Neo-Prog, that strange 80’s accumulation of sweaty earnest young middle class men working on being the next Yes or Genesis. The benchmark was Marillion I guess. They had made it big with their Genesis reminiscent music, slightly more forward guitars and piscine front man. Then there were the also rans, Twelfth Night, Pendragon, I.Q., Solstice and I am sure a host of others clamoring for attention in their music of choice, makeup, dramatic gestures and frantic keyboard and guitar solos over strange and obscure time signatures.
Of course prog had never gone away, The Stranglers had it going on as did Magazine, Japan at times and don’t tell me Peter Hamill vocal style didn’t inspire a host of punk wannabes over time. The monsters of prog were all trying to be hip and have hit records leaving a host of makeup encrusted upstarts to dress up like their heroes and prance the light fantastic at the Marquee and a thousand clubs and concert halls around the U.K.
Apparently this neo-prog genre was something I was drawn to considering the accumulation of records I apparently still have managed to keep a hold of.
So to I.Q. and their first album Tales From the Lush Attic. Released the same year as Marillion’s Script for a Jesters Tear I bet it is a largely unremembered apart from a group of now middle aged men who are a still enjoying the daft time signatures and wacky solos. It actually holds up better than the Marillion album, Peter Nicholls pulls off the Gabriel alike vocals and the keyboards and guitars are sufficiently frenetic to entertain. It’s a bit poppy a bit punk it’s not too serious either, no dystopian tales as far as I can tell but the songs do tend to the sixth form poetry end of melancholy. They all look like such nice boys, dodgy haircuts makeup and some sweet braces there, and remember the 80’s penchant for pushing the suit jacket sleeves up to get that Miami Vice look down. I bet there is a pair of espadrilles on someones feet here.
Everything you want for your prog fix is here, mellotrons, 12 string guitars and songs with at least 16 time signatures squeezed in. The guitars are a bit meatier than your average prog band unless they are called King Crimson. I.Q. manage to prog out without being too mathy in their approach if thats even a word. The artwork is also fun for a first release.