'Topographic Tunes'

The radio show dedicated to Progressive Music!

 

 

 

Twitter: @topotunes Facebook: www.facebook.com/topographictunes

Also on MixCloud at: www.mixcloud.com/topotunes

 

Show presenter: Paul Truswell (aka Trussy) - contact: paul@truswell.org or message via Twitter.

 

Click HERE for a selection of shows recorded during the first half of 2017 (more to come!)

 

Scroll down below the album covers for show credits, playlists, featured artists and more!

Inspiration for Topographic Tunes...

 

...comes from Yes and their 'Tales From Topographic Oceans' double album of 1973. This radio show would not exist if it wasn't the profound influence of this and other amazing albums by Yes on show presenter Paul Truswell. Topographic Tunes is also dedicated to the memory of Yes founder member Chris Squire RIP 4 March 1948 - 27 June 2015.

(PT is proud to share the same birth date :)

Thanks Chris, your memory and your awesome bass playing live on!

Topographic Tunes

Co-producer/presenter Al Kennedy

photo credit: Nicki Vinall Photography

 

 

Show credits...

 

Credit must go to Topographic Tunes co-producer Mr Alisdair Kennedy (among other talents drummer and vocalist with west African drumming group 'Kontaani') for sharing his superior knowledge of the progressive music genre, for inspiration, his vast music collection, and also for encouragement to a newbie radio presenter!

 

Thanks Al, it is a privilege to share this journey with you :)

 

The good folks at Canalside Radio must also get a mention here because without them this show would never have got off the ground! Thanks especially to station manager Nick Wright, and Mark Blackman both of whom convinced a doubting Trussy that I could actually do this radio presenting malarkey! Thanks also to Trisha, Brian, Simon and all the other hard-working volunteers at Canalside without whom this show would not exist :)

 

Finally I should also say a huge thanks to my ever patient wife Janine, and to my 11 year-old son James, for giving me time to dedicate to this show and to Canalside Radio more generally. Progressive music isn't really their cuppa T but you never know what might happen!

 

Paul Truswell 25 February 2017

 

PT - with The Predators in 2011

Topographic Tunes

Producer/Presenter Paul Truswell

With Rick Wakeman in a fuzzy selfie back in 2008 at Shepperton Studios for the launch of 'Yes Acoustic'

How Topographic Tunes was born...

 

Firstly because, as mentioned above, in the mid seventies Trussy was under the influence! No, not of anything illegal or habit forming but under the influence of a band named with a very short but important word: Yes.  'Fragile' (loaned by my brother Steve) was the first album I heard; then 'The Yes Album'; then 'Tales from Topographic Oceans'; then 'Relayer'.  Note the conspicuous absence of the self-titled debut album 'Yes' and 'Close to the Edge'.  At the time I thought the covers were boring so I didn't buy them.  As a kid in his mid teens I invariably judged the wrapper first and the contents afterwards - nothing new there then!  Unbeknown to me I was becoming a 'Progger'!!

 

My very first album was 'Moving Waves' by Focus given as a Christmas present by my parents and I can remember being disappointed as soon as I heard 'Hocus Pocus' on it. My friend Dave Smith had the live version on 'Focus at the Rainbow'; that was the one I really wanted - the studio version was tame by comparison! I also had 'Focus III' (my first double before Topo Oceans) and Argent's 'Nexus' which was, I think, picked randomly by my parents for a birthday present. That was about the extent of my music collection by the dawn of 1976.  There were other bands that caught my attention namely Greenslade, again because of fab cover artwork and also King Crimson for the same reason; but Yes were always but always predominant - Chris's bass sound and playing style in particular inserted a hook deep within me that remains to this day.  Genesis caught my attention at the end of the seventies - when I had finally learned that perhaps one should consider the music as well as the package!

 

At the same time I possessed my first electric guitar and making embryonic steps into playing music in bands for myself.  That is a very long and potted history which I won't bore you with here!  The result of all this is that I listened to only a few bands but very intensely to each one.  It's not that I didn't have an appetite for more, it was more to do with a shortage of spending money!

 

PT (centre) on mainstage at Greenbelt; Knebworth Park; 1983.

 

Wind the clock forward 40 years to the autumn of 2016 and I find myself getting bored and increasingly frustrated by the day job (fixing computers) and at the same time was aware that my local Community Radio station was in need of some help. So it was on the morning of November 2 that I turned up at Canalside Radio 102.8FM in Bollington, Cheshire; some 14 miles south of Manchester, to see what I could contribute.  As always the real needs were in the back office hidden stuff, particularly when sat on a thin bed of revenue and a fast dwindling pool of volunteers; the chance to do a radio show was and is welcome but clearly just the icing on the cake; the cake needing the real attention.  That's how I became a newbie radio presenter - no experience in the industry whatsoever! 

 

Topographic Tunes number 1 was broadcast on 21 November 2016, being just about passable as a music show.  But the beauty of Community Radio, and one of its key aims amongst many, is to provide opportunities for people to 'have a go' who might not otherwise get the chance in the commercial radio sector. Some don't last long, some get on OK, some take to it like the proverbial duck to water (quack); I'll leave you and time to judge where I fit!  What became immediately apparent was that at the outset of this show, my head knowledge of progressive music, for all of the above reasons, represented about 1% of the genre.  I was going to have to do a lot of digging and leaning on others (most credit to Al Kennedy my co-producer) to make the show work.  What isn't at question is my love for prog rock; be in no doubt - I am a 'Progger'.  Maybe not fully fledged as I'm short of more than a few feathers; but hey, as you may have heard me say on air: "This is a learning journey" ...of the best sort!

Paul Truswell 13 April 2017

 

 

I recently asked this question: Music radio shows - what's the point?

As I choose content for the show week by week, and take new tracks to the station through production for air, I can't help wondering why, in a world of instantly accessible music, should anyone listen? After all anyone can go find new music, assemble a playlist and hit go - and have been able to for many years now, and don't have to put up with chat in between songs or annoying edits! (?)

So I ask again - What's the point of a music radio show? I can guess at a few answers; in my case listening to the newbie presenter make gaffs and mistakes might be one of them!

Back came this really helpful and interesting response from Progarchives Forum member Jul from New Mexico USA, presenter/producer of 'Progkast':

"The point? Three fold."

"One is when the presenter (in the US we call them "DJs") is musically intelligent and informed. I used to enjoy Greg Gillespie on the Deep Tracks station on XM Radio. I liked the banter in between songs, as he always had something informative and worth listening to."

"The second one is, new music. Sure anyone can find new music, but is it good? Personally, I'd rather someone with an ear dig through all that new music for me and tell me what's good, what's worth listening to... better yet, put it in a radio show so I can hear it and decide for myself (this is why I started Progkast). Radio shows are a great way to find new music. Radio has ALWAYS been a music promotion tool. Just because anyone can find music, download it and have the music they like, does not discount the importance of radio... or a radio show. In fact, individuals have ALWAYS been able to make their own, so called "playlist", I did it when I was a kid... it's called the "record" button. I'd been making my own "playlist" "mix" or whatever you want to call it since I got my first cassette recorder when I was 7 yrs old (suffice it to say, that was several decades ago!). So nothing has really changed."

"The third point, is the "live" factor. Even though many radio stations are automated, most are live during the morning or afternoon hours. There's something about being connected live that gives one a sense of... well,... connection... Much like Facebook... and one of the reasons why it is so popular."

"So to answer your question in one sentence... (lol), good presenter presenting good music and making a connection."

 

Many thanks to Jul and 'Progkast' - check out Jul's podcasts at https://soundcloud.com/progkast :)

 

Jul (aka Julie) is an ex-Freeform Radio DJ as well as Drummer, Classical Guitarist, music connoisseur/collector, and overall audiophile with an extensive audio and literary music collection.

 

Clarence Mill, Bollington - home of Canalside Radio 102.8FM

 

GIG REVIEW by show producer Paul Truswell...

The Neal Morse Band

performing

The Similitude of a Dream

on

THE ROAD CALLED HOME

tour at the

02 Ritz in Manchester UK on 08 April 2017

 

First the back story…

 

Two of things that I have come to associate with progressive music in recent years are big concerts and big ticket prices. As someone weaned on prog rock in the early 70s, and not being quite old enough to have seen the likes of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes et al in their embryonic and affordable days; being faced with high costs, not only to get in to mega venues, but also to get there and back living as I do some 180 miles away from London, has been, shall we say – somewhat annoying. More than that, amongst other very ordinary day-to-day factors which I won’t bore you with, and being involved in bands myself, the result has been that I have almost totally lost contact with the rock music ‘scene’ for over 40 years.

 

So why am I doing a concert review you might ask? Why someone who has been so ‘out of touch’? Answer: Because I have been asked to. That simple. As a volunteer at local community radio station ‘Canalside Radio 102.8fm’ and as presenter of a new dedicated progressive music show ‘Topographic Tunes’ I got in touch with The Neal Morse Band (TNMB) promoter (Bill Evans Media) and got to interview Neal before the show and also asked to write this review. For me, the many musical works of Neal Morse is a recent discovery, so I am now having to play catch up on a career already spanning at least 35 years – but what a time to discover! How? Unsurprisingly Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater was the link, the latter being featured in a ‘bass special’ edition of ‘Topographic Tunes’ back last February when my co-presenter Adrian Humphreys (@adebassman5) mentioned Mike’s involvement over many years with Neal Morse. My journey of discovery started, and shortly after I was trawling Amazon for TNMB albums starting with ‘Sola Scriptura’ and then on to the truly magnificent and most recent ‘The Similitude of a Dream’ (referred to as TSOAD hereafter) – an album that demands attention.

 

I needed to do more than buy the CD boxset – I needed to see the band and hear them live. Before knowing about TNMB’s scheduled concert on April 8 in Manchester, I had already recorded another ‘Topographic Tunes’ special for broadcast on May 8 (22:00 BST) including the whole TSOAD album, so the chance to go a month earlier on April 8 and interview the man himself was a no-brainer!

Adrian and myself were greeted on the venue balcony by a very chilled Ian Morse, and soon captured some interesting insight into the making of TSOAD whilst the three of us chatted for 10 or so minutes before the show – for the full story view the DVD included in the album! We could have talked for much longer but the needs of the engineers to complete checks for the show were respected, so we left and joined the punters already queuing outside.

 

…and now the concert story:

 

We had already seen the stage area and empty theatre before the interview, and I was struck by the simplicity and modesty of it all. The 02 Ritz in Manchester is one of a number of venues in the city with perhaps a couple of thousand capacity in addition to the big city arena and stadiums, but ‘mega’ it definitely is not – and certainly not what I had come to associate with the big progressive acts, of which, I thought, TNMB was one, but apparently not. How could a band whose personnel includes one of the world’s most ‘in demand’ drummers be playing in such humble circumstances? The questions remain unanswered (apart from obvious and obnoxious things such as cash flow), but who cares – we all know that concerts are best when you don’t need either binoculars or large video screens to see the whites of the eyes of the performers!

 

The show featured moments such as ‘drumstick tennis’ between Mike Portnoy across the stage to Eric Gillette (guitar), the ritual hanging of a sloth from Randy George’s bass, and some very Peter Gabriel-esque face masks donned by Mr Morse at various places in the show. But all this is flim-flam; the meat was in the music, and that shone out and showed why big arenas, big screens, massive light shows and other tech gimmicks are totally unnecessary for TNMB. It sounds a little crass but TNMB is all about the music and its effective delivery par-excellence; and that is exactly what we got from shortly after 7 to about 9.30pm. The vocals were a bit lost in the mix at times, especially in the first half but improved as the show progressed (must have been my fault for taking up too much of Neal’s time!) rising to a spine-tingling crescendo (yes even tears were reported among both sexes) as Pilgrim saw the ‘Broken Sky’ turn blue and complete his journey home. Make no mistake – this is very powerful stuff, and regardless of what you think about Mr Morse or Mr Bunyan, ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ will grab your attention, as it has been doing for generations past.

 

The sheer playing skill of these guys is breathtaking – just watching Eric Gillette’s effortless play at a rate of notes per second that most technologies would struggle to evaluate is enough. His guitar work is truly beautiful, maxed out to number 11. Then, if you’ve any ‘wonder capacity’ left to spare, it’s a matter of who do you move on to next? Randy George (bass) and Bill Hubauer (keys) are both exceptional. In some ways it would be better to just shut your eyes and listen, but then you miss half the point of being at a live concert; in this case Neal Morse is a very big part of that half. There is way way more to this man than his music and words – whether on keys or guitars or anything else he can grab, this annoying multi-instrumentalist rocker (see it from a humble no-vox bass player point of view like mine), delivers this very human story, threads of which can be seen in all of our lives, with conviction and power. He means what he sings, making the words of this commentary inadequate – one needs to consume and believe!

 

Highlights of the show (where do you start) have to be ‘City Of Destruction’, ‘So Far Gone’, ‘The Man In The Iron Cage’, ‘I'm Running’ and the magnificent ‘Broken Sky / Long Day’ finale but the audience noticeably rose to the clarion call of the ‘Freedom Song’ halfway through part 2 of the show with Mike Portnoy leaving the kit on just the one occasion to join the others at the front of stage (I was going to say ‘rising to his feet’, but Portnoy followers know that he always spends a lot of time playing in vertical mode) to deliver this country and western delight – not what you’d expect in the context of a prog rock masterpiece but much like my ridiculous obsession with venue size, it’s not the package that counts most with a message of mass appeal like Freedom!

 

I’m conscious I’ve not said a great deal here about the concert – in a concert review. That might be because my interview with Neal was the first professional interview I’ve ever done, and was understandably a little awestruck as the show started as a result; indeed this is only the second concert review I’ve ever done (the first being a Yes Full Circle July 2003 tour Birmingham and Liverpool review for Notes From The Edge) but the main reason is because the last thing I was wanting to do was take notes (necessary when your brain is pushing 60 years old) – photographs were hard enough! It is adequate to say that all involved in TNMB are at the very top of their game, and even the evidently blessed Mr Morse would be the first to accept that this mountain top moment will not last forever – or will it? That is for you to discover!

The Neal Morse Band

L to R: Mike Portnoy, Randy George, Neal Morse, Bill Hubauer, Eric Gillette