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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.

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

4.47 | 920 ratings
Beatles, The
4.50 | 534 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 839 ratings
Beatles, The
4.34 | 1095 ratings
Deep Purple
4.31 | 1107 ratings
Deep Purple
4.32 | 952 ratings
Beatles, The
4.36 | 520 ratings
Who, The
4.31 | 601 ratings
Doors, The
4.18 | 740 ratings
Beatles, The
4.24 | 456 ratings
Doors, The
4.26 | 399 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 673 ratings
Beatles, The
4.02 | 426 ratings
Doors, The
3.91 | 654 ratings
Beatles, The
3.93 | 505 ratings
Who, The
3.96 | 351 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.84 | 742 ratings
Deep Purple
3.99 | 269 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 164 ratings
3.93 | 303 ratings
Deep Purple

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 InFinite by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.66 | 72 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

5 stars There is only one review in progarchives until now for "InFinity", and I must say that this is a very good one which describes properly what it is and what can be expected to expect from this album.. But there is a basic disagreement between our points of view because I do consider this a masterpiece as well as "Now What ? Lets see why :

1 - I have no problem with vintage production; and I was expecting a return to the seventies as strong as possible. It is a matter of taste.

2 - They evolved again ! While anxiously expecting for "Infinity", I was considering if they would be able to repeat "Now, What ?"; because this 2013 effort was almost perfect and left no room for changes and development. I was wrong ! They didnīt repeated that, they went to a new sound, more in the seventies although no related with MK2. The main point here is the bringing of keys to the first line without compromising weight in their sound. More than never bass lines sustained the heaviness, avoiding similarities with MK1 sound. They were heavy and keyboard oriented as they never were. They achieved the perfoming of an old and modern sound at the same time !

3 - Steve Morse sound is as good as never, even with keys in the front line. He does not waste hundreds of notes playing at 200 miles per hour. His kind of hided playing here made me miss guitars brightness in this album until the end of "Birds Of Pray". That screaming guitar expresses what I am not able to do with words. This is a good point to comparisons; I do not prefer Morse to Blackmore or Blackmore to Morse. They are delightly different and a fast guitar solo like in "Place In Line" or the more known "Highway Star" are perfect to be appreciated as well.

4 ? The songs are shorter than in "Now, What ?" and we progheads are fond of epics. So ir was an exercise of making a fantastic album without obeying our prog protocols. And they got to achieve that fantastic album?

In a matter of conclusion I would like to thank Deep Purple as a band for giving us "Now What ?" in 2013 and "Infinity" in 2017. These albums bring a new bright for hard rock that only finds pair in Black Country Communion work. But there stands present Glenn Hughes, another monster of musician. And even if the grandpapas of Deep Purple retires from touring, I will still be dreaming with another "Infinity" as much as I dreamed with another "Now What ?"?

 Now What?! by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.93 | 303 ratings

Now What?!
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

5 stars This is a masterpiece of music. Letīs go straight to the reasons :

1 - This album is a homage to Jon Lord. It is nice to see that those decades as partners was able to create a sense of friendship among those sixties boys. It seems Jon was a gentleman, an easy guy to be in touch; but there is an example in the same band that shows this is not as common as we would like that to be. Ok, this is not about the music, this is about emotion. But what is prog, what is music, what is art if not emotion ? This is well posted in Ianīs verses "Your souls had been touched, are forever entwined". This things grows in importance when you are more than fifty years old?

2 - The new way of doing and performing music was recovered and discovered as well at the same time. Improvisation is the musical core of those guys; and when Bob Ezrin saw them jamming he came with the perspective of producing them an album straightly based in their instrumental skills. Their songs come from improvisation sessions, where its roots are launched. So, this means a return to what make them formidable musicians; but not a return repeating the seventies. The new way of performing was so succesful that here in progarchives "Now, What ?" score less than just "In Rock" and "Machine Head", and I am in total agreement with these scores

3 - The music itself. Homege to Jon Lord, achievement of an excellent new/old style, etc... Fantastic but useless if the music is poor; but this is not the case. The Opener "A Simple Song" pairs with their best openers; maybe is not match only for tracks like "Child In Time" and "Highway Star". Even average melodies like "Hell to Pay" benefits from instrumental interludes and Bob Ezrinīs job as producer. And if we follow the album, we will see plenty amount of quality in songs like "Above And Beyond", "Blood From a Stone", "Uncommon Man" and... gosh there is not a weak one here !

It was a grateful surprise that Deep Purple was able to reinvent themselves in 2013, even if profoundly set in their roots. As a prog and hard rock fan I can only thank them to be so bold and compromised with music to the point of presenting us what was not expected anymore : a masterpiece of music...

 Rapture Of The Deep by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.33 | 297 ratings

Rapture Of The Deep
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

3 stars This is the hardest one from MK6/7 for me to review. I have conflicting visions here; it has some real good songs; but it is too uneven; maybe only "House Of Blue Light" surpasses it as an uneven work. Fastly speaking, HOBL has a bunch of songs, four of them, very strong; but the rest of the album is simple not easy to be heard. ROTD may not have songs as weak as HOBL; but its strong ones is not as powerful.

Even with this restriction, I can see "Rapture Of The Deep" as a improvement when compared to Bananas. The opener is (as always), a very good song. "Wrong Man" has an interesting guitar riff, not prog related but good to be appreciated by hard rockers ears. The song "Rapture Of The Deep" is good, not essential; "Clearly Quite Absurd" is good, but with Ianīs voice became a highlight in this album. Junkyard blues is ok, not more; and the closer "Before Time Began" is the other peak here.

Now comes the conclusion. Three stars, and the main point here is that about the real good songs, the opener is firmly planted in Deep Purple overall way of performing music and the other one is the closer. There are other average ones, of course; but the weak ones really put the album down. Good, not essential, with moments of bright that makes it deserves public attention.

 Bananas by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2003
3.03 | 296 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

3 stars This is going to be an easy one to rate and comment. First they didnīt repeat the album; they left the heaviness present on Abandon. In my opinion, they went to the other extreme; creating what can be considered one of their softest efforts. There are here some slow pace songs that sustains this assessment; the clear and soft ballad "Haunted" and the blues based "Walk On".

The opener "House Of Pain" is a favorite of mine; they always have a good opener to apply in their works. This is the song that can be used to bring reflections about the way we music appreciators were seeing Deep Purple at that time. The path chosen seems not to make us fan base happy. In what sense ? Ok, the album is not AOR like that poor sound contaminating several bands in the eighties; but is not what we like to hear them sounding. And how can we present our wishes ? Thatīs simple; for our prog mind "House Of Pain" is too short and doesnīt give conditions for the band to develop their instrumental interlude which makes them master musicians. Bob Ezrin noticed that, Ian Gillan confirms this in interviews and the results was two masterpieces to be soon released in 2013 and 2017.

As a conclusion, this is easily a good but not essencial work. Could be much better; it is only to consider them using the approach that Bob Ezrin would bring soon to their sound; imagine "House Of Pain" receiving the production "Hell to Pay" from "Now, What" received. Oh, what an upgrade that would be...

 Abandon by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1998
2.81 | 271 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

4 stars OK, I am not following mainstream and giving it 4 stars diverges a lot from progarchives scores. So I must defend in details this rating of mine. Let's see if you readers at least understand my reasons; agreement may not be possible :

1 - I do appreciate changes, as I set clear in another review; and Abandon differs a lot from Purpendicular or any other Deep Purple album.

2 - Those changes led them to release what I consider the heaviest album of them. It was very good to see them challenging themselves is this direction, even if there is more weight and less prog here. It didn't bother me although I understand it may not be welcome here; low ratings reflects that...

3 - There are strong compositions here; at least for my taste. The first half being better than the last one. Songs 1, 3, 4 and '69' really got my admiration. A special comment must be set do "Don't Make Me Happy"; this is a song where Ian's voice really shines in extraordinary way, which leads me to consider him one of the two best voices that sings hard rock. It is like "Fools" from "Fireball" and "Mitzi Dupree" from "House Of Blue Light". These are songs that elevates overall quality of their albums; and I would not recommend another singer to cover them.

As a conclusion this is a three stars album. If you miss Mr. Lord shinning Hammond keys, consider it was exchanged by heaviness supported by bass and guitar. I rouded it up one star because it was a bold effort of the band to change and innovate. I like heavy music, and for those about heavy metal this is a work that deserves the receiving of a good amount of attention...

 Purpendicular by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.65 | 368 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

4 stars It was a very good event for the sake of music appreciators the exchange of guitar ace Ritchie Blackmore by the guitar master Steve Morse. It is not my objective to compare their qualities; but I do consider obvious that a band which was about to end could be reborn full of power and enthusiasm as a result of that interchange. Last efforts from Deep Purple MK2 (The Battle Rages On and House Of Blue Light pale in comparison with their golden era albuns; and Slaves&Masters MK5 may be considered purely dispensable. So, even the presence of a musician like Ritchie Blackmore was not allowing the band to record what is to be expected from a band like Deep Purple, and internal turmoil led them to a definitive rupture. So, the arrival of Mr. Morse got a lot of rejection from Blackmoreīs fan base; which is easy to understand. But in my opinion the change was absolutely for good; and I point it out in the following reasons :

1 - Lack of creativity. Deep Purple was not able to produce a Fireball anymore (no masterpiece requested here); not even a Perfect Strangers. More and new compositional energy was requested !

2 - Mr Morse brought the missing creativity and allowed the band not to repeat an excellent album like "Fireball"; but to develop a brand new sound; a necessary upgrade in any first line band musical career.

Even the entrance of Tommy Bolin in 1975 didnīt brought such a consistent change in ther sound. Not that Mr. Bolin was a second rate guitar player (Tommy Bolin was also a guitar ace); the fact is that he didnīt have the time and the band was under influence of another musical giant called Glenn Hughes; the soul of Stormbringer and Come Taste the Band. But what exactly am I to say about this "new sound" to be found in Deep Purple MK6 e Deep Purple MK7 ? Letīs see :

1 - The compositions : there was nothing even close to "Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic" until that day. It was clear that Steve Morse was not about to substitute Ritchie Blackmore but to walk in his own heels. And it reflected immediately in their compositions

2 - The paper of rhythm section : Not until that moment bassist Roger Glover could occupy such a large space in their sound. It can be seen very clearly in "Loosen My Strings".

3 - Steve Morse is not a guitar player that sets his attention in playing a lot of notes as fast as possible. This is another reason that leaves more space for Roger Glover to give punch in their sound; and folks, I do like a lot this. The bass not only sets the rhythm; there are spaces for it to fill ang guarantee heavyness to their sound ! This new way of playing guitar which is clearly noticeable in a highlight as "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming" ! As once was told by bass master Ron Carter; whose saw fine art in controlling rhythm patterns with the smallest amount of notes he can figure out !

4 - Variation between recorded songs. We have the opening number. We have The Aviator, with its country approuch. Rosa Cantina and Loosen My Strings. Songs very diferent one from the others. It is opposes MK2 reality; the four albuns of the seventies (two of them masterpieces), did not have that amount of variation even among between them

As a conclusion, it is a solid 4 star rating. The first five songs indicates a masterpiece; but the second half I considered not as good. They were knowing each other as musicians; but a lot of good things was about to come. And I suggest you to not miss Blackmore; time changes, band changes, but for Deep Purple MK6 e MK7 4 and even 5 stars are perfectly possible. Do not act like myself that do not listen Dream Theater anymore after the leaving ok Mick Portnoy...

 My Generation by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
2.92 | 155 ratings

My Generation
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by BigDaddyAEL1964

3 stars That debut album by the Who was just another Britpop - rock album... kinda.

Listening carefully, you can see the signs if their lyrical intelligence and their compositional skills. Paying tribute to their influences was an essential back then (with James Brown's "Please Please Please" and the classic Bo Diddley's "I'm A Man"), but the y struck gold with their on hit single too, "My Generation", on of the most well known songs of the 60s.

Absolutely no prog here yet, but an album worth owning for historical as well as musical reasons.

3 stars by me, for a significant effort that helped built a storied career.

 Shades Of Deep Purple by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.28 | 493 ratings

Shades Of Deep Purple
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Going into this album, anything I knew of Deep Purple's music was centered around all the hits they released during their MKII and MKIII eras. Meaning, of course, I knew 'Highway Star', 'Smoke on the Water', 'Burn', and all the other classics that are featured on countless compilations that all have the exact same tracklist. So I was intrigued to get started from the beginning. To head back to 1968 and check out the album that kicked off the career of one of rock music's most legendary bands.


Compared to the material the band would later release, this album is pretty boring, with no sense of identity. It just completely lacks that instantly recognizable Deep Purple vibe. It sounds like any generic rock album from the late 60's. It's not terrible. There's a few catchy hooks here-and-there, but the album as a whole just doesn't do anything for me. It's no wonder these songs are usually neglected from all the compilations. In fact, the only song that really even gets any recognition these days is their cover of Billy Joe Royal's 'Hush'. It says a lot about a bands material when the best song on the record is a cover.

So yeah, that's Deep Purple's debut. It was probably an incredible, ground-breaking game-changer in 1968. But this isn't 1968, and these songs have not aged well at all. I'll give it two stars because it's not awful, it's just not really very good, either.

 Valleys Of Neptune by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.21 | 52 ratings

Valleys Of Neptune
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by AZF

5 stars This album is the closest we've had commercially released of The Jimi Hendrix Experience (Until the excellent West Coast Seattle Boy) than could be thought of as The Beatles Anthology. Or even the closest to the recent Pink Floyd studio boxset. It contains three tracks of Mitch Mitchell and the legend Noel Redding overdubbed in 1987, under the watchful eye of Chas Chandler. It predates "Free As A Bird" by many years and is more satisfying than the final two Beatles singles made from Lennon's gifted tapes. Possible legalities negated as all the personnel involved are no longer on this planet to hear the 'Valleys Of Neptune" as it was released in 2010.

12 tracks and excluding the three tracks not mentioned as in introduced, there is enough material of the Experience that together with some of the highlights of the second disc of "West Coast Seattle Boy" would have made an impressive stop gap and final word on the band had it been compiled and released in 1969 and what an insight into Jimi's perfection the album is. And what an oversight of management my fantasy outtakes album never happened in 1969.

One interesting part of the album for me are the time snaps of Noel Redding in 1969, sounding flippant and bored with yet another play through of a life staple "Hear My Train A'Coming". My preferred version is the BBC version if not his single acoustic filmed. Despite how bored Noel sounds, Hendrix paints a canvas and sounds so relaxed but confident. Compare that to the post-9/70 Redding on the final track "Crying Blue Rain". A snapshot of Jimi recorded in London self produced that in June the 5th, Noel and Mitch added their parts that not just pick up from where they left off with the slow blues, they keep up and follow Jimi as he has an instrumental freakout of chord sequences. Leaving the album and listener left alone in the stratosphere to descend back to your lives.

Although some material was reworked by the driven Jimi, the fact that Ezy Ryder got the riff means we were robbed of "Lullaby For The Summer" being associated with the greatest way the band could have bowed out of.

It sounds great listened to in full on these bright warm nights, the studio take of Red House is better than the version on the US Are You Experienced?. But it sounds more lived in. You can hear the fact Hendrix wanted to get the sound bigger. You can hear the band having everything they could possibly do just give expert performances that make the wrong notes and off beats hard to notice at first.

As excellent the recent live CDs of Hendrix have been, this studio album is as essential as First Rays Of The New Rising Sun and even Axis : Bold As Love. (Despite it being recorded after Electric Ladyland). When he lets the guitar do the taking there really is no other. Stripped away from the endless retakes and attempts intended to be optimum, Jimi's messages still sound like they could have been made today.


 Surrealistic Pillow by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.61 | 187 ratings

Surrealistic Pillow
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

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

3 stars After a turbulent start JEFFERSON AIRPLANE tried but fell short for "Take Off" on their debut despite the positive affirmations present in the album title. While the band got their feet wet in the gigging circuit and were a local cult favorite in the San Francisco Bay Area, the band was unsuccessful in making a dent further abroad however soon after the debut was released there were a few developments which sent the band in new directions and accidentally landed them in the worldwide spotlight as "The Summer Of Love" descended upon the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco. The original female vocalist Signe Anderson left the band only two months after "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off" was released because of her recently born daughter taking focus away from the band. Secondly drummer Skip Spence was sacked due to an unannounced vacation to Mexico but would go on to found Moby Grape. Spencer Dryden was recruited to fill the drummer's shoes.

The female vocalist role was, of course, filled by the prodigious contralto vox box of Grace Slick, whom the band had already known from her former band The Great Society which had played with JEFFERSON AIRPLANE on many occasions. Just a little trivia: Grace Slick is lineally descended from passengers of the Mayflower! The classic lineup of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE was complete and in early 1967 the band released their second album SURREALISTIC PILLOW just in time for the Beat Generation inspired movement of the "turn on, tune in, drop out" youth who were reinventing society and of course they needed a new soundtrack for a totally new way of thinking! JEFFERSON AIRPLANE were poised to be first in line to fill this new unforeseen need and soon they would find a pot of gold where no rainbow yet touched the ground!

In many ways SURREALISTIC PILLOW continues the sound laid down on the debut album. Although described as psychedelic rock by many, album number two primarily consists of Byrds inspired folk rock that take the influences of other contemporary artists like The Mamas & The Papas, Bob Dylan, The Yardbirds, The Beatles and Kingston Trio and added a touch of psychedelia to become one of the biggest hits of the entire year. The band's distinct sound of the combo vocal effect of Slick and Marty Ballin was the extra boost of mojo they needed to finally get their AIRPLANE flying high in the friendly skies. The album was released in February 1967 and shot up to number 3 on the Billboard charts in only a month and a half where it stayed for over a year and provided the only two top 10 hits of their entire career as a band. "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit" both hit the top 10 and became two of the biggest anthems of the entire 60s music scene not to mention the band's best known tracks.

SURREALISTIC PILLOW is one of those albums that divides my senses. On the one hand, this album is absolutely essential for a complete understanding of the hippie scene and The Summer Of Love in 1967. It is an inextricable part of a unique place and time in history and therefore has earned that mandatory placement in my music collection. However from an artistic point of view, i have never been blown away by this one. Personally i find only six of the eleven songs to be interesting and the rest are sort of throwaway tracks that do little for my senses. Secondly i find the album to be horribly paced with no rhyme or reason as to how the tracks are placed. Some of them sound like leftovers from the earlier album sessions. The album starts out quite strong with the catchy semi-psychedelic rock opener "She Has Funny Cars" which instantly shows how the band had improved over the debut as Grace Slick rocks the house with her magnetic charisma accompanied by the rockin' rhythms and fuzzed out bass. It is immediately followed by the excellent "Somebody To Love" which was actually recorded by Slick's brother-in-law Darby Slick for her previous band The Great Society." Somehow the song jumped ship with Slick and the rest is history!

Unfortunately the album derails from then on as "My Best Friend" sounds like a very bad attempt to imitate The Mamas & The Papas" which JEFFERSON AIRPLANE wasn't quite equipped to pull off. It only gets worse as the rest of the album is littered with forgettable folk ballads like "Today" and "Comin' Back To Me." Of the remaining tracks i only find "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds," "White Rabbit" and "Plastic Fantastic Lover" to be interesting. Of course, someone could write an entire novel about "White Rabbit" which really is one of the best songs ever written and its larger than life Summer Of Love spirit completely overwhelms anything else on the album and was incidentally the only track completely written by Slick herself. Considering that the two best tracks on the album were written by humans with the last name Slick, i wish that Ballin and Kantner would have given the Queen of Acid a bit more free reign in both the lyrical contributions as well as the songwriting.

For me SURREALISTIC PILLOW somewhat lives up to its name, not for the fact that the music is trippy as hell but more for the fact that it creates the cognitive dissonance of being an album that is utterly essentially as someone interested in the peace and love hippie era but leaves me cold when listening to as a whole. It's one of those albums that someone apparently had to be there at the time to appreciate in its proper context but for someone like me who wasn't around to see the movie to which the soundtrack was playing, it just doesn't hold up very well. Musically speaking other 1967 albums ranging from "The Doors," "Sgt. Pepper's," "Are You Experienced?" and "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" are much more suitable to my imagined Summer Of Love experience. So as an album for listening pleasure i only find SURREALISTIC PILLOW to be a good album for the six tracks and nothing more and personally find this album woefully overrated. Still though, it contains a few of the greatest tracks not only of JEFFERSON AIRPLANE's entire career but also in all the history of rock music and for that it deserves to be heard by all. For me this is only a 3 star album but i'll add an extra half star for its cultural significance but not here so rounded down!

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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
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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