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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.

Ivn 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

4.47 | 982 ratings
Beatles, The
4.50 | 572 ratings
Who, The
4.37 | 902 ratings
Beatles, The
4.34 | 1151 ratings
Deep Purple
4.32 | 1160 ratings
Deep Purple
4.33 | 1021 ratings
Beatles, The
4.41 | 562 ratings
Who, The
4.33 | 660 ratings
Doors, The
4.26 | 499 ratings
Doors, The
4.17 | 794 ratings
Beatles, The
4.28 | 446 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.14 | 718 ratings
Beatles, The
4.03 | 466 ratings
Doors, The
3.97 | 538 ratings
Who, The
4.02 | 389 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.92 | 703 ratings
Beatles, The
4.01 | 301 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 176 ratings
3.84 | 786 ratings
Deep Purple
4.09 | 181 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 Walpurgis by SHIVER, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.58 | 15 ratings

The Shiver Proto-Prog

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

4 stars Occult themes in popular rock music were nonexistent until the year 1967 when The Beatles decided to include Aleister Crowley on the jam-packed but obviously symbolic album cover of 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club.' This mere reference that was most likely due to the official birth of Anton LeVey's Church of Satan in 1966 seemed to open the flood gates in the experimental themes of musicians of the late 1960s and in no time at all occult themes started to trickle in with each new stab at incorporating the darker aspects of reality becoming a bit bolder. After The Beatles epic album came the first shock rock of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown as well as The Rolling Stones playing keep up with albums like 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' all the way up to Coven's debut that included a black mass ritual which all continued with bands like Black Widow, C.A. Quintet and finally Black Sabbath launching completely new tritone evil sounds that would become known as heavy metal.

Included in this eclectic mix of occult themed bands is the relatively obscure Swiss band THE SHIVER which released its sole artifact WALPURGIS in 1969 and displayed the very first album cover to feature the macabre art of Swiss artist H.R. Giger. The title WALPURGIS is thought of as an ancient Pagan holiday or the spring equivalent of Halloween but in modern times is better known as the holy time of the year for the Satanic cults that worship Molech and other dark forces like Lucifer or Satan. They perform human sacrifices in order to pay the evil spirits so that they can do the bidding of those who seek greater powers from the evil forces. Like many of these early proto bands, THE SHIVER never explicitly engaged in such promotion of the occult but rather flirted with its existence through its lyrics and visual imagery in the context of the contemporary popular sounds of the era.

WALPURGIS is a strange but IMHO woefully overlooked album from the early nascent cradle of when the progressive rock world was taking its first steps out of the melting pot of 60s psychedelia. Formed in 1967 as Der Seiger in the Swiss city of St. Gallen by guitarist and singer Dany R'hle, this band actually has ties with another Swiss band with a Giger cover, namely Island through the connection of yet another contemporary band called Deaf. With a short stint under the moniker The Shivers, the final S was dropped with a final lineup of Dany R'hle (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Jelly Pastorini (organ, piano), Mario Conza (bass, flute, vocals), Roger Maurer (drums, vocals) and Peter Robinson (lead vocals). While the band was clearly edging toward the future with progressive rock tendencies, THE SHIVER was certainly no King Crimson or East of Eden and existed in a somewhat anachronistic psychedelic swirl of organs and blues guitar that were all the rage in 1967's Summer of Love.

This is a bizarre album in many ways but mostly musically because in its brief 34 minute run, the album displays many sounds that seem unrelated but yet somehow are cohesively tied by a mysterious atmosphere that permeates the various sounds on display. One of the first idiosyncrasies of the album is that it begins not with a heavy vocal driven rocker that was self-penned by the band but rather sets the tone with a lengthy seven minute cover of Procol Harum's 'Repent Walpurgis' which is psychedelic instrumental treat fortified with J.S. Bach's 'Prelude No. 1' from the 'Well-Tempered Clavier' only with a dreamy organ, lazy beatnik percussive drive and melodic soaring blues guitar riffs that find an independent bass groove independently set apart from the rest of the crowd. As the lengthiest piece and most progressive of the pack, is the likely reason that THE SHIVER has for so long been included on lists of some of the earliest examples of proto-progressive rock.

The rest of the album takes a different journey whether its the short second honky tonk track 'Ode To The Salvation Army' or the 60s beat psychedelic pop rock followup 'Leave This Man Alone.' While the blues rock returns on 'What's Wrong About The Blues' which displays a rather generic deliver, 'Hey Mr Holy Man,' a version of 'Dies-Irae' on the other hand delivers the goods of what one would expect to hear from an album with such an album cover. The creepy ethereal mix of organs, hazy percussive drive and dueling aspects of spaced out choral vocal utterances with spoken narration and a groovy free flowing melodic groove is the best track on the album and one of the highlights of all acid rock of the era.

Also included is a cover of the Animals' 'Don't Be Misunderstood' which keeps the album's overall feel in the 1966 / 67 timeline with its beat grooves and mid-60s pop sensibilities. 'No Time' follows suit and the closer 'The Peddle' ends with another lazy psychedelic organ driven blues rock groove. While admittedly not the best example of any style of the 60s, this album has become a cult legend for different reasons altogether. WALPURGIS is really sloppy in a garage band sort of way with crude performances and lo-fi production values, however coupled with the darkly themed album cover art and the mysterious nature of the band's history it somehow has become entangled within the history of metal music despite having nothing remotely metal in terms of musical origins. On the other hand it more than delivers an occult ritualistic feel with heavy psych freakiness that has inspired the stylistic approach of metal bands much like early albums by Venom hinted at black metal without actually being so.

WALPURGIS is an album that doesn't work on so many levels but yet i'm endeared to it for some reason, feeling like i shouldn't like it as much as i do but somehow find like an invisible planet on the other side of the sun, it exerts some sort of undetectable gravitational pull and while it utterly defies logical explanation, somehow this album has gotten under the skin of many over the decades but i do wonder if the effect would have held up as strongly as it has if it would've had pink elephants on the cover instead of the creepy Giger creations. Whatever the case, this is an album i don't want to like but do even upon multiple listens, i keep coming back for more. Utterly out of touch with its timeline and stubbornly unprofessional in every sense of the term, THE SHIVER has nonetheless weaseled its way into the hearts of the underground cult section of the record store and continues to do so even with the modern re-issues that contain bonus tracks. As far as i know, no life was sacrificed in the making of this album but in the mysterious world of occult rituals, one can never be sure.

3.5 rounded UP

 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.33 | 1021 ratings

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

Review by jamesbaldwin
Prog Reviewer

5 stars REVIEW n. 100! Background noises and rumors of a variety show, drums and rock guitar, McCartney's gritty voice and begins the intro, a kind of acronym for an entertainment program, of the most famous album in the History of rock. Never the sound of the Beatles had been so hard rock, with distorted guitars, high-amplification drums, vocals almost shouted. Yet the piece is not only a rock, there are the horns (French horns), the applause and laughter of the audience, the choirs of Lennon: It is a magnificent mix of rock, symphonic pop, vocal piece, small town band's track. The words of Macca, on behalf of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, close the song by introducing the singer of the next piece: Billy Shears (Rating 8).

And Ringo arrives, singing a track written specifically for him by Paul and John. A simple piece, marked by drums and bass, with repartee between the voice of Ringo, who sings very well, and the choirs, in which one hears above all the voice of John. It Is a pleasant song, whose melody follows the good feelings that evokes the text (Rating 7,5/8). Lucy ITSWD is a strange song in the production of the Beatles, with beautiful beginning with psychedelic piano, voice-treated, bass in evidence, background with Indian sounds, chorus made by the only words of the title, conceived by McCartney, who helped Lennon. The song is simple, but with great atmospheric effect and engaging chorus (Rating 8+).

Getting Better is another collaboration between Paul and John, sung in large part by both; It is a song exuberant from the rhythm of percussion, and a little repetitive in the chorus, which makes it pounding. The most beautiful and original pieces in the arrangements are those of the verses, highlighting a great work by Ringo and George to create an Indian atmosphere (Rating 7,5/8).

After a very percussive song comes the melodic Fixing a Hole: It is a beautiful ballad written by Paul, with Martin playing the harpsichord, voice in the foreground together with the electric guitar of George that finally performs the first solo of the album, in fact until now there was been no instrumental part. The song is perfect in its progression, the sound is clear, and continues the happy mood and smoothness that emanates from the songs and their sequence that so far is perfect.

But comes an interlocutory moment with She's Leaving Home, which sees Paul for the third time in a row at the main singing. It is a very refined song, symphonic, with harp and string quartet. The rhythm expands, the singing has long pauses on the high notes, creating an atmosphere of expectation where much weight has the text, written in collaboration with Lennon, a text of protest, of rebellion towards the family, but it has for sound context a music Neoclassical. The song can, depending on the mood of the listener, delight or appear a bit ' too sliced and long. Remains a symphonic break from the psychedelic pop listened until this moment (Rating 7,5).

The first side is closed by an absolute masterpiece of production by George Martin, which molds a phenomenal circus arrangement to a surreal text of Lennon, inserted in a pop rhythmic all fireworks. We are at the maximum height of originality (Rating 9). Thus closes a first side of 10/10 score, due not only to the quality of the songs but to their variety and smoothness, which together create a synerloptic effect.

The first song of the second side is one of the most ambitious of the Lp, wishing to join Indian music and Western classical music. They play two orchestras: an Indian orchestra and the London Philharmonica. Once again the contribution of George Martin is essential in the central instrumental piece where the sitar dialogue with the strings, of which he wrote the notes. The piece, 5 minutes, without a refrain, is challenging, it may soundsy at times heavy or monotonous because it requires a listen from classical music but has delicious sound peaks both in the singing and, above all, in the instrumental part (Rating 8+). His tail ends with laughter that then fade into the swing clarinet of When I'm Sixty-four, piece by Macca style Thirties or Forty, with flawless execution, accelerated speed so that the voice sounds more acute i.e. childish (Rating 7+).

Another masterpiece of arrangement and another record of originality: a swing after an ethnic Indian song. The listener is so continually amazed, but begins to wonder what happened to the psychedelic pop of the first side, because these first two songs are: the first a mix of Indian sounds and classical music, the other a song of pre-war music.

Arrives so Lovely Rita, with Paul once again starring (he is the conductor of the disc, and the author of most of the music). The piece, however cheerful and rhythmic, is rather weak, simple in arrangement than those of the first side, and does not boast a great melody. It refers, however, with the instrumental parts: the Incipit, the piano solo, and the ending with completely original noises (Rating 7).

Another questionable piece follows: Good Morning (twice), by Lennon, at the rate of goliardic marching, with distorted trumpets and sounds from the hen house in the ending (Rating 7). Overall, these last two songs disorient a bit ' the listener because they appear a bit ' unsheathe, over the line, too vaudeville or exaggerated in tones, while in the first side all the pieces were very measured and refined. In fact, the three central songs of the second side, however cute, are considerably inferior, for quality and arrangement, to those of the first side.

When the reprise of Sgt Pepper arrives, with a good solution of continuity between cluck and electric guitars, it seems that the musicians are pulling the bridle of horses that have now dispersed in infinite directions: the song seems to tighten the files, a pull to collect the music that was a bit too frayed, until you get to the chaotic noisy ending of Good Morning. The reprise is good, it succeeds to be different from the intro, and to bring the sound on the rock, which it was missing in the second side, and that moreover it ends immediately because the mix of SGT (Rating 7,5). Pepper Reprise and A Day In The Life takes place under the banner of the acoustic guitar of Lennon, which makes its way between Pepper's rock that fades.

The atmosphere of the last song is different from the rest of the album. The voice of Lennon is of those that pierce, the accompaniment of drums, almost jazz, is a complete novelty, then there are the piano touches, until the threatening tone of the piece takes an orchestral escalation, desired by Macca, and transcribed by George Martin, with a crescendo of strings (cacophonic) that plays the highest notes, until the deafening ends suddenly and it plays an alarm clock on piano background, on the sound of the drums and of the voice of Paul, free-range as the rhythm. But this piece ends soon and part then a spectacular instrumental passage, marked by Ah-ah-ah-ah sung by Lennon, with a mood epic and classic, which arrives at the climax ending in a crescendo of violins that brings back to the original theme music. We're at very high music levels. The song ends by repeating the orchestral crescendo, ending with a percussion of three pianos that hold the note for a long time, with the reverb (Rating 9,5/10). Masterpiece of avantgarde-pop.

Sgt Pepper is definitely a masterpiece of the Sixties pop, for creativity and arrangements. However It is not a masterpiece of the actual rock, because there is very little rock music in Sgt Pepper: the Lp is a condensed of the musical styles of light music of the time: pop, rock, vaudeville, melodic songs, symphonic songs, swing, world music. Indian music, avant-garde. It is a seminal album, because it contains all the seeds and the genres of progressive rock; andi it is a false concept album because the songs are not connected by a musical or textual motif, but by an opening, then, shooting song: Sgt Pepper, which presents them as the beginning of a show, and then the conclusion of the same.

In conclusion, we are faced with a historical album, with a first perfect side, from 10/10 score, and a second from 9/10 thanks to the first and last track, because in the middle the second side shows a drop in creativity and inspiration. The album is representative of an era, it shows an impressive variety of musical genres, which in the first side run very well, in songs as inspired as those originals. In the second side, while witnessing a passage of ambitious opening, which requires a listening from classical music, with the march we lose a bit ' that thread of art- psychedelic-rock that even in the midst of so much variety constituted the backbone of the record. However, before they degenerate into more and more confusing songs, Pepper's reprise brings the second side to the initial mood and prepares it for the final track, A Day in The Life, which mixes pop and avant-garde music, reaches one of the absolute peaks of contemporary pop-rock music.

Average quality of the songs: 7,94. Rating album: 9,5. Five Stars.

 Strange Days by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.26 | 499 ratings

Strange Days
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 245

"Strange Days" is the second studio album of The Doors and was released in 1967. It was released in the same year of their previous debut studio album "The Doors". "Strange Days" consists basically of songs that were written in 1965-1966, but didn't make it onto their debut studio album. For that reason, the band's second effort isn't as consistently stunning as their debut, though overall it's a very successful continuation of the themes of their debut classic album.

"Strange Days" has ten tracks. All songs were written by Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore. The first track is the title track "Strange Days". It seems to be inspired on a visit to New York City by The Doors which made Jim Morrison write this song and other songs on this album. This is a dark song with a great musical atmosphere which includes the use of a synthesizer, one of the earliest examples of the use of a Moog synthesizer in rock. The second track "You're Lost Little Girl" is another very good song and it has also a very impressive musical atmosphere, which is especially provided by the guitar work of Robby Krieger. It's a very simple and nice rock ballad with beautiful lyrics that sounds fresh, even in our days. Jim Morrison sings so sad and so lost that his vocal work is fantastic. The third track "Love Me To Times" was released as the second single after "People Are Strange", the first single of the album. The song is about a sailor and his last day with his girlfriend before shipping out to the Vietnam War. It's the most normal and typical rock song on the album, with a slight touch of blues. This is, in my opinion, a less good song but, it still is a great song. The fourth track "Unhappy Girl" is a song very similar to "You're Lost Little Girl". Its lyrics are about a woman and have a bit of humour. Musically, it's a mellow psychedelic song and represents a nave, innocent and beautiful musical moment. The fifth track "Horse Latitudes" is a song where the words are taken from one of the first poems that Jim Morrison wrote. It was inspired by a book cover he saw at a local bookstore when he was a child. The song is a spoken word by Jim Morrison with the band providing noises in the back. This is, without any doubt, a very strange track, the weirdest thing the band ever made. It's more an experimental track that a real song, but it blends perfectly well with the start of the next song. The sixth track "Moonlight Drive" was the B side of their second single "Love Me Two Times". The song is known by fans as being one of the first songs written by Jim Morrison and it's also the song that started it all. It's the song that Jim Morrison sung to Ray Manzarek in Venice Beach and thus, in many ways, this is the song that helped to form The Doors. This is another good song with a nice rhythm but, it isn't for sure one of my favourites. The seventh track "People Are Strange" was the first song chosen to be released as the first single of the album. The song is about the alienation and be an outsider and a very loner person. This is another good and enjoyable song, but it's also a sad song with a dark musical atmosphere. It's a song with simple lyrics, ironic and sarcastic. The eighth track "My Eyes Have Seen You" represents one of the most light and beautiful moments on the album. It's a short, simple and nice rock song with the same dark, evil and impetus vein of most of the songs of their early days. This is an incredible song which is, at the same time, a love song and a perverse song. I think only The Doors were able to do such thing. The ninth track "I Can't See Your Face In My Mind" is another psychedelic song with a blues touch, weird and with an exotic sound. This is an interesting and bizarre song with a creepy and atmospheric musical ambience. Despite it has some good musical moments, especially the use of marimba and backward cymbal effects, it doesn't represent one of the best musical moments on the album. The tenth track "When The Music's Over" is the third lengthist song recorded by the group with "The End" and "Celebration Of The Lizard", and represents the epic and the highlight musical moment on the album. This is a song in the same vein of "The End" and it's a song that grows in intensity, like "The End", finishing it with a great musical climax and probably it represents the only true progressive moment on the album. "When The Music's Over" appears at the end of the work print of the 1979 movie "Apocalypse Now", by Francis Ford Coppola, when Willard kills Kurtz. However, it was replaced by "The End" in the final version.

Conclusion: Although not as good as "The Doors", "Strange Days" still can be considered an excellent album. So, it still can be rated with 5 stars and be considered a masterpiece. In my humble opinion, the main reason to be not as good as their debut consists basically on the fact that many of these songs were skipped of their debut studio album. I don't want to say that we are in presence of a handful of less good songs. But, in a certain way, they didn't stop being a second choice. Concluding, "Strange Days" is a great album, very well balanced and with a great set of songs, especially "When The Music's Over", which perfectly followed the same musical formula of "The Doors". This is a fantastic album, if you enjoyed the first one, and it's also very special for people, like me, who love their earlier works.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Tomorrow by TOMORROW album cover Studio Album, 1968
2.94 | 63 ratings

Tomorrow Proto-Prog

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

4 stars TOMORROW was one of many British bands that jumped ship from the swinging freakbeat scene of mid-60s London only to ride the magic bus into the world of psychedelic pop rock that even won the sanctioned approval of DJ John Peel who featured them on his "Perfumed Garden" radio show. While the group found little in terms of commercial success during their brief moment in the sun, the band's sole eponymously titled album has become somewhat of a cult classic with some even claiming it to be the the most outstanding example of the late 60s psychedelic rock scene with its diversity traversing though eleven pop standards taking more than a cue from The Beatles and sprucing them up with the en vogue plethora of reverb, acid rock accouterments as well as faux Indo-raga touches. The band seemed to tackle everything from the absurd to the lysergically detached.

Steeped in the freakbeat sensibilities that developed while the band was still known as The In-Crowd and before that as Four Plus One, TOMORROW which consisted of Keith West (vocals), John Wood (bass), John "Twink" Adler (drums), Mark P. Writz (keyboard) and a young Steve Howe (guitar) got their start by recording songs for the soundtrack of the film "Blowup" in 1966 which went absolutely nowhere and with the sudden interest in all things trippy, the band changed their name to TOMORROW and channeled their energies to the latest rage in the music world, that of psychedelic and acid rock and soon found themselves side by side with some other firsts in the scene by the names of Pink Floyd, Soft Machine and even played with Jimi Hendrix at London's infamous UFO Club. This was quite the distracted band though and despite having recorded the album in early spring of 1967 didn't find a release until February 1968 as the psychedelic freakery in the pop rock scene was starting to come down, burn out and taper off.

The fate of TOMORROW's success seemed to be on shaky grounds from the getgo since after signing with EMI the band failed to attract the attention of Pink Floyd producer Norman Smith and instead opted for the erratic attention of Mark P. Writz, who not only contributed his keyboard skills to the TOMORROW lineup but was also heavily steeped and literally obsessed with his own project "A Teenage Opera." This, along with the band's fondness for LSD and massive touring schedule all conspired to keep the project from hitting the market during the height of the psychedelic Summer of Love. Despite being one of the first of the British bands to jump on to the bandwagon of all things psychedelic, the album was unfortunately one of the last to join the party and had it would have to sit on the shelves a few decades before anyone would really dig it up and evaluate its relevance on the late 60s scene but time has been kind and the album has found a continuous source of new interest.

A major part of the charm of TOMORROW's sole release is that it is extremely eclectic and instantly accessible with one hook after another creating instant ear worms all dressed up with the sizzling psychedelic acidity that the 60s had to offer. There is the backward guitar intro that ushers in the lead single and first track "My White Bicycle" a seemingly anthemic rocker reminiscent of The Who inspired by the white bicycle movement in 1960s Amsterdam. There is also the cod Indo-raga sitar saturation of "Real Life Permanent Dream" as well as three showtune sounding tracks "Auntie Mary's Dress Shop," "Colonel Brown" and "Shy Boy" which originally intended for the "Teenage Opera" were reassigned their psychedelic duties and dispersed liberally throughout the album. Having emerged only the year after The Beatles' resounding "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club," the Beatles influences are not only explicitly delivered but gleefully celebrated as the band throws in the unfortunate throwaway cover of "Strawberry Fields Forever" taken from the prior year's "Magical Mystery Tour."

Despite the influences, it seems as though TOMORROW may have had something to offer the Fab Four in return as they recorded a single called "Revolution" a year before The Beatles own famous track on "The White Album." Despite the psychedelic nature of the album as a whole, TOMORROW still found room for the ultimate whimsy with cute little fairy tales such as "Three Jolly Little Dwarfs" which takes the freakbeat gusto to its logical conclusions and shows how the musicians were becoming too skilled to remain confined within the confinement of pop music. Steve Howe displays moments of guitar virtuosity that hint at the years ahead in full prog rock mode with Yes and Twink Adler likewise displays an apt for harder edge percussive drives that he would finally find a home in The Pink Fairies. While some songs seem a little out of character for the psychedelic rock scene, some sound like they were tailor made for it. The closing "Hallucinations" is a snappy little guitar driven song that celebrates the miracle of rainbows and all things lysergia and the perfect closer for a multifarious yet tightly constructed musical experience.

While TOMORROW's main contemporaries such as Pink Floyd would go on to superstardom and Soft Machine would become an underground symbol of prog rock cult legends, TOMORROW itself failed to generate much fanfare in its short time in the psychedelic sun yet managed to play in an amazing number of live settings. Perhaps a bit too pop for the true acid freaks and a bit too out there for fans of mainstream pop, TOMORROW cleverly skirted the cracks in between and managed to connect the bouncy feel good vibe of the early 60s with the flower power drop acid and drop out counterculture of the hippies. While more known for the future greats that would gestate during this moment in time, TOMORROW's sole album is actually quite an interesting little romp in the psych fueled pop anthems of the latter part of the 60s British Invasion. The rest is history. Steve Howe would pay a few more dues in Bodast before joining Yes, Twink would join The Pretty Things and Pink Fairies and Keith West would eventually join Moonrider. Mark Writz would become more famous for NOT finishing his opera than anything else. In the end, this is an interesting and addictive slice of late 60s British pop dressed up in rainbows and psychotomimetic minutia.

 S.F. Sorrow by PRETTY THINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.02 | 71 ratings

S.F. Sorrow
The Pretty Things Proto-Prog

Review by patrickq

4 stars In a 1998 New York Times article, Neil Strauss said that S.F. Sorrow 'is generally acknowledged as the first rock opera.' Maybe things were different twenty years ago, but unfortunately, I don't really think S.F. Sorrow is 'generally acknowledged.'

In some ways, S.F. Sorrow sounds exactly like an album from 1968. I don't have the technical vocabulary to explain this other to say that the soundscape feels confined, as if the technology limited the band's ability to realize their vision - - but at the same time, we have a pretty good idea of what that vision must've been. On the other hand, S.F. Sorrow had to have seemed a little ambitious and risky for what had theretofore been a blues-based pop/rock band.

At least at the time it was released, S.F. Sorrow must've invited comparisons to the Beatles, and by extension, the Beach Boys. It may have been 'the first rock opera,' but it wasn't the first rock concept album, and there are definitely echoes of 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!' and 'Strawberry Fields Forever' here. But there must've been a lot of cross-pollination, as there's a lot in common with contemporaneous recordings by the Moody Blues and Tommy James and the Shondells, and on the poppier material here, the vocals aren't all that different from, say, the Lovin' Spoonful or the Buckinghams.

But a lot of the material here is not especially poppy. A fair chunk of S.F. Sorrow is more experimental than Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds. For example, there's genuine musique concr'te throughout, in substantial quality and quantity. Tape manipulation is used to achieve pitch changes and synchronized delay effects long before digital techniques made these common. And the mixing is creative: often, the vocals are almost buried, challenging the listener to pay closer attention. This unorthodoxy is especially clear when the songs recorded for S.F. Sorrow are compared to those drawn from the same pool, but recorded for release as singles or for radio airplay. (On remastered reissues of S.F. Sorrow, several of these are appended to the original album.) A notable exception to this is the album's closing track, 'Loneliest Person,' which - - probably intentionally - - sounds completely different from the foregoing. Gone are the layered instruments and vocals, the heavy audio effects, and the edgy rock atmosphere which prefigured Black Sabbath more than once. 'Loneliest Person' is performed in what sounds like one take, featuring just an acoustic guitar and dry vocals. This starkness seems to fit with the album's storyline; in the end, the protagonist is, as the song goes, 'the loneliest person in the world.'

The material is strong throughout the album. This work is intended to be experienced more as an album than a compilation of songs - - after all, the standalone songs were recorded separately. But a few numbers stand out: 'S.F. Sorrow is Born,' 'Private Sorrow,' and 'Baron Saturday,' the latter reminding me of the Moody Blues' 'Legend of a Mind' reinterpreted as. John Lennon song. But the real standout here, and a good representation of S.F. Sorrow as a whole is 'Balloon Burning,' a detached reminiscence of observing the destruction of the Hindenburg and the fiery death of one of its passengers.

S.F. Sorrow meets the definition of 'proto-prog,' but it's also heavily psychedelic; and while it's not at all a heavy-metal album, it has passages whose heaviness goes beyond that of Vanilla Fudge or Iron Butterfly. Like the music of those early heavy-metal bands, these passages aren't particularly slow or blues-based.

S.F. Sorrow represents a transition from the Sgt. Pepper era to what is now regarded as 1970s progressive rock, so much of what made S.F. Sorrow groundbreaking also makes it sound dated. Whereas the Beatles may have had to temper their technological ambitions to ensure a high-quality sound, the Pretty Things were willing to sacrifice sound quality to create a work which wasn't quite achievable at the time.

Nonetheless, S.F. Sorrow is an excellent album which, despite its practical shortcomings, is worthy of four stars for its concept, composition, and creativity.

 Deep Purple by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.60 | 586 ratings

Deep Purple
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

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

3 stars DEEP PURPLE's Mark I lineup lasted only two short years but the band still managed to record three full albums, tour extensively and release a handful of singles, one of which "Hush" from the debut album "Shades Of Deep Purple" becoming a surprise hit and hitting the top 5 on the American Billboard charts. And consequently, due to that very success, the band members were constantly under pressure to repeat the pop hit formula however the musicians themselves wanted something else entirely. And such was the nature of the music business which meant that there had to be a middle ground between the ambitious progressive rock fusion with classical music and the more simplified pop hook tracks that could generate some income for a poorly managed Tetragrammaton Records that would soon fold and be absorbed by Warner Bros.

Despite the short time playing together, the band had evolved quite a bit since their nascent recordings in early 1968 and by the time the quintet of Rod Evans (lead vocals), Ritchie Blackmore (guitars), Jon Lord (keyboards, organs, piano), Nick Sempler (bass) and Ian Paice (drums, percussion) had reached their third album simply titled DEEP PURPLE also called DEEP PURPLE III, the band had unknowingly hit upon one of the great sounds in all of rock music. It's just that they didn't know that quite yet and would have to go through a few changes before superstardom would come knocking at their back door. Graced by an eerie amalgamation of characters on the Hieronymous Bosch cover art, so too does the music on this third installment of the DEEP PURPLE universe imbibe the many nectars of the musical world and because of that remains the band's most diverse and unique albums of the entire multi-decade canon.

The album was preceded by the non-album single "Emmarretta" which was hoped to generate enough interest to promote the album but the single failed to match the success of "Hush" and fell by the wayside rather quickly and likewise the third album sold rather poorly which prompted the dualistic talent of Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore to think about the changes that were needed to take the music to the next level, that of a more streamlined hard rock approach. This was a tumultuous time as the duo had to assemble a new lineup of DEEP PURPLE behind the scenes while carrying on the business as usual as they toured the US after having finally found some modicum of interest in their native UK. It was decided that Evans didn't have the vocal chops to take the music to the next level, an unfortunate limitation made all the clearly on this third album where the music had evolved into more progressive heights but the vocals didn't and kept the album from reaching the pinnacle of its potential. Likewise friction existed with Simper.

While steeped in both the 60s psychedelia blues rock riffing and classical expressionism, DEEP PURPLE III served as more than a transitional album for the Mark II lineup just around the corner but rather allowed the band to go hog wild experimenting with all kinds of different sounds possibly hoping throwing enough spaghetti against the wall that something would stick. The introductory "Chasing Shadows" prognosticates the DEEP PURPLE to come with a heavier guitar presence than on the previous two albums. Blackmore was clearly coming to fruition as a top tier guitarist and was beginning to display more ambitious speedy solos as well as a wealth of wah-wah effects which made it clear the heavier side of rock was where this band was heading. Likewise Ian Paice's drumming skills were finally let off the leash as he delivered a powerful bombastic African rhythmic fusion style present on the opening track that pummels the senses in an almost Santana like freneticism.

With bands like King Crimson and The Nice upping the ante in more adventurous arenas for rock, DEEP PURPLE were hot on their heels and on this third album demonstrate remarkably how they easily could've gone the progressive rock route in lieu of the less angular hard rock that they opted for. While "Blind" seems to revert to a couple years prior with a distinct Procol Harum type of softness clearly rooted in the 60s, Lord manages to crank out some stellar classical piano runs and Blackmore unleashes his own guitar tricks. This track in retrospect shows how the two main members were quickly outgrowing the limitations of the current lineup. Likewise the Donovan cover "Lalena" also keeps the band firmly placed in the 60s sound complete with those period organs. The album doesn't really come to life until the excellent instrumental "Faultline" cranks out the backmasking as a rhythmic instrument and serves as an intro for "The Painter" which cranks out a killer blues rock riff and organ mix that start to sound a bit like the Mark II stylistic shift but anchored into the past by Evans' relaxed vocal style. Paice is phenomenal in how he can produce a mood solely with his percussive drive.

Likewise "Why Didn't Rosemary?" and "BIrd Has Flown" both display a mature sound for the band's rhythm section as the guitar, bass, organs and drums have found their own spaces that inch even closer to the Mark II style. It now becomes obvious that Evans had to go as you can imagine Gillan screaming out a more sophisticated singing style complete with more emotive utterances. The cream of the crop for DEEP PURPLE III is the almighty progressive closer "April" which which was Jon Lord's dream come true as far as the perfect classical and rock hybridization. While the band had structured their compositions to include classical interludes and underpinnings, "April" went all the way in creating a perfect harmonizing melodic construct of classical music mixed with progressive rock that even included a complete string section to accompany the rock aspects. This sort of style was en vogue at this point in early prog nascency but nothing The Nice cranked out approached the magnanimous nature of this beautiful piece. Even Evans seems to have stepped up to add some of his best vocals on the album and what a fabulous way to end this phase of DEEP PURPLE before the change.

While the Mark I lineup continued to play, Blackmore and Lord were already rehearsing new material with new lead singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover leaving Evans and Simper in the dark about the numbered days and unfortunately the two found out through the grapevine and didn't exactly exit on good terms. While Evans would go on to sing lead for Captain Beyond and Simper would start Warhorse, the true winners were DEEP PURPLE themselves which under the Mark II lineup would become superstars and one of the most popular bands in rock history. The Mark I phase is certainly a precarious time for the origins of one of rock's most celebrated musical talents and although these early albums are hardly perfect, they were quite innovative for the time and despite the uneven quality of the tracks and inferior talent of certain members still managed to crank out some timeless music. Whether its for historical curiosity or for the love of early proto-prog and metal, then sampling the 60s nectar of this phase of DEEP PURPLE is mandatory and this third installation of the Mark I lineup is perhaps the band's most accomplished. Essential? Not really, but a fascinating album nonetheless with certain moments that are mind blowing.

3.5 stars but rounded down

 Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls by COVEN album cover Studio Album, 1969
2.91 | 49 ratings

Witchcraft Destroys Minds And Reaps Souls
Coven Proto-Prog

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

3 stars The history of evil as the subject matter of music stems all the way back to sounds of the violin in classical music and eventually the term was attributed to all of jazz music for its ability to interfere with the orthodoxies of the established musical paradigm so it's no surprise that evil themes and deviant sounds would find their way into the rock world only a decade after the genre's nascent birth pangs. The first sign of evil themes in music was the appearance of Aleister Crowley on The Beatles' landmark "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club" which opened the flood gates for not only more experimental musical ideas that led to more progressive forms of rock music but apparently also gave permission for artists to dabble into the more occult themes that had hitherto been eschewed in lieu of feel good pop culture or psychedelic escapist dreams as the late 60s came into its own.

Black Sabbath is rightly acknowledged for giving birth to the whole doom fueled darkness that would blossom into the greater heavy metal universe but the English band wasn't the first rock band to delve into the darker world of the occult. That honor wouldn't emerge on British soil at all but rather in Chicago, USA and initiated by the band COVEN who in 1969 debuted many themes and attributes that would become synonymous with metal despite actually being a psychedelic acid rock band that sounded more like Jefferson Airplane than Sabbath, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple. The band boldly dropped their debut occult themed debut on an unsuspecting public in the form of WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS AND REAPS SOULS in 1969, the year before Black Sabbath debuted their own darkened themes set to music. Add to that, COVEN invented the metal salute of the sign of horns, displayed inverted crosses and reveled in the phrase "Hail Satan."

The band was the creation of lead vocalist Jinx Dawson and bassist Oz Osbourne who were in a previous band named Him, Her and Them and after hooking up with drummer Steve Ross, COVEN was born in 1967 and paid their dues by playing alongside late 60s acts like the Yardbirds, early Alice Cooper and Vanilla Fudge. The band's overt occult symbology and lyrical content naturally generated much controversy and caught the attention of Mercury Records who was eager to cash in on the growing popularity and enthusiasm towards the occult that was sweeping the world. Despite the interest in this sort of underground rock as it was called, the album was quickly removed from the market after its release but became a cult classic due to its completely unapologetic use of occult characteristics that would soon be adopted in the world of hard rock and heavy metal.

Despite the wickedly evil themes and lyrical content that deals with the expected themes of witchcraft, Satanic worship and other occult subject matter, the album is actually characterized by a rather standard psychedelic pop rock sound that most closely resembles the West Coast psychedelic rock that was made popular by Jefferson Airplane. Even Jinx Dawson's vocal style and phrasing emanates the great Grace Slick with the sultry feminine bravado and charismatic drive that caught everyone's attention. The first eight tracks on WITCHCRAFT DESTROYS MINDS AND REAPS SOULS were characterized by a heavy psych sound that was found Dawson backed by heavy distorted guitars, bass, drums and the classic 60s organ sound. Despite the actual songs' lyrical themes, it's perhaps the final track that got the album banned and that which made it stand out from any other release in recording history. Track ten titled "Satanic Mass" concluded the album with a bona fide 13 minute black mass which displayed ritualistic chanting, chimes and Satanic prayers.

Ultimately the band was unjustly associated with the murders of Charles Manson and other deviant behavior of the time and was also lumped into the entire counterculture as a scapegoat for antiestablishment behaviors. Ironically the album's first track is titled "Black Sabbath" which may or may not have inspired England's godfathers of the metal universe with their debut album that emerged the next year but it does reflect upon the unveiling of the occult world that had never found its way into popular music. Ultimately COVEN's debut is more of a curiosity than a bona fide outstanding album. The music itself is well performed but nothing out of the ordinary for the 60s and definitely not the best the era had to offer and while the ending "Satanic Mass" is an interesting aberrance from the status quo, it really isn't that interesting and utterly a waste of time after a single listen. COVEN will remain in the history books indeed for initiating the first signs of Satan in popular music but i rather doubt that anyone will remember them for the music itself.

 Love by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2006
3.00 | 83 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by patrickq

2 stars Love is a far cry from the "Beatles Movie Medley." What we have here is mash-ups of well-known and not-so-well-known Beatles songs. And even among the most familiar tunes, some of the source material evidently comes from alternate takes, I assume from the same font from which the Anthology albums were drawn.

I expected more outcry when this came out: messing with history, etc. Maybe George Martin's presence softened the blow. At any rate, I've never been able to see how products like this 'destroy' the original works - - assuming that the originals are still easily available (this is very different from what George Lucas tried to do wit the first Star Wars movie: replace the original with an altered version, and restrict access to the original). But you know what? If the Beatles were at their height today (i.e., during the mashup/remix era), they'd probably release something like this themselves.

Of course, that doesn't mean it would be great.

And Love isn't great. While some projects like this are intended as dance-remix albums, Love apparently exists because part of the Apple Corps contract with Cirque du Soleil required the delivery of a unique soundtrack for the show. As long as the work was being created, why not put it on sale? (Indeed, in the US alone, it has sold more than two million units and hit #4 on the album chart.)

Maybe the music is incomplete without the Cirque du Soleil visuals, but for whatever reason, it strikes me as no more than a pleasant curiosity. I would recommend it for fans only - - and probably remix fans as much as Beatles fans.

 The Doors by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.33 | 660 ratings

The Doors
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review N 237

"The Doors" is the eponymous debut studio album of The Doors and was released in 1967. It was central to the progression of psychedelic rock, and has been critically acclaimed. This is in general considered their best musical effort and it appears in many music lists as one of best albums of all time. It's present on the "List Of 200 Albums In Rock And Roll Hall Fame" and it was ranked number 42 in "Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time".

"The Doors" has eleven tracks. The first track "Break On Through (To The Other Side)" was the first single released by the band and it was an unsuccessful song. However, it remains as one of the band's signatures and one of their most popular songs. The second track "Soul Kitchen" is a tribute to the soul food restaurant "Olivia's" in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California, where Jim Morrison often stayed for a long time. It was also the place where he and Ray Manzarek met for the first time and represents the place where all began. It's a nice rock song played with energy. The third track "The Crystal Ship" was the song chosen to be the B side of their hit single of this album "Light My Fire". This is a wonderful love song inspired by Jim Morrison's first love, Mary Werbelow, a girlfriend with whom he was ended. Like many of the songs written by Jim Morrison, it has a mysterious and dark sound. The fourth track "Twentieth Century Fox" was a song written about a fashionable but unfeeling woman, and is a metaphor for the famous movie and TV Company. It represents one of the light and soft ballads on the album, a song with a bit of humour on it. The fifth track "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)" is a song found for the first time in the play "Hauspostille", in 1927, by Bertolt Brecht, with music by Kurt Weill, and it was used again, in 1930, in the opera "Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny". In 1966, Ray Manzarek's wife had heard a recording of Bertolt Brecht's opera, and she quickly showed the song to Ray and Jim and immediately suggested that they should make a rock version of it. This is a great version, indeed. The sixth track "Light My Fire" was released as a single and became the first great success of the band. It has brought the world fame and recognition of the band in the summer of 1967, bringing The Doors to the top of the charts and a symbol of that generation of the late 60's. This is one of the songs that most contributed to immortalize the name of The Doors. "Light My Fire" is on Rolling Stone's list of the "500 Greatest Songs Of All Time" and it was also included in the "Songs Of The Century" in VH1's "100 Greatest Songs Of All Time". The seventh track "Back Door Man" is the second and last song on the album without the signature of the band. Originally, "Back Door Man" was a blues song written by Willie Dixon and was recorded by Howlin' Wolf, in 1961, and it became considered a classic of the Chicago blues. This version of The Doors is the bluesiest number on the album and represents a great cover of the original song. The eighth track "I Looked At You" is another rock ballad and represents also another light and soft song on the album. The musical structure of the song is very simple but the final result is a very nice and pleasant song to hear. The ninth track "End Of The Night" is another ballad. It's true that we are in presence of another ballad, but this time, we are in presence of a totally different type of ballad. This is a very interesting song, very obscure and with a very dark musical atmosphere that makes of it a hypnotic song. The tenth track "Take As It Comes" is an incredible and beautiful pop rock song, very well made, highly attractive and which still sounds fresh and young in our days. We can even say that this song is so well written that sounds much better than many of the songs on the pop scene today. The eleventh track "The End" was originally written as a song about breaking with his girlfriend Mary Werbelow. It was created over several months of performances at the Whisky a Go Go, in Los Angeles. It was first released in January, 1967 and the band would play this song on their last live performance. "The End" is in the list of "500 Greatest Songs Of All Time", in Rolling Stone Magazine and became to be immortalized by Francis Ford Coppola in his movie "Apocalypse Now", released in 1979, when the song was used in two sequences of the film, the opening sequence and during the sequence of the killing of Colonel Kurtz. "The End" is also considered by many the best and also the most progressive song made by the band.

Conclusion: As I wrote before, "The Doors" is in general considered the best album released by the band and I agree completely with that. It's also considered one of the best albums ever made and, personally, I love it, really. This is a perfect album with no weaknesses. Some of the songs included on this album, like "Light My Fire", "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)", "Break On Through (To The Other Side)" and "The End" are successes that have been immortalized by the band and that helped to immortalize the band too. Concluding, and merely seeing by a single point of view strictly progressive, when we heard "Light My Fire" and "The End" we immediately see why The Doors are considered one of the most important bands to the foundation of progressive rock music and why they belong to our progressive world.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Fireball by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.76 | 806 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by mohaveman

3 stars Lots of hard rock, some blues, some funkiness, and a dash of prog here and there...

FIREBALL is not the best effort of the Mark II Deep Purple lineup but it has some good tunes on it, along with some lesser efforts. The highlights are "Fireball", "The Mule" and "No No No". There is some experimentation of a kind of proggy way, but the majority of this album is firmly set in the Deep Puple trademarks of hard rocks and blues with a bit of funk thrown in. Apparently, Ian Gillian has said that this is one of his favorite DP albums.

It is hard to rate it on a prog site, but I would give it a firm 2 1/2 stars and round it up to a 3 star rating based on "The Mule" and the title track.

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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
FORD THEATRE United States
GATTCH Slovakia
GILES GILES & FRIPP United Kingdom
THE GODS United Kingdom
GUN 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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