I’m again indebted to Planet Rock Radio for giving me the inspiration to write blog text again. After my photographic mishaps – 3MB or not 3MB, that is the question – it’s nice to get back to familiar ground, even if it doesn’t look quite so “interesting”.
Last night’s One Man and his Prog – now I know it’s a repeat, but my near-lethal Ovaltine and Horlicks cocktails inhibit me from staying up till midnight on Sunday to hear it first time – featured Rick Wakeman as special guest, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Journey to the Centre of the Earth as only he can. Which means mostly with dirty jokes.
I don’t own the record in any format, nor have I any special urge to go out and spend money on the Anniversary Special Issue, but nonetheless the programme took me back to my teenage years, and I got to hear one or two tracks I hadn’t heard since then: Rick’s own “Merlin the Magician” (nice story surrounding that too) and Black Sabbath’s “Sabbracadabra” from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which he plays on.
When I “rationalised” my prog rock collection circa ’77 to make way for the new wave, items like the above went to new homes so I could establish some cred when my cool NME-reading friends came round for tea. I couldn’t make up my mind which Genesis, Crimson and Zeppelin records to get rid of, so I hung on to the lot and just gave them a lower profile (anyway, Gabriel’s first album, with Fripp on it, seemed to have earned a lot of favour). With Yes and Sabbath, however, it was easier to be ruthless: I just kept Paranoid and the Yes albums with Tony Kaye on keyboards. Sorry guys!
As we know, progressive became THE unmentionable word for approximately 15 years, so I kind of felt vindicated. My interests in musical adventure were well catered for by The Blue Nile, Virginia Astley, Shelleyan Orphan and others rather than Marillion or Porcupine Tree – although i have of course since found room for both schools of thought.
I’m quite in the mood for a decent album of prog cover versions. The trouble is, progressive rock is so proprietorial – can you imagine anyone other than Hawkwind doing “Brainstorm”? – but I’ve been impressed by the way Floyd have been rendered danceable this millennium, and the very fact that, back in the day, Judy Dyble and Greg Lake both made great versions of “I Talk to the Wind”, makes me wonder what light some contemporary crooner could throw on the piece – provided that they can get their head round the lyrics. Not quite the same as assessing whether Dusty or Dionne did Bacharach and David more justice, but worth a try.