Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture

Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture

Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture

Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture

Synopsis

This is the first authoritative study of the music and history of progressive rock, a genre praised for its virtuoso instrumental solos and gargantuan stage shows, but also criticized for its privileged, upper-middle class roots. By using an interdisciplinary approach that draws together cultural theory, musicology, and music criticism, Macan illuminates how progressive rock - which includes bands such as King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Genesis, the Moody Blues, and PinkFloyd - served as a vital cultural expression of the counterculture of the late 1960s and 1970s in England.

Excerpt

Few styles of popular music have generated as much controversy as progressive rock. This style, which emerged in the wake of the counterculture, today is best remembered for its gargantuan stage shows, its fascination with epic subject matter drawn from science fiction, mythology, and fantasy literature, and above all for its attempts to combine classical music's sense of space and monumental scope with rock's raw power and energy. Its dazzling virtuosity and spectacular live concerts made it hugely popular with fans during the 1970s, who saw bands such as King Crimson, Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP for short), Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, and Jethro Tull bringing a new level of depth and sophistication to rock. On the other hand, critics branded the elaborate concerts of these bands as self-indulgent and materialistic. They viewed progressive rock's classical/rock fusion attempts as elitist, a betrayal of rock's populist origins. Not only has progressive rock been largely despised by the rock critics, it has also been largely ignored by popular music scholars. This is probably because it does not prominently chronicle minority or working-class disaffection in the manner of punk or reggae, and therefore does not easily lend itself to the neo-Marxist interpretations which have been the hallmark of popular music scholarship.

It seemed to me, then, that the time has been ripe for quite some time for a comprehensive study that would offer a balanced perspective, while challenging a number of key assumptions which have surrounded the style. But while the lack of attention given to the genre by previous writers has provided me with significant opportunities in writing this book, it also has raised certain problems. In searching for a model upon which to construct my study, I found that I was venturing to a certain degree upon terra incognita; while this book unites elements of musicological analysis, cultural/subcultural theory, and music criticism, strictly speaking it falls comfortably into none of these categories. For this reason, I think it is best to open by explaining my methodology.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.