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SYMPHONIC PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Symphonic Prog definition

Symphonic is without doubt the sub-genre that includes the most bands in Progressive Rock because for many people it's almost synonymous classic Prog, something easy to understand being that most of the classic and/or  pioneer bands released music that could be included in this sub-genre, except JETHRO TULL and PINK FLOYD (who still blended some symphonic elements), even KING CRIMSON who very soon expanded their horizons to more experimental music, made their debut with a Symphonic album, "In the Court of the Crimson King" which is a cornerstone in the development of the genre.

The main characteristics of Symphonic are the ones that defined all Progressive Rock: (There's nothing 100% new under the sun) which among others are:
  • Mixture of elements from different genres.
  • Complex time signatures.
  • Lush keyboards.
  • Explorative and intelligent lyrics, in some cases close to fantasy literature, Sci Fi and even political issues.
  • Non commercial approach
  • Longer format of songs

In this specific case the main characteristic is the influence of Classical music (understood as Orchestral works created from the late Gothic to Modern Classical) using normally more complex structure than other related sub-genres like Neo Progressive (That's why sometimes the borderline that divides Symphonic from Neo is so unclear being that is based mostly in a degree of complexity rather than in an evident structural difference)..It is easy to find long keyboard solos reminiscent of Johan Sebastian Bach or melodic works that could have been written by Handel.

As in any other genre, different Symphonic bands had different approaches to Classical music, for example YES and GENESIS are mainly influenced by the Baroque and Classical periods, while EMERSON LAKE & PALMER has a predilection for post Romantic and modern authors like Mussorgsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Bartok or Ginastera, being that their sound is less melodic and more aggressive.

The peak of the genre starts in 1969 and lasts until the mid/late 70's  (more precisely until the release of A Trick of the Tail), when the genre begins to  blend more mainstream influences that took to the birth of Neo Progressive (a new approach for a new decade).


It is important to remember that even though the creative peak of Symphonic Progressive ended before the 80's, we can find a second birth in the 90's coming from the Scandinavian countries (specially Sweden with ANGLAGARD or PAR LINDH PROJECT) and even bands that still in the 21st Century recreate music from this period like SPOCK'S BEARD or ECHOLYN.

Before ending this short description I feel necessary to say (In order to be strictly accurate) that the term Symphonic is not 100% exact, because these bands very rarely played symphonies and was probably used because the music that influenced the genre was performed by Symphony Orchestras, but it is so widely accepted by the Progressive Rock community that would be absurd and futile for anybody to attempt a change after so much time.

Iván Melgar Morey, Peru 2006



Symphonic Team

Current Team as at 06/02/16

Iván Melgar Morey (Iván_Melgar_M)
Anton Fritz (SouthSideoftheSky)
RdtProg (Louis)

Symphonic Prog Top Albums


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

4.65 | 3776 ratings
CLOSE TO THE EDGE
Yes
4.63 | 3501 ratings
SELLING ENGLAND BY THE POUND
Genesis
4.60 | 3031 ratings
FOXTROT
Genesis
4.44 | 2950 ratings
FRAGILE
Yes
4.41 | 2641 ratings
NURSERY CRYME
Genesis
4.39 | 2184 ratings
MIRAGE
Camel
4.38 | 1876 ratings
MOONMADNESS
Camel
4.39 | 1443 ratings
HYBRIS
Änglagård
4.36 | 2545 ratings
RELAYER
Yes
4.36 | 1068 ratings
SI ON AVAIT BESOIN D'UNE CINQUIÈME SAISON
Harmonium
4.29 | 2468 ratings
THE LAMB LIES DOWN ON BROADWAY
Genesis
4.29 | 2380 ratings
THE YES ALBUM
Yes
4.28 | 1904 ratings
THE SNOW GOOSE
Camel
4.27 | 2139 ratings
A TRICK OF THE TAIL
Genesis
4.30 | 968 ratings
SCHEHERAZADE AND OTHER STORIES
Renaissance
4.33 | 722 ratings
DEPOIS DO FIM
Bacamarte
4.24 | 1723 ratings
EMERSON LAKE & PALMER
Emerson Lake & Palmer
4.26 | 893 ratings
VILJANS ÖGA
Änglagård
4.25 | 838 ratings
HAMBURGER CONCERTO
Focus
4.22 | 870 ratings
LEFTOVERTURE
Kansas

Symphonic Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Symphonic Prog experts team

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL DAY
Exodus
LA MARCHE DES HOMMES
Morse Code
BOOK OF HOURS
Willowglass
L'ARBRE-CIMETIÈRE
Maldoror

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Latest Symphonic Prog Music Reviews


 A Live Record by CAMEL album cover Live, 1978
4.31 | 346 ratings

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A Live Record
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by AlanB

4 stars I bought this on vinyl soon after it was released. The track listing was as listed above for the first CD version. More recently I purchased the album on CD, but it was the expanded edition with extra tracks.

First of all, this album shows the classic line up of Camel at its best, and the sound is enhanced by the addition of Mel Collins on saxophone. Collins makes a difference in particular to the songs Never let Go and Song Within A Song. The tracks are chosen from the albums Camel, Mirage, Moonmadness and Rain Dances, plus there is a full recording of The Snow Goose complete with orchestra. There is also a track Ligging At Louis, which did not appear on any studio album. I have never really appreciated post Peter Bardens Camel, so the selection of songs here is perfect for me.

My one qualm about the CD version that I have is that I would have preferred the tracks on CD1 to have followed the same order as on the original vinyl, with the unreleased songs at the end. I was so used to hearing the album open with Never Let Go that having four tracks from Rain Dances at the start sounds wrong. This wouldn't be a problem for anyone who hadn't owned the original album on vinyl, so maybe I'm being picky, but it doesn't sound right to me.

Top tracks for me: Never Let Go, Lady Fantasy, Song Within A Song, Lunar Sea, and the complete Snow Goose.

 Invention of Knowledge by ANDERSON/STOLT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 87 ratings

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Invention of Knowledge
Anderson/Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

3 stars The remembering

Jon Anderson is one of the more prolific members of the Yes family tree with a large number of solo albums and also several collaborations with other artists over the years, for example with Vangelis in 80's and more recently with fellow Yes man Rick Wakeman and with Fusion violinist Jean-Luc Ponty in the Anderson Ponty Band. The present album is a collaboration with Swedish musician Roine Stolt. I was previously familiar with Stolt from Transatlantic and I also saw him live with Steve Hackett's band recently.

The Invention Of Knowledge is a vocally driven album, and Jon's vocals are almost constantly to the forefront. His voice sounds very well indeed, better than on other recent releases. The style is what I would like to call "soft progressive Rock". A reasonable comparison in terms of the style here could be to Open, a digital only release from Jon which consists of one 20 plus minute epic piece of symphonic music. Anderson/Stolt is not similar to Yes music, but the closest you get is probably on Tales From Topographic Oceans. The mood of The Invention Of Knowledge is almost constantly uplifting and bright and even though the music is thoroughly pleasant and enjoyable, it is not very challenging. I feel that it never really truly gets off the ground and with a running time of over an hour, it tends to get a bit samey at points.

I like The Invention Of Knowledge. Indeed, I think it is better than most of Jon's solo albums and I would say it is one of his best non-Yes releases. It is well worth having certainly, and a nice listen, but I do not find it terribly impressive.

 Invention of Knowledge by ANDERSON/STOLT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 87 ratings

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Invention of Knowledge
Anderson/Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Seemingly a match made in Prog heaven, `Invention of Knowledge' brings together two massive progressive rock icons in Roine Stolt and Yes' Jon Anderson, the two spiritually minded musicians (along with several additional notable prog guests) delivering what is easily the standout Symphonic Progressive work of 2016. This is really a meeting of two vintage prog-era players, because despite finding more personal status in prog circles with the Flower Kings in the Nineties onwards, Roine was one of the key musicians of Seventies Swedish symph-prog group Kaipa, playing on their first few albums. But despite one or two niggling issues discussed later, they've delivered a complex, ambitious and endlessly grand symphonic work that can easily be considered creative high-points in their already endlessly impressive careers.

Although Stolt and Anderson will deservedly receive all the attention, closer inspection behind the scenes reveals several other gifted musicians lending crucial musical contributions to this project. Jonas Reingold, no stranger to the Flower Kings as well as working with side-projects such as Karmakanic, Barracuda Triangle and the Tangent, is simply one of the most consistently impressive bass players currently active in modern prog circles, and as always, his inclusion pretty much makes this album an instant `must buy'. Fellow Karmakanic member and keyboard player Lalle Larsson has also delivered several outstanding solo albums worthy of investigation (especially his `Weaveworld' trilogy and solo piano disc `Until Never'), Michael Stolt, brother of Roine, is from an earlier version of the Flower Kings, and Feliz Lehrmann is the skilled latest drummer from their last few albums. The disc also includes some welcome backing vocals from the likes of Unifaun /Agents of Mercy singer Nad Sylvan and Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlow amongst others, and keyboardist Tom Breslin will be familiar to many Yes followers, being the keyboard player on Yes' superb `Live Symphonic' DVD from 2002. Giving credit to these guests is important, for reasons mentioned later on.

Although early press-release comments compare the album in spirit to Yes' (perhaps!) defining classic `Tales from Topographic Oceans', this is not really the case very often here. It sounds more like the most dense Flower Kings album to date without the flashy soloing given an extremely vocal-heavy fronting by Anderson, so fans of both those groups should be quite at home here. Although comprised of nine tracks, most of the sixty-five minute album is divided into four multi-part pieces. Stolt is no stranger to lengthy compositions in any of his music, and considering the complexity of the album, all of the transitions between passages here are seamless and natural, with plenty of constant clever reprises that slyly return before you even know you're back again! Symphonic themes with plenty of organ, whirring synths and tasty guitar solos rising into the heavens constantly weave in and out of the entire disc, and the sound of Stolt's soloing will be instantly noticeable to Flower Kings and Transatlantic fans, but thankfully he never resorts to aping the tone of Yes' Steve Howe in an attempt to make this sound more `Yes-like'.

But the album pretty much belongs to Jon Anderson (with Stolt surrendering all vocal duties to his more famous counterpart), and to his credit, he hasn't sounded so relaxed, inspired and varied in decades. Jon completely drives the course of the album with his distinctive breezy, hopeful and embracing lead voice, but also surprises with some exquisite multi-part harmonies that seem to hover in the air around the listener, and he leaves Stolt to craft these weighty majestic passages to hold his new age proclamations and spiritual musings. Plenty of passages see the two musicians successfully gelling and complimenting each-other perfectly, others sometimes come across as if Anderson's gems of belief are added on top afterwards, but most of the time the album is surprisingly and consistently cohesive. It's also a welcome relief to find that `Invention of Knowledge' is hardly commercial or (gulp!) AOR-driven, something that many of the older prog-related musicians depressingly resort to!

As for the music itself, the three-part LP side-long length title-track is full of stirring orchestration and victorious chimes, Anderson's voice impossibly pretty and announcing with plenty of rumbling drums, chunky bass spasms, strains of sitar and regal synth veils, Stolt delivering everything from drowsy slide guitar, reflective slow-burn wisps and scorching quick little bursts. The uplifting melody in the opening minutes of the two-part `Knowing' is one of the loveliest moments of the disc with intricate vocal arrangements over commanding organ, piano ringing through and booming symphonic bluster breaking out, and this eighteen-minute track perhaps drifts the closest to Jon's old band, with an almost `Awaken'-like quality in the dreamier spots. "Faith to the real salvation life" Jon offers on the sweetly romantic and reassuring three-part `Everybody Heals', with some crisp soaring guitar runs ringing through from Stolt and very welcome brisk jazzy piano races. `Know...' is simpler and stripped back, floating gracefully and triumphantly, containing some of the only longer instrumental moments of the disc which thankfully allow all the players to shine brightly, and a final reprise of themes from `Knowing' bring a satisfying sense of closure.

But it all comes down to this - How much you enjoy this album may depend on exactly what Jon Anderson personally means to you, because, make no mistake, this whole album is completely geared around his personality, word view and spiritual beliefs. To many, he is in the heart and spirit of true Yes, so many will adopt this as `the best and most true Yes album since (for instance) `Going for the One', but the truth is - this album sounds nothing like Yes. Nor is it an experimental loopy tour- de-force like his `Olias of Sunhillow' solo album was, yet `Invention of Knowledge', whilst sounding nothing like that one either, is absolutely the most complex and dynamic prog-related work he's been involved with since that landmark distinctive release.

If you're one of those more easy-going Yes fans that believe Anderson CAN be a wonderful ingredient to making up the beautiful music of Yes, but are just as thrilled by Steve Howe's fiery guitar runs or Chris Squire's upfront chugging bass, then this album will make you very aware of what's missing - longer instrumental passages. `Invention of Knowledge' boasts some exceptional players providing endless progressive-music colour and skill to the arrangements, but they're almost constantly pushed behind Anderson's airy vocals. There's fleeting little instrumental breaks of 30 seconds or so here and there, but then it's right back to more vocals, and unless you are simply the biggest Anderson fan-boy in the world (which is not actually a slight in any way), this can become very tiresome over the course of an album than runs over an hour. Of course, it's natural with an icon of the genre such as Anderson that he's going to be a main attraction to the work and it makes sense to have him constantly front and center, but it kind of short-changes the contributions of some fine musicians who deserve to given more attention in undistracted showcase opportunities, that you have to sometimes strain to hear in the background beneath the endless vocal trickery.

But in the end, it's still a joyous triumph of progressive music that doesn't merely remain lazily vintage-flavoured or resort to tiredly remaking the sounds of the classic bands of the style. `Invention of Knowledge' is impeccably performed and produced, is lyrically, vocally and musically utterly convincing, even sometimes a little overwhelming, but holding true magic in several standout spots. It should have provided more interludes of longer purely instrumental sections to break up all the vocal flamboyance, but it's no doubt going to remain the biggest symphonic prog moment of the year that lovers of that grandest of prog-rock styles will absolutely adore to bits. Now let's see if the Anderson/Stolt project is going to become a recurring concern or the iconic pair will just leave us with this one teasing masterwork!

Four stars.

 I Me Myself by ANIMA MUNDI album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.11 | 65 ratings

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I Me Myself
Anima Mundi Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I can't remember how I found out about Anima Mundi but perhaps it was three years ago that I decided to buy "Jagannath Orbit" and give the band a try. The music was full blown symphonic prog with layers of keyboards, guitars, percussion and vocals singing about "Love and Light", a Jon Anderson/ Yes inspired album to be sure. I bought a song from "The Way" from iTunes and then left the band for awhile, always thinking to go back and try another album someday. In the meantime, they re-released their debut, this time in English (the original was in their native Spanish) and recorded a new studio album "The Lamplighter". Then some weeks back I saw that Oliver Rüsing of KariBow posted on KariBow's Facebook page that the two bands had shared the bill at one venue and had gotten to know each other. By coincidence someone posted on a Facebook prog page about Anima Mundi's new album "I Me Myself". I gave the music a cursory listen and was stunned. I ordered the album soon after.

I'm not sure what I missed in between but Anima Mundi went from a spiritual and uplifting symphonic prog band complete with a didgeridoo to what sounds a lot like a heavy prog band. This album features some pretty darn heavy guitars and more Hammond organ (catch the organ solo in "Flowers" that references Genesis). The mood is dark, generally speaking though there are some lighter and some almost whimsical parts. Certainly though, this album has lost the floating-on-a- spiritual-high feel that "Jagannath Orbit" had. The title track, and parts of "Somewhere", "Flowers" and "Train to the Future" are so heavy and muscular that this doesn't seem like the same band. I like that!

There's another important aspect and that's the stripped down approach to composition. I feel like this album could have been recorded on an 8-track because there's a simplicity, even sparsity to the music at times with only drums, bass and keyboards or drums, bass and vocals carrying the song. Because of this simpler approach the bass guitar stands out more. Add to this the drums, the Hammond sound, Mellotron, or synthesizers, and the harder, heavier guitar and you have an album that packs a punch!

Not everything is so clenched and gritted though. "Clockwork Heart" offers a sly black-cat-cool jazzy touch and more atmospheric passages take us across the oceans between the rocky continents and islands. There's also a sombre but beautiful piano passage in "Train to the Future", which turns into a kind of requiem or dirge before a Pink Floyd-like guitar solo comes in, accompanied by rising strings. It concludes with strummed acoustic guitar and a cello. Come to think of it, the cello has become a pretty regular instrument to hear on prog albums. The closing song "Lone Rider" includes some flute and is possibly the most relaxed track on the album.

Though there was plenty to catch my attention from the get-go, it's taken me a few listens to really soak in all the sounds and songs. Parts I previously dismissed as less interesting have proven to offer some terrific music reaching for different emotions. With this album Anima Mundi have earned themselves a spot on my bands-to-hear-more list, and with Virginia Peraza's remark saying something to the effect that the trilogy of "The Way", "The Lamplighter" and "I Me Myself" make Anima Mundi's three best albums or something, I will be giving this band more attention.

 Invention of Knowledge by ANDERSON/STOLT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 87 ratings

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Invention of Knowledge
Anderson/Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Close up of brightly coloured flowers. Zoom back to get the sun beaming down from an azure sky with a few billowy cumulus clouds drifting by. Pan to the sparkling river and then pull back to include the full view with green hills and Jon Anderson standing in white robes with his arms held out to his sides, palms to the sky, head back, eyes closed and smiling. Now raise the view higher and begin revolving the camera around him while choirs sing, strings and wood winds play, some uplifting lead rock guitar, keyboards, emphatic percussion...

When Yes released "Fly from Here" in 2011, Jon Anderson was not to be just dropped at the side of the road. Though he'd suffered vocal troubles due to an illness, he soon teamed up with Yes alumni and long time friend Rick Wakeman to produce an album which to my ears was slow, sleepy, pretty, and offered little to captivate my ears. Anderson's vocals sounded frail and shaky. However, a couple of years back I read about how Anderson was enthusiastically writing new music in the spirit of Yes. So when I saw he had teamed up with Roine Stolt, I reckoned that this should be an album with some "adventurous music".

After the first listen, I wasn't sure what I'd heard. At least not in detail. The album sounded like one extended journey through Anderson Land, a sweeping ride through an world of Love, Light, Life, and Truth. Bright smiling faces, vivid colours to lighten the spirits, beams of light, everything and everyone simply radiant. It took three listens before I began to identify a song or two that stood apart, and a fifth listen with full attention to learn to recognize each song for some outstanding feature.

The songs here are essentially sweeping, uplifting, spiritual messages both lyrically and sonically. Anderson's vocals are lead and backing with a chorus of background vocals. Though Stolt is an accomplished lead vocalist with a distinct voice, he's not obvious here. The only times I notice that Roine Stolt is on the album at all is at the albums opening when the music resembles a Flower Kings song (and we know that the Flower Kings are inspired by Yes) and in a few places where the guitar sounds like Stolt's style. As for the other guest musicians, everyone is swept into the sparkling rainbow swirl that is Anderson Land. At times there are classic Yes-like moments with a cascade of bright synthesizer notes, some cheerful guitar chatter, or some conspicuously placed bass notes. Classic Yes it is not however with only a slight resemblance to "Tales from Topographic Oceans", "Relayer" or "Going for the One". I personally feel there's more similarity to "Magnification", "The Ladder" or even "Keys to Ascension", though notably different due to the absence of Maestros Howe, Wakeman, and Squire.

Some reasons that the music all seems at first to be part of the same spiritualized hippy fantasy nebula is because a number of songs segue into each other while the songs have a free-flowing structure, shifting to new melodies and themes within songs and sometimes drifting through gentle atmospheres or rising up to powerful crescendos. One never knows so readily if a song has shifted gears or if another has begun unless you're paying attention, which is not easy to do as it's easy to get drifting on a glowing cloud while watching cherubim and rainbow-horned unicorns dancing by. There's also the fact that some songs reprise the lyrics and accompanying melodies from other songs, so with your mind sailing through radiant beams of light and love, you might be excused for thinking that "Knowledge" is still "Invention".

Nevertheless, this is not a bad album by any means. If you can handle about 65 minutes of "Love and Light" lyrics about truth, holding Jon's hand, standing together, and the Spirit coming to you, you are eternal, etc., and Anderson Land theme music, then fans of the force behind Yes music and what inspires The Flower Kings should enjoy this. This is where Yes could have / might have been by now if Anderson had stayed on with them.

Or this is just where Jon Anderson has always been traveling toward. Three stars, four stars, five stars all possible. If there's a two star rating or two I wouldn't be completely surprised. But you can't deny the greatness of the effort that goes into making an album like this.

 The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway by GENESIS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.29 | 2468 ratings

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The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
Genesis Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

5 stars Review nº 79

As all we know, Genesis is a British progressive rock group formed in 1967 when Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford were students at Charterhouse School at Godalming, in Surrey. The band reached their highest point when they saw joined to them Steve Hackett and Phil Collins. After the recording of three studio albums "Nursery Crime" in 1971, "Foxtrot" in 1972 and "Selling England By The Pound" in 1973, which are, in general, considered their best studio works, Genesis decided to make a new studio album, "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway".

"The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" is their sixth studio album. It's a very ambitious album, a double conceptual album, which was recorded and released in 1974, and it marked the culmination of the group's early history, and which became a landmark in the progressive rock music. It's a conceptual album with a very involved story and a large cast of characters. The album tells a surrealistic story of a young Puerto Rican delinquent named Rael who lives in New York swept to an alternate dimension with bizarre creatures and other hazards to rescue his brother John. The story describes his spiritual journey and his quest to establish his freedom and identity. Several events and places described are derived from Gabriel's dreams, and the protagonist's name is also a pun of his own surname.

Although, despite all the songs have been signed by all band's members, the music of most of them were only written by Banks, Collins, Hackett and Rutherford, without the participation of Gabriel, who wrote the story and all the lyrics alone. This fact created a very strange situation with Gabriel writing apart from the others. On their previous albums writing music has always been a group's effort and the lyrics always were written by various members of the band. That fact caused great tension in the group, especially and particularly because Rutherford had suggested originally a conceptual album based on "The Little Prince", a famous novel by the French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

"The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" marks also the strained relations between the band's members, particularly between Banks and Gabriel. So, it wasn't a completely strange thing that during "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" live tour, Gabriel have announced to his band colleagues that he had decided to leave the group. However, he fully fulfilled his commitments with the band to the conclusion of the entire live tour.

In contrast to the other albums made by Genesis, "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" is a collection of short tracks. Originally, the album was released as a double vinyl disc with four sides and twenty three tracks. The album is set up in a remarkable fashion, with the first LP being devoted to more oriented rock songs and the second being largely devoted to more instrumental tracks. So, the first LP is without any question, far more direct than the second. It contains a number of masterpieces, such as the eponymous first track "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", the fifth track "In The Cage" and the tenth track "The Carpet Crawlers". These three tracks of the album are some of the most favourite's songs for the band and were frequently performed by them, on their live shows even as solo artists.

"The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" is a massive monolith among the works of Genesis. It's their only double studio album, it's their only true conceptual album, it's their last release with Gabriel and it's their only album that was played in full on the accompanying live tour. So, many things about this album are remarkable. The music is ethereal at times and groovy at others and the lyrics on the album are very polished. It also has already been mentioned by some that describes this album as the Genesis's most American work. This is a very special album in their entire musical career.

Conclusion: "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" is a colossal and a fantastic studio work. It's largely a Gabriel's conceptual album, and it's also unfortunately, his swansong with Genesis. Despite the conceptual and musical differences, "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" is for Genesis at the same level as "Tales From Topographic Oceans" is for Yes. Who've read my review about "Tales From Topographic Oceans", knows that I love that album too. However, the mainly difference between these two pieces of music is that "Tales From Topographic Oceans" is a very controversial album and very few consensual for fans, prog heads and even for the band's members themselves. While with "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", it isn't the same thing. But above all, it's a pity that after this extraordinary album Gabriel had to leave the band. However, in every way, this is a considerable and lasting achievement work and it will be always a milestone in the entire band's work. They had gone as far as they could together, and the simple question is this. What would have been Genesis, if Gabriel remained in the group? We will never know, really. The true is that with his last participation on "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway", Gabriel left the band through the front door.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 In Concert 1973 by FOCUS album cover Live, 2016
4.00 | 1 ratings

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In Concert 1973
Focus Symphonic Prog

Review by friso
Prog Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Finally we have a good sounding live recording of the classic Focus line-up; Van Leer, Akkerman, de Ruiter, Van der Linden. Focus in Concert 1973 sounds better then At the Rainbow and has a more interesting tracklist as well. Showing both their heavy rock side (Anonymous, Hocus Pocus, Sylvia) and their ability to play fine melodic tunes like Focus I, II and III. The recording sound is a bit rough, yet full of detail and spaciousness. A real live recording. Sometimes cleaning up takes away the liveliness. Perhaps Akkerman isn't the king of tone, but boy does he play like a fanatic and it does cut through the mix nicely. This is same year he was named best guitar player in the world.

The first three sides (track 1-7) are from the Partis Theater, London, January 1973. The opening track, Anonymous II is perhaps the most interesting track. In 23 minutes the band shows us what it's all about: combining classical music and jazz in a hard rock atmosphere of excitement and fierce playing. On this first side of the record you can hear all members of the band excelling on their instrument, showing why this was definitely one the best bands ever to come out of the Netherlands. The dynamics of this recording are great and the band jams more subtle and soulful then it would do in later years. On the second side the band plays some of its more melodic songs with Akkerman interpreting his timings freely, thus creating an interesting listening experience for those who have listened to the albums often. Answers? Questions! drags on a bit with its moody improvisations, but the atmosphere has a nice sophistication to it. Side three is a bit more exciting with a great version of Hocus Pocus. Such energy! Thijs van Leer's showmanship really shows here.

The fourth side (track 8-10) has live television studio recordings, Londen, December 1972. The quality of these recordings is significantly less good. The band does play very well on Eruption and Hocus Pocus. Perhaps interesting as an archival release, I myself wil mainly listen to the first three sides of this 2LP edition.

Conclusion. This is the best Focus live record of the classic line-up I know of and I can warmly recommend it to fans of the band and fans of great lively concert recordings. Much better then Live at the Rainbow. Four and a halve stars. Don't miss it!

 Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison by HARMONIUM album cover Studio Album, 1975
4.36 | 1068 ratings

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Si On Avait Besoin D'Une Cinquième Saison
Harmonium Symphonic Prog

Review by froggie471

3 stars Well, I just registered because I was so surprised to find "Si on avait besoin d'une cinquième saison" reviewed on a progressive rock forum.

I was a teen when this album came out and I lived in QC for most of my life. Harmonium was a folk rock band, typical french canadian style. Nothing to do with Yes, Genesis, ELP, Emerson or even Rush. Now that I live in the States, I think Harmonium was a mix between Grateful Dead and Neil Young. I painted the album cover (double) with a friend of mine on panels near by the highschool library. It was an art project. I was a big Genesis fan (early stuff) but I've never asssociated Harmonium with progressive music. They were a band that had a different style on each of their album. The first album (Harmonium-Harmonium) is the best to my taste. It's really inspiring because of the guitars and melodies. "La cinquième saison" (we made a short name for it...after a while) was mostly appreciated to relax. That was not the album you would play during a party.

I don't mean to say that it's not a good album, not at all! But to "classify" music is sometimes tricky. French Canadians have different roots and a different culture. So I would say that the music was typical rock-folk from the 70's in QC. It's a bit like you can't say Jethro Tull was as "hard rock" as Led Zeppelin. Tull was a lot more acoustic even if Page was great with an acoustic guitar. Just not the same feel.

However, this is a good album. I would believe Harmonium lost a bit their "voice" when they did "L'Heptade". It was almost a mystic album. Lyrics were mostly repetitive poems and personaly, I just can't figure why they had such a shift in their style.

I never thought this album would be mentionned in an anglophone forum. It's indeed an album to discover but their first album is a must.......even if it's still not progressive rock.

Sorry for my bad English :)

 Invention of Knowledge by ANDERSON/STOLT album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.98 | 87 ratings

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Invention of Knowledge
Anderson/Stolt Symphonic Prog

Review by davemuttillo

5 stars Truly an epic album. This album reminds you just how essential Jon was to the sound and music of Yes. On "Invention of Knowledge" Jon soars to new heights as one of the great masters of his craft. Lyrically, IoK carries on where Magnification leaves off. Musically, I find more similarities to Relayer. This is classic style Yes music. Truly, Invention of Knowledge sounds more like Yes, than the current Yes line-up does. Anderson/Stolt is the best Yes album in a good many years. And, it is possibly the best solo album of Jon's long and illustrious career outside Yes. From the opening notes of the title track to the final sound of "Know" Anderson/Stolt delivers the goods.
 Breathless by CAMEL album cover Studio Album, 1978
3.13 | 643 ratings

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Breathless
Camel Symphonic Prog

Review by VianaProghead

3 stars Review Nº 78

Camel is, in my humble opinion and unfortunately, an underrated band in the progressive rock world, probably due to the simplicity of their music. For Camel, create music is a very simple thing. A bunch of guys, with guitar, keyboards, bass and drums, are capable to create clear and simple melodies with changes of rhythm and variations, all over the songs, with great creativity and improvisation. This is all very simple, nothing hidden, everything is visible and with no tricks. The result is music with very high quality, simplicity and beauty. However, that never changed the fact that Camel always was regarded as one of the most creative and respected bands in the progressive rock music.

So, no wonder that Camel's music continues influencing many other musicians, even in our days. The Opeth's front man Mikael Akerfeldt, has stated many times that Camel is one of the major influences in his music. For instance, the song "Benighted" from Opeth's fourth studio album "Still Life" released in 1999, has some resemblance to Camel's song "Never Let Go" and the song "Ending Credits" from Opeth's seventh studio album "Damnation" released in 2003, has also extraordinary similarities with the usual sound of Camel. "Endings Credits" represents his homage to Camel.

"Breathless" is the sixth studio album of Camel and was released in 1978. It's the last album from the group that features the band's original keyboardist Peter Bardens, who unfortunately left the band before the tour of the album. It ended with one of the best duos of progressive rock composers ever. It seems that Andrew Latimer and Bardens conflicted frequently during the recording of their previous fifth studio album "Rain Dances" released in 1977. Those tensions would come to an end during the making of "Breathless". Once it was completed, Bardens quit the group.

"Breathless" has nine tracks. The first track is the title track "Breathless". It was written by Latimer, Bardens and Andy Ward and represents one of the most beautiful and melodic songs, with a touch of pop, that I've ever listen to from a progressive band. This is an excellent example how a progressive group can make a really good pop song. The second track "Echoes" also written by Latimer, Bardens and Ward is a typical Camel's song and represents one of the most progressive songs on the album. It's a song with great Latimer's guitar working. It's certainly the best track on the album. This is Camel at their best. The third track "Wing And A Prayer" written by Latimer and Bardens is another song with a touch of pop and it has some similarities with the opener track "Breathless". However, for me, it's a less good song despite have a very good and interesting Mel Collins' saxophone working. The fourth track "Down On The Farm" written by Richard Sinclair is a humorous song, but it doesn't sounds as a Camel's song. Sincerely, it sounds more like a Caravan's song, which is very natural given his previous connection with that group. Bardens didn't like the song and he doesn't play it. It seems that he was right, because despite being not a bad song, it has nothing to do with Camel's sound. It should never be recorded by Camel. The fifth track "Starlight Ride" written by Latimer and Bardens is a song that sounds very different and it has a sort of a melancholic style. It's a pretty short track, but sincerely, the final result is a forgettable song. The sixth track "Summer Lightning" written by Latimer and Sinclair is another track with a touch of pop music with a repetitive dancing rhythm. It has some good Latimer's guitar solos which make of it an interesting track. The seventh track "You Make Me Smile" written by Latimer and Bardens is one of the more popish songs of the album and it has also a repetitive dancing rhythm. This is probably the weakest and the most disappointing song on the album. It doesn't make me smile at all. The eighth track "The Sleeper" written by Latimer, Bardens, Ward and Collins is an instrumental song and is the other progressive track of the album. Despite it sounds to a Camel's song with a slightly jazzy touch, it isn't as good as "Echoes" is. The ninth track "Rainbow's End" written by Latimer and Bardens ends the album nicely. It's a short song very calm and melancholic with beautiful chorus and good musical arrangements. In the end, "Rainbow's End", closes the album with a certain beautiful musical style.

Conclusion: "Breathless" is, without any kind of doubt, the weakest Camel's album released by this magnificent duo of musicians and composers Latimer and Bardens unfortunately. However, in my humble opinion, "Breathless" is far way from being a bad album. It has some good songs and it has also some others, which are interesting. I recommend strongly "Echoes" and "The Sleeper", which are definitely the two best and most progressive tracks on the album. But unfortunately, it has also "You Make Me Smile" with its dreadful disco sound, which is definitely the lower point of the album. So, the highlights are so few that can't make of it a great album. But unfortunately, "Breathless" represents also the Bardens' farewell to the band, the band that he left, but where he will be connected forever. And as a consequence of his departure, Camel could never be the same again, despite the excellence of their sound of the 90's.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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