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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

4.48 | 834 ratings
Beatles, The
4.49 | 489 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 761 ratings
Beatles, The
4.32 | 1013 ratings
Deep Purple
4.33 | 866 ratings
Beatles, The
4.30 | 1016 ratings
Deep Purple
4.36 | 476 ratings
Who, The
4.30 | 551 ratings
Doors, The
4.17 | 668 ratings
Beatles, The
4.24 | 415 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 364 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 611 ratings
Beatles, The
4.01 | 387 ratings
Doors, The
3.95 | 460 ratings
Who, The
3.91 | 590 ratings
Beatles, The
3.96 | 320 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.83 | 678 ratings
Deep Purple
4.12 | 149 ratings
3.92 | 266 ratings
Deep Purple
3.94 | 244 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown by BROWN BAND, THE ARTHUR album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.06 | 158 ratings

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
The Arthur Brown Band Proto-Prog

Review by poito

4 stars This is pure Rock history. Probably I must have heard Brown's hit Fire on the radio or on a TV show when I was a child because it is stuck in my head and I feel it somehow unconsciously guided my first musical taste before I become a researcher. It was the time when Iron Butterfly struck over the world with the In-A- Gadda-Da-Vida, Deep Purple was giving birth to the heavy lines of Rock music, and Hendrix changed the guitar playing. Besides all influences that you can find in the reviews on AB, I would dare to add he was a pioneer of high-pitch shouting in the Rock scene (remember Ian Gillan's classic shouting in Deep Purple?), curious because he had one of the deepest baritone voices similar to Kevin Ayers founder member of the Soft Machine, Zappa or Thijs van Leer of Focus. His casual, theatrical, and iconoclastic appearance on stage was also a prelude for many others as Peter Gabriel's, Alice Cooper, etc. And he also was close to Zappa in what is now call Avant-Garde subgenre. Besides the mentioned Fire, there are excellent tracks here dominated by the impressive Hammond of Vincent Crane, such as Come and Buy, Nightmare and Time- Confusion, all gems of protoProg. Even if you are still busy trying to cope with the tons of Metal Prog and derivatives, you may just remember this name for the times when you start digging in the roots of it all.
 Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.12 | 149 ratings

Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus
Spirit Proto-Prog

Review by axeman

4 stars

Mostly what you can expect from a psychedelic band. Also, it contains some AOR radio favorites Nature's Way, and Animal Zoo. But after those two, we get our first (what I would consider) prog song: Love Has Found A Way. Then there is the folksy-acoustic Why Can't I Be Free. Next is the 60s boogie number Mr. Skin (think Dr. John). Space Child is a nice psychedelic prog piece, if lounge-lizardy piano with a Moog in the middle.

Then When I Touch You begins with a visit from Sid Barrett's fuzzy things, and then some raw rock guitar, which with keyboards, builds into a sort of atmospheric anthem-paced rocker. This one definitely leaves you with the feeling that you listened to some development. Street Worm rises above its potential as a formulaic rocker. A glam Morning Will Come is notable toward the end, but that about wraps it up.

I'm going to rate this as a fine addition to a collection. Definitely some well-done songs, but it never rises past the level of some good pop/rock. Still rather good pop/rock, and a solid album.

 The Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.17 | 668 ratings

The Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Dead musicians can be a handful. Talking to them can be even worse. Stripped of their fame and notoriety but still with the same ego and obsessions that got them to the top of the rock 'n roll food chain, you never know what you'll be in for when taking an interview. But there are some meetings that are just too tempting to pass up. This was one. I can't say the Liverpudlian songsmiths who changed popular music are among my personal favorites. But those albums. Oh those albums. And when things started getting really interesting ~ which is to say tense, messy and painful ~ it became compelling. Though those moments are not this band's best inter-personally, they yielded some of their most challenging, and ultimately successful, music. Tension and the painful wake of traumatic events will often cause conditions that foment creative breakthroughs and the Most Famous Band in the World began showing clear signs of that in 1968. And Yoko wasn't the only upstart one making trouble, either.

I figured George Harrison and John Lennon would want to meet somewhere in their British homeland but, unsettlingly for me, we gathered at the Dakota Apartment building on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the place Mr. Lennon was murdered in 1980. As an American, that event has given me terrible guilt ever since. Here was probably the most important rock musician of his time and he couldn't walk home without getting shot. God bless America. The three of us sat in Lennon's old flat he'd shared with Yoko Ono, an airy but comfortable warehouse-like space that reflected Lennon's spartan tendencies mixed with Ono's Nipponese aesthetic. My first question was compulsory.

A - Why did you guys want to talk at the Dakota?

John - This'd been my home for seven years before I died, mate, I luv this city. Me and Yoko spent a lot of great time in this apartment, I wasn't gonna let some dope take that away from me.

A - Of course, I can understand that. So you stayed in New York, made it your permanent home?

John - Yeah man, I already traveled the universe when I was alive, I just wanna relax and enjoy things.

A - But George, you're more active?

George - (grinning) Barmy. I mostly hang-out in Scotland frightening people (both chuckle). And play guitah.

A - Gotcha. If it's alright I'd like to talk about the band's 1968 issue, known as The White Album.

George - Good one.

John - My favorite.

A - What makes it your favorite?

John - (after a long pause) It's closest to what we did best; It's what I thought was the closest we ever got to a truly great piece of work.

A - Why?

John - It makes me smile the most.

A - Word is they were difficult sessions, a lot of turmoil and fallout.

John - Don't believe everything you read.

George - Actually it got to be hellish in there. Peoples' patience was frayed, and nerves.

A - Right. Let's begin with 'Back in the USSR'.

John - What about it? It's just a song. Not even a great one, a bluddy attention grabber 'at was, wunn'it.

A - 'Dear Prudence' was written at Rishikesh during the spring of '68 along with many other cuts that appear on the double record. Mia Farrow claimed that the song was written about her sister, both of whom were at the Rishikesh Transcendental course with you. Is that true?

John - If not, that makes her a liar, dunn'it? And me too.

[* Note to reader: It was moments like this, and there were numerous, when Lennon's infamous temper would show and I would have to summon some patience .]

A - 'Glass Onion', a satire about Beatles popular mythology.

George - I like that one.

John - Made 'o glass, baby.

A - And the increasingly reviled 'Ob-La-Di'-- funny because when I was younger it was sort of a kitschy favorite.

John - It's rubbish but if people like it that's fine.

George - I'd not say rubbish. Bottom shelf maybe.

A - And 'Wild Honey Pie', known as "the greatest piece of filler..."

George - But it's passages like this that set the tone for things. It turned out to be alright.

A - Bungalow Bill was written out of disgust at hunting?

John - It wasn't disgust for hunting as much as for this one knob.

A - And maybe a bit of Ugly-Americanism?

John - Maybe, but English hunters are no bettah.

A - And George, we know a lot about 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps', the work Eric Clapton did on it. It sounds like he mainly did the solo work, is that right?

George - Mmm, yes, primarily, but, you know, he really helped with the whole thing, rhythm bits and suggesting an arrangement here or change there. It was almost as much his bit as mine.

A - I remember a rumor that you'd wanted to turn the cut into one hour-long experimental project featuring people weeping. [Both men erupt in belly laughter-- I turn a shade of red just a bit darker than a baboon's ass and sink in my seat]. Okay, alright, and Warm Gun, not about heroin I assume?

John - No, no, that's about guns, mate. Guns. This is what started happening. Everyone assumed there was always some hidden message, some cryptic meaning in things, and there just wasn't.

A - I can see that. Must've been frustrating. Did it turn you off interpreting other artists' work?

George - Well just over interpreting, I reckon.

A - And the nice '50s-style falsetto there. This was a good moment for the band at a difficult time, yes?

George - Yeah, great, y'know, after all the bickering we just all really enjoyed doing it. Working it out.

John - I mean that's what being a band is, playing together and each one giving something. We couldn't seem to capture that anymore, so it was a nice one.

A - Paul said 'Martha My Dear' came to him through his "muse" - -

George - That tune was just Paul recording; (grinning) It was only a Northern song.

A - And 'I'm So Tired'; simply that?

John - Exactly, yeah, why not --

A - Even though it's a Paul song, let's talk just a bit about 'Blackbird'.

George - Ace tune, that is. How can you argue with it, and that guitar, and the metronome. Bit o' genius, that.

John - (making a silly face) Aye, like that wun. It's brill. And then George's tune, I like the piggies, George.

[* At this point an assistant came in with coffee, pastry, bowls of fruit, packs of Gauloises, and a container of fat joints. We ate, drank, smoked, and generally goofed-off before sitting down for more conversation.]

A - It's reported that producer George Martin thought 'Rocky Raccoon' was filler. What's your take on that?

George - Not really fair, I'd say. It's a fun track. You have to remember we were disintegrating as a family and so a bit of fun was a great relief ... and also gave the sessions a sense of the unknown. It'd gotten nuts, we were always expected to write hits. But we'd 'av gone crazy if that's all we did.

John - Same with 'Why Don't We Do it in the Road'. Bit o' trifle that, but actually a nifty little number.

A - And your tribute to your mother, Julia, and the only time you play alone on the record. Any thoughts?

John - I said it all in the song.

A - After everyone's favorite party tune, 'Birthday', is one of my favorites, 'Yer Blues'. Please talk about writing and recording it, and your performance of it with the Stones in '68.

John - We were in India and realized the Maharishi was full of sh*t, so I lost my buzz and wrote it. I was missing rock 'n roll and needed it. The odd rhythms were unusual for a straight rock tune, y'know? And that was a good jam with Mick and everyone.

A - Both 'Everybody's Got Something to Hide..' and 'Sexy Sadie' were inspired by him, the Maharishi?

George - That's right, yeah.

A - "Helter skelter" is of course a kind of skyslide for kids in the UK, and had nothing to do with Hell. Another misinterpretation, this time a deadly one?

George - You can't perceive things through just one lens, otherwise you're capable of awful things. Quite sad, that.

A - Guys, we're about to wrap this up with just a brief discussion of side 4, which seemed to be the most unconventional part of the record. Would you agree?

John - The best part. How could you not have fun with Rev Nine?

A - You didn't care for 'Honey Pie' -

John - Look, we wrote songs, man, that's what we did. It's all we did. We'd come in and put what we had out there; We'd arrange, record and re-record, and George (Martin) would do his thing and eventually we'd have some decent stuff, get an album together. That's it. That's all. We were a rock band. ~~~

 Concerto for Group and Orchestra by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1969
3.21 | 240 ratings

Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Progfan97402

3 stars Jon Lord must've had a monster-sized ego to come up with orchestra and rock group concept. Not that they would be the first (the Moody Blues were the first with Days of Future Passed) nor the last (Procol Harum, Rick Wakeman, The Nice, ELP, even Eloy, if you're wondering what that Eloy album was, it was Dawn) had all tried rock with orchestra concepts with varying degrees of success. Lord had a background in classical so I guess he was familiar with the music. I'm sure at fire Malcolm Arnold, the conductor had his reservations, but then it resulted in him being pleasantly surprised to see a rock and roll musician try classical and had an understanding in classical composition. Ritchie Blackmore thought it was a bad idea and felt the orchestra was rather condescending (the usual rift between classical and rock). This album was the first with the Mark II lineup (Roger Glover and Ian Gillan as the newcomers, as you probably already knew that) and a rather strange way to get started. I was resistant in buying the album because of the mixed reaction, but since I found a used LP for cheap (second American pressing on Warner) I gave it a shot and wasn't all that bad. Certainly there are big glaring obvious flaws that there isn't too much band/orchestra interaction. Usually it seems one of the band members will participate with the orchestra but rarely the whole band, and when the whole band performed, as in the killer jam they do on "First Movement" the orchestra remains silent. "Second Movement" is actually two parts (because of the time constraint of the LP). Ian Gillan does everything to sound like his predecessor Rod Evans, you'd almost think Evans was still a member of the band. He never uses his trademark high pitch screams (a big influence on the likes of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio and many other heavy metal singers). The second half of the "Second Movement" has some bluesy passages from the band, while "Third Movement" is most notable for the extended Ian Paice drum solo, like they were taking after the likes of "Toad", "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" or even "Moby Dick" (but bear in mind this was recorded in September 24, 1969, LZII was released a month later). The '70s was often considered a decade of excess, and this album is the epitome of '70s excess, even if it was released in December 1969 (originally in the US on Bill Cosby's Tetragrammaton label, yes THAT Bill Cosby, although that pressing is hard to find give the label quickly went belly up shortly after this album's release and no wonder Warner gave that album a second life when the band moved to that label in the States, since it didn't have much a chance on Tetragrammaton).

I have to say it wasn't entirely a success. There could have been more band and orchestra interaction. The Moody Blues's Days of Future Passed wasn't entirely a successful combination of rock band and orchestra, it too suffered problems of lack of band/orchestra interaction (either the band plays or the orchestra), it was a big commercial success, and even a critical success, because at least there the orchestra frequently played themes that the band would often play too, although (I'm not the only one) many had criticized Peter Knight's orchestral style as it veered too close to lite classical (but then to be fair, it seemed lite classical was a big influence on the Moodies). Deep Purple it sounded like the orchestra did not relate to the band, and neither did the band relate to the orchestra, aside from Jon Lord.

It can be easily thought of in many different ways: Rubbish, a rock band/orchestra experiment that failed, 70s excess at its worst, or actually a great example of proto-prog. I am a bit torn about this album, but to my ears it isn't too bad, but this isn't exactly In Rock or Machine Head, and I obviously didn't expect that. There are some brilliant ideas, but there areas either the band or the orchestra loses focus. So I guess three stars it is, because I enjoyed it despite obvious flaws.

 Rubber Soul by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.91 | 590 ratings

Rubber Soul
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Atavachron
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars

Dec. 15, 1965

Dear Diary,

Just got back from the record shop, I went with Trudy, we had a gas. We got some boss stuff. She bought the Rolling Stones, I think it's called Out of My Head or something. The Stones are realy cool but I like George and John and Ringo and Paul. They are so cute!!! (xoxoxo) I got the new one that just came out with the wierd picture of them on the cover!! It looks like theyr under water or somthing. I'm playing it now on my hifi. It sounds really good.

The first one is called Ive just Seen a face and I like it alot but it reminds me of my dads folk records which he plays which I dont really like that much and the second song is kinda like the first one but a little bitt slower and its pretty cool its called Norwegen Wood. Then comes You wont see Me which is kinda cool but not "Think for yourself" because its slow and it dosn't sound so good, it has a wierd sound. Then The word is choice! But not as choice as Michele because michele is such a wonderful love song I love it! So romantic. I love Paul!! And John!!

Oh but than its Only Love!! Sooooo cool!!!!! I think george has that echoie thing my boyfreind has on his giutar (but we broke up and Im not talking to him so i dont really know) . And then a song called "Girl" which is just so good i dont know how to discribe it. Oh but this song is so good. I love the words they write. I think this is John singing the lyrics but i'm not for sure. And then Im looking throu You-- this album keeps getting better and better and better! Then In My Life which is a very beautiful song which my Mom really likes alot. "Wait" is excellent but Run For Your Life is good but i dont really like the mad lyrics. Oh well, no one is perfect.

All in all me and Trudy had a bitchin day and i love her and the records we got. She is my best freind and I love THE BEATLES so much !

 Walpurgis by SHIVER, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.00 | 1 ratings

The Shiver Proto-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Neo Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars Look at the weird art upon the sleeve at first, and keep an ear upon the psychedelic Krautrock prototype next.

This stuff can be called as one of psychedelic progressive / Krautrock legends from Switzerland, veiled in a renowned artistic sleeve drawn by H. R. Giger. Basically non-colourful heavy bluesy rock tinged with dark stoner vibes they launched, but some innovative progressive essence can be heard via such a blues rock authenticity.

The beginning shot "Repent Walpurgis" is awesome indeed. Exactly dark Kraut-ish flavour filled with deep, heavy exaggerate drumming and guitar voltage drives us of surrealism. Psychedelic watery keyboard sound surface is very atmospheric but at the same time very theatrical. Drenched in Satanic majesty like the sleeve painting, this masterpiece enough explains all of their album world, we can mention.

Anyway "Hey Mr. Holy Man" features "Dies Irae" of Gregorian Chant ... I've listened to another Krautrock version of "Dies Irae" by SHANNONDOA, that sounds drier and cooler. "Hey Mr. Holy Man" has notified us of their sticky, depressive appearance covering this whole album. On the contrary other tracks are simply blues rock ones each of which can be listened to at ease comparatively (especially "Ode To The Salvation Army" is impressive, interesting, easygoing).

One of blues rock stuffs "What's Wrong About The Blues" let's us shout the phrases. Old Krautrock, like ACHTZEHN KARAT GOLD or AIR, has exerted such a bluesy texture. Another bluesy kick "No Time" is one of old-fashioned standard numbers that has sung or played here and there (also in Japan ... cannot remember who sings this song in Japanese). Not so special for those days but conventional atmosphere might relieve us I imagine. The last "The Peddle" sounds delicate but cloudy through psychedelic effects ... enough with comfort, reminding us of something like Live Dead.

Totally via the "current" progressive rock guideline it might be a tough call to categorize them as a progressive rock combo, but hey, how do you feel their innovative musical scheme in late 60s?

 Machine Head by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.30 | 1016 ratings

Machine Head
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I don't like to review classic albums very much because anything that can be said about them has already been said and everybody already has an opinion anyway. Obscure bands or lesser known albums are more fun to dig up and inform the world of their existence. But today I listened to this album all the way through for the first time in maybe 8 years or so, and I found I heard it in a whole new way.

I became a fan of Deep Purple back in '84, only a couple of months before the reunion album "Perfect Strangers" was released. I loved it! But DP albums were not easy to find on cassette back then. I was lucky to find "Burn" and "Fireball" but "Stormbringer" and "Come Taste the Band" were not available. After "House of Blue Light" I lost interest for many years. Ian Gillan was gone then back. Then Ritchie Blackmore was gone. But in 2006 I was curious about "Rapture of the Deep" and I liked it enough to go and buy all DP's studio albums on CD. All of them!

Then for the last nine years or so, I haven't listened to any album from start to finish except for maybe "In Rock", which is still my favourite. But last night I was suddenly struck with the desire to hear "Machinehead" again and this morning in went on play.

From the start, "Highway Star" seemed to be lacking something. There was a lack of bass depth. My ear buds? The music is fast but basically very simple-sounding. The lyrics are like something a bored person would write when half drunk and just taking the piss on lyric writing. The only place I felt the song really shines and shows what the band is truly capable of is in the guitar and organ solos. Here we get a glimpse of the musical prowess of the band. But "Highway Star" is a rock classic, and for speed and Gillan's soaring screams at the start, the proto-metal element is sufficiently there.

"Maybe I'm a Leo" is strangely my favourite track. It has this funky drop down groove and the music is full, rich in bass, and sounds wonderful. The guitar solo comes in with style and smoothness. The 30th anniversary reissue includes a disc of remixes with alternate guitar solos and the solos for this song and "Smoke on the Water" just don't have the same articulation and style. They are just lead guitar solos. On the originally released version, Blackmore goes for style and feel rather than technincal skill or speed and it just works! Jon Lord's organ sound on his lead part is not really a favourite of mine but he makes it work for a simple but appropriate bluesy solo. Ian Paice still has his chops, putting in fills and doing great stuff on the drums. This would slowly disappear from his drumming with Deep Purple and be almost absent for many years.

"Pictures of Home" is one of three songs the band wrote about their experience recording in a closed down hotel (closed for the season) at Lake Geneva. It opens with a drum intro and features solos by Blackmore, Lord, and Roger Glover (bass) as well!

The original side one closes with "Never Before". It has another funky groove to the intro. It's here where I began to really notice how the band was playing their music. Everybody has a part and each part seems independent in that each musician has his own riff or rhythm bit to do. But they of course put all their parts together to make the songs. This is what I was missing on "Highway Star". Now the band are like different components of a machine all moving in their own functional space but all responsible for making the machine work smoothly. It's not rhythm guitar, organ, and bass all playing the same thing to a 4/4 beat. This is prog style composition. And the remarkable thing is that Deep Purple, on "Machine Head" for sure, are playing heavy rock with blues and funk and classically-influenced solos, composed with prog thinking and coming all together in songs that became radio hits and fan favourites. I've been listening to an awful lot of proto-metal and prog from the 1969-1974 period (I don't mean the music is awful) and I think I can finally appreciate just what a feat Deep Purple accomplished with this album. When David Coverdale joined the band, he said in an interview that he had played with great musicians before but this was a whole knew level. I'm starting to appreciate that.

"Smoke on the Water", everyone knows the riff, everyone knows the story in the lyrics. But what about the riff during the verses and chorus? Again, each musician has got his own thing going on. It's not as simple as one might first think. The guitar solo is really so well laid out, especially how it wraps up as the lead riff returns. The organ solo is left until the end and Paice puts in some tasty drum work as the song slowly fades out. The band never intended for this to be a single. They had high hopes for "Never Before". But the audience told them that this song was the ticket! On YouTube I saw a video of songs Deep Purple allegedly ripped off and the "Smoke" riff apparently already existed in some jazz piece, but in another interview, Blackmore said he got the idea by reversing Beethoven's Fifth Symphony intro notes. Whatever the case, the "Smoke" riff along with "Satisfaction" by the Stones have been recognized as the two most well-known riffs in rock history. Elementary school students in Japan who haven't the first clue about anything other than The Beatles (and only if their parents like them) know the "Smoke" riff. Like Beethoven, Blackmore's riff may just live on for centuries.

"Lazy" is a clever piece with a classical organ intro that slides into a grumbling blues. The whole instrumental first half of the song has the band putting out so many moves shifting between straight ahead blues and blues-based rock. The song itself is alright and Gillan brings back his scream vocals. It wraps up like a blues club act.

The album closer "Space Truckin'" is where the band probably reach their most metal point. There's this awesome groove where the drum beat and the guitar/organ notes alternate and it gives the song a terrific charged feeling. Gillan goes full force at the end and the blues-based heavy riff is really a peak point on the album.

The 30th anniversary edition includes "When a Blind Man Cries" and is the third song about the Swiss experience. Though it wouldn't have really had an appropriate spot on the album, it makes a great bonus track. Gillan is so smooth and Blackmore's guitar solo is full of emotion.

I was originally disappointed with this album, way back in 1984 when I first got it, because it didn't rock out with that same wrecking ball assault attack that "In Rock" did. This album is smoother, cooler, groovier, and more mature. It's very cleverly composed songs and music. It's not heavy as in metal very much and it's not prog like their first three albums were more like. It is a classic album for a very good reason, though. It's some damn fine music!

 Near The Beginning by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.31 | 47 ratings

Near The Beginning
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Vanilla Fudge hit on something special with Renaissance, especially with their haunting take on Donovan's Season of the Witch which closed out the album and could almost be seen as a precursor of Black Sabbath's early doom style.

Unfortunately, with this album they lost all the character and atmosphere and presented a rather generic psychedelic rock record crammed to the gills with somewhat aimless noodling. Break Song, in particular, is a side-length live jam that just consists of wanky solos of a type we've all heard before dozens of times (including an absurdly overlong drum solo) which more or less encapsulates all the worst aspects of that particular performance format.

This is an album which time has not treated well; it's dated extremely badly, particularly now that if you wanted you could get similar live jams from better performers in massive quantities at a very reasonable price. Thanks, guys, but no thanks.

 Deep Purple by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.61 | 506 ratings

Deep Purple
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

3 stars What we have hear is possibly the finest example of proto-prog that Deep Purple ever put out. But, as experimental and original as the music on this self-titled release is, it is not quite up to the same standard as what would come with the band's Mark II era.

Even though "Deep Purple" has numerous tracks, ranging from "Chasing Shadows", which sounds like an early demo version of Uriah Heep's "Look At Yourself", to backwards tape experiments to folk-ier acoustic ballads to typical blues rockers, but the one that should be on everyone's mind is "April". Indeed, if there's ever a reason to buy this album, that would be it. A 12 minute suite, "April" was probably one of the finest prog tracks when it came out, perhaps even one of the first prog epics, period. The first section is classic British prog-folk, with Ritchie Blackmore offering beautiful pastoral guitar and Jon Lord complementing him with his signature distorted Hammond organ. If you're a fan of early Genesis or just a fan of the general pastoral English vibe with blues touches going on in a lot of the prog of the time, these 4 minutes alone are worth investigating. From there follows some orchestral string interplay, before a haunting bluesy conclusion wraps up the album.

If only "April" had been revisited later with the Mk II era and included on one of their phenomenal albums; unfortunately the rest of the material on "Deep Purple" is too forgettable to give this album over 3 stars. Still a great disc to look for if you're into turn-of-the-70's proto prog, a la "Salisbury". Good, but non-essential.

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.95 | 460 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As someone who is familiar with the Who from hearing their handful of hits on classic rock FM, it's a nice surprise to find Tommy, a thoughtfully composed and well played concept album. There's a lot to like here, and I think the reviews here on the Archives speak the truth in that one's enjoyment of this album will depend on taste and biography. For me, Tommy is a mixed experience.

It's at its most enjoyable when the band is playing ambitiously, such as on songs like "Overture," "Underture." These songs have dynamic energy and very skilled delivery. The band sounds great, and it's fun to hear music from the most classic or classic rock era so skillfully played; it's a vintage sound that stands the test of time. For me this is light-years more enjoyable than anything the Beatles ever put out.

I suppose it's not a coincidence for me that my favorite songs are both instrumentals, because I found the story, lyrics, and vocal inflection bland. This is definitely a "rock-opera" album, which is a euphemism for "musical with electric guitars." I do not like musicals, and the amount of storytelling that the Who crams into this album is cumbersome and distracting. The best concept albums allow their concept to drift in and out of the abstract, so that the listener can chose to be all in to the story, or enjoy songs individually without loosing much. You can't do that with Tommy, because every song is narrative.

The rave reviews of this album often have phrases like, "when I first heard this," or, "I remember when," which points strongly towards the high marks on this album coming from nostalgia. I don't have a problem with nostalgia, because it colors much of what we like and dislike, but because I am nostalgia-less when it comes to the Who, my experience listening to Tommy was one that grabbed hold of the great moments, and was left waiting during the downtime. The flow and momentum is too weird to be a straight ahead rock album, but not so well composed to be a true prog-rock album.

An album with that many highs and lows is worth a rock-solid 3 stars. Check it out if you like the Who's "greatest hits," or if you're interested in the development of the prog-rock movement.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

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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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