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The Music's All That Matters: A History of Progressive Rock Paperback – March, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Music
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Quartet Books (UK) (March 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0704380366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0704380363
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,776 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Paul Stump's book is a great treat to anyone interested in what Prog rock was really about.
Mark D Burgh
This is because Stump's writing style is somewhat taxing and I don't find myself gaining a deeper understanding of the music, or discovering new bands to listen too.
bruceski
You could do a lot worse, but most of the information presented here has since been superseded by a couple of the newer prog histories.
Tracy Deaton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By bruceski on December 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
Stump's The Music Is All That Matters, attempts to describe exactly how Progressive rock in England evolved from its psychadelic beginnings in the late 1960's to its current cult-like status.

While highly opinionated, it mostly succeeds in this effort. However, I find it to be the least essential of the books on Progressive Rock that I have read. This is because Stump's writing style is somewhat taxing and I don't find myself gaining a deeper understanding of the music, or discovering new bands to listen too.

I wanted to briefly address some of the comments made by some of the other insightful reviewers.

1-I do believe that Stump thoroughly enjoys progressive rock. He just likes Robert Wyatt, (he sounds like the only person I have ever heard that has actually listened to EVERY Soft Machine album), Henry Cow and The Enid more than Yes, Pink Floyd and ELP. He does present with the bias that somehow if you became popular the music was no longer valid. Now this did happen to the most popular progressive bands as the 70's wore on, but he is also highly critical of the most successful progressive bands better work as well.

However, I take his criticism to be that of an insider, one of us. It is like family making fun of each other, its ok when it is with each other. With that said, I question does he really think ELP covered Pictures at an Exhibition because they thought it would make them international pop stars? It was about the music baby (at least in the beginning and I think among the current prog groups).
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
Though often lapsing into verbosity, Stump's book is an intelligent, non-embarrassing look at the much-maligned genre of Progressive Rock. Prog fans often pride themselves on the intelligence required to create and appreciate their music. However, most books on prog betray their authors' simplistic understanding of the music and the events surrounding it. The authors come off as fanboys, insulting the reader with their poorly supported arguments and sweeping generalizations. Paul Stump goes a long way to correct this trend in prog rock books . He writes well and has done much of his homework. Despite other Amazon reviewers' comments to the contrary, Stump's passion for the music is infectious. He is opinionated, though, so Marillion fans should take note. I really appreciated the attention he gave to the more experimental or avant-garde bands. The likes of Henry Cow, The Soft Machine and Barrett-era Pink Floyd get plenty of copy alongside the more mainstream Yes and Genesis. Stump is no snob, (despite writing for The Wire) which would be a dubious position anyway for a fan of a genre now reviled by snobs everywhere. A few caveats: this should really be called "A History of ENGLISH Progressive Rock" but Stump tells you as much in the introduction. Also, as a non-Englishman, I ran across quite a few words I have never seen before or since. The Music's All That Matters has been very helpful in pointing me towards some terrific bands and understanding some of the ideas behind their music. Now I need to find some Magma albums! Ignore the cheesy title and you'll enjoy it!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By N. Green on July 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
After reading this book one really wonders whether Stump actually even likes prog rock! Stick with the Macan book - much more readable, enthusiastic about the music, just as intellectually challenging and not as simplistic as the Jerry Lucky books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've read most of the other books on Progressive Rock, and I've been a fan of the genre since I got turned on to Yes and Genesis in the mid-70s.

What I like especially about this book is it gets far deeper into the Britishness of progressive rock, not just in terms of historical and contemporary cultural influences but also by virtue of an insider's knowledge of the music biz (record labels, concert promoters, etc.) and its relationship with the actual musical product. Stump is also an unabashedly British writer in style, and to a Yank like me this is always a source of pleasure.

However, just as a prog musician can't help writing passages in 15/4 time or soloing interminably from time to time, Stump can't help trotting out academia-jargon and Big Words that no one but English professors have ever heard of, let alone used in a sentence in anything other than an academic journal article. At the same time, Stump is aware of the relevance (or lack thereof) of terms like post-modernism and thinkers like Foucault and Derrida to actual music listeners.

This book gets bashed by prog fans/apologists (I claim to be the first, though not the second) for being critical of things like the lyrics of Greg Lake and Jon Anderson. I was thrilled to see someone knowledgeable finally agree with me that Land Lies Down on Broadway and The Wall are vastly overrated, and to peel back the LSD layer to reveal how mediocre the actual *music* of Hawkwind and Eloy was. Other criticisms are down to pure taste, and there's no way or reason to argue that.
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