Ever – 2018 Remix, 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Giant ELECTRIC Pea Neo-prog stalwarts’ 1993 rebirth overhauled with live CD and extras.
If the neo-prog movement had a darkest hour, it probably came at some point in the early 1990s. Even the best and brightest of the class of ’83 had found their major label deals going sour, radio and TV exposure had fallen off and rock was cutting its hair and getting grungy or discovering ill-fitting dance beats.
For IQ, the period with PJ Menel as frontman hadn’t produced the commercial or creative breakthrough they had
AN EMOTIONAL CORE ENDURES, ENHANCED BY MIKE HOLMES’ REMIX.
hoped for, and although original vocalist Pete Nicholls had rejoined in his place, Nicholls later recalled, “We’d reconvened the band as a group of friends, as much as anything.”
On a purely personal level, too, there were no shortage of setbacks. In the years leading up to the creation of their 1993 album Ever, bassist Les ‘Ledge’ Marshall died suddenly, and both Nicholls’ and guitarist Mike Holmes’ fathers passed away. So it’s little wonder that Ever had a melancholic feel running through it. Yet it’s this emotional core of the record that endures as we revisit it 25 years later, and Mike Holmes’ new remix enhances its resonance further.
Little touches make a big difference, such as the doomy vocal sample that introduces the second section of Fading Senses being brought out of the mix, while the sharp crack of the snare drum throughout the original album is no longer so obtrusive.
The first and last tracks still make great bookends, and an embryonic version of one section of aptly titled opener The Darkest Hour is added on here as Lost In Paradise, replete with samples of bleak news broadcasts and radio dialogue. Came Down remains a beautiful ending to the record as Nicholls asks, ‘When we set adrift half-forgotten lives, will the madness still be there?’ The alternative solo from Holmes on the bonus version of it equals, if not improves on, that of the original.
The second CD contains a crisply recorded, robustly performed live rendition of the album in full, with Holmes’ guitar sounding particularly sprightly, and then disc three provides a Beatles Anthology-style array of extra artefacts. Some are lo-fi recordings of rehearsals, some just demo ideas, but they do illuminate the development path of key elements such as the hypnotic central riffs to Fading Senses and Further Away.
Meanwhile, other morsels, from the insistent keyboard riff of Echo Song to the undulating synth figures and croaky, vulnerable vocal of Waltzy Song, suggest the band had plenty more material in reserve as they set about helping to reverse their fortunes, and those of prog in general.