So Old It’s New set list for Saturday, April 6, 2024 – on air 8-10 am ET

So Old It’s new prog rock set for Saturday. My track-by-track tales follow the bare-bones list.

1. Pink Floyd, Welcome To The Machine
2. Genesis, Get ‘Em Out By Friday
3. King Crimson, Fallen Angel
4. Yes, Starship Trooper
5. Rush, Cygnus X-1
6. Can, Mother Sky
7. Hawkwind, Space Is Deep
8. The Moody Blues, Veteran Cosmic Rocker
9. Saga, Careful Where You Step
10. Jethro Tull, Black Satin Dancer
11. Soft Machine, Hope For Happiness
12. Supertramp, Another Man’s Woman
13. Kansas, The Pinnacle
14. Electric Light Orchestra, Dreaming Of 4000
15. Gentle Giant, Schooldays
16. Camel, A Song Within A Song
17. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Endless Enigma Part One/Fugue/The Endless Enigma Part Two

My track-by-track tales:

1. Pink Floyd, Welcome To The Machine . . . From the Wish You Were Here album, 1975. Spooky, dark, machine-like indeed. Lyrics as relevant today – probably even more so – than they were then. I’ve been in a bit of a Floyd phase, put together a suite of their mostly instrumental songs for my show last Saturday – The Great Gig In The Sky/Marooned/On The Run/Cluster One/Terminal Frost/Signs Of Life – and plan to open Monday’s show with a song to do, at least somewhat, with something happening in the sky that day. You’ll see, if you can’t figure it out already but I’m sure most Pink Floyd fans have.

2. Genesis, Get ‘Em Out By Friday . . . A song about what’s now called rent-eviction. From 1972’s Foxtrot album, perhaps best known for the 23-minute epic Supper’s Ready.

3. King Crimson, Fallen Angel . . . A multi-layered track, but then most Crimson songs are, from the 1974 album Red. Brooding, then soft, then hard and heavy, including the drumming of Bill Bruford on the first of two straight songs, with two different bands, featuring Bruford, which also allows me to sneak in a little tale about Geddy Lee reacting to an uninformed interviewer in a documentary I saw some years back on Rush. But let’s wait until I get to the Rush song.

4. Yes, Starship Trooper . . . Bruford again, preceding the time he spent in King Crimson, this time with Yes-mates Jon Anderson (vocals), Chris Squire (bass), Steve Howe (guitars) and at the time of this recording, before Rick Wakeman joined the band for Fragile, Tony Kay (organ/Moog synthesizer). Bruford was with Yes for the band’s first five albums – Yes, Time and a Word, The Yes Album from which I pulled this amazing piece of music, Fragile and Close To The Edge, later returning for Union, in terms of studio work, in 1991. Starship Trooper is, as one reviewer termed it, an astonishing composition/production in three distinct parts featuring myriad tempo changes – Life Seeker, Disillusion and Wurm – displaying all the band could throw at you from its instrumental and vocal arsenal. The essence of prog, in short.

5. Rush, Cygnus X-1 . . . Love this one, especially the spooky start, but all of it, from A Farewell To Kings, 1977, the first Rush album I bought with my own money, age 18. I had known their short, straight-ahead singles like In The Mood from their debut album and Fly By Night and bought A Farewell To Kings for another such song, Closer To The Heart and in doing so was introduced to Rush’s progressive rock side via extended pieces like Cygnus X-1 and Xanadu. It’s likely still my favorite Rush album, and not simply for nostalgic reasons. As for the Bill Bruford-Geddy Lee tale I promised: Rush often cited Yes as an influence and if memory serves, I think it was on the excellent documentary Beyond The Lighted Stage, might have been another one, Lee is interviewed backstage by an obviously less than prepared journalist and Lee mentions Yes and Bill Bruford but it’s clear the interviewer doesn’t have a clue about either Yes or Bruford and while Lee is too polite and too nice a guy to say anything, as he patiently proceeds telling his tale, the look of irritation on his face is priceless.

6. Can, Mother Sky . . . Propulsive track from the Krautrock band, originally on their 1970 release of songs they did for films, called Soundtracks. It’s 14-plus minutes long there but while I like that version, I decided to play the edited down, more concise offering that appeared on the 1994 compilation Anthology that got me into the band. I’d always known of them but decided to take the plunge via that compilation, was hooked and very quickly acquired the entire studio catalog.

7. Hawkwind, Space Is Deep . . . Another of those songs in this set that perhaps presages things I’m doing for my upcoming Monday show, to do with space and the sky and such, obviously influenced by a celestial event that is happening on April 8 and I’ll have a few more songs in that vein, title-wise anyway, on Monday. This is from Motorhead founder (after he left Hawkwind) Lemmy’s first studio foray with space rockers Hawkwind, the cleverly – or eye rolling, depending on one’s point of view – titled Doremi Fasol Latido album, released in late 1972.

8. The Moody Blues, Veteran Cosmic Rocker . . . From 1981’s Long Distance Voyager album, likely my favorite full piece of work by the band, probably because music is so often one of those time and place things in terms of what was going on in your life, what the music of the day was, etc. And for me, it was a fun spring and summer, immediately post-college graduation, spent in the San Francisco area of California where my dad had taken a new job. Long Distance Voyager was all over the radio, along with Kim Carnes’ Bette Davis Eyes and Burnin’ For You from Blue Oyster Cult’s Fire Of Unknown Origin album. I wound up buying Long Distance Voyager and Fire Of Unknown Origin, and just enjoying the Carnes song, great tune, great voice, which of course now I can call up any time I wish to hear it.

9. Saga, Careful Where You Step . . . Not a huge Saga fan, even if they are from my hometown of Oakville, Ontario, but I do like their early stuff and this is from the 1980 album Silent Knight, which featured the song Don’t Be Late and got me into the band for a time, following them through such hits or at least well-known tracks like On The Loose, Wind Him Up, The Flyer and Scratching The Surface. In one of those interesting things that happen in music where bands can be huge in a certain place beyond their appeal anywhere else (see Cheap Trick and Japan, just one example; what broke Cheap Trick big was the live at Budokan album), Saga is/was huge in Germany.

10. Jethro Tull, Black Satin Dancer . . . From the Minstrel In The Gallery album, 1975. It’s a record that, over time, and I’m a huge Tull fan, has cemented itself as one of my alltime favorites in the extensive catalog. Obviously, one could say this about so many Tull tracks but we’re talking deeper cuts here and this song is the essence of Tull, encapsulating what the band has been about: tempo changes, flute, acoustic, hard rock, guitar solos, stop, start, back and forth, including sometimes interesting vocals or, rather, mouthing effects. Just listen and you’ll know what I mean. Ridiculously good.

11. Soft Machine, Hope For Happiness . . . From the debut album, 1968, simply titled The Soft Machine, from back before myriad lineup changes to the point where no original members remained, and changes in direction to where Soft Machine eventually – and rather quickly, by the fourth album in 1971 – became an instrumentals-only jazz/jazz fusion/jazz rock band. Quirky, always interesting, ever-changing, worth checking out.

12. Supertramp, Another Man’s Woman . . . Another band I credit my dear departed older brother by eight years for introducing me to when he brought back their first album of any real consequence, Crime Of The Century, in 1974. This is from the followup, 1975’s Crisis, What Crisis? At the time, the band members weren’t happy with the album as they felt it was rushed due to record company pressure to strike while the iron was hot so to speak and issue a followup to Crime Of The Century. Yet Roger Hodgson later termed it his favorite Supertramp record. I like it, can’t really decide between for me the band’s best works – Crime Of The Century, Crisis and Even In The Quietest Moments with a nod to the first post-Hodgson album, 1985’s Brother Where You Bound. No Breakfast In America? No, not really, for me. I saw the tour in Toronto and it was fantastic but as for the album? It’s OK. Lots of hits but way overplayed and far too commercial and pandering to the US audience for me. I mean the songs are infectious ear candy, but no real depth, certainly not as compared to previous records. It worked, commercially, finally broke them in the USA, but it didn’t last long.

13. Kansas, The Pinnacle . . . There are fans of music who may only know Kansas by their two big commercial hits – Carry On Wayward Son and Dust In The Wind – and that’s all well and good. But, unless they bought the actual albums on which those songs appeared – like Leftoverture with the extended piece Magnum Opus or Point Of Know Return with Hopelessly Human and Closet Chronicles – they might not think of Kansas as a progressive rock band producer of multifaceted epics like this. From the Masque album, 1975, which preceded the aforementioned Leftoverture and Point Of Know Return in 1976 and 1977, respectively. For a moment in time, Kansas popped into the commercial rock singles consciousness but like the tide, receded pretty much permanently – and good for it – into the full-blown progressive rock ocean represented by songs like this one.

14. Electric Light Orchestra, Dreaming Of 4000 . . . That heavy guitar riff kicks in at the 12-second mark and you’re thinking hard rock/metal but no, that’s not what prog is about, of course. Suddenly we’ve slowed down, then speeded up, then later on that hard rock guitar riff returns. Etc. Early ELO, from 1973’s On The Third Day. The commercial hits from the album, and great ones they were, were Showdown and Ma-Ma-Ma Belle but that’s why you do full albums, you draw ’em in with the singles so you can expose ’em to killer stuff like Dreaming Of 4000, to be maybe used, sometime down the road, by a DJ doing a deep cuts show.

15. Gentle Giant, Schooldays . . . Such amazing sounds on this one from the British prog, er, giants. You just sort of let yourself be embraced by the sounds, the vocals, all of it. From the 1972 album Three Friends, a concept piece about three childhood friends and their subsequent lives.

16. Camel, A Song Within A Song . . . As the title suggests, truly a song, or songs, within a song. At risk of repeating myself, like so many progressive rock songs, the tempo changes are the appeal, at a given moment things can move in a different direction within the same overall piece, which is the obvious attraction for avid consumers of this form of music. From the English band’s 1976 release Moonmadness. Perhaps a subtle nod on my part, again, to something involving the moon that will happen on Monday, April 8.

17. Emerson, Lake & Palmer, The Endless Enigma Part One/Fugue/The Endless Enigma Part Two . . . The three-part suite that opens ELP’s third album, Trilogy. As I told a friend, my default position on music I mostly listen to is Rolling Stones-ish raunch and roll but I do have a lot of prog and when I listen to it, or play it for the show, it reinforces in me the thought that, while critics of it often suggest it is or can be boring, pretentious stuff, it’s actually brilliant stuff. And it rocks, a lot of the time. Thanks for listening.

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