The great and good of progressive music give us a glimpse into their prog worlds. As told to Grant Moon
Lifesigns’ keyboard whizz and singer John Young shares some proggy secrets, including his love of Eva Cassidy and his expertise in British civil aviation…
Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. It’s the unconfirmed capital of prog! Loads of people live round here – I can see Nick Beggs’ house from mine…
Your first prog memory?
My dad buying me a copy of The Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations in the mid-60s. That, and Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman playing great stuff on his Saturday Rock Show, like Edgar Winter’s Frankenstein.
First prog gig?
Queen at the Liverpool Empire in 1974. They were still doing stuff from Queen II like Ogre Battle, which I loved.
The first prog record you bought?
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by Genesis. I went to their show at the Liverpool Empire on the Friday night [in 1975], bought the album on Saturday, and went to the show again on the Sunday, by which time I knew all the words.
Favourite piece of technology?
My MacBook Pro is permanently attached to me. It’s like taking your office with you wherever you go.
Any guilty pleasures in your music collection?
Eva Cassidy’s Songbird. Her version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow gets me every time. How did a record company not find her earlier? How could you miss a voice like that? It sums up the state of the business completely.
What would your Mastermind specialist subject be?
British Civil Aviation from 1945 to 1970.
Your biggest prog extravagance?
Maybe Cruise To The Edge. We’ve played it ourselves, but it’s a pure joy to go just to see the other bands.
Your favourite venue?
Trading Boundaries – it’s an exceptional and unique gig. There should be a franchise of them – they do such a great job.
And I do wish
The Marquee was still there.
Outside of prog, what else
are you into?
Outside of aviation? Country walks and riding my bike. It’s a bit boring really, isn’t it?!
Who is your prog hero?
Patrick Moraz. I loved his creativity, his sense of melody and soul. So much prog is mathematical, but he brought romance to it, and to Yes.
Are you a collector?
Of nerdy aviation stuff. It’s amazing what people sell on eBay these days: old manuals and things from Imperial Airways and BOAC. There’s a big market for it – there’s a lot of history tied in there.
What was the last
album you bought?
Cardington by Lifesigns! We needed to check Amazon was working
properly for us, so I bought one. Other than that, Life by Knower, a great pop/jazz/funk band from the US.
What was the last gig you went to?
Cruise To The Edge, in February. We were playing, but the favourite things I saw were Adrian Belew and Focus. I’m gutted I missed Gong.
Eva Cassidy’s Somewhere Over The Rainbow
gets me every time.
Have you ever been on a prog date?
Is there such a thing? My first girlfriend and I used to go to a club in Liverpool called Le Metro, and once the DJ played all four sides of Tales From Topographic Oceans. He must’ve wanted an easy night.
Who do you call in the prog community for a good night out?
Generally it’s the band. We’re all good friends, as well as being in the group together, which is the beauty of it. The lovely thing about prog is you make such good friends through it.
What’s the most important prog song for you?
Sound Chaser off Yes’ Relayer.
I used to sing the opening line when I worked at the till at a bank. It didn’t go down well and I didn’t last very long.
Which prog muso would you love to work with?
Kate Bush. I’d happily watch her bake cakes! She’s genius personified, and I’d love her to hear what we do.
Which is the prog album that always gets you in a good mood?
Garden Shed by England. It’s pure English prog joy.
Who is the best prog artist you’ve ever seen live?
Gentle Giant. Dave Bainbridge and I both saw them separately during that Playing The Fool tour in 1976. You can hear me screaming on that record – they blew me away.
Recommend us a good proggy read.
Arthur C Clarke’s Childhood’s End. It’s a beautiful way of looking at the world.
What’s your favourite prog album cover?
I do love the covers that Brett Wilde’s done for us, but I’ll say Frank Zappa’s Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch. It makes me laugh every time I see it. It’s so clever.
What else are you up to at the moment?
I’m re-releasing a solo album of mine, Significance, we’re reissuing the first Lifesigns album and working towards the third one, and we’re also playing four shows that we’ve got lined up in September. We’re keeping our hand in…