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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Wondrous Stories - A Complete Introduction To Progressive Rock CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.17 | 5 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars For some reason this release was unadded. It's an ambitious 4-CD compilation attempting to represent four decades of prog, from 1969 to 2009. I haven't met such projects before: it is more common to ignore recent times. So, here's a set that includes b o t h old classics like YES ('Roundabout', 'Wonderous Stories'), ELP ('From The Beginning', 'Fanfare for the Common Man'), VDGG ('Darkness'), CAMEL ('Airborn', 'Sasquatch'), JETHRO TULL ('Aqualung' live, 'Pussy Willow'), CARAVAN ('Golf Girl'), GENTLE GIANT ('In a Glass House'), many more notable prog acts from the seventies such as COLOSSEUM, CURVED AIR, COMUS, GRYPHON, GONG, Mike OLDFIELD, BJH, with some less obvious choices too such as SUPERTRAMP ('School'), FRUUPP ('Seventh Secret'), RUSH, MAGNA CARTA ('Lord Of The Ages') etc, a n d later generation bands from MARILLION, PALLAS, SPOCKS BEARD and IQ to DREAM THEATER, OPETH, MARS VOLTA etc. (all of them hosting the fourth disc except Marillion's 'Jigsaw' that ends the third). For the most part, the work is done quite well, but there are several choices that give a bad taste to an advanced old school prog listener.

The package itself is very handy and pleasant, from the economic packing featuring a Roger Dean artwork to short band introductions and illustrations. The band choices from the classic era are quite orthodox even if there are no three giants of GENESIS, PINK FLOYD and KING CRIMSON (and also several songs are already usual visitors in compilations), with some happy exceptions of course. (Again I argue against the habit of including two tracks from many artists, because that takes space away from artists not included!) The Foreword could have tried to open up the history of Prog, but it remains a very vague and uninformative one-pager. Also for the contents the set unsucceeds to give a deep picture of Prog and its subgenres. One thing that strikes me is the lack of European Prog. Only APHRODITE'S CHILD come from a non-English speaking country! No Italy, no Germany or Scandinavia. Such a shame.

I personally got very little material new to me from the first three CD's (and sadly many of those few I didn't know didn't please me); that means I ran through these discs very quickly without evaluating them as listening experiences, perhaps only giving a smile here and there for choices I myself could have chosen too. My hopes concerned mostly the fourth disc, which also gave me biggest disappointments. The compiler seems to favour Metal- oriented contemporary prog, but also the tracks by IT BITES and WORLD TRADE were nearly disgusting and not very progressive, to be honest. I also wished something good from THE REASONING (featuring ex-Karnataka vocalist Rachel Cohen), but the track was heavy and had more male than female vocals.

Similar bad track choices water down the inclusion of JON ANDERSON ('Some Are Born' from 1980's Song Of Seven, blah) and THE MOODY BLUES. The most ridiculous detail in the band introductions is their overproduced disco-rock hit 'I Know You're Out There Somewhere' (1987) talked about as symphonic prog. I'm not kidding.

Well, in waiting for a better set spanning four decades, I suppose I can give this three stars even with several disappointing moments.

Matti | 3/5 |


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