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Thread: The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock

  1. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    Have not read the book, probably will, but I just wanted to put the record straight on the cruise thing. Just because it has become normal, and includes all kinds of genres, it does not mean that music cruises are not corny and do not embody everything that rock'n'roll is NOT. C'mon. I have no problem with commercial music, or making a buck or anything else. I have no real problem with these music cruises either. But anyone who takes a step or two back can see that a prog cruise is pretty much the perfect antidote to anything that progressive rock originally stood for. Counter-culture, spirituality, art over commerce, challenge over comfort ... So without having read the book I would say the author has every right to be a bit snarky about *progressive rock* cruises ...
    I went to his book signing last night in NYC and have now read the first 60 or so pages. The opening part of the book is about *his* trip on a Cruise to the Edge. His own, made for his own enjoyment, bexcause he is really into the music. He *wanted* to be there, and any derogatory comments were purely concerning the self-evident uncoolness of the endeavor. There was no prolonged disparagement of anything at all. Yes, there are a few comments about the whole 'Trek convention-ness' that pervades but, again, this is self-evident stuff to most normal people, not really a "trope." He made the observation that I've long held, which is that when bands that used to make a lot of money by selling albums and playing large venues (i.e. - taking a little bit of money from a large group of people) stop being as successful in this manner, there is another road somewhat less savory to travel, which is to extract much larger sums of money from a much smaller group of superfans who have proven willing to open their wallets for virtually anything; hence, stuff like the cruises, concert VIPs, meet & greets, signings, "camps," etc. (I'd add endless reissues of the same product, (remixed by Steven Wilson!) but that has not yet come up by page 60); the extent to which any of it is dignified will be in the eye of the beholder.

    For anybody curious about the book, I will say that any fears about it putting down the genre or music should be allayed. The person who wrote the book is a white American mid/late-30s male who is a fan of the music. That's the context of the perspective. The book itself - so far - reads like a research project. It is not a thesis on the inherent greatness of progressive rock. It is not musicological. It is a history, and the organization is chronological. Apart from the opening section, it starts in mid-'60s and just goes forward in time from there. I have not yet encountered any new interviews; all of the quotes are from biographies, magazine articles and other secondary sources. So far, there is actually very little editorializing, which I personally would want *more* of, considering that the bulk of what I've read so far is information that I more or less already knew from other books about prog (the origin and early years of of Gong, Soft Machine, The Nice/ELP, King Crimson, Yes, VDGG (and others) and their predecessor bands). So far, the book this appears to most closely resemble is the Paul Stump book about prog that came out in the late 1990s, though without Stump's fascinating prose, or his personal editorializing (Weigel is a fine writer and fairly knowledgeable fan, but Stump is superlative IMO, and this book is the gold standard for this subject matter, IMO).

    In short, tropes are not an issue or a problem. The worst that can be said about it is that a well-seasoned prog fan who has read other books might find this to be treading on familiar ground - up to page 60, anyway.

  2. #27
    Thanks for review! You make it sound like it's worth getting as opposed to a stinker. I don't think there is anything wrong really with tapping the fan market in the absence of a larger market -many entertainers and popular artists end up doing that in varying degrees. It can be cordial and chummy and not necessarily exploitive at all.

  3. #28
    Moderator Duncan Glenday's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review
    Regards,

    Duncan

  4. #29
    2 references in total to Magma... 50 years in the biz, and still no respect.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  5. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    2 references in total to Magma... 50 years in the biz, and still no respect.
    During the Q&A he said something about Lemmy being anti-semitic, so it seems like he has a sensitivity for this sort of thing. Possibly he avoided Magma because of Christian Vander's Hitler admiration.

  6. #31
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    I have no real problem with these music cruises either. But anyone who takes a step or two back
    Careful there you may fall overboard.
    Ian

    Gordon Haskell - "You've got to keep the groove in your head and play a load of bollocks instead"
    I blame Wynton, what was the question?
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  7. #32
    So, I am now into the book. Mainly, it is pastiche, in a sense. It combines materials from older per-existing interviews and so on and attempts to bring them together to make a point. Like the first real chapter is about the upbringing of a bunch of British musicians that later made prog- Soft Machine, Emerson, Gentle Giant, Fripp. But it really does not provide much insight nor information that really gets at the issue. So far, still disappointing.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  8. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Facelift View Post
    During the Q&A he said something about Lemmy being anti-semitic, so it seems like he has a sensitivity for this sort of thing. Possibly he avoided Magma because of Christian Vander's Hitler admiration.
    I hope this is supposed to be some sort of joke, particularly in light of certain discussions closer to home. Collecting Nazi-paraphernalia hardly renders you an ideological "believer". Lemmy's purported "nazism" might appear as heartfelt as that of swastika-toting members of the Hell's Angels.

    The majority of books on progressive rock steers away from the grander international aspect of the term and its connotations. Even Paul Stump, who wrote the most attemptively meticulous cultural analysis of the phenomenon, was afraid to go there except for shallow mentions. Too extensive a challenge without the properly adapted Outlook, this in turn demanding a far more comprehensive detail of Insight than what he could possibly show for, at least at the time. But then again his fandom or enthusiasm was admittedly experienced from a "distance", both musically and academically.

    There are other written works attending to the core, for instance by Franco Fabbri on Italian 60s/70s rock and a number of texts and articles on Magma completely separate from their apparent "prog" adherence.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    I hope this is supposed to be some sort of joke, particularly in light of certain discussions closer to home. Collecting Nazi-paraphernalia hardly renders you an ideological "believer". Lemmy's purported "nazism" might appear as heartfelt as that of swastika-toting members of the Hell's Angels.
    The facts suggest that Vander *is* Hitler admirer. I was well aware of the facts of this matter before reading the ongoing thread. I did not call him a Nazi or a Neo-Nazi or whatever, because that is making assumptions that I cannot make, based on the facts that I'm familiar with. However, he has demonstrated an admiration/liking for various things associated with Hitler and the Third Reich.

    I made the comment I made about Magma possibly not being discussed much because of this, because I was in the room when the author of the book made a Nazi sympathy reference to Lemmy. It was just that - a reference. However, making the reference would suggest that the author has at least some degree of awareness/sensitivity to these sorts of things (it's very possible to have a discussion of Lemmy that does *not* include his collection of WWII memorabilia; most people who know something about him would probably not think of that as being a defining characteristic of him) and if he is, then he might not want to give Magma a lot of attention because of it - that's all.

    Of course, other reasons for not focusing a lot of Magma in a modestly-sized book about prog would be the reasons you cite. Magma was not big commercially - especially among US audiences, to whom this book is principally targeted - and the majority of the book is about the *phenomenon* of the "prog-rock era" (late sixties - late seventies) not so much a dissection and analysis of the music itself. Magma was obviously a major player musically, but not so much commercially or culturally. I'm up to roughly 1971 (page 80) in the book, and - unsurprisingly - the book is almost exclusively about Genesis, King Crimson, Yes, Pink Floyd, ELP, (Gong and Soft Machine to a slightly lesser extent) and their antecedent bands. He mentioned the Italian scene during the lecture, so I'm assuming that something about that will be included. He also mentioned that the punk-killed-prog narrative is really an English perspective on things and that while that may have happened over there, it only sort of happened for US audiences (he cited 1978 and 1979 reader polls from various music periodicals whereby notable prog musicians kept winning or placing well) and audiences in many places around the world never went down that road at all (he mentioned Japan as a country that has maintained a solid embrace of prog from the 1970s onward).

    Just to reiterate, the book is definitely NOT a comprehensive history of progressive rock music (we're talking at least thousand pages for a credible stab at that, and this is about 275), nor is it an out an out advocacy piece (in the sense that the author has a thesis that he's trying to prove). As another has observed, it really reads more like a research project.
    Last edited by Facelift; 06-15-2017 at 11:46 AM.

  10. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by Facelift View Post
    I was in the room when the author of the book made a Nazi sympathy reference to Lemmy. It was just that - a reference. However, making the reference would suggest that the author has at least some degree of awareness/sensitivity to these sorts of things (it's very possible to have a discussion of Lemmy that does *not* include his collection of WWII memorabilia; most people who know something about him would probably not think of that as being a defining characteristic of him) and if he is, then he might not want to give Magma a lot of attention because of it - that's all.

    Of course, other reasons for not focusing a lot of Magma in a modestly-sized book about prog would be the reasons you cite. Magma was not big commercially - especially among US audiences, to whom this book is principally targeted - and the majority of the book is about the *phenomenon* of the "prog-rock era" [...] the book is definitely NOT a comprehensive history of progressive rock music (we're talking at least thousand pages for a credible stab at that, and this is about 275)
    This is fair, and at the same time very obvious. Thanks for elaborating, though.

    A point in question: to what degree do we actually need another run-through of the usual tale as concerns progressive rock as phenomenon, given a semi-shallow surface treatment of affairs, traits, bonafides, reactions, historiography and historicity? There are a LOT of academic dissertations out there, both in musicology and general theory applying set examples for analysis, such as those collected in the Holm-Hudson anthology or transcripts from the seminar in Bologna six years back. Until writers start accumulating all this textual matter into their own perspectives, there's effectively no "serious" discourse to speak of. What is needed now is a main reader which a) traces, identifies and addresses central problems in a thought discourse (including the eternal dilemma of a usable and applicable definition of the term itself), and b) utilizes this as outset to a '1001 progressive rock recordings you must hear before you die' or something like that. This in turn would stir up a fart, if not a storm.

    As for this writer in question to perhaps having excluded the Magma conundrum based on more or less superficial perceptions of delusional revisionism on the part of the band's main man; it takes on a completely new irony on its own when considering how immensely influential Magma came to be in global music cult circuits way beyond the strands of "prog", all the more intriguing given that they didn't sell a lot of records. To simply edit this out of an already apparently pretty selective chronicle would appear needlessly lazy and, well, revisionist.
    Last edited by Scrotum Scissor; 06-15-2017 at 01:20 PM.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  11. #36
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scrotum Scissor View Post
    A point in question: to what degree do we actually need another run-through of the usual tale as concerns progressive rock as phenomenon, given a semi-shallow surface treatment of affairs, traits, bonafides, reactions, historiography and historicity? There are a LOT of academic dissertations out there, both in musicology and general theory applying set examples for analysis, such as those collected in the Holm-Hudson anthology or transcripts from the seminar in Bologna six years back. Until writers start accumulating all this textual matter into their own perspectives, there's effectively no "serious" discourse to speak of.
    I think there's a big difference between the Wiegel book (and the New Yorker article) and the sort of scholarly studies you mention. Wiegel is approaching the topic as a facet of pop culture, and I for one am glad for any chance to see it being discussed in the mainstream rather than within a very small circle of academics (or hard core fans like us.)

    Plus, I'm guessing that any book on the subject rarely gets a second edition or reprint so any new publication is all the public at the time are every really aware of.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  12. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Paulrus View Post
    I think there's a big difference between the Wiegel book (and the New Yorker article) and the sort of scholarly studies you mention. Wiegel is approaching the topic as a facet of pop culture, and I for one am glad for any chance to see it being discussed in the mainstream rather than within a very small circle of academics (or hard core fans like us.)
    I absolutely see what you mean.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  13. #38
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    Cruises are fun! Why wouldn't a band want to play on one? And, presumably, get paid too?
    Prog's Not Dead

  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    2 references in total to Magma... 50 years in the biz, and still no respect.
    Magma. What to do about Magma?

    I would think fans of the band wouldn't want the extra attention anyway!

    Two mentions is probably two more than Univers Zero get in the book.
    Prog's Not Dead

  15. #40
    Progga mogrooves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    ... 2 references in total to Magma... 50 years in the biz, and still no respect.
    Respect?

    http://tinyurl.com/y9joprwn

    http://tinyurl.com/ydgdleb7

    http://tinyurl.com/ya4tjp8w
    Last edited by mogrooves; 06-15-2017 at 04:19 PM.
    Hell, they ain't even old-timey ! - Homer Stokes

  16. #41
    There are several PhDs in rotation on the band, with some notable academic interest in parts of Eastern Europe and, obviously, Japan. One of my true wonderings about this is who the hell they tend to invite to sit opponent council when the thesis is presented at disputas. I know Luis Andriessen was once apparently a fan, I just somehow can't imagine the guy tutoring at PowerPoint before a gathering of Kobaďan half-goblins in the audience.
    "Improvisation is not an excuse for musical laziness" - Fred Frith
    "[...] things that we never dreamed of doing in Crimson or in any band that I've been in," - Tony Levin speaking of SGM

  17. #42
    I was in contact with Kevin Holm Hudson about his article a few years ago (Apocalyptic Otherness). But three articles of scholarship in 50 years is not much representation. Of course, I am a Magmaphile and a fan of 40+ years duration who still follows the band and can claim at least Facebook friendships with a few of the band members. But I d read discourse and find Martin's book more informative than either Stump or Macan, among those writing critical theory about prog. And Martin has other bands he writes about separately.

    In the end, I am glad Magma is getting gigs and press now, even if it did not then. But so much of the press focuses on the same thing: Kobaian language, Vander's falsetto, and the Nazi thing, which has both adherents and detractors so the truth is not clear. And I am well aware of the dispute with Manu and Vander, which fractures that version of the band. It is no-win for CV.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  18. #43
    Highly Evolved Orangutan JKL2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    Have not read the book, probably will, but I just wanted to put the record straight on the cruise thing. Just because it has become normal, and includes all kinds of genres, it does not mean that music cruises are not corny and do not embody everything that rock'n'roll is NOT. C'mon. I have no problem with commercial music, or making a buck or anything else. I have no real problem with these music cruises either. But anyone who takes a step or two back can see that a prog cruise is pretty much the perfect antidote to anything that progressive rock originally stood for. Counter-culture, spirituality, art over commerce, challenge over comfort ... So without having read the book I would say the author has every right to be a bit snarky about *progressive rock* cruises ...
    Ask Stefan Dimle what he thinks about this. He was involved in the Swedish Melloboat cruises long before Cruise to the Edge started.



    BTW, there's really no more comfort involved in something like CTTE than there was at Progfest, at which White Willow performed.
    Last edited by JKL2000; 06-19-2017 at 01:01 PM.

  19. #44
    In the end, this books seems a "Mary Sue" to me- the author, who actually was not there for the growth of the genre, but who loves it, has written a book that in a sense declares his love. But it is sort of a trite book- it is not much history, save for ELP, KC and Genesis, and it provides descriptions of hte music that border on the inane: here is my own take of his writing: "The song opens with block chorus which extend for the first 92 seconds; then, there is a short, warbly tremolo effect on guitar. This last until 2.30, when the horns come in. This shifts into a new beat at 4 minutes, after which at 6.30 the chorus comes in..."

    Plus there are mistakes in it. At one point her refers to Bruford as Hendrix's drummer (it is clear he means Mitch Mitchell, but still). He repeats old tales to give weight to his points. I will read anything prog-related, but this does not really add much to the scholarship on the topic. But if it gets the genre more notice, good by me.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  20. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacob Holm-Lupo View Post
    Have not read the book, probably will, but I just wanted to put the record straight on the cruise thing. Just because it has become normal, and includes all kinds of genres, it does not mean that music cruises are not corny and do not embody everything that rock'n'roll is NOT. C'mon. I have no problem with commercial music, or making a buck or anything else. I have no real problem with these music cruises either. But anyone who takes a step or two back can see that a prog cruise is pretty much the perfect antidote to anything that progressive rock originally stood for. Counter-culture, spirituality, art over commerce, challenge over comfort ... So without having read the book I would say the author has every right to be a bit snarky about *progressive rock* cruises ...
    This birdy is singing what I want to sing.

  21. #46
    Just finished the book. There is no snark or damning with faint praise to speak of. The writer is a fan of progressive rock, but chose to approach the project more as a researcher than an advocate. To that end, there isn't much in the way of critical analysis, grand statements or editorializing. There are issues I have with the historical scope (very little space is given to the post-1980s) and the extent to which the genre survives today apart from the still-touring/recording remnants of the 1970s (the near-silence on the subject would indicate that he does not consider it to be of great importance). The worst that could be said about the book is that if you already know the details of progressive rock in the 1970s from the perspective of the major bands and know what happened to these bands after 1980, then the book probably would not have a lot of value.

  22. #47
    Member Jay.Dee's Avatar
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    “The King Crimson weapon is musical fascism, made by fascists, designed by fascists to dehumanize, to strip mankind of his dignity and soul. It’s pure Tavistock Institute material, financed by the Rothschild Zionists and promoted by two poncy public school boys with connections to the city of London.”

    "They took 12 hours to get a drum sound and it was still shite. You know, Otis Redding’s band took two minutes to get a drum sound and that was perfect. Fripp and Sinfield didn’t know what they were looking for. [...] They were all such pricks, no studio experience at all. I had spent three years in studios, with superb musicians, world class.”
    http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com...hat-never-ends

  23. #48
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    ^ Fascinating. Thanks for posting.
    He did not know that the sword he'd hold, would turn his priceless empire into fool's gold...

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  24. #49
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    [Gordon Haskell] would move on, recording the sort of soulful music he had wanted – the antithesis of Crimson. “The King Crimson weapon is musical fascism, made by fascists, designed by fascists to dehumanize, to strip mankind of his dignity and soul,” he said later. “It’s pure Tavistock Institute material, financed by the Rothschild Zionists and promoted by two poncy public school boys with connections to the city of London.”

    God save me from over-self-absorbed young prat musicians. I'm sure all the Italians of the late thirties would completely peg Fripp and Mussolini as peas in a pod.
    "Arf." -- Frank Zappa, "Beauty Knows No Pain" (live version)

  25. #50
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    ^I hated their music, they are fascists...but I still want my royalties.

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