GLASS HAMMER – Untold Tales ; Rare and Previously Unreleased Studio and Live Recordings from 1993-2017
To celebrate their 25th anniversary, US progsters GLASS HAMMER are releasing “Untold Tales – Rare and Previously Unreleased Studio and Live Recordings from 1993-2017“, featuring previously unreleased or hard to find recordings originating from the early ’90s to 2017, and as such features both current and former members of GLASS HAMMER.
The album features six original songs which had never been released or performed before, a re-recording of a previous Glass Hammer song, three covers, two tracks previously released as part of little-known collaborative albums, and the recording of a live performance.
All thirteen tracks are listed based on the year of their original recording.
When a band releases an album of ‘Previously unreleased tracks and more..’ it often only appeals to the completists among the fanbase and doesn’t tend to draw in new listeners or fans who have only started to like the artists later in their career.
So, what would Glass Hammer’s “Untold Tales” give us, I wonder? Starting with songs from 1993 and concluding with a live recording from 2017, it promised to be something a bit different from the usual archive offerings.
“Untold Tales” offers the listener a sizeable chunk of never heard before Glass Hammer music. It opens with a couple of interesting instrumentals, ‘Shadows Of The Past reworked in 2008’, Fred Schendel reworking the opening track off ‘Journey Of The Dunadan’ using techniques unavailable on first release in 1993 and it has a suitable cinematic soundscape to its orchestral magnificence.
‘Infusion’ is a piece of music originally released on the album ‘Love Changes – Featuring Glass Hammer’ by artist Tracy Cloud. There’s a pared back, ethereal wonder to the three minute instrumental with its haunting piano, flute and keyboards and stylish bass playing.
The heady ‘Identity Principle’ is one of the standout tracks on the album and is pure Glass Hammer. Steve Babb literally found this song hiding on a backup drive. The band were never quite satisfied with the mix on the ending. They recorded a new performance of the ending which matches up very well. Thus, this track was recorded in the early 90’s and just a while ago. A wonderfully involving track with great vocals from Walter Moore and an elegant guitar combining really well.
Glass Hammer appeared at Progscape ‘96 in Baltimore, Maryland and performed the classic Argent track ‘Hold Your Head High’. This studio version was certainly recorded around that time, probably in 1997 and is quite a bombastic version for a band noted for their Elfin lyrics and music.
One of may favorites is the the excellent ’80s synth-rock of ‘Eiger Dreams’, a charismatic and compelling track that bears comparison to Asia or Saga. If you have seen the band’s ‘Live At The Tivoli’ DVD then you may recall this is the opening track. Included here is the never-before-released studio version recorded (or at least mixed) in 2008.
Now onto another favorite on the album, the band’s cover of the Beatles track ‘It’s All Too Much’ is great slice of prog-rock infused classic rock music that has you rocking in your seat with its energy, dynamism and hooks. The song was recorded during sessions for ‘Three Cheers For The Broken Hearted’ in 2009. It was used as an encore piece for a few live shows, but never released.
A track that I can only really describe as ‘Glass Hammer do Sabbath’, ‘Troll’ is dark and deliciously dangerous full of fuzzy guitars.
‘Cool Air’ is an enigmatic and serious track which seems to have some real tension bubbling underneath featuring YES’ Jon Davison’s vocals, while The Impulsive Type is a more straightforward rock infused track and reminds me of Frost* or even Rush with it’s catchy chorus, edgy, staccato guitars. There’s Neil Peart playing drums so you can tell Rush’s influence.
The album closes with a fantastic live rendition of ‘No Mans Land’ (from the 2016 album ‘Valkyrie’) recorded at The Camp House in May 2017. fan favorite from its first release, it is utterly involving and enthralling as a live track and finishes this stellar collection on quite a high.
“Untold Tales – Rare and Previously Unreleased Studio and Live Recordings from 1993-2017” isn’t just another archive release for those completist fans. Absolutely not. It’s an excellent collection of rarities that has lots of appeal, both to the dedicated Glass Hammer fan, and those new to this exceptional outfit, a group of musicians who are definitely one of the best progressive rock bands around today.
01 – Shadows Of The Past 2008
02 – Infusion
03 – Identity Principle
04 – Hold Your Head Up
05 – Babb’s Bach
06 – And Then She Sighed
07 – Eiger Dreams
08 – It’s All Too Much
09 – Troll
10 – A Grain Of Sand
11 – Cool Air
12 – The Impulsive Type
13 – No Man’s Land Live (Live)
Steve Babb – keyboards, bass, percussion, vocals
Fred Schendel – keyboards, guitars, drums, percussion, vocals
Kamran Alan Shikoh – guitars (10-13)
Aaron Raulston – drums (13)
Susie Bogdanowicz – vocals (8, 13)
Walter Moore – vocals, drums (3, 4)
Jon Davison (Yes) – vocals (11), backing vocals (10)
Carl Groves (Salem Hill) – vocals (12)
Laura Lindstrom – vocals (6)
David Wallimann – guitars (7)
Matt Mendians – drums (7)
David Carter – guitars (4)
Randall Williams – drums (11)
Neil Peart – drums (12)
Jon Michael Babb – sound effects (11)
Allison Savard, Kaytie Mitchell, Kendra Roden – girls choir (6)
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