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One of the rewards for producing my books of reviews from ancient times is that I have got back in touch with some musicians I had lost contact with over the years, and one of those is Ken Senior. Although many may recognise his name from his time with Parallel or 90 Degrees, or the many albums he recorded providing vocals for Elegant Simplicity, for me he will always be Evolution. Evolution were unusual in that although he attempted to form a band at multiple times, it never really seemed to come to fruition, so instead he just recorded everything himself. But Evolution was never a multi-instrumentalist project in the normal sense, this was very much a band but with just one member. The first time I heard one of his tapes I was astounded to realise it was just one man, and during the 90’s I reviewed five of his tapes, which all led to Evolution’s ‘The First Signs of Life’ CD. Fast forward to 2017, and Evolution has become Evolve, and while Ken has been joined by drummer Grant Henderson, the rest is very much all him. These are all new recordings, but I actually know every song contained within, as they are all from the old days. In fact, one of them, “Shock of the New”, was played on Radio 1 back in 1987! The majority of songs on this CD actually featured on the Evolution CD, but “Future (Parts One and Two)” comes originally from the ‘Future’ cassette, and “Dominator” comes from ‘The Wind and the Wallows’ tape. How do I know this? Because all these years later I still have them! Listening to these songs again for the first time in many years simply made me smile. Ken never got the acclaim or publicity of the larger bands, partly because it is bloody hard to play prog when the band consists of just one person, so there were hardly any gigs at a time when the scene revolved around live music. But he never gave up, as can be seen by the amount of material he released, and here he is still going strong. This is neo-prog, strong solid neo-prog. Yes it sounds dated, but he has brought these songs back to life and brought in a real drummer (which was always my main moan back in the day, hated programmed drums back then and my opinion has never faltered). His influences are rockier bands such as IQ, Marillion and Pallas, with early Galahad thrown in for good measure as well as looking back to Genesis and Floyd and then bringing it all together in his typical Yorkshire style. Ken always struck me as one of the really nice guys around, never allowing his lack of critical success to stop him from pursuing his calling, and I always knew that when one of his tapes appeared in the post I was in for an enjoyable listen. Okay, so listening to the music now it does seem rather naive, but this is classic neo prog from someone who was there. The scene and bands may have moved on, but Ken is still playing as if it is 25 years ago, and that is absolutely fine by me. I doubt many people ever heard the original CD, and can guarantee even less have the tapes, but this self-released CD is a step back in time and will raise a smile to all of who were there, keeping the scene alive.
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