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Best Of - 2017 Eric

ARTICLE: Best Of 2017, Eric
YEAR: 2017


Well from my perspective, 2017 was a stressful year eh? The world was in major upheaval, on fire and getting weird and sadly this local and geopolitical trend seems to be carrying over to the early days of 2018. So many people are pissed, kneeling, rioting, protesting, accusing,threatening, backstabbing, yelling and screaming and you can't go to aconcert anymore without the nagging memory of Manchester and Las Vegas and those lost. How did we get here? I know we can never reach back for the sunny day-glo innocence of the 60's and 70's and to some extent the early 1980's, but if this is the future count me out.

The musicians we lost was almost as depressing, J. Geils, Malcolm Young, Tom Petty, Gregg Allman and Al Jarreau just to name a few. I wasn't a fan of all these people, but they were heard everywhere growing up as they were for the majority of us who converge on this website and hard to imagine they are gone. We are definitely getting older, I'm feeling it and I hate to think who we will inevitably lose in the coming months.

The Best And Not So Best
On the bright side there were plenty of musical highlights to help escape the worlds madness including Elbow's 'Little Fictions' which was a pure delight from start to finish although the fact they skipped Minneapolis on the follow-up tour was unforgivable!

'Novum' from Procol Harum was a fun surprise and while certainly not up to the quality of their peak years, for this decades long fan it was a moment of deep nostalgia to have them back, even just for a little while.

Aquaserge is a French avant prog band I've admired for a few years and 'Laisse ca etre' (Let It Be) is their best yet, living up to their reputation as a 21st century version of Robert Wyatt fronted Soft Machine.

Another 'didn't see it coming' event was the very cool return of Britpop superstars Saint Etienne with the conceptual 'Home Counties' which could be my most played new release this year aside from Sparks which I'll get to in a moment. As it happens the best compilation of 2017 in my opinion was curated by two thirds of Saint Etienne. 'Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs present English Weather' is a gorgeous set of prog artists and a few lesser knowns but cobbled together in such a way as a reminder to just how great the early 70's UK prog scene truly was removed from the bombast and bloat of ELP and Yes.

'Hippopotamus' from Sparks and what can I say? The Mael brothers have pulled off their best album since the 70's heyday. Every song is perfect, quirky, artful and everything for those of us who have stuck with the Sparks brand for decades could ever hope for. Even though I have yet to pick up the latest from Morrissey and The War On Drugs which are reputedly excellent, it will be hard to top 'Hippopotamus' as my album of the year at this late date.

Catching Bryan Ferry in concert this past summer was incredible and after the show watching his reaction and hilarious cackle after one of my friends asked him about a Roxy Music reunion - priceless!

I went back to some old favorites this year, early Blue Oyster Cult, The Youngbloods, The Rascals and Chicago's first few albums received heavy play on the deck as did plenty of Tropicalia reissues from Brazil thanks to the Mr.Bongo and Far Out reissue labels as well as groovy 60's and 70's Italian and French movie soundtracks which continues to be a growing fascination.

Music-related books, I strongly recommend Bento Araujo's 'Lindo Sonho Delirante: 100 Psychedelic Records From Brazil (1968-1975)' for a colorful and insightfullook at one of the most fascinating of rock movements and I'm still working my way through 'Goblin Seven Notes In Red' which is packed with details and photos of one of Italy's most important and often misunderstood prog bands. Both are written in English and are a little expensive but worth the effort to track down.

Disappointments include the Chicago documentary 'Now More Than Ever: The History Of Chicago' which featured great clips and details of the early days but fell apart (as the band did) when the story moved into the 80's and seemed rushed towards the end. Add to that many key players such as Peter Cetera turned down any involvement with the project. Not a total failure, but it should have been much better especially considering they were a such a commercially ground breaking band.

Steve Wilson's 'To The Bone' album was touted as the second coming of Tears For Fears, Talk Talk and Peter Gabriel and was nothing of the sort. I've long predicted that Prince Wilson would eventually fall out of favor with prog fans and with this album, it happened. That said, I'm not gloating because I believe his intentions to bring back the 80's progressive pop sound were valiant and as a hopeless fanboy of the bands and artists of that movement and era, I was really looking forward to the end product but the problem was, he didn't have the songs and this time the hype just couldn't be backed up.

In Summary
Finally,the ongoing Queen biopic train wreck. Enough said. I hope everyone has a fantastic 2018! Stay safe, live, create and if music be the food of love then play on!

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#1 | Explorer on January 14 2018 10:01:22
Re:Steven Wilson, we both more or less agree on him and his latest offering. For me , I reckon he should reconvene Porcupine Tree and immerse himself into a band once more as I think he may have gone as far as he can as a solo artist.
#2 | jefflynnefan on January 14 2018 19:30:42
Regarding that Chicago documentary, Robert Lamm came off as a real egotistical jerk. If it's the same one I watched on PBS.
#3 | Eric on January 14 2018 19:35:38
Yes it is the same documentary. What came across to me was just how much the early sound was driven by Terry Kath. After he died, the beginning of the end.
#4 | jefflynnefan on January 14 2018 19:53:49
Terry sang "Byblos" right? Love that song.
#5 | Carl Noonan on January 15 2018 18:28:03
I love the Steven Wilson album, the guy is a genius.

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