I Robot (1977) by The Alan Parsons Project

Categories: 1977 and Music.

When I was young and obsessed with prog rock, people used to make fun of me. They would learn I loved prog and they would be bemused or even a little shocked/outraged. And I was confused because I really liked the stuff. Eventually, I realized that those who made fun of my tastes were often talking about different prog. One day my friend just started ripping on Supertramp and then apologized to me and I finally realized that what my friends thought was prog and what I was listening to were two different types of prog. Based on this record, Read More

The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage (1974) by Peter Hammill

Categories: 1974 and Music.

This is a weird combination of what sounds like super eccentric singer-songwriter solo stuff and music that is basically Van Der Graaf Generator. It’s an odd mix that I would find less appealing if I didn’t like Hammill or VDGG so much. It’s great that Hammill wrote so much so that even when the band was on hiatus he just had so much material. But one of the things I struggle with while listening to solo albums from the frontmen or songwriters of bands is when their solo music sounds too much like their band. That’s a weird problem to Read More

Camembert Electrique (1971) by Gong

Categories: 1971 and Music.

This is the first proper Gong album I’ve heard, because, for some reason, I’ve only heard their jazz rock spinoff to date. It seems pretty obvious to me that Allen was once in Soft Machine because this sure sounds to me like the kind of music The Softs were making early in their career. And maybe that’s why I find the record a little underwhelming. It is wacky, out there, fun, and ridiculous, as well as well-played, but I sort of feel like I’ve heard music like this from The Softs back in the 60s. I guess what I’m trying Read More

The Grass is Greener (1970) by Colosseum

Categories: 1970 and Music.

I didn’t realize this was a weird, US-only hybrid album when I bought it. I somehow convinced myself it was their most recommended album (I guess I was listening to some US critics…). Anyway… The influence of Cream is particularly heavy here, on the opening track and the Bruce cover (even though it wasn’t a cream song). It’s kind of shocking but it also acts as the missing link between Cream and so much jazz and prog rock. The album is a hybrid of things not usually found together: jazz rock and prog rock. At their most jazzy, they don’t Read More

Interview (1976) by Gentle Giant

Categories: 1976 and Music.

The idea that this is the first weak Gentle Giant album just doesn’t match what I’m hearing. Yes, I’m not sure the concept holds up all that well (this is a musical “interview” or something…), but the band is still quite capable of making their nutty, extremely inaccessible prog. The songs feel like maybe their lacking strong enough melodies. And it sure is short. But I can’t say I dislike it anyway, as it’s still very much GG doing their thing, something I think I’ll always appreciate. 7/10 Read More

In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971) by Caravan

Categories: 1971 and Music.

When I first listened to this I didn’t like it at all, and I’m not sure why. I didn’t like it to the extent that I removed it from our next podcast, telling my cohost that it “wasn’t one of their best.” I guess maybe it was the lack of Hastings songs – his are a little more immediate, I think. Anyway, now that I’ve had some time to digest, it’s pretty great. It’s very Caravan, but that’s not a bad thin – the weird and whimsical lyrics and the keyboard solos (and occasional winds and reeds). I don’t like Read More

The Yes Album (1971)

Categories: 1971 and Music.

For most of my prog-rock listening life, I have not fully gotten Yes. I don’t know what it is about them, but of the Big 6 they were long my least favourite. This has changed as I got older, as I have come to find ELP extremely inconsistent and Tull to be more than a little repetitive, but I still don’t love Yes. And I still can’t understand why. I should love them, as I love aspects of what they do, but I don’t. This record is the earliest of theirs I’ve heard so far, but it actually sort of Read More

RIP Chris Squire

Categories: Music and RIP.

Among the “Big 6” prog bands, Yes was long my least favourite (though, as I age, ELP has taken their place very handily) – I have always found their discography rather immense and, well, kind of repetitive (though I have not given it the time I have given King Crimson’s, for example). So, maybe how I feel about Squire will change once I get around to giving Yes’ discography the full attention it likely deserves, but who knows. For the moment: Read More

In the Wake of Poseidon (1970) by King Crimson

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Full disclosure: King crimsion is one of the bands that “changed my life” on a musical level and they remain among my favourites. I have trouble being objective about them. I’m trying, but it’s probably not possible.We should remember that this album was made by a band that wasn’t really a band at all: Michael Giles and Lake were essentially getting pay checks, as was Peter Giles, Collins and Tippett were only seemy involved; almost all of this is Fripp (and Sinfield), and Fripp before he abandonned his tendency for shitty ballads.The decision to split up the ballads from the Read More

For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973) by Caravan

Categories: 1973 and Music.

I really enjoyed the first Caravan album I heard (that would be their second), despite a few glaring drawbacks, and I looked forward to listening to a later one. But this just doesn’t do it for me. For one thing, it’s pretty glaring how conventional these guys were compared to so many other prog bands. And this album, released in prog’s big year of 1973 – when seemingly every major progressive rock band released a classic record – just doesn’t sound particularly forward thinking compared to most of the other major prog rock bands. That doesn’t mean it’s bad, it’s Read More

Tarkus (1971) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Categories: 1971 and Music.

I think if anyone had any doubt back in 1971 that Emerson was the greatest rock keyboardist ever, the title track probably proved them wrong. It’s too bad that it doesn’t really have the same coherence and oomph of the best side-long prog epics. But it is still the highlight of an album that I guess set ELP on their path of trying to be eclectic – or trying to please different demographics of their fans, not really sure which – which set them up to have such uneven studio albums. I mean the first side is a true prog Read More

Trilogy (1972) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Categories: 1972 and Music.

Having just suffered through some of their late ’70s crap, it’s nice to hear them back in the day when they were still making interesting music. Always over the top, at least this stuff is also provocative. “The Endless Enigma” is almost a classic. It’s too bad the vocal sections are so weak compared to the rest of the composition. And “From the Beginning” is a Lake song I actually don’t hate, so that’s another big positive. On the whole there is a lot to like here with their characteristic unevenness – there seem to me to be very few Read More

Works Volume 2 (1977) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Years ago, when I was still young enough to maintain that ELP was a truly great band, I gave this a listen or three and rated 6/10. I think I wanted to believe the common idea that this is better than Volume 1 because at least here the bands sometimes sounds like ELP. Well, there’re a bunch of problems with that. The idea that this album is related to Volume One is, in itself, a bit of a foolish idea. Volume One was, after all, a way for all three band members to record on their own while still putting Read More

Failure Epics (2012, label unknown)

Categories: 2012 and Music.

It’s been a long time since I’ve heard something via Exclaim‘s ClickHear that I could get excited about. I can get excited about this. Yes, it’s pretty scatter-shot. But that is part of its charm. It embraces a whole whack of genres, each of which I like (or at least don’t mind). The band has chops (imagine that, a band featured on Exclaim! with chops…that wasn’t very nice of me as it does happen…only it feels like less than once a month). Call it prog-something, call it post-something, it doesn’t matter. It’s good. And it’s inventive. And that’s what we Read More

Hawkwind is the Prog-rock version of the Ramones or AC/DC

Categories: Music.

So I’ve heard some Hawkwind before today. But I got to sift through some of their catalogue. Most of their songs (especially from the 1970-75 era) all follow the same format: some kind of riff that continues for ages with various things going on, then a climax and another riff (or two) and some soloing, followed by the original riff again…or something along those lines. These songs range from 4 to 15 minutes (usually around 6-8 minutes) and there are the occasional 1-2 minute pieces which are either weird little instrumentals or the band members talking about space. Wow, it’s Read More

Friday night

Categories: 1973, 1979, 2005, and Music.

I’ve given up on my essay for today and I’m drinking “Austria’s Finest Beer” I’ve been listening to Pink Floyd a lot today and I can’t help thinking how great a guitarist David Gilmour is. Yes, there are far better guitarists in terms of say speed or innovation, but I think few rock guitarists rival his tone, aside from Clapton. It’s just ridiculous. And his solos are always exactly what the song / soundscape needs. While I’m on that, despite all The Wall‘s faults, Bob Ezrin is a brilliant producer. If you can fault The Wall, you can because of Read More