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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Supernatural Fairy Tales - The Progressive Rock Era CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.14 | 18 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars On one hand, this is the best prog-rock compilation of which I'm aware. For me personally, this boxed set served its purpose of exposing me to a variety of artists, songs, and styles that I doubt I'd ever have heard otherwise.

Supernatural Fairy Tales was my introduction to Klaus Schulze (represented here by "Searching"), who's since become one of my all-time favorites, as well as to five other great prog groups: Caravan ("In the Land of Grey and Pink"), Premiata Forneria Marconi ("Celebration"), Renaissance ("Kings and Queens"), the Pretty Things ("Private Sorrow / Balloon Burning"), and Van der Graaf Generator ("Killer"). I'd heard the Moody Blues, of course, but "Legend of a Mind," which has become one of my favorites by the Moodies, was new to me; same with "Lothlorien" by Argent. And then there are great songs by groups I haven't gotten around to investigating further: Rare Bird ("Sympathy)," the Savage Rose ("Dear Little Mother"), and Slapp Happy and Henry Cow (who co-perform "War" here).

I'm sure Rhino's purpose in releasing this boxed set was to generate profit, but I also feel that the compilers did their best given the time and licensing restrictions. They managed to represent Zeuhl, Krautrock, RIO, and RPI along with the more obvious subgenres. They also included a fair balance of longer songs (by my count, eleven songs over eight minutes). As others have noted, the liner notes and artwork are nice too, and in this case, that counts for something.

On the other hand, it seems self-evident that a progressive rock compilation album which leaves out Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson could not be "essential," and thus could not rate four stars. Of course, even if Rhino had been able to include Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, and King Crimson, I would complain that they'd licensed the wrong songs! Furthermore, where's the progressive jazz? Why limit the collection to the 60s and 70s? Or, where's the second collection of more recent music, including perhaps some neo-prog or math rock or progressive metal?

Even if Rhino could address all of my concerns and exhaust all of my complaints, the compilation still wouldn't be essential because it would still contain only one song from each of many essential albums.

So: if you're new to prog rock (as I was when I bought this) and you can find an affordable copy of Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Rock Era, buy it. If it does its job, you'll probably rate it four or five stars to begin with, but at some time in the future, I'll bet you'll agree that it will no longer be "essential." Nonetheless, I can't award this collection fewer than four stars.

patrickq | 4/5 |


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