Rush’s GRACE UNDER PRESSURE at 34

rush gup
Arrival: April 12, 1984

My favorite Rush album has been, at least going back to April 1984, Grace Under Pressure.  I realize that among Rush fans and among prog fans, this might serve as a contentious choice.  My praise of GUP is not in any way meant to denigrate any other Rush albums.  Frankly, I love them all.  Rush has offered us an outrageous wealth of blessings, and I won’t even pretend objectivity.

I love Rush.  I love Grace Under Pressure.

I still remember opening Grace Under Pressure for the first time.  Gently knifing the cellophane so as not to crease the cardboard, slowly pulling out the vinyl wrapped in a paper sleeve, the hues of gray, pink, blue, and granite and that egg caught in a vicegrip, the distinctive smell of a brand new album. . . . the crackle as the needle hit . . . .

I was sixteen.

Continue reading “Rush’s GRACE UNDER PRESSURE at 34”

Second Spring #1: Kevin McCormick’s “Storm Front.”

Inspired by Craig Breaden’s brilliant 104-part Soundstream, I’ve decided to post music that reveals that rock and jazz (and some other forms of music) are not the end of western civilization, but the culmination of western civilization up to this point in time.

A second spring, if you will.

For our first entry, from our own cherished progarchist, Kevin McCormick.  This from his 1999 album, SQUALL.  “Storm Front.”

Immerse yourself.

A BBT-Inspired Post: The Enchanted Childhood of Christopher Dawson (TIC)

I’m breaking several rules by re-posting this at progarchy–including our rules that stress we should never write about 1) religion or 2) politics.

Apologies!

However, I wrote this piece about the incredible Anglo-Welsh Man of Letters, Christopher Dawson (1889-1970), while not only listening to Big Big Train but while also consciously trying to imitate Greg Spawton’s and David Longdon’s lyric-writing styles into straight prose.  I might have failed miserable, but I had a great time trying.

 

Stories of glass and stone—which told of the holy and sainted—convinced young Christopher Dawson that a saint was a saint not because of his or her individual talents, but as a continuation of the deepest longings and desires of the Church… 1,275 more words

via Etched in Glass and Stone: The Childhood of Christopher Dawson — The Imaginative Conservative

 

 

FAR SKIES DEEP TIME by Big Big Train (2018)

Far Skies, Deep Time.  Even the very title evokes mystery.  Indeed, were there still loads and loads of CD stores, and if I could spend my time browsing them, I would buy this album simply for the title alone.  Even if I knew absolutely nothing about Big Big Train.  I do, however.  That is, I do know about Big Big Train.  In fact, I know a lot about Big Big Train.  I’ve written more about Big Big Train over the last nine years of life than any other single topic, except for my professional work on humanism and the humanists of the 20th century.  And, to be clear, 9 years is just a little less than 1/5 of my life.

FSDT cover-300x300
Once blessed, now glorious.  Cover art by the extraordinarily talented Jim Trainer.

Truly, my life is immensely better for knowing the music and stories of Big Big Train.

I’m coming up on a full decade of Big Big Train being a vital part of my personal and professional life.  My kids and wife all know and love the band’s music, and no other band has served as the soundtrack of my last almost-decade more than has Big Big Train.

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Farewell to Kings (and Faith): Neil Peart, 1977

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of A FAREWELL TO KINGS.

rush farewell
40th Anniversary Edition

What followed, 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, though, had far more in common with 1976’s 2112 than it would with 1980’s Permanent Waves.  Not appearing on the market until September 1, 1977, A Farewell to Kings ended the new album every six months schedule Rush has followed thus far.  A brilliant album in and of itself, A Farewell to Kings still belongs to Rush 2.1 as I have defined it.  So does the follow-up album, Hemispheres.  Certainly, Rush tried many new things—in terms of album structure, lyrical depth and story telling, and musical complexity—than it had on the first several albums.  “We had written material that was a little beyond us, considering our level of musicianship at the time,” Lee later admitted.[i]  But the progress is in continuity, a major reform rather than a revolution.  “Our progress has always been sincere—not in an arrogant way, but for our own pleasure,” Peart stated in 1982.  “We’ve always incorporated music from people we liked, so it has made us stylistically schizoid.”[ii]

While there are no side length tracks on A Farewell to Kings, the album revolves around its two major songs, “Xanadu” at 11 minutes in length and “Cygnus X-1” at almost ten and 1/2 minutes.  Thematically, Peart continues to embrace both the fantastic—“Xanadu” based on the iconic romantic English poem, “Kubla Kahn,” by Samuel Coleridge—and science-fiction, “Cygnus X-1.”  At the time, Peart lauded fantasy writing in lyrics.  “It’s a way to put a message across without being oppressive.”[iii]

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