Progressive Rock is an elusive term applied to that type of rock music that went beyond the simple 4/4 back beat found in most rock music in the late sixties. Progressive rock, or PROG as it is called today, had its early beginning with the music of the BEATLES, perhaps the most important group in all of rock history. Albums such as Abbey Road, The White Album, and even Sgt. Pepper & His Lonely Hearts Club Band utilized the techniques that would later be used by the giants of the PROG movement; bands such as Genesis, YES, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull & Pink Floyd all openly pay tribute to the genius that was the BEATLES. Jazz Fusion, on the other hand, is something of a misnomer, as Jazz Music itself is a fusion of a host of different styles, from Swing to Blues, from Gospel to Bebop, from Cool to Electronic. For the purpose of this article, Jazz Fusion refers to that music from the late sixties to the early seventies that used synthesizer technology with traditional instruments, to create a new sound, much like Progressive Rock did. Both genres experienced raid growth at the same time, propelled by the new sound of instrument like the MOOG synthesizer, the Mellotron, the ARP synthesizer, as well as using tape delay, layering, inventive use of the Hammond B-3 Organ, and sometimes just plain distortion. The MOOG synthesizer was brought to popular attention in the late sixties by Walter Carlos, with the best selling album, SWITCHED ON BACH, which took classic Bach compositions, and redid them using the MOOG. This album caused a sonic revolution, which gave birth to a plethora of bands like The Nice, King Crimson, the Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, The Strawbs and The Mahavisnu Orchestra. This later band was interesting, as it was composed of both Jazz and Rock musicians. At the same time, bands such as Chicago, Blood Sweat & Tears, Lighthouse, Cold Blood were exploring jazz-rock Fusion, with successful and popular results. The first use of synthesizers in Jazz Fusion came about with the Miles Davis Quintet, featuring Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Miles Davis, Ron Carter and keyboardist Herbie Hancock. Hancock would later go on to a solo career in the early seventies with some groundbreaking albums such as Chameleon and Man Child. His technique actually changed, utilizing a rock approach to jazz improvisation. Likewise, Keith Emerson, formally of the Nice, and later Emerson Lake & Palmer, was the first rock musician to use the MOOG synthesizer in a rock composition, LUCKY MAN. When Robert MOOG, the creator of the MOOG, heard the piece for the very first time, he was excited and stunned. Even he did not realize the power of the instrument he created. Emerson used jazz improvisational techniques in his classical rock compositions, such as KARN EVIL 9, TRILOGY & TARKUS. Before the age of digital technology, Emerson created sounds by using banks of analog synthesizers that had to constantly be adjusted during live performances. The period from 1970 to 1974 was perhaps the most exciting an experimental period in both Jazz Fusion and Progressive Rock. The breakup of the BEATLES, as well as the Miles Davis Quintet, signaled an open season in free musical expression. In Jazz, labels such as CTI and Blue Note were allowing musicians to explore the new technology and freedom. In Rock, musicians had far more creative control to experiment with song length, production, tempo, lyric content, and even album cover art. Bands like Pink Floyd created sonic masterworks like DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, still the best selling rock album of all time. Around the same time (1974), the band Weather Report, featuring ex Miles Davis alumni Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter, created a third world style of jazz, funk and Prog, with albums like Heavy Weather & Mysterious Traveler. The use of African and Caribbean rhythms, sparse synthesizer tracks, and of beat time signatures reinvented the Jazz-fusion genre. Such was the freedom in professional music at the time, where artist themselves could dictate to the studios what they wanted to produce, unlike today. Yes Close to the Edge featured an entire side, 26 minutes in length, with one piece. That period, from 1970 to 1975, from the end of Beatles to the birth of Disco, still remains the most experimental and challenging period of pop and jazz music, thanks to technology and opportunity, creative freedom and fan enthusiasm. Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion pushed the limits of what was possible. With outstanding laser light shows, inventive stage design, state of the art electronic musical instruments and coliseum-sized crowds, Progressive Rock challenged the senses. Even the most popular band of today have borrowed from the same techniques pioneered by ELP, YES, RUSH, GENESIS, FLOYD, etc.
What makes Krautrock so fascinating today, in the XXI th century ? Why are a few of us so eager to share and to transmit ? Why are so many of you so eager to get the music we share ???Krautrock is for me a kind of melting pot where so many trends of contemporary pop music were blended together... Rock, folk, blues, psychedelic... The politic and geopolic situation of Germany in the seventies is probably a major key point... The Berlin Wall called for music going beyond this frontier, for music crossing the borders, breaking the limits... While listening today to Krautrock, one feels that these musicians were just willing to move, to cross, to reach, to go beyond, well, they did not want to stay in the place they were supposed to be...Another key-point for me is that Krautrock was a kind of experimentation lab of modernity... While synthesizers, electronic equipments appeared in experimental and university studios, in Germany as elsewhere, the Krautrock musicians made these new tools their own... For me, the first Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream albums are still today * revolutionary * statements: putting the emphasis on sound, instead of melody... introducing experimentation in the sphere of "pop" music, while the standard was just "pop songs"... Creating music to dream and to think about instead of music to dance upon... Technological experimentation went along with aesthetic choices and a philosophy of modernity (cf. Kraftwerk..). Berlin and New York becale two capitals for the musical avant-garde... Philip Glass and Steve Reich on the one hand... TD, Schulze, Can, Ash Ra, Kraftwerk, on the other..There is something SO European in Krautrock, still today... and what is more, most of Krautrock musicians from the seventies are still at the very AVANT-GARDE today... Without Tangerine Dream, Schulze and Ash Ra, there would be no trance, techno music today.. Without Kraftwerk... well... they had such a creative influence... Without Can or Embryo, today music would miss some of its major components...All these guys were pionners and creators... They were lucky, aware and courageous enough to take profit of their special position, at the crossroads of geopolitics, of the history of rock music, of the history of technologies...Most of Krautrock artists are still for me at the edge, at the peak of modernity... Despite some of these recordings are 30 years old, sometimes more...
The 33rpm Vinyl Long Player - A Short History
The 33rpm Vinyl Long Player, or LP as we know it today, began its life in 1948 as a replacement for the more fragile 78rpm shellac discs. The main benefits of the vinyl LP were improved durability and the capacity to record up to 30 minutes of music on each side. However, it wasn’t until the mid-1950’s, and the birth of Rock N Roll, that sales of vinyl LP's began to escalate.Pressings from the UK have always been highly regarded amongst collectors. This is especially true of LP's manufactured during the 60's and early 70's. The superior quality of the heavyweight vinyl, along with the technical skills of the cutting engineer, meant that sound reproduction was always of the highest standard. Genuine UK deep-grooved first pressings, direct from the master tapes, can now achieve huge prices and are much in demand in Mint condition.The first stereo LP's became available in 1958, however these did not become really popular in the UK until the mid-to-late 1960's, making early UK stereo pressings, and late UK mono pressings, very scarce today. Many albums in the 60’s were issued in both mono and stereo versions. Opinion is divided about which is best, with both recordings offering a different listening experience.Picture sleeves on UK LP's evolved throughout the decades. Imagery progressed from simple band photos towards more imaginative designs that were sometimes more memorable than the musical content. Psychedelic covers were often as weird as the sounds on the record inside! Many collectors regard the sleeve to be just as important as the vinyl and UK album sleeves from the 60's & 70's can be sought after as much for their high standards of manufacture as their imagery. Many UK sleeves were laminated, and the strong flip-back construction has helped many of them survive today. They are pure works of art that the compact disc era has not been able to match.From the late-70’s and into the 1980’s the packaging became more elaborate, often including printed inner sleeves, lyric inserts, a bonus poster or some other novelty. Record companies kept finding new gimmicks to help sell their product and many of these extras were exclusive to UK issues.By the early 90's demand for vinyl albums was in decline; CDs were becoming the dominant format, to the point where many artists no longer released their albums on vinyl. When they did there was just an initial first pressing, limited in number and quickly deleted from catalogue. However, recent years have seen an upsurge of interest in vinyl, both new and old. Classic albums are once again being remastered and reissued, sometimes as limited edition audiophile pressings, although many collectors still believe the original pressings sound best. Whatever your preference, vinyl is here to stay, and although the debate rages on over the superior sound characteristic of vinyl compared to CD, there is no doubt that UK vinyl LP's are among the most desirable pressings of this superb format.