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bacigalup
06-13-17, 04:35 PM
This was published in today's NY Post. Thought I'd pass it along:

How the beasts of prog-rock went extinct
By Jeff Blehar

Few genres of popular music were more omnipresent in their heyday, yet more neglected today, than progressive rock. In the 1970s, dinosaurs roamed the earth: Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake & Palmer and myriad smaller acts strode through concert halls and the music charts, big beasts staging elaborately theatrical concerts featuring long songs with fantastical imagery over virtuosic command of the band’s instruments.
And then, just like the dinosaurs, the great progressive rock bands either died out or underwent a forced evolution in order to survive beyond the mass-extinction event known as the Punk Revolution. This era — an era when Genesis’ Peter Gabriel could dance around onstage kicking his heels, dressed like a flower, while audiences and critics alike ate it up rapturously — seems both improbable and faintly ridiculous from our modern-day factory-pop vantage point.

But it all happened.

It’s a tale well told in the new book by Washington Post reporter David Weigel: “The Show That Never Ends — The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock” (out Tuesday). Weigel has a journalist’s eye for the well-chosen anecdote as well as a lifelong fan’s mastery of the music, facts and arcana of the genre.

Both the “rise and fall,” as Weigel aptly describes, were steep. At its mid-’70s peak, progressive rock was as commercially formidable a music genre as any other.

And yet so much of it turned out to be culturally evanescent: To name but one example, Emerson, Lake & Palmer sold out stadiums all across the United States with a musical program comprised almost entirely of songs longer than 10 minutes at a stab, each featuring complicated chord changes, multiple shifts of tone and tempo, tricky meters and blindingly virtuoso musicianship.

ELP headlined a festival in 1974 where they played to nearly half a million fans. Today? They’re treated as an (unfairly maligned) afterthought to our shared cultural narrative of ’70s popular music. Another example: Mike Oldfield’s purely instrumental “Tubular Bells” was one of the biggest-selling records of the entire decade; now it’s a footnote, remembered if at all as “that album with the Exorcist theme music.” But in its era it was as pervasive as anything by Wings or the Rolling Stones, and arguably superior to all but the best work of either.

So why did it die off — in such a final way? Even disco — the other great musical victim of cultural backlash in the ’70s — survived undercover into the ’80s, its basic principles transmuted into R&B and the newer genres of club and house music. But progressive rock did not: it’s been reduced to either a nostalgia proposition, or the province of resolutely uncool niche acts whose fan bases consist primarily of awkward young men with fascinating facial hair.

Weigel’s unstated thesis is that the music itself was not to blame, and it is impossible to disagree. Prog’s worst excesses (think billowing smoke machines, 30-minute faux-sonatas, self-indulgent faeries-and-sorcerers thematics, etc.) were dire, to be sure.

But the best prog — for example, Jethro Tull’s “Thick As A Brick,” Soft Machine’s “Third,” Genesis’s “Selling England By The Pound,” Yes’s “Close To The Edge” — remains some of the most transcendent music recorded during the rock era.

Instead, prog was a victim of three things: shifting cultural tastes, the increasingly brutal economics of the record industry and its own creative exhaustion. The strongest criticism that can be mounted against Weigel’s account relates to the last of these: He makes little attempt to reckon on a grander scale with what “progressive” music really was or is, beyond acknowledging its primarily European (and specifically British) sensibility.

Was “prog” bound inextricably to a chronological era? Or was it, rather, a series of musico-ideological commitments? If the latter — and I think this is closer to the truth — then one will inevitably quibble over some of the acts excluded from Weigel’s narrative: In particular, the failure to grapple with the enduring influence of krautrock bands like Can and Neu! is a glaring omission.

But this is a minor complaint. For better or worse (and anyone with a copy of Yes’s “Tormato” has already heard some of the “worse”), prog was mass art at its most ambitious, pushing the boundaries of commercial music as far as it could go in all directions — structural, melodic, rhythmic and lyrical — while still remaining recognizably “rock.”

“The Show That Never Ends” is not only a fine history of the genre, but a requiem for an era when musicians let their creativity roam unchecked, even if such restless wandering sometimes took them over a cliff.

Jeffrey Blehar is an elections analyst with the DecisionDeskHQ. He is an attorney and lives in Chicago.


http://nypost.com/2017/06/12/how-the-beasts-of-prog-rock-went-extinct/

Nick Danger
06-13-17, 05:17 PM
I still think The Soft Machine Third and Yes Close to the Edge are wonderful. Progressive rock is tied to a cultural era, one where baby boomers thought they could make great art out of anything. Pornographic movies like The Opening of Misty Beethoven were made with good production values and shown in mainstream theaters.

But porn at its core is about lust, and rock music at its core is about basic emotions like lust, love, anger, joy, and despair. Giant structures with lots of fancy ornamentation were washed away by the simple but overwhelming energy of home videos of two people with one camera having sex in a hotel room, or The Sex Pistols performing Anarchy in the UK.

The videos with a billion views on YouTube are mostly songs about falling in love, breaking up, dancing, and sex. They're elemental.

hdnmickey
06-13-17, 05:18 PM
Not sure if the genre of progressive really died off as much as that author thinks it did. What seemed to happen, at least with the bands and styles I listen to, is the style morphed into two directions. More radio friendly pop-rock or hard-rock/metal. In the 80's there were plenty of progressively flavored pop rock bands. Some of them were the bands noted above, having went in a more radio friendly and MTV video direction. Others were fronted by members that used to be in those bands or were heavily influenced by those bands. Then in the 90's and 2000's progressive influenced hard/rock and metal bands took off and are still going strong today. No many of them are based on Europe, but since many of the bands listed above were form Europe I have to assume he's not ignoring them because they originate from outside the US.

DVD Josh
06-13-17, 06:15 PM
Well just listen to either Deadwing or In Abentia and you'll realize how good prog can be done.

rw2516
06-14-17, 07:40 AM
I think the point is that at one time a prog rock band could sell out an NFL stadium, rather that it has died out(it hasn't). Ted Nugent could pack the Oakland Coliseum at one time also.
The seventies were a time when there were dozens of labels signing dozens of artists that put out albums charting in the top 100. Hit singles were unnecessary, people bought albums like they were singles. An album could reach the top ten, or even #1 with zero airplay.

Things change. Used to be everybody in America sat down at the exact same time and watched 1 of 3 broadcast networks.

This is just a partial list of artists who released albums in 1973

AEROSMITH
ALICE COOPER
ALLMAN BROTHERS
GREG ALLMAN
AMERICA
ARGENT
BACHMAN-TURNER OVERDRIVE
BADFINGER
JEFF BECK
BLACK OAK ARKANSAS
BLACK SABBATH
BLUE OYSTER CULT
BOWIE
BUCKINGHAM/NICKS
CANNED HEAT
CLIMAX BLUES BAND
JOE COCKER
DEEP PURPLE
DOOBIE BROTHERS
EAGLES
ELO
ELP
FACES
FLEETWOOD MAC
FOGHAT
FRAMPTON
RORY GALLAGHER
J. GEILS BAND
GENESIS
GOLDEN EARRING
GRAND FUNK
GEORGE HARRISON
HOT TUNA
HUMBLE PIE
JAMES GANG
JETHRO TULL
JO JO GUNNE
JEFFERSON STARSHIP
KING CRIMSON
LED ZEPPELIN
JOHN LENNON
LITTLE FEAT
LYNYRD SKYRND
MARSHALL TUCKER BAND
PAUL McCartney
STEVE MILLER
MONTROSE
MOTT THE HOOPLE
NAZARETH
NEW RIDERS OF PURPLE SAGE
TED NUGENT
OZARK MT. DAREDEVILS
PINK FLOYD
QUEEN
QUICKSILVER MESSENGER SERVICE
RARE EARTH
REO SPEEDWAGON
ROLLING STONES
TODD RUNDGREN
SAVOY BROWN
SILVERHEAD
SLADE
SPOOKY TOOTH
THIN LIZZY
KINKS
MAHOGANY RUSH
BYRDS
LOU REED
CHICAGO
3 DOG NIGHT
LEON RUSSELL
SANTANA
BOB SEEGER
ELTON JOHN
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
RINGO
STATUS QUO
STEELY DAN
STEPHEN STILLS
STYX
T REX
10 YEARS AFTER
TRAFFIC
ROBIN TROWER
DAVE MASON
URIAH HEEP
SWEET
JACKSON BROWNE
JOE WALSH
WET WILLIE
THE WHO
JOHNNHY WINTER
EDGAR WINTER
WISHBONE ASH
NEIL YOUNG
ZZ TOP
STEVIE WONDER
NEW YORK DOLLS

People keep saying the music's still out there, you just have to look for it. I don't think so.

hdnmickey
06-14-17, 08:34 AM
I think the point is that at one time a prog rock band could sell out an NFL stadium, rather that it has died out(it hasn't).

I hope that wasn't the point, because it wold be wrong. As an example, here's the breakdown of Close to the Edge tour by Yes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Yes_concert_tours_(1960s%E2%80%9370s)#Close_to_the_Edge_Tour

Maybe they could fill football stadiums in Europe, but in the US these prog rock guys were playing mid size arena and large theaters in smaller markets.

Michael Corvin
06-14-17, 08:35 AM
So the author ignores Rush, because?... they don't fit his narrative?

Times change and music evolves. The music industry also has a way of pushing their own agenda like late 90's boy bands.

hdnmickey
06-14-17, 08:43 AM
He also ignored that many of the same bands continue to play and record to this day. Certainly through the 90's.

cdollaz
06-14-17, 08:50 AM
I saw Genesis in a stadium in the US in the 90's. They were pretty damn huge.

hdnmickey
06-14-17, 08:53 AM
I saw Genesis in a stadium in the US in the 90's. They were pretty damn huge.

But that was after Collins had garnered them many hits on the pop charts. Although when they pulled out gems like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway or Cinema Show it still was awesome.

mndtrp
06-14-17, 11:03 AM
Prog certainly isn't as popular as it once was. Fortunately, there are still bands that put out quality prog rock (and metal) music. As for the reason, I doubt it was anything as deep as the author is going to try to find. My guess, since I wasn't really around or into the scene at all at that age, is that it fell to changing tastes.

Hokeyboy
06-14-17, 11:07 AM
Prog never totally disappeared. It evolved and splintered. "Corporate Rock" bands like Styx, Kansas, even Journey (pre-Steve Cain) took elements of prog and infused it with a pop mentality. 80s New Wave, Synthpop, Europop, etc. were took elements of prog to the dance floor. Metal bands like Iron Maiden incorporated bits of Genesis and Jethro Tull into their music...

Anyone could come up with a ton of examples of prog's lasting influence and transformation. But yeah,a the big arena-filling era of progressive rock was, in the end, a time-localized phenomenon to the early to mid 70s.

I would like to check out this book though.

Fist of Doom
06-14-17, 11:30 AM
Prog never totally disappeared. It evolved and splintered. "Corporate Rock" bands like Styx, Kansas, even Journey (pre-Steve Cain) took elements of prog and infused it with a pop mentality. 80s New Wave, Synthpop, Europop, etc. were took elements of prog to the dance floor. Metal bands like Iron Maiden incorporated bits of Genesis and Jethro Tull into their music...

Anyone could come up with a ton of examples of prog's lasting influence and transformation. But yeah,a the big arena-filling era of progressive rock was, in the end, a time-localized phenomenon to the early to mid 70s.

I would like to check out this book though.

Good points, and I would add the impact of MTV. Once they came along, the days of bearded guys with white man afros, playing 10 minute opuses were over. 3 and a half minutes, a catchy beat and some colorful video? Gold, Jerry, gold!

kd5
06-15-17, 09:12 PM
Progressive Rock and Progressive Jazz were two of my favorite genres of music, I still have many albums including Soft Machine's Third that haven't hit the turntable in quite awhile because my ambition and my priorities changed. I don't listen to albums on my turntable much these days in favor of my favorite movies and TV shows in my collection. I still have my albums, I should drag out a few of them. Can: Future Days & Soon Over Babaluma, Gong, Marillion, Passport.....I remember when these bands were HOT.

ken_572002
06-18-17, 06:42 AM
But this is a minor complaint. For better or worse (and anyone with a copy of Yes’s “Tormato” has already heard some of the “worse”), prog was mass art at its most ambitious, pushing the boundaries of commercial music as far as it could go in all directions — structural, melodic, rhythmic and lyrical — while still remaining recognizably “rock.”

While "Tormato" is no "Close To The Edge", it certainly doesn't need to be classified as the worst of prog rock. If the author wanted to pick a YES album for that description, either "Tales" or "Relayer" would have been a better choice. Overindulgent, structure-less recordings for the most part. Jon Anderson's ego got the best of him, when he set down to pen "Tales". That album's release was the reason Rick Wakeman left the band. Try and sit thru it's bloated 80+ minute recording, and you'll know what I mean.

Jason
06-18-17, 11:29 AM
While "Tormato" is no "Close To The Edge", it certainly doesn't need to be classified as the worst of prog rock. If the author wanted to pick a YES album for that description, either "Tales" or "Relayer" would have been a better choice. Overindulgent, structure-less recordings for the most part. Jon Anderson's ego got the best of him, when he set down to pen "Tales". That album's release was the reason Rick Wakeman left the band. Try and sit thru it's bloated 80+ minute recording, and you'll know what I mean.

Tormato suffers from a dumb name and a bad album cover. That's enough to get it on a worst ever list for shallow rock journalists.

The reason these bands all fell apart was the same reason any genre falls from favor. The artists get tired, line-ups fall apart, the fans mature, and the next generation wanted something different. It's not rocket science.

Some artists and bands, such as Rush, Genesis, Yes, or John Wetton, were able to ride out the storm and reinvent themselves. Others simply went off on self indulgent tangets like Robert Fripp/King Crimson, and others became heavy metal bands like Jethro Tull :)

morriscroy
06-18-17, 11:42 AM
Some artists and bands, such as Rush, Genesis, Yes, or John Wetton, were able to ride out the storm and reinvent themselves. Others simply went off on self indulgent tangets like Robert Fripp/King Crimson, and others became heavy metal bands like Jethro Tull :)

Did any prog-rock guys go into disco during 1977-1980 ?

Ringmaster
06-18-17, 04:20 PM
Is Pink Floyd considered Prog Rock?

Jason
06-19-17, 06:01 PM
Did any prog-rock guys go into disco during 1977-1980 ?

Not that I've ever really heard. They did get a lot more radio-friendly and AOR oriented though.

And of course, there was this...

https://progressivemusicplanet.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/113458_f_1.jpg

Rex Fenestrarum
06-19-17, 10:34 PM
Good points, and I would add the impact of MTV. Once they came along, the days of bearded guys with white man afros, playing 10 minute opuses were over.

Perhaps ironically, given your post, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran once described prog as "men with beards singing songs about gnomes in obscure time signatures".

wendersfan
06-21-17, 12:16 PM
Did any prog-rock guys go into disco during 1977-1980 ?Depending on your view of the Bee Gees' early output, yes.

And I'm completely serious.

Supermallet
06-21-17, 02:14 PM
Tormato suffers from a dumb name and a bad album cover. That's enough to get it on a worst ever list for shallow rock journalists.

The reason these bands all fell apart was the same reason any genre falls from favor. The artists get tired, line-ups fall apart, the fans mature, and the next generation wanted something different. It's not rocket science.

Some artists and bands, such as Rush, Genesis, Yes, or John Wetton, were able to ride out the storm and reinvent themselves. Others simply went off on self indulgent tangets like Robert Fripp/King Crimson, and others became heavy metal bands like Jethro Tull :)

Not sure what's so indulgent about King Crimson. The Discipline era of the band firmly embraced new wave, which was quite popular at the time.

Is Pink Floyd considered Prog Rock?

Sometimes I see them listed as prog rock, but I never considered them part of the prog movement. They started as a psychedelic band and forged their own sound with little in common with other prog bands.

Traxan
06-21-17, 09:27 PM
It also ignored prog metal, bands like Nevermore, Mastodon, Animals as Leaders, Symphony X, etc.

Jason
06-22-17, 07:14 PM
Related:

https://www.ncscooper.com/george-soros-secretly-funding-progressive-rock-groups/#.WUwYdB5S448.reddit

rw2516
07-04-17, 07:00 AM
Caught the music episode of CNN's series The Seventies. Although there were already rock artists releasing non commercial music, the industry still held creative control over the AM pop part. When pop artists pushed for creative control the labels knuckled under with a "we'll try it and see" attitude. These albums turned out to be huge hits, especially Stevie Wonder and the monster hit Carole King's Tapestry.
As a result the industry relinquished all creative control to the artists. "Here's the money, record whatever you want, we'll release it". You want to record an album that's just one long song? We don't care, do whatever you want.
The industry became a "patron of the arts", financing the artistic expression of the artists. And it paid off. The music industry made more money in the seventies than anytime before or since. Record sales out paced the movie industry by $100 billion. Records were bringing in more money than Star Wars, Jaws, etc.
This is why there are so many subgenres that were all popular. There was no one definitive "mass" popular style. The top ten albums could range from Led Zeppelin, to Elton John, to Barry White, to ELP, to ABBA, to James Taylor, to Black Sabbath in any given week.

The prevailing wisdom among record execs was that the artists had a better instinct for what was good and what would sell than they did.

Hokeyboy
07-04-17, 09:02 AM
I'm 3/4ths through the book right now. It does jump around a bit but it's pretty good so far. It's taking a thematic "all or nothing" approach, ie you won't get any kind of comprehensive history of any particular band or movement, but rather an overall chronological review of what was happening during the birth, emergence, triumph, and decline of prog.

Which is exactly what the book is promising. Worth checking out.


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