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 | 749 ratings
Beatles, The
4.49 | 444 ratings
Who, The
4.37 | 685 ratings
Beatles, The
4.33 | 779 ratings
Beatles, The
4.30 | 911 ratings
Deep Purple
4.29 | 919 ratings
Deep Purple
4.37 | 431 ratings
Who, The
4.29 | 494 ratings
Doors, The
4.16 | 590 ratings
Beatles, The
4.22 | 372 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 325 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 539 ratings
Beatles, The
4.00 | 403 ratings
Who, The
3.90 | 520 ratings
Beatles, The
3.97 | 342 ratings
Doors, The
3.93 | 278 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.80 | 609 ratings
Deep Purple
4.11 | 133 ratings
3.92 | 229 ratings
Deep Purple
4.07 | 141 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur

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Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 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 Decaa 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 from Liverpool to the audition in London with Decca all the night. 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
4.00 | 403 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.

 Spooky Two by SPOOKY TOOTH album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.75 | 52 ratings

Spooky Two
Spooky Tooth Proto-Prog

Review by AEProgman

4 stars What a blast from the past, better than I remember!

Spooky Tooth ? Spooky Two is a classic in sound and style. Its got that 60s communal, almost Joe Cocker sound at times, that hammond organ heavy rock sound, that good hard rock guitar sound, and even a great gospel sound on an occasion.

Spooky Tooth are almost a pre-supergroup in 1969 in this line up with Gary Wright on keyboards of future "Dream Weaver" fame leading the way, Luther Grosvenor (alias Ariel Bender of the later years of Mott the Hoople fame) on guitar, and Mike Kellie on drums from Three Man Army duty, as well as Mike Harrison who shares vocals and keyboards with Gary, and then Greg Ridley bringing up the bass.

Most of the sound is heavy in nature with the opening track "Waiting for the Wind" as my favorite. Almost all the songs are full of delightful hooks that are not cheesy or forced by no means, but just darn good.

Four to four and a half stars, will keep it at 4 in the proto-prog world. Younglings and geezers alike, take a little trip back in time with Spooky Tooth!

 Tantric Lover (2nd edition) by BROWN BAND, THE ARTHUR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.69 | 4 ratings

Tantric Lover (2nd edition)
The Arthur Brown Band Proto-Prog

Review by poeghost

4 stars I discovered this album while listening to a radio station I created using Arthur Brown as the starting point on Pandora. This is one of his more recent recordings, which I had never heard before. "The Bridge", "Circle Dance", "Swimfish" and "All The Bells" were the songs that appeared to me on Pandora and drew me in to buy the CD. I have the 2009 version which is the same as the 2nd edition from 2002. The earlier 2000 version contains more songs. But I don't know why they were omitted on the later ones.

The music is mostly acoustic with a relaxed mellow feel, but has power from Arthur's wide range expressive singing. "Paradise" has spoken word poetry, "Tantric Lover" is upbeat reggae flavored, "Gabriel" is crazy heavy rock, "Circle Dance" reminds me of something from Bob Dylan's "Street Legal" or "Slow Train Coming" albums. Some of the other songs are a little hard to describe. Arthur himself describes this album as being "Psychedelic World Music". While it isn't as weird or adventurous as his earlier Crazy World or Kingdom Come material, it is one of my favorites by him because it focuses on and brings out his wonderful voice. I highly recommend this album.

The band behind Arthur on this album consisted of Stan Adler on cello, double bass, Fender bass and backing vocals; Malcolm Mortimer on drum kit, darabooka, udu drum, and percussion; Rik Patten on 6 and 12 string acoustic guitar, 12 string bottleneck acoustic guitar, banjo, piano and Hammond organ; Ravi on cora, Hannah on backing vocals, Phill on didgeridoo, John Clayton on alto sax, Jim Mortimer on 6 string electric guitar and Arthur himself on 6 string acoustic guitar and Tibetan singing bowl.

 By Numbers by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.51 | 142 ratings

By Numbers
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Well. It seems that by 1975 THE WHO had to record another studio album having worked a lot since the release of their "Quadrophenia" album and the tours to promote it between 1973 and 1974. Bands worked hard in those years. They were expected to release studio albums each year and to do tours to promote them. In 1974, the band also participated in the "Tommy" film and also recorded a soundtrack album for that film version with guest musicians too. All the members of the band (including Keith Moon) have recorded some solo albums until then too. So, by 1975 they had to record another studio album as a band which became "The Who by Numbers". By that time, Pete Townshend, the main songwriter in the band, was having a hard time trying to write songs for this album, saying that the band practically recorded all the songs he wrote for this album. And this album is just another album without a concept or without being another Rock Opera. It is just a collection of songs with mostly introspective lyrics which have relation to Townshend`s `personal experiences at that time. So, the songs are very personal but very good anyway, despite most of them are really not showing "happy feelings". But the album as a whole in fact is very good.

John Entwistle also wrote one song for this album, the rocker "Success Story", which also is one of the best from this album and it also has some humour in the lyrics. And not all the songs which were composed by Townshend are introspective, because "Squeeze Box" is also a song with some humour in the lyrics. But for the most part, the songs are introspective. In six of the ten songs from this album the piano parts were played very well by the very good and famous late session musician Nicky Hopkins, who also worked with the band in "Who`s Next" in 1971.

The best songs from this album are "Success Story" (with very good bass guitar playing by Entwistle), "Squeeze Box", "Imagine a Man", "They are all in Love" and "How Many Friends". "However Much I Booze" is so personal that it was sung by Townshend and not by Roger Daltrey, who wanted to distance himself from the content of the lyrics. Keith Moon`s drums playing is very good in this album, and as a whole the band still was playing very well. So, as a whole this album, while being very introspective in most of the lyrics from the songs, still is very enjoyable.

The cover design was done by John Entwistle. Some people don`t like it, but I think that the cover design is very good and very original.

 Face Dances by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.41 | 83 ratings

Face Dances
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

3 stars "The New THE WHO for the eighties".

The change of decade from the seventies to the eighties brought some problems for a lot of bands. One of those problems was : "How are we going to adapt our new music for the new decade without still losing our identity in the process?'". Another problem was also brought by the changes in the music industry: to one who was led by "persons who loved music above record sales and a lot of money", to another in the eighties which was "led by accountants" (as Bill Bruford said in interviews done in the early nineties) and "by persons who previously worked in supermarkets" (as John Wetton said in a recent interview). Well. I think that both Bruford and Wetton are right. The music in most cases in the eighties became more like done to "satisfy the record executives in their business meetings" (as Bruford also said). Gone was the more artistic freedom which the music industry gave to the artists in previous years.

THE WHO had some problems then. One was to survive the death of Keith Moon in late 1978. Another problem was how to replace him. Another problem was how to make the change in decade to adapt themselves as a band for the new musical trends. First, they replaced Moon with former SMALL FACES / FACES drummer Kenny Jones. Then, In 1979 they started touring with a new line-up which apart from Jones also included keyboard player John "Rabbit" Bundrick and also a horn section. For the first time in the career of the band they had extra musicians playing on stage with them (a thing which could have helped them to play better their "Tommy" and "Quadrophenia" albums in their tours with Moon in the early seventies...but at that time it was not ever thought by them). So, from 1979 to mid 1980 the band first went on tour several times with these extra musicians before ever considering going to record a new album. The reviews about their concerts with this expanded line-up were good. It seems that Jones with those tours "passed the audition" from the fans. But by mid 1980 finally they went to record this "Face Dances" album. Their first album with Jones and Bundrick and their first album for the new decade. It was also their first of two albums for a new record label in the U.S. (Warner Brothers). They also had a new producer (Bill Szymczyk, who also worked with EAGLES).

"Face Dances" reflects some of the problems that I mentioned above. It was not only the change of drummer which made them sound different. Maybe the band also had ideas for a new sound for the band, And maybe their record labels too. The same could be said about having Szymczyk as producer.

The "new sound" incorporated influences from some new trends like New Wave music and even from bands like THE POLICE (in "Did You Steal My Money"). The music became more simple and accessible, more Pop Rock oriented (in eighties terms). The guitars`sound became more thin and less distorted. Kenny Jones is a good drummer and he really plays very well in all the tracks, but he sounds very different from Keith Moon in style. Moon`s energetic and "chaotic" drums playing was replaced by a disciplined playing with a lot of use of the hi- hats in comparison. Even John Entwistle`s energetic bass playing was a bit changed, with his two songs ("The Quiet One" and "You") still having his very good bass guitar playing and being two of the best and heaviest songs in this album. The more Pop Rock songs came from Pete Townshend: "You Better You Bet", "Don`t Let Go the Coat", "Cache Cache". Roger Daltrey sang very well but sounds like being more in "control". As a whole, "Face Dances" is not a bad album, but it is different in many ways to "Who Are You", their previous album which also was their last album with Moon and their last new studio album from the seventies. "Face Dances" was released in March 1981, showing how the band changed since 1978.

As a whole, "Face Dances" is better than their next album "It`s Hard". But both albums showed a "new THE WHO`s sound" which did not last for very long.

 It's Hard by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1982
2.53 | 75 ratings

It's Hard
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by Guillermo
Prog Reviewer

2 stars By 1982 THE WHO was really in its last days as a permanent band. They survived for some years after the death of Keith Moon, but without him their sound changed a lot. Having a new drummer (Kenney Jones) since 1979, who really was not really "new" in the music bussiness , because he previously was a former member of the SMALL FACES in the sixties and of THE FACES since the late sixties to 1975, it was obvious that his style of playing the drums was very different from Moon`s. But also, the music from the band (composed separately by Peter Townshend and John Entwistle) also changed. They were in their late thirties, and the music also lost some "power" that it even was there in their "Who Are You" album from 1978, their last album with Moon on drums. By 1982 Townshend also had some substance abuse problems which required from him being in rehabilitation, a thing which he achieved early in that year. Anyway, the band recorded this album which sounds a bit "lighter" musically and lyrically in comparison to other albums they recorded with Moon. Kenney Jones is a good drummer, more technically oriented than Moon, maybe more disciplined in his drums playing than Moon. But Moon, even if he was not as technically oriented and disciplined as Jones, really was at the centre of the music style of the band, playing with a lot of power which was one of the characteristics of the sound of the band. Anyway, Jones played the drums in this album very well...but he does not sound as Moon. But Jones did his best while he was in the band.

This album sounds more oriented to the Pop Rock of the eighties. The album still sounds like recorded by THE WHO. But I think that they really were looking for how to adapt themselves as a band to the musical changes of the eighties. With lyrics about Cold War and Nuclear Weapons, social and economical problems, and even some ballads, this album as a whole is not bad, but it also is not very interesting. The best songs from this album are "It`s Hard", "Dangerous" (composed by Entwistle and a song which sounded better played in concert than in this studio album), "Eminence Front" (the best song in this album and with a keyboard arrangement which sounds to me a bit inspired by the keyboard sounds from "Baba O`Riley " from "Who`s Next"), "A Man is a Man" and "Cry if You Want".

Roger Daltrey said in interviews that he really does not like this album. Anyway, this album is not too bad, and in fact it really sounds a lot inlfuenced by Pete Townshend`s sound as a solo musician. When they finished their "farewell tour" in late 1982, Townshend tried to compose more songs for the band to record a last studio album for their record labels. But by the end of 1983 Townshend announced the end of the band saying that he could not continue composing songs for the band. They released in late 1984 a last album (a contractual obligation) recorded live during their "farewell tour" in 1982 and titled "Who`s Last" , which is not a not very good live album which does not include any songs from this album and their previous album from 1981 titled "Face Dances". This "It`s Hard" album was their last studio album with Entwistle (who died in mid 2002) and Jones, until Daltrey and Townshend released a new studio album in 2006 as THE WHO titled "Endless Wire".

 Magical Mystery Tour (US Version) by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1967
4.13 | 539 ratings

Magical Mystery Tour (US Version)
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by ridemyfacetochicago

5 stars I don't remember me listen to music and don't knowing Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, in those days The Fab Four were the best, the most innovative and everybody listen to them. And they remained the best till today. For sure Magical Mystery Tour is belonging to this site of Prog, it is a Prog Music record, or at least Psychedelia record, which is the same. They have here some masterpieces that are way away of their time like Strawberry Fields, I am the walrus and All you need is love, well known songs by everybody that, really, deals with prog. Like all their albums of that era there is groundbreaking, there is influence on the others to come but, again, there is music that will stay with us a long, long time. Music is what counts, no? You don't have to be complicated to do music, and also, if you make complicated music it has to have melody, no? Else why do you write music, for the sake of writing it ?

 Revolver by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1966
4.37 | 685 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by ridemyfacetochicago

5 stars I don't understand why in the first 100 records of all time there is no single LP by the Beatles ! Not Revolver, Sgt Pepper, Abbey Road or the White. Revolver is the first record that brings The Beatles to another level of composition and expression. We have here a passage to Psychedelic Rock (which is for the 60's what is Progressive Rock for the 70's, and of course, the father of the Prog), but this move, to another level, is made using the main gift that The Beatles had : the power to write beautiful songs, eternal songs. And songs they wrote : from Taxman to Tomorrow Never Ends everything is perfect. Really perfect. There is no need to pass song by song and describe them...The record as a whole is perfect. I think also of the impact they made in 66' on the whole industry, on the artists and the huge influence they had on music yet to come... Viva the psychedelia and The Beatles !! Highly recommended, in fact I think that these are the very basic stones that someone must listen and know by heart before entering the gate of the Prog, it makes the understanding of this phenomena of Prog much easier. And one more thing : I have and know by heart every record by Yes, Genesis, Van Der Graaf, King Crimson, Floyd and so on, but I love Yellow Submarine....It makes me feel forever young...
 Rubber Soul by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.90 | 520 ratings

Rubber Soul
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by ridemyfacetochicago

5 stars Rubber Soul-Drive my car, Norwegian wood, Nowhere man, Michelle, Girl, In my life are songs for ever. And the rest are also beautiful songs. I still look at this site and don't understand how The Beatles are so underrated, although I noticed their ratings are climbing steadily. Maybe in the end there will be justice done and they will be recognized as the Masters. They where not progressive music in their first period (1963-1965) as we understand today progressive music (Yes, Van der Graaf, King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd and so on), but they made records for ever. As to say more : I think that many people will say about Beethoven : no, not Beethoven he is not progressive... But to stick to Rubber Soul, another fine one on the long strike of 12-13 records of geniality by the Beatles.

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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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