Porcupine Tree – Stranger By The Minute
Posted on Mar 17th, 2008 by Alan @ 10:03 am

stranger.jpg

I’ve let the frequency of my posts slip again, haven’t I? Mitigating circumstances are that I was away from home for a week, but I really must do better – I posted hee haw for a week and a half before I went, which is pretty poor really.

And what better way to start a “must do better” than with a bit of Porcupine Tree? I think I’ve done pretty well so far in controlling the urge to post the whole of Stupid Dream (I’ve only covered Pure Narcotic and Piano Lessons up until now) – that album is so frickin’ good every single track deserves to be showcased. But my hope is that once you’ve heard two or three tracks you won’t be able to stop yourself clicking on the link below and buying a copy for yourself.

If Pure Narcotic and Piano Lessons weren’t enough, here’s another taster.

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Steven Wilson in Guitar World Magazine
Posted on Jan 8th, 2008 by Alan @ 2:49 pm

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Porcupine Tree – Heartattack In A Lay By
Posted on Dec 17th, 2007 by Alan @ 4:43 pm

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Jeez, not another Porcupine Tree song? Get over it!

This sounds great in any format, but it’s one that DVD Audio is perfect for. Even if you’ve not got a DVD-A player, it’s worth getting hold of the disc just to hear this in surround sound.

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Porcupine Tree – Every Home Is Wired
Posted on Dec 3rd, 2007 by Alan @ 9:42 am

signify.jpg

Some earlier Porcupine Tree than I normally post… this one is from the 1996 album “Signify”, and for me is one of the first hints of the direction the band were to take after their earlier progressive / space rock sound. The harmonies and layered vocals in this track were to be continued on later albums, which are built more around conventional songs than albums like 1995’s “The Sky Moves Sideways” for instance. The lyrical theme of “Every Home Is Wired” is one that they’ve returned to also, in particular the lines “Modem load and failsafe; electric teenage dust; hit the solvent keypad; start the neural rust” would not be out of place on their latest record “Fear of a Blank Planet”.

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Porcupine Tree – Shesmovedon
Posted on Nov 30th, 2007 by Alan @ 12:53 pm

shesmovedon.jpg

One of the oddest re-recordings ever. Porcupine Tree orginally released “Shesmovedon” as a single to promote the 2000 “Lighbulb Sun” album, and then re-recorded it for inclusion as a bonus track on their 2005 album “Deadwing”. But not on all versions of that album – the main Amazon listing is for the version without this song. The link below is for the version complete with this track (and some video content if I remember correctly)

And no matter how tempted you are to spend £79.99 on a second hand copy of “Lightbulb Sun”, do try and contain yourselves! I believe a re-issue of this, complete with a 5:1 audio mix, is scheduled for 2008. It is a fine, fine album and worth the wait (many would argue that it’s also worth eighty quid, but they’re the kind of band that attracts that kind of obsessive fan!)

What’s most bizarre about these are that the two versions are almost identical – the re-recording is ever so slightly faster, and some of the bass runs and drum fills are more elaborate (Chris Maitland was replaced on drums by Gavin Harrison in 2002, prior to the release of “In Absentia”) Other than that I’d struggle to spot an significant differences.

I’ll also dig out a live version of the track to complete this post later, as that’s the way I prefer to hear it. The live band line-up features a second guitarist, John Wesley, who also adds his distinctive vocals to the sound.

2000 version (from “Lightbulb Sun”)

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2005 version (from “Deadwing”)

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Live version (from a bootleg of the band’s show at the Fillmore, San Francisco, 25th November 2002)

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Porcupine Tree – Piano Lessons
Posted on Nov 12th, 2007 by Alan @ 8:00 pm

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Porcupine Tree – What Happens Now?
Posted on Oct 9th, 2007 by Alan @ 12:18 am

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Porcupine Tree recently released an EP called “Nil Recurring”, which consists of four tracks from the Fear Of A Blank Planet sessions which didn’t make the album. I’m always skeptical when a band says that the tracks that didn’t make an album are as good as those that didn’t, but in this case they’ve got a point.

The final track of the EP in particular is as good as anything that made the final cut, and it’s also something I think is about as representative of Porcupine Tree as any other single track I could choose – so it’s ideal for sharing with PT newbies. In fact, the intro sounds more like No Man (Steven Wilson’s previous band) than anything PT have done in years… the pace then picks up and reminds me of the Lightbulb Sun era, before ending up in the heavier, darker feel of the last couple of albums. This is an incredibly complex track but it’s apparently on the setlist for the current US dates – it’s difficult to imagine this ever being played outside of the studio, but I guess I’ll hear it for myself when they play the Barrowlands in December.

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Nil Recurring is only available from Burning Shed at the moment – either as a CD, or as an MP3 or a FLAC download.

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John Wesley – Your Round
Posted on May 17th, 2007 by Alan @ 12:10 pm

John Wesley

I first saw John Wesley playing live as the support act for Marillion in about 1992. He was previously their guitar tech, and as I understand it got the gig when the original support band pulled out at short notice. As Marillion were scratching around looking for another opener, their guitarist Steve Rothery said “What about John? I’ve heard some of the stuff he’s written and it’s pretty good” so they gave him the job. I think he was still doing his guitar tech duties on that tour so he must have been pretty knackered by the end of it! Anyway, I was really impressed with his performance that night, for a guy standing on stage on his own with an acoustic guitar he seemed to impress most of the people in the Barrowlands Ballroom. So I grabbed a copy of his CD (“Under A Red And White Sky”) from the merch stand – and was even more impressed when I listened to the studio versions of the songs.

And then I kinda forgot about the guy for about 10 years. The CD still made it into the player from time to time, but as I’d heard nothing about him other than his guitar work on Fish’s “Fellini Days” album, I never really thought to look for any more of his stuff.

But in 2003 I heard Porcupine Tree for the first time. I’d heard of them for a few years, but my preconception (mainly from their name, but also from the fact they were pretty popular among Marillion fans who tend to have pretty dodgy tastes!) was that they would be beardie weirdie prog rockers, which really isn’t my scene. But then I heard that amazon.ca had made a booboo with their pricing of “In Absentia” and were offering the DVD-A version for 99 cents. About the price of a Mars bar. With postage, about the price of a pint. So I ordered it. When it arrived I stuck it in the DVD player and almost flew back into the wall when the guitars from “Blackest Eyes” kicked in! I loved the whole album, and now own everything by them that isn’t out of print and trading for silly money on eBay. But back to that day – as I picked my jaw back off the floor and leafed through the inlay booklet, I spotted that some of the guitars on “Blackest Eyes” and the backing vocals on several tracks were by Mr Wesley. I found out later that he had first met Steven Wilson while working with Fish, so maybe I should have read the inlay booklet for Fish’s “Sunsets On Empire” CD a little closer – a lot of it is co-written by Steven Wilson, and he contributes guitars and keyboards to it as well. If I’d known that my preconceptions of Porcupine Tree might have been a bit different!

Anyway, I’ve seen a lot more of John Wesley since then, as he’s a regular member of Porcupine Tree’s tour line-up, who I would crawl over broken glass to watch. Thankfully I haven’t had to do that yet, although if it was an option I’d maybe choose it over lining Ticketmaster’s pockets.

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You can check out more of John Wesley’s back catalogue here

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Steven Wilson – BBC 6 Music Interview
Posted on May 10th, 2007 by Alan @ 6:29 pm

Steven Wilson

A half-hour interview including three tracks from the new Porcupine Tree album “Fear of a Blank Planet”. I’ve deliberately set this as a low bitrate file – get your hand in your pocket and buy the CD, you tight bampots.

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Okay, you don’t have to spend real money, click here, get your credit card out and put it on the never-never.

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Porcupine Tree vs MIA – .3
Posted on May 2nd, 2007 by Alan @ 6:42 am

Welcome to one of my favourite things – the mashup. To quote Barry Cryer on “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” it’s one old song to the tune of another (as opposed to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical, which is another old song to the tune of several million).

Sorry about not posting for a few days – I was away at The Wallaces’ (as opposed to The Wallace’s!) wedding at the weekend and I’m just catching up now. At that wedding, in fact, the DJ played the non Porcupine Tree portion of this song at one point… a real floor emptier!!! It’s “Galang” by M.I.A. – and I’m not ashamed to say I’m way too uncool to have ever heard of them in my puff. This creation was put together by someone called Aggro1, and is a real beauty.

I’ll let the music do the talking. I’ve got a bunch more mashups on the Mac at home so I’ll post some more of them over the next few days.

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This blog is intended as a way to spread the word about music I really like, and encourage others to support artists who are making great music. "Try before you buy", if you like. If you hear something you like here, go and buy it - I'll post links to online shops where you can buy each track I blog about.

If you're reading this and you are the artist, or their record company, and you don't want a track I've posted to be available to hear in this way just email me and let me know - I will be more than happy to take the file down straight away. I've heard of other bloggers getting threatened with letters from lawyers, and there is absolutely no need to waste your money on that with me!