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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.

Iván 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 | 1042 ratings
Beatles, The
4.50 | 618 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 961 ratings
Beatles, The
4.35 | 1222 ratings
Deep Purple
4.35 | 1081 ratings
Beatles, The
4.33 | 1224 ratings
Deep Purple
4.42 | 617 ratings
Who, The
4.33 | 702 ratings
Doors, The
4.18 | 848 ratings
Beatles, The
4.26 | 473 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.23 | 539 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 766 ratings
Beatles, The
3.99 | 590 ratings
Who, The
4.01 | 497 ratings
Doors, The
4.03 | 410 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.95 | 752 ratings
Beatles, The
4.02 | 325 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.87 | 837 ratings
Deep Purple
4.13 | 188 ratings
4.09 | 195 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 Whoosh! by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.71 | 59 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by prog_traveller!!

2 stars Deep purple is a band that does not need an introduction. From the beginning they made a significant impact to rock music in general. Albums like In rock, Fireball, Machine head and MK III's Burn will be forever known as classic milestones of rock. Deep purple had lot's of line up changes and from the beginning of their career until 2020 they released 21 studio albums. For me personally the magic stopped after their Stormbringer album. There are solid efforts from the band from 1974 but they never captured the magic from the period and albums mentioned in the beginning. Whoosh! Is a third studio effort produced by Bob Ezrin and it's the weakest of the bunch. I must say that I never had a problem when a band changes their sound for the better, but it the case of Deep purple not many good things happened. The songs on this album are weak and none of the 13 songs bring anything memorable. This is an album that I will not return to any time soon.
 Deep Purple in Rock by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.35 | 1222 ratings

Deep Purple in Rock
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

4 stars Quintessential. This is the best word I have for this legendary record. Probably the most recognizable album by Deep Purple for the general public and probably their most well-known cover art. This album was first in many aspects: the first album recorded with the two newcomers Ian Gillan and Roger Glover, comprising the Mark II lineup alongside Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, and the magnificent Jon Lord. It is the first really heavy album by the band and one of the first really hard rocking proto-metal albums and their breakthrough in Europe. It is also an album that introduced the longer song form for this genre with the absolutely legendary 'Child in Time'.

No more psychedelia, just heavy and loud, a direction that each band member agreed is the right one for Purple. The sessions have obviously resulted in the creation of some of the most iconic rock songs ever recorded. 'Speed King' and 'Bloodsucker' are two stark examples of this new musical direction, fast, heavy, loud, and enjoyable head-bangers. Tremendous, big and memorable riffs, masterful playing from each instrumentalist, and frantic screams from Gillan - what else would anyone want from these guys? Then comes 'Child in Time' which really needs no introduction - it is simply essential.

Side two is weaker in terms of resonation and overall sound quality. Here, the band let the music flow more freely and to more unconventional directions, if the opposite word was to be applied for side one. 'Flight of the Rat' is a more traditional rock song with crazy solo moments from Lord, Blackmore, and Paice. 'Into the Fire' almost feels like a proto-groove metal, a song written by Glover as a warning against drugs. 'Living Wreck' was almost left out of the album but it obviously made the final cut and for good, a decent riff and nice vocals by Gillan, topped by a darker solo by Blackmore played through an octave pedal. 'Hard Lovin' Man' is more of a jam, and something that sounds like the blueprint for many NWOBHM songs. Finally, the non-album single 'Black Night' is fairly well-known and beloved by many fans of DP.

Each member is absolutely in control of everything they do, the record is stunning and 'one of heavy metal's defining albums'.

 S.F. Sorrow by PRETTY THINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.15 | 76 ratings

S.F. Sorrow
The Pretty Things Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars Of all the outstanding British pop rock bands that took the world by storm, it's always surprising when you discover that there were a great number of absolutely brilliant bands that never found much success at all despite crafting some of the best music of all time! THE PRETTY THINGS is one such band from the greater London (Sidcup to be specific) area that never got their just dessert in their day. While the band formed in 1963 and crafted a familiar sounding British rhythm & blues garage rock sound laced with the more psychedelic aspects of a small genre called freakbeat, the band was sort of labeled as a Rolling Stones clone due to the similarity in catchy melodies and a vocal style from lead singer Phil May that did indeed sound a bit like Mick Jagger but to my ears THE PRETTY THINGS were a much superior band in crafting excellent pop rock albums that were consistent all the way through instead of the lopsided ones of the Stones. Who says life is fair?

While not finding a larger audience during their 60s peak, THE PRETTY THINGS have become best known for their fourth album S.F. SORROW which is credited as being one of the very first rock opera albums although it wasn't billed as such upon its release. While it seems the first true rock opera was from the one shot band The Family Tree which released "Miss Butters" in May 1968, that album still remains somewhat of an obscurity whereas S.F. SORROW has gained much more respect over the decades since its initial release. This album that was released in December 1968 seems to have been the primary influence behind The Who's "Tommy" which emerged the very next year although the band has denied any such influences and it is true that "Tommy" was indeed the very first album that was actually released as a rock opera. Nevertheless, S.F. SORROW to my ears is a far superior album as far as unrelenting perfection with one infectious melodic hook after another graced with some of the coolest grooviliscious psychedelic effects.

The story was concocted by lead singer Phil May and the album is structured as a song cycle with the main character Sebastian F. Sorrow experiencing the trials and tribulations of life from birth to death. S.F. SORROW was also quite different from other rock operas that followed in that other albums that followed narrated a tale through the song lyrics whereas this one told much of the story through small paragraphs-sized chapters where appeared in the liner notes of the vinyl LP and later on the CD which alternated with the lyrics of the actual songs. That means this was a true multi-media experience where the visual artwork of the album operated in tandem with the audio performances. While The Beatles upped the art rock ante with 1967's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club," a legion of new artists quickly adapted an artier approach to their music with THE PRETTY THINGS being one of the more inventive of the era.

The original album consisted of 13 tracks with the opening "S.F. Sorrow Is Born" which immediately sets the stage for an entirely new direction for the band that as recently as the prior 1967 release "Emotions" still found the band to be a decent but still somewhat derivative Stones pop rock band but on S.F. SORROW all those failures of the past had simply transmogrified into sheer musical perfection with a concept that added an entirely new dimension to the music's depth, something fairly new in the world of rock music. Instead of cranking up the volume ever louder, THE PRETTY THINGS learned the art of dynamics and how to alternate softer passages with louder ones for greater effect. Added to that a stellar production job from Norman Smith who had been responsible for The Beatles albums up until 1965 and then moved on to get his feet wet in the burgeoning world of psychedelic rock with Pink Floyd's earliest works.

S.F. SORROW is one of those albums that you hit play and simply cannot opt out until the entire album runs its course. For newer releases on CD this includes the bonus tracks such as "Deflecting Grey" and "Talkin' About The Good Times" which were released as non-album singles, an annoying but common record label policy back in those days. As S.F. SORROW progresses from one track to others, there is an incessant parade of varying percussive beats, infectious melodic grooves directed by the bass playing skills of Wally Waller and interesting guitar leads that break out of nowhere making this one of the first albums i'm aware of that seriously focused on alternating styles, rhythms and dynamics to bring out a tidal wave of emotive reactions. Added to the overall storyline and the instantly addictive melodies, S.F. SORROW also strategically breaks out the psychedelic big guns with trippy organ parts as well as atmospheric extras generated through the mellotron and raga rock appearances of the sitar.

Melodically THE PRETTY THINGS dropped the Stones comparisons and focused more on the rich pop-infused hooks and harmonies of The Beatles coupled with the spacier layers of sound from Pink Floyd. This combo effect was triumphant and the album is literally flawless in its execution both sounding like it was spawned in the late 60s from whence it came yet exudes a timelessness that makes this sound fresh and relevant even in a world when such sugary melodies and easy listening pop music has been tainted with atonality and experimental avant-garde touches. Although i've heard of this album for years i didn't really get into until recently and once i gave it a spin a couple times i was utterly hooked. The album has catapulted up to my top albums of all time due to its irresistible hooks laced with psychedelic brilliance. While THE PRETTY THINGS have many great albums, this is where they hit sheer perfection with the perfect marriage of lyrical content, seductive mellifluousness and psychedelic inventiveness. A true masterpiece of the ages that has finally gotten the recognition it deserves.

 Fireball by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 848 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by A Crimson Mellotron

5 stars 'Fireball' is one of the albums that sometimes get neglected because of the year they were released in or because of the albums that come before and/or after. I think the latter is the case of this unbelievable release. Bracketed by what could be considered the two most iconic Deep Purple albums, 'Fireball' might have been slightly overlooked throughout the years and this has helped me love it even more.

This is just the second album with newcomers Gillan and Glover on vocals and bass respectively, and stylistically it does not differ too much from its hard-rocking predecessor 'In Rock'. The band is obviously having a lot of fun on this LP, yet they are still trying new sounds and techniques, which surely makes this a milestone of 70s hard rock (and proto-heavy metal).

But does this album prog? I'd say to an extent. If it does, this definitely happens on side two. And let me reverse the order in which I mention the album's contents. With just three bombastic experimental hard rock epics, this is one of the strongest album sides that can be found in all of the band's history. Because when you have the almost psych-rock tune 'The Mule', the memorable and solid 'Fools', and the funky and hard-hitting 'No One Came' with its enduring chorus, you can do no wrong.

Respectively, side one is not a tint worse - the title track is one of the most recognizable DP songs ever, 'No No No' is interesting and a bit unexpected but another great song in the band's catalogue, 'Demon's Eye' is iconic, and 'Anyone's Daughter' is... just fun. (Although some of the band members consider it a mistake, and it really sounds a bit off, it is not a terrible song by any means)

Probably not a masterpiece in the context of the site but an absolute crowning achievement of hard rock, and I will stick with this feeling I have for 'Fireball'. There is not a single weak track here and moreover, this album captures perfectly everything that Deep Purple stand for - big, heavy, memorable riffs and melodies, masterful playing from every instrumentalist, uncommon and intriguing songwriting, and above all, a grandiose enjoyment that comes along with experiencing these guys' music.

 The Early Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1965
3.13 | 12 ratings

The Early Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Grab this US Capitol Beatles album on vinyl if you can otherwise these tracks are on just about every compilation album. The standout tracks are Love Me Do, Twist and Shout, Chains, Boys, Ask Me Why, Please Please Me, P.S. I Love You, A Taste of Honey, and Do You Want to Know a Secret. So it does have quite a few terrific treasures from the Fab Four. And released in 1965 on my Birth year, well it has a bit of sentimental value to me.

The cover itself is quite rare and these old US releases can fetch quite a pretty penny. The music though as I mentioned is nothing new these days, even as a starting point for The Beatles it would be far more advantageous to listen to "1" or "Love" or the Anthology releases, or just about any recent compilation. Though this is way better than "Spooky Songs".

 Something New by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1964
2.25 | 18 ratings

Something New
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars This Capitol Beatles release again made an impact in America and is a rarity to find on vinyl for any collectors. It was released in 1964 a year before I was conceived into the world of Prog. On that note there's nothing prog about this album but that does not detract from the magic of The Beatles. There are some gems on here such as Things We Said Today, Any Time at All, When I Get Home, Matchbox, And I Love Her, I'm Happy Just to Dance with You and If I Fell. The real rarity for me for a long time was the German version Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand, but of course it has since been released on other better compilations. Grab on vinyl but otherwise get these tracks on other releases such as the superior "A Hard Days Night".
 Meet the Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1964
2.35 | 28 ratings

Meet the Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The American release of the Capitol album "Meet The Beatles" was important in 1964 to bring the mop head's music to the masses outside of the cosy homeland of England. It was essential that The Beatles span out to other countries and why not hit the Big Apple, which can make or break any rock band. Thankfully the Americans loved it and the fanbase widened to increasing proportions. And why not with such material as I Want to Hold Your Hand, I Saw Her Standing There, All My Loving, Don't Bother Me and Hold Me Tight. There are a few tracks that I am not a fan of but this is an early release, before I was born, so it can be forgiven. The 60s will never be repeated and I admit tracks such as Till There Was You, This Boy and All I've Got to Do had their place back then. Find this on vinyl if you are a collector.
 Hey Jude by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1970
3.64 | 50 ratings

Hey Jude
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars Here is a nice compilation from The Beatles worth finding on vinyl no doubt though I could never locate such a treasure. The tracks on this span the various eras of The Beatles so it is a good snapshot of their material. My personal favourites on side one are the jumping, jolly I Should Have Known Better, brilliant guitar riffing on Paperback Writer, here in reversed stereo, and the raucous Revolution. On side two are the indispensable Hey Jude and Don't Let Me Down, among others. Overall it is definitely a good start for those elite who have not heard much of the Fab Four outside of their singles.
 Live at the BBC by BEATLES, THE album cover Live, 1994
3.25 | 66 ratings

Live at the BBC
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars THE BEATLES Live at the BBC is an historical document to be sure, replete with the amazing early years of the Beatles. The discs are jam packed with early renditions of well known, beloved tracks and a ton of covers with interviews from the Fab Four interspersed. There are some genuinely humorous moments as we hear their cheeky British wit coming through. It took a while till this recording saw the light of day but it is so impressive to hear them in this raw, no nonsense form, before they became infamous and layered albums with studio trickery and buffonery. There some rare oddities here you will rarely hear anywhere else by Beatles such as on disc 1 From Us To You, Riding On A Bus, Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, I'll Be On My Way, Young Blood, Carol, Soldier Of Love and I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You).

On the second disc we have Crinsk Dee Night, Have A Banana!, I Forgot To Remember To Forget, I Got To Find My Baby and Don't Ever Change. There are 69 tracks to wade through and a lot of familiar material too such as Matchbox, A Hard Day's Night, Roll Over Beethoven, All My Loving, Things We Said Today, She's A Woman, I Feel Fine, I'm A Loser, Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby, Ticket To Ride and Kansas City / Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!

Overall the album comes recommended to any Beatles fanatic and anyone who loves listening to classic 1960s pop.

 Spooky Songs by BEATLES, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
1.00 | 2 ratings

Spooky Songs
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars A shameless Halloween cash-in that would be amazing if it offered something new and wonderful. It does not. Instead we get one of the weirdest Beatles releases to date. Spooky songs are perhaps songs that have a strange disconcerting edge to them and there are plenty out there I have heard, some so scary I would not want to return to them, such as that album by Scott Walker that haunted me for days, or even that masterful shocker by Comus, or even some of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's work or the nasty "Murder Ballads" of Nick Cave, all unsettling beyond belief.

But The Beatles... yes the sodding Beatles for crying out loud! Perhaps this album is one of the biggest jokes of 2020, surely it cannot be serious. After all it opens with Tomorrow Never Knows which is a masterpiece but it aint scary folks. I Am the Walrus is less scary than this although the lyrics might freak out your grandparents. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds again has weird LSD inspired lyrics but not in the least spooky. It's All Too Much is an oddity that rarely finds its way on a compilation or is that a complication? But its cool to revisit being one of the lesser known Beatles. Long, Long, Long again is not often found on a comp but its pretty good, though not in the least spooky. Finally I'm Only Sleeping is here and unless sleep scares you it is not spooky.

So there it is folks. If you find a cheap CD copy it is perhaps worth grabbing as it is a definitive oddity. It does not feature the spookiest song by Beatles Revolution 9, which scares me silly, and perhaps Happiness is a Warm Gun freaks me out a bit because of how Lennon died. But Halloween will bring out the worst in the mad merchandise market and here is one such item.

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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
FORD THEATRE United States
GATTCH Slovakia
GILES GILES & FRIPP United Kingdom
THE GODS United Kingdom
THE GUN 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
THE SHIVER Switzerland
SPIRIT United States
SPOOKY TOOTH United Kingdom
SWEETWATER United States
TOMORROW United Kingdom
TOUCH United States
THE WHO United Kingdom

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