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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

4.48 | 905 ratings
Beatles, The
4.50 | 524 ratings
Who, The
4.39 | 827 ratings
Beatles, The
4.33 | 1075 ratings
Deep Purple
4.34 | 936 ratings
Beatles, The
4.31 | 1082 ratings
Deep Purple
4.36 | 511 ratings
Who, The
4.31 | 592 ratings
Doors, The
4.18 | 729 ratings
Beatles, The
4.24 | 448 ratings
Doors, The
4.26 | 397 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 662 ratings
Beatles, The
4.02 | 419 ratings
Doors, The
3.93 | 642 ratings
Beatles, The
3.93 | 496 ratings
Who, The
3.96 | 349 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.84 | 726 ratings
Deep Purple
3.99 | 268 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.12 | 162 ratings
3.91 | 298 ratings
Deep Purple

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 InFinite by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.51 | 55 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

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

3 stars An unbelievable half century, yes that's correct, 50 years(!!!) since the seeds of the group were sown in their first incarnation called Roundabout, the band that became DEEP PURPLE just a year later has defied the odds of surviving far into the following century. Almost as if giving a sign of their intent to stay around forever, they release their 20th studio album INFINITE (which cleverly depicts the initials DP forming the infinity sign that has been broken into ocean ice floes by the icebreaker USCGC Healy of the US Coast Guard) in 2017 although the first single "Time For Bedlam" was released as a teaser in Dec 2016 and caught my attention as it signaled that the band were aiming for their classic early 70s sound when they were hitting high notes with "In Rock" and "Machine Head." Despite the classic Mark II sound, this is the same DEEP PURPLE lineup that has been consistent since 2003's "Bananas" album with longtime members Ian Gillan, Roger Glover and Ian Paice alongside newbies Steve Morse filling the shoes of the classic Ritchie Blackmore and Don Airey taking over the keyboard duties of legendary Jon Lord. Despite the newer lineup, everyone successfully channeled their inner early 70s zeitgeists and create one of the most retro albums of their career with INFINITE.

After an unusual monk like chant accompanying a droning synthesizer the band jumps right into their classic business on the opener "Time For Bedlam" which contains all of the elements that made the classic period so damned good as they check off each and every one of them. All those classic guitar riffs and melodic solos? Check. Magical organ runs that provide ample amounts of atmosphere and exquisitely designed classical workouts? Check. Catchy hooky melodies that make memorable sing-alongs? Check. Percussive drive with all the rhythmic breaks and appropriate pauses? Ditto. Even Ian Gillan sounds the same although it's somewhat obvious at times that he has passed his prime but at the age of 71 his voice has held up quite well. The only time i feel he's woefully substandard is on the Doors cover track "Roadhouse Blues," but then again who could possibly fill Jim Morrison's shoes?!!!

INFINITE delivers exactly what you would expect from a retro sounding album that somewhat makes the listener wonder if the album was actually created in the early 70s and the band have just finally gotten around to it as every aspect including lyrical content brings one back to a more care-free era of energetic hard rock and free love at its creative peak. While DEEP PURPLE released a fair number albums of this type in the 70s, the songwriting has always been a bit hit and miss on some of their lesser knowns but on INFINITE they manage to conjure up a whole album's worth of catchy hard hitting tracks that for the listening time suspend all belief that the most members are well into their 70s and the youngest band member, Steve Morse is 62! Perhaps my favorite aspect of this album is the letting-it-loose keyboard skills of Don Airey who unleashes his playing prowess in myriad forms. Not only does he emulate Jon Lords rhythmic key riffing of the past but dishes out some seriously quickened and individualized solos and really fills Lord's shoes in every possible way while adding his own touches that fit in with the intended retro sound so well.

If a totally retro DEEP PURPLE album appeals to you then you are in for a treat. The album is particularly strong in the songwriting department and will truly tinkle your ivories with riff and after riff reminding you of the good old days however this album is not without its flaws. My main gripe is with the horribly compressed production which sounds too flat and tinny for its own good. Perhaps they were trying too hard to sound authentically retro but ultimately this is the biggest impediment for enjoying the album despite the great tracks. Ultimately this is a decent comeback album that follows the direction initiated by 2013's "Now What?!" with a return to bluesy hard rock with that classic keyboard sound but for an album that is released in 2017 i would expect a more robust engineering job in the studio even if the final desired product was to be as 1972 as possible, i mean even albums FROM 1972 sound better than this. As for the music itself, i personally think this is the best DEEP PURPLE album since 1984's "Perfect Strangers" as i've always found the three decades of material that came after to be fairly stagnant and well,,,, boring! INFINITE finds DEEP PURPLE realizing they needed to move away from their less than exciting experiments they've engaged in and revert back to what they have always been the best at, namely crank out the classic keyboard driven hard rock gusto that made them a household name in the first place and with INFINITE they more than prove that they don't need Blackmore or Lord to revisit those glory days.

3.5 but i can't seem to let myself round this one up

 The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.26 | 397 ratings

The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by SteveG

5 stars The initial US release of Are You Experienced featured "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe" and "The Wind Cries Mary" replacing "Redhouse", "Can You See Me" , and "Remember" from the UK version released earlier. And the album was all the better for it. Combined with psych rock classics like "Manic Depression", "Foxy Lady", "May This be Love" along with the studio manipulated space rock classic titled "3rd Stone From The Sun", made the album a musical, as well as a cultural statement, that rock was never going to be quite the same again. There was no pretending that Hendrix was an American rock pioneer like Chuck Berry, Elvis and all else who preceded him, which was far from the case with so many copycat British artists. Hendrix ironically reclaimed rock from the hands of the Brits and simply showed how it should be done, after starting off his brief but ultimately cataclysmic career in the UK before heading back to the US and forever cementing his guitar god status.

But what is incredibly missed is the appreciation of Hendrix as a songwriter. All the screaming guitar notes drenched in feedback would be nothing more than noise without solid catchy songs to be attached to. And Hendrix's chart rivals were no slouches at song craft and included the Beatles, The Who, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, et al.

Heavily influenced by the Beatles' studio craft of vari speed tape effects, flanging, phasing, etc., it is the only thing that dates some of Hendrix's songs. Even jazz inflected drummer Mitch Mitchel and bassist Noel Redding elevated their playing to complement and, frankly, not to be overpowered by Hendrix's guitar assaults, while also being able to mellow out sufficiently on Hendrix's quieter reflective moments and provide lush backing..

There's really noting more that I can say about a group of songs, or an artist, so well known except this. Are You Experienced in it's former US released format on CD, with omitted UK's issued songs added in as bonus tracks, is still a refreshing mind blowing listening experience that is still as enjoyable and as ground breaking today as when Are You Experienced was first released in 1967.

 The Who Sell Out by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.51 | 204 ratings

The Who Sell Out
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant, Crossover & Neo Teams

3 stars Another impact like a musical collision in 1967. This greatly sensational concept album released in the same year as The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is quite impressive and addictive through kinda fictitious radio show with some fictitious advertisements. As a concept album, this one could be felt "so-called theatrical" sorry, but their incredible intention to follow The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" should be enough understandable. Each track was positively and acceptably composed and produced (and appropriate for the pop chart!), although entangled musical / melodic phrases or cynical footprints are here and there ... maybe Pete's unique and hilarious idea was breathed into this creation.

Above mentioned, every "leading" song between jingles is pretty pop and catchy flooded with light rhythm bases and mid-60s psychedelic keyboard-based ornaments. We can say it could not connote "so-called progressive" essence in itself. An important point is that quirky jingles like an old-fashioned Radio London programme or fantastic advertisements like "Heinz Baked Beans" or "Odorono" are very innovative and play the momentous role to consolidate a radio fantasia together all around the album. Easily guess they had created and produced this funny radio programme guide with laughing out loudly, and composition with serious appearance. Yes they made sure to "sell out" the concept (in a sense) album, we can mention here after listening to "Sell Out".

Anyway let me emphasize this funky sleeve pics completely explain the content in this funky sleeve. Enjoy the inside and outside.

 Live At Leeds by WHO, THE album cover Live, 1970
4.02 | 132 ratings

Live At Leeds
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This review is about the original LP release from 1970.

"The greatest live album of all time". Well. In my opinion, it isn't. I expected great things from this album after I read that it was considered by many people as a great live album. Maybe if I have listened to this album when I was a 13-15 year old teenager maybe I could consider this album as "the greatest live album of all time". But now...

Anyway, it is an energetic live album, with "raw" and spontaneus performances by a young band. But even with all these things being considered, I still think that there are better performances of some of these songs in other live albums. For example: the live version of "Young Man Blues" which was released in "The Kids Are Alright" soundtrack album in 1979 is better than the live version which was included in "Live at Leeds". The live version of "Summertime Blues" which was included in the "Woodstock" film is also better than the live version which was included in "Live at Leeds".

"My Generation" in "Live at Leeds" is a long version which also has a lot of improvisation from the band, also including some parts from other songs like "See Me, Feel Me" and "Sparks" from the "Tommy" Rock Opera. It is too long (15 minutes in duration) and it is not very interesting for me. The song "Magic Bus" has never been one of my favorite songs from the band, and this live version is not so good.

Anyway, "Live at Leeds" includes very energetic performances from the band, which are good but not better than other live recordings from the band, with Keith Moon's "hyperactive" drums playing, Pete Townshend's heavy guitar playing, John Entwistle's "thunderfingers" bass playing, and Roger Daltrey's very good lead vocals. But the original "Live at Leeds" album from 1970 also showed some mistakes in their playing and singing. Maybe due to this, it could be considered as an "honest" and "raw" live recording from this band, with the later expanded editions from this album being released with "corrections" done in the recording studio. So, the original LP release of "Live at Leeds" has it merits due to the more spontaneous playing and singing. Also, the cover design was a very good idea, with it being like a parody from a bootleg LP.

Good but not- essential, at least for me.

 H.P. Lovecraft by H.P. LOVECRAFT album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.32 | 45 ratings

H.P. Lovecraft
H.P. Lovecraft Proto-Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars I've been aware of H.P. Lovecraft since 1995, ever since I bought a copy of the Goldmine Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums (1994 edition) (too bad the book fell apart since). Ironically I knew this group before I knew the horror author/poet the band took their name from. This book obviously focused on American pressings only, so don't expect to find entries for Museo Rosenbach or Il Balletto di Bronzo, for example (if you want to see such, check Hans Pokora's Record Collector Dreams series of books). Everything from well known acts like the Beatles, Stones, Dylan and Elvis, to hyper rare and expensive like the New Tweedy Brothers. Groups like the Ultimate Spinach and H.P. Lovecraft are included. They gave a list of two prices, what each title was worth, near mint, and in good condition, in 1994 (some have really shot through the roof since then, others have stayed much the same). It's only recent that I finally acquired the first two H.P. Lovecraft LPs. Never regretted my purchases, although I realize later versions of the band (as Lovecraft and Love Craft) with only drummer Michael Tegza in common, are apparently to be avoided. Without a doubt their second album, H.P. Lovecraft II is clearly the best album. On their debut it's obvious their origins as a folk rock group, as they take on "Motherless Child" (they also took on "High Flying Bird" on their second album that Judy Henske is most famous for). Think of the debut as a bit in the league of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, more folk rock, less psych, although the psychedelic elements are still there, this album was released in the fall of 1967, after Sgt. Pepper. How many version of Dino Valienti's (Chet Powers) "Let's Get Together" exist? H.P. Lovecraft did a version. The Airplane did one on Takes Off, and most notably the Youngbloods, who had the biggest hit with their version of it. The Kingston Trio recorded the earliest version of it in 1964. "I've Been Wrong Before" shows a bit of a Byrds influence, while "That's the Bag I'm In" reeks "'60s groovy", right down to the dated lingo. I really get a kick off this song. Despite I was born in 1972, I never related to the Gen-X lingo, never mind the current Millenial, although I always refrained from using the word "groovy" for the reason of embarrassment. "The White Ship" seems to be most liked, there's a bolero beat, almost as if the band had "White Rabbit" in mind and tried a similar approach. I'll be up front, and I'm not alone on this: "Time Machine" was a mistake. What's up with all this ragtime and vaudeville? There's one short organ break that I really like because, but that's it. Luckily I really love the lounge jazz of "That's How Much I Love You, Baby". The last piece is them doing a Gregorian chant. To me, with the exception of "Time Machine", this is a very good album, but I always felt their next one is better, but you still want their debut because it's still worth getting.
 Rubber Soul by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.93 | 642 ratings

Rubber Soul
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Probably the Most Musical of the early (pre-Sgt Pepper) Albums.

Despite being put together quickly back in 1965, this album is surprisingly musical. While all Beatles albums have withstood the trials of time, this album is notable for having virtually of the songs remain strong after 50 years and 1000+ listens. There isn't a single bad, or even slightly mediocre, song on this album - every single song is excellent. And diverse, including rockers (Drive My Car), poetry (Norwegian Wood), veiled social commentary (Girl), classic love song (Michelle), hippy statements (the Word), and even jealous warnings (Run for Your Life). "If I needed Someone" is one of George's best songs from the early period. Like 'Help' this album is often overlooked by those more focussed on the later Beatles, but 'Rubber Soul' deserves a special place in the history of pop music. It is a very strong musical album. I give it 8.7 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 stars.

 The Beatles Live! at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962 by BEATLES, THE album cover Live, 1977
1.86 | 21 ratings

The Beatles Live! at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Walkscore

2 stars Great performances, poor sound quality.

This is a bootleg-quality recording of the Beatles playing live in the Star Club in Hamburg, before they released even their first single. The performances are high-energy and a lot of fun. Although they play some originals, the majority of tracks here are cover tunes, some of whom would not grace any of their subsequent albums. So, this is a worthy archive just for that. Also, while some of the covers are a bit cheesy or intentionally humourous (like "Your Feets Too Big", "Lend Me Your Comb", and "Besame Mucho"), others really rock (eg "Kansas City", "Hippie Hippie Shake", "Be Bop-a-lulu"). There are also some covers we are used to ("Roll Over Beethoven", "Long Tall Sally") but I would not say they are any better than the studio-recorded versions. Unfortunately, the sound quality is poor, making this only for true fans.

 Help! by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.44 | 442 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Classic early Beatles.

Often overlooked due to the novelty and celebrity attached to the movie of the same name, this album is one of the more musical and lyrical of the early Beatles albums. Of course, the original (UK) album contains "Yesterday", one of the most covered songs in history, for a good reason. But it also contains wonderful musical songs like Harrison's "I Need You", John's "Its Only Love" and Paul's "I've Just Seen a Face". And of course, the title track is not only a great song, but made it acceptable in commercial music to admit depression and cry for help, continuing on from John's "I'm A Loser" on 'Beatles for Sale". If only Paul's rocker "I'm Down" (originally the b-side of the Help single) were included on the CD release of this album. Get this UK version, not the US version, as half of that album contains mundane film score music from the movie, and only half of these songs. I given this album 8.5 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 PA stars (although I admit it is not 'progressive rock', so only if you like the early Beatles!).

 Beatles For Sale by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1964
2.76 | 366 ratings

Beatles For Sale
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars Underrated!

Of all the Beatles albums listed here, this is the most underrated. Indeed, I have hard time believing the low average score. This album contains a number of really important early songs. The first three on the (UK-released) album are amazing, very musical songs ("No Reply", "Baby's in Black" and "I'm a Loser"). The latter song ("I'm a loser") in particular is notable for being one of the first commercial rock songs in which the singer calls himself a loser! Coupled with songs like "Eight Days a Week", "Words of Love" and "Ill Follow the Sun", and a number of covers that the Beatles had played for a long time, this represents an important album in rock history, but also one of the more musical early Beatles albums. It is, like Hard Days Night, Help and Rubber Soul, among the early albums that one can play all the way through on multiple listens, although it is not quite a as good as the latter. I give this 8.0 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 stars.

 A Hard Day's Night by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1964
3.53 | 426 ratings

A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Walkscore

4 stars All Originals Now.

For their first feature film, the Beatles composed all original music. The UK album contains all the songs used in the film, but a number of others. They are all excellent. The title track is a classic, and garnered huge radio play, and "And I love Her" grew to be one of the fan favourites. "Can't Buy Me Love" and the title track were also released as single - the first times that album tracks also came out as singles, and despite the assumption (largely correct) that UK buyers didn't like buying the same song twice, people still did. "Things we Said Today" and "I'll Be Back" are among the best non-film tunes, and "You Can't Do That" is one of the first tunes to reveal Lennon's self-admitted jealous side and acerbic lyrics. This is the better version of the album, as in North America only the actual film score was released - and so fewer Beatles tunes but also the instrumental orchestral pieces that were recorded by George Martin and used in the background of the film. So, get this UK version! I give this 8.3 out of 10 on my 10-point scale, which translates to 4 stars.

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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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