I’d speak to John. His widow Iris says he’d have loved our CD. And when I’d quit music and felt uninspired, back in 2009, he encouraged me to get back into it, saying, “You don’t have to be rich to play.” He was so right. But with that said, when you’re doing it all yourself, promotions, recording, working with a producer, paying for the studio time, then mixing and mastering, it certainly adds up. I mean, when no management or record company would have your back. On the other hand, you live and die by your product, and there’s no one in the “biz” to screw you over.
Why the 2 covers? Stealin (IMO) gets done a lot, but the Randy Pie cover (Highway Driver) was an interesting choice.
Stealin’ was Kenne’s choice. We’ve always jammed on Heep covers, “Circle of Hands”, “Easy Livin'”, etc. And he called it Uriah Cheap. He’s been a Heep fan since 1973, when he first heard them. The first single he got may have been “Stealin'”, and I know for certain the following year’s Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert featuring UH made quite an impression on him. Then there’s Randy Pie… a German funk-disco combo from the mid-70s, starring the late Bernd Wippich. It was a hit in Austria and Germany at the time. We’ve jammed on this number with the prior line-up, but it took shape as a melodic hard rock number when the current lineup started running through it. It is still quite retro in sound, but a radical departure from the funky original. People reviewing our album usually don’t know this is a cover, so they think we’ve written a road trip song! But the proper credits are on the back of the CD.
Do you write All the songs, or are there co-credits and input from other band members?
I usually write the originals and, in some cases, co-write with Dmitry. He’s a poet and I’m a composer. We have Dmitry to thank for “Fool”, “Illusion” and “RnR Samurai”, with more to come in the near future! It’s the same dynamic as Elton John – Bernie Taupin or Gary Brooker – Keith Reid. But I usually listen to my guys when it comes to the arrangements – like why won’t we do a bridge here or a drum break there. Intros and outros, softer and harder bits, and so forth. They usually have good suggestions!
There is such a wide variety of tunes, from organ driven rockers, to ballads, to almost theatrical ‘show’ tunes. What gives?
(As previously stated), I’ve taken the kitchen sink approach. Open the vaults – empty the vaults. What have you got? Give me everything. This is what happens when you hold out for a quarter of a century. In my defense, I’m thinking Queen could have astonishingly heavy bits on albums like “A Night At The Opera”, for instance, sitting next to quaint, clever and whimsical little ditties like Seaside Rendezvous. But from the looks of it, judging by the critical and listener reaction, the listeners by far prefer our heavier side, so yes, the next one will be more consistent in terms of style. Let’s just say, I’ve gotten things like “You Nearly Stole My Heart Away” out of my system, time to move on. Speaking of which… this is one song on which I decided to take the “delicate whisper” approach, sort of borrowed from Colin Blunstone of the Zombies. I don’t normally sing like this, but it worked on this tune.
Can you tell me a bit about the John Sloman song (“Parting Line”), and how you ended up using the lyrics and putting them to a new song? (Was John cool with this? Any feedback?)
John… it’s a story onto itself. I came across his lyrics somewhere on the internet, and one song in particular, from his first solo album, ‘Disappearances Can Be Deceptive’, really touched me. It just sort of clicked in my brain. I heard the chugga-chugga Status Quo shuffle in my head to the tune of:
As the sun comes up to announce the day
The lights are coming down
On an allnight show starring you and me
The audience surrounds
And I thought, this could be something. It was a naughty thing to do, but luckily John was totally cool about it. He only asked to be credited on the CD and for a copy of the CD. He even added, “I wish I’d thought of that myself”. But his “Parting Line” is so different from ours – it’s a moody mid- 80s ballad.
What sort of gigs does Mad Painter play, and what does your set generally consist of?
We play locally here in the Boston area, sometimes venturing out of town for a festival. Our set usually contains upbeat rockers like “Barely Alive” and “The Letter” from the first album. Definitely both our current singles which now appear on Splashed. The guys are “gung ho” on going for the jugular, the 1-2-3 punch, wham bam thank you ma’am. I like to mix it up a bit on stage, so once in a while we do “Soldier Boy” (also from the first album), a somber ballad about the tragedy and horrors of the Vietnam war. Then we also play “Empty Bottles” and “Stand Your Ground”, the songs that haven’t yet appeared on record, although you can find “Empty Bottles” on YouTube if you search for it. “SYG” is the heaviest and the angriest song we’ve ever come up with, sort of Motorhead and Deep Purple in one flasket. Motorpurple.
I’ve always known you as a keyboard player, how do You feel doubling as lead singer? Is this natural for you, or something you had to adjust to?
My first love is the Hammond organ. As a kid, I was classically trained, between the ages of 5 and 8, but then I quit, so I never got proper classical piano education. And didn’t go back to playing keyboards until I was 19. But as early as 1994, I was in my first band Silver Star, playing keys and singing lead on some numbers. Sometimes stepping up to the mic with an acoustic guitar also. We did an EP CD back then called Foot Stomping Music, for which I wrote three numbers but only got to sing lead on one, “Kindness”. It’s still a very special track to me, one I’m really proud of. Being out of that band (I will omit the circumstances for now), thereafter, I entered a city studio and demoed the aforementioned three tracks which wound up on Splashed. This was in 1997. Throughout the ’90s, I played keyboards in a variety of bands, blues, heavy metal, funk, but those weren’t my projects and I didn’t feel like I truly belonged in any of them. I did not do much music-wise between 2000 and 2010 and all through that decade, I felt there was something missing in my life, this huge void inside. Then I tried myself out as a keyboard player in two tribute bands, Deep Purple (Stormbringer) and UFO (Lights Out), before finally getting around to create Mad Painter. So, as you can see, I’ve always wanted to double as a keyboard player and a lead vocalist. My two main heroes are Jon Lord and Ken Hensley, and neither one sang when they played the B3. So this to me was the biggest challenge. It takes a lot of energy to play “the beast”. I had to look to Billy Preston for that kind of inspiration.
Can you tell me a bit about the CD cover art? Is album art, in this day & age, still important (or as important)?
The artwork on Splashed is a thing of beauty. It’s done the “old school” way. It was a real photo session with a real pro photographer, and we used real vinyl records, threw them randomly across the floor and then squeezed acrylic paint of different colors all over them. It was my idea, materialized by Dmitriy Gushchin (the photographer) under my supervision. And it worked wonderfully. Our guitarist Al donated the vinyl records that had been ruined by a flood. They weren’t playable anyway.
In this day and age, album or CD cover art may matter less, but when you set your mind on creating a 1973 or 1975 album instead of 2023, it is of paramount importance. We couldn’t do the vinyl LP format because it’s too expensive. But we have pressed a quantity of CDs housed in a wallet style foldout. Plus the album art is a striking visual online, websites and social media alike. It catches your eye immediately. This is the physical painting component to the Mad Painter experience. Our music is sonic painting. Or, to quote “Return to Fantasy”:
‘In another place There’s a newer face Like an unfinished painting Your creator is waiting’
I know it’s early, but what might be expected on the next Mad Painter album, as far as direction, types of tracks, anything you’ve learned from making ?
Firstly, I must take into account what the entire band wants. My guys thrive on the heavy, rambunctious sounds of vintage hard rock. So when it comes to pop and balladry (some writers have called it “traditional songwriting”), I’m kind of on my own and they tend to refer to those numbers as “Alex’s solo material”. We are a unit, and I don’t want the next one to be “Alex’s solo” even in part. So for as long as this lineup sticks together, we’re going to go for the proverbial jugular. There will be some bluesy rock’n’roll numbers for sure, but the next album should be a lot more consistent in style. With “Illusion” and “Samurai”, we’ve sort of introduced and defined ourselves, our own sound. For better or for worse, this is Mad Painter.
Can you (a few) give us a ‘top 10’ of your favorite albums from your younger years?
Alex Gitlin, vocals and keyboards:
Status Quo “Blue For You”
Uriah Heep “Demons and Wizards”
Deep Purple “Machine Head”
Black Sabbath “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”
The Sweet “Give Us A Wink”
Smokie ‘Midnight Café’
Queen “A Night At The Opera”
Alan Hendry, drums:
Grand Funk Railroad – Live Album
Yes – Yes
Galactic – Already, Already, Already
Tower of Power – Back to Oakland
Porcupine Tree – Any Album
Blind Faith – Blind Faith
Tool – Lateralis
King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King
Genesis- Trick of the Tail
Jethro Tull – Stand Up
Kenne Highland, bass:
Stooges – The Stooges
Stooges – Fun House
Stooges – Raw Power
MC5 – Kick Out the Jams
MC5 – Back in the USA
MC5 – High Time
New York Dolls – Too Much Too Soon
New York Dolls – New York Dolls
Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat
The Velvet Underground – Velvet Underground & Nico
British blues-rock trio Bakerloo was a short-lived outfit, who’s debut album became highly sought after, not just for solid heavy blues-rock on it, but also for the connections of the players involved. Bakerloo guitarist Dave ‘Clem’ Clempson – who would go on to Colosseum, Humble Pie, Rough Diamond; drummer Keith Baker – who would join the pre-Supertramp band ‘Daddy’, and then Uriah Heep where he’d tour and play on the Salisbury album, and bassist Terry Poole, who would later work with Graham Bond, and with Colin Blunstone (Zombies). Baker wasn’t the band’s first drummer, there were many – including Bill Ward (before him) and Cozy Powell (after him), but Baker was there for the majority of 1969 when the band recorded their lone LP. Released in the UK & Europe, Bakerloo consisted of 7 tracks , largely written by Clempson & Poole, It’s pretty heavy blues, blues-rock,a bit of jazz, jams, a few cuts without vocals. Clempson and Poole also sang a few songs each, and Clempson was also credited with harmonica, Harpsichord, and piano.
Bakerloo highlights included the Willie Dixon cover “Bring It On Home”, as well as “Gang Bang” – which is the lone track to include Keith Baker on the writing credits, and this is likely due to almost half of the track being a drum solo! There’s also the fast, energetic opener “Big Bear Ffolly”, and the 15 minute “Son Of Moonshine – which is an epic of blues rock, proto-metal, and a few tempo changes, a must hear for Clempson’s guitar playing.
There have been a few CD reissues of this, but the 2013 Esoteric package includes 5 bonus tracks, liner notes from Malcolm Dome, an interview with Clem Clempson, as well as various images – a much better prospect than holding out for an LP w/ original gatefold cover, which can fetch 200-300 $ US.
BAKERLOO “Bakerloo” (Harvest SHVL 762 stereo). IN the nouveau manner of jazz- rock fusions. Bakerloo are yet another group more musically competent than most. They tend to use attractive jazz percussion work combined with mediocre material-but basically they are a quality outfit. Musically, this LP is worth listening to-they are good. Interesting to hear further records. * * * * – Record Mirror, Sept 13, 1969