The Show That Never Ends : The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock

The Show That Never Ends : The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock

eBook - 2017
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WW Norton

The wildly entertaining story of progressive rock, the music that ruled the 1970s charts—and has divided listeners ever since.

The Show That Never Ends is the definitive story of the extraordinary rise and fall of progressive (“prog”) rock. Epitomized by such classic, chart-topping bands as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, along with such successors as Rush, Marillion, Asia, Styx, and Porcupine Tree, prog sold hundreds of millions of records. It brought into the mainstream concept albums, spaced-out cover art, crazy time signatures, multitrack recording, and stagecraft so bombastic it was spoofed in the classic movie This Is Spinal Tap.

With a vast knowledge of what Rolling Stone has called “the deliciously decadent genre that the punks failed to kill,” access to key people who made the music, and the passion of a true enthusiast, Washington Post national reporter David Weigel tells the story of prog in all its pomp, creativity, and excess.

Weigel explains exactly what was “progressive” about prog rock and how its complexity and experimentalism arose from such precursors as the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper. He traces prog’s popularity from the massive success of Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” and the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” in 1967. He reveals how prog’s best-selling, epochal albums were made, including The Dark Side of the Moon, Thick as a Brick, and Tubular Bells. And he explores the rise of new instruments into the prog mix, such as the synthesizer, flute, mellotron, and—famously—the double-neck guitar.

The Show That Never Ends is filled with the candid reminiscences of prog’s celebrated musicians. It also features memorable portraits of the vital contributions of producers, empresarios, and technicians such as Richard Branson, Brian Eno, Ahmet Ertegun, and Bob Moog.

Ultimately, Weigel defends prog from the enormous derision it has received for a generation, and he reveals the new critical respect and popularity it has achieved in its contemporary resurgence.

Baker & Taylor
Draws on inside access to key figures in a chronicle of progressive rock that shares behind-the-scenes stories about the chart-topping bands of the 1970s, the sounds of genres ranging from psychedelia to heavy metal and the inconsistent ways '70s rock has influenced culture, inspired satire and divided fans.

Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc.,, 2017
ISBN: 9780393242263
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks


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Jul 20, 2018

Focuses mostly on the first wave--Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer--from their starts, and through their multiple re-incarnations. Robert Fripp seems to be intertwined through each phase--Fripp was in the original King Crimson, but played at some point with seemingly everybody in that era. Rush also makes a solid appearance as the leaders of the second wave (and first non-Brit/European wave). Interesting look at a rock era that is loved by many, and loathed by others (and was loved and loathed by the music press at the time).

Nov 02, 2017

"Are you ready to prog rock and roll?!!"-Probably never said by anybody.
Songs written in 8/12 time and obscure key signatures, concept albums, ridiculous song titles ("Karn Evil 9: First Impression"), keyboard solos lasting for days, songs lasting for weeks-these are the hallmarks of progressive rock, a genre that thrived in the 1970s and was reviled by many critics and rock fans. Washington Post writer David Weigel thinks this is unfair and sets out to both tell the story and make a case for this much maligned genre. I approached this book as a fan of music books, rather than a fan of prog rock, which I don't have, but certainly have a limited interest in. His defense is that this bands, which include ELP, Yes, Genesis, Rush, and King Crimson, were musical virtuous who dealt in big themes, expanded the boundaries of rock, and worked on an epic canvas. Its detractors find the music pretentious, self-important, and, worst of all, boring. King Crimson probably gets an inordinate amount of space because it's the most respected of the lot (Kanye sampled them!) and Robert Fripp is the most important guitarist in the genre. Weigel writes as a fan, and I wish he'd been a little more critical, as well as willing to explore why almost all of the musicians and fans are white and male. Of the bands, Rush has finally earned some cred and you might want to see the documentary "Beyond the Lighted Stage." Set your keyboards on snooze.

PimaLib_NormS Oct 11, 2017

“Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends . . .” These are the opening lyrics to a mind-expanding piece of music known to classic rock fans everywhere - Karn Evil 9, 1st Impression, Part 2, by those noted pioneers of progressive rock, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and is the inspiration for David Weigel’s, “The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock”. (Several live versions of this song can be found on the PCPL’s free music site Freegal @ Now, back in the day, I was not familiar with the term “progressive” rock, but I knew that bands like Yes, The Moody Blues, Pink Floyd, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, among others, were trying to do something radically different. Some of the progressive music was incomprehensible to my adolescent mind, but then there were songs that seemed like aural works of art, and unlike anything else out there. Of course, there were excesses, and some of the prog rockers took pretentiousness to unprecedented levels, but most were in a passionate search for musical boundaries to break through. They realized that for the music to grow, it desperately needed musicians that were unafraid to experiment. Granted, some of the music ultimately turned out to be just dreadful, but it was all part of the process. David Weigel skillfully takes us back to the roots of prog rock, through its heyday, and ultimate fall from the heights of popularity.

Oct 05, 2017

The Show that never ends, the name based on a the lyrics of a ELP song (that is, Emerson, Lake and Palmer for those not in the know), was good for introducing Progressive Rock bands to an ear whom had never once heard of them. However, I found that the author was a tad too King Crimson-centric for my tastes. Also, he tended to skip around too much, sometimes to the point of confusion.


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