SBB — New Century
(Metal Mind MMP CD 0362, 2005, CD)
SBB — Live in Theatre 2005
(Metal Mind MMP CD 0394 DG, 2005/2009, CD+DVD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2007-03-01
They began life as the Silesian Blues Band in 1971, and shortly after became the backing band for Polish superstar Czeslaw Niemen, returning as simply SBB in 1974 to ultimately become one of the legendary bands of Polish rock. Classics like SBB, Nowy Horizont, Pamiec, and others are milestones in the history of the Eastern European progressive rock movement. But in the early 80s they split for solo work and side projects, and nearly a decade passed before SBB began regrouping again in various configurations for live shows and tours. The current trio lineup, intact since 2000, features original members Józef Skrzek (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Apostolis Anthimos (guitar, drums) along with new drummer Paul Wertico (ex Pat Metheny Group). Following a number of live releases in recent years, new reissues of all their classic albums, as well as the 22 disc boxed Anthology, SBB have released a brand new studio album, plus a live DVD with companion audio disc.
New Century covers a lot of territory, from classic prog anthems and melodic rock ballads – mostly penned by Skrzek, with his knack for melody and memorable songcraft, hook and refrain, to more psychedelic workouts and extended jams, these mostly group written. Standouts in the former category include “Stary Czlowiek W Milczacym Ogrodzie,” “Golden Harp,” and “Music Is My Life,” all slow ballads that reveal themselves slowly with repeated listens. In the latter category is the title track, the blues-harp driven “PAJO,” and the sidelong psych/fusion jam monster “Carry Me Away,” where Wertico’s rhythms and Skrzek’s bass work drive the proceedings, with some serious guitar shredding by Anthimos. Lyrics are mixed between Polish and English, sometimes even within the same song. Live in Theatre 2005 is exemplary of the band’s current performances, presented both in a 15 track professionally shot DVD as well as a companion 10 track audio CD, roughly split between the ‘classic’ SBB progressive rock sound, and the newer fusion driven/jam band approach. Many of the best cuts from New Century appear in live form, and what we have here is very close to what the audience was treated to when SBB headlined at Baja Prog 2006. Both the live and studio releases are highly recommended.
First ProgStock Festival Set for October – October 2017 will see the inaugural edition of a festival called ProgStock in Rahway, New Jersey at the Union County Performing Arts Center. With a definite slant towards neo-progressive music, the event is sure to please many fans with the inclusion of such artists as Echolyn, Glass Hammer, and Aisles. The festival will take place October 13-15. » Read more
Clive Brooks RIP – Word reaches us today of another sad passing in the music world. Drummer Clive Brooks, best known as a member of such Canterbury bands as Egg, Uriel / Arzachel, and Groundhogs, has died at the age of 67. Details are sketchy at this point. The news was reported on Nick Mason's Facebook page — Brooks was Mason's drum tech. » Read more
Col. Bruce Hampton RIP – The phrase "He died doing what he loved" is almost a cliche, but in the case of Col. Bruce Hampton, it couldn't be more true. Hampton, who was born Gustav Berglund III, collapsed on stage at his own 70th birthday celebration and later passed away. The event took place at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. » Read more
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more