Spirit Of Unicorn (label)
24 November 2023 (released)
24 November 2023
John Wetton was one of the most lauded British musicians throughout his long career as a member of Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, U.K., Wishbone Ash and co-founder, singer and principal songwriter of supergroup Asia.
On top of all this, he found time to record and release several solo albums and these 6 are celebrated in this new box set. There are a number of bonus tracks and 2 CDs of rare and previously unpublished live and studio material.
Starting out as a bass player to avoid any contention with his brother’s classical career, he became a multi-talented player and songwriter and was highly influential across the Prog and Melodic Rock genres.
From 1980’s ‘Caught In The Crossfire’ all the way through to 2011’s ‘Raised In Captivity’, his music is categorized by his powerful bass lines (often using the infamous Chapman Stick) and his clear and forward baritone vocals.
To an extent, the music is ‘of its time’ and you can clearly hear the progress of music over the 30 years that these albums scan but what is clear with every track is the sheer musicality of the man. The music transcends style or date and is remarkably listenable to today.
He had many top musicians working with him for these albums – the likes of guitarist Martin Barre (of Jethro Tull), drummer Simon Kirke (of Bad Company), as well as saxophonist Malcolm Duncan (of Average White Band) all worked with him on ‘Caught In The Crossfire) while Robert Fripp, Steve Lukather and Simon Phillips also feature on other albums.
I was surprised by how well much of this material has stood the test of time. The standard of playing has a lot to do with it but a lot of credit must go to the songwriting itself – not exactly AI generated pop-mulch.
There is a lot here but with the nights drawing in there is no better time to absorb some superb music – one of the best collected works I’ve heard recently.