Monday, September 7, 2009

First Twenty Nominees Announced for Permanent Enshrinement to PRHOI!

All right- here are the first ten nominees for band membership in The Progressive Rock Hall of Infamy! Ten more will be posted in the next day or two, but it's important to remember that when you vote, you can only pick FIVE of the twenty for permanent inclusion in the Hall's Rogues Gallery Supreme. Send your picks to The Curator, via his permanent Email address at Over the next week or so, once it's clear that all the votes that are coming have already arrived, I will tally the results, consult with DJ Micah on the legalities of all voting procedures, and announce the Inaugural Five Members of perhaps the least-coveted award in all of Progressive Rock. As always, thanks for visiting and remember that only you can save Prog from the likes of the idiots below...and consign those fools to the refuse pit where they belong. Cheers, - The Curator

Dream Theater: It’s a lot to say “These guys are the worst Neo-Prog band ever”- since the style is one so suffused with overwrought instrumental masturbation and hideously shrieking hyena lead singers that, really, in a shit-stye so generously stocked to the rafters with faeces, how can one band truly stand out in all of this orgy of brown? But DT manages, and the reasons are legion: James LaBrie sings like every song has a moment where a midget walks into the recording studio and kicks him in the testicles, the guitarist and keyboard player are technically perfect to the point that there is absolutely no life in a single note they play, and of course, the great Mike Portnoy with his three-snare, two-stool (how fitting) drum kit manages to overplay on every song and be completely uninspired at the same time- an awesome feat of prodigious uselessness. I can admit to hearing a lot of talent in Yes, ELP or even Rush- even if I can’t listen to their music- but I hear nothing of value in DT’s oeuvre, not one moment where I wanted to do anything but track this band down one member at a time and eviscerate their individual talentless carcasses and string their guts across the entrance to the Berklee school of music as a warning to others what will happen to anybody who thinks it will be a good idea to do a 25 minute drum solo on a kit so large it has to be transported by it’s own fucking semi-trailer while on tour. What utter and completely maddening fucking trash; how anybody could not vote for DT as an initial entrant and say they know their Bad Prog is beyond me. It’s up to you, as this is a democratic process, but DT comes very close to the coveted (and hotly contested, let me assure you) title “Curator’s Absolute Most Hated Band of All Fucking Times”. If you do decide not to pick them, I sure as fuck would be curious as to what more you could want from a band to make you hate them. I absolutely loathe this band, and all of their defenders, in my opinion, are borderline psychotics who should be incarcerated, de-programmed with massive doses of Fripp and Van der Graaf, and then castrated- just to be safe, so that the gene pool will be rid of at least one deviant element.

Yes: Surely there is nothing more to say about Yes on these pages. “Relayer” remains the single most un-focused and chaotic record by a major Prog act that I’ve ever heard; all of that talent, all of that energy, and the complete lack of discipline and restraint produces an unlistenable monstrosity that I can’t even believe reflexive Yes-heads can defend. And, of course, Jon Anderson- endlessly imitated, never-quite duplicated, the Prince of the strained bowel-movement school of vocals. He literally makes it impossible for me to listen to Yes, even songs where I can appreciate the music. This doesn't even address the later "Rabin Years", when the band- in imitation of so many of their contemporaries- went and got a new producer and tried to write some "hits" to pass their way into a respectable middle age. The results include "Big Generator", a wretched mess and high on any list of "Most Embarrassing Prog Albums by a Major Act". Strong contenders for first round induction, Yes seem to be, at merciful last, retired from the touring circuit now that Jon Anderson's liver is falling out. One can only pray it can't be put back to the point that anyone ever has to hear that damnable voice, ever again; JA ruins Prog for a lot of people, I can assure you, and it's time his terror stops.

Steve Howe: Now wait a minute- if Yes already has an entry, how can Steve Howe merit his very own plaque in the PRHOI? Well, hear me out. Howe’s best work was with Yes, where he very often was the only thing going in the band’s later unfocused ego-trips disguised as records, i.e. the “Going for the One” era, which I can’t even listen to as a joke. But Howe- and this I just can’t understand, because the guy really can play guitar- wasn’t even begun making his way to the infamy I believe he so richly deserves. When Yes split following the catastrophic "Tormato"- maybe the worst album ever made by a major Prog act- Howe took the opportunity of his new found freedom to find fellow original generation Progsters like John Wetton and Carl Palmer and form Asia, an unrelievedly frothy and conspicuously banal arena-Prog act that, almost incredibly, have made something like a dozen albums over the last 25 years, each more insipid and lacking in vitality than the last. But wait, Howe hadn’t finished with his graceless segue to middle-aged Prog popster hucksterism; after Asia’s follow-up record bombed, he dragged poor Steve Hackett into a project called GTR, which I listened to for the first time in 20 years just a few weeks ago. If Asia is a Triscuit, then GTR is a dead, chowder-worthy soda biscuit: white, dry, lifeless and boring, with the kind of inept lyrics that are only possible when someone is trying to say something “deep”, in the manner of a vintage T-shirt or some metaphysical horseshit from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I actually have GTR’s second, unreleased album as well- and there is a goddamn good reason they didn’t release it. Mike + The Mechanics look down their nose at this Santorum-like frothy excrescence. For shame, Mr. Howe- for bloody shame.

Camel: Andy Latimer is a very highly regarded guitarist in Prog circles; I’m mystified by that, completely, but having meditated on this imponderable recently, think I have found a parallel from my own life which might better explain it. I know this girl- she’s very beautiful and elegant and is also unusually kind to me. Rumor has it she used to date a guy with his own plane, then dumped him for a guy with his own airport. So we’re talking that level of beautiful and elegant. But still kind to me. Not nice, but truly kind; like one would treat a blind dog about to be gassed or a terminally-ill child. I’m almost certain that it’s because she’s afraid I’ll kill myself if she’s not nice to me anymore, which, in its own way, is very touching, while at the same time confronting me with the maddening pointlessness of my life. Well, whatever; it doesn’t really matter, as at least I’m not Andy Latimer, and I’ve never made an album like “Nude” that I have to answer for to the Prog gods. Or any of their other boring shit, like the impossibly highly rated “Mirage” or- my pick for most lackluster album of the 70’s- “The Snow Goose”. I’ve literally never listened to Camel and thought afterwards “Gosh, I’m really glad I just listened to Camel.” There is just something so lifeless and- well, what’s the word, pussified- about Camel that they don’t even rise to the level of a useful soporific; they’re just irritating, in an egregiously grating way, like the way Yukio Mishima once described having a grain of sand lodged under his foreskin and him being completely unable to remove the tiny pebble of exquisite discomfort. If that’s not clear enough how much I hate Camel, then I don’t know what to say to you, folks; easily one of my least favorite bands, and of such complete lack of worth that not even the great Richard Sinclair could salvage them when he- for whatever reason- joined up for one sadly ill-advised effort in the late 70’s. Maybe he was just worried Andy Latimer would kill himself if he didn’t.

Triumvirat: Hopefully I have made clear that this is a truly democratic process for initial induction that I have established here; I really am going to count any and all votes that I receive, and abide by the wishes of the masses. So I’m not trying to influence you in any way while you read this but, seriously, this is the worst band in the history of Prog. There, I’ve said it- sure, in the short term, idiots like Chakra or Larry Oliver and the New Age seemingly bent space-time to make an album like “Neptuned” that through any worm hole and in any conceivable Universe would be the absolute most comically inept record imaginable; but that’s only for one short burst of incompetence. Triumvirat sucked for years and years and years, releasing one bloated concept album after another, a dizzying string of failure that must be listened to in one sitting to really understand how ill-advised is every single decision made by this derivative pack of Krauts who did more to undermine Prog that any comparable band from the fabulous 70’s. One after another the turgid and festering concepts crawled from the megalomaniacal brains of Triumvirat, leaving a shameful slime trail in their wake: “Mediterranean Tales”, “Spartacus”, and the preposterous “Pompeii”, featuring cover art so bad (“New Triumvirat Presents: Pompeii!!!!”) that the first time I saw the record I thought it was some kind of joke. But all this was mere overture to the crowning glories of this ineffably horrible band: the back-to-back “sell out” records “Ala Carte” and “Russian Roulette”, the former featuring the single worst song in the history of Prog: “For You”, and whoever this song was for, let us hope they realized what a dubious gift was in the offering. I mean these guys are completely unlistenable and what’s worse is this unconscionable reputation they have as “musician’s musicians”; I despise Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but I’ll be the first to admit what excellent players they are. Often compared to ELP, Triumvirat has never impressed me with any quality save their languid turgidity; boring, bloated arrangements and the strangely irritating vocals of Barry Palmer have made re-visiting these albums some of the most trying work of your humble Curator. There is nothing else to say other than that I hate them, utterly, find nothing positive in any way to say about them other than that they seem to have stopped making music, and that of all the horrible bands on this proposed ballot, none so richly deserves a damned-good whacking than Triumvirat. So you have been advised, Prog seeker.

Saga: Wallowing in the excrement of Bad Prog lo these many months has produced the occasional outburst of true shock amidst this E. Coli-laden sea; for me, that was the moment when DJ Micah reported that he had analyzed the lyrics of Generation 13 and concluded that Saga had, in fact, done nothing less than attempt to “re-make” The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, Peter Gabriel’s near-perfect triumph of storytelling when Genesis was just beginning to disintegrate in 1975. I got pretty angry when I thought about that, and realized that DJ Micah doesn’t say something unless he’s rather certain it is so; contemplating the full horror of this presumption on the part of this truly miserable and unlistenable Canadian band, I have pledged what remains of my own bleak life to assail this abortion and baleful simulacrum of true genius at every conceivable opportunity, going so far as to join the Saga international fan website (just imagine the futility and waste of the lives of its contributors- just fucking imagine...) and try to get close to the administrator, perhaps to someday be within striking distance of Michael Sadler and...and let the ellipsis tell in plangent lacunae the full ghastly story of the fate that jack-ass faces a thousand times a day in the torture-garden charnel-house that is my merciless soul. Sadler, I want your liver- and I want it on a stick.

But Saga is so much more, and their failure a veritable encomium to the winsome muse whom draws the pretense from the shadows and beckons on the wistful creator, ever still further to the rocks, all of the half-understood legends and myopically gleamed fables, all of the notions and ideas and philosophies that end up so mangled in the maw of the half-educated being the tombstone cove upon which the flotsam of posturing finally rests, dead. A torrent of albums released over twenty-five ill-spent years is the mighty pile shat from the Saga colon of creation; but to truly reek, must not something actually have to be noticed? I’d never heard of any of these later albums when I decided to investigate yet another catastrophically awful Canadian Prog outfit. Sad, of course, is one word which comes to mind that so much waste has been this band’s creative life; but fitting is a far more accurate summation, as there has probably never been a more lackluster and pointless output than Saga’s for this last quarter century, like an old man’s rancid ejaculate meekly spouting from a tired and wrinkled prepuce and dripping down the ulcerous shaft like clotted urine. Not even their mothers could tell these albums apart, save that there may be an extra treacly ballad or two on one or the other, and not a spark of enthusiasm or sad pip of genius rising above the risible muck that is their late “oeuvre”. Saga may be irrelevant, magically so, to some, but to me they are something else- an epitome, an apex cresting upon a nadir, the absolute best of the absolute worst, a Holocaust of pointless creation and a hecatomb of utterly ignored failure. There are worse bands, I suppose, than Saga; but none more fitting than to be one of the very first enshrined in the hell they so richly deserve, a place where nonsense like “Generation 13” can go and rot; my blessed on-line morgue for failure, the Progressive Rock Hall of Infamy. I beseech you: make them a first ballot loser, for no one deserves it more.

Styx: Impossible to imagine that any list of failed Progressive bands would be complete without the magically incompetent and tuneless stylings of Styx, a wretched band who commands inconceivably fierce devotion from what must be the most deluded and stupefyingly fanatical fan base in all of Prog. Wearing a Styx tour shirt out in public says many things about a person, and none of them are good; wherever a “Paradise Theater” long-sleeved tee lurks, a monster truck rally, under-aged pregnant paramour and a crate of Skoal can’t be far behind. What VFW-hosted trailer park wedding would be complete without an airing of “Babe”, what furtive, under-the-hood I’m-not-really-gay-but-my-asshole-sure-is genital fondling between high school buddies without “Snowblind”? It’s easy to mock “Kilroy Was Here”, because it’s the most unintentionally hilarious Prog album ever made by a man not named Paul Gaffey (q.v.); but the entire career of Styx is one long tuneless overture to pretense, a fugue of grasp exceeded by contrapuntal reach, an insufferable reminder that “good time rock-n-roll” is still to this day three words and three lies; Styx is pathetic, artless, blissfully easy to mock and impossibly difficult to tolerate. In fact, it’s hard to believe they’re not Canadian, as the gaffes committed with such effortless aplomb by these mid-West Proggers rise to a positively Maple Leaf Level of kitsch, ala Triumph, or Saga, or of course the punishingly dumb Aldo Nova. You have to make decisions, I realize, but if Styx doesn’t make it in on the first ballot, I may have to revamp this entire project to remind people of just how lame they are.

Paul Gaffey: A one-and-doner of impossible heft, Australia’s Paul Gaffey made only one Prog record, but what a fucking TITAN of alternative genius Mephistopheles is! A true paragon of the “reality” school of parodic incompetence, Gaffey blows the fucking doors off of “clever” bands who tried to accomplish with guile what he did with the utmost sincerity. Because this one is from the heart, you bastards; Gaffey’s Mephisto is not only the gayest demon to ever bring his tight little buns up from Hell, he is one randy, swinging cat to boot! “Paradise” is a song of such deranged brilliance as to completely invalidate mainstream hacks like Beck or Lily Allen, “clever” piffle which can only hint at the ribald flamboyance that drives Gaffey’s out-and-proud Satanic manifesto like a smooth Thai lad piloting a rickshaw through the molten steam of the open air brothel that is Bangkok, where each boy is merely a pittance of a pound away from buggering by the sly Westerner who just knows the right “contact”. I love this record, and swear by all that is camp that when my time draws near, I will be playing it as I go to wherever it is wicked men like me go, though I can only hope the Devil who greets me will be half the saucy, bitchy queen that Gaffey’s is, because, honey, let me tell you that will be one HELL of a party!

Pavlov’s Dog: I’m not sure if I’ve told this story before, but it’s important so I’ll tell it again. Pavlov’s Dog is what started all of this for me, months and months ago on a cold January night here in Seattle, during one of my endless bouts of insomnia, when I was up late and desperate for something new to listen to. I found a torrent on The Pirate Bay, wherein the helpful uploader talked up the two-Mellotron attack of these St. Louis Progsters, and said- get this- “fans of King Crimson will enjoy this melodic band.” Well, to put it mildly I am a fan of King Crimson; so I downloaded the thing and as luck would have it, someone was seeding very strongly that night. Two hours later, I finished listening to the atrocity that is “Pampered Menial”, convinced I had just heard not only the worst, but the absolute most ridiculous record ever recorded, no matter the genre. I became obsessed, and remembered how when I bartended at a flea-bag joint in Brooklyn many years ago, a strange young man named Micah used to come in, drink a few Heinekens and brood at my bar, and we’d talk about Prog and how absolutely awful most of it was, and how we really hated the vast majority of the music. I got back in touch with Micah, largely because of this record and the ululating madness that is David Surkamp’s completely inimitable vocal delivery, and I’ve pissed away hundreds of hours since tracking down obscure bands from all over the world, trying to find something that can match the ear-splitting horror that is Pavlov’s Dog. I’ve heard a lot- 750 records at last count, all maintained here on my trusty external hard drive- but have yet to find something quite as infuriatingly horrible as the Dog. They really deserve your consideration as an initial entrant to the PRHOI, as without them none of this would ever have happened. Make of that what you will.

Jimmy Hotz: I can’t even think of this chubby sonofabitch without smiling. Jimmy Hotz, as long-time fans of the PRHOI will know, is not merely the king of bad Christian Prog; he is an inventor of a gadget luridly named the “Hotz Box”, which allows the owner to make an entire bad symphonic Prog album all by himself, without even having to go find a bunch of recovering drunks at your local church to praise Jesus with boring, overly-orchestrated drivel like “Beyond the Crystal Sea”. Pudgy, soft as a veal calf and with a voice so shrill and epicene Jimmy Sommerville would call him a faggot, Jimmy Hotz deserves special consideration as the very first Christian entrant to the Progressive Rock Hall of Infamy.

All for today, see you soon with the next batch of ten shitty Prog bands for your consideration! - TR

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