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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Progressive Rock

I need to change the subject!

Something completely different for now. I wonder who among you are fans of progressive rock? Now, the term "progressive" kind of gives me the chills as I picture Hilary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg plotting the overthrow of the Constitution...(deep breath, shakes head).

I digress. No, I mean music. I want to throw out some possibilities for those who get into the genre. I am willing to believe that the Beatles began the genre with two cuts off of the Revolver album and followed up with increasingly progressive influences in their later albums. But you can't say they were really a progressive rock band, I don't think. Groups like Led Zeppelin are just too blues-based for me to include in the genre.


Jethro Tull. Was Aqualung their best, or just biggest success?
Pink Floyd. I suppose Dark Side Of The Moon is their classic.
Focus. Moving Waves is a masterpiece.
Traffic. Dear Mr. Fantasy or Low Spark of High Heeled Boys?
Moody Blues. They made seven albums in six years that were all very strong. My personal pick is A Question Of Balance.

There are some other fine choices. Groups like Rush, Gentle Giant, Kansas, Uriah Heep, Kraftwerk, Colosseum, Soft Machine, Atomic Rooster and Procul Harem. You could argue for Genesis in the early days and Chicago in the very early days.


Anyway I would vote for King Crimson's first album. IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING AN OBSERVATION BY KING CRIMSON. The musicianship was superb, Sinfield's lyrics were voiced wonderfully by Greg Lake and it not only had several memorable songs but hung together as an album thematically. Court begins raucously with 21st Century Schizoid Man, mellows down and smooths out into dreams and meditations in the middle of the album and then builds to the climactic In The Court Of The Crimson King.

"Said the straight man
to the late man
where have you been?

I've been here and
I've been there and
I've been in between

I talk to the wind
my words are all carried away
I talk to the wind
the wind does not hear
the wind cannot hear

I'm on the outside
looking inside
what do I see?

much confusion
all around me

I talk to the wind
my words are all carried away
I talk to the wind
the wind does not hear
the wind cannot hear"

I believe my favorite current progressive group that does not hail all the way back to the 70's would have to be Dream Theater. They seem to have carried on the tradition and moved things forward a bit with the metal edge they display. But it was, in my opinion, the earlier groups who are the hall-of-famers, After some deliberation, my choice for best Progressive Rock Group:

Pink Floyd. They began in 1967 with Piper at the Gates of Dawn and continued to put out great music that never sold out to commercialism (see Chicago and to an extent Genesis) nor fell victim to a tendency to just noodle around (Yes in later years).

I am curious as to what other people think. Or am I just a lone ProgRock afficianado in a sea of Blogs?


Mark K. Sprengel said...

I miss guitar solos :-(

radar said...

Mark! Yeah, Robin Trower and guys like that? But hey, even Steely Dan had their moments. I love Rush with Alex Lifeson going nuts on the guitar.....

Not many modern groups can hang with the classic rockers, I'm afraid...

Anonymous said...

See, we do have something in common, I first saw Dream Theater in 1992 or there abouts when there were about ten people there. Amazing musicianship.

Rush is one of the reasons I play guitar, you name a rush song, and I will play it. Too bad my girlfriend hates them.

If you want to listen to something more recent, you really have to check out The Mars Volta. It's currently blowing my mind on my iPod and in the car.


oriolebird38 said...

I love Pink Floyd, but for some reason I don't like to call them Progrock. But they certainly do fit most aspects of the genre.

Just out of curiousity, have you ever seen the movie "The Wall"?

highboy said...

"See, we do have something in common, I first saw Dream Theater in 1992 or there abouts when there were about ten people there."

I have two of their albums laying around. I don't listen to that kind of music, but when I lived in Pittsburgh they played in a club there and I thought it was cool, so my dad bought me "Change In Seasons", and "Images and Words." The guitar work on those albums is crazy. Its like the song has no set structure, and just goes. Awesome. I could do without the singer though.

radar said...

I have a ton of great Christian rock, too. Rex Carroll and Phil Keaggy are two of the greatest guitarists around but being in that genre they aren't well known. Groups like White Heart and Guardian and Petra...White Cross, Angelica, Mastedon. Christian rock has been replaced by new, boring stuff now, just like the secular world for the most part.

So scohen can jam to Rush licks? That is pretty impressive, really, because Alex can fly and scream big time. Rush is top-notch in terms of musicianship IMO.

This is entirely off the subject, but my daughter's parakeet tends to go nuts whenever I play some good Hendrix or Van Halen. Guess the bird has good taste?

Oriole, I never saw "The Wall" but I did see "Tommy". Maybe that is why I passed on "The Wall", har har!

Elisson said...

Jethro Tull: I loved Aqualung when it came out, but in retrospect I think Benefit and Stand Up have held up better. Benefit has a somewhat harder edge, but it's all good.

I think Thick as a Brick and Passion Play bracket Tull's "jump the shark" period. After that? Feh.

Moody Blues: A Question of Balance was their best, IMHO, although some fine cuts are on their earlier albums.

Procol Harum - Now, there was a Band. Shine On Brightly and Broken Barricades are not to be missed; Home is also up there.

Traffic: I divide their output into "Old Traffic" and "New Traffic" - the latter after Dave Mason left. John Barleycorn, the first "New Traffic" disc, was a classic, and it still holds up well. The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys is another "must have."

Pink Floyd: Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon are my favorites.

Now, to go fire up the ol' iPod!

Anonymous said...

Radar: Yeah, I don't suck at guitar and I spent many days in my bedroom learning rush songs. I used to be able to play 2112 from memory. Lifeson is also one of the most underrated guitarists of all time.

Highboy: You're pretty much right, on Under a glass moon on Images and Words is possibly the greatest melodic solo of all time. You're also correct that the singer, James LaBrie, is a hack. Did you know that A Change of Seasons is about Mike Pornoy's mom dying in a plane crash? I actually have the original live bootleg, which is very different than the one on ACOS.

...and I'm telling you, you MUST listen to The Mars Volta. If you want, I can post a couple MP3s on my home server.

radar said...

I am going to check on The Mars Volta.

Makes me think of Van Der Graf Generator, another progrock group from the beginning of the genre....

creeper said...

Yep, used to love Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Jethro Tull, King Crimson back in the 70s and 80s. Pink Floyd especially was my favorite for years and years. Kinda outgrew the whole thing a little after college, though I'll still put them on once in a while.

Rush, Chicago and Genesis were bands I never could get into for some reason. My roommate back then played Rush nonstop for three years straight.

highboy said...

"and I'm telling you, you MUST listen to The Mars Volta. If you want, I can post a couple MP3s on my home server."

Yes, do that.

"Did you know that A Change of Seasons is about Mike Pornoy's mom dying in a plane crash?"

No, I didn't, but I appreciate it even more now. That was the coolest half hour song ever.

creeper said...

Since Radar mentioned Pink Floyd, I was just wondering if anyone here had heard of the Dark Side of Oz.

radar said...

The Mars Volta is just a hair more punkish than I like, but I like their use of ambient sounds. Some of the tracks I listened to were very good. I will listen to the same tracks a second time and see what I think then.

I keep meaning to do that Dark Side of Oz....I believe you start the album at the MGM lion's roar? I just have to get an OZ DVD, rent one I guess. Who needs to own it when they show it seventeen times a year on TV?

*Is it just me, or do they use the letter "q" an inordinant amount of time on these word verifications? Must have been devised by a mad typing teacher who knew his students cheated on locating the "q" on their keyboards.

xiangtao said...

Its actually called "Dark Side of the Rainbow" and really you can do that with just about any movie and any CD and find some sort of wierd connection. More of an urban legend than anything really. Just like creation science.

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