Progressive Rock – Dinosaur or Legend?

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(Image “Yes concert” by Rick Dikeman [CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)])

I grew up in the 70’s when there were much fewer genres of popular  music than there are today. Pop was for the masses, then you had folk, jazz and rock for the more discerning listener while progressive rock was reserved for people with a taste for more complex and epic sounds, reminiscent of classical music but tailored to a younger, rock-oriented audience. This style of music has all but disappeared from current listening trends and I think that’s a pity. But then I would, given I was a huge fan when it was fashionable.

So what replaced it? Well Punk was a big angry rebellion against all that complexity which many people felt had alienated them from modern music because they couldn’t relate to it or understand it. I personally disliked Punk, although I recognise the need to get back to roots and to engage with something more raw and gutsy. I found it all so angry and one-dimensional and mourned the loss of the interesting and powerful music which had, along with other important influences, pretty much defined my teenage years. Was I just a nerd or was there something genuinely inspiring and vital in all that rich music? I suppose the answer to that lies in a mixture of what is meaningful to you and what turns you on, so to speak.

Many good things did follow of course. The human need to create meaningful and well-crafted art will always out-live any trend or fashion. It would take too long to list all the excellent artists who have followed that particular outburst of creativity (and some would argue top-heavy intellectualism) which was branded ‘Prog Rock’. Which artists, which bands, could be said to sound that particular voice in the contemporary music world? I don’t just mean modern Progressive Rock bands who have attempted to preserve that form pretty much as it was in the old days, but also what has it evolved into? Has it died altogether or has it found a new, contemporary voice in today’s more informed but also more cynical music world? I’d be very interested to hear other people’s views on all this so please do leave a comment or drop me a line if any of this interests you.

I am of course a musician. It’s probably no surprise to hear that I attempt to write music which is both relevant today and which also borrows from some of those Progressive Rock influences, particularly Yes who were my out-and-out favourites. To what extent I succeed in that is a matter of opinion but it has been my modus operandi for a long time. I am also influenced by certain types of jazz as well as classical music so those genres find their way in as well. My first CD ‘Head Room’ was an attempt to bring these disparate elements together. More has followed and will continue to do so as I am writing new material all the time.

I may re-visit this topic again, although it is a bit of a minority interest! We shall see..

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