Monday, January 11, 2010

Some (More) Final Thoughts on The Top 50 Prog Albums Ever

Rare Bird- As Your Mind Flies By, 1970 I just happened to be listening to this album the other day, along with the self-titled 1969 debut of these gentlemen, and thought to myself- "You know, these are both pretty goddamn good albums". Outside of the incredibly lame sleeve art, "Mind" doesn't have one glaring weakness, and most of it is actually compelling and attention-keeping, no matter how many times you listen. Truly great? Maybe not; but along with bands like Jonesy and Barclay James Harvest and others who have been inexplicably forgotten and lost to the ether of Prog history, The Curator feels that an important mission of the PRHOI is education. And, really, if you give this album a listen and aren't immediately blown away by the energy and forcefulness of the appropriately named "Hammerhead", then in all likelihood there is nothing that can be done to draw you from your Coldplay-listening torpor and pitifully disintegrating life with all its attendant middle-mind hash. Steve Gould provides a tremendously rich voice to the strong musicianship, and while- unfortunately- this is yet another band that should have quit before releasing their last two disastrously moribund albums, the first two are a class act and, yes, I fell pretty comfortable saying worthy of being included on a "Top 50" list- which, with this album now included, is up to 105 albums. This list has turned into the Godley & Creme of Prog Canons, spiralling completely out of control and going far beyond the original scope and idea; but again, it's Prog, and it's also my list, so The Curator can live with his rampant excess.

That being said...I was never comfortable omitting the other two Egg albums (S/T, 1970 and Civil Surface, 1974) so considering the list is now so vast I'd like to correct that since Egg is, after all, one of my favorite bands. Also, there is no sense denying that Univers Zero's first record (1313, 1977) belongs, since I absolutely love them too, and that album is almost as evil as the one that made the original list. It also seems completely ridiculous that Art Zoyd was not represented, even though I much prefer parts of all of their albums as to proclaiming one a transcendent masterpiece; this caveat in mind, I listened to Berlin (1987) the other night when I couldn't sleep, and was so disturbed I had to go pour a glass of wine in order to calm myself down from the creeping disquiet thus engendered; this to me is a sign of a very successful album, and one deserving of mention in such a preposterously ambitious list.

And since we're on the subject of RIO, I'd like to put in a special word for an album I quite frankly forgot about until the other day when I was cleaning out an old hard drive- the Japanese Chamber Rock group Zypressen and their S/T 1996 release, now long since out of print. I have no idea where I got this from (though as always Mutant Sounds seems the likely culprit) but I do know it was during a "RIO-phase" I was indulging in right about the time I had driven another girl out of my life due to excessive weirdness and introversion. All part of the above-mentioned ambition needed to compile a list like this. And for now...let that ambition rest. Whomever has actually stayed in there for all of this constant revising and revisiting with me, I hope you have enjoyed yourself. In the New Year, I is back to Bad Prog, 100% full time. Enjoy the avalanche of shit. - TKR

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