I reckon it must be more than forty-five years, the autumn of 1977 if my memory is correct. Perhaps early 1978, but no later than that.
The song was from a genre described as ‘progressive rock,’ although the term seems so broad as to be virtually meaningless. An online search for ‘progressive rock reveals a list of bands it would seem odd to bracket together. Much of the ‘progressive rock’ music has disappeared entirely from the playlists of music radio stations.
Perhaps it was its disappearance from the airwaves for so long that caused the song to catch my attention, perhaps it was because it was so discordant with most of the other music played on RTE Lyric FM.
Wonderous Stories by Yes was a record which seemed outdated among the punk and New Wave songs of 1977. Yes seemed a band from another time to someone who preferred the energy of Elvis Costello, The Clash and The Jam.
Perhaps it was the wondrous stories behind records like Wonderous Stories that made it unattractive to an English working class seventeen year old who regarded the autumn of 1977 as not the best of times in which to live.
Progressive rock bands seemed more a matter of logistical operations than the spontaneity of bands who put everything into the back of a battered Ford Transit van.
Progressive rock used terms like ‘concept albums’ and had stages filled with electronic equipment. (No-one ever explained what was meant by ‘concept album, didn’t every album come from a concept of some sort?)
The sound of progressive rock seemed to come from bands that were well-established, band that were well-equipped, bands that had revenues that would bear the costs of staging concerts that would be progressive, and that would presumably be vehicles for the concepts being expressed by the musicians.
Progressive rock bands seemed bands that would have wondrous stories to tell about their past, stories about recording sessions, about concerts, about festivals. Their memories would be the stuff of legend. They appeared to come from a time when music and the culture that surrounded it was radical and subversive and revolutionary.
Compared to the bands that might play in pubs, or in cinemas, or at free festivals (the first time I saw Elvis Costello play was at a free gig at Brockwell Park in Brixton in 1978) progressive rock bands seemed in a class apart, certainly in a social class far removed from the one in which I grew up.