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A look at the best prog albums through the years

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Topic: A look at the best prog albums through the years
Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Subject: A look at the best prog albums through the years
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 07:37

 

Welcome to my very first blog! An area I am very passionate about is the best albums of prog

I posted a series of polls to determine which were the best prog albums through the years. After painstakingly researching a number of websites of lists and favourite albums including this website here of course, I came up with a number of lists of the best albums per year. Of course this opened the floodgates for proggers to vent their frustrations on the albums that were missing but i think these lists were fair according to popular results on the web. It is impossible to include every album but these lists are as prolific as I could collate.

Here are the full lists here with album covers. Some lists have been altered according to proggers on the polls demanding certain albums be included and I concur with these requests.

  

 

Part 1:Prog Poll through the years 1967

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1967. Bear in mind of course I can’t place every album but these are the ones that seem to find their way into best of lists and are discussed by progheads.

 

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – Pink Floyd

Procol Harum

Axix: Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix

Vanilla Fudge

After Bathing at Baxter’s – Jeffferson Airplane

The Masters Apprentices

Days Of Future Passed – The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed  album cover

The Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack – The Nice

Dear Mr Fantasy – Traffic

Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

Are You Experienced? – Jimi Hendrix

The Doors

Absolutely Free - Frank Zappa

 

The results:

24 [25.26%]
12 [12.63%]
5 [5.26%]
5 [5.26%]
1 [1.05%]
1 [1.05%]
0 [0.00%]
13 [13.68%]
4 [4.21%]
1 [1.05%]
0 [0.00%]
3 [3.16%]
5 [5.26%]
13 [13.68%]
8 [8.42%]
0 [0.00%]

 

No others chosen so no need to add any!

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

My review:

*****Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

An album that changed the face of music forever

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been labelled as the greatest album of all time, certainly as far as The Beatles are concerned, it is perhaps the best they have produced, though I prefer The White Album. The album is groundbreaking in terms of the concept and the musical inventiveness on every track. Heck, even the album cover is brilliant and considered the best of all time.

It begins with the crowd sounds of a fake audience and a catchy riff 'it was 20 years ago today....' the track blends seamlessly into 'A Little Help from my Friends' with Ringo's low key vocals at his best. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds the LSD trip is another highlight with psychedelic lyrics and echoing spaced out Lennon picturing himself on a boat on a river with plasticine people, newspaper taxis, and the girl with kaleidoscope eyes. It is quite simply an incredible song.

The sound effects are prominent throughout the album in particular Good Morning Good Morning with the iconic horse galloping and country sounds. The time sig change is quirky in the verses and very progressive. The way that the band used the effects is as influential to prog as any other album you can name - just take For the Benefit of Mr Kite for example, amazing wall of sound throughout and those spaced out lyrics are a treasure. The Beatles owe a lot to Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds' as has been well documented, but Sgt Pepper put it to better use, blending great rock with innovation and experimentation. This may well be the beginning of prog.

If you are still not convinced 'A Day in the Life' seals the deal. Lilting dreamy verses that build to 'I'd love to turn you on' that leads to the infamous orchestra slide ? eerie, chilling, disturbing and unforgettable. Then the keys stab as Paul begins the quaint bridge, the song has now completely changed, 'woke up, got out of bed, dragged a towel across my head...' it leads to the psych trip where 'somebody spoke and I went into a dream' ? the dream is the soundscape of a full orchestra and ambient vocals that echo to some faraway place. Then the song returns to the original tune. The ending is the orchestral crescendo that builds noisily until the final low piano chord. It continues and continues until it fades. Then we have a silence which is punctuated by a weird, off kilter loop that sounds like 'I wouldn't have it any other way' over and over. Originally this was the needle stuck in the groove of the vinyl alum but it works on CD as well.

And thus ends the most influential album in history. I think the album managed to capture everything that prog has become and it is an essential album for changing the way we listen to music and accept types of music. Dangerously experimental, ferociously original, it is beyond a masterpiece. 5 stars

 



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Replies:
Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 08:17

Part 2:Prog Poll through the years 1968

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1968. A psychedelic year of music with some incredible albums heralding the birth of experimentalism and headphone music.

After much deliberation and research here is the list:

 

In Search Of The Lost Chord – The Moody Blues

 
Electric Ladyland – Jimi Hendrix
 
 

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

A Saucerful of Secrets – Pink Floyd
 
 
Music In A Doll's House – Family
 
 
The Cheerful Insanity Of Giles Giles & Fripp
 
 
Caravan
 
 
Renaissance – Vanilla Fudge
 
 
This Was – Jethro Tull
 
 
Ars Longa Vita Brevis - The Nice
 
 
Soft Machine
 
 
S. F. Sorrow - The Pretty Things
 
 
 
Shine On Brightly – Procol Harum
 
 
White Album – The Beatles
 
 
We’re Only In It For The Money – Frank Zappa

 

 

 The results:

13 [12.87%]
7 [6.93%]
8 [7.92%]
21 [20.79%]
2 [1.98%]
1 [0.99%]
2 [1.98%]
2 [1.98%]
6 [5.94%]
3 [2.97%]
5 [4.95%]
2 [1.98%]
3 [2.97%]
17 [16.83%]
7 [6.93%]
2 [1.98%]

 

There were 2 choices for other:

The Collectors – The Collectors

Song of Innocence - David Axelrod

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

 My review absolutely was scathing towards this, which just shows you can't always agree with a majority!

 My Review:
 
**  Is it sacrilegious for a Pink Floyd addict to detest this?

I am a massive Floyd fan and would bleed 'Dark Side of the Moon' if you cut me, but this is the worst excuse for an album I have come across from this band. Worse than 'The Final Cut?' Well, I may draw the line there, but this is still a detestable album. Why? I will give you two reasons; Syd and Barrett. The man was a raving nutter as we all know, but he can't sing a note to save himself, that droning monotone voice is enough to make you want to pickle your granny, and before I get lynched by a pack of Floyd freaks, of course Barrett was an iconic figure, but he produced some questionable material and questionable albums, including the abysmal self pitying debut solo effort who's name escapes me at the moment. Also Waters was absolutely wrapped up in his own cerebral cortex on this effort. The music is so lacklustre, it is heart wrenching, and although Barrett only is allowed to sing on the last track, his influence is prevalent.

What are the highlights on such a mediocre album? Perhaps we have to start with the obvious, the compelling Roger Waters' masterpiece 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun' that has a hypnotic groove that draws you in with dark overtones and a riveting bassline. I always loved this. 'Let There Be More Light' is certainly a fabulous track with a spacey guitar feel and very moody keyboards from the incomparable Wright. Floyd can pruduce brilliant epics such as 'Echoes' and 'Shine On', but 'Saucerful of Secrets', running for a tortuous 12 minutes, is mind numbing and dull. Trimmed down it is OK, but how many spacey guitar runs and Dracula organ do we need? 'Ummagumma' provides better versions in any case. The Floyd were always better live and it seems in the studio at this stage of their careers, the four walls of a booth were stifling their creativity.

These tracks save this album from the one star bomb, but the other tracks are truly forgettable. The dreadful caterwauling of Waters' 'Corporal Clegg' is the type of puerile nonsense I am talking about. A psyched up weird thing that sounds like bubblegum now or the pale shadow of The Beatles. Listen to those kindergarten lyrics by Waters: "Corporal Clegg had a wooden leg, He won it in the war, in 1944., Corporal Clegg had a medal too In orange, red, and blue, He found it in the zoo. Dear, dear were they really sad for me? Dear, dear will they really laugh at me? Mrs. Clegg, you must be proud of him. Mrs. Clegg, another drop of gin." Does anyone really care about this anymore? In its time it probably knocked all the hippies off their heads, but now it sounds dated and obsolete.

The album has not dated well and the flower power psychedelic sounds are nauseating and at times Waters' vocals are akin to a cat scratching its claws down a blackboard; 'See Saw' is the idiot child of 'Sgt Pepper' and really is ear cringing wallowing beyond comprehension. The lyrics are childish and Wright is off with the fairies on this. "Marigolds are very much in love, but he doesn't mind, Picking up his sister, he makes his way into the seas or land, All the way she smiles, She goes up while he goes down, down, Sits on a stick in the river, Laughter in his sleep, Sister's throwing stones, hoping for a hit.." Obviously an overdose of magic mushrooms for Wright who wrote this one.

'Jugband Blues' is Barrett's paean to a love interest with his lack of songwriting skills on display: 'And I never knew the moon could be so blue, And I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes, And brought me here instead dressed in red, And I'm wondering who could be writing this song.' OK. I rest my case.

Contrary to popular belief, not everything Floyd touched was pure gold, in fact some of their early material stinks like yesterday's diapers, and unless you were stoned to the hilt, you would have thought this album was a yawnfest. People pretend to understand it, but there is no thread of reason throughout. I realise Floydians will gush over this album, simply because it is iconic Floyd with the legend in his own mind, Barrett in all his insane glory, but just because it is iconic and from the psychedelic 60s does not necessarily mean the actual music is any good. Well, now I have released all that anguish I can move on to a better album from Floyd; take your pick, this effort is a bottom of the barrel doped up Saucerful of Secretions!

Collectors Only!

 



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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 08:42

Part 3:Prog Poll through the years 1969

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1969. An essential year for prog with the ultra important bands of prog releasing great debuts such as King Crimson, Genesis, Yes, Van der Graaf Generator, and Jethro Tull.

After much deliberation and research here is the list:

 

Those Who Are About To Die Salute You – Colosseum

 
Family Entertainment – Family

 

Near The Beginning – Vanilla Fudge

 
From Genesis To Revelation – Genesis
 
 
Volume 2 – Soft Machine
 
 
Tommy – The Who
 
 
Yes - Yes
album cover
 
Aerosol Grey Machine – Van der Graaf Generator
 
 
Stand Up - Jethro Tull
 
 
Trout Mask Replica – Captain Beefheart
 
 
In The Court Of The Crimson King – King Crimson
 
 
Ummagumma – Pink Floyd
 
 
Joy of a Toy – Kevin Ayers
 
 
Hot Rats – Frank Zappa
 

Abbey Road – The Beatles
 
 
The results:
 
 

 

1 [0.76%]
2 [1.52%]
1 [0.76%]
1 [0.76%]
4 [3.03%]
5 [3.79%]
4 [3.03%]
1 [0.76%]
8 [6.06%]
4 [3.03%]
69 [52.27%]
6 [4.55%]
1 [0.76%]
8 [6.06%]
15 [11.36%]
2 [1.52%]

The Others: none listed.

 

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

A landslide result like no other poll – I believe we have a WINNER:

 

My Review:

*****In The Court Of The Crimson King has become not only one of the most important albums of King Crimson but also one of the quintessential albums that spawned the progressive rock movement. Often quoted as the birth of prog rock, the album certainly encompasses all of the characteristics of the genre that we have grown to love: weird, jagged guitar licks, devastating drum time signatures that move outside the standard 4/4 rock signature, keyboards and mellotron pieces that balance the insanity, and all this punctuated by blazing blasts of saxophone that spiral out of control. In other words King Crimson at their best.

The influences of Jazz are prominent throughout and the band are so tight the music tends to punch holes within the fabric of the musicscapes. An example of this is in the awesome '21st Century Schizoid Man'. This song introduced me to the band and I have never looked back, getting hold of any King Crimson I can, I am proud to say I have been Krimsonized. You have to love a band that uses music to express themselves the way King Crimson does. Greg Lake's vocals in '21stCSM' are processed through a vocal transposer that make him sound like some terrible alien machine that is telling mankind where he is going wrong: "Politician's funeral pyre, Innocents raped with Napalm Fire."The lyrics are as potent as the Crim's can be. The feeling of alienation and a barren soundscape are exemplified in the way the song is structured. During the lyrics, a sense of minimalism is produced, then the wall of sound kicks in. The incredible sax and Robert Fripp's screaming guitar complement each other brilliantly throughout the opening half, and then it slows down for a moment before the time signature changes completely and there is an erratic saxophone that locks in and continues while a strange lead guitar howls and reverberates. One of the best things about this section is the way the music seems slightly off kilter, almost out of tune but not quite. There are moments where all instruments cease at once, pause and then begin on cue only to stop again in various rhythm patterns. It is quintessential listening for anyone interested in progressive rock.

Following this maelstrom of sound, the album settles down surprisingly, for where else could it go, into a very melancholy type of song, 'I Talk to the Wind'. This features Ian McDonald's woodwind and the soft vocals of Greg Lake. To be honest, it's not one of my favourite pieces, it all seems so safe and tranquil in comparison to the rest of the album, but I guess as a contrast it works well enough. 'Epitath' is a great track that has been partly resurrected by Greg Lake on ELP's excellent live epic 'Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends' (the last few seconds on CD 1). It has a symphonic component that is created with a heavy blend of mellotron, keyboards and vibes. The lyrics are thought provoking "the wall on which the prophets write is cracking at the seams, upon the instruments of death the sunlight brightly gleams, when every man is torn apart with nightmares and with dreams..." this is where prog rock got its reputation for thought provoking lyrics. The stanzas are confusing, though enlightening and the lyrics revitalise the music, rather than detract. The two cannot exist without the other and are of equal importance. Peter Sinfield was responsible for some of the most provocative lyrics of the prog movement and he is credited on this album for 'words and illumination' interestingly enough.

'Moonchild' is the longest track and annoyingly tends to just go on and on, almost as a complete improvisation in the studio recorded without forethought at times. I know this is one of the most annoying things about this band that I love, but it is also the reason that they are outstanding; they do improvise in concert substantially, and it has garnered their reputation for jazz fusion. So it's a catch 22 - if you are into a band as experimental as King Crimson there are going to be moments in their repertoire that will infuriate you. Michael Giles drum patterns are interesting enough but unfortunately, as far as I am concerned, 'Moonchild' is just about the worst they have recorded. It should have been cut by about 6 minutes and there is too little going on for my tastes to even make this memorable. It is more or less a jazz improvisation and doesn't really go anywhere. Maybe this is why some fans adore it.

'The Court of The Crimson King' ends the album on a positive high note, although the album cover looks like the Crimson King is slowly being tortured to death. I absolutely cherish this song and it is one of the best prog tracks I have heard. Lake's vocals have never been better, and there are amazing flourishes of sweeping keyboards that send a chill down your spine. The sound goes from intense to very soft in waves and all is complimented by a stirring lyrical content: "The black queen chants the funeral march, the cracked brass bells will ring, to summon back the fire witch in the court of the crimson king."

On that note, in conclusion I will end this by stating the facts: if you care about the birth of progressive rock, if you like your prog jazzed up with a fusion of heavy mellotron, if you love saxophone interlaced with jagged guitar rhythms, if you have heard of this album but were worried to purchase it because it's so old, if you are into Emerson Lake & Palmer: look no further! This album encompasses all that makes prog rock so enticing, and in a sense it captures all that made King Crimson one of the leading progressive masters, brilliant but flawed geniuses. The Court of The Crimson King is, hands down, an essential purchase

 



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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 08:52

There were actually 3 choices for other:

Sea Shanties - High Tide 
 

 

 

 
Phallus Dei - Amon Duul 2
 

 

The Advancement - The Advancement 
 
 
 
 


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 09:18

Part 4:Prog Poll through the years 1970

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1970.

An Amazing year of prog with strong debuts from eclectic and symphonic legends and some of the best music you will ever hear in this selection. After much deliberation and research here is the list:

 

The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other – Van der Graaf Generator

 
Kobaia – Magma
 
 
Abraxas - Santana
 
 
Benefit – Jethro Tull
 
 
In The Wake Of Poseidon – King Crimson
 
 
Third - Soft Machine
 
 
Time and A Word – Yes
 
album cover
 
John Barleycorn Must Die – Traffic
 
 
If I Could Do It All Over Again, I'd Do It All Over You – Caravan
 
 
Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant
 
 
Atom Heart Mother – Pink Floyd
 
 
Trespass – Genesis
 
Emerson Lake & Palmer
 
 
Lizard – King Crimson
 
 
H To He Who Am The Only One - Van der Graaf Generator

 

 

The Results:

 

2 [1.64%]
5 [4.10%]
4 [3.28%]
3 [2.46%]
4 [3.28%]
1 [0.82%]
3 [2.46%]
5 [4.10%]
2 [1.64%]
10 [8.20%]
19 [18.03%]
17 [14.75%]
18 [15.57%]
20 [16.39%]
1 [0.82%]
3 [2.46%]

 

 

The Others:

 Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath

 
 
Fran Storstad - Bjorn J:Son Lindh
 
 
In Rock - Deep Purple
 
 
 

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

H To He Who Am The Only One - Van der Graaf Generator

 

My Review:

***** H to He Who Am the Only One is an excellent album from Van der Graaf Generator, definitely one of their best alongside Pawn Hearts (their best), the much celebrated Godbluff and the incredible The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other. The album begins with the dynamic 'Killer' which is easily the best track on the album and a concert favourite. It focuses on a narrative perspective from a killer shark who wants to be loved but has an impulse to kill outside of its control: "You crave companionship... because the whole of your life you've been living alone". Interesting enough, the real highlight beyond the lyrics is the way Hammill delivers with absolute conviction and the way that the instruments compliment the keyboards with saxophones and percussion that is off beat at times but never out of time. Perfectly in synch, all the instruments blend to create a soundscape of doom and majesty and it captures the imagination unlike anything the early 70s had to offer. At 8 minutes the track flows beautifully from one segment to another, and features an erratic instrumental break that almost transports you under the sea witnessing a shark attack, the shrill saxophone bursts could be a fish screaming in pain, and the deep rumbles could be the shark swimming to its next meal. 'Killer' is an instant classic and a must for anyone interested in this genre of music.

'House With No Door' is one of the contemplative existentialist pensive tracks where Hammill contemplates life and the purpose for his existence.

'Emperor in his War Room' gets back to the greatness of VDGG, a torrid saga of an Emperor who "cradling his gun, after choosing the ones you think should die... crawling over the windowsill into your living room." The bodies that are "torn by vultures" are left to die by the "saviour of the fallen, protector of the weak". Once again terrific lyrics overladen by mellotron, atmospheric drums and saxophone, and the relentless bass.

"Lost" is another brilliant track that begins with a swirling dervish of keyboards and wrong chords that are used to maximum effect. It's as good as it gets and moves all over the place, with time signatures that are difficult to emulate. This is one of the more complex tracks from the band, and features an excellent saxophone and keyboard solo that drives the song forward to the final section The Dance in the Forest. One part pulses with a driving bass while a thin saxophone contains a strong esoteric melody. The echo of the saxophone adds to the sense of alienation and bleakness. It all ends on an off kilter series of notes that speed up into a frenzy that finally fades out.

'Pioneers Over C' is one of the best VDGG tracks and begins with a high pitched atmospheric note, then a low rumbling Hammond keeps the jagged rhythm in tact somehow, while the percussion kicks in. It's a great sound and prepares the way for Hammill's spaced out lyrics. "Somebody help me I am falling down" he cries. I just love the riff of the bass and sax in this track that stops and starts and even features quite a beautiful acoustic arrangement and spars saxophone. "The universe is on fire exploding without flame" - fair enough if the universe is going to go foom it may as well be to the melodies of VDGG. Heavy stuff throughout it never becomes overbearing thanks to the excellent structures of each track that range from tranquility to an out of control maelstrom.

The bonus tracks are surprisingly good and worth the effort. "Squid/Octopus" is a fantastic lengthy 15 minute epic that works well on a number of levels. From the estranged vocals, "I wish that you would set me free forever, but these rings on my arms are too deep...", down to the way it blasts and spews waves of noise using instruments from acoustic guitar to mellotron. I love the way it loses control halfway through almost improvisational in places and then somehow finds its way again, nobody could jam like these guys. The end is stuffed up with an added cymbal hit and the band members curse and laugh. But who would care after the way this track spiralled all over the place, but I guess these guys were perfectionists.

The early take of 'Emperor in His war Room' is more or less a curio and is a rare look at the makings of a classic track. It does sound different without the overdubs and atmospherics but is no the less the better for it.

Overall, H to He... is absolutely quintessential VDGG and my CD collection would be the poorer without it. Along with Pawn Hearts and Godbluff, I can't recommend this more highly.

 

 
This was followed very closely by Trespass - Genesis (when poll closed more votes came in making this a virtual winner by a vote)
 
 
 
My Review:
 
 *** After the quiet breeze there is a hailstorm of chaotic drums, a thunderclap of stormy distorted organ and soaring guitar solos, with an injection of venomous, sniping vocals.

"Trespass" is the first album from Genesis since they parted with Jonathan King and Decca labels to pursue a more distinct sound, that of the 'pastoral English idyll'. The album features some of the first use of Multi-tracked 12-string acoustic guitars that are blended with folky vocal harmonies, quiet flute, acoustic piano, and gentle keyboard pads on the Hammond and mellotron. It begins with an isolated secluded atmosphere in the form of 'Looking For Someone' that is certainly not a sound the band would return to on subsequent albums. The band were very unsure at times of their sound Anthony Phillips holds back on guitar preferring an acoustic approach, John Mayhew gently touched his drums, Peter Gabriel is quiet and calm, Mike Rutherford maintains simple basslines, Tony Banks prefers a subtle keyboard motif - all this of course is transformed into glorious prog chaos on the last track.

'White Mountain' is a Gabriel driven storytelling work with lyrics that would typify the Gabriel-era Genesis; "Thin hung the web like a trap in a cage, The fox lay asleep in his lair. Fangs frantic paws told the tale of his sin, Far off the chase shrieked revenge. Outcast he trespassed where no wolf may tread, The last sacred haunt of the dead. He learnt of a truth which only one wolf may know, The sceptre and crown of a king. Howling for blood, one-eye leads on the pack, Plunging through forest and snowstorm." Gabriel was perhaps inspired by Rudyard Kipling in this quirky tale of two wolves battling for a mystical crown. The music peaks at the end of each verse and slows into the pastoral English feel, Gabriel's voice is even fed through a machine echo effect at one point. The rhythm is maintained during the verse, with Gabriel part of the rhythm. The quieter moments of the song are characterised by flute and acoustic flourishes. The mellotron builds a cathedral atmosphere in the break. A wonderful song from the album characterising a new sound akin to Canterbury but still distinctive.

'Visions of Angels' is a softer track with some staccato moments and grinding organ and angel harmonies. The softer moments of the track are almost like a fairy tale and then there is a darker razor edge to the music with some ethereal piano and mellotron. The flute lends it's folky pastoral quality to the piece. Gabriel has a phased effect on his voice in one section, abut he is master of the storyteller style and once again he dominates the track: "Visions of angels all around, Dance in the sky, Leaving me here, Forever goodbye."

'Stagnation' is acoustically driven and has a soft Gabriel vocal and a lilting melody that goes nowhere and is a folk soaked passage of estranged lyrics and atmospherics. The guitar is well executed here picking style and a chiming keyboard adds a mystical quality with descending shapes and chilling notes pulled down the scale almost ghostly. The other worldly sound builds with an electrifying instrumental passage capitalising on organ and a quick tempo beat with basslines and drums adding the metrical pattern. The flute shines on this when Gabriel sings gently: "Wait, there still is time for washing in the pool, Wash away the past. Moon, my long-lost friend is smiling from above, Smiling at my tears. Come well walk the path to take us to my home, Keep outside the night. The ice-cold knife has come to decorate the dead, Somehow. And each will find a home, And there will still be time, For loving my friend, you are there..." It even sounds like The Moody Blues at one point. The rhythm builds again and Gabriel ad libs all sorts of nonsense to end this, "I want a drink, I want a drink, To wash out the filth that is deep in my guts, I want a drink." The flute returns over a clean guitar sound that has that distinct pastoral quality. Once again an underrated track from this horrendously underrated album.

'Dusk' is a very gentle calming track with some strange harmonies that remind me of early Pink Floyd or The Moody Blues. The lyrics are as whimsical as ever; "Once Jesus suffered, Heaven could not see him. And now my ship is sinking, The captain stands alone. A pawn on a chessboard, A false move by God will now destroy me, But wait, on the horizon, A new dawn seems to be rising, Never to recall this passerby, born to die."

There are bell chimes and a loaded flute that is played beautifully by Gabriel, adding a unique atmosphere, very tranquil and dreamy. The acoustic is once again a main factor and there are heavy crashes of piano. Not too bad but only a shadow of the next track which is a bonafide classic.

'The Knife' is a real fish out of water here, the most famous track on the album beginning with a staccato Hammond worthy of Emerson and in fact Keith was impressed with the sound and let the band know it. Gabriel was quite attracted with The Nice and the song 'Rondo' and in trying to capture this sound came up with a track that would typify the Genesis sound on their next album "Nursery Cryme". The Hammond and one note fuzz bass intro this excellent prog exploration.

The lyrics are a real point of interest and Gabriel frighteningly sneers his way through them with utter conviction; "Stand up and fight, for you know we are right, We will strike at the lies, That have spread like disease through our minds. Soon we'll have won and we'll treasure this worth, With our winnings and kindness To all who our love now deserve, Some of you are going to die, Martyrs, of course, to the freedom I will provide." The song's lyrics focus on Gabriel's reflections on violent revolutions, and the lyrics determine to explore how those who use violence all in the name of freedom are often the ones who actually establish their own dictatorship.

In the mid section the dark Hammond sound ceases and a bass booms with a violining guitar created by volume swells, and then a lilting haunting flute, subtle cymbal clangs on the ride cymbal and a beautiful keyboard pad providing a dark ambience. Then a fuzzed electric guitar is heard with Rutherford's fuzz bass, an off kilter chord structure, and phased vocals chant with a tape loop of screaming and voices, the birth pangs of prog are right here. The guitars have a chance to launch into flight with some of the best work from Anthony Phillips.

After you have been lulled to sleep by all the gentle pastoralness of the previous tracks with their one note bass passages and dreamscape instrumentals you are suddenly jolted back to life with 'The Knife'. After the quiet breeze there is a hailstorm of chaotic drums, a thunderclap of stormy distorted organ and soaring guitar solos, with an injection of venomous, sniping vocals. It is not for nothing that this song closed the Genesis set for years after and is the only track fans want to talk about from 'Trespass'. The song in fact trespasses across the green fields and sets fire to them. The firestorm is a mixture of chemicals fuelled by psychedelic guitar passages, crunching fuzz bass, and blazing Hammond.

The dynamic nuances are augmented by psychotic lyrics; "I'll give you the names of those you must kill, Then have all burned and quickly, Cover them up in Trafalgar square, Hurry to see, you'll see them dead In this ugly world, Ready to fight for your freedom, Now, when I give a word, Hang 'em on high, let the blood flow..." The disturbing lyrics are enhanced by massive stabs of Hammond and gut wrenching guitar riffs but the fuzz bass is so entrenched upon the sound that it is as heavy as the band would get. An absolute masterpiece of prog.

In conclusion it would be unrealistic that I rate this anything more than 3 stars as the greatness of Genesis was yet to come. But this is still a solid slice of early prog and 'The Knife' is an outstanding track, one of the essential blasts of creativity from the Gabriel era. The knife stabbed in the album cover signifies that the band are slicing their ties with commercialism and dragging across a blade to usher in a new progressive sound that would become symphonic prog. It is interesting to note that the album cover has a pastoral feel with religious overtones, a couple stare lovingly out the arch toward the distant horizon and a cupid creature dances merrily in the foreground, but the knife stabbed in the back gatefold is like the stab in the heart of the pastoral idyll, the way 'The Knife' stabs in at the end of the album, infiltrating the quiet atmosphere, almost tacked on as an afterthought is intriguing; it is one thing to swim against the flow but here the goldfish has jumped out of the bowl. Perhaps the band were experimenting, and trying to ascertain what would happen if they pulled out all the stops and attempted a 'Rondo'. The result was a success and opened the floodgates for a prog sound like no other in the years to come. Overall, the album is a genuine curio showing the birth of a band that is ready to catapult into the progosphere with their next adventure, the awesome "Nursery Cryme".



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Posted By: progpositivity
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 21:27
Wow!  This is a very well-presented tour of highlights from 1967 through 1970!  Fantastic!
 
Are you planning on continuing to move into the 1970's in this blog sometime in the future? 
 
If so, when is the deadline for 1971?  I'd better quit being lazy and get out there to VOTE soon!   Clap


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Positively the best Prog and Fusion 24/7!
http://www.progpositivity.com


Posted By: progpositivity
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 21:54
OK - I voted throughout the years.  Smile
But Yikes!  Selecting just 1 album from some of these years can be painful!  Dead


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Positively the best Prog and Fusion 24/7!
http://www.progpositivity.com


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 22:41
Originally posted by progpositivity progpositivity wrote:

Wow!  This is a very well-presented tour of highlights from 1967 through 1970!  Fantastic!
 
Are you planning on continuing to move into the 1970's in this blog sometime in the future? 
 
If so, when is the deadline for 1971?  I'd better quit being lazy and get out there to VOTE soon!   Clap
Thanks for voting my friend. Yeah I had to cut the votes off as soon as I post here on this blog as its been going long enough to indicate clear winners.
 
 
i am also planning to review each album listed.... a lifetime achievement... perhapsLOL
 
 


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Posted By: UndercoverBoy
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 22:58
Originally posted by AtomicCrimsonRush AtomicCrimsonRush wrote:

And the WINNER IS:

 

H To He Who Am The Only One - Van der Graaf Generator

 

My Review: *****

H to He Who Am the Only One is an excellent album from Van der Graaf Generator, definitely one of their best alongside Pawn Hearts (their best), the much celebrated Godbluff and the incredible The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other. The album begins with the dynamic 'Killer' which is easily the best track on the album and a concert favourite. It focuses on a narrative perspective from a killer shark who wants to be loved but has an impulse to kill outside of its control: "You crave companionship... because the whole of your life you've been living alone". Interesting enough, the real highlight beyond the lyrics is the way Hammill delivers with absolute conviction and the way that the instruments compliment the keyboards with saxophones and percussion that is off beat at times but never out of time. Perfectly in synch, all the instruments blend to create a soundscape of doom and majesty and it captures the imagination unlike anything the early 70s had to offer. At 8 minutes the track flows beautifully from one segment to another, and features an erratic instrumental break that almost transports you under the sea witnessing a shark attack, the shrill saxophone bursts could be a fish screaming in pain, and the deep rumbles could be the shark swimming to its next meal. 'Killer' is an instant classic and a must for anyone interested in this genre of music.

'House With No Door' is one of the contemplative existentialist pensive tracks where Hammill contemplates life and the purpose for his existence.

'Emperor in his War Room' gets back to the greatness of VDGG, a torrid saga of an Emperor who "cradling his gun, after choosing the ones you think should die... crawling over the windowsill into your living room." The bodies that are "torn by vultures" are left to die by the "saviour of the fallen, protector of the weak". Once again terrific lyrics overladen by mellotron, atmospheric drums and saxophone, and the relentless bass.

"Lost" is another brilliant track that begins with a swirling dervish of keyboards and wrong chords that are used to maximum effect. It's as good as it gets and moves all over the place, with time signatures that are difficult to emulate. This is one of the more complex tracks from the band, and features an excellent saxophone and keyboard solo that drives the song forward to the final section The Dance in the Forest. One part pulses with a driving bass while a thin saxophone contains a strong esoteric melody. The echo of the saxophone adds to the sense of alienation and bleakness. It all ends on an off kilter series of notes that speed up into a frenzy that finally fades out.

'Pioneers Over C' is one of the best VDGG tracks and begins with a high pitched atmospheric note, then a low rumbling Hammond keeps the jagged rhythm in tact somehow, while the percussion kicks in. It's a great sound and prepares the way for Hammill's spaced out lyrics. "Somebody help me I am falling down" he cries. I just love the riff of the bass and sax in this track that stops and starts and even features quite a beautiful acoustic arrangement and spars saxophone. "The universe is on fire exploding without flame" - fair enough if the universe is going to go foom it may as well be to the melodies of VDGG. Heavy stuff throughout it never becomes overbearing thanks to the excellent structures of each track that range from tranquility to an out of control maelstrom.

The bonus tracks are surprisingly good and worth the effort. "Squid/Octopus" is a fantastic lengthy 15 minute epic that works well on a number of levels. From the estranged vocals, "I wish that you would set me free forever, but these rings on my arms are too deep...", down to the way it blasts and spews waves of noise using instruments from acoustic guitar to mellotron. I love the way it loses control halfway through almost improvisational in places and then somehow finds its way again, nobody could jam like these guys. The end is stuffed up with an added cymbal hit and the band members curse and laugh. But who would care after the way this track spiralled all over the place, but I guess these guys were perfectionists.

The early take of 'Emperor in His war Room' is more or less a curio and is a rare look at the makings of a classic track. It does sound different without the overdubs and atmospherics but is no the less the better for it.

Overall, H to He... is absolutely quintessential VDGG and my CD collection would be the poorer without it. Along with Pawn Hearts and Godbluff, I can't recommend this more highly.

 

ClapClapClap


Posted By: Logan
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:14
You've put a lot of work into this.  Excellent job, and this should prove a useful resource!  I'm really fascinated by the early years of progressive psych/rock, the foundations of prog, and related scenes/ styles of the time.

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The first step on the road to wisdom is the recognition of your own cherry pie.


Posted By: Slartibartfast
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:32
It's a really fun thread just to scroll through really fast thanks to the images.  Big smile  Well done so far, but don't slip up.  Tongue

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Released date are often when it it impacted you but recorded dates are when it really happened...



Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:40

 

Part 5:Prog Poll through the years 1971

 

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1971.

Amazing sounds of early 70s with a plethora of masterpiece albums that are still discussed and revered today. This was toughest choice thus far but I had to go for these:

 

 

Death Walks Behind You – Atomic Rooster

 
The Polite Force – Egg
 
 
The Yes Album – Yes
 
 

Aqualung – Jethro Tull

 
In The Land Of Grey And Pink – Caravan
 
 
Tarkus - Emerson Lake & Palmer
 
 
Ash ra Tempel - Ash ra Tempel 
 
 
In Search Of Space – Hawkwind
 
 
Pawn Hearts - Van Der Graaf Generator
 
 
Meddle – Pink Floyd
 
 
Nursery Cryme – Genesis

 
Camembert Electrique – Gong
 
 
 

The Inner Mounting Flame – Mahavishnu Orchestra

 
Gila-Free Electric Sound - Gila
 
 
Fragile – Yes

 

 

 The Results:

2 [1.47%]
2 [1.47%]
10 [7.35%]
8 [5.88%]
9 [6.62%]
8 [5.88%]
2 [1.47%]
1 [0.74%]
19 [13.97%]
11 [8.09%]
32 [23.53%]
2 [1.47%]
4 [2.94%]
1 [0.74%]
20 [14.71%]
5 [3.68%]

 

 

There were more choices for other than previous polls and these were the choices specified, some with multiple votes:

 Tago Mago - Can
 
 
 First Utterance - Comus

 

 

 
And a list of alternatives was posted:
Spirogyra - St. Radigunds
 
Matching mole - self titled
 
Strawbs - From the witchwood
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_TigxteEX7kg/TDmPJqATKeI/AAAAAAAAACg/TmyuUex4FHc/s1600/Strawbs+-+From+The+Witchwood.jpg" rel="nofollow">
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
King Crimson - Islands
 
Gentle Giant - Acquiring the taste
 
Samla mammas mannas - self titled
 
 

AND THE WINNER IS...

Nursery Cryme – Genesis

 

 
My Review:
 

***** A pandora's box of prog delicacies; Mother Goose laid the Golden Egg

Third time for Genesis and they finally got it right. Everything that was great about "Trespass", namely their classic album closer 'The Knife' was captured on every track. "Nursery Cryme" is the first Genesis masterpiece and what an incredible improvement it is from the first two albums; the band hit their peak with amazing compositions such as 'Musical Box' and 'Seven Stones' or 'Fountain of Samalcis'. The Genesis lineup here is the most revered with Gabriel, Rutherford, Banks, Collins and Hackett. The production is wonderful with intricate mixing of instrumentation and Gabriel's vocals are kept back blended in with the music rather than overbearing as on "Trespass". Each track tends to create an atmosphere and tell a story that is captured by the beautiful iconic cover illustration that is an enigmatic collage of all things Genesis.

'Musical Box' is a marathon of dark and light shades, a consistent pulling of tension and release, with musical virtuoso as never before heard by the band. 'Musical Box' is a dynamic exploration of symphonic pomp prog. They are undisputed on this track and it remains one of the all time treasured masterpieces of Genesis and indeed prog history. The chord progressions are intricately executed with a dozen or so melodies and time sigs pastiched over one another to create a soundscape montage. Gabriel pleads, "Play me Old King Cole, That I may join with you, All your hearts now seem so far from me, It hardly seems to matter now.... Play me my song, here it comes again". The references to Lewis Carroll echo the album artwork, and there are huge dollops of black humour and an enchanting Gothic mystical fragility. The flute is sweet and beautiful, and it plays over a dark tirade of Rutherford's heavy bass and Hackett's guitar. Gabriel is pastoral with flute and gentle vocals for the first section and then it builds to the dramatic blast of fire that explodes and rains down over shadowy volcanoes of molten mellotron. The time sig changes as a swell of organs and Hackett shines in the lead break, the sound cascades down from speaker to speaker teasing the ears, like an aural torture device. Then it settles as the 'Old King Cole' nursery rhyme is sung. It could be pretentious but it sounds moody and serious. Gabriel gets intimate on, "The clock tick tock on the mantelpiece and I want you to feel... and I know how to touch the wall." The music detonates into huge bombastic phased organ waves that crash down on the beach as a thunderclap of drums and bass blast the hemispheres. It lulls into an unnerving quiet guitar picking as the vocals state, "she's a lady and she's got time, brush back your hair, and let me get to know your flesh." The church pipe organ presents a religious feel and the drums tend to build and then a huge swell of pipe organ drowns out Gabriel begging us to touch him now. This completes an absolute blitz of song structures within songs and it coincides with the final paroxysm of energy from Hackett and Banks trading off perfectly with stop start ruptures of sound. This track is, in a word, unparalleled.

'For Absent Friends' is a short ballad or transition between two brilliant tracks. Phil Collins takes the driver's seat with warm vocals as lead singer in a prophecy of his later involvement when he would transform the sound of Genesis. The lyrics are full of religiosity, and obscure twisted dogma; "Inside the archway the priest greets them with a courteous nod. He's close to God. Looking back at days of four instead of two. Years seem so few. Heads bent in prayer for friends not there." It makes a nice resting place for tranquillity and a stream of calm waters before the storm rages.

The clouds of thunder roll as 'Return of the Giant Hogweed' crashes in. It begins with a mesmirising angular riff and then the wondrous chord structure to signal in the verse; "Turn and run, Nothing can stop them, Around every river and canal their power is growing. Stamp them out, We must destroy them. They infiltrate each city with their thick dark warning odour" . Gabriel is passionate and sneering as he belts out the verses and utters chilling warnings such as, "Waste no time, They are approaching. Hurry now, we must protect ourselves and find some shelter, Strike by night, They are defenceless. They all need the sun to photosensitize their venom." Only Genesis could include words like 'photosynthesize' in their lyrics. The Hammond sounds are articulated by bursts of energy ignited from Hackett's blazing guitar. It lulls in to a quiet passage that builds gradually into a heavy riff. The time sigs are all over the place and consistently change in this exploration of progression. There is a repeated pattern of song structure verse to verse and the instrumentation finally drives into a break with some complex patterns with flute, organ, corrosive fuzz bass and striking guitar in a fractured musicscape. The piano chimes in as all goes quiet and the threat of more chaos is imminent. There is a lovely keyboard solo here with a quirky rhythm and distorted lead guitar. The melody is transformed into dark textures and the sound becomes aggressive and more intense. The threat of the music is echoed by the threat of the Giant Hogweed on it's spiteful quest for revenge against the human race. The nightmarish imagery taken from a B grade sci fi movie perhaps, is perfect fodder for Gabriel to showcase his theatrical abilities; "Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge. Royal beast did not forget. Soon they escaped, spreading their seed, preparing for an onslaught, threatening the human race." In concert of course he would have a ball dressing up as botanical semi-crustaceous metamorphosed lunatic creature and he reveled in the unreality of his psychotic altered universe. The music mimics the horror tale alarmingly, even to the point of retelling its own story with funeral marches and music hall waltzes, a sound of ridiculed terror. Looming metrical changes make dark clouds cover the landscape with shadowy clouds as we draw to a close this masterful piece of music.

'Seven Stones' has lovely melodic passages with Gabriel taking control over the thickly layered organ and guitars. The music is allowed to breathe as instruments die down and a piccolo sound is heard and Gabriel on flute. His story telling qualities are exemplary on this track; "Tinker, alone within a storm, And losing hope he clears the leaves beneath a tree, Seven stones Lay on the ground." As the song progresses Gabriel tells the strange tale of the "Sailors, in peril on the sea" and "The Captain turns the boat" and the "Farmer, who knows not when to sow" . It is a nursery style again in line with the thematic title. This song truly grows on you with each listen, especially the wordless chorus sections. The way the vocals augment the music is incredible and the instrumental break here is alight with sweeping mellotron creating an uplifting atmosphere that dominates and builds higher into the clouds to meet the sun rays of very emotional string orchestrated sounds. It is a majestic quality that only Genesis can maintain. The mellotron ends this and the final product is one of the most beautiful Genesis classics.

There is still a tongue in cheek thread on songs such as 'Harold The Barrel' which paved the way for such storytelling epics as 'Supper's Ready'. The honky tonk piano will remind one of ELP's 'The Sheriff', equally out of place as this. Gabriel is delightful as he shoves it up the suits of an organised criminal inquest. A "Bognor restaurant-owner disappeared early this morning" and the hunt is on giving Gabriel license to channel all sorts of whimsical characters, such as the Man-in-the-street who suggests "it's disgusting, Such a horrible thing to do, Harold the Barrel cut off his toes and he served them all for tea..." It would be crude if not for the biting satirical delivery. Gabriel is truly sardonic on lines such as "You can't last long, Said you couldn’t trust him, his brother was just the same." Gabriel continues to mock the stereotypes of autocracy and Harold's demise is never determined but we hear from his wife, the man on the spot, man on the council, lord mayor and the ridiculous Harold who states "If I was many miles from here, I'd be sailing in an open boat on the sea, Instead I'm on this window ledge..." Will he jump? We never find out. This is reminiscent of all the Gabriel fuelled parodies on the English idyll, no longer a pastoral pastiche but a worldly attack on how the English behave; even with mocking phrases, "we can help you... you must be joking, take a running jump" , Gabriel sneers. It reminds me of 'Willow Farm' section of 'Supper's Ready' or especially 'Get 'em Out by Friday'.

'Harlequin' is more like the pastoral folky feel of "Trespass", a style that would be shed completely as the band matured thankfully as they were always better heavy and bombastic with Gabriel unleashing his fury and antagonism. Here Gabriel is withdrawn and gentle and harmonious with other voices blending in a dreamy way. The lyrics are sugar sweet and balladic but there is an edge that things are surreal and dreamlike. "harlequin, harlequin, Dancing round three children fill the glade, Theirs was the laughter in the winding stream, and in between. From the flames in the firelight." If this were not so short I would have thought it would feel like a filler or throwaway but it is a nice change in direction. I would not rate it as a highlight but there is nothing wrong with some acoustic picking and harmonies from Genesis occasionally in small doses.

'Fountain of Samalcis' is another outstanding track and begins with a beautiful volume swell of mellotron ominously building like a jet plane swooping past, perhaps like a fountain rising and falling. Gabriel tells the weird surreal story and the track builds with glorious mellotron orchestrated in a symphonic crescendo by Banks. The story is a retelling of the Greek myth about an Hermaphrodite and yet it is captivating to reinvent the age old tale, a musical theatrical powerhouse. Gabriel brings the story to life with his excellent vocal prowess, perfection of intonation and pronounced tone that is stirring and evocative; "As the dawn creeps up the sky, The hunter caught sight of a doe. In desire for conquest, He found himself, within a glade he'd not beheld before... Where are you my father, Then he could go no farther, Give wisdom to your son, Now lost, the boy was guided by the sun". The violining of Hackett's guitar is masterful and he plays some angular riffs in this that are repeated as a hypnotic motif camouflaged by Banks soft key pads. Gabriel chimes in with "as he rushed to quench his thirst... A fountain spring appeared before him And as his heated breath brushed through the cool mist, A liquid voice called Son of gods, drink from my spring" . The bassline is notable of Rutherford. An interlude of soaring guitar ensues, with strong rhythmic shapes from Collins on percussion, a strange brew of bombastic glory. The bassline pulses stronger and some cathedral pipe organ is heard. I love this part and it continues to build to the next verse and the music answers Gabriel in turn. Pipe organ flourishes follow and a staccato organ that sweeps across a layer of frenetic bass and chaotic drumming. It fades for a time and builds with the huge organ swells like sunlight bursting through dark clouds, rays of light across the horizon. There is a grand finale with simmering elegance that shoots rays of light at the end to culminate in an apocalyptic crescendo. Masterpiece track to complete a masterpiece album.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen this is a classic legendary album that raised the bar for 70s prog, and subsequently this led to "Foxtrot" and "Selling England By the Pound" which are even better by comparison. Genesis were at the peak of their powers with this lineup and they were to enjoy some incredibly prolific years in the music scene until the final decision for Gabriel to seek out greener pastures. The grass has never been greener though with the 70s Genesis sound; an indelible trademark style and a lineup that could be termed as lightning in a bottle.

 


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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:42
Originally posted by Slartibartfast Slartibartfast wrote:

It's a really fun thread just to scroll through really fast thanks to the images.  Big smile  Well done so far, but don't slip up.  Tongue
very encouraging thank you so much!

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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:44
Originally posted by Logan Logan wrote:

You've put a lot of work into this.  Excellent job, and this should prove a useful resource!  I'm really fascinated by the early years of progressive psych/rock, the foundations of prog, and related scenes/ styles of the time.
Thanks very much. StarYou are all inspiring me to keep going with this! It takes hours just to post one section! But I have wanted to create a webpage for ages but htis is going to be it! Hope you all enjoy the results. i will be working on this more and more, editing and improving the sections.Smile

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Posted By: DamoXt7942
Date Posted: May 14 2010 at 23:55
The dawn of progressive rock scene is very excellent, I always feel.

Great work, bravo! Clap


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http://www.facebook.com/damoxt7942" rel="nofollow">


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 15 2010 at 00:53
Originally posted by DamoXt7942 DamoXt7942 wrote:

The dawn of progressive rock scene is very excellent, I always feel.

Great work, bravo! Clap
i apreciate that and looking at this is really an eye opener isn't it to see how important certain albums are.

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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 15 2010 at 01:12

Part 6:Prog Poll through the years 1972

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1972.

An amazing selection with new bands absolutely dominating the prog scene and legends releasing masterpieces never bettered. This was ridiculously hard to come up with only 15 but here they are:

 

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

 
Neu! – Neu!
 
 
Waterloo Lily – Caravan
 
 
Thick As A Brick – Jethro Tull
 
 
Space Shanty - Khan
 
 
666: Apocalypse of St John – Aphrodite’s Child
 
 
Darwin! – Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
 
 
Three Friends - Gentle Giant
 
 
A Tab In The Ocean – Nektar
 
 
Close To The Edge – Yes
 
 
Foxtrot – Genesis
 
 
Per Un Amico – Premiata Forneri Marconi
 
 
Uomo Di Pezza – Le Orme
 
 
Lady Lake - Gnidrolog
 
 
Argus – Wishbone Ash

 

Poll Choice

Votes

Poll Statistics

Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso – Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

2

[1.67%]

Neu! - Neu!

1

[0.83%]

Waterloo Lily – Caravan

0

[0.00%]

Thick As A Brick – Jethro Tull

20

[16.67%]

Space Shanty - Khan

3

[2.50%]

666: Apocalypse of St John – Aphrodite’s Child

3

[2.50%]

Darwin! – Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso

3

[2.50%]

Three Friends - Gentle Giant

2

[1.67%]

A Tab In The Ocean – Nektar

4

[3.33%]

Close To The Edge – Yes

47

[39.17%]

Foxtrot – Genesis

23

[19.17%]

Per Un Amico – Premiata Forneri Marconi

1

[0.83%]

Uomo Di Pezza – Le Orme

2

[1.67%]

Lady Lake – Gnidrolog

1

[0.83%]

Argus - Wishbone Ash

1

 

 

I had to remove Others option as I made an error. However there were a few suggestions:

The Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn

 
Agitation Free’s Malesch
 
 

Herbie Hancock's Crossings

 
 Jean-Claude Vannier's L'enfant assassin des mouches
 
 
William Sheller's Lux Aeterna
 
 

Uriah Heep’s Demons & Wizards

 

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

The WINNER IS by a huge margin:

Close To The Edge – Yes

 

 

 My Review:

***** 'Close to the Edge' is one of the greatest albums of all time.

It features the showpiece title track that spans the entire vinyl length of side one, a masterstroke in its day that was repeated by many prog artists and continues to be used to this day, notably Mars Volta, Dream Theater, and Spock's Beard. 'Close to the Edge' centers on the them of getting as close as possible to enlightenment toward a cosmic consciousness and suggests in order to achieve this we must break free of the cycle of the social system that causes turmoil. This theme is based on Hesses' 'Siddhartha', a favourite of Jon Anderson's. The journey from materialism to spiritualism is captured by the use of sparse orchestral arrangements, featuring primarily Wakeman's organ phrases and the spacey guitar of Steve Howe. These minimalist feminine sections are augmented by the masculine rock sections balancing out the quieter moments. The multi-movement suite shifts metrical patterns throughout and climaxes with the huge wall of sound that is essential Yes. There is a wonderful blend of pipe organ and Moog synthesiser building to a crescendo. The sonata form structure is powerfully realised, utilising an opening theme, transition, a second theme, and a final closure. Mozart put to rock. The track is captured perfectly on live performance from 'Yessongs' and 'Symphonic'. Both pieces are masterfully executed.

'And You and I' is my favourite Yes track, after 'Starship Trooper', and it balances out the epic and the last track perfectly. It begins with the beautiful acoustic vibrations of Howe, a real beauty that meanders like a flowing stream. Then we are thrown over the waterfall as the majestic wall of keyboards bursts through like sun bursting through dark clouds. The vocals are simply awesome throughout. The next section allows the mini epic to breathe and changes a new direction that keeps the metronome working overtime with changes in time signatures. Then the last movement is the apocalypse which is a soundwave of multi-layered textures and nuances. This is absolutely incredible music and the live experience captured on 'Tsongas' DVD sends chills down my spine everytime as the gold lights hit the audience and they stand in ovation as Anderson raises his arms like some demi god.

The final track is also excellent; the hard rocking 'Siberian Khatru' that features excellent guitar riffs and that pounding Wakeman motif with chaotic punctuation.

3 tracks of utter brilliance, this is an album that stands the test of time.

 



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Posted By: cstack3
Date Posted: May 15 2010 at 01:38
Thanks for the hard work, it was great to read the results and scan all the LP covers!  Wonderful stuff!    However, I don't think I saw "Larks Tongues In Aspic" listed! 


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 15 2010 at 02:18
Part 7: Prog Poll through the years 1973

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1973. Bear in mind of course I can’t place every album but these are the ones that seem to find their way into best of lists and are discussed by progheads.

A very strong selection of prog was released and kept the prog genre very much alive and kicking. Drove me crazy trying to get this list down to 15 but this is a good selection. I am stunned that this many masterpeices were released in one year, my favourite year for classic prog:

 
Dark Side Of The Moon – Pink Floyd
 
Photos Of Ghosts - Premiata Forneria Marconi
 
 
Larks' Tongues In Aspic – King Crimson
 
 
Flying Teapot – Gong
 
 
Space Ritual – Hawkwind
 
 
Felona & Sorona – Le Orme
 
 
Birds Of Fire – Mahavishnu Orchestra
 
 
For Girls Who Grow Plump In The Night – Caravan
 
 
Selling England By The Pound – Genesis
 
 
Remember The Future – Nektar
 
 
Angel's Egg – Gong
 
 
Brain Salad Surgery – Emerson Lake & Palmer
 
 
Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh – Magma
 
 
Io Sono Nato Libero– Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso
 
 
Arbeit Macht Frei - Area

 

 
The results:
 
 
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
39 [31.45%]
0 [0.00%]
12 [9.68%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [0.81%]
2 [1.61%]
1 [0.81%]
0 [0.00%]
40 [32.26%]
3 [2.42%]
5 [4.03%]
8 [6.45%]
2 [1.61%]
2 [1.61%]
1 [0.81%]
8 [6.45%]
 
There were a number of others chosen, with passion might I add, including:
 

The Six Wives of Henry the VIII – Rick Wakeman

 

 

Illusions on a Double Dimple - Triumvirat

 

Herbie Hancock - Sextant

 

Billy Cobham - Spectrum

Billy Cobham Spectrum album cover

A Passion Play – Jethro Tull

 

Voice -  Capability Brown

 

 

Tales From Topographic Oceans - Yes

 

 

In a Glass House - Gentle Giant

 
 
 
This actually went down to the wire and I had to open the polls for 30 extra minutes just to find a winner. It was between:
 
album cover
 
and
 
album cover
 
 
Two deserving winners! But at the last minute of the poll a vote came in:
 
 

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

 

GENESIS


My Review.

 
***** A perfect balance of elements; lyrical sketches, virtuosic instrumentation and theatrical vocals.

Review #966. On "Selling England By The Pound" Genesis prove themselves to be creative visionaries. The entire musical arrangement is tighter and structured with instrumental breaks that are virtuoso on their own merits. There seems to be a stronger cohesion and unification of melodic musical ideas, with each member having a chance to shine as never before. Banks in particular flourishes on classical piano pieces and lengthy synthesizer breaks. There are no lengthy epics but there are long songs clocking around 10 minutes, such as "The Cinema Show", "The Battle of Epping Forest" and "Firth of Fifth" that have become classic Genesis tracks, highly memorable due to lengthy instrumental passages, odd time signatures, key changes and mood shifts along with quirky thematic content.

The magical and most loved lineup of Genesis is here: Peter Gabriel, a tour de force on lead vocals, flute, oboe; Phil Collins, magnificent on drums, percussion, and vocals (he takes the lead vocals on "More Fool Me" signifying his eventual ability to be the Genesis front man on Gabriel's departure); Steve Hackett, a master of lead guitar, acoustics, vocals and electric coral sitar (on "I Know What I like"); Mike Rutherford, extraordinary on bass guitar, bass pedals, rhythm guitar, and cello (on "Dancing With The Moonlight Knight"); and the incomparable Tony Banks, on vocals, piano, keyboards, and acoustic guitar (on "The Cinema Show"). Together they are perhaps the definitive Genesis, never to be surpassed for sheer musical excellence and creativity. Every track is fresh, ferociously original and first class.

The lyrics of "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight" typify the high strangeness of the album; "Off we go with, You play the hobbyhorse, I'll play the fool, We'll tease the bull, ringing round & loud, loud & round, Follow on, With a twist of the world we go." It features extreme time sig changes and theatrical vocals; Genesis takes the storytelling qualities of previous albums and gives it a vibrant injection of polished instrumental prowess.

The single from the album came in the unlikely form of a song about a lawnmower. That's right the mundane act of mowing a lawn became part of the staple radio diet, "I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)". The drone of the lawnmower makes an appearance at the end of the track and it is very effective in making a statement that lawnmowing is part of the English past time, maintaining a healthy lawn is the key. The lyrics are pure whimsy; "When the sun beats down and I lie on the bench, I can always hear them talk, Me, I'm just a lawnmower, you can tell me by the way I walk." The theme is therefore that the inanimate object of the mower is speaking about it's existence, it's life on a farm and it's life in a suburban backyard; "Keep them mowing blades sharp." The track ends on Gabriel's fluttering flute solo and an odd jazz rock beat, but radio stations adored playing this as it was such a curiosity.

"Cinema Show" features a bombastic refrain and some incredible passages of synth and jazz drumming. It has a catchy melody that grabs hold and creates an ethereal atmosphere. Rutherford and Hackett's acoustic guitars begin the piece and the natural progression to fully loaded synthesizer dominates. It has become one of the Genesis masterpieces that are quintessential to the group's long career. Gabriel's infatuation over T. S. Eliot is apparent in the lyrics; "I will make my bed, She said, but turned to go, Can she be late for her cinema show? Romeo locks his basement flat, And scurries up the stair." The Shakespeare references are a nice touch and give the track a mediaeval historical relevance. In the reunion tour the song made an appearance to an enraptured crowd, as did many other songs from the album such as "Firth of Fifth".

In the virtuosic "Firth of Fifth", the piano intro signifies England's greener fields, a similar feel to Emerson Lake & Palmer's "The Gates of Kiev" from "Pictures of an Exhibition". The tempo is a strong rhythm full of grandeur and majestic Hammond; a religious cathedral like atmosphere ensues. Gabriel is at his theatrical best; "Urge the sailors on, till lured by the sirens' cry", and the medieval theme of beautiful sirens luring sailors is mimicked with alluring music. The interlude of synth and guitar embellishments with augmented keys are very emotive. There are tranquil melodies in one of the most celebrated passages of music generated from Genesis. The melody is played live on the DVD "Genesis in Rome" without lyrics and is as powerful and majestic as ever. "Now as the river dissolves in sea, So Neptune has claimed another soul. And so with gods and men" the lyrics continue, presenting a typical mythological theme. The melancholy piano is accompanied by an up tempo synth with a sombre guitar and these tend to blend together to build a solid block of sound. It is a mesmirising track and certainly a definitive Genesis classic.

The epitome of the progressive side of the band is captured in the way the tracks vary so diversely from track to track. There is even a Collins ballad, his first lead vocal for the group, in the song "More Fool Me". Perhaps this prophesises the impact of Collins upon the group in the 1980s and indeed his solo career that was replete with power ballads.

"The Battle Of Epping Forest" is an 11 minute 43 seconds romp through the tale of two rival gangs and the violence of the slaughter is sent up rather than taken seriously. Yet the darkness of the battle royale is embedded in the lyrics; "In with a left hook is the bethnal green butcher, But he's countered on the right by Mick's chain-gang fight, And liquid len, with his smashed bottle men, Is lobbing Bob the Nob across the gob. With his kisser in a mess, Bob seems under stress, But Jones the Jug hits Len right in the mug, And Harold Demure, who's still not quite sure, Fires acorns from out of his sling, here come the cavalry!" It is all over done with a lot of theatrical Gabrielisms but it works as a memorable lyrical sketch of fired up nonsense.

"After The Ordeal" and "Aisle of Plenty" are less memorable but still pack a wallop as part of the overall soundscape. The album ends with the reprise of musical motifs that began the album, a kind of cycle of musical ideas, returning to the past.

Overall "Selling England By The Pound" stands the test of time as a bonafide Genesis masterpeice, undoubtedly among the best the band would create. It is hailed as a treasure among the prog community today, specifically for the three showpieces "Dancing With The Moonlight Knight", "Firth of Fifth" and "The Cinema Show". The single released in 1974 certainly didn't do any harm either as it peaked at #21 in the UK, spending 7 weeks in the charts. The album is quite simply a masterpiece with Genesis at the peak of their powers before they crash landed in the 80s. The album is one of my favourite prog albums due to the consistency of quality and I will always revere "Firth of Fifth" especially due to that amazing instrumental break where Banks takes off into full flight on keyboards. The album is an example of how music can sound when all the elements are balanced perfectly; when everything was working right, Genesis were untouchable.

 

Here is the runner up:

 

 

 

 

My Review:

*****   "A short sharp shock" to prog rock. Review #763 - 1097 words

Inspired by the mental collapse of Syd Barrett and often cited as the greatest album of all time, DSOTM is a bonafide masterpiece that has been more influential to prog than perhaps any other album of the 70s. The music is a soundscape of soaring mellotron, awesome lead guitar and pulsating bass and percussion. It's the ultimate prog album and has managed to transcend music itself with its heavy concept of time, money, death, renewal, and descent into madness.

"Speak To Me" begins with the heartbeat and vulgar phrase of madness and it builds to a crescendo of a screaming lunatic that finally releases into a wash of sliding keyboards and clean guitar strums. All this in the space if a couple of minutes. We hear the clock ticking as if life is slowly ebbing away, or it may be the mind becoming bereft of sanity, lapsing to madness. Bleak concepts, but the album has an optimistic, uplifting ambience throughout.

"Breathe" is a gem that packs beauty and life into the soundstream. The lyrics focus on the pointless frustration of pursuing goals but then missing out on appreciating abundant life to the full.

"On the Run" is the techno-machination sound of industry and manic laughter, signifying the lunatic brainwashed by social systems. Does industrial society mechanize us, change us into machines, or are we in control? We are on the run due to a paranoia of technology. The fear of flying is also a theme, encapsulated live with the doomed airplane as it explodes into a ball of flame in to the speaker stacks; this is a running theme in much of later PF works (notable "Learning to Fly").

"Time" is one of my favourite tracks with an excellent melody and amazing instrumental work. The clock chimes signify the alarm call where madness waits at the door, but time is wasted and we have achieved nothing. The reprise to "Breathe" is welcome and brings us back to where the album began preparing us for the masterpiece and most talked about track on the album.

"The Great Gig in the Sky" is an astral journey to the realm of death. Clare Torrys' wailing is like the moans of childbirth or in this case rebirth as we cross over to the plain of non existence into the next life, which feels like heaven mid way through the track as Torry evokes softer nuances, with angelic tones that sends shivers up the spine. Her howls and moans expressed in full voice signify the ecstasy of freedom and the agony of death. In concert three ladies took up the task of the three segments to showcase their incredible talented voices, but on the album Torry masterfully improvises the life and death pangs in such an emotive style, it is astounding. Thus ends the brilliant side one. Could it get better? Indeed. "Money" begins side two with the ka-ching of cold hard cash, the root of all evil. This is my favourite track with one of the best bass lines in rock history, and played in a 7/8 time signature. The riff is disconcerting, complex and Gilmour's jangly guitar splashes complement the bass perfectly. The lyrics speak of money as the corruptible force that causes the filthy rich to blow millions on cars, leer jets, football teams and diamonds. The lyrics are ironic with a dark, satirical nature, but the effects of money and its misuse have never been more eloquently stated. The lyrics were read out by the school Master to tease the little boy on "The Wall" movie. Of course these lyrics and the song provided millions for the band. The money corrupted Pink Floyd too, their beliefs and values, the very thing the song was protesting. The saxophone solo is utterly brilliant and the way the song changes time signature is inspirational.

The pace slows considerably on "Us and Them" a song about belonging in a world that treats you as an outcast unless you can fit into the mould that society creates. The track relies heavily on clean guitar and mellotron and seems to float along like a stream of sound. The song's lyrics speak of those who are on the street because they cannot cope with the world, and those who are able to cope and therefore off the streets and safe in the cookie cutter mould of social integration. The song has political connotations seen in the live footage played in concert with images of famous presidents such as Thatcher and Bush.

"Any Colour You Like" has some wonderful shimmering Hammond and is a beautiful instrumental - one of PF's best. The track was named based on Ford advertising campaign 'Ford's are available in any colour you like, as long as it's black.' The album's black cover with colour prism strips could be a reference.

"Brain Damage" is about Syd, the PF relic that burned out to madness. The lyrics suggest the lunatic is within us but we manage to keep it locked up somehow, but it's like an animal that may escape its cage if we don't manage to keep a leash on our sanity.

The finale is "Eclipse" . The music soars as Waters muses about 'all that we touch', see and feel is eclipsed by the moon. The image of the dead moon, the dead conscious, is blocked out by the huge sun, the life force; the intelligence eclipsed by insanity. But there is an optimistic note amidst the dark side; everyone shares the feelings of hope amidst despair, and we can conquer over our hopelessness by embracing each other: 'There is no dark side of the moon, a matter of fact, it's all dark'. And the heartbeat that we heard at the beginning pounds and finally subsides. The heartbeat brings the album full circle and we can begin the album again and it blends seamlessly like a never ending cycle. And thus ends the penultimate prog classic that may well be the greatest album of all time. It peeked in the top 100 UK releases, the top 40 prog list in MOJO magazine and indeed on a recent television special the top Australian album of all time.

The album can be played while watching 'Wizard of Oz' and somehow works perfectly synchronized to the visuals in uncanny fashion. For more on this see the websites Darkside of Wizard of Oz. In any case, the album is the penultimate prog classic and will never be bettered for sheer volume and impact upon the prog scene. 5 stars without doubt.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 15 2010 at 02:20
Originally posted by cstack3 cstack3 wrote:

Thanks for the hard work, it was great to read the results and scan all the LP covers!  Wonderful stuff!    However, I don't think I saw "Larks Tongues In Aspic" listed! 
 
Thats OK, thanks for that. Larks Tongues is in the 1973 poll!Wink
 
 


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.  



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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

 

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=3160" rel="nofollow - – 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!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 15 2010 at 10:34

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



Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.

 
 


-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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".

    



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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.

 



-------------


Posted By: Pete A.
Date Posted: May 21 2010 at 09:47
Really enjoyed reading/looking at this. THANKS for all the hard work.

-------------
Petey


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=2482" rel="nofollow - - 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.

 

 



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=3162" rel="nofollow -  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.



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=3312" rel="nofollow - - 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:

The rest of the best:

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/art_zoyd" rel="nofollow - - Art Zoyd - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/art_zoyd/symphonie_pour_le_jour_ou_bruleront_les_cites_f2/" rel="nofollow - - Symphonie pour le jour où brûleront les cités

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/the_residents" rel="nofollow - - The Residents - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/the_residents/mark_of_the_mole/" rel="nofollow - - Mark of the Mole

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/video_liszt" rel="nofollow - - Video Liszt - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/video_liszt/ektakrom_killer/" rel="nofollow - - Ektakröm Killer  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/kultivator" rel="nofollow - - Kultivator - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/kultivator/barndomens_stigar/" rel="nofollow - - Barndomens Stigar

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/nya_ljudbolaget" rel="nofollow - - Nya Ljudbolaget - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/nya_ljudbolaget/nya_ljudbolaget/" rel="nofollow - - Nya Ljudbolaget

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/wha_ha_ha" rel="nofollow - - Wha Ha Ha - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/wha_ha_ha/shinutokiwa_betsu/" rel="nofollow - - Shinutokiwa Betsu
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/eskaton" rel="nofollow - - Eskaton - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/eskaton/4_visions/" rel="nofollow - - 4 Visions

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/art_bears" rel="nofollow - - Art Bears - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/art_bears/the_world_as_it_is_today/" rel="nofollow - - The World as It Is Today

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/eider_stellaire" rel="nofollow - - Eider Stellaire - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/eider_stellaire/eider_stellaire/" rel="nofollow - - Eider Stellaire  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/combo_fh" rel="nofollow - - Combo FH - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/combo_fh/veci__things_/" rel="nofollow - - Věci (Things)
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/alain_eckert_quartet" rel="nofollow - - Alain Eckert Quartet - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/alain_eckert_quartet/alain_eckert_quartet/" rel="nofollow - - Alain Eckert Quartet (from Art Zoyd)

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/nekropolis" rel="nofollow - - Nekropolis - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/nekropolis/musik_aus_dem_schattenreich/" rel="nofollow - - Musik aus dem Schattenreich  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/patrick_gauthier" rel="nofollow - - Patrick Gauthier - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/patrick_gauthier/bebe_godzilla/" rel="nofollow - - Bébé Godzilla  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/this_heat" rel="nofollow - - This Heat - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/this_heat/deceit/" rel="nofollow - - Deceit  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/fabio_frizzi" rel="nofollow - - Fabio Frizzi - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/fabio_frizzi/the_beyond/" rel="nofollow - - The Beyond  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/art_fleury" rel="nofollow - - Art Fleury - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/art_fleury/the_last_album/" rel="nofollow - - The Last Album
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/a_la_ping_pong" rel="nofollow - - A la Ping Pong - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/a_la_ping_pong/phase_ii___go_go_pongs/" rel="nofollow - - Phase II - Go Go Pongs
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/peter_hammill" rel="nofollow - - Peter Hammill - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/peter_hammill/sitting_targets/" rel="nofollow - - Sitting Targets
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/electric_light_orchestra" rel="nofollow - - Electric Light Orchestra - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/electric_light_orchestra/time/" rel="nofollow - - Time  

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/codona" rel="nofollow - - Codona - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/codona/codona_2/" rel="nofollow - - Codona 2
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/myrbein" rel="nofollow - - Myrbein - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/myrbein/myrornas_krig/" rel="nofollow - - Myrornas Krig  

 

 

 

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

 



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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.      

 

 



-------------


Posted By: Anguiad
Date 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."


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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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Posted By: Tarquin Underspoon
Date 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!!!"

-The Great Gig in the Sky


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=3956" rel="nofollow - - The Text of Festival - Hawkwind Live 1970-1972 Hawkwind

 

 

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

 

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/art_zoyd" rel="nofollow - - Art Zoyd - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/art_zoyd/les_espaces_inquiets/" rel="nofollow - - Les espaces inquiets

 

http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/the_residents_and_renaldo_and_the_loaf" rel="nofollow - - The Residents & Renaldo & The Loaf - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/the_residents_and_renaldo_and_the_loaf/title_in_limbo/" rel="nofollow - Title in Limbo


http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/after_dinner" rel="nofollow - After Dinner - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/ep/after_dinner/glass_tube/" rel="nofollow - - Glass Tube  (but this is 1984)
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/eskaton" rel="nofollow">
 
 
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/eskaton" rel="nofollow - - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/eskaton/fiction/" rel="nofollow - - Fiction
 
http://rateyourmusic.com/artist/cos" rel="nofollow - - Cos - http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/cos/pasiones/" rel="nofollow - - Pasiones
 
 
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. 

 



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.

  



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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.

 



-------------


Posted By: refugee
Date 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.

-------------
He say nothing is quite what it seems;
I say nothing is nothing
(Peter Hammill)


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date 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

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=9763" rel="nofollow - 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.

 

 



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 07:56
Originally posted by refugee refugee wrote:

Scott, did you notice that the 83-poll had exactly 100 votes? Thus 17 votes equaled 17% etc.
Wow, that is a freaky coincidence
 
I wonder can you count some others and I will post these on the blogs too. I am no good at Maths LOL


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 08:35

 

Part 21: Prog Poll through the years 1987

Top 10 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1987.

A more mainstream sound creeping into prog but these 10 albums still delivered in an ordinary year for prog.

 

Clutching At Straws – Marillion

 

Killing Technology – Voivod

 

Within The Realm of a Dying Sun – Dead Can Dance

 

Hall Of The Mountain King – Savotage

 

Hold Your Fire – Rush

 

Crest of a Knave – Jethro Tull

 

A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Pink Floyd

 

Gaudi – Alan Parsons Band

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=6307" rel="nofollow - - Bi Kyo Ran Live I: Fairy Tales – Bi Kyo Ran

 

Joe’s Garage Acts I, II and III – Frank Zappa

 

 

The results:

21 [25.30%]
1 [1.20%]
3 [3.61%]
3 [3.61%]
7 [8.43%]
7 [8.43%]
21 [25.30%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [1.20%]
11 [13.25%]
8 [9.64%]
 

The others:

Tyger - Tangerine Dream

 

Sand – Allan Holdsworth

 

Big Generator – Yes

 

Berlin – Art Zoyd

 

The Perfect Prescription – Spacemen 3

 

Killing Time - Skip

 

 

 

The poll locked up as you can see for a while:

Clutching At Straws – Marillion

19

[25.68%]

Killing Technology – Voivod

1

[1.35%]

Within The Realm of a Dying Sun – Dead Can Dance

2

[2.70%]

Hall Of The Mountain King – Savotage

3

[4.05%]

Hold Your Fire – Rush

6

[8.11%]

Crest of a Knave – Jethro Tull

6

[8.11%]

A Momentary Lapse of Reason – Pink Floyd

19

[25.68%]

 

Marillion and Pink Floyd were battling it out. I would have rather Pink Floyd of the two.

However, this was the second draw and I love both albums so no harm done.

 

AND THE WINNERS ARE...

 

 

 

FOR THE SECOND TIME, WE HAVE A DRAW!
 
 
My Reviews:

A Momentary Lapse of Reason - Pink Floyd

*** 'Momentary Lapse of Reason' is a transitional album as Pink Floyd begins a new chapter.

With Waters out after his egomaniacal 'Final Cut' abomination, which was generally Water's solo album with the stuff that didn't deserve to be on "The Wall", the next album is a real breath of fresh air. Yes, the band were becoming a lot more commercial or radio friendly and why not with the incredible success of the single 'Another Brick in the Wall Part 2'. The single was both a blessing and a curse as the band were never into radio chart success, nor was it their desire, so when success came it came swiftly and mercilessly knocked some of the wind out of the prog sails. The progressive music was taking a back seat to usher in a more AOR style and it is most notable on this release. There was no concept this time rather a bunch of songs that range from excellent to mediocre. This was a change for the better in some ways as at least the band were still capable of excellent compositions despite the massive heave ho of Waters. It begins with 'Signs of life', a slow meandering piece that reminds me somewhat of the intro to 'Shine On'. It builds slowly but is rather forgettable in comparison to other songs on the album.

'Learning to fly' is a brilliant track, my favourite on the album. It works well live also and is atmospheric with lyrics that perfectly capture the exhilaration and dangers of flight. 'The dogs of war' is a 6 minute tribute to the theme of war that the band return to on almost every album. It is certainly a powerful song that reminds me of Gary Numan's 'Call Out the Dogs' everytime. Pink Floyd have mentioned Dogs as war symbols for some time especially on "Animals" but this is their best.

'One slip' is a more poppy song demonstrating the new direction of the band and I only like it due to Gilmour's accomplished vocals but it is definitely a radio friendly sound bound to alienate old Floydians. 'On the turning away' is a slow melancholy piece that grew on me due to constant exposure on live DVDs.

'Yet another movie' is quite forgettable as are the next songs 'Round and round' and 'A new machine Part one' that are thankfully less than 2 minutes in length. 'Terminal frost is a more progressive song thanks to the structure and experimental feel. I love the stark foreboding intro and then the instrumental takes over. It is a wonderful guitar solo with soaring saxophone over a pleasant piano melody.

'A new machine Part two' is a short 38 second interlude to 'Sorrow' clocking 8:46. It boasts one of the all time great guitar intros that always is a showstopper in the live arena. The song is definitely a highlight on this album. In conclusion "Momentary Lapse of Reason" is not half as bad as some Floydians would have you believe. Granted, this is no masterpiece and comes sandwiched in between some amazing Floyd material, namely "The Wall" and "Division Bell", however it is a pleasant well performed journey with some moments of grandeur. It is innovative in places and perhaps more than anything typified the sound of the times, remembering that 1987 was a difficult year for prog bands. Many were wiped out due to the new wave influences so it is admirable that Pink Floyd were somehow able to blend in without selling out completely.

 


 

**** Neo-prog progenitors Marillion's followup to the “Misplaced Childhood” masterpiece certainly does not disappoint and features some of the tracks that permeated their live concerts. Fish was a commanding theatrical presence during this early era  and knew how to move an audience through an emotional experience using just the right dramatic intonation and costumes to evoke a response. He was a master vocalist similar to Peter Gabriel in the early Genesis phase.

Musically the band are legendary implementing into the songs intricate structures, the pleasant synths of Mark Kelly, strong melodies held together by the drums of Ian Mosley and the basslines of Pete Trewavas, and of course the powerful lead breaks of Steve Rothery. 

Of course the drawcard is the vocals of Fish; a key element to the brilliance of the early incarnation of the band. The band were the dominant force of the prog 80s. If it were not for bands like Marillion or Rush, prog would have suffered during the difficult 80s period.

 
Fish story telling vocals are prominent such as on ‘Hotel hobbies’, ‘Warm wet circles’ and ‘That time of the night (The short straw)’. The reverberated guitars and synths generate an ambience as Fish softly croons.

These first 3 tracks flow together seamlessly. Then the first power ballad comes with ‘Going under’. The vocals are exquisite, “I’m going under fast, slipping fast, am I so crazy”, and very spacey symphonic textures draw the listener in.

‘Just for the record’ has a faster tempo and heavier guitars and drums. The 80s synths are everpresent but this also has some heavy distorted guitar. The synth solo is terrific and it has a striking melody. A howling wind begins ‘White Russian’. Fish sings “where do we go from here” until a driving riff motors along and the next verses are sung more forcefully with images of terror, war, poppies on the cenotaph, the holocaust and uzzies on the street corner. Fish sings with insightful conviction “replace our faith in human rights” in this anti-war song that is a highlight on the album. It finishes with a musical box song, a nice touch.

 
‘Incommunicado’ is one of the fan favourites sung many times live, and it features a prevailing hook, and fast beat with progressive time sig changes. This one is a blockbuster, loud and brash, it breaks through the serenity with some stunning organ runs and Fish at his most roguish, singing aggressively and abrasively.


A quiet guitar begins ‘Torch song’ and Fish is temperate in mood, “burn a little brighter now”. There are some narrative sections over a chiming synth and guitar. It segues directly into the melodic ‘Slàinte Mhath’.Fish is excellent on this, “this is the story so far”, and the guitars of Rothery are hypnotic. The music on this album is truly infectious.  

‘Sugar mice’ is a Marillion classic with very serene passages in the verses and a commercial sound suitable or radio. In fact it was a single for the band. The lyrics are quite iconic, “I heard Sinatra calling me down through the floors”. The power ballads of the 80s are an 80s fixture and this is Marillion’s version. It builds in the mid section with loud lead guitar break, effective bassline and 4/4 percussion. The straight forward feel is welcome after the more intricate songs. The wonderful melody is soaring and easy to soak in to the system.  

‘The last straw’ closes the album and features Fish performing a duet with the powerhouse vocals of Tessa Niles. It closes the album with a soulful approach and the repeated phrase “we’re clutching at straws” is echoed by Niles’ “still drowning”. Thus ends a very effective album with consistent quality and some of Marillion’s best material. 1987was admittedly a weak year for prog but “Clutching at Straws” was one of the saviours as far as prog was concerned.  



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Posted By: octopus-4
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 10:49
Genesis? That's Freudian Big smile 

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Curiosity killed a cat, Schroedinger only half.
My poor home recorded stuff at https://yellingxoanon.bandcamp.com


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 11:02
Originally posted by octopus-4 octopus-4 wrote:

Genesis? That's Freudian Big smile 
Well spotted! Fixed - thanksEmbarrassed

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Posted By: Rune2000
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 14:03
Why was the 1977 poll added to the 1978 post?

It's an excellent Blog nonetheless! Clap


Posted By: Logan
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 14:22
Ugh, if people think that Marillion and Pink Floyd made the best albums of 1987, they're really clutching at straws.  I'd like to blame it on a momentary lapse of reason. ;)

(think I already made that joke in the thread -- oh well).

Ich bin ein Berliner.


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The first step on the road to wisdom is the recognition of your own cherry pie.


Posted By: octopus-4
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 14:35
It's not that Clutching at Straws and Mometary Leapse of Reason are incredibly good. It's 1987 that was incredibly poor. However I like them both.

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Curiosity killed a cat, Schroedinger only half.
My poor home recorded stuff at https://yellingxoanon.bandcamp.com


Posted By: Logan
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 18:06
It's not a strong year according to my collection, even for this avant-prog lover (for my tastes, avant-prog is the strongest category throughout the 80's); however, I do like Art Zoyd's Berlin very much (which was my "other" choice).  Art Zoyd's under-recognised at PA, I feel, but that's according to my taste.
 
../album.asp?id=4708">
4.19 | 9 ratings
../album.asp?id=4708 - Berlin
1987

I also like Eider Stellaire's III (Zeuhl) a fair amount and some others.


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The first step on the road to wisdom is the recognition of your own cherry pie.


Posted By: SaltyJon
Date Posted: May 26 2010 at 19:13
Art Zoyd would be appreciated a bit more if their albums weren't so expensive. Dead

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http://www.last.fm/user/Salty_Jon" rel="nofollow">


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 27 2010 at 01:20
Originally posted by Rune2000 Rune2000 wrote:

Why was the 1977 poll added the 1978 post?

It's an excellent Blog nonetheless! Clap
I can't understand this? Did i add 1977 albums to 1978 poll? I checked that on the PA and it seemed right.
 
Explain and i can fix
 
 
EDIT: OK I found the error! I posted wrong poll in 1978 - Embarrassed
 
ThanksStar


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 27 2010 at 03:35

Part 22: Prog Poll through the years 1988

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1988.

This year saw some of the best prog albums ever and this list is the cream of the crop.

 

Operation Mindcrime – Queensryche

 

Dimension Hatross – Voivod

 

Spirit of Eden – Talk Talk

 

A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window – Cardiacs

 

Transcendence – Crimson Glory

 

No Exit – Fates Warning

Fates Warning No Exit  album cover

The Serpent’s Egg – Dead Can Dance

 

L’ultimo Viaggio – Nuovo Era

 

Once Around The World – It Bites

 

Catharsis – Visible Wind

 

The Xenon Codex – Hawkwind

 

Life Cycle – Sieges Even

 Sieges Even - Lifecycle CD (album) cover

You can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Vol 2 – Frank Zappa

 

The Thieving Magpie La Gazza Ladra - Marillion

 

And Justice For All – Metallica

 

The results:

 

29 [40.85%]
3 [4.23%]
5 [7.04%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [1.41%]
0 [0.00%]
4 [5.63%]
1 [1.41%]
4 [5.63%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [2.82%]
0 [0.00%]
5 [7.04%]
0 [0.00%]
8 [11.27%]
9 [12.68%]

The others:

 

Kiss My Axe - Al Di Meola

 

Kevin Ayers - Falling Up

 

 

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son – Iron Maiden

 

Sliding Gliding Worlds - Ozric Tentacles

 

 

An alternative list was posted:

Eno, Brian-Et. Al.    Music for Films III
Frith, Fred    Top of His Head, The
Isham, Mark    Grand Parade, The
Jethro Tull    20 Years of J.T.: Flawed Gems and the Other Sides of Tull
Jethro Tull    20 Years of J.T.: The Essential Tull
Jethro Tull    20 Years of J.T.: The Radio Archives and Rare Tracks
Kaiser, Henry    Those Who Know History Are Doomed To Repeat It
Pere Ubu    Cloudland
Reich, Steve w/ Kronos Quartet & Pat Metheny    Different Trains & Electric Counterpoint
Rypday, Terje    Singles Collection, The
Tangerine Dream    Optical Race
Tibbetts, Steve    Big Map Idea
Vangelis    Direct
Zappa, Frank    Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life, The
Zappa, Frank    Broadway the Hardway     

 

 

Queensryche are OUTRIGHT WINNERS! - not much competition though of course, but it is nice to see this album getting the recognition it deserves. This was perhaps the biggest slaughter yet. 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

My Review:

 

***** This is a bonafide masterpiece.

I first heard Queensryche on Progarchives and methodically and systematically collected all their albums after this introduction. Nothing else QR have done can touch this absolutely brilliant concept album. The concert experience on DVD is even better as you can really understand the concept as you watch the visual animation. Geof Tate's vocals are amazing, he has to be one of the most powerful, accomplished vocalists on the planet. Every track on this album is part of the whole but it is possible to enjoy them individually. Here's some quick thoughts on my favourites:

I Remember Now, Anarchy-X and Revolution Calling - what a way to begin an album, with a nurse visiting a patient with vindictive attitude. The guitars crash out of the speakers until we get to the melodic, metal 'Revolution Calling'. It has such a catchy chorus it is impossible to forget. Operation: Mindcrime - simply a great song that sums up the main themes of the album. Speak - my favourite track, once heard, never forgotten, and Tate is brilliant on this, he performs so well in concert too as if he is the victim and is reliving the storyline. Spreading The Disease - another very good track with high powered vocals and great lead breaks. A concert favourite I noticed too. Suite Sister Mary - I love the way it changes time signature and the female vocals are very well executed, in particular the performance on stage is a sight to behold. The Needle Lies - a classic track that is once again a popular concert track. Breaking The Silence - has a Def Leppard feel, as its radio friendly, but it still has powerful guitars from Chris De Garmo.

I Don't Believe In Love - the single from the album ready for radio airplay. Very catchy and the lyrics are powerful. You will find it on the QR compilations.

Eyes Of A Stranger - an excellent way to end the concept album. Very memorable and wonderful musicianship.

I will not waste any time with this review. If you do not have this. Get to the CD store now and grab it. It knocked me out when I first heard it and it is comparable to other great prog concept albums such as PF's The Wall. The second part to this OM concept was recently released and is great but does not hold a candle to this.

I say it again, 'Operation Mindcrime' is simply a masterpiece.

 



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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 27 2010 at 05:53

Part 23: Prog Poll through the years 1989

 

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1989.

Prog was suffering again and this is the best of the bad bunch.

 

Perfect Symmetry – Fates Warning

 

Naked City - Naked City

 

Reflections – 2066 & Then

 

Nothingface – Voivod

 

Passion – Peter Gabriel

 

 Control and Resistance – Watchtower

 

Sacred Baboon – Yezda Urfa

 

Gutter Ballet – Savatage

 

 The Girl Who Was... Death – Devil Doll

 

Season’s End – Marillion

 

Pungent Effulgent – Ozric Tentacles

 

When Dream and Day Unite – Dream Theater

 

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe - Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe

 

Presto – Rush

 

The Best and The Rest of - Atomic Rooster

 

The results:

5 [6.58%]
3 [3.95%]
0 [0.00%]
4 [5.26%]
8 [10.53%]
1 [1.32%]
5 [6.58%]
2 [2.63%]
4 [5.26%]
9 [11.84%]
6 [7.89%]
0 [0.00%]
20 [26.32%]
3 [3.95%]
1 [1.32%]
5 [6.58%]
 

The Others:

 

Gretchen Goes to Nebraska - Kings X

Kings X Gretchen Goes to Nebraska album cover  

Disintegration – The Cure

 

The Portrait Of A Boy - Horizont

CDBMR 008153

I posted:

Great voting proggers, but this was a ridiculous year for prog and Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, and Howe are winners easily! 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

My review is coming eventually:

 

 



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Posted By: halabalushindigus
Date Posted: May 28 2010 at 02:49
all I can say is AtomicCrimsonRush, you have made your mark. Well done

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assume the power 1586/14.3


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 28 2010 at 04:27
Originally posted by halabalushindigus halabalushindigus wrote:

all I can say is AtomicCrimsonRush, you have made your mark. Well done
Thank you!!!!
 
Welcome to my obssession.Wink
 
This is my magnum opus right here.LOL I have spent months on this. It replaces my prog webpage that has never come to fruition and never will now. 
 
Glad people are enjoying it. I certainly learnt a massive amount on prog and will systematically attempt to review these albums eventually. Well, that is my long term ambition. It could take yearsTongue


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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: May 28 2010 at 06:27
Have done some editing - posted bigger pictures of albums on the polls - it looks way better. New reviews posted too.


Posted By: Certif1ed
Date Posted: June 09 2010 at 06:04
Wow - I'm both amazed and delighted that Master of Puppets was runner-up for 1986.
 
It's great to see reviews that observe the Prog credentials.
 
 
I hate to say "I told you so..."
 
Oh wait.
 
No, I don't  LOL
 
 
...Radiohead, Queen, etc, etc, etc


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The important thing is not to stop questioning.


Posted By: squire4001
Date Posted: June 10 2010 at 20:55
You have made a great collection of amazing albums of every decade..
I cant wait for the next compilation of 90´s albums!
Great stuff dude! Clap


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Prog´ everyday in every way of your life including music!


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: June 11 2010 at 03:42
Originally posted by squire4001 squire4001 wrote:

You have made a great collection of amazing albums of every decade..
I cant wait for the next compilation of 90´s albums!
Great stuff dude! Clap
Thanks so much
 
 
Yes I have been contemplating those and not sure where to start as they are still polling but soon, perhaps at end of month I will start them.
 
 


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Posted By: halabalushindigus
Date Posted: June 11 2010 at 14:13
I guess you realize that you have slayed us, acr, and we will never be the same

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assume the power 1586/14.3


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: June 23 2010 at 23:40

Part 24: Prog Poll through the years 1990

 
Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1990.

A poor year for prog in a new decade but there were some treasures and a new genre with technical extreme metal as this list shows.

 

 

Amarok – Mike Oldfield

 

A Social Grace – Psychotic Waltz

 

Slow Dance – Anthony Phillips

 

Overground Music – After Crying

 

Erpland – Ozric Tentacles

 

Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors – Fish

 

Empire – Queensryche

 

U Totem – U Totem

 

Velha Gravura – Quaterna Requiem

 Quaterna Requiem (Wiermann & Vogel) Velha Gravura  album cover

The Wood of Tales – Malibran

 

Dirge – Mr Sirius

 

Patchwork – Arakeen

 

Arti e Mestieri - Live

 

Live au Bataclan 1973 – Gong

 Gong Live au Bataclan 1973 album cover

Room Temperature – Peter Hammill

 

 

The results:

10 [18.52%]
5 [9.26%]
3 [5.56%]
1 [1.85%]
16 [29.63%]
3 [5.56%]
8 [14.81%]
3 [5.56%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [1.85%]
4 [7.41%]
 

 

The Others:

 

World Sinfonia – Al Di Meola

 

 
 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 
 
My Review coming soon:


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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: June 24 2010 at 01:33

Part 25: Prog Poll through the years 1991

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1991. Bear in mind of course I can’t place every album but these are the ones that seem to find their way into best of lists and are discussed by progheads.

New bands rising and prog surviving but not a good selection with one or two standout albums and a real focus on prog metal.

 

Unquestionable Presence – Atheist

 

Parallells – Fates Warning

 

Human – Death

 

Streets A Rock Opera – Savatage

 

A Sense of Change - Sieges Even

 

Laughing Stock – Talk Talk

 

Angel Rat – Voivod

 

The World – Pendragon

 

Strangeitude – Ozric Tentacles

 

Metallica - Metallica

 

Dust and Dreams – Camel

Camel Dust And Dreams album cover

Roll The Bones – Rush

 

The Fall of the House of Usher – Peter Hammill

 

The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life – Frank Zappa

 

A Little Light Music – Jethro Tull

 

 

The results:

 

1 [1.27%]
3 [3.80%]
2 [2.53%]
3 [3.80%]
3 [3.80%]
5 [6.33%]
2 [2.53%]
11 [13.92%]
9 [11.39%]
6 [7.59%]
4 [5.06%]
12 [15.19%]
1 [1.27%]
4 [5.06%]
1 [1.27%]
12 [15.19%]

 

The Others:

 

Rings of Earthly Light - Eris Pluvia

 

Collector's Item - Twelfth Night

 

Blue Lines - Massive Attack

 

Liturgia Bezmia – Sepsis

 

 

We Can’t Dance – Genesis (voted twice by some interesting fans here)

 

 

It was rather a close poll so I left this open for quite a while; it was stuck at :

The World – Pendragon

10

[12.99%]

Strangeitude – Ozric Tentacles

9

[11.69%]

Metallica – Metallica

6

[7.79%]

Dust and Dreams – Camel

4

[5.19%]

Roll The Bones – Rush

12

[15.58%]

The Fall of the House of Usher – Peter Hammill

1

 

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

My Review:

 
** Don't rush out to buy this one!

A very routine album has Rush going by the numbers with poor production values and badly mixed sounds. The guitars are repetitive and commercial sounding. The drums sound like Peart is banging the pots and pans in his kitchen. Lee sounds bored and his bass is nothing special here. Apart from one or two shining lights "Roll the Bones" fades into obscurity and is perhaps as bad as "Presto", though this is perhaps their worst album. Unlike the disappointing "Presto", "Roll the Bones" does have a few excellent tracks.

Dreamline is a great rocker with some innovative guitar work and is well structured. Bravado sounds good overall, and has a nice litle riff driving it. Roll The Bones is perhaps the best song on the album with a cool memorable lyric; "why are we here, because we're here, roll the bones..." or better still, "why does it happen, because it happens, roll the bones..." It has a groovy hook and sounds great live. The film clip promo was rather fun and it showed that the band could still enjoy their music, even if they shed their prog traits during this era. Where's My Thing (Part IV of the "Gangster Of Boats Trilogy") is the first instrumental for years from the power trio, and it genuinely stands out as a highlight with the band letting loose and doing what they do best, rocking the roof off. After this we are inundated with mediocrity fillers such as the dismal The Big Wheel, Heresy and Ghost Of A Chance. Neurotica is better with a moderate tempo and some melodic hooks, and the album ends on the rather traditional You Bet Your Life, that is forgettable but sounds good while it plays.

The problem with the album is the lack of passion, the band sound tired and the songs for the most part are ruined by poor production, as though they were not using a sound engineer at all. It is so badly mixed that it would do well to re release this album as a remaster with remixes of the original masters. It certainly would not hurt because honestly this album is a slog to get through with only the aforementioned tracks to recommend it to anyone but the diehard Rush collector.



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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: June 24 2010 at 01:57

Part 26: Prog Poll through the years 1992

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1992. 

This year saw some of the best albums for a decade and it was a new face of prog arising. Some of the albums represented are highly revered in the prog community.

 

 

Hybris – Anglagard

 

 

Images and Words – Dream Theater

Dream Theater Images And Words album cover  

Into the Everflow – Psychotic Waltz

 

Suffocating The Bloom – Echolyn

 Echolyn Suffocating The Bloom album cover

Amused To Death – Roger Waters

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=31" rel="nofollow - – After Crying

 

Secret Story – Pat Metheny

 

More Than Meets The Eye – Jadis

 

Tubular Bells II – Mike Oldfield

 

US – Peter Gabriel

 

Lonely Land – Landberk

 

Io E Il Tempo – Nuova Era

 

Ring Of Roses – Shadowland

 

Casino - Casino

 

The Great Deceiver Live 1973-1974 – King Crimson

 

The results:

 

33 [37.08%]
28 [31.46%]
2 [2.25%]
0 [0.00%]
6 [6.74%]
2 [2.25%]
1 [1.12%]
0 [0.00%]
4 [4.49%]
7 [7.87%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
0 [0.00%]
1 [1.12%]
5 [5.62%]
0 [0.00%]
 

The Others:

There were none at all!

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

My Review:

 

**** The infamous legendary prog album "Hybris" from Swedish proggers Anglagard marked an indelible place in prog territory in an era that was deprived of the prog brillaince of the 70s. Anglagard sound like they are from the 70s and are comparable to early Genesis, ELP and King Crimson.

It begins with 'Jordrök'; the opening is dark chilling piano and male choral voices. The time sig is strange and off beat. The music is tight and definitely prog, and there is an excellent catchy melody on guitars by Engdegård. This instrumental continues as an acoustic treatment is given with bells and ambient keyboard pads from Johnson. A sublime flute chimes in from Holmgren; a very gentle lulling sound that is dreamy and surreal. A huge pipe organ cathedral sound blasts forth. The time sig changes completely as keyboards and guitars crash in. The shimmering Hammond is wonderful and a real feature. The track changes pace again, the flourishes of keys and drums are fascinating from Olsson. The whimsical flute returns, followed by a dark heavy section. A silent passage with minimalist woodwind begins. Then melodious blasts of organ riffs with a scorching guitar take hold of the track. An absolutely essential piece of prog music.

'Ifrån Klarhet Till Klarhet' begins with an off kilter quirky amusement park effect then it goes in to fill swing with a prog time sig and Engdegård's very cool guitar riffs that are incessant and relentless. It builds and locks into a strange time sig with irregular drum patterns. The Swedish vocals of Lindman are very clean and follow the strange rhythm, with nice organ chord changes, jazz fills on guitar and jazz drumming. The acoustic interlude is gentle and played with feeling. It finishes on a powerful instrumental focussing on shimmering Hammond organ and guitar sweeps.

'Kung Bore' is another highlight with Engdegård's guitar picking introduction, a heavy bass and drum patterns fade up and a strange time sig locks in. The music is complex and compelling. It is an uplifting sound, with light and dark shades utilising many instruments to create a delightful atmosphere. Lindman's vocals are gentle sung in Swedish language. The sound is often like Pink Floyd with huge mellotron keyboard chords from Johnson and space guitar passages. Holmgren's flute sections are divine throughout. Time sigs change towards the end gaining in pace. Then a wall of symphonic washes take the tune to its conclusion. A single flute is heard bookending the piece. A quintessential progressive album though I give it 4 stars as the vocals are below par and not as good as they could be.  

 
 
IN SECOND PLACE:
 
Dream Theater Images And Words album cover
 
 
*****The reinvention of Progressive rock
 
Did Images and Words begin prog metal? 1992 seems like an eternity away now but in its time this album was absolutely the pinnacle of what became prog metal. So many bands owe their existence to this album. It is little wonder why crowds get excited when LaBrie shouts “we are going to do one from Images and Words!” The real master tracks are obvious as they are the ones played live often and they are the ones that every DT fan loves. One of those tracks is the brilliant Pull Me Under. Infectious riffing and melodic cohesiveness makes this one of the all time greatest prog metal songs.
 
Another one of the classics is undoubtedly Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper". This may be in the top 10 best DT songs, as it features an epic majesty made possible with layers of Moore’s keyboards over Myung’s relentless bass and Portnoy’s sporadic drumming. The time sigs are off kilter and deranged at times. Amidst the chaos LaBrie shines on vocals. If that does not grab you the lead guitar fret work is impeccable from Petrucci.
 
Under A Glass Moon is a definitive DT track appearing in many concerts. The guitar solos are phenomenal and there are quite a few. The riffing is incredible too making this a bonafide classic. The lead breaks are indispensable and ingrained in metal history.
 
Learning To Live is quintessential DT with virtuoso solos and musicianship. LaBrie is on fire and you have to love the time sig and bassline. LaBrie's voice is powerful throughout the album, higher than recent years of course because his voice was undamaged by age.
 
Of course there are other tracks and they are all very good, some may call them masterpieces. The point is, this album is a vital component in the resurgence of prog rock.  Prog was dying in the 80s, and barely surviving in the 90s, but Dream Theater created the music they wanted to hear despite the avalanche of rap and other so called musical styles trying to drown out the voice of prog for ever. Images and Words is all killer and no filler the way an album should be. It may not be as genius as Ocatavarium or in the same vein as Scenes From A Memory to come, but this is an important album that cemented prog metal as the new giants of the industry. After this album there was no looking back – the gods of prog metal had been awakened.


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Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: June 24 2010 at 02:19

Part 27: Prog Poll through the years 1993

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1993.

This year prog was taking a new stand in music with new sub genres and new bands being experimental and a wall of metal overtook prog.

 

Elements – Atheist

 

Jurassic Shift – Ozric Tentacles

 

Ever – IQ

 

Up the Downstair – Porcupine Tree

 

Vemod – Anekdoten

 

The Window Of Life – Pendragon

 

Individual Thought Patterns – Death

 

Kingston Wall 2 – Kingston Wall

 

Spheres – Pestilence

 

Edge Of Thorns – Savatage

 

Counterparts – Rush

 

The Outer Limits – Voivod

 

The Security Of Illusion – Saga

 

Never Let Go – Camel

 

The Yellow Shark – Frank Zappa

 

 

The results:

 

3 [3.70%]
11 [13.58%]
8 [9.88%]
8 [9.88%]
12 [14.81%]
7 [8.64%]
2 [2.47%]
4 [4.94%]
1 [1.23%]
1 [1.23%]
8 [9.88%]
2 [2.47%]
0 [0.00%]
4 [4.94%]
6 [7.41%]
4 [4.94%]

 

The Others:

 

Secret World - Peter Gabriel

 

Clockworked Earth - Teru's Symphonia

 

This one went down to the wire and I had to leave this poll open with a stalemate situation:

 

Jurassic Shift – Ozric Tentacles

11

[13.92%]

Ever – IQ

8

[10.13%]

Up the Downstair – Porcupine Tree

8

[10.13%]

Vemod – Anekdoten

11

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 
My Review:

 

***** Anekdoten provide thought provoking, mellotron-soaked music on an amazing debut

My first listen to Anekdoten has been a pleasurable experience. The melancholy and ambience the band emit with mellotron, cello and soft vocals is akin to the type of material heard from the legendary King Crimson. The guitar work is so refined and creative it takes music to new levels.

The debut album, 'Vemod' translated in Sweden as 'sadness' is a master work of mellotron-soaked heavy prog. The musicians play like a well-oiled machine, the rhythm section, consists of the bassline hammering of Jan Erik Liljeström who incidentally provides all vocals, and the drumming of Peter Nordins who keeps time with precision. The Fripp-inspired guitarist Nicklas Berg is also a mellotron muso and he is joined by Anna Sofi Dahlberg, on mellotron, keys and cello. At times she sings parts which add to the texture and nuances of the songs. On piano is Per Wiberg who provides some lovely scales and arpeggios preferring to play pianofortissimo, in fact the whole band like it loud. The subtle shades of dark and light tones are evident on every track, where sound provides an atmosphere of darkness with heavy deep basslines, and light when the piano is allowed to be joyful, and the mellotron cascades across the void.

There are so many highlights including the mesmirising 'Karelia' which is an instrumental focusing on bass and drum patterns, odd time signatures and full blown mellotron. The real interesting component of the track is the slicing Cello which feels menacing and creates tension in the soundscape.

Another great track is 'The Old Man and The Sea' that begins and ends with an industrial scraping bass effect, incredibly played by Liljeström. There are layers of sound including cello and grand piano that add a true sense of adventure to the music. It is like nothing else I have heard. The band are genuine virtuosos and they never hold back although you sense at times they pull out to release members of the band to shine. The sustained mellotron shimmers with increasing volume and feels chilling to the marrow when those deep resonances are unleashed creeping through your senses. The vocals are well sung on this and it adds a sense of dread the way the lyrics are written: 'The storm has raged here for hours, the water's plunging in on me, The remains of my creation is swallowed slowly down by the troubled sea into unconsecrated ground, gone eternally, gone eternally, Feeder of my visions, carrier of my soul, The last hope for the dreamers, now crashing to the shore, pinioned and torn In presumption and with my foolish pride, I challenged the storm, I challenged the storm.' It reminds me of the old adage of a man battling against the elements similar to the tale of Moby Dick in some respects. Perfect prog theme.

'Where Solitude Remains' begins with a blistering heavy bass riff that is chunked up to the max, and the mellotron sweeps across until finally it breaks to a quiet pad and Liljeström's vocals softly tell the strange tale: 'I watch the clouds through my window, sail across the sky and underneath the canopy, gulls, they wheel and glide, the shoreline stretches endlessly along these windswept plains, I wander through this barren land where solitude remains, I've made myself a universe in this far-off home, unseen from the outside world, here I live and roam and though I've tried assiduously to heal the wounds with time, you'll haunt me in my memories until I die.' I think the lyrics are some of the best I have come across expressing true alienation and loss, foreboding but thoughtful, and the music answers perfectly with appropriate precise emotional nuances. The instrumental at the end is so arresting, emotional and played with excellence, it seals the deal that this is another definitive highlight.

'Thoughts in Absence' is a type of break in transmission, a much softer approach with mellotron, clean guitar and clear vocals about life's ups and downs: 'ease and calm you give but life begins... my time has come now, this bird has flown, a glimpse of hope but still an everlasting moment' Certainly it is cliché driven dialogue but it works as a balladic piece, in sharp contrast to the relentless riffing on other songs. The song is sugarsweet, shimmering and short. It works nicely between two killer tracks.

'The Flow' is my favourite, it really grew on me and I cannot get over how incredible the music is. It begins with minimalist woodwind sounds and chimes, a monkey wails and jungle echo percussions give an ethereal atmosphere. The guitar fades in with relentless picking ala Fripp style. There is a blood curdling scream signifying that the band are ready to go into full flight. The chord changes are fastidious and fabulous, descending and doomy. The monstrous bassline is astonishing and an off kilter drum beat adds the perfect balance. The fluid, lulling mellotron pads are huge, creating a massive wall of sound. Then it phases out during the soft vocalised verses: 'Random lines fall in place, adulterines slowly fade away, I'm sucked in deep by the flow, taken in by the undertow.' An instrumental break is unleashed with Dahlberg's heavenly cello that is grinded and tortured before an angular guitar blazes away. It is simply awesome and I had the chills when that chord progression suddenly took a detour and the foreboding cello sliced to its conclusion.

Another highlight is 'Wheel' with an accentuated angular riff that is constant with some estranged vocal harmonies. The flugelhorn on this is divine, amidst a backdrop of booming bass and off beat drums. The main thing I am really impressed here is the ghostly, ethereal vocals of Anna Dahlberg who compliments Jan Erik Liljeström beautifully. The lengthy instrumental break is uplifting and multilayered with mellotron and guitar.

'Sad Rain' is the bonus track to the CD that heavily relies on soft mellotron, sounding at times like a flute, very pretty and melancholy. The lyrics are heartfelt bittersweet about walking on a path that never ends: 'and so our time has come, my friend, the child who cries and no-one seems to care, the echoes of the birds are gone, the sky is painted grey, but it's so warm, searching for a light in the darkness, trying to keep your eyes from the dirt, taste the bitter wine of tomorrow, I'm walking on a path that never ends.' Wonderful emotional music that is invigorating and thought provoking.

There seems to be strong recurrent theme on this album about being lost at sea and feeling a sense of isolation and alienation from society, a loss of great magnitude is all pervading, and a sense of hopelessness and reaching out in despair. Yet I could not call it a concept album, as it is more subtle than that but there is no denying the thematic content is linked.

As this is the debut for the band I had reservations about giving a masterpiece status but, hang it, the album is astounding and deserves recognition. It is not often you encounter music at the measure of this calibre, but when you do, it is mesmirising and you cannot get enough of it. I became hooked on the band from this debut and made an effort to systematically get every album. That in itself is a true sign as far as I am concerned to award 5 stars and so I shall, without reservation.

 
 
 
 
Followed by a single vote:
 

 

My Review coming:

 

 



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: July 09 2010 at 04:27

Part 28: Prog Poll through the years 1994

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1994.

Some great albums emerged from the fog of the difficult years of prog by the masters of prog and kept the genre very much alive.

 

Awake – Dream Theater

 

Focus – Cynic

 

Moonshine – Collage

 

Epilog – Anglagard

 

Brave – Marillion

 

Somewhere But Yesterday – Citizen Cain

 

The Flower King – Roine Stolt

 

Promised Land – Queensryche

 

Division Bell – Pink Floyd

 

Arborescence – Ozric Tentacles

 

Il Trono Dei Ricordi - Il Trono Dei Ricordi

 

Gothic Impressions – Par Lindh Project

 

The Songs Of Distant Earth – Mike Oldfield

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=3585" rel="nofollow - – Ash Ra Tempel

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=1429" rel="nofollow - – Van Der Graaf Generator

 

 

The results:

 

23 [23.00%]
8 [8.00%]
3 [3.00%]
10 [10.00%]
13 [13.00%]
3 [3.00%]
3 [3.00%]
2 [2.00%]
24 [24.00%]
3 [3.00%]
1 [1.00%]
2 [2.00%]
0 [0.00%]
2 [2.00%]
3 [3.00%]
0 [0.00%]

 

The Others:

None!

The poll was very close between DT and PF the legends:

Awake – Dream Theater

21

[23.08%]

Focus – Cynic

8

[8.79%]

Moonshine – Collage

3

[3.30%]

Epilog – Anglagard

9

[9.89%]

Brave – Marillion

13

[14.29%]

Somewhere But Yesterday – Citizen Cain

3

[3.30%]

The Flower King – Roine Stolt

3

[3.30%]

Promised Land – Queensryche

1

[1.10%]

Division Bell – Pink Floyd

20

[21.98%]

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

PINK FLOYD - DIVISION BELL

My Review:

**** Gilmour, Mason and Wright remained of the Pink Floyd money making machine. The best thing about this album is Pink Floyd were able to take it on the road to produce some of the best of their tours since The Wall. The music sounds similar to that on Momentary Lapse of Reason, very accessible rather than progressive. The melodies are infectious and easy to sing to for the live performances. The songs focus on many themes as usual, but they are still harping on about old Syd with songs such as Keep Talking. The lapse or complete lack of communication is the key theme, seen primarily by the striking cover art of two mute souls conversing, an optical illusion from the dark ages that works well for an album cover.

The tracks are quite famous now as they appear on live DVDs such as Delicate Sound of Thunder and Pulse. My personal favourites are the cynical What do you want from me, A great day for freedom, Take it back, Coming back to life and Keep talking. The latter track features a convincing voice over by genius paraplegic scientist Stephen Hawking. The best song on the entire album is undoubtedly the atmospheric haunting High Hopes. This track is quintessential PF with a startling bell tolling effect and very emotive performance by Gilmour. The majestic closing section is an incredible performance by the band. The film clip promo was brilliant and seen in the live shows on the circular screens.

There are some strange tracks that never rang well with me such as the lengthy Poles apart, that is perhaps too long and drawn out. Marooned is also a strange one but sounds great as background music. Overall this was a huge album at the time and the last studio album for the band before they became a live act only. It is definitely one of the better PF albums of recent years and a fitting way to bow out of the studio recordings.    

followed by a single vote with:

 

AWAKE - DREAM THEATER

 

My Review:

**** My first introduction to this incredible band began right here. A friend said you have to hear this and I had no idea what to expect. When I heard that choppy off sync riff of 6:00 I was hooked immediately; “6:00 on a Christmas morning, 6:00 on a Christmas morning”. The amazing dexterity of the group, the skills of Petrucci, Portnoy and LaBrie are unsurpassed. I knew this was a super group and of course they are still churning out one excellent album after another. Back in 1994 Awake was flooring the critics, they were hailing Dream Theater as master musicians, and they have improved since then. Rudess replacing Moore was one way, although Moore is an accomplished keyboardist on this album. Myung is a fantastic bassist and shines on Awake.
 
Best songs are 6:00 which begins with Portnoy’s drums and a crunching memorable riff. I love the chorus with LaBrie powering out an amazing performance; "Melody walks through the door and Memory flies out the window, nobody knows what they want til they finally let it all go".
 
Caught in a Web is truly a masterful track that sounds awesome here. LaBrie is fantastic on vocals, his high register is faultless. Moore is a virtuoso on this too, and since I have heard Rudess on this and both sound amazing in the solo section.
 
Erotomania is an instrumental that is tight, taut and terrific. Lots of fast paced lead work makes this one of the great showpieces of the album.
 
Voices is one of the all time greatest DT tracks with a strange time sig and massive lead break. It became a fan favourite live for good reason. LaBrie is powerful and retains a complex melody blending perfectly with the instruments. 
 
The Mirror is another of the highlights with monster riffing guitars and keyboards to accompany. This one should have been played live more often, but it is great to return to on this album.
 
Lifting Shadows Off a Dream features very melodic verses and once again Moore is able to fly into a wonderful keyboard solo.
 
Scarred is awesome due to Myung’s contribution along with Portnoy. They are an indelible rhythm machine. It builds into a full blown metal passage, and detours into many time sig changes.
 
Space-Dye Vest is a classic DT song and the last time Moore would play on an album before being replaced. There is a melancholy feel as though saying farewell to a friend. The spacey atmospherics are wondrous and it is a perfect way to end an excellent prog metal album.
So overall I was blown away by Awake and of course ended up getting hold of everything the band would produce. I can comfortably award this 4 stars as it is one of the best DT albums and one of the best of 1994.


-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: July 09 2010 at 04:58

Part 29: Prog Poll through the years 1995

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1995.

Experimental and metal prog still dominated but Space Rock and Symphonic prog was making a huge comeback in a good year for new bands.

 

The Final Experiment – Ayreon

 

The Bends – Radiohead

 

Symbolic – Death

 

Il Passo Del Soldato – Nuova Era

 

The Sky Moves Sideways – Porcupine Tree

Porcupine Tree The Sky Moves Sideways  album cover  

Nucleus – Anekdoten

 

Disco Volante – Mr Bungle

 

Written In Waters – Bed Buens Ende

 

In Your Multitude – Conception

 

Back In the World Of Adventures – The Flower Kings

The Flower Kings Back In The World Of Adventures album cover 

Dead Winter Dead – Savatage

 

As The World – Echolyn

Echolyn As The World album cover 

P-U-L-S-E – Pink Floyd

 

Songs From The Lions Cage – Arena

 

The Light – Spock’s Beard

 

 

The results:

1 [0.97%]
4 [3.88%]
8 [7.77%]
3 [2.91%]
30 [29.13%]
6 [5.83%]
4 [3.88%]
1 [0.97%]
2 [1.94%]
1 [0.97%]
0 [0.00%]
4 [3.88%]
18 [17.48%]
4 [3.88%]
9 [8.74%]
8 [7.77%]
 

 

The Others:

 
THRAK - King Crimson
 
King Crimson THRAK album cover 
 
Sophisticated - Sieges Even
 
 
Don Caballero 2 - Don Caballero
 
 
Journey into the MornIona
 
 
Destroy Erase Improve - Meshuggah
 
 
Jongleries élastiques - Miriodor
 
 
 
Generation 13 - Saga
 
 
 
Carved in Stone - Shadow Gallery

 
 
A Change in Seasons – Dream Theater (2 votes)

Dream Theater A Change Of Seasons  album cover 
 

Orchid - Opeth

 

Interesting posts:

1995 has been a great year for music in general, and metal in particular:

Ved Buens Ende - Written In Water,  http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/band.php?band_id=227" rel="nofollow -  -  http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=1565" rel="nofollow - http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/band.php?band_id=174" rel="nofollow -  -  http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=1200" rel="nofollow - http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/band.php?band_id=59" rel="nofollow -  -  http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=386" rel="nofollow - http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/band.php?band_id=45" rel="nofollow -  -  http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/album.php?album_id=215" rel="nofollow - , and so many more...

 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 

 

The Sky Moves Sideways – Porcupine Tree

Porcupine Tree The Sky Moves Sideways  album cover  

 

 

 

Review:

***

"The Sky Moves Sideways" is the psychedelic era of Porcupine Tree glorified with lengthy jamming spacey explorations. The remastered digipack double CD features 2 extreme psychedelic bookends on CD 1 of the title track that will really test the patience of some listeners. They build gradually with spacey atmospheres, Tangerine Dream textures, and psych prog ambience. I had heard these before on the "Stars Die" compilation, but in context they take on a new life. This is some very dreamy music with Vangelis tones and soundscapes of classic Pink Floyd or Camel.

The album features a number of shorter length tracks that are more accessible, 'Dislocated Day', 'The Moon Touches Your Shoulder', and 'Prepare Yourself'. Really they are not the drawcard though as the more lengthier pieces are incredible by contrast. The dreamy Floydian soundscape of 'The Sky Moves Sideways Phase Two' is the masterpiece with extended soaring lead guitar work, gorgeous vox from Suzanne Barbieri, and gorgeous swathes of divine keyboards.

CD 2 has the epic monster length 'The Sky Moves Sideways - Alternative Version' which is an unedited version of the title with extra vox, and different structure, no waves, heavy percussion, and not as spacey, and the wonderful melodic 'Stars Die' follows that I have heard many times on other releases. 'Moonloop ? Improvisation' clocks 16 minutes of very dreamy music to sleep with, and is followed by 'Moonloop ? Coda' to close a very solid Porcupine Tree album.

I am still a bigger fan of the more recent PT but this is nevertheless a mesmirising album with a relaxing spacey atmosphere throughout.



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: July 09 2010 at 05:49

Part 30: Prog Poll through the years 1996

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1996.

An ordinary year for prog but these 15 albums shone among the lean 1990s. You have to hand it to these bands who just kept doing what they loved and somehow everyone just caught the fire.

 

Keys To Ascension – Yes

 

Actual Fantasy – Ayreon

 

Retropolis – The Flower Kings

 

Crimson – Edge of Sanity

 

Sol Niger Within - http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=1780" rel="nofollow -  

Sing To God – Cardiacs

 

Aenima – Tool

 

The Masquerade Overture – Pendragon

 

Mi Kubbesi – Nekropsi

 

Quidam - Quidam

 

Holy Land – Angra

 

http://www.progarchives.com/album.asp?id=12" rel="nofollow - - Abraxas ... Cykl Obraca Się. Narodziny, Dzieciństwo Pełne Duszy, Uśmiechów Niewinnych I Zdrady Abraxas

 

Broken China – Richard Wright

 

Signify – Porcupine Tree

 

Painting On Glass – The 3rd and The Mortal

 

 

The results:

10 [9.90%]
2 [1.98%]
6 [5.94%]
7 [6.93%]
2 [1.98%]
2 [1.98%]
19 [18.81%]
10 [9.90%]
1 [0.99%]
2 [1.98%]
5 [4.95%]
1 [0.99%]
3 [2.97%]
25 [24.75%]
1 [0.99%]
5 [4.95%]
 
 
The Others:

 

 

Purpendicular - Deep Purple

 

Phish - Billy Breathes

 

After Crying - De Profundis

 After Crying De Profundis album cover

Some interesting posts were written:

Quidam's debut was lovely but No-Man (Wild Opera), Legend's Triple Aspect, Oldfield's Songs from a Distant Earth and Landberk (Indian Summer) are fine recordings.

And:

I also would say that this was a very fine year for Japan as several of my fave albums from that year came from Japan, which include Zypressen's self-titled, Tipographica's God Says I Can't Dance, Novo Tono's  Panorama Paradise, and Bondage Fruit II.  A very strong decade, in fact, for Japan. 

AND THE WINNER IS...

 
PORCUPINE TREE - AGAIN!!! 
 


My Review:

***

 'Signify' is a pleasant though uneven album from the early years of Porcupine Tree. This album is not the heavy sound of 'Deadwing', nor is it concentric on the psychedelic trance of 'The Sky Moves Sideways', but it sits somewhere in between. It does feel experimental and at times sounds like more modern Porcupine Tree on 'Fear of a Blank Planet' or 'The Incident'. Steve Wilson's vocals are always excellent especially when he launches into infectious melodic prog such as on the wonderful 'Sever'.

The album tends to bog down midway through some songs with lengthy instrumental passages that are okay but wear out their welcome on subsequent listens. There are some brilliant tracks here though such as the beautiful melodic 'Waiting Phase One', 'Phase Two' is an instrumental, building with tribal rhythmic drums, spacey atmospherics and some incredible lead guitar. 'Sever' certainly stands out as mentioned, and there are some powerful riffs.

One thing that I am not into is the focus on anti-religious themes that seems to pervade the concept such as on 'Idiot Prayer', 'Intermediate Jesus', just a spacey psych instrumental and brief narrative, and ''Light Mass Prayers'' more droning music that bores me after a while. I must admit I like the flute on 'Idiot Prayer', and the killer lead break at the end, but the narrations are just intrusive and it all feels like filler material. 'Every Home is Wired' is an acoustic dreamscape with really nice vocals before these instrumentals. The album closes with a popular song 'Dark Matter' that I had heard on a live DVD prior to this.

Overall, 'Signify' is the beginning of great things for Porcupine Tree but they were yet to peak and become recognised as giants of modern prog. This album is half psych and half alt rock, but is very inconsistent. 3 stars for the great music but the masterpieces were a few years away. 



-------------


Posted By: AtomicCrimsonRush
Date Posted: July 09 2010 at 06:37

Part 31: Prog Poll through the years 1997

Top 15 - Here is the prog poll for definitive albums of 1997.

The list here is more experimental and one of the better 1990s lists but still not up to the standard of the 70s.

 

Coma Divine Live – Porcupine Tree

 Porcupine Tree Coma Divine Live album cover

 

The Night Watch – King Crimson