Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from hundreds of stories and suggestions on last week’s callout. Thanks for taking part. Read more about how our weekly series works at the end of the piece.
When choosing this week’s topic, I neglected to take into account that period, in the early 1970s, when suburban, middle-class music fans keen to impress with their intellectual prowess listened to what is now termed prog rock. We – mostly men – would don greatcoats, grow our hair into greasy bangs and wander around with album covers under our arms in the vain hope girls would marvel at our good taste and braininess in liking Uriah Heep or Gnidrolog.
Many songs of the era – extended and twisted into epics with changes of pace or instrumentation – were nominated and, reluctantly at first, a list slanted towards the genre began to form.
This was the music of my youth. The first part of my playlist is comprised of some of the prog’s most grandiose recordings. Call it nostalgia, call it madness, call it what you will, I make no apologies for including so much of this neglected genre (and its close relatives, heavy metal). Easy listening it is not, but now, in my dotage, I find it worthy of another play when the mood takes me – please do give prog a chance:
1. Deep Purple: Child in Time
2. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Ramble Tamble
3. Van der Graaf Generator: The Sleepwalkers
4. Genesis: The Musical Box
5. Moody Blues: Question
6. Magnum: The Spirit
7. Metallica: Fade to Black
This is supposedly literate music, its proponents “well-educated”, middle-class and fond of obscure books. The subject matter of the songs is often mystical or mythical. Strange really. Why were they singing about elves, wizards and pixies? The music, though, is complex, influenced by the classical and, of course, often full of twists, turns and odd time signatures.
The second part of the list is comprised of three songs that are marvellous but difficult to fit into a playlist. So consider them your chance to go an make a cup of tea or take a “bathroom break” after the marathon of the proggers.
8. Sparks: Dick Around
9. Alzheimer: Vaporum Purpura
10. The Fall: Winter
Bringing up the rear is the dance section. Prog rockers didn’t dance; a nod of the head was about as physical as it got. Time was spent listening intently to the records or studying the covers for hidden meaning or, perhaps, attempting to decipher the runes on the book jacket of The Lord of the Rings.
When disco came along, the advent of the 12-inch single meant songs could be made longer, giving more time to jiggle around. This led to some truly magnificent productions, a few of which I have chosen here in my get-down-and-boogie section, along with one more contemporary track that caught my ear and a fine piece of Africana.
11. Lorde: Green Light
12. Donna Summer: On the Radio
13. Voyage: Souvenirs
14. Somo Somo and Mose Se Sengo Fan Fan: Kizolele
15. Carpenters: Goodbye to Love
You will note that we end the dance, as is the tradition, with a slow number. Time to get your coats.
Not all songs appear on our Spotify playlist, as some are unavailable on the service.
New theme: how to join in
The next theme will be announced at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 15 March. You will have until 11pm on Monday 19 March to submit nominations.
Here is a reminder of some of the guidelines for Readers recommend: