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

4.49 | 697 ratings
Beatles, The
4.48 | 408 ratings
Who, The
4.37 | 637 ratings
Beatles, The
4.32 | 730 ratings
Beatles, The
4.30 | 848 ratings
Deep Purple
4.28 | 855 ratings
Deep Purple
4.37 | 393 ratings
Who, The
4.30 | 463 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 546 ratings
Beatles, The
4.20 | 351 ratings
Doors, The
4.13 | 496 ratings
Beatles, The
4.23 | 303 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.99 | 367 ratings
Who, The
3.96 | 321 ratings
Doors, The
3.88 | 475 ratings
Beatles, The
3.92 | 254 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.12 | 124 ratings
4.07 | 135 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.94 | 202 ratings
Deep Purple
3.75 | 562 ratings
Deep Purple

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 Absolutely Live by DOORS, THE album cover Live, 1970
3.69 | 59 ratings

Absolutely Live
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by Novri Leonard

4 stars I began to know and explored this band far too late. I believe it was in 1993 when I bought my first The Doors cassette and I was stunned with their music. They were quite unique as they didn't have a (permanent) bass player and the role of bass as rhythm was taken over by the organist Mr. Ray Manzarek. For me it was very odd, cause I know there are bands that don't have any guitar player or don't have keyboard player but a band with no bass player? It's weird for me until I know The Doors...

Anyway, I bought the cassette of this album back in 1995 or 1996. I felt this "live" album was a bit different from others when I heard it for the fisrt time. I felt like beng there among the crowd. This album is so organic and so "alive". Songs like "Petition The Lord With Prayer" and "The Celebration Of The Lizard" are among my favourites.

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.99 | 367 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

3 stars While I have been familiar with the music on this album for many years, I never got a copy of it, or any other The Who album for that matter. It's not that I dislike The Who, it's just that I never felt the need to have any of their albums in my collection. My brother in law was giving away some CDs recently before putting them up for sale and this was one of them. So now I have a The Who album in my collection, and if it were to be just one, this would be it.

Originally released in 1969, it can lay claim to being one of the first concept albums,. It has also been hailed as a rock opera. Musically, it is fairly proggy most of the time and for that it is a welcomed addition to my collection.

On to the problems I have with this album...

The incoherent storyline. Tommy is apparently born in 1921 but somehow winds up the 1960's and is still a kid when he would be in his '40's. Either The Who can't do math or they were on some really good drugs. The child molester. Really? Does this actually add anything to the story? The gratuitous acid queen. Really? LSD is a visual experience. Tommy is supposedly blind, or maybe he's just faking it. Like being a kid when he is still in his '40's. The operatic bits. Really? Probably the worst parts of the album musically.

I could have given this album four stars, but have to shave off a point for the stuff mentioned above.

 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.32 | 730 ratings

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by drubella

5 stars Not much can be said about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in a review that hasn't already been covered in great detail in books. The only thing left to do is throw in my 2 cents. This album changed the way people thought about popular music. Not just the average radio listener, but musicians and aspiring musicians as well. It made it possible for people to hear pop music as more than just throwaway singles, but as an album as a whole. None of the songs were ever released as singles. The first real concept album. Even the cover art reflects the content that lies within. In my opinion, no other album splintered the rock genre into so many other sub-genres. Obviously, other factors and bands were involved to form more specialized factions of rock, but, I believe this album was the catalyst. It opened up a lot of people's eyes to something possible beyond the two and a half minute pop song. It didn't hurt either that being the most popular band in the world made it easier to get a concept album out to a large amount of people. Some of who might not have listened to The Beatles otherwise, either because they listened to a more sophisticated style of music or because the "I Want to Hold Your Hand" crowd hated it..
 Revolver by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
4.37 | 637 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by drubella

4 stars Love them or hate them, The Beatles have left an impression on the music world that I doubt will ever be duplicated. Although they could never be truly considered progressive rock, they were certainly the most progressive in the genre of rock. Just listen to Please Please Me and then to Abbey Road(Let It Be was recorded before Abbey Road but released afterward) and it does not seem like a mere six years between the two. Those two albums are light years apart! In fact, it hardly sounds like the same band! Revolver, to me, is the first obvious connection The Beatles have to prog rock. There are three main reasons that I believe why. #1. Studio experimentation. Although The Beatles get all the credit as the songwriters, my hat goes off to George Martin and the studio team at EMI. Things had to be tried in ways never thought of before. Instruments being played and devices being used in ways that they were not intended. Sometimes things had to be invented. Imagine trying to make Lennon "sound like an orange!" Martin may have been the only person on earth that could translate what they wanted to do. So I give him as much credit as The Beatles in the technical aspect. And when listening to the album, don't forget this was done on four track tape! All overdubs had to be dumped down in order to make room for more overdubs. No computers. Loops were spooled by hand and fed into tape machines. There was no sampling. #2. Overindulgence. Spending a lot of time recording one song is common in prog rock, but, back then most bands went into the studio and bashed out their tunes that were either rehearsed on the road, or written by someone else, as quickly as possible. Singles were still more important than album tracks. The amount of attention paid to Tomorrow Never Knows alone for John Lennon to realize his vision is a good example; even though the song would have definitely not been chosen for release as a single at the time. All of the studio experiments, multiple takes and overdubs caused the album to take 300 hours to record and mix. Please Please Me took only 19. However, by the time the Revolver sessions began, money for studio time was not an issue. #3. Cover Art. Almost all rock album covers of the day were a posed picture of the band or artist, but this is an actual drawing/collage by an artist(Their friend Klaus Voormann). It could be said that the Rubber Soul cover with the elongated heads is art. Truth is, that was a happy accident! Later, elaborate artwork on prog rock albums would sometimes become as important as the music itself, with the entire package being art. Often times the artwork almost overshadows the musicians themselves and there are not even photos of the band members at all, but in the mid sixties, for the most part, only jazz album covers would have anything on them that could be considered art. Revolver is an album that is more musically serious than any of The Beatles previous efforts. It is the album that shows them going in a different direction from boy/girl songs riddled with personal pronouns to exploring what was really possible in music. Revolver still has elements of the mop top Beatles, but it was a vision of what was to come.
 A Hard Day's Night by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1964
3.51 | 313 ratings

A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Continuing the Merseybeat pop / rock concoctions of their first two albums, THE BEATLES up their ante after their explosion onto the world scene after their American invasion via The Ed Sullivan show. This is the very first album where they prove to the world that they do not have to rely on covers and indeed can construct an entire album of their own making. After breaking into the stratosphere their confidence level shot through the roof and this was a good thing for it allowed the Fab Four to construct some of the catchiest and memorable 60s rock n roll in their nascent career.

Side one on HARD DAY'S NIGHT is also the soundtrack to THE BEATLES' hugely successful black-and-white comedy film of the same name starring the Fab Four themselves, performing their own music and escaping the crazed female fans who were throwing themselves as well as their knickers about. The film itself was a huge hit and so was the accompanying album. Side two consists of songs not found on the soundtrack. This was the only album where every track was written by Lennon and McCartney but it was Ringo who came up with the album title.

This album was a true innovator as it prompted many a folk act to "plug it in" and go electric but also saw some progressive tendencies creep in as with George Harrison's Spanish guitar. This album helped continue THE BEATLES into the spotlight and didn't disappoint one bit. The momentum was strong and HARD DAY'S NIGHT only cemented Beatlemania into the world's consciousness. The absolute best of their early albums and the only one where I love every track on it. Run, guys! They're catching up to ya!

 Hansson & Karlsson by HANSSON & KARLSSON album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.68 | 6 ratings

Hansson & Karlsson
Hansson & Karlsson Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This is a compilation release that includes all of the debut album "Monument" with the first half of the third album "Man On The Moon" and one track from their second album "Rex." Also included is the B-side of their single"Lidingö Airport" which is "Canada Lumberyard" but surprisingly not the single itself. Personally I find little on this compilation that differentiates itself adequately from the debut album leaving me little desire to check out the following two albums. It is the same as the debut (check out my review for "Monument" at its own page) with the two musicians doing their thang but there seems to be little or no evolution amongst the three albums. A little disappointing since so many leaps in progressiveness were occurring during this time. This album more than serves my needs by including the debut album and a sampling of the following two albums with a B-side. 3 stars for an interesting but not outstanding relic of progressive music development.
 Monument by HANSSON & KARLSSON album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.10 | 10 ratings

Hansson & Karlsson Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This album caught my attention simply because it is listed as the very first progressive rock album on Rate Your Music. I had never heard of this duo before but I was aware of the first half namely Bo Hansson who is most famous for his symphonic prog album "Lord Of The Rings" (Sagan Om Ringen) which was released in both English and Swedish. Although it qualifies as progressive rock under RYM's multi-assigned genre system, I think the folks at ProgArchives rightfully qualify this as a Proto-Prog release since it is literally these two talented musicians and no one else performing on the entirety of this album.

What we have here is simply a very talented jazz drummer Janne Karlsson playing with the symphonic extraordinaire virtuoso keyboardist Bo Hansson who kinda reminds you of the Doors at times. This music is much better than you would think considering it is only two guys playing two instruments throughout the entirety of the album. The first three tracks are actually fairly exciting but where this album begins to wear thin is on the fourth track where it actually reminds me of soap opera music of the 40s and 50s with the tone of the organ. By the time I get to the end of this album I am well over it and end up wishing that this extraordinary duo would have formed a full band because despite it all they create an excellent atmosphere that actually works well as background music. The whole time I listen to this I imagine myself being in some 60s lounge setting sipping some cocktails and only half absorbed into the music itself.

For the reason of an incomplete sound I can only award this album 3 stars, but I do find the first three tracks and the excellent "H.K. Theme" to be worth the price of admission alone. As a musician I also find that because of the "blank canvass" feel to the whole thing that this makes an excellent album to play along with as an improv practice session. As a stand alone piece this is good but not essential but as an intriguing relic of the past this qualifies as a worthy addition to my ever expanding eclectic musical collection.

 Gattch by GATTCH album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.52 | 8 ratings

Gattch Proto-Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

3 stars Gattch were a Czechoslovakian group formed in 1969 that originally played beat, pop and psychedelic music. By the time their self-titled album was released in 1972, the band had moved in an instrumental direction, playing a mix of undemanding blues, gentle jazz grooves and slightly adventurous rock music. Often driven by the scorching lead guitar (and some striking violin) of Tomas `Tomy' Redey, the tracks on the album are catchy, breezy and very easy to listen to, the sort of music that would probably make the perfect soundtrack for a nice drive on a summer afternoon!

Right from the start, Tony Lancaric's chunky bass punches through to the front, where it remains throughout most of the eight pieces offered here. All of the pieces are effortlessly groovy and often upbeat, foot-tapping tunes. Gentle jazzy piano frequently tinkers away, soothing acoustic guitar flavours strum along, and occasional wordless sighing group harmonies enhance the laid-back cruisy mood. Delicate harpsichord rings dreamily throughout the second track, `Narodenie' is a nicely plodding slow-burn blues with a cool snarling acid-rock tone to the electric guitar and rattling drumming, `Neznama Tvar' jumps in and out of frantic up-tempo moments with sprightly piano and bluesy guitar, and `Vlak' has an infectious melody behind some nicely searing lead electric guitar soloing.

Things get more interesting starting from the lengthier pieces in the second half, displaying the most potential that the band had, as well as numerous directions they could have moved in on future albums. Other-worldly treated drowsy group harmonies, stirring violin, disorientating piano and thick plucking bass pounds through this tasty take on jazz-fusion, the band taking their music to a higher level with more variety and sophistication. The darkly dramatic continuation `Reminiscencia II' is psychedelic and freeform with drifting electric piano and softly droning violin. `Pontrapunkticka...' starts off nicely playful, with maddening winding electric guitar lines almost taking on a nursery rhyme melody, then followed by group jamming with lots of effective builds where the band work up a nicely simmering jazzy storm.

There would be no follow up album for Gattch, and we only have this sole work left to listen to. Not entirely satisfying due to not much in the way of complexity, depth or more truly ambitious arrangements, but definitely full of pleasing moments to enjoy on the surface, and it's probably mostly appreciated as a nicely performed undistracting background listen. It's also now available in a limited edition double CD set along with Modry Efekt's symphonic near-classic `Svitanie', so together the two albums make a fine package.

Three stars.

 Fireball by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.72 | 607 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by FragileKings

3 stars "Fireball" is occasionally the neglected child of the first three Mk. II albums because it sits between the sensational rocker "In Rock" and the classic "Machine Head". Additionally, some members do not regard it highly. Particularly Ritchie Blackmore has stated his dislike for the album because it was a rush job done between tours and not always with everyone present during a recording session. Still, the album holds some excellent material and represents the halfway mark between the band's aggressive heavy rock approach and the smoother, more mature style of "Machine Head".

The title track has Ian Paice on the drums in furious form and includes his rare use of a double bass drum. It's an unusual song in the Deep Purple catalogue also because there is no guitar solo and instead a bass solo. The song a is charger with Ian Gillan delivering gruff vocals and some of his trademark screams.

"No No No" is a longer piece with a very cool bluesy guitar intro and a slick and easy guitar solo by Blackmore and laid back organ solo by Jon Lord that gradually builds in intensity until Blackmore lets loose with a volley of hard rock guitar arpeggios. Gillan again applies his forceful vocals.

I've never been too keen on "Demon's Eye" but it remains a classic song of the band. I almost feel like it could have been a long slow blues number which the band decided to speed up a bit and add more muscle to it.

To be sure, the oddball of the album is "Anyone's Daughter", a mock country western song that sounds like the band is seriously trying to do a Mike Nesmith (of the Monkees) song, tongue in cheek. I've always enjoyed this one in part because Blackmore's clean guitar playing sounds so smooth and nice, and Lord's piano solo is so sincerely executed. Gillan provides some wonderful humour in his lyrics with lines like, "I won't get no more eggs and water / cos I've laid the farmer's daughter" and "I you hear telling tales and lies, you say I'm dumb and scraggy / But man, this dumb and scraggy is your daughter's baby's daddy". Both Blackmore and Gillan have stated that they regret having the song on the album but I'm glad for it.

Side two opens with a step back to Deep Purple's more experimental days with "The Mule", a song featuring a repeated drum pattern by Paice, a snare burst followed by a roll over the tomtoms, and a long organ and guitar instrumental sequence that let's Lord create more of a psychedelic soundscape with his instrument than an actual solo.

"Fools" has always been one of my favourite tracks, not least because of the heavy rock guitar and Roger Glover's bass which has a really thick and chunky sound. Blackmore plays with the volume knob of his guitar to create a solo that sounds like a cello. Just past the seven minute mark the music reaches a thundering conclusion with guitar, organ, bass, and drums crashing and thundering together.

"No One Came" is less complex than most of the other songs but keeps the heavy rock theme of the album. Gillan delivers lyrics of cynicism about the music business, making references to a "Robin Hood outfit" and the "glitter and shine" of the business. A great album closer.

The reissue with bonus tracks has some good material such as the single "Strange Kind of Woman" which appeared on the North American versions of the original album as well as three songs that didn't make the album. I like "Freedom" the best for its rock and roll sound with a great piano solo and Gillan really screaming out the lyrics at the end. "Slow Train" is interesting because the music of the "ahh-ah-ah-ahh" part was resurrected by Blackmore on the Rainbow album "Bent Out of Shape". There are also some tracks of just fooling around in the studio which are kind of fun to listen to once or twice.

Overall I feel Deep Purple Mk. II were still hot with fresh ideas on this album. Gillan has stated that from a song writing perspective he felt there were new possibilities explored. It fills the spot between "In Rock" and "Machine Head" with some great music, in my opinion. The band really shows off its talent here. I'd give it four stars personally, but three for this site. Perhaps "very good, but not essential".

 En Directo by MÁQUINA! album cover Live, 1972
3.04 | 10 ratings

En Directo
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by Gerinski
Prog Reviewer

3 stars As a Prog Rock album this barely deserves 2 stars, but it's a good blues-jazz-rock album.

Maquina! were one of the very first pioneers of progressive music in Spain, their 1970 album Why? is considered a classic by many (in the Proto-Prog sub-genre). After Why? the band broke up due to discrepancies in the musical direction and because some members had to leave for the then-compulsory military service. Keyboardist Enric Herrera rescued the project but took a rather different direction, focusing on blues-jazz-rock with a distinctive presence of horns (trumpet and sax). He recruited the trio from the band Crac (Carles Benavent on bass, Emili Baleriola on guitars and Salvador Font on drums) and two German musicians who had established in Barcelona Peter Rohr on sax and Hubert Grilleberger on trumpet.

Herrera's idea was to record a double LP in the studio but he could not find the required funding so eventually they settled for recording live in concert, with rather limited resources, which was cheaper. Finally the recording was taken in 2 concerts in Barcelona on 7 and 8 July 1972, in which Mk I singer and bassist Jordi Batiste joined although only as vocalist and with limited presence since most of the music is instrumental. Incidentally this was the first live double LP ever produced in Spain.

The music is not Prog Rock, it's late 60's- early 70's blues-jazz-rock, often fast-paced and with some subtleties making it more proggy, with lots of Hammond solos, guitar solos and horn-driven melodies. Think early Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin with horns, and often with a more funky-groovy mood. We have a good bass solo in 'Chains' (Benavent would go on to become the most valued jazz-rock bassists in Spain) and a very good drum solo in 'Sonata', the most Prog-sounding song in the album.

The opener is the jazz standard 'Cold Duck Time' by Eddie Harries, which for some reason was renamed 'Could That Time'. The rest are new original compositions, not included in their studio album Why?, except for 'Blues In F' which is a traditional blues and an extended version of their 1969 single 'Look Away Our Happiness'. So it is one of those live albums of original material rather than playing live songs already released in studio albums.

The last track 'I Can Only Fly But Very Well' had been recorded in the studio before the concerts and was added to complete the 2-LP album running time. It fades out much too quickly though, leaving you wondering why did they add it.

If you like Hammond and guitar solos on bluesy backgrounds, and appreciate good trumpet and sax input in the melodies and solos, you will surely enjoy this one. If you look for highly complex or symphonic-eclectic Prog, forget about this album.

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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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