Documentary about progressive music and the bands involved, from successes such as Yes, Genesis and ELP to the trials and tribulations of lesser-known bands such as Caravan.
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Pit-eh-schoo, blugh, buh-doov...
Jun-jing, jun-jing, jun-jing, jing, juh-jing, jun-ding, jung...
-Rata-da-da-da, da-da-da, da, da...
Doo-doo, doo, doo, doo-doo, doo-doo...
Da, da, da, da-da...
-Over. Then some chords!
"The Assyrian came down like a wolf from the fold
-"and his cohorts were gleaming in silver and gold..."
-Diddle-liddle, dum-dum, doo-doo...
"The sheen of his stars were like stars in the sky," whatever it is.
It's gonna go, "Meeh, doo-doo, doo, doo". Then it's gonna go "doodle-oodle, oodle-oodle."
Continual "lul-uhl-lul-uhl" notes without a single break-in.
And I almost lost it there!
From the British pop revolution of the 1960s, emerged an entirely new breed of musician -
a post-Beatles, post-psychedelic generation that saw a future of limitless possibilities.
It was time for pop music to move beyond the three-minute love song and chart success.
With little or no concern for fame, fortune or the audience, they plundered every musical form
on an adventure into uncharted territories in search of the lost chord.
This is the story of that generation of new bands,
Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, ELP, Jethro Tull and many more.
From the land that time forgot, the glory days of Prog Britannia.
MUSIC: "Time Of The Season" by The Zombies
In 1967, pop music, like the world it inhabited, was about to explode.
In London, the British beat boom fused with American pop in a blaze of invention that would ransack
jazz, folk and anything else it could find in the many basement clubs of the city.
I do think there are periods which are golden ages and, you know,
the stars are aligned, and whatever is happening, and it produces a lot of creativity.
Where I was at college was like a snapshot of music at the time.
The angry bot people liked The Beatles.
The side I was on was blues upstairs and, in the cellar, Bob Dylan
and then you had the modern jazz guys and the classical guys.
Otis Redding and Sam & Dave and Booker T & the MGs came over and you suddenly realised that
you know, it's "game up".
You can't pretend to be them any more when they're actually here.
There was some white music that even black musicians were listening to,
for example, Jimi Hendrix was listening very hard to Bob Dylan, you know, there was stuff going on.
# It's the time of the season... #
There was huge social changes and huge chemical changes...
going on. There was something definitely in the water.
I mean, timing is everything. The smartest thing I did was get born in 1949. Brilliant, brilliant.
Cos at 18 you're in 1968. Europe's aflame, the Paris Riots.
I was in the States in '68 and there were three major assassinations while we were there.
A few Kennedys and an Andy Warhol or two.
You know, it was all happening.
It WAS all happening. But much of the music only reached eager young British ears courtesy of outlaws.
Offshore pirate radio stations, broadcasting illegally
to a nation still dominated by something called the BBC Light Programme.
MUSIC: "Summer In The City" by The Lovin' Spoonful
MUSIC WARPS INTO DIFFERENT SONGS
'It was unreachable. You felt like you were tuning into another planet.
'Contacting the aliens. It was coming from another world.'
You could only reach it on little transistor radios...late at night.
Then, in May 1967, a song that fused Bach with Percy Sledge via Bob Dylan and Geoffrey Chaucer
was heard leaving for the coast.
A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procul Harum.
I wouldn't be exaggerating when I said that the world was waiting for that.
# We skipped the light fandango
# Turned cartwheels cross the floor... #
The Beatles and the beat boom had been going for...
certainly three or four years.
'It was all getting a bit tired.'
# The crowd called out for more... #
I wanted to do something and I didn't want it to be like anything else.
Because we've had, we've had it all.
"This, I've never heard this before, really." That's what you think to yourself. Therefore, "I like this."
# We called out for another drink
# The waiter brought the tray
-# And so it was... #
-And so it was that later, only two weeks later,
as the miller told his tale, The Beatles released an album that was a concept,
a world unto itself.
A blueprint for progressive rock.
MUSIC: "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)" by The Beatles
# We're Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
# We hope you have enjoyed the show... #
A Whiter Shade Of Pale topped the British Singles Chart
the very same week that Sgt Pepper announced the artistic triumph of the album.
Bands were still making singles, you know, Cream - Strange Group,
Pink Floyd - Arnold Layne and See Emily Play.
And Procol Harum - Whiter Shade Of Pale.
All of these records were amazing, creative, interesting singles
and they also were incredibly, commercially successful.
So the bands at that moment were getting the best of both worlds.
It was Sgt Pepper, and the creative amazement of Sgt Pepper,
that really convinced everybody that
you can extend ideas onto an album, you can make concept albums.
In fact, with the album, you can do almost exactly whatever you want.
It was a strange mixture of...
almost music hall and totally other-world music -
that was the wonderful thing about it,
it bridged the gap between the real world and this other world. And the other thing,
it was all totally new. You'd never heard anything like that before.
It's more fun in the record if there's a few sounds that
you don't really know what they are and really they're just instruments
only something happens on here. I couldn't tell you what cos we have a special man
who sits here and goes like this and the guitar turns into a piano or something.
And then you may say, "Why don't you use a piano?" Because the piano sounds like a guitar.
If you look at the leap in terms of musical vocabulary and sophistication between
the first Beatles album and Sgt Pepper which is like five years,
everything that could be done with that form has already been done in those five years.
Where else can you take it except to make it more and more sophisticated
and more and more musically interesting or just
for rock music to go on repeating itself and regurgitating itself?
I liked... There's a lot of classical music I liked.
I was always frightened of classical music and I never wanted to listen
because it was Beethoven and Tchaikovsky and big words like that. And Schoenberg.
I think a lot of people started to appreciate many other genres.
Pop music is the classical music of now.
Probably The Beatles had been listening to the same stuff,
smoked the same cannabis... now and again.
A lot of people were smoking on the quiet
and they actually got furious when the hippies came along
because suddenly there was a lot of notice being taken
whereas they'd been quietly, you know, enjoying themselves for a long time.
This was the era when if you wanted to try something, you could.
You knew a mate who had some hashish,
or you knew a mate who had some LSD.
But you had to be careful. If you were very cautious and took very little of these things
you could meddle and not lose your mind and end up in hospital.
Cannabis was a stimulant. And it did enable you to hear a lot more in the music.
It was there, you weren't imagining it. It was in there. But you concentrated more on listening to it.
What came from that was the ability for people who would normally...
copy American music suddenly wanted to express themselves.
And so you had this strange thing at that time that almost every band had a unique sound.
Nobody sounded quite like anyone else.
# Dynamic explosions in my brain, shatter me to drops of rain
# Falling from a yellow sky... #
I moved across to what was really a new movement in music
which was the psychedelia period.
-# Hold me but as I jerk... #
-And that was Arthur Brown and The Crazy World of Arthur Brown.
I mean, we didn't know what it was and we were in it!
It was pretty confrontational.
For that time, shocking.
Arthur's concept was basically about the beginning of time, the beginning of life.
I am the god of hellfire and I bring you...
The original for the make-up was the death mask, which goes back
right through English history and further than that.
# Fire, to destroy all you've done... #
It was kind of deep, really. It was real, you know.
-Sometimes the bar would be filled with petrol and the roadie would
stand there throwing matches, a good distance away, until one landed and then... BOOF!
The British beat boom had been a predominantly Northern or working class phenomenon.
But the architects of progressive rock were escapees from entirely different backgrounds.
I suppose for a rock and roller, my education was completely wrong.
My mum and dad, I mean, literally did go without food to send me to piano lessons.
I never found that out till many, many years on and I went there when I was five.
And I loved it.
My family had a very varied take on music and they were very opinionated about it.
Course I liked Cliff Richard & The Shadows and they were going,
"Nonsense, you won't even know who these people are next year."
MUSIC: "Do You Wanna Dance" by Cliff Richard & The Shadows
I was in this attic and I put on this Vivaldi record, The Four Seasons or something, and I just flipped.
I just went, "This is fantastic stuff."
Studied Stravinsky's Dumbarton Oaks concerto. Did a lot of church music, sang in choirs.
At the same time as being obsessively interested in...
Went to the Guildhall.
Went to the Royal Academy. Had lots of private tuition, LOTS of private tuition.
But never REALLY wanted to be in an orchestra.
Or a jazz group for that matter. I wanted to be a rock drummer.
I got a scholarship to the Royal College of Music. And I went there and I left after a year and a half.
I thought, "This is NUTS, this whole thing." The college were really, really anti any form of music
that wasn't serious classical music.
They would've either have become classical musicians,
because a lot of them have classical training to grade whatever-it-is, or they would have become jazzers.
But the jazz scene in Britain was never THAT exciting, it was always such hard work.
'66, '67, jazz was in a bad place.
Jazz was Free Jazz, it was squeaky-bum jazz, you know, going
rhee-aiir! Squeaking away. And any red-blooded drummer,
age 17, at that time, would've wanted to play with Jimi Hendrix,
rather than the Spontaneous Music Ensemble.
MUSIC: "Gypsy Eyes" by Jimi Hendrix
But what made pop so attractive to some inexperienced young musicians was...
well, the girls.
There's this whole other half of the human race
and, like it says in Some Like It Hot, "I tell you, it's a whole different sex." There was girls.
Where were they? They were in caffs. What were they doing? They were sitting there.
They had chalk-white pink lipstick on. And I thought,
"I don't quite know what they're for or what you're meant to do with them,
"but, I couldn't..." But I thought, you know...
"There's something great about this lot." You couldn't talk to them, but what you could do
was put on a Little Richard record on the jukebox and it would unify the room.
You couldn't put on Bartok, Violin Concerto. That wouldn't have impressed anybody.
It wouldn't have unified the room. Wouldn't have got everybody tapping their feet.
CLASSICAL MUSIC PLAYS
But the classical tradition had gripped a generation of rock 'n' rollers determined to show
that pop music could also be profound and grown-up.
In the winter of love, Procol Harum scored another first when they recorded an 18-minute suite
In Held 'Twas In I, for their album Shine On Brightly.
The search for meaning and significance was on.
I said, "I think we should do, like, a great work."
That's what I called it.
In fact it was called O Magnum Harum for a while.
MUSIC: "In Held 'Twas In I" by Procol Harum
Start off at the beginning of the universe... And ended in Heaven.
And all the trials and tribulations that come in between.
With a bit of sitar chucked in.
You know, somebody had to do it, I suppose. If it hadn't been Procol Harum at that point,
it would have been somebody, you know, four weeks later.
Now... We can actually write music.
And if we're gonna write music, the model is classical music
and classical music has extended forms, sonatas,
symphonies. So we're gonna do structures and pieces that last a long time
that try and give us that credibility, musically.
The Nice, originally PP Arnold's backing band, set the controls for the heart of classical music,
jazz and the modern stage musical on their maiden voyage into progressive rock.
Front man Keith Emerson was the Hendrix of the Hammond organ, making his instrument scream and sigh
in dazzling displays of technical virtuosity and crazed physicality.
Their first unlikely hit was a seven-minute version
of Leonard Bernstein's America, from West Side Story,
transformed into an instrumental, prog rock protest song.
MUSIC: "America" by The Nice
CHURCH ORGAN MUSIC
Progressive music didn't only come from the big cities.
Welcome to Canterbury, the posh cathedral town that seeded those musicians that would, in time,
grow into Soft Machine, Caravan, Hatfield & The North and Matching Mole.
All stemming from a little-known local group called The Wilde Flowers.
The Wilde Flowers didn't do loadsa gigs, probably only about
one a fortnight, maybe one a week. Cos we weren't very popular! No.
Those lads were very much into Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie.
We tried to do sort-of danceable versions of that kind of music, you see.
Just to be different and awkward.
MUSIC: "Impotence" by The Wilde Flowers
# I like me, I like you and the things that we do...
# Ba-ba-ba! That we do... #
I don't like it if people think that we thought that...
clever grammar school-y people came in and thought we we're doing
something better than mere pop. We were awestruck by pop music.
By the magnificence of Beatles, of Motown and really we just wanted to participate in it.
But getting our little group together, our own dialects of other stuff we'd picked up
crept into what we did. I'm playing beat drums and I'm trying to sound like a rhythm and blues drummer,
but I had been listening to all these sophisticated jazz drummers
and I was sort-of cluttered with...with stuff.
You can't pretend you haven't heard Elvin Jones if you have.
Soft Machine was the first band to emerge from The Wilde Flowers.
They headed for London's newly established underground clubs,
playing with groups such as Arthur Brown and Pink Floyd at Middle Earth and UFO.
In that club you got everything from vaudeville
to rock, to jazz, to electronics, to pure percussion
to theatre, to poetry, to dance, to naked people wandering around.
That was what we all gravitated towards, UFO and Middle Earth.
That was the... the culture that defined us.
There were all these stoned people listening to music played by stoned bands.
And as long as everybody was stoned, everybody thought it was really good.
MUSIC: "We Did It Again" by Soft Machine
We hadn't really got enough tunes...to just do songs.
So, we thought, "Oh, I remember, what do you do about that? I know, what do jazz musicians do?"
They improvise. So you just pick a couple of chords in there and just...keep going on them.
And so tunes become ten-minute events.
This is not because we've all become virtuosos, not in our case.
It's because we haven't got enough tunes to stretch one-and-a-half hours.
Our organist Mike Ratledge was older than us, taller and his father had been a headmaster
and who had an Oxford degree, so therefore assumed immediate seniority.
Well, this is the fuzzbox which sounds like this...
HE PLAYS DISTORTED NOTES
Once he puts his fuzz on, you had to keep playing, you couldn't take your hand off.
Cos it would start feeding back. So he developed a solo style
of absolutely continual "lul-uhl-lul-uhl" notes without a single break-in.
MUSIC: "Why Am I So Short" by Soft Machine
So we can do these trance-like things,
with sound going on for ages and ages without a single pause.
Just round the corner from UFO, the more established Marquee Club was already showcasing bands
that would become the virtuoso kings of progressive rock.
Like Jethro Tull.
And Yes, fronted by vocalist Jon Anderson.
I went to see Yes with 30 other people at The Marquee one night.
And guy next to me said, "You know they're looking for a drummer?" And I met Jon, introduced myself.
He said, "Oh, yeah, man, yeah. Give us a call,
"come back next Tuesday. We'll give you audition." And I never called, you know.
And I often wonder if I'd called, what would have happened to my life!
MUSIC: "Beyond And Before" by Yes
Life in Yes, for jazz drummer Bill Bruford, was like this...
The group started as a cover band, like most groups do.
You start playing Beatles tunes and a couple of tunes by The Fifth Dimension, like you would.
And then we got bored and extend a section.
"It's quite good up to here but let's stick in another bit here where it goes rhythm and blues."
And we'd stick that in. And then the thing would get longer and longer and longer
until eventually somebody inevitably said,
"Let's make one up ourselves."
Jon was a very keen listener and absorber, bit like blotting paper, he absorbed music.
# Time like gold dust brings... #
He was mad keen on Sibelius and TV themes.
He'd start singing things, "Jon, this is the theme to Bonanza!"
And he'd say, "Oh, never mind, stick it in!"
MUSIC: "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" by Yes
Yes never said no. They stitched movies soundtracks to folk music
to modern jazz to classical music to TV themes...
And the only people we didn't concern ourselves with at all, I think, was the audience.
# Step out in the night when you're lonely
# Listening for the sound city ears don't hear... #
If you couldn't make the London clubs,
couldn't find progressive rock albums in the shops and rarely heard it on the radio,
you could, by the end of the sixties,
see every band in one glorious drug-and-rain-drenched experience
at a pop festival near you.
MUSIC: "Dharma For One" by Jethro Tull
This was the first golden age of the British music festival.
A new community in which no-one was more welcome than the progressive rock group.
Everybody had a festival.
You went along and played and heard all different types of band.
And people would listen to a jazz orientated band, a hard rock band,
a dance-type band. And they would sit there and listen to the lot.
Certainly, the outdoor live experience was generally freeing.
It always seemed like it was a sunny day,
and the weather was gorgeous. Everybody was smiling and happy.
It was a very sort of hippy thing.
It was really music. It really was music.
It wasn't any other reason.
Yeah, people got a bit smashed, and bonked in the open air,
and that was just the road crew.
MUSIC: "The Court Of The Crimson King" by King Crimson
The great Suffolk seaside town of Aldeburgh,
now home to Pete Sinfield, original lyricist for the intimidating new band
he inadvertently named King Crimson.
We had an ethos in Crimson.
I'm sure people like Gentle Giant and other bands...
we just refused to play anything that sounded anything like a Tin Pan Alley.
If it sounded at all popular, it was out.
So it had to be complicated.
It had to be more expansive chords, it had to have strange influences.
If it sounded too simple, we would make it more complicated.
We would play it in 7/8, in 5/8, just to show off.
# For the court of the Crimson King... #
Crimson's first big show-off opportunity came in July 1969,
when they supported the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park.
Unleashing their unique, highly-rehearsed sound on a totally unprepared audience.
They played Schizoid Man particularly well on that day.
They really steamed it. It was a monster.
# Blood rack, barbed wire
# Politicians funeral pyre
# Innocence raped with napalm fire
# 21st century schizoid man... #
We played Mars, or Schizoid Man, one of our heavier pieces.
And there was a silence at the end.
And no-one knew whether to clap or not.
"That was good"! Then they would go...
HE IMITATES LOUD APPLAUSE
That was the sort of stuff we liked. We really liked shocking people.
We were scared to death.
No-one knew that rock musicians could play like that.
To execute rapid passages deafeningly loud...
MUSIC: "21st Century Schizoid Man" by King Crimson
..then exactly the same passage, everybody playing in unison thing,
but very quiet.
I mean, this was scary. This was the best group in the world.
Mike Giles one night was playing the cymbals at Mothers in Birmingham,
he ended up playing the cymbals like this...
..till there was no noise at all.
And he just...poised, and didn't do anything.
And we thought, "Wow!" I thought...
And Fripp panicked, and took off his boot,
and started banging the stage with his boot because he couldn't stand the tension!
The amount of ego and power and experience that went into that first album was extraordinary.
Maybe that's inherent in that,
and that strength was the seeds of its destruction.
MUSIC: "Ride" by Caravan
The shock and awe that both defined and deified King Crimson
were completely absent from the whimsical,
slightly stoned sound still emanating from Canterbury.
The remaining Wilde Flowers now took the road out of town
as a band called Caravan.
When half of the Wilde Flowers went off and formed Soft Machine,
and managed to get a record deal,
we thought that perhaps we could do the same,
so we were very much looking to see how they were doing,
trying to do the same thing ourselves.
I suppose with the Canterbury scene, you have progressive music at its most melodic.
It's do with these people being able to write quite good tunes
being in contact, I think, with a kind of British melodic tradition
that maybe has more to do with 20th-century classical music
than with pop music.
You hear distant echoes of Vaughan Williams and Britten and that kind of thing.
# Sitting in my treetop world
# Doing nothing at all... #
Certainly the surrounding countryside and what-have-you,
we seemed to get a bit of inspiration from all that.
Sitting about in the sunshine.
Making up bits of music.
# Envy me all you want... #
Living off girlfriends, you know.
# Join me any time if you please... #
Court jesters, crimson kings, lost souls and magic men.
This was a broad church.
A very English music, infused with childhood fantasies
and the quirkiness of a small island race.
Spike Milligan, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, stuff like that.
And we had our own kind of popular surrealism
right from the humorous poets and writers
of the late 19th, early 20th century.
A long time before they invented surrealism on the continent,
we had Lewis Carroll!
At that time, we were making quite a large effort to be English.
Probably why we didn't go down too well in Germany when we were there!
MUSIC: "Horizons" by Genesis
Charterhouse Public School.
A group of young scholars, inspired by the ambitious compositions of Procul Harum and King Crimson,
embraced this new, mature pop music
as a way of dodging the professions for which they'd been groomed.
We had a bit of a tag over us, you know. Public schoolboys.
"What are they doing? What do they know about music?
"Where's their pain?" sort of thing.
We were in a school that was designing people to go into the civil service.
You often talk about getting into music
as an escape from poverty and stuff,
which perhaps it was for a certain kind of people
in the late '50s and early '60s.
For us, it was a kind of escape from a totally pre-determined career choice, if you like.
I was banned from playing the guitar for my entire time at Charterhouse.
I don't quite know why. I think they saw the guitar as a symbol of the revolution.
And I was gonna start it off in my house with my guitar.
So I was always under the thumb of my house-master for that reason.
They wanted to be songwriters.
But bands were now making their own material.
So they formed their own band, called it Genesis,
and did what every other group now seemed to be doing...
retreated to the country to get their heads together.
There was a phrase, "Getting together in the country, man,"
but actually, I think being removed from the business was quite important for us.
The time at Christmas Cottage was where we sort of became a band
and started writing with our own sound.
And it's what came naturally to us, really.
We were embedded in English and obviously European classical traditions as well,
but also, in terms of a lot of the lyrical stuff we would take from English things,
influenced by TS Eliot and fairy stories, and stuff like that.
People forget there weren't that many bands in those days.
It was like a blank canvas. So as long as you were half-decent,
and had a bit of a sound, and were good live,
'you had a chance it was a career, you know.'
We like audiences that sit down and listen to the music
rather than get drunk and pick up girls.
We like audiences that will sit down and listen.
MUSIC: "White Mountain" by Genesis
While Genesis focused on songwriting,
other bands were mastering their instruments and finding new ones.
Technical virtuosity was fast becoming the essential protein in progressive rock's DNA.
I just don't believe that a drummer should just keep time.
Cos if you want time, buy a metronome.
Don't come and speak to me!
I think music... you make it for yourself.
If the chap next door likes it, isn't that fantastic?
I do think self-indulgence
is a good thing in art, because if you're trying
to please other people all the time,
you just stick to the same model all the time.
Nobody hears anything new, so nobody expects anything new.
You play a note, and you project it out.
Even if it's one note, it can go "donnnng"... hmm.
You can make it go...
-WITH DEEP ECHO:
It's more than just playing the instrument.
It's not cool today to play your instrument.
Jangly guitar music...
It's jangly! That's what you do.
But to actually play a solo, something nice,
something that speaks, something that gives you a little kind of emotion,
a little buzz, makes your hair stand up on the back of your neck,
that's not cool. That's not part of this age.
But this was the dawning of the age of the highly-accomplished player.
The name musician.
In 1970, Crimson man Greg Lake,
plus Nice man Keith Emerson,
plus Crazy World man Carl Palmer,
equalled bass, keyboards and drums,
equalled prog rock's first supergroup,
MUSIC: "Hoedown" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
We weren't a rock band, we weren't a blues band.
Emerson, Lake & Palmer was a kind of...was a European group that played classical adaptations.
Yes, we could rock out. But we didn't hang our hat on being a rock band.
In actual fact, it really was a thoroughbred musical statement we were making.
You need the playing expertise so that your colleagues know that you are the bee's knees,
but just give them some entertainment as well, and that's what it's all about.
That's my philosophy.
I think I'd call it showbusiness, actually!
Somebody jumping over their organ, or sticking in knives
to hold down a fifth or a fourth, a chord.
Musically it's valid,
visually it's right on it,
and it is rock'n'roll!
ELP's technical expertise and crowd-pleasing antics
elevated musicianship and ticket sales to new heights.
Progressive rock popped its head out of the underground
and glimpsed not only showbusiness, but big business.
Progressive rock wizard Rick Wakeman
was amazed when he first saw what Yes were now up to
with their psychedelic guitarist Steve Howe.
Everything that happened in the '70s, this is it,
was to do with psychedelia, you see.
Psychedelia may have quit as a fashion in 1968,
but when I joined Yes,
I was still a psychedelic guitarist in my mind.
I would not play blues cliche for love nor money.
I was just bowled over, because everything was wrong.
Bill Bruford had the most incredible unusual tuning of the kit,
and they mic'ed it up. No-one mic'ed it up then.
And it was the most fantastic drum sound I'd ever heard.
MUSIC: "Yours Is No Disgrace" by Yes
There were funky elements, there were classical elements,
there'd be a free section, or some sort of psychedelic vamp or funk thing,
cos we liked Sly and the Family Stone, so we needed some of that.
Chris Squire. Most bass players try to get as low as they could, to make your trousers flap.
Chris wiped out all the middle, and had all the treble turned up,
and used a Rickenbacker while everyone else was using Fenders.
I thought, "That's outrageous"!
And then Steve Howe, when everybody else was using big stacks,
had a little Fender Twin, and a Gibson semi-acoustic.
I played any kind of guitar you could think of that I liked.
So I went on to mandolin, steel, and all the kinds, six, twelve, Spanish...
"Eh, what? What's going on?"
And then, of course, at those times, every lead singer was six foot six,
long greasy black hair, you could smell 'em from the back row,
and along comes this little fella who's got an alto voice.
# If the summer change to winter, Yours is no disgrace... #
Wakeman wanted in.
But when he got the call, it wasn't an easy decision.
On the same day that Yes asked me to join,
David Bowie asked me to form Spiders From Mars with Mick Ronson,
um...which, when I look back, that was one hell of a choice!
# There's a starman waiting in the sky... #
Progressive music wasn't the only gig in town.
Top Of The Pops, regarded as a sell-out by any self-respecting prog rocker,
was by now home to artists such as Bowie, Roxy Music and T Rex.
Bands still making singles hits, and girls dance.
For Robert Wyatt, the Soft Machine party was all but over.
The band had matured into a jazz-fusion quartet
with little sympathy for his pop sensibilities.
Goodbye, the UFO Club...
..hello, the Albert Hall.
You know, pretty respected, and so on, but nobody's dancing any more,
so I sort of thought, aww, you know,
I never really quite made it as a proper pop musician!
We thought we were a pop band!
It's just that... I try to make normal records, they just don't come out like that.
We could have made a really good pop LP, and been in the charts,
and been in those films about the '60s.
And we blew it.
Wyatt was eventually sacked from his own group.
I think I resented it for a while,
and when I got cross,
I used to feel about Soft Machine the same way that Palestinians think about Jerusalem.
"This once was mine!"
Without Wyatt, Soft Machine moved into purely instrumental compositions,
avoiding the problems of lyrics.
"My baby done left me" never did work with complex musical structures.
This music didn't want the blues.
It needed fantasy and myth.
Cupid meets Psyche,
not boy meets girl.
We hadn't really experienced much outside education.
So I suppose that's partly why we wrote about...fantasy lyrics,
different situations about life rather than boy/girl things.
I had come from a public school background,
Could never have expressed that in a song in those days.
So it was much easier to go back to Greek myths and write things like that.
So we plundered Ovid and anybody else we could find. We were all the same, really.
There was an audience of newly-educated university students
who were crying out for something
that they had read in science fiction and they wanted a musical version of that.
And of course, there was The Lord Of The Rings, and Mervyn Peake and Gormenghast,
and people wanted that in their music.
Ambitious music demanded ambitious presentation.
What began with Sgt Pepper now became the glorious norm.
Albums adorned with lyrics, paintings, cut-outs, pop-ups and pull-outs.
The gatefold sleeve opened like a window onto brave new worlds,
and provided the perfect prop on which to roll a joint.
I think the album cover, the artwork, and a vinyl...
when you bought that, it was a piece you could hold, you could look at it,
it was big, you know.
When it suddenly went down to the jewel case, to the CD...
You couldn't have the detail, because it was too small. I needed one for each eye.
It's hard not to start sounding like, you know, "In my day... the gatefold sleeve..."
but it's changed now, you know.
Music is now...it's not something that people hold, the article.
It was a whole event of getting an album.
Getting your album home, putting an album on, reading the bits and pieces,
learning a bit about it... it was absolutely fantastic.
And we lost that. And when we lost that, we lost an awful lot.
So, welcome back to days of future past.
This is the home of Roger Dean.
The artist who most successfully translated progressive rock's soundscapes into landscapes.
He gave Yes their distinctive brand logo,
and imagined worlds that at the time still seemed like beautiful possibilities.
Whether you're designing just a box of matches,
you're predicting one tiny, miniscule part of the future.
I think what's terribly astonishing and disappointing
is how little the promise of the future turned out.
In the '60s, people walked on the moon, in the '60s, there was colour television.
And no-one has gone back to the moon.
I think people would have been shocked
if they could see the year 2008 from a 1968 perspective,
at how astonishingly little the world had improved
compared to our ambitions and expectations.
Had we planned it properly in the '60s, this is how it might have turned out!
I try and find out what was motivating them to make the music,
and work on the same sort of ideas, if that was possible.
Wasn't always possible, but sometimes it was.
Sometimes there was a great synergy between the ideas that motivated the music-making
and the ideas that motivated the art.
But it was not the music itself. It was the ideas behind it.
I was lucky that the images and the music seemed to be an absolute perfect fit sometimes,
when in actual fact, the process was beyond analysis.
Yes recording sessions were also moving beyond analysis.
The hippy democracy the band chose as a way of life
made for difficulties in the studio.
Their fifth album, Close To The Edge,
took over three months to perfect.
It took three months because Simon & Garfunkel
had done Bridge Over Troubled Water, which took three months.
We heard this and we thought,
"By golly, our next record's going to take three months and a day if it kills us!"
So of course, this was the infantile way we behaved,
we took three months and a day.
We established a whole new plane of length of how long we play.
So we've got some musicians here,
we've got a lot of writers in the band, cos Bill wrote, everybody wrote in the band.
"Can I trade your idea for my idea?" You've got five guys writing...
Imagine five guys writing a book!
Steve said, "I've got this silly little line that I've had lying around for ages,
going, "Ding-ding-ding-doo, de-doo, diddly-iddly-um-dum..."
It was all horse-trading, muscle power, strongest guy, thickest skin.
Chris said, "I've got this...bass run."
And that was it, really. And I went, "Anything else?"
And he went, "No, that's it."
And when we got to, what turned out to be for me, the high spot, which was Close To The Edge,
really, I don't know how that record got made.
Some days, we got into the rehearsal rooms after, like, yesterday,
we got in the next day and said, "Does anybody remember how we went from the last verse into that?"
I said, "I want that bit on the end of that, and I don't want to do it in that key,
"because it works nice with the way I play it on guitar on that,"
so they'd say, "We'll get a cup of tea, Rick, you work out how we get from there to there"!
We couldn't do a song in five minutes. It went to ten minutes on the Yes album.
And we got to Close To The Edge and we thought, "This just isn't long enough! This is like...a symphony!"
# Down at the edge, round by the corner
# Not right away, not right away
# Close to the edge, down by the river
# Not right away... #
In those days there were two or three albums that weren't so good,
getting you towards the winner.
The one that the thing existed for, which was Close To The Edge.
That's the moment you exist for in a rock group, and it's terrific!
And you think, "That's the cookie. That's the one, right there! Done deal! I'm gone!"
I left then.
Bruford defected to the less sunny, less democratic regime of Robert Fripp's all-new King Crimson.
In 1972, this was akin to going over the Berlin Wall into East Germany.
No papers required, just extreme chops.
Everything you've heard about King Crimson is true. It's a terrifying place.
Whatever you do before you join King Crimson,
would you please not do it when you're in the band?
You're required really to develop a new style, if you can,
specifically for that group.
The implication being that you would play that way in King Crimson,
and King Crimson alone.
Yes was an endless debate
about whether it should be F-natural in the bass with a G-sharp on top or should it be the other way round?
In King Crimson, almost nothing was said.
You're just supposed to know.
Robert Fripp was a purist.
Unlike the Jimmy Pages of rock, he didn't brandish the guitar like a phallus.
His was more like a probe. An instrument of science, not sex.
And to use it properly,
you had to sit down.
The very first few gigs we did,
Robert didn't sit down. And he was very unhappy,
because in rehearsals, he'd have his stool and his thing,
that was how he'd been taught,
and Robert's very strict about, "That's how it should be,"
and eventually we'd had to give him a stool, because he was sulking.
And he was so happy on that stool.
Robert's not a gyrator, is he?
He may be many things, but he's not a gyrator.
And Robert's idea of sexy is to smile with his glasses and...
Fripp wasn't alone.
Sexual energy, the very lifeblood of rock'n'roll,
was conspicuously absent from the prog rock stage.
Bands like Egg had enough on their hands just playing the complicated arpeggios.
Well, we weren't very sexy,
and we regarded overt sexual display as extremely uncool.
It was something...rather humiliating to have to admit to
that we were actually trying to get into girls' knickers.
We wouldn't admit to it. It was very duplicitous, very dishonest.
But there you are. We certainly wouldn't do it on stage.
I would have been completely unconvincing!
Imagine me doing pelvic thrusts on stage while playing in 25/8. No.
No sex on stage, and no sex backstage.
All the groupies were at Led Zeppelin concerts,
not waiting for progressive rock maestros
to demonstrate the delights of the diminished chord.
The rock bands in America had groupies. We didn't really have any.
The pop stars had groupies. We wanted groupies too.
We never had any Egg groupies. We never had any girl groupies at all.
No girls ever came to the side of the stage after a gig.
Sad, isn't it?
When we went to America, we had lots of groupies.
By the dozens!
Because they loved our English accents,
and the fact we weren't American rock stars and we were something different,
and exotic to them.
-IN AMERICAN ACCENT:
-"We love your accent! Y'all wanna take a shower with us?"
-IN POSH ENGLISH ACCENT:
-"What, both of you? Gosh!"
Progressive rock audiences certainly weren't screamers.
They were an infinitely patient lot.
Too much yang, not enough yin.
What we started to realise... our audience were nice and reserved people, really.
You know, fishing hats, greatcoats, bunch of albums under the arm...
Public school sixth-formers really, in greatcoats!
Ugly-looking audience, you know.
Pipe and glasses, yeah. Beards and stuff, we used to have.
It was very male-orientated.
I would say, in those days, 95% of our audience were male.
We never used to have females come and see us.
Not many girls, no. All chaps.
Lots of guys. No girls.
What is it, some kind of homo band? What is it?
It was the odd woman, mostly dragged along, who used to just look bewildered.
If the sexiness of '60s psychedelia was absent from the prog performance,
theatricality, used so effectively by Arthur Brown,
was becoming an essential part of any Genesis show.
# If you go down to Willow Farm
# To look for butterflies, flutterbys, gutterflies... #
Initially it started off because the PA systems we had...only the voice went through the PA in those days...
were pretty bad, so you could never hear any lyrics.
Quite complex lyrics, and the lyrics were quite important.
So Peter felt he had to act them out a bit, so he started acting them out on stage.
MUSIC: "Supper's Ready" by Genesis
The prog rock movement really stimulated the visual aspect
as well as the playing and the conceptual side.
The visual thing was in. Theatre was important.
It started with that psychedelia period, Arthur Brown, wherever,
and went on and got developed.
MUSIC: "Brandenburger" by The Nice
Progressive rock now had such a loyal male record-buying fan base,
that both the major and independent labels happily signed new bands,
and let them record whatever they wanted.
They weren't even expected to make money at first.
This was the age of company investment and artistic freedom.
Egg recorded all their albums with zero interference.
MUSIC: "Fugue In D Minor" by Egg
They were interested in us,
because I think they thought we sounded a bit like The Nice,
who had already had a chart hit,
and they thought, "Maybe these guys can make us some money."
So they signed us up, but we had no input from them at all.
I don't think we spoke to any Decca executive ever.
I don't know why we got away with it, to be honest.
That was the style then.
For some reason, we set the precedent that we'd make an album,
when it's finished, we'll hand it over to the record label.
I mean, how nice is that? This is the album.
We were still allowed to do what we wanted to do by the record labels and management.
We were still allowed to come up with ridiculous ideas,
and then somehow find people who could make it happen.
Until groups like Yes, a song was taken and played.
A guitar player played the chords, a bass player played the roots,
a drummer played the rhythm and the singer sung the song.
Yes said, "No, no! We don't want to do it like that.
"We want to have a theme to start. We want to have a riff behind the song.
"We want to take out the chords of that section, cos everybody's heard those before. Stick some lines in."
More like an orchestral approach. Violins do this, the bassoons do that.
It's a thinking man's music, as opposed to a... just from the gut music.
Rock was just from the gut, I think.
Everyone was looking eagerly to see
what was new, what was gonna happen. That was definitely a heady time,
for sure, and one that I rather suspect we won't see again.
'72, '73, we were kind of in that prog rock camp.
Albeit we were the band that were making a joke of it.
We were doing a bit of a send-up of prog rock for a couple of albums back then.
Despite Jethro Tull's determination to stay outside the prog rock establishment,
their fourth album, Aqualung, seemed suspiciously profound.
It was not a concept album. People just ignored it. "It's a concept album!
"It's got a picture about God and stuff,
"and tramps and things... and...concept, yeah!"
So in the wake of that, I just thought, "Let's give them the mother of all concept albums."
Have a bit of fun with the whole thing, and do a spoof concept album
and pretend it was written by a 12-year-old precocious schoolboy,
and do the ridiculously convoluted 16-page cover,
which actually took longer to do than record the album, I think.
So it was a bit of a send-up. It was a pre-Spinal Tap moment.
# But your new shoes are worn at the heels
# And your suntan does rapidly peel
# And your wise men don't know how it feels
# To be thick as a brick. #
Ironically, the mischievous prank that was 1972's Thick As A Brick
is now hailed as the ultimate progressive rock album.
MUSIC: "Tubular Bells" by Mike Oldfield
That same year, multi-instrumentalist Mike Oldfield
was composing his progressive music masterwork -
the near-scientific experiment that was Tubular Bells,
for which he played all the 26 featured instruments himself.
A nightmare for me to explain to another musician how it should be played.
I can't tell them, "Play it like I would play it," cos they can't!
I made my own notes that only I could understand,
so I did sort of map it out.
It's a kind of piece of classical music, but with the instruments that I could play.
We were working in Abbey Road,
and Paul McCartney was in the big studio next door, number one,
and somebody told me he was playing everything.
And I understood from the technology we were using
that you could overdub one instrument while listening to the rest,
and I said, "Oh! He's probably doing it all like that! I can do that with my one!"
The album launched Virgin Records,
and was licensed in America with a help of an accompanying film
put together for the BBC's Old Grey Whistle Test.
It went on to sell 50 million copies worldwide.
Vintage footage, probably black-and-white era,
late '20s, early '30s, of skiers.
Pull out a reel of film, and, "Er, let's have a look at this one...
"Ah, this one might fit, yeah."
With the snow going up, the powder...
It was just beautiful.
That was incredible. Mike Oldfield, and just a part of Tubular Bells.
But commercial success and an underground reputation was still a contradiction.
A shy Oldfield couldn't deal with the attention, and took to the hills.
The press, in pursuit of Britain's biggest international progressive music success story,
were denied its star.
I left the human civilisation,
and lived with my sheep on a little house on the Welsh border.
Major psychological problems, nervous breakdown kind of things,
which wasn't very nice.
Upset a hell of a lot of people.
There was one journalist who was furious with me,
cos I wouldn't do an interview.
I was already so successful,
what difference would it have made if I had done 500 interviews and toured the world?
So I thought, "What are you all bothering me about? Leave me alone!"
If Oldfield rejected mainstream acceptance of his rarefied musical experiment,
other musicians embraced the success that British progressive rock was now achieving around the world.
Most significantly, in the States.
The Americans loved progressive rock. It was evidence of skill.
Now, Americans, funnily enough, are a little unlike us,
in the sense that they are not immediately embarrassed by an overt display of capability.
The Americans...fantastic at doing that. Brits, crap.
The Brits come to a solo...
"I can actually play a lot better than this but I won't, cos I don't want to show off,
"so I'll just stand in the corner."
Suddenly, we're doing... "Hey! Cop a load of this!"
Now, let's bang the drum for somebody who for three years running has been voted Drummer Of The Year.
He's just taken delivery of a new kit, and here he is to demonstrate it - Carl Palmer.
It was a stainless steel drum kit. I was sponsored by British Steel.
Eight different engineering companies were involved in the making of this kit,
which is the very first electronic stainless steel drum kit in existence.
'I decided to get a jeweller,'
using a dentist's drill, a chap called Paul Raven,
to do these hunting scenes on each of the drums.
I'd seen them on Purdey rifles, and I was quite impressed.
There's a beautiful squirrel, nibbling away there,
there's a fox, really nice, they are,
and there's even somewhere a hedgehog. There it is.
And they said, "Did you want the shells a quarter-inch thick or half-an-inch thick?"
I said, "What's the difference in price?" They said, "The same."
"I'll have half-an-inch." It's the '70s, excess,
not thinking it'll take two guys to lift the bass drum!
I know it weighs a couple of tons?
-And you'll be taking this around the world on tour?
-How do you fly with it?
-Er, very well, thank you!
'The stage had to be reinforced.'
We didn't think of transport costs, we didn't think of weight.
'It went on from there. We decided to add the electronic drums, the first electronic drums at the time.'
Everyone thought it was keyboards. They were drums.
DRUM BEAT TRIGGERS ELECTRONIC ARPEGGIO
SECOND DRUM BEAT STOPS IT
Have it! It's the '70s, innit? The bigger, the better!
If there was something that was available
from a technology point of view that would enhance the sound of the band,
we wanted it yesterday.
HE RINGS BELL WITH STRING IN HIS MOUTH
MUSIC: "The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun)" by Yes
Progressive rock was now colonising the outer limits.
In 1973, Yes had set sail on Topographic Oceans,
a double album comprised of only four tracks,
each packed with unusual sounds, key changes and time signatures.
There was this constant quest. Could you hit this and it sounded good?
We got Slinkies and put mics in them and threw them downstairs and recorded them
to hear what they were like. And you put a lot of reverb on them, it's great.
And it was! "Pchkowwhoossssh-bthwooooom"! Yeah!
It was that kind of insanity. It was a nice kind of insanity.
It was a musical insanity.
We were...totally self-indulgent.
But it was serious music. There was something more serious about Yes
than some other bands of that time.
We took ourselves a little serious!
And our quest was to make something we thought was kind of grand,
not grandiose, but had a kind of grandeur about it.
It had scale, but it had drama.
But this quest was even more arduous than the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour.
Audiences were showing signs of fatigue.
Robert had stopped King Crimson,
Robert Fripp had stopped King Crimson around that time.
Very prescient. Very smart.
I mean, I'd only just settled down. Just got my sticks out. Just settling in.
But that's a bit like... That's life in King Crimson.
It broke up at least three times, in my certain knowledge.
Probably several other times while I was in it!
If Fripp sensed an artistic cul-de-sac ahead when he put the brakes on King Crimson in 1974,
others put their foot down
and drove headlong into fame, fortune and near-fatal solos.
These bands were... shockingly, to my mind...
going on a transition away from
the kind of honesty and real experimentalism we were involved in,
into an un-self-consciously showbizzy way of doing things.
In the Genesis camp, Peter Gabriel's taste for the theatrical
threatened to swamp the subtlety of the music.
But enthusiastic audiences and an attentive press
pushed the band closer to commercial success.
Americans, particularly, pushed past the rest of us
to say "Great show, Pete! Great show!
"You were great tonight!" And I just got fed up with it.
So I made my feelings known about that.
It did irritate us a bit that he got all the attention, but we kind of knew that in the back of our minds.
We knew it gave us incredible publicity as well.
So we weren't too sad about that side of it.
I didn't have a problem. Maybe once during The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.
A couple of costumes went too far, you couldn't sing through them.
But I always liked the visuals.
It was all part of what we did,
and nobody else was really doing it.
# Welcome back, my friends, To the show that never ends
# We're so glad you could attend, Come inside, come inside... #
ELP were busy establishing the power of British prog,
conquering the four corners of the globe with tours built on showmanship.
Technical extravaganzas light years away from underground clubs and hippy ideal.
# Rest assured, you'll get your money's worth... #
You have to say that by '75, '76,
it all got over-indulgent. It just all did.
This is the Hilton, is it?
Conrad, Conrad. If you're looking in, I've got one soft one, and one hard one.
What use is that? What's all that about?
I remember doing some filming with ELP.
They had three 40-foot trucks.
There was this moving ELP thing across...
It just seemed to me a betrayal.
How could these people, who were my heroes...
how could Keith Emerson do that?
There was no finesse, to my mind, or sophistication or sensitivity about what they were doing at all.
It was hysterical.
This whole stadium thing, with Yes coming out of big petals that opened,
and stage design...there'd almost begun now...a tipping point
where the presentation, the stage design and everything else
was almost taking over from the music in terms of importance.
They were all out-doing each other.
"We think that progressive rock, the things you do,
"is overblown, it's pretentious,
"completely over-the-top and thoroughly pompous.
"What do you say to that?"
Yeah, you're about right, really!
some people came along who thought, "We can make this sexy,"
and you've got Queen...
# Mama mia, mama mia... #
..who had a lot of prog elements but managed to get back to having tunes,
and just devastating emotional climaxes
instead of intellectual doodlings.
MUSIC: "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen
When Peter Gabriel left Genesis in 1975 to go solo,
grammar school interloper Phil Collins
became the front man for the Charterhouse boys.
A new Genesis became even more successful, with Trick Of The Tail,
an album that seemed to sniff an approaching storm in its return to simpler songs.
# "Am I wrong to believe in the city of gold
# "That lies in the deep distance?" he cried
# And wept as they led him away to a cage
# Beast that can talk read the sign... #
Some of the things became very simplified in some people's...
or shortened, or "commercialised" is the dirty word.
They think that was my fault. I won't take the glory or blame for that.
There are certain songs that people always put down, "That's a Phil song." Phh!
After Peter left we were kind of conscious that do you carry on and do what you've always done,
these long, half-hour pieces or concept albums?
You think maybe you've done that, you know, and you move on a bit.
MELLOW ROCK MUSIC PLAYS
-What's this song called?
-It's not a song, Stubbs.
It's the first movement of a rock symphony -
Apotheosis Of The Necromancer.
That's a dead cert for Top Of The Pops(!)
Rick Wakeman may be your God, but let me tell you something - concept albums are out.
There was a scene in The Rotters' Club where the school band
morphs from being a progressive band to a punk band in mid-song.
MELLOW ROCK MUSIC PLAYS
Bollocks to this for a game of soldiers.
HE CHANGES HIS DRUMMING STYLE
That was meant to be a sort of comic caricature of what actually happened in '76, '77.
# Anarchy in the UK
# Is this the UDA? #
Punk stumbled on a time tunnel back to pre-Sergeant Pepper days
and returned armed with only three chords and angry as hell.
# Or just
# Country... #
It was a big explosion
What they were saying was,
"This glam rock and progressive rock is not communicating to me...
"..and I feel marginalised."
I didn't think it was us they were talking about.
OK, let's lose the guys that go... HE IMITATES A PRECIOUS MELODY
Let's get rid of that!
What I didn't like was the great hate that those people
pretended to have for the establishment
of rock bands at that particular point.
Anybody that played, like, you know,
something a bit more complex or a bit interesting, that was out the window.
MUSIC: "Teenage Kicks" by The Undertones
On one hand I liked it because it was trashing things,
but on the other hand, I didn't because it was a return to infancy.
There's this permanent tension in rock music between the three chords and the truth merchants -
you know, four-four and three chords -
and the other people, like me,
who say, "What if we add a fourth chord and put it in five-four?"
There's always people like me messing up what these people think is pop music.
A lot of pretty good bands came out of punk, but they were excellent writers and musicians,
but that wasn't what punk was about. Punk was all about NOT being musical.
The British Isles was the only country that fell for it.
They didn't manage to do it anywhere else.
One of the things proper musicians objected to with punk was that they were always out of tune.
If you listen to Schoenberg and Cecil Taylor,
there's no such thing as out of tune. It's just another bunch of notes.
If you're going to play the same three chords, instead of learning all kind of fancy ones,
why not have them play the guitar out of tune? That'll give you something different.
That was a very lovely, home-made solution to harmonic inventiveness.
Just don't tune up. Don't sing in tune. How far out can you get?
The notes between the notes, we're hitting them.
SHE PLAYS BOOGIE-WOOGIE
The next generation had arrived, determined to overthrow Daddy in the Oedipal battle for supremacy.
Only this time, Daddy was a prog rocker.
You initially grow up with the music that the generation before you, your parents, have chosen.
And you don't want it. My mum and dad used to listen to Pearl and Teddy Johnson.
# Darling, darling, sweet Elizabeth
# Say you'll be mine - hey! Always be mine - hey! #
I don't want to listen to Pearl and Teddy Johnson so along comes The Who and bands like that. Yeah!
Absolutely, that's what I want!
And it belongs to you. I mean, prog rock, to some extent, killed the pop bands.
The pop bands killed the crooner. Punk killed prog rock.
ABSTRACT ROCK MUSIC PLAYS
'70s Britain bore no resemblance to the imagined, mystical worlds of prog rock and Roger Dean.
It was plagued by shortages, strikes and post-'60s disillusionment.
In 1979, an Iron Lady would be crowned Queen in the Court of the Crimson King.
Lyrically, progressive music in the '70s was very divorced from social reality. Just not interested in it.
The lyrics are always a problem in this kind of music
because it is about music, doing interesting things with instruments
and making interesting musical shapes and landscapes,
but if you're gonna have a singer, what's he going to sing about?
Often the solution was to go down the talking Roger Dean route,
to sing about fantasy worlds and so on,
and there's a kind of embarrassment about that now which I certainly share.
Genesis missed the British punk revolution.
Like many progressive bands, they were too busy being successful abroad.
On their return, they not only weathered the punk front, now sitting firmly over the country,
but, perversely, enjoyed an Indian summer.
We were unaware of punk because we were touring so much, not really aware of anything else going on.
All we knew really was that groups like Yes had disappeared a bit,
so in a sense we were the last ones left standing
so we picked up everybody else's audience.
We always had that side to us which was based more on the songwriting than on the playing,
and that carried us through.
MUSIC: "Follow You Follow Me" by Genesis
And we started having hit singles.
Follow You Follow Me opened a door for us. It was a reasonable hit. It wasn't massive.
But after that, we were able to put out singles and they'd always get played for many years.
A lot of them did well so suddenly that meant the potential audience became much bigger.
Most bands weren't so lucky.
Procol Harum's 10th album, Something Magic,
an ambitious concept in which their instruments played characters
in a story that was narrated, not even sung, became their swansong.
We'd finished it. I don't know how we managed to record this thing.
And then we turn around and there it is, of course, punks and...
The way we left was just to sort of pack up on our last night of a tour and we said, "That's it, then."
And we all went our separate ways.
In the 1980s, original King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield uncovered a secret path into pop music
as a writer of chart-topping hits.
MUSIC: "The Land Of Make Believe" by Bucks Fizz
Try and write something a lot of people will like quickly,
yet still get something of you in it.
"Something nasty in your garden, waiting till it'll steal your heart,"
which for me, is like a King Crimson line.
I've just taken it into a different setting.
MUSIC: "The Land Of Make Believe" by Bucks Fizz
King Crimson itself, staged several comebacks and its 1974 album, Red,
would, in time, influence grunge guru, Kurt Cobain.
Somewhere in 1987,
I probably gave up noisy rock.
I mean, there was the odd reunion tour.
But in my mind, I was redefined as a jazz musician,
which I probably should have been in the first place.
Yes, teamed up with hip '80s producer, Trevor Horn,
who helped tune their songs to the ears of a very different decade.
MUSIC: "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" by Yes
But the expedition to the far reaches of pop music,
had left camp in the late '60s, was by now lost, forgotten,
or only spoken of in hushed tones.
Prog had become a really dirty word, you know.
It's the sort of thing that you didn't mention in public.
It's almost the only kind of music where people write off everything
that's in the genre,
without embarrassment, actually, and just say, you know, "It's all shit."
People would go to a record store and say, "I'd like some, er...
"couple of Country and Western, a bit of New Age,
"and bit of Modern Romantic, please, as well.
"A couple of punk albums, I'll have that, thank you very much,
"a bit of classical, and, um...
"..(have you got any prog rock?)"
There were people out there that might not have liked Yes,
but liked a bit of Genesis,
might not have liked the Floyd, but liked Jethro Tull.
"Er, yes, Sir, hold on. I'll do it under the counter."
They do it under the counter in a brown paper bag and round the side.
It was like...it was like the porn of the music industry.
I went out and bought the first Sex Pistols album,
and didn't mind telling people I had, and that I listened to it.
Whereas Jonny Rotten, at the time, wouldn't admit to listening to Jethro Tull.
But, many, many years later, admitted that one of his, sort of,
seminal influences was the Aqualung album.
I met Rat Scabies in an airport, right about to get on a plane,
and he came up to me...
..and he said, "Just want you to know, I'm a big fan of yours."
But, you know, he just wanted to make sure nobody was looking.
We were living the dream, you know, but it would be stupid
for people to keep thinking that life was easy because of that.
It's not easy.
It's a lot of hard work and these lines on my face are evidence!
The lost chord!
You're always looking for that thing you haven't heard yet.
Not everyone persevered in The Land Of Make Believe.
There had been early casualties.
The reason I stopped doing it rather suddenly...
..was...simply because of my dependent psychology.
I needed praise and I wasn't getting it.
It was a bit like a child that dies aged three of malnutrition.
You know, it gets born, there's all sorts of hope and...
good expectations. It learns to walk, it learns to run, it learns to talk,
and suddenly it gives up, because it didn't get enough nourishment.
It was like that.
At its purest, progressive rock wasn't about money, celebrity,
record contracts or the audience.
It wasn't even a type of music.
It was a belief. A value system of the early '70s.
One that now seems like old time religion.
Its creators, often precocious, sometimes indulged,
occasionally deluded, but always uncompromising, baptised the decade
with a soundtrack of stark virtuosity, weird time signatures...
strange poetry and surprising beauty.
The musical experiment, now labelled prog rock,
and stored under the counter, or placed almost out of reach,
on the top shelf.
It grew out of rock music, and that's why it was written about
in the rock press. But it's kind of a shame it ever became regarded
as part of rock and roll, because...
because it's not. I think the ethos is completely different,
and if you judge it by the standards of rock and roll then it fails.
It's actually a bunch of very talented musicians,
who were kind of cursed with very musically intelligent brains,
who got bored very quickly with playing three chords all the time,
and wanted to do stuff which was more complex and more challenging.
-I say, John?
-Tense up, control room. We're ready to do one.
There's an expression which I like a lot, which is, success is buried in the garden of failure.
So, if you're willing to go to that garden, and dig and dig and dig,
and try and try and try,
eventually you'll succeed with some ideas and some success.
So if you possibly, tense up a little and we'll try and wax a hot one.
Ah, that's better. Thank you. Um, sorry. What were you saying?
# And you can fly
# High as a kite if you want to
# Faster than light if you want to
# Speeding through the universe
# Thinking is the best way to travel. #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Documentary about progressive music and the generation of bands that were involved, from the international success stories of Yes, Genesis, ELP, King Crimson and Jethro Tull to the trials and tribulations of lesser-known bands such as Caravan and Egg.
The film is structured in three parts, charting the birth, rise and decline of a movement famed for complex musical structures, weird time signatures, technical virtuosity and strange, and quintessentially English, literary influences.
It looks at the psychedelic pop scene that gave birth to progressive rock in the late 1960s, the golden age of progressive music in the early 1970s, complete with drum solos and gatefold record sleeves, and the over-ambition, commercialisation and eventual fall from grace of this rarefied musical experiment at the hands of punk in 1977.
Contributors include Robert Wyatt, Mike Oldfield, Pete Sinfield, Rick Wakeman, Phil Collins, Arthur Brown, Carl Palmer and Ian Anderson.