At The Sharp End of A Legacy.

Sour Grapes from one who has never tasted the wine..

 

        

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Genesis Stage at the Knebworth festival in 78

 I Was slightly to the right of here – Genesis’ Stage awaits them at Knebworth in 1978

The Tangent have never had the chance to play some huge outdoor festival as the sun sets over a magnificent rambling country estate in the Home Counties. There have never been traffic jams in the car park to get home after our gigs. A performance by the band has never dramtically increased the number of hitch hikers on British Roads during the weekend of the gig. The band has, to our knowledge, NEVER had airplay on the BBC, NEVER had a review in any of the daily papers. And.. this is where it gets a little more serious.. other than one phone call from Richard Sinclair (Caravan, Hatfield & The North etc).. in 20 years of following in the footsteps of the originators, NOT ONE of the people from the original progressive era has ever been in touch, invited us to do a gig with them, told us they like the album or even deigned to say the words “I’ve heard good things about you”. Not one other.

Richard Sinclair

Richard Sinclair. One in a million apparently

 

But – that’s not why we do this is it? Of course not! This isn’t all for a pat on the back from Steve Howe or summat. It’d be nice, but hey, it’s not why we’re here. If it was, we’d have given up years ago. But, as the third and fourth wave progressive bands flounder in an apathetic world, we could do with some nice showcase gigs with the older guys. And they seem to have not realised who WE (broad WE) are. Maybe it’s the ego of having once been feted Rock Stars, maybe it’s just apathy, maybe it’s just not realising, not being able to see the wood for the trees. But WE – from Magenta and Big Train.. to Tangent to TFK, from Maschine to Credo – we fulfil a very important role to the bands who came before us.

We Are Their Legacy

Their legacy is not the DVD of some concert they did in Italy to four million people who had to watch the whole thing on a screen. It’s not the 4th crucial digital remaster of their classic album from 73. It’s not the questionable reunion album they made in 2007. Their legacy is made by the people who followed them. I believe it’s time they helped us out, got involved and help us try to keep their amazing ideas alive way into the future.

Imagine what it must be like. For a third generation band, standing on a stage in front of 200 people if they are having a good day, with a line-up of musicians as strong as can be imagined. Knowing, just KNOWING that despite all the music they’ve released over the past 10 years, epics, rockers, love songs, sinfonias, instrumentals and electronica – all they’d have to do is play “Watcher Of The Skies” and they’d bring the house down. If they were to just play a set of Genesis songs they’d more than double their audience overnight. If they did it for a few months they could have nice living wages.

The Tangent in London 2014

A Good day For the Tangent – London 2014

But we didn’t do that – though sadly there are others who did. There are bands who put their own music on back burners simply because there is so little money in original music.  The reason I can’t do that myself (it’s tempting) is that when I put my copy of Foxtrot away, it was to make room for new things in my life, for new music, new songs for new times. And when I hear new progressive music… sure I hear the influences. I hear part of a continually evolving cycle. I am not hearing Genesis. I am hearing their Legacy.

Now, there will be some readers who are thinking “This Is Sour Grapes”. (They are right). What right have a bunch of modern day wannabes got to demand the ear of such lofty legends? But there is a precedent to what I’m asking for… In the world of SPORT.  You see, when Wayne Rooney steps onto a football pitch for England, he can do so in the knowledge that the legends of his youth and generations before are totally with him. That the legacy of Charltons, Moores, Bests, Keegans and Scheerers is fully behind him every step of the way. And any would be football star has only to BE REALLY GOOD to succeed. He won’t fall down on his image if he scores goals. If you can run faster than Bolt – you will win. No Simon Cowell in Sport. I envy Sport the purity of its game.  I think there’s another article in that later!
wayne rooney

Wayne Rooney has always been able to count on the support of people who were successful before he was

If you, dear reader, have reached this point in the story, then there’s already hope. I realise that there’ll possibly be a few replies citing many incidents where Steve Hackett helped such and such a band by appearing on their album, that Rick Wakeman turns up for awards nights and a list of bands who supported Marillion etc. But I don’t think there’s ENOUGH of it!

Last year I was invited to be present at an awards ceremony in London. There were many of us who have taken up the gauntlet that the musicians of the 70s threw down. But, standing next to a certain megastar who was talking to another certain megastar I overheard:

“So who are all this lot then?”

 

Please Support us. tell people about what we’ve done. And by that I mean The Tangent and all the other newer bands that would turn you on. If you, like me are in late middle age, I hope to convince you that you need a new song in your life. That “Supper’s Ready” was written by teenagers, and it’s time to hear what adults do. It’s about time we ate that Supper and looked forward to something new.

“Let’s engineer a breakdown, let’s get lost on new ground, tell our friends what we found, – searching for the Spark In The Aether” The Tangent. For 2015.

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15 thoughts on “At The Sharp End of A Legacy.

  1. Another fine incisive article Andy
    I understand your frustration and agree although patronage is only a short step from cronyism as we see with the dreaded tories
    but certainly the elder statesman could be a lot more aware of what is happening and what has been grown from the seeds the sowed musically all those years back
    John ws

  2. Andy, I agree with your comments wholeheartedly. I won’t get into another debate on the merits of the latest Yes album but, do feel that it hinders the progression of modern prog bands to a huge extent. However, as a nice aside, it was great to see both Steve Hackett and Anthony Phillips at Resonance checking out the festival

  3. A great read, Andy. I have been a prog fan since 1981 (I was 11 at the time), so at the start of the second wave of prog. I heard a lot of new bands and learnt about the old ones. I co-founded DPRP, we wrote a lot of reviews, and were always focusing on the new bands, the bands that needed some help to be heard.

    Although my taste has shifted and I have to admit that The Tangent was not in the small group of prog bands that still did capture my attention, I always respected you as a musician and thought you deserved the attention your albums got (although it was within that small and limited world of prog fans).

    I once saw a band called The Musical Box. Wasn’t too interested but I got a free ticket. Never saw another cover band (Erm, “tribute”? WTF! Cover bands, copy bands, xerox bands!) after that. What a cold copy and what a sad bunch the audience was made of. I went home, put on Nursery Cryme and got goosebumps. Not once during the gig. I was bored out of my mind in there, while I dreamt away on the vinyl of the original. I still don’t understand why people would rather copy other people’s music instead of creating their own art. And I don’t understand the people who would pay money to see a bunch of copiers on a stage!

    I never heard about the musicians’ perspective which I find very interesting. Apparently some of the old lot are not interested in what the later generations have to offer? Sad, really sad. As sad as the audience at cover bands’ gigs.

    I already respected you as a musician. I now admire your integrity, too.
    I will have another go at The Tangent albums.

    Jerry

    1. Kind words Jerry. Of course I was reading your site back in the 90s and you’re most welcome here. And liking the Tangent is not a pre-requisite! Some of my favourite people hate the band! Glad you enjoyed the article.

      1. I have supported and always will support (buy albums, attend gigs) the music I like. I don’t think it’s a matter of age (musicians or audience) who don’t want to adapt and stick to the few good albums they know. I’ve discovered so many great new bands, several much younger than I am. I see that with people younger and older than I am, fortunately. We’re still writing a lot about the unknown bands on DPRP and we’ll keep on doing that. I’ll let you know what my 2014 musical taste thinks of the Tangent albums!

    2. ” I still don’t understand why people would rather copy other people’s music instead of creating their own art”
      If I can just enlighten you there Jerry… several things come to mind. I’ve had SO many discussions about this point.

      1. If no-one ever “copied” anyone else’s music, it would die with them and never be performed again. Sorry Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Elgar, Vaughan Williams… I doubt if Andy Tillison would want his music to die simply because the albums become unavailable with time. Through live performance, that music might just continue reaching people in 100 years when every recorded format is dead or unavailable as a 78rpm record.

      2. They wouldn’t “rather” copy, but they’re musicians, they’ve studied and practised for twenty years and they want to perform without losing money because they have a mortgage and a family. Maybe they’ll make some cash to invest in their own music by selling their soul to the tribute world for a while. Better that than give up performing and work in an office or on the bins.

      2. As a writer, the greatest compliment anyone could pay me is to perform my music live, as it was intended to be heard. No true musician ever believed they were the only person who could perform their work properly, and someone else’s interpretation should be appreciated, not vilified. The modern public just don’t get it. They’re selfish about their artists – they even think Brian May and Roger Taylor should stop performing the songs they wrote because Freddie Mercury isn’t around to sing it any more. How selfish is that attitude?

      3. There’s a very real difference between a cover and a tribute. A cover is a new interpretation – or should be, despite thousands of pub bands trying and failing to copy the exact form of the original. A tribute version is note and sound faithful, like performing a classical work. A good tribute is awesome, and entirely valid. Dressing up to do it? Well, classical orchestras always used to wear a certain uniform, didn’t they? Baroque orchestras dressed like Mozart. Forgive them, they believe the audience wants to pretend – and some of them do – that they’re seeing the original artist.

      4. The audiences for tributes are big because the music is great and people go to the “show” in the hope that it will be even more moving when heard live. Alas, they never got to hear Pink Floyd live because they were bron too late. Sometimes it is more moving. Clearly, The Musical Box didn’t do the trick – a few tributes really DO manage the trick. To reject all on the basis of having seen one act is a bit like rejecting all prog on the basis of not liking ELP. You filtered prog on the basis of the album… love the album, chase the live show. Hate the album, ignore the live show. Tributes don’t have the album, just reputation.

      5. Original bands in a genre struggle because the public has too much great music in that genre already. It’s the same reason a new car manufacturer finds life hard – people stick to what they know, because it’s been thrust at them since they were a child and it’s familiar. Everything else is compared to it and falls short because it isn’t the same. Originality has a tough time fighting worldwide popularity. what’s needed is publicity and inudstry support – the press needs to focus on new acts and support their shows. Andy is SPOT ON – the established artists who made cash in their heyday becasue theey loved the genre need to promote the new bands in every way they can to keep the genre alive.

      And I wholeheartedly agree with the article. It echoes something I was saying several months ago. I find it remarkable that instead of ploughing their efforts into keeping the genre alive, and making money out of investing in new music and performers, venues, tours, and so on, the established bands – some of whose members have tens of millions stashed away – invest none of their wealth back into the industry it came out of. They don’t go to see new bands – or even performances of their own music – but if they did, they could be excited enough to think it’s worth supporting financially.

      Here’s an idea. Why not, Mr Pink Floyd or Genesis or Led Zeppelin, finance a half decent tour for a less well known band in your genre? Sacrifice the money you invest on doing one performance at the O2 or Albert Hall, and you could finance a dream tour of decent venues for a worthy, long struggling band like The Tangent that can’t possibly risk that money to raise themselves up. The record labels took the risk for you, but they don’t do that any more. Put up the cash and promote a dozen dates by the next generation.

  4. Many folks prefer to hang on to the same listening habits that they grew up on 30-40 years ago. It seems almost robotic to me Brainwashed, maybe. I was a huge prog fan back in the days. I loved Yes, Genesis, Floyd and so forth, but these days It is difficult to give a listen to these old groups. Steve Hackett would be one exception, as he has stood the test of time as a musician, IMO. I could list 40 albums that I believe are better quality in musicianship and the message being sung than the prog bands of old. OK, maybe not better than “Dark Side Of The Moon”. I support the wave of prog bands of today as much as I can afford and am intrigued by so much of what these bands offer musically. The Tangent are one of my favorites and what may be deemed as sour grapes is simply reality. I hope the prog of today will catch on and I believe it is possible to do so.

  5. Whilst I wholeheartedly support the efforts of (third gen) prog bands today to produce great music (and love ‘em myself) I think that the scale of success of such endeavours is not so much the result of being ‘snubbed’ by prog forefathers but more a product of the asynchronicity between the zeitgeist prevailing at the time of the origins of this form and that currently prevailing.

    During our teenage years we are, to a greater or lesser extent, in resonance with the prevailing zeitgeist.
    One might ask “what were the fundaments of the zeitgeist prevailing during the formative days of prog?” and this is certainly not easy to put into words, though there are some unifying characteristics (e.g. a belief in the beneficial progress of science, an overarching interest in ‘spiritual’ dimensions (ref TalesFTO, VDGG) , a positive approach to the western serious music tradition with its allied precept that complexity can produce beauty (ref: Yes-Stravinsky, ELP-Copland, T.Banks – Rachmaninof) etc etc) .

    The point being that, artists who are currently producing work resonant with today’s zeitgeist (e.g. Dizzy Rascal) can generate large audiences and substantial sales. This has always been the case and back at the time of the TTO, Selling England and BSS tours there were artists producing great music of previous genres (e.g. swing) who were largely ignored regardless of the quality of their work due to this lack of this resonant coupling.

  6. Hi Andy….good words. For every Wayne Rooney there are I suggest thousands of lower division and part time footballers playing on Saturdays for the love of playing football. Perhaps that is enough? I groaned a little on reading the top 100 all time albums in Prog magazine this summer…the same names, the same albums …good as they are (were!) …progressive means just that doesn’t it..? .progression. Like you I’m sure I could think of 100 albums that would qualify as more progressive yet are classified as obscure. If there is one genre of music that should never ! become a ‘tribute act’ it’s progressive …and yet that is what has happened.

    Just a thought..why don’t you start your own label? Build a legacy of dedicated progressive musicians doing extraordinary things. I’d be delighted to be included. You make it look easy with your wonderful gift…I know how difficult it really is to put an album together that pushes the boundaries and stays true to one’s integity. I doubt mine will be heard so you are well ahead of me there! and I suspect a thousand youngers guys getting into prog, working on their own interpetation of this wonderful genre and who could do with an inspirational hand.

    You are our inspiration Andy….keep it all going! V best ……Martin

    1. Martin, you have made some good points regarding Mr. Tillison. Yes he is an inspiration to us and he is vigilant in being true to his integrity. In my job improving homes, I can usually hook up my mp3 to my little boombox and listen to the likes of The Tangent and similar bands. So, while I’m slapping mud on a wall or ceiling, I am listening to the work of the good bands and it makes my day go by in good fashion. No one dare complain about what is playing in their living room or garage, and they never do. If nothing else, they don’t have to listen to radio commercials ! Keep the music coming !

  7. I’m an evangelist for The Tangent, Big Big Train and some other modern “prog” bands. But I’m the same age as Andy and I wonder if it is my history of listening to complex challenging music that has taught me the value of such music. The kids (including mine) don’t seem to have that attention span. It’s the twitter generation I guess. I keep trying but sorry, i don’t have Steve Howe’s phone number…

  8. Asides from a few lovely folk most of whom you have mentioned the general ethos of prog stars from the 70’s is kill or be killed. In an ever diminishing market they aren’t too keen to share. For many it became about the money (and not the music) a long time ago so anything seen as doing it for the reverse reason is usually regarded as a threat.

    As a business plan it works just great. A lot of heritage artists have fans who are blind to anything duff that maybe released. New acts have to struggle to get any fans and as such tend to collapse in on themselves due to lack of radio,press and the proverbial problem of leading listeners to water but finding that they aren’t usually persuaded to drink.

    In the old days a support band would become a major band a couple of years later if they had any kudos …those days are long gone. The easiest way for an established artist to stay on top of his game is to ignore those who seek to succeed them. Treat them as semi-pro, pat them on the head and hope they will go away. It’s business ….in a way who can blame them. Thank goodness for those who value music and effort over money and those who still have ears to hear.

    Our only recourse is to do the best we can ….and that will really piss some of them off 🙂 As a guy from Virgin once said to me . ‘ I think you’ll sell millions John…. just not in your lifetime’ ….Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all 🙂
    best to you Andy
    and keep fighting the good fight
    jy
    xx

    1. Well John. I have to say that you crossed my mind several times while I wrote the article. If I’m right about who JY is. There’s been a few comments elsewhere (FB) which have hinted that I’m not on the right track – some from artists who I feel should be much better known than they are, but hey, prog’s a prickly subject. I first saw you play before I think I’d even formed a band. I’ve been watching and listening to the bands around me for a whole lifetime, and I actually go out and buy albums by artists, I go to their gigs and I always try to watch the “whole festival” when I’m lucky enough to be invited to play at one. The astonishing amount of talent I see is never reflected on the BBC or in any of the UK media, and even the artists I have been to see seem to be resigned to the fact that what we are all doing is “nostalgia”. I reject this outright, and feel that listening to Mozart does not make me nostalgic for the era he composed in. I am not in the LEAST nostalgic about the era of prog, a time when Gay people were insulted, lampooned and outcast, where racism was so entrenched that it could get cheap laughs on comedy shows. I’m totally glad we moved on. I believe, to the centre of my heart, that everything from Glenn Miller to One Direction is Contemporary music. It is all music that has mattered to people alive today. Whatever their age, whatever their personality. Progressive Rock Music has had the most frightful deal. It was engineered out of existence. These people will not win. You, John Young, WILL WIN.

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