Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Some YouTube Gems

Instead of doing something useful with my day off (way to start the new year!), I got sucked into surfing around YouTube looking for interesting music stuff. Here's the best of the bunch, focusing one what I think of as second-tier 70s prog bands. Not in terms of quality, but popularity. In other words, these groups rode the wave of prog popularity in the early 70s onto major labels, but never achieved the commercial success of the big five.

One of the most technically dazzling of those groups was Gentle Giant, seen here live in the late 70s performing "On Reflection," from Free Hand, although in a very different arrangement.

Along with Genesis, Camel probably has had the most influence on modern symph/neo-prog, with its combination of Peter Bardens' lush keys and Andy Lattimer's fluid guitar. This is "Nimrodel - The Procession - The White Rider," from Mirage, performed live on the Moonmadness tour. Yes, it's about The Lord of the Rings - what of it?

Probably my favorite of these second-tier groups is the short-lived National Health, a sort of Canterbury super group from the late 70s. This is a (admittedly poor quality) TV performance of "The Collapso," from Of Queues and Cures, one of my favorite albums of all time. The studio version includes steel drums from Selwyn Baptiste, who declared the "Caribbean cacophony for limbo lovers" to be "[n]ot bad, for a white band."

That performance itself had attained nearly legendary status, thanks to keyboardist Dave Stewart's liner notes to the Complete compilation:

I did one last gig with the Health in January 1979 on a TV show called 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' (who names these things?). The show had been booked for months and it would have looked bad if I'd not done it. We did an extremely approximate version of 'The Collapso,' during the introduction of which John [Greaves, the bass player] finally clinched the Unconventional Musician All-comers Cup by hurling a box of cutlery across the stage. Pip [Pyle, the drummer] & I were too stunned to put up a challenge.

Finally, there's a great vid of Van der Graff Generator in 1970 on German TV performing "Darkness (11/11)" from The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other, back when they had a dedicated bass player.

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