Musings on the byways of popular culture
08/09/2016 by Uncle Wheaty 45 Comments
08/09/2016 at 21:23
Well as we discussed on the magnificent prog podcast, it’s as much about intent as anything, and there’s definately prog intent here. Plus there are mumbo jumbo lyrics and, yes, arpeggios. So I say PROG.
Great performance too.
Neil Jung says
08/09/2016 at 21:35
It’s a Springsteen song and he isn’t prog. The arrangement stretches the song to its limits. MMEB are generally considered progressive. There is no definitive answer, but I’d vote yes.
Junior Wells says
08/09/2016 at 22:01
On instinct I’ve never thought of it as prog. The basic tune is too simple and its too easy to sing along to.
Perhaps not key prog credentials but them’s mine
09/09/2016 at 01:10
It’s not prog. It was a pop hit.
Black Type says
09/09/2016 at 08:25
Ah, but so was ‘Fanfare For The Common Man’ by the none-more-prog ELP.
09/09/2016 at 09:01
Yes but FFTCM was basically a one chord shuffle with a few fiddly bits, whereas Tarkus, which is, loike, “proper prog”, has umpteen chord and time changes in the first 2 minutes.
Johnny Concheroo says
09/09/2016 at 01:19
In-between Manfred Mann and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, there was Manfred Mann Chapter Three. They released just two jazz fusion LPs on the none-more prog label Vertigo.
I always think of the Earth Band as a pop/prog version of the two.
09/09/2016 at 04:15
If you want to do the whole hairsplitting angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin thing, I’d say it’s what we used to think of as Progressive, but not what we now think of as Prog.
09/09/2016 at 07:09
My mother loved this record. If it is prog it’s right up there with Andy Williams, Neil Sedaka, Moira Anderson, Peters and Lee, et al.
09/09/2016 at 07:58
Well it’s certainly not underground.
Rigid Digit says
09/09/2016 at 08:33
The vexxed question of musical genres.
So many boxes/pigeonholes, and no definitive criteria to fill each one.
This track appears on a compilation album entitled ‘The Best Prog Rock Album In The World … Ever’, so by association, it is Prog
But then again, this album also includes Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper, which probably isn’t Prog (DFTR also appears on an album entitled ‘Psychedelic Rock’, and I don’t think it is Psychedelic either).
Rob C says
09/09/2016 at 10:20
No it is not psychedelic at all.
09/09/2016 at 09:03
I would like to boldly go where no man has gone before and state that there has never been a prog pop hit.
Except maybe Focus.
09/09/2016 at 10:13
King Crimson on TOTP in 1970.
Blimey! I remember that.
Don’t suppose it was a proper Hit! though.
Apparently this is the only footage of KC with Greg Lake, although here he’s a guest vocalist and Peter Giles is the bassist.
Keith Tippett on piano too. Not someone you’d expect to see on TOTP.
09/09/2016 at 10:18
Ah, now you’re talking. Great little performance and quite daring at the time.
09/09/2016 at 18:58
What a fine thing! What a great song! Surely impossible to pigeonhole….and therefore progressive music, rather than the lumpen Prog….
09/09/2016 at 22:47
Quite. And made by the abstract piano clusters of the great Tippett, the likes of which we didn’t hear again until his obvious student* Garson appeared on Aladdin Sane. So, Bowie does progressive. Not a single though.
*Unless they both dug Cecil Taylor.
09/09/2016 at 10:16
Well, I’d offer Jethro Tull’s Sweet Dream, Traffic’s Paper Sun, Yes’s Owner Of A Lonely Heart, Stewart + Gaskin’s It’s My Party, and Laurie Anderson’s Oh Superman. For starters.
Blinded By The Light doesn’t cut it for several reasons (although as a record it’s fine):
1. Singer has the wrong look and attitude for prog
2. And he tries to soul it up (eg 2.00)
3. Those lyrics, wrapped up in a deuce, WTF?
4. Too many bouncy early 70s glam-type rhythms.
5. Prog didn’t do clapalongs.
09/09/2016 at 10:23
Also, Genesis ‘I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)’ and Yes ‘Wondrous Stories’, and not forgetting the truly marvellous Moody Blues eg. ‘Nights In White Satin’, ‘Ride My See Saw’, ‘Voices In the Sky’ and ‘Question’.
09/09/2016 at 10:39
Jethro Tull – additional:
Living In The Past
The Witches Promise
Could possibly make a case for The Strawbs (would you call them Folk Prog?), but “Part Of The Union” is NOT Prog
However, I reckon this is Prog, and was a hit single
Renaissance: Northern Lights
09/09/2016 at 10:43
Good call on Tull, and even better re. Renaissance. I’d forgotten them.
09/09/2016 at 10:46
Your Renaissance post brought this to mind:
09/09/2016 at 12:07
Northern Lights. Gorgeous.
Speaking of which, this too
James EB says
09/09/2016 at 13:35
If you’re allowed to include Life In A Northern Town can I include Calling All The Heroes by It Bites?
09/09/2016 at 11:59
In reply to Declan, above:
“Paper Sun” is instantly ruled out. It was pure Pop (with touches of Psychedelia). “Progressive Rock” had hardly been invented then and Prog was a good 4-5 years down the pipeline.
“Owner Of a Lonely Heart” is indeed Proper Prog.
“It’s My Party” is Pop-Pastiche, if that’s a genre and why shouldn’t it be?
“O Superman” is something else entirely. An absolutely inexplicable Avant-Garde fluke.
No drums or percussion, no guitars. Nothing whatsoever to do with Prog.
When truth is gone
There’s always justice
And when justice is gone
There’s always force
And when force is gone
There’s always Mom
Black Celebration says
09/09/2016 at 12:23
Owner of a Lonely Heart can’t be “proper prog” can it? It’s a punchy, concise, non-twiddly 80s pop song.
09/09/2016 at 12:48
Yes, it can.
Twiddly? Not only.
09/09/2016 at 12:45
Obviously not pure scientific rigour, this talking bollocks about what prog is and when it started. A lot of post-Strawberry Fields stuff had the daring and attitude not merely to be stamped pop, which itself is not necessarily a contradiction to being labelled prog.
So It’s My Party, while being pop and pastiche and a good demonstration of what 80s technology could offer, is also prog in that it is a platform for Dave Stewart’s clever harmonic modulations. They pulled the same stunt with this
Also pure pop Life In a Northern Town contains enough elements to qualify, viz. the fey vocals, the Cor Anglais, the keening nostalgia (or is that more psychedelic?)
Your fluke argument for Oh Superman is certainly not wrong, but here’s where we differ: I think the instuments there or not there are less decisive than the attitude involved in the music when we define something as prog. So Talking Heads’s Fear Of Music, say, always struck me as prog, even without the trappings you’d usually expect. Likewise those initial Mahavishnu albums, even though they featured no vocals and no identifiable philosophical mindset, were no less prog than VDGG, KC, or ELP.
09/09/2016 at 11:05
Atomic Rooster had two top 20 hits, Devil’s Answer and Tomorrow Night, take your pick
09/09/2016 at 11:08
Good shout Johnnyc.
I would posit that this gorgeous song from Jon and Vangelis is definitely Prog:
09/09/2016 at 11:11
Curious how no one has yet mentioned the Jeff Lynne in the room.
From 1970 it’s Gun with Race With The Devil, as prog as you like. This reached #8 and was their only chart entry.
The Gurvitz brothers Adrian and Paul, called themselves Curtis in those days. It would be churlish to guess why.
09/09/2016 at 11:14
Good find !
OK – I would say this is definitely psych/Prog, from the treatment given to it by The Shulman Bros:
09/09/2016 at 11:16
This was the less successful follow up:
09/09/2016 at 11:20
Over in the US, this was such a game changer and life saver for the band record contract wise that they were more than happy with it:
09/09/2016 at 11:21
Only number 21 for this one (but that is still a “hit”).
Is it Prog?
The presence of Keith Emerson surely negates all argument?
The Nice – America
09/09/2016 at 11:44
Back in 1968 you could play three records for a shilling (5p) on most juke boxes. So in our local pub we would select the Fabs Hey Jude (7:11), Richard Harris’s MacArthur Park (7:21) and America by The Nice (6:18), thus monopolising the juke box for 20+ mins for just two shiny sixpences, much to the chagrin of the regulars
09/09/2016 at 11:23
It does indeed. A bona fide prog chart hit.
09/09/2016 at 11:28
On the Yes theme, this got to #36, so I think that qualifies as a bit of a hit.
09/09/2016 at 12:01
09/09/2016 at 12:29
Prog hit singles yet to be mentioned:
Greg Lake – I believe in Father Christmas
Supertramp – Logical Song
Men Without Hats?
09/09/2016 at 13:01
Their early singles (Market Square Heroes, He Knows You Know, Garden Party, Punch and Judy and Assassing) were definitely Prog-tastic.
Kayleigh, Lavender and Heart Of Lothian were Prog in intent, but work better when heard as part of Misplaced Childhood.
Incommunicado, Sugar Mice and Warm Wet Circles were “nearly” Prog, but seemed to be going somewhere else.
After Fish left and Steve Hogarth joined, the band seemed to return to full on Prog (and hence, haven’t had a hit single since 1990)
09/09/2016 at 13:06
How would you place early Cockney Rebel? Really, I mean it. This was later a B side, but had been an A side.
(It too was great for juke boxes: regulars in a Southend pub can vouch for it’s length, as 3 young men played it repeatedly, trying desperately to be mistaken for hippies. C.1975, shortly after the Reading festival. Eventually asked to leave.)
Whatever it is a fabulously pretentious slice of pomp. Absolutely adore it.
09/09/2016 at 13:42
Surely Bohemian Rhapsody is a huge Prog Rock hit even if Queen are not really Prog.
13/09/2016 at 02:12
Prog! Reached number 11 in 1970 as part of an e.p.
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