Blame it all on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,when the Beatles decided that neoclassical arrangements,psychotropic drugs, and vague, album-long story lines made for goodrock. It did, but they couldn't have foreseen the excess thatfollowed. Now, with the Neptunes' Chad Hugo name-droppingRush, it seems like a good time for a beginner's guide tothis enchanted world of bewigged weirdness. THE MOODY BLUES DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED(DERAM/DECCA, 1967; 1997) What began as a recording session for a rockversion of Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 produced prog's biggest hit, "Nightsin White Satin" -- now playing in a Victoria's Secret near you. The LPalso made a prog signature of the Mellotron, a primitivetape-loop-triggering keyboard that tripsters still covet.
"Percussion music is revolution," declared John Cage, thevisionary composer and proto-DJ who was also choreographer MerceCunningham's longtime companion and collaborator, in an essay aboutmodern dance. "Tomorrow, with electronic music in our ears, we willhear freedom." Well, it's tomorrow, and to Radiohead, Merce Cunningham's Split Sidesprobably seemed like the fulfillment of Cage's prophecy. The group thathas struggled so famously with fame landed a gig out of singer ThomYorke's fever dreams: providing abstract accompaniment for a dancetroupe from the darkness of an orchestra pit, pretty much invisible tothe audience, most of whom wouldn't have recognized the band if they'dbeen busking outside the theater.