The Solid Time of Change was Randophonic radio’s main focus from May 2016 through October 2017.
A countdown of the 661 greatest records of the so-called Prog Rock Era, an overlong yet incomplete history of whatever the hell happened in not all music, but definitely in a bunch of it between 1965 and 1979, particularly the five years in the middle (1969-74).
What is Prog Rock, and does it somehow differ from Progressive Rock, or for that matter, rock that merely progresses? These may seem simple questions but they are in fact doors that open unto some of the most complex enigmas of this split-atomic age, and thus as good an argument as any for more than a year’s worth of radio.
Why do this better part of forty years since the era in question ended? Because memories are fading, key figures are dying, the epic tale is in danger of getting lost. Also, many of the selections came from Philip Random‘s very many boxes of cassette tapes, which weren’t just fading in theory. They needed to be digitized.
So yes, a long strange journey it proved to be. In fact, our justifications for inclusion/exclusion were as complex, overblown, intricate, pretentious and (occasionally) annoying as the music in question.
THE SOLID TIME ITSELF
The Solid Time of Change is defined as 1965 through 1979, but anything that was released between 1969 and 1974 is immediately more essential because it tracks, i) the first incarnation (however multi-headed it may have been) of King Crimson, ii) the years in which Yes continued to actually progress, iii) the years in which Peter Gabriel remained a member of Genesis (he actually quit in 1975 but he gave notice in 1974 and the last album he appeared on was 1974’s Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), iv) the years in which Jethro Tull were still decidedly a prog outfit.
NOTHING AT ALL POST 1979 …
Because every page needs its margins, every nation needs its borders, every ocean needs its floor. And 1979 seems as good a place as any to draw a line because the 1980s and all that was ever good and/or relevant about the Solid Time of Change were/are/will always be incompatible. Which is not to say there wasn’t any relevant progressive music in the 1980s. Of course there was. But it was different then. It was strictly lower case progressive. It contained no dragons or space ships, and precious few mellotrons or grand and heavy concepts, almost no visions of angels (other than whatever U2 may have been on about). Indeed, pretty much all of the prog-heroes of yore went rather emphatically AWOL (either literally or figuratively) in the 1980s. Or as Rick Wakeman recently put it, “That decade just wasn’t very good to us veteran progressive rockers, and we probably deserved it.”
As for what happened after the 1980s, well that’s somebody else’s list.
As with all of Randophonic’s lists, it doesn’t matter how critically acclaimed a record may have been back in the day, how many top ten lists it topped, how many copies it sold – if we’ve heard it too many times, we’re probably sick of it, which means it’s either not on the list at all, or it’s been marked down. So yes, be warned now. Nothing from Dark Side of the Moon has been listed, not even the ticking a clock.
The important thing is to listen to the radio shows themselves, available either via Randophonic’s Mixcloud (for streaming), or if you prefer to download, you can find podcasts of most shows via Randphonic’s archive.