Groovy Prog Rock Wannabe Biology Text From ’72 (I don’t know what else to call the post)

by John Holbo on May 5, 2009

So I clicked over to Pharyngula to see whether PZ had blown his top about the Fish thing (see previous post). Yes! In a manner of speaking.

I feel the need to cheer poor PZ up. So: the coolest thing on Flickr is this set of scans from a 1972 biology textbook that so desperately wanted to be a prog rock concept album. You should also read the tart commentary by the guy who posted it.

I thought about posting a few of the images here but I think, for full effect, you just need to view the whole set. (Just like you can’t really explain to someone why a particular Yes album is great by playing only 10 seconds of it.)



belle le triste 05.05.09 at 2:21 pm

sorry, but “prog album cover” is i think imprecise — the ambience here is groovy psychedelia, which predates prog art by a couple of years: alan aldridge and george “yellow submarine” dunning are its avatars


belle le triste 05.05.09 at 3:22 pm

moderation queue query: is the word “amb!3nc3” one of the Forbidden Terms?


John Holbo 05.05.09 at 3:28 pm

You’re right. It’s more straight-up psychedelic. As to moderation queue: there are hardly any moderate words that could be used to describe this particular set of images. So I suppose some people may have to wait a while.


norbizness 05.05.09 at 3:37 pm

It’s more Yellow Submarine than Tales From Topographic Oceans or In The Wake of Poseidon. But textbook art is always a lagging indicator, so we’d just have to see what grooviness awaited us in 1977.


Preachy Preach 05.05.09 at 3:41 pm

The edition of Hecht’s Optics I used at college had a surprisingly eccentric choice of images for an otherwise staid textbook on, well, the most mind-numbingly dull area of physics.


notsneaky 05.05.09 at 9:21 pm

“The autonomic nervous system with its sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.”, and “The spinal cord.”, and “Lateral view of the human brain in cross section.” – Prog rock. All the way.
“Behavioral States” – Psychadelic
“Human Origins” – early Metal with some psychadelia in it, i.e. “Troll Music”
“Buffon’s ‘centers of creation.'”” – later Sabbath
“Population Interactions and Communities” – Prog rock but probably modern Screamo (favorite #1)
“Plant Hormones” – early Prog rock with some Psychadelia in it, i.e. “Hobbit Music”(favorite #2)
“Nerve net system of the fresh-water coelenterate Hydra. ” – Prog rock.
“Composite schematic diagram of the human spermatozoan greatly enlarged.” – Early butt metal
“The Cover” – hippy shit


notsneaky 05.05.09 at 9:25 pm

oh and “A “contributing consultant”” – folk, the album right before switched to electric


notsneaky 05.05.09 at 9:26 pm

And The Contributing Consultants would be an awesome name for a band.


belle le triste 05.05.09 at 9:36 pm

butt rock cannot be “early” or “late”, for it transcends your puny concepts of time in its awesomeness


Salient 05.06.09 at 1:52 pm

So, we can pretty much take for granted that potential psychedelic prog-rock revivalists are just delaying the release of their masterworks until this thing hits the public domain. I have a new reason to look forward to the year 2067, now.


George W 05.07.09 at 12:52 am

Can an example of “butt rock” please be provided.


Salient 05.07.09 at 1:03 am

Can an example of “butt rock” please be provided.

Twisted Sister, I Wana Rock
Quiet Riot, Cum on Feel the Noise
Korn, Freak on a Leash
Motley Crue, [the entire canon]

Further entertainment, if you can call it that, to be found here and here.


George W 05.07.09 at 1:17 am

Okay thanks. Strangely, this set (aside from Korn) was more or less the soundtrack to my pre-adolescence, yet I have never heard the term “butt rock.”


Righteous Bubba 05.07.09 at 1:35 am

* Condition 1: music must be testosterone-driven.
* Condition 2: music must be rockin’.
* Condition 3: music must take itself seriously (especially its own testosterone).

It’s hard to imagine Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Korn, and Motley Crue all taking themselves and their music seriously.

Butt rock’s gotta be a way to slice pop metal off heavy metal.


Salient 05.07.09 at 1:38 am

Condition 3: music must take itself seriously (especially its own testosterone).

This was a really unfortunate condition for that individual to list, on par with identifying the characteristics of Romantic opera as (1) nationalistic, (2) character-driven, (3) whimsical and superficial.


Righteous Bubba 05.07.09 at 1:44 am

Maybe (3) should be “singable at high volume when drunk” or “possible to invoke with loud DA DA DAs.”


Salient 05.07.09 at 1:54 am

Maybe (3) should be “singable at high volume when drunk” or “possible to invoke with loud DA DA DAs.”

Sounds about right. I was thinking “(3) the lyrics make sense in direct proportion to the volume at which you announce them.”


Lee A. Arnold 05.07.09 at 3:34 am

John, do you know the very first Yes album? One track on it is really great — an astounding cover of Lennon/McCartney’s “Every Little Thing.”

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