Tag Archives: Roger Dean

December 9th 1974

“Started to write in Dairy again. Occasional Holiday from School. Went to Southampton and bought Xmas Cards Pressies. Wrote some Xmas Cards to people”


Somewhat ironically given the content of this entry, this would prove to be my last scribblings in the 1974 diary.

Annoyingly, the dearth of entries over the summer, autumn and winter periods means that I am unable to properly express my reaction to starting sixth form college following the “ahem* successes of my O-Level results.

I can tell you that I opted to continue at Barton Peveril, which was still in its transition stage from being a Secondary School into a full Sixth Form College.

The new school year meant that I joined the “1st year 6th”, bringing with it both freedom from any kind of school uniform and a whole influx of new friends (and some foes). The college brought 16 or 17 year-old kids in from the surrounding secondary schools and with some of those people a new set of influences and distractions arrived. (The distractions were generally housed in a female form)

I chose a peculiar triumvirate of ‘A’ (Advanced) Level subjects to study. The first was Technical Drawing, something I vaguely enjoyed at Ordinary Level and one of the few subjects I successfully passed. The second was Art, not because I was in any way talented in the subject (I wasn’t) but because I felt it would be a subject in which I could express myself as well as gather with people who, like me, were interested in music and films. (I was also eager to become a “graphic artist”, my head doubtless swayed by the works of record sleeve designers such as Roger Dean or photographers like Mick Rock)

My third subject was an undoubted mistake. I took English Literature. I think I stuck with it one term (semester) before dumping it off my schedule (the 1975 diary may prove enlightening in this respect). I quickly realised that none of the literature we were exploring in the classes was material I was even vaguely interested in reading, let alone discussing.

The (eventual) lack of all those English lessons meant I had many mornings and afternoons free to spend around other like-minded ‘slackers’ in the college’s “common room” a space put aside where people congregated to drink tea/coffee, play records and generally do very little other than lounge about on vinyl-upholstered chairs and sofas.

I do believe that this “common room” – somewhere I shall probably refer to regularly during 1975 and early 1976 – was more of a place of ‘education’ for me than any of the classrooms. Here, I listened to more music than I could ever imagine and was introduced to lots of new (to me) stuff like R&B, Soul and early German electronica. I interacted with not only my own ‘lower sixth’ classmates but also those students who were a year older in the ‘upper sixth’. I started to come out of my shell more and was able to express myself without feeling reserved or withdrawn. In short, I guess my time in the 6th Form helped me to “grow up”?!

In terms of this project I can’t help feeling – as you may – disappointed that my 1974 diary yielded so little. However, I hope what I have managed to share has been fun to read and that you’ve found my meanderings a satisfactory and entertaining distraction.

On then… to 1975…

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under 1974 Diary Entries

(1974 Album) Yes – Tales from Topographic Oceans

We move from one the finest ever rock operas in “Quadrophenia” to one of the dodgiest concept albums in existence. However, as dodgy as the concept of “Tales from Topographic Oceans” undoubtedly is (based on no more than a footnote from ancient Shastric scriptures) it remains – somewhat bizarrely – my favourite ever Yes album.

I’ll be honest and say that my attraction to this album was enhanced by the terrific cover art by Roger Dean. Although he had been working with the band for some time and had produced other beautiful covers for them, “…Topographic..” was the first time I REALLY noticed his artistic skills.

Skills which I openly admit I tried to emulate. Skills and ideas which – at least from the previews I have seen – James Cameron appears to be ripping off wholesale for the general appearance of vistas in his new movie “Avatar

The album itself is a four-part opus split over two slabs of vinyl. The four cuts are as eccentrically named as the album itself…

“The Revealing Science of God (Dance of the Dawn)” (Part One / Part Two)
“The Remembering (High the Memory)” (Part One / Part Two)
“The Ancient (Giants under the Sun)” (Part One / Part Two)
“Ritual (Nous Sommes du Soleil)” (Part One / Part Two)

… and none can be strictly described as ‘songs’. They’re more like noodly compositions that go off an a million-and-one flights of fancy. They were all written by singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe and it has often been suggested that the only reason fellow band members Chris Squire, Rick Wakeman and Alan White are credited is because they complained so loudly about their lack of involvement in the process.

It’s certainly not an album for everyone. I remember one of the best reviews of it (and there were lots of negative vibes about it in the music press at the time) said something along the lines of it having ‘no warmth’ and that’s about the best way I can describe it too.

You can’t sing along to it, you can’t dance to it and about the best you can do is mime along to the finger cymbals that make an appearance from time to time. If truth be told I can’t really explain why I like it, but I do. It and “Fragile” are the only two Yes albums I have listened to and stuck with over the years… so it must have something going for it?

It feels haphazard, several pieces sounding as if they’re just made up on the spot, almost freeform. Undermining this though are Anderson’s later public remarks about the recording, saying it was done with meticulous precision. Rick Wakeman has subsequently been VERY critical about it, saying that for much of the time they spent in the studio supposedly laying down tracks he was in a room next door drinking and playing darts. (He left the band following the “Tales from…” tour)

Despite gaining an unfair reputation that this album represented all that was excessive and bad about Prog Rock, it shot to Number 1 on the UK album chart and spent over six months on the American album chart, topping out there at Number 6.

1 Comment

Filed under 1974 Diary Entries