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Did the Beatles really Invent Prog? Or not?

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SteveG View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Did the Beatles really Invent Prog? Or not?
    Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:20
Ok, time for the final debate. You know what the age old question is, so let's settle it and try to have some fun.
In his 2010 book, Electric Eden, author Rob Young argues that Strawberry Fields Forever by the Beatles defined  what was the archetypal British Psychedelic rock song, based on the fact that it was constructed from two out of tune (by a semi tone) songs that were patched together in the studio, utilized a ground breaking new approach to pop songs with orchestration by utilizing a mellotron, used backwards recorded, as well as other, tape effects. All combined with "arty" lyrics.
 
For the sake of argument, I will agree with Young, and further propose that Strawberry Fields was also the archetypal Prog Rock song and gave recording artists the expanded pallet to compose and record the Progressive Rock that flourished in the late sixties and took off in the early seventies.
 
Every member of PA is a Prog expert, to some extent, so please chime in, and let's keep it civil  (and fun.) Smile


Edited by SteveG - July 06 2015 at 11:29
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote micky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:22
Is some kind of sick joke Steve Angry the Beatles? They never existed!

 I read it first here on PA's! Thumbs Up
I find your lack of Bassoon disturbing.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:30
^I guess that Prog never existed either. OK, Never mind then.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote micky Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:32
it never did.. it is just the figment of some record company executive's mind on how he can sell albums..  oh english..  songs longer than 3minutes 30.. people calling it progressive.. f**k it..  too long ..call it prog.
I find your lack of Bassoon disturbing.....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SteveG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:35
Ouch! That hurt. OuchLOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Atavachron Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:41
Originally posted by SteveG SteveG wrote:

For the sake of argument, I will agree with Young, and further propose that Strawberry Fields was also the archetypal Prog Rock song and gave recording artists the expanded pallet to compose and record the Progressive Rock that flourished in the late sixties and took off in the early seventies.

The thing is, Strawberry Fields has almost nothing to do with what prog was or is.   There is no doubt Psych-rock was largely the predecessor of Prog, that's obvious.   But things like SFF were, in typical Beatles style, tailored, reduced, and distilled so that one could actually listen to and digest it; they were songcrafters, not art musicians.

There appears to have been a simultaneous revelation about what you could do with the rock format ~ George Martin, Brian Wilson, Kit Lambert, Cooper/Guercio, etc. ~ and what became prog essentially was what an artist and a good producer could accomplish.   Prog was invented by its time, not a band, certainly not a 3-minute Pop Vocal act like the Beatles.


"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."   -- John F. Kennedy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Catcher10 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 18:41
Steve, you are my friend but....I have just written you out of my will for this post/question. LOL

Off the top of my head I would go with the Moody Blues, Nights In White Satin (1967)....Stawberry Fields (1967/68).....

People give the Beatles too much credit when progressive/psych rock was already being recorded...

Plus the Fab Four sux.......IMHO of course.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote LearsFool Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 19:29
The Fab Four probably had less influence on prog than many believe, but it has to be there. Mainly, it would have to be the general influence Sgt. Peppers had through its use of the modern studio and how that inspired others to go forward with their ideas, and Abbey Road building on that, plus with its particular focus on flow and, to a extent, cohesion. Of course with that latter album, though, The Beach Boys already pioneered that kind of pop cohesiveness with Pet Sounds.

"A Day In The Life", "Happiness Is A Warm Gun", and "I Want You" are prototypical prog songs, but that's it - they're early and, for lack of a better word, rudimentary examples. They brought up time signatures and structures that were irregular and shifting, but some of the later hallmarks of prog are missing due to the tracks' very nature. And when "I Want You" was being laid down, so was the entirety of In The Court of The Crimson King. Hello! And Crimson's big influence? Clouds, a proto-prog band oft forgotten.

All in all, prog's the place that the Beatles didn't really have the same influence that's often attributed to them and is often otherwise there. But they and the Beach Boys were the two biggest contributors to the rise of the climate that helped birth prog.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Man With Hat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 20:03
Lol
 
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Warning: Listening to jazz excessively can cause a laxative effect.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 21:05
I would not call Strawberry Fields an archetypal prog rock song.  Maybe by today's standards where we accept Radiohead as prog Wink, but not by the 70s standards with long, complicated epics.  Strawberry fields seems to be a very sophisticated, 'weird' take on the classic verse-chorus format.  There is no instrumental interlude and certainly the linearity of a Tarkus is yet far away.  You could argue that CTTE too has a re-iterated verse chorus but even it has the "I Get Up, I Get Down" break.  

Archetypal proto prog song?  Sure.  I am in complete agreement that it opened up possibilities for the prog rock bands to come.  But it wasn't prog rock in itself.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Scoppioingola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 21:27
People cite Sgt Pepper a lot, but to be fair, the Beatles we're already innovators during Help/Rubber Soul and the seminal Revolver.

As early as Help, they were experimenting with shifting time signatures (on We Can Work it Out and, a bit later, Rain). Even in jazz shifting time signatures was unusual at this point (only a few years prior did the Dave Brubeck Quartet started to experiment with unusual time signatures in '59). It is perhaps a bit much to call all that 'prog' per se, but no doubt they laid the blueprints for what to come.

If anything, they did give Robert Fripp the desire to create 'art rock'. If not they inventors of prog, I'd argue they still are the progenitors.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 21:28
•Freak Out! was the first Prog, although with a tenuous historical connection with what occurred not long after in England.
•Strawberry fields was Proto-Prog at best, also with a tenuous historical connection with what occurred not long after or concurrently in England.
•Radiohead is not Prog.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HackettFan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 22:12
Originally posted by Rogerthat Rogerthat wrote:

There is no instrumental interlude and certainly the linearity of a Tarkus is yet far away.

I agree. Certainly Prog songs philosophically can exist without instrumental interludes. But just as I think that most people on PA tend to be more interested in instrumental parts than vocal parts currently, the historical development of instrumental interludes as evolved from psychedelic Rock was essential to the history of Prog. I just don't see any path of historical influence that owed itself to vocal passages.

Edited by HackettFan - July 05 2015 at 22:14
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote A_Flower Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 05 2015 at 23:20
The Beatles did invent prog, but were not alone. The other inventors were Procol Harum and The Moody Blues. All these three sort of grew inspirations and eventually came King Crimson with ITCOTCK. That's the captital album of prog that inspired many others, diffusing into more prog, and so on.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Friday13th Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2015 at 00:05
Strawberry Fields isn't really any more prog than say Good Vibrations. I think the first Beatles song you could say, "dang, that's prog right there" is A Day in the Life. It's rock, modern classical, and even jazz but creating something more. There is quite a bit of music between '66-'67 that was approaching prog, but it all had a little something that was too psychedelic, too blues, or too pop. The Moody Blues got as close as anyone in late '67, and Procol Harum's "In Held Twas in I" in '68 did practically everything prog would be famous for, so it's not really accurate to say the Beatles invented prog. People who point to Abbey Road need to check their timelines too. 

Edited by Friday13th - July 06 2015 at 00:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The.Crimson.King Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2015 at 00:14
I've been saying the Strawberry Fields single was the birth of prog for years and no eloquently formed argument will change my mind because unlike most other "PA experts", I was there Wink
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Svetonio Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2015 at 00:15
Yes, they did invent English Symphonic rock (as a subgenre of the progressive rock) with Strawberry Fields Forever.
Everybody who's not deaf could hear it.
English Symphonic rock actually was started with the single.
However, the Progressive rock in general was invented by The Mothers of Invention with Freak Out! the album.


Edited by Svetonio - July 06 2015 at 00:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tom Ozric Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2015 at 07:30
For what it's worth - I don't believe The Beatles were Prog per se, but they did introduce the 'thinking outside of the box' approach to composition and recording. Creative, for sure, but fairly average as musicians. As far as I'm concerned, Floyd's Piper was more Prog than Sgt. Pepper's. Even the Airplane's Baxter's album was more complex and diverse than Pepper's. Heck, even Magical Mystery Tour was more advanced than Pepper's. I can understand why many folks here at P.A. despise their inclusion.
Were they creative - Yes
Were they intelligent - Yes
Were they innovative - Yes
Were they complex - hmm, occasionally
Were they good - Yes
Were they Prog - No, I don't think so
......should they be a bona-fide inclusion here at P.A. ???? Well, they're here, and that won't change anytime soon, sooooo...........


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rogerthat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2015 at 07:31
But Beatles are here as proto-prog, which they most definitely are.  I don't even think it is worth much of a debate with songs like aforesaid Strawberry Fields, Day in a Life, Happiness is a Warm Gun, etc.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guldbamsen Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: July 06 2015 at 07:48
Nope definitely not, but they paved the way for it. There's a big difference.
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