close to the edge – yes

One thing about belonging to someone whose favourite noises are made by Journey and Runrig is my growing acceptance of prog rock.
Ok, I’ll put my hand up for (freaks era) Hawkwind, and Yes’ ‘close to the edge’, but Genesis? Nah. Pretty much everything else Yes imposed on the world? No thanks.
However, the last seven months have seen me sink deeper and deeper into a morass of guitar solos, keyboard doodlings and (sigh) even flutery-pokery. No drum solos as yet, but I’m sure even that’s coming, like incontinence, confusion and chest pains.
In an interview, Steven Wilson said he originally thought that metal was something you listened to and then grew out of – right up til he started meeting people backstage at gigs who liked Porcupine Tree as well as various metal bands.
I’ve felt the same about prog rock. Like smoking and beer, everybody had a crack at liking it – to try to pass ourselves off as being as grown up as our elder brothers. Then punk happened and all these dinosaurs were consigned to the dustbin of history. Or were they?
My favourite album this week is Telergy’s ‘the legend of Goody Cole’, blistering guitar solos? Check. Folksy singery? Yep. Fucking flutes? Damn right. Concept album? Aye. About the witch trials? Oh fuck, aye.
In a couple of days, I’m off to see Swans, for the first time since 1989. Does this seem an uncomfortable juxtaposition? Nope.
I just bought my ticket for psyche-fest next month, where Eat Lights, Become Lights are playing (along with Mugstar and Moon Duo) so maybe I was just in the closet all along.
I saw Mugstar in 2009, just before I left Liverpool. Although their albums are a bit lacklustre (apart from the newest one, a classic) live, they’re terrific. Blistering. They set fire to Korova that night – and all who sailed in her.
Before Mugstar, there were three other bands who blew me away too. Their names are gone in the mists of time and hard drugs, but the one who sounded a bit like PFM particularly impressed me.
So maybe I loved prog all along (with certain hard limits) Rick Wakeman being one, ‘Tales from topographic oceans’ being another.
Another band who’ve grabbed me of late are Dark Buddha Rising, whose work contains many passages that positively reek of Black-boned Angel, a longtime fetish of mine.
Maybe the whole of industrial culture grew out of prog – or was as much of an answer to it as punk was. Rather than punk’s year zero approach, old-school industrial music could be thought of as a subversion of the mores of prog. The long instrumental passges? Check. High concept overload? Oh fuck aye! Coum grew out of that era and most famously supported Hawkwind in Hull, leading Dave Brock to wonder aloud what the fuck they’d taken.

Why not read the novel that started it all? 1919 (inside)

A love story – on home-made acid – narrated by someone first used romatically, then set on fire, by the blue peter team, capering around the pyre like wrinkled vikings.


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