Dr. Progresso Home

This site was launched in late 1997 in collaboration with my long-time friend and the proprietor of both Hole in the Wall Books and holeintheweb.com, Michael Nally, who is was the webmaster. It has always been my self-indulgence, a website in which I could discuss exactly what I wanted to, without any compensation except the pleasure I receive from your responses.

Since I launched this site a number of things have happened to me. I lost my (third) wife and a job I’d had for several years in the same week. I wrote a (mystery) novel. And for a year I was a Channel Manager for the Collecting Channel. As the author as well as the editor of the Music Channel I occasionally made use of material I'd presented here first, but the vast majority of my pieces (written daily) were entirely original to the Collecting Channel, and I took particular pride in a multipart series on King Crimson which included Robert Fripp's denial (to me) that he had ever participated in Brain, the pre-KC band which made one single for Parlophone. (He said it was the Giles brothers, but not him, despite an entry to the contrary in THE TAPESTRY OF DELIGHTS, by Vernon Joynson. A letter to Joynson was returned as undeliverable.)
During my year with the Collecting Channel this website took a back seat. Now I hope to regain my previous schedule.

As a rule I try to post one new review here each week, but conflicts in my schedule or Michael’s can sometimes cause interruptions. I also try to balance my reviews between jazz and rock, between new releases and overviews of older releases, and as well between my own different enthusiasms (I like both the Beach Boys and Third Stream music).

I’ve been getting letters since the site was launched and I’ve always intended to use some of them here. The letters which follow offer a variety of points of view and some good information.

Dear Mr. White:

I greatly enjoyed reading your Sauter-Finegan page today, and thought you might like to know:

I received quite a shock when, at my local (Tacoma) Borders Books Cd department, I found a 2nd Sauter-Finegan CD, THE BEST OF SAUTER-FINEGAN, on Collectors' Choice/BMG Special Products #CCM-078-2. It is available, I assume, at www.ccmusic.com.

All tracks were mastered from the original 30 and 15 ips tapes, and the last 3 tracks appear for the first time in true stereo! Tracks are:

1. Doodletown Fifers 2. The Moon is Blue 3. Of Thee I Sing 4. Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum 5. Hit the Road to Dreamland 6. Now that I'm in Love 7. Yankee Doodletown 8. Love is a Simple Thing 9. Nina Never Knew 10. Child's Play 11. April in Paris 12. Doodletown Races 13. Rain 14. Horseplay 15. Got a Date with an Angel 16. Midnight Sleighride 17. Exactly Like You 18. Have You Met Miss Jones? (stereo) 19. Paradise (stereo) 20. Aren't You Glad You're You? (stereo)

A fair amount of overlap with the Bluebird disc (which I purchased in a cut-out bin for $3, by the way!), but still a fine addition, with much improved sound.

Happy listening!

--Matt Lutthans Cinerama Society of Seattle Everett, WA

Thanks for bringing this disc to my attention, Matt. Checking its lineup against that of the Bluebird collection, there are only six pieces which appear on both discs (out of 19 on DIRECTIONS IN MUSIC, and 20 on THE BEST OF S-F). They are "Doodletown Fifers," "Love Is A Simple Thing," "Nina Never Knew," "April In Paris," "Horseplay," and "Midnight Sleighride" ("Moonlight Sleighride" on the Bluebird disc). Most of the other tracks on THE BEST OF S-F appear to be singles, rather than album tracks -- but the final three (those in stereo) are all from STRAIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE (LPM-1497), their final original album for RCA-Victor, released (in mono only) in 1957.

Sauter-Finegan released one 10" and eight 12" LPs (one of which was that 10" album with the addition of four more tracks, taken from two contemporaneous singles) between 1953 and 1957. Several of these were concept albums of one sort or another, and much more than 90% of the material on these albums remains unreissued. --Dr. P

Dear Ted White,

What a joy to find your postings on the Web. I grew up shaped by King Crimson, following my discovery of IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING in 1971 when I was 14. Quickly I became a progressive rocker following Yes, Genesis, and ELP. By 1979 I had dumped rock for jazz and classical. Now, I am discovering 1950s Cool, which is a revelation. I can't believe it is such a secret from the world. Having spent many years trying to love the New York Beboppers, worshiping speed and musical pyrotechnics, but always finding it repetitive and limited because of its fetish for improvisation and virtuoso soloing, I am now finding out that the more composed works of the West Coast white boys have a lot to offer. The harmonies, light heartedness, and compositional variety are exciting after having grown weary of the endless jam sessions. Having explored Brubeck, Getz, and especially Mulligan, I am now turning to Shorty Rogers and Jimmy Giuffre, who led me to you and your excellent review of the Mosaic compilation. I will have to buy it. I have made the mistake of already buying the GIUFFRE 3 album with Hall and Pena as well as the HOLLYWOOD AND NEWPORT 1957-58 CD released by Fresh Sound Records in 1992. It mushes together live performances of some Pena and Brookmeyer 3 recordings. A mistake. I also just bought the JIMMY GIUFFRE: THE COMPLETE 1947-1953 SMALL GROUP SESSIONS, Vol's 1-3" put out by Blue Moon Producciones Discograficass. P.O. Box 90155. Barcelona (Spain). (I found them advertised at the University of California, Irvine Bookstore site. They are a mixed bag. Giuffre's gifts as a composer and ballad player come through only rarely -- perhaps he hadn't yet matured? I wish I had found the Capital collection first. I wanted the Brookmeyer recordings more than anything. I have never heard the first two records on it that you particularly admire. Many thanks for your review -- and particularly your sensibility: one I find mirrors my own. (I love the 3rd Stream album, particularly the Evans and Dolphy solos.) Keep posting your jazz reviews. I will look for them.

Joshua Landis

Visiting Prof.

Princeton University

Thanks, Josh. I found two of those three volumes of early Giuffre at a Planet Records store a couple of years ago and I think they are must-haves – once you’ve gotten seriously into Giuffre. But they are archival – early singles recorded with a variety of combos. I particularly like the proto-rock ‘n’ roll of some of the pieces. For 1952 and thereabouts they are seminal. Naturally what you get is a younger, less matured musician. But Giuffre goes back to 1947 and the Woody Herman Herd days ("Four Brothers") and has always shown evidence of his great talents. As for the Cool jazz of the fifties, a good deal of it is now being reissued – but with huge holes. I have to say that so far only the surface has been scratched. –Dr. P

Dear Ted,

I just discovered your Web Site while at work on the night shift and wanted to commend you for your rare insights into and persuasive reasoning about progressive music.

In particular, I found your definition of progressive rock to be the most cogent and accurate of any I've read, and your observations on why the U.S. has yet to produce progressive music of any distinction (contrary to the wishful thinking -- or self-delusion -- of most neo-prog and "experimental"/ambient fans) to be right on target.

I also share your enthusiasm for Italian music and think it's probably the most advanced as a whole of any national progressive movement. I, too, go back a bit and purchased Crimson, Cressida, High Tide, Gentle Giant, Curved Air, etc., etc. recordings when they came out starting some thirty years ago. (British music was all we here in the Midwest knew of at the time.)

I'm anxious to read more of your material and, if you're interested, compare notes on what I'm sure we both consider to be the most significant - and rewarding - music of our lifetime.

Rick Rozoff

Chicago

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Any idea what the heck most of the after crying/townscream albums are

about? Nice reviews, by the way. Amazing bands.

Ian Sewell

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Well, I don’t speak (or read) Hungarian, but both the first and sixth After Crying albums were in English, and I think this – at least in the form of bilingual liner notes – will be the standard with their future releases. It’s obvious they want to reach an audience well beyond that of their own country. For more on these bands, see the next letter. –Dr. P

Dear Dr.Progresso, dear Ted!

Your site is one of a kind. I really like it. As I have observed you really like After Crying, and Vedres Csaba as well. I do not know if you have been informed about Vedres's new formation, [Townscream – this letter was written before I’d posted my review.] but you may find useful infos about it as well, if you visit my unofficial After Crying website. Well I'm a beginner webmaster by now, so it may contain some deflections, but stands out anyway. Please reply me what is missing, what you and the other progressive music lovers may wish to find on it. (The songbooks are not yet finished completely, and I plan to attach a row-translation in English to each of the Hungarian songs.)

Benedek Farkasházy

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Benedek has been quite helpful in supplying information about After Crying and Townscream (some of which can be found appended to the appropriate reviews now), and he has a good site – when you can access it. I have been unable to do that for a while now, and my last email to him bounced back, so I’m not certain about the present state of his site. (Perhaps he will read this and get back in touch. I hope so.) --Dr. P

Ted,

I just saw your review of ENDLESS HARMONY on the Dr. Progresso site. I'm the guy that wrote the liner notes for the album. I wanted to say thank you for a very complimentary review of the album, but also address a couple of points you made.

You wrote:

There are two absolute throw-aways on the album, both mercifully short: "Radio Concert Promo" 1 and 2. They consist of Dennis Wilson (#1) and Alan Jardine (#2) trying, and failing, to be funny. (The Beach Boys' attempts at recorded humor were always embarrassingly adolescent but these spots are even more lame.) Oddly, the liner notes say "and that's Brian poking fun at [Dennis], telling him he 'wouldn't pay two cents to see you,'" but in fact we never hear that in the promo.

The reason you never get to hear that line in the promo is that the wrong promo spot got mastered in! The mistake wasn't discovered until after the first copies were rolling off the press. A corrected master tape was quickly made and substituted in at the first opportunity. If you buy a copy now, you ought to get the correct spot that included Brian's line that he "wouldn't pay two cents to see you."

Needless to say, that makes the first (uncorrected) copies collector's items, so hang on to the one you reviewed. :-)

"Surfer Girl (Binaural Version)" is a new mix of Brian's first ballad, with the vocals and the backing track "separated as much as possible." It is one of the two previously-released tracks (albeit not in this mix). It's nice, but not special.

Actually, that very mix has been previously released, although quite by accident. It showed up on a Capitol Starline reissue single in the early 1970s. Obviously, the mono mix of the song should have been used on that 45, but somebody pulled the wrong tape. So the credit for it having been previously released is 100 percent accurate.

"Wonderful/Don't Worry, Bill (Live)" (1972) documents that brief period of a few years when the Beach Boys included two former members of the South African "coloured" group, The Flame -- Ricky Fataar and Blondie Chaplin. Carl Wilson had discovered the group and produced their album, THE FLAME, for the Brother Records label. But for some reason the album, recorded in DynaQuad at about the same time as SUNFLOWER, was not distributed by Reprise (as the Beach Boys' Brother Records albums were) but rather by Starday-King. I have a promo copy, but I'm not sure the album was ever officially released -- ROLLING STONE claimed at the time that it was not.

Although it did not receive widespread distribution, the album in fact was officially released. There are just too many stock copies of the album in circulation for it not to have been. (I have one in my collection.)

(Speaking of historical live recordings, I have a crappy copy-of-a-copy soundboard dub from the Beach Boys' jam with the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore East, and I'd love to hear a proper release of that concert.)

You and a lot of other people! Unfortunately, any commercial release of that concert will have to come from the Grateful Dead's camp. Because the jam took place at a Dead concert (and not a Beach Boys show), the rights to the tapes belong to the Dead. The Beach Boys don't even have a copy of them in their archive!

This CD release is tied in with a VH-1 cable-TV special, which I haven't seen (thus the word "soundtrack" in the album title). If this is in fact the soundtrack of that special, it must be well worth seeing -- and perhaps may be released on video.

The documentary is being released on both VHS tape and DVD disc in August. The DVD disc may include up to an hour's worth of extra material, as well as the 105-minute special.

Brad Elliott

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Thanks, Brad. Feedback like yours is exactly what I was looking for when I started this site. That review also appeared in Paul Williams’ CRAWDADDY (he commissioned it, in fact) and I have forwarded your letter to him. –Dr. P

Hi!

You have written some excellent progressive rock reviews. I especially enjoyed the reviews of Supersister. It contained a lot of interesting information. It seems to me that you are old enough to be there when it happened, you lucky guy!

Well, keep on progin'!

Tommy Schönenberg

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http://home.tiscali.no/progforest/

Well, Tommy, I was damned lucky to be around for a variety of things – but the thing to keep in mind is that something is Always happening, in any year or era. A time will come when you look back on the music and events you’ve experienced and you will feel the same way about them: damned lucky to have been there for them. –Dr. P

Ted,

Just an email from an avid progressive rock fan who really enjoyed reading through your reviews. I was impressed at your choice of bands, nearly all of whom I have some interest in. I couldn't believe there was a review of Townscream out there, not to mention Corte dei Miracoli and Par Lindh. All of those were great and very informative, as was your breakdown of the Italian progressive movements. Excellent!

But hold on...I really didn't appreciate your rather shortsighted view of what you label "neo-progressive". I will certainly agree that there are some overly-slick and copycat artists, but there are in other forms of progressive music, too. Your dismissal of Marillion as a total Genesis clone is rather embarrassing, indicating that maybe you should listen to more of it before blowing off hasty generalizations -- a logic fallacy, no less -- for all the world to see. But that's okay, I guess...everyone blunders in their lives once or twice.

I look forward to seeing more reviews from you, and would also like to know if you have an email list I could get on to for future info and reviews. I also am a rather opinionated person who loves to review stuff, and was wondering if I could send you a few some time.

Chris Hargrove

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Well, Chris, there’s a saying on the Internet: "Your mileage may vary." In fact, I own all but the most recent Marillion albums, along with perhaps all by IQ and entirely too many by Pendragon, so my opinion was not a "hasty generalization." There was a grim period for prog fans in the mid-eighties when neo-prog was all you could find, and of course we snapped it up. Then the CD revolution inspired massive waves of reissues and – faced with the choice of what to buy – I spent my money on Italian reissues, along with the French and German reissues when they began appearing. (And now the South American reissues are a presence in the market. I’ll have to review some of the Brazilian and Mexican bands here sooner or later. But I can tell you right now that the Mexican band Cast is neo-prog – and you might like it.)

By no means do I regard all progressive rock to be of the same nature or quality – I tend to write here about those bands and albums which I admire and recommend, of course. And in neo-prog there is a similar variation in quality and substance. But – as a generalization! – I don’t care for most of it. Groups like Strangers on a Train leave me relatively cold, as do many of the modern Italian bands who record for Mellow. Neo-prog seems to me almost by definition to be inferior to the Original Thing, a product of people who have learned the vocabulary but haven’t found much to say with it. Neo-Wagnerian, most of it, and as empty as much of the bombastic Romantic music of the 19th Century was. Times change but some things don’t.

As for your final query, for the time being I’m not accepting outside contributions to these pages – except here – and unfortunately I haven’t the time to maintain a separate email list. As I said at the top, I try to post one new review each week. These usually go up by Monday.

So bookmark this site and come back every week or so to find something new. (This week it’s this letters page but next week I’ll have another new review.) –Dr. P

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