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The Solid Time of Change
September 23, 2012 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Yes's Close To The Edge (quite possibly, progressive rock’s defining masterwork) has turned 40.

Though they continued to produce beautiful, challenging, influential music [...] these forward-thinking Brits set an untouchable precedent during this fertile period, as ‘Close to the Edge’ makes evident. The biggest reason is the visceral chemistry between the players. The quintet of vocalist-lyricist Jon Anderson, guitarist Steve Howe, bassist Chris Squire, keyboardist Rick Wakeman, and percussionist Bill Bruford only made two albums together [...] But in a way, they said all they needed to say on this album. The combination of Anderson’s psychedelic, wide-eyed lyrics and anthemic vocal melodies fit perfectly with some of the fiercest, most intricately layered instrumental passages in the history of rock music. Those passages came courtesy of Bruford’s jazz-fusion finesse, Wakeman’s classical-tinged elegance, Howe’s spidery eclecticism, and Squire’s surging, muscular thud.

THE EVIDENCE:

Close to the Edge (the song)
i. "The Solid Time of Change"
ii. "Total Mass Retain"
iii. "I Get Up, I Get Down"
iv. "Seasons of Man"  
live in 1972

And You And I
i. "Cord of Life"
ii. "Eclipse"
iii. "The Preacher the Teacher"
iv. "Apocalypse"
live in 1972

Siberian Khatru
Live in 1979 (with big deal opening fanfare and yes, that stage is revolving).

Those responsible endeavor to explain.

And about those lyrics. The annotated Close To The Edge.

BONUS TRACKS:

Close to the Edge (live symphonic - 2001).
And You And I (live symphonic 2001).

Jon Anderson performs Close to the Edge with a bunch of teenagers in 2007.

Jon Anderson performs Close to the Edge live in Slovakia 2009 with what seems to be a pick-up band ... but it's a good one.

YES - Sounding out
(1971 documentary, before Close to the Edge)

Bill Bailey vs Yes.

Prog Rock Britannia - an Observation in Three Movements
(BBC documentary)
posted by philip-random (103 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was a big Yes fan in the 70s, but today Jon Anderson's inane lyrics and Wakemans's confused arrangements are just annoying - except for Close to the Edge - which is still on my playlist. It is a masterpiece of prog era.

It is best experienced on vinyl. Drop the stylus, then turn the dial to 11 and listen to the amp moise and needle track the groove as the song begins very quietly with forest noises towards a noise filled crescendo. It still gives me goosebumps.
posted by three blind mice at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2012


I used to listen to this on my old, old Fisher, Mono, tube-laden record player when it first came out. Does that ever make me feel old (but it still sounded great)!
posted by jabo at 11:43 AM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Growing up I was a King Crimson guy when it came to prog - I looked down on Yes as being effete and never gave them a fair shot. Then a year or two ago I had the hankering to give them a try, and wow, the run of The Yes Album - Fragile - Close to the Edge - Tales from Topographic Oceans (yes, really) - Relayer is just amazing. In addition to their raw musical and compositional talent, it takes real skill to put together a 20-minute song and have it make sense, something they did multiple times.
posted by dfan at 11:49 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a wonderful music CD by Jon Anderson called 'Change We Must.' It's one of the top musical experiences in my small collection! Just reading the words 'Close to the Edge' turns on the record-playback feature of my brain. No electronics needed, it's all in there intact, after 38 years . . . .
posted by Galadhwen at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fun fact: Joss Whedon's production studio, Mutant Enemy, gets its name from a line in "And You And I."

And dfan, I seriously agree. Those albums are just so neat. I don't know anything about King Crimson. As a person who loves Yes, what King Crimson would you recommend?
posted by Buckt at 12:08 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Growing up I was a King Crimson guy when it came to prog - I looked down on Yes as being effete

Huh. That's a weird thing to think. The only way Yes is more "effete" than King Crimson is that King Crimson occasionally would do a dumb (and not particularly prog!) rocker. The rest is...well...it's...pretty...pretty. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just, well, Yes were never, ever that willowy.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:11 PM on September 23, 2012


Still have a soft spot for The Yes Album...back when I was surrounding myself with myself - way too much.

"Send an instant karma to me, initial it with loving care..."
posted by incandissonance at 12:13 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


'Close to the Edge' is my second favorite Yes album. 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' is my first.
posted by ericb at 12:16 PM on September 23, 2012


Prog rock's defining masterwork? Phaugh. That's In the Court of the Crimson King, or Thick as a Brick, or In the Land of the Grey and Pink, or perhaps the Radio Gnome trilogy, or even Hall of the Mountain Grill, or perhaps the best selling prog rock album of all time, Dark Side of the Moon.

Not that Close to the Edge isn't good, just that calling it "progressive rock’s defining masterwork" is overegging the pudding a bit.

But it is good to be able to have this discussion when prog rock has been so declasse for so long.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sys Req....how's this for willowy?
posted by thelonius at 12:26 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


In my early teens I was obsessed with Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull, etc. Then I heard Rocket to Russia, and it was all over.
posted by incster at 12:29 PM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's no Tormato, that's for sure.

Yes were never, ever that willowy.

And KC weren't after 1973 or so. That's pretty much the starting point for A Certain Type of Crimson Fan. *waves* I like the harder, weirder Yes stuff more as well, and I'm not kidding about how much I dig Tormato & Drama. 'Dancing Through The Light' (now available on CD!) might be my favorite Yes Thing. CTTE is still a pretty great listen, though. Neat post.
posted by mintcake! at 12:43 PM on September 23, 2012


Prog Rock Song 40 Years Old; Nearing Completion Says Bands
posted by DU at 12:46 PM on September 23, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sys Req....how's this for willowy?

I did mention the dumb rockers, didn't I?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:47 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: overegging the pudding a bit.

(but seriously, that's an awesome phrase. The things you learn round these parts...)

posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2012


Close to the Edge pretty much saved my life in high school. Or, rather, knowing that there were people in the world who cared enough to make such music saved my life in high school. I'm not sure what else I can say about that album, other than my assumption that I'd understand the lyrics once I was older, or more spiritual, or something, was sadly misguided. The words are just another noise.
posted by jokeefe at 12:53 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Siberian Khatru"-- rocking out in 7/4 time. Nothing like it anywhere.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 12:56 PM on September 23, 2012


Love this album. The stripped-down alternate version of 'And You And I' on the remastered album is awesome, and well worth a listen.
posted by saladin at 12:58 PM on September 23, 2012


quite possibly, progressive rock’s defining masterwork

I was never a big fan of Yes, and actually preferred Fragile, so I find this statement a little challenging.

At around the same time Supertramp's Crime of the Century came out, and while you could argue that it's not really prog rock, it ain't exactly rock either.

And then, as mentioned above, if you are looking at sales alone, Dark Side of the Moon was a monster of an album. On the charts for decades, etc etc etc.

And what, no mention of the Moody Blues? If you want to talk mystical spiritual, you can't skip the Moody's.

Anyway, as I said, challenging statement, but each to their own.
posted by ashbury at 1:03 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone not quite old enough to have been interested in music during the heyday of prog rock, the only thing I can think when seeing that title is:

"To be in England, in the summertime, with my love; close to the edge".
posted by Slothrup at 1:13 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's no Tormato, that's for sure.

I'm overly fond of Tormato. I full acknowledge it's not a masterpiece, I completely understand it's at the bottom of many lists of Yes albums. I know that it's goofy and poorly recorded. But it's just got something about it which brings me back time and time again. It's the only one of the first-era Yes albums that will have me singing along at the top of my lungs with the car windows open to every track.

That doesn't have anything to do with whether I like other Yes albums (I really love Fragile and Close To The Edge, have a deep admiration for Tales From Topographic Oceans [I'm the only person I know who listens to it], and while I don't really like Drama, I do like the other albums Trevor Horn was involved with). And I love prog rock, probably listen to it more than most people I know although I'm not very well schooled on modern prog bands. (No mention of Genesis yet in this thread?)

But yeah... Tormato. I now have an urge to listen to it right now.
posted by hippybear at 1:13 PM on September 23, 2012


As someone not quite old enough to have been interested in music during the heyday of prog rock, the only thing I can think when seeing that title is:

...and there you have your Trevor Horn connection once again.
posted by hippybear at 1:14 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes were never, ever that willowy.

oh, yes, they were
posted by pyramid termite at 1:18 PM on September 23, 2012


other than my assumption that I'd understand the lyrics once I was older, or more spiritual, or something, was sadly misguided. The words are just another noise.

From the second link ...

“It’s all metaphors,” Anderson told Sea of Tranquility. “That’s when I went through that very strong period of just sketching and writing whatever I sang as being a state of consciousness. I would smoke a joint and just have fun and write: ‘A seasoned witch can call you from the depths of your disgrace / And rearrange your liver to the solid mental grace.’ And I know exactly what it means. ‘A seasoned witch can call you from the depths of your disgrace‘ — Your higher self can call you from the depths of your disgraceful feelings, your doubts. ‘And rearrange your liver‘ — you can rearrange your body to a ‘solid mental grace.’ The liver is a very powerful part of the body, so it can rearrange your physical self to a higher state of mind.”

So the words aren't just another noise, but you do need to be Jon Anderson's brain in order to figure them out.
posted by philip-random at 1:22 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It will never cease to blow my mind that, within just 10 years, music evolved from this to this.
posted by Flashman at 1:24 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't forget the Yes tribute band, yeah.
posted by jonp72 at 1:25 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


... and that Yes/Buggles collision did give us one gem (well, I got it anyway). Needless to say, it was the most Bugglish melody on the album.
posted by philip-random at 1:26 PM on September 23, 2012


Don't forget the Yes tribute band, yeah yt .

by far the best band that I have ever seen
posted by philip-random at 1:28 PM on September 23, 2012


Needless to say, it was the most Bugglish melody on the album.

It was so Bugglish that The Buggles recorded it themselves under another name.
posted by hippybear at 1:31 PM on September 23, 2012


Yes?
No.
posted by Monkeymoo at 1:32 PM on September 23, 2012


But yeah... Tormato. I now have an urge to listen to it right now.

DIG IT, DIG IT
posted by mintcake! at 1:36 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Close to the Edge is great, especially the opening, but it's not my favorite Yes album...

Steve Howe is a unique guitarist, with such a distinctive voice. The lead from the live version of Sweet Dreams (35th Anniversary DVD) never ceases to amaze me (about 3:10 in). It's hard to imagine any other guitar playing making those choices.
posted by and for no one at 1:38 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Progrock songs are like taking a trip, acid yes, but also just a journey. Within a song the melodies keep changing, there is a sense of travel and discovery. This reflected the era in which the music was made, it was a cultural summertime, a time of being out and active. The exact opposite of today's climate of internal activities, a cultural winter when we look back and reflect, decide what to remember and what to forget, what did we learn to take forward into the coming spring. 40 years from now it will be summer again, in one long life a trip through 4 seasons. I hope this ramble reminded you of a progrock song.
posted by stbalbach at 2:09 PM on September 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is the sound track (along with Your Move, of course) to me playing chess in the college union building instead of going to class, nearly flunking out.

Also reminds me of the time Rick Wakeman pushed LeLiLo into a swimming pool.
posted by MtDewd at 2:21 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The lead from the live version of Sweet Dreams (35th Anniversary DVD) yt never ceases to amaze me (about 3:10 in). It's hard to imagine any other guitar playing making those choices.

No doubt there. Steve Howe never played a predictable lick. But I've always found latter day Yes performances kind of depressing, particularly when I hold them up to something like this (the last few minutes of Close to the Edge circa 1972). I guess theirs was one youth that wasn't wasted, because holy shit, they could rip through music in those days, like dfan said above ...

wow, the run of The Yes Album - Fragile - Close to the Edge - Tales from Topographic Oceans (yes, really) - Relayer is just amazing.


I have one old friend who used to say that Close to the Edge was proof in advertising, Tales was ... oops! went a bit far and fell off, but Relayer was THE line, the razor's edge ... except unfortunately the culture had had it. Enough f***ing progress already ...
posted by philip-random at 2:24 PM on September 23, 2012


I'll always be biased in the direction of Fragile too (it was my first time...) but And You And I has to be the track that shows a group at the top of their powers -- without a doubt. Just listened to the 'demo version' (?) that came out as a bonus track on the CD reissue and I'm still convinced. Either version should be the one you play to your friend 'who doesn't like prog rock'. Thanks for enlivening a weekend with this excellent post.
posted by El Brendano at 4:08 PM on September 23, 2012


I had a strange summer before high school where, introduced to it of course at the local shop MoonDog Comics, the older guy behind the counter was on a big prog kick and would play it all day.

So I went from grade school Zeppelin crankin' straight into high school where I would drop the needle on Close To The Edge side one, headphone cans on, and do the whole thing before school every day for what seems like months.

Ah, sweet Mellotron of youth.

Still an under-rated, melancholic sound, which is why it lived on through Elliott Smith, Wilco, and REM. And, of course I was a guitar nerd and Steve Howe is a class act.

Checking my post, the lack of girlfriend options is now painfully obvious.
posted by C.A.S. at 4:45 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


No mention of Genesis yet in this thread?

Well, there's that one, now.

And this one.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 5:30 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll admit that KC had more than their fair share of willowy material (I Talk to the Wind?). But Starless is just diabolical- Bruford is on drums, and is jaw-droppingly nasty. Sure the song is a relatively late (1975) comer to the mellotron epic genre, and could possibly be accused of having a few too many squares of the prog rock bingo card filled, but nothing else within the genre, even by KC, can touch its quality, IMO.

I also like the 'rock gamelan'-era stuff.
posted by Casimir at 5:46 PM on September 23, 2012


Also reminds me of the time Rick Wakeman pushed LeLiLo into a swimming pool.

Hah! August 1977, that was, the highlight of my Almost Famous-type rock and roll days as an innocent young music journalist. (Actually, he didn't push me in, he hoisted me up politely and dropped me in. And, as it was a very hot day in south central PA, I didn’t much mind.)

The funny thing is that I was, in those days, in awe hanging out with/interviewing Wakeman, and much later I found out he was born exactly two days before me. He was just a punk kid as well then... and actually a really great guy. Three years earlier, at the backstage party after a Yes concert in March 1974, it was obvious how little he fit (personally) into the band. The other, vegetarian members of the group lingered kind of ethereally in the corners, staying away from everybody, while Wakeman, drinking beer and eating meat, held court in the middle of an active party scene at the other end of the room.

p.s. Turns out, upon checking, that I don’t even own a copy of Close to the Edge. I listened all those tracks (over and over) back then on the live triple album Yessongs.
posted by LeLiLo at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Fun fact: Joss Whedon's production studio, Mutant Enemy, gets its name from a line in "And You And I."

Also, he said he listened to Yes constantly while writing the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

In my early teens I was obsessed with Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull, etc. Then I heard Rocket to Russia, and it was all over.

Kinda the same with me (except Rush, because ewww), except what knocked me off of all that was Throbbing Gristle. While I still greatly enjoy King Crimson, the majority of the rest of the prog I loved back then I now find pretty much unlistenable.
posted by williampratt at 5:53 PM on September 23, 2012


Oh god. I saw Yes in concert in 1974. I remember being irritated that Rick Wakeman wasn't on the tour. We were desperate for good music back in those days. This wasn't it. But I didn't know that yet.

I bought the t shirt with the Yes logo on it. 3 years later, I spray painted NO over it in black paint, tore it to shreds, and put it back together with safety pins. I thought it was pretty much the definitive punk rock t shirt. Hey, I just had a thought.. let me check.. damn, you can buy anything on eBay, this was the shirt. But $162?!? Marked down from $250?!? I dunno, if it was an XL, I might consider recreating it. Oh I wish I had saved that ripped up shirt.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:01 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had a stretch in my first year of high school (mid-seventies) when I listened to Anderson's "Olias of Sunhillow" album every morning while getting ready for my day. Then came The Ramones. I still love that album, though.
posted by davebush at 6:09 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


As an unaware teenager emigrating to Australia, I turned up at the airport with my two milk crates of vinyl. The check-in person looked at me in astonishment. After explaining to me the rules about baggage weight restrictions I was sent off to cull my collection. I ended up with just three albums - Fragile, Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans. The remainder was left stacked up by a bin at Heathrow. It still hurts 38 years later.
posted by unliteral at 6:15 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I should have previewed..

In my early teens I was obsessed with Rush, Yes, Jethro Tull, etc. Then I heard Rocket to Russia, and it was all over.

LOL I saw Jethro Tull live in concert too. Yeah, we were really desperate for good music. Then in 1976, I saw the film The BLANK Generation. Ramones, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, Wayne County, and many more, all on B&W 8mm home movies, unsynchronized to the live audio. And prog rock was dead to me.

Have you ever seen the movie SLC Punk? I often think about that scene where the kid is in the basement playing D&D, listening to Rush, when his friend comes over and says something like, "you know, I've been thinking, all this stuff sucks." Then he puts in a tape of some new punk band (which I have never been able to identify) and everything changes in an instant.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:19 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just turned 33 and celebrated with Yes albums all day. My mom saw them while I was in utero, so I blame that for my seemingly age-inappropriate Yes fandom.
posted by JLovebomb at 6:23 PM on September 23, 2012


I listened to Anderson's "Olias of Sunhillow" album every morning while getting ready for my day. Then came The Ramones.

This is the kind of has-your-child-gone-through-any-sudden-personality-changes stuff they talk about in anti-drug pamphlets. There is nothing similar about these two things. You might say, they're both music and the lyrics are in English, though even that's arguable with Olias.
posted by philip-random at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then in 1976, I saw the film The BLANK Generation. Ramones, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, New York Dolls, Wayne County, and many more, all on B&W 8mm home movies, unsynchronized to the live audio. And prog rock was dead to me.

Right, but the thing is, prog rock doesn't suck just because punk rock suddenly enters the picture. It's still just as glorious and wonderful as it always was, and can easily live in one's life right along side The Ramones and ABBA and The Band and Vangelis and whatever else.

I truly don't understand people who will discard things they like simply because they find another thing they like. If you really truly like something, if it speaks to a part of your soul, then finding something else which speaks to your soul doesn't make that other thing no longer speak to your soul.

To me, dropping X because you suddenly discovered Y speaks of a fickle nature and a lack of depth and a lot of go-along-ness rather than finding something you truly like. But perhaps I'm the weird one and all these people who never actually like anything for life and just keep moving from one momentary fascination to the next are the norm. I have no idea.
posted by hippybear at 6:27 PM on September 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's still just as glorious and wonderful as it always was, and can easily live in one's life right along side The Ramones

One of my favorite factoids is that before Keith Levene (of later PiL fame) was in the Clash, he was a roadie for Yes. And really, if I kind of put my thumb up at the right distance to block out Jon Anderson, I can see a through line from Yes to postpunk.
posted by rodii at 6:36 PM on September 23, 2012


I went far too many years thinking that it made no sense to enjoy both prog and punk/post-punk/new wave. I'm now a blissed-out and more sensible middle aged guy who can fully appreciate the merits of everything from Strawbs to Fucked Up.
posted by davebush at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Van Der Graaf Generator is a nice stepping stone from prog to punk.
posted by parki at 6:46 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Right, but the thing is, prog rock doesn't suck just because punk rock suddenly enters the picture.

As far as I'm concerned, prog rock pretty much always sucked, it just took exposure to punk rock for me to realize how much it sucked, and that there was an alternative. I really tried to like it, since there really wasn't anything else at the time.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:47 PM on September 23, 2012


since there really wasn't anything else at the time.

There was so much else going on musically at the time, I can't take this statement seriously at all.
posted by hippybear at 6:48 PM on September 23, 2012


Jeez, some of you really need to crucify your hate and hold the world within your hands.
posted by Flunkie at 6:58 PM on September 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Punk is a genre of Dad rock now, deal with it
posted by thelonius at 6:58 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned, prog rock pretty much always sucked, it just took exposure to punk rock for me to realize how much it sucked, and that there was an alternative. I really tried to like it, since there really wasn't anything else at the time.

I was a teenager in the nineties, and as a consequence my experience and my opinion are the exact opposite of yours.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:00 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right, there was disco, country western, gospel, and dozens of other abhorrent genres. Hell, I even listened to opera, desperately searching for something interesting.

The internet has made you soft. You have forgotten what it was like in the 1970s media environment. There was basically only FM radio, which was either Top 40 or AOR. "Album Oriented Rock" was prog rock. And this stuff was the mainstream, so it got shoved down your gullet, whether you liked it or not.

This is usually where I trot out my scan of Melody Maker, December 10, 1977. You can download it here from my Dropbox account (warning: 68Mb PDF). Take a close look at the bands in the ads. Then look at Page 37, the Top 30 Albums in the US and the UK. Compare:

US
1. Simple Dreams, Linda Ronstadt
2. Rumours, Fleetwood Mac
3. Aja, Steely Dan
4. Elvis In Concert
5. Street Survivors, Lynyrd Skynyrd
6. Elton John's Greatest Hits
7. Point Of Know Return, Kansas
8. Shaun Cassidy (eponymous)
9. Foot Loose And Fancy Free, Rod Stewart

UK
1. The Sound of Bread, Bread
2. News Of The World, Queen
3. Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols
4. Foot Loose And Fancy Free, Rod Stewart
5. Rockin' All Over The World, Status Quo
6. Disco Fever, Various Artists
7. Out Of The Blue, Electric Light Orchestra
8. Feelings, Various Artists
9. Moonflower, Santana
10. 30 Greatest Hits, Gladys Knight and the Pips

Something is a bit different in that list. I will list a few other highlights, that would never appear on US charts:

18. This Is The Modern World, The Jam
23. New Boots And Panties, Ian Dury and the Blockheads
24. No More Heroes, Stranglers
30. Blank Generation, Richard Hell and the Voidoids

Aside from the Pistols, who were banned from the radio, this is what you would have heard on the radio in the US and UK. I even bought a shortwave radio in hopes of catching some of it. Oh if only the John Peel show had been on the BBC World Service.

Sys Rq: I was a teenager in the nineties, and as a consequence my experience and my opinion are the exact opposite of yours.

Well I should hope so. You being into punk would be about as ridiculous as if I were into my dad's music, which happened to be Lawrence Welk and barbershop quartets. About the only thing more anachronistic and ridiculous than that, would be if you professed your love for prog rock like Pink Floyd and Yes.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or maybe some people like the music that they like as music regardless of whether or not it made them feel sufficiently teen angsty when they were going through teen angsty times twenty or forty years ago.
posted by Flunkie at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2012


I remember when the big FM stations started playing Minor Threat instead of Billy Joel, it was awesome.
posted by thelonius at 7:27 PM on September 23, 2012


If prog rock's masterpiece has reached its fortieth year and still endures in our memories, we have failed as a civilization.
posted by Catchfire at 7:33 PM on September 23, 2012


I honestly can't help that you felt bound by FM radio in 1977, charlie don't surf. But the prism through which you're viewing that era is narrow indeed. I also can't help that you seem not to like a lot of music which is wonderful and has withstood the test of time. But looking at this page of releases in 1977, I see there is a lot more going on in music than just what were radio hits that year.

Now, perhaps you hate all of these. Perhaps there is absolutely nothing on this list which you find appeals to your taste. But saying that there was nothing else going on is simply not true, no matter what FM radio or Melody Maker may have led you to believe across the decades.
posted by hippybear at 7:34 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


To me, dropping X because you suddenly discovered Y speaks of a fickle nature and a lack of depth and a lot of go-along-ness rather than finding something you truly like. But perhaps I'm the weird one and all these people who never actually like anything for life and just keep moving from one momentary fascination to the next are the norm. I have no idea.
posted by hippybear


The thing for me was realizing I could love it all. The Gates of Delirium alone at home on the headphones with a few tokes. Anarchy in the UK at a party, everybody plowed on alcohol and whatever, tearing shit up. I had room in my not entirely miserable late teenage life for both ... and also learned to enjoy arguing, taking whichever side felt most promising at the time. But not trolling. I just always wanted to try to get the other guy (it was almost always a guy) to admit he was missing something damned important.

If prog rock's masterpiece has reached its fortieth year and still endures in our memories, we have failed as a civilization.

Well, civilization's over-rated anyway. I prefer culture, always something weird brewing, ingredients old and new. Pears are ripe and peaches falling. Suns are setting in the east. Women wail and men are calling to the god that's in them and to the beast. Truth conceals itself in error. History reveals its face: days of ecstasy and terror invent the future that invents the race.





quoting the liner notes from Yes's Relayer toward the end there.
posted by philip-random at 7:38 PM on September 23, 2012


I listened to Anderson's "Olias of Sunhillow" album every morning while getting ready for my day. Then came The Ramones.

Heh. Olias of Sunhillow was my coming down from tripping music in high school, so I listened to it kind of a lot. I tell you, after 10 hours or so of orange sunshine, Olias of Sunhillow not only makes sense, it's revelatory. It ties it all together, man! It's about. . about. . aliens and stuff. Saving the planet. With aliens! And stuff! Like, elves! I think.

I find it completely unlistenable nowadays, though. I still love my old Genesis and Yes and even the Incredible String Band in limited doses. Close to the Edge is amazing - I also know it best from Yessongs - but my favorite Yes album has always been the so far unmentioned eponymous first album - this one not this one. I think it's still great; Harold Land can still break me out in shivers.

And yeah, a few years later I put Yessongs and its cargo of marijuana seeds in the back of the closet and headed out with cassette mix tapes of the Ramones and the Clash too.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:41 PM on September 23, 2012


Flunkie, angst is not a concept I would associate with punks. Not at all. I think you're confusing punk with shoegazing or something.

I also can't help that you seem not to like a lot of music which is wonderful and has withstood the test of time. But looking at this page of releases in 1977, I see there is a lot more going on in music than just what were radio hits that year.

That is a very interesting list. I bought every single punk album on that list. I don't own any of the other albums, nor would I listen to any of them, with the sole exception of that Johnny Winter blues album. Actually, come to think of it, I might have that Crosby, Stills, and Nash album, and the Bay City Rollers, but only because I stole them from my sisters so they would stop playing them.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:48 PM on September 23, 2012


nor would I listen to any of them

I suspect this is more of a problem than any lack of music of interest in general in that year.
posted by hippybear at 7:51 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm amazed to see an ad for a new Skrewdriver album in that 1977 Melody Maker. I had no idea they ever had that kind of mainstream profile.
posted by Flashman at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2012


I haven't listened to this stuff in ages. Thanks, philip-random.
posted by homunculus at 8:00 PM on September 23, 2012


angst is not a concept I would associate with punks
whatever, hormones and such
posted by Flunkie at 8:00 PM on September 23, 2012


Actually, that is the OLD Skrewdriver, their first album, before everyone quit and they turned into a neonazi band. That particular album is one of my top 5 punk albums. And it is not the least bit neonazi. I own one of the limited edition albums, and it galls me that it is probably the most valuable record I own, for reasons I abhor.

I will offer you a couple of samples from that album, which I ripped from vinyl and painstakingly restored all the pops and crackles by redrawing the waveforms by hand.

Skrewdriver - Won't Get Fooled Again

Skrewdriver - Don't Need Your Love
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:03 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I tell you, after 10 hours or so of orange sunshine, Olias of Sunhillow not only makes sense, it's revelatory. It ties it all together, man! It's about. . about. . aliens and stuff. Saving the planet. With aliens! And stuff! Like, elves! I think.

well, in my case it was green windowpane, but same difference. For me, it was the end of side two, once Olias and his various cosmic compadres had reconciled the multiple dimensions of heaven and things were finally in reflective mode .... That's Eno grade ambiance.

Saved my soul more than once. Guided it back to terra firma anyway.
posted by philip-random at 8:15 PM on September 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another Olias fan, ayup. Fine album.
posted by parki at 8:33 PM on September 23, 2012


But looking at this page of releases in 1977, I see there is a lot more going on in music than just what were radio hits that year.

I could be down with this by January the 14th.
posted by ovvl at 8:34 PM on September 23, 2012


Those little droplets of water echoing in the cave, in the quiet interlude between Total Mass Retain & I Get Up I Get Down, were some of the most profound sounds I had ever heard in my young life...

...and by five long dull years later, I was ready for a punk shift in cultural attitude, which required an oath disavowing the elder gods...

Four decades later these ideological struggles might seem quaint to some, as my Dad had always said that it was all just noise.
posted by ovvl at 8:55 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Rick Wakeman''s first impressions of Yes ...

From the BBC Prog Doc
posted by philip-random at 8:58 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well I should hope so. You being into punk would be about as ridiculous as if I were into my dad's music, which happened to be Lawrence Welk and barbershop quartets. About the only thing more anachronistic and ridiculous than that, would be if you professed your love for prog rock like Pink Floyd and Yes.

Wow. Okay. Maybe you're right. Maybe your generation is complete shit after all. Fair enough.

Because, sure, no one in your generation -- especially not the punks! -- was ever into rockabilly or jazz or anything that didn't spring fully formed from the nineteen seventies. Oh no.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 PM on September 23, 2012


(P.S. I never said a damn thing about loving Pink Floyd.)



(Pink Floyd played boring stoner music. Great to smoke to, but about as prog as the Eagles.)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:10 PM on September 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


anyway, there are no generations, only statistically notable accumulations of assholes, smart-asses, geniuses, psychopaths etc. As Bill Bruford notes in the BBC doc, "I was born in 1949, that was my first genius move." (or words to that effect).

I was born in 1959. The Beatles broke up when I was eleven. Punk erupted when I was eighteen ... but I was 5,000 miles away, so I missed the first wave or two. Things moved slower in those days. Bottom line, I am both cosmic and angry.

Hawkwind are cool.
posted by philip-random at 10:14 PM on September 23, 2012


that awkward moment when punk erupted

again from the BBC Prog-doc linked to above
posted by philip-random at 10:59 PM on September 23, 2012


oops, link messed up.

This should have it.
posted by philip-random at 11:01 PM on September 23, 2012


Well, I tried. It's at about 1hr-12minute point.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 PM on September 23, 2012


Oh man. I went to see YES with my dad twelve odd years ago as part of a quid pro quo agreement we had. As a teenager he lived in a small Welsh boarding school while his parents worked in India, and as a result he missed seeing many of the bands he loved live. So he would drive me and my scrutty friends to the gigs of bands we were into, and I'd go with him to catch up on all the reunion tours of his bands.

I immensely enjoyed many of these shows. The YES show I remember appreciating most for the extra-long opportunity to bond with my dad, and the excellent and capable way the walls and ceiling of the concert hall provided us with shelter from the elements for the four-odd hours that the band played.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:44 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Punk is a genre of Dad rock now, deal with it

All rock is Dad rock -- and has been since at least 86 or 87.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:46 AM on September 24, 2012


This was my gateway prog - first album I ever bought, at eleven years old. Still holds up well, I think.

The truly amazing thing about that album, thinking about it now, is that I first heard the very track I linked - all eight minutes of it - on commercial radio. It was indeed a different era, and I think a more interesting one musically.
posted by flabdablet at 12:54 AM on September 24, 2012


Anyone remember Triumvirat's Illusions on a Double Dimple? Or was it just a weird freakout that everyone in my hometown listened to it?
posted by readyfreddy at 2:13 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, dropping X because you suddenly discovered Y speaks of a fickle nature and a lack of depth and a lot of go-along-ness rather than finding something you truly like. But perhaps I'm the weird one and all these people who never actually like anything for life and just keep moving from one momentary fascination to the next are the norm.

It is probably a lot weirder to cling to one type of pop music (whether we're calling it progressive or punk or whatever) than to keep moving from one type to another. After all, there isn't a lot of depth or breadth to most of it. If you've been listening to "Let's Twist Again" for 50 years, you've had time to plumb its vasty deep; now try the Beatles, and even after them be ready, as they were, to move on to something else. You don't have to sell your old twist records, but you really should keep moving.
posted by pracowity at 2:43 AM on September 24, 2012


After all, there isn't a lot of depth or breadth to most of it

Prog, of course, being the notable exception.
posted by flabdablet at 2:56 AM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Arguing whether Yes or KC were the more willowy band is an argument that would only happen in this kind of thread.

If you like your prog as a font-induced experience, The Rotters' Club is a good book to read.
posted by ersatz at 3:23 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Six Wives of Henry VIII" is awsome!

So is Jeff Beck's "Blow By Blow"!

- the Rick Wakeman Freak

(8th Grade)
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:26 AM on September 24, 2012


Anyone remember Triumvirat's Illusions on a Double Dimple? Or was it just a weird freakout that everyone in my hometown listened to it?

Great album. As much as Triumvirat were pretty much a rip-off of ELP (bass, drums, stacks of keyboards), I always preferred them to ELP. Less pompous. Better songwriting.

But no, it wasn't remotely popular in my suburb. As far as I knew, it was me and one friend that knew about it.
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have you ever seen the movie SLC Punk? I often think about that scene where the kid is in the basement playing D&D, listening to Rush, when his friend comes over and says something like, "you know, I've been thinking, all this stuff sucks." Then he puts in a tape of some new punk band (which I have never been able to identify) and everything changes in an instant.

I'm pretty sure that the song was Mother of Pearl by Roxy Music. For me, it was almost exactly like that. It wasn't that everything else suddenly sucked. It was more like it was somehow irrelevant.
posted by incster at 12:51 PM on September 24, 2012


Yes was a product of my time and though I am drawn to grandiose epic rock, it took me a while to get drawn in. The two biggest stumbling blocks were Eddie (ALL TREBLE) Offord's thin production and Steve Howe's guitar tone. His playing was extraordinary but that tone was nails on a chalkboard. Compared to the full roar that Page or Townsend or Iommi were producing, Howe's chords and lead lines sounded effete and shrill. Thank god for the thunder of Wakeman or I may have never been drawn in.

For my money, the title track and Genesis' Supper's Ready are the two greatest epics of prog rock. And I think I have said this before on MeFi but the "I get up, I get down" of the former and the "guardian eyes of blue" reprise of the later are fraught with emotion, two singers absolutely hanging it all out on the line. Gabriel certainly had other points in his career where he brought home the goods, but I don't think Jon Anderson came this far ever again.
posted by Ber at 1:31 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had some of the same problems with Yes. The guitar tone, the vocals. But Close To The Edge, I always loved.

Funny realization from this thread. During my maximum Tull years, say age 14-16, I never considered them, despite the ample evidence, to be a prog rock band. I think I believed that they were their own absolutely unique genre, which is probably what Ian Anderson wanted me to think.
posted by thelonius at 1:39 PM on September 24, 2012


Then he puts in a tape of some new punk band (which I have never been able to identify) and everything changes in an instant.

I'm pretty sure that the song was Mother of Pearl by Roxy Music.


Wait, how can incster be right? Roxy Music were hardly punk rock, or new in the time that film depicted. I'd much more expect anyone inspired by a song of their's to go on to Bowie, T. Rex and then Talking Heads and Television.

Oddly I just caught a 40th anniversary performance of ELP's last night on AXStv. Still love the music but neither Emerson nor Lake has aged well; Palmer still seems the perfect mix of brutish machine and creativity.

IAC I'm in the Big Tent camp, I was the first at my suburban Jersey high school to buy the Sex Pistols record (and later hang at Mudd Club and CBGBs) but my first love was Zeppelin and ABB and my ATF has been Springsteen since Spring '75 when Mike Appel snuck the tape of Born to Run to WNEW-FM. In college ('79-80 school year) I did an outlaw country show on the college radio station and after transferring to USC the following year was the bass player in a punk trio.
posted by billsaysthis at 2:08 PM on September 24, 2012


incster: I'm pretty sure that the song was Mother of Pearl by Roxy Music.

I'm pretty certain it was not. If it was Mother of Pearl, I would have recognized it instantly. I even checked the soundtrack listing on IMDB and there wasn't anything I could match to that. Darn it, now I'll have to chase down a copy of the movie and make a sound clip so we can play Name That Tune.

pracowity: It is probably a lot weirder to cling to one type of pop music (whether we're calling it progressive or punk or whatever) than to keep moving from one type to another. After all, there isn't a lot of depth or breadth to most of it. If you've been listening to "Let's Twist Again" for 50 years, you've had time to plumb its vasty deep..

You should read an essay by Rudy Rucker, I believe it's called "Ramones On The Beach," I asked Rudy and he said it's in his Transreal anthology. It's an essay about why the millionth listen to a Ramones track is better than the first. I absolutely agree. Even a simple, 2 minute power chord song has vast deepness after the first few thousand listens, over a few decades.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:04 PM on September 24, 2012


if it's got genuine soul, it's infinitely complex. The problem with way too much prog is that it wore its complexity on its sleeve, but inside there really wasn't much blood.

But I've never really doubted the soul in the best of Yes's stuff (1970-74). I mean, Jon Anderson may not have been making much sense to in a linear, pragmatic way, but it clearly mattered to him, whatever he was on about.

and Steve Howe's guitar tone. His playing was extraordinary but that tone was nails on a chalkboard. Compared to the full roar that Page or Townsend or Iommi were producing, Howe's chords and lead lines sounded effete and shrill.

Maybe on the studio recorded stuff, but there's ample roar in his live stuff from the era, which is how I really discovered Yes. Bought Yessongs when I was fourteen, because it was the only album that listed Roundabout on the sleeve.
posted by philip-random at 4:26 PM on September 24, 2012


Van Der Graaf Generator is a nice stepping stone from prog to punk.

Hawkwind yt are cool.


Vague anecdote: during the original Sex Pistols era, Johnny Rotten often expressed a vocal dislike for Progressive Rock, but when pressed he conceded his appreciation of Hawkwind and Peter Hamill.
posted by ovvl at 4:35 PM on September 24, 2012


Anyone remember Triumvirat's Illusions on a Double Dimple?

I got a copy to review back in 1974, but can’t remember ever mentioning it in print. Or even listening to it — which I’m doing now. It is, as philip-random mentions, quite ELP-like... although the music sounds somewhat, I don't know, thinner? Not as substantial, at least on first listening.

Speaking of ELP, at the post-concert gathering mentioned in my comments above, someone was praising Rick Wakeman's talents, and he demurred, saying, “Now Keith Emerson, if only I had a left hand like his....”
posted by LeLiLo at 7:18 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


speaking of Triumvirat ... they really are under-represented on Youtube. But this is a very cool find, live version of March to the Eternal City.
posted by philip-random at 7:58 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty certain it was not. If it was Mother of Pearl, I would have recognized it instantly.

I was mistaken. The song was Kiss Me Deadly by Generation X.
posted by incster at 1:39 PM on September 28, 2012


Oh hey thanks a lot for that identification. I wondered about that tune for a long, long time. Of course I saw Gen X in the soundtrack list but I still couldn't figure it out.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:12 PM on September 28, 2012




Oh god. I had forgotten there was a time when men got perms.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:11 AM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


thanks for the triumvirat info folks. i guess my hometown was just weird. for a brief spell, that album was tops where i live. every party played it. everyone knew it. weird.
posted by readyfreddy at 5:34 AM on October 7, 2012


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