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10/29/2011 5:07:31 PM

This is indeed a very depressing time and seemingly steeped in misery. Social and political revolutions taking place around the world, Nature rebelling against the human abuse of the Earth’s natural resources, the widening disparity between rich and poor and the general decay of society.  I suppose it was bound to happen eventually given the amount of people walking the Earth.

Like many other elements of life, the music scene as we know it now is suffering too. From X-Factor to inner city buskers, all are feeling the pinch. It is because of such austerity imposed upon us all that it is to say the least, bewildering that a box set of Pink Floyd’s back catalogue retailing at £159 recently hit the various shops and online outlets.

When many bands from all genres of music are cancelling gigs because of poor ticket sales and having their music stolen by illegal downloaders it seems that record company moguls and marketing guru’s still know how to turn a buck. The temptations to spend what is a dwindling disposable income on such items are great. The recent re-release of Emerson, Lake, & Palmers albums on 180g vinyl had my hand reaching for my Barclay card until a sense of reason kicked in and I thought of the many new recordings I would and should purchase instead.

I find myself saluting the many bands out there in Prog land that self-fund their various projects, taking pride over every last detail from the production to the packaging. Many of today’s prog bands are manned by personnel in full time employment working tirelessly at their day jobs and recording and playing in their own time. Many of the other stalwart progster’s have had to diversify and up their game to stay in the grand order of things.

Whilst bands like Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, ELP et al paved the way for the likes of Marillion and IQ, I fear a degree of resting on their laurels has now firmly set in. There are of course notable exceptions like Steve Hackett for whom I have the greatest respect. I find it very frustrating that many tribute bands as good as they are command larger audiences that some original artistes who have spent a copious amount of time and money recording and playing their music.

Indeed some tribute bands have within their ranks talented writers and musicians who put their own projects on hold or on the back burner to make a better living by performing to the nostalgia seekers. No harm at all in this. Being of a certain age I enjoy such evenings though I feel it very important to support the true modern prog bands who are keeping progressive music alive.

I was proud to have bands like Combination Head, Manning and John Hackett play at the Progmeister festival in March and next year I hope to have a full bill of original prog artistes of the highest quality. My worry of course is that in the present economic climate, I fail to sell the required amount of tickets. My view is that any such event should be supported in a bid to keep talented musicians recording and wanting to entertain us all.

In a world where money is slowly being devalued and companies wanting everything from your gold tie pin to your dental fillings are cropping up and advertising everywhere, we should all take solace in the things that we love the most, especially when it comes to music. Talented genius like Peter Gabriel will always have quality products for us to buy and covet, however, there are a myriad of talented bands out there which I would council you apportion some of your budget. As I write I hold in my hand the new Manning album “Margaret’s Children” and a superb album by Also Eden called “Think Of The Children”, both high quality items.

In a time where everything is so damned expensive and the quality of radio, television programming and other media leave a lot to be desired, may I suggest that prog fans return to doing what we did from the outset and escape in the landscapes and musical eccentricity of prog? There is still a lot to discover and enjoy thanks to many die hard prog musicians, it remains our aim to keep you informed about them.  Keep the faith!


9/7/2011 1:31:37 PM

This posting of Progmeister’s thoughts comes to you from a small fishing port near Ayamonte in southern Spain. The Progmeister is indeed on his Jolley’s and with me is a variety pack of Prog courtesy of my trust laptop. I was inspired to write when it dawned on me just how much the power of prog has made me aware of things I would otherwise been totally disinterested in. I have just returned to my holiday home from Castro Marim in southern Portugal where I visited the remains of the castle there. Before I left I had been listening to the new Mandalaband 4 album AD-Sangeal and what struck me was how much I had learned from listening to it as I walked around reading historical facts about history and architecture.

I am also listening to Steve Hackett’s wicked new album too and whilst doing so it made me think of Erik Satie, a composer whom I would never have heard of has it not been for Steve’s renditions of his work. Being as I was a fairly inattentive child my attention would often stray during music lessons at school, especially when it came to classical music. Like many children in the sixties I was fixated with pop music and whatever came out of the radio on top of the sideboard. Indeed any lesson which extolled the virtues of various classical composers.

It wasn’t until I was twelve years old and flouted most of my musical education that I bought a copy of “Pictures At An Exhibition by the venerable Emerson, Lake & Palmer which blew me away. Apart from giving me a lot of musical joy and satisfaction it also made me ask the important question, who is this Mussorgsky guy? My fascination with prog albums lead me to read about their content and concepts leading to interests in Egyptology, architecture, mythology, poetry and even the workings of the human mind.

I can’t remember the names of my music teachers after all these years, though I care instead to site Keith Emerson Manfred Mann, Rick Wakeman and other prog luminaries as my real music educators. This is something that I realise may make some people cringe; however, I make no apology for my mode of learning. What started all those years ago is still being carried on today by some great bands and artists from around the globe dividing opinion of the party faithful.

My views are constantly challenged by prog’s dissenters who firmly believe that such a musical form should be resigned to the history books. Many schools of thought are emerging with some thinking that all has been done with regard to progressive rock music by hero’s such as King Crimson, Yes, E.L.P. Pink Floyd and Genesis. Many music aficionados believe that all else are but poor imitation of these forefathers of prog and that new neo-prog bands are committing what amounts to acts of heresy. I do agree with them to a certain extent though I think that a certain mind set must be adopted in order to give newr bands a chance to be heard.

There are far too many titles being bandied around at the moment. Neo-Prog, Prog metal, Prog-folk, you name it and there is a title for it. Baring in mind that J.S. Bach himself was indeed one of the very first progressive musicians the genre leaps many boundaries. I think there is scope for everyone to be open minded. I have debated these matters at length with many differing points of view ranging from university graduates to secondary modern thugs like myself. Whether it was under the influence of alcohol are discussed over a cup of tea and a Hob Nob all confessed to being hugely influenced by those early prog classics and some even dared to admit having similar experiences to me. You would be both surprised and shocked to know how many punk and new wave artists where all out prog heads. I know, they told me themselves. As for my good self, I have a lot to thank those innovators of early prog for. Prog, What would life be like without it?


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