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Music time - Eric's House Of Ego
October 21st, 2009
03:31 pm

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Music time
We're talking about various bands here at work.

IYNSHO, what is the great American prog rock band?

I have to go with Kansas.

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(24 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:rmeidaking
Date:October 21st, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
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I like Boston more than Kansas. What other bands would fit the category? Journey was pretty good.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
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Progressive rock. Both of those are rock ... with a small "r"
From:the_ogre
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:43 pm (UTC)
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And in no way "progressive".
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From:qnofhrt
Date:October 21st, 2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
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Is Jethro Tull considered American? If not, I'd second Kansas.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
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Tull is one of the greatest prog bands ever, but they are certainly not from the US
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
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They are from Kansas. Topeka I believe.

Utopia was all over the place stylistically was the problem. They put out great prog stuff, then pop stuff.
From:mike46
Date:October 21st, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
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Kansas is a good answer for sure. Depending if you view prog from more of a Yes-ish vein, I'd go with Starcastle. Dream Theater or Symphony X for prog-metal stuff.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
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Dream Theater bores me to tears. I've never heard Symphony X. Starcastle were a little too much like Yes for my tastes.
From:mike46
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
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Yea, never said I liked Dream Theater. For such a group of talented people, they don't do much for me as a band.

Symphony X is a real technical prog metal band with a phenomenal singer.

It all depends on what you consider prog. I usually put the emphasis on the rock more than the prog part. Rocket Scientists are a great prog band, as are Spock's Beard. I love Lana Lane, but she's more a combo of hard rock/prog than straight prog.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
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DT are a great example of why you should never ever send someone to the Berklee College Of Music. It turns them into soulless scrotumless technique hounds.
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From:phillip2637
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:13 pm (UTC)
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I'll admit up front to being fairly vague on the definition (in spite of liking most of the Brit bands that usually get labeled that way), but Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention seems likely. "Uncle Meat" sure fit some vision of 'progressive'.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
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I would have to say that the latter 70s version of Zappa's band were right up there for me.
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From:fredhuggins
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)
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The first couple Sparks albums were kinda prog-rock-ish...but then they started blending prog-rock with power-pop for the rest of the 70s. Then they were new wave in the 80s, techno in the 90s and god-knows-what-you'd-even-call-it in the 00s. If Utopia doesn't count, Sparks certainly doesn't.

I only bring this up because despite their MUCH higher prominence in Europe, Sparks is technically American.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
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You FINALLY left one of the replies ... bought time

I am a massive Sparks fan, especially the brit era. I don't know of any of their stuff that could be called prog.
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From:fredhuggins
Date:October 22nd, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I often post too hastily, then read it back and wonder what the hell I was smoking ten seconds ago.

Honestly, I never quite realized until today just how staggeringly British prog-rock really was. IMO the greatest North American prog-rock band was Rush, so even CANADA is better at this than we!
From:the_ogre
Date:October 21st, 2009 09:57 pm (UTC)
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I have problems with Kansas' all to evident uberChristian sound. I think that Tortoise (though it's hard to call what they do "rock") is up there, as is the very first Jefferson Starship album (actually a Paul Kantner solo album with a lot of guests), Blows Against The Empire - but I'd have to say that the Dixie Dregs are the great American prog rock band.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
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I really don't consider Tortoise prog, good band (I used to know a couple of them) but not really prog.

I haven't listened to BATE in years, I need to find that.

The Dregs have always been more of a jazz/rock band, I don't know if I would call them prog, but I could certainly see an argument for it.

I love Livgren's lyrics, and I am certainly not a christian. Then again I love The Call, who are much more upfront with their beliefs.
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From:gundo
Date:October 21st, 2009 10:13 pm (UTC)
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Most of the stuff people know Kansas for came before Livgren became a Christian.
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From:barondave
Date:October 21st, 2009 10:16 pm (UTC)
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I don't know what you mean by "prog rock". I always put Kansas in with Boston and a few others as "Corporate Rock".

Based on the bands on the Progressive Seventies CD and the wiki entry, I'd have to say the great USian band in that genre is ELP.

(I'd rather say The Holy Modal Rounders, but they were too progressive for airplay...)
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 21st, 2009 10:23 pm (UTC)
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Kansas were as un-corporate rock a band as has even been popular. Corporate rock never goes into 7/8 time.

ELP were British.
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From:jcw_da_dmg
Date:October 22nd, 2009 03:00 pm (UTC)
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I just want to see what kind of crap Eric will give me for mentioning Blue Öyster Cult.
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 22nd, 2009 03:29 pm (UTC)
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Another desperate cry for attention from Mr W. How sweet.

BOC are, and have been for decades, one of my favorite bands. They are a massive influence on Toyboat.

Name a dozen songs that are even a little bit prog. When you do, give me the classical/jazz/whatever influences in them and the different time signatures that run through them. Explain why these songs are prog.

If you are unable to do this then go back to the kids table till you are able to bring something constructive to the conversation.

Edited at 2009-10-22 03:30 pm (UTC)
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From:jcw_da_dmg
Date:October 22nd, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
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So, just the usual crap then. How sweet.

I refuse to name a dozen because I don't have time to research it. I will, however, cite the fact that their wikipedia page (I hear it now, "such DEFINITIVE documentation", but at least I'm not the only one saying it) lists "progressive rock" as one of their genres.

But there are certainly unusual rhythmic devices at work in the instrumental bridge to "Don't Fear The Reaper", and in "Career Of Evil", and "Dominance and Submission".

And I'm not going to talk time signatures with someone who admits he doesn't even read music.

"MOM! Eric's picking on me again!"
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From:ericcoleman
Date:October 29th, 2009 02:20 pm (UTC)
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I refuse to name a dozen because I don't have time to research it.

Which translates as "I really didn't know what I was talking about before, otherwise I wouldn't have to research it."

I have 45 BOC songs on my Ipod. Being on the road this weekend, I had time to listen to an awful lot of them (and I thank you for that, I haven't listened to BOC in detail in some time). As for the unusual rhythmic devices, the drummer does some interesting things with syncopation, but, on 45 songs, they only stray from 4/4 once, that on Astronomy.

As for Wikipedia, let's go to their page on Progressive Rock.

Under musical characteristics they have Form, Timbre, Rhythm, Melody and Harmony and finally texture and imagery. As described, none of the examples given are at all present in BOCs music.
Form: they are a 3-5 chord rock and roll band. They rarely stray from the standard verse-chorus-bridge forms. Your average bar band could play most of their music easily (although they may have difficulties with the guitar solos)
Timbre: They are a guitar band, keyboards are ornamentation, and there are no other instruments present.
Rhythm: straight up 4/4 for 99% of what I have, and I have a pretty complete collection. My rule, can you hear Ringo Starr keeping time with a song with just a high hat, a snare and a bass drum? Albert Bouchard is a great drummer who does very interesting things with syncopation, and he obviously knows his rudiments, but he is pretty much always playing in 4/4
Melody: Pretty much straight up rock vocals. I suppose my rule is, can you imagine Chuck Berry singing this ... yeah, most of the time.
Texture and Imagery: At times yeah, Veteran Of The Psychic Wars leans toward prog, but only leans.

Next in other characteristics there are technology, concept albums, lyrical themes, presentation and stage theatrics.

For all practical purposes, they don't use any of the tech associated with prog. They do use some synthesizers, but it is not the primary sound of the band, guitars are the core.
Concept albums: One. Imaginos. And a lot of "rock" bands have done concept albums. You gonna call The Kinks prog next?
Lyrical Themes: Here is the only place where there is any serious argument for BOC being any sort of a prog band. Their lyrics, after the first couple of albums anyway, are rarely typical rock songs. They use odd imagery and SF and Fantasy themes a lot of the time.
Stage Theatrics: Yeah they used lasers on one tour. Other than that, they stand there and play. There are no stage sets. I think they may have used a big inflatable Godzilla on one tour.

If you want to know what the real prog fans have to say, go read the reviews at www.progarchives.com. The general consensus is that they resemble prog at times, but are by no means a prog band.

Finally, I don't read music when it comes to guitar, I have never needed to. However, I do read music, although admittedly not as well as I used to. And most importantly, as a drummer, I can count. I know that you need to find ways to prop yourself up, but if you are going to try to dismiss someone, at least know what you are talking about. And if you are going to talk about music, be ready to do more than type.
Eric Coleman, Curmudgeon Powered by LiveJournal.com