This weekend I’ll be guesting on Highs in the 70s: Progressive Rock on WXPN in Philadelphia . It’s among a series of irregularly scheduled retro shows they run. It’s going to be an 8-hour marathon, from 10AM til 6PM on Saturday, January 3. I’ll be in for the first half, Chuck Van Zyl from Star’s End will be on in the second half and the whole thing is being run by WXPN’s Dan Reed and his cohort, Biff Kennedy.
These progressive rock retroscursions are always an interesting exercise for me. I was a progressive rock zealot in the 1970s and that music informs much of what I listen to today and play on Echoes. It keeps coming up in unusual situations with musicians you might never suspect citing progressive rock acts from the 1970s as influences. Ulrich Schnauss can name Tangerine Dream tracks just from the opening applause. Toby Marks of Banco De Gaia lifts mellotron samples inspired by Genesis. Steve Roach had a poster of Yes‘s Tales from Topographic Oceans in his studio. The Album Leaf references Neu!, The Dandy Warhols pay homage to Can and everyone bows at the altar of Pink Floyd.
It’s been about 30 years since I last spun Progressive Rock on WXPN’s Diaspar show and I don’t go back and listen to a lot of this music now. Certain artists, like Steve Tibbetts, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno remain in my music life, while others like Genesis, Nektar, and Tangerine Dream have diminished in relevance. I still enjoy it when I hear it. I just don’t feel compelled to hear it.
But I’ll be inundated with it for a few hours this Saturday. Outside of the odd fundraising retro-special on PBS, this may be the widest exposure that Progressive rock has had in the US in about 25 years. At least, I’m not aware of any major market radio station with an audience of over 300,000 dedicating a lot of time to progressive rock. I don’t know what music I’ll actually get to, but I’ll have a bag with recordings from Hawkwind, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, Steve Hillage, Can and many more.
So if you want to take a trip to the fantasyland of prog, tune in to WXPN at 88.5 FM or on-line at http://xpn.org
John Diliberto (((echoes)))