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Michael Neumann

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Member since: 1/21/2005 • Forum posts: 461 • Last visit: 2/20/2024 2:27:13 PM EST
Location: United States

Progressive Biography

Date of birth: June 1959.

My first awareness of Progressive Rock?

You can blame it on Keith Emerson.

Let's face it: the ELP keyboard wizard has had to shoulder so much uninformed criticism over the years from an ax-grinding music press (was it Lester Bangs who actually compared him to a "war criminal"?) So it's only fair to also credit him for my own initiation into the world of Prog.

It happened back in 1974 or 1975, when I was an underachieving art-nerd lower classman at Hillsdale High in suburban San Mateo, California. My musical tastes were at the time following an all-too routine trajectory, revolving around the axis of Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker, and Leon Russell (still a sentimental favorite), until the day a friend of a friend introduced me to the album "Trilogy".

This was strange and heady stuff to my inexperienced ears. But I had been exposed to enough of the classics from an early age to at least form a fledgling appreciation of this new music. In retrospect, with one older brother listening to The Who and The Rolling Stones and another devoted to Verdi, Puccini, and Tower of Power (!), it was probably inevitable that I would develop into such an ardent, unrepentant Proghead.

These days I would have to categorize ELP (with affection) as a guilty pleasure, but it was their good example that led me into even more challenging musical territory, sometimes against my will. Remember the three-album live set "Welcome Back My Friends..."? When I learned that the excerpt of the song "Epitaph" (in the extended version of "Tarkus") was something from an earlier Greg Lake group named KING CRIMSON, I immediately went out and bought their then-current posthumous live album "USA".

Imagine my shock, expecting to hear something not unlike "Lucky Man" and being assaulted instead by "Larks Tongues in Aspic Part II". That's about as close to a true Prog epiphany as I can remember ever experiencing.

I now have more Prog, Neo-Prog, Post-Prog, and Prog-related albums in my collection (on vinyl, CD, and good old-fashioned analog cassette tape) than I can count, but it's still only a shadow of the total amount of LPs I owned in another, more innocent age. Imports were easy to find in the San Francisco Bay Area back in those days, and serendipity was always a reliable guide: if it had a cool cover, or an arsenal of keyboards (and was recorded in Europe), it was worth a listen.

But with my record collection in a state of constant flux (selling, trading, often re-buying the same albums I rashly sold six months earlier), and with gold-plated, kick-yourself lack of foresight when I boarded the Post-Punk bandwagon, my Progressive interests began to wane. It was only during the mid-1990s that I began to seriously re-examine my musical roots and attempt to rebuild, with the benefit of hindsight, a once-proud Progressive Rock library. I like to think that what it currently lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality and scope.

Pinning down my favorite bands is always a challenge: do I go for historical significance? sentimental value? geographic variety? whether or not they used bass pedals? The list varies from day to day, but somewhere near the head of the class will always be CAN, GENTLE GIANT, KING CRIMSON, NEU! and VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, all groups that easily survived even the most myopic of my record purges.

[...and a small sample of some new / newly discovered favorites introduced to me though the good example of these pages: BJÖRK, MILES DAVIS, THE MARS VOLTA, MEDESKI MARTIN & WOOD,PORCUPINE TREE, PRIMUS, RADIOHEAD, SIGUR RÓS, FRANK ZAPPA...among many others]

My favorite [classic] Prog albums, as of this writing and in no particular order, would have to include:

CAN: "Tago Mago"
GENTLE GIANT: "In a Glass House"
GROBSCHNITT: "Solar Music-Live"
PULSAR: "Halloween"
VDGG: "Godbluff" (or "Pawn Hearts", but I heard the former first)
GENESIS: "Selling England By the Pound" (although "Supper's Ready" gets my nod as the ultimate Progressive Rock song ever)
YES: "Close to the Edge" (although "Gates of Delirium" gets my vote as the runner-up ultimate Progressive Rock song ever)
MAGMA: "Magma Live"
...and anything by KING CRIMSON

All that being said, my thanks go to ProgArchives for their excellent site, and for helping to fan the embers of my rekindled love of sometimes obscure, often difficult, and always unfashionable music. Likewise thanks are due to you, the browsers and contributors, for keeping the faith.

And thanks of course to Keith. Because it's all his fault.

Reviews distribution by sub-genre

 Sub-genreNb of reviewsAvg rating
1 Krautrock1003.29
2 Jazz Rock/Fusion953.62
3 Progressive Electronic783.36
4 Symphonic Prog693.13
5 Psychedelic/Space Rock663.35
6 Eclectic Prog623.39
7 RIO/Avant-Prog593.36
8 Post Rock/Math rock443.45
9 Prog Folk423.17
10 Crossover Prog413.24
11 Prog Related373.35
12 Heavy Prog293.24
13 Rock Progressivo Italiano143.00
14 Canterbury Scene73.71
15 Zeuhl64.00
16 Neo-Prog52.80
17 Various Genres43.75
18 Progressive Metal22.50
19 Indo-Prog/Raga Rock24.00
20 Proto-Prog12.00
21 Experimental/Post Metal13.00

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