It’s 8:48 on Saturday night. I’m home from Mom’s after doing hours of yard work in the hot sun. My feet have briefly soaked in cold water, an idea of my wife’s. I’m listening to Mike Rutherford’s Smallcreep’s Day, one of the coolest albums you probably have never heard, unless you’re one of that handful of musician and music-fanpage friends I’ve spoken to recently about it. It’s Mike’s first solo album, which he recorded with Anthony Phillips on keys. It’s one of my desert island albums, along with Duke by Genesis, Face Value by Phil Collins, Security by Peter Gabriel, and A Curious Feeling by Tony Banks, all released around the same time (1980ish). I also greatly love Drama by Yes and Wise After the Event by Anthony Phillips, also released around 1980.
1980 is a big year for me, musically. David Bowie. Gary Numan. The Police. Van Halen. Cheap Trick. Many of my musical tastes, which have persisted to this day, were developed around 1980. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite year altogether. A lot of music happened in the early 80s that I find utterly unlistenable. However, the 80s also generated some truly diverse sounds and albums. People were still taking chances around that time. Not quite as crazy as the stuff being recorded in 1967 or 1973, but still, pretty wild stuff. 1980 was a good year. Perhaps one of the last great years for pop music.
Smallcreep’s Day is important to me, not just because it’s one of the last truly extended compositions made by anyone in the Genesis camp, but because it’s made up of songs that flow together like they were meant to be together, and not just because of the story. It’s only half the album, but it’s a great half an album. They did something similar with Duke, where half the album was a concept album suite, but they spread it out over the whole album, with the other tracks feeling sort of like they might have been part of the suite, but weren’t. Duke is one of the last great classic concept albums, in my books. The thing that makes these albums (and Tony’s A Curious Feeling, also a concept album), is that they make a progressive rock statement with pop songs, something I’m trying to do with my upcoming album (almost done… almost done… I gotta keep telling myself it’s almost done so I don’t freak out at the looming deadline).
Basically, I’m a big fan of classic progressive rock extended compositions like Close To The Edge, Supper’s Ready, Fracture, The Gates of Delirium and other fun things like that. However, I’m not quite ready to compose one of those myself. I have one demoed; it’s called The Dreamer’s Symphony. I plan on working it up into a full composition in the next year or two and getting my old band Etcetera to perform it and a full progressive rock concept album with several other extended bits in it. I’m determined to make it my grand thesis statement, the album I started playing music to record. I may even go for a double album, just to get all of my long form pieces on there. The Great Wall. Monte’s Birthday Suite. Opus. Breathe. Bleed Into One. Up For Air.
I’m hoping the band will be back in harness and playing on all cylinders by that point, because I’ll have been making them perform Bisecting a Circumference and The Whole Other Half (and probably And Sew Fourth) on stage for about a year by that point. If anything can make them play better, it will be having two and a half hours of original material to rehearse and perform for a year. I’ll be making this work by any means possible, even if I have to bring in new musicians to help us get it done.
Anyway, I’m gonna slip upstairs and play the new tracks for derrick and see what he thinks. I’ll be posting this tomorrow morning after I get to Mom’s for more yard work. Thanks for reading.
Your tired Uncle Eddie.