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Looking Back on 2014

Jerry Lucky Commentary January 2015

Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2015 All Rights Reserved

 

This is a time for reflection. The end of one year and the start of another…who knew I’d be writing about Progressive Rock music in 2015! I sure didn’t see that coming. Truth is, I don’t get much feedback on what I put on the website. I know I have a few regular readers who’ve corresponded with me and I know that on average I get about 1500 to 2000 unique visitors to the site, but I often wonder about whether my scribbling is having any impact. On the band side, I keep getting lots of people getting in touch. Who knew I’d get to know so many great folks who create the music or share a passion for it.

 

It was always a goal of mine to get back to making a Progressive Rock Radio Show much like I did back in the late seventies and eighties when I was actively on-air. Thanks to Shawn Bishop and the great people at The Dividing Line Broadcast Network I’ve created 20 radio podcasts so far and I have to say it’s been quite enjoyable. The general theme of the show is to mirror the new releases I’m writing about on this very website and to keep the focus on primarily new, independent and unsigned prog acts. I do hope you’ve had a chance to catch one or two of the shows. I try to keep four or five of the most recent podcasts available for streaming or download. I invite you to head over to www.thedividingline.com and check them out. As always if you have any thoughts or suggestions do send them my way.

 

Over the years the reviews I’ve written have evolved…primarily getting shorter and hopefully more to the point. I have typically written the main reviews to be about 4-500 words, with the side-bar short reviews of about 250 words. My goal is to keep the short reviews roughly the same and to get the main reviews to be a little tighter at about 400 words. This streamlining is something you will see more of staring in the New Year as I move from my traditional three-paragraphs to a single more condensed one paragraph. This is for a couple of reasons. 1) I’ve been getting so many new releases that there are times where I feel bad at being so woefully behind and 2) I like to change things up for myself and challenge my writing. Forcing myself to get to the point means I can omit some of the more extraneous lines and get more to what the music is all about and how I feel about it. I’m looking to this new approach to perhaps allow me to be somewhat more opinionated about my favorite music. We’ll see how it goes. With that in mind I thought it best to do a little refocus of my websites prime directive and that is to focus on Progressive Rock that leans to the symphonic side of things. That doesn’t mean that harder or arty music won’t get covered but I wanted to get back to the music that gives me the most pleasure listening to it.

 

On that note, I was listening to a disc the other day and was struck by how many heavy bands like to have female vocalists. This seems particularly true in the Prog Metal category. We call the music by a variety of sub-genre names: Symphonic Metal, Cinematic Metal, Heavy Prog, etc. While listening to this particular disc it struck me how dangerously close to cliché the sound is becoming. Now this is not to take away from the various levels of skill and talent on display. Goodness knows I can’t be that creative in that venue, however it seems to me that we might have a few too many bands following “the path of least resistance” as my electronics teacher used to say.

 

Speaking of the heavy-prog…it does strike me that history is repeating itself. It seems over the years since I’ve been listening to music…since the sixties…that the heavy rock side of things repeatedly comes on strong and overtakes the genre from which it originally sprang. Psychedelia gave birth to Acid Rock, Blues based Rock gave birth to Heavy Metal, Glam Rock gave birth to eighties Hair band hard rock and Progressive rock gave birth to Prog Metal. Now I fully admit, I’m ignoring some timelines here and I’m playing fast-and-loose with the genre titles but it is fascinating to me that in each of these cases the heavier musical expression seemed to invariably take over and eclipse the former originator. Why is that? I very much see that happening in prog and I must admit to being a little concerned and perplexed. The number of Prog Metal releases I see has grown exponentially and show no signs of abating. I worry about what this portends for prog.

 

State of Prog otherwise? Well I’ve seen three great new bands out of Quebec, two or three out of the rest of Canada, great releases from IQ…went to a couple of great shows (Transatlantic and Yes), so overall we’re still in a pretty healthy music state as long as we don’t get too distracted by taking the easy way out. At least that’s what I think.

 

Jerry Lucky

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