Music today has been progressive heaven with Gentle Giant’s Octopus (1972), their fourth album and the first album I heard by them sometime in the deepest darkest seventies. It’s complex, it’s folky, it’s melodic, it’s classical, it’s catchy, it’s innovative, it’s jazzy, it’s musical gymnastics but it’s all done so smoothly and naturally. Ray, Derek and Philip Shulman were multi-instrumentalists, Kerry Minnear was a graduate from the Royal College Of Music, Gary Green a semi-pro blues player. Their first drummer Martin Smith was replaced by John Weathers (via second drummer Malcolm Mortimore) for this album. Elton John unsuccessfully auditioned as lead singer.

The band made ten albums between 1970 and 1980 and as grunge wiped out youth interest in the middle to small-sized bands like the ex-band, new wave did the same thing for bands like this. The bigger progressive bands survived, Yes, King Crimson, as did The Cure and Depeche Mode into the nineties. But as for The Comsat Angels, The Sound and the like, it was hard. The ex-band survived but on another level nowhere near the level of Starfish. Echo and the Bunnymen survived Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam too but as those bands’ numbers grew the smaller bands became cult bands with dwindling numbers. Some survive, some don’t, some stay huge, some have that cult following. The Cure and Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam, and Yes, still have very healthy audience numbers, the rest broke up or play in smaller venues, 100-500 people and what’s wrong with that?

In the meantime I carry on listening to The Who, The War On Drugs, Gentle Giant, FKA Twigs, indie, rock, punk, jazz, contemporary, reggae, blues, each genre has amazing music, you just gotta find it and if there’s one thing that streaming services have done, it’s that they have given you the opportunity to listen to all kinds of music without huge financial commitment. That means when you do find something you like, you can buy it on vinyl, perfect. If you like streaming, perfect. None of it’s perfect for the musicians though, especially now with restricted gigging. Record sales down, streaming income very low, publishing royalties are only significant if you have a hit record. These days we have to be the ultimate musical multitaskers, like Rita Hayworth, dance, sing, act, in those days they could do everything. For me, my next big musical task is my home studio and that will open up even more doors to keep surviving as a musician in a tricky musical climate. Onward and upward.

Music Of The Daze

The musical musings in this post are an excerpt from my daily blog, TO WHERE I AM NOW, featured on my main website. See more pictures and read the full post here.