I'm back, sorta. & I was wrong -- Mark Powell's PROPHETS AND SAGES: AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO UNDERGROUND AND PROGRESSIVE ROCK was released the 1st week of May. So I've had a little over a week 2 look at it. Some 1st impressions:
Well, there's a LOT of solid information here, from release dates 2 original catalog #'s 2 chart action (if any, mostly 4 the U.K.) 2 audience response, band histories, why the bands broke up, where the members went after that, & a whole lot more.
It's not all prog, or even what I'd call "underground" -- Cream & Traffic don't strike me as fitting either category. & tho there's a lotta forgotten or overlooked artists included here, they're certainly not ALL overlooked -- not when you've got Yes, ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues & Pink Floyd in the book.
Powell looks at 100 prog/undy(?) albums in chronological order, starting with the Moodies' DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED in late '67 & working up 2 Vangelis's HEAVEN AND HELL at the end of 1975. This hundred includes "20 lesser-known greats" & an additional 10 "that need no introduction." & there's some great stuff here, among the titles I recognized.
There's also a lotta people I've never heard of -- High Tide, Skin Alley, Locomotive, T2, Web, East of Eden, Agitation Free, Jody Grind, Quintessence.... Powell has done his homework.
There's a good number of artists you've likely heard OF but don't know much about -- Khan, Egg, the Groundhogs, Family, Pretty Things, Man, Aphrodite's Child, Colosseum, Edgar Broughton Band, Atomic Rooster, Arthur Brown's various insanities, Pink Fairies, Audience, Roy Harper, String Driven Thing, etc.
There's also a ton of names I'm sure you'll recognize. You may not be in any hurry 2 read ANOTHER write-up on IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING or CLOSE TO THE EDGE, but there R enuf other acts & albums discussed here that I'll bet you'll agree the book is worth the $$$.
Powell wisely does not try 2 describe the music 2 much. His basic approach is: "This is pretty great stuff; you should try to hear it."
Some minor criticisms:
* I'd be willing 2 bet about 25 of these 100 albums are items you've heard & read-about 2 DEATH: CLOSE TO THE EDGE, THE YES ALBUM, SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND, BRAIN SALAD SURGERY, MEDDLE, TAGO MAGO, TUBULAR BELLS (8 pgs about this is at least 4 too many), PAWN HEARTS, THE SNOW GOOSE, etc. So go 2 the new-2-you stuff 1st....
* Some sections (on Caravan, Camel, Hatfield and the North) seem 2 duplicate pretty closely the liner-notes Powell has written 4 recent archive re-releases he's overseen. Not that summa the stories aren't worth reading again, like Hatfields drummer Pip Pyle's comments about Virgin Records producer Tom "Bulk Erase" Newman....
* You may be shocked to discover that there are no American bands profiled in this book.
* I know I say this a lot, but this book coulda been proofread at least 1 more time. There are a lot of little errors that make mush of Powell's work.
...There's also a catalog listing of prog/undy CD's available from Powell's Esoteric Records included in the back of the book. Many of the items listed there R also discussed within the text. This is not a criticism at all -- NEthing that gets this stuff heard by more people is OK by me....
I'm not claiming 2 have read the whole book already. Could take awhile. But already I'm hoping this sells enuf 4 Powell 2 write a sequel. There's more good stuff out there, & I think there's enuf good prog up thru the mid-'80s that's worth investigating. (& I'm available 4 proofreading duties....)
So get the book. It's not as flashy as Will Romano's MOUNTAINS COME OUT OF THE SKY, but the sheer mass of factual data & stories should keep you busy 4 awhile.
My thanx 2 those who continue 2 read here, even when I'm not active. I appreciate your support. Tho I still haven't got this Internet-connection thing settled, hopefully as the weather improves I'll be able 2 post here more often. This is the 1 part of my life that makes sense & doesn't stress me out, so ... thanx 4 listening....