Sunday, January 04, 2009

Greatest Short Song Ever... or Death to Prog

On Saturday my favorite radio station, WXPN, devoted eight hours of programming to 70's prog rock. While I understand that prog had its mind-expanding, chemically shaped followers back in the early 70's, I can't understand why anyone would still listen to it in 2009 when the recorded works of The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Mitch Ryder, Bob Marley, Hank Williams, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pavement and The Grass Roots remain available for your listening pleasure. And I tried to listen, like a car wreck it was difficult to turn away (or turn the station) as hairy, gnomic, viking helmeted men dressed in the finest wizard robes performed endless tributes to Ommadawn, pilgrimages, voyages, journeys, euphoric hysteria, pharoh kings, small furry animals and brain salad surgeries.

The singers had airy, pinched voices and while the road goes on forever, the song it never ends. The average song seemed to be nine to fifteen minutes of celestial noodling with 77 time changes wrapped in endless soloing... how can that be fun? Yes I'm sure these guys were excellent musicians but I've found that (courtesy of my pre 1991-wary 17 year old nephew) rock and roll can be distilled into 13 seconds, and it sounds like this:

Big D & The Kids Table - "What The Hell Are You Going To Do?"

I say the movement starts here... death to prog and all its unseemly descendants. Who's with me?


Andy Whitman said...

No argument from me about the merits of The Beatles, Chuck Berry, Hank Williams, etc. But I was one of those dire Hobbit Nerds who loved this music in the '70s, and although I readily grant your list of Reasons to Loathe This Music, I also find that some of it has held up pretty well.

In particular, I've been spending a lot of time with Genesis 1970 - 1975, the recently released box set of the Peter Gabriel era. And I think it's pretty great. Yes, there were songs in the 9 to 15 minute range. But these were songs, and they function as songs, and not as mere excuses to trot out the five-minute drum solo. No Vikings, although Peter Gabriel did have a penchant for resurrecting tales from Greek mythology. Best of all might be "Supper's Ready," one of those 23-minute multi-part suites that is still, shockingly, magnificent.

Anonymous said...

I won't get into it with you over prog rock, but I can say that your nephew's song is great! The essence of rock'n'roll? Mmm, yeah, possibly!