music, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 1: The MTV generation

Episode description: We wanted our MTV. We got our MTV. We got Nirvana. Then we got pushed aside by the Millennials while the Boomers kept an iron grip on things. We’re Generation X, and this podcast is going to amplify our voices.

Links from this episode:


Slate on progressive rock — the music that never ends

Slate’s Dave Wiegel is doing a series on the pomp, circumstance, fascination and absurdity of progressive rock. Today, a good bit of King Crimson:

The rise of prog: King Crimson, Keith Emerson, and the futurist sounds of the 1970s. – Slate Magazine.

Which reminds me to go back and take a look at my take on King Crimson and the Strangest Man in the History of Rock, Jamie Muir. (Updated once again to get an actual video.)

music, videos

Tunes of the Weird: King Crimson

It’s a pity YouTube doesn’t have the Sesame Street bit with the great Chinese pianist Lang Lang auditioning for the Grouch Symphony Orchestra. He plays a wonderfully sensitive bit from Rachmaninoff, then a dazzling, playful bit of Lizst, only to be told by Oscar that the orchestra hates beautiful music. In frustration, he slams his elbows on the piano. That, of course, gets him in, and he plays a concerto for orchestra and two elbows in E very flat minor.

UPDATE: It’s posted now!

Bob, who has been watching the whole scene, tells Lang Lang he doesn’t have to do this.

Lang Lang, who has remarkable comic delivery in his non-native language, responds: “But it’s so interesting …”

That leads us to an occasional new series here, Tunes of the Weird. And the first entry is certainly interesting. It’s King Crimson’s Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, as performed on a Belgian or possibly German TV show in 1972 or possibly 1973.

The song itself, a violent collision of prog and jazz that’s inexplicably catchy, is interesting in its own right. But you have to see the video to see the five guys behind it, including the weirdest guy I’ve ever seen in rock. Or classical. Or whatever they’re playing.

I won’t need to tell you which guy it is. Watch, then I’ll fill you in on the other guys.

(Beat Club has made the video available on YouTube, but I’m not allowed to embed it. So watch.)

You guessed it. They’re all weird.

But the one with the bird calls and the whistle is the most wonderfully eccentric person you’re likely to see in music, Jamie Muir.

Sadly, he didn’t stay in music long, as he explains in this interview. He took up Buddhism and went to a monastery in Scotland. Yes, apparently, there are Buddhist monasteries in Scotland. He returned briefly to music but is now painting. I think I’d pay to watch that.

As for the rest of the band, we have …

– Robert Fripp, the stern-faced guitarist and the only guy who has managed to stay in King Crimson for the duration.

– John Wetton, who seems entirely too free-spirited to play bass in this band but would later seem entirely too uptight to sing in Asia.

– Bill Bruford, the jazz-influenced drummer who had already played on Yes’ classic work but dressed as if he were auditioning for Hee-Haw.

– Then there’s David Cross …

Uh, no, he was eight years old at that time. This would be the rock violinist David Cross. I’m guessing that description fits only one person.

As I recall, on the studio version, the violin was in tune. Here, it’s not. I can think of three possible explanations:

1. He screwed up.

2. Fripp was pissed off at the audience and wanted to “challenge” the listener with dissonance.

3. Cross was pissed off at Fripp and did it out of revenge.

And somehow, the song actually sticks in your head a little. Well, mine, anyway. Yours too? No?

But … it’s so Interesting …