A LIFE IN PROG

Prog - - Letters - Danny

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.

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