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PROG RELATED

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Prog Related definition



No musical genre exists in a vacuum. Not all of the bands that have been a part of the history and development of progressive rock are necessarily progressive rock bands themselves. This is why progarchives has included a genre called prog-related, so we could include all the bands that complete the history of progressive rock, whether or not they were considered full-fledged progressive rock bands themselves.

There are many criteria that the prog-related evaluation team considers when deciding which bands are considered prog-related. Very few bands will meet all of this criteria, but this list will give an idea as to some of the things that help evaluate whether an artists is prog-related or not.

1) Influence on progressive rock - The groundbreaking work of artists like Led Zepplin and David Bowie affected many genres of rock, including at times progressive rock. Although both of these artists created rock music in a dizzying array of genres, both contributed to the ongoing history of progressive rock several times within the span of their careers.

2) Location - Progressive rock did not develop at the same time all over the world. It may surprise some people that as late as the mid-70s the US had very few original progressive rock bands that did not sound like exact copies of British bands. Journey was one of the first US bands to present a uniquely American brand of prog-rock before they eventually became a mainstream rock band. We have collaborators from all over the world who tell us which bands helped the progressive rock scene develop in their corner of the globe, even if those bands were like Journey and were known more for being mainstream rock bands.

3) Members of important progressive rock bands - Although most of the recorded solo output of artists like Greg Lake and David Gilmour falls more in a mainstream rock style, their contributions to progressive rock in their respective bands insures them a place in our prog-related genre.

4) Timeliness - Like many genres, prog-rock has had its ups and downs. In the late 70s and early 80s prog-rock was barely a blip on the radar. During this time artists such as David Bowie and Metallica released albums that captured key elements of the spirit of prog rock and did so while contributing their own original modern elements to the mix.

5) Integral part of the prog-rock scene - Sometimes you just had to be a part of the scene during a certain time period to understand how some bands fit with the prog rock scene of their time. Although Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Wishbone Ash may seem like mere hard rock bands, in their time they stood apart from other hard rockers with their more serious lyrical content and more developed compositions. Put simply, in the early 70s every prog-rock record collector usually had full collections of all three of these artists. These three bands were very much part of the prog-rock scene without being total prog-rock bands them selves.

6) Influenced by progressive rock - From the late 60s till about 1976 the progressive tendency was in full effect in almost all genres of music. Once again, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century a melting pot of prog-metal, math-rock, progressive electronics and post-rock influences have once again made a progressive tendency in rock music almost more a norm than a difference. Yet in other periods of musical history receiving influence from progressive rock could really set a band apart and make them worthy of our prog-related category.
Being influenced by progressive rock is hardly the only factor we look at, and in some periods of musical history it is almost meaningless, but still, it is almost a given that most of the artists listed in prog-related were influenced by the development of progressive rock.

7) Common sense - Nitpicking over the above listed criteria is not necessarily the correct way to evaluate a band for prog-related. Sometimes you just have to use some common sense and look at the big picture.
A very good way to describe prog-related would be to imagine an exhaustive book that covered the history of progressive rock. Would such a book include references to led Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven', David Bowie's 'The Man Who Sold the World' or Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'? Probably so.
- Easy Money

Prog Related Top Albums


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

4.39 | 1076 ratings
LED ZEPPELIN IV
Led Zeppelin
4.51 | 300 ratings
BLACKSTAR
Bowie, David
4.35 | 760 ratings
QUEEN II
Queen
4.29 | 910 ratings
PARANOID
Black Sabbath
4.28 | 886 ratings
A NIGHT AT THE OPERA
Queen
4.22 | 821 ratings
BLACK SABBATH
Black Sabbath
4.23 | 630 ratings
ARGUS
Wishbone Ash
4.22 | 622 ratings
THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
Bowie, David
4.19 | 746 ratings
SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON
Iron Maiden
4.18 | 480 ratings
RISING
Rainbow
4.13 | 703 ratings
POWERSLAVE
Iron Maiden
4.16 | 464 ratings
HUNKY DORY
Bowie, David
4.12 | 693 ratings
MASTER OF PUPPETS
Metallica
4.09 | 714 ratings
SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH
Black Sabbath
4.15 | 320 ratings
SCARY MONSTERS (AND SUPER CREEPS)
Bowie, David
4.09 | 570 ratings
RIDE THE LIGHTNING
Metallica
4.06 | 813 ratings
PHYSICAL GRAFFITI
Led Zeppelin
4.04 | 886 ratings
LED ZEPPELIN
Led Zeppelin
4.05 | 712 ratings
MASTER OF REALITY
Black Sabbath
4.16 | 238 ratings
SECRET TREATIES
Blue Öyster Cult

Latest Prog Related Music Reviews


 Olias Of Sunhillow by ANDERSON, JON album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.94 | 384 ratings

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Olias Of Sunhillow
Jon Anderson Prog Related

Review by shantiq

4 stars Yesterday I went to a record fair and picked up a piece of vinyl I had not seen since i was 18 in 1976. Title is OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW by Jon Anderson of Yes. It comes in a green sleeve with a booklet with the storyline depicted therein. A goblin-fest with childish images and graphics to boot. The music is excellent. But the text looks like he boiled all of Tolkien works in a heated spoon and mainlined that whilst holding a pen waiting for the Muse to strike. And it/she struck him good. It got me thinking that if anyone wanted to place the birth of prog around a Whiter Shade of Pale 67/8 this here opus might be the apex of the genre; can only go downhill past that post. How do you outprog that? Any ideas? For me the organ/synth-rich soup offered here; and again a very fine soup it is; coupled with the goblin infestation; the knights; the damsels in the tower, the Glastonbury relishes ladled on makes it a contender for the Proggest prog ever progged. Show me otherwise but this here says to me "More prog you die" and yes A Great listen ...
 Welcome To My DNA by BLACKFIELD album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.38 | 234 ratings

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Welcome To My DNA
Blackfield Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Blackfield's 3rd album 'Welcome to My DNA' finally starts to see Steven Wilson step back and let Aviv Geffen take charge. Wilson promised that Geffen would be taking charge of the band eventually, plus Wilson was also busy working on his solo albums. In this album, Wilson only wrote one track, 'Waving'. All of the others are written by Geffen only or with some help from Wilson. Geffen is also singing more of the songs on this one, with Wilson only singing lead on only 5 of the 11 tracks, though he does help on backup. Of course, Wilson continues to add guitar parts and is in charge of production. Wilson would also continue to step back even further on subsequent albums.

Right away, the music is not as well developed as on the past two albums. The tracks continue to be short, with the longest one, 'Zigota' being the only one that reaches the 5 minute mark, and most of the tracks staying around 3 to 4 minutes. The tracks are nice and lush, reminding one of the orchestrations of The Beatles and even Pink Floyd from time to time, but the tracks suffer overall from the brevity. Just as the songs seem to be going somewhere, they end. They also suffer from the lesser involvement of Wilson, who is the stronger songwriter and musician.

A few of the songs, like 'Go to Hell' and 'Oxygen', are embarrassingly bad when it comes to lyrical content and inventiveness in the musicianship. The point of the band was for Geffen to improve as he took more involvement in the band, but he hasn't been improving and now the added responsibility seems to be drowning him. Now, the album isn't a complete write off. Of course, 'Waving' is one of the strongest tracks on here, and sounds like just like a track Steven Wilson would do, except for maybe a little poppy, but still enjoyable. Geffen does almost hit the mark on 'Dissolving with the Night', especially when the song starts to pick up some tension in the middle and into the ending. 'Blood' is mostly instrumental except for a few vocal interludes and it is more aggressive than most of the rest of the album and is a nice change of pace.

The aim was to keep things majestic, yet simple. Things are majestic enough especially because of the orchestration, but they are also simple, much too simple. The music doesn't really challenge at all, and just seems to lack development. The beauty and darkness from the previous 2 albums is missed very much. Geffen's attempt at the same darkness is usually laughable on this album.

Overall, the minuses are much more apparent than the few pluses. Wilson's lesser involvement is felt on this album, and with only a few nice songs and sections, the album doesn't really reach the pinnacle of the last two albums. It squeaks by with 3 stars, but only because of the nice string arrangements and the excellent production. The songs for the most part, however, lack substance.

 Change We Must (single) by ANDERSON, JON album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1994
3.21 | 9 ratings

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Change We Must (single)
Jon Anderson Prog Related

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

3 stars In 1994 Jon Anderson recorded Change We Must which counts among his very finest albums. it features extremely well done orchestral arrangements that avoid being too pompous, sugary or cheesy. Jon's vocals also are on top form here. Alongside newly written songs the album contains some fresh reincarnations of older songs, such as 'Hearts' from Yes's pop album 90125, and 'State of Independence' from the second Jon & Vangelis album The Friends of Mr. Cairo (1981). This tune, covered by Donna Summer in 1982, appears on this promotional CD single as well. I have never liked the disco-ish original very much, and it came as no surprise this version neither was among my personal highlights on Change We Must album. That said, it works very well. Naturally the disco approach is gone, and the choir joining Jon is a nice addition.

The title track is a definitive highlight of the album, here represented in both single and album edits. The peaceful song is charmingly moving, uplifting and spiritual, indeed one could say purifying. Regarding the artist we're talking of, I guess you know exactly what I mean. The universal love radiating from every note. This is one and only Jon Anderson at his most loveable.

The single features also a 5-minute edition of an interview in which Jon talks about the album and the title song in particular. The single edit and the interview were included as bonuses in Esoteric Recordings' reissue of the album four years ago.

 Eight Miles High by GOLDEN EARRING album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.90 | 52 ratings

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Eight Miles High
Golden Earring Prog Related

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's clear by the time Golden Earring was doing On the Double, they were obviously recording more credible pop/rock than their earliest material. There's some hints of their sound change with the original version of "Song of a Devil's Servant", but for the most part, the album stuck to a pop/rock format, but surprisingly intelligent and very good, with some of the songs showing progressive tendencies, but plenty just straight, but very good pop/rock. Late in 1969 comes Eight Miles High with a clear change to a heavy rock format with prog leanings. Jaap Eggermont had left the band, but he was in charge of Red Bullet Productions, which Golden Earring were part of. In comes Sieb Warner, with George Kooysman, Marinus Gerritsen, and Barry Hays. It's clear with a band like Led Zeppelin riding high that Gold Earring couldn't be a pop/rock band anymore, and it clearly shows with the opening cut, "Landing". No pop to be found at all, heavier guitars playing to be found. They do a remake of "Song of a Devil's Servant", this time starting off rather trippy and psychedelic, with some really nice flute and acoustic guitar playing. "Everyday's Torture" shows how much Golden Earring became a heavy rock band. I wouldn't be too far off to think of this as proto-metal, fans of metal who want to explore the roots of metal should try investigating this album. Then of course the title track, a 19 minute version of the famous 1966 hit from the Byrds. It starts off in rather familiar territory, then they go into similar territory to what Rare Earth did to "Get Ready" with extended solos from various band members, including a drum solo.

I know many people would say Moontan is their high point but for me, Eight Miles High is their high point. I am not as familiar with Golden Earring as I should be, but here in America they're pretty much associated with "Radar Love" and "Twilight Zone" and that's it. This album is really worth your time.

 Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] by BRAM STOKER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.84 | 44 ratings

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Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist]
Bram Stoker Prog Related

Review by Progfan97402
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I first became aware of Bram Stoker around 2000 through a website called Tommy's Forest of Progressive Rock, which later simply became Vintage Prog, which is still online, but hasn't been updated since 2008. That website was awfully useful before the arrival of Prog Archives, along with several other (mostly now defunct) websites like Unger's Wonderful World of Progressive Rock, Frazz Recommends (which focused on Italian prog, Frazz being named after Semiramis' Dedicato a Frazz), The Giant Progweed, and Ground & Sky.

Bram Stoker was long thought of as a mystery band. Many even speculated that employees of Woolworth's were involved in the making of the album (the album was released on Windmill, which was ran by the UK branch of the Woolworth's chain store). That's just plain silly, what would Woolworth's employees know anything about prog rock, even back in 1972 when it was at its peak? As it turns out they were a band lead by keyboardist Tony Bronsdon with Peter Ballum on guitar, John Bavin on bass and drums, and Rob Haines on drums. I own the original Windmill LP and it's clear what an awful label it was. Wooldworth's treated the album like an exploitation album, hence the artwork and title. Plus zero mention of who was in the band. Even more hilarious is Paul Henry (I assumed the band's manager) notice to Windmill Records, which it hilariously starts off, "Dear Sir, As you are in the business of making groups famous". Really? Not a single artist on Windmill got famous! I realize there were Frank Sinatra and various easy listening compilations put out by the label, but they were obviously long famous, thanks to help from reputable labels, many already having decades of fame. It's a safe bet that a good portion of the Windmill discography are now UK charity shop staples. Except for this one.

It's because Bram Stoker was actually very good, wonderful guitar and organ-driven early prog. In fact it still has psychedelic elements as if this was dated 1970, not 1972 (the original LP clearly gives a 1972 copyright on the label). Comparisons to The Nice, Atomic Rooster, and even a bit of ELP are totally valid. "Born to be Free" shows a bit of a bluesy side of the band, but it's Bronsdon's organ playing that gives it it's prog edge. "Fast Decay" includes quotes from classical music so comparisons to The Nice and Act One-era Beggars Opera are validated. "Blitz" has a rather eerie vibe to it, while "Idiot" is more or less like "Born to Be Free". "Poltergeist" is another eerie number, I'm sure the lyrics have a supernatural theme to it. I only wished the LP came with printed lyrics, but given this is Windmill we're talking about, you have to settle with very basic packaging. It's very much a safe bet that this is easily the best thing on the Windmill label. This album comes highly recommended to those who enjoy early guitar and organ-driven prog.

 Now We Are Six by STEELEYE SPAN album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.34 | 38 ratings

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Now We Are Six
Steeleye Span Prog Related

Review by britfolkgod

4 stars At this phase in their career, Steeleye Span, after a two-album dalliance with a pair of bona fide rock musicians (guitarist Bob Johnson and bassist Rick Kemp, who was formerly one of Bowie's "Spider from Mars" - his receding hairline cost him the job), moved to the next logical step in energizing their sound further, and so drummer Nigel Pegrum was added to the fold, and this addition is reflected in the album's title (which referred not just to the number of personnel but the number of albums to their credit at this point).

They had started as "electric folk" - not really intending to be a rock band at all, but the personnel changes as much as anything else seemed to push them in the rock direction, and on this album they sound for the first time like a rock band turning towards folk rather than vice versa. The results showed what was possible, but a few tracks frustratingly took a novelty approach and it wasn't until their next album that they showed a fully "serious" album.

The three tracks in question are "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (yes, THAT Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) whose inclusion is valid in the sense that it is the oldest and purest traditional song in the world - "rocking up" a track like this would scarcely have been possible though, and so the band pretended to be children singing it to the accompaniment of a piano. Rather pointless, but at least blessedly short. The second offending track, "Now We Are Six" was a collection of riddles set to the same accompaniment again, just a single piano. Unfortunately it was also longer and chewed up a lot of real estate on an album that really should have been showcasing the band's new vitality.

Thirdly, "To Know Him Is To Love Him", the old 50s standard, is done here with David Bowie guesting on saxophone. It's worth hearing once but its inclusion with a group of songs that come from Britain's folk heritage makes (at least on the surface) very little sense. It's only when you know of the band's "rock and roll encore" they did around this period that it's understandable - the band would don 50s attire and do a set of rock standards for their encore during this period.

So three tracks mar the album but that still leaves a tremendous amount of excellent music to listen to. "Seven Hundred Elves" incorporates not just drums but also a synthesizer; "Drink Down the Moon" showcases the new drummer's abilities on oboe (he would also contribute flute parts occasionally); and "Thomas the Rhymer" is for many people the quintessential Steeleye track with its zinging acoustic guitars propelling the electric power chords and irresistible chorus sung in the band's glorious 5-part harmony. This was something new and something exciting. Steeleye Span also knew traditional music very well so often knew the best versions of the songs to use, and they were now showing themselves to be the hardest-rocking of all the British folk rockers at this time as well.

Part of my decision to review this album comes down to the unfair drubbing I have seen of the instrumental "Mooncoin Jig". If a traditional Irish jig isn't your cup of tea, hear me out - this ISN'T simply a case of "you've heard one Irish jig, you've heard them all" and here's why. This is the sound, and the utterly masterful sound, of folk music and rock music in perfect balance, with neither style overshadowing the other. Peter Knight plays mandolin and banjo and Tim Hart provides electric dulcimer, so there is the folk element - but the rest of the band is dishing out power chords and a very individualistic bass line; think of Roger Waters on Pink Floyd's "One of These Days" to get the idea of the rhythmic vitality at work here. Also, this isn't simply a tune being repeated ad infinitum, instruments peel in and out and on the final verse a set of spoons (of all things) clatters away, in no way eclipsed by the heavy drumming. This track is a masterpiece, and needs to be heard in this context.

There is an air of experimentation on this album that is quite palpable too; on "Edwin" we have Maddy Prior doing a multitracked whisper alongside her faraway vocal track. Effects like these lend a real dramatic quality to the murder ballads and bring the stories to life. These songs have lasted hundreds of years, and Steeleye Span wants to show you why.

This isn't my favorite Steeleye Span album, but it's up there - it's the one that shows them having fully matured and able to match most rock bands pound for pound in the rocking out department, and is a delight and an excellent starting place for those interested in what they have to offer.

 Argus by WISHBONE ASH album cover Studio Album, 1972
4.23 | 630 ratings

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Argus
Wishbone Ash Prog Related

Review by TCat
Prog Reviewer

4 stars "Argus" is the third album in a long string of albums by Wishbone Ash. It was also their most popular, and their most progressive album, though it is not a strict progressive album as much as one that contains several prog elements interspersed within it's hard rock tracks.

Wishbone Ash was one of the first bands to ever use twin lead guitars and this would inspire bands like Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy, albeit their music would be much heavier. The twin guitars are very relevant on this album, and guitars pretty much drive most of the music. There are no keyboards, at least not much, except for an organ on the last track. While there are elements of prog here, there are also elements of folk rock within the tracks.

Most of the tracks are long, mostly exceeding 5 minutes, with the first one approaching 10 minutes. "Time Was" starts out with a beautiful acoustic beginning with some nice harmonies, but it soon rocks out after a few minutes. The melodies change often as it does in a lot of prog epics, however, the meters are pretty standard throughout. Thus you get the feeling of prog rock in the complex melodies, but on the light side of prog. "Sometime World" also starts out soft and gets faster as it continues. This one carries a distinct folk song throughout most of it, then as the vocals come in, you can hear an early Yes influence. The track ends with a great guitar solo. The track however, does feel a little dated, but that's all because of the mixing. It makes it even more early "Yes-like".

"Blowin' Free" is a heavier song, but the music is definitely standard rock. This doesn't make it a bad song, but it doesn't make a real prog song either. The harmonies on this one are very similar to Crosby, Stills and Nash. As the tempo slows in the middle of the song, there is that return to the folkish sound, and then a nice slow guitar solo. The tempo picks up again and another solo follows. This is great hard rock, but again, other than the tempo changes, there isn't much progressive rock here.

"The King Will Come" exceeds 7 minutes. It starts off with a reggae vibe for about a minute, then the beat tapers off to another standard rock beat. Again, you have harmonies similar to early Yes. As the first track, this one has many changing melodies and it makes for another complex track. But the complexity doesn't reach any real heavy progressiveness again. The changing melodies stay in a standard meter throughout. You get another great guitar solo here too.

"Leaf and Stream" returns to the folk-ish sound. It matches the horned helmet shadowed figure on the cover in feel and style. Again, we have another beautiful guitar solo. The melody pretty remains the same throughout this track however. "Warrior" is a heavy rocker with a great opening riff, but it quickly mellows out and slows down as vocals begin. When the chorus finally arrives, things get more interesting as vocals and guitar solos take turns. I can hear some early Styx in the harmonies and the structure of the last half of the song, so it's obvious here where Styx was inspired early on. But the song, as epic as it sounds, doesn't rise above the standard hard rock tune.

"Throw Down the Sword" is the last track and the only track that features a guest organist. However, there really isn't much that stands out on this track, just a continuation of the same style.

This is definitely Wishbone Ash's best work, and it is unfortunate that they didn't improve on this sound. From this point on, most of their music would continue to become more and more radio friendly, even though they never really had much success from that style. Also, this band is still releasing albums, though the line up has changed a lot. Andy Powell has been the only constant member in the line up. Yes, this is a great hard rock album, and if the group followed this style, they may have actually reached a full progressive status. Unfortunately, there are only hints of progressiveness here. Yes, this album is a huge influence, and that cannot be discounted. But it is far from 5 star prog material. Because of it's status, more than anything however, we can manage to give it 4 stars as it is has excellent musicianship and it's strongest points are the twin guitars and the excellent solos.

 The Song Remains The Same (Film) by LED ZEPPELIN album cover DVD/Video, 1990
3.99 | 154 ratings

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The Song Remains The Same (Film)
Led Zeppelin Prog Related

Review by DarkTower

4 stars I discovered Led Zeppelin in 1975 at the age of 12 after my brother bought LZ II. In early 1976, I got the Presence album, their brand new LP. So by the end of the year, when the movie The Song Remains The Same got airplay in theaters, I only know those two albums. I was disappointed that no songs from Presence were played (I didn't know the film was recorded 3 years before), and only a few from II were included.

But I went out the theater with my ears (and eyes) full of pure magic. On the initial watch, all the scenes between songs, not related to the music, were very funny. The mafia sequence of Peter Grant, the policemen, the paper relating the robbery, etc. Years later, when it came out to video, I realized those scenes were pretty boring and long, distracting the viewer from the concert.

Now about the music. All songs are well performed and typical of what was a Zep concert in early 70's. From the extended guitar solo of Stairway to Heaven to the wonderful version of No Quarter, everything fits perfectly. Perhaps the drum solo and Dazed and Confused are a bit too long for some repeated watch, but it is a minor complaint.

About the scenes played by musicians during the songs, I find them enjoyable. Being included in extended versions of songs, they are not disturbing at all. Special mention to Jimmy Page's scene of the hermit on the mountain.

John Bonham died 2 weeks before the 1980 concert scheduled in Montreal. That would have been my first show. Since I never got the chance to see Led Zeppelin live, this movie, along with the 2003 DVD, remain the only occasions to see what I missed.

 Garage Inc. by METALLICA album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
3.45 | 128 ratings

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Garage Inc.
Metallica Prog Related

Review by martindavey87

4 stars Released in 1998 during the heyday of their alternative rock phase, 'Garage Inc.' is a two-disc compilation of covers by heavy metal legends Metallica. Regardless of your thoughts on the band cutting their hair, Napster, Lars' drumming, selling out, Kirk's wah pedal, James being a table, or the countless other things the band have had thrown at them over their careers, one statement that holds up true is that Metallica have always done an incredible job at covering other artists songs.

Of course, part of that is probably the fact that about 95% of these bands would be absolutely unheard of if it weren't for Metallica in the first place. But regardless, Metallica have an incredible talent of doing covers in their own way to truly make the songs their own. With beefier guitars, production and Hetfield's trademark vocal style, pretty much all of these tracks are better than the original.

The first disc consists of covers recorded for this album in 1998, and while the song list is a little hit or miss, for the most part it's a solid effort. Well produced, well performed, and special mention to Hetfield's strong vocals here. The likes of 'Die, Die My Darling', 'Turn the Page', 'Astronomy', 'Whiskey in the Jar' and 'It's Electric' make this an interesting listen.

The second disc is a compilation of any covers the band had recorded in the past, either for various EPs or as singles b-sides. Some are better produced than others, but overall they're a solid bunch too. 'Am I Evil', 'So What', 'Blitzkrieg', 'Helpless', 'Breadfan', 'Last Caress' and 'Stone Cold Crazy' are more-or-less Metallica songs now. Such is the quality of these covers when compared to their original counterparts.

'Garage Inc.' came out at a weird point in Metallica's history. After going alt rock with 'Load' and 'Reload', but prior to working with an orchestra and all the drama that would follow with Napster and 'St. Anger', this album just kind of sits there, a small, subtle reminder that despite everything, Metallica were still metal fans at heart, who've never been afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve. At an excessive two and a quarter hours in duration, this can be a pretty enduring listen, but there's enough decent material here to make 'Garage Inc.' as vital a part of Metallica's discography as any of their studio releases.

 Arena by ASIA album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.32 | 148 ratings

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Arena
Asia Prog Related

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Originally a highly-successful supergroup consisting of Yes' Steve Howe, The Buggles' Geoffrey Downes, Carl Palmer of ELP and the redoubtable ex-King Crimson, Roxy Music and Family vocalist/bassist John Wetton, Asia initially enjoyed enormous success following the release of their 1982 self-titled debut, shifting in excess of ten million copies globally and selling out stadiums across North America, Europe and Japan during subsequent promotional tours. It was a golden start for the quartet, the stuff of dreams, yet it wouldn't last. Follow-up album 'Alpha' sold around a quarter of the debut albums total, a huge drop-off, and various tensions between the members quickly surfaced, so much so, that by the time they were ready to tour Japan in support of 'Alpha' circa 1983, Wetton had been hastily replaced by former King Crimson frontman Greg Lake, the first of many changes that would render Asia a very different beast by the end of decade. Asia's success, such as it was, was originally based on a canny mixture of star persona, FM-friendly AOR tunes and clever marketing, and while at first it worked wonderfully well, the formula was soon exposed for what is reallly was - a corporate promotion, the music industry equivalent of a multi-million dollar blockbuster with little actual artistic merit. Therefore, it is no surprise that the group's popularity nose-dived quite spectacularly from around 1984 onwards, and even many a change in personel failed to arrest the slide. By 1996 the only remaining original member was keyboardist Geoffrey Downes, and the group was now led by vocalist-and-bassist John Payne, who, legend has it, gave up a spot working with Jeff Lynne's ELO to take the job with Asia. As a result, the history of Asia can be split into two distinct sections: the early corporately-charged prog-lite supergroup, and, whisper it, the far superior John Payne-led version who, unlike their predecessors, actually produced progressive-style music, which brings us to the 1996 album 'Arena'. Arguably the finest Asia album yet, 'Arena' featured a line-up comprised of Payne, Downes, guitarists Aziz Ibrahim and Elliott Randall, and drummer Michael Sturgis, hardly an all-star line-up and, on paper at least, a far less exciting proposition that the original quartet. But looks can be deceiving. Whilst the early albums sold well, musically they were the wrong side of appalling. Most music ages, yet the early albums of Asia now sound positively awful, making the lesser albums of Journey, Boston and even Survivor look like polished gems. Of course, Asia was never meant to be another Yes or King Crimson, it was a much more commercial project, yet the waste of talent was truly epic. The real irony is that, almost sixteen years later, Asia, with an almost completely-different line-up, were now making much better, much more complex and interesting music, which far less people were taking notice of. From it's catchy, percussion-led title-track intro, 'Arena' bristles with technically prowess. This is how it should have been from the very beginning. Highlights include the chest-thumping 'Into The Arena', with its huge chorus, the carefully-constructed and musically- eclectic 'Two Sides of The Moon', and the nine-minute 'The Day Before The War', which takes Asia beyond their AOR- based soundscapes and into to full prog-rock mode. At the core of Asia's improvement? John Payne. If you buy just one Asia album, then make sure it is 'Arena'.

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Prog Related bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
10CC United Kingdom
14 BIS Brazil
801 United Kingdom
ABEDUL Spain
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