Another Bit of Prog – Part One

Funny but if you write enough posts you forget half the stuff you wrote. It turns out I did my first bit of prog post just about a year ago. Time for another one. It’s difficult to find prog-rock songs that aren’t 30 minutes long but I did my best to keep the count down. The longest tune here clocks in at 9:35. For Part Two I’m going to post one long-form tune from a band and let them rip.ย 

First up, a band that a lot of people love but who I frankly haven’t paid much attention to, Tool. An interesting band as they have exactly five studio albums in 26 years. Their most recent album came out in 2019, some 13 years after the previous one. Apparently legal, personal and other bullshit issues prevented them from recording.

I’m late to the party but the title track from their 2001 album Lateralus is a chunk of good heavy metal-ish prog. Of it, Prog magazine says, “Only Tool could pen a labyrinthine skronkmetal exploration inspired by … the Fibonacci integer sequence.” A love song it’s not:

Spotify link

I think that “Discipline” from King Crimson’s 1981 album of the same name is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. Wikipedia: “The composition undergoes manyย time signatureย changes. There are two main guitars (one played byย Robert Frippย the other byย Adrian Belew) which are often in a different time signature, giving the song a chaotic and intense feel.

Many times the guitars play similar patterns, but one drops a note making them go either out of sync or change time signatures.” Meanwhile, Bill Bruford cranks along in yet another time signature. Can’t be done:

Spotify link

Have you ever heard of Joyce Carol Vincent? She “was a British woman whose death went unnoticed for more than two years as her corpse lay undiscovered in her north Londonย bedsit. Prior to her death, Vincent had cut off nearly all contact with those who knew her. She resigned from her job in 2001 and moved into a shelter for victims of domestic abuse.”

This strange story has, for whatever reason, inspired a docudrama, a band name and and an album called Hand. Cannot. Erase by the ubiquitous Steven Wilson. I find this song, “Routine,” to be quite beautiful in a rock epic kind of way and almost like a Broadway tune. Guitar by whiz Guthrie Govan:

Spotify link

Fish was the lead singer of the band Marillion from their inception in the late ’70s till the late ’80s. It’s interesting but I only found out about them later. Either I wasn’t following prog or they weren’t getting much play here in the States. This song “Shadowplay” is from his second solo album Internal Exile. It changes mood and style abruptly about halfway through. (You can be forgiven for thinking this sounds like Peter Gabriel):

Hunched fetal in the corner of my soul
My fingernails are bleeding
From climbing up the wall

This time you really hurt me right down to the core
And I’m desperately trying to find a reason
To forgive you for it all

Spotify link

I’ve never really written about Rush much. I like some of their stuff, never been a huge fan. But recently before I made my fake rock star trip out to LA, I had occasion to play Steve Morse’s version of “La Villa Strangiato.” So let’s let the Canadian trio take this one out and we’ll consider it a tribute to Neil Peart:

Spotify link

37 thoughts on “Another Bit of Prog – Part One

  1. For the most part, these tunes are more of an acquired taste for me. The King Crimson track is intriguing. I also think you’re right about Fish sounding a bit like Peter Gabriel on that tune.

    Marillion were pretty popular in Germany in the ’80s. I ended up buying one of their records at the time, “Misplaced Childhood,” because of the hit “Kayleigh,” a song I really dug. Another track from the album that became known was “Lavender.” I haven’t heard that record in ages, so not quite sure how I feel about it about today.

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    1. I was fortunate in that in my formative music years -or at least formative post-pop years – I got introduced to people like Keith Emerson, bands like Yes and Crimson by friends. And I’ve liked jazz for a long time as you know so these are like candy for me

      That said, I can only listen to so much prog at one time. It can get ponderous and go up its own arse sometimes. As to Marillion, to my recollectoin, “Kayleigh” wasn’t a hit in the States and they had little to no impact here. Frankly I’ve only even heard of them in recent years.

      Anyway, wait till you hear the follow-up (which I haven’t entirely decided on yet.) 20 or so minutes of glorious, ponderous “what does it mean?” prog. In one song! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. Early exposure to jazz and prog rock in your music formative years probably helps.

        I hate to admit it, while I try to keep an open mind as much as possible, as I get older, I find Iโ€™m getting more set in my ways. Plus, there is so much music out there that I like, which I havenโ€™t explored.

        That being said, Iโ€™m determined not to give up! So who knows, I might end up digging 20-minute-plus instrumentals with no vocals or some wild free form jazz!๐Ÿ˜€

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        1. Yes, I always give it the ‘old college try.’ I have Sirius in my car and had the rap station on for three months. I tried and tried but it was like the same tune over and over plus the constant repetiion of the ‘n’ word depressed me and wore me down.

          In any event, Part 2 is posted. Plenty of enjoyment there. Plus – vocals. And they’re pretty good. ๐Ÿ™‚

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        2. You must know at least one of them. If the vocals in “Edge” don’t get to you at some point, you have a hole in your soul. (I once heard a DJ say that about an early reggae tune.)

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    1. I had to approve your comment due to URL, just FYI. I’ll check that out. Interestingly there’s also a video out there on how the Fibonacci sequence was the basis for that Tool song.

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  2. Five fantastic choices, Jim. I love all of these artists and the albums/songs you chose to highlight. Interesting Fish selection, as that was one of his least “prog” albums but a great one nonetheless. Rush’s “La Villa Strangiato” is an all-time classic from an album that’s in my Rush top 3 or 4. If my memory is correct, they played the whole thing in one take (or was that “Xanadu” from the previous album?). If you enjoyed that Steven Wilson album I highly recommend its predecessor, The Raven That Refused To Sing. Not only is it my favorite thing he’s ever done (possibly in a tie with Porcupine Tree’s In Absentia), it’s arguably the best modern progressive rock album of the millennium.

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    1. Believe it or not, I knew of and listened to the title track of ‘Raven.’ It was on my short list but I decided to keep it to five songs given their collective length. Thanks for the tip, though. I will give the album a spin. I had some Marillion and Porcupine Fish I listened to as well but I wanted a mix of artists.

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    2. I’m listening to “Raven” as I type this. You were right. Extraordinary. Wilson has had an uncountable number of collaborations. A real renaissance man. And to the general public almost wholly unknown.

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      1. Really happy to hear that you’re digging “The Raven That Refused To Sing.” It’s a special record. If you ever get a chance to see the animated promo videos he did for a couple of songs it’s worth your time. And if you have a surround sound system, it doesn’t get much better than this album in 5.1.

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        1. Surround sound. Ha! As if. The only surround sound I have these days is headphones. I have two small Sony speakers on my mantlepiece that connect to my laptop. The days when I had a full stereo setup with turntable and gigantic speakers went the way of my black light posters.

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        2. No need for a full stereo system and giant speakers to have a good surround sound set-up. If you ever dive in, you will find some incredible 5.1 mixes, many of which were done by Steven Wilson. He has mixed his own projects (solo, Porcupine Tree, Blackfield, Storm Corrosion) as well as classics by King Crimson, Yes, XTC, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant, Caravan and many others. They’re a fabulous alternate way to listen to old favorites. He also remixed Chicago’s second album for stereo only and it was a huge improvement over all previous versions.

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  3. I was just reaching for Discipline the other day and got distracted. This was the line up after the “Red” etc group. It didnt take me long to hook into it. Great musical ideas that had me 100%. KC came through my area a few years ago. All accounts the show was a killer. Two drummers to replace Bill.
    Steve Wilson is a guy I’m still discovering and trying to make that “time” thing for. Know Fish in passing.
    The Rush is interesting. I just discovered their instrumentals recently. Like a new band for me. Would have listened to them if they did more of this style. I think we talked about that before. I liked the Tool cut. Have the first album.

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    1. I really lost touch with prog for quite a while. I forget why/how I got back in touch but maybe because I saw other bloggers talking about Steven Wilson of whom I knew nothing.
      ‘Discipline’ is a killer tune. Wikipedia says that that it was composed as an exercise in discipline โ€” no single instrument is allowed to take the lead role in the performance, nor to play as simply an accompaniment to the other instruments, but each player must maintain an equal role while allowing others to do the same. Bruford being retired is a great loss to music.

      Yeah, we did talk about ‘Villa’ back when I wrote about Morse prior to my “pretending to be a rock star” Morse covered it. I still have his signature on my guitar. If Geddy sang better I might have been a bigger fan. Truthfully some of their songs leave me cold. But I bet i could come up with a six-pack of stuff by them that I truly like.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a pretty good mix in my listening. Obviously certain music gets more time but I’m never far from bands like KC.
        I’d be interested in the Rush if you could find more like the one you posted.

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        1. You should check out the album that Rich K. recommended, The Raven that Refused to Sing by Steven Wilson. More jazzy than prog. Some outstanding playing.

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        2. I will do that. I have a hard time keeping some of the new music im coming across separated. I was getting into his other projects (Opeth, Porcupine Tree) quite heavenly a while ago. I didnt even associate him with those bands. His name keeps coming up. Thanks Doctor

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        3. I really like the Opeth, Porcupine Tree. In fact you have reminded me to go on a jag. Like I say I was stuck on McLean and still on Frank right now. Im listening to ‘Buffalo’ live album because some Boston guy turned me onto a good source. It’s fricken awesome Doc. Frank is going to town on ‘Tinsel Town Rebellion”

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        4. Yeah, he’s got an interesting mix of stuff. Frankly, it surprised me that he liked prog so much. I thought he leaned more towards the pop stuff. His site is listed on my blogroll.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny but I’ve known of them (and Perfect Circle) for some time but didn’t really know their stuff. I’ll have to spend more time there.

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