John Young
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John Young

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"John Young Band Live"

John Young Band -
Live at the Classic Rock Society 2003
John Young Band - Live at the Classic Rock Society 2003
Country of Origin: UK
Format: CD
Record Label: Heritage Records
Catalogue #: HR007
Year of Release: 2003
Time: 56:30
Info: John Young
Samples: Click Here

Tracklist: Significance (4:40), When I Was Young (5:02), Just One Day (4:41), All Grown Up (4:26), Underside (6:55), Unknown Soldier (14:20), Childhood's End (8:29)), Open Skies (4:04), Kings (3:51)
Ed's Review

John Young is an artist for whom I have a lot of respect. Besides being a very nice guy to begin with, he must also be one of the biggest strugglers in the prog rock scene. John has been a much asked session musician, playing and composing for well-known acts as Greenslade, Bonny 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' Tyler, John Wetton, Fish and The Scorpions. Since the late nineties John has also been releasing demo and home recordings of his own solo work, some of which have been reviewed by DPRP (Life Underground (the demos), N.C.V., A Young Persons Guide ... and Significance). In the meantime John continued playing solo gigs as support act, at festivals and seedy venues around the nation, dragging his mini disc player with him as a back-up band. Most of this went by unrecognised by the major public, especially those outside the UK, which is a real shame because John's qualities as a composer, keyboard player and vocalist are outstanding. Some of the best songs on Wetton's Arkangel album were co-written with Young and I've always felt that Fish' Fellini Days could have been so much better if Fish had chosen John Young as his main writing partner instead of John Wesley.

John's compositions are a cross between keyboard driven prog rock and high quality AOR, resulting in splendid songs full of emotions, power and excellent melody hooks. Still, there is a certain limit to a man playing along with a mini-disc player or drum computer so after releasing his Significance album, John decided to put together a band and take the material on the road with a beefier sound. The lads joining him were no strangers to us prog fans: Robin Boult (Fish, Howard Jones) on guitar and vocals, John Jowitt (I.Q., Jadis) on bass & vocals and Dave 'Squeaky' Stewart (Fish, Camel, Deacon Blue) on drums and vocals. The band started rehearsing in December 2002 and throughout 2003 the struggle for recognition continued with many gigs, often playing for just a handful of people. Late 2003 John Jowitt decided to leave the band because of other priorities (IQ, work) and was replaced by Steve Vantsis (Fish) which makes the current line-up for the John Young band almost identical to Fish' backing band in recent years.

John has often voiced his frustration with the current music business where throw-away one-hit-wonders make up the charts and quality rock music is not supported by the big labels. This makes his struggle all the more fascinating and if there's one person I'd wish more success John would be the one. His music certainly isn't the problem, as can be heard on this recording of a gig for the Classic Rock Society in February 2003 (unfortunately another one of those gigs where the artists has to say 'thank you' first before getting applause). This CD therefore includes the wonderful talents of Young, Jowitt, Stewart and Boult, performing some of John's best material, with an emphasis on the Significance album (5 out of 9 tracks).
This recording shows that John's music really comes to live when played by a full band. Jowitt adds various warm bass lines and backing vocals, Boult some roaring guitar solo's and David a solid rhythmic structure. It certainly is the best thing I've ever heard John Young release.

There's quite a wide range of styles on this collection. Significance and Underside, for instance are wonderful atmospheric ballads with intelligent and critical lyrics. When I Was Young is an uplifting toe tapper, with a rather funky rhythm by Dave Stewart. Just One Day is a more straightforward pop song, but a very fine one at that. Especially the playful interaction between keys and drums is remarkable, reminding me of Pink Floyd's live version of Learning to Fly. All Grown Up is one of the favourites from John's earlier material and contains some of his best vocal melodies. Open Skies is a guitar-heavy rocker.
The more 'proggy' stuff can be found in the 14 minute epic Unknown Soldier (which contains some splendid emotional moments but would probably have been better as 2 or 3 separate tracks), the punchy Childhood End (which shows how tight this band actually is) and the dark and almost King Crimson-ish Kings.

To sum it up, this is a highly recommended album for anybody that likes good melodic music with prog rock influences (think e.g. Alan Parsons Project). Go out and get yourself a copy of this album. John really deserves a break and more recognition.

Bob's Review

Until just a couple of years ago, the name John Young had almost totally eluded me, save knowledge of his involvements with Greenslade and John Wetton. However since then I have become more and more familiar with his music, having reviewed John's last two albums for DPRP and in the process becoming a bit of a fan. 2002 saw the release of the excellent Significance, a thoroughly enjoyable album, that still enjoys regular spins in my CD player. At the time of the review there was talk of a mini-tour to support the album, and I remember remarking on how the material might adapt to the live stage. Well I can tell you - very well indeed, in fact it has breathed new life into many of the compositions.

Ed has covered the line-up chosen for the the mini-tour and also for this particular concert, so I shall not retread the same ground. I would, however, just like to pass a brief comment on the musicians, who have all gelled so well on this recording. The songs have taken on a new dimension, and a slightly less produced sound has been replaced with a passionate, almost "studio crafted" performance. The recording is crystal clear and all the instrument sounds are well mixed (although I did feel the keyboards could have been a touch higher throughout - a mute point perhaps). I was also pleased that John still undertook those solo's from Significance that I feared might have moved onto guitar - .

As I wrote in my review of the Significance album, what we had here was a strong album full of well crafted songs - well what makes this release from JYB so interesting is the added dimension that these four musicians have made to those songs. Granted there is "live" feel to the tracks, although this is an extremely polished performance, and granted that the sound has been beefed up, but what most intrigued me was how more "proggy" all the tracks have become. It is not there on Significance studio album, therefore, it can only be the influences of Messrs Boult, Jowitt, Stewart and Young. Given their backgrounds and band involvements perhaps not surprising but still a very welcome slant to the music.

The more dramatic and presumably "proggier" material is concentrated towards the second half of the show, with Unknown Soldier taking centre stage. A track I had not previously heard before, but with fourteen minutes of concisely written melodies and themes, is definitely one of the more emotional songs from the CD. Most impressive here was the restrained, solo work from Robin Boult. Following from this is the more up-tempo Childhood's End, an un-released track from A Young Person's Guide. A delightful song and a great rendition of it is played by the band. The dynamic of the track reminded of the stronger material that appeared on Asia's first album - very catchy, very melodic and very memorable, oh yeah, and excellently played. Open Skies sees our last visit for the evening to the Significance album, with this bouncy, grooving and ever tense track. The evening's performance concludes with another unknown track for me, the excellent Kings. Again following in the footsteps of the proceeding track, this intense "guitar riff" driven piece, with it's strong rhythmic vibe from Dave Stewart and John Jowitt - in a sort of King Crimson plays Are Friends Electric offering. Kings concludes this CD, although the concert included two encores, which are not featured here.

Music needs more guys like John Young, for not only is he a fine musician, composer and session player, but one not afraid to voice his dissatisfaction with the current state of the music industry. Personally I agree wholeheartedly with his views as it saddens me when I see guys like John (and the many other gifted musicians/bands I hear on a daily basis) who, not for the want of trying are unable to gain recognition for their work. Ermm - I shall leave this sore issue alone at this point and wish John every success with this current release.

If your taste in music encompasses well written and arranged melodic songs with a healthy portion of progressive ideals thrown in, then check out the MP3's on John's site or better still - buy the CD!

Conclusions:

Ed Sander : 8 out of 10
Bob Mulvey : 8+ out of 10 - DPRP


Discography

Life Underground (singer/songwriter) LP
Significance (singer/songwriter) LP
John Young Band Live (Live Band recording) LP

Scientific Breakthrough (new-classical CD) LP
Political Agenda (new classical CD ..includes CNN theme) LP
No Commercial Value (ambient CD) LP
Dot Com Explosion (electronica CD) LP
Indian Summer (World CD) LP
Cool Jazz (Jazz CD) LP

John has also written & recorded with John Wetton, Jon Anderson, Bonnie Tyler, Fish, Greenslade and Batisti.

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Bio

Experience could be the key factor ...after spending many years touring with world famous bands and writing for other class acts such as John Wetton, Fish and even one of the classical C.N.N. theme tunes for Iraq!
What's missing in my opinion these days is the passion that music can create with meaningful lyrics seemless melodies and captivating chords.
If you'd care to check out our myspace page it will hopefully convey these feelings far better than i can in words alone.
Suffice to say we feel you will not be dissapointed .
It appears to work as in our first year on myspace we've taken on 20,000 friends.
To list all the achievements of John and the band would be a fairly lengthy and boring experience so just head for the myspace page enjoy the music and then when you've booked either the band or the solo act ...we can chat about it over a lemonade!