The Nels Cline interview [March ’05] is the best article you’ve printed in ages. I just finished it, and I have to tell you that I haven’t read anything this inspiring since you interviewed Zappa a bazillion years ago. I was moved. Thank you so much. I can only hope you will continue to seek out intelligent, humble, truly innovative players like Cline for cover features.
I must say, I was extremely surprised to see Nels Cline on the March cover of your magazine. I know this move probably did not sell as many magazines as putting a more well known musician on your cover, but I can’t think of anybody else more deserving of this attention. Cline has devoted his whole life to playing music, and after 30-plus years is finally getting some real recognition. I had the pleasure of meeting him when he played at Skidmore College with Wilco, and the man could not have been more humble and kind. Thank you for the story.
I am writing in regards to the progressive rock article [Style Council] featured in your March ’05 issue. This message was posted on the Progressive Ears message board: “In case you haven’t checked it out yet, there’s an article in this month’s GP that purports to be a primer on Prog rock. It’s about a three-page article with a picture of a geeky Steve Hackett playing with Genesis, and accompanying notation on how to play the tapping riff from ‘The Return of the Giant Hogweed.’ Among other things, the article states that prog was defined by bands wanting to go beyond rock and roll to exploit the full potential of traditional rock instruments. It ends by saying prog rock is dead, having exhausted all of its creative energies in the ’70s. I guess they haven’t been paying much attention to the present day artists, who, in my opinion, have pushed the envelope even further!”
Well, the comment that prog rock has died couldn’t be further from the truth. I write music reviews for a Web site called Proggnosis that features music from both the progressive and fusion worlds, and trust me, there are a lot of artists out there who are still deeply committed to creating music that falls into the progressive genre. Sadly, the only thing that died is prog’s popularity in relation to radio airplay and mainstream media attention. Apparently, GP has now taken that route, and, not surprisingly, it must be for the money.
It would be great to see GP recognize that there are amazing musicians laboring underground playing music that they love, rather than compromise for the ambitions of money and popularity. As I remember coming up as a guitarist, the most interesting articles in the late ’70s in GP were the features on such players as Steve Morse, Allan Holdsworth, Darryl Stuermer, etc. These guys are progressive musicians—and are still highly touted even by today’s standards—and there are more guitarists in prog circles that are doing equally amazing things. Perhaps GP may be interested in inspiring a new generation of genius and innovation?
MJ—The article is formatted as a “Style Council,” which is solely intended to provide a very basic overview of a genre. In addition, it was explained in the article’s introduction that the scope was limited to a handful of the most significant bands of the period. Reasonable people may disagree about whether those bands peaked in the late ’70s, but as one who followed their careers firsthand, that is my view (as well as the view of many of the original musicians). The article did not, however, say anything disparaging about prog metal, neo-prog, or any of the other styles that followed in the wake of the original bands, and GP still covers classic prog artists such as King Crimson and Steve Hackett, as well as some newer artists (e.g., Spock’s Beard in April, and Porcupine Tree coming in July). Also, please note that Allan Holdsworth was featured in the Nov ’04 issue, and Steve Morse is a regular columnist. As to GP making editorial decisions “for the money,” a quick look at recent issues will confirm that lots of the artists we cover neither receive huge amounts of airplay, nor sell millions of records. And as for “inspiring a new generation of genius and innovation”—one of GP’s prime objectives—please note that the prog rock article appeared in an issue with Nels Cline on the cover. —BC
It was good to see the article on tinnitus in your Riffs: Education section [March ’05]. I’ve been living with noise-induced hearing loss—as well as buzzing and ringing—for more than 20 years. In the ’60s and ’70s, people were just not aware of the damage high volumes could do to one’s hearing. Today, young people need to be made well aware of the long-term consequences of not protecting their ears. My advice is that if you want to be able to hear the wonderful tones of a D-28, the mids and highs of a Stratocaster and Les Paul, or perhaps the difference between an amp with EL84 tubes and one with 6V6s, then protect your ears. Losing your hearing and having tinnitus is kind of like cutting away pieces of a cake—once each slice is gone, you can’t get it back.
The new musicnotes.com downloads are an excellent addition to your magazine. I have been a reader of GP since the early ’90s, and I have always felt it was a great magazine, but that it was missing one thing: complete song transcriptions. Now that you have added that missing piece, I will have to cancel that “other magazine” and resubscribe to GP. Keep the musicnotes downloads coming!