A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

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Proto-Prog definition

The denomination Proto Prog comes from the combination of two words, Proto from the Greek The earliest,. and Prog which as we know is a short term for Progressive Rock, so as it's name clearly indicates, refers to the earliest form of Progressive Rock or Progressive Rock in embryonary state.

These bands normally were formed and released albums before Progressive Rock had completely developed (there are some rare Proto Prog bands from the early 70's, because the genre didn't expanded to all the Continents simultaneously

The common elements in all these bands is that they developed one or more elements of Prog, and even when not completely defined as part of the genre, they are without any doubt, an important stage in the evolution of Progressive Rock.

Generally, Proto Prog bands are the direct link between Psyche and Prog and for that reason the Psychedelic components are present in the vast majority of them, but being that Progressive Rock was born from the blending of different genres, we have broadened the definition to cover any band that combined some elements of Progressive Rock with other genres prior to 1970.

Some of these bands evolved and turned into 100% Prog, while others simply choose another path, but their importance and contribution in the formative period of Prog can't be denied, for that reason no Prog site can ignore them.

IvŠn Melgar - Morey

Proto-Prog Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Proto-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.49 | 741 ratings
Beatles, The
4.49 | 438 ratings
Who, The
4.37 | 677 ratings
Beatles, The
4.33 | 771 ratings
Beatles, The
4.30 | 898 ratings
Deep Purple
4.28 | 906 ratings
Deep Purple
4.37 | 422 ratings
Who, The
4.29 | 488 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 586 ratings
Beatles, The
4.21 | 368 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 320 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 533 ratings
Beatles, The
4.00 | 394 ratings
Who, The
3.90 | 512 ratings
Beatles, The
3.96 | 339 ratings
Doors, The
3.93 | 272 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.80 | 601 ratings
Deep Purple
4.12 | 131 ratings
3.93 | 225 ratings
Deep Purple
4.07 | 141 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 By Numbers by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.50 | 139 ratings

By Numbers
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well. It seems that by 1975 THE WHO had to record another studio album having worked a lot since the release of their "Quadrophenia" album and the tours to promote it between 1973 and 1974. Bands worked hard in those years. They were expected to release studio albums each year and to do tours to promote them. In 1974, the band also participated in the "Tommy" film and also recorded a soundtrack album for that film version with guest musicians too. All the members of the band (including Keith Moon) have recorded some solo albums until then too. So, by 1975 they had to record another studio album as a band which became "The Who by Numbers". By that time, Pete Townshend, the main songwriter in the band, was having a hard time trying to write songs for this album, saying that the band practically recorded all the songs he wrote for this album. And this album is just another album without a concept or without being another Rock Opera. It is just a collection of songs with mostly introspective lyrics which have relation to Townshend`s `personal experiences at that time. So, the songs are very personal but very good anyway, despite most of them are really not showing "happy feelings". But the album as a whole in fact is very good.

John Entwistle also wrote one song for this album, the rocker "Success Story", which also is one of the best from this album and it also has some humour in the lyrics. And not all the songs which were composed by Townshend are introspective, because "Squeeze Box" is also a song with some humour in the lyrics. But for the most part, the songs are introspective. In six of the ten songs from this album the piano parts were played very well by the very good and famous late session musician Nicky Hopkins, who also worked with the band in "Who`s Next" in 1971.

The best songs from this album are "Success Story" (with very good bass guitar playing by Entwistle), "Squeeze Box", "Imagine a Man", "They are all in Love" and "How Many Friends". "However Much I Booze" is so personal that it was sung by Townshend and not by Roger Daltrey, who wanted to distance himself from the content of the lyrics. Keith Moon`s drums playing is very good in this album, and as a whole the band still was playing very well. So, as a whole this album, while being very introspective in most of the lyrics from the songs, still is very enjoyable.

The cover design was done by John Entwistle. Some people don`t like it, but I think that the cover design is very good and very original.

 Face Dances by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.41 | 83 ratings

Face Dances
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "The New THE WHO for the eighties".

The change of decade from the seventies to the eighties brought some problems for a lot of bands. One of those problems was : "How are we going to adapt our new music for the new decade without still losing our identity in the process?'". Another problem was also brought by the changes in the music industry: to one who was led by "persons who loved music above record sales and a lot of money", to another in the eighties which was "led by accountants" (as Bill Bruford said in interviews done in the early nineties) and "by persons who previously worked in supermarkets" (as John Wetton said in a recent interview). Well. I think that both Bruford and Wetton are right. The music in most cases in the eighties became more like done to "satisfy the record executives in their business meetings" (as Bruford also said). Gone was the more artistic freedom which the music industry gave to the artists in previous years.

THE WHO had some problems then. One was to survive the death of Keith Moon in late 1978. Another problem was how to replace him. Another problem was how to make the change in decade to adapt themselves as a band for the new musical trends. First, they replaced Moon with former SMALL FACES / FACES drummer Kenny Jones. Then, In 1979 they started touring with a new line-up which apart from Jones also included keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick and also a horn section. For the first time in the career of the band they had extra musicians playing on stage with them (a thing which could have helped them to play better their "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" albums in their tours with Moon in the early seventies...but at that time it was not ever thought by them). So, from 1979 to mid 1980 the band first went on tour several times with these extra musicians before ever considering going to record a new album. The reviews about their concerts with this expanded line-up were good. It seems that Jones with those tours "passed the audition" from the fans. But by mid 1980 finally they went to record this "Face Dances" album. Their first album with Jones and Bundrick and their first album for the new decade. It was also their first of two albums for a new record label in the U.S. (Warner Brothers). They also had a new producer (Bill Szymczyk, who also worked with EAGLES).

"Face Dances" reflects some of the problems that I mentioned above. It was not only the change of drummer which made them sound different. Maybe the band also had ideas for a new sound for the band, And maybe their record labels too. The same could be said about having Szymczyk as producer.

The "new sound" incorporated influences from some new trends like New Wave music and even from bands like THE POLICE (in "Did You Steal My Money"). The music became more simple and accessible, more Pop Rock oriented (in eighties terms). The guitars`sound became more thin and less distorted. Kenny Jones is a good drummer and he really plays very well in all the tracks, but he sounds very different from Keith Moon in style. Moon`s energetic and "chaotic" drums playing was replaced by a disciplined playing with a lot of use of the hi- hats in comparison. Even John Entwistle`s energetic bass playing was a bit changed, with his two songs ("The Quiet One" and "You") still having his very good bass guitar playing and being two of the best and heaviest songs in this album. The more Pop Rock songs came from Pete Townshend: "You Better You Bet", "Don`t Let Go the Coat", "Cache Cache". Roger Daltrey sang very well but sounds like being more in "control". As a whole, "Face Dances" is not a bad album, but it is different in many ways to "Who Are You", their previous album which also was their last album with Moon and their last new studio album from the seventies. "Face Dances" was released in March 1981, showing how the band changed since 1978.

As a whole, "Face Dances" is better than their next album "It`s Hard". But both albums showed a "new THE WHO`s sound" which did not last for very long.

 It's Hard by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.53 | 75 ratings

It's Hard
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars By 1982 THE WHO was really in its last days as a permanent band. They survived for some years after the death of Keith Moon, but without him their sound changed a lot. Having a new drummer (Kenney Jones) since 1979, who really was not really "new" in the music bussiness , because he previously was a former member of the SMALL FACES in the sixties and of THE FACES since the late sixties to 1975, it was obvious that his style of playing the drums was very different from Moon`s. But also, the music from the band (composed separately by Peter Townshend and John Entwistle) also changed. They were in their late thirties, and the music also lost some "power" that it even was there in their "Who Are You" album from 1978, their last album with Moon on drums. By 1982 Townshend also had some substance abuse problems which required from him being in rehabilitation, a thing which he achieved early in that year. Anyway, the band recorded this album which sounds a bit "lighter" musically and lyrically in comparison to other albums they recorded with Moon. Kenney Jones is a good drummer, more technically oriented than Moon, maybe more disciplined in his drums playing than Moon. But Moon, even if he was not as technically oriented and disciplined as Jones, really was at the centre of the music style of the band, playing with a lot of power which was one of the characteristics of the sound of the band. Anyway, Jones played the drums in this album very well...but he does not sound as Moon. But Jones did his best while he was in the band.

This album sounds more oriented to the Pop Rock of the eighties. The album still sounds like recorded by THE WHO. But I think that they really were looking for how to adapt themselves as a band to the musical changes of the eighties. With lyrics about Cold War and Nuclear Weapons, social and economical problems, and even some ballads, this album as a whole is not bad, but it also is not very interesting. The best songs from this album are "It`s Hard", "Dangerous" (composed by Entwistle and a song which sounded better played in concert than in this studio album), "Eminence Front" (the best song in this album and with a keyboard arrangement which sounds to me a bit inspired by the keyboard sounds from "Baba O`Riley " from "Who`s Next"), "A Man is a Man" and "Cry if You Want".

Roger Daltrey said in interviews that he really does not like this album. Anyway, this album is not too bad, and in fact it really sounds a lot inlfuenced by Pete Townshend`s sound as a solo musician. When they finished their "farewell tour" in late 1982, Townshend tried to compose more songs for the band to record a last studio album for their record labels. But by the end of 1983 Townshend announced the end of the band saying that he could not continue composing songs for the band. They released in late 1984 a last album (a contractual obligation) recorded live during their "farewell tour" in 1982 and titled "Who`s Last" , which is not a not very good live album which does not include any songs from this album and their previous album from 1981 titled "Face Dances". This "It`s Hard" album was their last studio album with Entwistle (who died in mid 2002) and Jones, until Daltrey and Townshend released a new studio album in 2006 as THE WHO titled "Endless Wire".

 Magical Mystery Tour (US Version) by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.13 | 533 ratings

Magical Mystery Tour (US Version)
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by ridemyfacetochicago

5 stars I don't remember me listen to music and don't knowing Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, in those days The Fab Four were the best, the most innovative and everybody listen to them. And they remained the best till today. For sure Magical Mystery Tour is belonging to this site of Prog, it is a Prog Music record, or at least Psychedelia record, which is the same. They have here some masterpieces that are way away of their time like Strawberry Fields, I am the walrus and All you need is love, well known songs by everybody that, really, deals with prog. Like all their albums of that era there is groundbreaking, there is influence on the others to come but, again, there is music that will stay with us a long, long time. Music is what counts, no? You don't have to be complicated to do music, and also, if you make complicated music it has to have melody, no? Else why do you write music, for the sake of writing it ?

 Revolver by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
4.37 | 677 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by ridemyfacetochicago

5 stars I don't understand why in the first 100 records of all time there is no single LP by the Beatles ! Not Revolver, Sgt Pepper, Abbey Road or the White. Revolver is the first record that brings The Beatles to another level of composition and expression. We have here a passage to Psychedelic Rock (which is for the 60's what is Progressive Rock for the 70's, and of course, the father of the Prog), but this move, to another level, is made using the main gift that The Beatles had : the power to write beautiful songs, eternal songs. And songs they wrote : from Taxman to Tomorrow Never Ends everything is perfect. Really perfect. There is no need to pass song by song and describe them...The record as a whole is perfect. I think also of the impact they made in 66' on the whole industry, on the artists and the huge influence they had on music yet to come... Viva the psychedelia and The Beatles !! Highly recommended, in fact I think that these are the very basic stones that someone must listen and know by heart before entering the gate of the Prog, it makes the understanding of this phenomena of Prog much easier. And one more thing : I have and know by heart every record by Yes, Genesis, Van Der Graaf, King Crimson, Floyd and so on, but I love Yellow Submarine....It makes me feel forever young...
 Rubber Soul by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.90 | 512 ratings

Rubber Soul
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by ridemyfacetochicago

5 stars Rubber Soul-Drive my car, Norwegian wood, Nowhere man, Michelle, Girl, In my life are songs for ever. And the rest are also beautiful songs. I still look at this site and don't understand how The Beatles are so underrated, although I noticed their ratings are climbing steadily. Maybe in the end there will be justice done and they will be recognized as the Masters. They where not progressive music in their first period (1963-1965) as we understand today progressive music (Yes, Van der Graaf, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd and so on), but they made records for ever. As to say more : I think that many people will say about Beethoven : no, not Beethoven he is not progressive... But to stick to Rubber Soul, another fine one on the long strike of 12-13 records of geniality by the Beatles.

 Live At Leeds by WHO, THE album cover Live, 1970
4.03 | 106 ratings

Live At Leeds
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by ster

5 stars I am really glad to see The Who include on PA. Due to my own personal definition of prog rock, bands like The Who, Led Zep, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath (among others) deserve to be considered prog since at the time of the their formation, rock music was progressing because of what these bands were producing. Tons of original ideas with players to back it up. One of my all favorite bands, The Who never stopped experimenting and constantly pushed the envelope of rock music.

Live At Leeds, The deluxe edition, is the only Who album you need if you are only going to own one. This one sports an incredible sound from such an early live record. Raw but loud and clear. It also shows how incredibly daring they were going off into improvisations on some tunes and how incredible John Entwistle and Keith Moon were as a furious and dynamic rhythm section. Also Pete Townsend seemed to never run out of ideas and he proves on this record that nobody did and ever will rock harder. Roger Daltrey needs no introduction as the greatest rock belter of all time.

Ever song on this record sounds MUCH better than their original counterparts. Just check out A Quick One While He's Away, Tattoo, My Generation for proof.

I wouldn't call this a prog-rock masterpiece in the "traditional" sense. But there is no way in hell I will ever give this record any less than 5 stars on any forum.

Now go get it, crank it up. You'll thank me later.

 Let's See Action / When I Was A Boy by WHO, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1971
3.05 | 5 ratings

Let's See Action / When I Was A Boy
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "Let`s See Action" (composed by Pete Townshend) was one of the songs that he originally composed for THE WHO`s unfinished "Lifehouse" project, which originally was another "Rock Opera" that he was trying to compose and to record with the band. But the concept of that project became very complicated to be done. So, in the end, the band released their very good and popular "Who`s Next" album in 1971 instead, with some songs from that "Lifehouse" project. Other songs were released as A- sides in three singles between 1971 and 1972 ("Let`s See Action", in 1971, and "Join Together" and "Relay" in 1972), and others were finally released as bonus tracks in the "Who`s Next" re-mixed and remastered CD and in the "De-Luxe" edition from that album. Townshend also released an extended version of "Let`s See Action" in his "Who Came First" solo album from 1972. "Let`s See Action" is a Rock and Roll / Blues song with good arrangements and with a very good piano part played by Nicky Hopkins.

"When I Was a Boy" is a song composed by John Entwistle with very good lyrics about how life changes while growing up from childhood to adulthood. It was sung by him, with him also playing a very good horns arrangement in a very "baroque" style. I don`t know why this song was relegated to the B-side of a single because it is very good. It has been also released in some rarities and B-sides compilations from THE WHO

 In Rock by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.30 | 898 ratings

In Rock
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Losimba

4 stars Ok, my first review here, and while it's not one of my all time favourite albums it contains one of my all time top 5 songs. This album was published a few months before I was born, so it was already quite old when I first listened in (I must have been around 16 or 17 then) and immediately bought it, of course on vinyl then.

And what a start Speed King offers. Easily one of the fastest songs Deep Purple ever recorded, it drives on for 6 minutes, including a classic of a guitar solo by Ritchie Blackmore. Track 2 is Bloodsucker, a fine contrast in its heaviness.  But the highlight of the album is Child In Time, 10 minutes and 17 seconds of intensity, vibration and variety. Starting innocently with this wonderfully simple bass lick and organ motif, the first part is one single crescendo culminating in Ian Gillan's famous screaming. The following solo section is similar, the first minute or so comes rather bluesy before the whole thing accelerates and finally ends with a strong chord. One might think that this is already the end of the song, but no, it's back to the beginning with just some variations in the organ parts, and of course the screaming part is not followed by another solo but a rather dramatic winddown ending the song with something like a big crash.

Side two begins with Flight Of The Rat, which is one of the reasons the album didn't get all time favourite status and 5 stars. Yes, it is another powerful song, but I never was able to get a really distinct impression. This is different with the next song, Into The Fire. Though it's the shortest and probably least "progressive" song on the album, the riff and chorus are something I find myself whistling now and then. Living Wreck is the second less distinct song on this album, before it closes down with Hard Lovin' Man, another rather long track which I rate somewhere between the good and the less good songs, but closer to the good ones. While energy and the chorus are firmly in my ears, most of the other parts of the song are put back into the back drawers of my memory recall about 2 songs later.

I don't own the remaster, but the Black Night single, and I'm quite disappointed with it. While the core of the song is quite good, this version will never be equal to the live versions on Made in Japan or Nobody's Perfect with their beautiful bass intros. So it's gonna be 4 stars, maybe 4.5 because Child In Time is a 6 stars song.

 The Doors by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.29 | 488 ratings

The Doors
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by aglasshouse

2 stars This album retains the quality of a Rube Goldberg machine, and one that you don't know what it's going to do until you see it.

The Doors, headed by Jim Morrison, came about in the same year of another well known psychedelic band (Pink Floyd), 1967. And in a way, these two bands retain similar qualities. But when it comes to which band I like more, I'd easily say the Floyd. Where PF discovered the boundries of their acid-contributed performance in a structural manner, The Doors rather doodled about until they got a winner. That wouldn't be bad in most circumstances, except when you have the doodles as their own track, posing as good songs. For instance, I always thought that 'Twentieth Century Fox' seemed like a lackluster carbon-copy of 'Soul Kitchen' because of them having the exact same beat, incredibly similar composition, and among other things. Before I get too far into my dislike, let's break down the tracks.

'Break on Through (To The Other Side)' is the song that every one knows. For good reason I suppose; it's extremely catchy, has some great instrumentals from Manzarek and Krieger, as well as some really strong vocals from Morrison. It's definitely a great opening, but then the album goes pretty downhill. 'Soul Kitchen' is not bad, but it's nothing compared to the first track. A really cool track that I especially like is the gypsy-like 'Whisky Bar'. It's extremely unique in the case of both The Doors and even other bands. 'The End' is an amazing album finisher, perhaps a little too long, but I suppose it's worth it.

That's where we hit a wall, however. The album's other tracks are extremely lackluster, and have boring elements. They sound more like demos than they would significant tracks. So, if I were to judge this next to other bands of it's time, this is lower on the totem pole. Not very spectacular, and I wouldn't recommend it. I prefer Strange Days over this, so go check that out.

I do not recommend this album.

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Proto-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ANDROMEDA United Kingdom
APPALOOSA United States
BAKERLOO United Kingdom
THE BEATLES United Kingdom
BRAINBOX Netherlands
COVEN United States
DEEP PURPLE United Kingdom
THE DOORS United States
EARTH OPERA United States
FLAMING YOUTH United Kingdom
GATTCH Slovakia
GILES GILES & FRIPP United Kingdom
THE GODS United Kingdom
H.P. LOVECRAFT United States
JIMI HENDRIX United States
THE MOVE United Kingdom
NIRVANA United Kingdom
QUIET WORLD United Kingdom
SALAMANDER United Kingdom
SPIRIT United States
SPOOKY TOOTH United Kingdom
SWEETWATER United States
TOMORROW United Kingdom
TOUCH United States
THE WHO United Kingdom

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