Older stories so far : ( just scroll down to read them )

21-06-2023 Holiday Stress.

29-12-2022 Shame on you Erik!

19-12-2022 Closing thougts, Top 12 of '22!

24-10-2022 How do they do that?

30-07-2022 What the Fuck?

02-07-2022 My Marillion Story (so far)

20-06-2022 Twelve points, douze points or no points at all?

26-02-2022 Waiting to happen.

01-02-2022 What makes an Epic an Epic?

13-01-2022 The most beautiful picture.

26-12-2021 Is rating albums desirable? Top 8 of 21!

24-12-2021 Collector or listener?

02-11-2021 Vinyl or no vinyl, that's the question.



Holiday Stress.

We are going on holiday with our family soon and of course we are very much looking forward to it. The most important thing , except for the dog, that has to come with us is of course the music. In my case, this is an I-phone that is specially use as a music player for the holidays. I've had several I-pods and also players from other brands but they all had a fairly short lifespan. Since my ears are subject to the same wear and tear as the rest of my body, I settle for this solution for the time being. Yes, you're getting older dad. (Say guys, isn't that that song.....)

At home we take the usual measures to keep uninvited guests out and fortunately this has proven to be sufficient for years. However, I don't want to think about a break-in and people taking my CD collection or destroying it. I know that the insurance gives a few euros back for every CD, but there are so many copies that are simply no longer available or only at exorbitant prices. I can honestly lie awake about this, but I am always reminded that nothing has ever happened so far. Handy a wife like that but sometimes...............

Why this column now, because this situation happens every year, you will say, and you are absolutely right. Well that's because of a post I came across on facebook. An unnamed (in this column) collector of LPs, I'm happy to say that I don’t have them anymore, who had dedicated his life to putting together a beautiful collection wrote a heartbreaking piece. I'm going to summarize it briefly.

In connection with a move, the man was busy looking for a temporary solution for his collection that is so close to his heart. He ended up with a company called Surgard and that company rents out storage spaces that they say are very well secured. Good locks, cameras, surveillance, the whole shebang. The day came when he had to put his carefully packed treasures in the storage room and he left with a good feeling. Well, you guessed it. Gone, the whole collection. Terrible.

Every effort was made to find out what on earth had happened and what turned out? There was nothing to see on the cameras, there were no fallow marks and people had no idea how this was possible. Shitty firm that Surgard. Not so sure. Inside job? (must be)

The man is in sackcloth and ashes and made an appeal to anyone who could put him on a track to help him. The pain he feels was so palpable and I can totally understand him. It was an important part of his life and that's just a big deal. I know that many prog afficionados feel the same about their collection of music and would be just as gutted.

The responses to his call were very diverse and fortunately mostly supportive and understanding in nature. But then there are also people, or dickheads and bitches, who come up with the comment; Oh, but that's just assured, what are you worried about. Shoot those guys, what a comment! "It's just material," another stupid comment.

They don't understand. I feel this man's pain and if I put myself in his position I would feel the same. I get pain in the stomach from it. If we ever have our turn, and statistically that chance is quite high, I hope they will leave my CDs alone. Have fun with our TV or blender or whatever you want to snatch. I hope you get caught and they just cut your hands off. Old-fashioned but effective. That is a different discussion, of course, but we have become far too soft in our country.

Back to the man who has lost his life's work, of course I hope that his LPs are found again and that he can feel complete again. It's of no use to you, but I do sympathize with you a lot and totally understand you.

And to those who do break in and steal I would like to say ; "keep in mind what kind of damage you do by stealing personal stuff from people who worked very hard to gather their belongings".

If I were to decide your punishment when you get caught, and you will get caught !, the picture beside will give you a hint.



Shame on you Erik!

Oh dear, me with my stubborn idea that I have heard all the music I really like and therefore added it to my collection. After missing Tammatoys' album Conflicts in 2020, I have now (finally) found out that I missed another jewel of an album in 2020. Hence the more than justified title of this column. At most I can try to blame my cerebral stroke, August 25, 2020, but that's not fair either because the album I'm talking about comes from July of the year I so curse. Well let’s have it then.

It concerns the album From a Distance by Swappers Eleven.

This band originated from Marillion's famous “swap the band” idea, in which musicians from all over the world were allowed to fill in/play along with this absolute prog rock greatness. This multi-national project was founded by three winners of this contest - Alessandro Carmasi (Italy, voices), Gary Foalle (UK, bass, guitars, backing voices) and Luiz Alvim (Brazil; keyboards, guitars, backing voices). They recruited other Swap The Band winners to make guest appearances, and so the lineup of 17 musicians from 9 countries was established. Super guitarist Daniël van der Weide (Silhouette, Meadows) from our country has also participated and he plays a fantastic solo in the more than thirteen minutes long song Distance.

But he is not the only one who delivers beautiful guitar solos on this wonderful album. Initiator Gary Foalle plays several in Rothery style and here and there even rivals the master. How could I have missed this? Everything a neoprog lover could wish for can be found on From a Distance, great vocals, wonderful keyboard solos, sophisticated compositions and the already mentioned heavenly guitar solos. Okay, there are some small saxophone moments on it but I'll take them for granted cause the rest is so good.

How did I find out that this album was right up my alley? As usual, by chance. Someone on facebook mentioned the song The Collector and I searched for it and found it on bandcamp. Wow, that's great I thought, let me listen to the rest as well. Bingo! How I underestimated this. I knew about the existence of Swappers Eleven but had dismissed it as a hobby of some Marillion fans. Well, of course it is, but the quality is so incredibly high. Literally all songs, short or long, are top-notch and they are all full of variety but still remain consistent.

Well it's a bit late for an album review and I won't do that either but I must now acknowledge my own failure and apologize to these musicians who have made a really great album. As stated in an earlier column, I'm a weirdo when it comes to lists and rating systems. I have a list of my favourite bands and I update it regularly. At the moment there are about seventy bands on it and those are only bands with albums from my a-collection. The top twenty is on this site at the introduction. (See button) 

Of course I searched for the CD and found it on discogs and ordered it from Germany. It's not here yet and before I can assign Swappers Eleven a place in my ultimate list I want to listen to the album in its entirety on my prime headphone set. But it is already clear to me that a place should be reserved in my top 20 because that's how good I think From a Distance is.

How wonderful that this kind of thing still happens every now and then because just waiting for new releases is sometimes quite boring. And to the people of Swappers Eleven I can only say; I'm sorry I ignored you but I hope I've made up for it a bit with this column.



Closing Thoughts, Top 12 of '22!

Musically, 2022 was a fantastic year. Many of my favourite bands released new albums and there were also a few wonderful surprises. So just a great year.

I always make annual lists and I always store them. Sometimes these even change if it turns out that I missed a gem in a certain year. Doesn't happen often, but luckily sometimes it does. For example, Tammatoys with their great album Conflicts in 2020. I was late to the party with this one. I have also been working on this site a lot and in my own way I was able to take it to the next level. In terms of look and feel, it is now completely to my liking, but of course I will continue to look for improvements.

As said, I make a year list every year and I do that in a weird, strange way. I have divided my CD collection into A, B and C collection where A stands for the very best, B for very good and worth buying, C for CDs that I do not want to throw away but that I would never buy again. Did I mention I'm a little crazy? I have the entire A collection on an iphone, which I do not use and only serves as a player for the holidays and on my daily used iphone is part of the B collection. I very easily (too?) dispose of CDs if I no longer like them that much and therefore no longer play them. This is how I keep my collection organized. I don't need a room full of cupboards with CDs, at least not anymore. I've gotten older and wiser, well older. In my column Collector or Listener I go into more detail about this.

My annual list is filled with all albums that were included in my A collection in that year. That can be 6, but also 12, like this year. That doesn't mean I haven't bought more. I go for quality and not quantity. It is quite possible that albums are demoted or promoted, of course I remain a sports fanatic, so that explains this choice of words.

Well, then we will now proceed to the official announcement of my year list of 2022, read and wonder……………

1 - Arena – The Theory of Molecular Inheritance.

2 - Millenium – Tales from imaginary Movies.

3 - Marillion – An Hour before it’s dark.

4 - Comedy of Errors – Time Machine.

5 - Stuckfish – Days of Innocence.

6 – Collage – Over and Out.

7 - Cosmograf – Heroic Materials.

8 - Galahad – The last Great Adventurer.

9 - Ghost of the Machine – Scissorgames.

10 - Nemo – Les nouveaux Mondes 2022.

Okay, the last one is not really fair because it’s an old recording but it is completely re-recorded and mastered again and it is simply to good to ignore.

There are no more albums to expect this year, for me that is, but I can say I have already ordered some for 2023. Eagerly awaiting the new Riverside and curious how the new Sunchild (Anthony Kalugin) will sound. Further on my Canadian friends from Mystery and Huis will present their new albums so enough to look forward to.

So now the days of Christmas are coming and I hope that everybody will have a good time although for some this will be impossible because of the sad situation in many areas of the world. I realise how lucky we are to be able to celebrate.

To guide me through these days I will play The Dark Christmas Suite by IQ over and over again. Man do I love that.



How do they do that?


Fortunately, we live in a time in which we can enjoy all kinds of expressions of art again. For me, that means I can go to concerts and comedy shows again. Breaking out of the everyday routine with my wife and friends and forgetting all the worries for a while. How we have all missed this!

As mentioned above, I like to go to comedy performances and especially to the more provocative artists who, with sometimes harsh humour, put us in the right perspective as humanity. Self-mockery is an important and almost indispensable tool in this regard. If you read my other columns you know I’m a kind of a master at this. It should give some food for thought, but it should also be shameless to laugh at. In short, it should contain everything. And that's exactly what I'm looking for in music,  emotion, challenge and variety, but with a clear end goal. Well, that's quite a statement :)

After a few years without a concert, a period has come again in which I can go to prog rock bands again and the first gigs have taken place in the meantime. I have enjoyed Arena and Marillion and there is still a Mystery concert in the pipeline. I also really want to see Chain Reaktor live because this band has made the most surprising album for me in recent years. I still have to figure out when is the best time to do this though.

That brings me to the main reason for this column. Whether I go to a concert, for me, and for others of course, depends on a number of things. Of course I have to like the band. Then I look at the place where the concert takes place, it is almost always a bit further from home, I live in the east of the country, so a long drive is often part of the deal. Then there is also the price of a ticket because, just like for many, we also have higher costs on all fronts and since my stroke our income has fallen quite dramatically. Finally, a suitable date must be found, and that is not easy I tell you.

All these things determine which choices I have to make. I absolutely cannot go to all the concerts I would like. I still buy CDs and that's where part of my disposable capital goes and that's even more important for me. Moreover, as a family we also have our common wishes and goals and I cannot just ignore them. See, a hobby costs money and that is fine, but in my opinion it should not be at the expense of the family interest. What also plays a role is the fact that, fortunately, there are regular social contacts on the agenda and they sometimes coincide with just that one concert you would like to go to. In short, it is a bit of a puzzle sometimes.

Now, why this column?

Since the advent of social media, in my case especially Face Book, there is a wealth of information available about everything that has to do with “my” music. There's a lot of new music coming out and we can read for hours about bands that are on tour. Many diaries of band members but also many reports of concerts. I put them on my site, so I also participate in this flow of available information. There often are hundreds of photos from very recent concerts and pictures of fans with the set list in their hands is an unavoidable phenomenon. I always admire and marvel at this tendency. There are many fans who go to all concerts of a tour and also to all special events such as the famous Marillion weekends for example. Where in the world does not seem to matter.

So my question is, how do they do that?

Are all these people extremely rich and do they have all the time in the world? Don't get me wrong, I wish this possibilities to everyone  and I even admire these people for their enormous dedication. I consider myself a music madman and I am also seen as such by my family and environment, but that pales in the efforts of these super fans. And if it was just one band, but often it concerns many more bands or artists. If people don't have to take their social environment into account, then of course much more is possible, but all those concerts and all those trips. You must be very financially strong to do this. If you just look at how the price of tickets has risen and how fuel prices are skyrocketing, we can definitely speak of a very expensive hobby.

I sound a bit jealous now, but that's not my intention, I think it's fantastic that there are artists who can count on so much support. But if I'm honest I don't need to see a band ten times, or more, in a row with almost the same set list. That to me is the same as eating steak every day, it is not special anymore. This shows that everyone interprets his or her hobby in a different way. I do it my way and music is incredibly important to me. I really can't wait for a new CD to hit my doorstep, in fact, I'm super impatient and I'm really looking forward to those few concerts that I can go to.

I often listen to music but try to do this focused. There is a big difference between really listening and just hearing sounds.

All in all, the point is that we all enjoy the art form of music in our own way and that we can all call ourselves enthusiasts. I am crazy about music but there are people who are even……… more fanatic. Respect!




What the Fuck?


A rather crude title for a column, but gradually it will become clear what I mean by it.

Ever since I became addicted to listening to music at a young age, I have been very interested in the role the guitar, and especially the electric one, plays in pop and rock music. I myself have started playing several times, but unfortunately I had to conclude I lacked the talent and perseverance to really learn to play well. I also took too little time for it. The first guitarists that stood out for me were Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Rory Gallagher, Richie Blackmore and later on, greats from jazz rock and southern rock were added. Allan Holdsworth of course but also Dickey Betts and the guys from Lynyrd Skynyrd. I bought a lot of LPs and it was always about how many guitar solos were incorporated in the music and how good they were. I still have a little bit of that but the complete picture has to be great to seduce me.

When I slowly but surely got a more refined taste and started listening to symphonic rock above all, David Gilmour and Andy Latimer were my favourites. But as mentioned elsewhere on this site, I was seriously taken by Marillion's Script for a Jester's Tear and especially, of course, by Steve Rothery's wonderfully lingering and emotional playing.

Since then, many groups and guitarists have been added that I admire very much and I have made an, albeit very incomplete, list of my current favorite players on the 'My Favourites' page.

But what makes one more enjoyable to listen to than the other? Why do I rather hear John Mitchell than Steve Hackett, rather Steve Rothery than Steve Howe? It's not that they play better or faster or more technically. If this was to be the indicator then John Petrucci would be my favourite, or other nutcrackers like Vai, Malmsteen or Satriani. Don't get me wrong, I think they are great guitarplayers but apparently I am looking for something in the combination of technique, timing and especially emotion. But the guitar brand and the chosen sound also have a major influence. I can be completely put off by a chosen distortion or effects that are used. That, of course, remains something elusive, just like the question of why you like one voice better than the other. It's about the feeling you experience as a listener when you listen to someone making music.

Why this piece now? I'm writing a review of an album, in this case Ghost of the Machine's Scissorgames, and find this to be a very enjoyable album despite the fact that both guitarists aren't exactly virtuosos. How do you say this nicely in a review? Nowadays you can find videos on the internet/you tube of nine-year-old Japanese girls who play the most complicated solos with apparent ease on a guitar that is often twice their size. When I first saw a clip of Tina S. I thought, and here it comes, what the fuck! She plays that absolutely beautiful solo by David Gilmour in Comfortably Numb without it costing her any effort and if you look further she just imitates everything that is difficult, and good too. What more can I say? And there are so many young guitarists who can do the same. So coming back to that review, what do I think of the guitar work? To read it, go to the reviews page.

But isn't it also about inventiveness and creativity? Imitating something is not the same as inventing and making something yourself. And all those guitarists who just want to play louder and faster, are they able to convey feelings? Some say yes, but I often don't feel it.

Let's just say that the only condition a favorite musician has to meet is to touch the listener deeply, one way or the other. The Beatles aren't great musicians either, but their songs have made them the most famous band in the world. They don't touch me at all, but luckily that's a matter of personal taste.



My Marillion story (so far)


My very first encounter with Marillion dates back to 1983. As so often I went to my local record shop, Pop Eye in Almelo, to find a new LP. Immediately after entering, Ineke, the owner of the business, called me and handed me a record that, as it turned out later, would change my life. The beautiful cover with the Jester on it was the best start you could wish for. 'Listen to this' Ineke said and especially listen to that great singer. Really something for you. I took the record to the listening chair and listened to the entire record. I was sold for good and after returning home Script was immediately turned into the best record of my extensive collection. During the school holidays that followed, I listened to my new heroes for days via a real Walkman, the yellow one from Sony. At the time I camped with my girlfriend, still my wife by the way, near Arnhem and we went shopping, by bike, in this beautiful city. Of course I immediately looked up the first record store and to my great surprise I found two maxi-singles by Marillion and one of them actually had a track of almost 18 minutes on it, Grendel. After returning home I played these singles over and over and I thought Grendel was fantastic, and I still do!

I bought Fugazi during my studies in Groningen at the famous Hemmes, a toprecord store. Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws followed and I was won over for symphonic Rock, as it was then called. All four albums are still very dear to me.

The news that Fish had left the band came as no surprise, but it was a huge blow. Now what? I felt like this was the end of Marillion. How wrong I was? Besides, I'd never seen them live because I'd rather buy an LP than spend my little money on concerts. How stupid afterwards?

During my first real job, a colleague came up to me and said he heard a new single from Marillion on the radio. 'I understand you were a fan of them' he said. After hearing Hooks in you I was very disappointed. What a stupid song I thought. Anyway I bought Seasons End and man was I happy. Beautiful songs and a really good singer. Up until now Seasons End is an absolute gem for me, with all the well-known classics.

Given my completely new financial situation, I now also went to concerts and after seeing Marillion live, with another favorite of mine, Pendragon, as support act, I knew for sure. They were back!

Like most fans, I thought Holidays in Eden was not as good as Seasons End but still had it's moments. Brave made up for a lot, but so far it's not really my favorite either. After that it really got worse. There were many beautiful songs on Afraid of Sunlight but also a few turn-offs. I don't think I need to name them. And I only really like the title track of This Strange Engine. Hope for the Future was just as bad as Cannibal Surf Babe and for me Marillion was surpassed on all fronts and even by the band of that discarded drummer. Such ultimate revenge. Pure class Mick!

After Radiation it was all set for me. Canceled my fanclub membership and sent an email to the band with my honest opinion. Childish I know, but I felt the need. I have tried all of the following albums, but I didn't like them. I thought Marillion were finished. (again?)

Following several enthusiastic reviews I listened to Marbles and except for a few very nice songs, Neverland/Ocean Cloud/The invisible Man, I wasn't really convinced yet. In my honest opinion there are several simple and mediocre songs on it. Next album Somewhere else I thought, and still think, is a weak album.

I also found the claim that Marillion had been the first band to pre-finance a new album through crowdfunding not quite correct. Something like this had already happened in the Netherlands in 1994, by a band called Marathon. I myself was one of the people who made it possible to record their first album, The first Run, against payment in advance and I received the cd and a mention in the booklet as a reward. A few differences but in structure the same.  I will come back to this in a future column.

I felt like it was really over now. But then something happened! I saw that there was a new 17 minute song on the internet, Gaza, and this completely blew me away. Fantastic. I just hoped that the whole album would be of the same quality and Sounds that can't be made has brought me back to my old love. I think F.E.A.R. is even better and The new Kings is one of their best songs ever.

An hour before it's dark has now had plenty of time to sink in (see review) and I'm once again a fan of this incredible band. It's a shame that this album has been mixed so poorly because that is not necessary these days and certainly strange when you consider that the best recording studio in England was used. (real world)

The eternal discussion of the difference between Fish and Hogart is not that relevant to me. Both are great singers although the latter’s voice has stood the test of time way better. I prefer the lyrics of the first 4 albums but must say that with every new album the level is raised  again. 

I hope we will see the birth of a few more albums and I consider myself a fan once again. As in a reaction to all the negative reactions on social media I want to state that being a fan doesn't mean that you can not be critical towards the music that one of your favourite bands makes. Discussing and talking about music is what should be seen as a positive thing. And as always, tastes differ and good for it.



Twelve points, douze points or no points at all?


Ever since I started writing reviews, the schoolmaster in me has always doubted whether I should add a rating in the form of a grade to make a possible judgement easier. Yet I have never done this because I seriously doubt its eternal value and because it is just very difficult. Giving an album a six can mean that it is good enough to buy, but is also often seen as a fairly mediocre rating. I read a lot of reviews on sites or in magazines that do use a points system and I am always amazed at the enormous number of eights, nines and even tens that are given. Of course I understand it when an album touches you in such a way that you want to let everybody know that in the euphoria you experience it that way. I certainly have been touched by a new album this way. But on an annual basis I already find it difficult to make a top ten let alone a top twenty or even fifty. (yes they exist) Now I am probably very critical and perhaps I don’t listen to all new releases often enough, but I think giving an eight to an album is already a very high rating and I don't have that much of those in my collection and only a very few albums with a nine and none with a ten. The latter is not possible in my view. There is always something that could be improved and that rules out a ten. Music is simply not an exact science. If I assume that my all-time favourite album, up to now The Visitor by Arena, would get a nine at most, then a six or seven is already quite good and could justify a purchase. But even on this album things can be done even better or more beautiful and that is always possible in my opinion. A maximum score, within any rating system, means that there is nothing to improve on. Can't be in my humble opinion. What do you do when you've given an album a ten and the next album is even better? Add an eleven? Could be, but then you have to look at all previous ratings again because a six out of eleven is less than a six out of ten, right?


Now I really don't know whether a rating in numbers, points, stars or thumbs means anything to a neutral reader. That is only possible if you have already read a lot of reviews from the same writer and know exactly what his rating means to you and even then.

Is it commercially useful to work with a valuation system? That could be a partial explanation of the fact that many decide to do it anyway. But that is where the danger creeps in that another motive may be included in the assessment. Sympathy, bribes (joke) but also origin or common interests. Thus, a tough issue.

I once tried to give a rating to all my own purchased albums, but very quickly got stuck in a quagmire of doubt. Also, last week I thought a certain album was worth an eight and today only a six or seven or maybe even a six point seven?

All in all I still don’t rate the albums in my reviews and hope that the description of my findings will give readers an idea of what to expect and that they judge things by themselves, and if they want, rate it.



Waiting to happen.


I often struggle with the term release date these days. When a new album comes out by one of my favourite bands I get very impatient and want to add the physical product to my collection as soon as possible. I often order these CDs as a pre-order and then assume that I will receive the CD before or at the latest on the release date in return for supporting the band in question and the often considerably higher price to be paid. Especially with bands from the United Kingdom that has changed quite a bit these days. Since many of my favourite bands are from there, it has regularly happened to me in recent months that I receive the ordered CD much later, not at all or only after paying customs clearance costs at a postal collection point. Often there are posts on Facebook from people from all over the world who received the CD allready. I know, patience is a virtue, but it still frustrates me. For ordering from the band itself there is only the reason, you support them and that's fine, but can’t you expect more as a fan than a few autographs on the cover? I think that's a shame for the artwork anyway. Why not send the pre-orders first and supply the regular trade with stock a few weeks later. This may all have to do with the fact that it is customary these days to make a digital version available to everyone on the release date. That's great for all streamers and everyone else who no longer sees any point in purchasing a CD, LP or some kind of special Edition that is usually offered. When you realize that a lot of musicians complain about the low returns from services like Spotify, it just doesn't feel right.

Of course this does not apply to all new albums and sometimes I (also) order them from Beyond Rock mailorder which is considerably cheaper and the service is excellent. For example, I ordered the deluxe edition of Marillion's Fugazi from the band and also from Rob (beyond rock). The price difference was really so big that I paid almost half at Beyond Rock. But I did receive the pre-order weeks earlier. That's how it should be. It is then everyone's choice whether you are willing to pay the higher price.

I'm currently waiting for Marillion's new album, An Hour Before It's Dark, and I suspect it will be a really great album. Of course I also saw the videos on Facebook in which the bandmembers can be seen signing thousands of copies. I also read all kinds of posts in which fans give their opinion about the subject of this column and of course they differ enormously. Yet it is clear to me that a lot of fans feel the same as I do.

The album will be released on March 4 and can then be listened to by all streamers and all pre-orderers will be offered a download. However, for me, and many other enthusiasts, this is not the preferred way to enjoy An Hour Before It's Dark for the first time. I just want to get to know the music with the cover in my hand and the CD in my player. Old fashioned maybe, but my way.

Of course I hope this is before or on the release date but I fear that this will not happen and then the question is, can I hold back and resist the offered download? We will see.



What makes an epic an epic? 


Is a song epic when it's long? And what is long, above ten minutes? What requirements does an epic have to meet in order to be called that?

Just a few questions that arise on a beautiful Sunday afternoon after watching and listening to Marillion's beautiful Blu-Ray in the Royal Albert Hall. The first part of this magical concert consists of an integral registration of the album F.E.A.R., a very good album in my opinion. If length is decisive then there are certainly a lot of epics on the currently last record of these prog giants. ( An Hour before it's Dark coming soon!)

Personally, I really like longer songs because this usually means there's room for extended instrumentals and solos. But completely instrumental music can (almost) never fascinate me. I love vocals and find lyrics important and an essential addition to a positive music experience. I like variety within one track and it offers me the opportunity to judge a track as a finished product. Marillion's The New Kings is a top song for me, but very well considered it is actually four songs in a row with a connection in terms of lyrics. And there are many more. Moviedrome by Arena for example, an absolute favorite of mine and a great piece of music, but also four songs that…etc.

There are also plenty of examples of very long songs that have a recurring theme and this is often played in different variants. What immediately comes to mind is Beyond the Years by the Neal Morse Band, which begins and ends with a classical sounding piece with a repetitive theme. Is this a requirement for a real, good epic?

No idea really.

A nice nine-minute song can also be an epic, can't it? In the end it doesn't matter because a nice song is a nice song regardless of the length. But if I take a good look at my favorite songs from any band, they often exceed six minutes and usually even more.

And concept albums with a lot of songs that run into each other, what about that?

My all-time favorite album is Arena's The Visitor and it certainly doesn't contain any epics, so apparently it's not a must either. But I can say that there are very few records with all short songs of about four minutes that are highly regarded by me. In fact, when a new album is released by an artist or band that interests me, I immediately look at the length of the songs. Weird twist probably but true. There is of course no right in this matter and the important thing is that good music can be something different for everyone and does not depend on the length of songs. But still.....



The most beautiful picture.


Just before Christmas, my wife gave me the book by Henk Tuijn, entitled “Het mooiste plaatje”, as a present. The book is probably to Henk what this site is to me, an outlet to share our passion for prog rock with others. After only a few pages it is clear that there are many similarities with regard to our exploration of the land of music. The appropriate title clearly indicates that there is often a link between a nice cover and a good record. I therefore completely agree with the opening words of the book in which Henk explains how, as a young “explorer”, he let his initial choice of music partly be determined by a beautiful LP cover. (Also read my other columns) But there is also a difference, Henk is more into the big names from the 70s, while the bands from the revival in the 80s form the basis for my preference. The fact that it is in Dutch makes it far less appealing to people in the rest of the world.

I can say that I am not much of a book-reader myself and I don’t often spend money on books. I prefer spending it on music. If it was not given to me by my wife I probably would not have bought it and that would have been a shame.  


The book feels nice, is quite thick and contains many images of the covers that are so familiar to us and there is an accompanying story with personal experiences for each band. Henk does not hesitate to give his own clear opinion and on the whole I can agree with his assessments of individual albums. It also contains bands that don't do much for me personally, but it is nevertheless still interesting to read how his preferences came about. In general, the images are of very good quality, but every now and then you can clearly see that a photo of a fold-out cover is used that comes across as a bit less professional. No problem at all and in fact more charming than disturbing.

All the big names are present and the solo projects of various band members are also discussed. The book is not intended as an encyclopedia and therefore does not contain a stream of facts and that makes it a more than pleasant reading. Many of us, about the same age,  will identify with the writer's emotions. The book does not aim for completeness and personally I would like to add a few more bands, but that is why it is Henk's book and not mine.


A brave and very welcome decision to release a book like this and I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone reading this to order the book. Sorry, only for Dutch readers! Maybe Henk should consider an English translation.



Is rating albums desirable? My top 8 of '21!


I've always been busy making year lists and think it's just part of being busy with my greatest hobby, music. Of course, judging an album, which has often been worked on with heart and soul, is a very delicate matter. Everyone has personal preferences, I believe that's called taste, and will form an opinion from this perspective. For me this means that I want to think carefully about the frameworks within which this happens. Bashing an album can be so easy but I don't really like it. Unfortunatly sometimes you can't escape it. Much more fun is judging an album that ticks your boxes. I am still concidering if I should give ratings to accompany my reviews. Not sure yet.

So here's my list for 2021 with some short comments.

1- Chain Reaktor : Homesick.
2- Drifting Sun : Forsaken Innocence. 
3- Sylvan : One to Zero.
4- NMB : Innocence & Danger.
5- Cast : Vigesimus.
6- Lifesigns : Altitude.
7- Jean Pierre Louveton : Sapiens, Chapitre 2 Deus ex Machina.
8- This Winter Machine : Kites.


For me 2021 brought several outstanding albums of a very high level. All year long the first album by Chain Reaktor was on top of my list but just at the end the latest Drifting Sun album almost passed it. (review on the reviews page) It was a close call though. Homesick is a really great release with some fabulous guitar playing to accompany the swirling keys and provides some decent vocals. Sylvan made their best album so far and this is partly because the vocals are so well controled this time. Well done Marco. Neal Morse finally decided to give more room to his excellent bandmates and that paid off big time. The epic Beyond The Years is very American but simply stunning. When I am in the mood for some super intense listening I choose Vigesimus by Mexican band Cast. After listening to it I am completely worn down, there is no time to rest when listening to this overwhelming release. All previous Lifesigns albums were good but with Dave Bainbridge onboard, the band around John Young produced their most coherant piece of work with some really great tracks. (Altitude, Last One Home) Since the time I heard French band Nemo for the first time I am a big fan of Jean Pierre Louveton because of his style of playing guitar. Steaming is the word that comes to mind. Although not quite reaching the level of the best Nemo albums, the second part of the trilogy about mankind is adventurous and daring. For me Kites by This Winter Machine is a somewhat ambiguous record. It contains some of the best songs that Al Winter ever wrote but also has a few weaker tracks. But still a very pleasant album with fine vocals and I am convinced the best is yet to come.


A few releases that didn't make my yearlist but are still pleasant to listen to are Silence from Signals by the The Paradox Twin (read the review on the reviewspage), although I liked their first album better, and To The Far Away from Dave Bainbridge, see my review on the reviews page.

Canadians Red Sand created an album with a couple of good tracks but on The Sound Of The Seventh Bell they do not quite reach the level of some of their former releases. 


All in all, a very good year (Eh, musicwise that is, not so much the rest with all the Covid stuff going on)



Collector or listener? 


Another weird title and what do I mean by this? As already written in my introduction, I have been involved with music since my early teens. In those days that meant that you had to save up for weeks to buy an LP in a real record store. You then went, full of anticipation, to that record store and start wrestling through the wooden boxes full of  black gold. For me this was Popeye in Almelo. Unfortunately, this business no longer exists, but in Hengelo there is still a Popeye and there the unsurpassed Johan is the most sympathetic and all-knowing king of his domain. You often proceeded to listen to the selected record in the corner with the headphones on the basis of the cover and the information on the back. Sometimes even provided with a cup of coffee, if Ineke, the hostess of this fantastic place, had time for it. Sometimes she came up with a tip and often it was a golden choice. This process went on for years and my taste developed from hard rock to jazz rock via southern rock to eventually symphonic rock. With this, the pile of LPs grew steadily and my teenage room started to bear a nice resemblance to the store they came from. Cassette tapes were also added and also tapes that were played on a big tape recorder. Add to that an ever-growing department of memorabilia and it is clear that we can call it a real collection. Nowadays I only have CDs as a music carrier, so that already makes a difference.

This will be a familiar situation for many of us. I recently received the beautiful book “Het mooiste plaatje” by Henk Tuijn from my wife (review soon, read first) and I recognize myself completely in his story.

It was no different in my circle of friends and their collection also grew. Now to the point of this column, what do I do with all this stuff? I know that many sacrifice a room to place everything in it as a kind of sanctuary. Special cabinets are built and nothing is thrown away. Been there done that. But now I'm different, help, what's wrong with me?

Today I start from the principle that I keep what I still listen to. Okay, what I'd like to listen to. That means I've got rid of hundreds, if not more, of CDs and have about four hundred copies left, which I also subdivide by quality. Crazy? Yes, probably. I realize that I belong to an absolute minority and commit a sort of sacrilege for many of you. But it feels good. This is called decluttering nowadays and that is possible with (almost) anything. Nice.

My collection is now small but of very high quality and is only being supplemented with CDs that I really like. A still incidental bad buy will be removed right away. Do I feel less of a collector now? No actually not. We now live smaller than ever (no, not a tiny house) and my collection is located entirely in the living room and also meets the WAF (wife acceptance factor) so what more could you ask for.

Everyone should do what they feel comfortable with and the most important thing is that you are happy with your passion for music and your way of experiencing it. I know many music-lovers that own thousands of LPs, CDs and are unable of listening to everything even when they live a hundred years more. But they are just as crazy as I am only different.



Vinyl or no vinyl, that's the question.


When I started my musical development, the LP was the only original medium there was. Of course there were the tape recorders and cassettes, but these were still a surrogate way of listening to music.

What a joy it was when you had gathered enough money again to go to the record store and listen well and return home with such a beautiful disc, and cover of course, and then listen to the new acquisition over and over again.


As I started to listen more on better equipment and became annoyed by noise or tapping, the treatment and maintenance of the then black pearls became more and more important. Immediately after purchase I washed them with a record washer and then put them in the Permostat so that less dirt would get on the record. This was a time consuming but delightful job. But no matter what I did and no matter how good the record players got, the inevitable moment came, the first tap. How disappointed I was. No brushing or cleaning helped anymore, it was immortalized.

But hurrah, hurrah, something new came on the market, the compact disc. I was among the first to buy one of the first Philips models and started collecting CDs. This was not so easy in the beginning because not much was released on this new medium, but later the CD became the standard format. No tapping, no or little noise and straight to the song you wanted to hear, I was sold. My entire collection of LPs went out. (yes, that was a bit stupid)

Given my enormous interest in HiFi and sound equipment, I started to get an increasingly better sound system and eventually became the proud owner of a beautiful High End set. After a turbulent time in my life, I started working in a shop where we sold beautiful equipment. I made my profession out of a hobby. To my great surprise, there suddenly was more interest in vinyl and the demand for record players was increasing. Since I wanted to know whether all the praises of vinyl lovers were based on real quality and not on all kinds of sentimental arguments, I started making direct comparisons between LP and CD on many different sets in all price ranges. I was of course able to do this through my work and was able to do this extensively. And believe me, I did!

What was, and is, my conclusion?

If we assume a not too expensive or a somewhat more average sound system, then there is no doubt, the CD wins on all fronts! I know I'm troubling a lot of people with this, but trust me, I've heard it so many times that I have no doubts about it. However, if we go to a High-End set and take the very best quality LPs, which contain ten minutes of music per side, and if we compare them with an absolute top CD player, then there is at least a tie and the LP has certainly plus points compared to the CD but this is also the case the other way around, the CD also has plus points.

For me, the revival of the long-playing record is based on a sense of sentiment and of course the large cover has a beautiful appearance and offers many more possibilities to let the artwork play a bigger role. Apparently people like to be busy switching sides and looking up a number by moving the needle and they take the inevitable clicks for granted. I also think that the collecting instinct of music lovers plays a role. An ordinary LP is no longer enough, there must also be a lime green, flamingo rosé and a splattered version. Which by the way do not add anything to the quality, rather the other way around.

Don't get me wrong, I grant everyone the pleasure of music in the way they choose, but I myself am not going to participate in this hype and get rid of all my CDs and transfer to vinyl. No way!

I do find it extremely disturbing to see what amounts of money have to be paid for an LP nowadays because of the limited capacity of the suppliers on the production side. Excessive. But that's not my biggest problem. It now looks like we'll have to make do with streaming, a download, or a, yes, lp. No more CDs? That stinks and is not customer friendly. Even the cassette tapes are coming back, what? Moreover, I already come across artists who, due to the fact that an average album on LP needs four sides, offer extra songs that are not on the CD. You can then get a download but I don't want that, just put it on the CD, where technically possible of course.

Since I clearly seem to belong to a minority, it will all continue and I will have to adapt. But I will continue to be annoyed if people with an average record player suddenly claim that they hear details that they do not detect on CD and that the music now sounds so much warmer.

It is clear that the human brain of each individual processes the sound waves presented in the form of music differently and thus generate different feelings. But of course, the most important thing is that we all enjoy music in our own way, whatever your taste.