1969: A Blast from the Past

“Well it’s 1969 OK all across the USA
It’s another year for me and you
                                      Another year with nothing to do”  — 1969, The Stooges

I was 7 going on 8 in 1969.  But my brother was ten years older — and Detroit was a prime location to explore rock as it turned psychedelic, then progressive, still with plenty of punk attitude.  Our cousin from Lansing was about the same age as my brother — so they did a fair amount of concertgoing together.

The other day, out of the blue I got a letter from our cousin, reproduced below with my random thoughts interspersed:

Dear Cousin Rick,

I’m sending along a copy of the program from the festival I attended in the south of England summer of 1969.  I thought you might it interesting.

plumpton festival program(Hmmm … The 9th National Jazz and Blues Festival.  Waitaminute: Pink Floyd?  King Crimson?  Peter Hammill performing solo before the first Van Der Graaf Generator album? Yes?  The Who?  Keith Emerson with The Nice?  Not to mention Soft Machine and Pentangle?  And he was there? Doggone straight I find it interesting.  Please continue, cousin!)

I’d seen both The Who and The Nice at the Grande Ballroom in the spring before.  The Who played the entire Tommy opera both times.  The Nice as I remember had some kind of revolving organ at the Grande.  At the Plumpton fest they closed the show on Sunday backed by a large orchestra.  At the final song the stage opened and a regiment of bagpipers marched off the stage and into the crowd.  Those were heady times.

isle of wight 1969There’s also a copy of the Isle of Wight festival flier which I missed as it was the weekend which we were heading home.  Such fond memories.

(Bob Dylan & The Band?  The Moody Blues?  More from King Crimson, The Who and Pentangle?  Stop torturing me, cousin!!!  Actually, no — please continue as I wrestle with envy and wish Doctor Who’s TARDIS was real.)

The day we arrived in London the Rolling Stones played in Hyde Park celebrating the life of Brian Jones who had just passed.  Couldn’t quite get there but almost.  (Another King Crimson show!!)

I’d like to hear more about your music blogging/reviews.    P.S.  We didn’t arrive at the fest until Saturday so we missed all the Friday acts.  Booo!

Fortunately, the sounds of the Plumpton Festival aren’t completely lost in the mists of time; I plan to direct my cousin to Soft Machine’s and Pink Floyd’s sets online, and send him a copy of King Crimson’s set.

detroit rr revival 1969And talking with my brother later, I heard the story of how he and my cousin somehow got permission to go to the 1969 Detroit Rock’n’Roll Revival (with the MC5, Chuck Berry, Dr. John, The “Psychedelic” Stooges and many more acts) the night before my sister’s wedding.  Maybe I should rethink missing Yes’ 50th Anniversary Tour when it hits Grand Rapids.  Not to mention Wayne Kramer’s MC50 Kick Out the Jams 50th Anniversary Tour and Soft Machine’s world tour coming to Progtoberfest IV

— Rick Krueger

The Pillars of Prog, Part 2 – Nights in White Satin

Musically, the British are much better than us Americans at admitting the failures of modernity, especially as it relates to how we interact with each other as humans. Steven Wilson so brilliantly lamented the isolation of the city in his 2015 masterpiece Hand. Cannot. Erase. Before that, Andy Tillison of The Tangent masterfully critiqued the contemporary 9-5 lifestyle in 2013’s Le Sacre Du Travail. Long before either of these artists, however, The Moody Blues commented on typical modern life in their 1967 concept album, Days of Future Passed.

In part 1 of this series, I argued that King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” started progressive rock as we came to know it. I still stand by that remark, but I’ll add that The Moody Blues were certainly an integral pioneering band in this genre. Looking back, Days of Future Passed is certainly a progressive rock album, but it is not prog as Yes, ELP, or Genesis later popularized the sub-genre. King Crimson sparked a very particular sound that The Moody Blues likely influenced but did not directly spark. What Black Sabbath did for heavy metal, King Crimson did for prog. With that said, Days of Future Passed deserves attention in this series. Specifically, I’m going to look at “Nights in White Satin,” the most well-known and probably most influential track on the album.

Continue reading “The Pillars of Prog, Part 2 – Nights in White Satin”

Days of Future Passed at 50: The Moody Blues, Live at Ravinia (6/30/17)

For some reason, I’ve not delved into the Moody Blues during my relatively recent absorption of classic progressive rock. Over the past 5-10 years, I’ve come to know the music of Rush, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Kansas, Styx, ELP, Pink Floyd, and many newer bands quite well, but I haven’t ventured much past “Nights in White Satin” in the Moody Blues catalog.

I’ve long believed that seeing a band live is a great way to become acquainted with their music. Seeing Kansas live many years ago was a great introduction to their music for me, and the same proved true for the music of Styx when I saw Dennis DeYoung live for the first time. Thus, when I saw that the Moody Blues were going to play at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL, this summer, I jumped at the chance. In the meantime, I prepared by listening to Days of Future Passed, as well as many of the band’s hits.

Continue reading “Days of Future Passed at 50: The Moody Blues, Live at Ravinia (6/30/17)”

Re-Entering the Universe

dennisleeaskew

Well, it has been exactly one year since I first joined Progarchy, and what a positive experience it has been. In celebration, I have decided to briefly give another shout out to my friend Dennis Lee Askew of the band Universe, one of my favorite American prog bands.  I very much enjoyed reviewing his first album in an earlier post.  Dennis recently issued a new album (pictured above) containing some songs from his first album and a few others previously unreleased. If you enjoy the sounds of psychedelia, space rock, acid rock, and prog, you will enjoy this album. It is a superb blend of Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues with some Yes added for good measure.  My two favorite songs on the album are I Am, which is keyboard driven and definitely has an early Pink Floyd vibe, and The Axiom, which features a cool synth opening and some great guitar work. You can support Dennis and his work by visiting his website and purchasing the album.

http://www.universemusic.us