John Wetton and Geoff Downes’ iCon Zero now available on CD and download

iCon Zero is a revised presentation of the Wetton/Downes album and is a precursor to their iCon series of albums. It is essentially a collection of tracks mostly recorded in the late 1980’s through the time of their brief reformation in 1990.

 

The original version of the album was released in 2002 and in retrospect seemed like an iCon album from a previous era, so both John and Geoff readily agreed to it being brought into the iCon family. John came up with the name Zero, and both John and Geoff approved the new front cover artwork.

 

The album has received a 2017 remaster and includes two previously unreleased bonus tracks.

 

Geoff Downes reminisced about this time period in their joint career with these comments:
“Icon Zero brings back many fond memories of working with John back in the early-mid 80s. Despite being the principal writers for Asia, we both felt there was at least one other string to our bow. This manifested itself in later years as the Icon project, and this album is an insight into the inner workings of our early relationship, not just as members of Asia, but also as songwriters. These recordings were made largely at weekends when we rented demo studios to try out our ‘other’ ideas and simply – have some fun time away from the pressures of the music business. Most of these songs were put together in a few hours, and written on the fly. Then, they were recorded straight down that same day. One great aspect of this was, we always seemed came up with something new, and as the inspiration flowed it was captured there and then even in its embryonic form.”

 

Sadly John Wetton passed away in January 2017, but this release was already on the cards, with his Estate and Geoff Downes approving it going ahead as originally planned.

 

Geoff Downes had these further comments about his late bandmate:
“John was a genius in every sense of the word, and I am most privileged to have been a big part of his career. The Icon project in itself stands alone as a complete cycle of our work together, and this album (Icon Zero) displays an important part of that development. The great John Wetton’s unique presence can be felt on every note and lyric of these songs. Please enjoy.”

 

iCon Zero will be followed by definitive edition re-releases of the subsequent three iCon albums, with bonus tracks, during 2018 with Geoff Downes’ personal approval.

 

To purchase John Wetton & Geoff Downes iCon Zero:

 

Amazon CD: http://geni.us/icon0

 

iTunes: http://geni.us/icon0dig

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THE RISING release a Christmas single

tsThe Rising release their Christmas single ‘This Special Time Of Year’ this coming Friday December 8.

You can hear and download it here

Albums of the Year 2017

1  CATS IN SPACE Scarecrow
Their debut was pretty damn fine, so high expectations and they delivered! A marvellous mix of 70s’ rock, pomp, pop and more melodies than you can shake a stick at.

2  THRESHOLD Legends of the Shires
Returning vocalist Glynn Morgan helps the band to make one of the finest albums to date. A real return to form.

3  LONELY ROBOT The Big Dream
Part two of the trilogy and another fine set of musical adventures. No name guests this time as John Mitchell does it all bar the drums and some backing vocals.

4  BOULEVARD IV
Finally we get a new album from Boulevard. Fantastic tunes and production, deserves a place in every melodic rock/AOR fans collection.

5  THE YOUNG ‘UNS Strangers
Folk acapella from this talented three piece. Each song is based on a true story and the songs are all positive and uplifting.

6 STEVE WALSH Black Butterfly former Kansas vocalist returns with an album chock full of melodic rock treats.

7 SONS OF APOLLO supergroup featuring Jeff Scott Soto, Mike Portnoy, Derek Sherinan and Billy Sheenhan. Fantastic joining of music talents and the music lives up to expectations.

8 LIONHEART only 20 odd years since their last album…with Lee Small (Shy/Phenomena) on vocals, Lionheart deserve a place in any melodic rock fans collection.

9 IT Home thought provoking and timely progressive rock backed by oodles of melody.

10= H.E.A.T. Into The Great Unknown they have changed their sound a bit which may upset some fans, but for me they are heading onwards and upwards.

10= PUGWASH Silverlake the power pop album of the year. If you like ELO, Duckworth Lewis grab a copy of this.

10= BARENAKED LADIES Fake Nudes another set of memorable melodies and lyrics that don’t always take themselves too seriously…

Honorable mentions…

HAREM SCAREM United they keep on churning out classy melodic hard rock and long may that continue.

THE BITERS plenty of retro on this one, with the T Rex sounding songs

JEFF SCOTT SOTO Retribution not as instant but stick with it

BIGFOOT one of the debuts of the year. Modern hard rock and the singer doesn’t half sound like Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn at times!

THE NIGHTS more classy Scandi melodic rock with hook filled choruses big enough to land a whale.

THE NEW ROSES One More For The Road good time hard rock, no frills and plenty of riffs.

NIGHT RANGER Don’t Let Up they show no sign of letting up quality wise, another ‘must have’ for fans.

DANKO JONES Wild Cat if you like 70’s rock, Thin Lizzy and foot tapping tunes look no further.

THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Amber Galactic like Brother Firetribe their ‘day bands’ are heavy yet here they show their love of 80’s melodic rock and AOR.

Fellow GRTR! reviewers choices can be found here

Single release for Crisis – Streets of London performed by Ralph McTell, Crisis Choir & Annie Lennox

Single released 4 December to raise money for homelessness as charity turns 50

To download the track for 99p click here:

smarturl.it/streetsoflondon

Legendary singer-songwriter, Ralph McTell, has re-recorded his timeless song, ‘Streets of London’, with a choir made up of clients from Crisis – the national charity for homeless people – and guest vocalist Annie Lennox, to raise money for the cause in the run up to Christmas. 

First penned 50 years ago, the classic single shares its birthday with Crisis, whose 50th anniversary also falls this December.

To mark the occasion, Crisis’ homeless clients and staff from across the country came together to form an 88-strong choir to sing alongside McTell and guest vocalist Lennox. The choir was conducted by Only Men Aloud’s Tim Rhys-Evans, while the recording also features Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson on guitar.

One of the most recorded songs of all time, ‘Streets of London’ has been covered by over 200 artists including Cat Stevens and Glen Campbell. The song has long been associated with homelessness, with its lyrics speaking of lonely figures walking through Surrey Street Market in Croydon, where Crisis now has a centre. The latest version is an emotional gem, featuring lush orchestration and soaring choral harmonies alongside McTell’s trademark baritone.

The single is being released to raise money for Crisis and help support some of the thousands of people facing homelessness this Christmas, many of whom will have nowhere to turn as the winter months close in. As well as opening 13 centres for over 4,000 homeless guests over Christmas, the charity works year-round to help people out of homelessness, as well as campaigning for changes that will end homelessness once and for all.

Ralph McTell said:

“It’s 50 years since I wrote Streets of London and it saddens me that the issues raised in the song are still so relevant today. When the idea of a single to support Crisis was mooted, I was very pleased that it might help raise awareness of the charity’s work and the wider issue of homelessness. I have been performing a Christmas concert in aid of Crisis for a few years now; inspired by its commitment to improving the circumstances of so many.

“I was also thrilled that the wonderful Annie Lennox was prepared to lend her voice to a new recording, and when I discovered that Crisis had its own choir, it offered the perfect opportunity to create a new and exciting version of a song so many people know.”

Jon Sparkes, Chief Executive of Crisis, said:

“Our heartfelt thanks go to Ralph McTell, Annie Lennox and all Crisis clients and staff who lent their voices to this record. The vital funds and awareness it will raise will help us support even more people facing homelessness this Christmas. 

“It’s 50 years since Crisis was founded as an urgent response to an unacceptable situation – and it’s nothing less than a tragedy that we are still here today when homelessness should be a thing of the past.

“This collaboration between our clients and Ralph McTell can help us to raise awareness of the similar crisis we’re facing 50 years on. But homelessness isn’t inevitable and we’ll continue to work to ensure we won’t be needed in another 50 years’ time.”

To download the track for 99p click here: smarturl.it/streetsoflondon

BIG BIG TRAIN Christmas song

Big Big Train will be releasing a Christmas single on December 8th 2017.

The single is called Merry Christmas and will be released on limited edition 7-inch snow white vinyl (with a gatefold cover), digipack CD, high-resolution and standard-resolution download, and streaming. The vinyl, CD and high-resolution download versions of the release will feature a ‘b’ side called Snowfalls.

The promotional film for Merry Christmas was recently premiered by Prog magazine and can be viewed here:

The film features actor Mark Benton who says:

‘When Big Big Train asked me to get involved with the video for Merry Christmas, I didn’t need much convincing. I’m a big fan of the band and love the way they tell stories through their beautifully crafted songs. The video was great fun to shoot and hopefully really conveys the Christmas message’.

Alongside Big Big Train’s full line-up which performed recently at the band’s three sold-out shows at Cadogan Hall in London, Merry Christmas features the beautiful singing of The Chapel Choir Choristers of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Big Big Train vocalist David Longdon says: ‘Merry Christmas is a song about rediscovering our childlike belief in the magic of Christmas, despite living in an over commercial and sometimes cynical world. After all, what wouldn’t you give to believe again, like you believed back then?’

The artwork for Merry Christmas has been painted by Sarah Louise Ewing and will also feature on a new range of Christmas cards.

Merry Christmas is available to pre-order now from the band’s official stores:

https://www.burningshed.com/store/bigbigtrain/ (for vinyl and CD pre-orders)

http://www.themerchdesk.com (for vinyl, CD, Christmas cards and other merchandise)

Merry Christmas is also available to pre-order from Amazon, HMV and other good online and high-street record stores.

The high-resolution (24/96) download version of Merry Christmas will be available to buy on
Big Big Train’s Bandcamp shop on the 8th December:

https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/

A donation to the Night Stop homelessness charity will be made for every copy of the vinyl, CD, download and Christmas card sold.

More Christmas gift ideas can be found in Sarah Louise Ewing’s shop, including Grimspound cufflinks and a beautiful Telling the Bees Pendant (25% of proceeds from pendant sales will go to The Bee Cause, a campaign which seeks to reverse the decline of bees in the UK.)

Best wishes,
Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel & Rikard

Fifty Gigs In A Day: IT

Delighted that progressive band IT will be involved. Do check out their debut album released earlier this year, well worth a listen and they are currently lining-up gigs for the end of February. Also IT’s record label Progressive Gears are kindly donating some signed items for eBay auction to raise funds for the Nordoff Robbins charity.

MERRY CHRISTMAS by Big Big Train

Three times Progressive Music Award winning band, Big Big Train, will be releasing their first Christmas single on December 8th 2017.

The single is called Merry Christmas and will be released on 8th December on 7-inch snow white vinyl (with a gatefold cover), digipack CD, high-resolution and standard-resolution download and streaming. The vinyl, CD and high-resolution download versions of the release will feature a ‘b’ side called Snowfalls.

The artwork for Merry Christmas has been painted by Sarah Louise Ewing and will also feature on a new range of Christmas cards.

A donation to the Night Stop homelessness charity will be made for every copy of the vinyl, CD, download and Christmas card sold.

Merry Christmas is available to pre-order now from the band’s official stores:

https://www.burningshed.com/store/bigbigtrain/ (for vinyl and CD pre-orders)

http://www.themerchdesk.com (for vinyl, CD, Christmas cards and other merchandise)

Merry Christmas is also available to pre-order from Amazon, HMV and other good online and high-street record stores.

The high-resolution (24/96) download version of Merry Christmas will be available to buy on Big Big Train’s Bandcamp shop on the 8th December:

https://bigbigtrain.bandcamp.com/

Big Big Train vocalist David Longdon says: ‘Merry Christmas is a song about rediscovering our childlike belief in the magic of Christmas, despite living in an over commercial and sometimes cynical world. After all, what wouldn’t you give to believe again, like you believed back then?’

Alongside Big Big Train’s full line-up which performed recently at the band’s three sold-out shows at Cadogan Hall in London, Merry Christmas features the beautiful singing of The Chapel Choir Choristers of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Bass player Greg Spawton: ‘We wanted Merry Christmas to be a proper Christmas song. Christmas music needs a choir, a brass band and, of course, sleigh bells’.

The promotional film for Merry Christmas features Mark Benton and will premiere on 1st December.

Best wishes,
Andy, Danny, Dave, David, Greg, Nick, Rachel & Rikard