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Reelin’ In The Years 72: Lay Down

The Strawbs were the favourite band of another of my schoolfriends. Only somewhat proggy, they were on the folkish end of the prog rock spectrum.

This is a rockier track though.

The Strawbs: Lay Down

Friday On My Mind 90: Epitaph

I’ve not had some prog rock for a while so here’s a track from King Crimson’s first album In the Court of the Crimson King.

There’s some great portentous guitar and nice heavy mellotron on this.

King Crimson: Epitaph (including “March for No Reason” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow”)

Live It Up 5: Punch and Judy

The place The Troggs had for me in the 60s and Sweet in the early 70s was taken by Marillion in the early 80s.

Marillion have been forever tagged with the Prog Rock label and while their first songs – especially the 17 minute long Grendel and most of the debut album Script For a Jester’s Tear – fit that bill (which was why I got into them in the first place) by the time of Fugazi they had mainly moved on to a more guitar based rock sound.

Their initial success, though, shows that Prog wasn’t as moribund a genre as its detractors would have had it.

Mind you their third and fourth LPs, Misplaced Childhood and Clutching at Straws were those most Prog of things, concept albums (though arguably one concept album spread over two releases.)

I think I first saw them on television on The Oxford Road Show (who remembers that!) when this was one of the songs they played. Despite it being from Fugazi there is still a hint of Prog and echoes of Genesis.

This clip, though, is from Top of the Pops. Check out Fish – with hair!

Marillion: Punch and Judy

Reelin' In The Years 63: 10538 Overture

Speaking of ELO, this was their first single from that eponymous first album, Electric Light Orchestra.

Heavy cellos; as well as brass.

The guitar riff has been much copied. (Yes, Paul Weller, I’m looking at you.)

Electric Light Orchestra: 10538 Overture

Reelin' In The Years 57: The World Became the World

I’ve not had any prog rock for a while so here is Italy’s finest, Premiata Forneria Marconi (or PFM,) with a beezer. (Just wait for the hook about one and a half minutes in.)

Thank God if sometimes your oyster holds a pearl.

PFM: The World Became the World

And for added value here’s a video of the band performing Celebration on The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Friday On My Mind 77: The Weaver's Answer

Stephen Baxter’s Emperor, which I have just finished reading, has as its motive force a Weaver of Time’s tapestry. Inevitably it brought to mind this song.

Family: The Weaver’s Answer

Family’s songs didn’t usually have straightforward structures and so they stray into Prog Rock territory.

Real Prog: The Court Of The Crimson King

This is probably the track which really switched me on to prog rock. I had been softened up by Procol Harum and had, I think, a few Moody Blues LPs by this time but this was something different.

I heard The Court Of The Crimson King for the first time on Pick of the Pops. Alan Freeman did not just play the top twenty but other more eclectic stuff. I particularly remember the name Rabbi Abraham Feinberg.

Anyway, one day this came on and I thought “Wow. What is that?”

King Crimson: In The Court Of The Crimson King (including “The Return of the Fire Witch” and “The Dance of the Puppets”)

Prog? Really?

I was watching “Prog at the BBC” last week. It featured the usual suspects – except for me Soft Machine always tipped too far over into seemingly improvised tootling to be prog.

But they also showed Atomic Rooster.

Atomic Rooster?

Fair enough their drummer Carl Palmer went on to become a member of those highpriests of the overblown, ELP, but Atomic Rooster themselves were more or less straightforward rock (even if the Wiki link above does say they were a “progressive” rock band.)

As witness Tomorrow Night, the track played on the programme (by which time Palmer had already left):-

Atomic Rooster:€“ Tomorrow Night

Woolly Wolstenholme

I must have been one of the last to catch up with the news of the death last month of “Woolly” Wolstenholme, one of the founders of prog rock group Barclay James Harvest. I almost skipped the Guardian’s obituary page on Friday. I’m glad I didn’t now. (Though the picture does the band no favours, making them look like a bunch of effetes. Still, it was the seventies, a lot of bands looked like that then.)

BJH were one of the main purveyors of the branch of prog rock that took the adjective “symphonic” and Wolstenholme was perhaps the main driver of these leanings towards classical music.

They were famous notorious for touring with a live orchestra – though they gave that up pretty quickly as being too expensive.

While not providing the bulk of the group’s songs – John Lees and Les Holroyd did that – Wolstenholme’s contributions lent the band a distinctive tone.

The fullest extent of Wolstenholme’s classical extensions to their work is probably the track Moonwater from the Baby James Harvest album.

A more typical flavour of his songwriting can be gleaned from listening to Beyond The Grave from the album Time Honoured Ghosts or Sea of Tranquility from Gone To Earth though Harbour from XII (of which this is a performance by successor band John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest) is more folkish. I have a sneaking regard for Ra from Octoberon but haven’t found a net-playable version.

XII was the last BJH album to which Woolly contributed. It featured the track below, which seems to be the favourite of those devotees who have posted on You Tube.

Barclay James Harvest: In Search Of England

Woolly’s death is even sadder in that as a sufferer from depression, he took his own life.

Stuart John “Woolly” Wolstenholme. 15/4/47-13/12/10. So it goes.

Friday On My Mind 36: Classical Gas

I’ve always had a tendency to like tunes that incorporated classical influences into rock so when this came out it was something of a no-brainer. (Though no-one had heard of that phrase at the time.)

Is this also a possible contender as a progenitor of prog rock?

Mason Williams: Classical Gas

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