Pendragon — Passion
(Snapper Music SMACD971, 2011, CD+DVD)
by Paul Hightower, Published 2013-04-01Passion marks the conclusion of a trilogy of records that started with 2005's Believe, followed by 2008's Pure. Each was part of Pendragon's "five year plan" to present a new and re-energized sound to the public. Probably one of the smartest moves made was to hire drummer Scott Higham whose metal technique gives the hotter parts of the arrangement a serious kick in the ass. With him on board it's not much of a surprise that a harder edge is all over the music, plus an attention to production details and textures that gives the songs added depth and binds the longer pieces together. Notwithstanding superb performances all around (though Clive Noland's keyboards seem more subdued), Pendragon has never been about instrumental showboating. Instead, the heat in the arrangements propels the emotion in the lyric and melodies, enhancing what was already Pendragon's core competency. I don't know if it's a mid-life crisis but the entire band are shredding paint on songs like "Feeding Frenzy" and "Skara Brae," sounding more like Rush than the 70s prog reference points they are most often associated with. Fans of the old Pendragon will take solace in songs "This Green and Pleasant Land" and "Your Black Heart" that would have been at home on The World, but for the most part the band and producer Karl Groom have made it their mission to transport Pendragon into the modern era and to my ears they've arrived in good shape. A two-disk edition also includes a DVD documentary about the making of the album, with Barrett, Higham, Nolan and bassist Peter Gee discussing the recording process and their thoughts about the new music.
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more