Prog Wars Heat Up


June 4, 2013 by admin

Not one, not two, but three prog-lovin’ critics lace into Rob Sheffield’s New York Times review of Yes is the Answer (And Other Prog Rock Tales), a new critical anthology about prog rock edited by Marc Weingarten and Tyson Cornell. Check out Phil Freeman in Running the Voodoo Down, Rick Koster in The Day, and Glenn Kenny in Some Came Running.

I actually agree with some of the criticisms here (not all, but some), but if this means it’s no longer acceptable to crack “Return of the Giant Hogweed” jokes, sorry Proglodytes — that’s a bridge I just refuse to cross.

But on a more serious note, what do you think?

5 thoughts on “Prog Wars Heat Up

  1. hunsecker says:

    “Proglodytes”—excellent, I’ve got to remember that. Take away my giant hogweed jokes, I got nothin’.

  2. Steven Ward says:

    I agree that Rob’s piece had some obvious cheap shots. Nothing original though. Like fis in a barrel I guess. Having said that, I honestly think Phil Freeman’s piece was a bit harsh. Rob’s piece was typical but not as bad as Freeman made it out to be. I look forward to reading Glenn Kenny’s piece. I always liked his pov. And like Joe Levy once said, Kenny should have been a Robert Wyatt fanzine editor.
    The only thing easier than making fun of prog fans is making fun of a guy pushing 50 going on and on about Lady Gaga and Ke$isha.

  3. Steven Ward says:

    Read both of the other pieces (Kenny and Koster)

    Kenny’s piece had some smart points but it was way too long and there were too many Henry Cow references for my taste.

    For me, Rick Koster’s piece was the best and right on target. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  4. s woods says:

    Agree with you Steven that Rob’s piece actually seemed fairly mild in its criticisms of prog, and I’d take it even further to suggest that some of what people are assuming are criticisms of prog are in fact not really. I’m not being disingenuous here, but I don’t read “intrinsically silly” as necessarily a criticism. “Silly” is a word that can be used both affectionately and mockingly (though it’s employed more often for the latter purpose) (definitely not a word someone like Phil Freeman would ever employ positively). I’d describe a lot of music I love (P.M. Dawn, say) as “intrinsically silly,” and knowing what I know about Sheffield, I assume he hears things similarly (the guy writes lovingly of Haysi Fantayzee, for Christ’s sake). That said, his ‘silly’ grocery list includes keyboard solos and ornate time signatures, and I agree with all those guys that there’s nothing “intrinsically silly” about any of those (though perhaps the silliness is in how deadly earnest an “issue” these things became). Anyway, that’s what surprises me about all this, I didn’t come away from Rob’s piece at all believing he hates prog or is dismissive of the prog audience (when he talks about post-adolescents, I just assume he includes his former self in that, but maybe I’m wrong). My critique is that it’s not a particularly fresh take on the genre (but it made me laugh in spots, so what the hell, I’m fine with it).

  5. s woods says:

    I shouldn’t say “I assume he hears things similarly” – I mean to say that there’s plenty of written evidence to suggest that Rob has affection for lots of “intrinsic silliness” in his music intake.

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