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Steve Thorne: Seeking the truth on Island Of The Imbeciles

He’s worked with some of the biggest names in prog and just like his hero David Bowie, he doesn’t shy away from reinventing himself. Prog speaks to Steve Thorne about his latest album, collabo

The Southampton-based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Steve Thorne has just released his fifth album, and he’s also initiated the self‑destruct sequence on a successful prog solo career.

He first made waves a decade ago with Emotional Creatures – a two-volume set that displayed strong songcraft and forthright lyrics dealing with thorny issues. It also included a stellar array of supporting talent hand-picked from Yes, King Crimson and Genesis alumni, to name but three.

“I took that as far as I could on Into The Ether,” confesses Thorne of his 2009 album. “I really went overboard on that. I was like a kid in a candy store with access to such great musicians, but I feel like I’ve done that now so I’m back down to basics.”

What he classes as basics for his final album Island Of The Imbeciles still reads like a letter to Santa from any prog musician – Nick D’Virgilio (Big Big Train, Spock’s Beard, Genesis) reprises his role on drums; King Crimson’s Tony Levin is back contributing bass and stick work to several tracks; Robin Armstrong of Cosmograf lends a hand – but in comparison to his previous albums, Thorne takes on the lion’s share of duties himself.

“A hell of a lot of it I’ve just done myself this time, which I always did, to be honest,” he reveals. “I’ve never made an album with Tony playing on every track – he’s only ever been on three on each album. I’d love to have been able to have him on everything, of course, but it’s all about budget so I took a lot of it on myself.”

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