Second of two in a row from Gentle Giant’s prolific and dense and rather brilliant early 1970s phase. Inmate’s Lullaby being one of those songs that absolutely succeeds insofar as, even if you don’t pay attention to the lyrics, you know what it’s about. It’s about madness, insanity, but in a nice way, like a nice day at the asylum. The inmate looks out his window and smells the flowers and hears the birds and comes to believe he’s in paradise, heaven even. Does heaven have inmates? If it does, you know they have a band, and it likely sounds a lot like Gentle Giant do here, working all manner of archaic and weird (for any kind of rock outfit) instrumentation to evocative effect.
“I first stumbled onto Gentle Giant via late night TV, maybe 1975. My first thought was, these guys are strange. And I’ve never wavered in that estimation. Or more to the point, the stranger the better. And they never got stranger than Knots, from the album called Octopus, and Knots is nothing if not Octopus like – at least eight separate arms all reaching for something beyond their grasp. I’m sure I’ve heard it a thousand times, yet I’m still not entirely clear how it even goes, though lyrically, it does seem very connected to the psychology of RD Laing.” (Philip Random)
The forced marriage in 1980 of prog-rock dinosaurs Yes and earworm popsters The Buggles was a strange thing that should not have worked. And maybe it didn’t, because they only ever released one album (which was credited to Yes, but they should’ve called themselves something else, because any band called Yes without Jon Anderson involved just feels very wrong, like a Beatles without John Lennon). But all that said, Drama (the album) can’t just be dismissed, if only for the possible future it speaks of that never happened – a musical decade that managed to both embrace the cool new synthetic pop options and the recent powerhouse progressive past. Like an odd sci-fi movie that only you remember, seen just once late at night on one of those scrambled Pay TV channels. Maybe Tuesday Weld was in it.
“Peter Gabriel’s first three solo albums were all called Peter Gabriel, so we fans (and I was definitely a fan) tended to refer to them as The Weird Eyes (the first), Nails On The Blackboard (the second), and Melting Face (the third). Melting Face was the one that mattered most, both then and now, the one where Gabriel finally figured out how to refine the best of his so-called prog-rock tendencies, fuse them with punk and new wave’s rawer, sharper edges, and thus kick things way into the future. And it all started with Intruder, a creepy hit of atonal menace that really was like nothing anybody had ever heard. Still is.” (Philip Random)
“It’s true. In 1973, Genesis were the definition of sophisticated, underground cool. Certainly too cool for local Vancouver radio which barely played them. But you heard about them anyway from various cool older brothers and sisters, or saw an occasional photo in something like Creem magazine. It was always about the live show, like Alice Cooper but completely different, not for teeny bops. And then I finally heard them and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. How could it be? It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. So delicate and then not. So powerful and strange. The album was Selling England by the Pound. The first song was Dancing with the Moonlit Knight. Like dropping the needle into a dense and beautiful dream that you probably weren’t ready for, but here it was anyway. Something to do with England being in big trouble. The Pound was falling, the empire was fading, it was the worst of times, it was the very best of music.” (Philip Random)
“I remember hearing Gates of Delirium get played on commercial radio when it was new, all twenty-two minutes of it. I remember my fifteen year old jaw dropping. It would’ve been late 1974, maybe 1975. Little did I realize that an era was fast ending – that very soon the culture would have little use for bands like Yes spreading their vast and cosmic wings, unleashing dense and intense and impossibly beautiful side long epics about mystical warriors in mythical lands busting through great gates of delirium. Or whatever it was actually about. It was definitely about war, burning children’s laughter on to hell. I remember a few years later, a musician friend saying, ‘But it’s really about everything. That’s the problem with Yes. Their songs aren’t really about anything. Just everything. But f***, those guys can play.'” (Philip Random)
The Solid Time of Change has been our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we’ve tried to begin to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
The final stage of the journey went as follows:
Yes – And You and I
King Crimson – Court of the Crimson King
Genesis – Supper’s Ready
King Crimons – Starless
Beatles – A Day in the Life
Yes – Close to the Edge
If you’re late discovering all of this and wish to start at the beginning …
Randophonic airs pretty much every Saturday night, starting 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options usually available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page. We have no clear plan for what shall happen next beyond more superlative noise in some form or other …
The Solid Time of Change has been our overlong yet incomplete history of the so-called Prog Rock era – 661 selections from 1965 through 1979 with which we’ve hoped to do justice to a strange and ambitious time indeed, musically speaking.
Part Forty-Nine of the journey (the second to last) went as follows:
Yes – perpetual change
Genesis – the waiting room
Genesis – anyway
Genesis – here comes the supernatural anesthetist
Genesis – the lamia
Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick
The final episode of the Solid Time of Change airs Saturday, October-21, starting at 11 pm (Pacific time) c/o CiTR.FM.101.9, with streaming and download options available within twenty-four hours via our Facebook page.
“It seems insane to think about it now, but in 1972 Jethro Tull conquered the world with a 43-minute-44-second song called Thick as a Brick, which comprised the entire album of the same name. Adventurous, dense, continuous, it even half made sense, both musically and lyrically. So what did Ian Anderson (Tull main man) and his talented crew do for a follow-up? Another album long song, of course, this one called A Passion Play, which proved even more dense and adventurous than Thick As A Brick. And I’m still trying to figure it out. Actually, that’s a lie. I gave up a long time ago, because as a friend concluded, ‘Man, you’ve gotta be Ian Anderson’s f***ing brain to know what any of that’s supposed to mean.’ Which doesn’t mean I ever stopped listening to it, just thinking about it. I guess I just pretend I’m the guy’s brain for a while.” (Philip Random)