Prog Magazine (Review)

Prog Magazine Issue 31 November 2012

“Engaging reflections on why music matters”

Review by Dom Lawson

It’s questionable whether anyone who has a profound, lifelong love of music should need to read a book that explores the reasons behind such an enduring relationship. That said, Michael Anthony’s study of what it means to be a rock fan is so consistently disarming that even during any of several streams of comtemplative consciousness that dig no deeper than the average boozy pub chat, it is hard not to nod sagely along.

The author’s overall point seems to be that the best rock music reflects the highs and lows of a life well lived and that mainstream perceptions of prog, metal and the rest seldom acknowledge the intense emotional connection they inspire. Although he has a tendency to make the same point in numerous similar ways before driving home any kind of conclusion, his conversational investigations into various rock-related topics – drugs, the occult, the dreamlike ritual of the live gig – are brought vividly to life via anecdotes and acutely personal musings. Anthony’s admiration for Marillion and the unique bond they share with their fan base is particularly poignant, not least when he relates the story of his daughter’s battle with Type 1 diabetes and how Steve Hogarth’s lyrics on Brave struck several deeply moving chords at the time.

“Conversational musings are brought vividly to life”

The author excels on more light-hearted territory too. One anecdote about a drug-fuelled student house party is genuinely hilarious, not least due to a brilliantly disdainful description of acid-damaged revellers gawping and pawing pathetically at a giant poster featuring the artwork from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and one particular punter who was “trying to climb into the mouth of the biggest character”. While not entirely dismissive of drug culture, Anthony’s evident bemusement at the ludicrousness of his peers’ behaviour while under the chemical influence is thoroughly endearing.  And, in truth, his overall sense of detached curiosity ensures that even when making points that barely seem worth making – drugs can be dangerous, religion is a bit iffy, Jim Morrison squandered his talent, Bob Dylan has made some great records but isn’t for everyone – Anthony will deftly draw you in and make you want to buy him a pint.

It is also refreshing to read someone giving enthusiastic shout outs for the likes of Transatlantic, Bigelf and The Reasoning; all witnessed by the author on Prog‘s very own stage at 2010’s inaugural High Voltage Festival. (Clearly this man has great taste!) It’s that never-ending passion for absorbing new music and astounding sounds that makes Words and Music such an innocent and breezily engaging joy.

About Words and Music

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