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FatOldLady
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xx Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Thread started on: Aug 30th, 2016, 10:31am »

The past few days I have been reviewing several 'best artists of all time', 'best guitarists of all time' and those kinds of lists. And as I investigated I noticed one inexplicable trend: Prog bands and guitarists were not on these lists by so-called music experts. One of the most adventurous, innovative, influential, and complex musical genres was relegated to second-tier status. Why? I can't come up with a satisfactory explanation myself. Too hard for them to understand? Too 'pretentious' for them? I don't know... Maybe you guys are smarter than me and can comprehend the logic behind this? Thanks! huh
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #1 on: Aug 30th, 2016, 11:19am »

There is no logic in this. We all have to accept, that progressive rock has become sort of a niche genre, with a relative small amount of followers in comparison to main stream music. While bands like Yes and Genesis and others were big acts in the seventies and eighties, prog became more and more unimportant in later years. Bands like Marillion brought prog back to the perception of many in the mid - eighties, but only for a relatively short time. A lot of people, I know, who know Marillion are astounded, if I tell them, that they carried on in the nineties with Steve Hogarth and still exist.

A lot of artists, I admire, deserve a star in the concrete of Sunset Boulevard, but 10 yards down the road, nobody ever heard of them. And that probably includes the critics, you mentioned above.

Frustrating.
« Last Edit: Aug 30th, 2016, 11:21am by slowdancer » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #2 on: Aug 30th, 2016, 1:40pm »

This is a subject which always hits a nerve. There are a few new bands that have been impressive in the popular genre and I've even noticed rap music improved a lot compared to the 90s.

I think mainly the length of the track may have something to do with this. People don't want long songs or music as these are easier to play on the radio. Another reason is money, every one wants the slice of the pie, prog bands often make and produce their own stuff and do not promote their music to a wider stream of people. So us as fans rely on web-sites.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #3 on: Aug 30th, 2016, 6:57pm »

For me, at least, the primary reason why prog is frequently ignored is this: the genre just doesn't tick the boxes that most music listeners want ticked. It aims to tick boxes that only specific listeners want ticked, and often avoids certain boxes that people expect in music.

Now, what do the vast majority of music listeners want in music? A catchy and/or repetitive beat, a memorable opening, a 3-4 minute length, a solo that everyone can hum, lyrics that most people can relate to and/or understand (falling in love, heartbreak, getting intoxicated, partying, societal issues, depression, etc.), a popular music video and a singer whose appearance and/or voice is easily recognisable. Even songs that don't tick all the boxes can qualify - as long as they tick the main ones, that's good enough.

And what boxes do fans of prog want ticked? Prog fans want uniqueness, professionalism and tons of substance. They want to hear music that takes them to new worlds and expands upon and analyses concepts barely touched upon by other musicians. They want long, intricate, inventive tracks brimming with detail and intrigue, songs that constantly evolve. And that's why prog is ignored, because it deliberately goes against so much of what most people love about music that even top reviewers who compile these lists of best albums/guitarists/bands, just cannot get behind the genre. For a long time, I didn't get it, either. Why listen to one 20-minute song when you can listen to six 3-minute songs? 3 minutes is long enough, right?

Prog is a different world. If you showed a fan of classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal Mad Man Moon, they'd think "Where's the riff? How do I rock out to this? What's it about? Where's the chorus? What's the point of it?" Since it doesn't tick the expected boxes, it won't make a "best songs ever" list - despite it arguably being one of the finest pieces of music ever written in history. Then take Free's All Right Now... "Ah, there's the riff, there's the chorus, it's simple, I can understand the lyrics, it's over quickly, and I can instantly remember how it goes! One of the best songs ever! Let's play it to death on the radio!"

Being a fan of prog doesn't mean sacrificing a love for other genres, of course, nor does it mean that prog is always superior (I can name several prog albums that disappointed me). It's just that for most people, the genre just isn't considered necessary because of the pop/rock hit comfort zone. To a lot of people, change is considered bad, scary, insulting, even - if you were to make a list of the 100 best albums ever and not include albums like London Calling, Rumours and Never Mind The Bollocks, you'd be met with a lot of complaints, because the world decided that albums like those cannot be outdone by anyone, ever, mostly due to mass nostalgia. These music "experts" are forced to include them just to satisfy the expectations of the readers, who are ready to pounce and accuse.
« Last Edit: Aug 30th, 2016, 7:00pm by NoSonOfVine » User IP Logged

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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #4 on: Aug 31st, 2016, 06:40am »

Brilliant assessment, NoSon.

That goes along with a thought I've often had: The vast majority of music is targeted at, and bought by, people who aren't really "music people" at all.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #5 on: Aug 31st, 2016, 08:06am »

on Aug 30th, 2016, 6:57pm, NoSonOfVine wrote:
Then take Free's All Right Now... "Ah, there's the riff, there's the chorus, it's simple, I can understand the lyrics, it's over quickly, and I can instantly remember how it goes! One of the best songs ever! Let's play it to death on the radio!"

I’d dispute that - All Right Now seems to drag on interminably laugh

But there's one other essential thing to add about prog: most people like to hear a good tune now & again, even if it’s only a brief snatch. Large amounts of both prog & indeed classical music fail in this respect, going on for too long without offering ordinary music listeners anything they can latch onto. So the whole genre unfairly gets a reputation for being boring. Whereas early Genesis, as one prog-hating critic grudgingly conceded “were never far from a good tune” which is probably why they appeal to people like me when they finally listen to them. wink
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #6 on: Aug 31st, 2016, 09:31am »

on Aug 31st, 2016, 06:40am, onetwothree wrote:
That goes along with a thought I've often had: The vast majority of music is targeted at, and bought by, people who aren't really "music people" at all.


That's an interesting point. I've been talking with some friends of mine about this, we agreed that fusion jazz (jazz rock, jazz funk...) in particular seems to be that sort of "music for musicians" because mainstream people seem to be unable to handle it but musicians love it as it gives liberty to the performing musicians to play all the "real interesting stuff".
However, prog lovers often seem to have a problem to deal with jazz too. Prog is the paradise for composers and arrangers, not so much for improvisers though, in that way it's closer to classical music. But do prog lovers like classical music at all?... It's all a bit complicated.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #7 on: Aug 31st, 2016, 10:41am »

on Aug 31st, 2016, 09:31am, Schrottrocker wrote:
That's an interesting point. I've been talking with some friends of mine about this, we agreed that fusion jazz (jazz rock, jazz funk...) in particular seems to be that sort of "music for musicians" because mainstream people seem to be unable to handle it but musicians love it as it gives liberty to the performing musicians to play all the "real interesting stuff".
However, prog lovers often seem to have a problem to deal with jazz too. Prog is the paradise for composers and arrangers, not so much for improvisers though, in that way it's closer to classical music. But do prog lovers like classical music at all?... It's all a bit complicated.


Sorry Schrottrocker, not sure what you mean here. There are quite a few Jazz related prog bands out there.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #8 on: Aug 31st, 2016, 12:11pm »

on Aug 31st, 2016, 09:31am, Schrottrocker wrote:
Prog is the paradise for composers and arrangers, not so much for improvisers though, in that way it's closer to classical music. But do prog lovers like classical music at all?

Well, for what it's worth, I personally dislike most classical music.

I also tend to like jazz-rock better than actual jazz.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #9 on: Aug 31st, 2016, 5:22pm »

I don't have the extensive knowledge of prog that most people here have. But I do love classical music and I have to say, my favourite classical music works are the pieces which - guess what - tend to have strong melodic themes; hence Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Tchaikovsky & perhaps most obvious of all, Dvorak's New World Symphony. If that makes me a populist when it comes to classical music rather than a purist, so be it. Even my favourite violin & piano concertos, suich as Tchaikovsky's & Rachmaninov's, have the compelling tunes which draw you into them.

It's the same with opera. I prefer the big choruses rather than individual arias (e.g. Soldiers' Chorus from Faust, Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore, Grand March from Aida, Patria Oppressa from Macbeth).
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #10 on: Sep 1st, 2016, 08:20am »

NSOV makes many good points, but I suspect there's also a "kings new clothes" element going on, whereby organisations like the BBC have for years said things like "punk killed prog, and good thing too!" and many people are loath to argue. As it happens, however, the Beeb seem to be opening their minds these days. Maybe, one day..................
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #11 on: Sep 1st, 2016, 08:55am »

I wonder where this attitude of the British music press originated from that punk is the holy grail of music history. Nothing against punk but I feel British journalists have put it on a pedestal for decades over everything else. rolleyes
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #12 on: Sep 1st, 2016, 6:17pm »

They thought it was more representative of 'the street' just as the US music press thought the same about Bruce Springsteen. They thought that type of music was more reflective of the lives of 'real people'. They thought that if they identified & championed this type of music their 'street cred' would skyrocket, never mind the quality of the music.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #13 on: Sep 2nd, 2016, 09:41am »

"Street cred" is overrated. grin Yea it's really something you could and still can observe in German journalism too - rock'n'roll has to be sweaty, it has to be the honest voice of rebelling workers who can't read sheet but let their hormons speak... tongue It's the same reason rappers get idolized by the press, it's some myth journalists have been sticking to forever. I don't get it.
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xx Re: Critics ignore prog (rant)
« Reply #14 on: Sep 2nd, 2016, 09:55am »

on Sep 1st, 2016, 6:17pm, FeelItComing wrote:
They thought it was more representative of 'the street' just as the US music press thought the same about Bruce Springsteen. They thought that type of music was more reflective of the lives of 'real people'. They thought that if they identified & championed this type of music their 'street cred' would skyrocket, never mind the quality of the music.


Totally agree. Critics always enjoy pumping up their egos and reputations. If they had genuine opinions, Genesis and Pink Floyd might have made another album(s) (let's remember how critics completely destroyed CAS and The Division Bell).
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