Prog Digest – Klyde Kadiddlehumper – Xperience Monthly
Written by Staff on September 14, 2023
When sitcoms were sitcoms, Happy Days was mega popular. It was not on my personal list most of the time, but I get it. You know, good old-fashioned American values TV (wonder what that would look like today, but I digress).
We love Henry Winkler, he is, by account, a wonderful man and also very talented. I wonder what was going through his head when he became a party to one of the great bad idea’s ever and the reason for the phrase – Jump the Shark.
This is not about that (2 part) episode, but the phrase. And while this may not have been the thought going through the minds of the bands presented here, it is, certainly the end result. What the heck happens to bands. The ones who stick to their guns are usually reviled by some, even though they evolve and have a great deal of variations in their work.
No – this is about a few examples here, and more I am certain you can think of.
Let’s start with one that started with such massive prospect and became a power ballad hit making machine. Journey. I mean, come on. Original members of the band included Gregg Rollie and Neal Schon, from the Santana Band, and, interestingly, Prairie Prince, drummer for The Tubes and Todd Rundgren and replaced early on by Aynsley Dunbar from Bowie and The Mothers. The first 3 albums, “Journey,” “Look Into The Future” and “Next” were really good. Sales were ok – but – Columbia Records basically threatened to drop them, so they added a lead singer who did not work out. Then, they were introduced to Steve Perry. While he has a nice voice, it was pretty much the point at which the band jumped the shark.
How about The Chicago Transit Authority (shortened to Chicago after the real transit authority took offense) a rock band with horns. And with Terry Kath – they brought it. Up through Chicago XI, you had hits, sure, but they were always a force. The recordings were crisp, the horns tight and Kath was blistering. It always feels as though the heart of the band was ripped out when Kath dies of an accidental gun shot. Oddly, we have Doc Severinsen to thank for the band continuing – a good friend of the band, he told them they ought to continue – and they listened. Yup – the band leader for Johnny Carson kept ‘m going. Funny how things work. I have a soft spot in my heart for Chicago, found it interesting that Bill Champlin was a member for a number of years (Son’s of Champlin is still a favourite for me). But, it was a downward spiral in terms of edge, and the only album that has made a difference since then is The Stone of Sisyphus (Chicago XXXII). Recorded in 1993, it was not released after a reorg of their record label (there go the suits again) and finally saw the real light of day 15 years later. It is a serious throwback to the original focus of the band – check it out. Otherwise – shark bait since Kath’s passing.
Chicago also brought us REO Speedwagon (yup – it was a car… ). Started in ’67, early records rocked. By the time they got to “You Can Tune A Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish,” the writing was on the wall. “Nine Lives” is the last of the seriously rocking REO. Once again, it was the business that made things go to the pop success. The manner in which the band did business, with 2 of the members getting a larger slice of the pie (a new corporate structure) looks to be the first nail. What a shame.
Our Fearless Leader, Art Fredette, has it right. Music is too important to be left to the suits. Yup – look out for the sharkskin suits. They will certainly bite you in the arse.
Until next time.