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Thread: The New Yorker article The Persistence of Prog Rock

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    The New Yorker article The Persistence of Prog Rock


  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by happytheman View Post
    Interesting read
    Perhaps it could have been. And certainly should have.

    Perhaps it would have been an "interesting read" if the article brought forth a single momentum of argument which wasn't long since flogged to death by similarly minded attempts at cutting corners by passing the fact that 'progressive rock' became a subject for serious academic studies and discourse already some 15-20 years ago.

    And there's that fucking reference to Radiohead's "hate". Christ, where the hell have The New Yorker been for the past two decades? Listening to 'Steven Wilson'?
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    Perhaps finding the happy medium is harder than we know.

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    Moderator Poisoned Youth's Avatar
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    I thought the article was “okay”. I found it a bit ironic that the writing style seemed superficially pretentious and analytical. I am curious why, when there are so many of these musicians still living, writers (the author, the authors referenced, and others) insist on trying to explain the “why” and “how” of historical events as if it’s a puzzle to solve. You get far more insight to the times and motivations, imo, by the artists that lived it.
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    Member TheH's Avatar
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    Funny that the General believe seems to be that Prog Rock was a weird glitsch in
    the development of Music and stillborn from the beging.

    So why does it refuse to die (it never had the right to live anyway)???

    But no one wonders why Billionairs talking (above a beat) about "how hard their live is"
    or Music whose only substance is "Beats per Minute" are still "Top of The Pops" since
    40 years now.

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    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheH View Post

    So why does it refuse to die (it never had the right to live anyway)???
    It's all our fault.

  7. #7
    ^ And it's only a matter of time before they find out.

    Just like Downes and Sherwood did. They found out about the reason why they aren't allowed to redevelop and blossom anew.
    "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

  8. #8
    I got immediately worried when, in the opening sentence, he makes a Law Firm reference to Emerson, Lake & Palmer... (believing that the writer was about to go on a shallow sniping expedition and trash Prog in one fell swoop)...it turned out to be a fairly?? balanced take on things, and, for the most-part, accurate. (although his description of a Mellotron was a bit misleading).
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    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    When Anderson sang, “I’ll be the roundabout,” most American listeners surely had no idea that he was referring to the kind of intersection known less euphoniously, in the U.S., as a traffic circle.
    A rotary, dammit!

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    Kelefa Sanneh, the author is an interesting guy; he's a black Englishman who has spent most of his life in the US, whose parents are college professors, and who has been a pop music critic for about twenty years - first for the NY Times, later for the New Yorker. In 2004, he wrote an article for the Times that occasioned great comment; it amounted to a shot over the bows of the pop music critics who treated every Dylan release as a major event, but ignored the production-heavy, hugely-collaborative, major-label disco-pop music that actually got airplay:

    "The article brought to light to the general public a debate among American and British music critics about rockism, a term Sanneh defined to mean "idolizing the authentic old legend (or underground hero) while mocking the latest pop star; lionizing punk while barely tolerating disco; loving the live show and hating the music video; extolling the growling performer while hating the lip-syncher." In the essay, Sanneh further asks music listeners to "stop pretending that serious rock songs will last forever, as if anything could, and that shiny pop songs are inherently disposable, as if that were necessarily a bad thing. Van Morrison's 'Into the Music' was released the same year as the Sugarhill Gang's 'Rapper's Delight'; which do you hear more often?"
    I'll agree there's nothing really new in the article; he ignores (or doesn't know about) the current prog scene; and he misses the chance to comment on its pervasive nostalgia that traps musicians and listeners alike in past sounds, techniques, and forms. But it isn't too bad an overview, especially from someone whose tastes probably run in very different directions.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    I am curious why, when there are so many of these musicians still living, writers (the author, the authors referenced, and others) insist on trying to explain the “why” and “how” of historical events as if it’s a puzzle to solve. You get far more insight to the times and motivations, imo, by the artists that lived it.
    Yeah, that is a really good point. I get kind of annoyed when I see this happen time and time again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    A rotary, dammit!
    Only in Massachusetts - where they never entirely disappeared - is it known as a rotary.

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    Member since March 2004 mozo-pg's Avatar
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    I'm just pleased that the article is in a paper with so much distribution.
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    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Not everyone who writes about or speaks of Progressive Rock know what the f*** they're talking about. I remember the documentary series The Seven Ages of Rock. In the Art Rock episode, the producers seemed to think it was all about the visuals. That what defined Genesis was Peter Gabriel's funny costumes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mozo-pg View Post
    I'm just pleased that the article is in a paper with so much distribution.
    The article came out two-and-a-half years ago.

    When did the critical re-appraisal of prog start? Was it that recent, or did it start significantly earlier? To some extent, it may have been when the Old Guard rock critics - the ones who Mr. Sanneh complained about in his article - retired or died. They venerated Dylan and anyone with his strong points - chiefly great lyrics and rootsy "authenticity" - while deploring anyone who lacked those qualities, even if they had other, different strengths. And if you were working as a pop music critic, sitting next to one of those guys or even being edited by him, I suspect that it might have been difficult to go against the grain and disagree significantly with the Old Guard's critical consensus.

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    ^Some of the old guard's tastes seem to have solidified somewhere after Altamont. The music they liked after that reminded them of what they liked before. (I'm aware that this could be said of many prog fans, sure, but they're not being paid for their insights!)

    A few of them were more broad-minded like David Fricke.
    Last edited by JJ88; 01-13-2020 at 02:41 PM.

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    Why Altamont?

    I know that was generally considered to be the final nail in the coffin of the hippie dream, of the youth revolution. Did they dislike prog because youth culture began to turn inward and backward from then on, while prog defiantly remained a form of optimistic hippie music?

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    ^The 'nail in the coffin of the hippie dream/youth revolution' factor. It was a different era.

    Some of these US writers were very suspicious even of people like David Bowie back then, however lionised he (rightly) is now. I think he represented a major break from what had gone before, including in terms of presentation.

    There's an episode of the 70s 'history of music' series All You Need Is Love where Lester Bangs basically tears into everything happening at the time. Other writers went down the 'singer/songwriter' road where the focus was on lyrics.

    (Mind you, it's important to note that Yes for instance had pretty good reviews in Rolling Stone up to and including Close To The Edge!)
    Last edited by JJ88; 01-13-2020 at 03:08 PM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    ^Some of the old guard's tastes seem to have solidified somewhere after Altamont. The music they liked after that reminded them of what they liked before. (I'm aware that this could be said of many prog fans, sure, but they're not being paid for their insights!)

    A few of them were more broad-minded like David Fricke.
    Also Ken Tucker, who seemed to be a real prog-booster. I get the feeling that David Marsh hated him, or at least hated that he was too positive regarding prog, his most hated genre. Hence the reason Tucker’s reviews got downgraded or excised entirely (sometimes in favor of Marsh bash-fests, Yes for example) in the second edition of The Rolling Stone Record Guide.
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  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    The article came out two-and-a-half years ago.

    When did the critical re-appraisal of prog start? Was it that recent, or did it start significantly earlier? To some extent, it may have been when the Old Guard rock critics - the ones who Mr. Sanneh complained about in his article - retired or died. They venerated Dylan and anyone with his strong points - chiefly great lyrics and rootsy "authenticity" - while deploring anyone who lacked those qualities, even if they had other, different strengths. And if you were working as a pop music critic, sitting next to one of those guys or even being edited by him, I suspect that it might have been difficult to go against the grain and disagree significantly with the Old Guard's critical consensus.
    As far as I know a lot of the 'Old Guard' are still around. Dave Marsh and Robert Christgau are probably sitting at their vintage Smith Corona typewriters right now fuming about something or other. But their rigid 'blues orthodoxy' (as Ed Macan refers to it) take on rock music has been forced to make room for other viewpoints. People who were voiceless teenagers in the '70s and '80s might now be 58 year-old magazine editors who fondly recall seeing Yes & Peter Frampton in 1976, or 48 year-old tv producers broken up about the death of their childhood idol Neil Peart. It may not have seemed obvious 30 or even 20 years ago, but some degree of revisionism was probably inevitable.

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    That's Mr. to you, Sir!! Trane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Supersonic Scientist View Post
    I got immediately worried when, in the opening sentence, he makes a Law Firm reference to Emerson, Lake & Palmer... (believing that the writer was about to go on a shallow sniping expedition and trash Prog in one fell swoop)...it turned out to be a fairly?? balanced take on things, and, for the most-part, accurate. (although his description of a Mellotron was a bit misleading).
    Well, I believe I am a bit the culprit (or at least I helped spreading it) as I made jokes about that when I foirst joined PA & PE. There could be traces of that joke in my PA reviews.
    Other than that mellotron remark, I found nothing go for the man throat, but it's not pro-prog, AFA could read.


    Quote Originally Posted by Poisoned Youth View Post
    I thought the article was “okay”. I found it a bit ironic that the writing style seemed superficially pretentious and analytical.
    yup, the usual clichés seemed to rub off him a bit too much.

    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    It's all our fault.
    let's auto-piss on ourselves

    Quote Originally Posted by Baribrotzer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave (in MA) View Post
    A rotary, dammit!
    Only in Massachusetts - where they never entirely disappeared - is it known as a rotary.
    yup, elsewhere,n they're known as kiwani

    Quote Originally Posted by progmatist View Post
    Not everyone who writes about or speaks of Progressive Rock know what the f*** they're talking about. I remember the documentary series The Seven Ages of Rock. In the Art Rock episode, the producers seemed to think it was all about the visuals. That what defined Genesis was Peter Gabriel's funny costumes.
    yup, typical bullshit, and reason why I couldn't care less for most of those high-profile rockumentaries
    my music collection increased tenfolds when I switched from drug-addicts to complete nutcases.

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    For something more recent, one of the New Yorker's other music scribes, Amanda Petrusich, writes this tribute to Neil Peart. The last two sentences are as on the money as you can get regarding enjoying Neil and Rush.

    https://www.newyorker.com/culture/po...peart-and-rush
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    Good Afternoon ~

    Thanks for posting that article Jerjo. Fine read indeed. Hey, I'll be 59 in a few weeks, grew up in the Mid-West in those rather interesting 70's, and am finding the more recent acceptance and 'freer' talk of Marijuana (mentioned several times in this New Yorker), just wonderful! STILL not easy to shake the supposed 'no no's' of my youth! Interesting to me....

    Spark one up!

    Carry On
    Chris Buckley

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    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    Someone in here said (or words to that effect):

    "The 1970's was the 'Industrial Revolution' of popular music and it's not going to be repeated."

    And all the instruments it is made with, has not developed much further since.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by JJ88 View Post
    (Mind you, it's important to note that Yes for instance had pretty good reviews in Rolling Stone up to and including Close To The Edge!)
    These as well:

    Going For the One - favorable
    Drama - favorable
    90125 - 3/5 stars
    Last edited by yamishogun; 01-15-2020 at 01:51 PM.

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