Iconic Film Yellow Submarine by The Beatles Restored for DVD and Blu-ray

The 1968 animated feature film Yellow Submarine by The Beatles has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on May 28 (May 29 in North America). The film’s songtrack album will be reissued on CD on the same date.

Currently out of print, the classic film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time by Paul Rutan Jr. and his team of specialists at Triage Motion Picture Services and Eque Inc. Due to the delicate nature of the hand-drawn original artwork, no automated software was used in the digital clean-up of the film’s restored photochemical elements. This was all done by hand, frame by frame.
The DVD and Blu-ray reissue includes several bonus features: a short making-of documentary titled “Mod Odyssey” (TRT: 7:30), the film’s original theatrical trailer, audio commentary by producer John Coates and art director Heinz Edelmann, several brief interview clips with others involved with the film, storyboard sequences, 29 original pencil drawings and 30 behind-the-scenes photos. Both Digipak packages will include reproductions of animation cels from the film, collectible stickers, and a 16-page booklet with a new essay by Yellow Submarine aficionado John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer, Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios).

As a fan of animation and as a filmmaker, I tip my hat to the artists of Yellow Submarine, whose revolutionary work helped pave the way for the fantastically diverse world of animation that we all enjoy today,” writes Lasseter in his essay.

Directed by George Dunning, and written by Lee Minoff, Al Brodax, Jack Mendelsohn and Erich Segal, Yellow Submarine began its voyage to the screen when Brodax, who had previously produced nearly 40 episodes of ABC’s animated Beatles TV series, approached The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein with a unique vision for a full-length animated feature.

Yellow Submarine, based upon a song by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, is a fantastic tale brimming with peace, love, and hope, propelled by Beatles songs, including “Eleanor Rigby,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “It’s All Too Much.” When the film debuted in 1968, it was instantly recognized as a landmark achievement, revolutionizing a genre by integrating the freestyle approach of the era with innovative animation techniques.

Inspired by the generation’s new trends in art, the film resides with the dazzling Pop Art styles of Andy Warhol, Martin Sharp, Alan Aldridge and Peter Blake. With art direction and production design by Heinz Edelmann, Yellow Submarine is a classic of animated cinema, featuring the creative work of animation directors Robert Balser and Jack Stokes with a team of animators and technical artists.

“I thought from the very beginning that the film should be a series of interconnected shorts,” remembers Edelmann. “The style should vary every five minutes or so to keep the interest going until the end.” These styles included melding live-action photography with animation, 3-dimensional sequences and kaleidoscopic “rotoscoping” where film is traced frame by frame into drawings. The entire process took nearly two years, 14 different scripts, 40 animators and 140 technical artists, ultimately producing a groundbreaking triumph of animation.

On April 24, Candlewick Press will release a new, compact hardcover edition of the Yellow Submarine picture book, a read-aloud journey for the whole family. Featuring the lighthearted wit of the film’s script alongside original artwork from the movie that has charmed children and adults through several generations, the beautiful, 40-page book will be sold by retailers everywhere. An interactive digital version of the book is also available as a free download on Apple’s iBookstore for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch at www.iTunes.com/TheBeatles.

Yellow Submarine synopsis:

Once upon a time … or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland, a place where happiness and music reigned supreme. But all that was threatened when the terrible Blue Meanies declared war and sent in their army led by a menacing Flying Glove to destroy all that was good. Enter John, Paul, George and Ringo to save the day! Armed with little more than their humor, songs, and of course, their yellow submarine, The Beatles tackle the rough seas ahead in an effort to bring down the evil forces of bluedom.

Yellow Submarine Songtrack [CD]

1. Yellow Submarine
2. Hey Bulldog
3. Eleanor Rigby
4. Love You To
5. All Together Now
6. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
7. Think For Yourself
8. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
9. With A Little Help From My Friends
10. Baby, You’re A Rich Man
11. Only A Northern Song
12. All You Need Is Love
13. When I’m Sixty-Four
14. Nowhere Man
15. It’s All Too Much

CalProg to Present Epic Rock Opera ‘The Shaming of the True’

CalProg has announced the only show of the epic rock opera by the late Kevin Gilbert called “The Shaming of the True”. This full-scale theatrical production is being directed by Mark Hornsby (Rewiring Genesis) and Nick D’Virgilio (former Spock’s Beard ) who also is featured in the starring role as Johnny Virgil. The band is comprised of musicians that all performed with Kevin at some point in his career. They are:

Stan Cotey – Guitar (Giraffe)
Dave Kerzner – Keys (Thud)
Paul Ill – Bass (Kaviar)
Brian MacLeod – Drums – (Toy Matinee, Tuesday Night Music Club, Thud, Shaming, Kaviar)
Plus special surprise guests

“Shaming” was a project that Kevin worked on off and on for years throughout his career. Nick D’Virgilio who had been intimately involved in many aspects of the project decided to finish it for him following his untimely tragic passing, and the completed product was this brilliant piece of work. It was performed live only once in 2002 at ProgWest. It had been recorded for a live release, but due to glitches in the recording it was never released. This time it will be recorded digitally for a DVD/CD production.

Shaming of the True Live
Saturday June 2, 2012 – 8:00pm
The Shannon Center for the Performing Arts at Whittier College (seats 400)
Tickets on sale now only at http://www.calprog.com (do not call the theater)

Space Rock Maestros

Beyond-O-Matic - Time to Get Up

Time To Get Up (Trail Records, 2010)

Beyond-O-Matic was a San Francisco-based space rock band that unfortunately is no longer active. This album is as far as I know Beyond-O-Matic’s second and final recording and it is progressive space rock at its finest. Time To Get Up contains dreamy and flowing music, with captivating psychedelic vocals and extended trance-like jams featuring outstanding synthesizer and guitar work along with less conventional instruments such as electric accordion, flute, melodeon, and harmonium.

The pieces featured in Time To Get Up were recorded 2003-2004. At the time, Beyond-O-Matic included composer and multi-instrumentalist Peter Fuhry on guitars, vocals, flute, accordion, bass, effects; Stenzo on synthesizer, samples, effects; Anthony Koutsos on drums; and David Jayne on drums and tabla. Guest musicians who participated in the sessions include Melody Paine on bass, Rachel Shane Shultz on bass, KJ Luker on backing vocals.

Trail Records has been doing an admirable job, recovering lost progressive rock gems in the areas of psychedelic and space rock. They tracked down this album and remastered it, giving Time To Get Up improved sound quality and new life. The CD came out in 2010.

Time To Get Up is a masterful collection of highly creative laid back space rock. It’s a must have for any space rock music fan.

Serbian Fusion Jazz Quartet Eyot Releases “Live in Nish” DVD

Groundbreaking Serbian fusion band Eyot has a new DVD titled “Live in Nish,” released by Ninety and Nine Records in New York.

Eyot is a quartet of Serbian musicians that have risen to international prominence with their recent appearances in Cannes (France).

Eyot’s sound includes the soft solo piano stylings of bandleader Dejan Ilijic, Sladjan Milenovic’s hypnotic microtonal Bill Frisell-esque guitar atmospheres, and a metamorphic rhythm section of Marko Stojiljkovic and Milos Vojvodic. It is the fusion of east and west, and the encounter of ancient and modern.

The Expert Craft of Sebastian Hardie

Sebastian Hardie - Blueprint
Sebastian Hardie

Blueprint (independent, 2012)

Blueprint is the first studio recording by legendary Australian progressive rock band Sebastian Hardie since 1976’s Windchase. Blueprint brings the classic line-up from the 1970s: Alex Plavsic on drums, percussion; Peter Plavsic on bass guitar; Mario Millo on lead guitar, vocals, mandolin; and Toivo Plit on keyboards.

Despite the years, Sebastian Hardie remains loyal to symphonic rock, delivering an album with extensive instrumental passages full of captivating guitar melodies and outstanding keyboard atmospheres, combining classical music, blues and jazz infused progressive rock. Toivo Plit contributes a wide palette of keyboards, including electric organ, epic mellotron and synths. Meanwhile, Mario Millo uses mesmerizing slide guitar, wah wah and other creative guitar effects.

Sebastian Hardie released two excellent albums in the mid-1970s, Four Moments (1975) & Windchase (1976). They disbanded in the late 70s. The band reformed a few times for special occasions. Getting Sebastian Hardie together again for Blueprint was no easy task. All the musicians had their separate careers and while the majority still lived in Sydney, drummer Alex Plavsic was based in Queensland, about 1000 kilometers from Sydney.

Uplifting and delectable, Blueprint is an expertly crafted new album by one of the significant masters of Australian progressive rock.

Music samples and MP3 downloads:

CD available from http://shoponmarsmusic.com

Andalusian Prog Jams

Imán Califato Independiente - Edición Especial 30 Aniversario
Imán Califato Independiente

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario (Aristillus, 2006)

Imán Califato Independiente, the legendary Andalusian progressive rock band celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2006 with the release of a collection of live recordings. Although Imán only released two albums, they were a favorite of the rock festival circuit in Andalusia (southern Spain) and other parts of the country. While the studio albums were more structured, the live performances featured extended pieces in jam rock fashion, combining symphonic rock, cutting edge fusion, blues, Flamenco and Arabic music influences.

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario contains music extracted from long forgotten tapes recorded during Iman’s live performances. Drummer Kiko Guerrero and sound engineer Pepe Almadana kept these tapes in their archives. Thanks to the persistence of music fans, these recordings made in 1978 and 1979 were recovered. For the first in many years, progressive rock music fans were able to experience Iman, during its golden era.

The album features 2 jams, ‘Improvisación atmosférica’ (atmospheric improvisation) and ‘Improvisación 1-B’ and two well-known pieces that never made it to the studio: ‘Tema de Abdu’ and ‘La forja de los Tarantos.’

Musicians featured include the core band members Kiko Guerrero on drums and percussion, Manuel Iman on guitars and vocals, and Marcos Mantero on keyboards. The band’s first bassist, Iñaki Egaña, appears on tracks 2 and 4, and Urbano Morales, the secnd bassist, is featured on tracks 1 and 3.

The CD booklet holds vintage photos, detailed information about the band and biographies of all the musicians.

Edición Especial 30 Aniversario brings back the live magic of one of the most original and influential progressive rock bands in Spanish history.

In The Mist of Morning

Nordagust - In The Mist of Morning

In The Mist of Morning (Karisma KAR054, 2010)

Norwegian band Nordagust is a rising talent in the area of symphonic progressive rock. They are inspired by Nordic mythology and are characterized by a dark, slow-tempo sound with somber vocals, heavy use of grand mellotron, Nordic folk instruments and wailing guitars.

The name of the band Nordagust originates from Nordic mythology. It was the spirit of the north wind, said to be exceptionally knowledgeable, and was believed to have understanding of all things. The life-force was also called “the grieving souls spirit”. The founders of Nordagust are very interested in Norse legends and its connections with Scandinavian folk music. Even though the band uses primarily electric instruments like guitars, keyboards and bass, Nordagust also uses the beautiful kantele, a folk zither primarily found in Finland.

Like many of the northern European prog bands, Nordagust has some elements of formulaic heavy metal, with guitar riffs that drown out the mellotron and are totally unnecessary. Dark and brooding atmospheres are certainly possible without the use of metal. Case in point, Norwegian folk singer Unni Løvlid. When Nordagust uses more creative non-metal guitar, it really shows great potential.

The band featured on In The Mist of Morning includes Daniel Solheim on guitars, keyboards, kantele, mandolin, lead vocals; Ketil Berg on drums, percussion and vocals; Knud Strand on bass; Jostein Skjonberg on keyboard, flute, vocals; Sissel Os on keyboards and vocals; and Guro Strand on guitar and keyboards.

Highlights of the album are ‘In the Mist of Morning’, the kantele-rich ‘In The Woods’ and ‘Frozen.’

Nordagust’s debut album In The Mist of Morning shows great promise and will please fans of dark and mellotron-driven progressive rock.

Alberto Rigoni’s Rising Bass

Alberto Rigoni - Rebirth
Alberto Rigoni

Rebirth (Nightmare Records, 2011)

Italian bassist Alberto Rigoni shows his masterful bass technique in a solo album titled Rebirth that incorporates a wide range of musical influences and genres.

The album opens with a fusion piece titled ‘Free’ with fine work on the bass and Federico Solazzo’s keyboards emulating Return to Forever. Track 2, ‘Rebirth’ is a graceful solo bass piece, where Rigoni showcases his talent in constructing bass melodies.

The solo bass work continues on ‘Story of a man’ with exquisite overdubbed bass lines and interplay. Rigoni is joined here by fellow bassist, renowned American bass virtuoso Michael Manring. Track 4, ‘The Net’ gets a little more experimental seeking the world of electronic music.

‘Emptiness’ is a hard rock song, with vocals, of little interest. ‘A New Soul’ brings back more of the outstanding overdubbed bass melodies. Michael Manring returns to provide another session of ebullient dueling basses.

‘With all my forces’ is the other heavy rocker on the album.

‘Ontogeny’ features a full electric ensemble, playing masterful progressive rock and fusion with more outstanding keyboard and bass work.

The final track is ‘White Shine,’ a delectable bass and piano.

Musicians featured on Rebirth include celebrated musicians: drummers Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree) and John Macaluso (Ark, LaBrie, Malmsteen); bassists Michael Manring and Yves Carbonne; Swedish vocalist Jonas Erixon (Alicate), guitarists Tommy Ermolli (Twinspirits) and Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios); keyboardists Federico Solazzo (Alexia), Andrea Pavanello (Centrica), Filippo Lui and Emanuele Casali (DGM, Astra).

In addition to his solo work, Alberto Rigoni plays bass for progressive metal band TwinSpirits and is founder of the electropop duo Lady & the Bass.

Rebirth is a luscious electric bass album with a colorful range of exquisitely crafted progressive rock, fusion and neoclassical sounds.

The Missing Fireflies Unearthed

Locanda delle Fate - The Missing Fireflies
Locanda delle Fate

The Missing Fireflies (AltrOck Productions, 2012)

Italian band Locanda delle Fate made one of the most beautiful progressive rock albums of the late 1970s, Forse le lucciole non si amano più (Polydor, 1977). At the time, CDs didn’t exist and vinyl LPs had limited time capacity so two pieces, ‘Crescendo’ and ‘La Giostra’ were left out of the album.

The Missing Fireflies has rescued these masterful pieces that had been forgotten. At last they’ve been recorded, using vintage instruments, giving them a classic symphonic rock essence that connects them to the Forse le lucciole non si amano più spirit. In addition to ‘Crescendo’ and ‘La Giostra’, the band has recorded a short piano piece titled ‘Sequenza circolare’ that will delight classic Italian prog rock fans. The last studio piece is a recreation of the magnificent ‘Non chiudere a chiave le stelle’ which originally came out in Forse le lucciole non si amano più.

The current line-up of the band features Leonardo Sasso on vocals, Oscar Mazzoglio on keyboards, Luciano Boero on bass and Giorgio Gardino on drums joined by two new members, guitarist Massimo Brignolo and keyboardist Maurizio Muha.

The rest of the album contains three live pieces recorded in 1977 by Locanda delle Fate’s classic line-up which included Leonardo Sasso on vocals, Ezio Vevey on guitar, vocals; Alberto Gaviglio on guitar, flute, vocals; Michele Conta on keyboards; Oscar Mazzoglio on keyboards; Luciano Boero on bass; and Giorgio Gardino on drums.

The Missing Fireflies is a phenomenal album that brings back one of the legendary bands of Italian progressive rock. Let’s hope that this not a one-time reunion and that the band puts out more of their masterful music.

The album is available from most of the usual progressive rock outlets.

Progressive Rock and Fusion Group BangTower Releases Series of Videos

BangTower bassist Percy Jones
Los Angeles-based progressive rock and fusion act BangTower is releasing several new music videos over the next four weeks in preparation for the upcoming 2012 BangTower tour.

BangTower includes renowned Welsh bassist Percy Jones, who was a member of legendary fusion band Brand X, a group he formed along with Genesis drummer Phil Collins. BangTower also includes Canadian guitarist, engineer and producer Neil Citron. Completing this trio of virtuoso musicians is Los Angeles drum master Walter Garces, who also plays with 1960s psychedelic rock band The Electric Prunes.

Eight of the latest BangTower music videos were made by Marc Rubinstein of the internationally renowned Pig Light Show, as a glance to elements of handpicked upcoming live shows currently being designed. These video releases contain all the tracks from BangTower’s famed 2010 album ‘Casting Shadows‘ on Declassified Records, produced by Neil Citron (who also participated as engineer) and Jon Pomplin. The holiday video ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ features a downloadable song Neil produced for the holiday season which is obtainable at no cost from the BangTower website.

Besides the eight videos from Pig Light show, a new music video of ‘BBA’, produced by Declassified.TV, has been released and is available in several formats. ‘BBA’ is ‘Casting Shadows‘s opening track. The video was shot during the recent tour preparations in Los Angeles with the ensemble’s founding members Neil Citron, Walter Garces and Percy Jones and a guest appearance by Los Angeles session musician Gary Crite on rhythm guitar and keyboards.

Listen to music clips and buy CD or MP3 downloads

Progressive rock, jazz-rock fusion, ambient electronic music and beyond