Friday, November 14, 2014
Peter Banks' The Mars Tapes Rescues Long-Lost Empire Recordings
Banks broke-up Flash after the release of the band’s third album in 1973, releasing his solo debut album Two Sides of Peter Banks later that year. Banks evidently suffered from a restless muse, because after releasing his solo album he formed Empire with singer/songwriter Sidonie Jordan (nee Sydney Foxx, and Banks' future wife). Fronted by Jordan’s powerful, bluesy vocals, Empire released three albums during the mid-to-late 1970s before dissolving into obscurity. The band’s albums (simple titled Mark I, Mark II, and Mark III) never received U.S. distribution, and would subsequently become coveted collectibles by rabid prog fans.
For long-suffering Banks fans that have been looking for new music from the underrated artist, Gonzo Multimedia has released The Mars Tapes, a two-disc collection credited to "Peter Banks Empire" that rescues a treasure of long-lost Empire recordings. The album features unreleased material culled from the band’s 1979 rehearsals for their Mark III album. The band was rooted at Mars Studio in Los Angeles for six months while working on the album, recording almost everything they played for posterity, resulting in the wealth of unheard music represented by The Mars Tapes. Empire at the time included Banks and Jordan, keyboardist Paul Delph, bassist Brad Stephenson, and drummer Mark Murdock.
In a press release for The Mars Tapes, Murdock says “the Peter Banks Empire ship set sail against the ever-changing music world, and was uncompromising in producing a range of material with Peter Banks’ ‘Signature Guitar Sound and Style,’ while incorporating themes of the time period in which the band existed and also reliving the past by playing songs from the early Empire catalog and even a Yes version of ‘Something’s Coming.’ There are various tracks on The Mars Tapes that also represented a ‘Work In Progress,’ which were both instrumental and vocal orientated. Empire was anticipating to make some big waves in the music scene, but the waves never reached the shore – until now!"
If you're a prog-rock fan unfamiliar with the six-string skills of Peter Banks, you owe it to yourself to find out more about a guitarist that sits alongside legends like Robert Fripp, Steve Howe, and Steve Hackett in terms of talent and influence.
Related content: Flash (featuring Peter Banks) In Public CD review
Buy the CD from Amazon.com: Peter Banks Empire's The Mars Tapes