Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I'd Rather Read This Review Than the Book, as Prog Rock was Largely Dull

Still, it had its place.  Also, I think "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" was a nice tribute to a fallen band mate.
This kind of excessive showmanship was part of what attracted fans to the strange musical movement known as progressive rock. In The Show That Never Ends (named for lyrics from Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Washington Post political reporter David Weigel recounts stories like this from the glory days of “prog” in the 1970s, when bands such as Yes, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Genesis composed long, erudite, allusive songs about outer space, ancient myths, dreams of the future, and, in the words of Yes singer Jon Anderson, “discovery of the self and connection with the divine.”

Why the music is called “progressive” has never been entirely clear, and many of the most representative bands didn’t use the label to describe themselves. As with any artistic genre, precise definitions are disputed and boundaries are fuzzy: Debates about whether this or that band (or this or that album or period of a band’s work) is really progressive are a favorite pastime of fans. But the general idea is clear enough. In Weigel’s apt summary, prog had three main musical characteristics: retrospection, with artists looking to English and European influences rather than to contemporary American pop; futurism, using the newest techniques and instruments, like the Moog synthesizer or Mellotron keyboard; and perhaps most importantly, experimentation, with prog artists writing music with “19/8 rhythms, polyrhythms, polytonality,” and other unusual and challenging musical methods. Well-known prog-rock songs include Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” Yes’s “Roundabout,” and Rush’s “Closer to the Heart.”