1974, Music

The Civil Surface (1974) by Egg

Here I am coming at yet another band backwards. This time, it’s even worse, because this album was made by Egg after they had broken up, to basically tie up loose ends or something. So, um, it’s probably not the best place to start.

Instrumental prog rock is not for everyone, it’s not even for some prog rock fans. (There is like one track on this album with lyrics.) And I must say, the older I get, the less into it I am. That’s because, the older I get, the more I look for songs in addition to musicianship, something I really didn’t care about when I was 20. But I still like instrumental stuff when it’s really compelling, and sometimes this music reaches that level for me.

This is a weird one, though. I don’t know how this compares to their work when they were still together. Those wind quartet pieces come in and basically kill the idea that we’re listening to a rock album. I get that many prog musicians were trained and wanted to show off that on their recordings. I also get that a “rock” band releasing chamber music is the kind of thing that people got excited about within the world of prog, but that kind of thing hasn’t aged well. It feels pretty incongruous, to my ears anyway, and weakens the appeal that has some pretty compelling instrumental prog rock on it. I especially like that track with the bigger and bigger distances between notes, until the gag one at the end.

I’m struggling with it, because I like the longer, proggy tracks, and don’t enjoy as much the shorter, slower tracks that aspire to be chamber music. It’s the kind of problem I would have ignored when I was younger, or perhaps even celebrated. But now, it’s a bit too much for me. On the other hand, I think about a lot of the prog from around this era from what you might call the lower tier British prog bands, and I like this a lot more than that stuff.


PS Love that album name, though.

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