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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Get In The Q

In the post yesterday was a complimentary copy of the forthcoming Q/Mojo Progrock special and very ‘andsome it looks too. There’s a ton of stuff on all the bands you’d expect; Genesis, Yes, Hawkwind, Jethro Tull, Radiohead, Marillion, Soft Machine, The Mars Volta, ELP, Rush, an extended feature on Pink Floyd and my own piece on King Crimson which trades under the snappy banner of Red Alert. There’s also an appreciation of the Harvest label, an overview of Modern Prog, rarities, Roger Dean and an interesting survey on the roots of prog by Charles Shaar Murray.

In what it calls 40 Cosmic Rock Albums – “an essential guide to the mind-blowing musical adventures – from the ‘60s to the present day” – there are some interesting and potentially controversial inclusions. No particular arguments with corralling of the Cantebury bands such as Hatfield or Gong or the Germans (though no Can oddly enough) but I was surprised to see Roxy Music’s debut album sitting between Golden Earrings’ Moontan and the delightful Music In A Doll’s House from Family.

Although it was fairly common at the time to slip Roxy on the record player just after a marathon Wishbone Ash outing or a blast of Crimso’s Earthbound for that matter, Roxy were never considered as part of what we understood as the prog rock back then.

As Mark Paytress makes clear in his appreciation of the album, they were definitely from somewhere else, a fact skilfully underlined by the distinctive visual identity of the cover artwork although quite where this might be was open to question. Perhaps it was located in the ambiguous territory inhabited by David Bowie or Lou Reed, a place of dubious sexuality, between pop and rock; not Glitter nor Glam but its own being simultaneously remote and inviting. All of these things perhaps but definitely not Prog.

The feature also includes Queen’s A Night At The Opera (between the truly execrable Pampered Menial by Pavlov’s Dog and the truly progtastic Moving Waves by Focus) and once again this is a band I would struggle to include as being Prog – progressive in the dictionary sense I grant you but not in the pomp-driven dweebie organ noodling sense of the term.

Elsewhere in the section, John Bungey's sprightly account of LTIA (with bonus commentary from Bill Bruford) occupies No.22 whilst ITCOTCK majestically strides in at no.4 with some impish asides from Peter Sinfield. No prizes for guessing who came in at No.1

Out of the 40 albums listed in the chart I own 28 of them. Quite what that means I’m unsure. Committed? Not quite committed enough? Should be committed?


Owen from the dark side said...

Hi Sid,

A friend (cheers JW) who recently sent me an obscure prog compilation made a comment I think you might find appropriate here. His comment was in response to me expressing great satisfaction in the music he had selected for the compilation.

" a small sense I feel a bit like a drug pusher. Prog is Not Good For You. It doesn’t help you to make friends, it can alienate you from loved ones and make you a social laughing stock. My god, what have I done???!!!"

I think that sums it up nicely.


Sid Smith said...

Hi there Owen,
yes it's insidious stuff indeed. I might post the full list and take a poll on how many albums people have out of the 40. Talked to Jakko J this morning (Friday) and he only had a paltry 18 - which makes him a lightweight in this matters. Mind you, he's probably got a social life and all that goes with it.

Laurence Stevenson said...

Hi Sid,

I'm beginning to doubt myself here.
People who know you tell me I look very like you. Seeing the photo, I have to agree...
Prior to reading this post, I checked the 'Q' list, to note that I possess...28 of the list....
Then I read YOUR total!

Am I merely a colonial (Canada) clone of you? Will you be coming after me shortly for body parts? Or the bits of my collection that you don't presently own?

I KNEW I had no life... now I know who has it...........


Sid Smith said...

Hi there Laurence,
maybe we should organise a life swap and see if anyone would notice the difference! As for body parts - I have a really bad back that I'd love to trade in for a better model. Oh and while I'm at it, I wouldn't mind a thinner waist-line. Tell you what - I'll swap you my copy of Pavlov Dog's Pampered Menial for...anything actually.

Laurence Stevenson said...

Hmmm! It's thought.
Can't help with the waistline...neither of us would notice.
My sympathies about the back. I swear I'd help if I could.
And as for Pavlov's think you deserve sympathy for that????
Mind you, you should see some of the clunkers I've taken a chance on.......

Keep well, keep writing,


Sid Smith said...

"Mind you, you should see some of the clunkers I've taken a chance on......."

'Fess up!

Barry Bucknell said...

Web discussion groups such as Progarchives, now into its second year of rabbiting, has got into a horrible mess with its sub categories of prog, and worse inclusion of some very dubious names into their archives - Jean Michel Jarre..... If the site moderators are not careful, contributors will have every rock band going, included as prog rockers......

Back at the end of the 60's any band that literally progressed musically from their previous album or from the crowd got labelled 'progressive music' (NOTE: not 'progressive rock'), and then Family, early Deep Purple, even John Mayall's Bluesbreaker found themselves categorised thus. But innovation, inventiveness, novel plundering from other muscial genres,etc. are finite, so from 1973-ish quantum jumps in progression were difficult to discern espeically in the major bands. Okay, drag in a new type of synth and colours mights be expanded (who remembers seeing Oscar Peterson playing Wakeman's synths once on BBC 2/Canadian TV, and the resulting new dynamics given to Peterson music!!!!). So did prog rock in its literal sense, effectively stop around 1975 with the rare hiccup showing a hint of change still to be had, e.g. most recently the 'Cuban Krimson', The Mars Volta ? Meanwhile Yes, ELP etc. continue as retro-rockers?

Laurence Stevenson said...

Sorry I didn't follow up on your challenge to 'fess up' quickly.
I started thinking about all the various 'clunkers' that I'd acquired...which led to to some reconsideration...which led to some actual examination of that pile of vinyl in the spare room..and I disappeared down the 'rabbit hole of prog'.
I'm still there happily exploring. My Lord, there's some great music waiting to be re-discovered.
If you wish, I'll relay any exceptional findings. (This could be expensive....)


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