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I come at this from two points of view. 1] I'm a 54-year-old American who grew up devouring and playing prog rock. 2] I'm an enormous fan of audiobooks. Bonus: I'm a fan of Dave Weigel's political commentary and reportage.
It just doesn't come together here at all. I get that Weigel is a megafan of prog. But his writing about it is hampered by a pretty glaring lack of basic knowledge about music in general. His descriptions of famous songs are plodding and sophomoric — and often plain wrong. Meanwhile, he provides scant details about the creation of some of the most impressive and challenging music ever recorded.
He gives some interesting insights into the lives of a few key musicians — mostly about the sex and drugs, less about the rock 'n' roll. Perhaps it's because I just finished listening to Mark Lewisohn's "Tune In, Volume I" about the early years of the Beatles, but it just feels that Weigel is out of his depth here. This is a labor of love, to be sure. But if prog rock has taught us anything, it's that labors of love rarely connect with an audience.
The bigger problem by far, though, is the narration. Rudy Sanda really has no business reading professionally. This sounds harsh, I know. But, I paid good money to have a book read to me by a professional. And that didn't happen.
For starters, Sanda refuses to pronounce the letter "T" at all. And not in the cool British way. No, this is the post valleygirl way. "Great Britain" becomes "Gray Bri—in." And "Manha—in." This is inexcusable.
Worse, he mangles the many European names he has to pronounce — including some English ones — and at one point refers hilariously to a "Bach FOO-gay."
The word is "fugue."
When reading quotes by British musicians, he affects an accent only about a quarter of the time. And not particularly well. He reads sentences as if it's the first time he's ever encountered them. Pauses curiously long after every period. And I swear I can hear his voice changing.
Why the producers didn't select a British reader with a bit more gravitas — especially considering the primary focus of the book is the birth of a musical genre in Canterbury, England — is unfathomable to me. I mean, if prog rock has taught us anything, it's that the voice is everything.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
very interesting tale of the classics bands. I learned so much about their conceptions, challenges, how they created some of the music and how their fame grew and dwindled for some.
Unfortunately the modern era of prog is sloppily squeezed into last chapter barely scraping the surface of what has actually happened since approx. the late 80s. But one might claim they're not prog rock bands in the old sense.
Sometimes though the telling of the history has been a little haphazardly put together and explains things briefly over a large period of time, followed by an event that then focuses on one or two specific times. The lack of chronological order makes it a little confusing if you're not really paying attention. In some regards it's downright misleading. the telling of dream theater's development for example was a mess (but that's part of the poorly put together last chapter so...)
Narration is OK. Sound quality is great. I just would have preferred an English narrator over an American for this particular book. I mean the majority is about English bands in English places. And I won't even mention the attempted accents.
I enjoyed it overall don't get me wrong. I did learn a lot about classic prog. I just think the writer should have quit while they were ahead and not gone into modern era at all. And the narration could have been done better to make it perfect.
''Tis good however it features heavily on a few bands. ELP YES King Crimson and Robert Fripp etc. Could have more on some other bands such as Pink Floyd. Some missed.
Some accents (there are not a huge amount) are off putting Ian Anderson does not have a Scottish accent!! but....
Worth a listen