Peter Banks rare recordings see light of day

A collection of rare Peter Banks recordings has been released a year after his death.

The guitar icon who made his name with Yes and Flash was known as ‘the architect of prog.’ A collection of studio rehearsal recordings from his Empire III sessions at Mars Studios in Los Angeles in 1979 is out now via Gonzo.

Peter Banks Empire: The Mars Tapes is available in a 2CD set and features raw recordings of the band taken direct from the control desk.

Banks – who died from heart failure in March 2013 at the age of 65 – formed Empire in the early 1970s along with singer Sidonie Jordan. The collection includes bonus track Sky At Night featuring Phil Collins on drums and Jon Giblin on bass. It also includes songs that never made it on to any Empire release until now.

Drummer Mark 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. It incorporated themes of the time period in which the band existed and also reliving the past by playing songs from the early Empire catalogue 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.”

The Mars Tapes tracklist

Disc One

  1. Out of Our Hands 2. Medley: (a) Foundation (b) Destiny © Far Away 3. Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bar and Grill 4. Do What You Want 5. Dancing Man 6. Where Yes Means No

Disc Two

  1. Off With The King’s Head 2. Something’s Coming (West Side Story) 3. The Fall of The Empire 4. When The Banks Overflow 5. Ascending To The Planet Mars 6. Sky at Night (featuring Phil Collins)

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.