No one’s likely to care about this but me

But here is the first of a five-article series on prog rock that went up recently at Slate. If you’re interested in the history of the genre (particularly the “excessive” performances), it’s pretty interesting. If you actually like the music, it’s a little bit irritating. The writer professes to like prog but mostly seems embarrassed by that fact.

As someone who only discovered prog rock twenty years after it “died”, and is still discovering it even now, I enjoy getting context. That’s all new to me, and he provides some insights into why the genre is generally reviled (something I never quite understood). But I dunno. I thought it was too much emphasis on ELP and “Tales From Topographic Oceans” and very little discussion of what was actually good in the music.

Then again, I suspect I am one of the few people in the world who actually likes “Tales From Topographic Oceans” — even the boring parts — so what do I know?

5 thoughts on “No one’s likely to care about this but me

  1. Well, I care about prog! Although maybe just half of it. Jethro Tull and ELP didn’t do it for me. And King Crimson just makes me feel stoned. Also, I think of Queen and Zappa as prog but Wikipedia doesn’t, so what do I know.

    I really believe, though, that all genres are “defiled”. Prog rockers (or at least, their fans) seem more sensitive to being called wankstains than PDiddy or Bauhaus, but for each artist, there is a group of critics calling that art self-indulgent (or some similar critique in sub-culture). Everyone’s a punch line for someone else.

    Re: prog dying, that’s not just prog. I just heard someone on CBC saying all forms of rock have been dead for a while. I think the news of rock’s death is a bit premature, but also believe particular soundscapes get re-absorbed and used in different palettes – prog is no more dead than impressionism is dead, it’s just that artists today insist on trying new things.

    There’s new technology springing up and the sorts of artists inspired by prog are frontiersfolk, so they’re going to sound “different” – they might be slated techno or hip-hop, or maybe indie rock, where everybody seems crowded right now. (Which is why the death of rock seemed overstated also.)

    It is true that no one sounds exactly like 1974.

      • Oh I dunno, I kind of liked “defiled”! 🙂

        Zappa was prog for sure, especially when you consider that he shared musicians back and forth with King Crimson and Jethro Tull, among others. And certainly Queen inherited some of the performance “excesses”, along with Bowie and pretty much all of 80s hair metal. So yeah, that’s why I put “died” in scare quotes. It didn’t so much die as reconfigure, in my opinion. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was a big hit in the 80s, after all, and that maybe YES all tricked-out as pop, but it’s still very YESsy, if you know what you’re listening to.

        I was listening to The Wall a couple weeks ago and it suddenly hit me very hard: “Young Lust” is sitting right on top of a bass and drum line that’s pure disco. It could be the Bee Gees. Nothing is just one thing.

        Insofar as prog rock connotes experimentation, good musicianship, and drawing on non-traditional sources, I don’t think it’s dead, you just have to know where to look, and the world is a lot noisier (in good and bad ways, both) than it once was.

        • “I was listening to The Wall a couple weeks ago and it suddenly hit me very hard: “Young Lust” is sitting right on top of a bass and drum line that’s pure disco. It could be the Bee Gees. Nothing is just one thing.”

          And I was listening to Wish You Were Here while driving to the airport 7-8 years ago and realized there was a part on the second-side “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” that’s built off of a funk groove, of all things. (It starts at 6:32 if you’re playing along at home.) You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Speak, friend!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s