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.

Ivßn 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 | 685 ratings
Beatles, The
4.52 | 403 ratings
Who, The
4.37 | 629 ratings
Beatles, The
4.32 | 718 ratings
Beatles, The
4.29 | 829 ratings
Deep Purple
4.28 | 835 ratings
Deep Purple
4.36 | 389 ratings
Who, The
4.30 | 460 ratings
Doors, The
4.15 | 538 ratings
Beatles, The
4.20 | 350 ratings
Doors, The
4.13 | 491 ratings
Beatles, The
4.22 | 298 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.01 | 361 ratings
Who, The
3.95 | 319 ratings
Doors, The
3.87 | 470 ratings
Beatles, The
3.91 | 249 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.12 | 123 ratings
4.07 | 134 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.94 | 190 ratings
Deep Purple
3.76 | 547 ratings
Deep Purple

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 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"Liding÷ 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
3.51 | 7 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 | 596 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 M┴QUINA! album cover Live, 1972
3.04 | 10 ratings

En Directo
Mßquina! 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.

 With The Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1963
2.85 | 270 ratings

With The Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Quickly following up a successor to their chart busting debut, WITH THE BEATLES was released only eight months later and succeeded in knocking their own "Please Please Me" off the number one position on the charts. The Fab Four were on fire and the world was eating it up big time. Unlike the debut which was recorded in one day, this album had the luxury of taking three months to record although the music is very similar to the previous one that being mostly based on late 50s / early 60s pop. This album boasts 8 originals and 6 covers. There are a few firsts here for THE BEATLES. George Harrison makes his debut as a contributing member as singer and songwriter on "Don't Bother Me." The track "All My Loving" was the first song ever heard by Americans when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show which launched Beatlemania in the USA. Also it was their first album to sell a million copies in the UK. The second album ever to do so.

For me I like this second release better than the first simply because I like most of the songs on here unlike the debut. The originals are catchy and show how THE BEATLES were masters of their game in the simplified days before they got all freaky and creative on the world. The harmonies are sublime and the music is marvelous. The covers are good choices that add to their sound and an air of confidence is taking root. This is not the band reinventing their sound just quite yet but simply a slightly improved take on what they had been doing throughout the early 60s, namely pumping out some of the best pop rock music of that era. The band was still a few albums away from their best output but as with the debut I find this a mandatory piece in my collection for it is beautifully crafted and charmingly catchy hooks and was a minor step up in THE BEATLES' decade long career. 3.5 rounded down

 Smoke On The Water - The Best Of  by DEEP PURPLE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1994
3.16 | 6 ratings

Smoke On The Water - The Best Of
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A French compilation album which includes songs from their 1968-1975 period, including every line-up of the band during that period. Of the 18 songs included in this album, 8 are single edits, 2 are special single versions to be released in some countries (the alternate "Piano Version" of "Speed King" for the Dutch singles market, and the US edit of "Smoke of the Water") and one single version ("The Bird Has Flown"). There also are full versions of other seven songs taken from their studio albums from that period. I can say that while it still is a good compilation, maybe some Fans could prefer the full versions of the songs which were presented as single edits in this album. Most of these single edits sound well, with the exception of "Smoke of the Water", which has a bit of the lead guitar part and other parts of the song edited out, a thing that I don`t like very much. Anyway, as a one CD compilation it maybe offers a good track selection for the listeners of the band who only listened to the single edits of these songs being played in the radio. Maybe this compilation also could be interesting for the most dedicated collectors of the band who want to have these edits in their record collection being included in one album.
 Metamorphosis by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.33 | 49 ratings

Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by Progfan97402

4 stars Many people turned their backs on Iron Butterfly by the time this album came out, because it's not like In-a-Gadda-da-Vida. What they did was go a more heavy, bluesy direction. No more "flowers and beads", after flower power looked rather ridiculous by 1970 (in fact, flower power was already looking silly by the end of 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, not to mention the Vietnam War becoming uglier. I associate flower power with the Summer of Love in 1967). Erik Braunn is now gone, replaced by Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and Mike Pinera. It seems they were looking for biker cred, after all, the gatefold depicts Lee Dorman on a motorcycle, and one of the songs is called "Easy Rider (Let the Wind Pay the Way)". The music now brings to mind Steppenwolf, as it has a more bluesy feel, not to mention the Vox Continental organ was replaced by a Hammond organ. So in 1970 Iron Butterfly is still stuck in 1968, but not of the "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" variety, but of the Steppenwolf variety. Even Doug Ingle vocals remind me of John Kay. "A New Day" is a pretty typical song for this album. Heavy bluesy rock that fans of Steppenwolf could relate to. "Shady Lady" also has a bluesy feel, but Doug Ingle uses a Hohner Pianet on this piece, and a pretty interesting use of it. "Best Years of Our Lives" and "Stone Believer" shows more of this heavy blues-influenced rock side, but "Slower than Guns" is extremely different, an acoustic piece with sitar. Makes you wonder why Iron Butterfly was not using a sitar during the "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" days, when every other psychedelic band was using one. "A Soldier in Town" refers to a soldier actually being Cupid. It's a rather slow piece but Doug Ingle really shouts here. "Easy Rider" was apparently a minor hit for the band, but I was too young to experience FM rock radio when it was still "progressive FM rock" radio (that format pretty much went defunct by 1975 in favor of commercial AOR) who would favor album cuts over hit singles (including "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" in all its glory, and not the 3 minute edited single version as heard on commercial AOR FM rock radio post-1975). That meant I never remembered hearing that song on the radio, so it was brand new to me buying this album. "Butterfly Bleu" is really a divisive cut for many. It's over 13 minutes long. Starts off bluesy, but you'll notice elements of space rock as it continues on, some more bluesy passages, and perhaps one of the earliest uses of the talk box through the guitar (which Joe Walsh and most notably, Peter Frampton were most famous for using a few years later). But some of the experiments might seem over the heads, it does seem a bit disjointed in places. It's strange, maybe not the best way to end the album. Regardless, this album took me by surprise. Didn't expect them to sound like this, but I like it. Iron Butterfly was never exactly a darling of rock critics, and I seriously doubt this album would help them change their attitudes. Don't expect another In-a-Gadda-da-Vida, but recommended for those who don't mind bluesy heavy rock.
 Who Do We Think We Are by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.91 | 383 ratings

Who Do We Think We Are
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I really can`t see why this album is not liked by some people. Taking into consideration the hard time the band was having during the recording of this album, i really expected worst things from this album. Before this album was recorded, Ian Gillan wanted to leave the band, but was persuaded to not do it. There were some pressures from the management. Gillan said in interviews that the band needed a rest, but that the management wanted a new album and more touring. So, Gillan stayed with the band for more time. But he and Ritchie Blackmore were not talking to each other, and Roger Glover said that this situation even caused more problems during the recording of the album. So, despite all these problems, this album is still very good, in my opinion. Maybe some of the lyrics are not very good...but the music in general is very good. But in general the album sounds like it was done with the intention to give to the fans a good quality album in performances and production. In fact, the recording is very good.

"Woman from Tokyo" is maybe the most known song from this album. It maybe lacks some power and some creativity in the "quiet" instrumental section, but it is good anyway. "Mary Long" has good music maybe inspired a bit by Blues music but maybe the lyrics are a bit offensive. "Super Trooper" and "Smooth Dancer" are good Hard Rock songs. "Rat Bat Blue" is one of the best songs from this album. "Place in Line" is a song influenced by Blues, with Gillan even "imitating" some Blues singers, and this song has very good keyboards solos by Jon Lord. "Our Lady" is maybe the best song in this album, another Hard Rock song to finish it in a good level.

After this album was released there was more touring fot the band until June 1973. After that, Gillan finally left the band. And Blackmore also wanted Glover out of the band...so Glover also left the band.

The band sounds tired. Even Gillan`s voice sounds tired. But they had to work. So, I think that it was not their fault if this album was not very good for some fans. I think that it is a very good album, maybe better than the next three final studio albums that the band recorded without Gillan and Glover ("Burn", "Stormbringer", and "Come Taste The Band", this last album with Tommy Bolin replacing Blackmore) before they split in 1976.

This line-up of the band (Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord, Paice) played and recorded together again since 1984 until 1989, when again some problems between Blackmore and Gillan led to Gillan to leave the band again and to to be replaced by Joe Lynn Turner. But Gillan returned for another album ("The Battle Rages On", 1993) before Blackmore finally left the band again in late 1993, in not very good terms.

 Hallelujah (I am the preacher) / April (part one) by DEEP PURPLE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1969
3.30 | 13 ratings

Hallelujah (I am the preacher) / April (part one)
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It is a bit strange for me that the new line-up of DEEP PURPLE ("Mark Two": Blackmore, Gillan, Glover, Lord and Paice) decided to record a song which was not composed by them for the A-side of this single. "Hallelujah" was in fact the first song that this line-up recorded in mid 1969, and in fact it was even recorded before Glover was officially invited to be a full member of the band. Blackmore and Lord wanted Gillan in the band, but were not sure about including Glover. So, Gillan was the new official lead singer and Glover was then invited to play as a session musician to record "Hallelujah". It seems that after this song was recorded with good results and after Paice supported Glover as being the new official bass player that finally Blackmore and Lord agreed to include Glover in the band. Gillan and Glover previously played togehter and wrote some songs together in a band called "Episode Six", a band that both left to join DEEP PURPLE, with some legal problems with the "Episode Six" management which were resolved with some money!

"Hallelujah" sounds to me more like a "religious rock hippie song" similar to some of the songs from the "Jesus Christ Superstar" Rock Opera album. I don`t know why the band recorded "Hallelujah", but it is curious that Gillan was going to be the main lead singer in the original album from that Rock Opera which was going to be released in 1970. It is a good song, but not very typical in musical style from the band. It still sounds to me like it could have been recorded by the original line-up of the band.

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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
M┴QUINA! Spain
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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