“Blame it on the name. Blodwyn Pig. It made it a little too easy to just look the other way. In fact, it was decades after the fact that I even realized it was the band Mick Abrahams formed when he split from Jethro Tull (after only one album). And it’s all there really, the same smart sort of jazz, blues, rock (but mostly blues) that the early Tull was delivering. And it was good. Hell, See My Way’s a genuine treasure. How did we all miss that one? Must’ve been the name. Blodwyn Pig is not a good name for a great band.” (Philip Random)
1983’s Dazzle Ships was the last Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark album that felt necessary. Smart pop that wasn’t afraid to get experimental, and it worked (even if it actually rated as a commercial disaster at the time). “Radio Waves stood out because I was just getting started on my own radio adventures at the time. From the transmitter to the receiver. Sounds simple until you get profoundly high and suddenly you realize, it’s not just the machines that are transmitting and receiving, it’s human beings, human hearts, human souls. It’s all one big cosmic pop extravaganza, and you can dance to it.” (Philip Random)
In their early days, Pop Will Eat Itself presented as dumbshit grebos, getting wasted, kerranging away in the garage with guitars and beatbox. And yet, their future genius was already hiding in plain in the guise of a cover of an obscure Shriekback groover turned sideways and rocked up into two-and-a-half minutes of full-on psychedelic revelation. Because it is true, everything that rises does converge … if you’re high enough.
“The The (aka Matt Johnson) being the last word in ‘The’ bands, Infected being their second (or perhaps third) album, and though not as overwhelmingly soulful and melodic and relevant as its predecessor, Soul Mining, it was still pretty darned strong. Sweet Bird of Truth was the lead off single, and sweet it wasn’t, because it was 1986, and if you were reading the papers, it was pretty clear we were all gonna die, and soon, what with the arms race out of control, Ronald Reagan slipping into dementia, the Doomsday Clock ticking closer and closer to midnight. And if that wasn’t keeping you up at night, there were all those angry folks in the Middle East and beyond seen often on TV, jamming city streets, shaking their fists, Death To The Infidels and all that, and we deserved it. Sweet Bird of Truth captured all of this rather nicely.”
As evolutions go, the outfit known as Renaissance worked a weirder one than most. Originally formed out of the meltdown of the Yardbirds (Keith Relf and Jim McCarty wanting to try their hand at something a little more sophisticated) it would, in time, pull what’s known as a Ship of Theseus (the Theseus’ paradox being a thought experiment, first posed in the late first century, that raises the question of whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains fundamentally the same object). In Renaissance’ case, that meant all the original members were long gone by the time 1973’s Ashes Are Burning came along. And that “more sophisticated” sound – it had evolved into a mostly acoustic progressive rock that was nevertheless managed to get very big and dramatic when required, with Ashes Are Burning (the song) about as epic as they ever got. And soaring above it all, you had the inimitable voice of Annie Haslam, classically trained and as strong and vast and high and ghostly and beautiful a sound as has ever been heard on any kind of so-called rock song.
The Solid Time of Change is our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we hope to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Thirty-Two of the journey went as follows:
Curtis Mayfield – right on for the darkness
Roxy Music – song for Europe
Rush – The Meek shall get sucked into the black hole of Cygnus X-1
Pink Floyd – fearless
Pink Floyd -dogs
Yes – awaken
Harmonium – histoire sans paroles [pieces]
Harmonium – depuis l’automne
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