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Re: More Prog Rock (was: Hiromi)
At 3:23 PM +0000 6/21/06, Christophe wrote:
>I think the whole prog-bashing trend started as sour grapes on the
>part of kids who just didn't have the chops to play it. As I
>recall, at the same time that prog was declared a dinosaur by these
>young turks virtuosity in general was poo-pooed just as much.
That's certainly not how it was when it started. For instance, The
Stranglers, who are generally given credit for releasing the first
Punk LP ('Rattus Norvegicus', which predated the Sex Pistols' 'Never
Mind the Bollocks' release by several weeks) had fantastic "chops".
Listen to many of the songs from 'Black & White', their 3rd studio
album, with Dave Greenfield's Manzarek-inspired keyboard runs or JJ
Burnel's hooky bass lines. They merely knew when to use chops and
when to let the song, however raw, speak for itself.
And the early American groups that were the inspiration for the
British -- like the Ramones, MI-5, & Iggy Pop -- usually didn't
really trash the whole concept of being able to play well. That just
wasn't where they were interested in putting their emphasis.
On the other hand, you also had just as many prog-rockers (such as
Phil Collins) slagging off Punk as completely without merit. "That's
not music; that's crap!"
Then came the infighting and the genre wars; not to mention the
Post-Punk period, where if you tried to put anything left of the
party line back into your music, you were deemed a "sell out" and
gobbed upon by the leftover Punk contingent. This wasn't much helped
by the British music press, who were notoriously vicious at this time
(New Music Express, for instance, which was generally referred to by
most bands as N.M.E. -- as in "enemy"). They often exploited the
trend-hopping and infighting just to sell magazines.
However, there still remains good expressive music on both sides. I
could probably name you a dozen fantastic Punk groups off the top of
my head (stop worrying; I'll spare you). Returning to the Prog side
though, I'm surprised that Henry Cow -- as well as many of the other
Fred Frith projects -- hasn't yet come up. Their first album,
'Legend' (pronounced Leg End, heh!) alone is worth honorable mention,
if nothing else.
And, out of left field, I'll also throw in the Dutch group Focus, who
achieved some minor visibilty with 'Hocus Pocus' during the 70's -- a
song which featured not only Jan Akkerman's lightening fast guitar
"chops" but also YODELLING!!! In this case, I've always been fond of
their 'Hamburger Concerto', which is alternately bombastically
overblown, simplistically silly, charmingly pretentious, and quite
"You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike..."