There’s a well-meaning but flawed piece in the Telegraph about Prog, probably inspired by The Chart Company’s launch of a new progressive music chart. It does namecheck a lot of the new generation of progressive artists such as Big Big Train and Steven Wilson, and make a number of positive points
But there are a few things that suggests he doesn’t know the subject and hasn’t really done his research. The fact that it appears not in the paper’s music section but in the “Mens pages” may be the root of the problem.
First he makes the bizarre claim that Prog originated with Frank Zappa’s 1968 album “Freak Out”, which is a new one on me. Now Zappa’s music in certainly progressive, but he was really a whole genre in his own right. To claim any American artist founded the prog-rock genre ignores the scene’s roots in late 1960s Britain as a generation of musicians wanted to move beyond the limitations of commercial pop music. Prog surely took recognisable form somewhere between The Beatle’s “Sergeant Pepper” and King Crimson’s “In the Court of the Crimson King”.
Then he claims that prog has been dismissed as “too white, male and uncool” for decades. Uncool, certainly, but it’s only in the past few years that anything whose appeal is disproportionately white and male has been regarded with suspicion. But it’s not as if prog has ever been a hotbed of white power anthems or awash with misogynistic imagery. The suggestion that women and non-white people aren’t interested in music you can’t dance to is itself a bit sexist and racist; I know plenty of dedicated female prog fans and musicians who would take great exception to that. And I can’t avoid another mention of the bill at this year’s HRH Prog, where half the bands on the bill had at least one woman in the band, and they were the better half of the bill.
And then there’s a commenter who claims Transatlantic aren’t prog. Where do these people come from?