Styles & groups
Born in the 60s, this style shares with classical and even more jazz a great musical freedom , allowing digressions conducive to an abundance both instrumental and melodic without limit. Thus, most of the songs move away from the verse / chorus standard to offer something varied, unexpected, surprising; in other words, you never know in advance where the music is going to take you. On the other hand, progressive rock appropriates the concept-album principle (which truly is “Another Path”), introduced in 1967 by the Beatles with « Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band ».
If it’s a common thing to say that the genre reached its peak in the 70s, through groups such as Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, King Crimson (to name a few), it does not remain less lively today, with a multitude of groups that wear the colors of the genre high.
I will only mention a few here, especially because they were the source of inspiration for one or more titles in this album;
Give honour where honour’s due. The soaring introduction of “Trouble” is therefore a tribute to Pink Floyd . Carried by the combined genius (or should we say madness?) of Roger Waters and David Gilmour, the group gradually abandoned its early psychedelic rock to evolve towards a more atmospheric, or spacey music. Until reaching the masterpieces that are “Dark Side Of The Moon”, “Wish You Were Here” (which just fails to come after the first aforementioned) and the monumental rock opera “The Wall”. Often imitated but never equalled …
… or almost because if there’s indeed a group that perfectly embodies this filiation, it’s undoubtedly Pendragon , which has offered us for 40 years (already!) music with exceptional lyricism, silky and incredible melodies. If I dare say, I was born to progressive music with the magnificent “Window Of Life” (photo). The guitar solo (we’ll come back to it, on Nick Barrett’s guitar!) at the end of “Finally free” is also a nod to that of “Master of illusion “(from the no less magnificent album” The Masquerade Overture “). I strongly invite you to discover the work of this group, starting by taking a look at the French page from my friend Didier.
Two other current musicians also perfectly embody this progressive spirit, namely Neal Morse and Steven Wilson . Founder of the group Spock’s Beard, the first has been flying on his own since the early 2000s, producing albums at a dizzying pace, without ever sacrificing quality. Part 1 of “So Near, So Far” modestly pays tribute to his talent. This guy is surely blessed by grace as much as Steven by genius. Listen to “In Absentia” (Porcupine Tree) or “Hand cannot erase” (solo) to convince yourself.
The genre comes in several sub-genres, from Canterbury to neo to progressive metal. I borrowed from the latter, embodied by the indisputable reference that is Dream Theater , the few most harder passages of this album.
I could have cited many other influences, among the historical ones ( Supertramp , Alan Parsons Project , Camel ) as among the current groups, and this from all countries ; UK (Marillion, Pineapple Thief et Magenta, carried out by two other geniuses which are respectively Bruce Soord and Robert Reed, Big Big Train, Mostly Autumn, IQ), Sweden (Moon Safari, Flower Kings), Canada (Innerspace with the gorgeous « Rise », Jelly Fiche), Poland (Riverside), Germany (RPWL, Sylvan), impossible to cite them all … but without forgetting our little french ones (Nemo, Lazuli) !
Rock - pop - folk
The Beatles, again, and what else could be expected? … because they have lead the path for so many different styles, and because their music is definitely marked with the stamp of timelessness (I invite you to watch on this subject the excellent movie “Yesterdays”)
The Eagles, for their western rock which has no equal… and thank you for « Hôtel California » !
Queen, for their hits that have marked the history of rock & roll … and thank you for « Bohemian Rhapsody » !
The Boo Radleys, unfairly overlooked group that produced some britpop pearls in the early 90s.
I could also have cited Bruce Springsteen (the title “Jungleland” is in my opinion one of the best rock songs, with his monumental sax solo), Bryan Adams , Chris De Burgh (the album “Crusader” is definitely the one of my favorites), Christopher Cross , Dan Fogelberg , Dire Straits , Don MacLean (intro of “Et pourtant” owes him a lot), Elton John , Foreigner , Guns’N Roses , James Taylor , Michael Jackson , Red Hot Chili Peppers , Simple Minds , Tears for Fears , Travis , Turin Brakes , U2 … somewhere, they all have a part in this album..
More contemporary artists like Ed Sheeran , Jason Mraz , Josh Rouse , John Mayer or even Ron Sexmith are also, on the most folk titles ( “Toujours là” ), a definite source of inspiration.
My references are not limited to the styles mentioned above. “Barachois’ nights” thus brings a very Latin colour, with a ‘hopping’ and joyful side perfectly in tune with the first part of the album. Conversely, I could not begin the second part, full of pain and sorrow, better than with the blues “Left alone” (because the music comes from there, right? We will come back to it, too …). This is what musical diversity allows: express your emotions as best as you can.
However, if there is one singer who stands out with flying colors, in my opinion, it is James Labrie , from the group Dream Theater. As comfortable in the rock songs as in the quieter titles, he always manages to choose an intensity, an aggressiveness, or on the contrary softness, almost sensuality, which makes it for me a singer of first plan. Listen especially to “The Spirit Carries On” , for me one of the most beautiful titles ever written, everything just sounds perfect, from the 1st to the last note.
Rock - pop - folk
David Gates, lead singer of the group Bread, is the very embodiment of this suave, calm and soft voices, which also marked the 70s. Certainly one of my favorite singers.
Freddy Mercury, of course, for his exceptional vocal performances, which transcended each of Queen’s songs.
Jude, for his incredible ability to climb in the octaves
Finally, among the plethora of other talented singers that I could have mentioned, I would remember 3 others, for their incredible ability to convey emotions;
Ray Wilson, a fabulous artist with a warm, low-voice timbre
Richard Marx, able to compose and sing rock songs or ballads with disconcerting ease
Emmett Tinley (photo), another artist of great talent, with a timbre of angelic voice, able to carry you elsewhere for the time of a simple song.
In the progressive galaxy, and in a more swaying style, navigating between rock, jazz and psychedelic, the Swedish veteran Roine Stolt also pulls out of the game, with an instantly recognizable style.
On the French scene, JP Louveton , whether solo or through the group Nemo, also delivers inventive and quality compositions.
Rock - pop - folk
The compositions of Joe Satriani and Santana are also a source of inspiration.
More close to us, Joe Bonamassa is also a talented guitarist, who has shown great productivity and acquired a certain aura.