Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by manco, Sep 10, 2019.
Yes or the Collins/Rutherford band Featuring Tony Banks.
There is as much prog on Invisible Touch as there is on ATTWT.
Genesis first album From Genesis to Revelation had pop orientated material and originally sold 650 copies. The second album Trespass was a full prog rock suite and originally sold 6,000 copies.
Selling out is such a vague term, but it could argued Moving Pictures was a bit of a "sellout" for Rush (albeit a good quality one) since they changed to a more pop rock style, Geddy stopped yodeling, and Peart's lyrics went from fantasy to more relatable topics; all of these made them much more successful with the mainstream.
For me, an artist "selling out" or becoming more mainstream is fine, if the music is still good.
Yes ! And that's how thay have found their own special way !
LOL ... Nope. By no means. One more ridiculous term invented by (surprisingly an increasing amount of) people who can't approve any artist changing from their beloved 'proggy' pop/'proggy' pop rock music to full mainstream pop music, which as I said by no means translates to downright "sell-out" music. My two cents now please.
So, they sold out their pop principles for prog. Only after running Gabriel and Hackett off were they able to return to their true poppiness.
It wasn't just Genesis. Around the turn of the 1980s, just about all of the popular "art rock" bands of the 1970s made the same "pop" turn:
Asia (1982) .... members of Prog bands like Yes and ELP form this Foreigner-like commercial juggernaut.
Rush (1980) ..... Permanent Waves marks their commercial turn.
Yes (1983) ........ Releases 90125 filled with tighter, poppier songs, their answer to their friends in Asia.
Journey (1978) ... Hires Steve Perry to provide commercial vocals and pop-oriented songs.
Kansas (1982-1983) ......... Releases LPs that sound more like Loverboy than Kansas circa 1976.
Styx (1977) ................ The Grand Illusion is a pop departure from their artsty earlier - 70s albums.
Probably others I'm missing out on. Thing that was striking to me at the time was how good they were at it: Of all the bands I mentioned, only Kansas basically struck out, meaning their LP sales didn't shoot up after going in a pop direction.
The reasons for the turn were two-fold, IMO: Generally speaking, the punk/new wave explosion put a premium on shorter songs, and also, these bands saw some of their former peers in bands like Foreigner making a huge amount of money making pop songs.
No one said it was easier.
It's more like asking Picasso to draw a standard Madison Avenue type ad for a cigarette company. Maybe he could, maybe he couldn't, but the question becomes if I can be "Picasso", why would I want to draw ads, even if they're possibly harder? Money? Does it all come down to that?
Genesis's progression is the most natural and organic of all the prog bands, in my opinion. Each album develops some element of its predecessor. Nursery Cryme lays the ground for Foxtrot. "Supper's Ready" is the blueprint for "Cinema Show," "Battle of Epping Forest" and "Firth of Frith," all 'mini-epics." "I Know What I Like" begins their move to short songs, which they develop on the Lamb in the context of a concept LP/rock opera etc. Trick of the Tail develops the stately orchestral arrangements of the Lamb while Wind and Wuthering reintroduces their pastoral mode. . . . And Then There Were Three is a test run for Duke, which sets the stage for Abacab, etc. Even the album cover art comes in pairs, for the most part. It's jarring to listen to Knife or Nursery Cryme and then play Invisible Touch, but if you move through the catalog album by album, the style changes are like lily pads you can skip along to get to the end
While you bring up a very valid point about the AOR landscape of the 80's, Kansas, Styx and Journey were not of the caliber of Yes, ELP, King Crimson and Yes. Even Rush attracted more audience share from heavy metals fans back then more than progressive.
Unlike Asia and 90125 Yes, Genesis evolved into that direction without the direct record company input.
I can see that, but it’s still far from ‘selling out’.
Hits like Big Time, Sledgehammer or Digging In The Dirt had hit-potential, but they tick all the boxes when it comes to good, tastefully arranged music.
And the same goes for Genesis.
Agreed. The notion that a ballad is a de facto indicator of selling out is totally false. For King Crimson, "In the Court of the Crimson King" is a sell-out track? "Letters?" I do agree that they are more likely to be viewed as accessible, but calling all of them sell-out tracks is just a means to advance the incorrect argument that Genesis was always trying for hits, because some of their earlier albums had tracks on them that could be interpreted as ballads.
Gabriel was aiming squarely at the mainstream. The Conspiracy of Hope Tour made him think that he could get to stadium level, like U2 and The Police and make political statements. That delayed his own tour, when he should've been promoting his album So.
Anyway, "Sledgehammer" was absolutely intended to appeal to pop audiences, as was the album. He enjoyed those other trappings that went along with it.
Btw, the premise of selling out sort of bothers me. If Gabriel, Genesis and Hackett wanted Top 10 and to perform in hockey arenas, that would be understandable after spending years in beat up vans to play for small groups mostly male, college kids.
I should have asked my Dad that. He was a commercial artist doing freelance work for cigarette companies and the suchlike. He was quite capable of painting "art" to a high standard too and occasionally did, but seemed content enough to do the commercial work.
But it's the notion that one art form is of a higher worth than another I guess. Is that true? Or is it just something that's generally accepted because bigwigs that make a ton of cash from paintings have told us that that's the way it is? Does high art shape society or do ads?
Personally I think a great Pop song is a higher piece of art than a dreary Prog tune. For great Prog tunes I'd listen to Soft Machine, but that's just me I guess. Bad Pop music is of course just bad.
There were plenty of prog-oriented artists who adapted to the changing musical landscape without going the pop route, though. King Crimson circa Discipline comes to mind. The first 4 Peter Gabriel albums, the 1980s Peter Hammill albums, Jethro Tull incorporated tons of synths while still retaining their prog nature, ex-Soft Machine drummer Robert Wyatt had a pretty interesting solo career. I also wouldn't call Rush' Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves or Signals 'pop'. Those are firmly in the camp of rock music with progressive tendencies.
No, none of those albums at the time sold by the millions, but now, 35 years later, most of those are still a great listen and have stand the test of time well, which for me is the most important thing.
Depends on what you mean by "caliber". If you mean commercially, point taken with regards to Journey and Styx, as those were unsuccessful progressive bands who then became successful as AOR-pop bands. In contrast, bands like Yes, ELP, and King Crimson were popular, successful progressive bands, who then turned in a pop-AOR direction (or else dissolved and had members who then went that way with other acts). Kansas was IMO unique in that they were a popular band when they were progressive, then made an AOR-pop move that did not pay off commercially.
If you mean in some kind of artistic sense, well that is just subjective opinion and as I wasn't particularly a progressive fan, don't have anything to say about that.
One thing about the "pop turn" of the late 70s was how it diminished an emphasis on technical mastery of an instrument. That is, before then, this was an emphasis that basically existed everywhere. All rock musicians, whether mining a "prog" vein or not, sought to master their instruments in a technical way. That was a given, and it was regarded as such by critics as well.
The punk/new wave movement changed that. So, for example, later in the 1980s, when the "guitar geeks" came on the scene, the Yngwie Malmsteen and Joe Satriani types, while they had a core of guitar freaks who worshiped them, the broader rock community and music press tended to dismiss them as "mere technicians" and the like.
Whereas before punk, being a master technician on an instrument was a universally admired thing.
Interesting comparison. Of course, Gabriel was also looking to score some hits, as far back as his Genesis days (see "Counting Out Time", even though it didn't hit the mark commercially). My sense is that he typically managed to do this without compromising his broader vision or watering things down too much. I think that his commercial breakthrough album, So, compares favorably to Genesis' big blockbuster from the period, Invisible Touch. The songs are certainly more accessible than his previous work, but they're still mainly thoughtful (barring the easy fun of "Sledgehammer") and well crafted. His big love song, "In Your Eyes", though sentimental, doesn't feel as treacly to me as some of the Genesis stuff from the period. For my money, he made the crossover a bit more tastefully, though I still object to the whole "sell out" stigma being applied to Genesis.
Disagree completely about Jethro Tull. Never really a "prog" band in sum anyway, in the '80s they copied the same tech/production that the other bands did (they synthed things up) and they abandoned the complicated rhythms of their mid and late '70s period for straight-ahead drumming; sometimes just with a drum machine. Of course, this is likely because nearly the entire roster of the band changed and they didn't have bassists and drummers with the same talents and proclivities. In terms of actual progressive rock, '80s and '90s Jethro Tull retained nothing but the window-dressing, IMO. I'm not saying that they sold out or tried to become more commercial, but the music itself owed way more to typical arena rock than progressive rock, in the '80s and '90s. The music was much, much simpler - with the possible caveat of the album "A," wherein Ian Anderson doesn't appear to have greater designs of becoming simpler other than to change the basic sounds of his music (going heavily with keyboards and electronic sounds). That album retains some rhythmic quirkiness and progressive rock reaches (Black Sunday and a few others). Possibly the presence of Eddie Jobson kept things more interesting in that area.
No, they evolved. They never lost their prog roots. If sellouts are indeed a thing that would be Jefferson Airplane/Starship.
We'll have to agree to disagree on that point. The progressive movement was British-based: King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Genesis, maybe Pink Floyd and Traffic to some extent. Others, Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant, hopped on the bandwagon. Then there was the Canterbury scene.
None of those American groups were involved. Styx didn't become ELP because they acquired a Mini-Moog. Journey was offshoot of Santana.
The term "selling out" seems to indicate that the artist is doing something they don't want to do, or does not enjoy, just for the money. And that's a really unfair accusation to level at an act like Genesis, who seemed to really be into what they were doing -- even if you weren't.
Well, I think we have agree to disagree about Jethro Tull. But the point of my comment is that there were other options for older prog acts to develop their music without aiming for the top 40. And while Ian Anderson, like any other artist, would love to have scored a couple of '80s hits, I'm not sure that was his first concern while making music.
Yes, that I agree with. But it's indisputable that Jethro Tull's music became much simpler from Broadsword onward. I'm not at all saying that they had any greater designs on selling albums or having a popular song than before - in fact, their "prog" phase coincided with the greatest time of public acceptance of the style and they mostly dropped it after it fell out of favor.
I never really thought about it, but yeah, that song has a lot more going on than your average 1986 pop song. It's definitely more upbeat and bouncy than one would expect from Genesis (if judged against their early '70s output), but there are actually some neat chord changes and interesting rhythms going on underneath it all.
I have to wonder how we'd view this song if we didn't have the context of Phil Collins, mid-'80s MTV superstar.
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