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I Know What I Like: Trollheart's History of Progressive Rock (2 Viewers)

Trollheart

Senior Member
As the Moody Blues left behind the r&b style their first album had featured and began developing their own version of what would become progressive rock, their third album would retain the idea of the concept, this one following a basic theme of travelling, and would also continue their use of orchestral music, though in this case as mentioned above they would play the instruments themselves rather than hire an orchestra. Bringing in instruments like the sitar and the tabla gave this album a more eastern feel, fitting in with the idea of travelling to strange countries and making it more cosmopolitan than most albums out at the time. In a departure from the previous album though, this one has no multi-part suites, and the longest two tracks clock in at less than seven minutes each.
In_search_of_the_lost_chord.jpg

Album title: In Search of the Lost Chord
Artiste: The Moody Blues
Nationality: British
Label: Deram Records
Year: 1968
Grade: B
Previous Experience of this Artiste: see the entry on Days of Future Passed
The Trollheart Factor: 4
Landmark value: I don't see a huge landmark value here to be honest. The use of the ethnic instruments is interesting, and it's another concept album, but why it would be rated above Days of Future Passed I would be hard pressed to say.
Tracklisting: Departure/Ride My See-Saw/ Dr. Livingston, I Presume/ House of Four Doors/ Legend of a Mind/ House of Four Doors (Part 2)/ Voices in the Sky/ The Best Way to Travel/ Visions of Paradise/ The Actor/ The Word/ Om
Comments: “Departure” is a short, forty-five second spoken word piece with rising guitar line pulling it right into “Ride My See-Saw”, which I do know. It's a psychedelic rock song, uptempo with a great melody, very catchy. Great vocal harmonies, which would of course become one of the hallmarks of the Moodys. “Dr. Livingston, I Presume” is a little Beatles-y I feel, bit vapid, but “House of Four Doors” is much better, with an ethic, dramatic feel, a slower track that still pops along nicely. Some nice flute from Mike Pinder. Pretty nice harpsichord too. “Legend of a Mind” really reminds me of ELO, and yes, again, I know they weren't going at that point. Really slick little hypnotic bass line in this. Lot of stuff about Timothy Leary, in whom I have no interest. Good song though.

“House of Four Doors (Part 2)” is a slow kind of reprise which reminds me of the Everly Brothers, not mad about it but it's short. The other track I know then is “Voices in the Sky”, which features some really nice acoustic guitar and the vocals of Justin Hayward. “The Best Way to Travel” is also acoustic. I have to say, generally I'm not as impressed with this album as I was with the previous one. Not too much of the prog rock in it I feel. Okay, there's some nice kind of spacey keyboard here so it's not bad, but it's still not what I'd call a prog powerhouse or anything close to it. “Visions of Paradise” is a lovely little flute-driven ballad with acoustic guitar, very pastoral and relaxing; you can really hear the sitar here too.

Oh, I forgot: I know “The Actor” too. Nice boppy mid-tempo piece, kind of skips along nicely with again Justin on vocals, then there's another spoken word piece, almost completely unaccompanied, titled, appropriately enough, “The Word”, which then leads into the closer, “Om”. It's very Indian, with plenty of sitar and tabla, good vocal harmonies and a very decent closer to what is, I must admit, not the greatest album. Expected a lot more. Bitchin' album sleeve though!

Favourite track(s): Ride My See-Saw, House of Four Doors, Voices in the Sky, Visions of Paradise, The Actor, Om
Least favourite track(s): Dr. Livingston, I Presume
Overall impression: After Days of Future Passed I was hoping for a continuation, something at least as good. I find this album something of a minor disappointment if I'm honest.
Personal Rating: 2.00
Legacy Rating: 4.00
Final Rating: 3.00
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
I already admitted I'm one of those rare prog heads who has never heard King Crimson, and therefore I have of course no experience whatever of Giles, Giles and Fripp, but this is the band in which founder and driving force behind KC Robert Fripp cut his musical teeth, so it's certainly expedient that we feature one of their albums. Their only album, in fact. GG&F later more or less metamorphosed into King Crimson with the departure of Peter Giles and his replacement in Greg Lake. Anecdotal evidence says this album sold a mere five hundred copies.
CheerfulInsanity.jpg

Album title: The Cheerful Insanity of Giles, Giles and Fripp
Artiste: Giles, Giles and Fripp
Nationality: British
Label: Deram
Year: 1968
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: Other than being the springboard to the formation of King Crimson, I don't really think it's seen as having any particular landmark value, though if it sold as few copies as they say then it's probably highly sought-after now and a collector's item.
Tracklisting: North Meadow/ Newly-Weds/ One in a Million/ Call Tomorrow/ Digging My Lawn/ Little Children/ The Crukster/ Thursday Morning/ How Do They Know/ Elephant Song/ The Sun is Shining/ Suite Number 1/ Erudite Eyes
Comments: Well I guess being such a rarity, it's hard to find. Spotify has not got it, nor has Grooveshark, and even YouTube, when it does have it, tells me I can't watch it. Bastards. At any rate, I've cobbled it together from loose tracks so let's see how we go. Oh, I should point out there are two spoken word pieces here as well, but I can't find them and as I'm more concerned with the music anyway I'm not that bothered.

“North Meadow” starts out like a cross between a seventies soul song and the theme to some cop series, but then the vocals come in and it's very sixties, very psychedelic. Interestingly, it mentions “Willow Grove Farm”, which makes me wonder if Genesis's “Willow Farm” on “Supper's Ready” was influenced by that? Nice horns and organs, and right away you can hear the guitar technique and expertise for which Fripp would become famous. “Newly-Weds” initially rides on a nice bass line but is very reminiscent of “She's Leaving Home” by The Beatles, while “One in a Million” is a quaint little English folk song in which you can hear echoes of The Kinks. Nice cello, and I can hear where Neil Hannon would get some of his inspiration over twenty years later.

“Call Tomorrow” is a dour, bleak piece on slow piano with a kind of acapella section, then “Digging My Lawn” gets back to the mid-tempo folky material, again a really nice bass line, and “Little Children”, the first of only three tracks on the album written by Fripp, keeps this basic idea going though it's a little faster of a tempo. I can't find “The Crukster”, so next up is “Thursday Morning”, with again very much a Beatles feel to it, slow cello and violin, very nice. More uptempo and cheery really is “How Do They Know”, really really reminds me of Dionne Warwick's “Walk on By” in places. Yes, I know you hate it when I do that. Not going to stop though. “Elephant Song” has more brass to it and kind of a mix of folk with a lot of jazz and psych thrown in. There's a certain celtic feel to it too, and I think it may be an instrumental, the first yet on the album. Like the sudden false stops during the piece. Some smooth harmonica too. Cute, if a little repetitive.

Can't find “The Sun is Shining”, so it's on to the classical-infused second instrumental and second of three Fripp-penned tunes, both of the last of which close the album, “Suite No. 1”. Some excellent piano here, then it breaks down into a lovely slow strings passage with hummed choral vocals; really quite beautiful and certainly my favourite on the album. The third movement as such then comes on what sounds like harpsichord and guitar, sort of reminds me of early Sky (yes, yes! I know...) before it bursts into a fast bass run that takes it the rest of the way with ticking percussion, bringing in bright piano as the piece heads towards its conclusion, with an odd little spoken word snippet at the end, sort of ruins it for me. The final track then is Fripp's other solo written piece and it's called “Erudite Eyes”. It's okay, and I hear where the likes of Eric Woolfson and Colin Blunstone may have been influenced by this album, but I much prefer the previous track and think that would have been a better closer.

Favourite track(s): There's nothing I really hate here but little I love either, other than Suite No. 1, which really stands out for me.
Least favourite track(s): As above
Overall impression: A pleasant little album; nothing bad about it but nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking either. Kind of neutral on it. As a precursor to King Crimson it has to be afforded respect, but I wasn't crazy about it. Still, as Monty Burns once said, I know what I hate, and I don't hate this.
Personal Rating: 2.0
Legacy Rating: 5.0
Final Rating: 3.50
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
Although there is some debate as to what exactly defined the musical movement known as “The Canterbury Scene”, it seems to have originated with The Wilde Flowers, who later segmented into both Soft Machine and Caravan, two bands who were very prominent in, and founder members of the scene. Rather than being a particular type of music, the Canterbury Scene appears to have been a sort of fluid group of musicians who would migrate from bands to band (progressive rock gypsies?) and who began in, or played basically around the area of Canterbury in Kent, in the south of England. I may end up doing a full article on this later, but right now I mention them mostly because I'm about to listen to the debut album from one of those main driving influences in what became known as The Canterbury Scene.
Caravan1968.jpg

Album title: Caravan
Artiste: Caravan
Nationality: English
Label: Decca
Year: 1968
Grade: A
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: Seen as one of the first and most important albums of The Canterbury Scene, fusing psychedelia, jazz and classical with the emerging prog rock.
Tracklisting: Place of My Own/ Ride/ Policeman/ Love Song with Flute/ Cecil Rons/ Magic Man/ Grandma's Lawn/ Where But for Caravan Would I?
Comments: You can hear the whimsicality spoken of in the piece on TCS as soon as the album opens, and I'm glad to say there are plenty of keys – never really consider a band totally prog without a few keyboards - musicianship is excellent as demonstrated by the instrumental break that takes most of the latter part of “Place of My Own”, vocals from Pye Hastings are very easy on the ear and you can hear where Supertramp were going to tread later. “Ride” begins in much the same vein, soft and gentle before the guitar crashes through and another extended instrumental kicks off. I like the mix of a very easy, relaxed vocal with harder guitars and crashing drums, though I hear little keyboard here. It's all over “Policeman” though, honking and trumpeting in a somewhat Beatles-style tune, some great organ pounding its way sonorously through the tune, which appears to be the first full instrumental.

“Love Song with a Flute” is a slow ballad, as you might expect, with warbling keys and, well, flute, a nice sort of echoey vocal on it. Ramps up a little, rather unexpectedly, halfway through, the organ coming in much more forcefully (yes, yes, tee-hee) then “Cecil Rons” is the first one that sounds not only psych but also sort of threatening, ominous with a staccato drumbeat and kind of warped keyboard line. Little unsettling, almost seems out of place beside the rest of the album so far. “Magic Man” is a really nice laid back folky style song with acoustic guitar and some nice organ work, very relaxing. Man. “Grandma's Lawn” is pretty trippy, with the vocal again buried deep in the mix so that it sounds like it's being sung at the bottom of a well or something; great keyboard line, and then the closer is a nine-minute monster.

A soft gentle guitar line opens “Where But for Caravan Would I” with an equally gentle vocal in a slow ballad with rising organ then kicks up with a good instrumental break carried mostly by said organ. It finishes well but is I feel overlong.

Favourite track(s): Place of My Own, Ride, Policeman, Love Song with a Flute, Magic Man
Least favourite track(s): Grandma's Lawn, Cecil Rons
Overall impression: A very good album but I would venture to think they have better. Not a bad introduction though into this Canterbury Scene stuff.
Personal Rating: 3.0
Legacy Rating: 4.0
Final Rating: 3.50
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
So far we've dealt mainly with bands I either know and like, or have no experience of, but now we come to one I know, and do not like. I have never been able to get into Jethro Tull's particular mix of prog rock and semi-medieval music; it just never sat well with me, and unless there is a real miracle during this journal I doubt it ever will. Nevertheless, they're a big player in the genre and so must be covered.

Another of the British bands formed out of grammar school friends, Jethro Tull initially began as a blues band, but when frontman Ian Anderson feared he was in danger of being squeezed out of the limelight by the lead guitarist, as he could not play as well, he switched to a more interesting instrument, and so became the focus of the band as he cavorted madly onstage playing a flute. Few other bands at this time featured this instrument, so it was a good gimmick and certainly earned them rave reviews.

Their first album, like the debuts of many of the bands featured here, was a far cry from the music they would become known for. Based more on blues standards and covers, it would be another year before they would make it big with their second album hitting the number one spot, although this did make a very respectable showing at number ten.
Jethro_Tull_-_This_Was_fron_cover.jpg

Album title: This Was
Artiste: Jethro Tull
Nationality: British
Label: Island
Year: 1968
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Very little. I've heard a few singles and the album Heavy Horses which was ok.
The Trollheart Factor: 2
Landmark value: As a band pushing the envelope by including folk music and medieval themes in their music, Jethro Tull stood out as something very different, but also polarising: you either loved them or hated them. Guess where I stood? Also, for years I thought Ian Anderson's name was Jethro Tull...!
Tracklisting: My Sunday Feeling/ Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You/ Beggar's Farm/ Move on Alone/ Serenade to a Cuckoo/ Dharma for One/ It's Breaking Me Up/ Cat's Squirrel/ Song for Jeffrey/ Round
Comments: I'm not quite sure what it is I dislike about this band. Yes I am. It's the flute. I've never been a big fan of flutes in general, and the overuse of it on Jethro Tull's music sets my teeth on edge. I'm also not a fan of Anderson's style of singing, which really makes me feel that he is putting on a country bumpkin act: maybe he isn't but that's how it always seemed to me. Not crazy about their agricultural themes either. In fact, if there was any way I could not call this prog rock and avoid including it I would, but they're part of the fabric of what grew to be progressive rock, and so I have to look into them. Doesn't mean I have to like it. I don't.

Actually this probably is not the best album to start with, but there are apparently prog rock influences on it, unlike with The Moody Blues' debut, so for better or worse here we go. Well the bloody flute is right in your face from the first chord, but it almost sounds incongruous against the pretty basic blues music in the opener. Nice bit of Waits-style bass near the end, is about as much as I can take from that. Pretty bleh really; at least the next one up has a cool harmonica and a nice slow blues vibe, but adding a flute onto that does not, for me, make it prog rock or anything close. “Beggar's Farm” has a kind of early Fleetwood Mac/Supertramp feel to it, and at least the flute has been dialled back.

“Move on Alone” is the only song Jethro Tull played, apparently, on which someone other than Anderson sings, and to be honest it's okay but again, it's not prog, not to me. Sounds pretty dated really, though the guitar on it is good. Very short too, which is not something you can say of their cover of “Serenade to a Cuckoo”, which is - oh no! - a jazz standard. Now, I may be going out on a limb here, but I expect to hate this. It doesn't help that it's flute-driven. Ugh. Like some of the worst wallpaper/elevator music I've ever had to sit through. And it's six bloody minutes long! Well it did nothing for me as expected, and flute leading in the next track doesn't help either. Sigh.

For me, Jethro Tull succeed best - on this album anyway - when they stick to the slow blues boogies, as in “It's Breaking Me Up”, with again the return of that harmonica and little or no flute, but then I guess I have to take that back as “Cat's Squirrel” is fast and uptempo and great fun. But then again, it's a cover. And there's no flute. Most importantly, there is no flute. God I hate that flute. And it's back for “A Song for Jeffrey”, leaving its annoying fingermarks on the last instrumental track. Bah!
Favourite track(s): Some Day the Sun Won't Shine for You, Beggar's Farm
Least favourite track(s): Serenade to a Cuckoo, Dharma for One
Overall impression: Okay, as I said this is not a typical JT album, sure, but it has not done anything to change my opinion on them. That however will really have to wait till I review a “proper” Tull offering I guess. For now though, this does not come across to me as prog in any way, shape or form and with hindsight I probably should have omitted it and gone straight to their second album. Still, as it made them very popular I guess it has to have a decent Legacy Rating at least.
Personal Rating: 1.0
Legacy Rating: 4.0
Final Rating: 2.50
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
And so we go back to The Nice. When I reviewed their debut I was unexpectedly impressed. Is this likely to continue with the release of their second album, which featured one of those side-long suites, the title track in fact? This second outing also features Keith Emerson stepping out a little from behind the keyboard and taking on some vocal duties, which is in itself a little odd as once he joined ELP he just played and never sang. Maybe this album will underline why?
The_Nice_-_Ars_Longa_Vita_Brevis.jpg

Album title: Ars Longa Vita Brevis
Artiste: The Nice
Nationality: British
Label: Immediate
Year: 1968
Grade: B
Previous Experience of this Artiste: see the review of their debut
The Trollheart Factor: 2
Landmark value: I guess again, pretty much seen as a precursor to ELP, so significant in that regard and again, one of the albums that pushed both keyboard and classical influences more to the forefront than they had previously been.
Tracklisting: Daddy Where Did I Come From/ Little Arabella/ Happy Freuds/ Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite/ Don Edito el Gruva/Ars Long Vita Brevis: (i) Prelude – 1st movement: Awakening (ii) 2nd movement: Realisation (iii) 3rd movement: Acceptance “Brandenburger” (iv) 4th movement: Denial (v) Coda: Extension to the Big Note/
Comments: Before we get going, the title: apparently it translates as something like "life is short but art is eternal". Hmm. I see this album in some versions features “America” but as I've covered that on the debut (even if it's shown as “2nd movement" and may be a little different; the joke has worn thin now) and it's not on my copy we kick off on “Daddy Where Did I Come From?” which has a sort of uptempo rocky Doors feel to it, certainly Emerson at centre stage again, no surprise there. Sounds like some sort of taped effects there being used: I could be wrong but I think only The Beatles had done that up to now. It's okay but a bit meh. “Little Arabella” is quite annoying, just a basic rock track with not too much in the way of keyboard though there's some nice piano. I do hear the orchestra they're using this time out though. Super bass line but I'm not terribly impressed overall so far.

Okay well I see why he wasn't invited to sing in ELP. Emerson is not a good singer. I know he's putting it on a bit here in “Happy Freuds” but it doesn't work, not for me. Great keyboard work of course as ever, but again overall I'm pretty disappointed with this album at this point. I don't know the classical piece “Intermezzo from Karelia Suite” by Sibelius, but I must admit The Nice's version of it here is the best I've heard on this album so far ... oh wait, I do know it. Just didn't know that was the title. Nice stuff. The percussion really adds something. So after a tiny little totally pointless “track” we get to the suite.

Starts off well, big intro, though the titles seem a little skewed. If it's meant to be a cycle of life/death, doesn't denial come before acceptance? Anyway, hopefully this is where the album begins a decent upswing. Well after the intro the first movement is mostly percussion and has a nice kind of mechanical feel, titled as it is “Awakening” I can see how that works. It might be a shade too long though. As was said on the “Bad News” comedy programme, “He did a twenty-minute drum solo. Would have been longer, but I can't stand drum solos.” I don't think most people can. I know for me personally they get boring after a few minutes and this really drags on and on and on, nearly six minutes of pretty much the same thing. I'm sure if you're a drummer you can appreciate it, for me it's just tedious.

I can hear where Rush would pick up their early influences in the second movement, with a good driving guitar and keyboard combo, but oddly enough it has vocals; for some reason I thought this whole thing would be instrumental. Shows what I know, huh? I guess the third movement then uses Bach's “Brandenburg Concerto” as a basis, given the subtitle. Pretty cool all right. Fourth movement rocks pretty well but is again just really a showcase for Emerson's flamboyance. I think this would have worked better overall without the vocal part. Not bad though.

Favourite track(s): Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite, Ars Longa Vita Brevis (most of it)
Least favourite track(s): Everything else really
Overall impression: Meh. Nowhere near as impressed with this as I was with the debut. Kind of confused as to where it wants to go: first side is basic rock while side two is a classical suite. Confusing.
Personal Rating: 2.0
Legacy Rating: 4.0
Final Rating: 3.0
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
It's a return to Canterbury next, though this is the first time we've featured, or even heard, this band, who were very instrumental in the Canterbury scene. Formed out of members of already-mentioned The Wilde Flowers, who didn't release any albums and who also spawned previously featured Caravan, Soft Machine (who at this point, rather like Barret, Waters, Wright and Mason had the definite article before their name and were therefore known as The Soft Machine till the next year) pioneered much of what would become known as jazz fusion, and would go on to perhaps explore the excesses that would dog progressive rock later through bands such as ELP and Yes, with side-long suites on their albums. A side effect of one of the band members being refused re-entry into the UK later would be that another classic psychedelic/prog band would be born, under the name of Gong.

Soft Machine's self-titled first album was, however, restrained in comparison to later efforts, and the longest song on it runs for just over seven minutes, though I'm reliably informed that live versions of another track, “We Did It Again” could often run to three-quarters of an hour. You sit through that, you're either dedicated or stoned out of your brain. You choose.
The_Soft_Machine-album.jpg

Album title: The Soft Machine
Artiste: (The) Soft Machine
Nationality: British
Label: ABC Probe
Year: 1968
Grade: A
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: One of the progenitors of the Canterbury Scene, and giving birth also to Gong, the impact of Soft Machine upon progressive rock, and psychedelic rock too, can't really be overstated
Tracklisting: Hope for Happiness/Joy of a Toy/Hope for Happiness Reprise/Why am I So Short/So Boot if At All/ A Certain Kind/ Save Yourself/ Priscilla/Lullabye Letter/We Did It Again/Plus belle qu'une poubelle/Why Are We Sleeping/Box 25/4 Lid
Comments: Can't say I'm sold on Robert Wyatt's vocals; sort of like a low drawl or something. The music's good, pretty penetrating bass and as expected plenty of wild keyboard going on, but I'm not really buying into it just at this point. “Joy of a Toy” is much better, love the phased guitar (look, I'm not a guitarist ok? It sounds phased or some sort of effect to me) and Kevin Ayers' slick bass really drives the tune too. Almost a settling down after the somewhat directionless opener. Like this a lot, very laid back. The reprise of the opener drags it all back down though, but at least it's only short.

You can really hear the jazz influences on “Why am I So Short”, but despite that (!) I like it. “So Boot if At All” (huh?) suffers from that other bugbear of mine, extended drum solos and I feel it too meanders all over the place and is way too long at over seven minutes. Some nice ideas but it's not too cohesive. The organ on “A Certain Kind” is just gorgeous, however the vocals are so low in the mix I almost can't hear them (I'm never quite sure if this is a fault in my amp, but I've been able to hear the vox on the rest of the tracks okay so I'll say no) then “Save Yourself” is much harsher, again organ-driven but very sharp, though at least I can hear the vocals this time. Good enough song to be fair. “Priscilla” is a neat little keyboard workout that works well, instrumental again and it slides right into “Lullabye Letter”, which I also like a lot. Interestingly, this track is nothing like the ballad I would have expected; it's quite frenetic really and has some powerful keys in it.

I've been prepared for this from reading about it, but it's still odd to find that “We Did It Again” is not even basically, but literally, just those four words repeated against pretty much the same melody all through its three minutes and forty-six second run. Different certainly, but I wonder how many people would listen to that for forty-five minutes without being high? Even stranger: this is the first track on which Ayers takes vocal duties, but what can you do with four words? Hard to gauge his performance, and he's only on one other track here. The next one up is just over a minute, with a French title which I can't translate, (either beauty or something, maybe) but it seems to be more or less just an extension of the musical idea within “We Did It Again”, then “Why Are We Sleeping?” gives Ayers a chance to sing properly.

Except he speaks. Ah. Great organ line underpinning the melody I must say. A few piano notes then ends the album. Overall I think I liked this more than I hated it, but so far not a fan.

Favourite track(s): Joy of a Toy, A Certain Kind, Priscilla, Lullabye Letter, Why Are We Sleeping
Least favourite track(s): Hope for Happiness, So Boot if At All
Overall impression: You have to give credit to Soft Machine for their legacy, and this is a decent album, but it hasn't made me want to listen to the rest of their stuff just yet. Still, there are some interesting ideas on it that I'm sure they expanded on, so I'll file this under “may grow to like” and see how we do as the years go on and we move further into the history of progressive rock. For now...
Personal Rating: 3.0
Legacy Rating: 5.0
Final Rating: 4.0
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
Another band to impress me - one of the first, of those of which I knew little initially - was Procol Harum, and like many prog bands coming up at this time they didn't hang around for years waiting to release their followup to the self-titled debut which gave them their massive and classic single. Like The Nice and the Moody Blues, this album also features an almost side-long suite which runs for just over seventeen minutes, one of the first of what would become de rigeur among the bigger prog bands, with Genesis, Rush, Yes and ELP all following suit(e) – sorry - and making this almost expected as the seventies burgeoned with what could in fairness be said to be progressive rock's excess. But for now, this was new, this was exciting, and this was a challenge to the ears of those listening to it for the first time.
440px-Procol_Harum_%E2%80%94_%E2%80%98Shine_On_Brightly%E2%80%99_UK_Cover.jpg

Album title: Shine on Brightly
Artiste: Procol Harum
Nationality: British
Label: Regal Zonophone
Year: 1968
Grade: A
Previous Experience of this Artiste: See review of debut album
The Trollheart Factor: 3
Landmark value: Following on from their impressive debut, Procol Harum had by now made a name for themselves with the timeless “A Whiter Shade of Pale” ensuring their place in rock history. This album though contains one of the first side-long (or almost) suites that would become a staple of future prog rock albums.
Tracklisting: Quite Rightly So/Shine on Brightly/Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)/Wish Me Well/Ramble on/Magdalene (My Regal Zonopohone)/In Held 'twas I: [(i) Glimpses of Nirvana (ii) 'twas Teatime at the Circus (iii) In the Autumn of My Madness (iv) Look to Your Soul (v) Grand Finale
Comments: Unbelievably, Spotify don't have this album (though they have plenty of PH) and Grooveshark, though it does have it, omits the fucking suite! What's the point in that? So, a YouTubing I must go. And the big Y does not let me down. Starts off well with a good rocker, plenty of keyboard and organ, then the title track has a slow classical piano intro and a spoken word start before effects slam in and keyboard and piano take the tune into a more uptempo vein. “Skip Softly (My Moonbeams)” has a staccato, marching beat to it, more guitar driven with a really good instrumental workout at the end.

Good old honest blues drives “Wish Me Well”, great organ and powerful piano with a really strong vocal; like this one a lot. And “Rambling on”, with its slow blues balladry and growling guitar. Just great. Nothing bad so far. Things stay slow then for “Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone)” with a slow militaristic drumbeat and some bright organ before we move into the suite. Somewhat like The Moody Blues on Days of Future Passed, it opens with a spoken passage while some spacey organ holds court in the background. Sitar coming through then a nice slow piano passage with choral vocals, which give way to another spoken passage.

A madcap carnival beat then for the second part, “'Twas Teatime at the Circus”, very psychedelic, while “In the Autumn of My Madness” is total prog, with big booming organ and a great vocal, guitars slicing across the melody too, then it gets really dark and menacing with a stomping, marching beat driven on bass and piano with the guitar painting its strokes across the music, before this breaks down into a melancholic piano passage. “Look to Your Soul” is the fourth movement of the piece and brings it all down to earth, heavy percussion kicking in before the big finale brings it all to a close in fine style, making this the second PH album that has seriously impressed me.

Favourite track(s): Everything.
Least favourite track(s): Nothing.
Overall impression: Really loved this album, and given what happened with the Nice on ALVB I thought maybe it might be pushing it for this to be as good as their debut, but it outshines even that. Just brilliant. I look forward to hearing more of their material, and can certainly say this is a great example of a proto-prog rock record, a formula many other bands would follow in the years to come.
Personal Rating: 5.0
Legacy Rating: 3.0
Final Rating: 4.0
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
As I stated when I listed the albums I'd be reviewing for 1968, I have my doubts about this final one, but I see that David Bowie covered two of their songs, so that must be some sort of claim to fame. Nevertheless, I've never heard of them at all, so wonder if this is an album I should be covering? Furthermore, it's their fourth, and as most if not all of the main progressive rock bands are only starting around now, this seems like it may be the output of a psych/blues band who might have turned towards progressive rock at this time. If so, then I guess that's okay but I hope it's not a Safe as Milk or Fifth Dimension, having very little to do with the genre. Mind you, it is a concept album, and arguably an influence on The Who's later classic, Tommy, so perhaps it deserves its place.
Sf_sorrow_%28gold_ltd_edition.jpg

Album title: S.F. Sorrow
Artiste: The Pretty Things
Nationality: British
Label: Columbia
Year: 1968
Grade: C
Previous Experience of this Artiste: Zero
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Landmark value: Another one of the early concept albums, but other than that I have to say I don't really see the LV for this one. I've never heard of them at all, though of course that doesn't necessarily mean anything.
Tracklisting: S.F. Sorrow is Born/Bracelets of Fingers/She Says Good Morning/Private Sorrow/Balloon Burning/Death/Baron Saturday/The Journey/I See You/Well of Destiny/Trust/Old Man Going/Loneliest Person
Comments: The concept revolves around a life, the eponymous character, and to be fair, the moment it starts, though I'm not that familiar with The Who's epic, from what I have heard I can hear the similarities. It's very hard-folk oriented, with a strong guitar line driving the opener, which leaves you in no doubt as to the theme: “S.F Sorrow is Born”. Sebastian F. Sorrow is the protagonist, but as this is a very short look at the album I won't be going into the concept, which I don't know anyway. I hear trumpets and other brass here which somehow gives the song a kind of Mariachi feel in part. “Bracelets of Fingers” is a slower track, very Beatles/Beach Boys, then kicks into a kind of Barret-Floyd vibe, picking up tempo. The stop/start nature of the song is a little offputting; hope that doesn't continue all through the album.

The next one is more hard rock really, good guitar while the one following that is back to folk, with flute and maybe sitar, bit repetitive. I can hear the sound Bowie would adopt in the vocals of Phil May, particularly in “Balloon Burning”. Much slower and almost a precursor to some of the stuff Nick Cave would do in the eighties is “Death”, with much moaning and crashing of slow cymbals. Nice bit of guitar coming in to shake it up for a moment but it's basically a dour piece, as you would expect from a song so titled.

“Baron Saturday” has a vague kind of “Yellow Submarine” hippy groove to it, some interesting effects in “Well of Destiny”, but overall I'm just kind of bored, a little uncaring, and while “Trust” has a nice laid back guitar ballad in it, I'm in that frame of mind now where I'm just waiting for the album to end. Which it does reasonably well as it happens, but I'm just not that interested now.

Favourite track(s): Didn't like or dislike anything enough to choose.
Least favourite track(s):
Overall impression: Meh. Probably should have gone with my instincts and not bothered.
Personal Rating: 1.0
Legacy Rating: 1.0
Final Rating: 1.0
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
And so we come to the end of 1968. While there were some very influential and important albums released this year (the second efforts from Floyd and Procol Harum, Soft Machine's debut, Zappa's lunatic masterpiece) I feel the progressive rock iceberg was still about ninety-eight percent still submerged under the waters, with only the barest glimpses being given of what was to come. It wouldn't really be until 1970 that really classic prog rock albums would come to the surface, but 1969 does have at least a far longer list to choose from, and with bands like King Crimson,Yes and Van der Graaf - to say nothing of Genesis - entering the fray, you can probably begin to see the first real shapes beginning to emerge in the portrait prog rock would draw through the seventies.

I have to admit, I haven't been overly impressed with the crop so far. Even back to 1967, with a few exceptions these come across as bands trying to tentatively cross over the borders from blues or psychedelic rock to the new genre, or in the case of some, like The Nice, performing a balancing act by keeping one foot firmly on the ground of classical and jazz music while trying to stretch over and see how far they can make it into rock territory before losing their equilibrium and falling back on one side or other of the fence. Nobody strikes me as really going for it: even Floyd have still at this point the ghost of Syd Barrett to deal with, and until they shook that free in 1973 they would never really quite be regarded as a pure progressive rock band. It would take five more albums until they would finally hit the winning formula and define the sound of a generation. The Moody Blues would continue testing the boundaries, while Zappa would delight in kicking them down and trampling on them while scrawling rude messages on the brickwork, but would never really fall into the same category as the likes of Rush, Genesis, Camel and Yes. Jethro Tull would fart about for a few more years before finally deciding to go all-in with Aqualung in 1971, while Soft Machine would tread their own weird path into the seventies and The Nice would disband to allow Emerson's ego a much larger stage to strut on from 1970.

1969 was, though, when things began to get interesting, and that's where we're headed next.
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
Although I'm not fond of quoting articles verbatim, I'm too lazy to transcribe this, and it says everything I need to say about the subject. I have been searching for a more detailed description of what progressive rock is, or is seen to be, than Wiki could give me, and came across this on the Prog Archives website. As I have expressed doubts about many of the bands I have listened to being strictly prog the question then arises naturally, what is progressive rock?

From Prog Archives

Progressive Rock - Definition, Genres & Articles

A definition of Progressive Rock Music
Progressive rock (often shortened to prog or prog rock) is a form of rock music that evolved in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." The term "art rock" is often used interchangeably with "progressive rock", but while there are crossovers between the two genres, they are not identical.

Progressive rock bands pushed "rock's technical and compositional boundaries" by going beyond the standard rock or popular verse-chorus-based song structures. Additionally, the arrangements often incorporated elements drawn from classical, jazz, and world music. Instrumentals were common, while songs with lyrics were sometimes conceptual, abstract, or based in fantasy. Progressive rock bands sometimes used "concept albums that made unified statements, usually telling an epic story or tackling a grand overarching theme."

Progressive rock developed from late 1960s psychedelic rock, as part of a wide-ranging tendency in rock music of this era to draw inspiration from ever more diverse influences. The term was applied to the music of bands such as King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Soft Machine and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Progressive rock came into most widespread use around the mid-1970s. While progressive rock reached the peak of its popularity in the 1970s and early 1980s, neo-progressive bands have continued playing for faithful audiences in the subsequent decades.

Musical characteristics
Form: Progressive rock songs either avoid common popular music song structures of verse-chorus-bridge, or blur the formal distinctions by extending sections or inserting musical interludes, often with exaggerated dynamics to heighten contrast between sections. Classical forms are often inserted or substituted, sometimes yielding entire suites, building on the traditional medleys of earlier rock bands. Progressive rock songs also often have extended instrumental passages, marrying the classical solo tradition with the improvisational traditions of jazz and psychedelic rock. All of these tend to add length to progressive rock songs, which may last longer than twenty minutes.

Timbre (instrumentation and tone color): Early progressive rock groups expanded the timbral palette of the then-traditional rock instrumentation of guitar, organ, bass, and drums by adding instruments more typical of jazz or folk music, such as flute, saxophone and violin, and more often than not used electronic keyboards, synthesizers, and electronic effects. Some instruments – most notably the Moog synthesizer and the Mellotron – have become closely associated with the genre.

Rhythm: Drawing on their classical, jazz, folk and experimental influences, progressive rock artists are more likely to explore time signatures other than 4/4 and tempo changes. Progressive rock generally tends to be freer in its rhythmic approach than other forms of rock music. The approach taken varies, depending on the band, but may range from regular beats to irregular or complex Time Signatures.

Melody and Harmony: In prog rock, the blues inflections of mainstream rock are often supplanted by jazz and classical influences. Melodies are more likely to be modal than based on the pentatonic scale, and are more likely to comprise longer, developing passages than short, catchy ones. Chords and chord progressions may be augmented with 6ths, 7ths, 9ths, and compound intervals; and the I-IV-V progression is much less common. Allusions to, or even direct quotes from, well-known classical themes are common. Some bands have used atonal or dissonant harmonies, and a few have even worked with rudimentary serialism.

Texture and imagery: Ambient soundscapes and theatrical elements may be used to describe scenes, events or other aspects of the concept. For example, Leitmotif is used to represent the various characters in Genesis' "Harold the Barrel" and "Robbery, Assault and Battery." More literally, the sounds of clocks and cash registers are used to represent time and money in Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.

Other characteristics
Technology: To aid timbral exploration, progressive rock bands were often early adopters of new electronic musical instruments and technologies. The mellotron, particularly, was a signature sound of early progressive bands. Pink Floyd utilized an EMS Synthi A synthesizer equipped with a sequencer on their track "On the Run" from their 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon. In the late 1970s, Robert Fripp, of King Crimson, and Brian Eno developed an analog tape loops effect (Frippertronics). In the 1980s, Frank Zappa used the Synclavier for composing and recording, and King Crimson utilized MIDI-enabled guitars, a Chapman Stick, and electronic percussion.

Concept albums: Collections of songs unified by an elaborate, overarching theme or story are common to progressive rock. As songs by progressive rock acts tend to be quite long, such collections have frequently exceeded the maximum length of recorded media, resulting in packages that require multiple vinyl discs, cassettes, or compact discs in order to present a single album. Concepts have included the historical, fantastical, and metaphysical, and even, in the case of Jethro Tull's Thick as a Brick, poking fun at concept albums.

Lyrical themes: Progressive rock typically has lyrical ambition similar to its musical ambition, tending to avoid typical rock/pop subjects such as love, dancing, etc., rather inclining towards the kinds of themes found in classical literature, fantasy, folklore, social commentry or all of these. Peter Gabriel (Genesis) often wrote surreal stories to base his lyrics around, sometimes including theatrical elements with several characters, while Roger Waters (Pink Floyd) combined social criticism with personal struggles with greed, madness, and death.

Presentation: Album art and packaging is often an important part of the artistic concept. This trend can be seen to have begun with The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and played a major part in the marketing of progressive rock. Some bands became as well known for the art direction of their albums as for their sound, with the "look" integrated into the band's overall musical identity. This led to fame for particular artists and design studios, most notably Roger Dean for his work with Yes, and Hipgnosis for their work with Pink Floyd and several other progressive rock groups.

Stage theatrics: Beginning in the early 1970s, some progressive rock bands began incorporating elaborate and sometimes flamboyant stage theatrics into their concerts. Genesis lead singer Peter Gabriel wore many different colourful and exotic costumes in one show and frequently acted out the lyrical narrative of the songs, and the band used lasers and giant mirrors synchronized with the music. Yes incorporated futuristic stage sets designed by Roger Dean, including massive spaceship props and complex lighting. Yes also performed 'in-the-round', with the band on a round stage set up in the middle of the arena. Jethro Tull released rabbits on stage (see here). One of ELP's many stage antics include Emerson's "flying piano" at the California Jam concert, in which a Steinway grand piano would be spun from a hoist. Pink Floyd used many stage effects, including crashing aeroplanes, a giant floating pig, massive projection screens, and, in 1980, an enormous mock brick wall for The Wall performances. Rush incorporated lasers and film backdrops into their stage show. Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention used a giant giraffe prop and did improvisational comedy skits. Marillion's former lead singer Fish wore a jester costume inspired by the band's first album, Script for a Jester's Tear.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I think that really explains it far better than I could, and gives you an idea of just how diverse prog rock in its proper form is. Of course, you could always go for this wag's definition:

Progressive Rock is an attempt to musically orgasm as many times as possible during a 15-minute song.

Either is good. :lol:

I may - probably will - return to discussing this at some length with respect to some of the bands already reviewed, and those to be reviewed in future entries. For now, it will serve as an explanation to those who are unsure what exactly prog rock is.
 

Deleted member 56686

Retired Supervisor
WF Veterans
Yeah, I didn't think you'd be crazy about SF Sorrow, especially when you consider the Pretty Things first came out as a straight out R&B band in the mode of the Rolling Stones, who Dick Taylor actually played with early on before the Stones signed with Decca. In some ways SF Sorrow could be a different version of Their Satanic Majesties Request, which I'll cover when I do my Reviewing the Rolling Stones thread eventually. I'll tell you though, if you do like early Stones, I think you'll like mid sixties period Pretty Things. In their day before SF Sorrow, they were one great hard edged group.
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
That's really interesting, because Urban (remember him) made almost the very same comments, though somewhat more disparagingly - well, he would, wouldn't he? He also likened the album to TSMR so there must be something in it. Personally it just bored me. Win some, lose some. At least I gave it a go.
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
Chapter II: Children of the Revolution

It may seem odd to speak in terms of revolution when talking about a genre of music that has become identified with being one of the most indulgent, self-absorbed, overblown and pretentious in rock music, but back when prog rock was just forming as an idea, its ideals and intentions were certainly seen as outside the norm. Rock music had, until then, and for some time after too, been based on pretty standard formats: four/four time, verse-chorus-verse, and with lyrics mostly concerning love, sex, parties or other "earthy" subjects. To paraphrase and mix Shakespeare and Paddy McAloon, progressive rock musicians began to see that there were more things in Heaven and Earth than just cars and girls.

So they experimented with new time signatures, odd changes of rhythms and tones, different instruments and began to look beyond the tried and trusted lyrical content of rock and roll, bringing in elements from fantasy, literature, mythology and the emergent science-fiction, as well as the also emergent fascination with mind-expanding drugs, much of which enhanced and in some cases informed their music. To the staid and button-down rock scene of the late sixties, this was indeed nothing short of a revolution.

While we've certainly reviewed and listened to some very interesting, even pivotal albums in the genre from 1967 and 1968, in a very real sense 1969 was where it all really began for prog rock. With the summer of love fading away to a distant memory as the sixties drew to a shuddering close, and Vietnam looming large in the headlines as it would for another five years, psychedelic rock began to recede as hard rock took a more central role, both in the US and in Europe, with Woodstock sounding both the climax and the last hurrah for the hippy generation. Peace and love was at an end, and protest against an unjust war and a corrupt administration was on the agenda. Flower power was out, and people power was in.

None of which in the least sowed the seeds for the birth and eventual dominance over the seventies of progressive rock, which at its heart had little or no protest, was not concerned with politics or current events, and really in many ways was the music industry retreating into itself, hiding in the trappings of a softer, happier time and largely ignoring the events taking place around it. Certainly, as time went on, prog bands got more politically aware, but really for most of the seventies they were more concerned with singing about towers in far-off lands, dragons and wizards and higher states of consciousness. Rarely if ever did a prog band take on the issues of the day, and in this way perhaps they made themselves a target for the slavering beast of punk rock, which was waiting for its chance to leap upon them and savage them as it snarled and growled and spat at the establishment, and roared in a primordial and often extremely raucous and off-key voice its disenchantment with the status quo.

But that particular showdown was yet almost a decade away, and as American students protested and chanted “Heck no! We won't go!”, thousands of miles across the ocean to the west four friends at Charterhouse Public School were getting together and putting ideas down for the, ah, genesis of a music group, a barman met a bassist and they began gigging at the Marquee, trying out various names for their new band before they both said Yes, Robert Fripp prepared to unleash King Crimson on an unsuspecting world while Peter Hammill made his entrance with much less fuss, and The Beatles were putting the finishing touches to what would be their penultimate album, a true classic that was destined to be remembered for all time and enshrine the name of the studio where it was recorded in music history.

1969: the year held almost mystic significance as the world prepared to move into a new decade, and a new way of doing things. The old ways, the old music, held on to so long by the guardians of the values of World War II and the fifties, were slowly being eroded away, and the new decade would belong irrevocably to the young. As synthesisers became more widely available and used, and bands branched out, embracing non-standard instruments such as violin, cello, harmonica, harp, mandolin and saxophone, a whole new sound, grounded in and conceived by the bands who had ushered in the beginnings of the prog rock movement over the last two years was about to come to fruition, and a new type of music was about to be born. Having given vent to its birth cries in bands like The Moody Blues, Camel and Procol Harum, progressive rock was beginning to feel its teeth grow, and its little fingers busily reached for the necks of guitars and the keyboards of pianos, while strange, half-formed ideas flitted through its impressionable mind as lyrics began to spool out like broken scenes from a film it was too young to see, never mind understand.

As hard rock and heavy metal would go one way - and eventually the twain would meet, much later - progressive rock would take the other direction and explore the road less travelled, and in the process would have a profound influence on the history of music for the coming decade.
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
A lot of really pivotal bands were formed in this year, and as we did for the previous year let's take a rather quick look at who they are, and what sort of an impact, if any, they would have on the scene. Obviously, once we get into their albums I'll talk more about them, and some will certainly deserve their own article, but for now here's the list.

Atomic Rooster (1969 – 1975 (i), 1980 – 1983 (ii))

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Vincent Crane, Carl Palmer, Nick Graham
First relevant album: Atomic Roooster, 1970
Atomic_Rooster.jpg

Impact: 7
The Trollheart Factor: 1
Linked to: The Crazy Word of Arthur Brown, ELP

Not many bands can say they opened for Deep Purple. Fewer can say that Deep Purple opened for them! But after the breakup of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and following his recovery from mental illness, founder Vincent Crane got together with later ELP skinsman Carl Palmer and one of the most important prog rock bands of the seventies was formed.

Beggars Opera (1969 – 1976 )

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Ricky Gardiner, Alan Park, Raymond Wilson, Marshall Erskine and Martin Griffiths
First relevant album: Act One, 1970
cover_5532125102008.jpg

Impact: 2
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to:

One of the few, perhaps the only progressive rock band to come out of Scotland before the neo-prog revival of the eighties, Beggars Opera lasted for three albums and a total of seven years before they broke up. Founder Ricky Gardiner later worked with David Bowie and Iggy Pop.

Egg (1969 – 1972 (with a brief revival of sorts in 1974))

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell and Clive Brooks
First relevant album: Egg, 1970
Egg-1970.jpg

Impact: 4
The Trollheart Factor: 0
Linked to: Hatfield and the North, National Health

Another prog band who didn't have too great a time of it. With their debut album released and relatively well received, they seem not to have wanted to put out the followup, and their third album only came about after the split of the band in 1972. Egg also peripherally featured folk supremo Steve Hillage, though in a previous incarnation of the band and before they became Egg.

Eloy (1969 – )

Nationality: German
Original lineup: Frank Bornemann, Erich Schriever, Manfred Wieczorke, Wolfgang Stocker and Helmuth Draht
First relevant album: Eloy, 1971
Eloy-Eloy.jpg

Impact: 4
The Trollheart Factor: 4
Linked to:

One of the few German progressive rock bands not to be linked to the Krautrock movement, Eloy were in fact pioneers in German rock history, being among the first bands in that country not to just play covers but to compose their own material. Their name is taken from the enlightened humans in the HG Wells novel “The Time Machine”. They are still active today (albeit being in hiatus from 1998 to 2009) although there was a gap of nine years in between their last after the abovementioned hiatus, they have since released two in two years, the most recent this year.

Focus (1969 – 1978 (i) 2002 - (ii))

Nationality: Dutch
Original lineup: Thijs van Leer, Jan Akkerman, Hans Cleuver, Martijn Dresden
First relevant album: Focus plays Focus/In and out of Focus, 1970
440px-Focus_Plays_Focus.jpg

Impact: 6
The Trollheart Factor: 1
Linked to:

There's never quite been a thriving Dutch prog rock scene, but Focus were the ones to blaze a trail for the Netherlands and are probably best known for the hit single “Hocus Pocus”, as well as having guitarist Jan Akkerman in their ranks at one time. They, too, persist in releasing albums up to this very year.

Hawkwind (1969 – )

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Dave Brock, Nik Turner, Huw Lloyd-Langton, Michael Davies
First relevant album: Hawkwind, 1970
Hawkwindalbum.jpg

Impact: 10
The Trollheart Factor: 8
Linked to: Space Ritual, Motorhead, Pink Fairies, Inner City Unit

Perhaps one of the true progenitors of space rock, and certainly one of the first major bands to cross over into prog rock, Hawkwind are often known for being the springboard for later Motorhead vocalist and founder Lemmy Kilminster, but he did not join until 1971. Hawkwind use science-fiction and fantasy as well as classical literature in their lyrics, make a lot of use of feedback and spoken passages, effects and soundscapes. They are one of the oldest progressive rock bands, having never split up or taken a break, and have been going strong now for a total of fifty years!

Organisation (1969 – 1970 )

(Already mentioned in the “Before the Storm” feature)

Renaissance (1969 – 1987 (i) 1998 – 2002 (ii) 2002 - (iii) )

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Annie Haslam, Jim McCarty, Keith Relf, John Tout, Michael Dunford, Jon Camp and Terry Sullivan
First relevant album: Renaissance, 1969
RenalbumUK.jpg

Impact: ?
The Trollheart Factor: 1
Linked to:

I must admit, I only know of Renaissance through the hit single “Northern Lights”, and for some reason thought they were Canadian! It seems they've been around from the start though, and are still going, having released a total of thirteen albums, so I had better get reading up on them! They are the first of the bands featured here to actually have released their debut in 1969, so we'll obviously be looking at it.

Supertramp (1969 – )

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Rick Davies, Roger Hodgson, Richard Palmer, Robert Millar
First relevant album: Supertramp, 1970
Supertramp_-_Supertramp.jpg

Impact: 5
The Trollheart Factor: 9
Linked to: Roger Hodsgson solo career

Although many will scoff at the inclusion of Supertramp as a prog rock band, that is how they started out, later metamorphosing into a sort of Genesis pop clone with hit singles like “Breakfast in America”, “Dreamer” and “The Logical Song”. Despite their later becoming the creative nucleus of the band and penning some of their greatest hits and best known songs, both Davies and Hodgson were initially reluctant to write lyrics for their debut album and left this to Richard Palmer, with the result that their first album is really nothing like what they would become known for. Although technically there were two incarnations of Supertramp, the one with Hodgson and the one that continued on after he left in 1982, the band never officially broke up so in reality they have been going since 1969, and are still going today, after a fashion.

Uriah Heep (1969 – )

Nationality: British
Original lineup: Mick Box, David Byron, Alex Napier, Paul Newton, Ken Hensley
First relevant album: Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble, 1970
VeryEavyVeryUmble.jpg

Impact: 8
The Trollheart Factor: 5
Linked to:

Another band who have been going since '69 without a break, Uriah Heep have recorded twenty-four albums, their latest being released last year. Founder Mick Box is the only remaining original member.

So those are the main bands - there were others of course, but I have chosen not to feature every one of them - that got together this year although most if not all of them would not have an album released for at least another year. As for the albums we're going to look at for 1969...
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
From Genesis to Revelation --- Genesis
FromGenesistoRevelation.jpg

If I followed my own rules then this should not be featured at all, as although it was Genesis's first album, it was far from being a progressive rock one. It's certainly more in the gentle folk area, and what's more, it doesn't even feature Steve Hackett or Phil Collins. But then again, it was the first anyone had heard from Genesis, so, I guess, suck it.

Uncle Meat --- The Mothers of Invention
Frank_Zappa_-_Uncle_Meat.jpg

Frank Zappa, isn't it enough that you haunt my dreams, skulking through my sleeping hours like some sort of spectral bogeyman waiting to assault my ears with nonsense and atonal sounds? Must I listen to an album of yours every year? It seems I must. This was another strand of the “No Commercial Potential” project Zappa created, of which we've heard already We're Only in It for the Money.

On the Threshold of a Dream --- The Moody Blues
Thresholdofadream.jpg

Another concept album from a band who were fast becoming one of the flag-bearers for the emerging progressive rock movement, this was the album that lifted the Moody Blues into the heady heights of number one position for their album, and into the top twenty cross the pond, though its only single failed to create even a ripple (geddit?)...

Trout Mask Replica --- Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
Trout_Mask_Replica.png

If there's one album I look forward to listening to less than 5000 More Things to Do With Really Loud Annoying Sounds, it's this. My initial experience of it was, well, that I would rather listen to 5000 More Things to Do With Really Loud Annoying Sounds than Captain Beefheart. Sigh. Anyway, supposedly a very influential album on the genre and one that is namechecked by very eminent and respected musicians, so must be featured.

Yes --- Yes
Yes_-_Yes.jpg

Not to be confused with The Yes Album, this was the debut from a band who would go on not only to define progressive rock, but the more bloated excesses of it.

Abbey Road --- The Beatles
Beatles_-_Abbey_Road.jpg

I have my doubts about this one. I know it's seen as a seminal Beatles album with an iconic cover, but did it impact upon the prog rock scene? I'll leave it here for now, and await the judgement of those of you who can answer this question better than I.

The Nice --- The Nice
NiceNice.jpg
Third album from The Nice. I'm not too certain about this one either; was it important? Have we heard all we need to of Keith Emerson's first band? These questions, and more, will all be answered in due course.

Volume Two (The Soft Machine Album) --- Soft Machine
Soft_Machine-Volume_Two-Cover.jpg

Second album from Soft Machine.

The Aerosol Grey Machine --- Van der Graaf Generator
The_aerosol_grey_machine.jpg
Debut album from Van der Graaf Generator, who would tread that precarious line between almost free jazz, classical and prog rock that would always keep them on the fringes, never having a hit single, and lead most people to shake their heads when asked about the name, unless they happened to be scientists.

In the Court of the Crimson King --- King Crimson
In_the_Court_of_the_Crimson_King_-_40th_Anniversary_Box_Set_-_Front_cover.jpeg

An album that would go on to have a profound effect on prog rock, introduce the world properly to the genius of Robert Fripp, and become a classic of the genre, how could we not feature King Crimson's seminal debut?

Hot rats --- Frank Zappa
Hot_Rats_%28Frank_Zappa_album_-_cover_art%29.jpg

Just can't get away from this guy, can I?
 

Deleted member 56686

Retired Supervisor
WF Veterans
Now you're into some bands I'm not all that familiar with but I did notice Hawkwind and I think you're about to curse me again. There was an American Band in the late sixties who recorded a couple of interesting albums including something called Space Hymn which was, you guessed it, space rock. I like the earlier album better though as they were experimenting with the theremin on that album. Wow, another album to review :icon_cheesygrin:


Renaissance, I don't that much about either but I think they had a reputation of being boring. It will be interesting to see how they sound with Keith Relf knowing these guys sound nothing like the Yardbirds.

I admit I haven't heard everything from Uriah Heep but they always struck me as more of a hard rock band than a progressive band in the classic sense. One thing for sure, you certainly won't confuse them with Genesis :lol:


That's about it here. Bring on the Crimson :D
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
Okay. I'm putting my cloven hoof down here. I am NOT reviewing "some band from America who had an album called..." You get me details on the band, we'll see. The fact that they were even an American prog band in 1969 may merit their inclusion, but if you want them, find out who they were.

Uriah Heep, yes, agree I would see them as hard rock, but then they had some amazing prog rock-influenced albums such as Demons and Wizards and The Magician's Birthday, also Wiki says so and I do what Wiki says. It is my master, as you should know. :)

Somewhat Late Edit: I just realised that as I got caught up in all this banter (ahem) I missed out some albums on the list for 1969.
So here they are.


PinkFloyd-album-ummagummastudio-300.jpg
Ummagumma --- Pink Floyd

Double album by a band who would go on to become one of the most important in the genre. Half of it is live, while the rest is made up of solo work from each band member. In case anyone's wondering, I've left out More as it's a film soundtrack and I don't think needs to be visited. If I'm wrong, please let me know.
Childrenschildrenschildren.jpg
To Our Children's Children's Children --- The Moody Blues

Yes, they had two albums released this year. We'll be taking a look at both.
RenalbumUK.jpg
Renaissance --- Renaissance
One of the only bands formed this year to put out an album that same year, this is the debut album from Renaissance.
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Phallus Dei --- Amon Duul II

Often cited as the first real Krautrock album, this was the debut album from Amon Duul II.

As you can see, the amount of albums released in 1969 far outstrips those released in the previous year, and as we move into the seventies and beyond this will only increase. While not every one of them is important, essential or even relevant to the progressive rock movement, I'm trying to cover all those that are. But there are others that, while they bear no real importance, are still worth listening to and talking about. These I'll be looking at in two separate sections, titles yet to be decided but possibly “ProgWorthy”, “On the Fringes” or “We are not Worthy!”, which will feature albums that deserve not to be ignored, but are outside the main thrust of the journal, and something I may call “A bit of fun” or something similar, which will be albums that are, basically, just fun to listen to. Within those banners, these are the ones from 1969 that I intend to feature.

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Liege and Lief --- Fairport Convention

Said to be the first British folk rock album. We'll see.
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Brainbox --- Brainbox
An album that came with a serious warning about causing serious psychological damage if listened to? How could we not grasp that nettle?
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Catherine Ribeiro + 2 Bis --- Catherine Ribeiro

Must listen to this, if only because its title gives the impression it was recorded with two lesbians!
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Dracula's Music Cabinet --- The Vampires of Dartmoore

I've heard so much about this I have to take the opportunity to review it! :D
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It's a Beautiful Day --- It's a Beautiful Day

Because why not?

So that, finally is our complete list for 1969. Obviously, there's a whole lot to get through so this is going to take a lot longer than 1968 did. I'll begin reviewing albums soon, as we move into the realm of what I would term more actual prog albums than just ones that influenced the genre. And Zappa.

 
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Deleted member 56686

Retired Supervisor
WF Veterans
From Genesis to Revelation --- Genesis
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If I followed my own rules then this should not be featured at all, as although it was Genesis's first album, it was far from being a progressive rock one. It's certainly more in the gentle folk area, and what's more, it doesn't even feature Steve Hackett or Phil Collins. But then again, it was the first anyone had heard from Genesis, so, I guess, suck it.


Definitely not progressive, rather soft in nature, maybe a little like Fairport Convention without Sandy Denny. I like the album though

Uncle Meat --- The Mothers of Invention
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Frank Zappa, isn't it enough that you haunt my dreams, skulking through my sleeping hours like some sort of spectral bogeyman waiting to assault my ears with nonsense and atonal sounds? Must I listen to an album of yours every year? It seems I must. This was another strand of the “No Commercial Potential” project Zappa created, of which we've heard already We're Only in It for the Money.


Yep, you'll hate it. I like the album but Hot Rats is probably the better album from that year.
On the Threshold of a Dream --- The Moody Blues
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Another concept album from a band who were fast becoming one of the flag-bearers for the emerging progressive rock movement, this was the album that lifted the Moody Blues into the heady heights of number one position for their album, and into the top twenty cross the pond, though its only single failed to create even a ripple (geddit?)...

Not as good as the previous two in my opinion, though certainly not a bad album. I got tired of Ride My See Saw after a while though.

Trout Mask Replica --- Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
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If there's one album I look forward to listening to less than 5000 More Things to Do With Really Loud Annoying Sounds, it's this. My initial experience of it was, well, that I would rather listen to 5000 More Things to Do With Really Loud Annoying Sounds than Captain Beefheart. Sigh. Anyway, supposedly a very influential album on the genre and one that is namechecked by very eminent and respected musicians, so must be featured.


The greatest album ever recorded (runs and hides- where's that couch?) . Actually like Safe as Milk a bit better. I like weird music but even Beefheart gets a little too weird for my tastes.
Yes --- Yes
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Not to be confused with The Yes Album, this was the debut from a band who would go on not only to define progressive rock, but the more bloated excesses of it.

Haven't really heard this one for the most part. I think the songs are a bit shorter on here though. Didn't they do a Beatles cover on this one?

Abbey Road --- The Beatles
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I have my doubts about this one. I know it's seen as a seminal Beatles album with an iconic cover, but did it impact upon the prog rock scene? I'll leave it here for now, and await the judgement of those of you who can answer this question better than I.


No, it didn't, and McCartney's montages on side two don't count as progressive imo. Of course it's a great album as I mentioned in my (insert shameless plug) Reviewing the Beatles thread, but it's about as progressive as With the Beatles in all honesty.

The Nice --- The Nice
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Third album from The Nice. I'm not too certain about this one either; was it important? Have we heard all we need to of Keith Emerson's first band? These questions, and more, will all be answered in due course.

Haven't heard this one but I sense they may be getting a little stale by now. Was Emerson getting a little restless at this point?

Volume Two (The Soft Machine Album) --- Soft Machine
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Second album from Soft Machine.

I've heard it but I can't remember it. I don't remember liking this as much as the debut though.

The Aerosol Grey Machine --- Van der Graaf Generator
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Debut album from Van der Graaf Generator, who would tread that precarious line between almost free jazz, classical and prog rock that would always keep them on the fringes, never having a hit single, and lead most people to shake their heads when asked about the name, unless they happened to be scientists.


Never heard. Am curious about this though


In the Court of the Crimson King --- King Crimson
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An album that would go on to have a profound effect on prog rock, introduce the world properly to the genius of Robert Fripp, and become a classic of the genre, how could we not feature King Crimson's seminal debut?

Really looking forwards to your thoughts on this one. Personally, I think this is the greatest progressive album of all time.

Hot rats --- Frank Zappa
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Just can't get away from this guy, can I?


Nope, he recorded a lot of stuff in his day. You should have a blast with his You Can't Do That On Stage series :lol:
 

Deleted member 56686

Retired Supervisor
WF Veterans
Okay. I'm putting my cloven hoof down here. I am NOT reviewing "some band from America who had an album called..." You get me details on the band, we'll see. The fact that they were even an American prog band in 1969 may merit their inclusion, but if you want them, find out who they were.

Uriah Heep, yes, agree I would see them as hard rock, but then they had some amazing prog rock-influenced albums such as Demons and Wizards and The Magician's Birthday, also Wiki says so and I do what Wiki says. It is my master, as you should know. :)


Space Hymn album- Lothar and the Hand People


Lothar and the Hand People on Wiki
 

Trollheart

Senior Member
They don't appear on ProgArchives, Wiki has this to say about them

It is electronic country, a kind of good-time music played by mad dwarfs, and it is really good to listen to. There is no tension here, no jarring forces at war with each other. It may be strange that New York, the city which deifies speed and insanity, could produce this music, but it is as if Lothar and the Hand People have gone through this madness and come out on the other side, smiling.

and that video you linked me to sounded like flower-power, dreamy hippy shit. Being the first band (apparently) to record with synthesisers does not, in my view, allow them a place in prog rock history and they seem to have faded without making any impact on the genre, so sorry, Lothar and the Hand People can go do hand jobs on each other. Their fingers won't be walking into my journal! (If you get that reference you're as old as I am)... :)

 
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