Tag: Progressive Rock

1977, Music

I Robot (1977) by The Alan Parsons Project

When I was young and obsessed with prog rock, people used to make fun of me. They would learn I loved prog and they would be bemused or even a little shocked/outraged. And I was confused because I really liked the stuff. Eventually, I realized that those who made fun of my tastes were often …

1974, Music

The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage (1974) by Peter Hammill

This is a weird combination of what sounds like super eccentric singer-songwriter solo stuff and music that is basically Van Der Graaf Generator. It’s an odd mix that I would find less appealing if I didn’t like Hammill or VDGG so much. It’s great that Hammill wrote so much so that even when the band …

1973, 1997, Music

The Nightwatch: Live at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw November 23rd 1973 (1997) by King Crimson

This set was a famous bootleg before it was released for good reason, a bunch of it ended up (in edited form) as a major portion of Starless.

1971, Music

Camembert Electrique (1971) by Gong

This is the first proper Gong album I’ve heard, because, for some reason, I’ve only heard their jazz rock spinoff to date. It seems pretty obvious to me that Allen was once in Soft Machine because this sure sounds to me like the kind of music The Softs were making early in their career. And …

1970, Music

The Grass is Greener (1970) by Colosseum

I didn’t realize this was a weird, US-only hybrid album when I bought it. I somehow convinced myself it was their most recommended album (I guess I was listening to some US critics…). Anyway… The influence of Cream is particularly heavy here, on the opening track and the Bruce cover (even though it wasn’t a …

1976, Music

Strange New Flesh (1976) by Colosseum II

Note: I have never listened to the original Colosseum… “Dark Side of the Moog” gets things off to a great start, despite its title, with some typically bonkers (“mathy” is probably the word we would use now) European jazz rock. I used to eat this stuff up when I was younger, and still have a …

1976, Music

Interview (1976) by Gentle Giant

The idea that this is the first weak Gentle Giant album just doesn’t match what I’m hearing. Yes, I’m not sure the concept holds up all that well (this is a musical “interview” or something…), but the band is still quite capable of making their nutty, extremely inaccessible prog. The songs feel like maybe their …

1971, Music

In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971) by Caravan

When I first listened to this I didn’t like it at all, and I’m not sure why. I didn’t like it to the extent that I removed it from our next podcast, telling my cohost that it “wasn’t one of their best.” I guess maybe it was the lack of Hastings songs – his are …

1969, Music

Amon Duul II: Phallus Dei (1969)

What initially feels like a series of nearly formless psychedelic jams with everyone doing their own thing soon reveals itself to be one of the fundamental early documents of Krautrock (the earliest?) and a huge, huge influence on later musicians, particularly post punk bands (The Fall, for example) and indie rock bands (Stereolab). What’s perhaps …

Music, RIP

RIP Chris Squire

Among the “Big 6” prog bands, Yes was long my least favourite (though, as I age, ELP has taken their place very handily) – I have always found their discography rather immense and, well, kind of repetitive (though I have not given it the time I have given King Crimson’s, for example). So, maybe how …

1970, Music

In the Wake of Poseidon (1970) by King Crimson

Full disclosure: King crimsion is one of the bands that “changed my life” on a musical level and they remain among my favourites. I have trouble being objective about them. I’m trying, but it’s probably not possible.We should remember that this album was made by a band that wasn’t really a band at all: Michael …

2012, Music

Noctourniquet (2012) by the Mars Volta

If it’s possible for a group as progressive as the Mars Volta to record a pop album well, this is it. There are significantly more ballads (at least I think there are) and they, for the most part, less difficult than in the past (or they are mixed differently so the weirdness is subservient to …

1976, Music

Still Life (1976) by Van der Graaf Generator

This is the cleanest produced VDGG album I’ve heard so far (it’s the fourth I’ve heard), and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. On the positive, Hammill’s voice has never been so front and centre, and you can really hear how incredible a singer he is – if an album like this …

1973, Music

For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973) by Caravan

I really enjoyed the first Caravan album I heard (that would be their second), despite a few glaring drawbacks, and I looked forward to listening to a later one. But this just doesn’t do it for me. For one thing, it’s pretty glaring how conventional these guys were compared to so many other prog bands. …

1971, Music

Tarkus (1971) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

I think if anyone had any doubt back in 1971 that Emerson was the greatest rock keyboardist ever, the title track probably proved them wrong. It’s too bad that it doesn’t really have the same coherence and oomph of the best side-long prog epics. But it is still the highlight of an album that I …

1972, Music

Trilogy (1972) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Having just suffered through some of their late ’70s crap, it’s nice to hear them back in the day when they were still making interesting music. Always over the top, at least this stuff is also provocative. “The Endless Enigma” is almost a classic. It’s too bad the vocal sections are so weak compared to …

1977, Music

Works Volume 2 (1977) by Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Years ago, when I was still young enough to maintain that ELP was a truly great band, I gave this a listen or three and rated 6/10. I think I wanted to believe the common idea that this is better than Volume 1 because at least here the bands sometimes sounds like ELP. Well, there’re …

2010, Music

Trojan Jazz Festival (2010) by theHEAD

This album gets off to a weird note when the opening of the first track sounds straight out of early ’70s Roxy Music. But things definitely pick up after that. The set is apparently totally improvised, and the interaction between the players is pretty solid. This band has managed to find a relatively unique niche …

1970, Music

The Least We Can Do is Wave to Each Other (1970) by Van Der Graaf Generator

The first proper VDGG album (2nd official) is about as loud as prog rock got in 1970, which is a good thing, but likely doesn’t give us a good hint of what they actually sounded on stage. The songs aren’t quite there yet – though they are considerably better than some other prog bands’ – …

Music, RIP

RIP: Jon Lord

Jon Lord was one of the earliest rock keyboardists – along with people like Keith Emerson – to attempt to fuse so-called “classical” music (actually it was usually romantic) with rock. He convinced his band, Deep Purple, to cover Richard Strauss, among others, to include his string and wind arrangements, and to eventually perform his …

2005, Music

Frances the Mute by the Mars Volta (2005 GSL)

The more I listen to the Mars Volta the more I become convinced that they are pretty much the only mainstream band keeping the spirit – if not the sound – of progressive rock alive. They manage to combine relatively adventurous ideas – whereas early prog rock usually borrowed from Romantic music or mainstream jazz, …