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PROG ROCK SPECIAL - PART 2
September 25, 2009 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Times were tough. Hair was long, complex and strange, and so were the songs. Where were you 35 years ago, and why weren’t you surrounded by stack of keyboards wearing a sequined gown?

So-called Progressive Rock may still be with us in some form or other, but it’s never been as absurd, as popular as strangely relevant and all encompassing as it was for a few short years back in the 1970s.

A few more notable hairstyles, freakouts, and very long songs ...

Soft Machine
Utopia (featuring Todd Rundgren)
Pink Floyd (keeping it peaceful)
Camel
Strawbs
Grobschnitt
Deep Purple
Queen
Rush
Jethro Tull
... and (why the hell not?) Frank Zappa
+ more Yes.

Previously.
posted by philip-random (121 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Now progressives are communists.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:29 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Missing link.
posted by rokusan at 6:29 PM on September 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Thirty-five years ago I was playing with Legos. But a few years after that I was bleary-eyed at a midnight showing of Yessongs.

And...

King Crimson
posted by marxchivist at 6:33 PM on September 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh gah - Soft Machine! I saw them open for Jimi Hendrix at Regis Field House. They blew my 14-yo mind - then Jimi set it on fire. Good times.
posted by dbmcd at 6:39 PM on September 25, 2009


35 years ago, I wasn't even a twinkle in my daddy's eye, and the most contact I've probably ever had with prog rock is struggling through "Tom Sawyer" on Rock Band. That song is a pain in the ass.
posted by Diagonalize at 6:44 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wasn't even conceived then! But, Can kills them all.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:46 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Crimson + Can got covered last time ...
posted by philip-random at 6:49 PM on September 25, 2009


Where were you 35 years ago , and why weren’t you surrounded by stack of keyboards wearing a sequined gown ?

Because Mrs. Abbott frowned on such things in her first grade class.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:54 PM on September 25, 2009 [9 favorites]


Now progressives are communists.

Speaking of Can, Jaki Liebezeit (the greatest drummer who's ever lived except maybe John Bonham) once said their name was an acronym for Communism-Anarchy-Nihilism.
posted by philip-random at 6:54 PM on September 25, 2009


Henry Cow, bitches.
posted by kenko at 6:57 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Before they sold out to the AM Pop Machine, Ambrosia was L.A.'s contribution to ProgRock. That link is the only thing on YouTube for the GOOD Ambrosia; wish I had the song "Mama Frog" that was interrupted in the middle for a full reading of Lewis Carroll's "The Jabberwock" by some unidentified Englishman followed by a voice track of a redneck saying things like "Yup, got that one good..."

There is a clip that's labelled "Ambrosia - Nice Nice Very Nice" but it's not. Bummer.
Oh a sleeping drunkard up in central park
Or the lion hunter in the jungle dark
Or the Chinese dentist or the British queen
They all fit together in the same machine
Nice, nice, very nice
Nice, nice, very nice
So many people in the same device

posted by wendell at 7:03 PM on September 25, 2009


My friend Uriah (bass player for Whitesnake) is named after Uriah Heep, who I think fall into this genre of music. His brother, Yes (you may remember him from MTV's Road Rules) is named after the band.

Yeah, their dad was a musician....
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:04 PM on September 25, 2009


I speak for many people here when I am thankful that YouTube's 10-minute limit precludes the full versions of anything from Yes' "Tales From Topographic Oceans." As good as Yes was as a band on "Close To The Edge," they were pretty bad on TFTO (and let's not speak of the abomination that was "Tormato," though many prog-rock bands were likewise running on empty by 1978.).

The ELP concert is worthy of a post all its own, as it was part of the 1974 California Jam...in which ELP headlined over Black Sabbath, Deep Purple (one of the first performances of the Mark III version of the group, in which David Coverdale was the lead singer), and the Eagles. Deep Purple set the stage on fire, literally, and ELP featured the famous sequence where Keith Emerson and his grand piano were elevated 50 feet above the stage and spun end-over-end as he played it.

Nothing exceeds like excess.
posted by stannate at 7:08 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


U Totem. Samla Mammas Manna. Art Zoyd. Univers Zero. Motherfucking Magma. Gentle Giant. The Stormy Six. Picchio dal Pozzo. Aksak Maboul. Etron Fou Leloublan. Hatfield & the North playing Robert Wyatt's "God Song" and something of their own. Eskaton. Ahvak. Egg.
posted by kenko at 7:10 PM on September 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


"Ambrosia - Nice Nice Very Nice"
Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but this is based on Vonneguts "Cat's Cradle" and is indeed, a way cool song.
posted by cccorlew at 7:12 PM on September 25, 2009


why weren’t you surrounded by stack of keyboards wearing a sequined gown ?

You don't know me.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:13 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, 35 years ago I was totally rocking the sequins, so y'all can just seethe with envy.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 7:16 PM on September 25, 2009


I was disappointed when I found the stack of keyboards were not wearing a sequined gown.
posted by gc at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where were you 35 years ago, and why weren’t you surrounded by stack of keyboards wearing a sequined gown?

35 years ago I was six years old, but I was very aware of most of the groups mentioned in the post. My circle of friends wasn't quite progressive enough for sequined gowns and stacks of keyboards, but our Brownie troop put on some good shows during our slumber parties at the National Guard armory, wearing our mothers' wigs and belting our hearts out into our Snoopy sing-along microphones.
posted by amyms at 7:19 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was eating paste abd listening to Johnny Cash, Flatt & Scruggs, and Johnny Horton -clearly the least culturally literate 4 year old in town.
posted by valentinepig at 7:25 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


BTW - I never knew Phil Collins had hair.
posted by valentinepig at 7:26 PM on September 25, 2009


35 years ago I was mooning over Elton John.

What???
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:32 PM on September 25, 2009


Don't mind me, I'm just here to reclaim Queen for the glamrock contingent.
BOWIE RULES OK
posted by Monsters at 7:33 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can's only charting single outside of the Fatherland, "I Want More". It seems as fresh as this morning.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:36 PM on September 25, 2009


Where were you 35 years ago, and why weren’t you surrounded by stack of keyboards wearing a sequined gown?

Because Mrs Murzin and Mr B. didn't think that such a thing was appropriate in a 5th grade classroom

We did listen to prog-rock on the school bus, though. But no sequins (or keyboards) there.
posted by jlkr at 7:45 PM on September 25, 2009


35 years ago I was an infant. If I wore sequins, I don't remember them!
posted by SisterHavana at 7:45 PM on September 25, 2009


(and let's not speak of the abomination that was "Tormato,"

On the Silent Wings of Freedom ain't all bad.
posted by philip-random at 7:48 PM on September 25, 2009


Progressive rock appeared at the end of the time when the LP was the dominant music delivery system. For a while, even the double-LP was commercially viable. The need to fill a double-LP created a slew of high concept artsy bands who could thematically stitch together enough music to fill the container. The same thing happened long ago when series concert tickets gave rise to Wagner's "Ring Cycle".

To do this today, you'd need to release enough music to fill two iPods.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:52 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


It was a great time in music. Unfortunately, the demise of the professional musician has made it much harder for individuals to take enough time to learn the skills to write such works, let alone the time to make them.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:57 PM on September 25, 2009


(and let's not speak of the abomination that was "Tormato,"

On the Silent Wings of Freedom ain't all bad.


"Release, Release" is great, too.
posted by Jesco at 8:01 PM on September 25, 2009


It was a great time in music. Unfortunately, the demise of the professional musician has made it much harder for individuals to take enough time to learn the skills to write such works, let alone the time to make them.

Speaking of Yes, there's some great stuff about how they actually wrote their monstrosities/masterpieces in the documentary Yes Years. This link is to Part 4, roundabout the time that ROUNDABOUT was tripping the zeitgeist.
posted by philip-random at 8:10 PM on September 25, 2009


ty; dr
posted by jeoc at 8:11 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wankers.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:18 PM on September 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


Saw Yes "in the round" twice @ MSG in the late '70s.

Thank Jehovah I never heard of most of these other bands back then or I never would have discovered punk and new wave.

PS: This thread would not be complete without Kevin Gilbert.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:20 PM on September 25, 2009


35 years ago I was only 4. But I saw Yes on both their 90125 and Big Generator tours as a teenager. Big Generator was actually a kickass show. They only filled the place about 1/3, probably 5K people or so, but they had Squire and Wakeman that time, and the band played their asses off, a ton of old stuff, too. It was about as good as it gets for them, and I had a great time.

Not into prog as much now, but it was a defining genre of my wasted youth, because you may end up there after tripping a few times if you're into music and math ...

However ... Pink Floyd, Zappa, Deep Purple, IMO not so prog, really. Deep Purple was sort of primordial heavy metal. Pink Floyd was psychedelic rock, maybe on rare occasion a bit proggy. Zappa played everything, but his complex stuff was not as much prog as it was his own composition style, and is not easy to pigeonhole into any existing genre. But King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Gentle Giant, Rush, and to some extent Queen and Jethro Tull, yes, definitely prog.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:23 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I for one am forever pledging allegiance to the guitar player on that Gentle Giant song and his ABSOLUTELY KICKASS TAKE NO PRISONERS MORK MEETS LSD 25 WHITE PAINTERS OVERALLS AND GREEN STRIPED RUGBY SHIRT.

That outfit right there would make me a fan of this band for the rest of time.

I love this post.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 8:27 PM on September 25, 2009


Thirty-five years ago I was listening to a different guy with a stack of keyboards and a sequined gown: Sun Ra. Live, as often as possible. And although I've heard of these groups, I've never listened to them as far as I know.

Your favorite bands may not suck, but I didn't grow up in their universe.
posted by kozad at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tangent: sometimes, after our huge family Thanksgiving dinners at my aunt's huge house, my father would volunteer to help wash dishes - provided he could select the music he listened to while he worked. One year, after considering his usual classic rock/blues fare (Taj Mahal, Rolling Stones, Abbey Road), he suddenly muttered "ah-HAH, I haven't heard THIS in a while" -- and unexpectedly selected Thick As A Brick. I think he even sang along to parts of it.

I spent a good part of the next few days just staring at him now and then, contemplating that my father had these.....layers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:45 PM on September 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wait...am I the only person who thinks that the Decemberists are prog rock's last best hope?
posted by blixco at 8:45 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Hocus Pocus Focus
posted by hortense at 8:47 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thirty-five years ago I was listening to a different guy with a stack of keyboards and a sequined gown: Sun Ra. Live, as often as possible.

Yeah, I saw Sun Ra live, some 35 odd years ago too. And in the same venue, the following week, Funkadelic on their Free Your Mind and your Ass Will Follow tour.

Keyboards and sequins in abundance there too.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:49 PM on September 25, 2009


Where were you 35 years ago

For most people here, I imagine they were too busy not being even a glint in their daddy's eye. I was singing to the songs on the car radio.
posted by pracowity at 9:10 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not mentioned above, but definitely of this time period, Spinal Tap's Stonehenge.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:22 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


This link reminded me how I used to whip out an early 70's Ibanez doubleneck 4 string bass and 6 string guitar for a few songs in my old band. They are a pain in the ass to play, and heavy as hell, but even in the ealy-mid 90's, that thing would make the audience freak out. For just a moment, the indie rock kids put aside their disdain for 70's rock showmanship, and just had an old style rock-out moment. It was a beautiful thing.
posted by chambers at 9:36 PM on September 25, 2009


more Hocus Pocus Focus. Love this stuff.
posted by ovvl at 9:49 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first time I heard The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, I thought they could never make a live show to equal the weirdness of the story and lyrics. Obviously I was wrong.

Check out Peter Gabriel as what I lovingly call 'yellow fruit gourd stomach mouth man' (among other characters.)
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:02 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hocus Pocus Focus. Best song ever. With yodeling.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:07 PM on September 25, 2009


also... sorry rokusan.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2009


I'd just like to add one more song by Gong...Heavy Tune!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:17 PM on September 25, 2009


To do this today, you'd need to release enough music to fill two iPods.

And everybody'd just listen to it on shuffle, anyway, and in 3-to-5-minute intervals (max) in between texting, posting, twit-twit-twitting and whatever else. So... it just wouldn't be the same.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:20 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


everybody'd just listen to it... in 3-to-5-minute intervals (max) in between texting, posting, twit-twit-twitting and whatever else

I think you've hit on the next music format. Single disks with just one or two songs. Each about 2 and half minutes long.

Who has time for this Long Play music anyway?
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:32 PM on September 25, 2009


God I love Robert Wyatt.
posted by gingembre at 10:32 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


And everybody'd just listen to it on shuffle, anyway, and in 3-to-5-minute intervals (max) in between texting, posting, twit-twit-twitting and whatever else. So... it just wouldn't be the same.

The cliche is the stoner kid who takes a couple of hits from the bong, puts on the headphones and listens to Dark Side Of The Moon ... except it's not really a cliche. That was a large part of what the 70s was. Not always stoned, not always Dark Side ... but in a world with less than 15 TV channels (and nothing really on anyway other than Johnny Carson and the Late News), what the hell else were you going to do after dark except detach, disconnect and get lost in a song (or two) about ummm ... Ogres battling?
posted by philip-random at 10:39 PM on September 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


To do this today, you'd need to release enough music to fill two iPods.

I can't (too lazy) find a link right now, but I recall a recent interview with Brian Eno where he was musing about recording formats and how easily it would be to release an album that was 24 hours long.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:44 PM on September 25, 2009


God I love Robert Wyatt.

Well, then you'll probably like this. WARNING: not prog.
posted by philip-random at 10:44 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not always stoned, not always Dark Side ... Johnny Carson

I was stoned once and I put on Dark Side just when Johnny Carson was starting and I swear, Dark Side synched up exactly with Carson. The music and lyrics matched up exactly with what Carson was doing. Man, you gotta try it! Watch for the part where Ed McMahon appears as the Good Witch of the North. Oh, but make sure you're stoned.
posted by twoleftfeet at 10:49 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, I was eleven, Patti Smith was mooning over some Rimbaud poetry, an early version of Devo was performing at Kent State, a new band called the Ramones had just formed in Queens, Declan MacManus was an office clerk at Elizabeth Arden, John Mellor was a street musician in London, John Lydon was 18 and writing "I HATE" on his Pink Floyd t-shirt...

What, something else was happening in music?
posted by gimonca at 10:59 PM on September 25, 2009


And if your tastes ran to the symphonic, there was Rick Wakeman. Fortunately, we only had albums back then, so we weren't aware how silly he looked.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:00 PM on September 25, 2009


a recent interview with Brian Eno where he was musing about recording formats and how easily it would be to release an album that was 24 hours long.

Eno did an interview in 1993 that has some stuff On formats;

"It occurred to me, there are so many different formats for releasing things. You can make a CD that's album length. You can make it double album length and still call it a CD which doesn't have the stigma of the double album...
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:03 PM on September 25, 2009


Spinal Tap clip was awesome!
posted by Jimmy Havok at 11:06 PM on September 25, 2009


My adolescence is passing before my eyes....
posted by jokeefe at 11:14 PM on September 25, 2009


This post led me to some deeep Tull cuts. They hold up and were waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of the times. I'm going to favorite this post. Noooooow.
posted by vrakatar at 11:16 PM on September 25, 2009


This post somehow led me to learn about the sesquialbum - a three-sided rock album.
posted by twoleftfeet at 11:22 PM on September 25, 2009


kozad: Is it OK if I like prog and Sun Ra? And Funkadelic? I think the Ra would be the first to say that we can live in multiple universes.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:24 PM on September 25, 2009


This is new(er) but still kinda fits in the genre. If you can get past the Van Dykes. Shudder To Think
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:36 PM on September 25, 2009


Shudder was a great band. As soon as the podcast is over I'll check that out.
posted by vrakatar at 11:50 PM on September 25, 2009


speaking of Rick Wakeman. What a long strange trip he's had.
posted by philip-random at 11:50 PM on September 25, 2009


I think this is probably what most people under 30 think of as 'progressive'.
posted by empath at 12:01 AM on September 26, 2009


I always enjoy how out of place Phil Collins looks in old Genesis videos.
posted by empath at 12:03 AM on September 26, 2009


Although I've grown to like the looseness of jammy bands more than the thick structure of prog, I had a really good time listening to these bands in high school. Yes' Fragile album, in particular, will forever remind me of all the good things about being 14 and experiencing so many things for the first time. Too many good memories to be a hater now.

Like much of the 70's, a good deal of this music is ridiculous and excessive in retrospect, but you young people can trust me when I say it seemed to make sense at the time. Even Rick Wakeman and his sequined-gown-and-keyboard drenched "Six Wives of Henry the VIII." seemed to make sense. Really.
posted by mosk at 12:09 AM on September 26, 2009


This post led me to some deeep Tull cuts.

And not all of them that ancient. Tull + Lucia Micarelli vs Kashmir.

And what the hell, Led Zep never really failed it either.
posted by philip-random at 12:14 AM on September 26, 2009


And what the hell, Led Zep never really failed it either.

I don't know. Kashmir would've been perfect if Plant would've refrained from singing "baby" like a bad blues song. Otherwise, it's golden.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:18 AM on September 26, 2009


Thirty-five years ago. Vancouver. I saw Arthur Rubinstein. Glenn Gould. Mireille Mathieu.
And Stevie Wonder was the warm-up act for the Rolling Stones.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:38 AM on September 26, 2009


Actually, around Minneapolis, at least, there are a few bands who are playing this this type of music again. The musicians are either older and have played music for years, or they are young, highly trained musicians who gravitated toward the genre because it allows them to rock out, fly their freak flags way up high, and still show their chops.

I don't know how deep or far reaching this revival will be, but even if it's just beginning to happen, it's happening, and it's pretty cool.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:46 AM on September 26, 2009


..and Pink Floyd is the best band in existence, and I mean this both sarcastically and honestly.
posted by rainy at 2:53 AM on September 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I saw Arthur Rubinstein. Glenn Gould. Mireille Mathieu. And Stevie Wonder was the warm-up act for the Rolling Stones.

That's an amazing evening of entertainment.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:17 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


What-no Captain Beyond? (Does this album cover capture the zeitgeist or what?)
posted by TedW at 3:36 AM on September 26, 2009


there are a few bands who are playing this this type of music again

Oh yes.
posted by marxchivist at 3:41 AM on September 26, 2009


You can make it double album length and still call it a CD which doesn't have the stigma of the double album...

Since when were double albums stigmatized? How else are you going to get the seeds out?
posted by TedW at 4:02 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


What, something else was happening in music?

Yeah, in reality, this post should have been referring to 49 years ago. Free your mind came out in 1970 and prog rock was already appalling old hat by then, imo.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:09 AM on September 26, 2009


Ick. 40, not 49 years. Even I'm not that old.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:09 AM on September 26, 2009


The King Crimson link above isn't actually King Crimson (it seems to be John Wetton and Steve Hackett and some other people, though I may be wrong). What Crimson were doing 35 years ago is more like this (1995/6 performance of 1974 track).

Oh, and I love Robert Wyatt, too. I got to see him sing live earlier this year, which I'm still amazed by.
posted by Grangousier at 4:23 AM on September 26, 2009


Where were you 35 years ago

MeFi Geezer Brigade represent!!!

I was in high school and these bands were hot. But by the time I was in college, punk and new wave had taken over for prog in the hearts and minds of every one I knew. Still, we weren't above turning all the lights off in the dorm room and putting on some Gentle Giant...
posted by tommasz at 4:35 AM on September 26, 2009


On looking back I see that Captain Beyond (and some others) were covered in part 1, which I somehow missed. Why a year between part 1 and 2? Anyway, thanks to these 2 posts I have spent more time on youtube this morning than ever before.

Now who is up for making a fusion post?
posted by TedW at 4:45 AM on September 26, 2009


> Where were you 35 years ago

In a crib, rocking out to my parents' preferred mix of country music, AM top-40 radio and the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:50 AM on September 26, 2009


35 years ago, I wasn't even a twinkle in my daddy's eye, and the most contact I've probably ever had with prog rock is struggling through "Tom Sawyer" on Rock Band. That song is a pain in the ass.

Even the band had trouble with that one: Tom Sawyer

I think Geddy looks amazing in a satin kimono. -_^
posted by chihiro at 7:11 AM on September 26, 2009


> Where were you 35 years ago

My tastes at that time definitely leaned more toward the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead than toward Prog. But I did go see Yes when they came through Birmingham, Alabama (laser light show!), and that would've been right around '74. And I did own Close To The Edge...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:52 AM on September 26, 2009


This is my all time favourite prog rock track: Van Der Graaf Generator's "Refugees".
posted by soundofsuburbia at 8:07 AM on September 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Where were you 35 years ago

That was somewhere around the time I climbed out of my bedroom window (grounded) to see Captain Beefheart on the Lick My Decals Off tour play in a cafeteria at CMU.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:18 AM on September 26, 2009


King Crimson 36 years ago
posted by philip-random at 8:41 AM on September 26, 2009


Robert Fripp explains (24 years ago). Check out the bit from the meeting with the record execs around the 4 minute point.

King Crimson showing their Indiscipline (25 years ago).
posted by philip-random at 9:01 AM on September 26, 2009


let's not speak of the abomination that was "Tormato,"

Oh, but let's DO speak of Tormato. Sure, it was a bit of an odd duck of an album, but it does have (as already mentioned above) On The Silent Wings Of Freedom and Release, Release. And it has a song about not hunting whales. And a song about the cynicism of childhood when confronted with heavenly circuses. And Madrigal, which is absolutely lovely. Really, it's one of my favorite albums, and I come back to it frequently. (I'm the first to admit it's a mess, but I love it.)

It was thrilling to see the Genesis clip. Peter Gabriel was certainly an odd duck back then what with his costumes and stage antics. Thanks to the 5.1 surround remastering project, I've been thoroughly immersed in my love of that particular band for a while now -- the releases are so lovingly crafted, from the SUPURB 5.1 mixes (which really give the dense music space to breathe) to the modern-day band member interviews (including bits from everyone involved, not just the current members) to the incredible concert footage stretching back to their earliest days. If you're fan, and you have the equipment to play DVDs in surround, pick up Selling England By The Pound and be amazed.

(And dammit, Peter! You're the only thing holding back a full reunion tour featuring Lamb Lies Down... Just do it!)

Yeah, I loves me some prog rock. Tull: awesome. Rush: still going strong after 40+ years. Okay, so Yes has gone on tour without Jon Anderson, which kind of sucks. But for a classical music trained kid, those longer pieces with such intricate structure were the perfect melding of what I was forced to practice on piano or in orchestra, and my love of distorted guitars.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to listen to Thick As A Brick.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 AM on September 26, 2009


Okay, I should be fired for using "odd duck" twice in that post.
posted by hippybear at 9:05 AM on September 26, 2009


I think this is probably what most people under 30 think of as 'progressive'.

People under 30 have parents over 30, y'know.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:37 AM on September 26, 2009


Oh, well, not all of them do, of course. Heh. More coffee.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:37 AM on September 26, 2009


Rick Wakeman was on the radio the other day talking about his career which sounded hilariously Spinal Tapish (ice-skating knights...) and boozy (probably less funny). He's now just about a national treasure now, turning up on tv a lot.

And here's the most unlikely prog rock fan ever
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2009


35 years ago I was introduced to Wakeman, as well as Isao Tomita. I was also still figuring out how to keep a roof over my head, food in my belly, and somehow move life in a forward direction. Stack of keyboards? I was only discovering that I wanted that. Before that year, I was only doing vocals.
posted by Goofyy at 9:57 AM on September 26, 2009


Oh, and just to say, Rick Wakeman is entitled to wear sequins. If he wishes, he may even wear ermin. Thanks for that Six Wives link, I had never imagined that music being played live.
posted by Goofyy at 9:59 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


thanks philip-random for finding some more appropriate King Crimson clips
posted by marxchivist at 10:25 AM on September 26, 2009


I will say this, a friend dragged me to a Yes concert some years ago, and I was astounded. The sound system technology was on par with the space shuttle, and for the most part all those notes were coming from 3 guys. Live, they were unexpectedly heroic.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:55 AM on September 26, 2009


This post led me to some deeep Tull cuts. They hold up and were waaaaaaaaaaay ahead of the times. I'm going to favorite this post. Noooooow.

Yeah, but like a lot of these guys, they peaked in 1974 (which for them was around the release of Thick As A Brick, A Passion Play, War Child, Minstrel in the Gallery, though the '80s "comeback" Crest of a Knave was an excellent album). I really got into them for a while. Saw their 25th Anniversary Tour in the '90s, which was the best they sounded live since Ian Anderson's voice went south. Was lucky to see them in a venue with outstanding acoustics. He was an accidental floutist, too, really an accidental musician, as was the rest of the original band, which puts him in an odd category when compared to others in the progressive genre, many of whom were classically trained from youth (and his sharp business acumen was also pretty rare, which kept them going as a band for so long). Great talent, and great luck in deciding on that path early enough to pick it up along the way. However, if Anderson did have better voice training from the start, he might not have gotten the polyps, requiring surgery, which permanently made his voice raspy.

Despite the lack of formal training, they did some amazing stuff, and Anderson turned out to be not only an accomplished musician but a formidable songwriter and composer. You can actually track the musicianship and writing skill as it evolves over time, which to me peaked in the mid-'70s, although they continue to get better at playing with each other. Their style does seem a bit dated these days, and I can see how some people might find them ridiculous, but they really took the ball and ran with it for a while, and probably most importantly had the chops and dedication to the job to back it up.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:27 PM on September 26, 2009


I will say this, a friend dragged me to a Yes concert some years ago, and I was astounded. The sound system technology was on par with the space shuttle, and for the most part all those notes were coming from 3 guys. Live, they were unexpectedly heroic.

Yeah, the couple times I saw them they played with great enthusiasm, and they all looked like they were having a fantastic time, too. I understand they had a lot of problems with ego clashes, like a lot of bands, but I never really heard complaints about their performances on stage over the decades, which really says something about their work ethic and professionalism. Though, admit I haven't kept up, so this may no longer be true ...
posted by krinklyfig at 3:33 PM on September 26, 2009


The first time I heard The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, I thought they could never make a live show to equal the weirdness of the story and lyrics. Obviously I was wrong.

For me, it's still difficult to imagine how they got from that to this.

OK, it's the dominance of Phil Collins, but he was there in those weird days, at least since Nursery Cryme, and some of the odd eclectic material after Gabriel left was still interesting, for a while anyway, but it became more and more rare as pop radio songs pushed them out. I guess the weird and innovative was mostly in Peter Gabriel, who also became a pop artist but not quite as smarmy.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:51 PM on September 26, 2009


speaking of Tull ...

I saw them three times (75-77-79) and it's true, the peak was 74. Anderson's voice was still strong and man, what a show! The thing I notice in watching some of the existing vid footage is how so much of what made them click in a big hall (15,000 seaters were the norm for them) actually works against them in close up: the broad mannerisms, the silly costumes, the overt theatricality.

A point that needs to be made is that in that brief historical moment (1972-76), the very best BIG shows out there were the prog ones (Yes, Tull, ELP) mainly because you just couldn't pull off music like theirs all mucked up on drugs and alcohol (Bowie, Zeppelin, the Stones), and that goes for the road crews, too. The sound mix, the lights, the staging -- it was all top line. Hence the love.
posted by philip-random at 3:55 PM on September 26, 2009


GENESIS: it's still difficult to imagine how they got from that to this .

It all fell apart when Steve Hackett left.
posted by philip-random at 4:05 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


A point that needs to be made is that in that brief historical moment (1972-76), the very best BIG shows out there were the prog ones (Yes, Tull, ELP) mainly because you just couldn't pull off music like theirs all mucked up on drugs and alcohol (Bowie, Zeppelin, the Stones),

Well, the point should also be made that it was also about the choice of drugs. The latter you mention got heavily into booze and heroin, while most prog was either psychedelic (Yes), or pretty straight edge (Tull and Rush), and getting wasted on something which would make you pass out or get really dopey was sort of frowned upon, while getting high on psychedelics or weed was the idea, if drugs were part of the scene. There were problems with some people in the prog side who went down the wrong path and ended up a junkie or alcoholic, but the lifestyle and the drugs of choice were different, that's for sure, and among most of the bands there was a dedication to the craft and job, requiring practice and presence on stage.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:07 PM on September 26, 2009


It all fell apart when Steve Hackett left.

Good point, but not all his projects were brilliant.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:11 PM on September 26, 2009


well, nobody survived the 80s unscathed.
posted by philip-random at 4:32 PM on September 26, 2009


I just want to toss in here that I was born in 1980, and my great fondness for 70s prog rock is a constant annoyance to my roommates.
posted by Kalthare at 4:33 PM on September 26, 2009


Oh my goodness who has time to comment when there are so many links to follow... and then the link reminds me to look up some old favorite I haven't thought of in a long time... and then I need to check something else out... and then I come back and there are more comments and MORE LINKS!

Somebody mentioned Queen, and I must say I have always loved this little tidbit:
"[Brian May] was part way through this Ph.D programme, studying reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System, when Queen became successful." (wikipedia, but don't you just love that sentence?!)

And how did I miss Part 1 last year? Thanks for the posts philip-random!
posted by jaruwaan at 5:46 PM on September 26, 2009


Hardcore Poser: The first time I heard The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, I thought they could never make a live show to equal the weirdness of the story and lyrics. Obviously I was wrong.

Actually, the stage show for Lamb Lies Down was a multi-media event, which is lovingly recreated on the surround mix DVD of the album, complete with all of the 3-screen slide show created to illustrate the songs, concert footage, etc. One of the reasons they are trying to get Peter to rejoin for a Lamb tour is that the technology finally exists to create, reliably, the full show they desired to put on in 1974.

That costume you speak of is the Slipperman costume. It had an inflatable phallus which was then cut off during each performance, per the needs of the plot of the show.
posted by hippybear at 6:59 PM on September 26, 2009


That costume you speak of is the Slipperman costume. It had an inflatable phallus which was then cut off during each performance, per the needs of the plot of the show.

Dear Mr. Gabriel:

You're a brilliant musician, and you have one of the most alluring voices I've ever heard, but ye GODS did you ever have some issues when you were younger.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:44 PM on September 26, 2009


Speaking of drugs in prog rock...

I dig some of these older bands, especially Tull, but the modern prog movement is more my style, especially the bands who fuse it with modern metal and thrash elements. Some of my favorite modern prog bands include Dream Theater, Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and Protest The Hero (some will probably argue they don't belong in this category, but I disagree).

Anyway, I was on Wikipedia recently reading about Dream Theater's new album, and I learned about the Twelve-Step Suite. Mike Portnoy, the drummer and one of the primary songwriters, has for the last five albums written a song about his struggle with alcoholism. This most recent album wraps up the suite, which is in 12 parts and roughly equates to the 12 steps of recovery. I went and put them all together in a playlist after I found this out, and if you like Dream Theater, it's really cool to hear the lyrical and musical themes that weave through these songs from five fairly disparate albums.
posted by starvingartist at 10:28 PM on September 26, 2009


I saw Dream Theater live in Colorado several years ago. I was really impressed with the band, who reached Crimson levels of greatness. The singer though? Irritated the everloving hell out of me with his warmed over Robert Plantisms and Jesus referrences. They'd be a fantastic band with another vocalist or as a strictly instrumental outfit. That guy just ruined the whole thing for me. Could be he's better on the recordings, but that experience discouraged me from seeking out any if their stuff. My loss, perhaps.

Satriani was the headliner there, but he just left me cold. Excellent technician, but the music just lacked something for me. Kings X showed up there, too, and I actually enjoyed them the most. I even caught a whiff of the Mary Jane there for a moment, unfortunately too fleeting for any sort of contact high. Damn.
posted by metagnathous at 11:55 PM on September 26, 2009


metagnathous - I like James LaBrie's voice, but I agree with you about the Jesus references. It was a little off-putting to me for a while, especially around the time of their "Train of Thought" album, which included a song called "Honor Thy Father", which I immediately assumed was a Christian reference. It isn't. They've moved away from some of the stronger god-talk because they were starting to get a rep as a Xtian band.

But don't blame LaBrie for the Jesus references. He hardly writes any of their songs. If anyone's to blame, it's Mike Portnoy, and now that I know that he went through AA, the god-talk makes a little more sense.
posted by starvingartist at 4:53 AM on September 27, 2009


Has none linked to Bill Bailey yet? 1;2;3; etc - there are 10 of them.
posted by adamvasco at 5:00 AM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I lied. There are seven 4; 5; 6; 7.
posted by adamvasco at 6:07 AM on September 27, 2009


. . . the modern prog movement is more my style, especially the bands who fuse it with modern metal and thrash elements. Some of my favorite modern prog bands include Dream Theater. . .

Mebbe so, but the guitarists in those bands (including DT) need to think of something new to do when they're not taking a solo (or shredding as the kids would have it these days). Whyncha try backing off the distortion and compression a bit and playing some nice arpeggios or something.

Most of these guys' approach to rhythm guitar sounds like they're practicing for a Paul Bunyan Days competition.
posted by Herodios at 7:32 PM on September 27, 2009


you just couldn't pull off music like theirs all mucked up on drugs and alcohol

Emerson and Wakeman were at the time both pretty heavy boozers (don't know about now).

Drink vs smoke was a major bone of contention in Yes, with Wakeman favouring the former, while everyone else (at least Anderson, Squire, and Howe) favoured the latter.
posted by Herodios at 7:37 PM on September 27, 2009


35 years ago, I was also not a twinkle in my daddy's eye, but Jethro Tull fucking rules. Saw them with ELP in 1995, what an incredible show. Rush, Yes, King Crimson...ahh, man. Born too late.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:39 PM on September 27, 2009


. . . the modern prog movement is more my style,

The problem I have with the so-called "modern prog" that I've heard (and I've not heard much) is that it's just not what I'd call progressive. It's damned well played by committed musicians but it doesn't really break any new ground, just reminds me of stuff that was mindblowingly fresh 30+ years ago.

That said, I've been impressed with what I've heard from Dungen.
posted by philip-random at 1:50 AM on September 28, 2009


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