Friday, April 09, 2021

It's Self-Indulgence Week: Part V -- Like an Orange That Turns Up Juiceless, Bands Like King Crimson Are Just Plain Useless

First of all, let's establish our terms.

All -- and I mean ALL -- of what's called prog-rock completely sucks. The only thing it exists for is to remind you how great the real Beethoven and the real Yardbirds actually were.

That said, the one band who might be described as prog that is worth a fucking damn -- and it's more accurate to characterize them as classical-rock fusion -- is the stupdendously great Procol Harum.

Who achieved a seamless (and conceptually brilliant) melange of gospel (via Ray Charles organ/piano) and J.S. Bach.

And as an example, from their 1967 debut album, please enjoy their haunting -- and a song I've been trying to learn the piano part for, with zero success, over a period of 50 years -- "Salad Days (Are Here Again)."

And to every pretentious whey-faced British prog-rocker -- particularly Robert Fripp (aka the World's Most Boring Guitarist Who Isn't Frank Zappa) and anybody who ever played in Yes (with the exception of Rick Wakeman, who's a fun guy) -- please go fucking fuck yourself and your utterly sterile and soul-less music toot sweet. Thank you very much.

And may I add another fuck you to Robbie Robertson of The Band, who (in)famously said, when asked about Procol, that everything they did "was vaguely reminiscent of that Percy Sledge thing."

Fuck you, Robbie. Get back to me when anything you've ever done was as good as PH.

Have a great weekend, everybody!!!


Blue Ash Fan said...

I've known many prog-rock heads in my time, and I'm struck by how deep, complex, and profound they find prog to be when compared to the lesser styles of rock. But, when I hear prog, I just can't get over how dumb it all sounds. Ever listen to Rush? I don't know whether to laugh or cringe. Usually, I just go the safe route and do both. And don't even get me started on Yes.

Anonymous said...

This mix of Salad Days sounds different from the mix I've loved for 54 years so I went back and listened to the original mix (on the original album) and I was correct, it is different. WTF!

Also I disagree with you about calling Procol Harum Prog Rock. They can't be Prog Rock, they are too good to be Prog Rock!!!

So getting back to my original question, what are we going to do about this new mysterious mix of Salad Days? I can deal with only so many remixes before my brain and ears melt! By the way Repent Walpurgis still sounds incredible!

I'm really not trying to raise a stink but nobody can mess with my Procol Harum!

Captain Al

Sal Nunziato said...

I find the comments and schoolyard trashing on this post far more cringeworthy than any of the output of the artists mentioned. This practice of dismissing musicians who can play a little more than three chords and move out of a 4/4 rhythm is boring. "Soulless?" Where is the "soul" in power pop, a genre that for the better part of the last 50 years has done nothing more than ripoff The Beatles and Big Star.

Fripp, Steve Howe, Frank Zappa, Alex Lifeson are all fabulous guitarists. Listen to Fripp's solo on "Easy Money" if you want soul, or his far from boring melodies throughout all of  "Starless & Bible Black."

It took a film, "Bohemian Rhapsody" to open the ears of lifelong Queen haters who have been listening to and loving power pop acts like Jellyfish and Bleu and Beagle. and countless others who have ripped off Queen's vocal technique for years.

"Don't even get me started on Yes?"

What the fuck is wrong with the first five Yes albums? Or any of its members? Bill Bruford and Chris Squire? Really? Boring?

They should "go fucking fuck themselves?" Haha! Puh-LEEZE!

There are plenty of Beatles, Jefferson Airplane, and Byrds references on the first five Yes records, not to mention stunning melodies and harmonies that rival the influences, including the beloved fucking Hollies. I guess it sucks that they happen to play their instruments well.

Boring? I'll give you boring. Calling the Velvet Underground geniuses, that's boring. Schoolyard trashing of legitimate musicians is boring.
Every new power pop act described as "Badfinger meets Big Star"--THAT'S FUCKING BORING.

As for Procol Harum, I love them! Truly, madly, deeply in love with them.
So at least there's that.
Peace & Love,
Sal "Must Go Take His BP Meds" Nunziato.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Sal. I especially love this: "It took a film, "Bohemian Rhapsody" to open the ears of lifelong Queen haters who have been listening to and loving power pop acts like Jellyfish and Bleu and Beagle. and countless others who have ripped off Queen's vocal technique for years."

steve simels said...

I had a feeling this post might upset some folks. :-)

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on Yes, mainly because I do not like Jon Anderson's vocals/lyrics. I'm sure that any keyboard player in a prog band could play the piano part in the PH piece. As to the rest, I guess it was a bad hair day for you, Steve. ;-)

- Paul in DK

ChrisE said...


I've loved reading your scribblings for over 40 years, even though I didn't agree with a few of them. I do think, though, it's a wee bit short-sighted to do these sweeping, blanket denunciations of entire styles (prog-rock, jazz-rock, etc.) of music. Usually each genre has at least a few good things in it.

GLLinMO said...

If everyone liked the same thing the world would be pretty boring....

As to prog rock, the genre has highs and lows. I do find both the fans and musicians involved to be overly self important and egotistical. Then again, you know artists in general...

buzzbabyjesus said...

I'm with Sal. Real music fans don't write off entire genres with such gleeful ignorance. You are literally the definition of Philistines. Smugly conventional in taste, and exhibiting hostility or indifference to culture and the arts, while lacking any understanding of them.

Mark said...

There's a great line by the American writer, Philip K. Dick, "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." While it has no reference here, it's one helluva good line.

Prog rock? The worst? Prog doesn't even begin to enter the debate - for me - until gamelan and zydeco are discussed. And Sal's right about the first Yes albums. I'll go the first 3, and maybe, just maybe, the first 4. But by Tales, I couldn't stop laughing at the lyrics. And maybe that's one thing that many, but not all prog bands, have in common, fantasy story lyrics.

And I take that back about gamelan and zydeco.

pete said...

I agree with Sal about the Velvet Underground, agree with Steve about Frank Zappa, agree with the Creem magazine article that called him "Snobby Robbie, the most conceited man in show business," but will not divest myself of the firm conviction that Music From Big Pink is the album that ended the British Invasion.

pete said...

I expect our freshly vaccinated friend is feeling some side effects.

pete said...

Last comment, I promise. Robert Fripp is nowhere near as boring a guitarist as Frank Zappa.

Phil Cheese said...

This kind of reads like an author who has smoke and flames coming out of their ears and nose...and it's only 5:48 AM! God, I hope he didn't turn on the 6:00 AM Fox News because that would have sent him flying over the brink for sure causing his head to explode! Haha! We love you Steve, and in the future please avoid getting so worked up over a by-gone music genre as it's not good for your aging rock and roll heart.

Anonymous said...

Hey, fuck this Prog Rock discussion!

Does anyone else hear the different sound of the mix of Salad Days? That's the real question concerning me. I'm serious(mostly).

Captain Al

PS I agree about the early albums of Yes being good, that Fripp is better than Zappa (don't get me started about Zappa), that I think many of Queens singles were terrific and I must confess that I really like the Prog Band Family.

The comment about "Music from Big Pink" is very thought provoking. Let me mull that one over and get back to you guys in a few days.

And stop ganging up on Simels! He is mostly right with today's column and don't doubt for a second he didn't know he might send all of us around the bend with his comments. Think of Steve as saying Bugs Bunny's most famous line "Ain't I a Stinker!".

Alzo said...

IMHO, Prog is a sometimes-wonderful, often-cringeworthy genre. Its basic conceit was that rock needed to transcend its primitivism and aspire to being considered serious music- which affords us to wield the dreaded cancel word 'pretentious.' A little ELP goes a long way and a lot is way, way too much. I have actually liked Rush's music right up to the point that Old Helium Lungs starts singing. Having said that, I have an enduring fondness (like Steve's for Procol Harum) for Argent.

danny1959 said...

Your post doesn't upset me in the least. I love prog rock, especially King Crimson. Fripp, by the way, far from being boring, is charming and delightful. You should watch some of the videos he does with his equally charming wife Toyah on YouTube. I long ago gave up caring what other people think of my tastes in music.

steve simels said...

"This practice of dismissing musicians who can play a little more than three chords and move out of a 4/4 rhythm is boring"

You know who else can do that shit, and I emphasize shit?

Peter Duchin.

steve simels said...

BTW, get back to me when you can name one prog song with a decent lyric. ;-)

Al Weissman said...

Steve, in baseball an umpire feels he/she has called a successful game if at least one call has been disputed. You have made your call, and you have read the reactions. Thus, you have called a good game. Keep on keepin'on.

Al Weissman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ChrisE said...

F.Y.I. I like Peter Duchin's version (on the Bell label) of "Comin' Home Baby", with Bernard Purdie on drums. Mostly because it has Bernard Purdie on drums :-)

Unknown said...

Not a prog rock fan but bought a few in my time
Want to debate a few...Genesis- Watcher of the Skies (Live Album)
2nd - Bebop Deluxe- Live In Th
The Air Age.
Other than that- Saw Hendix, opening band. .Eire Apperent. .snooze