At the end of March 2011, Bill Nelson and the Gentlemen Rocketeers, along with one hundred plus guests, populated Studio A at Metropolis, West London, for a dynamite concert reminiscent of the Marquee club in its heyday. A blistering fourteen song set from the band, which covers much of Bill’s career to date, was the result. We’re delighted to present that set here on both CD and DVD, together with an interview with Bill and a sublime four track solo set as DVD extras.
This DVD of Ariadne is a 1978 film based on Filippo Sanjust’s Vienna State Opera production. The bustling Prologue is set in the backstage area of the mogul’s palace and the 18th century costumes fit neatly. In the opera proper, the stage is transformed into a very stagey desert island with an improbable set of stairs leading to the heroine’s cave, the action spilling over into the theatre’s side boxes at times. While there’s nothing particularly imaginative about the production, it never distracts from the main event–the music. Strauss was profligate in his melodic gifts, his ability to make a reduced orchestra sound big, and his wonderful obsession with the female voice, which yields many glorious moments in the opera. Lavish casting helps.
Very popular artist in Italy, both as a solo artist and as session musician, Mauro Pagani had a good solo career after leaving Premiata Forneria Marconi in 1976, tired of the long hard work on the road. In his early days as a musician, Pagani had played with Gli Araldi, JB Club, I Dalton. His love for the world music strongly emerged in his 1978 first album, simply entitled Mauro Pagani, featuring many of the best Italian musicians of that time, among which Area's members Demetrio Stratos, Patrizio Fariselli, Giulio Capiozzo and Ares Tavolazzi, PFM's old cohorts Franco Mussida, Patrick Djivas and Franz Di Cioccio, singer Teresa De Sio. The album is very far from his old band's works, with strong oriental folklore influences, but definitely a very good one.
The Moody Blues' resumed work together after a four-year hiatus and delivered Octave in 1978, which quickly became a hit but has also proved to be a very problematic album. Picking up where he left off on Seventh Sojourn, bassist/singer John Lodge generated a hit single (and also a solid album opener) with the surprisingly edgy (for this band) rocker "Steppin' in a Slide Zone." And Justin Hayward's "Had to Fall in Love," "Driftwood," and "The Day We Meet Again" – the latter their best album closer since "Watching and Waiting" – are also up to the standard one would wish for (and a bit of a surprise, coming in the wake of two major solo projects that should have depleted his song bag)…