Here are the second ten bands for you to consider for membership in the inaugural class of the Progressive Rock Hall of Infamy's Permanent Display. First ten bands appear in the list below, with mocking pic and capsule summary/denunciation included. Remember, you can only pick FIVE bands for inclusion in this very first and most ignoble induction, so choose wisely and contact The Curator at his permanenet Email address...
...with your five most loathed Progressive Rock bands from this formidable list. Anouncements to be made soon, when it is clear voting has run its course. Cheers, - The Curator
Rush: Even though they haven’t put out a “progressive” album in almost 30 years, Rush continues to define the pointless meandering and excess that make so many educated people recoil in horror at the very mention of the word “Prog”. Forget the blistering rock of the first five minutes of “2112”; go back and listen to “Hemispheres” and tell me you can stay awake through all of that pseudo-mystical bullshit noodling of Peart, the shrieking of Geddy Lee and the competent-if-befuddled guitar work of poor Alex Lifeson. Or consider every fucking album put out since Rupert Hine got his radio-friendly claws into the band; the very notion of Rush thinking they could crack the singles charts with dreck like you’ll find on “Hold Your Fire” or “Roll the Bones”- an absolutely incredibly bad album- is almost poignant in its comic impossibility. By all accounts, these are decent and kind men who truly care for their fans and put on a game show every time they get on stage; but is continuing to tour and making the pathetic cadre of humanity known as the Rush faithful trot out to Jones Beach twice a year truly what one might call “kind”? Or would a final cyanide Kool-Aid cocktail and a toast to Ayn Rand from their guru Mr. Peart be a more fitting and final send-off to these woeful specimens who still listen to music about the perils of anomie and adolescence...performed by men in their 50’s with yachts and dimpled ass-cheeks? There is no sadder and profligate spending of bathos than the peripatetic Rush parade of shame, and for that reason I ask you to consider allowing them to represent Canadian Prog in all its infamy in the PRHOI.
Machiavel: Another one of those Belgian bands that just absolutely stun me with their worthlessness. Truly annoying vocals, horrible arrangements, mindless cacophony and kvetching on the keyboards and absolutely no depth, nor breadth, in the ideas they explore; this band is the near perfect opposite of Pulsar, almost as if Belgium sets out to say “Well, France is classy and tasteful, let’s see if we can just take a huge steaming shit on vinyl and then just wallow in it for years and years and years.” And wallow they did; “Mechanical Moonbeams” is one of the low moments of Symphonic Prog, but “Jester” is not far behind. And their attempt at a “pop” album- 1981’s “Break Out” is just comical. Right up there with “Ala Carte”, Belgium reaches it’s lowest moment since surrendering to the Nazis in just five days and exposing the French army’s flank to destruction; Machiavel is just one of those annoying bands that I cannot possibly conceive of what people find “entertaining” about them.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer: A moment from pure rock n’ roll glory: the Isle of Wight Festival, 1970, a band in existence for only a few months, the nascent ELP, takes the stage and kicks bloody ass through their entire, brutal and nuanced set. At the end, one Mr. Lake stands on one side of the stage, in front of perhaps 250,000 spectators, and one Mr. Emerson stands on the other; at a signal, they touch off complimenting cannon, which really do fire a charge of black-powder, and an announcement has been made to the world: Franz Liszt is returned, and has brought Wagner and Rachmaninoff for back-up; ELP is here, and virtuoso performance and classically-inspired rock has arrived.
And yet today, looking back on the career of the band, all The Curator can see is one thing: the most colossal waste of talent in the history of music, as if Schubert had written First Empire jingles or Coltrane tooted for a minstrel show. If there is one word which sums this tragedy up, it is, of course, ego; massive, insurmountable, pulverizing and degrading integuments of ego, an obstacle course of self, an impregnable Stalingrad of “look at me”. Almost never after their first, very promising, record did these three play as a band; the low point was reached with the atrocious live album recorded in Montreal in 1978, wherein, essentially, a double album was fabricated from poor-quality whole cloth which consisted of three sides of solos. Bad enough, except to further note that Greg Lake’s Persian Carpeted masturbation session was essentially a bunch of acoustic ballads sung in an unseemly syrupy voice. Sad, wasteful, sub-literate and- above all- intensely boring, the worst of middle brow culture trying to pass for something richer and less finite, ELP’s record catalogue is a total disaster, with two of the entrants- “Love Beach” and the much later “In the Hot Seat” being two of the most vulgar and insulting records ever thrust down the throat of a public all too willing to eat whatever festering cancer corporate rock said was good for them. If the definition of a crime is how far from the acceptable a competent actor has strayed, then Emerson, Lake and Palmer are guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors so vast as to warrant nothing less than the guillotine. Alas, we cannot kill the malicious dwarf Keith Emerson, but we can induct he and his mates in the very first batch of convicts sent to the New South Wales of the Internet, this Gulag myself and DJ Micah like to call the Progressive Rock Hall of Infamy. Choose wisely, but I ask you- at least consider them fit for a spell in this virtual pillory.
The Kaplan Brothers: There is not much more to say here about the Kaplan Brothers, considering that I have devoted a lengthy essay to their brilliance already, and have made sure the almost-surreally inappropriate lounge-Prog of “Nightbird” will forever be known to all those who appreciate music so awful that it is, in fact, compellingly absurd. Mrs. Kaplan’s boys sought to do nothing less than make an album about the entirety of life itself, and succeeded brilliantly; like life, this record is pointless, dispiriting, grossly sentimental and bereft of sincerity, devoid of any true beauty and wretchedly lonely. But, unlike life, you can just go back to your ITunes and play it all over again; to wallow in their beauteous catastrophe over and over again, forever stunned by the maudlin treacle that is “Nightbird”.
Kansas: For career-spanning mediocrity and decades-long drivel, it is tough to beat American grain-belt Progsters Kansas, appropriately named for a flat and boring state filled with cornpone fascists and plain-featured women with unfortunately wide birthing hips, so equipped that the next generation of Westboro Baptist Church members can whoooosh right into the world and hit the ground ready to bash them some queers and deny Evolution. Not strictly Yes-derivative- a unique concept in Ameri-Prog when these clods put out their first record- Kansas instead showed that good old Yankee ingenuity could make a style of Prog fully original and American, and suck the black cock of death all the same with a voraciousness matched by only the most gifted deep-throat uvular contortionist. Low point was probably their comeback, and specifically a cover of Eleanor Rigby so bad that DJ Micah refused to play it on the last Bad Prog radio broadcast. Some bands deserve to die and be left to rot in the era they most sucked in, and it would have been better for all concerned if Kansas had simply gone away now thirty years ago; a pathetic commentary that makes this band more than worthy of your consideration for permanent ignominy in the PRHOI’s inaugural class of the truly wretched. (ADDENDA: Will you just look at the fucking haircuts on these idiots in the photo, above? Mullets, Jerri Curl and a bad perm- and then some dude with sunglasses looking...at what, precisely? You can tell a lot about a band by their promo photos, and this one tells you that Kansas is fucking lame.)
Albatross: Of all the Yes rip-offs to emerge in the 70’s (Starcastle, Cathedral, etc.) this is the one that I found most blatant and that I despised the most. A one-and-done outfit that came out of Rockford, IL and vanished back unto the ether with their Mellotrons and Rickenbackers (they didn’t even try to be original, is what galls me the most), these guys have made the initial induction list on the “strength” of perhaps the most annoying song in the history of Prog- the absolutely insanely bad “Humpback Whales”, which made the cut for one of the Bad Prog radio broadcasts a few months back and celebrates the slaughter of great sea beasts for their blubber and oil. The epitome of symphonic Prog pointlessness, derivative, unjustifiable even as a vanity project, and with vocals so appalling that even Jon Anderson does not suffer in comparison, Albatross is proof that not every song need be sung, and not every dream deserves to live- indeed, most creation is tasteless and jejune, and deserves to mercilessly murdered in its crib. Hear, hear in fucking SPADES for Albatross, and their one record which I defy anyone to say they actually enjoyed. All of this atrociousness makes these guys a strong contender for enshrinement as the honorary Yes stand-in at the PRHOI in this initial round of slander and butchery.
Nessie: The only serious challenge to David Surkamp for the title “Most Miserably Horrible Vocalist in the Entire History of Man” is whoever it is that did the singing on “The Tree”, a mind-numbingly atrocious 1977 symphonic Prog release from- you fucking guessed it- Belgium, home of more bad Prog bands than any other country in the world. It’s not entirely clear who this is singing on the record, since all four band members are given vocals "credit," but perhaps it was simply the typical diffusion of responsibility theory of blame-deflecting, or that no one member of the group had balls enough to stand up and say, “Yeah, that was me responsible for that ghastly, appalling and utterly asinine singing on our shitty record. I’m really proud of filling the world with such evil.” Whomever it was bleating and warbling like a stuck pig makes this faerie-laden trip to the symphonic forest an unforgettable romp of outrage and rapine, the music only slightly more tolerable than the singing, which is- and I stress this- unique in all the world for its ululating gyrations. Surely Belgium must be represented in the first class of inductees here at the Prog Hall; for your consideration, I offer that Nessie makes a fitting representative from that dreadful little country.
U.K. Am I trying to be crafty and sly by including this short-lived supergroup of the late 70’s in this list of potential initial infamous initiates? Maybe, but I would ask any detractors of my methodology to simply go back and give this first album of theirs another listen and tell me this isn’t the most banal of Progish-fusion patter. There is just nothing memorable about this record, despite the fact that we’re talking about Wetton, Bruford, Allan Holdsworth and I can’t remember who else in the band. But it was an all-star line-up, no doubt. And that, really, is why I ask you to consider putting U.K. into the first wave of Prog Hall members. Because I blame them for the whole concept of Prog “supergroups” in the first place; essentially vanity projects, big empty nothings like Asia and GTR and Gordian Knot (HORRIBLE!!!) and you-fucking-name-it all came from the realization that Prog fans will flock to anything their heroes are involved with, and buy it, and then rave for years about what a “classic” it was. Well, U.K. was simply boring, if you ask me, and for all that they allowed to happen in their all-star wake, I say fuck ‘em and ask you to put ‘em in the Hall.
Jethro Tull: Yawwwwnnnnn...oh, excuse me- did somebody say something? What was that, The Tull? Sorry, I was just busy doing something more important than contemplating Ian Anderson- there was some lint in my belly-button that has been bothering me for days, and now I have to go wash my pen-cap. Anyway, Jethro Fucking Tull: Forty years, and one decent album; get your mind around that for a second and tell me how it is Jethro Tull has never been put down by an act of bloody Parliament. A consistent loser since the appallingly over-rated “Thick as a Brick”, (rhymes with something I’d like to tell Ian Anderson when he’s prancing around with that goddamn flute), Tull is boring, trite, repetitive, annoying, maudlin, and cloying, all at once; like Camel, I can honestly say I’ve never woken up and said- “Hey, you know what would make this a perfect day? 'A Crest of a Knave'! I still wake up with an erection, and so long as I’ve got my Tull, I’m too young to die!!!” A band I just can’t tolerate, not even to be polite; you play this shit around me at your peril, because I will say something I will later regret, but that you will never get over. The Tull takes my already blistering rancor and drives it up a notch to pure pathological hate. Fuck these guys, forever, in the bloody heart.
Zodiac: Unknown outside of the former Soviet Union until the groundbreaking work of the PRHOI and its determination to bring every cockroach into the light from pole to pole in the name of purging Prog, The Curator can say with utmost confidence that you didn’t hear about Zodiac until you tuned in to one of the Bad Prog broadcasts on DJ Micah’s inimitable Public Sensory Radio. And while it often feels somewhat cruel picking on Soviet-era bands- after all, these people didn’t even have toilet paper, much less access to exotic Western recording techniques and synthesizer technology- there is only so much room you can yield to pity before the inner Prussian cruelty lurking in every sardonic critic asserts itself and lambastes in great joy the insuperable obstacle called “Lost in Translation”. Something just doesn’t work here, and no manner of cultural exchange could fix it; delightfully goofy electronic songs blur one into the next, and everything is just one beat off, one Looking Glass crystal removed from an identifiable Western Prog context. Yes, it might be akin to picking on the retarded kid in class, but when that subject insists on eating the paste in full view of others, the occasional giggle is going to be the result, and that is what Zodiac has given The Curator- and many others- since they first premiered here months ago. Consider them an initial International entrant, never to be replicated now that the Bolshevik dream lies in rubble and failure. (And dig that craaaazy sleeve art, above, huh? Prog brings out the would-be Roger Deans, and if you can vomit some color onto a canvas and call it "Sci-Fi", you've got a career in Iron Curtain Prog, is my guess.)
So there you have it! No complaints! It's these twenty, and you pick five- that's democracy if I've ever heard it! Send your votes to The Curator, and I'll have the results up in a week or two. - TR