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AtomicCrimsonRush View Drop Down
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 15 2010 at 05:53

Part 8: Prog Poll through the years 1974

 

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1974.

An undisputed golden year of prog with incredible albums unprecedented in prog history. Really getting hard now but this is a good list to go by I think:

 

Starless and Bible Black – King Crimson

 

 

The World Became The World - Premiata Forneria Marconi

 

 

Hatfield And The North - Hatfield And The North

 

 

Mirage – Camel

 

 

Hamburger Concerto – Focus

 

 

Welcome Back My Friends... Emerson Lake & Palmer

 

 

Köhntarkösz – Magma

 

 

You – Gong

 

 

Hall Of The Mountain Grill - Hawkwind

 

 

Red – King Crimson

 

 

The Power And The Glory – Gentle Giant

 

 

Red Queen To Gryphon Three – Gryphon

 

 

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis

 

 

Relayer – Yes

 

 

Crac! – Area

 

The results:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
2 [1.69%]
2 [1.69%]
3 [2.54%]
14 [11.86%]
2 [1.69%]
3 [2.54%]
3 [2.54%]
2 [1.69%]
2 [1.69%]
21 [17.80%]
5 [4.24%]
1 [0.85%]
27 [22.88%]
26 [22.03%]
2 [1.69%]
3

There were others many thought to include:

 Crac! by Area was supposed to be in the next year's poll but was listed on another website that I cannot trust now... Oh well it did not stand a chance anyhow.

L'Isola Di Niente – Premiata Forneri Marconi (it’s the Spanish Original Version of the one in the poll)

 

 

Hero And Heroine – The Strawbs

 

 

Crime of the Century – Supertramp

 

Queen II - Queen

 

Well it was a stalemate = A mexican face off between

 

The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis

26

[22.41%]

Relayer – Yes

26

[22.41%]

 

and King Crimson were nipping at their heels too

 

what a year in prog

 

Finally it all came down to one vote!

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

Vinyl side one
1. "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" – 4:55
2. "Fly on a Windshield" – 2:47
3. "Broadway Melody of 1974" – 1:58[5]
4. "Cuckoo Cocoon" – 2:14
5. "In the Cage" – 8:15
6. "The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging" – 2:45

Vinyl side two
1. "Back in N.Y.C." – 5:49
2. "Hairless Heart" – 2:25
3. "Counting Out Time" – 3:45
4. "The Carpet Crawlers" – 5:16
5. "The Chamber of 32 Doors" – 5:44


Vinyl side three
1. "Lilywhite Lilith" – 2:40
2. "The Waiting Room" – 5:28
3. "Anyway" – 3:18
4. "Here Comes The Supernatural Anaesthetist" – 2:50
5. "The Lamia" – 6:57
6. "Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats" – 3:06

Vinyl side four
1. "The Colony of Slippermen (Arrival - A Visit to the Doktor - Raven)" – 8:14
2. "Ravine" – 2:05
3. "The Light Dies Down on Broadway" – 3:32
4. "Riding the Scree" – 3:56
5. "In the Rapids" – 2:24
6. "It" – 4:58

 

 

My Review  :

  **** Review #536

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Gabriel takes a final bow

Genesis was in turmoil during the making of this album. It took me a long time to really appreciate this huge concept album from Gabriel era Genesis. It was to be the last time Gabriel would front the band as he was off to greener pastures on a solo career that was not surprisingly successful. He quit Genesis as he was disheartened by the band members, attitudes were at bay and tempers did fray, so this is an emotional album with turmoil driving it at the centre of its black heart. The music pumped life into the band and the concept was inspirational. However the patient on the table was about to draw his last breath. The operation was a success but the patient died.

At first listen I was confused as to what the band were trying to achieve on this. The songs often run together and it runs out of steam towards the end. The vocals are abrasive and aggressive, especially towards the middle of the album. The band seem lost in the overblown concept and it is indeed the most ambitious overbearing album of the Genesis catalogue. Aside from all this the album tends to grow on you like fungus on the lemon tree.

I am not as big a fan of this as others here and part of the album is deliriously tedious for me, marring a masterpiece status. A studio double album is ambitious and Genesis perhaps bit off more than they could chew here. It was akin to Yes' "Tales of Topographic Oceans" in scale. Overlong, bombastic and conceptually heavy. However, somehow this has become an icon of the band and indeed prog in general.

The bildungsroman of self discovery and personal growth of Rael is as much a part of Gabriel's history as anything he put his hand to post Genesis. Peter Gabriel relinquished the fox head in red dress, and concentrated on the slipperman and the forlorn character of Rael on this double album treat. The rock opera is unforgettable, many critics hailing it as the masterpiece of 1974. The double vinyl album is now a double CD and sounds glorious by any standards. The plot is a conglomeration of Gabriel's fantasies and the life story that is laced by hallucinogenics of a Puerto Rican tramp known as Rael and we hear slices of experiences that may be real or simply figments of Rael's stoned mind. Nevertheless the music is the last great prog opera for Genesis.

The lyrics are concentrically focussed on Rael's delusional state of mind that is warped with apparitions of stumbling tramps, cocoons, cages and caverns. There are a myriad of characters caught up in the lunacy including anaesthesists, colonies of slippermen, Greek mythological figures and a plethora of quotes from poets, authors and musical composers. At first listen it may seem all too much and perhaps a tad pretentious, but it soon grows on you and you may grow to love this album. I could never love it as it is simply too sporadically weird and does not gel with my musical tastes, however I can see the appeal. In its day the album must have knocked every artist off their perch as there was nothing like it. And oh, how influential this album has become over the years.

The album cover with subjects jumping out of their paintings and escaping the canvas entrapment is iconic. There are songs from this that have become part of Genesis and prog folklore; they are easy to locate amidst the massive running time: The highlight of the entire album is undoubtedly In The Cage, and it has been surpassed in greatness on the live DVD "Genesis In Rome" complete with animated running man in a cage. The music is incredible here, especially Banks on stunning synth staccatos, with powerful melodies that rise to the heavens. Carpet Crawlers is a definitive track that mauled the charts for some time till it faded as a memory. The song is sheer beauty and an emotionally charged treasure. The Colony of Slipperman is simply quintessential to Genesis and masterful. One can never forget the power of grandeur of In The Cage but there also shining moments such as The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway with its great melody that is easy to listen to.

These are individual gems, however when taken as a whole concept the album presents some concerns, the main one being, what the blazes is this album trying to say? Is it trying to convey the dangers of losing one's mind, or is it one huge analogy of how to cope in a cruel world? Rael seems to wake up in a cage where he soon comes face to face with the carpet crawlers, supernatural anaesthetists and the Slippermen. The events that happen to Rael are superseded by anxiety and confusion, enhanced by confusing alienating lyrics, but it is safe to assume that Rael the protagonist goes through a living torturous hell, getting castrated, and later encountering his brother John who topples over imaginary rapids but he is chased by Rael and ultimately saved from certain death. If all that confuses you the final twist is found in the last track It. You need not speculate what 'It' is, because it is left open for interpretation, and may be anything from sex to beliefs.

I think the real power of the album lies in its compelling structure and storyline. Gabriel is on fire and at his sardonic best on this as the character of Rael, a cyber punk anarchist with a cause. Collins, Banks, Hackett and Rutherford are there somewhere in the distance behind this megolomaniac protagonist in his plastic cinematographic landscape. The domination of Gabriel is almost astonishingly criminal but there is no getting away from the scintillating keyboards of Banks, brilliant at times, and the rhythm machine of bass and drums extraordinaire, Rutherford and Collins. Hackett is a phenomenon on lead guitars as always, and he absolutely sparkles on this album. Time sig changes on In The Cage are innovative and one of the great examples of how to do it right as part of an overall theme rather than just switching tempos for the sake of it.

There are segues and transitions to songs by short pieces such as Broadway Melody of 1974, to prepare us for the majesty of Cuckoo Cocoon. Hackett features on arpeggios and scales making his guitar soar and the return of Gabriel's flute is a sheer delight. It was almost a farewell to the past, as the flute rarely troubled his solo albums.

The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging is one of the avante garde Genesis romps and it will not appeal to everyone for this reason. It is as far removed from the commercialism of the "Invisible Touch" period of the band, that would plague their creativity, as an alien is from the planet earth.The esoteric soundscape is surreal and it even features vocals that belch; perhaps in a cynical fashion Eno wrote this to create an experimental atypical track that would stand out among the rest. He succeeded.

There is a nihilistic foreboding cynicism in Gabriel on Back In NYC. Bank's keyboards have a massive sound that manages to dominate even over Gabriel's egotism. The character of Rael screeches with utter contempt: "This is your mess I'm stuck in, I really don't belong" and we tend to believe him here. He is a fearsome street punk who takes no prisoners; nobody would dare to step in his way. That would all change. The mellotron swirls and sparkles on Hairless Heart, a sumptuous instrumental where Hackett shows his chops on axe. He drives his guitar headlong with spacey flourishes, a tablature to die for, perhaps an underrated classic for Hackett's virtuoso prowess.

Gabriel becomes even more desperate as the album progresses and by the time we get past the prog ballad Carpet Crawlers to The Chamber of 32 Doors, Rael has become a figure of desolation and despair. The Mellotron cries out as Gabriel's Rael pleads for redemption.

So endeth Act 1 and we then move to the second Act on CD2. This CD is where it begins to drag for me, though there are still moments of glory.

Lilywhite Lilith begins it well with beautiful melodies and energetic flow. The optimist declares the best of all possible worlds, and while the pessimist fears this is so, Rael shines with hope for a future at this stage in the game.

The Waiting Room brings things down considerably, with its surreal structure it is as difficult to grasp as Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The mystique of the track renders it some power like The Beatles Revolution 9, but the hyper strangeness makes it inaccessible and one to skip. At first it is chilling and then after subsequent listens it is downright annoying. In context the piece works as a nightmare for Rael's decline into damnation. It was recorded in pitch dark and sounds it. Perhaps the band could not find inspiration with the lights on but I believe the band really lost their way on this without a torch to guide them, and it can never be justified. One listen is certainly enough.

Anyway is next, and is an accessible piece after the last experimental mental collapse of the last track. It is subdued and peaceful with gentle calm guitars and arpeggiated piano. The lyrics are cryptic but generate visual dioramas of the protagonist's plight. There is a wonderful melodic line and simplicity behind the stark arrangement. "And it's good morning Rael".

The Supernatural Anaesthetist has a brief bizarre diatribe of unintelligible lyrics by Collins and Gabriel and then Hackett launches into space and just plays. The piece is supposed to denote the impact of death or it could be the impact of drugs, who knows?

The Lamia is one of the more memorable tunes with anguished sexualised lyrics and symbolism that are open to interpretation. There are portamento synth lines from Banks permeating the atmosphere. The story line goes into dark territory here are as Rael devours his lovers after an orgy.

Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats is really a transition piece to the next big track, which is the hyper weird surrealism of The Colony of Slippermen. There are estranged jungle noises until the sudden detour into symphonic prog heralded by Banks keyboards and a quote from William Wordsworth; classic poet of the century. The sitar makes an appearance generating an Eastern flavour. The slipperman appears on stage as a distorted fiendish globular creature and Gabriel's monstrous growl gives it chilling substance.

The story line becomes a dream tale of no logic whatsoever at this point and you have to give up and allow it to wash over you as nothing congeals: Rael and his brother John, who is disfigured by VD, give themselves over to a ritual castration performed by a surgeon. Somehow the eventual destination of their genitalia winds up in the beak of a 'Phallus hoarding Magpie' who proceeds to carry away their genitalia in its beak. The pursuit is on for the Thieving Magpie and we wind up in the ravine.

Ravine is another throwaway short track that blows the dust out of an oscillator. The Light Dies Down on Broadway brings us back to the original theme and it's a relief to hear it after all the strange going-ons. The album has lost its way here but the reprise of the familiar is so needed at this point.

Riding the Scree is a Banks blaster, where he is allowed to hook into a groove that cruises along at a quick pace. The vocals are as unconventional as ever at the end of this but after a lengthy keyboard solo they feel forced and pasted on in order to continue the main storyline. No doubt this was an instrumental that Gabriel decided to utilise as part of the concept at the last minute.

In the Rapids brings the album to its eventual conclusion and as such should have been a showstopper. Alas, it is anything but. Rael eventually leaps to his death to save his disloyal brother. Is he a hero for doing this? It is such a hackneyed method to end this story that it almost feels like a hurried afterthought. What will we do with this Rael? Oh, let's have him jump to his death to save his brother. Oh yeah, that'll do. His brother is not even loyal having forsaken Rael on at least two occasions. At least the music is brilliant enough to carry this to a satisfying conclusion. So in terms of music it is satisfying, in terms of story it is a disappointment.

Next we have the oft discussed oddity enigmatically called It. Gabriel here is cynical and swipes at sexual gratification, and music journalists. "its only knock and know-all but I like it" is a direct swipe at The Rolling Stones. This is just Gabriel trying to be funny having recorded in the same studio as the Stones. Whether it works or not is open to conjecture but it is certainly a memorable ending to this magnum opus.

The allegory of a declining social structure with metaphorical allusions has been widely discussed by critics over the years and I can add to this speculation as to the meaning of the lyrics here in some form. The story is compelling and is replete with pop culture references and a saturation of symbolism. But what does it all mean? Here's my take on it. It was yet another busy night on Broadway in the big apple, New York City, where a lone figure made his way through the throng of faceless pedestrians and honking traffic. The street wise Puerto-Rican is a punk named Rael who is stopped dead in his tracks when he notices the disturbing image of a lamb slowly making its way towards him through the steamy city streets. As the bustling traffic roars headlong, incessantly moving in eternal perpetual motion, the lamb lies down. It is a surreal image that buries itself into Rael's subconscious. Why does it lie down? Is it dead? Is it tired of citylife? Is it escaping the chop? Where did it come from? Is it lost wagging its tail behind him? The lamb represents all the innocence of Rael that has somehow been purged by a hard life. It wanders lonely as a cloud and finds a place to finally rest amidst the mad rushing world. Rael too has been sheared of his innocence by the hard knocks of betrayal and survival instincts in an antagonistic society. While he is contemplating this a massive wall rises out of the ground and ascends upwards. It then blasts across Times Square and crushes and annihilates anything that gets in its way. The spectacle seems to occur unnoticed by the pedestrians but Rael is aghast as he witnesses this calamity with its devestating holocaustic cataclysm. Rael is swept up by the Wall and embarks on a cathartic journey of self- discovery. On this journey he encounters the fiends of his darker psyche, the slipperman, the Lamia and carpet crawlers, who devour his life that is ebbing towards self destruction. His past haunts him and transforms into personifications of a world where dreams and nightmares merge into a hyper reality. The sense of entrapment is strong and there seems to be no escape from this plagued society. The social structure becomes plastic and fake and reeking of commercial infestation. The putrefaction of modern living is seen as a Grand Parade Of Lifeless Packaging. The Waiting Room is the precursor to the dark past which will lead to the Supernatural Anaesthetist and The Colony Of Slippermen. Finally in an effort to save his brother who has been disloyal to Rael despite his undying love, Rael makes the ultimate sacrifice and jumps to his death in the ravine. His brother is redeemed from death and Rael is redeemed from a purposeless life. The moral? In order to find yourself you first must lose yourself, and then you are able to discover freedom from your cocoon. Rael was in a cage, a cuckoo cocoon of lost dreams, echoes of the past and wild imaginings of a dystopian world; a prisoner of his own imagination. To escape this diseased planet the beauty of his soul shone through when he saw his brother at the point of death. Jumping to certain death was his only means of salvation.

Well at least that's my take on this.

So in conclusion the flawed opus of Genesis works well on a number of levels. Philosophically; there is much to gain from a close inspection of the lyrics. Musically; there are masterful performances. Gabrielly; it may be among Peter's best work. Gabriel was like Rael on this album. He felt trapped by rock and roll excess and the drug culture. Like Macbeth, Gabriel felt cabined, cribbed, confined, bound by saucy doubts and fears, and he needed to escape. He did escape his cage and Genesis was never the same again. Genesis was set free from conceptual diatribes on modern society, and were able to rejuvenate into a money making machine. Some say they were better but that is open to argument. Nothing like this album was attempted again. Genesis were in the next phase of their evolution. Collins was about to make his presence felt in a way he could never have dreamed. The dawn of a new Genesis was about to take residence.

Runner up by one vote is:

 

Relayer - YES


 

 

My Review:

 
 ***** Three of a Perfect Pair - Classic Yes Brilliance"

"Relayer" is another Yes album with only 3 tracks, almost like a twin brother of "Close to the Edge" structurally, and while not quite up to the standard of that classic, this is a triumph on every level. Wakeman had scarpered off after being disillusioned by the motherlode of prog "Tales from Topographic Oceans" and was summarily replaced by new keyboard wizard, Patrick Moraz from Switzerland birth, who had come to the band's attention primarily through his involvement with Refugee. He left this trio to become unified with the Yes lineup in 1974. He had heard Soundchaser and said he was blown away by it. Moraz's sole contribution to Yes is captured on "Relayer" and makes this a unique album with his inimitable style.

The first thing you may note is the actual album cover that is itself a work of genius by the incomparable Roger Dean. The subtle discoloration is eye catching; the horses with medieval riders striding through the cavernous silent walls is eye candy for the 70s and one of the most iconic Yes images.

The music is fabulously grand and epic. Once the opening track, 'The Gates of Delirium' launched in to full orbit, the magic begins and I was mesmirized by the enchanting spell. Anderson is terrific in high falsetto as usual but those massive keyboard passages are transfixing. The guitars of Howe are beautiful and Squire's basslines are divine. Alan White is a master on drums. Anderson croons a lovely song when the 'Soon' section begins, with violining by Howe and sustained keyboard pads. The serenity is created by stunning music. This epic, this multi movement suite is divided into structural sections but these sections are unidentified in the track listing, a first for Yes. This leaves interpretation wide open for the listener. The lyrics are uplifting and memorable; "Soon, oh soon the light, pass within and soothe this endless night.... the sun will lead us, our reason to be here." During this haunting section, it almost sounds like orchestrated violins or mellotron. This epic is certainly worthy of hall of fame status as one of the best side long epics.

'Sound Chaser' is a jazz fusion electric guitar showcase with huge drum patterns with Squires relentless bass, and twinkling electric piano. Perhaps the most wildly experimental on the album, the time signature on this is odd, enhanced by clear vocals with cryptic lyrics, "Faster moment spent spread tales of change within the sound, Counting form through rhythm electric freedom, Moves to counterbalance stars expound our conscience, All to know and see the look in your eyes. Passing time will reach as nature relays to set the scene, New encounters spark a true fruition, Guiding lines we touch them, our bodies balance out the waves, As we accelerate our days to the look in your eyes." Howe has a huge guitar solo on this sans other instrumentation, and this is like a concert experience where the guitarist comes out alone and plays his soul out on the stage. The keys begin to pad out interplanetary sounds. Howe then indulges in a classical guitar style, violining the sound with the volume switch creating a solid ambience. The sustained pads are spacey and ethereal, I love what Moraz does here. The vocals chime in again; "From the moment I reached out to hold, I felt a sound, And what touches our soul slowly moves as touch rebounds. And to know that tempo will continue, Lost in trance of dances as rhythm takes another turn, As is my want, I only reach to look in your eyes." After this the drums crash in off the metronome scale, and there is a huge wall of sound with multi layered keys and chaotic bass playing. The time signature goes in to swing mode and the keys are brought forward in the mix. The astounding vocals crunch out a chant and we are driven into a freak out of keyboard wizardry. This is absolutely astounding. There are a myriad of solos on this giving band members time to shine. Another excellent track, my favourite on the album due to the innovative approach to the music. Howe has never been better. Pure prog bliss.

'To Be Over' is a slow paced piece of tranquility and the real star here is Howe with some absolutely blazing guitar solos of varying styles, from jazz to Symphonic psychedelia, and a touch of blues. The lyrics are surreal along the lines of "Shine like, soul dreamer, wondering, to seek in every night, to open two pathways... " the keyboard solo of Moraz is sparkling clean and refreshing. "After all your soul is still surrendered," the multi layered vocals of Anderson chime. I like the very simple lead break here that is effective, Squire's bass keeps a non structured rhythm and there are vocals that continue chanting as it fades.

So ends a fascinating album with three excellent tracks. Due to this high level of excellence and no filler material it would be remiss of me to award this anything less than 5 stars. Yes are an incredible band and they have many masterpieces; this is one of them.  



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 21 2011 at 09:01
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 15 2010 at 06:32

 

Part 9: Prog Poll through the years 1975

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1975.

An excellent year of prog with legendary albums that kept prog well and truly alive in the mid 70s. I had to leave some treasures out but this list captures the spirit of the era.

 

Scheherezade and Other Stories - Renaissance

 

 

Rotter’s Club - Hatfield And The North

 

 

The Snow Goose – Camel

 

 

Warrior At The Edge Of Time – Hawkwind

 

 

Cunning Stunts – Caravan

 

 

Free Hand – Gentle Giant

 

 

Minstrel In The Gallery – Jethro Tull

 

 

Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd

 

 

Godbluff - Van Der Graaf Generator

 

 

Voyage Of The Acolyte – Steve Hackett

 

 

Fish Out Of Water – Chris Squire

 

 

Live – Magma

 

 

Electric Silence – Dzyan

 

 

 

Boris – Yezda Urfa

 

 

Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison – Harmonium

 

 

 

 

 

The results:

 

Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
5 [4.20%]
6 [5.04%]
8 [6.72%]
4 [3.36%]
0 [0.00%]
5 [4.20%]
9 [7.56%]
43 [36.13%]
17 [14.29%]
6 [5.04%]
3 [2.52%]
3 [2.52%]
1 [0.84%]
1 [0.84%]
2 [1.68%]
6 [5.04%]

There were others including the following:

Time Honoured Ghosts – Barclay James Harvest

 

Au Dela du Delire - Ange

 

Les Porches – Maneige

 

Ghosts - The Strawbs

 

 
 
 
 
 
A Night at the Opera - Queen

Queen A Night At The Opera album cover 

 
And there was a list posted of alternatives:
Beck, Jeff    Blow By Blow
Eno, Brian    Another Green World
Gong    Shamal
Kansas    Song for America
Manzanara, Phil    Diamond Head
Nektar    Recycled
Oldfield, Mike    Ommadawn
Residents, The    Third Reich 'N Roll, The
Return to Forever    Return to the 7th Galaxy: The Anthology
Roxy Music    Siren
Roxy Music    Viva

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

A landslide win for Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd! Well deserved too. I remember when I first heard that lengthy intro and then those 4 guitar notes echoing on 'Shine On' - sheer bliss......

 

My Review:

*****Enduring, masterful, powerful, unforgettable.

Wish You Were Here is one of the greatest prog albums of 1975 which seems to be the pinnacle for the golden era of prog, culminating in the artists best work. PF had released their master work DSOTM that stormed the prog world and remains one of the finest albums in the history of rock. How do you follow up on this success? A conceptual album with one of the most endearing songs of the PF canon and one of the most celebrated album covers of all time - Wish You Were Here.

These albums have left an indelible thumbprint for other artists to try and emulate. Wish You Were Here accomplished the monumental task of following up DSOTM with an incredible lengthy introduction preparing the listener for what is to come. The tranquility conveyed on "Shine On" is astounding and so aptly performed live with exquisite visual imagery. The track opens with a patient, ambience created by sounds of a peaceful stream, a rowing boat, and the distinct keyboard talents of Wright. The music takes us downstream as we enter Syd Barret's jaded conscious thoughts, echoed by the band members themselves. The track is an ode to the twisted genius of Syd and moves through several sections as a multi movement suite orchestrated to perfection. The echoing guitar represents a four octave motif that Floydians have grown to adore. Its pure beauty is complimented when Gilmour chimes in "Remember when you were young..." The fragmentation of the beat midway through alludes to the fragmented status of the group since Barret's departure. Indeed this is a beatific paean to the troubled artist who recently travelled to "the great gig in the sky".

"Welcome to the Machine" begins with the mechanized droning of a factory machine, and seems to be a more blatant stab at autocratic society than anything on "Animals" or "the Wall" where humans are forced to obey only to be grinded out as mincemeat; mindless autonomyns. The theme is simple and runs through most PF albums: Absence of a band member has led to success but at what price? The music business is likened to a meat processor, similar to the one in "The Wall" movie. They are grinded out under the pressure of the education system. In "Machine" the music industry processes and manufactures rock artists for their own means, but when they have fulfilled their purpose, the naïve artists are chewed up and spat out to make room for 'the next big thing'. The golden mechanized glove on the cover echoes this thought. The man catches alight as he shakes hands now that his deal with the devil has doomed him to extinction. PF kept attempting to rebel against the golden handshake of the music business, still somehow retaining millions of record sales. This is an achievement in itself. "Have a Cigar" continues this cynical examination of the music business; full of clichés and innuendos, the lyrics stab at the way the industry elevates artists to drain every cent out of them only to destroy them at the first sign of individual innovation. The rotting carcass of the music artist is left in a smoldering heap so that the new talent can rise out of the ashes in its place. PF likely felt like this after the success of DSOTM - suddenly a band that was shunned is sought after by every label. Thankfully PF refused to sell out on this album and it still managed to carve a place on the charts for a number of weeks.

Part of the reason for its success is the single "Wish You Were Here" with one of the most played, most recognized acoustic intros ever. The lyrics are as beautiful as the arrangement. Waters calls to the positive side of his dark nature. There are 2 sides to human nature.

The album closes with another segment of "Shine On" bringing the album full circle. The journey is complete making way for "Animals".

Wish You Were Here is a wonderful album that tends to grow on you with every listen. The album cemented PF's reputation of masters of the prog genre. No PF or prog fan should be without it - it is simply a masterpiece!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 20 2014 at 06:36
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 15 2010 at 10:34

More polls being posted tomorrow. I have just collated some interesting results 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - May 15 2010 at 10:35
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 16 2010 at 08:45

Part 10: Prog Poll through the years 1976

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1976.

Legendary prog artists released some of their best material in 1976 that are still hailed as masterpieces today. A much easier choice in comparison to other polls as it comes down to these:

 
A Trick Of The Tail – Genesis

 

2112- Rush

 

Chocolate Kings - Premiata Forneria Marconi

 

Recycled – Nektar

 

Still Life - Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Interview – Gentle Giant

 

Moonmadness – Camel

 

Live At Carnegie Hall – Renaissance

 

Olias Of Sunhillow – Jon Anderson

 

L - Steve Hillage

 

World Record - Van Der Graaf Generator

 

Leftoverture – Kansas

 

All the World’s A Stage - Rush

 

Dawn – Eloy

 

Clowns & Clouds – Hoelderlin

 

 The Results:

 

Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
29 [26.13%]
18 [16.22%]
2 [1.80%]
2 [1.80%]
19 [17.12%]
1 [0.90%]
11 [9.91%]
1 [0.90%]
2 [1.80%]
2 [1.80%]
2 [1.80%]
13 [11.71%]
1 [0.90%]
3 [2.70%]
0 [0.00%]
5 [4.50%]

Some others chosen as usual including:

 

Book Of Invasions – Horslips

 

Return to Forever - Romantic Warrior

 

New Age of Earth - Ash ra Tempel

 

Udu Wudu – Magma

 

 

Osorezan/ Dou no Kenbai - Geinoh Yamashirogumi

 

 

Genesis and VDGG were dead even with Rush nipping at their heels for a while, then there was a blitz of votes for the eventual winner:

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 GENESIS

 

 

My Review:

 *****  The genie had escaped from the bottle and Genesis were free again.

Perhaps the overly creative Peter Gabriel was actually stifling the creativity of Genesis by overpowering them with his own creative juices. After Peter Gabriel left, many feel that the magic was extracted from the band, in a sense the cork had been popped and the genie had escaped from the bottle. Gabriel went on to do other great things and left the band dangling by a thread with the reluctant Phil Collins to take up where Gabriel left off. "We came close to calling it a day when Pete left," Rutherford mentioned in an interview, "It wasn't that we lost our nerve. We were always confident we could write the music, because Tony and I had done most of 'The Lamb.' It was just a question of whether the public would accept us." There was a lot of misconception that the band could not continue sans Gabriel. After the enormously popular "The Lamb Lies Down In Broadway" the band had to come up with something extraordinary as there was such an expectation with this new lineup. Could Genesis pull it off without the enigmatic Gabriel? The answer is a bonafide yes. This is perhaps one of the best Post Gabriel Genesis albums of all time. The musicianship is absolutely brilliant when you have the likes of Hackett guitar extraordinaire with, Banks, masterful on keyboards and mellotron, Rutherford, bass rhythm professional, and of course, percussionist Collins on lead vocals.

It begins with the progalicious off kilter rhythms of Dance on a Volcano with Banks, Rutherford, Hackett and Collins in full flight, a force to be reckoned with. The intricate time signatures are astonishing, a mixture of jazz fusion and complex melodies. I love the way the drums are off beat, not quite in time with the signature, but the off kilter metrical pattern is consistently off the beat and it works so well. The lyrics are quite amusing nonsense, and the time sig is chaotic in a passage of proggy delight, "On your left and on your right, Crosses are green and crosses are blue, Your friends didn't make it through. Out of the night and out of the dark, Into the fire and into the fight, Well that's the way the heroes go, Ho! Ho! Ho!" There is a chilling self prophecy towards the end with the estranged vocals "Let the dance begin", and we all know the "We Can't Dance" album and how that shaped their music for the worst, becoming commercial and radio friendly. In any case this opening track is brilliant Genesis and a killer to present the new Genesis. Hackett's guitar riffs are infectious and unforgettable on this track. This is the best track on the album, a tour de force of proggy rhythms and virtuoso musicianship.

Entangled has an excellent Hackett 12 string intro and the soft vocals of Collins accompanying. The track is essentially a folk ballad, the type that would grace every Genesis album from here on with Collins at the helm. The lyrics are all about a patient who dreams disturbing things, there is no slipperman or fox here, just a simple melodic balladic form, "Madrigal music is playing, Voices can faintly be heard, "Please leave this patient undisturbed." Sentenced to drift far away now, Nothing is quite what it seems, Sometimes entangled in your own dreams." . The harmonies are quite nice, and even pastoral at times, especially some of those swells on the keyboards that add an ethereal quality. The end synth break is a highlight, showcasing Banks inimitable flair.

Squonk has a solid steady rhythm with very familiar lyrical style, the nursery rhyme or is that cryme style, "All the King's horses and all the King's men, Could never put a smile on that face." The lyrics are very fairy tale in style, "He's a sly one, he's a shy one, Wouldn't you be too. Scared to be left all on his own. Hasn't a, hasn't a friend to play with, the Ugly Duckling, The pressure on, the bubble will burst before our eyes." The story is all about the furry little squonk and it makes references to all sort of chidren's literature such as 'Snow White'; "Mirror mirror on the wall, His heart was broken long before he ever came to you..." So Genesis were still maintaining the thematic content of past albums that was centred on fairy tales and nonsense rhymes which is nice to see. The lyrics that refers to the 'Trick of the tail' is here too, "Now listen here, listen to me, don't you run away now, I am a friend, I'd really like to play with you. Making noises my little furry friend would make, I'll trick him, then I'll kick him into my sack. You better watch out... You better watch out." A great song that is quite popular among Genesis freaks.

Mad Man Moon begins with a dreamy flute sound and very soft piano. Collins gently sings in a melancholy way while the mellotron plays underneath, "Was it summer when the river ran dry, Or was it just another dam. When the evil of a snowflake in June, Could still be a source of relief. O how I love you, I once cried long ago, But I was the one who decided to go. To search beyond the final crest, Though I'd heard it said just birds could dwell so high." This is a very pastoral song which changes feel at 2:45 with a piano interlude, played to perfection by Banks. This is a quiet sleeper track.

Robbery, Assault and Battery has some of the more character driven lyrics we have become used to from Gabriel, but this time Collins plays the very English characters, "Slipping between them he ought to have seen then, The eyes and their owner so near. With torch shining bright he strode on in the night, Till he came to the room with the safe." Collins uses a tough cockney accent on the next sections, "Hello son, I hope you're having fun." "You've got it wrong Sir, I'm only the cleaner." With that he fired, the other saying as he died, "You've done me wrong," it's the same old song forever." The chorus is memorable, melodic and easy to sing along to in a live performance, "Robbery, assault and battery, The felon and his felony..." There are some compelling time sig changes and Banks is allowed to shine with his scintillating keyboard lead breaks. The section at 3:20 is great sounding like the type of style on "Foxtrot". The cathedral grinding pipe organ sound at 4:30 is majestic and powerful. The verses return, the storyteller vocals sing, "I've got clean away but I'll be back some day, Just the combination will have changed. Some day they'll catch me, to a chain they'll attach me, Until that day I'll ride the old crime wave. If they try to hold me for trial, I'll stay out of jail by paying my bail, And after I'll go to the court of appeal saying, "You've done me wrong," it's the same old song forever." This line repeats until the song ends. I like the style of this old school Genesis track.

The last three tracks are featured many times in live performances as a trilogy and indeed on compilations. I had heard them many times but on this album they made a perfect ending to the album. Ripples begins immediately with trademark 12 string Hackett brilliance. The melody is very strong and memorable, one of the best of Collins quieter moments with the band. There is an uplifting chorus that soars, "Sail away, away, Ripples never come back. They've gone to the other side. Look into the pool, Ripples never come back, Dive to the bottom and go to the top, To see where they have gone. Oh, they've gone to the other side..." I like the instrumental break with violin style guitar and very well executed piano flourishes and an extended passage of synth. A fan favourite and performed live it is a gem.

A Trick of the Tail is a bit of a transition between two treasures. The lyrics are a real feature telling the bizarre tale of a beast. "And wept as they led him away to a cage, Beast that can talk, read the sign. The creatures they pushed and they prodded his frame, And questioned his story again. But soon they grew bored of their prey, Beast that can talk? More like a freak or publicity stunt..." The melody is whimsical matching the Beowulf style lyrics. I always liked this as it is so different than anything else on the album, and a lot of fun, not taking itself seriously. I can understand why many feel this to e a low point on the album but it resonates with me, especially the infectious chorus, "They've got no horns and they've got no tail, They don't even know of our existence. Am I wrong to believe in a city of gold, That lies in the deep distance, he cried and wept." The quest for the beast is humorous but it is intriguing, and streets ahead of any of those love ballads that were soon to permeate the genesis catalogue in the dreadful 80s.

Los Endos is a true classic that has ended many Genesis concerts, full of incredible instrumentation and shades of light and dark textures. The drums, the tom toms are frenetic and driving, the guitar is riffing eloquent, and the bass is a key rhythm powerhouse. It settles into the familiar 6 chord keyboard pads that all Genesis fans know. Banks is absolutely stunning on this instrumental. At 4 minutes in there is a choral section and gradually building keyboard motif, until there is a type of reprise of album tracks, you can determine the various melodies. Collins even subliminally has a few lines of singing, "There's an angel standing in the sun, Free to get back home." . Then it fades into the distance. This was the perfect way to end an excellent album, with the band demonstrating their uncompromising musical genius.

Overall, "A Trick of the Tail" is a wonderful beginning to the new lineup without Gabriel, proving the band can do incredible things even without their frontman, flutist. The songs will grow on you after a while and some have become part of Genesis folklore now, especially the last three tracks and the opening track. This progressive excellence was not to last unfortunately. There were three more solid albums with prog elements until 1981 when the band sold out to mainstream commercial radio snapping their prog apron strings once and for all and effectively destroying the trademark sound to become marketable to a mainstream target audience; adoring females. The music on this album is well accomplished and many guitarists love to emulate the work of Hackett on this and keyboardists can revel in the talents of Banks. This is a very pleasurable album with much to recommend it; one of the best from 1976. I was not going to go as far as to call it a masterpiece on first listen, but it really grew on me and I get the chills when I hear some of that work from Hackett, and Collins is at his best here, therefore it is perhaps the best work Genesis did sans Gabriel, and that is worthy of 5 stars without question.

 

 
The Runner up was the magnificent Van der Graaf Generator with 'Still Life'.
 
 
 
My Review:
 
**** After having just listened to the debut of this eclectic prog band I had to release one of the classics upon my senses. There is no comparison.

This album is truly a wonderful foray into the dark netherwold of VDGG. Ear splitting vocals and ambient keyboards are the order of the day and Hammill is a master of the insightful existential lyric. This is him at his existential best. Listen to the caterwauling of La Rossa and Still Life to hear his heartbeat and feel the tension and angst of a life dedicated to music.

My Room (Waiting for Wonderland) is an 8 minute journey into the darker consciousness of the man. This is not an easy album to digest, in fact no VDGG should be, but of the big 5 classics this is the most difficult and takes several listens to appreciate. I still cannot appreciate it as much as PH, TLWCDIWTEO, GB, or indeed HTHWATOO. However those albums are from a different era, maybe a different universe, and this is a diverse detour for the band. It does not rely heavily on heavy guitar or keys and is a lot more melancholy than any VDGG. Hammill is turned way up in the mix and the instrumentals accompany his instrument/voice on each track. It is gentle and quiet but very brooding and moody. Stunning vocals throughout and Jaxon, Banton and Evans are quintessential to the evolution of the group. Perhaps this is the best line up, no arguments there I suspect. But it is surprisingly restrained and may turn some off as there is not a shred of heavy rock unlike previous albums.

The bonus track though rocks out and is a freak out of sound - incredible. Gog! What is this? Where does it come from as no album features this in studio format. It is a wonderful raw vibrant performance from the band.

I cannot quite give this 5 stars, unlike PH, my favourite release of the band, perhaps my top 5 prog of all time is Plague of Lighthouse Keepers, but 'Still Life' must be awarded 4 stars for sheer ingenuity and audacity. A jaded album for sure, slightly twisted in places, too quiet for comfort, uneasy listening, but a very good release from VDGG.

 
 


Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 20 2014 at 07:25
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 16 2010 at 09:07

Part 11: Prog Poll through the years 1977

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1977. In the year punk tried to kill off prog, there were still some treasures but as you can see the list of classics was thinning out.

 

Wind & Wuthering – Genesis EDIT: (1976) release officiallyOuch

 

Animals – Pink Floyd

 

Songs From The Wood – Jethro Tull

 

Ocean - Eloy

 

Rockpommel's Land – Grobschnitt

 

Quark, Strangeness and Charm – Hawkwind

 

Jet Lag - Premiata Forneria Marconi

 

Oxygene - Jean Michel Jarre

Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene album cover

Enigmatic Ocean – Jean Luc Ponty

 

The Quiet Zone / The Pleasure Dome – Van Der Graaf

 

A Farewell To Kings – Rush

 Rush A Farewell To Kings album cover

Seconds Out – Genesis

 

Rare Birds - Hoelderlin

 

Elegant Gypsy- Al Di Meola

 

Playing The Fool Live – Gentle Giant

 

Wind and Wuthering is a 1976 album I discovered, another case of being told incorrect info on a website. Very annoying. But Animals still way ahead.

 
The Results:
 
17 [14.05%]
41 [33.88%]
12 [9.92%]
5 [4.13%]
2 [1.65%]
2 [1.65%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [0.83%]
2 [1.65%]
1 [0.83%]
20 [16.53%]
6 [4.96%]
1 [0.83%]
1 [0.83%]
3 [2.48%]
7 [5.79%]
 

As usual a lot of posts requested other albums for the best choices and here are some of them:

Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu - Locanda Delle Fate

 

National Health - National Health

 

Univers Zero – 1313

 
Peliculas - La Maquina de Hacer Pajaros.

 

 

Going For The One – Yes

 

 

There was a good fight from Rush in second place but the overall vote was obvious:

  

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

Animals – Pink Floyd

 

My Review:

 

****Pigs Might Fly, Impossible and Preposterous, but Pink Floyd Makes It A Reality

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell states, "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Pink Floyd were inspired by the thematic content of the novel, an anthropomorphic socio political saga of looking at the world differently; perhaps politically it only applies to the politics of the day, however this biting satire could apply to the politics of today. In Water's conceptualisation in this world you are either a pig, a sheep or a dog. Dogs are the corporate predators that have a no compromise attitude, are devilishly cunning and run in packs with survival at the top of their highest priority. 'Dogs' is the best track on this album taking up almost the entire side one of the vinyl at about 17 minutes, it has some of the most searing guitar that David Gilmour has played in his career. The lead solos are highly emotive ranging from soft, gentle and mellow to frenetic and aggressive. The lyrics are poetic and absolutely encapsulating, "I gotta admit that I'm a little bit confused. Sometimes it seems to me as if I'm just being used. Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise. If I don't stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?". It is a mesmirising song, with melancholy vocals and exciting synthesiser from Wright, some of his best material is captured on this album, which could be viewed as almost a paean to his genius; RIP Richard.

The album is bookended by 'Pigs On The Wing' which has a memorable Waters vocal and soft acoustics. The pigs on this concept album are of course the tyrannical moralists who are motivated by power, that corrupts absolutely as usual, and they have the ability to go to the top of the hierarchical ladder despite who they tread on to get there, but it's lonely at the top. They are focussed to impose their estranged worldview on the other animals. The story is one of corruption with all its negativity, and deception, that will ultimately drag the antagonist to their doom. The tracks are best heard as part of the whole rather than as separate entities, they work well as bookends, and I count them as part of the lengthy tracks that require these short pieces to make sense.

Moving on to other pigs, there are three different ones that are visualised in the surreal 11:30 track that has some very nice melodies, and mordant lyrics; "Hey you, Whitehouse, Ha ha, charade you are. You house proud town mouse, Ha ha, charade you are, You're trying to keep our feelings off the street. You're nearly a real treat, All tight lips and cold feet, And do you feel abused?" Of course this was Waters attack on Mary Whitehouse, self confessed moralist of the British public who had committed some onslaught on Pink Floyd for their stage antics and lyrical nature. Waters' literally spat at a fan on the DSOTM tour which made headlines and of course led to the inspiration of "The Wall" stage show where a giant wall between the band and the audience was erected. Interestingly enough, much of the music on "Animals" was already written and performed on the DSOTM tour; 'Dogs' was known as 'You Gotta Be Crazy' and 'Sheep' was actually titled 'Raving and Drooling'. I am kind of glad they changed those titles.

So who are the three different pigs on Pigs (three different ones)? It is no secret among Floydians that pig 1 was the business pig, the lying, cheating, thieving fat suit that deceives their way to the top of the business rung; pig 2 is the politician, Thatcher at the time, who had already, along with Whitehouse, copped a heap from UK TV on "The Goodies"; and pig 3 was Mary Whitehouse, as has been mentioned, who was scared witless that the British public were being perverted.

The concept was further enhanced with the iconography of the album, the enigmatic pig flying above the smoke stacks of Battersea Power Station became an image of the band never to be forgotten. Pink Floyd literally got a pig to fly when the ropes gave way and the pig sailed in to the heavens; perhaps a fitting tribute to the band bucking against the pigs of the music industry that were jumping on the punk band wagon.

The fatalistic concept always works for Pink Floyd as it echoes the bleak psychedelic music, but there is a real sense on "Animals" of a ray of hope, the way Gilmour plays with those uplifting chords and melodic notes, Wright's soaring keyboard swoops, Waters' pulsating bass, and Mason's exceptional percussion embellishments; you could not get better than the virtuoso genius of this lineup. However, I always felt that "Animals" was one of the darkest Pink Floyd adventures primarily due to 'Sheep'. There is a section in this track that disturbs me everytime and it is the part where a very doomy synth is heard and a voice over narration. It is almost subliminal but if you listen closely you can hear a parody of The Lord's Prayer with a nasty twist; "With bright knives He releaseth my soul. He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places. He converteth me to lamb cutlets, For lo, He hath great power, and great hunger..." The sheep are the passive followers, docile and innocent, the common man, headed for the slaughterhouse to be chopped into little pieces (reminiscent of 'One of These Days'), exploited by the dogs and pigs. The exploitation continues until the sheep rebel and rise up against the oppressors only to be exploited again, a vicious cycle. In a sense Pink Floyd themselves. The sheep in the novel gain a consciousness when they see the corruption of the rich corporations, and they rebel, as Pink Floyd rebelled against the trash music of the late 70s by producing music like this. Of course the irony is the communists could never do such a thing or they would be slaughtered too, and Pink Floyd are well aware of these ironies, even making fun of themselves, after the incredible success of "DSOTM" and "WYWH". They had to face these corporations who wanted a piece of them too. The band had already touched on this theme on "WYWH" especially, 'Have A Cigar' The 'communist' record companies wanted the band to conform to the music of the day; they refused and the result was "Animals".

To conclude every part of this album is equally important to the rest. The music is lengthy, complex and houses a framework of some of Waters most scathing attacks on the music business and politics. When I first heard this on vinyl as a teen I just did not get it. I was confused by the high concept, the visuals puzzled me, and it is nothing like "DSOTM" at all, or "WYWH", except it was sandwiched in between "WYWH' and 'The Wall" as a transition to both, and I think a lot of us were expecting something akin to the previous masterpieces, which it is not. However, I listen to this today and it jolts me every time. The concept is Orwellian, the music is psych and symphonic prog, the vocals are exquisite, and this album paved the way for the grand concept masterpiece of "The Wall".

    



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 20 2014 at 07:29
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 16 2010 at 09:33

Part 12: Prog Poll through the years 1978

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1978.

Prog was in trouble after punk reared its ugly head and then the dreaded disco.... but still there were excellent albums and a lot of solo artists made an impact.

 

A Song For All Seasons – Renaissance

 

U.K. – U.K.

 

Heavy Horses – Jethro Tull

 

Vital - Van Der Graaf

 

Breathless – Camel

 

Tormato – Yes

 

Hemispheres – Rush

 

Wise After The Event – Anthony Phillips

 

Green - Steve Hillage

 

Please Don't Touch – Steve Hackett

 

Solar Music Live - Grobschnitt

 

Anabelas – Bubu

 

Zappa In New York – Frank Zappa

 

The Man Machine – Kraftwerk

 

The War of the Worlds – Jeff Wayne

 

 

The Results:

3 [2.78%]
13 [12.04%]
17 [15.74%]
1 [0.93%]
2 [1.85%]
4 [3.70%]
39 [36.11%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [1.85%]
3 [2.78%]
6 [5.56%]
5 [4.63%]
4 [3.70%]
1 [0.93%]
5 [4.63%]
3 [2.78%]
 

 

There were others chosen in this year for prog:

Escenes – Gotic

Weirdorje - Weirdorje
 
Weidorje Weidorje album cover
 

Casino - Al Di Meola

 

Of Queues and Cures - National Health

 

Manna/Mirage - The Muffins

 The Muffins Manna/Mirage album cover

Xitintoday - Nik Turner

 

 

And there was a long list posted too, among those not already listed were:

Akkerman, Jan    Live - Montreux Jazz Festival
Brand X    Masques
De Grassi, Alex    Turning: Turning Back
Dixie Dregs    What If
Eno / Moebius / Roedelius    After The Heat
Eno, Brian    Ambient 1 Music For Airports
Eno, Brian    Music for Films
Gabriel, Peter    II
Genesis    ...and then there were three...
Gong    Expresso II
Hampton, Col. Bruce    One Ruined Life Of A Bronze Tourist
Happy the Man    Crafty Hands
Joachim Kuhn Band    Sunshower
Johnson, David Earle    Time Is Free
Kansas    Two For The Show
Lloyd Webber, Andrew    Variations
Mangione, Chuck    Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Manzanara, Phil    K-Scope
Metheny, Pat    New Chataqua
Metheny, Pat Group    Pat Metheny Group
Oldfield, Mike    Incantations
Oldfield, Sally    Water Bearer
Oregon    Out of the Woods
Phillips, Anthony    Sides
Phillips, Anthony    Wise After the Event
Ponty, Jean-Luc    Cosmic Messenger
Synergy    Cords
Talking Heads    More Songs About Buildings and Food (Remaster)
Wilding/Bonus    Pleasure Signals
XTC    Go 2
Zappa, Frank    Studio Tan

 

 

Well, this was a killing as Rush simply destroyed any competition:

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 RUSH

 
My review:
 
 ***** THE prog masterpiece of 1978; Rush present the most stunning music on the planet

"Hemispheres" is a classic album from Rush that featured one huge epic track on side 1 of the vinyl and 3 fantastic shorter tracks on side 2. The album is primarily celebrated for the awesome instrumental 'La Villa Strangiato', which may be the best instrumental ever. Both this track and 'The Trees' were featured on "Rush: Gold" a compilation I purchased to taste what this band everyone is talking about actually sounds like. Of course, I ended up getting the entire Rush catalogue, but these two tracks intrigued me enough on first listen to warrant grabbing this album eventually, one of the last Rush purchases in fact for me. I was unaware of how extraordinary the other 2 tracks were so this sealed the deal for me; this album is an astonishing masterpiece.

It starts with the 18 minute multi movement suite 'Cygnus X-1 Book II' the sequel to the track on "A Farewell to Kings". I enjoyed the first part to this, with it's spacey resonance and conceptual framework so I hoped this second part would justify its existence. I was not disappointed. It begins with the crunching chords and odd time sig of Lifeson and Peart. Lee's vocals soon enter the fray and the song sets sail for one of the best epics I have heard. Rush know how to structure an epic, '2112' is a prime example, but this epic has an incredible melody, crystalline vocals and very tight musicianship throughout. The lyrics of 'Prelude' are fantastic; "when our weary world was young, the struggle of the Ancients first began, The gods of love and reason, Sought alone to rule the fate of man."

There is a break at 4:30 to herald the next section 'Apollo: Bringer of Wisdom'. Lee's voice is strong as he belts out the new melody, "I bring truth and understanding, I bring wit and wisdom fair, Precious gifts beyond compare, We can build a world of wonder, I can make you all aware, I will find you food and shelter, Show you fire to keep you warm, Through the endless winter storm, You can live in grace and comfort, In the world that you transform." The track has a strong melody that always gives me the chills. When the chorus builds up to a crescendo another melody begins that is perhaps the best section on the entire epic. Lee has an amazing voice and his high vocals are incomparable as he sings with passion and conviction, "The people were delighted, Coming forth to claim their prize, They ran to build their cities, And converse among the wise, But one day the streets fell silent, Yet they knew not what was wrong, The urge to build these fine things, Seemed not to be so strong, The wise men were consulted, And the Bridge of Death was crossed." The thematic content is all based of course on the Greek god mythology and each god addresses what they can bring to the protagonist who searches for meaning. At 6:50 'Dionysus Bringer of Love' begins, the same melody as previous though more subdued with some beautiful guitar picking. It builds to the riff and Lee returns to the chorus section; "the cities were abandoned, and the forests echoed song, They danced and lived as brothers, They knew love could not be wrong, Food and wine they had aplenty, And they slept beneath the stars...".

'Armageddon The Battle of Heart and Mind' section 4 begins at 9:08; a new time sig change entirely, though the same chords are heard. The awesome lead break is a real feature that is phased out and spacey. On this new ascending and descending riff Lee's vocals are more aggressive with a delay effect, "The universe divided, As the heart and mind collided, With the people left unguided, For so many troubled years, In a cloud of doubts and fears, Their world was torn asunder into hollow Hemispheres." The poetic pentameter works perfectly and there is a powerful effect on the sense as we are treated to one riff after another.

At 12:08 the music settles and there is an ethereal ambience when the keyboard pads begin, and the next section is titled 'Cygnus, Bringer of Balance'. It is reminiscent of the spaceyness of the prequel to this track. The atmosphere is definitely one of melancholy tranquillity but the lyrics are unsettling in this section speaking of "a disembodied spirit, I am dead and yet unborn..." It builds and Lee's voice becomes higher and more forceful on; "Then all at once the chaos ceased, A stillness fell, a sudden peace, The warriors felt my silent cry, And stayed their struggle, mystified." This is followed by some divine passages of guitar and then a very soft, gentle calmness is created with minimalist guitar, effectively massaging the senses after the onslaught of power riffing.

At 16:54 the new section begins, a much more moderate Lee with acoustic guitar and sustained keyboard pads. The lyrics are reflective on the chaos that has gone on before on 'The Sphere: A Kind Of Dream'; "We can walk our road together, If our goals are all the same, We can run alone and free, If we pursue a different aim, Let the truth of love be lighted, Let the love of truth shine clear, Sensibility, armed with sense and liberty, With the heart and mind united in a single Perfect Sphere." The ending is abrupt and tends to leave the track up in the air, though there was no sequel to this. I think this track is a bonafide masterpiece.

'Circumstances' has a great chorus with a strong melody and very high vocals; "all the same we take our chances, Laughed at by time, tricked by circumstances, Plus ca change, Plus c'est la meme chose, The more that things change, The more they stay the same..." The chord progression is heavy and the time sig is unusual at times. This track really kicks hard and the live performances I have heard or seen lift the crowd every time. It is genuinely uplifting music with a simplified straight forward power riff. The lead break seems to blend in rather than become a showcase for Lifeson. Another excellent track due to the memorable melody and killer riffs.

I was never a fan of 'The Trees' on the compilation that was sandwiched between two classic tracks, but it tends to work better on this album as it allows breathing space between the hard rocking content of the other tracks. The trees could be an anthem for Greenpeace or other conservationist groups as it really hammers the message about saving the trees from their point of view, if you don't mind. The lyrics are very strange; "So the maples formed a union, And demanded equal rights, 'The oaks are just too greedy, We will make them give us light', Now there's no more oak oppression, For they passed a noble law, And the trees are all kept equal, By hatchet, axe and saw." It may be an allegory for civil war but more likely this is a message from rush to look after the planet, a similar stance to the music of Yes in this regard. The track begins slowly with a sad atmosphere and it eventually builds to a dynamic instrumental break, with innovative riffing and time sigs. The melody is once again endearing and grows on you on each listen. This is the weakest track on the album but is not enough to detract it as it still has some great moments on it. The film clip on the latest Rush DVD is very good too by the way featuring a humorous look at trees versus man; ironic and wonderful.

The last track is the incredible instrumental 'La Villa Strangiato' that begins with Spanish flavoured acoustic and then a synthesizer booms in and soon it locks into the fabulous 5 chord synth riff that every Rush fan knows. I saw this on the "Live in Rio" and every one in the crowd was roaring the tune out as the band played in perfect sync. The instrumental is a definitive masterpiece with so much to recommend it. The bassline is wonderful that keeps up with the loud guitar of Lifeson. His lead motifs on this are well executed and stay in the memory long after the music is over. Rather than a filler, this instrumental becomes the highlight of the album and this is unusual. The violining that is heard is dreamy and haunting, and then an absolutely soaring lead solo follows, one of Lifeson's best. He rips it out with fret melting elegance, and then an enchanting riff locks in while a two chord synth progression is layered underneath. The time sig then changes with a passage of lead and then bass solos. There are fantastic drum fills in this too with a lot of jazzy cymbal work. The time sig returns to the original though it is fractured as Lifeson blasts out another brilliant lead solo. Then a back breaking chord structure is crunched out, the bassline is divine here, and it settles into a slow paced bluesy metrical pattern. The main lead motif returns and then the intro section is reprised with the same finesses as heard earlier. After 9 and a half minutes it draws to a close. What an amazing piece of music; stunning virtuoso excellence.

How does one conclude after hearing 4 incredible tracks. This is a masterpiece of prog. Perhaps the best prog album of 1978. In a year when punk had already reared its ugly head and dance-oriented disco was soon to take over and systematically kill all things progressive for a season, Rush produced this music, despite what everybody else was doing. They refused to sell out to mainstream commercialism in the late 70s, and in fact their music was more progressive than ever on this release. You have to give them credit for that and you have to identify a masterpiece when you hear it, and this is it.

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 20 2014 at 07:38
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 21 2010 at 09:47
Really enjoyed reading/looking at this. THANKS for all the hard work.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 24 2010 at 06:57

Part 13: Prog Poll through the years 1979

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1979.

1979 was a difficult year for prog with the upsurgeance of dancing and disco, it was pushed aside, and yet there were brilliant albums as you can see from this list.

 

Force Majeure – Tangerine Dream

 

Blå Vardag - Atlas

 

Correlations – Ashra

 

Heresie - Univers Zero

 

Danger Money – U.K.

 

Sides – Anthony Phillips

 

Rainbow Dome Musick – Steve Hillage

 

Western Culture – Henry Cow

 

Spectral Mornings – Steve Hackett

 

One Of A Kind – Bruford

 

Arthur Brown & Vincent Crane - Faster then the Speed of Light

 

Stormwatch – Jethro Tull

 

A Curious Feeling – Tony Banks

 

Platinum - Mike Oldfield

 

The Wall – Pink Floyd 

 

 

The Results:

 

 

5 [4.63%]
1 [0.93%]
0 [0.00%]
5 [4.63%]
6 [5.56%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [1.85%]
2 [1.85%]
12 [11.11%]
8 [7.41%]
1 [0.93%]
4 [3.70%]
4 [3.70%]
1 [0.93%]
51 [47.22%]
6

Others that were chosen:

 

 

Silent cries and mighty echoes - Eloy

 

Fairy Tales - Mother Gong

4 Visions - Eskaton 

Emmanuel Booz / Dans Quel Etat J'erre  

And there was the obligatory list of alternatives posted:

Anderson, Jon and Vangelis    Short Stories
Banks, Tony    A Curious Feeling
Bowie, David    Lodger
Brand X    Product
Dixie Dregs    Night of the Living Dregs
Fripp, Robert    Exposure
Frith, Fred    Gravity
Gong, Pierre Moerlen's    Time is the Key
Hackett, Steve    Spectral Mornings (Remaster)
Kansas    Monolith
Led Zeppelin    In Through the Out Door
McLaughlin, John-Jaco Pastorius-Tony Williams    Trio of Doom
Metheny, Pat Group    American Garage
Oregon    In Performance
Oregon    Roots in the Sky
Rypdal, Terje    Descendre
Sancious, David    Just As I Thought
Sky    Sky
Synergy    Games
Talking Heads    Fear of Music (Remaster)
U.K.    Night After Night
Vangelis    China
Vangelis    Opera Sauvage
XTC    Drums and Wires
Zappa, Frank    Joe's Garage Acts I, II & III

But there really was no competition. The Wall was crushing the rest from the very beginning. Predictable but deserved.

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

My lengthy 2,176 word review:

 

***** The story of "The Wall" obsession.

Once upon a time there was a song on the radio and a teenager heard it and it changed his life. My quest for "The Wall" began at an impressionable age. I was 17. Every lyric I have become obsessed with, knowing it off by heart. I thought I was weird walking along humming the tunes and having the lyrics swirl in my teenage brain, but of course everyone in 1982 was talking about it due to the movie release. It seemed to go by unnoticed in 1979 in Australia. Before I get to the music, let me indulge. This is the 531st review so everything has been said anyway so here's a new slant.

I remember sitting in the sound lounge at college and a guy walked in and said you have to hear this. He put on In The Flesh and we sat there at lunch listening intently and seriously. He said these words I will never forget. ""The Wall" is the best album ever! The film is the best film ever! Pink Floyd are the best band ever!" Not exactly ground breaking words but somehow I could not get them out of my head. Now, you have to understand, I had never heard the album or even Pink Floyd but I was willing to give it a go after hearing a few songs I liked. Another Brick in the Wall part 2 was on the radio all the time. The music was excellent to my young ears, the consistent rhythm of Dm clanging on the clean guitar, almost reggae, that was the framework for some enigmatic lyrics "We don't need no education, we don't need no full control" I kind of agreed with that. It was rebellious and comforting at the same time. I liked the ominous vocals, the children choir rebelliously shouting the mantra. It all made perfect sense and there was nothing on the radio like this. The lead guitar solo was incredible, I had never heard a lot of great lead guitar being into the glam rock scene and a hopeless Kiss addict, but this was David Gilmour's guitar; soaring, harmonious and virtuoso guitar work that is unforgettable. It intrigued me and I knew I would eventually own it. These days as a teacher I cringe when I hear "No dark sarcasm in the classroom, teachers leave us kids alone", as that's what I do now!

I bought the single on vinyl in 1982, a re release to cash in on the movie, it was great to hear it pumping out the speakers but I knew I needed more. The B Side was One of my Turns and it was "cold as a razor blade, tight as a tourniquet, dry as a funeral drum...." the freakout section in the instrumental passage was creepy, so emotional and heavy, I was stunned. "Would you like to watch TV or get between the sheets or contemplate the silent freeway..." It was not a popular song to play in front of my parents that's for sure. I wanted to hear the rest. I had to save up big because it was a double album. But hey, I managed it delivering newspapers door to door.

Finally the day came. I walked into the music store and those white bricks screamed off the shelf. There was an entire section with a screaming face and grim teacher and tons of polystyrene bricks. It was a monument to the album. I pulled out the $20 note and grabbed the album. It felt good in my hands. Heavy like gold. "This is so popular," the young girl said behind the counter. I smiled. "I have been wanting this for ages." "Enjoy it", she said. So I bought this off the shelf brand new on vinyl after hearing so much about it in magazines and friends at college.

I raced home, locked my bedroom door and put it on the record player stereo system. The first crashing chord blasted, and then after a divine lengthy intro of choral voice harmonies, Waters estranged voice chimes out, "So you thought you might like to go to the show........" It was love at first listen. I was stunned at how the songs merged together, I had never encountered this on albums, the way it ran together seamlessly like one huge track, this was the first true prog album in my collection. The beginning of my obsession.

Waters is the backbone of the album and Gilmour's soft vocals and intricate guitar breaks are the skeletal structure for me. I always liked his contribution the best including the soft sweet, The Thin Ice, "Mother loves her babe and daddy loves her too...." It just sends a shiver down my spine every time. It is difficult to understand listening to it now as a cohesive work that the band were in turmoil. Rick Wright was eventually ejected from the band by the time the recording sessions ceased. The producer Bob Ezrin actually completed the album in Los Angeles using studio session musicians, can you believe that? Waters wrote, breathed, ate, slept this album; it was his baby and he nurtured it. The script, the concept, the entire screenplay of the burnt out musician was his idea right down to the references to poor old Syd. It is a magnum opus of epic proportions. I know many fans of this album that do not even like Pink Floyd, such is the impact of "The Wall".

The spirit of the album is encapsulated in a series of bonafide highlights that always jump out and bite me on every listen. It was always Gilmour who provided the most glorious tracks including the best track on it; the incredible Comfortably Numb. The low key verses are portentous and foreboding and then that uplifting chorus with vocal techniques that would be emulated by many prog artists especially Mostly Autumn's Josh, "There is no pain you are receding, a distant ship smoke on the horizon... when I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse out of the corner of my eye, I turned to look and it was gone, I cannot put my finger on it now... " masterful, perfect, unforgettable. The lead guitar solo at the end of this is legendary and I have heard many live versions which are even better with an extended screaming solo section, while a massive chandelier UFO light contraption opens above the audience sending out cascading rays of light upon them. A magic moment.

Run Like Hell is an infamous concert closer for the band. This single begins with those scratching guitar scrapes and then the echoing trademark rhythm that we hear all through the album begins to chug along. The guitar 4 chord shapes to follow have been emulated by guitarists worldwide, and why not? They are fabulous atmospheric riffs. The lyrics were always edgy and dangerous, "Cos if they find you in the backseat trying to pick her locks, they're gonna send you back to mother in a cardboard box, you'd better run!"

Mother "do you think they'll drop the bomb... hush now baby baby don't you cry, mother's going to put all of her fears into you". At the time I had no idea what Waters was on about back in 1982 but since then the song has grown on me, I have even sung it as a lullaby to my kids (an abridged version), and it is a perfect song to learn guitar to with easy G C D F chords and a strong rhythm. Gilmour's guitar break is beautiful and sombre perfectly aligned with the melancholy tone... "Mother did it need to be so high" always troubled me.

Goodbye blue sky has a beautiful acoustic feel and ominous chords as the planes fly overhead, see the animation of Gerald Scarfe to gain full appreciation of this. I love the extended breathtaking line that is said without any breaks; "Did did did did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter when the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky". I always sung that with a huge breath at the beginning. I loved the feel of this song and still count it as the best song on side 2.

Empty spaces is fabulous but there is a longer better version on the film with a crunching rhythm and lead solo.

Don't leave me now always resonated with me, I could sense the sheer hopelessness and it still has the same ethereal effect on my senses. A very powerful song that captures the sense of a breakup, losing a girl, "I need you babe to put through the shredder in front of my friends..."

Side 3 began with the incomparable acoustic flourishes and Gilmour's soothing warm vocals 'Hey you "out there in the cold getting lonely getting cold can you feel me... out there beyond the wall". A delicate song excised from the film but always has a dear place in my heart.

Is there anybody out there! maybe overlooked by many but that atmosphere is chilling and the acoustic instrumental is melancholy and lovely, almost uplifting. It is the scariest part in the film too, where Geldof shaves, becomes insanely obsessive creating a war scene with rubbish and broken record pieces, and later is found in the asylum by the war torn child. The picture of a total breakdown and burn out.

Nobody home is notable for the cool lyrics, that I like especially "I've got wild staring eyes, and I've got a strong urge to fly, but I've got nowhere to fly to... when I pick up the phone, there'll be nobody home". This is emotional lyrical work at its best. The aftermath of a broken marriage.

Waiting for the worms is another would be throwaway but essential to the whole concept of the dictator rock star with delusions of godhood. "Waiting... to cut off the dead wood, ....to clean out the city, ....to fire the ovens... for the blacks and the jews"; the nazi references are quite astonishing and used to pummel my impressionable ears. It finishes with a huge loud instrumental that builds to a crescendo before "Stop!"

The trial was the most played song when I was a teen, I loved the weirdness of it, the various sections, the characters, especially the ex wife.... "you should've talked to me more often that you did, but no, you had to go your own way, have you broken any homes up lately, just 5 minutes, worm your honour, him and me alone..." It was a rock opera and I was not prepared at the time for such an incredible finale. On stage of course this section is a highlight. I saw it live with a Tribute band and they nailed this song, receiving a standing ovation.

The last song Outside the wall is the weakest and I have no idea what its saying but I always loved the way it finished abruptly. It is strange too that if you want to put the whole album onto a CD you have to leave this last song off or it will not fit. Did Pink Floyd do that on purpose, how would they know?

Pink Floyd's "The Wall" was the first album I truly immersed myself in as a teenager, the concept, the music, the lyrics, the sleeve art; everything captured my young imagination and it has never left my consciousness. I will never forget the incredible impact of hearing actual dialogue on an album, an actual storyline, I had never even dreamed bands would do this. The album was a monster in its day reaching top position on the US charts and it made it to No. 3 in the UK. The filmclip of the Brick single was on so much I got sick of seeing it. In a sense I have become too used to the music on the album and the impact has lessened but there is no denying that this is an epic achievement.

The live performances of the show have become legendary from both the Gilmour Pink Floyd and Water's version. He always went to greater lengths as it was his child, but the Berlin Wall came down and Pink Floyd celebrated with a full rendition of this album that is still one of the century's best ever concerts, featuring a plethora of guest artists. The movie directed by Alan Parker starring Bob Geldof as Pink, arrived in 1982, further enhancing the experience of the album. I persuaded my friend to drive me to the drive in and we sat there absolutely in awe watching the story unfold; a story that I had memorised in my head. It was a moment of clarity for me. I bought the movie lyrics book that has huge colour photos throughout. The images are powerful in any format. The album transcends mere music; like it or loathe it, "The Wall" is a monumental event. If this review hasn't convinced you, nothing will.

 

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - April 29 2011 at 21:35
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 24 2010 at 07:30

Part 14: Prog Poll through the years 1980

 

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1980.

The new era of prog began on shaky ground but still some albums dominated as this list shows.

 

Permanent Waves – Rush

 

Peter Gabriel 3

 

Memento Z Banalnym Tryptykiem - S.B.B.

 

Drama – Yes

 

Levitation – Hawkwind

 

Tangram – Tangerine Dream

 

A Black Box – Peter Hammill

 

Colours – Eloy

 

Defector – Steve Hackett

 

Q.E.2 – Mike Oldfield

 

Duke - Genesis  

 

Silent Night – Saga

 

The Turn of a Friendly Card – Alan Parson’s Project

 

Harmonium En Tournée -  Harmonium

 

Yesshows - Yes

 

The Results:

33 [38.37%]
9 [10.47%]
5 [5.81%]
7 [8.14%]
4 [4.65%]
2 [2.33%]
1 [1.16%]
3 [3.49%]
2 [2.33%]
1 [1.16%]
7 [8.14%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [2.33%]
1 [1.16%]
4 [4.65%]
5 [5.81%]

There were others chosen once again:

 

The Others:
 
Short stories - Jon And Vangelis
 

 

Rainy Sundays...Windy Dreams - Andy Irvine

 

As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls - Metheny

 

Rush absolutely dominated the competition:

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

My Review:

 

 ***** Permanent Waves is the latest album I have purchased of Rush, due to the fact that with my other Rush Cds I had somehow accumulated all but two tracks from this album, at least live versions and some on compilations. However, I am glad I bit the bullet and got hold of this as its an absolute masterpiece and quintessential Rush. It is become one of the top 5 Cds in my Rush collection. The main reason this album works so well as there are no filler tracks. It is a new style of Rush in comparison to previous efforts but it is surprisingly mainstream yet still keeping the aspects of prog.

The first track, 'The Spirit of Radio' was a massive hit for the band and it is easy to see why. It has some of the most endearing and memorable guitar work from Alex Lifeson. Listen to that phased out lead work in the intro, and the way the time signature instantly changes only to kick into a standard 4/4 riff. Geddy Lee's high soprano vocals have never been better and you have to love the lyrics: "Begin the day with a friendly voice, a companion, unobtrusive, plays that song that's so elusive, and the magic music makes your morning mood." This example of crazy alliteration that evokes a quirky sense of humour has defined the Rush sound. The track works effectively as a radio jingle promoting the medium, no wonder it was a top 20 UK hit in 1980, one of the greatest rock singles ever. It even features a startling reggae breakdown towards the end that shouldn't work but Rush makes it work because they are masters of song structure. After the words "Concert hall" we hear a crowd roaring, which really adds to the overall effect of the track. Lifeson's wah wah guitar solo is amazing. A short blast of the opening riff and then it ends abruptly.

The next track 'Freewill' is also a terrific prog track with an excellent melody that stays in your head, notably the melodic chorus "you can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." Great stuff and a live favourite. Another notable track and the main reason for my interest in the album was the standout epic 'Natural Science'. It clocks in at a little over 9 minutes and is a type of multimovement suite with variations of light and shade in three sections. I had heard this on the live "Different Stages" but this, the studio version, way outclasses the live version for production value. Wind chimes, tubular bells, atmospherics, jagged guitar riffs and all manner of instruments merge together on this epic to produce one of the finest recordings of the band.

In conclusion, Permanent Waves is an essential purchase and a good starting point for those interested in Rush.



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - April 29 2011 at 21:36
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 24 2010 at 07:57

Part 15: Prog Poll through the years 1981

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1981. If I missed any that you believe are essential, place them in other section.

A very difficult year as the prog genre was suffering to stay afloat but still some bands managed to produce great music.

 

 

Eros – Dun

 

Moving Pictures – Rush

 

Alturus de Machu Picchu – Los Jaivas

 

Discipline – King Crimson

 

Between Flesh and Divine – Asia Minor

 

Planets – Eloy

 

Computer World – Kraftwerk

 

Ceux Du Dehors – Univers Zero

 

Nude – Camel

 

Worlds Apart – Saga

 

Exit – Tangerine Dream

 

1984 – Rick Wakeman

 

Long Distance Voyager – The Moody Blues

 

Retrospektïw I-II Magma

 

Exit Stage Left - Rush

 

The Results:

 

6 [5.41%]
48 [43.24%]
1 [0.90%]
20 [18.02%]
1 [0.90%]
3 [2.70%]
3 [2.70%]
5 [4.50%]
5 [4.50%]
1 [0.90%]
2 [1.80%]
2 [1.80%]
2 [1.80%]
3 [2.70%]
3 [2.70%]
6 [5.41%]

The Others:

 

Mystical Adventures - JL Ponty

 

Face Dances -The Who

 

 

Anyone's Daughter / Piktors Verwandlungen
 
 
  
 
 
Another long alternative list was posted:

 

 

Rush was crushing the competition!!! Expected I suppose, exceptional album.

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

My Review:

 
 ***** Rush has created some of the best classics of heavy prog; here is a prime example

"Moving Pictures" album by Canada's darlings, the power trio Rush, finds itself on number 15 in the top 100 albums on the progarchives, and for good reason. Every track, every instrumental, every vocal is pure Rush; making this a definitive masterpiece in the treasury of prog classics. The album was released at the beginning of the 80s where prog was on the decline after a glorious decade had culminated in the best prog albums such as Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon", Genesis' "Selling England by the Pound" and Yes' "Relayer". Rush created a triumphant progressive master work with some of their most popular songs; all killer and no filler. It receives quadruple-platinum status and, along with "2112" ended up in the bizarre collection of "1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die".

It begins with an incredible opening track, the number 1 US chartbuster 'Tom Sawyer' that all Rush fans adore, and it is great when Rush open their concerts with this and the crowd are able to sing along; "A modern day warrior, Mean, mean stride, Today's Tom Sawyer, Mean, mean pride." The guitars crank out a mean, mean riff after this and there is a persistent synth drone that works well in the musical framework. The heavy dissonance or discord of time sigs and vocals is impressive, played in 7/8 for the most part. The chorus is one of the best especially lyrically, it is perhaps one of the more memorable Rush moments; "What you say about his company, Is what you say about society, Catch the mist, catch the myth, Catch the mystery, catch the drift, The world is, the world is, Love and life are deep, Maybe as his skies are wide." The ensuing lead break is incredible full of fret melting shredding, huge drum fills and power synth motifs. The Rickenbacker bass guitar is also wondrous that compliments the bright crisp guitar splashes. When the band were at their best they were totally irresistible.

'Red Barchetta' is longer at 6 minutes, and is another solid track. A mid tempo that is captivating locks in and quieter verses are sung until the chorus with new time sig locks in with captivating lyrics; "Jump to the ground, As the Turbo slows to cross the borderline, Run like the wind As excitement shivers up and down my spine, Down in his barn, My uncle preserved for me an old machine, For fifty odd years To keep it as new has been his dearest dream..." The instrumental break features echo on guitar chord crashes. The lead solo is subdued but effective.

Rush have some amazing instrumentals and one of them is 'YYZ', which gives each member a chance to really shine. The title is taken from the morse code used at Toronto Pearson International Airport. The main riff is memorable and heard in many concert performances. It has a progressive feel with unusual time sig and layered instrumentation. The riff is killer and well known in prog circles. On the "Live in Rio" DVD the audience know it so well they actually sing notes along to it. Lifeson is great on this as is Peart with his drumming metrical patterns that keep a consistent rhythm. Lee's bass is wonderful also playing fractured mini bass solos. The band really take off on this complete with glass shattering effects and all manner of solos form each member. It settles at 3 minutes in with a half time feel and an ambience is created before the main riff returns again. There is fire and ice; the explosive fire of Peart's flaming drums , the chilling ice of Lifeson's pickaxe, making this a bonafide classic on this album.

'Limelight' hit number 4 on the US mainstream charts. It has a prog time sig that is unusual and captivating. The structure of the track is spellbinding with beautiful verse sections, tension and release, shades of light and dark textures and one of the most spine chilling melodies that hooks into your system. I have never forgotten this and often the melody comes back to me without even wanting it to. The lyrics are dynamic and unforgettable once it grips your conscious; "Living in the limelight, The universal dream, For those who wish to seem, Those who wish to be, Must put aside the alienation, Get on with the fascination, The real relation, The underlying theme ..." The theme is simple, fame and fortune is not all it is cracked up to be and there is a need to keep a wall between the performer and the audience and this comes across beautifully with sparkling vocals and emotional riffing elegance. It is based on the real life dissatisfaction Peart felt about the intrusion into his private life. The lead solo is sensational with huge upsweeping picking and glorious string bends. This is my all time favourite Rush track and it sends chills through me every time; I don't know exactly why but there is a powerful element that refuses to let go when I hear it. I love the verse; "All the world's indeed a stage, And we are merely players, Performers and portrayers, Each another's audience, Outside the gilded cage." It seems to reference the live 1976 album "All The World's A Stage", and prophecy the release of their next album, that year "Exit Stage Left" which features 4 tracks from this album. The melodies are so full of life and vibrant energy, it truly uplifts my spirit every time. So ends side 1 of the vinyl, surely one of the greatest side 1's in rock history.

Side 1 begins with 'The camera eye' an 11 minute mini epic, the last for Rush, with a ton of synth at the opening section. There is a lengthy instrumental section and then at 3:40 Lee's high falsetto vocals chime in; "Grim faced and forbidding, Their faces closed tight, An angular mass of New Yorkers, Pacing in rhythm, Race the oncoming night, They chase through the streets of Manhattan, Head first humanity, Pause at a light, Then flow through the streets of the city...." The riffs on this are killer and at 6:06 the time sig slows and the track changes into some very proggy passages of music. The time sig is very intricate in the section at 7:50. The main motif returns after this showcasing Lifeson's inimitable style. The track is unusual on the album for its length and plethora of time changes, but this is what makes it such an endearing addition.

'Witch hunt (Part III of Fear)' follows; another section of the 'Fear' tracks and a great addition at that. It begins with an off kilter ethereal sound made with synthesizers and bells. This builds slowly to pitch, and sounds rather creepy in a sense, but the melody drowns out the Gothic gloom. The guitar crunches in and Lee tells the story of the hunt; "The night is black, Without a moon, The air is thick and still, The vigilantes gather on, The lonely torch lit hill..." the dark lyrics are accompanied by a dark riff and very strong synthesizers, effective and enchanting. This track is highly unusual as the whole atmosphere is intensely grim and has startling dark textures. Also Hugh Syme features on keyboards, the artist responsible for a plethora of Rush album covers. The theme reflects the Salem hunts where paranoia set in about a nonexistent threat, the uprising of so called witches, the Spectral evidence that was manufactured to accuse those who were different than others; a theme that has still an impact for modern society.

'Vital signs' is the closing track with a riff created by a sequencer made by Lee's OB-X synthesizer and well executed guitar flourishes. This is a slow paced track with a mediocre instrumental break but the vocal performance really drives this along with such enigmatic lyrics as; "A tired mind become a shape-shifter, Everybody need a soft filter, Everybody need reverse polarity, Everybody got mixed feelings, About the function and the form, Everybody got to elevate from the norm..." This is the weaker track on the album but still not a bad track after a few listens. The sequencer adds a nuance of 80s techno pop but there is still a proggy feel to this, especially the stylish bassline.

So overall this album is a dynamic flawed masterpiece. Side 2 does not measure up to the first side there is no doubt, but the mini epic more than makes up for this. Three tracks on this have become unsurpassed Rush classics, 'Tom Sawyer', 'YYZ' and 'Limelight'. The other tracks are still great but this album as a whole is a very pleasant listening experience. I have no hesitation but to count this as yet another masterpiece for my favourite heavy prog band. Rush never returned to masterpiece status after this. "Moving Pictures" was the last time the magic was captured and it ushered in a new approach in progressive rock music that works on every level. The album is the biggest seller for Rush and hit number 3 on US mainstream charts at the time of release, and it still makes an impact as one of the most influential, innovative albums of prog rock history

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 21 2011 at 09:07
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 24 2010 at 08:26

Part 16: Prog Poll through the years 1982

 

Top 10 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1982.

The prog genre was still struggling but there were some solid additions to the scene as this list of 10 albums shows. I could not even justify 15 albums on this exceptionally weak year of prog.

 

 

Signals – Rush

 

Peter Gabriel 4

 

Time To Turn – Eloy

 

Fact and Fiction – Twelfth Night

 

Five Miles Out – Mike Oldfield

 

Enter K – Peter Hammill

 

Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch – Frank Zappa

 

Eye In The Sky – Alan Parsons Project

 

The Broadsword and the Beast – Jethro Tull

 

Three Sides Live – Genesis

 

 The Results:

 

17 [21.79%]
17 [21.79%]
10 [12.82%]
1 [1.28%]
8 [10.26%]
1 [1.28%]
2 [2.56%]
4 [5.13%]
5 [6.41%]
5 [6.41%]
8 [10.26%]

The Others:

 

Music from a New Society - John Cale

 

Beat – King Crimson

 

Famous Last Words –

 

Chase The Dragon – Magnum

 

The Dreaming - Kate Bush

 

This was a mediocre year but the poll itself was close for a while:

I posted: Another dead heat

 

 

 

Signals – Rush

13

[20.31%]

4 - Peter Gabriel

13

[20.31%]

need more votes - help me out here proggers!

 

After this the votes poured in for Rush. (well four came in and it was ahead by a single vote!)

 and then at the last moment -

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

4 - Peter Gabriel

Signals - Rush

WE HAVE A DRAW!!!

 

 

Reviews:

****

“Signals” is the Rush album that was sandwiched in between two incredible Rush albums and as a followup to the masterpiece “Moving Pictures”, perhaps Rush’s finest hour, this was a tough album to appreciate. The album tends to be a transition to the synthesized 80s domination. The power trio were always a compelling listen during the 70s, with lengthy progressive classics, and lyrical beauty, but in the 80s the sound changed. Gone are the epics and weirdness to make way for the new 80s sound. In 1982 the top prog albums were 4 - Peter Gabriel, Time To Turn – Eloy, Fact and Fiction – Twelfth Night, Five Miles Out – Mike Oldfield, Enter K – Peter Hammill, Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch – Frank Zappa, Eye In The Sky – Alan Parsons Project, The Broadsword and the Beast – Jethro Tull. So amidst this slew of albums Rush produced something very special and really cemented their reputation as one of the greatest bands in rock history, proving they could use a current sound and still produce high quality songs. Rush use synthesizers in droves on this but still remain progressive which is a feat in itself. They remain true to the odd time sig changes that have made them so endearing over the years. 


The first track ‘Subdivisions’ has a crystal clear sound, strong synths and the time sig definitely is unusual. The melody is pleasant to the ears, and tends to grow on you over time. I must admit when I first heard this album I was not all that impressed as I prefer the heavier side of Rush and this felt very safe. However, over the years I have really been enamoured with the new sound of Rush on “Signals”. 


‘The Analog Kid’ is another synth soaked track with a quick cadence and complex structure. Geddy Lee is wonderful on vocals effortlessly ploughing through the octaves on every track. He was at the peak of his skills at this stage. 


The guitar work of Alex Lifeson is always jangly and at the same modulation as the synths. There are no brilliant riffs to speak of rather he holds back and simply carries the songs along on strong melodic rhythms. The sound on songs such as ‘Chemistry’ is rather radio friendly but it is still one of the better albums in the 80s as far as prog is concerned, as the 80s were the most difficult era for prog. Rush survived on albums such as “Signals” due to the consistent quality. Every song has a strong melody, Lifeson’s continuous guitar embellishments and the powerful percussive work of Neil Peart, particularly impressive on ‘Digital Man’ with its half time feel and time changes. This track also includes one of Lifeson’s best lead breaks.


Surprisingly of all the prog 80s albums of 1982, Rush were still able to produce an album rated the most highly on many prog album lists, including on progarchives. It is little wonder with treasures such as the incredible ‘The Weapon’. The lyrics here are powerful on the topic of a soldier’s thoughts in nuclear war time, or it could be a terrorist planning a crime; “The knowledge that they fear is a weapon to be used against them, he’s not afraid of the judgement, he’s a little bit afraid of dying, and the thing that he fears is the weapon to be held against him.” The instrumental break is a darker sound, layers of synth and phased guitar lead break, with sporadic drumming accents. 


‘New World Man’ is a fan favourite with catchy hooks and some strong melodies that are memorable. The track appeared on many live sets over the years. This is followed by a lesser known song, exclusive to this album alone I believe, ‘Losing It’. One of the interesting components of the music is the use of a violin by guest maestro Ben Mink. The slow pace of the song is alarming after all the rock and I will admit it is not a high point of the album. However the violin trading off with Lifeson’s pitchy harmonics is a treat.


The album concludes with ‘Countdown’ featuring radio controller voice overs “T Minus 20 seconds and counting”,  and supersonic space shuttle effects. It was written in honour of Space Shuttle Columbia where the band were invited to the launch. Given the disaster of Challenger  the song has taken on an added potency. Geddy Lee’s voice is crystalline echoing over the steady beat with compelling lyrics; “Circling choppers slash the night, With roving searchlight beams, This magic day when super-science, Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams.” Later as the song builds to the actual lift off the lyrics are rather portentous, taking on a darker aspect in context of the fateful Challenger launch; “The air is charged, A humid, motionless mass, The crowds and the cameras, The cars full of spectators pass, Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife, Technology, high, on the leading edge of life, The earth beneath us starts to tremble, With the spreading of a low black cloud, A thunderous roar shakes the air, Like the whole world exploding, Scorching blast of golden fire, As it slowly leaves the ground, Tears away with a mighty force, The air is shattered by the awesome sound, Like a pillar of cloud, The smoke lingers high in the air, In fascination, With the eyes of the world, We stare.” The whole song now brings to mind the disaster of Challenger exploding and the people staring up in disbelief at the white billows of smoke; an image that has been ingrained on the world. When the radio controller counts down to the engines starting up, and the shuttle lifts off, it brings a lump to my throat and of course this was written before the Challenger exploded 73 seconds into flight, which occurred January 28, 1986. For me this last song is an underrated Rush classic rarely heard and criminally never included on the plethora of best of Rush compilations. This song, along with ‘New World Man’, ‘The Weapon’, ‘The Analog Kid’, ‘Subdivisions’, and ‘Digital Man’ are excellent additions to the Rush catalogue and make this an album that is very worthwhile.


So in conclusion while this may not be the greatest Rush album by a long stretch there is still a lot to savour on “Signals”. It took a while for me to appreciate the importance of the album in context of the mediocre music churning out of the 80s but the album stands up as a testimony to the incredible skills of the band who demonstrated they could be a dominant force in the 80s, building on the legacy left behind in the 70s.      

 

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - January 06 2012 at 17:58
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 25 2010 at 14:27
The first draw ever! HAHA! Tongue  Really enjoying this blog, it's quite cultivating and entertaining at the same time


"Tis your birth and faith that wrong you...not I."
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 25 2010 at 19:10
Originally posted by Anguiad Anguiad wrote:

The first draw ever! HAHA! Tongue  Really enjoying this blog, it's quite cultivating and entertaining at the same time


LOL
 
Yes, I did not want any draws but they are both great so no harm done. Glad you are enjoying this.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 01:30
This is fantastic. I'm scrolling down each year thinking to myself:
 
"Oh that one's gonna win"
"Oh wait i didn't know this was 1972! Ok this one is gonna win for sure...."
"Look at that, there's another great one....gosh this is tough....I sure hope the other one won though"
"AW MAN, so close! Ok, next year...."
 
LOL really good work, I'm loving it.
"WAAAAAAOOOOOUGH!    WAAAAAAAUUUUGGHHHH!!   WAAAAAOOOO!!!"

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 02:31
Originally posted by Tarquin Underspoon Tarquin Underspoon wrote:

This is fantastic. I'm scrolling down each year thinking to myself:
 
"Oh that one's gonna win"
"Oh wait i didn't know this was 1972! Ok this one is gonna win for sure...."
"Look at that, there's another great one....gosh this is tough....I sure hope the other one won though"
"AW MAN, so close! Ok, next year...."
 
LOL really good work, I'm loving it.
I really appreciate those comments. It is interesting isn't it, and I was rather shocked at some of the winners in these polls. The poll is still running for those I have not posted here so there is still time to vote and make a difference. Some of the polls are ridiculously close; others are dominationsLOL. You learn about what is and is not popular with the proggers here.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 06:14

Part 17: Prog Poll through the years 1983

 

Top 10 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1983.

1983 was a shocking year for prog and I had to scrape the barrel to come up with only 10 choices.

 

Depois Do Fim – Bacamarte

Script From A Jester’s Tear – Marillion

 

Tales From The Lush Attic – IQ

 

Crises – Mike Oldfield

The Final Cut – Pink Floyd

 

Baby Snakes – Frank Zappa

 

Peter Gabriel Plays Live – Peter Gabriel

 

Logos Live at the Dominion London – Tangerine Dream

 

90125 - Yes

 

The Text of Festival - Hawkwind Live 1970-1972Hawkwind

 

 

The results:

17 [17.00%]
34 [34.00%]
5 [5.00%]
5 [5.00%]
14 [14.00%]
2 [2.00%]
2 [2.00%]
0 [0.00%]
19 [19.00%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [2.00%]
 

Some others were mentioned:

 

Heads or Tales  - Saga

 

Art Zoyd - Les espaces inquiets

 



After Dinner - Glass Tube (but this is 1984)
 
 
 
 
 
A long listed was posted of alternatives:

Belew, Adrian    Twang Bar King    1983
Brunninghaus, Rainer    Continuum    1983
Cocteau Twins    Head Over Heels    1983
De Grassi, Alex    Southern Exposure    1983
Di Meola, Al    Scenario    1983
Eno, Brian    Apollo Atmospheres & Soundtracks    1983
Eno, Brian    More Music For Films    1983
Frith, Fred    Cheap At Half the Price    1983
Hine, Rupert    Wildest Wish To Fly    1983
Holdsworth, Allan    Road Games    1983
Isham, Mark    Vapor Drawings    1983
Jobson, Eddie/Zinc    The Green Album, The    1983
Moraz - Buford    Music For Piano and Drums    1983
Oregon    Oregon    1983
Police, The    Synchronicity    1983
Ponty, Jean-Luc    Individual Choice    19833
Sky    Sky Five Live    1983
Tears for Fears    Hurting, The    1983
Tibbetts, Steve    Safe Journey    1983
Vangelis    Antarctica - The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack    1983
Yamashta, Stomu    Sea & Sky    1983

 
Although the poll was open for votes well after a deadline the verdict was absolutely set in stone:
 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 
Script For A Jester's Tear - Marillion
 
 
My Review:
 
**** Marillion and Fish are as iconic as the 80s decade itself.
The debut for Marillion is a milestone album that virtually started the Neo Prog genre single handedly and also kept alive the prog scene during the difficult 80s. Prog took a nosedive after the glorious 70s and bands like Rush and Marillion were the saviours of the genre.
 
Fish was the mastermind of the band and his enigma shines through on the debut. Fish’s dramatis personae, composure and self assuredness holds the album together, and he is well supported by the incredible keyboard wizardry of Mark Kelly, percussion by Mick Pointer, the indispensable Steve Rothery on guitars and maestro bassist Pete Trewavas, who would later continue to dazzle as Transatlantic’s bassist.
 
The tracks have become bonafide classics, namely the title track, The Web, Garden Party and Chelsea Monday. The epic Grendel raises her ugly head, on the bonus CD version and is well worth a listen, and Market Square Heroes is included among other singles and alternative takes, so it is definitely worth getting hold of the bonus double CD version.
 
Trewavas is excellent on bass and the guitar work throughout is absolutely exceptional. The songs have infectious hooks and the voice of Fish is mesmirising, a storyteller style with high octave resonating timbre. The songs are lengthy with a great deal of instrumentation to revel in. Although the debut album is definitely not my favourite from Marillion, this album is still excellent Neo and is important for grounding the foundation for other Neo style bands to come such as Pallas or IQ. This album acts as a blueprint for how to reinvent music. “Misplaced Childhood” would bury this for sheer quality but “Script for a Jester’s Tear” is highly revered as one of the greatest albums of the 80s. 

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - November 24 2011 at 18:51
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 06:40

Part 18: Prog Poll through the years 1984

 

Top 10 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1984.

Yet another lean year for prog in the difficult 80s with only a few good albums as this list shows.

 

Uzed – Univers Zero

 

Marsbeli Kronikak – Solaris

 

Fugazi – Marillion

 

Obras De Violeta Parra – Los Jaivas

 

Grace Under Pressure – Rush

 

The Sentinel – Pallas

 

 The Warning – Queensryche

 

Stationary Traveller – Camel

 

Three of a Perfect Pair – King Crimson

 

Real to Reel – Marillion

 

 

The results:

 

5 [7.58%]
9 [13.64%]
10 [15.15%]
0 [0.00%]
18 [27.27%]
1 [1.52%]
3 [4.55%]
6 [9.09%]
7 [10.61%]
1 [1.52%]
6 [9.09%]

In the worst year for prog there were still alternatives mentioned”

 

Fly High, Fall Far (EP) - Pendragon

 

Powerslave – Iron Maiden

 

Ride The Lightning - Metallica

 

Briliant Trees - David Sylvian

 

Mugen / Sinfonia Della Luna 

Rush won this and if not for them this would have been another year for Marillion. But the results speak for themselves:

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

My Review:

 
 **** 1984 was a poor year for prog but Rush continued to eclipse the rest

Ah, the enlightenment of the 80s; prog was really dwindling on the decline and becoming mediocre, but one band continued to release one great album after another; the power trio, Rush. The music definitely changed, the lengthy epics were shortened to 4 to 6 minute tracks and the synthesizers dominated the music, but somehow Rush had enough innovation and melody driven songs to produce an excellent album. This may well be the best prog album in 1984 but the competition was very lean in these difficult years of prog. Let's put this into some sort of perspective before settling on a rating for "Grace Under Pressure".

Here is a short exploration of the 80s. The bands that were producing the best prog albums of the year were neo proggers, Marillion ("Fugazi", and the live "Real to Reel"), eclectic pioneers, King Crimson ("Three of a Perfect Pair") and Solaris ("Marsbeli Kronikak"). Others that were making some sort of impact were Uzed ("Univers Zero"), Pallas ("The Sentinel") and Camel ("Stationary Traveller"). Queensryche were beginning to make progress ("The Warning") as were Los Jaivas ("Obras De Violeta Parra"), however progressive rock was being phased out gradually with the uprising of manufactured synth and electronica. I am not talking about the innovative prog electronica of Kraftwerk, this was a crystal clean sickly sweet saccharine sound adopted by 80s pop icons such as Prince, Culture Club, Chaka Khan, John Waite, Duran Duran, Thompson Twins, Sheila E, Cyndi Lauper and Eurythmics. The hit singles were dominated by the power ballad, noteworthy were 'Oh Sherrie' by Steve Perry, and there were the curios too of one hit wonders such as '99 Luftballons' by Nena. This is what Rush were contending with and few people were interested in the prog epic or songs with odd time signatures. Even classic prog icons Yes sold out with their album "90125" and Genesis who had a hit with 'That's All'. And metal was being split in half, mellowing to synth patterns with Van Halen's 'Jump' and ZZ Top's 'Legs' making it big on the mainstream charts, and becoming more defined and popular with such albums as Metallica's "Ride The Lightning" and Iron Maiden's "Powerslave". A year of transformation you might say.

Ok, history lesson is over but how would Rush answer this on their eagerly awaited album. They produced something with a distinctly 80s sound but it is endearing and melodic without selling out against a progressive sound. The first track 'Distant early warning' signifies the new approach to the Rush sound. Lifeson's guitar is layered with effects, lots of delay and echo, and the synthesizers are predominant from Lee. His vocals are layered at times but never imposing from the music. Peart really tends to hold back, without notable breaks but his drumming is consistent and effective. The lyrics changed too. Nothing to do with Greek gods, trees or Snow Dogs, instead songs about survival, protagonists in danger, and machines or techno phobia. I love the chorus; "The world weighs on my shoulders, But what am I to do? You sometimes drive me crazy, But I worry about you, I know it makes no difference, To what you're going through, But I see the tip of the iceberg And I worry about you..." The best tracks on this are those with strong melodies and creative approaches to the music with powerful lyrics. There is no filler material I am delighted to report.

'Afterimage' has a strong beat with fast rhythms from the drums and loud guitar chords. Lee plays a mean synth on this and his vocals are storytelling at his best; "I feel the way you would" he explains and the uplifting style enters the conscious. Then Lee continues to give meaning behind the themes; "Tried to believe but you know it's no good, This is something that just can't be understood, I remember The shouts of joy skiing fast through the woods, I hear the echoes..." The next section is very haunting instrumentation, bizarre effects on the synth and glorious riffing from Lifeson. He later plays a lead break with a lot of slide work. The riff at 4:05 is fabulous. So far the album is an excellent display of heavy melodic rock.

'Red sector A' is the best track on the album, I always liked this when I first heard it on "Rush: Gold" compilation. The guitars are stunning, lots of echo and hammering down on the strings, but it is a beautiful sound Lifeson emits here. The lyrics and melody are sensational; "All that we can do is just survive, all that we can do is help ourselves to stay alive." The next verse gives me the chills especially when I hear the section where lee sings, "I clutch the wire fence until my fingers bleed, A wound that will not heal, A heart that cannot feel, Hoping that the horror will recede, Hoping that tomorrow we'll all be freed..." There is an enchanting instrumental passage with harmonics and virtuoso chord and fingering on the guitar. The live performances I have seen of this are even better, Lifeson effortlessly twangs out the melodies. The mid range vocals and medium tempo are endearing, and transfixing. I would easily rate this track among the top ten tracks for Rush in their huge repertoire.

Another highlight is 'The enemy within (Part I of Fear)' that has a fast tempo and strong melody. The chorus has some great lyrics; "I'm not giving in to security under pressure, I'm not missing out on the promise of adventure, I'm not giving up on implausible dreams, Experience to extremes, Experience to extremes..." Then the track has a slow crystalline guitar and synth motif sounding like tubular bells, creating an ethereal atmosphere. The time sig changes slightly on the bridge until it returns to the tempo again. Towards the end there is an off beat reggae feel and it fades. Great track to revel in and not one you will hear often in concert.

'The body electric' begins with pounding drums and a guitar lick and then the trademark twanging of Lifeson crashes down. The track is memorable for it's chorus; "1 0 0 1 0 0 1, SOS, 1 0 0 1 0 0 1, In distress..." It has a terrific lead break that soars and dives with massive bends and arpeggios. It took a while for this to grow on me but I now think of this as another highlight of the album. The lyrics are fun too telling a story of technology taking over, "Memory banks unloading, Bytes break into bits, Unit One's in trouble and it's scared out of its wits.... It replays each of the days, A hundred years of routines, Bows its head and prays, To the mother of all machines." Not a power ballad thankfully.

'Kid gloves' has an odd time sig and a killer riff that plays constantly and locks into the melody. A sleeper track that is not played live often but I can get into this tuneful track easily. The half time feel is great and there is a wonderful lead break, with delay and some very nice drumming from Peart. The bass keeps the rhythm and then it merges back to the main motif.

'Red lenses' begins with "I see red..." and then the guitars crank out the familiar effects pedal laden riff of previous tracks. Some of this sounds a bit like 80s Genesis, particularly the keyboard riff that clicks into gear after the first verse. The time sig changes a few times during the track. I like Peart's rototum playing on this that suits it perfectly. There is a nice interlude of drumming and keys with some eclectic guitar twangs. The synth solo is excellent on this. There are some good lyrical content; "And the mercury is rising, Barometer starts to fall, You know it gets to us all, The pain that is learning, And the rain that is burning, Feel red...." Once again this might be misconstrued as a filler but it really grows on you.

'Between the wheels' begins with staccato keyboard playing that create a tense atmosphere. The disjointed rhythm works well as Lee sings the estranged lyrics; "You know how that rabbit feels, Going under your speeding wheels, Bright images flashing by, Like windshields towards a fly, Frozen in the fatal climb, But the wheels of time Just pass you by, Wheels can take you around, Wheels can cut you down, We can go from boom to bust, From dreams to a bowl of dust, We can fall from rockets' red glare, Down to "Brother can you spare...", Another war Another wasteland And another lost generation." The track has a solid powerful attack of synths and guitar throughout but the real feature is the instrumental break that launches into a brilliant lead break. The guitar squeals and presents harmonious parts of the melody in a unique style. The staccato synth returns after the next chorus, and Lifeson plays new variations of the main motif, making his guitar scream and dive. A highlight of the album make no mistake.

So at the end of this exploration of 80s sounds, Rush measure s up and maintains a progressive feel while keeping true to the new sound of the 80s. The result is the best album of 1984 and what an album it is. After a few listens it grows on you like osmosis, you become accustomed to the clean guitar crashes, and the full on synthesizer treatment. An excellent addition to your prog collection, I am certain.

  



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - October 21 2011 at 09:16
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 07:17

 

Part 19: Prog Poll through the years 1985

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1985.

Prog was in its rebuilding phase and neo prog was in full swing so more bands felt comfortable to experiment again as this top 15 shows.

 

Misplaced Childhood – Marillion

 

Metal Fatigue – Allan Hodsworth

 Allan Holdsworth Metal Fatigue album cover

The Wake – IQ

 

Le Poison Qui Rend Fou – Present

 

Energetic Disassembly – Watchtower

 

Brother Where You Bound – Supertramp

 

Power Windows – Rush

 

Summer In Town – Horizont

 

The Jewel – Pendragon

 

The Chronicle of the Black Sword – Hawkwind

 

Behaviour – Saga

 

The Spectre Within – Fates Warning

 

A Classic Case – Jethro Tull

 

Myths Et Legends – Magma

 

A Compact Compilation - Camel

 

I was so starved for good choice I had to include that Camel compilation to make up 10 albums. I think Marillion could not be beaten so the other albums were mere decoration.

 

The results:

41 [47.67%]
2 [2.33%]
9 [10.47%]
7 [8.14%]
1 [1.16%]
3 [3.49%]
9 [10.47%]
0 [0.00%]
3 [3.49%]
1 [1.16%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [1.16%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [2.33%]
7 [8.14%]
 

Others that were mentioned were:

 

Hounds of Love - Kate Bush

 

Ily A Des Jours - Hellebore

 

Marillion absolutely mowed down the competition cutting it to shreds and it is a deserved winner.

AND THE WINNER IS...

 
 
My Review:

 

***** This is one of the most influential, timeless albums of the neo prog 80s. Marillion effectively reinvented prog.

Misplaced Childhood is Marillion's magnum opus. Each track blends seamlessly into one overall powerful experience. It is the best the band have produced unlike the flawed Fugazi and Script for a Jester's Tear, this CD works on every level; musically, conceptually and vocally Fish has never been better.

It begins with the hypnotic keyboard motif that I had to learn after hearing this. A beautiful serene piece of art with the wonderful vocals that chime in instantly transports us in to Marillion's world. The narrative begins of a man who is attempting to revisit his innocent childhood days that have been lost in the sea of fire - the trials and temptations that have plagued his life robbed him of the innocence and thus his dreams have been squashed.

''Kayleigh'' is the bonafide single that all Marillion fans have heard. It was my introduction to the band, found on the best 80s compilation CDs. Steve Rothery blasts a memorable riff and the keyboards soar over the top with a crystalline sound that is essential mid 80s fair. The melody is wondrous and memorable and one of the best from the band as a result.

''Lavender'' is another single that takes on the theme of the nursery rhyme that is a childhood memory but the lavenders - the positive side of life - is gone robbed by negative effects on the life of the protagonist.

"Bitter Suite" features a beautiful piano with encircling guitar motifs that hook onto an infectious melody.

"Heart Of Lothian" begins with an incredible introduction and them locks into an off beat metrical pattern that shifts from 4/4 to 7/8 and back again. There is an ethereal ambience in the keyboards that compliments the vocal prowess of Fish. His vocal gymnastics never tire on the ear on these tracks.

"Waterhole" is an anthemic rocker that leads seamlessly into:

"Lords Of Backstage" is an effective short transition track that segues into:

"Blind Curve" and here is where the album really excels. The vocals are poetic and Fish's artistry is second to noe. There are dark overtones but it feels uplifting simultaneously. Listen to Fish build to the crescendo climax as he reflects on the dark memories - "the childhood, the childhood, the childhood, oh please give it back to me" and there is a significant break in the meter where the jagged guitar solo launches into full volume. It is an amazing track and one of the best I have heard from Marillion.

"Childhoods End?" has a very deep bass line that throbs throughout and is significant to the dark tone of the lyrics. It is the end or the beginning of innocence? The concept is heavy handed but the real star of the track is Fish who wails up a storm with an amazing vocal performance: "it was morning and I found myself mourning for a childhood that I thought had disappeared - I saw you... Hey you, surprised... to find the answers to the questions were always in your own eyes, do you realise.... for she's got to carry on with her life and you've got to carry on with yours..." Simple and direct but effective to touch on the theme of a love lost and how to survive "to be reborn in the shadow" to find "the leading light of destiny burning in the ashes of your memory..." Powerful. I love the guitar riffs and the lead breaks over Fish's vocals "There is no Childhood's End, There is no Childhood's End, oh lead me on". Then the iambic pentameter changes completely in order to segue immediately into:

"White Feather". A low key track that is a low point on the album but it certainly wraps it all up concluding the CD, fading away in true 80s style.

How to conclude this review is to simply state the fact. This is as about as good as Marillion gets. The first few albums are all great but this is the masterpiece make no mistake. I would even be bold enough to state that if this album does not appeal to you, Marillion is perhaps not for you. But on the other hand for those of us who have discovered the genius of this band, this CD is truly a pleasurable experience. Great headphone music and one of the best outright examples of Neo Prog.

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - November 24 2011 at 16:37
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 07:47
Scott, did you notice that the 83-poll had exactly 100 votes? Thus 17 votes equaled 17% etc.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: May 26 2010 at 07:50

Part 20: Prog Poll through the years 1986

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1986.

Music was getting heavier and metal was dominating so prog survived another difficult year with these 15 albums.

 

Awaken The Guardian – Fates Warning

 

Rage For Order – Queensryche

 

So – Peter Gabriel

 

Underwater Sunlight – Tangerine Dream

 

Les Morts Vont Vite – Shub-Niggurath

 

Heatwave - Univers Zero

 

The Colour of Spring - Talk Talk

 From Hell – Frank Zappa

 

And Close As This – Peter Hammill

 

Green Desert – Tangerine Dream

 

Skin - Peter Hammill

 

Master Of Puppets - Metallica

 

Live Chronicles – Hawkwind

 

Pergamon - Live at the 'Palast der Republik' GDR Tangerine Dream

 

Does Humor Belong In Music? – Frank Zappa

 

 

The results:

 

3 [3.75%]
2 [2.50%]
23 [28.75%]
3 [3.75%]
4 [5.00%]
2 [2.50%]
11 [13.75%]
3 [3.75%]
4 [5.00%]
0 [0.00%]
19 [23.75%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [1.25%]
1 [1.25%]
1 [1.25%]
3 [3.75%]

 

The others:

 

Third Stage - Boston

 
Leda Et E Cygne - Mugen
 
 
 
Peter Gabriel and Metallica were neck and neck - we needed a winner I posted. Then the results came in:
 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

 

So – Peter Gabriel

 

 

 

My review: (one of my shortest)

 

*** 'So' is a great album, not excellent like 'Melt' or 'Up' but worth a listen.

The highlight of the album is the quintessential Gabriel track 'Sledgehammer'. One of the best rock songs of the 80s along with its mind-blowing video clip that was the benchmark for special animated, claymation and beyond, effects in the 80s. Kate Bush once again features in the beautiful 'Don't Give Up' that is one of the greatest duets. I also enjoyed 'That Voice Again' and 'In Your Eyes'.

A very pleasant album, extremely mainstream, but still has some prog elements hidden within.

 

The runner up was ‘Masters of Puppets’ – Metallica, which should have won this.

 

***** 'Master of Puppets' is one of the best metal albums in history, along with Slayer's 'Reign in Blood', Iron Maiden's 'Powerslave' and Megadeth's 'Rust In Peace'.

Every track is a killer with innovative guitar riffing, stop start precision timing and lengthy instrumental sections with a progressive feel. While the album is not purely prog, there are moments that transgress into this territory.

The time signature changes of 'Battery''s brutal riff and the title track's instrumental section and bizarre time signatures surely must rate highly as the best of progressive metal. Both are instant classics are undisputed live favourites. There is not much more to say about these songs - quintessential Metallica and utterly brilliant.

'The Thing That Should Not Be' has a chunky off kilter rhythm and is pure bliss.

'Welcome Home (Sanitarium)' has a metrical pattern that moves from light and dark tones and is regarded as a classic. Hetfield's vocal performance shows his dexterity as a singer, that would later be emphasised on 'The Black Album'.

'Disposable Heroes' is an 8 minute journey into the mind of the war hero, a common theme in their work, such as 'One' - the soldier who returns from hell to a new hell - disposable and wasted.

'Leper Messiah' features innovative riffs that disturb the ear as they move in patterns that never seem right but Metallica makes them right. I just love how the band takes metal to a new level with their virtuoso musicianship.

A real highlight is the instrumental 'Orion' that is as progressive as anything they have tackled. It was a track I used to shun or avoid when I was a metal head in the 80s, but I can actually appreciate the nuances and texture of this now that ranges from acoustic beauty to relentless fury. Magnificent! The album finishes with the breakneck 'Damage, Inc' to remind us that they are speed thrash masters.

In conclusion, this is as about as good as it gets. 'The Black Album' would surpass this in later years, but this was the beginning of true greatness from arguably the most influential metal band, Metallica.

 

 



Edited by AtomicCrimsonRush - November 24 2011 at 16:43
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