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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 | 820 ratings
Beatles, The
4.49 | 485 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 746 ratings
Beatles, The
4.32 | 1003 ratings
Deep Purple
4.34 | 853 ratings
Beatles, The
4.30 | 1005 ratings
Deep Purple
4.36 | 471 ratings
Who, The
4.30 | 543 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 654 ratings
Beatles, The
4.24 | 409 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 359 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 597 ratings
Beatles, The
4.00 | 381 ratings
Doors, The
3.93 | 573 ratings
Beatles, The
3.95 | 455 ratings
Who, The
3.96 | 316 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.82 | 674 ratings
Deep Purple
4.12 | 147 ratings
3.94 | 239 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.08 | 155 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur

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 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.95 | 455 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

 Stormbringer by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.05 | 518 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Easy and approachable, Stormbringer satisfies a hard-rock itch by scratching with the right combination of loud and heavy riffing, rugged vocals by David Coverdale, and Blackmore's signature guitar soloing. John Lord's keyboards, which occasionally drift into the funky lilting of the era's R&B/Soul sound, add an interesting touch as well. Some reviewers describe that Stormbringer is an off putting album because it plays with the Deep Purple formula a little too much; after all, this is Blackmore's last record with the group before he formed the (more interesting) Rainbow. For me, my criticism drifts more to the song writing, which is about 50% creative hard rock or thoughtful balladry, and 50% sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll schlock. A few of these moments will appeal to prog fans, but for newcomers to the band Stormbringer may not be much more than a fun diversion in to '70's hard rock. Which, in scheme of things, is actually a pretty awesome place to be! Check it out after listening the bands more complete and influential works.

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

 Choice Cuts by MASTERS APPRENTICES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.79 | 19 ratings

Choice Cuts
The Masters Apprentices Proto-Prog

Review by billwilly

4 stars A remarkable album from this band from Australia. This album brings me lots of memories. I was introduced to this band by a friend of mine when I was at college. At the time I had no idea who they were. As soon as I listened to this album I knew it would be a favourite of mine. I like heavy prog sound and this album takes the best of that subgenre in play. Most of the songs have the power of good guitar riffs and solos and high pitched voices. They maintain the essence of psychedelia but bring forward the darker sounds, blues rock, folk and country elements that define heavy prog. Among my favorite songs are: Our Friend Owsley Stanley III, which has folk elements similar to Jethro Tull but with a heavier sound; Because I Love You is a fantastic acoustically driven song in the vein of Uriah Heep's "Lady in Black"; Death of a King is another wonderful song with excellent changes, mainly in the voices. The rest of the songs are totally the pure essence of heavy prog. An album that is enjoyable from the very first second. Definitely a must for lovers of bands such as Uriah Heep, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and many more who appeared in that period (from late sixties towards mid seventies).
 The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown by BROWN BAND, THE ARTHUR album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.08 | 155 ratings

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

Review by ALotOfBottle

5 stars The essence of early prog

The music on "The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown" features minimalistic eclecticism, something that I admire in music and look up to as a musician myself. This album laid the basis for all organ-driven prog to come - Emerson, Lake & Palmer (Carl Palmer played in this band before joining Atomic Rooster, and than creating ELP), Egg, Triumvirat and so many more. Furthermore, this was the first shine of a great keyboardist Vincent Crane. This album is highly influenced by jazz, sould, gospel as well as classical music with an ambitious taste of theatricality, reminiscent of Screamin' Jay Hawkins or a British star Screaming Lord Sutch. Psychedelic elements are also at the first plan. Arthur Brown's concept was all about the beggining of time, gods and mythology. All of this dipped in a bit of psychedelic acid. The frontman recalls: "Seing into people's eyes, I saw all the universes. I saw them being born, saw them die. I would say it was the nearest I came to being able to see god". And this is what it's all about. Excellent, excellent work. "Prelude/Nightmare" opens the album with intelectual-sounding, romantic symphonic bits turning into the proper "Nightmare". And really, this is the essence of the album - has it all: conceptual lyrics, soul feel, a strain of classical music at the beggining, organ virtuosity. Those elements repeat on "Fanfare", "Fire", "Come And Buy", pretty much most of the tracks. Really good stuff. Even though it is kind of monotonous, it definitely is an outstanding experience!

Arthur Brown's music was all about being eccentric. He unconciously sparked something that would influence what we know as progressive rock. Although this is not full-blown prog, this should find itself on a shelf of every prog fan. 9/10!

 Yesterday by BEATLES, THE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1966
3.22 | 8 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Maybe the first time that I listened to anything from THE BEATLES was to a vinyl E.P., released in Mexico, which had almost the same tracks that this British E.P. had, but with "You Like Me too Much" being replaced by "I've Just Seen a Face". All the tracks from this E.P. were taken from their British "Help!" album, but , with all these tracks appearing in the Side Two of that album, none of them appeared in the film of the same name, because only the tracks from the Side One of that album appeared in that film. The cover of the Mexican E.P. also was different, showing individual photo stills from the film of the members of the band, and it was released on the "Discos Capitol" label.

As it is now generally known by the public, "Yesterday" is a song which was composed by Paul McCartney. A song that he wrote after he "listened" to it in a dream while being asleep. So he got up of bed and identified the notes on a guitar and he wrote tentative lyrics under the working title of "Scrambled Eggs", wiht him later changing the lyrics and the title to "Yesterday". After several arrangements were tried playing along with the band, it was decided that the best arrangement for the song could be done with recording it with McCartney playing it with an acoustic guitar and singing it, with the later addition a string quartet arranged by Producer George Martin. As it was really a solo recording from McCartney, the band and George Martin didn't want to release the song as a single in the U.K., but in the U.S. it was released as a single. It became one of the most known and covered songs in the world. It also shows one of the very good contributions that George Martin did with the band, helping the band with his Classical Music trainning, doing very good string arrangements and later more orchestral arrangements for many songs of the band.

"Act Naturally" was a cover of a Country and Western song which was sung by Ringo Starr. It was played very well by the band, and it was recorded more as a humorous gesture to the good commentaries about Ringo's very good acting skills in THE BEATLES' s "A Hard Days Night" film from 1964. He really was the best actor from the members of the band in most of their films. This song was recorded to replace a song called "If You've Got Trouble", composed by Lennon and McCartney for Ringo to sing for the "Help!" album which was recorded but was not really considered as being very good to be released. Anyway, it was released until 1996 in their "Anthology 2" 2-CD Set.

"You Like Me Too Much" is a song composed and sung by George Harrison, with some humour in the lyrics. It was one of his songs that was released in the "Help!" album. The other was "I Need You", which was also included in the "Help!" film.

"It's Only Love" is a song composed and sung by John Lennon, with good lyrics and guitars arrangements.

This British E.P. shows each member of the band singing a song from their "Help!" album. An album on which the band started to show new musical influences which were later more developed in their "Rubber Soul" (1965) and "Revolver" (1966) albums.

R.I.P. George Martin (3 January 1926 / 8 March 2016).

 After Bathing at Baxter's by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.80 | 101 ratings

After Bathing at Baxter's
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "After Bathing At Baxter's" seems to be the one a lot of Prog fans enjoy but I have to admit I rate it below "Surrealistic Pillow" and my favourite of theirs "Crown Of Creation". It is commendable that they didn't sit on the success of "Surrealistic Pillow" and just try to do another in that style. They seemed to be aware of what their contemporaries were doing(Zappa for example) and so they tried to make this more experimental and they also included several suites that make up this recording. The suites don't seem legit to my ears for a couple of reasons, and by todays standards this is far from experimental but remember this was 1967. I find the vocals and guitar do get on my nerves at times which certainly doesn't help in my enjoyment of it.

"The Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil" opens with that extended guitar that is one of my highlights but then it kicks into a standard pop song. Not a fan of the vocals but that brief BYRDS-like guitar is cool before a minute. I also like the percussion/ guitar section around 2 1/2 minutes. The next track might have been something to rave about in 1967 but not now. My two favourite tracks are back to back. First up is "Martha" which comes across as a melancholic Folk song with Grace on vocals. I like the guitar 1 1/2 minutes in.

Next is "Wild Tyme" with Grace's strong vocals and the prominent guitar standing out. He rips it up a minute in. Excellent song. My other top three tune is "Rejoyce" with the abundance of piano and Grace's singing. There's an Eastern vibe around 2 1/2 minutes and I like the flute late. "Watch Her Ride" is catchy and straight-forward with male vocals. I like the bass on this one. "Spare Chaynge" is okay but nothing more. An experimental soundscape of guitar, bass and drums. If you want something like this but better check out some classic Krautrock. The closer is pretty good especially when the slow it down on the second part.

There's just too many negatives for my tastes to give this anything more than 3 stars.

 The Book Of Taliesyn by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.18 | 440 ratings

The Book Of Taliesyn
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Kjarks

5 stars I am very surprised by the poor consideration the progressive rock fans have for this record. Does my radically reversed interest for it result from a sentimental attachment, back to my discovery of this work which seemed so strangely beautiful to the 8 or 9 years old boy who discovered it in the early 1970's, seeing there a bridge between classical and rock, at the same time as in "Trespass" and "Take a pebble". "The book of Taliesyn" is, in my opinion, the most beautiful work of Deep Purple.

Certainly, "In Rock" remains his masterpiece, because of its energy, virtuosity, the precision of the themes, etc. But it's pure hard rock, even "Child in time" and its prominent organ has no obvious prog feature. "The book of Taliesyn" is a pure progressive rock album.

Maybe the two easy songs of the album, "Listen, learn, read on" and "Kentucky woman", have disappointed some listeners. I recognize the second one may seem to reveal an uncertain taste ! But the five other pieces elaborate a collection of finely crafted melodies with permanent classical references. For instance, the beautiful violin and organ solos in "Anthem" ; or "Exposition", a solemn opening to one of McCartney's masterpieces : "We can work it out" that seems to me transcended here.

The instrumental "Wring that neck" could have been composed by Keith Emerson but the virtuoso keyboards is enriched with a sharp guitar. Maybe John Lord has never played better than in this fired piece and his dialogue with Ritchie Blackmore is quite exciting. In the splendid version of "We can work it out" and all along the subtle tempo of "Shield", Rod Evans' deep and majestic voice could remind Greg Lake's singing.

And in the end, Deep Purple managed to make a great symphonic piece of a famous rhythm and blues top hits ! A little bit pompous sometimes, undoubtedly, but isn't emphasis an element of prog rock ?

 Crown of Creation by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.90 | 105 ratings

Crown of Creation
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With the recent death of Paul Kantner I felt moved to review a JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album and this one seemed appropriate. Some have called this AIRPLANE's "Revolver" album. Released back in 1968 after the monster album "Surrealistic Pillow" and the experimental "After Bathing At Baxter's" both released in 1967. I have to say it's been a joy spinning this album and feeling like I'm being transported to the late sixties. I was a kid of 7 in '68 but there is a certain vibe to the music back then that makes me want to go back in time. In fact I've found myself searching for movies with 60's soundtracks that are set in the late sixties just because I feel nostalgic about that era.

"Lather" is such a great opener coming across as a Folk-like tune with humerous lyrics and best of all Grace's innocent sounding vocals that pretty much speak the lyrics. They add samples to this one as well. "In Time" features male vocals and some cool guitar sounds. Grace adds backing vocals and helps with the lead. This is a laid back number with a memorable guitar solo starting before 2 1/2 minutes. "Triad" is a David Crosby penned tune when he was with THE BYRDS and essentially he gave it to JEFFERSON AIRPLANE as it was too controversial for the times. Relaxed guitar melodies and a melancholic mood makes this one work. "Star Track" is catchy with male vocals. A wicked guitar solo starts before 1 1/2 minutes and lasts about a minute. "Share A Little" opens with drums and some aggressive guitar before it settles as male vocals arrive. I like the passion in the vocals 1 1/2 minutes in and the guitar that follows. The tempo speeds up late to the end with some innovative guitar expressions.

"Chushingura" is a short experimental instrumental. "If You Feel" has some wah wah guitar in it and it's quite catchy and uptempo. Some nice bass here as well. "Crown Of Creation" is where Grace's vocals shine as she sings with some power. Man I dig this one including the lyrics. "Ice Cream Phoenix" doesn't get mentioned much but I like the drumming and Grace's vocals after a minute. "Greasy Heart" is drug themed and it opens with some excellent guitar as Grace comes in singing like she owns this song. Love the guitar after 1 1/2 minutes as well as late to end it. "The House At Poonell Corners" is the longest track at almost 6 minutes and one of my favourites. A spacey and psychedelic intro as the vocals join in. Just killer! When it picks up it's very 60's sounding in a Pop-like sense but not for long as it turns dark with some nasty guitar as the vocals return. Dark lyrics as well.

Easily 4 stars and I like this better than "Surrealistic Pillow" despite the two anthems on that one. Just a pleasure.

 Silver Apples  by SILVER APPLES album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.44 | 18 ratings

Silver Apples
Silver Apples Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars SILVER APPLES were one of those proto-electronic rock pioneer bands that emerged in the experimental and anything goes late 60s and despite not being a household name like many other acts of the era, still managed to sow its seeds in the fabric of the rock world only to find them sprouting several years later. The band was essentially a duo that composed of Simeon Oliver Coxe III, who simply went by The Simeon and Danny Taylor. Both members emerged out of the early rock band The Overland Stage Electric Band playing regularly in the East Village, NYC, but after Simeon's fascination with a 1940s audio oscillator that he was trying to incorporate into the band he soon found himself parting ways bringing drummer Danny Taylor along for the ride.

After some inventive tweaking of his beloved oscillator the duo set forth to record an extremely experimental album for the time following in the wake of the great year of 67 when The Beatles changed all the rules with "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club." The band called themselves SILVER APPLES and followed the cue of perhaps the only other similar band that came before, namely Fifty Foot Hose. They released this eponymous debut release on Kapp Records a mere six months later and a mere few months after the other great American electronic pioneers The United States Of America.

Upon first listen, this one may sound somewhat familiar as the innovations on this album have been well integrated into the fabric of the rock world the ensuing decades. Where SILVER APPLES differentiated themselves from the other electronic pioneers of the era were in the fact that they didn't use electronic effects as mere atmospheric generators shrouded around the rock aspects of music. They actually melded it all into the rock music itself thus creating some of the first synthesized minimalism in a rock context, the likes of which would reverberate into the Krautrock world of Neu!, Can and most of all Kraftwerk and would in turn influence bands like Suicide and other so-called synth punk acts. The technique was far ahead of its time and found its way into tons of 70s dance music and even 90s indie rock.

The opening track "Oscillations" sets the tone for the entire album to follow. It starts the show with an oscillator changing pitch before a groovy 60s drumbeat joins in. While many experimental albums can literally transcend all time and the era in which they were created, SILVER APPLES is one of those bands like The United States Of America that is firmly rooted in the 1968 time continuum and employs both groovy percussion and period vocal styles as well. The juxtaposition of the familiar with the unorthodox is what makes this an interesting mix. While some may feel the connection to the time is what drags this down, i feel the exact opposite as i don't believe experimental music needs to divorce itself from its respective era of creation. In fact, i love being drawn into the subculture of an era i was not a part of. SILVER APPLES firmly places itself amongst the psychedelic pop of the tumultuous 60s and ups the ante by eschewing the ubiquitous aspects of period psychedelic music by removing guitars and bass and replacing it with unusual electronic embellishments.

Simeon was brilliant in that he managed to forego the traditional instruments by his ability to control tonality and chord changes with his own invented system of telegraph keys and pedals in which he could alter the pitches. While psychedelic rock with beatnik flower children vibes are the mainstay, there are many influences on board which were hitherto unincorporated into the rock arena as well, the most striking example being the Native American powwow drumming that pummels most boldly through tracks like "Dust" which slowly ratchets up the intensity to an energetic and satisfying finale.

While i don't always find highly influential albums to be the most interesting listens in their own right, i am pleasantly surprised how well SILVER APPLES pulls off their debut album with the constant pulsing drones, the monochromatic periods of sustained chords that evoke a mysterious sense of tension that milks a certain mood for all its worth while the percussion dances around energetically in stark contrast. While the vocals do evoke a 60s feel, they evoke an occult underground type of fringe music. This would have been the nerdy outsider's type of music of the day. Although SILVER APPLES didn't experience the greatest success at the time as this was probably just a little too far ahead of its time, this debut album has gone on to become very regarded and one that i find matches the hype surrounding it.

 Bakerloo by BAKERLOO album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.72 | 37 ratings

Bakerloo Proto-Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle

5 stars This is what we would call Progressive Blues Rock! Not many bands were brave enough to experiment with both blues rock and what we would later come to know as progressive rock! Among these were Bakerloo, Ten Years After, Steamhammer, (early) Climax Blues Band or Killing Floor.

I think, this album is a true beauty. First time I listened to it, I even poured a tear when listening to "This Worried Feeling". Clem Clempson's playing is top notch here and is probably his first shine and the reason why he would become such a sought after musician in later years. The rhythm section does a great job here as well. With a jazzy influence, they very proficiently support the overall vibe given by Clem Clempson. "Son of Moonshine" is the proggiest track on the album, a very enjoyable listening expirience with some serious guitar playing.

I think this is a true masterpiece and this album deserves much, much more attention. From me - it gets an A+.

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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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