I don't think it's all good, though. In fact, Sturgeon's Law applies to progressive rock as much as it applies to anything. Here are some of the things that bother me about the genre.
- Hands off that mini-moog, grandad!: Face it, the great prog-rock albums of the early seventies were created by young men. As such, the music had a verve and vitality that disappeared as those young men entered their thirties, forties, and (in the case of Steve Howe) seventies. So, with any given prog band, the first half dozen albums are generally cool. The ensuing 23 releases are pure dross. Except for the box set of rarities.
- The fans: Hordes of humourless nerds and music snobs. I've done my time on rec.music.progressive and a number of band email lists, and it's scary, I tell you. Especially the young ones who believe that Dream Theater are better than The Beatles. But what can I say here? I'm a prog fan myself. Except I'm so open-minded and groovy that I should be revered as an icon by music lovers everywhere.
- Deservedly obscure bands: Here's a story: It's a quiet day at work, and I'm reading my brand-new issue of Progression magazine (NERD!). I become absorbed in a lengthy article about Kayak, a Dutch band who seem pretty cool. "Maybe I'll see if I can track down one of their albums on the way home tonight," I decide. So 5:00 rolls around, I lock up the office and walk up the street to Noise Records. There I find that coveted Kayak album--according that article, it's one of their best releases! I have a euphoric SkyTrain trip, get home, power up the stereo and delicately place the precious vinyl on the turntable. I drop the needle, and what do I hear? Disco. Really bad Dutch disco. I felt shamed, violated...like my mum had opened my history folder. Did I learn not to be seduced by the cachet of obscurity? For that day, yes. For all time? You've got to be joking.
I do love the prog, but like a fond old friend, I like to have an occasional laugh at its expense too. This is why I worship The Glitzy Cape. Rodborth and Walmanwee, the gentlemen responsible for this site (I guess it's more of an e-zine), gleefully take the piss out of their beloved genre while still deriving great pleasure from its occasional triumphs. There's lots of off-colour humour, in-jokes that only the nerdiest prog geeks would get, and cheap shots at aging rockers' expanding girths. I must also tip my hat to their taste in music. Their playlists in past issues have featured Grandaddy, Air, Godspeed You Black Emperor! and other modern bands of an adventurous bent. Hail the mighty Cape!