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Old 03-04-2017, 11:37 AM   #151 (permalink)
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Not sure why I'm so late to this thread but I love it! Keep up the great work mate.

Note: Hugh Syme is the guy who did Farewell to Kings along with most all of the other Rush covers, and many more.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Syme#Album_cover_art
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Old 10-28-2019, 02:07 PM   #152 (permalink)
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A new decade, new bands, new albums. This was the beginning of an exciting time for music, as hard rock began to metamorphose, or at least diversify into nascent heavy metal with the rise of Black Sabbath and the harder (at least temporarily), heavier approach taken by Deep Purple, plus heavier, less bluesy albums from Led Zeppelin. But of course we’re concerned with the rise of progressive rock, and though it still had some way to go before properly establishing itself as a true music genre that could stand and face other forms of rock, and the later wave of disco and pop music, there were some important albums released this year. It was the year when certain bands and artists began to place their stamp on the world, and while at this point few if any were well-known and almost none had, or ever would have, hits in the charts, it was also, as I mentioned previously, the beginning of a time when purchase of albums began to overtake that of singles, as people looked more to the full story than just the highlights.

Inevitably, as we progress into the seventies, we’ll be dealing with more bands and more albums, and equally inevitably, and I hope understandably, I will be unable, nor would I be willing, to deal with every single one. Looking down Wiki’s list for 1970 I can count at least forty albums released this year, and while it might be fun to look into all of them for one year, I imagine the novelty would wear off quickly, for me at least, as the list only grows as more and more artists come on the scene. I also want to finish this before I die. So I will be cherry-picking from the list, taking the albums I see as either essential or important, or ones I feel made some contribution to the movement, even if they may not have made a big impact at first. I’ll also look into those which may not have made a big splash, prog-wise, in 1970 but which led to greater things for those bands. And of course, I’ll be selecting a few for our Over the Garden Wall feature, albums that didn’t do much to advance the cause of prog, and may only have been connected to it by the most tenuous of strands, but which provided the one element missing in most prog albums: fun. The jokers in the pack, as it were. Damn! Should have used that to name the section! Oh well, too late now.

One list which will however always be complete and on which I will, to the best of my ability, do my very best not to miss out anyone will be the list of bands formed in any particular year. This is I feel very important, as even if the bands in question did little or nothing, they still should be seen as if not contributing, then trying to contribute to the overall picture of prog rock, and some of them, indeed, while not finding fame with those bands, may have gone on to better things with other bands or even solo.

Something else I will look at from this year on will be those bands who didn’t make it, who decided either this wasn’t for them and disbanded, or who changed their direction away from prog, or who for whatever reason disappeared into the murky mists of the history of progressive rock. Some may even get a short article written on them, who knows? For now, though, here are the names that popped up in 1970.

Ange (1970 – )

Nationality: French
Original lineup: Christian, Francis and Tristan Décamps, Jean-Michel Brézovar, Jean-Claude Rio, Patrick Kachanian, Gérard Jelsch
First relevant album: Caricatures, 1972
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Impact: 0
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to:
I always respect bands who sing in their native language, but it can be a two-edged sword. Look at Trust: they remained relatively unknown outside of France because they didn’t sing in English, eventually having to bow to pressure and release some of their albums in English. Ange were the same, though they seem to have stuck to their guns. Fronted by the three brothers Décamps, they released a quite impressive total of 23 albums up to 2018, but despite opening for Genesis at the Reading Festival in 1973, and gigging at over 100 concerts in the UK, they remained an enigma to the Brits, who couldn’t understand a word the guys were singing. Ange did release one album, their fifth, in English, but it sold badly and they probably said something like “Zut Alors! C’est ne pas un jeux des soldats!” Though probably not. As a result of nobody being able to understand them, they had no real impact on the prog scene that I can see.


Curved Air ((i) 1970 – 1972 (ii) 1974 - 1976 (iii) 2008 - )

Nationality: English
Original lineup: Darryl Way, Francis Monkman, Rob Martin, Florian Pilkington-Miksa, Sonja Kristina
First relevant album: Air Conditioning, 1970
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Impact: ?
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to: Sky, Roxy Music, The Police
One of the few prog bands to have a hit single - and the only, I think, in 1970, and further, the only to have a top four single, Curved Air hit it big with “Back Street Luv” from their first album, which went to number four. However, commercially that was it for them. Captained by two polar opposites - Francis Monkman, who went on to form SKY, and who was a total jam fiend, loving extensive noodling and improvisations, and Darryl Way, a serious-as-**** violinist and keyboard player who liked everything to be just so - it was never going to work, and within a few years of their association they had split up. The band continued a few years later, resurrected but only for two more years, after which there was a lengthy hiatus, leading to the phenomenon of a band being technically around for almost fifty years but in that time only releasing a total of seven albums, the last of which came in the twenty-first century.

In addition to being the only (to my knowledge) prog band to have a hit in 1970, Curved Air were also famous in being the first rock band to use a violin, and for later featuring future Roxy Music member Eddie Jobson as well as founder of the Police, Stewart Copeland in their lineup. Also famous for being one of the few (at least, at that time) prog bands to feature a female lead singer.


ELO - Electric Light Orchestra ((i) 1970 – 1983 (ii) 1985-1986 (iii) 2000 - 2001 (iv) 2014 - )

Nationality: English
Original lineup: Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Bev Bevan
First relevant album: The Electric Light Orchestra, 1971
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Impact: 5
The Trollheart Factor: 10
Linked to: Jeff Lynne solo career, The Move, ELO Part II
I could write pages about ELO. But I won’t. Not here anyway. One of the very earliest bands I got into, ELO were one of the few prog rock(ish) bands who truly made it, crossing over into the world of pop to have a slew of hits, while somehow keeping their classical orchestral leanings, and in the process perhaps introducing younger people like me (hey! I was young once! Honestly!) to the delights of classical music. ELO would more or less hover on the fringes of the prog rock movement, being fairly quickly accepted by the mainstream music public, but I feel prog rock owes them a similar debt as it does to the likes of ELP for their dissemination of classical music tropes into, not only the world of prog but further afield. ELO essentially split after 1986, with drummer Bev Bevan forming ELO Part II (which went largely unremarked) until Lynne took the band name and added his for their twenty-first century reincarnation.

Founder member Roy Wood is one of a very small handful of prog musicians who assured themselves of immortality when, as leader of Wizzard, he advised us that he wished it could be Christmas every day. Indeed. And he keeps doing so every year, but he has never convinced me to think as he does.


Emerson, Lake and Palmer ((i)1970 – 1979 (ii) 1991 - 1998 (iii) 2001 )

Nationality: English
Original lineup: * Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Carl Palmer
First relevant album: Emerson, Lake and Palmer, 1970
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Impact: 9
The Trollheart Factor: 3
Linked to: Asia, Emerson Lake and Powell, King Crimson, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, The Nice
And these guys I could write a line or two about too. Continuing his efforts with earlier band The Nice to merge classical, jazz and rock music, ELP became possibly prog’s first ever supergroup, joining members of The Nice, Atomic Rooster and King Crimson, and becoming in the process a massive mainstay and star of the progressive rock world. Most of their material, being based on classical tunes, was instrumental, which left them, to me at any rate, a little less accessible than other bands such as Genesis or Rush, whose lyrics interested me as well as their music. ELP, along with Yes and Genesis, became the poster-boys for late seventies excess, not least due to the supermassive ego of Keith Emerson. Already fed to bursting by his time with the Nice, it became a true monster with ELP, as he forged a reputation for showmanship and some might say show-off-manship too, attacking his keyboard with knives, riding on it down to the stage and so on.

Singer and bassist Greg Lake joined ELO’s Roy Wood in creating a perennial favourite in the somewhat more sarcastic and bitter “I Believe in Father Christmas”. Indeed, again. Still, with characteristic ELP arrogance, Lake couldn’t resist ripping Prokofiev off for the melody. Despite their overblown excesses though, ELP have to be given credit the same as ELO for trying to bring classical music into rock, though in their case it never really crossed over into the pop scene, and they used more of a sense of superiority and aloofness rather than ELO’s cheerful friendly sharing of classical music.

This was the ONLY lineup of ELP, making them I think unique in prog. I suppose with a name like that, they couldn’t very well change band members, could they?

Gentle Giant (1970 –1980 )

Nationality: English/Scottish
Original lineup: Derek, Phil and Ray Shulman, Kerry Minnear, Gary Green, Martin Smith
First relevant album: Gentle Giant, 1970
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Impact: 8
The Trollheart Factor: 2
Linked to:
Everything that needs to be said about this band of brothers (sorry) has already been written in my article on ProGenitors: the Godfathers of Prog. Formed by three brothers, all multi-instrumentalists, Gentle Giant were probably one of the most talented bands of the prog era, per person, as each of them played multiple instruments and also sang. They released eleven albums over a ten-year period, but though feted and referenced by bigger prog artists, and loved by fans, they never really had even a hint of success. In the end they disbanded in 1980, perhaps a metaphor for the death, at the time, of progressive rock. They are fondly remembered though as one of the better prog bands.


Grobschnitt ((i) 1970 - 1989 (ii) 2007 – )

Nationality: German
Original lineup: Joachim Ehrig, Gerd Otto Kühn, Volker Kahrs, Stefan Danielak, Wolfgang Jäger, Rainer Loskand, Milla Kapolke
First relevant album: Grobschnitt, 1972
[/img]
Impact: ?
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to:
Germans with a sense of humour? Surely not! Well, perhaps a candidate later for Over the Garden Wall, perhaps not; Grobschnitt (“rough cut”, as in how tobacco is cut) certainly did not take themselves too seriously, making weird noises and using odd effects in their music, as well as performing German comedy sketches and writing silly, nonsensical lyrics. But their fans took them seriously, and between 1972 and 1987 they released ten albums, not including live ones, of which there were many. Grobschnitt began as a psychedelic rock band, changed to symphonic prog, then a German post-punk derivative called NDW before ending up sort of in the same boat as Genesis, as a pop/rock band.


Jackson Heights (1970 – 1973 )

Nationality: English
Original lineup: Lee Jackson, Charlie Harcourt, Tommy Sloane, Mario Enrique Covarrubias Tapia
First relevant album: King Progress, 1970
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Impact: 0
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to:ELP, The Nice. Phil Collins, Jon Anderson
Keith Emerson wasn’t the only one who went solo after the breakup of The Nice. Remember Jackson Heights? Neither do I. Seems they were less than successful, despite putting out three albums, and disbanded three years after they formed. Oddly enough, I could have sworn founder Lee Jackson would have been part of Python Lee Jackson, who had that big hit, but if he was, Wiki ain’t sayin’ nothin’ about it.


Jane (1970 – )

Nationality: German
Original lineup: Peter Panka, Klaus Hess, Werner Nadolny, Charlie Maucher, Bernd Pulst
First relevant album: Together, 1972
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Impact: 0
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to: Peter Panka’s Jane, Werner Nadolny’s Jane
What can I tell you? A German Krautrock band from Hanover who went through so many lineup changes it must have seemed like someone had installed revolving doors in the studio!


Kansas (1970 – )

Nationality: American
Original lineup: Kerry Livgren, Dave Hope, Phil Ehart, Lynn Meredith, Dan Wright, Don Motre, Greg Allen, Larry Baker
First relevant album: Kansas, 1974
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Impact: 7
The Trollheart Factor: 5
Linked to: Saratoga, Proto-Kaw, Streets, Seventh Key, AD, Deep Purple, Shooting Star, Native Window, Dixie Dregs, White Clover
Known even to non-prog fans as the band behind “Carry On Wayward Son” and “Dust in the Wind”, Kansas always seemed to me to be more in the pomp rock area, like Magnum, but hey, I never claimed to know everything about prog! I’m reliably informed that they were one of the major American prog rock bands of the seventies, and seemingly bucked the trend among proggers by consistently bothering the charts, and in the US of all places. This certainly made them a household name, and helped them sell out huge arenas across the States, rivalling American stadium rock favourites like Toto and Journey.


Khan (1970 – 1972)

Nationality: English
Original lineup: Steve Hillage, Nick Greenwood, Dick Heninghem, Pip Pyle
First relevant album: Space Shanty, 1972
[/img]
Impact: 0
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to:Gong, Kevin Ayers, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Perhaps the shortest-lived prog band of 1970, certainly the shortest-lived Canterbury band, Khan was formed by folk/blues legend Steve Hillage but only managed to release the one album before disinterest from his record label led Hillage to disband the band and head Gong-ward. By all accounts (well, Wiki’s) their only album was pretty special, so we may end up having to listen to it when the time comes.


Mogul Thrash (1970 – 1971 )

Nationality: English
Original lineup: James Litherland, Michael Rosen, Bill Harrison, John Wetton, Roger Ball, Michael Duncan
First relevant album: Mogul Thrash, 1971
[/img]
Impact: 0 (other than giving the world John Wetton, I guess)
The Trollheart Factor: 2
Linked to: King Crimson, Family, The Average White Band, Asia, Roxy Music, Colosseum, Uriah Heep
Guess I spoke too soon! Mogul Thrash also only got together for one album before splitting. If they left any mark behind it was to give us John Wetton, who would go on to find fame with, among others, King Crimson, Roxy Music and of course end his career with Asia.


Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes ( 1970 – 1981)

Nationality: French
Original lineup: Catherine Ribeiro, Patrice Moullet
First relevant album: No. 2, 1970
[/img]
Impact: 0
The Trollheart Factor: 2
Linked to: Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis
Yes, we experienced Catherine and her two lesbian friends in the previous section, when we checked out what was her first album released in 1969 as part of our Over the Garden Wall feature. So why is she here again? Well, it seems that after that one album she and Patrice changed the band name, and so technically 1970 saw the birth of Catherine Ribeiro + Alpes, which was the name they retained right up to their last album, released in 1980.

YU Grupa ((i) 1970 – 1981 (ii) 1987 - )

Nationality: Serbian
Original lineup: Dragi and "Žika" Jeli?, Miodrag Okrugi?, Velibor Bogdanovi?
First relevant album: YU Grupa, 1973
[/img]
Impact: 0
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to: A whole lot of Serbian bands I ain’t even gonna try to write down! Nobody outside of their native country though.
Surely the first, certainly the longest-lasting prog rock band to come out of the former Yugoslavia, from which presumably they originally took their name, YU Grupa were the first to combine traditional Balkan instruments into their music. They’re big in Belgrade, apparently.
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Old 10-28-2019, 02:20 PM   #153 (permalink)
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So that appears to be the list of bands who started off, got together or called themselves a band in 1970. But as these new suns rose (well, some of them anyway) what of the stars that fell to earth? Which bands, formed in the sixties but unable to break through or for whatever reason calling time on their careers, folded in 1970? And what, if anything, happened to them? Glad you asked.

The Beatles
You don’t need me to tell you what happened when the “world’s greatest rock group” decided to call it a day, do you? Four, well, three successful solo careers, (sorry, Ringo: drummers don't have successful careers, didn't you know that? What do you mean, talk to Phil Collins?) that is until poor John Lennon got shot by some fucking lunatic in the 1980s. Or was it the CIA? Makes you think, doesn’t it? No, it really doesn’t.

The Nice
As already explained in two entries above, the Nice basically became the springboard for the launch of the career of Keith Emerson, at the helm of the new supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who would usually be known simply as ELP. The other two didn’t do so badly either. Actually, they did. As related already, Lee Jackson formed Jackson Heights, but all they experienced over five albums was lows, leaving him to join Patrick Moraz in the rather appropriately-titled Refugee, while Brian Davison formed Every Which Way, which went no which way and after one album he followed his former bandmate for refuge with Moraz. Rather unfortunately for both, it would seem, Moraz then ditched them both to go occupy the empty seat left behind Rick Wakeman’s keyboard banks in Yes.

All three rejoined in 2002 for a Nice reunion concert series. Davison died six years later of a brain tumour, while Emerson shot himself, doing a Cobain in 2016, leaving only Lee Jackson as the remaining member of the Nice.

Organisation
After releasing their only album, Tone Float, Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider-Esleben left the band to form a little-known outfit named Kraftwerk, leaving the remaining Organisation members to head back to college. Ah, those Germans, huh?

Quill
Never heard of them? Not to worry, neither have I. They were gone by 1970, though not before making something of a name for themselves across their native US soil by supporting not only bands like The Dead, The Kinks, The Who and Deep Purple, but also once opening for Steve Martin! How many rock bands, never mind prog rock bands, can say that? They even played at Woodstock (and again, how many prog bands managed that?) but somehow the gods were against them, as their performance, due to be broadcast in the famous film about the festival, was omitted due to a glitch in the tape. Don’t you just love those ancient recording mechanisms? Hey, they were even produced at one time by Jon Bon Jovi’s cousin, Tony!

Headed by two brothers, Jon and Dan Cole, the disappointment at missing out on the biggest advertising and PR opportunity of the sixties depressed the two, and Jon went off to pursue a career in alternative power sources. Today he runs one of the world’s largest solar power companies. Dan got into the production and management business, software development and eventually became a private investor and management consultant. He didn’t give up the world of music though, and is apparently still writing and recording in his own studio.

Sam Gopal
Who? We didn’t even cover them. Him. Whatever. But to be fair, neither did we cover Quill, and they’re on the list, so maybe he, they, whatever was or were a big prog name before… no. I see first of all it’s a he, and second he is or was a psych musician. One guy huh? How do you suppose one guy disbands? Was he a leper? A Transformer before his time? Let’s find out.

Oh no wait: Sam Gopal is a guy’s name, but he also named his band after himself. How very arrogant of you, sir. Well it seems our Mr. Gopal has the distinction of having been the only prog, well, prog-worthy act to have come from the fair shores of Malaysia, of all places, so that’s interesting in itself. Why is he in an article about prog, you ask? Frankly, so do I. I guess one claim to fame is that he, sorry they performed on the same stage as Pink Floyd, The Crazy World of You-Know-Who and Soft Machine, though not at the same time I expect. The mighty Hendrix sat in with them on one gig. Impressive, though hardly prog I think.

Oh look! At one point Sam’s lineup included Hawkwind and later Motorhead metal god Lemmy. Now that is good! Doesn’t say what happened to our Sam, but he/they is/are down as having kicked it to the curb in 1970, so I guess that was the end of them. Him. Whatever.
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Old 10-28-2019, 08:54 PM   #154 (permalink)
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And now, a new section

This is where, rather obviously, we’ll note any other interesting, important or amusing events that took place in the world of prog during that year. And for 1970 the headlines are:

BANKS SAYS NO TO YES!
Not Tony, of Genesis fame, for never did he wander onto stage with Anderson and Wakeman, but yea, did he stay verily true, plighting his troth to his bandmates in Genesis. In other words, no it wasn’t the keyboard player and co-founder of one of the biggest prog rock bands in the world who missed out on being in another of the biggest prog rock bands in the world. This was Peter Banks, who had played guitar on Yes’s debut self-titled album, and his career is an interesting one.

And here it is.

Starting with a band called, rather ominously, The Devil’s Disciples, he would replace Ray Fenwick in The oddly-named Syndicats, Ray having replaced one Steve Howe. Hold that thought. Banks then teamed up with future Yes-man (sorry) Chris Squire in The Syn, who you may remember we featured all the way back at the beginning of this journal. The Syn had no releases but did kind of give birth to Yes, or some of them, which is why they were included. He followed Squire to his next band, Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, who were to rename themselves in the affirmative.

Banks’s claim to fame, or one of them at any rate, is that it was he who came up with the name for the band, after Jon Anderson had suggested Life and Chris Squire World, but Yes was settled on and adopted by the band. Under this name they recorded their first album, but for the second, Time and a Word, Anderson wanted to use an orchestra. Guitarists don’t like orchestras; they take over their guitar parts and leave them twiddling their thumbs and fuming in impotence. Or at least, this one had that effect on Peter Banks, who had been against the idea from the start. “Musical differences” emerged and he was asked to leave the band. He didn’t say no. Sorry. In one of those twists of fate that makes you think she must have a really warped sense of humour, he was replaced in Yes by none other than Steve Howe. Howe’s that for revenge? Sorry again.

Undeterred, Banks went on to form his own band, Flash, who did all right, but split in 1973 after three albums. His next band was Empire, who also recorded three albums, but oddly none were released. They broke up in 1979. Meanwhile Banks had made a friend of Jan Akkerman of Focus and had also played with both Phil Collins and Steve Hackett of Genesis. He tried his hand at recording a few solo albums, mostly instrumental, and in 1993 co-ordinated the release of a special Yes compilation album, and worked right up until his death at the age of 65 from heart failure. His body was found after he failed to show up for a recording session. Now that’s rock’n’roll, if not exactly prog.

Perhaps the greatest accolade paid him was to be named as “one of the ten great prog rock guitarists” in Gibson Guitar’s Lifestyle Magazine, and an epitaph could be a quote from that which remarked that “Before there was Steve Howe, there was Peter Banks.” Steve Howe was probably unavailable for comment.

NO TRESPASSING! ALL CHANGING AT GENESIS!
Indeed. One of the original founder members of Genesis, Anthony Phillips should have had a glittering career with the prog rock icons, but found he could not play onstage. He literally suffered from terrible stagefright, and the band, shocked at his departure, forced on medical grounds, considered breaking up, but instead hired a new guitarist, Steve Hackett. Phillips went on to record some solo albums, but after a disastrous foray into the world of pop retreated to his first love, classical music, and became a music teacher and composer. He still records, but is very specialised in what he does.

John Mayhew, who had played drums on their second album Trespass, was ditched too and replaced by Phil Collins, who would become both their mainstay drummer and, later, lead vocalist until he left in the 1990s to pursue his solo career.

BRAINBOX LOSE FOCUS!
Or to be more accurate (these Fleet Street hacks, huh? Always looking for a good headline while not being too worried about how appropriate to the story it is) Brainbox GAIN Focus. In other words, both Jan Akkerman and Pierre van der Linden left the one-shot crazy weird band whose only album we featured in 1969’s Over the Garden Wall, and joined Focus, where they would hit gold (probably not literally in terms of sales) with their second album. Akkerman left in 1976 but returned for a reunion in 1985, leaving again in 1990 for good this time while Van der Linden is still there, and Focus are still recording and releasing albums.

So that’s the bands who were formed, dissolved (not literally, of course!) and the headlines for the year 1970. As for the albums? Well, as I said we have about forty to choose from, so I tell ya what, I’ll get back to you on that, okay?
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:41 PM   #155 (permalink)
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And here I am, back with the list. To be fair, it’s hard to discount any of the albums released in 1970 that contributed to the prog scene, so I haven’t. Well, not many.

The Madcap Laughs - Syd Barrett

While I can find no actual reference to this album being prog rock of any sort, it has to be accepted that without Syd the chances are that Pink Floyd might not have existed, or might have been a totally different band. Certainly, “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and “Wish You Were Here” would likely not have been written, and, while Syd’s musical and mental demise is sad and lamentable, sometimes it’s tragedy that brings the best out of a band. And so we owe it to the mad one to at least listen to and review his debut solo album, released in the year his old band would start to make major waves. Without him.

The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other - Van der Graaf Generator

Second album from a band who would become very important to the emerging prog scene, blending elements of jazz and blues into their music, and influencing a whole slew of young bright-eyed hopefuls in the future. At this point though, VDGG were bright-eyed hopefuls, and their debut album, released the previous year, had hardly set the charts alight. This one wouldn’t either. It did however scrape into the top forty, by the skin of its teeth, a better performance than The Aerosol Grey Machine, and indeed their best ever chart placing.

Egg - Egg

I know nothing about Egg, other than that they were big on the Canterbury Scene, and they were the band Steve Hillage wasn’t in. I’ll be finding out more about them as I review this and their other albums, this being their debut. Obviously.

Benefit - Jethro Tull

I feel this may be a dodgy choice, as it seems to have been some time into their career before Tull achieved a sound that could in any way be described as progressive rock, but I can hardly ignore icons like them, so we’ll give it a listen, but I won’t expect too much. Hey hey hey! I’ll give them the “benefit” of the doubt! Yes? No? Have it your way then. Moving on…

Yeti - Amon Duul II

Considered very important in the new Krautrock scene, this is Amon Duul’s second album, and some say, their best. We’ll see.

In the Wake of Poseidon - King Crimson

Having exploded onto the prog rock scene the previous year with the now-classic In the Court of the Crimson King, Fripp’s boys did not rest on their laurels, releasing their second album a mere seven months later. It further reinforced their place as future prog rock giants. It says here.

Barclay James Harvest - Barclay James Harvest

Always thought this was an interesting name for a band. Not interesting enough for me to check them out though, which means that I know almost nothing about them. Have to change that. This was their debut album.

Home - Procul Harum

I’ve already been impressed with their first three albums, so hopefully the fourth will continue that trend.

Third - Soft Machine

These guys, on the other hand, have yet to impress me. Big they may have been in Canterbury, but I wasn’t sold on their first two albums. It’s Soft Machine again, with their imaginatively-titled third album.

Time and a Word - Yes

This is the Yes album (no, not The Yes Album!) I spoke of in the … And in Other Prog News feature, the one where Jon and the boys decided to use an orchestra.
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:46 PM   #156 (permalink)
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Supertramp - Supertramp

Already inadvertently reviewed twice by me in my main journal, we’ll be looking into Supertramp’s debut again. Almost more of a folk record, somewhat in the From Genesis to Revelation mould, it nevertheless signposted some of the greatness that was to come from this band.

Weasels Ripped My Flesh - The Mothers of Invention

What is it with Zappa and rodents? First Hot Rats and now this? Ah, sanity, how I fear for you! The things I do for prog!

If i Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You - Caravan

What a great title! If it wasn’t Caravan, one of the leaders of the Canterbury scene, this album would gain its place here just for that imaginative title. But it is, and they are, and it is. Capische?

Atom Heart Mother - Pink Floyd

While Syd was finding himself, or losing himself, or doing whatever the hell it was with himself after leaving Floyd, Gilmour, Waters, Mason and Wright were getting on with it. With a proper, working band now and no issues to concern them (at least, in the studio) they crafted their first album to break them commercially, hitting the number one spot. This was also their first foray into working with Storm Thorgerson’s Hipgnosis, who would design so many of their iconic album sleeves.

Trespass - Genesis

Ah, the first of what I consider the “real” Genesis album, Trespass set down a template other prog bands would follow, with long, involved songs telling long, involved stories and creating the persona of stuck-up arty bands whose feet weren’t rooted in the real world. One of my all-time favourite Genesis albums, it was the end for poor Anthony Phillips, but the beginning of a glorious career for Genesis, leading the charge of the riders on the prog rock storm.

Chunga’s Revenge - Frank Zappa

And here he is again. Like a turd in my bowl who just won’t flush away, it’s Zappa again. For the second time in the same year. Again. As a matter of fact, it would have been three times, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to listen to Burnt Weeny Sandwich too! There’s only so much one man can take!

Air Conditioning - Curved Air

I already spoke about the problems Curved Air had in the previous section. This is their debut album.

Emerson, Lake and Palmer - Emerson, Lake and Palmer

If any band typified the excesses and overblown self-indulgence of progressive rock, it was ELP. Though they had masses of fans, they had probably as many detractors, and were seen as elitist and arrogant, claims which are hard to deny. We’ll get to all of that in due course, but for now this was their debut album, after the breakup of The Nice.

Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant

Already referenced in some detail in the ProGenitors section, this is the debut album from the trio of brothers who tried, didn’t really make it, but gained a cult following even decades after their demise.

He to He Who Am the Only One - Van der Graaf Generator

Yes, back then some bands did release more than one album in a year. VDGG were another, their third effort hitting the shelves as 1970 drew to a close.
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Lizard - King Crimson

Not to be outdone, King Crimson got a second one (their third in all) out too, before the year closed.

Act One - Beggars Opera

I haven’t yet decided if this album will be reviewed in the normal timeline or as part of Over the Garden Wall. They don’t seem to have been that well-known or influential, but I could be wrong. One way or another, we’ll get to the debut from these guys.

In and Out of Focus or Focus Plays Focus - Focus

But these guys are definitely in. Jan Akkerman left Brainbox and joined up with Thijs van Leer, and prog history was made.

Magma - Magma

One of the only French prog bands to release an album this year, Magma created the sub-genre known as zeuhl, of which we’ll learn more later. This was their debut album.



We’ll also be looking at some of these albums in Over the Garden Wall. It’s almost certain that we won’t get to them all but we’ll see how we go.

Quill - Quill

We’ve already come across Quill in the section on bands formed this year. This was their one and only album.

Ahora Mazda - Ahora Mazda

Another band to have only one album, this time a Dutch one. Seem to have been something along the lines of the prog Grateful Dead…

Barrett - Syd Barrett

The second and final album from the ex-Floydie seems to bear no resemblance to prog at all, but as it’s him I thought we really needed to do it, so I’m popping it in here.

Aardvark - Aardvark

Surely destined to come first in any alphabetical search for prog albums, Aardvark’s claim to fame is to have had future Free founders Simon Kirke and Paul Kossoff in their band at one time. When they went off to seek fame and glory, the anteating ones released… one album. And apparently they had no guitarist, which is odd, given that their second album, released in, um, 2016 (!) was titled Guitar’d ‘n Feathered! Guess they must have found someone to play the axe then!

Almendra II - Almendra

Very hard to track down, this. A band from Argentina (the first we’ve had here? I thnk possibly) and seem to have had little or nothing to do with prog, but Wiki have it on their list. Seems to be a LOT of tracks on it, but as there are no times I don’t know how long it runs for. Guess I’ll find out.

Earwax - Association P.C.

German/Dutch band of whom it was apparently said that “eighty percent of [them] is electronics”. Hmm.
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Note: sorry for the superhuge pictures on some of the albums: ****ers on ProgArchives apparently never heard of resizing!
Cressida - Cressida

Took their name from a famous fizzy drink - oh no wait, that was Cresta. Oh well.

Output - Wolfgang Dauner

Jazz fusion pianist. Why is his album here? **** knows. Maybe I will, once I get to it. Maybe not.

Goliath - Goliath

A grandiose-sounding name for a band who had one album and then folded. Oh well.

Trauma - Gomorra

Very unsure about this one. Both ProgArchives and Discogs say the album was released in 1971, so chances are Wiki got it wrong. German prog band who at least had two albums, whihc puts them ahead of the last few anyway.

Gracious! - Gracious

And this one beats them too, with three albums.

Marsupilami - Marsupilami

Jesus! Where did these bands get their names from? Speaking of…

Moving Gelatine Plates - Moving Gelatine Plates

Another French proto-prog band. Of course they are.

Present From Nancy - Supersister

Not a sister in sight. Nor, indeed, anyone named Nancy.

It’ll All Work Out In Boomland - T2

Sure it will.

Walrus - Walrus

Not to be confused with the seventies prog band Sealion, who did not exist.

Tombstone Valentine - Wigwam

If you think that’s an odd name for an album, their debut was called, ahem, Hard’n’Horny! Oh, I see! They’re Finnish! Well, that explains it. Oh no wait, it doesn’t.
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Album title: The Madcap Laughs
Artiste: Syd Barrett
Nationality: English
Label: Harvest
Year: 1970
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Only via the first two Floyd albums
The Trollheart Factor: 3
Landmark value: 5
Tracklisting: Terrapin/No Good Trying/Love You/No Mans Land/Dark Globe/Here I Go/Octopus/Golden Hair/Long Gone/She Took a Long Cold Look/Feel/If It’s in You/Late Night
Comments: Although we’re only beginning the seventies here, Barrett’s music always seems to me to have been firmly rooted in the sixties, with no intention of or willingness to come into the new decade. This has flower power written all over it. The opening track is whimsical and limp, played seemingly mostly on an acoustic guitar, while there’s a certain sense of Floydesque feedback on “No Good Trying to Love You” (perhaps a synonym for how the band felt about him before dismissing him?) and “Love You” sounds like a rushed version of a Beatles/Kinks crossover, though it does have some nice piano in it.

Interesting to see that the man who would replace him in Floyd, Dave Gilmour plays bass here. Perhaps he felt he owed something to the man whose job he was taking? “No Mans Land” features a kind of muttered laconic vocal in the lead-out, which probably best represents Barrett’s approach to music, almost a motif for his way of working in the studio. Apparently he often responded to requests as to what key a song was in from other musicians working with him with a non-committal “Yeah”. Must have been hard to work with the guy. “Dark Globe” almost sounds like Waters is singing, but no it’s Syd of course, again acoustic guitar driven, and you can hear the kind of confused, chaotic way he’s playing. “Here I Go” is another sixties pastiche, then “Octopus” is regarded as the best track on the album, but really that’s not saying much. Sort of puts me in mind of “I Am the Walrus”...

It sounds all very derivative to me, like he’s copying the Beatles really, but it’s not terrible. Definitely not prog though, in any way, shape or form, and had I not heard the first two albums I would never have linked him to Pink Floyd. “Golden Hair” has something about it, a kind of dark menace with tinkling piano like bells and a slow, laconic guitar with a sort of fractured vocal. Despite the fact that it’s a mere two minutes long it says this was the eleventh take! I suppose that just underlines how difficult a person he was to work with. “Long Gone” is another acoustic ballad, but with the rising powerful organ line it’s the closest I see this coming to any sort of Floyd tune.

“She Took a Long Cold Look”, on the other hand, passes by without making any impression on me, while “Feel” sounds like it could have had something but Syd doesn’t seem interested, and the production (or his vocal) keeps coming and going, fading in and out. I also don’t think much of the stop/start instructions and chatter going on during the beginning of “If It’s In You” - if this is intended, a way of showing the usually-shut-out public how things can go on in the studio, a kind of backstage pass to the recording process, then fine. But this is not what it is: this seems to have been the best take the producer could get from Syd, and in a sort of resigned way it was left in. The song, by the way, is fucking awful, Syd howling like a wolf, often not in tune. Worst of the bunch by a long long way. At least it’s short.

Which leaves us with “Late Night”, which is a lot better, with what I think is the first proper electric guitar riff; I would have said Gilmour but he’s shown only as playing bass and acoustic guitar, so I guess it’s Syd, so props to him for that. But it’s too little too late, and can’t rescue what is kind of a train wreck of an album, that didn’t need to be. There are some good ideas in there, he just doesn’t seem to have known how to use them properly or mould them into songs.

The Madcap may have laughed, but he didn’t have the last laugh.


Favourite track(s): Dark Globe, Octopus, Golden Hair, Long Gone
Least favourite track(s): If It’s In You
Overall impression: Not a terrible album but, made by anyone else, this would have sunk without a trace. As it kind of did, but it got special attention due to being made by an ex-member of Pink Floyd. All I can say is I’m glad he did leave, as I’d hate to have seen him drag the others in this weird, return-to-the-past direction he seemed determined to head. Look, maybe Barrett was a misunderstood genius, or a genius who was unable to communicate his ideas to others in order to have them properly executed, or maybe he was just a musician who thought he was better than he was. Maybe, had his mental state been better, this might have been a better album. But I’m reminded of a scene from the series Red Dwarf that perhaps illustrates the problem.

Lister: “The last time you sat your engineer’s exam, you wrote I am a fish a hundred times on the paper, did a funny little dance, and fainted.”
Rimmer: “If you must know, Lister, what I did was write a thesis on porous circuitry that was so different, so ground-breaking, so ahead of its time that nobody could appreciate it.”
Lister: “Yeah. You said you were a fish.”
If we use this as an analogy for Syd Barrett, I believe that what he did here was write I am a fish all over this album, then perhaps not fainted but certainly passed out, out of the possibility of ever being a true rock star. Maybe that’s not what he wanted, which is just as well, as it’s not what he got.
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Album title: The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other
Artist: Van der Graaf Generator
Nationality: English
Label: Charisma
Year: 1970
Grade: A
Previous Experience of this Artist: See The Aerosol Grey Machine
The Trollheart Factor: 6
Landmark value: If for nothing more than giving the world two of its premier prog vocalists in Peter Gabriel and Fish - in addition to Peter Hammill himself - Van der Graaf would be indispensable to prog rock. But apart from that, they inspired so many other bands and influenced the overall prog rock sound by building on jazz and classical in a perhaps more accessible way than contemporaries ELP, that they have forever assured themselves of their place in progressive rock history.
Tracklisting: Darkness (11/11)/Refugees/White Hammer/Whatever Would Robert Have Said?/Out of My Book/After the Flood
Comments: Only six tracks, but one is the kind of length we would go on to see increasingly used by prog rock bands, coming in at eleven and a half minutes. You can already hear the sound that would colour Genesis’s later prog rock concept masterpiece The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in the darker, more ominous tone of the opener, “Darkness (11/11)” with a powerhouse vocal performance from Hammill and some great sax from David Jackson. Another instrument that prog rock claimed almost exclusive ownership of was the organ, and here it’s used to great effect by Hugh Banton, coloured by some superb touches on the piano. I’m sure he wasn’t the first to use the technique, but I haven’t heard anyone use whispering on a prog rock track up to this, sort of echoing the sung vocal in a foreshadowing somewhat of how Roger Waters would later howl the vocal in a very short delay after his normal one, the best or at least most effective example of which I can bring to mind is on “The Gunner’s Dream” on The Final Cut. I’m sure you know what I mean.

Attempting something that again few if any prog bands up to then had done, “Refugees” changes the tone completely, a simple ballad driven on soft organ and breathy sax, and here we see how effortlessly Hammill changes his vocal to suit the song. Where on the opener he was loud, brash, manic even, here he’s gentle and relaxed, a trick Gabriel would certainly utilise to the full later. This has always been one of my favourite VDGG songs. I think they may have been the first to use a choral effect, too, though of course that may not be the case. Actually, no: didn’t the Moody Blues do that? Well it sounds great either way.

Starting slowly but building, “White Hammer” uses the organ to great effect, and Hammill is back to his manic, angry best. What I like about the way VDGG use the horns here is that they don’t blast you away with them, but yet they’re not what you’d call soft or relaxed. They’re powerful, but not in your face. In fairness, this is not always how the band use them, but on this album they’re just right for me. The track goes into almost a doom metal groove there near the end as everything explodes in a sort of frenetic madness, Hammill laughing maniacally. Major stuff.

After that shock to the system, “Whatever Would Robert Have Said?” has a sort of striding rock vibe, with some great vocal harmonies and some incredible vocal gymnastics by Hammill, a lovely duet between Banton on the organ and Jackson on the sax about halfway through. “Out of My Book” is the only track on the album not written solo by Hammill, and also the shortest as he collaborates with Jackson on a sweet pastoral little ballad, then in total contrast “After the Flood” is the longest track, the already-mentioned song that runs for just under eleven and a half minutes. In prog terms, this would not even be seen as particularly long, and beside Pawn Hearts’ “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” it would pale into insignificance, but up to then it was the longest track that Van der Graaf Generator had recorded and it closes the album in fine style.

Some interesting sound effects here, considering the band hadn’t access to the kind of synthesisers that would characterise the latter half of the seventies, and to some extent I guess it could be linked to Genesis’s “Watcher of the Skies” as a song about the passing of man and his kingdoms. A lot of different changes as you would expect in a song of this length, a few really good instrumental passages, and the thing is really kept ticking over, never allowed to flag for a moment, with one of what would become their famous freak-out jams petering out into a soft acoustic guitar part, everything calming down until Hammill starts roaring like a Bowie convert then turns into a Dalek for what it’s said is “prog rock’s scariest moment”, when he growls “Annihilation!” Pffft, didn’t scare me. Then he goes into an almost inaudible murmur before the organ rises (yes, yes, ooer I know!) and brings him with it, his voice soaring in triumphant despair to survey the carnage, again like the Watcher in Genesis’s 1972 epic.

Favourite track(s): Everything
Least favourite track(s): Nothing
Overall impression: What do you expect me to say? I love this album, and it’s a real step forward for prog. Yes would certainly take the crown, sharing it with a few others and VDGG would be left standing a little to the right of the throne, near the toilets, but they showed the way and this is what you call a true prog record, perhaps even the first such, other than King Crimson’s epic debut. Fucking superb.
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