Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

PROTO-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

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 | 1078 ratings
ABBEY ROAD
Beatles, The
4.50 | 638 ratings
QUADROPHENIA
Who, The
4.39 | 994 ratings
REVOLVER
Beatles, The
4.35 | 1258 ratings
DEEP PURPLE IN ROCK
Deep Purple
4.35 | 1121 ratings
SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
Beatles, The
4.33 | 1258 ratings
MACHINE HEAD
Deep Purple
4.42 | 638 ratings
WHO'S NEXT
Who, The
4.33 | 726 ratings
THE DOORS
Doors, The
4.18 | 885 ratings
THE BEATLES [AKA: THE WHITE ALBUM]
Beatles, The
4.27 | 481 ratings
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: ARE YOU EXPERIENCED
Hendrix, Jimi
4.17 | 802 ratings
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
Beatles, The
4.23 | 557 ratings
STRANGE DAYS
Doors, The
4.01 | 515 ratings
L.A. WOMAN
Doors, The
3.99 | 608 ratings
TOMMY
Who, The
3.95 | 783 ratings
RUBBER SOUL
Beatles, The
4.03 | 423 ratings
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: ELECTRIC LADYLAND
Hendrix, Jimi
4.02 | 335 ratings
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: AXIS - BOLD AS LOVE
Hendrix, Jimi
3.86 | 860 ratings
BURN
Deep Purple
4.13 | 192 ratings
TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS
Spirit
4.08 | 201 ratings
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
Brown Band, The Arthur

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews


 Spooky Two by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.89 | 91 ratings

BUY
Spooky Two
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars SPOOKY TOOTH were a five piece band out of London, England and this is album number two from 1969. I'm into consistent albums and this is surprisingly consistent given the year. Kind of a hard rocking, bluesy, psychedelic affair with some prog leanings. The vocalist Mike Harrison is fantastic! He can belt it out and sing in different ranges really well. Bassist Greg Ridley would play with HUMBLE PIE while Luther Grosvenor the guitarist played with STEALERS WHEEL and MOTT THE HOOPLE. But the big name here is Gary Wright playing organ. As a teenager I was mesmerized with "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive". Here on the opener "Waitin' For The Wind" he comes in with this distorted, rolling organ that is nasty and this along with the vocals makes this my favourite track off the album. The nine minute "Evil Woman" is just a killer track. The vocals and lyrics especially. Then there's the catchy "Better By You, Better Than Me" which was covered by JUDAS PRIEST. There's some not so great numbers like the gospel sounding "I've Got Enough Heartaches" which is about the vocals or "That Was Only Yesterday" which starts out ballad-like but then kicks into gear but I'm just not into it. The rest though is great to varying degrees. A solid 4 stars.
 Come Taste the Band by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.22 | 534 ratings

BUY
Come Taste the Band
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Prior to the release of "Come Taste the Band", Deep Purple had lost their iconic vocalist Ian Gillan a few years ago and had added the soulful vocals of David Coverdale, which basically changed the classic DP sound. However, sales were still positive and DP's management pushed for more tours and more albums. The band was getting worn out and Ritchie Blackmore hated the new sound, especially the line-up's 2nd album "Stormbringer". He hated the funky and soulful vibe the music had taken on so much that he left the band. Only two members, Jon Lord and Ian Paice remained from the famous Mark II line-up, and now they found themselves missing a lead guitarist.

Everyone know the story, and Tommy Bolin was hired to replace Blackmore, who had gone on to form Blackmore's Rainbow. Bolin had a background of having played for The James Gang and had released a solo album, so he was somewhat known. However, his guitar style was completely different. Coverdale and Hughes were now more free than ever to pursue their different sound for the band, and both of them were surprisingly open to allowing Bolin to help in writing the songs. Bolin was afraid that he wouldn't be able to handle the famous Blackmore solos, so he was allowed to make a huge contribution to the sound. Hence, the unique sound of this record among the other Deep Purple albums.

Many would argue (and still do) that this is not really a DP album. But, the fact is, it is a DP album. This album is a direct result of where the band was headed. The songs are heavy, lyrically driven, and, thanks to both Coverdale and Hughes, more soulful, funky and radio friendly. For me, the first side of the album is full of forgettable tracks, with nothing standing out much except for a cool, funky section of "Gettin' Tighter", which ends up being too short with the funkiness being quickly lost in Hughes smothering vocals. Coverdale and Hughes both had the same styles of voice, so other than that small section, even with two lead singers, the songs sound way too similar and nothing seems to pull the listener in.

Nothing much changes on the first half of the 2nd side of the album, it's just more of the same style, same smothering vocals and not enough in the instrumental area that would capture the love of the earlier fans. It's not until you get to the last two tracks that anything interesting happens. The first highlight comes in the "melody" track which still doesn't sound much like the DP of previous years, however, it is an excellent unique style that stands out from the rest of the repressed sound of the rest of the album. The best part is the 2nd part of the Melody which is called "Owed to G", an instrumental track that shows off Bolin's own playing and writing style, proving that it is much different from Blackmore's, and also proves that maybe without Coverdale and Hughes influence, Bolin really needed to be in a different band. The final track "You Keep on Moving" is also very good, with great hooks and an overall sound that stands out from the rest of the album.

None of the music on this album is progressive, but the last two tracks are good enough to raise this album up one star above the previous album "Stormbringer" which only had a nice looking cover going for it. Yes, CTtB ended up getting great sales at the beginning, but soon took a nosedive and ended up being one of DP's lesser known albums, with no singles that performed well and with sales dropping quickly. Bolin was correct in saying that he wouldn't be able to handle Blackmore's solos on the older songs that fans demanded be played in concert, and fans would "boo" when he messed them up. This whole thing was unfair for Bolin because he was a good enough guitarist, but he had his own style that was very unlike Blackmore's. Also, a lot of the blame can be put on Bolin's impairment due to his reliance on drug use, which would end up taking his life after he released his 2nd solo album soon after CTtB was released. The band ended up breaking up after this and management said they would not play together as DP again. It would be almost 10 years before DP would reappear, reuniting under the classic Mark II line-up again, and prove that this is really what the fans wanted.

In the meantime, you have this weak album that has two great tracks on it, but sounds nothing like the DP from before, and because of this, the fans and the band have basically disowned it. However, in my opinion, it is a little bit better than "Stormbringer", but still a long ways from the excellent material that was produced during the Mark II phase. It's a sad story and one that could have had a better ending if it had been released under a different name, but the public and management wanted the name for recognition. The album is not a complete throwaway, but it's not one that anyone should search high and low for. 3 stars.

 Burn by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.86 | 860 ratings

BUY
Burn
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

3 stars Deep Purple was still riding high and even after the release of the disappointing and tired sounding "Who Do We Think We Are?", DP was still considered the top selling artist of 1973 in the States. The band, however, was exhausted from all of the touring and recording and emotions and egos were getting in the way. Gillan and Blackmore were not getting along, so Gillan left the band high and dry. If that weren't enough, Blackmore insisted that Glover (bass) be dismissed. This was risky business especially with the band doing so well.

After frequenting some "Trapeze" concerts, the band hired Glenn Hughes on the promise that they were considering Paul Rodgers ("Free") as a co-vocalist. Rodgers was busy starting the band "Bad Company" at the time, so he ended up passing on that offer. Instead, DP ended up hiring David Coverdale, who was unheard of at that time, but who would eventually be lead singer for "Whitesnake". With these two new additions, the band made what was probably their first major line-up change (all at one time) in their history. Of course, there was bound to be a major shift in the band's overall sound. That is exactly what happened.

"Burn" was the first studio album released with the new Mark III line-up. The sound was now shifted away from the heavy-blues-inspired psychedelic sound to a more soulful and rock-boogie style. Surprisingly enough, the band made the transition quite well at first, and this is apparent with this album, which turned out to sound much more relaxed and thought out than the previous album. The title track starts the album off on fast rocking note that would end up being the barn-burner that would replace "Highway Star" as the opener in their concerts. The double team of Coverdale and Hughes would give a nice variety to the sound with the both of them sharing lead vocal duties, sometimes within the same song. However, the both of them didn't have the explosive sound and range of Gillan. So while the music was more soulful, it seemed to be missing the drive and the punch that it used to have. Blackmore does seem to have more solo time on this studio album than before, but then Lord's solo time is cut back some, and the songs are more vocally driven than before. There is a noticeable lack of the excellent instrumental sections than there were previously, and even though listeners heard a bit of that in the previous album, now it seems to be the case more than ever.

The first half of the album, after the first track, demonstrates how that lack of drive could make their music sound too much the same, and there are only a few instances where anything really stands out. The 2nd half, however, is much better with "You Fool No One", "What's Goin' On Here" and "Mistreated" sounding like it was going to be easy to get used to this new sound, all three of these tracks being heavy, catchy and top notch performances. The last track "A 200" is an instrumental that, however, seems to lose any energy that was generated from those three tracks that precede it. However, the album sounds somewhat promising and is a step up from the previous album. There was a lot of hope here that things would continue to get better with this new line-up and this hopefulness was translated into continued high sales with this album and the follow up "Stormbringer", which would end up adding more elements of funk and soul while concentrating on shorter, more accessible tracks, something that would cause even more issues within the band. But, for now at least, the band looked like it might still be sitting comfortably.

In the end, there are 4 great tracks and 4 that are just good, with an ending track that leaves you wishing for something better. Yes it's better than "WDWTWA?", but not quite good enough to push it up to 4 stars in my opinion. Almost, but not quite.

 Made in Japan by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1972
4.51 | 708 ratings

BUY
Made in Japan
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

5 stars Many people have come to the conclusion that this is probably the best live album ever recorded. Its hard for me to ever say that any album is the best of any category as things often change for me according to the mood of the day, but I can go so far as to say that it is definitely one of the best live albums ever put together.

This double album captures Deep Purple at the height of creativity and popularity. Sure, most of their music is blues- based rock, but it is the way the band was able to perform and create around that foundation that made them one of the best in that style. The members are considered the classic Deep Purple line-up, or Mark II as many refer to them, with the amazing Ian Gillan on vocals, Ritchie Blackmore on guitar, Jon Lord on keys, Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice on drums, all of which are well represented on this album. Everyone of them have dozens of opportunities to shine, and they do just that.

The other thing that makes this album so great is because it is DP doing what they did best, mixing tight song structures and looser improvised passages in everyone of the 7 extended tracks on the album. The album kicks off with the adrenaline-inducing rocker "Highway Star" and follows with the manic "Child in Time", the latter of which contains some longer instrumental and vocal sections than the original. The famous "Smoke on the Water" gets a live version that almost everyone is familiar with, and for many, is their favorite version of the song. Then, a long version of "The Mule" with a long drum solo follows this. For me, this track is the least engaging since drum solos never seem to transfer well to recorded music. The best way to experience a drum solo is to watch it live, so it always seems to weaken an album that retains a live drum solo when you can't actually see what goes into the solo.

"Strange Kind of Woman" follows in yet another extended version with more instrumental interplay, which is what DP is the best at. Then we get "Lazy", the one with the long, awesome instrumental introduction, which is even longer here and also probably the most varied version from the studio version on "Machine Head". I love both versions and it is great to hear such a varied version of this track that stays somewhat true to the original yet does it in a new and exciting way. Finally, the last track is the real show piece here, and that is a 20 minute version of "Space Truckin". When I first saw this album many years ago, I was leery of owning it because I had assumed that this was going track was going to feature a never-ending drum solo, because of how the original track was structured. It just always sounded like a set up for a live drum solo showpiece. But when I finally heard this, I realized that I was so wrong. The band moves through the familiar sound of the song, but then switches to this long, improvised (almost) set of space jams, psychedelic wanderings and crazy instrumental effects that proves that this is where their true love and strengths reside. If the rest of the album was mediocre, this track alone would be worth the price, but since the entire album is great, this only caps everything off with more greatness.

This was the peak of the band's career, coming off the major sales and exposure received worldwide from their masterpiece "Machine Head" and then to follow up with an excellent tour playing music they were always meant to play. Without the time limits of the usual album formats and label pressure to keep things abbreviated, the band was able to show what they were best at, the reason why they were such a great band in the first place by expanding their songs and displaying their talents better than they had ever been able to. DP had gotten better and better as they released each album and their growth is quite evident in the first several albums of their discography, even with line- up changes. The band was slowly adjusted until it reached the pinnacle of this time in their career. Unfortunately, after this album and the pressure of touring and recording, fissures started appearing in the band line-up. This would be quite evident in the next album "Who Do We Thing We Are?", which feels rushed, forced and much less inspired, let alone the fact that egos were really getting in their way. They were starting to feel like a group of individuals and less like an entire group working together. At least this amazing live recording is there to show us a snapshot of the band at it's best. It might not be up high in progressive rock elements, but it does touch on them, especially in the suite of styles and improvisation that make up the last track, but it is an essential live recording that should work as a standard as to what live recordings should sound and be like.

 Whoosh! by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.76 | 87 ratings

BUY
Whoosh!
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Antonio Giacomin

5 stars Whoosh !

Here we go again, another 'lbum by Deep Purple. It is a kind of an unexpected one, because there was a lot of talk even by members of the band about the proximity of their retirement. Expected or not, all I can do is congratulate these gentlemen about this achievement of theirs; which IMHO deserves a five star rating because of the quality of musical contend and the stubbornness of recording this music after so many decades on the road. Deep Purple went through a very particular path in the world of music. Led Zeppelin, the other band in the realm of heavy music that rivals their relevance, happened to be conducted by four tight members, each one matching perfectly others skills to the point that no personal interchange was possible to happen. While formidable on means of musical growth, it led (pun intended), to a dead end after Bonzo's death. When Deep Purple passed throughout a multitude of members, if on one side it creates issues of identity, on the other hand it opens a great opportunity for the band to reinvent themselves. And this is exactly and for a great good what happened when Steve Morse entered the band; consolidating excellence in the music present in albuns like 'Purpendicular', 'Now, What ?', and in 'Whoosh', this one.

What have we here in 'Whoosh', to talk about ? First of all one of the greatest opener that I have heard, no matter what band or genre we are talking about. When 'Throw My Bones' ends, the only thought that passes through my mind is the desire of hearing it again or, better, an extendend version with more interludes between Steve and Don. The other songs that promotes a rupture of their traditional sound (there was nothing much close to them in other albuns), are 'Nothing At All', 'Step By Step'and 'Man Alive'; and we must consider this last one to be preceeded and connected to 'The Power Of The Moon' and 'Remission Possible'.

That's all folks. The quality of the songs commented above, their innovation when we look throughout Deep Purple's career, and also the energy of recording this music being as old as they are explains this five stars rating. And, ok, I LOVE Deep Purple !!!!!

 Abbey Road by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
4.49 | 1078 ratings

BUY
Abbey Road
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by Progressive Enjoyer

3 stars Abbey Road is the last album the Beatles would ever record, despite being released before "Let it Be". It has one of the most iconic images ever as the cover, but the music...

It's ok. It's certainly not prog (but the medley gets close), but that's not to say it's bad.

Lennon's contribution's to the album - outside of the medley - were "Come Together" (which had some lyrics copied of Chuck Berry's "You Can't Catch Me"), "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", coming in at 8 minutes and only a couple more words, and the last track before the medley "Because", which is a very simplistic song. Overall, only one song, that being "Come Together", I really enjoy, although I do enjoy some of the vocal harmonies that are in "Beacuase", although it ends up coming of as boring and weird, and the medley after it. And "I Want You" is a long, repetitive mess, and for eight minutes, the lyrical, and musical content is really missing, in place of it, useless repetition.

Harrison's contributions to the album are "Something", and one of the Beatles most recognisable songs "Here Comes the Sun". "Something" features what I'd say is McCartney's best bassline, ever, and one of the greatest love songs ever (for me, it's only beaten by the Beach Boys "God Only Knows"). And "Here Comes the Sun" is a wonderful way to begin side 2, and a beautifully calming and relaxing track.

Ringo Starr makes his second ever composition (and last) for the Beatles, in his one contribution to the album "Octopus's Garden", and a much better one than his previous "Don't Pass Me By".

Paul's contributions - apart from the medley - are "Oh! Darling" and the comical "Maxwell's Silver Hammer", the former of which provides some of Paul's best vocal work.

Finally, the medley. It opens with "You Never Give Me Your Money", a somber tune, that quickly turns into rock n' roll, once a minute rolls around, and is the most complete song in the medley (although it somewhat feels like two). "Sun King", once again features the three part vocals from "Because", but this time, a slightly less strange sounding melody. "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam" are both rock n' roll songs written by Lennon, the former being slower, and less interesting, and the latter being stronger, and deserving a fully finished track, which unfortunatley would never happen. The last songs are all McCartney songs, "Golden Slumber" being a song based of a 17th century poem, with powerful orchestration, and "Carry That Weight" reprises some parts of "You Never Give You My Money". "The End" is ok, somewhat depressing, but also beautiful in its own unique way. And finally, "Her Majesty" is a beautiful short song to end the album, after 20 seconds of silence.

Overall, the best part of "Abbey Road" is it's cover. Other than that, it's a fairly forgettable album, with the strange medley being the most notable part musically, along with the first two tracks being number ones, and "Here Comes The Sun" becoming their most popular song.

 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.35 | 1121 ratings

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

Review by The Anders

5 stars When Sgt. Pepper was originally released in 1967, it was hailed as the Beatles' ultimate masterpiece and a key work in Western music history. There were a few critical voices at the time, most notably Richard Goldstein of the New York Times who felt it was more about effects than music - not to mention Frank Zappa who thought the Beatles were insincere in their approach to psychedelia, that they were "Only in It for the Money". Apart from that, the album was met with almost universal praise. In later years it has almost become a sport to downgrade it as insanely overrated, but I guess that's just the general fate of such monolithic albums (The Dark Side of the Moon is another example of that).

Is Sgt. Pepper the best Beatles album? Not necessarily. But is it overrated? Absolutely not. On a solely musical level an album like Revolver may be better. Several tracks may not be as strong when judged as individual songs, but if you take them out of the album, the whole construction would fall apart. They are all crucial part of the suite, because that is essentially what it is. The songs compliment each other perfectly and - as was then highly unusual - they often crossfade into each other, making it a unified musical journey. If the ending of one song doesn't entirely match the beginning of the next, then they are bound together by small intersections, like the one between the title track and "A Little Help From My Friends", or the chicken sounds between "Good Morning Good Morning" and the reprise of the title track.

Some have argued that the concept doesn't work because only the first two songs - plus the reprise on side 2 - actually relate to Billy Shears and Sgt. Pepper's band. I think that is a misunderstanding of the whole work. The overall frame is of course that of a concert with the band: first an introduction to the band (title track), then to the singer ("A Little Help?"), then at the end of side 2 there's the farewell song plus an extra ("A Day In the Life"). The songs in between are not related to Sgt. Pepper and his band as such, but if instead you choose to look at the album as the idea of this fictional orchestra painting a picture of modern society and the world around us in its different aspects, then all the songs make perfect sense to the album as a whole. We get around many different aspects: the psychedelic and spiritual ideas of the time ("Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", "Fixing a Hole" and "Within You Without You"), entertainment ("Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite"), generation conflicts and coming of age ("She's Leaving Home", "Getting Better", "When I'm 64"), and the absurdities of modern society ("Good Morning Good Morning", "A Day in the Life").

Musically we are far from Liverpool, and even Revolver is much more rooted in rock and roll than this album is. The compositions are becoming more complex: "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" have tempo changes, the title track and "A Day In the Life" abandon traditional verse/chorus song structure, and "Good Morning Good Morning" has irregular bars (plus a shift to a 6/8 time signature in the "chorus"). Another interesting aspect that sets Sgt. Pepper apart from their previous work is the swing feel of many songs: "A Little Help From My Friends", "Getting Better", "Fixing a Hole", "Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "When I'm Sixty Four". Not to mention the many unusual instruments, especially wind instruments like french horns (title track), saxophones ("Good Morning"), clarinets ("When I'm 64"), but also Indian instruments ("Lucy in the Sky", "Getting Better", Within You Without You", harpsichord ("Fixing a Hole"). And then there are the many sound effects, out of which the most radical are the cacophonic collage of randomly combined tape pieces in "Mr. Kite" and the orchestral crescendo in "A Day In the Life". Other interesting sounds include the piano intro of "Getting Better" where the piano strings were hit with hammers rather than with the keys. The great thing is the combination of, on one side these radical sounds, and on the other side some easily accessible compositions that you can sing along to. That itself is a great achievement.

McCartney was the main mastermind behind the album as a concept, and his songs outnumber Lennon's. But I actually think Lennon stands out more on this album - as opposed to Revolver where McCartney really shone. Apart from his magnum opus, "A Day In the Life", which I will come to later, there are really interesting things happening in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds", "Mr. Kite" and Good Morning". The latter really benefits from the previously mentioned irregular time signature whereas "Mr. Kite" also contains some intriguing key changes along the way. Lyrically these songs represent a side of Lennon which he sadly dismissed later on, probably due to the influence of Yoko Ono. Instead of writing from his own experiences, he takes on the role as the observer here.

Still, there is plenty of superb melody writing from McCartney on songs like "Getting Better", "Fixing a Hole" or the warm and charmingly altmodisch "When I'm 64" which clearly shows the influence from music hall (it was actually one of the first songs he wrote, and it was played now and then during the Hamburg years). "Fixing a Hole" might stand out as his biggest moment as a melodist on the album with its wonderfully dynamic wave-like melody, but the song also deserves praise for its play with minor (vers) and major (chorus).

On the flipside, a couple of songs recycle elements that had been done better on Revolver, most notably the string section on "She's Leaving Home" which sadly doesn't live up to "Eleanor Rigby"s intensity and complex emotional signals. Here the feel is more one-dimensional, and a tad sentimental too. Also Harrison's "Within You Without You" - another exercise in incorporating Indian sounds - isn't quite as strong as "Love You To". It is also rather long, and a bit monotonous without the nerve of the track from Revolver. On the other hand, there is also something meditative and hypnotic about it that fascinates anyway. Not to mention, the sequencing of that song and McCartney's cozy and old-fashioned "When I'm 64" is pure genius: after the spiritual journey we are back to something very down-to-earth, and it is contrasts like these that make the album such an enjoyable experience.

The absolute peak is without question "A Day In the Life"; the single greatest track of their whole career, and one of the greatest pieces of art in the 20th Century. Lyrically it is based on three unrelated stories: the death in a traffic accident of a member of the House of Lords, a war that had just been won, and the - in the context - absurd story of 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. And then there's McCartney's everyday story about waking up and going to work. All in all a sort of collage that paints a picture of the world, and as such you could say it's the essence of the whole album cooked down to one song. The unease is perfectly captured in the music, both in the playing (Ringo's drumfills in particular), the unstable harmonic structure and Lennon's singing voice.It gets even more ominous with the cacophonic orchestral crescendos that really depict the craziness of it all perfectly, and then the dark prolonged piano chord at the end - a possible hint at nuclear weapons. Only McCartney's everyday story contrasts with its more down-to-earth feel. The vocal production captures this contrast perfectly: Whereas Lennon's voice has a lot of reverb, McCartney's is totally stripped of effects and sounds much more "close" to the listener. Had the song been a painting, his intermission would be the small spot of red in an otherwise mostly blue picture; it's the contrast that gives the whole thing balance. And yet, the everyday story of waking up is just as important to the picture as the traffic jam, the war, the potholes and the nuclear bomb.

So is Sgt. Pepper a perfect album on its musical merits alone? Not necessarily. But as an overall piece of conceptual art, I'd say yes.

 InFinite by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.60 | 146 ratings

BUY
InFinite
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars I guess it seems appropriate that Deep Purple would name their 20th studio album "Infinite" as it seems like their tenure might go on forever. Yes there have been line-up changes with musicians coming and going. In 2017, however, it seems like the line-up has stabilized as it has remained the same for several years now, though the album output has slowed a bit. With all of the live shows and studio sessions however, the band was feeling quite comfortable together. With a mix of old DP veterans and some impressive musicians that had replaced the DP staples such as Blackmore and Lord with Steve Morse and Don Airey, the band quickly adjusted to be able to convincingly play the classics, compose new songs that remained true to those classics and incorporate the styles of both Morse and Airey. This album would prove that this line-up was great, though some of the attempts to "update" their sound to the current sounds are a bit weak, overall, the songs are quite enjoyable and impressive.

DP is one of those bands that sparingly used progressive traits in place of their brand of blues-inspired hard rock pretty much through their entire career, so it should be no surprise that the progressive level is not present on most of the tracks here. The one exception falls right in the middle of the album and is called "The Surprising". This is most apparent in the instrumental section of the song with the cool riffs which include playing around with meter changes and goes from a nice hard-rock section to an ambient section. Then there is a bit of a reggae turn with the blues- tinged "Get Me Outta Here" where Gillan really shines.

On this album, the band also plays around a little with some nice effects. "Time for Bedlam" is the song that uses this quite well with some vocal effects applied to Gillan's vocals here and there and some nice songwriting tricks, but they still manage to retain the excellent expected instrumentation exchanges between organ and guitar. Don Airey proves he can do the Lord-style playing quite convincingly. Gillan's spirit also shows through with "Hip Boots" and Morse gets to show off during the instrumental break. There is even a level of soulfulness in "All I Got is You" which stands on its own and allows Airey to add in his own keyboard styling which fits in quite well on the album.

Yes there are lots of positives here, but there are some weaker tracks which really aren't that bad, they just don't stand out as much among the better tracks. Examples of this are "One Night in Vegas" which has some nice piano rock'n'roll chords and a bit of humor in the lyrics, but the track tends to get lost on the album. "Johnny's Band" is a fairly typical rock song about a rock band, not bad, but totally predictable and a bit less impressive, and this is followed by another standard track that contains no real surprises in "On Top of the World". On this latter song, Morse sounds like Morse, not someone else. However, there is a spoken word section on the last half of the track with an ambient base that just doesn't work.

"Birds of Prey" holds both predictable tricks and some less predictable ones (at least for DP). On one hand, it's become expected by this time on the album that when Gillan's vocals come in, the intensity tends to falter, and that happens a few times too many on this album. That is it's greatest fault. But the use of Airey's own style (not Lord's this time) and the unexpected minor to major chord change during the Morse solo (which he follows to the end of the song) make this track a standout. The last track is a The Doors cover "Roadhouse Blues". Gillan doesn't try to outdo Morrison here, and that is good. But the band handles the main riff (which I'm glad here that they retained that), throws in a harmonica and more piano honky-tonk style blues to carry out this cover quite well.

With a combination of some great albums and some not so great ones released since 1990, you never know whether you can count on each release to be great or not until you hear it. With this album, the band seems to fit together well and try some new things which sometimes works quite well and other times doesn't. But, overall, this is an enjoyable album that both convincingly reminds fans of the past but also keeps from being stale by trying new things. It seems this line-up does this better than it did in the latter years with Blackmore and Lord, who, even though they are amazing musicians, had a hard time stretching the boundaries beyond their usual sound. This is a case where if the band wanted to continue on into infinity, maybe some drastic changes were needed. In any case, this is a fun album and for the most part, a pleasure to listen to. It's a 3.5 star album that can be rounded up to 4 stars in this case.

 The Doors by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.33 | 726 ratings

BUY
The Doors
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by Progressive Enjoyer

4 stars The Doors. Such an influential group, especially in the psychedelic scene of the time, with Jim's heavy, deep, but smooth voice taking the lead on this one. The art is nothing special, although it does include the fondly remembered Doors Logo - which surprisingly was only used on on other cover. Also, when going through the album, one musn't forget that it came before "Sgt. Pepper's...", but it was nearing it's release, coming slightly before the groundbreaking masterpiece.

The opening side of the album has quite a few obvious singles, "Break on through..." just about managing to be a hit in the UK charts, itself having quite a groovy melody, and being a great way to open up the album. "Soul Kitchen" has a really memorable and enjoyable opening, and continues of from the groovy basslines of the opening track, and is arguably more suited for a single than the opening track, but alas, that would never come from it, and the lyrics are catchy, and interesting (somewhat, it's one of the lyrically weaker songs). "Crystal Ship" is a rather odd song, not really fitting in with the rest of the first side, with a more somber sound, which is accompanied by more somber lyrics, and as much as I feel that it's not fitting at this part of the album, it does work as a b-side to the no.1 hit "Light my fire". The next two are forgettable, the second being a cover.

"Light my fire". The Doors most well recognised song (alongside the later "Riders of the Storm"), and one of the best songs they'd ever make, with some of Ray Manzarek's best work in the album, and a bassline that's not quite on par with the rest of the album, but the other music makes up for that. The keyboard solo is absoloutely magnificient, making the album version far superior over the hit single version, lasting for multiple minutes, and in the later parts moving towards a guitar solo.

The second side has a few semi-interesting songs. One of these is "Take it as it Comes", but it's nowhere near the quality of the first side.

The last song is Morrison's masterpiece. The End truly shows the poetic abilities of Jim Morrison, in his ability to tell so many differnt things with so little - although it's not without it's fair amount of nonsense lyrics, especially at the end of the song, which has a despicable amount of curses.

Overall, "The Doors" suffered from the fate that many albums of the time did - a weak side two. But that's not to say that it wasn't still a great, and influential album, having traces in bands such as Jefferson Airiplane and Deep Purple.

But I must only give it a four, and with what would happen in May that year, it doesn't hold up in comparison.

 Shades of Deep Purple by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.30 | 585 ratings

BUY
Shades of Deep Purple
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Progressive Enjoyer

3 stars Deep Purple were a band that changed. A lot. In just two years they went from a psychedelic rock band to a much harder, heavier sound.

And this is where it all started.

With Rod Evans on vocals, unlike the later albums, "Shades.." brings something different to the table for fans. A softer, more engineered sound, with similarities to bands like cream and Vanilla Fudge.

When starting the album you're greeted to a minute strange, ambient noises. Eventually the track kicks off. For what it's worth, "And the Address" is a groovy, fun instrumental, although a minute could be cut off both the start and end. Next up is the hit single "Hush". And I must say, it's incredibly catchy, but alas, it's a cover, although a good one. The instrumentation, from Jon Lord and Richie Blackmore is very enjoyable here, although it's not heard as much, as this is a fairly polished and manafactured track. "One More Rainy Day" is a fairly well written song, although nothing special, serving as filler material for the album. But once again, Jon Lord's work here shines through. The final part on Side 1 is "Happiness/I'm so glad". The "Happiness" part is an instrumental that is just short of three minutes long, which I'd say is inferior to the first instrumental "And The Address", despite being more varied and more akin to more developed progressive rock. And finally, "I'm So Glad", a song which I feel is half baked at best, with a real lack of creativity in the lyrics, although you must give it some slack, as it's a cover of an old blues song (and before Deep Purple it was done by Cream). At 3:40 to 4:20 roughly, really shows Blackmore's skill, and I quite like some of the drums from Paice, and the keyboards from Jon Lord, which I'd say is somewhat similar to the work of Tony Banks on Genesis's "In The Cage" (Although Banks is on another playing field).

Side 2 opens up with "Mandrake Root" which is a fairly well made track (somewhat similar to "The Changelling" by The Doors\0. The main melody sounds like a slowed rendition of the opening track, which is very noticeable if you're paying attention. Eventually the track devolves into another instrumental of the same nature to "Happiness", and eventually, a listener is bound to get bored of the overdone amount of instumentals. "Help" is a cover of "Help!" by the Beatles. And it is excellent. It is beautiful and brilliant, turning what's normally a fast pace song, into a slow ballad of sorts, and for me, it's brought a new appreciation for the song, and is the definitive version of the song. The way that it picks up after the first "Won't You Please Help Me", is just beautiful, and on the album this is Rod Evans best performance and most suited song, the emotion he puts on his voice is an artistic wonder. Then the part at 3:50 is also an actually well done instrumental, unlike the previous which practically cut of a song. "Love Help Me" is a pretty good pop-rock song, and is fairly catchy, not nearly as much as hush though, and it somewhat makes me think of the beatles mixed with the ramones. To end it off, "Hey Joe". And it opens with the best instrumental of the album by a long way, although the singing section is nowhere near the quality of Hendrix's rendition, more on par with Love's.

Also, the outtake "Shadows" is good, but nothing to fuss about

For me, Deep Purple's first effort is ok, but it's not there best work. It is however, one of only three Psychedelic in Deep Purple's discography, and not the worst.

Data cached

Proto-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ANDROMEDA United Kingdom
APPALOOSA United States
BAKERLOO United Kingdom
THE BEATLES United Kingdom
BRAINBOX Netherlands
THE ARTHUR BROWN BAND United Kingdom
THE COLLECTORS Canada
COVEN United States
THE CROME SYRCUS United States
DEEP PURPLE United Kingdom
THE DOORS United States
EARTH OPERA United States
THE ECLECTIC MOUSE United States
FLAMING YOUTH United Kingdom
FORD THEATRE United States
GATTCH Slovakia
GILES GILES & FRIPP United Kingdom
THE GODS United Kingdom
THE GUN United Kingdom
H.P. LOVECRAFT United States
HANSSON & KARLSSON Sweden
HAPSHASH AND THE COLOURED COAT United Kingdom
JIMI HENDRIX United States
IRON BUTTERFLY United States
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY United States
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE United States
KALEIDOSCOPE United Kingdom
LES MALEDICTUS SOUND France
MÁQUINA! Spain
THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Australia
THE MOVE United Kingdom
NIRVANA United Kingdom
PAN & REGALIZ Spain
PÄRSON SOUND Sweden
THE PRETTY THINGS United Kingdom
QUIET WORLD United Kingdom
SALAMANDER United Kingdom
THE SHIVER Switzerland
SILVER APPLES United States
SPIRIT United States
SPOOKY TOOTH United Kingdom
SWEETWATER United States
TOMORROW United Kingdom
TOUCH United States
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA United States
VANILLA FUDGE United States
THE WHO United Kingdom

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.