The Prog Collective

Purple Pyramid, 2013


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


I’m just going to say it: Billy Sherwood is the Kevin Bacon of progressive rock.

The Prog Collective feels, in many ways, like the fulfillment of Sherwood’s destiny. Over the last 25 years, Sherwood has gone from prog fan, to prog bandleader (World Trade), to sideman/producer for prog legends Yes, to Yes member, to producer/maestro of all-star prog tribute albums (Back Against The Wall, Return To The Dark Side Of The Moon), to co-founder (with original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye) of modern proggers Circa. At this point, Sherwood is within two degrees of just about anyone in the known prog universe.

Which is exactly the reality exploited to great effect by the two Prog Collective albums to date—they place Sherwood at the center of a galaxy of prog stars and set him loose to do his producer/songwriter/maestro thing. Epilogue finds many of the “usual suspects” from the loose ensemble’s self-titled 2012 debut still present, with some fresh faces added as well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The track-by-track pairings—all built around a foundation laid by multi-instrumentalist Sherwood—are just as unique and interesting this time out. Opener “Are We To Believe?” is among the most densely packed—and effective—cuts here, featuring Colin Moulding (XTC) on lead vocals, legendary Canterbury scene guitarist Steve Hillage, keyboard solos from Rick Wakeman (Yes) and sax and flute by Mel Collins (King Crimson, Alan Parsons Project). A second highlight finds Sherwood co-writing a tune referencing a Pink Floyd classic (“Shining Diamonds”) with guitarist extraordinaire Steve Stevens, and populating it with Alan Parsons on lead vocals, Patrick Moraz (Yes, Moody Blues) on keys and Chris Squire (Yes) on bass.

Other tracks pair the likes of John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia) and Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater), or Steve Morse (Kansas) and the man who replaced Sherinian in Dream Theater, Jordan Rudess. Fellow Yes-men Geoff Downes, Tony Kaye and the late Peter Banks also make appearances. Sherwood features bandmate Kaye on perhaps the best tune on the album, the rangy, often beautiful multi-part suite “Just Another Day,” a co-write between Sherwood and Gentle Giant guitarist Gary Green. The album finishes in style with an otherworldly reading from Captain Kirk himself, no doubt a side effect of Sherwood’s producing and composing music for William Shatner’s recent Ponder The Mystery album.

All of the songs are written and produced by Sherwood, with just the two co-writes mentioned above, which is perhaps the one place where Epilogue falls short of its potential. As a producer and composer, Sherwood has a distinct sound that he favors, big and echoey and super-clean, with muted drums and processed vocals, and lots of minor-key melodies that flow wonderfully, but rarely break out. The key to the Prog Collective’s success is that while Sherwood is the glue holding the enterprise together, his guests—especially Stevens and Green—bring their own individual musical perspectives that generate fresh sparks and variety.

Epilogue is a fun ride, a slab of dreamy, often-gorgeous prog rendered by a diverse crew of masters of the genre, orchestrated and produced by one of its most passionate proponents.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Purple Pyramid, and is used for informational purposes only.