Progressive Rock Revivalists: Examining the Current Crop

Categories: Concerts

Rush: No mere Fly By Night outfit
Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: Prog pundits return...

Progressive rock seems to have staged a comeback of sorts recently. One need look no further than Rush, who loaned their 1975 song "Fly by Night" for a current car commercial or that Yes still draws a good crowd even with a substitute singer recruited from a cover band. Likewise, those who caught Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson at the Fillmore recently can attest to the fact that even an album that's 40 years old -- in this case, Thick As A Brick -- can still sound as sturdy as ever.

See also
- Nicki Minaj of Prog: The Many Faces of Peter Gabriel's Genesis Years

A product of the late '60s and early '70s, Prog came into favor with the rise of underground radio and its intrusion into the realms of the once-dominant Top 40. This was due in no small part to the changing tastes of the listening populace who embraced new sounds and indulged in new chemical substances. Call it nostalgia or merely a renewed appreciation for those more sophisticated sounds, but it seems there's a revival. 

Suddenly we find Emerson Lake and Palmer getting renewed love via recent reissues (Tarkus), and even obscure English outfits like Van Der Graaf Generator offering up a new album (the all-instrumental Alt) and exhuming an old concert from the archives (Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London). 

Mostly though, this represents the work of some old vets getting back to biz, either under their own auspices or in new configurations. Asia, for example, prog's first self-proclaimed super group, recently reconvened with its original line-up (ELP drummer Carl Palmer, Yes guitarist Steve Howe, Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes, and bassist/vocalist for hire John Wetton) to claim its birthright after being usurped by a floating cast of characters who used their name. Thirty years after their bestselling debut, with their new album which is titled like a porno flick, Asia XXX, the foursome sounds as epic and assured as ever. 

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