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Old 01-03-2011, 03:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Prog Out With Your .. It's Prog Rock Week!

Yes!

Most of you by far know what prog rock is. For those who don't, prog rock evolved from psychedelic rock in the late 60s and blossomed in the early 70s. As a genre name, 'prog rock', like 'indie rock' or 'alternative rock' does a poor job of describing the sound of the bands back then. King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Camel, Gentle Giant, Yes, Genesis, Emerson, Lake & Palmer .. aside from being rock bands with a rock instrumentation (more or less, though more often more), these bands didn't always sound alike, but they had a few things in common, such as instrumental excellence and use of untraditional time signatures. The great somewhat unifying idea, however, was to take rock music to new places and elevate it to a higher art form, for example by creating long rock suites similar in build to the classical composers of the past.

After a brief few years of mainstream popularity in the 70s, prog rock's popularity was thoroughly crushed by the emergence of punk which had the complete opposite aesthetic ideal, really simple songs played by people who think that anger and attitude is a valid substitute for musical skill. Into the 80s, many thought of "prog" as a four-letter word, but by the 90s, it's popularity resurfaced and possibly still is increasing today.

Some criticize prog for being difficult, long winded, pretentious and hard to connect with. However, those who enjoy prog are aware that the most rewarding works of art are not always the ones which are the simplest or easiest to "get". Prog rock's magical themes, variety and complexity holds a special place in the heart of more than a few of us here.

If you have not delved into this genre, now's the time. Cause it's prog rock week!
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 01-03-2011, 04:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Gentle Giant's been my favourite prog band for a while, so here's a video of them playing their brilliant song Funny Ways which is found on their self-titled debut from 1970

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Old 01-03-2011, 08:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I always liked Jethro Tull for their Celtic influences. In the 1969 video of Back to Family, Ian Anderson proves my theory that he was the inventor of the grunge look. You'd think it was Eddie Vedder singing except for the tight camera shots of his face.

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Old 01-03-2011, 08:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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^Brilliant Jethro Tull song and video

By the way, since you mention grunge .. As all prog heads already know, Kurt Cobain cited King Crimson's 1974 album Red as a major influence on his music. The title track from that album is a beast of a song. It's sophisticated and intelligent, yet loud, a bit scary and perhaps even a bit ugly in parts. Of course, it is also 100% brilliant!

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Old 01-03-2011, 09:36 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tore View Post
Yes!

...these bands didn't always sound alike, but they had a few things in common, such as instrumental excellence and use of untraditional time signatures.
Actually, this isn't completely true - it's just what proggers want you to think in order that you perceive the genre as "higher" than other musical genres.

Not all proggers were instrumentally "excellent" - Rick Wakeman was no higher than grade 5 or 6 piano, and if you listen to what he played, it was mostly overblown tripe, unlike genuinely great keyboard players like Emerson.

Where is the "excellence" in Uriah Heep", I ask you?

I don't mean to belittle these fine rock musicians - some, like every member of Gentle Giant, were stupidly talented and created astonishing music - but that's all most of them were. Pretentious rock musicians with commendably high ideals.

The use of "untraditional time signatures" wasn't particularly widespread either - for example, the great epic "Suppers' Ready" includes one single 3 minute section in something approaching an unusual time signature, and that's only for rhythmic effect.

It's not even "An Apocalypse in 9/8" as the title would have us think - it's in 9/4.

The core of what I'm saying is that these were not the unifying principles - ideals, possibly, but as generalisations go, these are not accurate ones!

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The great somewhat unifying idea, however, was to take rock music to new places and elevate it to a higher art form, for example by creating long rock suites similar in build to the classical composers of the past.
Again, you could have stuck to the first part of the statement, and it would have been fine.

"New Places" yes.

"Higher art form" not necessarily.

"Long Rock Suites", well, apart from Yes's quasi-symphonic meanderings, a piss-take album by Jethro Tull, and the occasional (and I mean occasional) side-long song - possibly one or two per band - this wasn't the norm, even though it might have felt like it in the live environment.

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After a brief few years of mainstream popularity in the 70s, prog rock's popularity was thoroughly crushed by the emergence of punk which had the complete opposite aesthetic ideal, really simple songs played by people who think that anger and attitude is a valid substitute for musical skill.
Often, these were the same people. For example, at least two of The Sex Pistols.

A 3rd, John Lydon, is known to be a huge fan of Peter Hammill (lead singer of Prog dinosaurs Van Der Graaf Generator).

The Stranglers were closer to prog than punk, musically - and so it goes on.

This myth that punk killed prog is put about by proggers looking for a target, when all along, Prog was the victim of its own success - it started believing that it was invincible in the mighty tides of the sea of pop music (Prog is only a form of pop music - sorry).

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Some criticize prog for being difficult, long winded, pretentious and hard to connect with.
It's a fair cop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tore View Post
However, those who enjoy prog are aware that the most rewarding works of art are not always the ones which are the simplest or easiest to "get".
See?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tore View Post
If you have not delved into this genre, now's the time. Cause it's prog rock week!
Hear, hear!

Although I do not look at (or listen to) Prog with rose-tinted headphones, I enjoy it.

It's a great form of rock music - or rather, a great approach to rock music that arose through the Progressive music traditions set by Stan Kenton in 1947 (and possibly avant-garde composers that preceeded him) and brought together many, many genres of music into a morass of sound that hasn't been equalled since.

Recommended listening;

"Thick as a Brick" - Jethro Tull
"Nursery Cryme" - Genesis
"In The Court of the Crimson King" - King Crimson
"Ars Longa Vita Longa" - The Nice
"You" - Gong
"Mekan´k Destrukt´w Kommand÷h" - Magma
"Saucerful of Secrets" - Pink Floyd
"Mirage" - Camel
"The Rotter's Club" - Hatfield and the North
"Ommadawn" - Mike Oldfield
"Space Ritual" - Hawkwind
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Old 01-03-2011, 10:51 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you for picking apart everything I wrote.

I didn't write that every song put out by a prog band has to be stupidly long. I love Gentle Giant, but I don't think I've ever heard a song from them which was over 10 minutes long. Also, I don't really mean that every prog song has to have untraditional time signatures. How many songs do Pink Floyd have with untraditional time signatures? Only one immediately comes to mind, Money. The point is they did it at some point - I believe all the early big names of the genre did, so why not point it out as something they had in common?

About the instrumental excellence, well, you may not rank Wakeman very high, but we both know that prog is full of people known for their skills with instruments. Instrumental skill does not have the same importance in other genres like f.ex goth rock or new wave. You even mention that Emerson and the guys from Gentle Giant were skilled, so what's the beef? It seems you're really just want to point out that there are exceptions to the rule. Well, yes, I know that - it's usually how it goes with "rules". If I knew the post was going to be scrutinized and so misinterpreted by you, I would have added more "often", "usually" and "sometimes" to the post. Maybe then it would've been more to your satisfaction.

Just what killed prog, okay, maybe it tripped in it's own feet, but I'm sure guys like this and their music also had some influence on how the average music consumer of the late 70s and early 80s viewed the genre.

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Old 01-03-2011, 11:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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i am in no way a huge fan of prog music....although i really did enjoy the 10 song mix you made Tore...of Gentle Giant....one band that i have to say i love that i'm pretty sure falls in the prog genre is Marillion...but i really only like the early stuff when Fish (he has such a great voice) was still the frontman.....espicially Script For Jester's Tear and Misplaced Childhood...and honestly i think their live album The Thieving Magpie is my second favorite live album ever...bested only by Depeche Mode's perfect 101...think i'll throw it on now in celebration


^epic!

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Old 01-03-2011, 12:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Here we go!







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Old 01-03-2011, 12:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Oh, and punks don't kill prog, ridiculous entries do.
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