This posting of Progmeister’s thoughts comes to you from a small fishing port near Ayamonte in southern Spain. The Progmeister is indeed on his Jolley’s and with me is a variety pack of Prog courtesy of my trust laptop. I was inspired to write when it dawned on me just how much the power of prog has made me aware of things I would otherwise been totally disinterested in. I have just returned to my holiday home from Castro Marim in southern Portugal where I visited the remains of the castle there. Before I left I had been listening to the new Mandalaband 4 album AD-Sangeal and what struck me was how much I had learned from listening to it as I walked around reading historical facts about history and architecture.
I am also listening to Steve Hackett’s wicked new album too and whilst doing so it made me think of Erik Satie, a composer whom I would never have heard of has it not been for Steve’s renditions of his work. Being as I was a fairly inattentive child my attention would often stray during music lessons at school, especially when it came to classical music. Like many children in the sixties I was fixated with pop music and whatever came out of the radio on top of the sideboard. Indeed any lesson which extolled the virtues of various classical composers.
It wasn’t until I was twelve years old and flouted most of my musical education that I bought a copy of “Pictures At An Exhibition by the venerable Emerson, Lake & Palmer which blew me away. Apart from giving me a lot of musical joy and satisfaction it also made me ask the important question, who is this Mussorgsky guy? My fascination with prog albums lead me to read about their content and concepts leading to interests in Egyptology, architecture, mythology, poetry and even the workings of the human mind.
I can’t remember the names of my music teachers after all these years, though I care instead to site Keith Emerson Manfred Mann, Rick Wakeman and other prog luminaries as my real music educators. This is something that I realise may make some people cringe; however, I make no apology for my mode of learning. What started all those years ago is still being carried on today by some great bands and artists from around the globe dividing opinion of the party faithful.
My views are constantly challenged by prog’s dissenters who firmly believe that such a musical form should be resigned to the history books. Many schools of thought are emerging with some thinking that all has been done with regard to progressive rock music by hero’s such as King Crimson, Yes, E.L.P. Pink Floyd and Genesis. Many music aficionados believe that all else are but poor imitation of these forefathers of prog and that new neo-prog bands are committing what amounts to acts of heresy. I do agree with them to a certain extent though I think that a certain mind set must be adopted in order to give newer bands a chance to be heard.
There are far too many titles being bandied around at the moment. Neo-Prog, Prog metal, Prog-folk, you name it and there is a title for it. Baring in mind that J.S. Bach himself was indeed one of the very first progressive musicians the genre leaps many boundaries. I think there is scope for everyone to be open minded. I have debated these matters at length with many differing points of view ranging from university graduates to secondary modern thugs like myself. Whether it was under the influence of alcohol are discussed over a cup of tea and a Hob Nob all confessed to being hugely influenced by those early prog classics and some even dared to admit having similar experiences to me. You would be both surprised and shocked to know how many punk and new wave artists where all out prog heads. I know, they told me themselves. As for my good self, I have a lot to thank those innovators of early prog for. Prog, What would life be like without it?