A Progressive Rock Sub-genre

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Proto-Prog definition

The denomination Proto Prog comes from the combination of two words, Proto from the Greek The earliest,. and Prog which as we know is a short term for Progressive Rock, so as it's name clearly indicates, refers to the earliest form of Progressive Rock or Progressive Rock in embryonary state.

These bands normally were formed and released albums before Progressive Rock had completely developed (there are some rare Proto Prog bands from the early 70's, because the genre didn't expanded to all the Continents simultaneously

The common elements in all these bands is that they developed one or more elements of Prog, and even when not completely defined as part of the genre, they are without any doubt, an important stage in the evolution of Progressive Rock.

Generally, Proto Prog bands are the direct link between Psyche and Prog and for that reason the Psychedelic components are present in the vast majority of them, but being that Progressive Rock was born from the blending of different genres, we have broadened the definition to cover any band that combined some elements of Progressive Rock with other genres prior to 1970.

Some of these bands evolved and turned into 100% Prog, while others simply choose another path, but their importance and contribution in the formative period of Prog can't be denied, for that reason no Prog site can ignore them.

Iván Melgar - Morey

Proto-Prog Top Albums

Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Proto-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.49 | 754 ratings
Beatles, The
4.48 | 451 ratings
Who, The
4.37 | 690 ratings
Beatles, The
4.33 | 784 ratings
Beatles, The
4.31 | 928 ratings
Deep Purple
4.29 | 932 ratings
Deep Purple
4.37 | 438 ratings
Who, The
4.30 | 505 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 596 ratings
Beatles, The
4.24 | 381 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 333 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 547 ratings
Beatles, The
4.01 | 411 ratings
Who, The
3.97 | 349 ratings
Doors, The
3.90 | 528 ratings
Beatles, The
3.93 | 283 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.81 | 623 ratings
Deep Purple
4.11 | 138 ratings
4.06 | 145 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.92 | 235 ratings
Deep Purple

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 Strange Days by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.24 | 381 ratings

Strange Days
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars After the outstanding success of THE DOORS' debut album, the record company wasted no time capitalizing on America's answer to the hugely successful British invasion that The Beatles exported. Luckily there was plenty of material to create a hugely awesome followup as the tracks on both albums were all written in the 1965-66 years and were merely sorted out to be released as two albums. I have to admit that in this case Elektra Records did a very good job in segregating these tracks as to provide some sort of momentum from the first album to the second. STRANGE DAYS continues the unique psychedelic rock started on the debut and as with that album continues the excellent poetic talent of Jim Morrison with the fan-damn-tastic arrangements of Ray Manzarek and his unique keyboard runs, Robby Krieger's creative guitar motifs and John Desmore's accompanying percussion. As with the debut Manzarek continues his piano bass but they do include Douglas Lubahn on bass on several tracks making him an unofficial fifth member here replacing Larry Knechtel from the debut.

Like the debut album STRANGE DAYS is just one addictive track after another with zero weak tracks on board. For me there is no difference between the excellent singles "People Are Strange" and "Love Me Two Times" and the other less commercial tracks as "Horse Latitudes" and the proto-prog behemoth "When The Music's Over." All these tracks have the musical mojo to fully captivate me and cast their spell over my listening experience. Although this album failed to perform commercially to the levels of the debut, time has been kind to STRANGE DAYS by allowing it to slowly sink in over the decades. In my book it is the musical equivalent to the debut and could possibly just slink in ever so slightly a notch above it. Since all the material is pretty much of the same caliber and it was all written simultaneously it is really difficult to differentiate it all but on a personal level i just find the material on STRANGE DAYS a pubic hair more satisfying than the debut. There really isn't a lot i can say about THE DOORS as they remain one of the most popular bands in all of rock history. I can only offer my continued praise and admiration for this spectacular band as a music lover who wasn't around at their time. Timeless music this is and i for one cannot foresee a day when THE DOORS and STRANGE DAYS are not every bit as popular and revered as they are now and were at the time of Jim Morrison's living years.

 Burn by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.81 | 623 ratings

Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars There's a lot to like about this thick, bottom-heavy, bluesy, hard-rockin' classic album by Deep Purple. The combination of vocals by Coverdale and Hughes gives the tunes a gruff, masculine appeal; the rhythm section cooks with energy; interplay between keyboards and guitar adds a depth to the songs; the impeccable guitar of Blackmore... However, for me, none of those steal the show on Burn. It's an album that really is the sum of its parts, and each one works very well together to create a great hard-rock experience that's hard to beat. Though I enjoy Blackmore's Rainbow project more than Deep Purple, I find myself grooving hard throughout this album, which doesn't have a bad track on it.

Highly recommended for any reader who enjoys hard rock, who will find Deep Purple offering more energy and artistry in Burn that you'll likely ever hear on classic rock radio.

Burn is a great album from the greatest era of rock-n-roll.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 4 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Ball by IRON BUTTERFLY album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.00 | 38 ratings

Iron Butterfly Proto-Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I used to read this metal magazine that was published in Canada called "Metallion". It covered everything from hard rock to thrash metal and was great for featuring homegrown metal bands. There was also a page called "Roots of Metal" that featured bands like The Yardbirds, Ten Years After, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, and Iron Butterfly. I recall one part of the Iron Butterfly article that said after the fantastic success with "In-A-Gadda-Da- Vida", the same line-up returned to record an album that "sounded like it was recorded between someone's coffee breaks".

As for me, I don't view the album so derisively. "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" had some great moments but there was also the other side of Iron Butterfly, the Butterfly side that was pretty hippy dippy ("Flowers and Beads" anyone?).

"Ball" opens with a stunningly heavy intro complete with harsh power chords, cymbal crashes, and a bizarre dragging/pulsing effect that creates an ominous and forbidding atmosphere. The song itself is a cross between haunting and pretty with inserts of heavier moments, particularly near the song's conclusion. Though not as straightforward as say "Iron Butterfly Theme" or the short version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", this song shows Iron Butterfly's darker side.

The rest of the album covers a variety of approaches, bringing in some light funk mixed with psychedelia like "Soul Experience", or the tension-filled "Real Fright" with its hurried suspense/spy movie bass line. There's Doug Ingle's balladeer vocal showcase, "Lonely Boy" which will either have you stabbing at the skip button right away or you might appreciate it for the effort. "This Must Be Love" sees a gradual building of psychedelic hard rock guitar, and "Belda Beast" is credited to young Eric Braun who shows of his vocal and guitar talents.

On "Ball" there's also an overall impression that Iron Butterfly was moving into more progressive territory. In particular, I find songs like "Her Favorite Style" and "Filled with Fear" feature an almost classical approach to composition in the way the guitar, bass and keyboard work together. The song structures take the album away from the standard pop song, and for that I actually find this album to be an interesting and enjoyable musical melange of psychedelic adventures. Of course such a mixed bag will have songs that bomb for some people, and I myself don't claim every effort to be a treat. In a way, this album is one of the last of its kind because heavy psych, heavy blues, and hard rock was taking a turn in 1969 and things were getting a whole lot heavier. Still, Braun makes some good use of his fuzz box at times. As for the prog aspect, it's a pretty good step in the right direction; however, things were about to become even more interesting.

Four stars for creativity but three for the overall result.

 Band Of Gypsys by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Live, 1970
3.73 | 92 ratings

Band Of Gypsys
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Maybe not the definitive Jimi Hendrix live album, but A Band of Gypsys is a solid piece of thick, smokey, R&B goodness none the less.

"Who Knows" and "Machine Gun" give us dark, moody, effects-driven jam sessions which are probably the highlights of the album, while the other tracks are shorter and more conventional, though still with open-ended solo sections. The rhythm section keeps it tight and engaging throughout, making the trio sound like they're working together and playing off each others' riffing.

Interestingly, the setlist doesn't include any of Jimi's iconic hits. Depending on your viewpoint, this is either a strength or a weakness. If you're hoping to hear Jimi jam to tunes that aren't on his greatest hits, then you're in luck. The recording quality is good overall for the period.

Overall a solid, but not great live recording featuring the all-time great rock guitarist

Setlist: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Stage Energy: 3 - Live Experience: 4

 Axis: Bold as Love by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.89 | 216 ratings

Axis: Bold as Love
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Axis: Bold as Love is a feedback filled collection of Hendrix and the times he was playing in. The fuzzy distortion, interesting combination of bluesy and psychedelic sounds, distinct vocals, and trademark guitar sound please throughout.

It's genuinely hard to find anything to complain about from a genuinely iconic musician's legacy, yet despite this, I don't think that there's enough depth here that grabbed me beyond the casual listen. Every one has heard tracks like "If 6 was 9" and "Little Wing", so there's no surprise there, but the other songs come across as filler and jams. Maybe it's because I've heard the highlights of this album so many times on Jimi's "Greatest Hits". The few psychedelic pop songs leave me ambivalent, but luckily the warm sound of Jimi's R&B guitar outnumber those songs 2:1, and the hits of this album are legendary.

So, a solid album that will probably grab some more than others, but is undeniably entertaining regardless.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 The Doors by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.30 | 505 ratings

The Doors
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

5 stars THE DOORS steadily opened for this psychedelic band that began in 1965 Los Angeles which took its name from the Aldous Huxley's book "THE DOORS of Perception" taken from a William Blake quote. One of the more interesting and unique bands of the 60s, THE DOORS pretty much caught the world by storm beginning with their eponymous album number 1 and pretty much continued to do so until Jim Morrison's early passing at the age of 27 in 1971.

This album was recorded in 1966 and released right in the year of the Flower Child 1967 and didn't initially shoot up the charts but once "Light My Fire" was released it pretty much captured the spirit of the era and caught on quickly and surprisingly holds up quite well after many decades later due to the musical integrity embedded into the controversial (at the time) subject matter and the ever so erratic behavior of Morrison which pretty much always led the band into fields of public land mines until his demise. The music itself is very well composed melodically, stylistically and true to the era but somehow this sounds great to me despite not being around at the time to take in its temporal splendor.

This brilliance was basically the musical genius of Jim Morrison's poetic prowess mixed with Robby Krieger's musical songwriting genius. The music basically incorporates the best of 60s psychedelic pop hooks and songwriting techniques but adds a healthy dose of cultural interpretation in poetic prose and nice early progressive prototypes such as the excellent album ender "The End." Although they played second fiddle to The Beatles in 1967 only peaking at #2 on the Billboard album charts behind "Sgt. Pepper's?" this album is just as brilliant on a totally different playing field. I was resistant to THE DOORS' music for the longest time just because of the overplayed singles on Classic Rock radio, but once i actually heard their albums as a whole it became clear what all the hype was about. This was a band for the ages and now nearly 50 years later this album still sounds as excellent as when it was released. At least it does to me.

 Perfect Strangers by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.43 | 463 ratings

Perfect Strangers
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars DEEP PURPLE is one of those groups where just about everybody in hard rock from the 70s seems to have been at one time or another at this point, but the second lineup that lasted from 1969-1973 that included Ian Gillan, Richie Blackmore, Jon Lord, Ian Paice and Roger Glover is considered the classic and most popular lineup. This was the era of their most successful albums as well which include "In Rock," "Fireball," "Machine Head" and "Who Do We Think We Are." So, of course, every DEEP PURPLE fan who remembered those days was obviously ecstatic when this lineup reunited in 1984 to release their first album in nine years. The hysteria was so heated that when the band finally released its eleventh studio album PERFECT STRANGERS, it shot straight up to the top 20 on album charts across the world and the tours in the US sold out so quickly that they were forced to add more live appearances and when all was said and done were only second to Bruce Springsteen in concert revenues in 1985.

This seems to be one of those love it or hate it albums where i see pure contempt and utter vitriol as well as words of praise. For me personally this was actually the first DEEP PURPLE album i ever heard. Of course, everyone has heard all those classic radio hits but i was a bit of a late bloomer to the PURPLE ones and it was PERFECT STRANGERS that sold me on their sound allowing me to break down the barriers and explore their discography further. I personally don't understand all the disappointment in this one. I find this to be an excellent collection of melodic hard rockers with that classic signature keyboard sound that only Jon Lord can dish out. Ian Gillan's vocals are just as good as ever and perhaps only Blackmore is a little less fiery than on his earlier contributions. For example, the only really killer guitar solo is on "Knocking At Your Back Door" although there are other good ones that erupt. Both Glover and Paice dish out some excellent rhythmic chops and the band is as tight as ever with lyrics that are often witty and clever.

I pretty much find most of these tracks appealing starting with the excellent opener "Knocking.." The pace continues with the following foot stomper "Under The Gun" and continues track by track from the excellent title track to the scorching "Gypsy's Kiss". The only tracks that feel a tad subpar are the sleepy "Wasted Sunset" and insipid Aerosmith sounding "Not Responsible." This is actually one of the few DEEP PURPLE albums i spin on a regular basis as most of their albums are a little hit and miss in the consistency department. I find this to be an excellent comeback album but unfortunately the creative juices and band chemistry wasn't meant to last because i can't say i like a single album that came after this by the classic lineup. It seems that they drained their creative wells on this one and it probably would have been better for them to hit it hard, cash in and scurry back to all the bands they left to reunite instead of flooding the market with the jejuneness that followed. Still though, at least we got some excellent classic hard rockers on this one.

 Spooky Two by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.82 | 58 ratings

Spooky Two
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Spooky Tooth - Spooky Two (1969)

If you claim to have any love for sixties psych and prog its roots, you simply can't ignore this great second album Spooky Tooth. Psychedelic rock with soul and stunning performances by Mike Harrison, whoes voice is one of the better of the psychedelic movement. All songs on this album are great, but organ-driven opening track 'Waiting for the wind', the extended 'Evil Woman', the epic "Lost in a dream' and the cover 'Better by you, better then me' stand out. Furthermore, the album has a nice sixties sound with only minor flaws in the production (a few pitch anomalies). When people visit you when you play this record even the silliest among them will recognise this as being 'pure rock'. I can also warmly recommend the less adventerious but nice 'The Last Puff'. Four stars.

 The Complete Silver Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1982
2.00 | 3 ratings

The Complete Silver Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars I don`t have this album, but I have listened to all the songs from this album from other sources. in fact, they were broadcasted in a FM radio station in my city in a series of programmes dedicated to the history of the band. It was in late 1982, I think.

This album has 12 of the 15 songs that THE BEATLES (George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and then drummer Pete Best) recorded at the Decca Studios in London on the first day of January 1962. These recordings are as a whole also known as "The Decca Audition Tape". and as the very known old story says, they were rejected by Decca Records after this audition. But manager Brian Epstein anyway paid for the audition tapes to be owned by them, and he spent some months trying to get a recording contract for the band using these tapes with several record labels, until one day he was lucky and met a person who suggested to him to visit Parlophone Records to meet Producer George Martin, a then small record label which was part of the EMI Records label and that was mostly dedicated to the release of Comedy albums (which were also produced by Martin) . In fact, EMI also have rejected the band before that, but despite this Epstein tried again with Parlophone, and was lucky enough to find that Martin was interested to give the band a chance for an audition in June 1962. The rest is history.

These mono recordings from this "Decca Audition Tape" are well recorded and mixed but they sound really old, still showing the band playing well but not very well. In fact, they travelled all night from Liverpool to London for the audition with Decca. So, they sound a bit tired and maybe more after the New Year`s party (even the Decca producer and record executives arrived late to the audition). But anyway, the band tried to sound well. It is also known that Epstein selected the songs for the audition to try to show "their musical versatility". So, the songs show a variety of music styles, from ballads ("Till There Was You"), rockers ("Money", "Memphis"), Country and Western music ("Sure To Fall"), music more appropiate for Night Clubs ("Besame Mucho", a song which they also played in Hamburg in places like the "Star Club"), and even some theatre music ("Three Cool Cats", "The Sheik of Araby"). The band also recorded that day three original Lennon-McCartney songs (the unreleased "Love of the Loved", plus "Like Dreamers Do" and "Hello, Little Girl", with both of them being released in their "Anthology 1" two CD set compilation in 1995). It seems that these three Lennon-McCartney songs were not released in albums like this "The Complete Silver Beatles" compilation for some legal considerations. But these three original songs are the best from this "Decca Audition Tape". I think that due to his lack of experience managing bands Brian Epstein did not have the right vision to promote the band in the right way. He did it the best he could then, but obviously most of the material from this "Decca Audition Tape" did not show the real potential of the band as songwriters. Maybe it could have been better to include more songs from Lennon and McCartney as part of the repertoire for the audition. Also the lack of a better drummer showed the band still with some limitations. Pete Best was not the right drummer for the band, but fortunately the band later met Ringo Starr and the band became a much better band with him on the drums.

The title of this album "The Complete Silver Beatles" is not really good. The band at that time did no use that name. They were known then as The Beatles in Liverpool and in Hamburg. I don`t know why the record label used a title like that for this album. Maybe the rights for the use of the recordings were not very clear then, but I really don`t know the whole story behind the release of this album. But I saw it being sold in well established record shops and in supermarkets in my city in the early eighties, being sold with reduced prices.

For collectors and fans of the band.

 Tommy by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.01 | 411 ratings

The Who Proto-Prog

Review by jmeadow

4 stars The Who's first fully realised rock opera is a proto-prog classic, as we all know, the story of Tommy, a deaf, dumb and blind kid, who plays a mean pinball and becomes a messiah-like figure to his fans. The story addresses sensitive issues including alienation, child abuse and celebrity/fandom with directness and honesty

The album is certainly imperfect - there are some pretty big cracks in the storyline, in particular - but nevertheless it has pace, tension and emotion and some great rock tracks. 'Pinball Wizard' and 'I'm Free' are well-known classics, but less-renowned songs like '1921' and 'Christmas' are also superb. In the later the pathos of Tommy's isolation from the world is neatly captured by his blissful ignorance of Christmas Day: 'And Tommy doesn't know what day it is/Doesn't know who Jesus was or what praying is/How can he be saved?/From the eternal grave?'

An album that traverses the gap between standard rock and prog and in doing so shows the possibilities of rock music. Highly recommended.

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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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