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Monday, February 25, 2008


It just dawned on me that there wasn't any American contribution to the 70's Prog Rock thing. That thought came as I was pondering a title for this post, but it's merely an aside.

What made we want to post about Prog was the fact that I was listening to Yes in the car on the way home tonight, and when I got home I saw this post by Misanthrope.

Every once in a while I give 'Tales of Topographic Oceans' another chance. There are moments, certain melody lines, and a fair amount of rippage by Mr. Howe, but as anyone who has gone on this fools errand will tell you, it's not worth the trouble.

In any kind of music, it's important to write good songs. For all of the four side-long compositions there is maybe two-thirds of a side's worth of worthwhile music.

This is the curse of Prog. It requires though - a lot of thought, and once you get to thinking your focus switches to conceptual mode, and then you're lost.

And then there's Fripp.

King Crimson begins as a band. Robert Fripp is only a guitar player and occasional writer on the first record. Over the course of the ensuing records we see him ascend to his eventual dictatorial role. At first he seems to try and use the various contributions of others, their individuality, to further his vision. Then, by 'Red', the band coalesces around the vision. It becomes a sound. You could hear the sound on earlier records, it was always there, but there was always other things happening as well. That shit needed to go. Improv was out, math was in, and it worked. It worked really well.

I'm sure it took a lot of thought.

So why does thinking help King Crimson and kill Yes?

One person's vision is easier to attain - within the construct of a performance - than the visions of five people.

Genesis is confounding. They are a democracy. At the peak of their thinking, Gabriel quit because he needed more time to think and was out voted. After that the thinking slowed down very gradually at first, but then Steve Hackett quit, and it's unclear exactly what he was thinking, but it doesn't require much thought to understand what happened after Steve left.....

.....a lot less thinking, and a more unified vision. It translated into more record sales, but, well, I mean I don't listen to 'Duke' or 'Genesis' much, not a lot of time spent with 'Three Sides Live' on the turntable. Of course I own them.....well, I don't own 'Invisible Touch' or anything since. I must draw the line.

The line is Krokus. If it's worse than Krokus, I won't buy it.

There are Krokus albums I won't buy. I suppose they are worse than Krokus.

Krokus isn't Prog. I got distracted.

ELP is Prog.

I don't like them.

I have most of their records though.

At times, during ELP recordings, none of them are playing the song, or even listening to each other. ELP are the poster boys for 'because we can' music. I think they should have thought about weather or not they should.

Mostly they shouldn't have.

Rush is Canadian. They think about their music AND baseball. It's easier for three to act as one, but they should be commended for their consistency of vision and perseverance through difficult times.

The Germans had Amon Duul and Gong, the Swedes gave us Focus, the French trump it all with Magma, but no Yankee Prog.

Americans don't like to think much, except with our crotches or our wallets.

Krokus were from Switzerland..........

Now this is a genre of music I can honestly say that I appreciate the musicianship, but it just bores me to death for the most part. I'll listen in small does and that's fine, but a whole Crimson record will put me to sleep. I won't mock it as I did during my wasted youth, but it's headache inducing in large doses.

Rush being the exception to all those named. They rock.

"If its worse that Krokus, I won't buy it"

The crap post-Gabriel Genesis is definately worse than Krokus
Yeah, what he said.
I, too, have tried to redeem Topographic Oceans, but it is, indeed, a fool's errand. The band pretty much admits the same. They all agree they had too much for another single album and not enough for a double-album, so you get these lame improvs that just don't stop. If in doubt about when a band is going to start sucking, use the Bruford monitor. He knows when to get out.

Hackett left the band because they weren't giving him enough time on the records for his songs. Having heard his solo records, I have to admit the band had a point. He is a very interesting guitarist, but the compositions are hit or miss.
I got distracted.
What were you on about/aboot?
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