Archive for the 'Music' Category

Anat Czarny: Vedrai carino

Mozart, Don Giovanni. 2018.

Steve Hackett: Hairless Heart

Live, not clear when or where. From the Genesis album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974). Hackett also plays the guitar solo of ‘Firth of Fifth‘ from Selling England by the Pound (1973).

Orkan: Urskog

Från deras kommande album Livsgaranti.

Prog magazine förväxlar på högst begripligt sätt Orkans svenska progg med progressive rock. Såvitt jag ser har Orkan inte talat om sig själva i termer av prog i den internationella meningen, den prog jag ofta skriver om, utan endast, och mycket entydigt, identifierat sig med den svenska proggrörelsen från första hälften av 70-talet. Förväxlingen är begriplig i största allmänhet, och problematisk genom att vara så missvisande.

Men den är ännu mer begriplig i Orkans fall, eller åtminstone den här låtens, där den blir mindre missvisande. En del överlappningar har förvisso alltid funnits mellan progg och prog. I Urskog känner vi igen proggens tydliga särdrag, både musikaliskt och i den uttalat och programmatiskt politiska texten. Men samtidigt är den musikaliskt tillräckligt avancerad för att åtminstone närma sig den egentliga progressiva rocken.

Sången, i betydelsen sjungandet, är helt oklanderlig. Texten har även lyriska kvaliteter. Det är inte bara ett gitarrsolo som följer efter 3.16, utan en avvikelse från ett konventionellt format, eftersom någon vers inte återkommer. Saxofonen är utomordentligt elegant och graciös. Och i versen eller kören/refrängen från 0.56 till 1.20 och 2.20 till 2.44 (“Men så en dag kom maskinerna”) lyfter Orkan melodiskt, ja på alla sätt, till det sublima.

I detta fall är därför förväxlingen inte problematisk. Fastän jag är fullt medveten om skillnaden mellan genrerna, förväxlar även jag gärna Urskog med verklig progressive rock.

Modest Mussorgsky: The Great Gate of Kiev

From Pictures at an Exhibition. Orchestration by Maurice Ravel. Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan, 1966.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer: The Great Gates of Kiev

From their album Pictures at an Exhibition (1971).

Nena: 99 Luftballons

Live 2018. Aus ihrem Album Nena (1983).

Wikipedia: “99 Luftballons entstand vor dem Hintergrund der letzten Phase des Kalten Krieges in den 1980er Jahren in Deutschland. Aufgrund des NATO-Doppelbeschlusses von 1979 begann 1983 in Deutschland die Stationierung von atomaren Pershing-II-Raketen. Diese nukleare Aufrüstung führte zu Befürchtungen, dass die Gefahr eines Atomkrieges steige, und stieß daher auf massive Widerstände in Teilen der Bevölkerung. Diese formierten sich in der Friedensbewegung der 1980er Jahre.”

Bryan Ferry: Where or When

Rodgers & Hart. Live in Paris 2000. From his album As Time Goes By (1999).

Tang Dynasty: The Internationale

From their eponymous debut album (1992).

Electric Light Orchestra: Kuiama

From their album ELO 2 (1973).

This is ELO’s prog masterpiece, and one of the few ELO songs that can properly be counted as prog. It’s not clear to what extent they had the resources to continue in this direction, since they succumbed to pop-rock early on and never became a proper prog group. Some of Roy Wood’s contributions were prog, but hardly masterpieces. This song by Jeff Lynne, however, is truly on the highest level of the genre. A unique, mature prog style entirely their own is already fully in evidence, and the worthy anti-war theme has the requisite level of seriosity. If they had been able to continue like this, they would have been up there with the four or five best in prog.

There are some compositional flaws. The end is weaker than the beginning. The truly sublime section beginning att 3.00 (“No more silver rain will hit your ground”) should have been repeated at the end, after the verse ending with “True blue, you saw it through”, and with lyrics perhaps reflecting on the meaning of the confession for Kuia in her post-war life. It’s surprising that Lynne didn’t hear this. If the song were remade into a non-prog song, this section would be the chorus. It should have been more of a chorus in the existing song too, in order to for it to achieve the coherence that prog too needs.

Absurdly, there is a recorded live version where they even leave out this section, the best thing they ever made, and among the best of any prog band, for the sake of prolonging Wilf Gibson’s violin section. Needless to say, the latter is also an essential part of the song, but as extended like that, it further distorts a compositional whole that was already imperfect due to the non-repetition of the “chorus”. In another live version, Lynne sings it carelessly.

At 4.56, there is the same buildup as before the “chorus”, but there, it takes a little too long for something adequate to follow it. Just a little. There’s nothing wrong with the buildup not leading to the “chorus” in this place. Indeed, this time it ends in a way that signals, in an established manner, that it won’t lead to this, that something else, a prog development of the song in the form of a quiet “solo” or instrumental section (I think there really are, or at least should be, no proper solos in prog), will follow. The problem is only that this doesn’t happen until 5.23. It certainly should’t follow immediately, but 5.23 is a little too late. 5.10 would have been right. A similar minor flaw is that the transitions at 0.19, 1.48 and 4.30 are a little too sharp, in that they are marked by almost a second of total silence.

The original, studio version, above, shows that Lynne had very impressive prog intelligence. It can be heard also in ‘Mister Kingdom’ on the Eldorado album, and perhaps there is even a streamlined echo as late as ‘Big Wheels’ on Out of the Blue. But either it was, after all, as in the case of many semi-prog or partially prog bands, comparatively limited, or his musical talent was simply squandered on commercial pop-rock.

ABBA: Don’t Shut Me Down

From their forthcoming album Voyage.


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