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Friday, March 05, 2021

Comic Cuts — 5 March 2021

Two of my favourite bands have announced new albums are to be released over the next couple of months, and I'm listening to a side-long track that features members of both as I write this, so I couldn't be happier.

As an old hippie-proggie-metalhead I listen to a lot of bands that are anything up to fifty years old—I kid you not. Hawkwind celebrated their fiftieth birthday and recorded a live album during their November 2019 tour. I saw them forty years earlier at Hammersmith Odeon when Dave Brock relaunched the band post-Hawklords with Huw Lloyd Langton, Tim Blake, Simon King and Harvey Brainbridge.

I was listening to their new album only the other day, made during lockdown and entitled Carnivorous  (an anagram of Corona Virus) and thinking that it's a bit of a return to form after a couple of iffy recent outings (The Machine Stops, Into the Woods, Road to Utopia).

Live, they're still a power to be reckoned with and hopefully they'll have a resurgence studio-wise. Gong managed it. Following the death of Daevid Allen they've put out two brilliant albums: Rejoice! I'm Dead! and The Universe Also Collapses, plus a box-set of remasters and old live recordings.

Big Big Train have a new old album due on 25 March — a remastered version of The Underfall Yard, released with new material recorded especially for a second disc.

And then Frost* have an all-new album, Day and Age, coming out on 14 May. Unbelievably, the last (third) Frost* album was released in May 2016, since when we've been teased with possible release dates for album four. Someone once said that the one thing you need to be a Frost* fan is patience. Also you have to be a bit of a detective, because they pop up all over the place. Their Soundcloud page is inactive, but there's a new website, Frost Life has appeared. You'll note that the new website reveals that the new album is due in February 2021. See what I mean about patience?

Transatlantic have just released their album and Mark Kelly's Marathon was released a month or two back, both good albums, and I also hear that Marillion are working on a new album. What can I say... like rats in New York, you're never far away from a decent Prog album.

The track that links Frost* and Big Big Train is, of course, the title track of The Underfall Yard, to which Jem Godfrey contributed a frantic keyboard solo.

You'll have noticed a slew of reviews appearing. Some of these were written a while back when I had hopes of getting BAM! out in November last year. But as Christmas approached, it seemed smarter to leave it to the new year. Then it took longer to resolve some technical problems than I imagined it would, revamped the Bear Alley Books website, revamped my Amazon seller account, set up a Lulu shop, started writing and indexing again for future articles... and then realised that some of those reviews were getting more and more out of date.

More reviews will be appearing over the weekend and into next week. Can I say that I thoroughly enjoyed taking a couple of days off just to read and scribble notes. At one point, I even decamped from my chilly office and sat in the living room with a pen and paper, with music videos playing in the background. That's close to how I imagined my life would be as a writer. I didn't imagine I'd be this broke, obviously, but I'm not far off my perfect life.

When I realised yesterday (Thursday) was World Books Day, it reminded me that my first book came out in 1991, so I have been publishing books for thirty years. I don't know how many I've done, because it's tricky working out what counts: I've edited and co-edited quite a few books along the way, and written many others that might be classified as chapbooks rather than full-length titles. I think the last time I counted I'd published about 80 books, and written nearly 1,600 features, the earliest published in 1981... so forty years ago!

Better get back to the grindstone.

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