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The Show That Never Ends

The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock
Narrated by: Rudy Sanda
Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
4 out of 5 stars (81 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Show That Never Ends is the behind-the-scenes story of the extraordinary rise and fall of progressive ("prog") rock, epitomized by such classic, chart-topping bands as Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, and Emerson Lake & Palmer, and their successors Rush, Styx, and Asia. With inside access to all the key figures, Washington Post national reporter David Weigel tells the story with the gusto and insight prog rock's fans (and its haters) will relish. Along the way he explains exactly what was "progressive" about prog rock, how it arose from psychedelia and heavy metal, why it dominated the pop charts but then became so despised that it was satirized in This Is Spinal Tap, and what fuels its resurgent popularity today.

©2017 David Weigel (P)2017 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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"Reminiscence has gone astray." So disappointed.

I come at this from two points of view. 1] I'm a 54-year-old American who grew up devouring and playing prog rock. 2] I'm an enormous fan of audiobooks. Bonus: I'm a fan of Dave Weigel's political commentary and reportage.

It just doesn't come together here at all. I get that Weigel is a megafan of prog. But his writing about it is hampered by a pretty glaring lack of basic knowledge about music in general. His descriptions of famous songs are plodding and sophomoric — and often plain wrong. Meanwhile, he provides scant details about the creation of some of the most impressive and challenging music ever recorded.

He gives some interesting insights into the lives of a few key musicians — mostly about the sex and drugs, less about the rock 'n' roll. Perhaps it's because I just finished listening to Mark Lewisohn's "Tune In, Volume I" about the early years of the Beatles, but it just feels that Weigel is out of his depth here. This is a labor of love, to be sure. But if prog rock has taught us anything, it's that labors of love rarely connect with an audience.

The bigger problem by far, though, is the narration. Rudy Sanda really has no business reading professionally. This sounds harsh, I know. But, I paid good money to have a book read to me by a professional. And that didn't happen.

For starters, Sanda refuses to pronounce the letter "T" at all. And not in the cool British way. No, this is the post valleygirl way. "Great Britain" becomes "Gray Bri—in." And "Manha—in." This is inexcusable.

Worse, he mangles the many European names he has to pronounce — including some English ones — and at one point refers hilariously to a "Bach FOO-gay."

The word is "fugue."

When reading quotes by British musicians, he affects an accent only about a quarter of the time. And not particularly well. He reads sentences as if it's the first time he's ever encountered them. Pauses curiously long after every period. And I swear I can hear his voice changing.

Why the producers didn't select a British reader with a bit more gravitas — especially considering the primary focus of the book is the birth of a musical genre in Canterbury, England — is unfathomable to me. I mean, if prog rock has taught us anything, it's that the voice is everything.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Well written but poor narration

Someone should have told the narrator to skip the accents. they're painful to hear.. Aardvark. (I had to type at least 15 words.)

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Interesting story but...

It's a good recollection of a music genre that I enjoy and I'm guessing for anyone that has enjoyed some prog rock. This might be one that I wish I'd read the written version of so that the really awkward accents the narrator used frequently could have been avoided. To me it seemed that Yes is given more attention to than other bands. Still an informative listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Interesting history, but short on insight

Weigel has put together a fairly comprehensive history of Prog, from its earliest psychedelic roots to its various post-modern revivals, up to modern bands like Porcupine Tree. What is missing, however, is any kind of thesis, or really much analysis or any kind of conclusion. Instead, it is pretty much a straight telling of history, and leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions, which ultimately leaves the reader unsatisfied. This is likely because the author assembled most of his history from magazine and TV interviews, and not first-hand interviews with most of the subjects.

I have often wondered why prog died in the late 70's, and hoped that this book would shed some light on this cold case. Weigel trots out the usual suspects: Punk, Disco, record labels and Tormato. Really, that's it? No deeper insight than that?

As far as the narration, I didn't have the same issues as other people. It was serviceable: Not great, but not distractingly bad either.

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Enjoyable Tale of Musical Omphaloskepsism<br />

Listening to The Show That Never Ends made me nostalgic for the distant future, Oh!

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Worst. Narrator. Ever.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

He mispronounced band names, song names, and character names. The lead character in "Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" is not "rah-EL"! If the narrator took a few moments to zip through YouTube and listen to some pronunciations for song titles in particular, the book would have been much better. This aging prog-rock geek, for one, would have given it a better review.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It made me mad. For a book about meticulous musicians and the meticulousness, it was shoddily read. Ugh, I'm still furious over it.

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I learned a lot, but wish there was more

I enjoyed this book, and learned a lot. This is especially true of the central prog bands such as Yes and ELP. If there is a flaw to the book, it is simply that the author focuses so heavily on a few bands during the late 60s and 1970s that some of the history that would most interest me is given limited consideration. For example, Styx is mentioned a few times, but not really discussed. Albums like Yes's 90125 are given limited coverage relative to Yes's earlier work. As a child of the 80s, I would have liked more information on subjects such as these. However, and in fairness to the author, these are not central events/bands in the history of Prog rock, so I guess I can't really complain. Overall, this is an excellent, informative, well-written book.

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A Must for Prog Lovers

Your enjoyment of this book will be contingent upon your enjoyment of prog rock, but if you like prog, you'll like the book.

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Good but too narrow in focus

Great detail on a few artists, but I was disappointed that the scope was so narrow. He leaves out Jethro Tull/Ian Anderson and Frank Zappa/Mothers, for example. King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and ELP were only a part of Prog Rock!

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Interesting story, but poorly narrated

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Replace the horrible parts where the narrator tries to sound like Ian Anderson!

What did you like best about this story?

Very comprehensive of the period 1968 - 1975, but also quite good follow up of 80s and 90s. Despite what some of the other reviewers seem to have listened to, there is plenty mentions of Rush and Dream Theatre.

How could the performance have been better?

I may have fell a sleep during the 90s chapters of the book, but I could not recollect Tool to be discussed in detail. Arguably one of the most influential 90s prog band that actually had listeners that was not prog nerds.

Do you think The Show That Never Ends needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No

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Profile Image for papapownall
  • papapownall
  • 06-04-19

A tale of when dinosaurs ruled the world

If you put any two Progressive Rock fans in a room you can guarantee that they will disagree about what Prog actually is. One of them will argue in 11/8 time and the other in 5/4 (changing to 7/4 time for the second movement) about the intricacies of how the music is defined and how it differs from other styles of music. David Weigel, the author of this book, has a very clear idea of what he thinks prog is, it is about ELP and King Crimson but it is mostly about Yes, which is just fine. I consider myself to be a Prog fan but I have never really got into Yes. That might sound sacrilege to some, but it is the truth. David Weigel tells the story of Prog mainly through the trials and tribulations of the various incarnations of Yes and the various offshoots and side projects of its members through the glory days of the 1970s and then the less ostentatious but more commercial 1980s and then various reunions and re-imaginings in later years. The characters are larger than life and the stories of excess are legendary. Of course this isn't just about Yes and the story does touch on other Prog bands such as some of the founding fathers including Gentle Giant, Hawkwind, Gong, Soft Machine etc and onto the new wave of the 1980s with Marillion getting special attention (the narrator's Fish impression is stranger than anything I have heard on any Prog album) and then onto the renaissance more recently with the arrival of Steve Wilson. If I were to be a grumpy old man (ala Rick Wakeman) I could grumble about the lack of coverage of Frank Zappa (which would have needed a whole book to itself) and the lack of depth regarding artists such as The Enid, Camel, Caravan and Alan Parsons Project from the 1970s, IQ, and Palas from the 1980s and more recent acts such as Mostly Autumn and Big Big Train but that would be churlish.
Prog needs all the support it can get and is tremendously rewarding to anyone who is willing to open up their mind and ears and David Weigel should be applauded for this excellent book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-09-18

Great for any lover of Prog Rock!

All the important bands and moments are here... very enjoyable! A really good narration, too.

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Profile Image for Martin Mckee
  • Martin Mckee
  • 09-18-17

pretty good story of prog - v interesting

very interesting tale of the classics bands. I learned so much about their conceptions, challenges, how they created some of the music and how their fame grew and dwindled for some.

Unfortunately the modern era of prog is sloppily squeezed into last chapter barely scraping the surface of what has actually happened since approx. the late 80s. But one might claim they're not prog rock bands in the old sense.

Sometimes though the telling of the history has been a little haphazardly put together and explains things briefly over a large period of time, followed by an event that then focuses on one or two specific times. The lack of chronological order makes it a little confusing if you're not really paying attention. In some regards it's downright misleading. the telling of dream theater's development for example was a mess (but that's part of the poorly put together last chapter so...)

Narration is OK. Sound quality is great. I just would have preferred an English narrator over an American for this particular book. I mean the majority is about English bands in English places. And I won't even mention the attempted accents.

I enjoyed it overall don't get me wrong. I did learn a lot about classic prog. I just think the writer should have quit while they were ahead and not gone into modern era at all. And the narration could have been done better to make it perfect.

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  • M Broders
  • 07-06-17

For prog rock fans but

''Tis good however it features heavily on a few bands. ELP YES King Crimson and Robert Fripp etc. Could have more on some other bands such as Pink Floyd. Some missed.
Some accents (there are not a huge amount) are off putting Ian Anderson does not have a Scottish accent!! but....
Worth a listen