Interview with ROB REED and PETER JONES + Cyan – For King and Country (Album Review)

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For the past two decades the band Magenta has built a solid reputation through their top-notch live shows and catalog of studio works. At times celebrating classic prog terrain and at other times pushing new horizons, Magenta have established founder Rob Reed’s passion for prog even as he has explored other musical projects such as Chimpan A, Kiama and his Sanctuary series. However, before the inception of Magenta there was another color that Reed had painted, a project-of-sorts called Cyan. Releasing three albums in the 90s – the first being originally written in the mid-80s – Cyan was never a proper band but rather more of a solo project with Reed covering most everything himself on the debut album. As such, few have been aware of Reed’s formative years as a prog artist. That’s about to change. What could have remained as a curious historical prelude to the band Magenta has now been resurrected, re-imagined and recreated. Cyan are coming home, not as a Reed solo project but as a full-fledged band with some of the best in the business.

To find out more about the band’s origins and bring us up to date on their present and future plans, Sonic Perspectives decided to talk with the two primary men involved: celebrated singer Pete Jones and the Cyan man himself, Rob Reed. Below is the transcription of our insightful and enjoyable interview, followed by a review of the new album in question: Cyan’s 2021 version of “For King and Country”.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT BELOW

Hi Rob and Pete, great to have you with us. Let’s start by asking Rob to give us some background on Cyan, as fans of Magenta and his other projects may not be as familiar with it. How did Cyan first get started?

Rob Reed: Well, it’s got a connection to Magenta. But first, we go back into the olden days. When I was in school in the sixth form, my first band I was in was Cyan and we formed it in the last year of school and we wanted to be a Prog band, we wanted to be Genesis and Yes. We made a real cheap demo with like four tracks on it, sent it around to few people and heard nothing. And about six months later, I got a letter from Nick Barrett of Pendragon, and he viewed the tape and really liked it and passed it on to SI Music in Holland. And they came back and said, Oh, we love this demo, can you make an album? But by that point, all the people that were in the band with me had all left school. So I was forced to make the record on my own. So I played terrible guitar on it, synth bass, synth drums and worst of all, I sang it! But it did really well at the time, and this was in the nineties. And so I made a second and third album and we got a singer in. And then I was making a fourth Cyan album and I’d also been doing a pop duo with Christina, the singer from Magenta. We’d sort of been battered going through the pop industry and we’d had enough. So I thought, I wonder what this would sound like if Tina sang it? She sang it and I thought, Oh my God, it sounds amazing! And that is how Magenta was formed. The first Magenta album “Revolutions” was meant to be the fourth Cyan album, but it sounded so good with Tina singing it that I just thought, Let’s go with it. I was a massive Renaissance fan. And to me, it sounded like early Renaissance with Tina singing it. And the rest is history, really with the band. So these three albums sat on the shelf, really. So about 10 years ago, I put some real drums on it because there’s drum machine on the original. And I kept going back to these original recordings, but I couldn’t get anybody to sing it. And I tried a few singers. For me, singing is everything on records. You know, you can fake everything else, but the singing you can’t cheat. So I was waiting for somebody special to come along to sing it! [laughs]

Enter Pete! So, Pete, did you know about Cyan? Have you known about them for years or is this relatively new to your ears as well?

Pete Jones: Well, Chris Jones, who is Rob‘s unofficial right-hand man, was telling me about the Cyan stuff not too long after I signed up with White Knight Records, which is Rob‘s company. So that would have been about 2016, something like that. And he sent me a couple of tracks and then I think later on, he sent me a couple more. I don’t know whether it was his sort of idea for me to sing because I had a few things on, so we weren’t sure whether I was sort of up for it or not. It was great stuff and also I’d heard some of the stuff from the other two albums as well. So I was definitely aware of them but when Rob asked me to do it officially, which I think was back in 2018, I was really up for it cause by then I’d heard the new versions and it was just fantastic. I mean, personally I’m still someone who’s recording with synth bass and a drum machine myself! [laughs]So I’m not too worried about that. But there was something fantastic about these new recordings and obviously knowing that Luke was going to be involved as well. And it all sounded top-notch. It’s great when you get songs sent like that and they’re all ready, and now you just put your vocal on and you already know it’s going to be good because you’ve heard the track already.

This project has one of the longest timelines I think I’ve ever heard of! It was written in the mid eighties originally, right, Rob?

Rob Reed: Yeah. right.

And then it wasn’t until the nineties that it was first recorded. And then even now…just fill in a little more of the timeline for us, because it sounds like Pete just said in 2018 he started tracking vocals. And I imagine maybe you brought Luke in when you were working with the band Kiama, or how did that timeline work?

Rob Reed: Yeah, that’s how Luke came in, really. I put real drums on it about 10 years ago and it sat on my hard drive. And then Chris, our friend said, Let Pete sing on one track, so we did that. And the moment I heard it, I thought, This is amazing! And then I was doing the project Kiama with Luke and I said, Luke, I’ve got this stuff that Pete sang on, do you fancy putting some guitar on it? I’m a huge It Bites fan. I love the songs and the arrangements, so I said to Luke, Could you come in here and you can do your thing on it, and so he played guitar on it and again, the whole thing went up another level. So then I got a girl singer called Angharad Brinn. She’s a brilliant female singer. And she sang on some of my solo albums so she came in and her voice compliments Pete‘s. So every time I was adding these layers, it was just getting better and better. And the record’s been sort of finished for about two years, really. Almost, but I’m always tinkering with it until the release date! But I didn’t want to release the record until we could get together to shoot all the videos. I wanted to make the first video a 15 minute epic, the opening track of the record, with all of us performing that. And it was only like about two months ago that we could actually get everyone in the same room! I didn’t want to have a soft release on it, so I wanted everything in place like the video, photographs, promotion. And even though the songs do date back to 1984, 85, there’s a great innocence on these tracks. They were written with no pressure from fans or record companies or reviews. I only made it because I enjoyed it. And I think that comes through on the music and there’s something that I wish I could get back that sort of youth and positiveness and fearlessness. So it’s been great to sort of revisit it and to rewrite loads of it as well. Cause I listened back to it now with 30 or 40 years of knowledge of songwriting and production, to fix all the mistakes on it, in the arrangements. I thought like, we can do this now that we’ve got Pete singing, he can go louder or quieter, and up into the top range which I know he loves to sing [Rob and Pete laughing]. So it’s been really good to push and to get it right. I wouldn’t change anything on it now. It’s just something special.

That’s a brilliant feeling. And so Pete, did Rob guide most of the melodic vocal lines, or did you come up with your own flare and spin on things as well?

Pete Jones: Well, most of the tracks had Rob‘s guide vocal which will be on the bonus deluxe box set [laughing].

Rob Reed: No, don’t you dare!

Pete Jones: So, that was absolutely a great guide and you know, a lot of times Rob has written for obviously Christina and of course, Steve Balsamo who has such a vocal range that he can get way up there! So it’s almost like Rob has been writing for the female singer in mind cause that’s what he normally tends to do. So there were a few moments where I thought…hmmm… You know, I’m going to have to…what’s the phrase…

Rob Reed: Go on! [laughing]

Pete Jones: I’m going to have to…reach for this one, you know, gotta tighten the screw somewhere! [laughing]I mean, there were challenges, but I mean, that’s great, it’s actually helped me when you do stuff like that and you work out a way of doing it, and then you can sort of add that to your bow. As far as the material, you’ve got the experience and the additions that Rob has made over the years and it’s a lot more carefully crafted. If you compare the two side-by-side, you can hear all the bits that aren’t there on the original. It’s quite a journey that it’s made in terms of that. So I just knew people are going to love this record.

Speaking of rewrites, let’s get into that a little bit. I was kind of surprised when I went back and listened to the original in some places. Like on the new version, “Call Me” is such a great obvious choice even for a single. And then you go back and you listen to the original, there’s no vocals on it whatsoever. It was an instrumental originally!

Rob Reed: [laughing from Pete & Rob]Well, that song in particular has gone through various changes. Originally, back when we were in school, there was a singing melody on it! But it sort of disappeared over time. It was my brother who wrote some of the lyrics on this album, and he was the singer originally in the band! And he writes most of the lyrics on the Magenta albums. And so it was about fixing the arrangement mistakes, really. And knowing that I had such a good guitarist and vocalist to be able to write some new bits and sort of solve the puzzles on the track, which I think we’ve done.

Pete Jones: I think part of the appeal and something that I think you can’t overstate the importance of enough, is the fact that you’ve got these epics, like “For King and Country” and “The Sorcerer” and “Don’t Turn Away,” but then you’ve got these songs that probably could be played on Radio Two or whatever. You’ve got that level of accessibility, which even in the midst of Prog, you need something for people to sing along to, and hook lines as well, which is really important. And I think that’s a good mix on this album of those two aspects.

Yeah, Magenta had that as well. When you came out with The Singles, there were some amazing pop/Prog tunes there that that’s something like “Call Me” fits right in that vein. You can almost imagine Christina singing it right alongside Pete.

Rob Reed: Yeah. It might actually happen one day! But I think the best Prog, or the Prog that I like, is all about the songs. As I said, the vocal is number one and number two is the song and the melodies. All that instrumental nonsense is like, anybody can do that if you practice hard enough. It’s writing the songs, that’s the gift that you wait to come down to you into your fingers, the chords, the melody. And you go back to bands like Genesis, they were pop songs, everything was pop songs. Even Supper’s Ready is like six or seven pop songs sewn together. And that’s what I do in Magenta. I would write a verse, chorus and the bridge. Then a big electric guitar solo in the middle, a big guitar solo at the end, and I’ve got a prog epic! And you get the best of both worlds on this record, it’s Prog with a capital P but there’s still songs. When we did Magenta, Prog was a like swear word. Everyone hated Prog in the early 2000s. But you fast forward 20 years and everybody wants a bit of it and everyone’s waving the flag of Prog. I look in the Prog magazine now and there are loads of heavy metal bands and indie bands. They’re not Prog in the traditional sense. I know there’s a massive argument about what is Prog and all that nonsense, but I just love great songs, lovely arrangements, emotional peaks and troughs.

You were writing this album so early on. You mentioned Nick Barrett was an early fan, which is amazing because look at the trajectory of Pendragon after that time, after he contacted you and heard it, their career had so many more decades after that. So when you were looking back, throughout the past decade, as you were starting to rerecord this, how was that for you going back to the early-to-mid eighties? Did you get almost a visceral sense of a young Rob Reed then, with those visions and writing those pieces of music?

Pete Jones: Yeah. That’s exactly what it was. And when I listen to the tracks now, like “Call Me“, I remember and I can see it visually. I sat at the piano in the school hall in the six form just before assembly in the morning where everyone was going to sing hymns, I wrote, “Call Me” on that piano. I remember doing it. And the same, I remember being with a mate in his living room writing “The Sorcerer“, you’d come up with a riff and I’d write the chords. So it was just a great time and all I dreamt about was being in a Prog band, either being in It Bites or Pendragon or Genesis. And there was no sort of dark thought like: will it fail or will anybody like it? What are reviewers going to say? It was an amazing time, really. And rerecording it just takes me back to all that.

And all that you have accomplished since then. I remember the only time I’ve seen Magenta play, cause I live in the States, I saw you play at the RosFest festival and you mentioned being a huge Renaissance fan and didn’t Annie get up on stage and sing a song with you?

Rob Reed: Yeah, we did a single with her, and that was an amazing show, it was our first time in America. And, it was just brilliant, we had a great time. And again, you didn’t know how people were gonna react to it, the same as when we did the first Magenta record. I didn’t know if anyone would like it, it was a really bad time to release it. I just said I’ll make a double album, four songs, Prog and go for it.

Pete, your voice is popping up in so many places on all these different albums, maybe for a song here, maybe for an album side there. And of course you’ve got your own projects. So how are you viewing your trajectory of your career right now, as now you’re the lead singer of Cyan, but you’re also such an amazing instrumentalist as well? I think you are playing saxophone on this album, too?

Pete Jones: Yeah, that’s me. It’s funny actually, because I played sax on Cocoon on the very first Tigermoth Tales album. And then after that, I just didn’t really. The sax didn’t seem to come up for the subsequent six albums after that! And then I started getting asked, like when I was in Camel I told them I played sax and I ended up playing for them. And then it was a couple of people started asking. It’s also lovely to be seen as a sort of a sax player because when you play a lot of instruments…well, for me, there’s the keyboard, which is obviously my main thing that I’m considering myself to be best at. With the other instruments you tend to feel sometimes that I’m just sort of, I’m a stowaway. I’m sort of waiting for someone to say, Well, he’s not really a sax player, is he? He’s a keyboard player who just plays a bit of sax. So it’s nice to be asked specifically for the sax as well. So that’s nice. And as for my trajectory, I’ve just got to keep juggling stuff there. There’s a new album in the making from Red Bazar and also there’ll be something new from Tigermoth Tales in the pipeline. And then with Cyan, I think we’ve got to get the live gig out of the way first. I don’t know what the plans are after that, but I’ll certainly be very happily involved in whatever Rob wants to do. Just a matter of trying not to burn the candle at both ends as, as they say. During lockdown, when there was no gigs happening, it was kind of fun to be able to just get on as many things as possible, which is kind of the result of what’s happening at the moment! But I really still pinch myself sometimes to think, I can’t believe this. If I ever thought to myself when I was trying to make it – when I’d been trying to make it for sort of 15 years and nothing was happening – If I’d ever thought to myself, What’s the most likely thing that’s going to sort of boost your career and actually make you into some somebody that gets a bit of recognition, making a Prog album wouldn’t have been my answer if I’d asked myself that question! So yeah, I still feel very lucky.

Rob, who is the drummer on the album and who’s the drummer on the live gigs? I’ve seen Dan’s name on the bass but you haven’t officially announced a drummer.

Rob Reed: Well, as I said, the drums were recorded back 10, 12 years ago for this album, when I was working on, uh, some of the early Magenta albums. So I used Tim Robinson who played on the first three or four Magenta albums. He did it. He just came over and did it in two days. He had no idea what it was all about and all that, but he just played so well on it. I didn’t want to change any of it. It’s lovely and sounds great. But then when we came to do it live, I spoke to Tim and he had moved on from all this stuff. He’s teaching and stuff. So the obvious candidate to me was to use the rhythm section from Magenta, which is Dan Nelson on bass, who plays on the album and Giffy Griffiths that plays with Magenta now. So that’s the lineup and we’ve got our first show in four weeks, four weeks away. I started learning it and it’s breaking me at the moment because I haven’t done a gig for about two years. And this is the first gig in and it’s we played the whole album end to end. And I listened to it and I think, Why did I write all those keyboard solos? Why did I use a hundred tracks of keyboards on this album? Cause I got to play it live! So it’s a bit of a roast, really. But it’s going to be fun.

In a live context will Pete be playing either additional guitar or keyboards?

Rob Reed: He’ll play everything! Everything! Drums, bass, you know! [laughing]I desperately wanted Pete to be the singer in it because I’ve seen him in so many other bands where he’s surrounded by so many keyboards, guitars and sax and everything. Right. And in the Cyan videos it’s great to see him just sing it, you know? So I think, I think we discussed a little bit, I think Pete‘s going to play a bit of guitar and obviously sax. But obviously, you can play it all better than us!

Well, it’s even fun just watching The Sorcerer video to see what you chose to mime-playing on the keyboards when there’s actually a lot more going on in the background of the studio recording…I’m just watching, I’m watching your fingers saying, Oh, he chose to do THAT line and ignore those other keyboard parts.

Pete Jones: [lots of laughter]Oh! Well, that’s some dedicated viewing there!

You mentioned Genesis before and so I am always interested when someone takes a well-known song title like “Snowbound” and then makes it your own. Was there a reasoning, a connection between the two songs there?

Rob Reed: [laughs]I mean, it must have been influenced by it. I don’t know why we were so blatant as to lift the title of it. But, um, I think when we did it, I think someone put a video of people skiing and stuff to it. Cause it’s quite a sort of crazy track, it’s quite fast and, you know, manic. And I think we just called it that. I think it was more the musical ideas that were definitely influenced by Genesis.

In listening to the lyrics of “Man Amongst Men”, in the past decade here in the States gun violence has just had a huge rise with all these incidents. So I’m wondering if that sort of changing landscape impacted you at all as you rerecorded “Man Amongst Men”, which of course deals with an act of gun violence.

Rob Reed: That’s a sort of strange song where the lyrics have undergone a lot of rewrites on that, and sorting out. When I wrote the lyric on that back in the day, no one quite sort of knew what it was about. Cause it was so badly written. I think Pete sort of came in and sorted it out so it made more sense to people, so they could actually understand what it was about. But at the time when I was writing it, it was more sort of like the Battle Of The Epping Forest in a Genesis kind of vibe with its characters and stuff. But as you said, in today’s climate it’s kind a bit of a reality, unfortunately. It was a lot more innocent when it was written…he was more sort of a Maverick and tongue in cheek, but it’s undergone a lot of rewrites to make it work.

And of course there were two additional Cyan albums after For King and Country. Do you think you’re going to be revisiting some of that material as well? Or what do you think the future might hold for Cyan?

Rob Reed: In an ideal world, I’d love to do a lot more shows with Cyan and recording-wise, if anything, the songs were even better on the second and third albums. There’s some great songs on there that, given this lineup, would go through the roof. On the third album in particular, there’s some great songs. So they are there, ready to be cherry-picked and to be redone. But I think with the songwriting capability of the members of the band, I’d love to write something new. Possibly we do both old and new, cause I’d love to write new ones, because me and Pete have never written anything together. It’d nice to sort of hand Pete an unfinished track and say, Here you are, do what you want with it, and then he could hand me something. It’s such a great lineup.

With you reconnecting with Luke now, do you think there’s ever a future for Kiama or do you think that was a one-off?

Rob Reed: Again, that was a great lineup when we did it. The idea of that band going back to the sort of 70s rock and prog like Rainbow, Queen and Led Zeppelin was really good. But it was a timing thing where one member of the band had something else to do, so he couldn’t do it and then when he came back another member didn’t have time. And it sort of fell apart, really.

Pete Jones: You’ll just have to stick to your seven or eight projects that you’re doing at any one time.

You’re a fine one to talk!

Pete Jones: [laughs]Set myself up for that, really!

Rob Reed: What’s nice for me is that I’ve done Magenta for 20 years and I love it and that will carry on. We’ve just been to Peter Gabriel’s studio. And actually Pete came down, we did an EP with Magenta and Pete came down the weekend and play sax on a track. So that was an amazing experience.

Pete Jones: Yes, it was a fantastic day, just being in the hallowed studios. It was just fantastic. Because I’ve been there with Camel to rehearse a few years back, but to go back there and be in the studio and watch Magenta sort of laying the track down and watch it come from nothing into something. And then doing my little bit as well, which is great to be involved in it.

Well, you threw me for a loop there for a second, Rob, when you just said where we were at Real World and Pete came down, I was thinking you were referring to a different Pete for a second.

Rob Reed: [laughs]Oh! No, the real Pete – Pete Jones!

Until you said he played sax, then I was like, wait, wait a minute. Okay, I see.

Rob Reed: No, he wasn’t there! He was there the week after, but we missed it.

And Rob, I see that you’ve now announced that Sanctuary Part Four is actually The Ringmaster part one, is that right?

Rob Reed: Yep. Yeah. That’s coming out. I just like having to have these different things, it cleans my musical palette so I can do like Magenta and then I can go into the Sanctuary stuff, which is completely different, and then do the Cyan stuff, and then I can go somewhere else to an electronica album or whatever. It allows me to come back to, whatever band I come back to sort of enthused. If I was just doing one project all the time, I’d get so bored by the end of doing a project. So the Ringmaster is coming up in October. I’ve split the record so that they’re coming out in two parts, one in October and one in December. Cause I hate long albums and I have like a hundred minutes of music and I thought, no way am I going to inflict that in one go. I wanted to have like 45-50 minutes, really enjoy it, want more and then not have to wait two years for another record!

And Pete, did you just get to perform this past weekend?

Pete Jones: Yes. Yes, I was at the HRH festivals on Saturday and Sunday with Tigermoth Tales which is the first gig we’ve done since February last year. So yeah, it was a great way to bounce back, so to speak. I think someone said there was about 400 people, which for me at a Prog gig is loads of people. It was just great to come back and to play songs like “Still Alive,” which obviously was very topical at the time and still is to a degree. To get the audience singing along, we sort of had them sing along to this particular part and it felt like I was doing “Hey Jude” or something. So yeah, a real buzz from doing that. And of course there were some fantastic bands on as well. Frank Carducci and Colosseum, The Enid, Mostly Autumn and all these fantastic acts. Great to see people enjoying live music and great to be able to get out there and do it.

“For King And Country” Album Review

Now that we’ve heard from Reed and Jones, let’s explore this new album ourselves. What stands out immediately is the consistency of the material and the mastery of the musicians. While a degree of re-writing has taken place for this upgraded version, there is plenty of proof available that Reed had some serious talent even as a teenager, penning the original material while still in school. Those moments that still were awkward or “didn’t work” in the first go-around 30 years ago have largely been corrected and improved so that it can stand confidently alongside most other contemporary prog albums, if not an inch or two higher.

And what of those musicians? Luke Machin relentlessly appears to defy the laws of guitar physics, his fluid and inventive guitar runs elevating the material to the extraordinary. Simply put, he’s one of the best. Dan Nelson proves himself to be a great match for this style of music, too, with engaging bass lines which support Reed’s and Machin’s licks. As we’ve learned from the interview, the recorded drum tracks are a decade old, delivered by Tim Robinson even though Jimmy Griffiths will perform them live and from here on out. Robinson provided great work in just a few days’ time and it’s a nice surprise to see his efforts finally come to light. Reed’s talent almost needs no additional mention, so consistent is his skilled composition, layering, performance and production. He is the bedrock around which everything else flourishes. And then there is Pete Jones, whose voice absolutely shines in this setting. As Reed has said, the number one priority is the singer – the voice – and in Jones, Cyan have a stunning vocal powerhouse which promises endless possibilities ahead for their future.

Most readers will have heard the first two singles released and thus already have a good sense of the approach of the album, as these are good representations of the entire playlist, not just cherry-picked gems. “The Sorcerer” enters as a full-on prog “single” at 15 minutes, a scorcher of an epic. The upgraded 2.0 version gains four additional minutes on its predecessor which is largely given to Machin during exciting instrumental passages where he and Reed sometimes trade solo runs. Yes, the lyrics are perhaps “too prog”, with tales about King Arthur and wizards at this point being a true cliche of the genre. Despite that obvious critique, the music herein is just too fantastic to give much of a care, and Jones’ voicing transforms even trite lyrics into beckoning gems of storytelling. As he opens up a new section singing “Hatred and fear will die, open your mind,” the prog-lover can’t help but be sucked into the fervor and swoon. Orchestral strings balance out the rocking organ solos provided by Reed, along with his signature lead synth playing. His younger teenager-self would have been delighted to hear how far this creation has come.

In addition to long-form pieces, Magenta always had a knack for writing shorter pop ditties that packed a surprising punch, as evidenced by their excellent “Singles” collection. We see where that talent came from via these earlier Cyan songs like “Call Me” and “I Defy the Sun”, shorter pieces that are instant ear-worms and yet retain a flourish of musicality that satisfies. If the trio version of Genesis worked for you, it’s hard to imagine not digging these examples of fine songwriting, especially when Machin lends his hands, offering “Call Me” a glorious final couple of minutes both on the electric and acoustic. “I Defy the Sun” is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, backup singer Angharad Brinn providing a nice balance to Jones’ lead as they deliver an uplifting message of love. Reed plays an intriguing blend of 70s and 80s keyboard choices while Machin continues doing what he does best.

A couple of instrumentals also pop up which deliver just as many thrills even without Jones at the mic. He still gets into the action, talented multi-instrumentalist that he is, on sax, flute and goodness knows what else…the man is legend. Nelson serves up inventive bass lines, especially on “Snowbound” (no, it’s not a Genesis cover), bass always being an important aspect in making this Prog with a capital P. Meanwhile, “Night Flight” (no, it’s not a Zep cover) sees Robinson really pounding the skins as we travel through different styles, from acoustic latin-tinged guitar playing to Jones taking a great sax solo to Machin’s fretboard flights of fancy.

A few mini-epics are included to sweeten the deal even further. “Don’t Turn Away” may be the best of the lot, offering a grand symphonic run for nearly half of the song before Jones comes in with the first verse, delivering one of the best melodic lines of the album. The extended “Man Amongst Men” has a lot going for it musically through multiple sections, including more stratospheric soloing from Machin, beautiful female vocals from Brinn and energized bass playing courtesy of Nelson, though the storyline still feels somewhat unclear. Finally, the title track serves up an almost-anthemic closing with a more focused subject matter. Jones once again delivers a convincing performance as he belts out “I hear the battle cry, fight on, fight on for King and Country!”

As an initiation to his future life as full-time musician, Reed’s writing on “For King and Country” is quite impressive. As a full-throttle 2.0 version 30 years later, it can stand proud as one of the best of 2021. It’s taken quite a journey to get to this point, but it’s been worth the wait. We can only hope that Reed not only gives the same treatment to some of the high points on the subsequent 2 Cyan albums but that this incredible band also writes new material together. They may even give Magenta a run for their money. Apparently, whichever colour Reed chooses to paint ultimately turns to gold.

“For King and Country Tracklisting:

  1. The Sorceror
  2. Call Me
  3. I Defy The Sun
  4. Don’t Turn Away
  5. Snowbound
  6. Man Amongst Men
  7. Night Flight
  8. For King and Country



9.0 Excellent

2021 sees the old 90s band Cyan transform from a Robert Reed solo project into a fully rebooted all-star band. Re-imagined, re-written and re-recorded, this 2.0 version of “For King and Country” not only eclipses the original several times over but makes for one of the year’s most compelling releases in a “classic prog” vein. For fans of Magenta, Genesis, Unitopia, Southern Empire and more, this is required listening. Not only does this album reveal Reed’s early talent from a young age, it now establishes Cyan as a new force to be reckoned with.

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 10
  • Originality 7.5
  • Production 9.5
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