Wednesday, March 26, 2014

40 Year Itch: Prog Rock in March 1974

The nine minute Lord of the Rings inspired "Nimrodel-The Procession-The White Rider" suite is my personal favorite highlight of Camel's second album, Mirage. While far better known bands were ego-tripping into the Land Of Excess, Camel kept things melodic. 

Credit goes to the musicians who were at the top of their game: Andrew Latimer (electric and acoustic guitars, flute, and vocals); Pete Bardens (Hammond organ, electric piano, acoustic piano, mini-moog, mellotron, and vocals; Doug Ferguson (electric bass); and Andy Ward (drums and percussion) 

The prog rock biased Rate Your Music listeners poll ranks this among the Top 10 albums of 1974

   The first of two 1974 albums form King Crimson, a great portion of the inventive Starless and Bible Black is a dissonant assault on the ears. Most of it improvised. Much of it instrumental. All of it destined to get turned down by wife in the passenger seat of our car. The album is an orgy of artistic intellectualism. One example: drummer Bill Buford gets a songwriting credit on "Trio" because he deliberately chose not to play on it.

Rolling Stone's Gordon Fletcher was highly impressed with the album. He called it "stunningly powerful", confident, and apparently the band of Robert Fripp's dreams. "Hopefully, " he concludes, "it'll stay together long enough to continue producing albums as excellent as this one". 

     Alas, David Cross would get voted out of the band before King Crimson returned to the studio to record Red.

The line-up consists of David Cross (violin, viola, mellotron); Robert Fripp (electric guitar; mellotron; and devices); John Wetton (electric bass guitar; lead vocals); and  Bill Bruford (drums and percussion)

A Canterbury super group? Hatfield and the North consisted of former members of Caravan, Gong, and Robert Wyatt's post-Soft Machine group, Matching Mole. Wyatt provides vocals on "Calyx". 

Most of the album consists of mellow, jazzy instrumentals with catchy names like "Shaving is Boring" and  "(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology on the Jaw" 

For those days you want Emerson Lake and Palmer without all the "bombastic pretensions", as one Rolling Stone Record Guide put it, there's the German trio Triumvirat. 

Yes, in 1974 there was room for ELP and a German version of ELP. I actually prefer Triumvirat because even if they take their musicianship seriously, there's no way in hell they could it as seriously as Messers. Emerson, Lake and Palmer.

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