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Aggie87

Viva Prog Rock

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Yes, Genesis, ELP, the Moody Blues - those bands are AOR-prog, the Celine Dion's of prog rock, bands as subtle as a sledgehammer, formulaic and always headed to the grand bombastic gesture so loved by American audiences.

This is, of course, utter nonsense. Yes, Genesis and (on the first few albums) ELP are only formulaic insofar as they *invented* the formula. Their best albums are among the finest recorded by any rock band at the time. As far as the bombast, it's been in rock'n'roll from the very beginning.

By the mid-late 70s you could say that the ratio of empty bombast to good music was increasing in the music of most of these bands (earlier in ELP, sometime in '74-'77 for Yes). This was a general trend in rock'n'roll music. How many of the more obscure bands below were active and making their best music by the late 70s?

Limiting one's view of prog to those bands is not only wrongly defining what prog is, it misses the true innovators of prog and the essence of what prog was, and is - an underground British phenomena that still thrives today. In England, concerts today by Yes and the other "big" names are virtually ignored by local audiences, they are tourist attractions, akin to the long running theatre such as Lion King and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Intentionally or not, you are confusing what Yes and ELP are doing today with what they did 30 years ago. They are obviously not a vital part of progressive rock today (not sure what is), but that hardly undermines the value of their recorded legacy from the early 70s.

Here's what prog is really about, the bands who define it:

Caravan, Camel, Egg, Cressida, Fruupp, Khan, T-2, Fantasy, Stackridge, Indian Summer, Van Der Graaf Generator, Family, Jonesy...

There's a subtle British charm, a whimsy, a sense of humor, an experimentaism, a lightness of touch - that all characterize true prog. Who would sing about a golf girl dressed in PVC except Caravan? Who had a three-mellotron front line attack other than Spring? Who defined living on the outside fringes - and directly demonstrates the link between prog and punk - other than Van Der Graaf?

You could write similar questions for most of the big-name prog bands as well.

Prog melded with jazz too - while many North Americans credit the bombastic, and shallow, bands like Mahavishnu and RTF with jazz rock, it was bands like Soft Machine, Nucleus, Keith Tippett, and others who people like Miles were clearly listening to - and influenced by and on.

Mahavishnu was no more shallow than Soft Machine or Nucleus. If you can't recognize that the Inner Mounting Flame was a major achievement in this style, I am sorry.

By the way, what makes you think that "Miles was clearly listening to - and influenced by" the artists you mention? I have never heard any evidence that supports this.

Guy

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no dude he kind of is, beacuse people are always trashing yes and elp. what in the hell. most people wish they could be as innovative in rock music as yes and elp are. yes, they were "mainstream" but that has nothing to do with anything. before they were mainstream they were underground just like 'egg' or whatever. well actually not elp, but yes were.

Okay then, you may as well call me an asshole too, cuz thats exactly how I feel about these bands! :o

That dosen't mean I won't listen to them of course!!! ;)

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Jazzdog, guys like "alicefron" who think they are cool calling people "dude" and get so threatened they resort to the impotent bullying of calling someone "asshole" (hey, it takes real guts to call someone asshole on an internet board, huh?) as just so stuck on their narrow, old fashioned corporate music they get very threatened when someone challenges their limited brain-bandwidth.

I'm with you. I listen to Genesis occassionally (the pre-Duke stuff), I think the YES ALBUM is the peak of that band (let's face it, the lyrics from that point on get pretty juvenile, the music bombastic - but Alice likes juvenile) and even ELP (the first is still the best).

I doubt people like Guy have ever heard Nucleus or Soft Machine. If he looked at the dates, he would understand. I suspect that even McLaughlin cringes at Mahavishnu now. I could hardly confuse what Yes and ELP are doing today with anything, I haven't bothered to listen to any. Too much great stuff to deal with.

As always, it's only the most closed-minded and stuck in the past old folks who have a problem with someone challenging the status quo and trying to open up their minds.

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As always, it's only the most closed-minded and stuck in the past old folks who have a problem with someone challenging the status quo and trying to open up their minds.

Now take the next step and realise that what you are putting forward as the 'true' this or that is actually your own very biased opinion! You're not so much trying to open up 'closed minds' as demanding that other minds fall in line with your particular mind which appears to be equally as closed.

No need to fight about who is or isn't best, who is or are not the true 'innovators.' Ultimately its all just personal taste and trying to ridicule others tastes is the stuff of the Grammar School* Sixth Form common room (sorry, not quite sure what the equivalent is in the US system). God, I remember these 'Tull are better than Hawkwind' tussles from 30 years ago!

Caravan, Henry Cow, Hatfield, Yes, Egg, Genesis, Mahavishnu, Van Der Graaf...all names I recall with great fondness from the 70s and still gain great pleasure from today. But in the grand musical scheme of things they are all pretty small fry when it comes to 'innovation.'

Play who you like because you like them, not because they are 'important.'

Keep your personal tastes in perspective. I have a downer on Wakeman but I'd never pretend that it was anything more than a personal dislike.

As for Camel.....*%$£^&*&^%$5^6&&!!!!!!!

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I'm with you. I listen to Genesis occassionally (the pre-Duke stuff), I think the YES ALBUM is the peak of that band (let's face it, the lyrics from that point on get pretty juvenile, the music bombastic - but Alice likes juvenile) and even ELP (the first is still the best).

So Yes had silly lyrics. It's rock music, for goodness sakes! You made a lengthy list of bands which included Caravan, Egg and Camel. What poetic lyrics did these bands come up with?

I don't see what the problem with "bombast" is as long as it's put to good use, whether by Bob Dylan or Yes.

I doubt people like Guy have ever heard Nucleus or Soft Machine. If he looked at the dates, he would understand. 

I can only speak for myself, not for "people like me". I've heard two albums by Nucleus and own the first five Soft Machine albums along with some live recordings. Again, what evidence can you offer that Miles listened to *any* of the British jazz-rock artists?

I suspect that even McLaughlin cringes at Mahavishnu now.

This kind of pseudo-psychology is usually as meaningful as horse manure, but so what if he cringes? It's outstanding music.

Guy

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LOL! It's amusing to see people popping out of the woodwork with their egos. Bev thinks it's a major revelation that I'm putting forth my own opinion, she seems to think that's news. Of course it's my opinion, where did I state otherwise? Does that mean she shouldn't post anything here, because it's all her opinion? Ridiculous. I meade no demands, but again here we have another who feels threatened when her favorites are knocked and comes out swinging. She tells me to "play who you like, not who's important" - if she read my post, she could hardly think I am listening to who is important - in fact, it's exactly that which I am knocking - too many listeners only follow the pack - the "important" ones like Yes, Genesis, Moody Blues, ELP - and never get to the ones out of the arena mainstream - Gong, Cressida, Fruupp....

Bombast is fine, but when the bombastic payoff is all there is, it becomes hollow.

So what, Yes had silly lyrics? That's in response to the guy who claimed they were great songwriters,the asshole "dude". We agree.

Was Miles not influenced by the British scene? Please, let's be real here. He imported two key players from that scene, McLaughlin and Holland! What do you think they had been listening to? Rick Wakeman?!!

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Was Miles not influenced by the British scene? Please, let's be real here. He imported two key players from that scene, McLaughlin and Holland! What do you think they had been listening to? Rick Wakeman?!!

Miles discovered Dave Holland at Ronnie Scott's playing with Bill Evans (Chambers, p. 142-3). He discovered John McLaughlin playing with the Tony Williams Lifetime in the United States (Chambers, p. 154). Neither context suggests any familiarity with British jazz-rock (Nucleus, Soft Machine, Keith Tippett) as you suggest.

Do you have anything more substantial to offer?

Guy

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DUKE is a fine piece of modern prog rock. Im talking about the 1st half of side one. I love playing it on the synths

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Guy Burger...DUH...where miles discovered Holland and McLaughlin is IRRELEVANT to what HOLLAND and MCLAUGHLIN had been listening to...playing with...jammin with...in the UK.

Does your book tell you anything about what they were into in England?

Can you do some thinking on your own that's not in your book?

Sheesh, what a waste of time.

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Guy Burger...DUH...where miles discovered Holland and McLaughlin is IRRELEVANT to what HOLLAND and MCLAUGHLIN had been listening to...playing with...jammin with...in the UK.

Does your book tell you anything about what they were into in England?

Just a few posts ago, you claimed that Miles was listening to (and influenced by) groups like Nucleus and the Soft Machine. I'm still waiting for any sort of facts on the subject...

Guy

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LOL! It's amusing to see people popping out of the woodwork with their egos. Bev thinks it's a major revelation that I'm putting forth my own opinion, she seems to think that's news. Of course it's my opinion, where did I state otherwise?

Egos. Mmm! The mirror, old chap, the mirror!

This is a nice board, Mr h. By and large people are polite to one another and respectful. Yes we all have opinions but most posters try and express them with a degree of humility.

Your posts appear to be based on the illusion that your opinions are 'right' and that you are required to ram them down people's throats. What is really strange is that you can be so unpleasantly dogmatic about what is essentially pop music! Great fun, hugely enjoyable but hardly worth fighting over.

Lose the hectoring tone!

Actually, I suspect you might well be a wind up merchant. Not normal behaviour.

Anyway, show some respect to your elders, man. Have you not noticed that I'm a Veteran Groover!

Kids today, I don't know...

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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I'd join those recommending the early Caravan records. They've recently been reissued in remastered form with a lot of extra material. I saw them three times back in the early 70s (You can hear me clapping up in the balcony on the Drury Lane record) - two great concerts, one less so when the membership changes were losing the original feel of the group.

Caravan had a great gift for poppy melody which they could absorb into wider structures - with Richard and Dave Sinclair they had outstanding musicians who could carry longer improvisations and the occasional use of Jimmy Hastings (a full time jazz player who guested on his brothers records) on flute and sax had a huge effect on the sunny, dreamy feel of much of their music.

'In the Land of Grey and Pink' and 'If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You' just epitomise the early 70s for me.

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Reading this thread has caused me to go out and start to listen to some Prog music. I've been listening to Genesis and Peter Gaberiel right now, and it's been a great experience. When these records first came out, I, in my smug Rock mind dismissed them out of hand. Now, I see how wrong I was. Genesis (when PG was with them) turns out to be an incredibly interesting group. My favorites are Selling England by the Pound and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. I must admit, when I first listened to LLDOB, I found it unlistenable! but after a few trys, I've become hooked on this music. Very inventive and Gaberiel has a unique voice. An earlier poster said that Gabriel doesn't really sing, but has a great voice, and I would agree with that assesment. Gabriel's solo work has also been a great discovery, it has an interesting, dark, musical feeling to it. On top of the music, he writes great songs. My next venture will be these new Yes cd's that have just come out. It should be interesting because outside of the standard Yes songs that I've heard on the radio growing up, I have no idea what to expect.

PS: I want to thank all who wrote in this thread for their interesting comments :tup

Edited by Matthew

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There's a recent interview with Steve Howe at Classic Rock Revisited. In it there are a couple of interesting (?) jazz references, thought I'd share them here. Howe can be fairly obtuse in interviews at times, but these comments can be followed pretty easily, by Howe standards.

Steve Howe Interview October 2003

*****

CRR: When I heard those two (new) songs, I thought immediately of Wes Montgomery and some of the stuff that he did in the early 60’s with a big band.

Howe: I’m totally beyond myself that you said that, besides flattery will get you everywhere <laughs>. Wes has a particular presence with me because I actually saw the guy live and he was one of the few jazz guitarists that I was able to see in that era. I later saw Kenny Burrell who I love as well.

CRR: Yeah he’s another great player.

Howe: Yeah, I like guitarists who are cool. I don’t like guitarists who are un-cool, who do too much who fall over themselves doing it like some of the blues players started to do. They got their reputation and then they started to play a hundred notes.

CRR: Right, it’s important that it’s tasteful and they don’t over do it.

Howe: That’s right. Wes was almost a revolution in my mind because being young, I was 16 at the time; I thought I was going to go and see someone who I could pick things from <laughs> and when he came out of the dressing room he had this big smile on his face and he never lost that smile. He’s was one of the few musicians who actually smiled when he played. It was a wonderful thing to see, so Wes was onstage at Ronnie’s (Ronnie Scott’s a popular club in London) and he just sat on this stool and played his ass off. It was just amazing.

CRR: You saw him you were only 16. That must have been a real eye opening experience.

Howe: It was a total thrill, but I learned nothing visually because watching his hand was like watching a glove go across a walking stick. You couldn’t really see how he formed his octaves. They were mainly what I call back ended, where the higher figured finger is actually on top and the lower figured finger is below, and he strummed these octaves much more than he ever picked them. What I did get from it was this marvelous feeling of being able to close my eyes and feel that what I was absorbing was actually from the man himself. This guy was sitting in front of me and that was enormous. I think one of the attributes that guitarists have to have and it’s as true in jazz as it is in all other forms of guitar music, is they have to be very caring about their sound, they have to be very loving about their sound. You’re nurturing and your learning and this is an important thing that I think that maybe some Yes members haven’t realized is that over the years you are expected to learn about you’re craft. You are expected to be more sensible, more practical, more realistic about what makes this tick, what makes it happen. So now when I walk into the studio, sure I know certain ingredients I know I’ve got to have if I’m going to do certain things. I go for them, experience tells me it’s right and then they are actually, but if I was a fool like many musicians are I’d walk around thinking it’s just me that has to do it. I just have to be there and it’s right, bullshit! I’ve heard that from musicians for a long time, you know they think that their presence is sufficient. They have to bring with them the wealth of knowledge that they learned along their career, not just bringing their career along.

CRR: And what you can still learn as a player.

Howe: Oh yeah, that’s the challenge because to make a song like “Westwinds” and “Pacific Haze” was like, you know I’ve never wanted to pastiche other guitarists. I’m not a guy who’s really good at copying, even guys like Chet Atkins who is one of my favorites. I’m not a big copyist but what I am is, I absorb, I’m like a big sponge. For example Wes gave me rhythm, he showed me that a guitarist without a strong sense of rhythm is nothing you know? When you add a real distinct phraseology to your playing like Django (Reinhardt) did and Wes did it so brilliantly. His phrasing is all about use of keen and interesting rhythmical patterns as opposed to lamenting on the straight ( makes simplistic guitar sounds), that’s nowhere. It means nothing. Sorry that’s not music. So yeah I’m totally a Wes fanatic.

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Up, as it's been a while for this thread to see the light of day...

In case anyone is interested both King Crimson's "Power to Believe" and Porcupine Tree's "In Absentia" are available at Yourmusic.com for the unbelievable low price of $4.99. Run, don't walk..... :g

f73153iwjbf.jpgf57715z86nt.jpg

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I strongly recommend anyone remotely interested in Crimson to get all of the Collector's Club releases they can afford. It is the collector's club that made me realize how good the early 72 band was (the one with Mel Collins, Ian Wallace, Boz), with their very strong jazz influences (the Creator has a Master Plan!!). The latest (Jan 2005) release is a 2-disc set from July 2000. Can't wait!

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Yes, there has been some excellent live Crimson pouring out in recent years from all eras.

I really like the Summit Studios, Denver '72 disc recorded in a radio studio. Very well recorded. They sound 'funky' on Groon!!!

The Nashville 2001 disc is superb too; the music of the last two albums in, to my mind, much more flexible form.

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Well I'm a pretty hardcore Crimson fan, too. Seen them a few times, all with the last lineup. The Power To Believe is a masterpiece.

I actually am not that fond of their very early stuff. Yes, I like the first album and have them all, but to me they got really interesting with Lark's Tongue. However, they're a live band and with the exception of Discipline (a perfect record), their studio work enver captured what they're all about.

They're definitely into their own thing and to dig them ya gotta be open to their language. The ProjecKts stuff is the dictionary.

I can dig Yes and Genesis and all that to some degree, but my prog days are pretty much over in favor of jazz now. The only band from the 70s that still does interesting work now is Crim, though none of the members were there in the 70s.

Note that Trey Gunn has left and Tony Levin is supposedly back in. I don't consider this an improvement or detriment, just "moving on" I suppose. I eagerly await concert dates.

I also give Porcupine Tree my very strongest recommendation. I really don't think of them as "prog," as their last few albums are more like sophisticated pop/rock.

Their new album is coming out in March. Mike Akerfeldt of Opeth and Adrien Belew are reported to be doing guest vocals.

(Opeth is phenomenal Swedish metal band, one of the very few metal bands I still listen to. Their heaviness partly inspired Steve Wilson to take Porcupine Tree into a more aggressive direction, and vice versa. Wilson also produces Opeth's albums and they have toured together).

Curios that they're the only current band listed here. Let's remedy that:

A lot of modern prog is quite heavy, due to the prevalence of metal in the 80s, the music they listened to along with prog. The two bands that really brought them together are Fates Warning and Dream Theater. Fates Warning are a metal band that just happend to sometimes drift off into complex territory, while Dream Theater consciously melded their Metallica/Rush/Yes influences.

Fates Warning started off with a different singer and best album to get from back then is his last, Awaken the Guardian. They continued in that vein for a while until they released their greatest masterpiece Perfect Symmetry. The great thing about this stuff is that it's not a lot of solos or the kind of noodling most associate wth prog. They just liked to put a lot of angular, odd-metered riffs into their assymetrically structured songs. Then they did some more mainstream sounding stuff which is actually quite good until they came out with A Pleasant Shade of Grey, a vague concept album. They're still around but they keep losing members so I don't know how that's going to work. They had an album this year called X and it's quite good.

Dream Theater is famous for all those solos and fastness and blindingly impressive (or boring) playing. There's a lot of contention over the direction they've been taking, but Images & Words and Awake are their masterpieces and, to some degree, pretty much defined modern heavy prog (for better and worse, as there are quite a few imitators out there). I also happen to think their story-driven Scenes From a Memory is one hell of an album.

The Flower Kings have a very retro feel, kind of like if Yes were still good or something. Their work is prolific and consistent but I would say Back in the World of Adventures and Retropolis are the albums that made them, while the relatively recent Unfold the Future is their greatest work.

Spock's Beard were a pretty fun band- very prog but with strong pop sensibilities. Their best albums are Beware of Darkness, Kindness of Strangers, and V. They're amateurish and energetic, so they don't always hit the mark, but quite enjoyable when they do. Unfortunately, their lead singer and songwriter left because Jeesus told him to.

Speaking of obscure and weird 70s prog, anyone ever listen to Magma? :wacko:

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I actually am not that fond of their very early stuff. Yes, I like the first album and have them all, but to me they got really interesting with Lark's Tongue.
:tup

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. It is the collector's club that made me realize how good the early 72 band was (the one with Mel Collins, Ian Wallace, Boz), with their very strong jazz influences (the Creator has a Master Plan!!).

Now isn't Mel Collins a phenomenal saxophonist! What is he up to these days, btw?

Gonna go and listen to "Ladies of the Road" CD now.

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Now isn't Mel Collins a phenomenal saxophonist! What is he up to these days, btw?

Gonna go and listen to "Ladies of the Road" CD now.

Far as I know he's writing liner notes for Club releases featuring his era of KC.

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Now isn't Mel Collins a phenomenal saxophonist! What is he up to these days, btw?

Gonna go and listen to "Ladies of the Road" CD now.

Far as I know he's writing liner notes for Club releases featuring his era of KC.

Hope he is playing some saxophone in his spare time as well.

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I was playing 'Nice' by The Nice yesterday and was struck by the jazzy nature of Emerson's playing at that time. It made me buy a copy of this today:

nice.jpg

I had this as an LP in the early 70s but it got purged when I went through a puritanical stage. Fascinating to hear it 30 years later.

I suspect that it was on records like this that I started to get interested in the idea of jazz piano. I can recall 'nearly' buying a Bill Evans LP at that time (c.1972) and then getting cold feet. It would take another six years!

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Elegy has the shining example of Emerson as a jazz player in "Hang On To A Dream" - and the version of "My Back Pages" is a wonderful reinterpretation of the piece, inspired partly by the Keith Jarrett Trio version on Atlantic.

Mike

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Now isn't Mel Collins a phenomenal saxophonist! What is he up to these days, btw?

Gonna go and listen to "Ladies of the Road" CD now.

Far as I know he's writing liner notes for Club releases featuring his era of KC.

Hope he is playing some saxophone in his spare time as well.

In 2004 I saw Mel Collins playing with a King Crimson tribute band, 21st Century Schizoid Band, alongside Ian McDonald, Ian Wallace, Peter Giles, and singer/guitarist Jakko Jakszyk. There's a review of it on this thread here. Incredible show - if you get the chance, go see them.

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