When Echo & the Bunnymen emerged, in 1978, punk rock was turning the world upside down, making indulgent '70s rock instantly irrelevant with its exciting new sounds and ideas. At least, that's the official story — and certain '70s styles, like prog-rock, are deemed to have been especially uncool. The eradication of prog may have made sense to some in the '70s and '80s, but in 2011, punk and prog are both 30-to-40-year-old music made by societal misfits, right? "When I sit around the house, I don't play the Clash, really," Will Sergeant confesses, "or anybody like that. I'm more likely to throw on some prog, honestly. It's just more interesting!
Sergeant isn't alone: John "Rotten" Lydon has confessed to a childhood worship of Hawkwind and Van Der Graaf Generator, Captain Sensible of the Damned admits to having practically stalked Soft Machine in a fanboy haze, and Siouxsie Sioux has revealed an early obsession with Curved Air. So punkers and post-punkers who love prog are not as rare as they might seem. Here are six '70s prog masterpieces recommended by Sergeant himself:
JETHRO TULL | THIS WAS  | "Back then, you had to toe the line. I'd chime in with the odd 'I like Jethro Tull,' and everyone would be like, 'God, no!' But Tull were different, because everyone was all doing blues stuff and lame boogie-woogie, right? And then they have a tune like 'Song for Jeffrey,' and it's all Beefheart! They were big Beefheart fans, and you can see that, they took that sort of bluesy thing and made it freaky, which I loved."
PINK FLOYD | MEDDLE  | "Like I said earlier, I don't sit around and listen to punk too much, really. But I will play a record like Meddle. If I had to pick a desert-island disc, it would be something like that record, really!"
GENESIS | FOXTROT  | "I loved interesting and complex stuff, like Yes, and especially early Genesis, their stuff with Peter Gabriel. Like that tune "Supper's Ready" [a 20-plus-minute-long suite that made up the entire second side of Foxtrot], especially, that song is complex and wonderful."
YES | YESSONGS  | "Mac always hated prog, it was all Bowie, Lou Reed, Stooges for him. But I know he heard this stuff, because his brother was a prog-rocker. I remember he had Yessongs, the triple live album. I know Ian had that one. I love that album. He always claims that he hated it all. Who knows, maybe he did. He certainly hates it now!"
MIKE OLDFIELD | TUBULAR BELLS  | "I've been really digging Tubular Bells in the last few weeks. It's like so uncool, but I don't care! I loved it then, and I love it now."
KRAFTWERK | AUTOBAHN  | "Back when the band got big, you couldn't say, 'I'm into Emerson Lake & Palmer,' you'd be laughed off the front pages of NME. But you could still like Kraftwerk, who sort of spawned everything: rave, prog, etc. It was okay to like them if you were a punk, if you were a Bowie fan, all that stuff, you could like 'em. They were and are one of my favorites."
READ: "Keeping cool with early Echo & the Bunnymen" by Daniel Brockman
ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN + KELLY STOLTZ | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | May 9 @ 7 pm | 18+ | $29.50 | 888.562.8800