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Kev Rowland - The Progressive Underground Vol 1. Book - £12.99

Released: 3rd April 2019

Contrary to popular belief, progressive rock didn’t disappear with the advent of punk, and the lack of media support didn’t prevent new bands from forming and new music being created, it just drove it underground. It is hard to imagine these days, with everyone being permanently connected, but there was a time not long ago when communication was by word of mouth and letter. With no coverage by much of the media, it was down to fanzines and independent magazines to spread the word of what was happening within the progressive rock scene, what was being released, and who was worth going to see in concert.

Most of these magazines survived for just a few issues, while others continued for many years, all having their part to play in spreading the word. One of the most important during this period was ‘Feedback’. It initially started as the newsletter of Mensa’s Rock Music Special Interest Group in 1988, but when Kev Rowland became secretary in 1990, he determined to turn it into a magazine promoting music which often wasn’t being written about in the mainstream press. ‘Feedback’ soon became one of the key promoters of the underground progressive scene, and Kev one of the most well-known and popular reviewers. He also became a contributor to Rock ‘n’ Reel, as well as writing for the Ghostland website in the early days of prog on the web.

The world had moved on by the time Kev emigrated to New Zealand in 2006, at which time he stopped running ‘Feedback’ (which has just celebrated it’s thirtieth anniversary, now renamed ‘Amplified’). It was now possible to discover information about bands and releases through the internet and the many progressive rock sites which had been set up, and even the mass media had decided that maybe there was something in this prog thing after all.

But the period when Kev was running ‘Feedback’ was very special in many ways, a time that has now long gone. These books capture Kev’s reviews that were published in ‘Feedback’ between 1991 and 2006, with Volume 1 featuring artists A-H, written within the context of the period by someone who was very close to the scene. Along with the other two volumes in this series (which will also be available this year), this shines a spotlight onto a time when there were very few writing about the music in a constructive manner. Volume 1 has a foreword by Stu Nicholson (Galahad), and comments on the rear cover by Greg Spawton (Big Big Train) and Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon).

Finally, it is again possible to discover some great music from wonderful bands, and this should be used as a guide to expand collections and understand that prog rock really didn’t die, it just went underground.

Book, £12.99.

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