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Posts Tagged ‘ELP’

On guilty pleasures

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Two things today. One, another review of interest at PopMatters, in which Will Layman takes a sledgehammer to prog rock indulgence and bashes ELP’s Brain Salad Surgery. While normally I’m in support of anyone ridiculing this ridiculous band, Layman’s review, which comes on the occasion of the latest reissue of this “classic” album, isn’t exactly praiseworthy. He basically admits to liking this in his youth, still kind of liking it now, but he’s completely caught up in the “guilty pleasure” concept and his tone is all, “I can’t believe I actually enjoy this crap — it might be fun, but it’s still crap.” And then he gives it a rating of 3 out of 10.

Who the fuck cares how silly or stupid something is if you enjoy it? I mean, I understand the whole “guilty pleasure” thing. But I’ve been trying to actively rid myself of the notion (this is still very much a work in progress). That’s why I give positive reviews to cheesy symphonic power metal bands like Within Temptation, and it’s why I write about seeing Christina Aguilera and Nelly Furtado on this blog. If you enjoy something, it deserves a positive review, regardless of whether or not you’re ashamed of your feelings.

That said, I think Brain Salad Surgery is about as appealing as a steaming dog turd. So I could have written a much better 3-stars-out-of-ten review than Layman.

Item #2: OffOnOff, a new trio of Paal Nilssen-Love, Terrie Ex, and Massimo Pupillo (of Zu). With that lineup you know there are going to be fireworks. There’s an eight-minute song on their Myspace page that reminds me of Scorch Trio with a much heavier bass presence, which makes sense — Pupillo’s fuzzed-out bass playing is way more aggressive than Ingebrigt Håker-Flaten’s style, while there are similarities between Terrie Ex and Raoul Bjorkenheim’s post-Sharrock guitar pyrotechnics. I cannot wait to get my hands on this stuff.

Progcrit boneheads

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

It doesn’t seem particularly appropriate for me to identify myself anymore as a “prog fan” in the sense of a fan with a single genre focus — that stopped being true four or five years ago. Yet I still perk up whenever I see prog mentioned in non-prog media, and such was the case when, in reading the new issue of Signal to Noise, I ran across a very provocative review by Mark S. Tucker of Ed Macan’s new book, The Endless Enigma: A Musical Biography of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This is a fun review that includes things like this:

[Macan's] Rocking the Classics offered much-needed relief from silly magazinic “What is prog?” maunderings and it alone may explain why authors like Jerry Lucky and sites like Gnosis have remained completely irrelevant… as a platform from which to consider aesthetic questions, Endless Enigma is hardly being touched by progcrit boneheads… The book is a high-water mark in progrock literature, and I’m afriad we’ll see little of its like in the future.

It’s an article about prog in a non-prog publication, so there has to be some dissing going on. But Tucker isn’t poking a stick at prog fans per se, the way most non-prog media does, so much as he is doing so at prog critics. “Progcrit boneheads” is a pretty great phrase that I wish I could use as a Ground & Sky subtitle; but alas, I think Tucker might actually like this website, or at least applaud our general refusal to treat with the whole “what is prog” nonsense. Other than that one thing, actually, it’s not really clear why he considers prog critics to be “boneheads” and “completely irrelevant,” but tossing around such perjoratives sure does make his article more fun to read.

Of course, the rub is that Tucker is actually a pretty “true” prog fan, whatever that means, having written for such publications as, uh, Exposé and Progression (what makes these magazines more “relevant” than sites like Gnosis is unclear to me). In this article he namedrops Porcupine Tree, Univers Zero, and Henry Cow, and in reviews elsewhere in this issue of Signal to Noise alone he mentions Tasvallan Presidentti and 5uu’s. This makes his critique of prog critics, such as it is, much more interesting than it would be if it had come from a total outsider. In any case, he spends a lot of column-inches lauding Macan’s analytical style mostly through trashing progcrit boneheads (and Chris Cutler and Dave Kerman for their “weirdly perjorative” takes on prog as a genre), and pulls off a near-miracle in getting me actually interested in reading this book. Considering that I hate ELP with a passion and basically regard them as concretizing everything I don’t like about prog, that’s quite an achievement.

Gem from the comment section

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

News flash: crazy corporate hack (Google “Andrew Langer” and you’ll see what I mean, and he links to corporate front group/hack scientists/global warming deniers/free-market fundamentalists the Competitive Enterprise Institute) posts comment at Ground & Sky! Re Conrad’s review of ELP’s Trilogy:

Nah, the best synth player ever is Pete Townshend. Emerson is into classical music and that’s just worthless music, has nothing over guitars. Also, Emerson and his pals never took a political stand and that’s what makes for vial music. Pete Seeger can’t play a million notes a second like these guys but he has something to say.

This isn’t even the kind of classical music girls like. Good thing we have prostitutes! I think guys who listen to this music spend a lot of time reading John Berlau who is a good friend of mine and an expert on prostitution. Music like this will never get you a girl but Jackson Browne will any day!


Look closely enough, and you will find a straw man argument (or maybe just a total nonsequitur), serious aesthetic self-righteousness, severe chauvinism, unintentional comedy, and complete insanity. If only all the comments on this site could be so entertaining on so many levels!

I hate ELP because ELP sucks

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

The new Massive Attack is a little disappointing, at least on first listen. I’m still itching to hear their collaboration with Mos Def.

There’s a pretty fascinating discussion over at ProgressiveEars about how younger prog fans tend to dislike ELP even if they dig the other big-name “classic” prog bands. Obviously, I’m included in this category (although I also have reservations about Genesis and I’m not so big a fan of Jethro Tull, more by lack of experience than anything else). There are some interesting theories about why this is. Sean says the ELP has just aged far less gracefully than the other “classic” prog bands, and presumably aren’t helped on by the subpar lyrics and vocals and Emerson’s “self-important” adaptions of classical themes. The ever-predictable L.Perez thinks it’s just a conspiracy of young, stupid prog fans combined with avant-snobs, and that ELP-bashing is trendy.

In the end, I dislike ELP for a lot of reasons, but chief among them is the fact that while other prog bands tempered their pomposity and, urgh, pretentiousness (I fucking hate using that word in this context), ELP didn’t bother. And so now it just sounds kind of silly. Besides, I really hate keyboards when they’re used Emerson-style, probably because that kind of sound just comes off as absurdly dated.

I’m not entirely happy with this explanation. More power to those listeners that can transcend the datedness of this music. Regardless, I really can’t stand ELP, period end of story.