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Popoff Archive 2: Progressive Rock written by Martin Popoff

Review by Greg Olma

The music world has many characters who work behind the scenes, from producers to engineers to marketing people (and many more).  There is another tier of people that help the music industry and they are the public relations folks and the writers and reviewers that get the word out on a particular band or record.  I am just a very minor player, but Martin Popoff has been doing this for quite some time, contributing to bravewords.com, Goldmine, and quite a collection of books that seems to grow on a daily basis.  He has amassed over 1,400 interviews and has been a recognized expert on many bands.  All of that leads me to this book, a collection of interviews that were not used before and would have been lost to time had Popoff not decided to release them in a couple of genre specific books. 

The focus of this one is obviously progressive rock, and the timeframe of the interviews spans from the mid-90s through 2015.  Unlike reading an article in a magazine, these interviews contain a small set up (the circumstances for the interview) and then we get into the conversation in question/answer format.  One of the main reasons I find Popoff’s book enjoyable is that he steers clear of boring questions (what is your favorite place to play, what is your favorite song, etc) and really focuses on the music and mindset of the artists.  We learn more about the inner workings of a band, what life experiences helped create a song/album, and how they finally reached the finished product.  Just as albums have deep cuts, Popoff asks deep questions.  Since many of his interviews have been published or used in articles, this book, as mentioned earlier, consists of interviews that have been sitting on the shelf. 

There is a great interview with John Wetton from 1995 that is sad because we are reminded that he is no longer with us.  If you are a Kansas fan, you will be extremely pleased as there are four separate interviews with Steve Walsh, Phil Ehart, Kerry Livgren and Robbie Steinhardt, all of whom have a different viewpoint on the music and band they created.  While there are some bigger names that are interviewed, this book also touches on lesser known artists like Jim Cichton (Saga), Kevin Moore (Chroma Key), Lief Sorbye (Tempest) and owner of Magna Carta Records Pete Morticelli.  I recommend the Popoff Archive series (there are four books), but if prog-rock is your genre, then I definitely would start with this one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

 
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