Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Rufus rag, Mar 5, 2018.
No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
Rush and Kansas are probably the only North American bands (That I know of) that really hold up to their European counterparts.
King Crimson's music changed dramatically through the years. Yes it's true the lineup was in constant rotation, but anyone expecting Larks Tongues in Aspic or Discipline to sound *anything* like In the Court of the Crimson King were in for a shock. By contrast, Yes were in constant flux but their music has always remained relatively the same over the years. Although Heaven & Earth *sucked* righteously, it sounds more or less like the band that did Fragile or Going for the One.
Why would I want to listen to Kansas or Styx when I could listen to Weather Report or Return To Forever or Mahavishnu Orchestra? On the commercial side I have the first four or five albums from Santana and Chicago.
Agree on Yes for the most part. I do think the Rabin years were drastically different, and that Relayer sounds way different because Moraz wasn't as firmly rooted in classical music and brought a much different vibe to things.
Fusion <> prog. That's not really a fair analogy.
No. While they often are classified as such, they're really not all that progressive. Their longest songs are really just jam pieces as opposed to being progressive epics. I consider them more Art Rock than Prog Rock.
Herein lies part of the reason; Spirit had elements of prog in their music, they 'had the chops' , nevertheless many did not consider them to be a prog band ... one of the barriers of labeling artists.
Also one of the problems with all the revisionism.
Absolutely not. I don't think of them as prog either. Other than having long songs, I don't think they have much in common with prog.
That's why I didn't mention the Rabin albums in my reply to you!
Seriously though, I think there is still something of the Yes sound to be found in the Trevor Rabin albums; for that matter, I think there is a distinctive Genesis sound in albums like Shapes or Invisible Touch as commercial as they are.
Relayer is one of the most amazing anomalies in all of prog-dom. I wish they had come up with a couple other ones like that one.
Even after T4E they did evolve their sound quite a bit. It just started to vary a lot less than it did previously in their career. There is a clear evolution between T4E and Vapor Trails, and a clear evolution between Vapor Trails and Snakes & Arrows, etc. etc.
Thanks for mentioning 'Happy The Man'
Had never heard of them before but listening via Tidal as I type this to the album called 'Happy The Man' (Track 1: Starborne) and finding it quite impressive.
Slightly different time frame. But you could (and I would) make a case for Sardonicus as the last great work of the psychedelic era.
And that sure extended to British rock and pop, not just prog at all. There are plenty of examples, I'll give one: Tony Iommi once stated that many of his contributions composition-wise for Black Sabbath were pretty much inspired by the dynamic structure of the Art Music pieces he was fan of, otherwise he would feel quite a few of their songs too repetitive.
Indeed. I've stayed out of this discussion because although it's an interesting question, I saw pretty quickly where it was headed: "But what exactly is prog? Oh no, Band X is definitely not true prog. . . My prog's better than your prog. . . it's all pretentious nonsense anyway, etc." It's pointless to get hung up on these limiting labels, so I prefer to absorb the sounds and maybe reflect on the similarities with other bands and how these scenes developed, sometimes independently but also interacting and overlapping. As others have noted, prog emerged out of the psychedelic experimentation of the late 60s. For me, there were a lot of great bands from that era that sort of bridge the expanse from psychedelia to prog: Procol Harum, The Moody Blues, Traffic, Family, Kaleidoscope, Jack Bruce and countless more. Spirit obviously mixed psych with a snazzy jazz sound in a distinctive way that could be described as progressive--and Randy California made a guest appearance on a Peter Hammill album!--but some people bristle at that term. For many, prog means Symphonic Prog with elves, capes and Roger Dean album covers and nothing more, something to be quarantined and disdained. I tend to view things more as being part of a broader continuum with distinct but inter-related scenes/traditions, but it's not always so clear cut. Some people consider Can (who I obviously love) to be prog, but while I can hear some affinities at times, they seem to be more their own thing, sui generis. The best ones often are. Is Zappa prog? He was melding rock with jazz, classical, avant and other assorted influences in an experimental way. Sounds pretty prog to me, but again, he was distinct. He had more in common with the Canterbury scene than bands like Genesis or Yes, though he did dig Gentle Giant, so there you go. . .
Basically speaking genres have no objective existence, but are just fictions we use to try to make connections between different pieces of music (and if we're record store employees, to decide where to file things ). Genre definitions hold up pretty well when we look at their centers/mainstreams, and if there's a strong consensus about their fundamentals; they tend to fall apart when we try to define their boundaries, and come up with litmus tests for music at the edge.
If people seem to be fixated on the cape-wearing, theatrical, classical-music-invoking acts as the quintessence of prog, that may just reflect what most people think of as prog. Maybe that's exactly what makes a genre definition correct: if it overlaps with the consensus of what comes to mind first when average, reasonably informed non-specialists think about that genre. And since bands like Yes, ELP, and Genesis are highly commercially successful bands who got slapped with the "prog" label, it makes sense that to most people, that's exactly what prog is, first and foremost.
As I work this out I'm realizing that I don't see bands that "jam" a lot as being prog bands -- or to put it differently, that I see prog as being epitomized by lengthy, highly-composed structures in which improvisation usually takes place within tight confines, rather than the open-ended excursions of bands like Can. (Happy the Man had a "no jamming" rule...)
Hmmm, and another thought: maybe another defining aspect of prog (as I hear it, at least) is that it's often contrapuntal and non-periodic? In other words, many prog songs have multiple, melodic parts that operate simultaneously and are heard independently, and can't just be reduced to the homophonic texture of a lead sheet -- but also, that those parts aren't just short "loops" like we often hear in highly multilayered funk tracks.
Styx never really went full prog. They would occasionally stick their toes in the deep end, but never jumped in. Many of their songs kind of have that dramatic prog flare, for sure.
I would generally agree with this, with the notable exception of King Crimson, even early on with their game changing debut. The Canterbury bands were more free-form--Henry Cow in particular explored improv to the hilt--but they're often viewed as distinct from symphonic prog. But I am very much in agreement with your post.
On the Wooden Nickel albums there are some blatant Yes and King Crimson imitations.
And to some extent ELP-- Jamming wasn't necessarily what they were great at, but they did a fair amount of it.
I agree -- King Crimson came to my mind too as the big exception. I think in many ways they're the outlier of the "big five" -- much less similar to the other four, musically and in terms of their career arc, than those bands are to each other...
...though I'm not clear who band #5 is supposed to be, actually: we've got ELP, KC, Genesis, Yes, and...? Was it Jethro Tull? Gentle Giant (who are far more like KC than the other bands named)?
I don't hear as much improv/jamming with ELP. Yes did it a bit more circa Tales and Relayer.
ELP had a few tunes that were pretty jam oriented, at least onstage-- Rondo, the blues section of Pictures, the last section of Tarkus. Not so much in the studio though.
Separate names with a comma.