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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rantz, USA

Rantz - s/t. 1982 private

Here's another album from our friend Tristan Stefan over at Prog Not Frog. In fact, he even called me out on this one. I missed it, but Tristan sent me an e-mail recommending I pull it down. And so I did. "I wish Tom Hayes and cd reissue wishlist would feature this since I feel it should be priority 3 at least.  There is a wonderful mix of hard, soft, instrumental, no fusion, but a lot of ingenious composition and some killer tracks.  Reminds me a bit of Syn Cast the first Stone, but with a harder edge."

The irony to all this of course, is when you go the website, you actually get a full-on political RANT(Z).  LOL. Anyway, the CDRWL tends to stay apolitical when in music mode, which is not the same thing as actually being apolitical. I'm just grateful we live in various countries where we can express our viewpoints without official reprisal. There's almost no time in written history where that was truly the case. Here in the good ole' USA we can blather against Obama's policies until we're blue in the face. Nothing will happen to you, beyond retorts in a similar manner. Truly be glad you can do this.

Better is Tristan's keen ear and his ability to discern and filter what the CDRWL tends to recommend. I'm grateful to friends like this.

Now this is one doggone weird album, I'll tell you that. The early 80s were a lost time for America. These were my high school years, and I remember them like yesterday. Culturally we bordered on anarchy. Which is of course the breeding ground for true creativity. Unlike Europe, we never had a true "progressive scene". We had fans of English progressive rock, but indigenous bands pretty much wallowed in obscurity. I've already documented this to death in my USA Midwest Progressive Rock list. Myself, I was banging my head against every wall (explains things doesn't it?) while listening to heavy metal. Then moving to 70's progressive and sequencer based electronic music. And eventually relating WAY TOO MUCH to Nicolas Cage in "Valley Girl" with his Tangerine Dream T-shirt and being a social outcast to those "preppies" with their Top Siders and pulled-up-collar "Alligator shirts" and weren't allowed to date the cute cheerleaders, only because we listened to Iron Maiden and knew how to program Assembly code on an IBM - even if said cute girls actually liked you. Today you're cool if you're a geek. Back then we were just geeks (actually we were called "Freaks" - that was the early 80s term used for us long hairs who went to heavy metal and hard rock concerts, played in the high school band, and actually learned how to program a computer). And, naturally enough, us Freaks listened to "weird music".

Which gets me back to Rantz (whew... wasn't quite sure how I was going to do that). I don't even know where to start here. The cover is indicative, perhaps. The female vocalist sounds like a mutant Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons. The guitarist plays in a decidedly psychedelic manner as if 1973 never happened. Did I mention flute? Oh yes, it's everywhere here - all played 1970 style. The compositions? Clearly informed by the MTV acts of the day: Men Without Hats, Talking Heads, Blondie, The Pretenders, The Human League... oh you get the idea. (I'm so old, I remember when MTV only played music videos). Gotta love a tune called 'Gnostic Blues'. You know, I've been thinking of getting a bunch of international guys together to rate progressive albums... and call it Gnosis! Naw, that would be dumb. Anyway, really time warp stuff here for a high school junior in 1982. About the only album this f'ed up is the Amish Rumspringa band Quasar Light. Seriously, if Ancient Aliens had a show on progressive rock, Rantz would be their proof. Not sure they'd be off base either. If only they were from Roswell, New Mexico. "Could it be, as Ancient Astronaut Theorists believe..."

So Tristan, you are WRONG and you have no idea what you're talking about. It is no way a Priority 3. No. It is a...

Priority: 2

(Thank you, Tristan Stefan)

1 comment:

Tristan Stefan said...

fantastic write-up, Tom. One thing I would like to correct which you said, anthropologically, 'written history' is nothing, only the past few hundred years, in fact for ALL of human history until the last 3 or so thousand years, 99 percent of it, in fact, humans have been free to speak their minds (esp. in the pre-Neolithic before tyranny was invented). This is the source of the intense feeling of freedom and conviction we all have that we should be allowed to speak our minds at all times.