A New Day Yesterday – UK Progressive Rock & the 1970s

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Omnibuss Press, 2020)

Karakter: 5/6

A New Day book cover.jpgThe brilliantly titled “A New Day Yesterday” by Mike Barnes is a magnificently in-depth study of British 70s prog rock and bears all the trademarks of a true labor of love on the part of the author. This warm and funny account of one of the most marvelous and often-times misunderstood musical eras is sufficiently detailed and elaborate to make you sit up and really take notice and yet somehow it feels concise and to the point too. On top of that, the humor and subtle hints of sarcasm shine through in all the right places and that goes for the author's personal anecdotes and remembrances as well. When considering how well-composed and passionate the 616-page tome is, one cannot but help feeling that this is a superb and heartfelt tribute to all the greats ala Caravan, King Crimson, ELP, Yes, Soft Machine, Camel, Gentle Giant, Rick Wakeman, Genesis, Procol Harum, and so on and so forth.

“A New Day Yesterday” primarily chronicles the late 60s (and that includes psychedelic rock and proto-prog) and the first half of the 70s, which makes perfect sense as those were undoubtedly the most pivotal and pioneering years in terms of progressive rock music. It evokes an almost poignant sense of a glorious period in British musical history that spawned so many wonderful records and songs that still resonate today. Barnes' thorough examination of progressive UK music from that bygone era is an exhaustive and utterly informative read, and there is an awful lot to absorb here even for those of you who consider yourself connoisseurs of the genre. One of the best parts of the this exquisite literary work is that it casts various different bands and musicians in a new light thanks to the enlightening interviews. Perhaps the best part of “A New Day Yesterday” is that it made me go back and listen to some of those albums from a different perspective, which is to say that the book made me appreciate certain aspects of LPS and groups and whatnot even more than I already did beforehand. Many of the interviews have a disarming honesty to them, and I found it deeply fascinating to learn more about the artists' ambitions and aspirations, their goals and visions, and what they wished to convey by means of sound and lyrics.

“A New Day Yesterday” is an engaging and thought-provoking piece that moves beyond and transcends the grandeur of the fabulous music in that it touches on and discusses the politics of the time, the (ab)use of drugs, the influx of different artistic ideals and modes of thought in Britain at the time, the London freak scene, the nature and importance of festivals in the 70s, and perhaps most importantly, why so many fans and listeners were so attracted to the long, epic, and sprawling compositions of Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Van Der Graaf Generator, and all the rest of those outfits. Why were they sucked into the swirling mass of melodies, complex arrangements, and clever songwriting in the first place? Why was (and is) prog rock so appealing? Mike Barnes has produced a book that is as inspiring as it is inspired and it illustrates and encapsulates the timelessness of British prog rock brilliantly while providing both answers and questions to all things prog.


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