RockFest News from Leon Economides

From Leon Economides,

Hi there

Things are starting to get back to normal after the holidays. Hope you had a good rest and are ready for an exciting, rocking year! Most of The Rockfest presenters should be back from leave and ready to roll!

Don’t forget that, midway through the month, previous Rockfest presenters Leslie Wright (aka Leslie Chase) (Wednesdays 10pm to midnight – still to be confirmed) and Greg Tucker (Tuesdays midnight to 2am, starting 19 Jan), as well as new presenters Mike Tymvios(Fridays 11pm to 1am, starting 15 Jan), and Frank Heydenrych (Thursdays midnight to 2am, starting 14 Jan) , will be joining The Rockfest on 93.8FM Midrand Stereo.

Welcome to veteran presenter Andre Durand, who had his first show last Saturday night (midnight to 2am). .

Please be aware that the Midrand area, especially where the 93.8FM studios are located, is prone to the odd power outage, (as poor old Max found out a few weeks ago!), now and then, so if you happen to be listening or tuning in, and you hear the ominous hiss of “dead air”, we ain’t left the country, and nor has the station been overrun by aliens! Please bear with us – these things happen. We do have a UPS, but it obviously does have a time limit. I’m in the process of training an army of heavy metal hamsters that will run on a treadmill to the tune of The Scorpions’ “Blackout” and Triumph’s “When The Lights Go Down” whenever this happens. Hopefully they can keep the show on the road until the power comes back on! Yeah, right!

Heard some really tragic news last week: Eric Woolfson, pianist, songwriter and co-founder of The Alan Parson Project, passed away in London on 02 December, from cancer. I decided to incorporate a tribute to this extremely gifted and vitally important, but very much in the background, member of the Project, in my show, which was a bit longer than normal, as I was standing in for Linda Sue, this week (have a comma, whilst you’re at it, he said to himself, knowingly. Nothing like a bit of over-the-top punctuation to confuse you!)

Playlist – The RockIt Scientist – Monday 04 January 2010 – 8pm to midnight

01. Snail – Music Is My Mistress, from “Snail”. 1978 – Cream Records (criminally under-rated band from the US. One of those “not a weak track on it” albums. Drummer Don Baldwin now with Lydia Pense & Cold Blood)

02. Firefall – Strange Way, from “Elan”. 1978 – Atlantic Records (equally on a par with The Eagles, Poco, etc, if not better. Released an awesome Live Reunion album a short while ago)

03. Blackfoot – Highway Song, from ‘’Strikes”. 1979 – Atco Records (featuring Ricky Medlocke, who’s been with Skynyrd for some time now, and the sadly departed Jackson Spires. A Southern rock classic!)

04. Brazen Abbot – Dreams, from “My Resurrection”. 2005 – Frontiers Records (fantastic Bulgarian guitarist Nikolo Kotzev, with vocals from Joe Lynn Turner, one of the best rock singers around)

05. Lana Lane– Someone To Believe, from “Lady Macbeth”. 2005 – Frontiers Records (the lovely Queen Of Progressive/Symphonic Rock, together with husband and Rocket Scientist founder Eric Norlander. And no, I didn’t steal the name from him)

06. XYZ – Asking, from “Letter To God”. 2003 – FYCD Records (stunningly emotive lyrics from vocalist Terry Ilous, with JK Northrup on guitars, Sean McNab on bass and Paul Monroe on drums)

07. Queensryche – Someone Else?, from “Promised Land”. 1994 – EMI Records (vocalist Geoff Tate at his best. If this doesn’t move you, you have the emotions of a fish. One of the classiest bands, ever, from any country)

08. Fates Warning – The Road Goes On Forever, from “Parallels”.1991 – Metal Blade Records (technically excellent and thought provoking US prog metal outfit with Ray Alder on vocals)

09. Savatage – Edge Of Thorns, from “Edge Of Thorns”.1993 – Atlantic Records (words are superfluous. This much loved US prog metal band set the stage for many others to follow. With Zak Stevens on vocals. RIP Criss Oliva)

10. John Miles – Music, from “Rebel”. 1976 – Decca Records (you know it well. The kind of song you take to your grave. Unless you’re into rave/house/techno/rap, that is. Remember, the key word is “MUSIC”).

11. Kansas– Hold On, from “Always Never The Same”. 1998 – River North Records (one of their best tracks, with The London Symphony Orchestra putting it into the “brilliant” league. They have a new live album and DVD out)

12. Grand Funk – I’m Your Captain / Closer To Home, from “Bosnia”.1997 – Capitol Records (Grand Funk with an orchestra? You better believe it! Mark, Don & Mel at their best, with special guest Peter Frampton)

13. King Crimson – Epitaph, from “In The Court Of The Crimson King”.1969 – Island Records (arguably one of the albums that started the whole prog movement. The young Greg Lake showed touches of the brilliance that was to follow with ELP)

14. Novalis – Der Geigenspieler, from “Vielleicht Bist Du Ein Clown?”.1978 – Brain Records (German band formed in Hamburg in 1971. Together with Jane, Grobschnitt and Birth Control, they were one of the best Krautrock bands)

15. Spring – Grail, from “Spring”. 1971 – Neon Records (you can’t profess to be a fan of early 70’s prog unless you own this album. Brilliant, from beginning to end, mellotron to die for. Drummer Pique Withers was a founding member of Dire Straits)

16. Indian Summer – Black Sunshine, from “Indian Summer”. 1971 – Neon Records (another prog gem from the UK. Produced by Jim Simpson of Black Sabbath & Bakerloo fame, they sadly folded shortly after this highly sought-after classic was released)

Tribute to Eric Woolfson

Eric Norman Woolfson was born on the 18th of March 1945 in Charing Cross, Glasgow, Scotland. Composing music from a young age, he moved to London where he found work as a session pianist. He later wrote songs for Marmalade, Dave Berry, The Tremeloes, Marianne Faithfull, and others. He also worked with future members of 10cc, Lol Crème, Kevin Godley, Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman, all of whom had worked with Ramases on his “Space Hymns” album, and a single under the name of Eric Alder, called “San Tokay”, was released.

Turning to management in the early 70’s, he signed Carl Douglas (of “Kung Fu Fighting” fame), and Alan Parsons, who had built up a solid reputation as a recording engineer and record producer, having worked with, and later to work with, the likes of Pink Floyd, Al Stewart, The Beatles, Ambrosia and others.

Woolfson and Parsons formed a collaboration that would allow Woolfson to exploit and enhance his talents as a songwriter whilst giving Parsons’ engineering and producing skills the opportunity to be utilized to the fullest extent. This collaboration lasted eleven or so years, and spawned ten albums, almost all of which had a central conceptual theme. The albums were, and still are, highly regarded by many people, from those into a more MOR(Middle Of The Road, just in case that threw you)/laid back style, to those with a preference for more involved progressive themes/tunes, with over 40 million sales being recorded worldwide.

The Alan Parsons Project was famous for employing the services of some of the most skilled musicians and vocalists in the UK. Apart from Woolfson, who was a keyboard player and vocalist of note (he sang the lead vocals on tracks such “Eye In The Sky”, “Prime Time’ and a host of others), other keyboard players included our own Duncan Mackay (whose debut solo album, “Chimera”, was recently released on Benjy Mudie’s Retro Fresh label. Buy it!), Richard Cottle and others. Guitars were handled by Ian Bairnson, surely one of the most under-rated guitarists around, bass by Laurie Cottle and David Paton, and drums by Stuart Tosh and Stuart Elliott. Then there was the dynamic orchestration and choir that gave the Alan Parsons Project its absolutely memorable and dramatic clout, arranged and conducted by Andrew Powell. Vocalists included Colin Blunstone, John Miles, David Paton, Lenny Zakatek, Dean Ford, Dave Townsend, Elmer Gantry and many others.

Ian Bairnson, David Paton, Colin Blunstone and Stuart Elliott, together with Camel’s keyboard player, (the late) Peter Bardens, released an excellent melodic rock / prog album under the name of “Keats”, in 1984. Eric Woolfson was the creative force behind the formation of this short-lived studio-only band. The album, released on EMI Records, was engineered and produced by Alan Parsons.

The split between Parsons and Woolfson occurred during the recording of what was meant to be the eleventh Alan Parsons Project album, “Freudiana” (released in 1990). Woolfson wanted to explore the possibility of realizing the project as a musical, and he was eager to write for musical theatre. He later had much success in Germany, Korea and Japan with “Gaudi” and “Gambler”. Alan Parsons continued to release albums under his own name. Other musicals included “Edgar Allan Poe” and “Dancing Shadows”, in 2007. Woolfson had also been involved in the re-issuing and re-mastering of the entire Alan Parsons Project back catalogue, in 2007/2008, complete with bonus material and elaborate booklets, photos, etc. Ironically, he released an album of previously unreleased / unfinished Alan Parsons Project tracks called “Eric Woolfson Sings The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was”, in 2009.

Eric Woolfson died on 2 December 2009, a great loss to the music and theatre world.

This then, was a tribute to a truly gifted musician and songwriter:

17. Alan Parsons Project – In The Lap Of The Gods,from “Pyramid” (Instrumental) – 1978

18. Alan Parsons Project – May Be A Price To Pay, from “Turn Of A Friendly Card” (vocals by Elmer Gantry, of Stretch fame) – 1980

19. Alan Parsons Project – I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You, from “I Robot” (vocals by Lenny Zakatek) – 1977

20. Alan Parsons Project – Paseo De Grace, from “Gaudi” (Instrumental, with Ian Bairnson showing just how good he is, on Spanish guitar! This was the last APP album to feature Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson) – 1987

21. Alan Parsons Project – You Won’t Be There, from “Eve” (vocals by Dave Townsend) – 1979

22. Eric Woolfson – Rumour Goin’ Round, from “The Alan Parsons Project That Never Was” (vocals by Eric Woolfson) – 2009 (originally recorded during the “Stereotomy” sessions in the mid 80’s)

23. Alan Parsons Project – Sirius / Eye In The Sky, from “Eye In The Sky’’ (vocals by Eric Woolfson) – 1982

Album releases, featuring Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson

Tales Of Mystery And Imagination – 1976

I Robot – 1977

Pyramid – 1978

Eve – 1979

Turn Of A Friendly Card – 1980

Eye In The Sky – 1982

Ammonia Avenue – 1984

Vulture Culture – 1985

Stereotomy – 1986

Gaudi – 1987

Note that all the Alan Parson Project re-issues are available through Sony Music and are essential purchases for anyone into conceptual progressive / melodic rock.

24. Viking Skull – Doom, Gloom, Heartache & Whiskey, from “Doom, Gloom, Heartache & Whiskey”. 2008 – Powerage Records (third album from this very good stoner UK outfit, sort of Sabbath meets Lizzy)

25. Clutch – Struck Down, from “Strange Cousins From The West” 2009 – Weathermaker Records (difficult to describe their music. US Hard Rock/Stoner/Funk/Jam band. “Brilliant” springs to mind. Excellent vocals and guitar by Neil Fallon)

26. Wino – Smilin’ Road, from “Punctuated Equilibrium”. 2009 – Southern Lord (debut solo album from Obsessed / Hidden Hand’s guitarist / vocalist, Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Well constructed killer hard rock with intelligent, sometimes menacing, lyrics)

27. Circle II Circle – Every Last Thing, from “Delusions Of Grandeur”, 2008 – AFM Records (for fans of Savatage, Queensryche, etc. US outfit put together by ex-Savatage vocalist Zak Stevens. Highly recommended)

28. Shadow Gallery – Pain, from “Digital Ghosts” 2009 – InsideOut Records (first album with new vocalist Brian Ashland, following the death of original vocalist, Mike Baker, in October 2008. 6th studio album from this exceptionally good US prog outfit)

29. Magnum – Time To Cross That River, from “Into The Valley Of The Moonking” 2009 – Steamhammer Records (one of the UK’s best ever bands. Vocalist Bob Catley and guitarist Tony Clarkin have kept this brilliant band going since 1972)

30. Babe Ruth – The Sun, Moon & Stars, from “Que Pasa” 2006 – Revolver Records (the classic line-up of Alan Shacklock, Janita Haan, Ed Spevock, Dave Punshon andDave Hewett. Welcome back to the makers of “First Base”! Janita Haan still has it, in a big way)

31. Strider – Misunderstood, from “Misunderstood” 1974 – GM Records (2nd, and sadly, last album from this excellent UK blues rock quintet. Guitarist Gary Grainger went on to feature with Rod Stewart. Album is much sought after, and rightly so)

32. Rare Bird – Birdman, from “Epic Forest” 1973 – Polydor Records (started out as a two keyboard player/guitarist-less prog outfit, a rarity in thecompetitive late 60’s/early 70’s. Guitarist Andy Curtis joined and they absolutely cooked. A UK treasure)

33. Liquid Smoke – It’s A Man’s World, from “Liquid Smoke” 1970 – Avco Embassy Records (from the US, featuring brilliant vocalist Sandy Pantaleo, later to perform as a soloist under the name Sonny Rose, and recently collaborating with the Manhattan Transfer)

34. Faith – Such A Lady, Such A Lover, from “Faith” 1973 – Brown Bag Records (very good, but very under-rated US outfit. Changed their name to Faith Band after this album, and became a bit more commercial, but still retaining a slight jazz/rock/prog edge)

35. Mariah – Reunion, from “Mariah” 1976 – United Artists Records (a once-off gem from this little known US quintet. Guitarist Frankie Sullivan became a founding member of Survivor. Songwriter Jim Peterik was ex-Ides Of March and Chase, now with Pride Of Lions)

36. Glencoe – Airport, from “Glencoe” 1972 – Great Western Gramophone Records (formed in London in 1971, this popular melodic rock band featured bassist Garth Watt-Roy, ex-Greatest Show On Earth. They released a 2nd album in 1973 and split in 1974)

37. Pacific Drift – Happy Days, from “Feelin’ Free” 1970 – Deram Records (this UK band’s album, encompassing elements of prog, blues, jazz and melodic rock, has become a minor collectible, on Deram’s Nova Series)

38. Bloodrock – Jessica, from “Bloodrock 3” 1971 – Capitol Records (stablemates to Grand Funk Railroad, and also managed by the infamous Terry Knight, this notorious US band released some fantastic material during their seven-odd year history)

39. Cressida – Depression, from “Cressida” 1970 – Vertigo Records (debut album from this highly enjoyable and accessible UK prog outfit. Both of their albums are quite collectible. Drummer Iain Clarke appeared on Uriah Heep’s “Look At Yourself” album)

Most of the above albums can be bought at or ordered through Look & Listen. They have many branches, country-wide, and a have a very large selection of cds, dvds, games, accessories, etc.

Joe@Grooveyard Records ( tells me that he has some amazing new killer guitar albums in stock, including the new Blindside Blues Band (Mike Onesko). Check them out and order online!

See you next week.



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