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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 | 784 ratings
Beatles, The
4.49 | 471 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 718 ratings
Beatles, The
4.32 | 964 ratings
Deep Purple
4.34 | 817 ratings
Beatles, The
4.29 | 968 ratings
Deep Purple
4.37 | 456 ratings
Who, The
4.30 | 526 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 622 ratings
Beatles, The
4.24 | 397 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 346 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.14 | 571 ratings
Beatles, The
3.98 | 436 ratings
Who, The
3.99 | 371 ratings
Doors, The
3.91 | 547 ratings
Beatles, The
3.95 | 305 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.81 | 647 ratings
Deep Purple
4.12 | 144 ratings
3.92 | 246 ratings
Deep Purple
3.94 | 227 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 L.A. Woman by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.99 | 371 ratings

L.A. Woman
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by Quinino

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #16

This is the last album recorded by the band with the lead singer Jim Morrison; the 'Lizard King' would die this same year of '71 so there would be no more original recordings of the quartet, except a posthumous collection of JM solo poetic readings (released in 1978) with musical accompaniment by the remaining three musicians.

Everybody knows The Doors characteristic sound, everybody recognizes Jim Morrison charismatic voice, even these days we can see young dudes wearing Doors shirts on the street...the legend clearly lives on.

Global Appraisal

We're facing here an iconic album from an iconic band, so what is there left to say that hasn't already been said and written over and over again?

Masterpiece of Blues-Rock! Anthemic songs that remain forever in your brain.


Great ambiance with the highlight in the usual trademark keyboards work of Manzarek and JM vocals.

 Quadrophenia by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1973
4.49 | 471 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Quinino

5 stars My ALL-TIME Greatest #11

Pete Townshend is a Genius, this album is a Giant Masterpiece and the Mighty Who rule(d)

Global Appraisal

You want to know when I do get the maximum pleasure a human being can receive exclusively from music? Being alone at home, pushing the volume on the stereo and going to shower while listening and singing (shouting, in fact) full breath along Roger Daltrey. Over Quadrophenia, no other else!

It never fails to uplift and put me in a sunny mood, that's the reason I always remained a faithful worshiper going from vinyl (religiously kept, oh yeah) to tape and finally to cd immediately after it was released back in '84. What a glorious-happy-energetic-music.


First the composition, all by PT, is top notch and as exciting today as it was then.
The vocals, of course, no one can refute RD is one of the best in his trade.
I get the feeling the bassists tend to be wrongly undervalued about their contribution and in the Who that would be a terrible huge mistake - John Entwistle is surely a pillar for the foundations of the band's sound and if you try, as I sometimes do, to follow the songs focusing on his playing, you'll be amazed.

 The Road by QUIET WORLD album cover Studio Album, 1970
2.47 | 15 ratings

The Road
Quiet World Proto-Prog

Review by Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Recently I was reading a Genesis biography called Turn It On and it mentioned this little band where Steve Hackett (and his brother john) had played before he joined Peter Gabriel & co. As everything Genesis related interests me - specially their 70`s stuff - I went out to get this CD to see what is all about. I guess it was one of Hackett´s first recordings and it shows, for you´ll probably will not recognize his style upon hearing The Road. Even his brother John i sonly playing acoustic guitar here (he would change to the flute after being introduced to King Crimson´s debut album). There are some nice guitar solos but they are few and far between.

As for the group itself, Quiet World is shows a very strong influence (almost copycats, in fact) of The Moody Blues around the time of their Days Of Future Past. they did thrown in a few sax solos and bits of King Crimson here and there to spice it up a little bit. It´s also a concept album. As most of you know, this kind of undertaking was a novelty at the time and soon everybody was doing it, even if very few bands were talented enough to pull it off, at least convincingly. And, you guess it, Quiet World was not really one of them. The concept is silly, the songwriting is only average and the lyrics will make you think The Moody Blues wrote deep philosophy in comparison. Not that the album is bad. In fact, if you like MB and don´t care much for originality, you should try to listen to this album (but I don´t recommend you to buy it). On the plus side, I should mentioned that the songs are well arranged and orchestrated, and some vocals are impressive (echoes of early Bee Gees too). Maybe with time and experience they could produce something more consistent and original, but they broke up soon after this album was out and the Hacketts were already flexing their muscles for much bigger things.

All in all I find out The Road to be a product of the time. Nice, but ultimately unimpressive. More a curio than anything else.

Rating: two stars.

 Made In Japan by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1972
4.50 | 572 ratings

Made In Japan
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

4 stars "Made In Japan" is hailed by some as the live album to end all live albums. And I'd say it's pretty darn close to that. Featuring 6 live renditions of studio classics, plus "The Mule", "Made In Japan" documents the raucous spectacle and sheer bombast of Deep Purple's Mk II line-up. The music is heavy, energetic, noisy, well-performed and headbanging-galore.

Standout tracks are "Child In Time", with a particularly well-done solo by Ritchie Blackmore, "Strange Kind Of Woman", with its guitar and vocal call-and-response duel and "Smoke On The Water", which is much, much better than its studio counterpart. My only complaints are the length of the drum solo in "The Mule", which will appease all hardcore drum aficionados but goes on a bit long for my tastes, and Jon Lord's rendition of the opening organ solo from "Lazy", which he absolutely butchers, turning the moody, atmospheric studio version into what sounds like an epileptic R2-D2.

Those two little qualms aside, the only thing preventing "Made In Japan" from getting a 5 star rating is the fact that all of the songs (save for "The Mule"), and more, can be found on "In Concert", performed just as well if not better. Still an excellent addition to any rock, metal or prog collection - 4 stars.

 Machine Head by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.29 | 968 ratings

Machine Head
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

5 stars Aside from the weak track of "Smoke On the Water", this really is one of Deep Purple Mk II's finest moments, the other being "In Rock". I may be a bit biased in my review as this was the first rock album I'd ever heard, way back at the age of 8, but I'm confident that it really is a masterpiece. While I loved it the instant I heard the first power chord of "Highway Star", the album has grown on me over the years, and not just in a nostalgic way, either.

"Machine Head" isn't a very progressive album; "Pictures of Home" and "Lazy" (the two strongest tracks) are the only songs that really have a smattering of prog in them. This doesn't mean that it isn't a great album, though, because it really is. "Highway Star" is one of the most perfect driving songs ever written, up there with "Radar Love" and "Free Bird". And Ritchie Blackmore's solo is one of the most intensely delivered in music; I sweat almost every time I hear it. "Maybe I'm A Leo" features great blues soloing and "Pictures of Home" is a special blend of primordial progressive hard rock like "Run With The Wolf" off of Rainbow's "Rising" that I just can't get enough of.

"Never Before" and "Smoke On The Water" are both more straightforward hard rock but the latter is iconic enough that it has its place. "Lazy" is the album's best song with moody, emotive, virtuosic blues soloing from Blackmore and Lord. The spacey organ intro on this one gives me chills every time. And "Space Truckin'" is a lively, percussive finish with sci-fi lyrics that finishes off the album on a fun note.

"Machine Head" is one of those great rock albums where every song offers something different that lets it stand on its own while still working coherently as part of a greater whole. A masterpiece of rock music and an album that I'd highly recommend to anyone.

 In Rock by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.32 | 964 ratings

In Rock
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

5 stars Deep Purple's "In Rock" was the first offering by the famous Mk II era and their fourth album in the span of under 2 years. There are many albums that are hailed as "classic", "revolutionary" or "innovative" that aren't really too deserving of those titles, but this certainly isn't one of them. Released in the spring of 1970, "In Rock" singlehandedly popularized heavy metal, a genre that had only been approached by a select few other artists, such as Uriah Heep, King Crimson, Black Sabbath and Cactus. The album is one with unyielding intensity that remained untouched back in the day and is still thrilling to listen to today.

The album contains a mixture of heavy-hitting hard rock songs like "Bloodsucker", "Into The Fire" and "Hard Lovin' Man", some of the earliest speed metal with "Speed King" and "Flight Of The Rat" and the progressive masterpiece "Child In Time". All 7 of the album's tracks, as well as its corresponding single "Black Night" are all hard rock classics and feature blistering guitar work by Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Gillan's untamable vocal range, Jon Lord's heavy Hammond organ licks and the rock solid rhythm section of Paice and Glover. An exhilarating ride for 45 years and counting, Deep Purple's "In Rock" is a masterpiece of rock music.

 The Very Best of Deep Purple by DEEP PURPLE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2000
3.12 | 11 ratings

The Very Best of Deep Purple
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

3 stars This is a very good starting point for people looking to get into Deep Purple that might already own an album or two, otherwise there isn't much point in buying it.

The compilation just contains hits for the most part and as a result almost all of the songs are from the classic Mk II era. There are four songs by different eras, with "Hush" and "Kentucky Woman" featuring Rod Evans and Nick Simper on vocals and bass, respectively, and "Burn" and "Stormbringer" featuring David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes. The song selection is pretty good in that they cover just about every essential song in the band's catalog and "Demon's Eye" is the only really expendable selection. The track order works well and the CD is packed at almost 80 minutes so you're certainly getting your money's worth with this purchase.

 Axis: Bold as Love by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.94 | 227 ratings

Axis: Bold as Love
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by oliverstoned
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars I've always had a sweet spot for this classic among classics. It's the second Hendrix LP and seems overshadowed by its brilliant follower "Electric ladyland". I find in this album a joyfullness and a jazzyness quite unique in Hendrix carrer. After "Exp", a funny experimental noisy opener, "Up from the skies" is a very uplifting jazzy tune, thanks to the special work on drums. The floating wha wha is delicious and Jimi's singing is mellow. Followed by the "hard" rocking "Spanish castles magic" until we get to "Wait until tommorow", another highlight, a funky tune with inspired lyrics that tell a little story. "Ain't no telling" is short but intense. "Little wing" is a masterpiece, only drawback is the duration and the shortened ending guitar solo -actually several guitars mixed together- (for a slightly longer and excellent version, check "Hendrix In the west" live album). "You got me floatin'" is another uplifting, dynamic tune. "Castles made of sand" is really a masterpiece featuring reversed guitars effets, a funky rhythmic, both cool and psychedelic, very far from the usual Hendrix noisy caricature playing purple Haze in concert. Hendrix was not only a virtuoso but also a great arranger and one of the best lyricists ever. "She's so fine" is a rockier tune, with Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding doing the chorus. "One rainy wish" is a wonderful soft tune which has an oniric and peaceful quality. "Little miss lover" is maybe the "harder" tune along with "Spanish castles magic". "Bold as love" ends the record beautifully with its lyric and intense mood and finishes by a blazing solo.. A masterpiece!
 The Collectors by COLLECTORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.02 | 28 ratings

The Collectors
The Collectors Proto-Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars From the CD booklet:

'Claire (Lawrence), I guess he had a life experience and came up with these themes and some lyrics,' explains (Bill) Henderson. 'He came over to my unit in this motel where we were staying, and we took it from there to a full arrangement basically overnight. We wrote everything out on manuscript paper 'cause we were literate musicians ' where the breakdowns were, where the riffs were, what the riffs were, the dynamics. No one wrote dynamics in rock, but we did ' where we wanted crescendos and diminuendos to happen, where things would slow down, where they'd speed up, and everybody's parts.

'So many people were doing long things, but they were jams. This was not a jam. This was a structured, written piece, really in a tradition that comes out of classical music.'

This is how Bill Henderson describes the creation of the 19:05 side two piece of The Collectors' debut album, a song called simply 'What Love (Suite)'. I was pretty excited to be reading those words because this was a Canadian band from Vancouver ' my home territory ' who was creating this monumental piece of music in 1968. I brought the CD home a few weeks ago as a used copy ordered from Europe. How I came to find out about The Collectors is rather a roundabout way. I had come out of a proto-metal phase and entered a 70's Canadian hand rock phase, and as I was checking out Canadian bands from the seventies and trying to remember some I probably knew, I recalled a band called Chilliwack who had some pop hits in the early 80's. But they'd also had some rock hits in the seventies, and among three albums I ordered there was their second album as Chilliwack, a double album with some very experimental music on three of the four sides. Most was a bit too bizarre for me, but I looked up Chilliwack on Wikipedia and learned that the band had formed out of The Collectors after there had been a line-up change. Interested in hearing some Canadian music from the sixties (I only had music by The Guess Who and an obscure psychedelic band called Bent Wind) I tried to find the album somewhere for a reasonable price.

The music offered on this disc here is quite remarkable and unique. In my collection, 1968 is the height of psychedelic rock and acid rock with a lot of experimentation and for some like Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues, a lot of effort to compose something out of the ordinary. There are also the beginnings of what would become heavy metal. On The Collectors' album, there might be some comparisons to The Moody Blues because of the background vocal harmonies in places and the approach to writing music for a rock band from a classical direction. Some reviews also liken Howie Vickers' lead vocals to Jim Morrison perhaps because of how he can sing softly in one part and then build his voice up to a shout and a yell in the next. 'Does anybody hear?' he whispers at first near the end of 'What Love (Suite)' and repeats the question gradually building up to a boldly stated question before breaking it into a desperate maniacal scream.

The first track, 'What Is Love' opens with some mysterious keyboard and soon establishes itself as a prelude to some anthemic piece which, as it turns out, is the suite on side two. 'What Is Love' is slow and lead by Vickers' vocals with the band singing background harmony. The lyric 'What love / what love' connects the song with the suite.

'She (Will-O-the-Wind)' is an upbeat piece with guitar and flute. The jaunty guitar playing reminds me more of something that could have come out of an early nineties band at the tail end of the shoe gaze sound or perhaps like something from Motorpsycho. Again the vocals are reminiscent of The Moody Blues. The flute playing will, of course, likely make you think of Jethro Tull. The percussion is sparse and simple.

My favourite track is the dramatic psychedelic piece 'Howard Christman's Older', which is a song about a young man with extraordinary abilities. 'At the age of thirteen he discovered a way / he could change the molecular structure of clay / he could change it from clay into silver or gold / don't forget he was yet only thirteen years old.' He also invents a process to revive the dead and works on a device that will eliminate hate. Ultimately, the lyrics have a cynical point of view, stating that despite his unique gift, 'Howard Christman's older / And lately I've noticed that / he's starting to slow down'. The music has a haunting and suspenseful feel to it that builds in places very effectively. At times it's possible to imagine a crowd of people slowly walking toward some objective and gaining strength and conviction as they walk together. The main instruments are fuzz tone guitar, clean electric guitar, and organ, with the percussion again being rather subtle. There is no aggressive battery of drums as of yet on the album.

'Lydia Purple' was not written by the band and they were asked to record it as a single to get them on the charts. 'We fought that one, we didn't want to record that,' says Henderson in the CD notes. 'But the recording company were going, 'You gotta have a hit, and this one sort of sounds like you guys, and we think it's a hit'. So finally we relented and worked on it; we really changed it a lot.' Not happy about performing a pop tune, The Collectors worked on adding vocal harmonies, harpsichord, cello, and recorder. It did well in Canada, and there's a video on YouTube for the song ' a monochrome video with scenes around Vancouver in 1968 and the band singing on a rooftop.

Side one closes with 'One Act Play', which takes us back to the slow and easy music and vocal harmonies that serve as a backdrop to Vickers' powerful vocal deliveries that to me sound closer to an attempt to sing like Tom Jones than Jim Morrison.

Side two's 'What Love (Suite)' is one of the first times in rock history that a song was composed in segments like a suite and covered over 18 minutes. Indeed, the music takes us through psychedelic guitar rock, Eastern- sounding flute solos, a saxophone solo, some dramatic and crazy wild electric guitar, and as always Vickers' dramatic vocals that could sound a bit like Jim Morrison or Tom Jones, or Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge in 'The Season of the Witch' or some other people you care to mention. Or maybe he just sounds like Howie Vickers. As a long runner, great care has been taken in composing this song. It is a bit rough in places though and lacks the smoothness and grandiosity of the later prog epics, most notably those of Yes. It also sometimes seems to keep going on to the next segment and then the next, making you wonder just how many parts were written for this. Remember that this is still 1968 and that the notion of composing a rock song as a suite, employing classical thinking was still a fairly new concept. You might love it; you might hate it; or you might enjoy it for the effort and some parts but clearly have it marked in your head as an experimental proto-prog epic. That's how I think about it. I don't love it but I can listen to it willingly.

All in all, I find this an interesting album with three songs I cue up for replays regularly these days, two songs I'll listen to when I want to hear the whole album, and the epic which I find an interesting journey to take when I have the time and I'm in the mood. The Collectors would go on to record one more album before Vickers would leave and Bill Henderson would take over lead vocals and the band would become Chilliwack. The debut would feature a collection of songs but the second album ' a double disc ' would revisit the experimental nature of The Collectors before the band would change direction and pursue a guitar rock format and then become more pop near the end of the seventies.

 Deep Purple In Concert by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1980
4.41 | 101 ratings

Deep Purple In Concert
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja

5 stars If there's one Deep Purple live album that every classic rock fanatic has to own, it's this one.

Featuring two complete BBC shows from the Mark II era, it shows the depth, talent and unrelenting energy of the band's live performances in a better manner than any other live recording of their's I've heard, even (dare I say it) "Made In Japan".

The second show, from 1972, features a setlist that includes most of the songs from "Machine Head" and therefore has a strong overlap with "Made In Japan". "Highway Star" and "Strange Kind of Woman" are both roughly comparable to the Japanese versions. It's with the next two tracks that the perks of owning this album become apparent. "Maybe I'm A Leo" and "Never Before" are both Machine Head numbers that were seldom included in live sets and the versions here do them both great justice, with strong jamming on both. Another upside for "Never Before" is the radio announcer's funny introduction to "Lazy", "Here's another track from Machine Head, this is called Lazy, which might mean it's a slow one...probably isn''s not...".

"Lazy" then promptly kicks off and from the get-go it already proves itself superior to the "Made In Japan" version with Jon Lord's organ intro alone. His playing is much more in accordance with the beauty, atmosphere and depth of the studio recording, unlike the Made In Japan version which sounds much more like R2-D2 having a seizure. My only complaint about this rendition is that the harmonica being played over Ritchie Blackmore's soloing is quite distracting but it's still a great song. The show carries on with "Space Truckin'" and "Smoke On The Water", which are both similar to their Japanese counterparts. This version of "Space Truckin'" has a slight edge for me just because of Jon Lord's funky organ intro before the main riff starts as opposed to Ian Paice's hi- hat solo from Japan. The set ends with an energetic cover of Little Richard's "Lucille", a fun, strong end to a great show.

The first disc strays away into less explored territory. Taken from 1970, it opens with two numbers from "In Rock": "Speed King", which is fast and loud in classic Deep Purple fashion, and one of the group's more progressive pieces, "Child In Time". As with many of the other "Made In Japan" tracks, this version of the song is just as strong, powerful and thrilling to listen to. The band then ends with two extended jam songs from the Mark I days, the instrumental "Wring That Neck" and "Mandrake Root". "Wring That Neck" is probably the masterpiece of both shows. A hard rocking minor key blues, it shows off some of both Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord's finest neoclassical, blues and hard rock jamming abilities. It stretches on for 19 minutes, which is the ideal length for the song as it allows enough time to fully expand on all the musical ideas its template allows for while not stretching on too long as with some other versions I've heard. "Mandrake Root" finishes off the show with some jamming that's not unlike that in "Space Truckin'", though some jazz elements protrude.

The production of both shows is good for live recordings of the time, just slightly under par of "Made In Japan" as the drums can be a bit loud in the mix. In short, "In Concert" offers all of the excitement, talent and spectacle that has made "Made In Japan" one of the premiere live albums of all time, plus a little more.

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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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