Progressive Rock: A musical genre that owes no apologies, especially to its critics

2017-06-17_0727 Chris Squire
Chris Squire, may he Rest in Peace

Kyle Smith at National Review goes back forty years in time and indulges in tarring progressive rock as a ‘failure.’ It is no more a failure than any other genre of music, and there is not a single shred of evidence – other than in the prejudices of certain music industry types – to support such a thesis. The writer engages in tired, lazy, and entirely unfounded stereotypes: As something of a vintage prog rock fan (though not exclusively so), I’ve never had the urge to play Dungeons and Dragons, I’ve had my fair share of physical contact with the opposite sex, and even if those stereotypes had held true, so freaking what? As Rick Wakeman recently explained, there is a bit of progressive rock – ‘just a bit’ – that has seeped into most everything. Kanye West sampled ‘20th Century Schizoid Man,’ and numerous other rap artists have taken samples from progressive music. It functions as a reference point that musicians of all stripes can turn to for inspiration. Also, as for this silly idea that ‘70s punk was solely a reaction against progressive rock, that is just not so. They were rejecting all ‘dinosaur rock’ (‘phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust’), but it was more so a reaction against British society as it existed at the time than merely a rejection of music that came before. John Lydon, a/k/a Johnny Rotten, is on record as saying he was inspired by certain prog acts (the great Van der Graaf Generator chief among them), and that influence would show up over and over in his post-Sex Pistols act, Public Image Ltd. (as well as in every single other New Wave/synth pop act of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.) In America, The Ramones and Blondie were inspired by nostalgia for Chuck Berry and other ‘50s and ‘60s music they grew up on, while the Talking Heads and Television were more in an ‘art rock’ vein that owed a great deal to progressive rock and would never have been possible without it. The only people who ever truly hated prog rock were pretentious, snooty rock critics and maybe some purist musicians (think Steven Van Zandt from Bruce Springsteen’s band) who view anything that doesn’t conform to their narrow-minded ideas as a mortal threat to humanity. Thank God for progressive rock, punk rock, jazz, classical, heavy metal, ‘alternative’ rock, and all genres that shaped the musical landscape and enriched our lives …

Copyright 2017, Sunking278. Stay up-to-date: Twitter – @Sunking278 and Facebook – click here.

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