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100 songs - number 1

chainmailmaiden has this thing on livejournal whereby every so often she posts about one of her favourite songs. She does it in far more depth than I'm likely to and far more eloquently, but I like the idea so I'm going to do the same. Or at least I'm going to start. I might get bored. (You might get bored too, but you can just scroll past...)

So here's the first of my One Hundred Songs. Actually, it's not a song, but an instrumental piece by 70s/80s (actually I saw them live in the early 90s after a few lineup changes) classical / prog fusion supergroup Sky.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 'Toccata':

Believe it or not, this got to number 6 in the charts. Sky at this time was John 'Britain's Greatest Ever Classical Guitarist' Williams, Curved Air keyboardist Francis Monkman (I've always thought that there weren't enough harpsichords in rock), bass player Herbie Flowers (who played the bass on Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side and Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds, but also wrote 'Grandad' for Clive Dunn...), drummer Tristan Fry (he may be uncool but I like a drummer who really hits the drums hard) and guitarist Kevin Peek.

For a long time in my childhood, I had a strange aversion to music with words and much preferred instrumentals. When my dad first got a car with a tape player, this album ('Sky 2') was the first cassette he bought me and so we spent many a long drive (visiting relatives in the Midlands for example) listening to Sky.

Of course, if you got into the top 10 in Britain in the 70s, there's a good chance you'd be asked to perform on Top of the Pops:



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 23rd, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)
Great to see Herbie Flowers in action - I've loved his work since War of the Worlds, but never actually seen him till now.

And great to see such an enthusiastic drummer. It's said that Ringo inspired many young drummers simply because he looked as though he was enjoying himself so much, and Tristan Fry's exuberance must surely have encouraged a few youngsters to pick up the sticks.

Musically, it's a nice piece, but suffers a bit from the obvious comparison to Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Fanfare for the Common Man". ELP's track scores over this on two points. First, it riffs off a relatively obscure 20th century composition, rather than one of the two or three most obvious classical pieces, and secondly it is rather more musically adventurous. (My gauge of the latter point is whether or not a piece of music has bits that make my wife go "what the fuck is this shit?", which may not be the most musicologically sound criterion.)

Still, very enjoyable stuff, and further evidence that the NME-approved official history that prog died of embarrassment the day "Anarchy in the UK" came out is very far from the truth.
Nov. 23rd, 2012 03:31 am (UTC)
I love Sky, my Dad used to listen to them :-) Tristan Fry's drumming is great.

Dec. 6th, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC)
My Dad too :-) I'm sure we had this album at home, and I agree about the drummer. My brother was a big fan of non/less-wordy instrumental type stuff too, so I heard a lot of ELO, Jean Michel Jarre etc in my youth, not forgetting of course "...and tuuubulaar bells!" :-D
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )