Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Favorite Prog Rock Clips

That early 1970's musical landscape of prog rock and fusion is most difficult to explain to the uninitiated. Neither of the two genres were rock music or jazz in the conventional sense - not at all. They were inter-related and all over the map, although to slap Frank Zappa, Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet, Miles Davis or Cologne avant-gardists Can with either term seems insulting; such labels still do not even begin to describe their music.

"Prog rock" could mean everything from thoughtful, tuneful pop (Barclay James Harvest) to jazz-rock jams (Soft Machine) to Wagnerian spectacle (Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman) to hallucinatory surrealist futuristic Broadway (early Genesis). And I'm still seeking the quintessential Prague Prog Rock ensemble.

"Prog rock" could also mean whatever lovely, wondrous, twisted synthesis of diverse musical genres bandleader-guitarist Robert Fripp was deep into that year, in the case of the following clip, the 1972 version of King Crimson:

Robert Fripp - guitar; John Wetton - bass; David Cross - violin; Bill Bruford - drums; Jamie Murr - drums and percussion

One of my all-time favorites from the prog rock and fusion era was a unique band from Holland, Focus.

Here's one among quite a few video clips of their piece-de-resistance, "Hocus Pocus", the mindboggling yodeling-vocalese-opera-whistling-fire breathing proto-metal number that was the most wonderfully weird thing to hit 1960's and 1970's Top 100 besides Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa".

For me, the following version of Hocus Pocus takes the proverbial cake, as the customary guitar gymnastics by Jan Akkerman are even more ridiculous than usual.

And besides, the band is introduced by Gladys Knight, a fine singer with or without The Pips.

Jan Akkerman, guitar and lute; Thijs Van Leer - keyboards and flute; Bert Ruiter - bass; Pierre Van der Linden - drums

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