Ever – 2018 Remix, 25th An­niver­sary Col­lec­tor’s Edi­tion Gi­ant ELEC­TRIC Pea Neo-prog stal­warts’ 1993 re­birth over­hauled with live CD and ex­tras.

Prog - - Intro - Johnny Sharp

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


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.

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