A LIFE IN PROG
I am a late 50s skeleton from Chicago who picked up the last four Progs and now subscribe. My American parents raised me in London, where I became obsessed with new music as a teenager in the mid-70s after watching the glam rock bands on Top Of The Pops. I actually do remember listening to Radio Caroline, although from London the reception was often poor, vanishing completely then re-emerging in a crackly state, but often playing entire album sides. John Peel, late at night, actually played more folk rock and prog before the punk emerged that he was so famous for promoting. There used to be an outdoor newsstand outside Gloucester Road tube station where I would spend my pocket money on the NME, Melody Maker and Sounds, which I would read religiously. Melody Maker was my favorite, because it seemed more “artistic” compared with the poporiented NME. Sounds also featured great stories on the prog, metal, and hard rock bands of the 1970s. But Melody Maker wrote about obscure jazz and folk, standing out as the more “musical” rag. Really excellent back then too was the French magazine Rock & Folk which I would read, being bilingual, when my family would visit our dilapidated cheap summer house in Antibes on the South of France, which also had a weekly radio show that played European prog, and where jazz rock bands of young adults often played for free at the local community center.
I think that Prog magazine brings me back to that time. It reminds me of a small record shop that nobody who lives in London today remembers (I’ve asked dozens of people!), nor is there mention of it on the internet, but it was called Parrot Records and I am guessing from looking now at a Google Maps image of the streets off Earl’s Court Road, that it may have been on Hogarth Road. The staff changed my life by turning me on to endless prog from the UK and other European countries. I would rush home with my new LP in a bright blue plastic bag with a picture of a parrot on it. Many of my mates at the French Lycée were equally fanatic – we would swap records by Steely Dan, Mike Oldfield,
Soft Machine, Focus, Supertramp and Roxy Music and record them on C90 cassettes, just as much thieves back then as downloaders are today. As a 16 and 17 year old, of course I got deeply into punk, although I preferred the more musical and experimental post-punk bands that emerged in the 10 years after it and which my ears, forged by earlier progressive music, drew me to. But only now am I discovering, thanks to Prog, the new progressive bands. I hope you continue to do that, and I hope that most of your readers are young people like I once was, discovering this great music to inspire and color one’s grey world with. I hope your readers are not mostly old fogies like me.
Prog has rekindled my old love affair with reading about music cover to cover like I did with the old Melody Makers and Sounds (when they disappeared, I mourned their loss like that of old friends, which of course they had been). I have bought many of the works of the musicians you write about. I can’t tell you how excited I get when the new issue arrives. You should continue to cover prog, especially new bands, but don’t leave out the more accomplished folk rock, jazz rock, metal, post-rock or post-punk either, whose aesthetics are often closely aligned.
ONE READER ASKS: JUST WHAT IS “EARLY KING CRIMSON”!?
BELOW: JUSTIN HAYWARD IN PROG 80.