CHERRY RED RECORDS Out now
Limpidly beautiful guitar. Eclectic drops of world sounds (Arabic singing on track two). The gentle plod of seventies progressive rock. Many guitar tones. Vintage keyboards. Very fine musicianship, complex arrangements. Finger-rushing noodly solos. Rock riffs.
I knew nothing about Peter Banks. A founding member of Yes, a band who have never moved me, Peter was one of the revolving cast of members – but one who didn’t rejoin and leave multiple times like so many others. He left fairly early and pursued solo projects and led other bands (Flash, for example). He died five years ago and this compilation brings together reasons to remember his work. Some say, for example, that he laid the groundwork for the thing we know as progressive rock.
The first disc is a ‘best of’, for the curious and jumps about stylistically, with a few tracks from each release. Fade To Blue showcases some lovely acoustic picking and the album is a solid collection of a few tracks from each of his solo albums.
Disc two is an odd and sods collection of rarities, to grab the fans yet also where I’d start. It makes for a fabulously eclectic set, kicking off with a rocking version of the Peter Gunn theme. The styles swap and change but there is quite often a joy and energy above the tracks on disc one. A highlight is the twenty-minute long closer, which moves in and out of quiet spacey places and guitar styles, featuring some lovely acoustic guitar. It even gets a bit King Crimson in places.
When he signed autographs, Peter would sign off with “Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky…” and the title fits nicely to this first compilation of his career. If you’re a fan of Yes or early Genesis, you’ll love the first CD. If Prog sometimes leaves you cold but has its moments, you’ll enjoy the varied wonders of the second disc.