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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

4.47 | 944 ratings
Beatles, The
4.50 | 554 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 862 ratings
Beatles, The
4.34 | 1125 ratings
Deep Purple
4.32 | 1135 ratings
Deep Purple
4.33 | 981 ratings
Beatles, The
4.39 | 539 ratings
Who, The
4.31 | 627 ratings
Doors, The
4.18 | 760 ratings
Beatles, The
4.25 | 477 ratings
Doors, The
4.27 | 421 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.13 | 692 ratings
Beatles, The
4.03 | 445 ratings
Doors, The
3.95 | 523 ratings
Who, The
3.92 | 674 ratings
Beatles, The
3.97 | 368 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.01 | 285 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.84 | 765 ratings
Deep Purple
4.13 | 170 ratings
3.92 | 311 ratings
Deep Purple
4.06 | 174 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.76 | 789 ratings
Deep Purple
4.10 | 100 ratings
Vanilla Fudge
4.03 | 87 ratings
3.68 | 376 ratings
Deep Purple
3.89 | 120 ratings
Jefferson Airplane
4.14 | 66 ratings
United States Of America, The
3.84 | 132 ratings
It's A Beautiful Day
3.61 | 568 ratings
Deep Purple
3.81 | 120 ratings
Jefferson Airplane
4.00 | 67 ratings
Pretty Things, The
4.09 | 50 ratings
Move, The
3.86 | 78 ratings
Spooky Tooth
3.62 | 195 ratings
Jefferson Airplane
3.57 | 307 ratings
Doors, The
3.54 | 448 ratings
Beatles, The
4.23 | 30 ratings
3.95 | 47 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.94 | 48 ratings
H.P. Lovecraft
3.83 | 61 ratings
3.98 | 42 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.79 | 67 ratings
4.01 | 37 ratings
Pretty Things, The
4.01 | 36 ratings
Collectors, The
3.49 | 574 ratings
Deep Purple
3.53 | 223 ratings
Who, The
3.63 | 98 ratings
Vanilla Fudge
3.52 | 188 ratings
Who, The
3.51 | 195 ratings
Beatles, The
3.60 | 90 ratings
Deep Purple
3.58 | 101 ratings
Jefferson Airplane
3.76 | 38 ratings
Spooky Tooth
3.68 | 48 ratings
Move, The
3.44 | 467 ratings
Beatles, The
3.65 | 51 ratings
3.67 | 46 ratings
3.53 | 92 ratings
3.94 | 20 ratings
Masters Apprentices, The
3.85 | 24 ratings
Collectors, The
3.81 | 25 ratings
Masters Apprentices, The
3.41 | 230 ratings
Iron Butterfly
3.66 | 29 ratings
Jefferson Airplane
3.58 | 31 ratings
3.83 | 14 ratings
3.69 | 20 ratings
Pärson Sound
3.79 | 15 ratings
3.56 | 32 ratings
Spooky Tooth
3.79 | 14 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.44 | 77 ratings
Iron Butterfly
3.56 | 28 ratings
Silver Apples
3.51 | 34 ratings
5.00 | 3 ratings
Silver Apples
4.17 | 6 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.75 | 12 ratings
Hansson & Karlsson
4.50 | 4 ratings
Silver Apples
3.41 | 77 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
3.64 | 14 ratings
Pretty Things, The
3.46 | 37 ratings
3.59 | 17 ratings
Pretty Things, The
3.79 | 9 ratings
3.52 | 22 ratings
3.45 | 36 ratings
Move, The
3.70 | 10 ratings
Vanilla Fudge
3.54 | 18 ratings
3.64 | 11 ratings
Hansson & Karlsson
4.09 | 4 ratings
Ford Theatre
3.54 | 14 ratings
3.71 | 7 ratings
Spooky Tooth
3.52 | 14 ratings
Pretty Things, The
3.42 | 31 ratings
Pan & Regaliz
4.50 | 2 ratings
Ford Theatre
4.50 | 2 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.59 | 8 ratings
Brown Band, The Arthur
3.56 | 9 ratings
5.00 | 1 ratings
3.50 | 8 ratings
3.36 | 49 ratings
H.P. Lovecraft
3.38 | 8 ratings
Pretty Things, The
3.40 | 5 ratings
Masters Apprentices, The
3.50 | 2 ratings
Pretty Things, The

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 Trilogy for the Masses  by FORD THEATRE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.09 | 4 ratings

Trilogy for the Masses
Ford Theatre Proto-Prog

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

4 stars In many ways FORD THEATRE was a typical psychedelic rock band from the late 60s that co-existed with an infinite number of similar bands. The band was active between 1966 and 1971 and was formed from the ashes of another band called The Continentals where Jimmy Altieri (bass), John Mazzarelli (keyboards), Robert Tamagni (drums), and Butch Webster (lead guitar) played and after they recruited Harry Palmer (guitar) and lead vocalist Joey Scott, changed their name to FORD THEATRE. The band released only two albums in their short career and TRILOGY FOR THE MASSES was the debut.

Although heavily steeped in what was called the Boston sound, the band always eschewed the comparisons and rightly so because FORD THEATRE was a little more forward thinking than the average psych band of the era. FORD THEATRE engaged in a far more Gothic and classically influenced style than the more pop oriented acts of the day. The band found enough popularity to be signed to ABC Records but failed to catch on to a larger audience and was dropped after the second album "Time Changes."

The name alone explains a lot. FORD THEATRE was the venue where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated and they chose their name because it correlates to the music they wanted to create which represented a 1968 USAmerica in total chaos and entropy. The album is steeped in detachment, disillusionment and uncertainty and offers one of the most genuine and fearless musical expressions of the era.

By creating a dark and gloomy atmosphere based on a West Coast style of jangly acid guitar and a heavily drenched organ prominence, FORD THEATRE sounds like they were spawned from the period they did with obvious influences that range from The Kingsmen, The Beatles, The Byrds and even at times in the more sophisticated parts The Doors (particularly on the lengthy and ferocious keyboard attacks on the 18 minute "The Race" which has gained the band a clear foothold in the proto-prog camp.)

While FORD THEATRE would be relegated to the footnotes of history, they definitely deserve to be heard even in a modern day context for aficionados of psychedelic rock of the 60s. There are many unique aspects of this album. For example, the lyrics are in the second person and addressed to the listener. If you like the idea of a jangly band like The Byrds playing with a more symphonic version of The Doors with some West Coast Jefferson Airplane along for the ride, then FORD THEATRE is definitely a band you should investigate and for proggers who are interested in all the prerequisites to the genre, then this is a must.

 Vanilla Fudge [Aka:You Keep Me Hanging On] by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.63 | 98 ratings

Vanilla Fudge [Aka:You Keep Me Hanging On]
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "The most overlooked legendary prog band"

Back to 1967, a magical year in rock music. The UK is flooded by very exciting and adventurous albums, from The Nice, Pink Floyd and The Beatles to Procol Harum and The Moody Blues. These bands are scouting the boundaries of a wide range of styles, with the emphasis on rock, folk and classical, the press labels it as progressive rock. In the USA there is also an interesting progressive movement, but more focussed on blending styles with the emphasis on blues and psychedelia. The most famous bands are The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane and Santana. Another interesting band in the USA in 1967 is four piece formation Vanilla Fudge, in that magical year their eponymous debut LP reaches # 6 in the Billboard Album Top 100. Soon Vanilla Fudge is embraced by the young music fans in the USA and within a few years the band becomes the headliner during concerts with Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Deep Purple and Canned Heat. Later legandary bands like Yes, Uriah Heep and Deep Purple point at Vanilla Fudge as an important source of inspiration. But despite these facts Vanilla Fudge is the most overlooked progressive band, in a world where Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson and ELP are hailed as 'the gods of prog'. So how about Vanilla Fudge their music, and the 'prog factor'?

The story of Vanilla Fudge started in the New York-area when Mark Stein (organ and lead vocals) and Tim Bogert (bass guitar) played in a band called Rick Martin & The Showmen. When Mark and Tim listened to the popular band The Rascals they were so impressed by the hot R&B covers with floods of Hammond B3 organ that they decided to form their own band, named The Pigeons. Together with Rick Martin's drummer Joey Brennan and new guitarist Vinnie Martell they started rehearsing and playing but Brennan was replaced by Carmine Appice. He played one night at the same place as The Pigeons and he was simply asked to join The Pigeons. At about the same time The Pigeons decided to change their name into Vanilla Fudge, after the nickname of the female singer of The Unspoken Word (she liked ice cream very much). And also a bidding war started to contract them because the band was very promising. Eventually in July 1967 Vanilla Fudge signed with Atco Records, a division of the famous Atlantic label. They released the single You Keep Me Hangin'On and then their first album Vanilla Fudge, soon Vanilla Fudge became the darlings of the underground, like Pink Floyd in the UK. The second album The Beat Goes On was the over-ambitious project of producer Shadow Morton to tell the entire history of contemporary music , from Mozart to Elvis Presley. Unfortunately it all sounded too weird and then Atco decided to re-release their first single You Keep Me Hangin' On, in order to stop the possible demise of the band. Atco hoped for the best, and indeed, the single became a small hit and soon they released their third album Renaissance that consisted primarily of original material. February '69 their fourth album Near The Beginning came out and in september '69 their fifth and final album called Rock & Roll was released. After these five LP's Vanilla Fudge decided to split up and to look for other musical challenges. During the years they reunited several times, and for me a dream came true when I attended a very inspired and exciting Vanilla Fudge gig in 2015 (see my avatar).

This review is about Vanilla Fudge their eponymous debut LP featuring only covers. How ironical, the creative way Vanilla Fudge re-arranged the covers showcase their unique and pivotal sound. Their trademark has two elements: on one hand the soul and gospel inspired vocals (with different lead singers) and vocal harmonies and on the other hand a pioneering Hammond-harder edged guitar combination.

Ticket To Ride (The Beatles) : The sound of the Hammond organ and the bluesy atmosphere creates a very special climate, fuelled by a dynamic rhythm-section (acknowledged by Jeff Beck who later founded Beck, Bogert and Appice). On this first track Vanilla Fudge also introduced thei trademark blend of soul and gospel inspired vocals. And the fiery guitar is a perfect counterpart to the powerful and omnipresent Hammond organ.

People Get Ready (The Impressions, written by Curtis Mayfield) : A slow rhythm and compelling work on the Hammond, and again fiery guitar runs and gospel/soul vocals.

She's Not There (The Zombies): The lush Hammond and raw electric guitar sound awesome, topped with strong vocals, this is trademark Vanilla Fudge.

Bang Bang (Cher, and Nancy Sinatra, written by Sonny Bono) : An omnipresent Hammond, pleasant vocal harmonies, a psychedelic touch and a strong final part with heavy guitar and Hammond outbursts.

Illusions ? The 3 parts are short psychedelic sonic impressions.

You Keep Me Hangin' On (The Supremes) : This is the single that got Vanilla Fudge on the map and for me the highlight on this album. Vanilla Fudge presents a captivating and dynamic blend of rock, blues and gospel with exciting Hammond waves, powerful electric guitar, distinctive vocal harmonies and excellent lead vocals, an extra dimension on this cover.

Take Me For A Little While (Jackie Ross) : A slow rhythm with soul inspired vocals and vocal harmonies, the Hammond gives a special flavour.

Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles): In the original version of The Beatles they don't play instruments, Paul MaCartney did the double-tracked lead vocals and Harrison and Lennon the vocal harmonies, George Martin arranged the string quartet. Vanilla Fudge replaced the strings by Hammond and electric guitar, creating a huge tension between the slow and bluesy parts and the bombastic outbursts, topped by strong vocals and a propulsive rhythm-section. To me this sounds as a very good rendition (superior to The Beatles but that is personal, I am more a Stones fan). And it showcased the inventive composing and exciting musical potential of Vanilla Fudge.

A band to discover, if you are up to the soul and gospel inspired vocals, that will not be everybody's cup of tea. But the work on the Hammond B3 is a Big Plus for the Hammond aficionados!

 Local Anaesthetic  by NIRVANA album cover Studio Album, 1971
2.52 | 26 ratings

Local Anaesthetic
Nirvana Proto-Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars So, here it is. A review concerning the infamous "Local aenesthetic" by Nirvana. It seems most people are put off by the fact or notion that it doesn't sound like Nirvana used to. Well, that may be true. I am really not too familiar with Nirvana, merely a casual listener of yesteryear. Nice enough but that's it. Anyway, since I have an interest in albums generally regarded as inferior I always feel the urge to examine it, discover it's secrets and lay bare a plethora of hidden gems and artefacts. In some cases it all comes out in glory and I hear angelic bursts of trumpets but sometimes (quite often) I find the same barren wasteland as others already have done. In the case of Nirvana I dare say I have struck gold and I am truly happy for it.

I will not go into detail regarding the line-up on this album or why things are that way. I will simply draw a conclusion, based on my own wild imagination, that Campbell-Lyons listened to and picked up the wind of progressive rock and let his ship fill it's sail with that wind and enter a new realm of musical plenty. 1971 was a year when alot of progressive plants already had been planted, so I assume he had been listening to the likes of King Crimson and Genesis. Now I am not saying that the music on "Local aenesthetic" is anything like the albums by just now mentioned counterparts but it belongs to the same species, and that is progressive music. When reading about the album one gets the feeling of a man collapsing under the weight of his own lofty ambitions and musical legacy, only to crash to the ground like a burning aeroplane. I do, actually, beg to differ and here is why.

Consisting of only two long tracks the album stretches out for 35 minutes and it is 35 wonderful minutes. The music is not at all as sophisticated, as elegant or as tightly arranged as the music of Genesis or Gentle Giant and not nearly as complex. It holds a much more raw, rough edged and loosely played quality. The two tracks, or suites, are based around more or less simple melodies tied together into a whole.

"Modus operandi" opens up with something truly unique for this album, a cacophony of sounds and screams that are quite avantgarde. Soon follows a boogie section (which I by now grown accustomed to) but soon settles into a more enjoyable blues-rock fashion. The whole things develop into a hard rocking affair where the tension is mounting. It is a wonderful composition that holds a jamming sensation where improvisation takes the center stage, though contained inside a delightful groove. There's a psychedelic section aswell, which only proves a well known point: the ingredients of prog are many and diverse.

"Home", the second track, starts off with bass and percussion before a beautiful melody enters and soft, trembling vocals comes in. To me it's irresistable. Simply gorgeous. The sound is somewhat Kinks-ish, only slightly rougher. The track is yet again a builder with denser and denser instrumentation. It really rocks quite hard and intensively. It ends, after more melodious and beutiful melodies, with blues-rock and a slight return to the initial melody. Fantastic track.

I suppose that if you're into the meticulous arrangements and delicate harmonies of Nirvana pre-"Local aenesthetic" you may be in for quite a shock. The music bears little resemblance to those albums prior to this one. What you get is a raw, rough sounding piece of early progressive rock where psych, blues, hard rock, jazz and (a slight presence of) avant-garde. I.e. everything you might expect from progressive rock during the very early formative years of existence. I just love it. Sure, it consists of fairly simple melodies and the intricacy of other more complex bands is not there but what you get is really a blueprint for progressive rock where a visionary approach to music breaks the chains and heads into unknown territory. I feel very little for Nirvana as a whole but in this instance I cannot do anything else than to bow down and stick both thumbs up in the air in awe and admiration. A terrific album from start to finish that might need a couple of spins to really appreciate but then again, isn't that the true nature of prog?

4 stars from me.

 The Family That Plays Together by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.79 | 67 ratings

The Family That Plays Together
Spirit Proto-Prog

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

4 stars Los Angeles based SPIRIT were riding high after their eponymous debut album found some success and even hit the Billboard album chart's top 40. While they just released that album in January of 1968, after the entire group and their families having moved into a big yellow house in Topanga Canyon, north of LA in the countryside, they all resided together for the tail end of the 60s. The musicians in SPIRIT had the luxury to work together in a relatively serene and relaxed environment and diligently crafted a second album that came out the same year in December. The title THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER not only refers to the fact that drummer Ed Cassidy, a forty-something year old ex-jazz percussionist having been the step-father of the teenaged guitarist Randy Craig Wolfe or better known by his stage name of Randy California, but more due to the fact that the entire band along with significant others, children, pets, vices and idiosyncratic irritations were all shacked up together on a musical compound where they could practice their own 60s version of peace and love and take their music to new places hitherto unheard. And that's exactly what they did.

SPIRIT's sophomore album shows a more mature band sound that took the psychedelic rock, contemporary folk, classical and jazz- fusion elements of the debut and found them woven together in a tight musical tapestry with that off-kilter 60s psychedelia basted in a strong steady backbeat. One again Marty Paich made a reprise with his unique stamp with arrangements for string and horns which added the proper symphonic backing that with the jazz-tinged rock pieces created a veritable progressive rock template for 70s symphonic bands to expand upon. While SPIRIT never cranked out the hit singles, the opener "I Got A Line On You" was the exception as it was the band's only top 40 hit of their existence and the one track that everyone has surely heard if they have delved into 60s music at all. While that single and the closer "Aren't You Glad" add heavier aspects of rock complemented by Randy California's use of double guitar tracks, for the most part THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER is a more subdued mellow affair with the emphasis on exquisitely designed compositions that are cruising on California West Coast chill mode than anything close to the heavier Cream and Hendrix sounds of the day.

Part of SPIRIT's eclectic inspiration stemmed from the fact that Barry Hansen, who would become the kind of parody as Dr. Demento who specialized in novelty songs and comedy, had a huge collection of music in the same house that he was sharing which allowed the band to peruse the vaults for musical inspiration. And that is exactly what SPIRIT sounds like to me. There are so many tiny snippets of sounds that remind me of both past and future acts that one could rightfully write quite a lengthy thesis on the matter. The music on THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER is generally characterized by a strong groovy bass line that anchors the melodic development. The guitars and keyboards provide unique and progressive counterpoints with Cassidy's jazzified drumming style adding yet another eclectic layer. The band had mastered the art of harmonic vocal interaction much like The Beach Boys or The Mamas and the Papas but were more sophisticated than the average pop band of the era despite having cleverly crafted pop hooks that took more labyrinthine liberties.

During the year 1969, SPIRIT were at their popular (if not creative) peak with two hit albums and a top 40 single under their belt. While the band never hit the big time, during this brief moment in history, it was THEY who were the headliners while bands like Led Zeppelin, Chicago and Traffic were opening for them. While at the Atlanta Pop Festival, they performed to over 100,000 music fans in the audience and Randy California rekindled his friendship with Jimi Hendrix, with whom who briefly played in Jimmy James & The Blue Flames. THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER is an excellent sophomore release from SPIRIT. While the debut may have had a few more flashy jazz-fusion moments, this one has a more cohesive band sound which shows a clear dedication to finding the ultimate band chemistry at play. Laced with subtly addictive hooks and sophisticated progressive undercurrents, THE FAMILY THAT PLAYS TOGETHER is actually a little more accessible on first listen although it's slightly more angular than the average pop rock band of the era but still a testament to SPIRIT's unique musical vision.

 Spirit by SPIRIT album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.53 | 92 ratings

Spirit Proto-Prog

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

4 stars Rising out of the ashes of a prior band called The Rising Sons centered around The Ash Grove venue in mid-1960s Los Angeles, a new band emerged from many bands that frequented that same establishment. The members included percussionist Ed Cassidy, lead vocalist Jay Ferguson, bassist Mark Andes and guitarist Rnady California. The like minded musical misfits started a folk rock band called Red Roosters where they managed to score the odd high school dances and small venues around L.A. but after taking a hiatus and a cross-country trip to New York City Randy California had the chance to briefly play with Jimi Hendrix in Jimmy James and the Blue Flames but ultimately was denied moving with the band to London by his parents due to his tender young age of 15. Slightly dismayed he had to head back to California to reform his prior band and with the addition of keyboardist John Locke, he and the other Red Roosters team opted to change their name to Spirits Rebellious and that's when the true magic started to gel.

Joining in on the "Summer Of Love" hippie scene after a trip to Griffith Park, the members of the band rented an entire house in Topanga Canyon and lived together with significant others, children, pets and pretty much everything else. This is the time where the inspiration for SPIRIT's eponymously titled debut album came from. After truncating their name to simply SPIRIT, the band started to make waves by having an utterly unique sound that took the disparate styles of 60s folk and psychedelic rock and married them with the more progressive jazz-fusion styles that were emerging. The band hit upon the right sound and found success with their debut which hit #31 on the Billboard chart and found a significant amount of FM radio play as well. Likewise they were successful on the touring circuit because of not only their unique sound but their oddball appearance due to drummer Ed Cassidy's skinhead look which set him apart from the long-haired hippie scene of the era.

While SPIRIT's debut is probably better known 50 years later as the album that Jimmy Page stole the beginning riffs of "Stairway To Heavena," the irony is that in their humble beginnings, Led Zeppelin actually opened up for SPIRIT and it has been determined that Page also was inspired in many other ways as well including using the theremin mounted to his amplifier as well as some of the progressive out-of-the-box ideas that SPIRIT deftly utilized. Unfortunately despite the similarities of "Stairway To Heaven's" opening arpeggiated riff with that of SPIRIT's "Taurus," a copyright infringement suit was unsuccessful in a legal sense but in retrospect has gained SPIRIT some sort of publicity albeit in a roundabout way which is better than nothing i suppose. The court of public opinion seems to have sided the other way around however it has also been claimed that the riff originated in 1659 in a classical composition called "Sonata di Chittara, e Violino, con il duo Basso Continuo" by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Granata.

Listening to SPIRIT's debut album and thinking of them touring with Zeppelin seems like an odd match. While Zeppelin rocked the house with ballsy bluesy bravado, SPIRIT is much more subdued with an earthy folk and even psychedelic rock feel that gentle flows with a more sophisticated jazz-rock compositional approach sort of like a proto-style of Steely Dan if you will. While the tracks are diverse, they pretty much follow a strange yet pleasant path down a mellow folk tinged vocal style where Ferguson does his best Byrds impersonation while Locke on keyboards and Cassidy provide a more jazzified rhythmic groove. California's guitar straddles somewhere in between folky blues and jazz. While most tracks side on the folk rock aspects, the final near eleven minute track displays some of the most progressive oriented rock of 1968 with the closer "Elijah" which unleashes the full on jazz-fusion and time signature freak outs. This track has been a staple in live settings where the band would take turns improvising solos. There are parts in this one that make me think Golden Earring developed "Radar Love" from this one as well.

SPIRIT was an amazing band that didn't really get their just dessert. While achieving minor success during their heyday, it seems that they were more successful in inspiring other artists than actually achieving greatness themselves. Their debut was really ahead of its time and despite the critics lauding words of praise, they failed to attract the masses in droves to their musical cause. SPIRIT delivers a subtle but powerful sort of sound. It never really rocks the house but rather wriggles around a strange jazzy lounge lizard labyrinth of chord progressions with idiosyncratic intricacies and therefore isn't one of those albums that is instantly catchy but rather demands a little time to let it sink in unless the listener is well-steeped in progressive rock and jazz-fusion constructs. Personally i find SPIRIT to be an unsung hero of the 60s as i hear all kinds of juicy tidbits that seem to have inspired future artists in the 70s who took them to the next level. While SPIRIT's future releases would get more adventurous, the debut is a nice gentle mix of a classic 60s feel with subtle complexities. A very nice mix indeed.

 Looking On by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
4.09 | 50 ratings

Looking On
The Move Proto-Prog

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

4 stars The year 1970 was a busy one for THE MOVE who released not only one but two albums however in between their progressively tinged "Shazam" and their third album LOOKING ON, great changes had occurred that would take the band in completely new directions. Firstly, singer Carl Wayne departed (off to cabaret and soap opera glory) and in to take his place was none other than Jeff Lynne who contributed the much desired role as a second songwriter, a collaborative effort that Roy Wood had been seeking from THE MOVE's formation. Another major change was the band's move to Fly Records which found the band starting a new chapter of their existence. While THE MOVE had been one of Britain's prime hitmakers during the 60s, they never quite managed to strike it big outside their homeland's shores but with Jeff Lynne as co-pilot, the team was hoping to cast a wider net musically speaking and eventually expand their appeal. While cover songs had been a staple on the previous albums, because of Lynne's prolific songwriting nature, LOOKING ON is the first THE MOVE album of all originals.

Ironically as it turned out, Jeff Lynne was actually Wood's replacement in Nightriders after Wood jumped ship to form THE MOVE, so in a way Lynne already had a feel for Wood's style and fit into the band perfectly as the two shared many musical ambitions. Truth be known was the fact that Wood actually wanted to end THE MOVE and start a new band with Lynne right away that would expand the horizons of pop music and move it closer to orchestrated classical sophistication but due to record contract obligations, the two conjured up the material to keep THE MOVE floating along for another couple albums before they could finally be released from their contractual shackles and begin The Electric Light Orchestra. However, despite existing as THE MOVE, the arrival of Lynne showcases LOOKING ON as a sort of proto-ELO collection of tunes that exists in some strange limbo between the 60s move sound and snippets of ideas that would fully gestate into the later ELO projects. Much ELO material was actually written and held back during this period.

LOOKING ON is quite the diverse album and while not as epic as the prior "Shazam," still churned out seven cranking tunes that upped the hard rock aspects but also found nascent early ELO elements such as the medieval classical sounds of a cello, oboe and sax residing next to 60s psychedelic pop leftovers such as the sitar. Quite the eclectic album indeed. While the title track kicks off in heavy rock form which showcases the band's attunement with the new 70s trends, the track oddly morphs into a bizarre Indo-raga tune towards the end. Jeff Lynne's love of 50s rock and roll shines through like a beam of sunshine on tracks "When Alice Comes Back To The Farm" which has a rather Rolling Stones bluesy rock feel as well as their hit single "Brontosaurus" which utilized a clever mix of heavy rock'n'roll, slide guitar and honky tonk piano.

The peculiarly titled "Turkish Tram Conductor Blues" which channeled their best Eric Clapton led Cream exhibited healthy doses of a strangely incongruous sitar and sultry sax solo whereas "What?" sounds a lot like the proto-makings of the following year's "Mr Radio" which would appear on the debut ELO album. Strewn all throughout LOOKING ON are tinklings of "Roll Over Beethoven" rock'n'roll riffs threaten to break in but never quite gestate completely. "Open Up Said The World At The Door" carries on where "Shazam" left off with an intricately designed mix of clever melodies, creative counterpoints and beautiful vocal harmonies that proved Lynne was the ultimate collaborator for Wood's similar musical visions and a veritable vocalist in his own right. Also on the work table, Lynne and Wood would create the much loved "10538 Overture" but held it back to be included on the future ELO project.

The ending track utilizes a rather Clapton-esque "I Shot The Sheriff" guitar riff but with a funky soul type of vocal style accompanied by a stomping groovy beat. After a few verses and choruses the track drifts off into a serious jam with guitar soloing with soulful Jackson Five type vocals and finally ends after eight minutes with a few breaks. One morphs into a Beach Boys styled barbershop choir that kinda sounds like "Barbara Ann" and then finally shifts into a piano roll with some British bloke blathering on about something or rather. While THE MOVE only released a mere four albums in their career, each one is completely different and LOOKING ON has its own distinct personality as well. Due to Lynne's contributions the album really sounds a million miles away from the "Shazam" album that was released only months prior. Somehow i acquired a taste for this band and each album stands up on its own merit. LOOKING ON is no exception to this for it is yet another strong batch of progressive pop tracks that provides also provides an interesting context to ELO's early history as well as just being a really creatively cool album in its own right.

 Live In Japan by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1993
4.19 | 71 ratings

Live In Japan
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by hieronymous

1 stars This remixed recording has so much potential, and yet falls so miserably. The good: you get to hear the shows mostly in the order that they were performed (a few songs were cut in order to keep the length to 3 CDs), including the onstage banter - mostly Ian Gillan offering explanations of the songs. The bad: the bass guitar sound has been ruined. All you can hear are the sub-bass frequencies, there is no high end or midrange. I haven't listened to Made in Japan (the classic album that was culled from the three shows represented on Live in Japan) in decades, so I thought maybe my memory was faulty, but it just couldn't sound like this! So I bought the cheapo original CD release, and there was the glorious bass sound of Roger Glover!

I think I know what happened - when they went to remix the original tapes, they heard that the bass was distorted and must have tried to "fix" it. But to me, that distorted bass sound is what was so cool! That's what bass sounded like in the early '70s! It may not be the ideal bass sound if you expect it to be clean, but nowadays people spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to try and get that sound (think Orange amps and Darkglass Electronics effects, for example). They really really messed up on this one. I bought my copy used, I've heard it, and it's getting sold right back to Amoeba Records. Completely unlistenable to me. I'm going to keep my classic cheap original master CD and enjoy that. Apparently the deluxe single CD release from 2013(?) has the original Made in Japan track listing but also includes the encores and is remastered from the 1972 mix I might spring for that but I would have to listen to the 2013 remix before buying in case they screwed it up again.

 Shazam by MOVE, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.68 | 48 ratings

The Move Proto-Prog

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

4 stars It's hard to believe well into the 21st century that a band like THE MOVE which was hardly ever a household name outside of the UK, was in fact one of the top pop acts of the late 60s racking up an impressive number of hits, actually 20 in total in a short five year period but found little success outside of their British homeland. Taking a few cues from The Beatles and not just in the musical department, THE MOVE was one of those bands that released many singles that weren't included on the albums themselves and in the beginning the focus was more on the pop singles rather than on fully developed albums, therefore in this same five year period this band originally led by bassist / vocalist Chris Kefford only released two albums and much like the Beatles had transmogrified from a typical 60s beat garage rock sounding band with strong pop hooks into a veritable art rock band that wisely retained the pop sensibilities all the while increasing the complexity and weirdness into a heavy rock and proto-prog territory on their second album SHAZAM! (I reeeeally want to add a lightning bolt after that!)

Five years in, Kefford found his influence overpowered by guitarist / keyboardist / vocalist Roy Wood and in 1968 exited stage right after a nervous breakdown resulting from a liberal fascination, and excessive love affair with LSD experimentation. As Wood took the reins, THE MOVE, well?. moved into new territories and with Kefford's departure Trevor Burton would switch from guitar to fill his bass duties only to depart midstream only to be replaced by Rick Price. Making it even more complicated was the fact that Tony Visconti played bass on "Beautiful Daughter" which resulted in that track being used from older sessions, so while SHAZAM! was recorded in a much shorter time than the long term recording sessions of the debut album, this track in a way connected the band to their Beatles pop influences in the fact that it sounds like a reworked making of "Eleanor Rigby" complete with a exuberant violin and chamber pop backing.

SHAZAM is a few steps up from the eponymous debut, which i really found to be an excellent pop rock album of 1968, however on this sophomore outing Wood and company fine-tuned their overall sound into a veritable art rock band that foresaw many trends that made the 70s so great. This album is a testament to its era. It equally catches the zeitgeist of the 60s hippie vibe that was slowly waning all the while jumping ahead into progressive pastures that were blossoming all around them. The result is electrifying like that lightning bolt from the sky that like Billy Batson uttering the word SHAZAM! becomes the powerful superhero Captain Marvel. While the original album only had six tracks, they are quite diverse and all but "Beautiful Daughter" clock in at the five minute mark or more and despite continuing to hit the charts even in 1970 with singles, none of the six tracks on this album were even released as singles making SHAZAM truly an art rock album oriented musical ride all the way.

"Hello Susie" starts things off with a blistering heavy guitar riff oriented sound for 1970 allowing singer Carl Wayne to wail his vocals in a snarling heavy rock shout-a-thon where he battles to be heard over the heavy guitar, bass and surprisingly sophisticated drum techniques implemented by Bev Bevan. At this point THE MOVE was known for their mixing it up with Roy Wood penned originals and covers of other artists. The first three tracks are Wood's creations whereas the second half of the album is all covers. "Beautiful Daughter" rescued from past sessions and a 2.0 version of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" unleashes a string savvy power ballad as well as the shortest track on the album at a less than three minute running time. Then we come to one of my favorite tracks of the album: "Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited." As the name implies, this one is taken from the first album but perfected in every way. Firstly, the instrumentation is impeccable with guitars, bass, drums and vocals ramping up their respective roles. The stylistic changes suit the music perfectly and the medley type ventures toward the end that incorporate different variations on classical pieces by J.S. Bach and Tchaikovsky is stunningly brilliant and surprisingly amusing.

Side two begins with the other genius track of "Fields Of People," which although a cover of an Ars Nova hippie dippie track from a few years prior is crafted into a bona fide masterpiece of musical pleasure with a marriage of classical music sensibilities with the 60s beat pop rock that THE MOVE made their own. The verse / chorus infectious pop grooves evolve into a veritable Indo-raga finale which takes the entire track to close to the eleven minute mark yet not for one second does this one get boring. The remaining two tracks are sort of the more ordinary of the bunch. "Don't Make My Baby Blue" is a rather Janis Joplin sounding bluesy rocker with heavy guitar riffs and soul gusto while "The Last Thing On My Mind" dips back into the psychedelic pop 60s for a wild trippy guitar rock track that meanders on into the ethers and beyond for a seven and a half minute ride. The album is rather light-hearted as THE MOVE adopted the rather Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band approach of silly narrative between and even with tracks to add a personal touch of mood and situation to add some personal connections.

Wham bam i love SHAZAM! This was a grower and not one that immediately revealed its secrets to me. It was like a worm that embedded itself in my soul and only really unleashed its magic after probably the fifth listen or so. And then i was hooked! While highly accessible upon the first listen, it doesn't really differentiate itself from other contemporary pop music at first at least not for me despite the progressive nuances. This album was yet another crossroads in the band's history. After SHAZAM singer Carl Wayne would part ways and Jeff Lynne would join the band and effectively take control and make THE MOVE a proto-Electric Light Orchestra outfit. And it's no surprise that Lynne had his eye on this band since ELO's mission statement was based on the fact that they wanted to take the classical pop characteristics of The Beatles and take them even further. Well, that exactly what THE MOVE was doing on SHAZAM. Don't let the horrible album cover fool you. This is one of 1970's coolest pop rock albums to have been recorded. It's like something The Beatles should have recorded somewhere down the road had they not broken up and ventured even further toward progressive pastures after "Sgt. Peppers."

4.5 but not quite good enough to round up

 Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix by HENDRIX, JIMI album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.72 | 18 ratings

Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix Proto-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars "The world's most famous autodidact guitar player!"

Little Jimi Hendrix grew up in a family where he was torn between two extreme worlds: a caring but often absent father and an alcoholic mother who frequently beated him up and gave most of her attention to men for sex. She died at the age of 32, due to extreme alcohol abuse, Jimi was 15 years old and had developped a very unbalanced emotional world. A few months later his father gave him a guitar, because many members of the family showed interest in music. Soon Jimi discovered that he could put his rollercoaster of emotions into playing guitar. He practised hours and hours on 'his best friend', imitated all sounds around him and finally turned into professional guitarist in 1961. However, it took a long road before his virtuosic and innovative but also unconventional guitarplay was recognized. Eventually his mindblowing gig at Monterey Pop mid 1967 made Jimi Hendrix a guitar hero who changed the world of rock music. Jimi's 3 albums sold very well and he was highly praised. But how sad that Jimi, like his mother, had a too self-destructive nature. Because without making music he felt increasingly angry, rejected, restless and depressed and numbed himself more and more with sex, drugs and alcohol. This ultimate downward slide ended at the very bottom: late 1970 he suffocated in his own vomit, after taking an extreme overdosis of sleeping pills and died, only 27 years old. But his music is timeless and still inspires many people to let their guitars speak, like Jimi Hendrix did in his unique and unsurpassed way.

This comprehensive compilation CD contains mainly tracks from the three studio albums he released during his life: Are You Experienced? and Bold As Love from 1967 and Electric Ladyland from 1968, the rest is from posthume released albums like Cry Of Love (1971) and the highly acclaimed 1969-1970 recordings compilation Rainbow Bridge (1971).

An important part of Jimi his work is raw, high energetic and steamy rock featuring Jimi Hendrix his screaming, crying, howling and blistering guitar, fueled by a propulsive and dynamic rhythm-section (reminding me of Cream, The Who and Led Zeppelin). We can enjoy this creative powerhouse trio in most tracks, especially in the exciting Purple Haze and Manic Depression (the title points at his own mental condition, that shifted frequently from hyperactive to deeply depressed).

Jimi played a lot of legendary riffs, like in Hey Joe (wonderful melodic guitar work and pumping bass play), All Along The Watchtower (subtle Hawaii guitar and wah-wah pedal and finally fading howling guitar runs), Foxy Lady (fiery guitar solo) and Voodoo Child - Slight Return (exciting blend of rock, blues and psychedelia with heavy and raw wah-wah drenched guitar play). These songs are topped with his outstanding vocals, from tender to powerful, Jimi himself was not very positive about his voice but we know better.

His mellow side can be traced in the wonderful songs The Wind Cries Mary (fragile guitar and warm vocals) and the bluesy Little Wing.

In the swinging Castles Made Of Sand (inspired by his Cherokee bloodline) the vocals sound like 'embryonal rap', very special to hear and another example of his varied musical taste. And as a 'genuine genius' he was ahead of his time.

It's blues time in Bold As Love (sensitive guitar work and in the end a phaser sound and piano), Angel and especially the exciting Red House, an Old School blues atmosphere (his hero was Muddy Waters) by the vocals and guitar and with subtle use of overdubs and echo.

Finally the instrumental composition Star Spangled Banner: how unique, played by Hendrix on stage since 1968, this wide range of distorted sounds, like bombs, machine guns, crashing heli's, crying and screaming people, up to your imagination. It's a great example how creative and innovative Jimi Hendrix was with 'his best friend'.

Enjoy the most progressive guitar player of all times on this excellent compilation!

 The Book Of Taliesyn by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.20 | 497 ratings

The Book Of Taliesyn
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

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

3 stars Recorded only three months after their debut, DEEP PURPLE quickly released their sophomore followup THE BOOK OF TALIESYN which continued all the traits of "Shades Of Deep Purple" with a mix of originals and covers, however despite the basic similarities that include different styles such as psychedelic and hard rock mixed with classical music arrangements interspersed throughout, THE BOOK OF TALIESYN nurtured these ideas even further with more sophisticated compositional approaches that are now regarded as some of the earliest proto-prog archetypes of the late 60s despite the fact that the album was mainly aimed at the hippie crowds in the US where it was released in October 1968. DEEP PURPLE surprisingly was completely ignored in the UK (where it was held back until 69) with their earliest albums until they became so popular in a few short years (with "In Rock") that they could not be ignored any longer.

The album title is a slightly alternate spelling taken from the 14th-century Book Of Taliesin which is one of the most famous of all Middle Welsh manuscripts that were attributed to the bard which was famous for setting a wide number of moods in the Medieval courts in the days of King Arthur in Camelot. Likewise the album THE BOOK OF TALIESYN is a loose concept album attempting to evoke the same sense of diverse mood shifts that a bard would propose in the context of the situation. The album contains seven tracks that range from spunky little blues rockers such as the opener "Listen, Learn, Read On," "Exposition" and other segments in different tracks which all all tinged with a period glaze of psychedelic keyboard embellishments that deviate into fantastic classical musical expeditions which finds Jon Lord dishing out some impressive keyboard playing that was only rivaled by Keith Emerson in The Nice.

The original tracks were composed by Ritchie Blackmore, original vocalist Rod Evans, Jon Lord and Ian Paice making the early episodes of DEEP PURPLE very democratic in nature. Ironically the album cover art (which is my favorite of the DP canon) was created by John Vernon Lord (no relation to the keyboardist). There are three cover tracks as well. The most popular track of this album is the Neil Diamond cover "Kentucky Woman" and the two part track that begins with "Exposition" cedes into a woefully out of place more bluesy rendition of the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out." The final cover and in my opinion, the best track on the album comes as the closer and is an excellent cover of Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" which introduces a new highly developed progressive rock approach to the band's resume as it churns out over ten minutes of satisfying musical changes taken Ike & Turner's funky soul domain into surreal psychedelic and classically tinged progressive rock territory.

At this point DEEP PURPLE was far from a household name and listening to THE BOOK OF TALIESYN these days give few clues to the world class act they would become in their Mark II days. While this album is satisfying on many levels, it feels like they were trying to pull off too many ideas that never feel resolved. The mix of psychedelic bluesy rock mixed with outbursts of classical keyboard segments display veritable exciting ideas gestating in the midst and there are even moments where the chugging of the guitar and riff sound like they are ready to break into such classics as "Highway Star" however for the most part the album soars along in psychedelic blues rock mode and while Rod Evans certainly had the perfect voice for the 60s hippie scene, he lacked the overall powerful effects that Ian Gillan added down the road. Fans of DEEP PURPLE should certainly check out these interesting origins even if all the proper elements hadn't quite coalesced in a totally satisfying way. Not a bad way to get your groove on. The newer remastered versions are quite superior to the original as far as i've heard.

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Proto-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
ANDROMEDA United Kingdom
APPALOOSA United States
BAKERLOO United Kingdom
THE BEATLES United Kingdom
BRAINBOX Netherlands
COVEN United States
DEEP PURPLE United Kingdom
THE DOORS United States
EARTH OPERA United States
FLAMING YOUTH United Kingdom
FORD THEATRE United States
GATTCH Slovakia
GILES GILES & FRIPP United Kingdom
THE GODS United Kingdom
H.P. LOVECRAFT United States
JIMI HENDRIX United States
THE MOVE United Kingdom
NIRVANA United Kingdom
QUIET WORLD United Kingdom
SALAMANDER United Kingdom
THE SHIVER Switzerland
SPIRIT United States
SPOOKY TOOTH United Kingdom
SWEETWATER United States
TOMORROW United Kingdom
TOUCH United States
THE WHO United Kingdom

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