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  1. #1
    Global Village Idiot mad rhetorik's Avatar
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    Question Favorite musical epics?

    While there have been many bands who have tried to create an "epic" song (every prog outfit worth its salt), in my mind only a few have succeeded in creating something I enjoy listening to over and over again without getting bored silly. This is especially true of songs that approach the 20-minute mark. Any band can noodle for a half-hour; it takes a great and talented band to write a composition of that length that can carry its weight and stay interesting throughout.

    What are your favorite "epic" (10+ minute) cuts? Here are mine:

    Pink Floyd: "Dogs" (Animals)
    For me, this is the 'Floyd-defining song (and album). Of course, "Pigs (Three Different Ones)" is also worthy, and has an ending guitar solo that I would trade a kidney for; but what makes "Dogs" great is its superb pacing, perfect buildup, Gilmour's brilliant vocal performance in the first half, Waters' poetic and dark lyrics, and a great Gilmour solo midway in, all topped by the haunting sound of the howling dogs. The final couple of verses, toward the very end, with Waters taking the vocal lead accompanied by Gilmour and Wright on their respective instruments, is absolutely wrenching in its finality:

    "Who was born in a house full of pain
    Who was trained not to spit in the fan
    Who was told what to do by the man
    Who was broken by trained personnel
    Who was fitted with collar and chain
    Who was given a pat on the back
    Who was breaking away from the pack
    Who was only a stranger at home
    Who was ground down in the end
    Who was found dead on the phone
    Who was dragged down by the stone

    Dragged down by the stone"


    King Crimson: "Starless" (Red)
    This 12-minute song could not have been a more perfect conclusion to the Wetton/Bruford/Cross era of the Krim. The first 5 minutes are sublime in their mellotron-drenched beauty, with Wetton putting in one of his best vocal performances. After that, Wetton stops singing, leaving just an ominous bassline, and the song really begins. The rest of the band comes in, slowly, with Fripp playing that single note on his guitar, progressively rising with intensity as the song continues. Then when it all seems about to blow through the top, Mel Collins comes in quickly with a sax solo to save us, if only briefly. Then his sax solo comes to an end with a flourish from Bruford's drums and all freaking hell breaks loose as Fripp unleashes his screaming guitar. Finally, the song comes to a beautiful close with the return of the opening theme. Sublime.

    Opeth: "The Night And The Silent Water" (Morningrise)
    Although all five songs on Morningrise are worthy of the "epic" tag at 10+ minutes each, this is the best one out of the bunch. The song contains all the elements the band is known for: seamlessly executed hard-to-soft transitions, complex metal passages, Mikael Akerfeldt's combination of growling and clean singing, and great touches of acoustic folk. The chiming acoustic guitars that come in somewhere around the 2-minute mark are achingly beautiful. The real highlight, however, is the buildup from the 8-minute mark to the end, slowly going from acoustic dreamland to electricity and pounding double-bass drums, culminating in the riff to end all all riffs, with Akerfeldt reciting the last verse over it all in a hoarse whisper. The song finally drifts off to its end with a few pained, dying acoustic chords.

    Allman Brothers: "Whipping Post" (Live At The Filmore East)
    This 23-minute jam succeeds mostly due to its strong written framework. This particular version of the song doesn't deviate much from the 5-minute version found on their first album. I love the original-length version, and this is just as good. Berry Oakley's opening bass intro, followed by Duane and Dickey Betts' stinging guitars and Gregg's weary vocals, is a pure adrenaline rush--sometimes I will start the song over a few times, just to hear the intro. Gregg's vocals (listen to him on the choruses; truly a better white blues singer you will not find) and the guitars, duetting with Gregg's organ lines, really define this song. Easily one of the greatest blues jams I've ever treated my ears to.

    Jimi Hendrix: "Machine Gun" (Band Of Gypsys)
    Listening to this jam, I can understand why Miles Davis took an interest in Jimi. His guitar playing was downright unbeatable. I've listened to a lot of metal, which as a genre generally strives to sound brutal and war-like; however, when it comes to evoking images of a battlefield in my mind, Jimi, Buddy, and Billy beat them all to the punch way back on New Years Eve, 1969. That funky, M16-like guitar lick in the opening sets the stage, and is followed by Buddy's rifleshot snare. I have to be sitting down when Jimi launches into that solo at the 4-minute mark, holding that one note and turning it into an air-raid siren that just dives straight into you and leaves your ears ringing (I annoy my neighbors ; P). Jimi's vocals are quite laidback through the song; he doesn't sound like he's trying. But that's unimportant, for his guitar expresses much more than any mere words could.

    EDIT: In my sleep-deprived state, I almost forgot to include Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row" (Hwy. 61 Revisited). I won't bother with the verbose description for that--Dylan rules, end of story.

    Oh yeah, and also the VU classic "Sister Ray" deserves a mention.
    Last edited by mad rhetorik; 06-15-2004 at 10:02 AM.
    "...and then at the end of the letter I like to write <i>'P.S. - this is what part of the alphabet would look like if Q and R were eliminated.'</i> "


    <b>_R.I.P. Mitch Hedburg 1968-2005_</b>

  2. #2
    Stone Stone's Avatar
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    None.

    Why can't people understand
    I've got a short attention span
    Short attention spaaa-aan


    That's my favorite song under 10 seconds.
    And the world will turn to flowing pink vapor stew.

  3. #3

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  5. #5
    dld
    dld is offline
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    It may not quite be a ten minute epic but its surely epocheal. That would be Al Stewart's Roads To Moscow. You feel you are there with general Gadarian's (sp??) troops in WWII. The lyrics puts you right in the shoes of the German grunt. The song takes you from the flush of early successes "The old men and women they send out to fight us, they can't slow us down" to the beating the Russian winter imposed

    "...and the steely Russian skies go on (pause)
    for e ~~ v ~~ e ~~ r ".
    Do I have to spell it out?

    C---H---E---E----S----E

    A--N--D

    O---N---I---O---N---S

    Oh No

  6. #6
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    Hey dld,

    why would you want a squadron of tanks?

    Gas is so expensive these days it would cost a fortune to drive them.

    Regards,

    Dave

  7. #7
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    I tend not to like many long songs, especially in a rock mode. Anyone know who sang that tune that went something like...

    I like short songs!
    I like short songs!
    I like short songs!
    I like short songs!

    for about 20 seconds or so?

    I'm guessing classical stuff doesn't count, but I do like a few longer electronic things. Stuff like The Orb's A Huge Ever-Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules rom the Centre of the Ultraworld, which has a ridiculously long title to match is nice. When it comes to electronic stuff, especially things with a more ambient or laid back bent, I can handle much longer songs than rock stuff.

  8. #8
    Stone Stone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    I tend not to like many long songs, especially in a rock mode. Anyone know who sang that tune that went something like...

    I like short songs!
    I like short songs!
    I like short songs!
    I like short songs!

    for about 20 seconds or so?
    Dead Kennedys

    What do I win?
    And the world will turn to flowing pink vapor stew.

  9. #9
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone
    Dead Kennedys

    What do I win?
    My undying respect and gratitude. Or a beer if you're ever in Lansing before I get the hell out of this town.

  10. #10
    Stone Stone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nobody
    My undying respect and gratitude. Or a beer if you're ever in Lansing before I get the hell out of this town.
    Wow, exactly what I was hoping for!!

    When you moving?
    And the world will turn to flowing pink vapor stew.

  11. #11
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dld
    It may not quite be a ten minute epic but its surely epocheal. That would be Al Stewart's Roads To Moscow. You feel you are there with general Gadarian's (sp??) troops in WWII. The lyrics puts you right in the shoes of the German grunt. The song takes you from the flush of early successes "The old men and women they send out to fight us, they can't slow us down" to the beating the Russian winter imposed

    "...and the steely Russian skies go on (pause)
    for e ~~ v ~~ e ~~ r ".
    Nobody writes lyrics like Al Stewart writes lyrics. His words paint pictures.

    Now, for the epic song of choice...just qualifying at 10:25...I have to say it's Rush's Cygnus X-1. Twisting and turning on a ride through outerspace, I have loved this song since I first heard it 27 years ago.

  12. #12
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    Well, to answer the original question, you nailed two of my favourites: "Dogs" and "Starless". And I don't mean to be an old fogey, but "Free Bird" still rocks.

    Here's one that's a little off the beaten path: Synergy, "Sequence 14" -- it definitely captures an epicness in my book (might be short, not sure of its length).
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  13. #13
    Forum Regular nobody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stone
    Wow, exactly what I was hoping for!!

    When you moving?
    Not sure yet. Been doing the job interview thing and one seems like it should pan out. Hoping to hear any day now. If all goes well, I'll be moving at the end of this month or the first of July.

    Then again, you never know until the call comes, so I may still end up looking around.

  14. #14
    Close 'n Play® user Troy's Avatar
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    Long- Suppers Ready, Awaken, Shine on you Crazy Diamond, the Sky Moves Sideways

    Short- The suite of 10 to 30 second songs called "Fingertips" on They Might Be Giants "Apollo 18". "Please Pass the Milk, Please", "Come on and Wreck My Car", "Everything is catching on Fire", "What's that BLUE thing Doing Here?". Bent, to say the least.

  15. #15
    Suspended 3-LockBox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mad rhetorik
    While there have been many bands who have tried to create an "epic" song (every prog outfit worth its salt), in my mind only a few have succeeded in creating something I enjoy listening to over and over again without getting bored silly. This is especially true of songs that approach the 20-minute mark. Any band can noodle for a half-hour; it takes a great and talented band to write a composition of that length that can carry its weight and stay interesting throughout.
    'That, That Is' by Yes is my most recent fave...rivals anything from their classic period IMO.

    'Harm's Way' by Spock's Beard. Yes, The Beard does do epics very well, like 'The End Of The Day', but this one is by far their best writing effort lyrically.

    'Pigs (3 different ones)' by Pink Floyd is one of this band's most compelling songs of any length.

    'Terrapin Station' by The Grateful Dead is a long but sublime, trance inducing jam, and is really quite proggy, if I may use that term.

  16. #16
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    Genesis-"Supper's Ready" especially the live Archive Box version. Killer.
    Yes-"Close to the Edge"
    Jethro Tull-"Baker St. Muse" shorter than TAAB or APP but just as good, imo.
    Pink Floyd-"Atom Heart Mother". Seriously!! Don't laugh!
    ELP-"Karn Evil 9". It's fashionable to knock these guys, but I still love this epic.

    A predictable list I guess, but I can't much get into the newer symph stuff. Listening to The Flower Kings or Spock's Beard makes me want to listen to Yes or The Beatles instead. But I do have a little bit of a soft spot for "Stardust We Are".

  17. #17
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by progfan
    Genesis-"Supper's Ready" especially the live Archive Box version. Killer.
    Yes-"Close to the Edge"
    Jethro Tull-"Baker St. Muse" shorter than TAAB or APP but just as good, imo.
    Pink Floyd-"Atom Heart Mother". Seriously!! Don't laugh!
    ELP-"Karn Evil 9". It's fashionable to knock these guys, but I still love this epic.

    A predictable list I guess, but I can't much get into the newer symph stuff. Listening to The Flower Kings or Spock's Beard makes me want to listen to Yes or The Beatles instead. But I do have a little bit of a soft spot for "Stardust We Are".
    Nice list. I haven't listened to Karn Evil 9 in years. Thanks for the reminder of a great song. Time to pull out my ELP.

  18. #18
    Close 'n Play® user Troy's Avatar
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    I prefer the live version of Supper's Ready on Seconds Out. Musically, it's the tightest, most dramatic version.

    Spocks Beard epics, I gotta go with "Time has Come". I love the whole junkyard thing in it. "Flow" is a strong one too.

    Good call on "Baker Street Muse". And "Terrapin Station", the only Grateful Dead track that I enjoy.

  19. #19
    Crackhead Extraordinaire Dusty Chalk's Avatar
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    I can't believe I forgot Supper's Ready...and Baker St. Muse doesn't suck, neither...

    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    Nice list. I haven't listened to Karn Evil 9 in years. Thanks for the reminder of a great song. Time to pull out my ELP.
    Or you can listen to this version. (Why couldn't my high school band teacher have been this cool? Actually, he was very cool, just not that cool.)
    Eschew fascism.
    Truth Will Out.
    Quote Originally Posted by stevef22
    you guys are crackheads.
    I remain,
    Peter aka Dusty Chalk

  20. #20
    Close 'n Play® user Troy's Avatar
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    That version of Karn Evel #9 is really amazing. Any band with 8 vibes players is ok in my book. Yeah, rough in spots, but geez . . . that's a High School band? Wow.

  21. #21
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    To the worms it means that Supper Is Ready

    I too like the Seconds Out version of Suppers Ready but when I saw The Musical Box do it I nearly fell out.

    My whole body was one giant goose bump.

    I cannot wait to see the Lamb gig.

    Dave

  22. #22
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    Dave G said:

    " I too like the Seconds Out version of Suppers Ready but when I saw The Musical Box do it I nearly fell out."

    Look for the sobbing 30 something fool in the second row of the orchestra section at Nearfest!! I've never seen them before but everyone says their amazing. Can't wait!!

  23. #23
    Forum Regular kingcrim05's Avatar
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    Spock's Beard, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Dream Theater. Four of my favorite bands all put out some epic songs.

    I really don't understand what people see in the Animals disc by PF though. I've tried absorbing dozens of times, but albums such as Meddle, WYWH, Piper, DSOTM, Division Bell and Wall Live all put Animals down.

    Another thing: People like Animals but not Divison Bell. i think DB gives me the shivers more than any other album.

  24. #24
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    kingcrim05 said:

    "Another thing: People like Animals but not Divison Bell"

    For me, the answer is simple. No Roger Waters=No Pink Floyd.

  25. #25
    Forum Regular kingcrim05's Avatar
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    Isn't it supposed to be about the music though?

    Who cares who makes it. Maybe it's not Pink Floyd then. By that arguement though, we could bring Syd into play....

    Seriously, it doesn't matter who makes it. If you like it, it doesn't matter....It only matters if you don't like it, cuz then you make sure you don't listen to them again =)

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