Tag Archives: Progressive Rock

Weekly Vinyl – Yes Songs

7 Jul

Yessongs
Yes
(1973)

This is a great live album of Yes performing at the height of its mastery.
How do I know this was the pinnacle of YES as a band? Their drummer Bill Bruford said so – he left Yes at this point because he felt that the band achieved all it could artistically and went on to join King Crimson. Bruford appears on three tracks of this album and if you listen well you can hear his distinct drumming. Yes had a few interesting compositions after this album but in reality, looking back, this was their peak.

What I love about this album is that it is rather unpolished – it is a good depiction of what they most likely sounded like live. Some of the mixes are muddled. There are a few instances where you can hear that the band is not 100 per-cent together – this should be expected as they are playing with a new drummer. I love this as it is raw and real. Prog rock is supposed to be refined symphony-like perfection. This album shows that it is still rock.

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Weekly Vinyl – Thick Brick

22 Jan

Thick as a Brick
Jethro Tull
(1972)
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This is one of the more esteemed recordings in the genre known as progressive rock.
The album is a tad over 43 minutes in length and is just one song.
The album is actually a newspaper which you can read and decipher while listening to the music. It is all one large concept which some take seriously and others, including the creator and lead singer of Jethro Tull, claim the whole album is a joke.
It is very elaborate and I remember reading the album while listening to it many years ago. I did not do this now as I remember that reading the album cover/paper took longer than listening to the album.
The music is complex and layered. There are many key changes and tempo changes. Some of the song is in strange time signatures more used in Jazz than rock. It is a grate listen but you need to concentrate and really listen for the nuances in the music. If it is just in the background it will be irritating because it challenges the ear and brain to pay attention.

Weekly Vinyl – Live tapes

8 Jan

Live Tapes
Barclay James Harvest
(1978)

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This is Barclay James Harvest. It is a band. It is not a law firm. Nor is it an accounting firm.
It is, how to describe it, a soft rock kinda progressive band from the UK.
This album is a mix of their hits, (Poor |Man’s Moody Blues, Child of the Universe, Suicide, Hymn, Taking Me Higher) recorded at some shows in Europe. They still tour there – I looked this upon their site.
What strikes me by listening to this album after all these years of not hearing them is how laid back, mellow and … well … lame this music is. Even when the band tries to rock out a bit, like on the song Crazy City, it really falls flat. I think the studio albums were better – which is weird because usually live albums capture the spirit and energy better.
Perhaps this album does capture the spirit of the music properly – everybody is sedated, including the band.

Weekly Vinyl – Six Wives

18 Sep

The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Rick Wakeman
(1973)
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My record collection is not in any order. I am not as fastidious or obsessive as John Cusacks’ character in the movie High Fidelity. So that being the case – choosing records at random from a random pile will sometimes give you similar things.
This album is an example of that. I selected Rick Wakeman’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Yes’ Fragile rather recently.
This is full blown pompous progressive rock here. It is overblown and grandiose. But it is clever and to the point. There are six tracks here – each dedicated/inspired by one of the wives of Henry VIII. None of the six tracks is too long to be overbearing – the longest clocks in at just under eight minutes. This makes the album very friendly and accessible with no arduous and painful noodling. The musical concepts are crisp and well developed. There is great variation in the themes and the music is lively.
Yes, the music has prog rock’s overblown pomposity but it works so well here that one just hears the great music.

Weekly Vinyl – Grobschnitt

26 Jul

Grobschnitt
Grobschnitt
(1972)

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This is one of my favourite bands. They are a strange lot – mixing psychadelic, progressive, symphonic rock music together. How did they do this? With humour.
Not some kind of grand exotic humour one would expect from music of this ilk, but rather ironic and sophomoric humour.
It works at times.
This is the band’s first album and the band is still looking for its voice. The songs are a melange of styles awkwardly fitting into each other – some better than others. The symphonic elements are here, there are but four “songs” on the album, notably that the first song is called Symphony. It, and most of the songs here are meticulously performed and a pleasure to hear. The only song that is “radio friendly” is the first song on side two –Wonderful Music — a naive little ditty that exists firmly in the flower-power era.
I listen to this album in the context of their following albums and I hear where they are going musically. This debut album was a good one.

Weekly Vinyl — Dune

12 Jul

Dune
Klause Schulze
(1979)

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This is Trance before it was Trance, this was New Age, before someone came up with that silly and meaningless category. This is very cool music and I’m glad I pulled it out. Klause Schulze is a master. Most electronica dance practitioners owe a lot of their craft, their music to Mr. Schulze. Do they know it? I particularly like this album because of the beautiful soft and enchanting cello that intertwines with the harsh, rhythmic synthesizer sounds.
The synths used are all analogue here. The ones with lots of wires that had to be physically plugged and unplugged, dials that had to be rotated to create sounds. No sampling here. Digital synthesizers with programming and all the automation were still a few years down the road.

This is a masterpiece of an album, many years ahead of its time yet of the time. In 1979 progressive rock was being moved from the mainstream to the fringes by punk, new wave and reggae. The fringes allowed for more creativity and experimentation before the market forces abandoned the genre.
Once again, a fantastic album. If you don’t have it, or are not convinced — somebody posted it on Youtube. Check it out. You won’t regret it. (Except for the lacklustre computer/YouTube sound.)

Weekly Vinyl – Genesis Bootleg

5 Apr

White Mountain U.K. Tour 1976
Genesis
(1976)
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This is my brother’s album that has been sitting in my collection for a while. He was the big Genesis fan and I’m sure that he shelled out a relatively fair amount for this recording. The record is a Danish bootleg of a UK tour. If you are a Genesis fan then you will be interested to know that Peter Gabriel is not here but Steve Hackett still is. Bill Bruford is on drums and Phil Collins does the vocals. Unlike a lot of bootlegs from the 70s, the quality of the audio recording is actually quite good. It was undoubtabley recorded directly from the mixing board. The music is not as crisp as their live Second’s Out LP, which came out in 1977, but the album is not murky in any way. This is a good quality bootleg with amazing music. This is a progressive rock dinosaur showcasing its technical music as all around, punk rock is breaking out and making prog-rock virtually extinct.