Arriving Somewhere

I heard Badger on Deep Tracks last night.

Now on their second album, they were fronted by Jackie Lomax.  I never got Lomax in his Apple days, but this album resonated.  But the group had already broken up by time the record came out.

But I didn’t hear anything from "White Lady" last night, rather the track was from Badger’s debut, "One Live Badger".  Yes, their debut was a live album.  And I bought it, because I was infatuated with Yes, and Badger’s Tony Kaye was in the initial incarnation of Yes.

And I’m driving down Beverly Boulevard, past the suddenly shuttered Hard Rock Cafe (when did that happen), grooving to the prog-rock, and Badger segues into Porcupine Tree.

Four or five years ago, when Porcupine Tree was still on Atlantic, their manager, Andy Leff, sent me a boxed set of their old stuff, cut between ’91 and ’97, entitled "Stars Die: The Delirium Years".  And there’s a track on that album, the very first I seem to remember, that will blow your mind, take you back to lying high on the bed in your mother’s house, listening to music, having it take you away, from all the problems, all the bullshit, to a better place.  That’s what music does, it releases you, it makes you powerful.

Now I’ve got almost 12,000 tracks in my iTunes library.  If I let them play out, it would take longer than a month.  But every once in a while, one of these tracks pops up on my iPod and surprises me.

This is what happened last week in the mountains…

It was like a spaceship descended from heaven, and an alien emerged with his hand open, to retrieve me, to take me to where I truly belonged.  And we’re flying high above Santa Monica Bay, and we’re looking out the windows of the ship, down at all the lights of the city, I’m like Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters", I’m gone, and I’m happy about it!

So I’m tapping my fingers on the steering wheel of my Saab on Beverly Boulevard, reliving the seventies, when prog-rock ruled, and a new to me, unknown Porcupine Tree song, has me grooving in the same way.

I’m driving to KLSX, to do my high-pitched talk show, but I could just as easily follow this music to Bakersfield, to parts unknown.

I’d like to tell you "Arriving Somewhere" is as good as "Radioactive Toy", the ten minute epic from "Stars Die".  Unfortunately, it isn’t.  And I can’t find "Radioactive Toy" on the Web.  But I can find last night’s cut, "Arriving Somewhere".

Go to: Porcupine Tree Click on the second track.

Don’t wear your Clive Davis hat.  Don’t tell me how long it takes to get to the chorus.  Just turn out the lights, and drift.

Oh, the track starts out with a Pink Floyd-ish dreamy feel.  But then it comes alive about two minutes in, with the treated vocal of Steve Wilson.  But really, you’ve got to stay in until 3:12, when the change begins, until 3:32, when the chorus starts, when you emerge into the field, to meet your brethren.

Prog-rock wasn’t made for the radio, wasn’t made for the advertisers, it was made for the fans!  I mean how can you air a song that takes as long as a hit track lasts to reach the hook?  Advertisements are only thirty seconds long!

Acts like Porcupine Tree don’t play background music.  They don’t play music to get dressed and dance to.  They play music that sets you free.  You’re accepted as you are.  Fat or thin, clear-skinned or zit-laden.  The music is a religion that enters your heart and gives you something to believe in.

With stuff like this so hard to sell, the majors have avoided it.

But this is the powerful sound.  This is the sound that makes people believers, that makes them buy all the music and come to the show year after year.

This is a read-only blog. E-mail comments directly to Bob.