Prog At Heart

26 06 2011

Sylvia Whitman has taken hits for being prog at heart.

The 30-year-old’s 97-year-old father ran the Shakespeare & Co. across from Notre Dame in Paris for many many years. Business stagnated. She stepped in to help. He didn’t like it. She’d make changes in the store and he’d change everything back. The point? A generational wrestling match between the best of what was and what could be.

Post magazine’s profile of Sylvia and the legendary bookshop, which you can read here, offers a window to the balancing act between progress and conservatism. It’s an old story, replayed again and again in the arts, business, government. Choose an endeavor and look closely. It’s there.

The struggle at Shakespeare & Co. is ongoing. The shop isn’t the original that  Sylvia Beach opened in 1919 as a lending library. Beach published James Joyce’s Ulysses when no one else would touch it, something City Lights would replicate with similarly toxic authors years later in San Francisco.

The spirit persists and perhaps that’s the heart of prog — reverence and change that intertwine in intriguing, innovative ways.

Heavy Rotation

4 06 2011

‎”If I’d known I would be this happy in my personal life at 65, I’d have got older quicker.” — Robert Fripp on his most recent birthday.

Our flounder.

Speaking of whom, Six-String Genius ranks its top 10 Fripp-works here. Quirky list and sincere. David Sylvian’s Gone to Earth at No. 2? Really, it’s hard to argue with any of these choices. But let the breeze rearrange the titles & rankings and it’d still be an inspiring list of energy and ideas. As a sound manipulator, Fripp is extremely hard to underrate. Head-shakingly creative music.

Here’s another positive NYT review of Rob Young’s Electric Eden. “The visionaries here, in broad terms, are folkies who drew their inspiration from the music of a bucolic past rooted in the land — the nascent Britain of long-ago Albion, with a millennium or two of fairies, druids and whatnot to pick from. These artists rejected the decaying industrial England they saw around them in favor of a simpler pastoral one that enlivened their yearnings with mysticism, (really) retro clothing and mannered vocalizing. Young sees this as a search for an “electric Eden”; his vast travelogue encompasses novels, films, poems and BBC documentaries; reams of folk, religious and spiritualist scholarship; tales of public flamboyance, festivals and hippie-dippy explorations; and, first and foremost, music.”

Reviewed by Bill Wyman. No; the other one.

Speaking of reviewers, Greil Marcus continues to fox. The NYT sez: “His recent scrapbook compilation, ‘Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010,’ shows him in a decades-long game of chess against the man who is his favorite subject, bugaboo, muse, hobbyhorse and intellectual crush object.”

So then, it’s not crap. OK. If you insist.

Marcus continues to be truly out there, somewhere. It’s tough to ignore him but hard to completely buy in. Whenever it becomes too easy to trash him, read Real Life Top 10 in Believer magazine. That’s the beauty of art criticism– there’s evidently no right or wrong, only options.

You’re reading the voice of jealousy here, by the way.


4 06 2011

My site stats say I have many more clickthroughs than I would ever have expected, so thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to browse.

It’s a pleasure to unload my thoughts onto the screen. Consider it a reflection of the musicians and writers who have entertained me for so long.

Please don’t be shy — story ideas, recommendations and criticisms are encouraged & welcome.

One reader says he’s unsuccessfully tried to subscribe twice. Anyone had a similar issue? A broken link? Another site kink? Please leave a comment or send me an email. If you don’t, I may never know what’s not working around here other than my 8-year-old.

This site was created for Progressive Voices, which you’ll find at this left turn.

There’s an app for that.

Thanks to them for letting me put the Prog in Progressive.

Heavy Rotation

3 06 2011

Joey Arkenstat: Never heard of him? You aren’t alone. Or are you. A handful of well-known bassists cite him as an influence in MIke Gordon’s entertaining Rising Low, a documentary on tryouts to replace the late Allen Woody in Gov’t Mule. Arkenstat aside, if you can move him there, the movie is a bass-admirer’s delight. Jack Casady, John Entwistle, Alphonso Johnson, Larry Graham, Flea, Phil Lesh, Roger Glover, all get the time to show off a bit and tell some stories. This movie is yet another reason to become a Gov’t Mule fan and it’s a love letter to the bass.

Joey speaks:

Tall Stax: A blossom in the midst of an anonymous shopping area in Atlanta. If you’re in town, go out of your way to visit. Their FB page is here.

The Ronnie Wood Show: This week’s guest is Robbie Robertson, whose talent thankfully outpaces his massive ego. Both these guys have as you’d expect eclectic musical tastes and loads of anecdotes. Wood’s show is what radio should be — innovative, adventurous, and chatty. Stream it here.

Judy Dyble: free disc with this month’s Classic Rock Presents Prog. Something new that’s actually old from one of the great lost British singers. New stuff with Robert Fripp included.

Muse. It’s been out for about two years, but The Resistance is still worth spinning. Progimus maximus. Its popularity belies its prog genes.

New System 7: Always nice to hear from Steve Hillage. Nothing new here but a comfortable Euro/techno cushion to rest upon. Don’t like Euro/techno? Close your eyes and think Run Lola Run. It’ll help.

The Fox News Fear Factory in Rolling Stone. “The network, at its core, is a giant soundstage created to mimic the look and feel of a news operation, cleverly camouflaging political propaganda as independent journalism.” Read the entire article here.

Mastering the Dead’s Europe ’72: No compression allowed. Well, very little. Excellent audio interview on breathing life into nearly 40-year-old live recordings. Stream it here.

A nicely written blog entry in The New Yorker on the art of reading: “If you hate a movie, you probably have no qualms about turning it off or walking out of the theatre, and the blame is placed on the film and those who made it, not on your movie-watching abilities. By the same token, no one will pat you on the back for watching something long and difficult, but they will if you’ve read “Ulysses” (and if you’ve given up halfway through, no one can blame you, though if you lie and say you finished it, I guess you’re in good company).” Read more here.

Biophilia by Bjork. “Biophilia for iPad will include around 10 separate apps, all housed within one ‘mother’ app. Each of the smaller apps will relate to a different track from the album, allowing people to explore and interact with the song’s themes or even make a completely new version. It will also be an evolving entity that will grow as and when the album’s release schedule dictates, with new elements added.” Read the Guardian‘s preview here.