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PROTO-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Proto-Prog definition

The denomination Proto Prog comes from the combination of two words, Proto from the Greek The earliest,. and Prog which as we know is a short term for Progressive Rock, so as it's name clearly indicates, refers to the earliest form of Progressive Rock or Progressive Rock in embryonary state.

These bands normally were formed and released albums before Progressive Rock had completely developed (there are some rare Proto Prog bands from the early 70's, because the genre didn't expanded to all the Continents simultaneously

The common elements in all these bands is that they developed one or more elements of Prog, and even when not completely defined as part of the genre, they are without any doubt, an important stage in the evolution of Progressive Rock.

Generally, Proto Prog bands are the direct link between Psyche and Prog and for that reason the Psychedelic components are present in the vast majority of them, but being that Progressive Rock was born from the blending of different genres, we have broadened the definition to cover any band that combined some elements of Progressive Rock with other genres prior to 1970.

Some of these bands evolved and turned into 100% Prog, while others simply choose another path, but their importance and contribution in the formative period of Prog can't be denied, for that reason no Prog site can ignore them.

Iván Melgar - Morey

Proto-Prog Top Albums


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

4.49 | 1179 ratings
ABBEY ROAD
Beatles, The
4.49 | 689 ratings
QUADROPHENIA
Who, The
4.38 | 1089 ratings
REVOLVER
Beatles, The
4.35 | 1338 ratings
DEEP PURPLE IN ROCK
Deep Purple
4.36 | 1212 ratings
SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
Beatles, The
4.34 | 1336 ratings
MACHINE HEAD
Deep Purple
4.43 | 685 ratings
WHO'S NEXT
Who, The
4.33 | 798 ratings
THE DOORS
Doors, The
4.25 | 616 ratings
STRANGE DAYS
Doors, The
4.18 | 877 ratings
MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR
Beatles, The
4.27 | 511 ratings
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: ARE YOU EXPERIENCED
Hendrix, Jimi
4.15 | 970 ratings
THE BEATLES [AKA: THE WHITE ALBUM]
Beatles, The
4.00 | 648 ratings
TOMMY
Who, The
3.97 | 866 ratings
RUBBER SOUL
Beatles, The
4.06 | 453 ratings
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: ELECTRIC LADYLAND
Hendrix, Jimi
4.00 | 580 ratings
L.A. WOMAN
Doors, The
4.02 | 363 ratings
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: AXIS - BOLD AS LOVE
Hendrix, Jimi
4.15 | 205 ratings
TWELVE DREAMS OF DR. SARDONICUS
Spirit
3.86 | 918 ratings
BURN
Deep Purple
3.96 | 382 ratings
NOW WHAT?!
Deep Purple

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews


 Face Dances by WHO, THE album cover Studio Album, 1981
2.50 | 145 ratings

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Face Dances
The Who Proto-Prog

Review by SeeHatfield

3 stars Tiptoeing into high school, around fourteen going on fifteen, I had a bedside clock radio with embedded cassette player: a little box in faux wood veneer that sang me to sleep, woke me in the morning, and kept me tapped into Top Forty pop on the AM band. I followed the hit parade for a while, listened out for singles I especially liked, and began, slowly, to buy mainstream pop albums. This was the early 1980, and I'm still embarrassed by some of the records I liked back then. When I was not quite sixteen, one single I keenly listened out for was The Who's "You Better, You Bet," or its abridged AM version anyway, a song that has been on my mind ever since. I couldn't wait for that song to come round on my clock radio again and again. Frankly, I didn't understand the lyric; it was a hymn to hedonism with a desperate edge, a giddy, decadent thing about nightlife and sex and things I knew nothing about. Very adult. I might have thought I understood the lyric (I prided myself on getting the reference to a razor line), but no way could I have understood what it took to get Pete Townshend to write it. It's a song about a man who's a mess, after all.

The record sounded great to me at the time, and so Face Dances became my first Who album (unless it was Who Are You, which I got around the same time?). The Who may not be a prog band, but to my mind much of their work is progressive rock, and my interest in them helped nudge me out of Top Forty pop into album rock, so that, between sixteen and seventeen, I became a prog devotee. I listened to Face Dances a lot -- though, again, I'd say that I didn't really know where it was coming from, or what it made it so decadent and weird. I knew it had to do with Pete Townshend being unhappy, even unhappy with the business of being a rock star, but what could that possibly have meant to me?

In hindsight, I think Face Dances' main value was that it got me to listen to The Who. Alas, as an album it doesn't hold up. I started to figure that out long ago, and for years, I've faulted the production by American AOR ace Bill Szymzyk (of Eagles and Joe Walsh fame). The record sounds muffled and airless, deadened. But I have to admit that the songs too are a problem: a mixed bag, including several well-polished duds. Elaborately arranged, and awash in Townshend's and John (Rabbit) Bundrick's keyboards, the songs swirl and bubble, but percolating synths can't hide the general air of dissipation and anomie. Nor can the muscular playing of bassist John Entwistle and new drummer Kenny Jones, who ought to cut through the enveloping fug but can't, quite. The sound is bland and felted over, but more importantly, the songs are often wan, bemused, and self-regarding -- fatally self-conscious navel-gazers, at a time when Townshend was nearly killing himself with drink and drugs and clubbing, all to the tune of damn, I really hate being in this band that made me famous.

Tellingly, Townshend's solo albums from this period, produced by Chris Thomas, are way better than Face Dances or the Who albums that came right before and after it. They sound tighter and punchier despite Pete's self-absorption, and they boast many grand and piercing songs (Empty Glass is one of the great rock albums of the early 1980s). What's more, the demos for Face Dances that can be heard on Townshend's Scoop compilations are better than the final Who versions: Pete's "You Better, You Bet" sounds drunk and nuts (the piano glisses are insane), his "Don't Let Go the Coat" sounds like effervescing indy pop (so much more rhythmically exciting than The Who's take), and so on. At this point, even when Pete is losing it, he makes better tracks on his own than with his old band.

Pete's version of "You Better" outpaced The Who's in my heart years ago.

Townshend's reflexive, self-pitying lyrics here may not plumb the depths of bathos reached on Who Are You (whose outtake "No Road Romance" has got to be one of his most pitiful). But "Daily Records" gives the earlier record a run for its money: They say it's just a stage in life / But I know by now the problem is a stage. And when Townshend is not making his discontent obvious, the hermetic lyrics of "Cache, Cache" and "Did You Steal My Money" still sound like complaining, albeit through a filter of eyebrow-cocking irony. The latter song joins the cod-epic wanking anthem "How Can You Do It Alone?" on the list of Townshend's most obnoxious novelties, right up there with "Squeeze Box." It's embarrassing, the more so for touches of musical grandeur like the martial, pipe-and- drum (synth-and-drum) interval in the break. For a song about masturbation, it's, well, proggy.

Entwistle's two songs here are crusted with cliches, but "The Quiet One," a right snarler, spins the cliches to advantage, snapping at the hands that feed with vengeful irony (Still waters run deep / So be careful I don't drown you). It's a song about Entwistle's own taciturn reputation, suitably nasty, delivered in Entwistle's own harsh rasp. Musically, it slashes away nicely -- a quick burst of big chords and febrile drumming, seesawing among a very few notes while Pete works variations in the simple riff. This gives Pete a chance to let rip, and the record could have used more of that -- the wet blanket of Szymzyk's sound can't smother it. Entwistle's other number, "You," is draggier, a lumbering catalog of misogynistic rock 'n' roll chestnuts. In a word, bad.

Let's be honest: The Who were hell to work with in the studio at this point. Really, they weren't a functional band. Szymzyk, who has criticized the album's sound and called the job the worst of his career, tells stories about singer Roger Daltrey avoiding sessions with the other members of the band. The whole Who were hardly ever present together, as Daltrey's straight-edge careerism and hardheadedness put him at odds with the boozy fecklessness (frankly, alcoholism) that hovered round the rest of the group. Everything was a mess. Townshend was drinking like a sponge and offering Szymzyk and the band songs of either confessional or trivially humorous bent. Entwistle and Szymzyk fought over the bass parts; Entwistle would later complain of Szymzyk's numbing perfectionism and lack of spontaneity, and Szymzyk would complain of Entwistle overplaying. As for Kenny Jones, he was in the unenviable, post-Keith Moon drummer's stool, playing for keeps but in the very definition of a no-win situation. The Who had outlived itself and its members were half-broken. Szymzyk's brand of meticulousness -- comping vocals, insisting on multiple takes, trying to tamp down the craziness -- turned out to be no savior.

It's not all bad, of course. Face Dances is a Who album, so it features one of the smartest songwriters and arrangers in rock. The fact that Townshend was writing synth-pop at this point, rather than anthemic rock, maybe bugged some fans, but Pete was eager to do new things even when he was killing himself by degrees. The arrangements could have shimmered had they not been (by Szymzyk's own admission) compressed to death. "You Better, You Bet" is still a good single. And dig the chiming twelve-string guitars that anchor that song and "Daily Records" (the latter reminding me of the way The Beach Boys open "Sloop John B"). Meanwhile, Entwistle's bass, sometimes galloping, sometimes hopscotching, does great service. The way he works under and around the verse is the one good thing about "How Can You Do It Alone?" Jones, underrated, is a powerhouse, drumming solidly with occasional explosive fills. Granted, Jones would sound better if not recorded like Don Henley -- the big kit and high toms are very 70s, with little snare and no sizzle, and the mix is turgid. Jones, in other words, gets Szymzyked.

Daltrey works as hard as anyone, with a deliberate, at times droll delivery, as when he caresses some of the sleazier lyrics in "Did You Steal My Money" and "How Can You Do It Alone?" (They simply relax and lay back, etc.). He works over these lines theatrically; I bet he thought carefully about how to deliver them, and then sang them the same damn way, over and over. He probably didn't know what to think of the insular "Daily Records" and "Cache, Cache," but he sang them anyway. Daltrey by this period strikes me as a mannered rather than spontaneous singer: he works hard to make Townshend's lyrics scan, comes up with phrasing and asides to fill the empty spaces, and then replays the same seemingly tossed-off bits over and over, on demand. Though in life Daltrey was far from sympathizing with Pete's excesses, he interprets the lyrics here with a professional's patience and a certain lusty hamminess (and a bit of wink-wink-nudge-nudge, know what I mean?). Roger, the sane and settled pro, ends up play-acting through Pete's sybaritic overkill. The results, which are mannerist and funny, will appeal to some listeners and repel others. Daltrey does try.

It's strange to feel grateful for an album that you don't think is very good. I do feel grateful, though I find myself daydreaming about Townshend leaving The Who after Moon's death, or even earlier, and following his muse into other things. Above all, Face Dances feels like a determinedly adult (hell, middle-aged by rock standards) delaying action that thematizes growing up and the inevitability of compromise but also sounds, well, sadly compromised. Kudos to Townshend and the band for not sitting still thematically -- but this one sounds like it's coming well after the fire. Pete's next album, All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, is much better.

 Now What?! by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.96 | 382 ratings

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Now What?!
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

5 stars The band is still releasing albums after more than 50 years, delivering their sophisticated hard rock driven by the great organ and the excellent guitar work of Mr. Morse. This album is full of solid songs with the same energy as the past. The first song puts you in the mood for what comes next. As the title says, "A Simple Song" has a slow intro before the blast of guitars and the typical Deep Purple hooks with an intact Ian Gillan voice. We don't miss Jon Lord's keys here; maybe he is still there. In the second track, you can enjoy Don Airey, who is on fire with tasty keyboard lines. "Out of Hand" continues to impress with this catchy hook and a second part that shows the great guitar playing of Morse. "Hell to Pay" begins with a straightforward hard rock vibe before a nice ELP break where you think you are listening to Keith Emerson in the song "Rondo." "Body Line, the drum intro, makes you think it's the beginning of the song "Animate" by Rush; no, it's the typical bluesy groove of the band. "Above and Beyond" brings some Prog Rock parts that are simply brilliant! The next song gives us a little break with a change of pace in a lighter atmosphere. The longest track of the album, "Uncommon Man," goes back and forth from peaceful moments to more dynamic passages. "Apres Vous" has some symphonic arrangement in the middle before Don Airey and Morse show their talent. We have again that symphonic arrangement in the "Vincent Price" intro, which is a nice ending to the album.

It's not often that a band that has been around for more than 50 years can write music of that quality. The inspiration for great songwriting is still there, and for me, it's on the same level as their past albums.

 Concerto for Group and Orchestra by DEEP PURPLE album cover Live, 1969
3.30 | 344 ratings

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Concerto for Group and Orchestra
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As a fan of Deep Purple, I really enjoy a whole lot of their works, especially their output from 1969 through 1974, crafting some very excellent hard rock movements that dip to all sorts of genres. From the still young heavy metal, to psychedelic rock, to blues, and even sometimes a bit of prog rock. They certainly created a big name for themselves in the rock mythos, especially their late keyboardist Jon Lord, who composed for their very first live record, Concerto For Group And Orchestra.

This is a live album released in the states in 1969, and soon released in Europe in 1970. It was recorded live in the Royal Albert Hall, accompaniment with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Malcolm Arnold. In this point of the band's careers, they certainly were quite big, though not big enough to be known for such songs like Child In Time or Smoke On The Water yet. In fact, next to groups like Moody Blues, The Mothers, and Procol Harum, they were considered as an early prog group, before they diverted to a more hard rock sound that was gaining popularity within the 70s. This record will be known as the last of Deep Purple's overtly progressive days, as the album after this, Deep Purple In Rock, will mark the band going away from prog for a good amount of time.

As one of the last of these prog days, I believe Concerto is a very underappreciated album in the genre, and certainly one that shouldn't be overlooked. It contains all the right beats for an amazing symphonic prog record, featuring amazing orchestration courtesy of Jon Lord, and some of the best guitar melodies I think you could possibly ask for. For its time, symphonic prog was a lot more tranquil, with albums such as Days Of Future Passed having more mellow symphonies entwined with the rock music. While those types of symphonics are good, I believe Concerto marked when symphonic prog could truly become more than just soft music, creating these bombastic scores, with each song being epics in their own right. You can possibly hear certain elements that'd be utilized for future prog albums here, namely those by ELP, Renaissance, and Focus.

Speaking of symphonics, Jon Lord has a very great ear for the classical side of things, as each movement comprises these very wonderful orchestrations that are very fit and focused, none leaving me feeling as if there is something missing. Though, I will say the conducting barely gives the band themselves time to really play to their fullest. I don't quite mind as I like classical music, but keep in mind this is more of a Jon Lord album, rather than a full Deep Purple album.

However when Deep Purple does show up, it is very magical. They have a real knack when it comes to playing with more classical elements, with one of their best moments on display in the second part of the second movement, near the middle half, creating for this almost Disney-like music, featuring a very wonderful guitar passage from Blackmore.

Now, I will say that I think a big reason why many might not fully enjoy this record is simply due to the audio quality. The quality of the audio isn't bad, in fact for a live album recorded in the 60s it is fantastic, but it definitely shows weakness from time to time. Since the music on here is quite long, and this was put on vinyl before any other medium, they would have to accommodate space on the vinyl for more music, and as we all know: less space on vinyl = not so stellar sound quality. I can actually hear when the audio gets a bit more rough around the edges with the second tracks on each side, as they are oddly a lot more bassy, with some quality of the original recordings having a bit of loss. You can hear it in the first part of the second movement towards the end with Ian Gillan's vocals, and especially in the first half of the third movement. I am not too worried about sound quality, as I still think for what it is it's a very good recording, but I cannot deny the scars on this album are rather noticeable.

I think this is one of the more underappreciated live experiences, and certainly one that deserves a bit more love. I think you should check this one out if the whole prospect of symphonics merged with rock fancies you in any way, and I also implore those who weren't satisfied with this record to give it another shot. Definitely an album to seek out if you wish for some very nice symphonic prog from a much harder band.

Best tracks: First Movement: Moderato - Allegro, Second Movement: Andante (Conclusion)

Worst tracks: Second Movement: Andante Part 1, Third Movement: Vivace - Presto

 S.F. Sorrow by PRETTY THINGS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.31 | 98 ratings

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S.F. Sorrow
The Pretty Things Proto-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 735

The Pretty Things is a British rock band formed in London in the earliest of the 60's. They seemed like rivals to The Rolling Stones at the time. Their guitarist Dick Taylor played bass in the first incarnation of The Rolling Stones, not long before he teamed up with Phil May to form The Pretty Things in 1963. But Taylor tired of bass, left it to concentrate on art. Soon, he was convinced by fellow Sidcup Art School student May to form The Pretty Things. The duo brought in the bassist John Stax, guitarist Brian Pendleton and drummer Pete Kitley. The latter would soon be replaced by Viv Prince.

The Pretty Things was one of the pioneer bands of what became known, in the 60's, as the British Rock Invasion. But, The Pretty Things was a band that never got the recognition that they deserved like many contemporary countrymen such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. However, despite this lack of recognition, they were never quite ignored. They were able of cultivating a passionate following cult of fans that stuck with them through the decades, a cult that was drawn to either their early albums, especially their great masterwork "S.F. Sorrow". The Pretty Things shifted a bit with the times but despite these changes in style, they rarely racked up hits on either side of the Atlantic.

The Pretty Things is the band responsible for the first rock opera album, which was "S.F. Sorrow" and not "Tommy" of The Who. "S.F. Sorrow" was recorded on the legendary Abbey Road studios, six months after "Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band" of The Beatles and "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" of Pink Floyd. It was highly acclaimed by the public and critics. It's been said that Pete Townshend was influenced by "S.F. Sorrow" to write "Tommy" one year later.

"S.F. Sorrow" is a conceptual album. It tells the story of Sebastian F. Sorrow, a sort of a British common man from cradle to grave, whose beleaguered life is mired in tragedy and misfortune. The tale and the songs are a bit downbeat and no amount of scrutiny can disguise the fact that the rock opera "S.F. Sorrow" is, ultimately, a bit confusing effort. But if it helped to inspire "Tommy", it was already worth it, although Townshend has claimed it had no influence on his writing. The narrative of "S.F. Sorrow" is different from others in the rock opera concept genre. While "Tommy" and "The Wall" relay their concept through the lyrics of their songs, the Pretty Things tell the bulk of the story through small paragraph-like chapters which were printed in the liner notes of the LP and the CD, alternating with the song's lyrics.

"S.F. Sorrow" isn't an album with a great load of melodies as we can see on others and there isn't a single instantly memorable riff or a single smashing vocal melody on the album. But, it's the incredible and exciting atmosphere all over the album that one just has to soak in. In a certain way, "S.F. Sorrow" takes a little bit of everything Britain was living on at the time, pop, psychedelia, hard rock, magic and mystery, illusions and naiveness, beauty and ugliness. In the songs, we can feel everything that the band raised on, the Beatlesque harmonies, Rolling Stones grittiness, Kinks humbleness, Hendrix guitars, and early Pink Floyd schizophrenia, and, what's more, lots of things that would follow on.

"S.F. Sorrow Is Born" features intricate acoustic bending, driving rhythm, and vibrant flourishes. "Bracelets of Fingers" begins with a vocal harmony and precedes a standard rock format. "She Says Good Morning" livens up the mood and carries a rich sound. "Private Sorrow" is a march-like psychedelic beat. It has nice vocals and is quite complex. "Balloon Burning" is a hard-rock upbeat. It has great guitar and nice vocals. "Death" has a harrowing, eerie and melancholic atmosphere thanks to the doom-like blues riff. It's a dark instrumental. "Baron Saturday" is an eccentric track with quality. "The Journey" starts with its weave of acoustic and electric guitars before going out with an acid trip in the ending. "I See You" enhances the mood with its slow, lumbering rhythm augmented by haunting vocals and a scathing lead guitar. "Well Of Destiny" disturbs the brooding effect of the previous tracks and transitions into the piano song, "Trust". "Old Man Going" is a true high point with a touch of glam-rock. It has great guitar work and gentle choral work. "Loneliest Person" is the ballad-like closer that uses a pretty acoustic arrangement. It's nice, simple and mellow.

Conclusion: It's usual to think that "Tommy" was the first rock opera, but actually, "S.F. Sorrow" was the first one. I'm not getting into the discussion if "S.F. Sorrow" is most important than "Tommy" is. But, it's clear to me that, since "S.F. Sorrow" came out first, Townshend was influenced by the storyline and the concept. If you think that "S.F. Sorrow" has no pretensions and no bombast as opposed to Townshend's project, don't believe it. This is an equally mystical and convoluted story with a plot that's even harder to guess. While the subject matter of "S.F. Sorrow" be a wee bit more grounded, the overall message is even less clear than of "Tommy". It's a pity that "S.F Sorrow" be an underrated work. I really think that took a lot of guts for The Pretty Things make an album so out of sync with the times, and the collective imagination that went into its creation. It's really hard to deny the validity of its message and the strength of its music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Beatles [Aka: The White Album] by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.15 | 970 ratings

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The Beatles [Aka: The White Album]
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by alainPP

3 stars 1. Back In The U.S.S.R. pop rock in function, boogie yes, the solo that takes your breath away just to take a stand even in the USSR 2. Dear Prudence acoustic guitar and almost 4 minutes, the longest and most monolithic title 3. Glass Onion with stringed instruments and a melodic sound that will be taken up by the XTC; cinematic music from BOF about gangsters 4. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and the first hit of the album, do you need a hit to exist? ob la di it doesn't matter, it's anchored in our heads; spaghetti western rock or festive pop whatever you want 5. Wild Honey Pie as Charisma interlude, you know Alice's 6. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill where we go to Andalusia 5'' before a good-natured festive title up to the trombone, repetitive 7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps arrives... why is it so beautiful? why do you want to hug your girlfriend while listening to this vulgurus song from the 60s? It's spinning frantically in any case! 8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun not that of MARILLION, but a title which shows that it really took a Harrison to make a good zik group 9. Martha My Dear return to the saloon, head a pint of bourbon; a nursery rhyme in real stereo from the time, yes mono still existed; classic jaunty fairground orchestration and a festive progressive tune 10. Im So Tired well yes I must admit I'm really starting to... get tired, yes I can't find any blood, no stain... no prog blood for the moment; maybe the general concept? 11. Blackbird follows, minimalist acoustic guitar to let the vocals come forward; animal title I would say!! 12. Piggies hop harpsichord for the umpteenth nursery rhyme musical, bucolic, crazy wandering; huge but short cinematic title 13. Rocky Raccoon yes I confirm after the psychedelic Indian passage we are indeed blue flower on the American continent with warm titles from the countries... American Indians with the accordion and the tutti frutti 14. Don't Pass Me By continues with this saloon piano, the journey continues, the acid violin comes to invite itself into the party, we are closer to Canada 15. Why Don't We Do It In The Road wakes us up with this provocative and screamed title 16. I Will sweet nursery rhyme that takes up the clichés with a guitar from over there, come on let's have a bourbon again 17. Julia to finish this first album and a syrupy melody on julia that to? beautiful guitar arpeggio. An album that I was never able to get hold of, too uneven, too scattered; but thinking at the time the kind of avant-garde album that paved the way for a lot of future bands.

the LP2: 23.Helter Skelter floats with this title which many have cited as a proto hard rock; after proto prog it's really a lot; magnificent title in itself with this riff from beyond the grave known to me thanks to Pat BENATAR 25.Revolution 1 what a revolution in USSR ah no in the USA, OK why not! A premonitory title! 29. Revolution 9 cinematic while 4 years ago we were not yet using this word; a de facto avant-garde title with all the necessary sound effects, yes I did the same with my galena set; in short, after the psychedelic we arrive at progressive improvisation, still ahead of its time 30. Good Night as a final outing, a syrupy melancholic tune to wake up from this testament moment! I surf the LP2 because I find that there are more overrated, basic titles... but that doesn't mean that without this album, where would we be today?

 Why ?  by MÁQUINA! album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.71 | 45 ratings

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Why ?
Máquina! Proto-Prog

Review by DangHeck
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The sole studio release from Barcelona's Maquina, Why? was one of the earliest Rock albums to come out of Franco's fascist Spain; a remarkable thing, though not too unfamiliar, given all the 'wayward' and 'dissident' art officially disowned by one earlier, more famous autocracy... It's interesting to think what may have come out of the country given different circumstance. Coming off the heels of the earliest Progressive Rock, and specifically by way of the Moody Blues--in this general way--I was struck by the separation of its title track, continuing after a disc-flip to Side 2. Where the Moodies gave us the cohesive original Psych-Prog song cycle throughout Days of Future Passed at least two years prior (1967)--see also the Pretty Things' S.F. Sorrow (1968)--the multi-side movement is something that wouldn't really be seen in Prog Rock at large until Tull's iconic spite-piece Thick As A Brick (1972), followed up by A Passion Play ('73), or, from that same year (1973), Tubular Bells and Remember the Future. Interestingly, it is their supposedly expressed love of early Tull which influenced their sound here; broadly that does show. The version here under review includes two 1969 singles; I'm very happy it does.

"I Believe" is a fuzz-filled waltz, featuring more of the wonderful flavors of popular music at this time; the warmth of the bass here... Lovely. And then, around the midpoint, Hammond organ enters, lightly changing in tone, only becoming slightly harsh as the guitar, as seen for the whole track, continues to solo most bluesily. Next, to already wrap up our first side, is part 1 to our title track, "Why?"; our first taste of bassist Jordi Batiste on vocals, they're also responsible for the wonderful, conceptual artwork for the album. His voice (with English lyrics, by the way) is honestly so high in register and soft in delivery, I was at first convinced he was a lady; I'm into it, genuinely. This is a very of-the-time groovin' number, the drums from Josep María Vilaseca being especially choice to my ears. Approaching minute 8 is this crunchy, fuzzed-out wah-guitar (Lluis Cabanach), married (simultaneously) to another would-be guitar solo (Josep Maria Paris). I would classify this jam compositionally as fairly standard Psych-Blues-Rock; progressive, of course, in its exploratory, extended length. As we approach its partial close, the drums are once again on display, Vilaseca getting his own solo; a fine solo it is, in my opinion. Altogether, great Proto-Progging here and now.

Flipping over to Side 2, we get "Why[?] (Continuacio)". Without a hitch, we're picking up, it feels, from where we left off from its first part. Instead of a traditional starting-out, we begin with said psychedelic jam. I don't know why, but I already dig it significantly enough more. After minute 2, we get this long crescendo, with shimmering organ underneath pulsing drums and wriggling lead guitar; that's right, ladies and gentlemen(!), it's Adjectives Time! This crescendo falls away to nothingness, essentially, the organ playing a bluesy, neo-classical arpeggio. As this shifts eventually to a single, pedaled chord, the rest of the band flips their proverbial wig. What follows is very memorable, the band shifting chromatically and darkly from chord to chord. I think this is a much more interesting jam than the one in the last half+ of regular old "Why?", and one I would recommend checking out in the least. Finishing out for its final minute or so, we get the return of vocals, and in a likewise much more welcome fashion, too. Finally, as for original album tracks, "(Continuacio)" is followed by "Let Me Be Born", twice featuring a sample, I assume, of Elvis's "Jailhouse Rock". Batiste's vocals enter in, via the tin can he showed up in, while the band is down low with minimal oddball percussion and a cool yet simple bass. We're back into the groove then, and we also get some lovely close Psych-Pop-ready vocal harmonies. Batiste likewise performs a solo on recorder! Delightful, honestly. With the sample alone, it was interesting, but to me this track really has it going on.

Included in this version are two singles from '69, first of all "Earth's Daughter", a David Bowie-style orchestral / Traditional Pop song (maybe at times a la Scott Walker) (at rarer times maybe Harry Nilsson). Nice melodies--likewise overtly Bowiesque--and overall a nice song for the nearing end to the Psychedelic Era. Lastly is "Look Away Our Happiness", a live rendition of a song which immediately brought early Bee Gees to my mind. And then... as verse falls away, we have this insane avant-garde noisefest. What then follows is expectedly groovy and cool, some absolutely stellar Jazz-Rock! Honestly, this would have killed on the album originally, but blessed are we to hear it tethered thus; to fellow fans of early Jazz-Rock and Fusion, genuinely a near-essential.

True Rate: 3.75/5.00

 The Doors 30 Years Commemorative Edition by DOORS, THE album cover DVD/Video, 1999
3.93 | 7 ratings

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The Doors 30 Years Commemorative Edition
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 734

"The Doors 30 Years Commemorative Edition" is a DVD of The Doors released in 1999. This DVD compiles three films which were also released as three individual videos before. The three films are "Live At The Hollywood Bowl" originally released in 1987, "Dance On Fire" originally released in 1985 and "The Soft Parade A Retrospective" originally released in 1991. The first was filmed live at the Hollywood Bowl in 1968 and is a short version of that live show. In 2012 the full version of this concert was released in CD, LP and DVD formats with the length of about seventy-one minutes long. The second is a collection of fourteen videos, including some rare footage from television performances. The third includes The Doors' last television appearance on PBS in 1969. It includes an interview with Jim, Ray, Robbie and John.

As I've already reviewed these three DVD's previously and individually on Progarchives, in a more extensive way, I'm not going to do it again. So, if you are interested to know, in more detail, what I wrote about them before, I invite you to read those my reviews. However, in here I'm going to write something about them in a more short way. So, of course, I'm not going to analyze them as extensively as I made before, but I'm only going to make a global appreciation of them.

"Live At The Hollywood Bowl": "Live At The Hollywood Bowl" is a great DVD. It was recorded on 5 July 1968 but it was only released for the first time in 1987. As I think, five versions of this live show were released. It was released two CD versions and two DVD versions. In 1987 it was released a CD version with only seven tracks and it became The Door's shortest official release, with only about twenty-two minutes long. The 1987/2000 DVD version has thirteen tracks and has about sixty-five minutes long. In 2012 the full version of this concert was released in CD, LP and DVD formats and it has the length of about seventy-one minutes long. This is a legendary live concert with some incredible great musical moments and where the entire band was absolutely great and where Ray Manzarek shows why he always was the secret key beyond the success of The Doors' sound. Despite some low quality of its images, it deserves to be checked.

"Dance On Fire": "Dance On Fire" is an excellent DVD of The Doors that covers all the group's musical discography when Jim Morrison was a band's member. It represents a very good and interesting musical document of one of the most important and charismatic rock bands that ever existed. This is undeniably one of the best collections from the group that contains some unique concert shots, immortal images of Morrison and his legendary band. There are some very interesting music videos. There's a lot of filler in this collection of song clips, which are interspersed with voice-overs of Morrison reading his poetry, and images of related subjects. So, "Dance On Fire" is a good collection of great The Doors musical material and images. The Doors ventured beyond the conventional realms of the musical expression with their surreal, psychedelic and unique style. This is a must have for anyone who is interested in this style of music.

"The Soft Parade A Retrospective": "The Soft Parade A Retrospective" is another excellent DVD of The Doors. It brings to us one of The Doors' calmer and more laid back performances where we can clearly see sadness and devastation in Jim Morrison. We sense that he is suffering intensely in the inside, and it's pretty obvious that on some level of his awareness he had realized that a good deal of his immense potential had gone down the drain as a result of alcoholism, drugs and fame, which somehow provoked a certain decadence. I'm sure that he knows that the 60's dream of liberation and freedom had completely failed, leaving him to live in a certain emptiness. Despite this is a short DVD, it represents a very important document of the end of the musical career of The Doors with Morrison. This is an essential document for all fans of this band, representing a nice look of thirty years after the legendary front man Jim Morrison's death.

Conclusion: It's hard to believe that have passed thirty years since the world lost a rock genius that left us hours of great music and the release of this DVD. Of course this isn't a perfect DVD. There's a lot of repetition on this DVD. The bonus tracks from the Isle of Wight offers only a few seconds from that legendary performance and instead, a lot of Hollywood Bowl footage is shown. The same holds for the Soft Parade documentary. However, I think that doesn't matter it duplicates some of the watched videos. By the other hand, despite the Hollywood Bowl live concert represents only an excerpt of all concert, I think it can captures the real essence of the band and I was even surprised that the 2.0 digital soundtrack held up to some seriously loud volume. So, this is an essential package for all fans of The Doors. If you don't know anything about them, get and enjoy it. This DVD proves why The Doors was one of the best live bands.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 L.A. Woman by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.00 | 580 ratings

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L.A. Woman
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This review is the first one of the new year! Holy smokes, what a time to be alive! The last two years have been exceptional for music, and it certainly will continue that streak this year as there seem to be some really stellar records on the horizon. This acquisition of the future does certainly give me some nostalgia, specifically that of the past, looking back on some old records that I have possibly never heard before. This has its ups and downs, you may find some really great ups like 1984 by Anthony Philips, or some really dim-dumb downs like You Know FaUSt by Faust. Sometimes you may even find something in the middle, like L.A. Woman by The Doors.

The Doors need no introduction, as they are still possibly the most popular American psych rock band to ever come out of the mid-60s trippy?hippie renaissance. Their songs are instantly recognizable and classic, with even every song off their debut record having some cultural significance to the day to day lives of anyone. They, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and The Mothers of Invention set a course to the trajectory of psych rock for years to come, even to just rock in general. However, personally, I am not quite a Doors fanatic, and certainly not one now as I write this. I have certainly liked a good bit of their songs, and their first two albums as a matter of fact, but after those two I never quite bothered to check more what they had to offer. I would be lying, though, if I said I wasn't quite interested in this record as I got it during an album swap.

This is certainly quite an intriguing album to be sure. Not fully away from their more savant psychedelia acts, but certainly enough that it's quite noticeable. It has quite a lot of strengths that make it still very enjoyable, with some very great keyboard works that give me some vibes of Deep Purple's own Jon Lord, or even Keith Emerson, which I think gives them quite an edge in the recordings. The production is very excellent too, quite atmospheric in certain places, which in a psych rock album I think gives it some benefits. Tracks like L'America and the highly popular Riders Of The Storm are excellent in that regards, with both containing some very great production cycles that feel very echoey and smooth.

However, all that praise is merely only for the second half, as I found the first half to be quite lackluster in these regards. The first half is a lot more bluesy, which I probably wouldn't mind as much if the blues they perform here didn't feel like they were just trying to copy groups like The Rolling Stones and just slap some keys on their music. In fact the more I listen to the first half of the record, the more I think of this as less Doors music, and more Doors parodying off of some tropes in popular rock music of the time. Tracks like The Changeling, Love Her Madly, and L.A. Woman are not so bad, they aren't the best, but they get the job done. Been Down So Long and Cars Hiss By My Window on the other hand just feel like spoofs on Muddy Waters and B.B. King numbers to me. Hell, you can even hear Jim Morrison forcing out a bluesy singing voice, and I can tell it's forced because after the first side he'll be singing without the whole blues affliction. This record is by definition bottom heavy, to the point where calling it a pear would be quite fitting.

On that note, the second half is actually super fantastic. The more weird, savant energy The Doors bring is where they shine I think. I mean, my favorite song of theirs is The End after all, and we all know that song is brilliant. Each track is different from the last, some going for a more American country type feel with Hyacinth House and Riders On The Storm, or more triply psychedelia with L'America and The WASP. This side also contains a blues number that is actually good and not some weird parody of what the blues is with The Crawling King Snake. Really, I don't know if it's due to some bad record deals or band dramas, but it's so strange how good the second side is with all these very fun songs that play into the band's strengths, with a first side that is arguably poor man versions of Muddy Waters singles. Either way, though, the album is certainly worth it for the second half alone.

This record certainly got me interested in what more this group may have to offer, but I would be remiss to say that the interest merely stems from the material on the second side. I want more trippy Doors songs that are different from each other, not bluesy songs that don't excite me, much less wow me. Give me more stormy riders, less women from Los Angeles.

Best tracks: L'America, Crawling King Snake, Riders On The Storm

Weak tracks: Been Down So Long, Cars Hiss By My Window

 Rubber Soul by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.97 | 866 ratings

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Rubber Soul
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars Rubber Soul was a major leap forward in the already high-quality Beatles output. Maturing studio and playing abilities as well as exploring LSD did contribute to the legendary position of Rubber Soul. Starr showed promising drumming treats coming out of his comfort zone. Lennon/McCartney provided excellent vocals in tandem. Harrison grew as a songwriter and guitar player. Bass playing by Macca from now on deserves increased attention.

Rubber Soul is a quite a mixed bag of styles - rock'n'roll, folk rock, country and a bit of psychedelia. "Drive my car" is a bit dissonant song for their standards and features a great rocking vocal seconded by the playful bass. "Norwegian wood" is one of the best folk-rock Beatles numbers with exquisite vocal harmonies. "You won't see me" is the longest track on the album although far from the strongest one but let me highlight Starr's tasty fills and detailed cymbal work as well as solid harmonies and bass. "Nowhere man" captures attention by the guitar solo, lyrics and vocal harmonies. "Think for yourself" was, for me, the best and most sophisticated piece written by Harrison back in 1965. Bitter lyrics, brilliant rhythm section and fuzzed guitar are the highlights. The rocking "Word" has a simple 3-chord structure but shining Starr/McCartney on instruments joined by harmonium (Martin) at the end. The composition retains a soul-rocking charisma. "Michelle" and "Girl" are two excellent ballads. Harrison country guitar style shines on "What goes on". He actually still uses some pre-1965 guitar licks but they fit well in. "I'm looking through you" has two McCartney's vocal extremes - tender and lovely in the beginning soaring to a dirty loud in the end suiting the lyrics. "In my life" is the most progressive song on the album with its double-speed piano borrowing from classical scales. "Wait" is a fine McCartney-Lennon collaboration and a well developed composition, I like its groove. "If I needed someone" is a rather conventional pop song by Harrison focusing on melody. "Run for your life" has an excellent emotional vocal by Lennon that stands above the average song structure, guitar solo and ideas.

Even though Rubber Soul is a dated effort, its level of musicianship is astounding even today.

 Let It Be by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.34 | 692 ratings

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Let It Be
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Though released as the last Beatles album, it was recorded before the Abbey Road album. Very different to a few previously released Beatles albums, this one was supposed to be recorded live without studio trickery. What we can say is that at this stage, they could still play live confidently and even stay in a jovial mood. Musically, with the exception of McCartney's 3 cuts, all the rest is pedestrian (for Beatles standards at the best. As we know, pedestrian for Beatles could be the best song for some other bands but here they lacked the ambition and songwriting quality that was present before. "Two of us" is noteworthy as it is one of the last examples of their famous vocal harmonies. "Dig a pony" is my favourite Lennon's track on the album thanks to great melody, guitar solo and untypical beat, of course as well as Lennon's vocal. "Across the universe" is one of the better Beatles ballads. Somehow I even like the Spector's orchestral overdub as well as on the McCartney's penned "The long and winding road". Harrison brings a haunting "I me mine" with a contrasting rocking chorus. "I've got a feeling" is compositionally an average song but its vocals by Paul and guitar work stand out. We are lucky to witness the intensity of McCartney's vocal live at this stage and not only from the studio (Oh darling!). Since "Get back" made it to the album, it's a pity that "Don't let me down" which is equally good if not better, didn't.
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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
THE ARTHUR BROWN BAND United Kingdom
THE COLLECTORS Canada
COVEN United States
THE CROME SYRCUS United States
DEEP PURPLE United Kingdom
THE DOORS United States
EARTH OPERA United States
THE ECLECTIC MOUSE United States
FLAMING YOUTH United Kingdom
FORD THEATRE United States
GATTCH Slovakia
GILES GILES & FRIPP United Kingdom
THE GODS United Kingdom
THE GUN United Kingdom
H.P. LOVECRAFT United States
HANSSON & KARLSSON Sweden
HAPSHASH AND THE COLOURED COAT United Kingdom
JIMI HENDRIX United States
IRON BUTTERFLY United States
IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY United States
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE United States
KALEIDOSCOPE United Kingdom
LES MALEDICTUS SOUND France
MÁQUINA! Spain
THE MASTERS APPRENTICES Australia
THE MOVE United Kingdom
NIRVANA United Kingdom
PAN & REGALIZ Spain
PÄRSON SOUND Sweden
THE PRETTY THINGS United Kingdom
QUIET WORLD United Kingdom
SALAMANDER United Kingdom
THE SHIVER Switzerland
SILVER APPLES United States
SPIRIT United States
SPOOKY TOOTH United Kingdom
SWEETWATER United States
TOMORROW United Kingdom
TOUCH United States
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA United States
VANILLA FUDGE United States
THE WHO United Kingdom

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