Steve Davis' Interesting Alternative

Don’t be safe, be unconventional!

Charles Hayward has never been a man to sit still in music. Well, I suppose he has ’cos he’s a drummer, but I wasn’t talking about posture, more about laurels. Charles is an example of a 60-something musician (does subliminal advertising actually work?) still pushing boundaries rather than playing safe by regurgitating past glories.

Here’s my problem with ‘prog’ as it currently sits. Firstly, and this is no reflection on our readers, everyone likes different music and nobody should be rude enough to dictate what artists you listen to (get Charles Hayward’s Smell Of Metal). However, prog was a ’70s phenomenon, audacious and truly progressive. The irony now is that prog artists who are still producing ’70s-minded sounds are by definition actually making regressive music. Now, you’d look stupid asking for a copy of Reg in WH Smiths, and I realise there’s enough nostalgia out there for this fine magazine to exist, regardless of any emerging new talent. No, it’s the artists themselves I have a problem with! Brilliant musicians, who are playing safe. Safety gets you nowhere. Okay, it worked for me in the ’80s… but not now, never now.

That’s why a large percentage of my listening these days is to new, mainly young bands who challenge convention, refuse to be pigeonholed and don’t copy the past even though they still embrace the prog music of yesteryear (like Trojan Horse’s new album World Turned Upside Down, out in October). Our readers will listen to what they choose and it would be unethical of me to tell you to go online and immediately buy Knifeworld’s brilliant album The Unravelling. You are not going to do it – order it now at – but you will buy Yes’ latest and be disappointed enough to write to the magazine bemoaning its blandness. What do you expect!? I’m not blaming the artists; they deserve the accolades as the legends that they are. They deserve a few quid, they’ve got and performed in the T-shirt. No, I blame the reader! It’s your fault their creative juices are as dry as their skin because you’re giving them the green light to produce more of the same! So, don’t buy anything from old artists (get Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava CDs) until they are forced to retire or starved into progression. You might think your face will look stupid without its nose but trust me (Stars in Battledress – In Droplet Form) your brain will look well young!

Do you see what I’m trying to say? Why don’t you like the same music that I do?

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