It is a joy to see
there are still proper rock bands coming through in these days of music
business industry change. The Room are one such band - shining a light and
showing the way.
The group was formed in
2010 by Martin Wilson, without doubt one of the best progressive rock
vocalists around. Martin is a veteran of the rock business, having been a
founding member of the excellent neo-progressive rock band Grey Lady Down
and singing on all four of their splendid studio albums and two live albums.
But after ten years (1992-2002) of excellent music and hard slog, Grey Lady
Down was finally put to rest, mainly due to a lot of the band members being
under different personnel pressures, not their love of the music.
To have a vocalist of
Martin Wilson’s quality not working in a band was a tragedy. Fortunately in
2010 a meeting took place between Wilson and Andy Rowe and plans were made
and strategies worked out. Steve Anderson the lead guitarist from Grey Lady
Down was quickly taken into the fold along with young keyboard player Steve
Checkley, fitting in perfectly with his symphonic keyboard leanings. Andrew
Rae, a childhood friend of Martin Wilson, was brought in to lend a classy
hand to the drum stool.
immediately started firing and songs were written. Obviously with two
ex-members of Grey Lady Down in the band there are comparisons, but then it
would be very disappointing if there weren’t.
2012 saw the release of
their debut album “Open Fire”, chock full of energetic progressive rock
songs and excellent musicianship. Sadly in 2013 Andrew Rae had to put down
the drum sticks due to tinnitus. A replacement had to be found and Chris
York secured the position. York is an excellent drummer and not to be messed
with as he is also a Tae Kwon Do instructor.
The next album, “Beyond
the Gates of Bedlam”, was released in 2015 and this is where The Room really
hit their stride.
Doing the job of
frontman, Martin Wilson’s vocals dominate proceedings and bring dramatic
phrasing to the stories with wonderful vibrato in his singing. This is
beautifully illustrated in the opening song “Carrie” and also “My Friend
But this is no solo
band and the keyboards are classic and full of frantic chords, played with
intensity and atmosphere that guides all the songs along their many
different paths, best emphasized on “Full Circle”.
“As Crazy As It Seems”
is as near to a power ballad as The Room get, but it also allows Steve
Anderson to show off his axe chops. The rhythm section as usual does not
perhaps get the credit it deserves, but it’s behind every great band.
The Room are now signed
to Bad Elephant Music and there is a third album on the way as well as
multiple festival appearances coming up, so hopefully 2018-2019 will be the
time The Room take over. They certainly deserve it.
Anybody who likes
classic Genesis or Marillion will enjoy The Room and the new lick of paint
they give to melodic progressive rock with fine body.
Mott the Dog Rating: 5
Martin Wilson - vocals
Steve Anderson - guitar
Chris York - drums
Steve Chickley -
Andy Rowe - bass guitar
My Friend Jack
As Crazy As It Seems
Written By Mott The Dog from the gates of Jameson’s The Irish Pub, Soi AR,
Daevid Allen in 1974.
Possibly the most extraordinary band
you will ever come across, Gong were originally formed in 1967 in Paris by
Australian multi-instrumentalist Daevid Allen and the wonderful but mad
English vocalist Gilli Smyth. Of course this is all irrelevant as they both
really descended upon the planet Earth with a band of pixies from the planet
The first two albums were released and
made little impact but then they ventured forth with the first part of the
Radio Gnome trilogy, “Flying Teapot”. The lineup of the band was not stable
for the recording of this album, but then it never was. In all, 53 musicians
have been fully fledged members of Gong and in Wikipedia the members even
have their own page (sadly most of them have now passed on and returned to
the planet Gong.)
Many talented musicians have lent their
talents to the making of Gong music and listening to it is always a
worthwhile experience, just certain precautions have to be taken first.
Firstly, all children and those of sensitive natures should be sent away and
those without a sense of humor should also be banished, and of course, the
wearing of silver foil hats is a must.
The story of the Radio Gnome trilogy
starts off on “Flying Teapot”, telling us the story of our heroes, Zero The
Hero and the good witch Yoni (beware, she is not good in the Walt Disney
sense of good witches but she is very adept at certain things though) and
joining them are their helpful pixies.
Now, if you’re not already confused,
there have been two versions of this album released with different track
listings and various edits (sacrilege to the avid fan). For the sake of
confusion we will stick with the original which was released on the same day
as Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” on the new Richard Branson label Virgin,
although it perhaps did not have the same impact, well at least on this
The first track “Radio Gnome Invisible”
starts off with a bit of Gong speak before the song comes bouncing in
supported by keyboards, guitar, drums and babble (babble consists, of hippie
talk, Gong, Spanish, French and other dialects.) But even if you get it, you
are lost as it whisks you from one part of the story to the next. Where the
story is leading is never really made clear. I suppose that is half the fun
- you can make it up yourself.
The album bounces along from track to
sonic track. If you thought Hawkwind was space/rock think again. By the time
it gets to the last two tracks it is clear why Yoni is a good witch (this
bit does not leave much to your imagination).
The trilogy continued with “Angels Egg”
in 1973 and “You” in 1974, after which both Allen and Smyth departed and
left the others to carry on (Allen and Smyth would occasionally form other
bands like Mother Gong).
Gong as a band are still going strong
after over 50 years and released a rather good album called “Rejoice! I’m
Dead” in 2016. They also appeared at The New Day Festival last month in
Faversham, Kent, England.
Mott the Dog rating: 5 Stars.
Gong on this album:
Daevid Allen - lots of instruments &
Gilli Smyth - purrs, growls and howls
Tim Blake - keyboards
Steve Hillage - guitar
Didier Malherbe - sax and flute
Francis Moze - bass guitar
Laurie Allan - drums
Radio Gnome Invisible
The Pot Head Pixies
The Octave Doctors & the Crystal
Zero The Hero & The Witch’s Spell
Note: Written by Mott The Dog
and The Pixies at Jameson’s, The Irish Pub, Soi AR , North Pattaya.
September 8, 2018 - September 14, 2018
Kindred Spirit: ‘Phoenix Rising’
Kindred Spirit have been going in one
form or another for more than ten years, so they are not exactly an
overnight sensation, but they have paid their collective dues and now seem
to be on the verge of breaking into the ‘big time’. They made various
appearances at large festivals all over Europe in 2017 and this latest
album, “Phoenix Rising”, their sixth, is a culmination of hard work and a
burning desire to make an impact.
The band are led by the incredibly
talented Elaine Samuels who has a hand in writing all the songs as well as
singing lead vocals and driving the band along on acoustic guitar. Her voice
soars above the instruments in the band, sometimes with joy and at others
with a haunting quiver.
Now that the line-up of the band has
become more solidified, the individual members can all show their musical
armory. The violin parts on “Phoenix Rising” were recorded by Gavin Jones,
but since then his place has been taken by the latest member of the band,
Martin Ash, whose fiddle playing either leads itself to the rhythm of the
song or roars away, soloing to the very devil himself.
Catherine Dimmock’s talent on flute and
saxophone is not to be underestimated and acts as a perfect foil to the
violin, leading to many exciting and well constructed battles between them.
Dimmock’s backing vocals also give the sound an extra dimension and when she
is not available, Emily Nash seamlessly steps into the musical space.
The driving rhythm section combines the
bustling bass guitar runs of Mike Hislop and the drumming of legendary skins
man Les Binks (ex-Judas Priest). Now this is a line-up to be reckoned with
and surely there will be no stopping this band.
The music on the album, although each
track follows a similar vein, is eclectic enough to give plenty of variety.
From the poppy styling of “Life is a Circus” to the renaissance feeling of
final track on the album, “The Phoenix”, where the violin flies off in all
directions at once, the harmonies are quite beautiful. There is a wonderful
cover of America’s “Horse with No Name” plus a downright hard rocker with
“Feed The Fire” while the reelin’ and a rockin’ get given full reign in the
aptly titled “Drunken Landlady”.
The album is excellently produced by
Jez Larder and the songs are played with a driving force that is required to
bring the band success, with the musical expertise shining through on all
Of course there are comparisons to
other bands, most notably to these ears to Curved Air and Jethro Tull, but
that does not mean that Kindred Spirit do not have their own unique sound,
as indeed they do. I am sure that with their upwards journey to fame and
fortune set as it is, 2018 will be the big breakthrough year these talented
Mott the Dog rating: 5 Stars.
Elaine Samuels - vocals and acoustic
Gavin Jones/Martin Ash - violin
Catherine Dimmock (or Emily Nash) –
flute and saxophone, vocals
Mike Hislop - bass guitar and vocals
Les Binks – drums
Life is a Circus
Wolves at the Gate
Let’s Be Happy
It’s Not Too Late
Horse With No Name
Feed The Fire
Let the Music Set You Free
Children Of The Stars
Note: Written by Mott The Dog
who can often be found chewing a bone at Jameson’s The Irish Pub on Soi AR,