Blog Archives

Slideshow: Unacceptable in the 80s

In the 1980s, the music scene was changing at a breakneck pace, and artists who first became famous in the 60s were finding it difficult to stay relevant (and therefore rich). Many long-established artists tried changing things musically, often by embracing the use of synthesisers and electronic drum machines. Worse still, they also tried to improve their “branding” by changing their dress sense and visual aesthetics. This led to some unintentionally hilarious record covers. The slideshow below has ten album covers that show older artists trying, and failing, to look cool in the 80s. Click to activate…

Confessions of a ‘Rebel’ Prog Rock Fan

During my late teens, I was a huge fan of progressive rock music. As I mentioned in my previous post, this was partly a reaction against the insipid music that was popular at the time. Partly though, I think this was because I was a geek, and therefore genetically predisposed to liking songs about pixies.

Actually, I didn’t particularly care for the lyrical content. Tales of Fire Witches escaping from the Court of The Crimson King left me somewhat cold. It was the music itself that I really liked. I found contemporary music really simplistic, so I really got into all the 20-minute long keyboard solos. For a time, I wouldn’t even buy a CD unless it was a concept album, or as I liked to call them; ‘conceptual works’.

‘Conspicuous talent’ is common trope of music that’s popular with geeks. Geeks like their bands to be incredibly talented and to display that talent at every available opportunity. This can be musical, as is the case of Prog rock. Or it can be a lyrical talent, as with the geeks’ other favourite genre: the comedy song. I think that’s why Frank Zappa features prominently in geeks’ record collections, as he could be both musically inventive and lyrically hilarious.

It’s an oft touted truism that Prog rockers didn’t really progress very much. Okay, they helped to push rock music forward in their early days, but when they found something that worked for them (financially) they stuck with it. Rick Wakeman also happens to ‘un-progressive’ in terms of his politics, as he thinks all drug dealers should be shot.

The only Prog band that really progressed were King Crimson. They shrugged off the Hobbit bothering after their first few LPs and went in the direction of heavier rock. Their album ‘Red’ was even a favourite of Kurt Cobain. Part of this invention was due to the fact that band leader and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall lookalike, Robert Fripp, couldn’t keep a line-up of the band together for more than a few months. I guess the new blood brought in new ideas.

Anyway, I soon grew out of my Prog rock phase. I toyed with being a Grungie for a while, which was odd, because it was about a decade after Grunge was popular. Whatever music I’ve been into since then, has always had an element of the geeky, ‘conspicuous talent’ though.