Saturday, May 25, 2013

#675: The Prog Guy?

Well, I thought I was a big-time Prog Guy 'til I started doing this blogging stuff. These days I have little patience for wanking around & showing off, for taking the more difficult path to musical satisfaction when what's really needed is just A Good Tune.
But most of the Mostly-Unheard New Stuff I have around the house is prog-oriented -- though not all of it. So here we go....

Joni Mitchell -- Raised On Robbery, Free Man in Paris, The Circle Game, Chelsea Morning.
Fairport Convention -- Chelsea Morning, Mr. Lacey, Book Song.
Squeeze -- Hourglass, Trust Me to Open My Mouth.
Nektar -- Fidgety Queen.
David Sancious and Tone -- TRUE STORIES: Sound of Love, Move On, Prelude #3, On the Inside, Fade Away, Ever the Same, Interlude, Matter of Time.
King Crimson -- ProzaKc Blues, The World is My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum, One Time, Radio II, Inner Garden II.
Wigwam -- Do or Die, Losing Hold, Grass for Blades.
Barclay James Harvest -- She Said, Song for Dying.
Be-Bop Deluxe -- Between the Worlds, Music in Dreamland.
Can -- Father Cannot Yell, Soup, Mother Sky.

OK so, "Raised on Robbery" to get me going -- great sax solo by Tom Scott in the middle, great funny sly lyrics from Joni. Liked the airy "Free Man in Paris" even before I learned it was supposed to be about David Geffen. "Circle Game" is so sweet&adorable it's almost hard to take -- would love to hear a rocked-up version, think somebody did one a few years back, but don't know who.
"Chelsea Morning" is very nice -- this woman might have a future, except for the screeches at the upper end of her vocal register. Just one question: Why isn't "Coyote" on Joni's HITS? It's not on MISSES, either. & Reprise could've thrown-in another 15 minutes of music on HITS -- why get stingy at this late date...?
Fairport rocks-up "Chelsea Morning" -- Judy Dyble is a good match for Joni, though she doesn't phrase her vocals quite so ... uniquely. The band unfortunately buries the song's most compelling verse. But they make up for it on the sly & funny blues "Mr. Lacey." From the MEET ON THE LEDGE best-of.
If everything Squeeze did was as catchy as "Hourglass," they'd be in the Rock&Roll Hall of Fame. Adding a sax on this song made a big difference -- they should've done it more often. Plus there's the rushed choruses, which you'll be singing along with in no time, even though the lyrics are a mouthful. The following "Trust Me to Open My Mouth" is a good case in point -- it's solid, competent, mildly enjoyable, but not magic. From GREATEST HITS.
"Fidgety Queen" is a classic overlooked rocker with great guitar-choruses. Could've been a hit, & should have been. Play it LOUD! From THE DREAM NEBULA best-of.
After mentioning it recently, I took TRUE STORIES to work, where it actually worked pretty well. At home it's just not cosmic enough compared to Sancious' earlier stuff -- it seemed way too conventional. But at work it seems to breathe & gain some life -- pretty decent jazz-rock background music. The keyboards always sound like Sancious, with his abrupt changes & sudden endings. & I can even take Alex Ligertwood's vocals -- because he's usually in a chorale-like blend with really excellent singers Brenda Madison & Gail Boggs.
"Move On" gets something good going before it suddenly cuts off. There are also 3 instrumentals on the album, but they're mostly ignorable -- one's a brief, quiet solo-piano piece, & one's a watery, short New-Age-ish thing.
So, not quite the disappointment I thought a couple of years ago, 3 stars at least. & you can still have my copy for $500....
KC's heavy comedies like "ProzaKc Blues" & "Oyster Soup Kitchen" are amusing for awhile -- especially Adrian Belew's lyrics. Then they're just loud & grating. But "One Time" is a really excellent KC ballad. From THE CONSTRUCKTION OF LIGHT and THRAK.
"Losing Hold" is a really excellent organ-led rocker with minimal vocals. "Grass for Blades" is intriguing, but I understand a better, expanded version is available on Wigwam's LIVE FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE album. "Do or Die" is an excellent low-key rocker -- all are from Wigwam's HIGHLIGHTS best-of, which is ... not bad overall, though I think some of their Very Best stuff ain't on it....
Ah, the Barclays. "She Said" isn't quite as extreme or as fake-operatic as "Dark Now My Sky" (see last post), & it is at least half as long. But there's lots more melodrama & lots more anguished, screaming guitar. BJH leader John Lees clearly had a grump on about someone. "Song for Dying" isn't terrible, but it's still pretty morose. A lot of stuff on BJH's HARVEST YEARS best-of is fairly depressing. Lots of signs of Harvest/EMI's money going right down the drain....
Be-Bop picks it up a bit at the end of their RAIDING THE DIVINE ARCHIVE best-of: "Between the Worlds" is almost good, but it's too short. "Music in Dreamland" returns to some of the old drama & has a nice guitar&keyboards mix. But "Sleep That Burns" & "Maid in Heaven" still stand above everything else on the disc. Disappointing that I bought this hoping to hear more great stuff, only to learn that except 4 "Maid in Heaven," I'd already heard all their best....
Used Can to wash most of this other stuff out of my head. "Soup" is just grating noise, but "Father Cannot Yell" & "Mother Sky" are some of the best upbeat trance music I know of....
More Strange Stuff Coming Soon....

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