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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 | 1130 ratings
Beatles, The
4.50 | 656 ratings
Who, The
4.38 | 1050 ratings
Beatles, The
4.35 | 1299 ratings
Deep Purple
4.35 | 1170 ratings
Beatles, The
4.34 | 1297 ratings
Deep Purple
4.42 | 658 ratings
Who, The
4.33 | 754 ratings
Doors, The
4.25 | 579 ratings
Doors, The
4.18 | 842 ratings
Beatles, The
4.27 | 496 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.16 | 927 ratings
Beatles, The
3.99 | 623 ratings
Who, The
3.96 | 828 ratings
Beatles, The
4.01 | 542 ratings
Doors, The
4.04 | 438 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.02 | 348 ratings
Hendrix, Jimi
4.14 | 196 ratings
3.86 | 890 ratings
Deep Purple
3.94 | 368 ratings
Deep Purple

Latest Proto-Prog Music Reviews

 A Collection (6CD) by DOORS, THE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2011
4.52 | 8 ratings

A Collection (6CD)
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars No-frills, compact presentation of the six Doors studio albums that had Jim Morrison on lead vocals - which for many will be the only Doors albums they particularly need. Indeed, for some it will be too many - not everyone gets on with The Soft Parade - but I'm much happier to have it as part of this sleek package, since at least it isn't taking up too much room. As an instant, cost-effective way to get the true Doors classics (the debut, Strange Days, and L.A. Woman) and their second-tier albums all in one fell swoop, this package is really hard to beat, even if three of the albums here stand head and shoulders above the rest.
 Vanilla Zeppelin by VANILLA FUDGE album cover Studio Album, 2022
4.00 | 3 ratings

Vanilla Zeppelin
Vanilla Fudge Proto-Prog

Review by Heart of the Matter

4 stars One serious problem with the appreciation of an album consisting (such like this one) of nothing more than cover versions, is that it seems hardly avoidable the initial confrontation with the originals, and, in this particular case, with the powerhouse status investing the historic figure of Led Zeppelin, that remains rightfully intact to this day. Serious, granted, but not one that should keep standing in our way.

The addition of Vanilla Fudge to this classic songs, in my view, is not trying to improve the heavy element in them (an almost impossible task), but rather to bring out some implicit acid and soulful traits to the light of day. There is also a funkier accent impregnating, for example, Trampled Under Foot through the rhythm section and the vocals. In the very enjoyable rendition of Willie Dixon's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You, we get a tasty flurry of acid guitar with wha-wha. In Dancing Days, the mellotron plays the part of the acid creeper, with the necessary involvement of the rest.

I don't think the Vanillas were trying to beat the Zepps in any dexterity contest either, more likely they try to shed new light on some colour shades, like the acoustic psychedelic folk fingerpicking in Black Mountain Side, Page's instrumental track gracing Zepp's 1969 debut. That kind of truly satisfying details, I came across time after time through the one well-invested hour of listening that this album demands.

Most certainly, nobody should postpone the discovery of Led Zeppelin's own recorded legacy, since there's no doubt that therein lies the real thing in its prime. But if you have explored those treasures enough, and you are looking for a view of that classics from a different angle, consider that this album offers an excellent choice, presented by a band that is a classic in its own right.

 Beatles for Sale by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1964
2.80 | 481 ratings

Beatles for Sale
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars This is the weakest Beatles album after Yellow Submarine. Don't get me wrong, it's still better than many other 60's bands best album. The execution is solid, in particular vocals. Musically, songwriting is not at the usual top level and there isn't any progress comparing to the previous album. We actually have to wait till the second half of the album to hear an outstanding song, if we ignore the great melody of the simple "I'll follow the sun". The covers are well executed but songs are inferior to the original material. "Kansas city" is a particularly weak song but balanced by great powerful McCartney vocal. Better time are started with the classic "Eight days a week" followed later by the strong triumvirat of "Every little thing", "I don't want to spoil the party" and "What you're doing" that stand on its own. Harrison contributes with a monotone cover of "Everybody's trying to be my baby" and Starr does not anything new to the already good "Honey don't".

"Beatles for sale" feels a bit like a wasted opportunity but the next album would raise the bar again.

 Come Taste the Band by DEEP PURPLE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.22 | 555 ratings

Come Taste the Band
Deep Purple Proto-Prog

Review by Sidscrat

3 stars Purple is hardly a real prog band though they sure had their moments with longer compositions like "Burn" and "Highway Star" and "Child In Time". By the time this album came out they were stripped down to originals Lord and Paice but still had that Purple sound. Ian is unmistakable in his drumming and who can possibly mistake Jon Lord's Hammond playing for anyone else? I was a very rebellious teen when this album came out. The first Purple record I had heard was "Burn "and that was quickly followed by "Made In Japan". I heard "Machine Head" next. Then "Stormbringer" came and it definitely had a different sound to it and was not as much a Purple album and was pretty polished production wise which may be why I didn't like it as much.

CTTB for me was a step back into a more gritty rock sound. Bolin is no Blackmore anymore than Blackmore is a Bolin. They are totally different in their styles and methods. I prefer Blackmore any day but Bolin's playing on Billy Cobham's Spectrum shows a great talent. It seems on CTTB he was holding back.

"Comin Home" is one of my favorite tracks and comes shooting out of the barn fast. His solo is a good effort but too controlled. "Getting Tighter" showcases Hughes' voice which to this day (2022) he still hits all the high notes. I liked the guitar riffs in that song as well. "Drifter" sounds like a Purple track and could have had all the Mark II lineup on it. "Medley" was perhaps my favorite tracks on the album with Hughes' souring vocals followed by an all too rare instrumental.

This album is missing a lot of keyboard playing it seems to me and is largely a guitar album. I disagree it doesn't sound like Purple but it certainly isn't like the Mark II stuff. Sadly this lineup would crumble on its only tour due to Hughes and Bolin being too high on stage. Bolin's playing was getting worse and Hughes' behavior was getting too wild. It led to their last concert with Coverdale saying to Lord and Paice "I quit." The 2 of them responded that he couldn't because there was no more Deep Purple. Sadly Bolin died later that year due to his addiction and Hughes went onto form Hughes-Thrall which burned up due to his and Pat Thrall's addictions. At least he sobered up later.

 Waiting for the Sun by DOORS, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
3.62 | 380 ratings

Waiting for the Sun
The Doors Proto-Prog

Review by theCoagulater

4 stars Everybody has their controversial opinions about a band's discography, this album sucks, this album's the best, and whatnot. With me, this is the best Doors album, almost, on some days it's L.A. Woman and on others it's this. But for the sake of this review Waiting For The Sun is my favorite.

The albums starts with Hello, I Love You. It's people like Morrison who can make these songs so weirdly amazing. Lines like "She's walking down the street, blind to every eye she meets, do you think you'll be the guy to make the queen of the angels sigh?" are so mystical and abstract. I don't quite get what it means (and if you say you do you're lying), but it still paints a weird picture in my head that fits everything else about this song perfectly.

Love Street continues this theme of love song with funky poetry, but I get this one even less. Still a great song. Fits perfectly in the album, it works great separating the poppy keyboard heavy sound of Hello, I Love You to the existential worrying of Not To Touch The Earth. I also just like the way he says "I see you live on Love Street, there's this store where the creatures meet."

Not To Touch The Earth is a very horrifying Halloweenish song, warning you of the mansion at the top of the hill, and finding JFK's corpse in some sort car that runs on "glue and tar". And then the song ends, you hear Jim heavily breathing, you figure that it's gonna fade out. Then you hear him starting to speak... "WHOA!!" Boom now the song's actually started. There's instruments in the back repeating this heavy jumping tone. The keyboard on one side making these unnatural noises and the guitar on the other doing the same thing while Morrison screams at you to run with him, as well as other obscene things. This is definitely one of The Doors' best.

Summer's Almost Gone is also haunting, but in a different way. Instead of knocking you to the floor and giving you a panic attack; it gives you a helping hand and wants away, with an annoying look in its eyes.

Wintertime Love brings it back to what the first two tracks were, it's a love song, great lyrics, but I like it better. Like the title implies, it's an extremely warm song, more than Hello, I Love You and Love Street. It takes you inside, gives you a warm blanket and fresh hot chocolate. It brings you back to health before throwing you out to the wolves again after less than two minutes.

The Unknown Solider is different wolf though, instead of making you imagine weird mansions and odd cars, it's a very real world song. Telling you about an unknown and unnamed solider, before playing the shot that killed him. The rest of the song is musically upbeat, dancing around the death of people who had no choice but to be there and die there, instead celebrating the end of this war regardless. Though the music still has an uneven quality to it, it knows what happened and it doesn't feel good about it.

As the first song on side two, Spanish Caravan brings you back around to imagining unusual scenes. Instead of horror, it's very adventurous. Talking about wanting to ride with a Spanish caravan. The switch of modes in the middle implies that our protagonist was taken by the caravan. The song speeds up and more electric instruments are added. This all paints a picture of an old caravan being dragged by horses speeding through hot unpopulated areas of Europe, while the protagonist is in the back writing about what he sees outside.

My Wild Love is a much softer song, talking about his "wild love" going around making enemies with the devil and such. This is definitely the least involved of all the songs here, but still enjoyable.

We Could Be So Good Together is very reminiscent of their first two albums. Almost sounds like's a Strange Days song that someone accidently put here. Very Doors lyrics, not as good a love song as this album's previous, but still a bop.

Yes, The River Know is another clam haunting track. To me it sounds like a very old and experienced man, on the verge of death, is relaying his life story to me in cryptic yet understandable terms, on a bench, near a river, in a park. He's using the river as sort of an analogy of the passing of life and the bringing a new. Each verse sounds like he remembers something, a regret, a love one he didn't spend enough time with, things he'll never be able to do. The song doesn't end in a bombastic way, it's sounds like I left the bench, said goodbye to the old man and went on my way/ Thinking and gaining things from the experience, looking at trees and dogs as I walk my way out of the park.

Five To One sounds like it starts where Yes, The River Knows left off. Having learned from whatever the old man said, and applying it to whatever sort of social change we're protesting for. This song is a slapper, if this isn't getting you to jump out of your seat and put a picket in your hand, than your listening to a completely different album.

 Help! by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1965
3.45 | 569 ratings

The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars After making a step step with "Beatles for Sale", the band stepped 2 steps forward on "Help!". The last traditional early Beatles album and the last one without drugs/alcohol I suppose. The band is not willing to rest on their laurels and open themselves up to folk/country. There's actually only one rock'n'roll number (well played and sung) for which you have to wait till the end. McCartney, Harrison and Starkey make a leap forward with their contribution to the album. McCartney offers fantastic vocals on "The night before" and writes an unforgettable revolutionary "Yesterday" + provides great harmonies to Lennon's vocals. Harrison finally writes his first outstanding compositions "I need you". He contributes with diverse guitar playing (country, folk). Starr will be mainly remembered for his "Ticket to ride" beat. Lennon is traditionally strong on vocals and delivers several strong compositions. The weakest songs here are the two covers but the band did a good job on executing them, though.
 A Hard Day's Night by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1964
3.51 | 558 ratings

A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars On their third album, Beatles shifted a bit away from their raw rock'n'roll & mersey-beat style to put excellent pop songwriting into focus. This album features the best melodies and vocal harmonies so far. All songs are affectionate, well performed. Harrison remains more in the background than before as he only sings solo vocals on one song and his guitar playing is more restrained, however he shows tasty jazzy guitar licks on "I'm happy just to dance with you". Lennon and McCartney are in the top shape, McCartney delivered unforgettable and one of the most frequently covered Beatles song - "And I love her" plus the swinging "Can't buy me love". Lennon starts showing more depressive side of mood with a handful of heartbroken songs. While Beatles become more diversified to show multiple styles on their albums, it won't be until 1965 when they venture into studio experimentation and join the proto-prog league. This is a sweet romantic and infectious pop album.
 Surrealistic Pillow by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.63 | 231 ratings

Surrealistic Pillow
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Dapper~Blueberries

4 stars The late 60s were upon the world and with it, the popularity of psychedelia bloomed to new heights. The early forms of psych rock in the 60s were in their infancy, with many elements that are taken from folk, blues, and jazz, being precursors to many traits genres like Neo-Psychedelia, Krautrock, and Progressive Rock would utilize. Psych could be considered the precursor to many of those genres, especially concerning albums like The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators, Electric Ladyland, and The Doors' self-titled release. While those are influential throughout the world, it should also be noted that in these early days the more pop-centered rock was still in a state of a high, especially if we take into account the popularity The Beatles and The Rolling Stones had on the world through this decade. This meant that in a confused state, psychedelic rock and psychedelic pop were almost indistinguishable, however, after the 70s we would see the separation be made, especially about acts like Pink Floyd, and Gong. With that, it'd go without saying that this release by Jefferson Airplane has a striking influence on the whole of psych rock, while also on the whole of psych-pop.

She Has Funny Cars start the album off proper, and with it, we get that classic 60s pop rock in full. Lots of vibrant guitars and melodies shape the song into a sparkling mass of feel-good emotions. By this time in the 60s, this type of music was still fresh in people's minds since when this was recorded, The Beatles would release their album, Revolver, and The Beach Boys would release Pet Sounds, so this more typical pop rock music would still be all the rage. In it, we do get a sort of peak in that style of music, where you can tell that they are still within the blindfolds of the eccentric pop era, but they start to see out the window more and see more of the world's colors. A fun, yet still a bordered-up song of this era.

This album contains 2 hits, with Somebody To Love being the first one. This is more of a lovey-dovey-type song that is meant to all feel good. Out of the 2 hits on this album, this is the weakest one. Not that it is bad, it's super fun and has a great melody and chorus, but it is meant to be exceptionally commercial. The commercial doesn't mean it's bad, but it does mean some artistic liberties have been lost.

Besides rock, psychedelic music has had some folk influences, and this stays true with the track My Best Friend. The lack of electric guitars does make this a fairly interesting listen, since when I think of psych rock and psych-pop I think of more distorted guitars and wild and crazy sounds, but here when it is set back a bit with more acoustic instruments we get a new flavor of the psyche that I also enjoy. A very lush and pretty sound that does make for an instantly more enjoyable experience.

That is only the bridge to the more folk adjacent sound since Today carries it even more. The only thing here in the instrumentation is the acoustic guitar, with only a few percussion instruments in the back. This is where the band lets their voices soar. Lush Beatles-like vocals take you back into the fresh hippie era of the United States. Back when Woodstock was fresh in people's minds and the best way to experience music is to puff a blunt and let your mind soar. It isn't nostalgic for me since I wasn't born into that era, but I can get the feeling that might've been when that type of stuff was going on. Super well made, and I think it is the highlight of this record.

Comin' Back To Me is also a more folky song, heck in the same caliber. There are two sides to this record, not in the literal sense but there are the more rock-oriented songs and the folk-oriented songs. This leaves the band having two different moods, the calm and cool folk and the bouncy rock. These were sort of the mindsets the 60s era of rock had where bands were experimenting with different genres to produce different sounds, this is as evident with acts like The Doors. It doesn't have the same punch that Today has, but it still is a pretty folk song that I do think can have a good deal of love and appreciation in it.

We get back into the pop-psych with ⅗ of a Mile in 10 Seconds. This song I noticed does allow the instruments to talk the talk so to speak more than not, with a mini guitar anthem after the middle part. It is fully developed too, not just a one-note thing but something that takes a few seconds to develop, and honestly, I like this about Jefferson Airplane. They know how to make some stellar poppy but great songs that can develop into something even more stellar.

We get more of this stellar portrayal of music with D. C. B. A.-25. This bizarre title of a song is another of the band's highlights. How the song starts slow and starts to go faster and faster, not too fast to be intense, but fast enough for you to notice and groove along to. Not only that but the more bluesy atmosphere this song radiates makes it even more fun, and unique. Weird how the album is a bit more bottom-heavy, but that is a no-brainer when most record companies would put the more poppy songs upfront on the records before the ones with the most uniqueness.

We get back to the folk territory, now mixed with some of the blues with How Do You Feel. We get some interesting guitar strumming and vocalizations from the singers of the band. It radiates a sort of worker song that people would sing for hours and hours on end, breaking their back to labor after labor. It is a song that can be used effectively in a setting like that, and I think it does work for what it is intended to be. It is vibrant, yet almost melancholic song that I think works incredibly well. It can also be considered a melody with the short 1-minute guitar strumming song of Embryonic Journey being right after, having a similar feel yet with no lyrics. It is short and sweet but does deliver the feels quite nicely.

It would be a shame to not talk about the starlight of this album, White Rabbit. This Alice in Wonderland, drug and insane trip of a song has a chokehold on me at the current moment. I am surprised this song still sounds so relevant even today, despite the production being less clean. It holds so much in so little time and how it just evolves into more and more brilliance elevates this song for me. I can say it is one of psychedelic rock's many masterpieces throughout the years and one that is a no-brainer for being the band's most popular and influential song.

The album end's on a pretty high note with Plastic Fantastic Lover. Ending with a more bluesy song is a good choice in my opinion since it expresses all three of the key features this album deploys. The fun rock songs, the calm folk twists, and the psychedelic wonderlands end up creating a pretty great experience overall. At the end of the day, Plastic Fantastic Lover does a good job of being a good song and a good ending to this good album.

One of the key bands of the psych-rock movement, Jefferson Airplane is one that I did not expect to find so enjoyable. Their work will influence more generations of psychedelic fans to come, and while this is an imperfect album, it does leave a lot to enjoy. Some really good stuff on here, despite it being more bottom-heavy on the record.

 With the Beatles by BEATLES, THE album cover Studio Album, 1963
2.89 | 475 ratings

With the Beatles
The Beatles Proto-Prog

Review by sgtpepper

2 stars What have Beatles improved in comparison with their first album? 1. Lennon's voice has grown in power and energy. He sweeps other vocals away with his high-octane delivery. 2. Harrison improved his guitar playing and compositional skills. "Don't bother me" is his first decent song. 3. Overall instrumental playing improved.

Has overall songwriting improved? Arguably not as the songs are somewhat less catchy, in fact, only "All my loving" was a hit of the first "calibre". After repeated listening, you'll find another beauty in other original songs such as "It won't be long" or "Little child". Starr sung "I wanna be your man" is so infectious thanks to the joined vocals, it's easy to imagine all four fabs being at stage. Covers are hits and misses and their strongest common denominator is fantastic Lennon's voice. "Please Mr. postman" is a bit static (already by its nature) and "Roll over Beethoven" doesn't stand out among dozens of other covers of this song. Beatles here were still miles away from lasting a long-standing impact albeit they executed their job nicely.

 Surrealistic Pillow by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE album cover Studio Album, 1967
3.63 | 231 ratings

Surrealistic Pillow
Jefferson Airplane Proto-Prog

Review by Progexile

3 stars The Airplane's second album and one that introduced Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden as their new singer and drummer respectively. Both were good acquisitions.

The cover once again (as per their 1st album) shows what looks like a group of college kids carrying odd instruments (nothing too" rocky") as if they were waiting for their music teachers to appear and had a photo taken to pass the time.

Slick brought with her the 2 best songs on this effort and the one that switched me on to this great band. More of that soon.

Again, Balin dominates this album with some of his best vocals (he was always better in the studio) and he co-penned the opener "She Has Funny Cars" with Kaukonen. This song opens with a Dryden drumbeat before Balin takes on the lead vocal with the choir backing him well.

But then comes the tune that first made me an Airplane passenger - "Somebody To Love". Driven by Cassidy's bass line Grace belts this out as if she means it - so much better than the version she used to sing with the Great Society. Kaukonen's guitar also excels.

"My Best Friend" is a twee little tune before Balin and Kantner's "Today" which quietens down the album at this point. Sadly, the closer on the original Side 1, "Comin' Back To Me" is an overlong dirge to my ears. I often feel that Balin's songs with the Jefferson Starship's backing were better arranged (Listen to "Miracles" or "Caroline"). This one loses me less than halfway through as it seems to have the weakest melody on the album.

"3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds" opened side 2 on the original and points the way for REM's wierd titles (The Airplane loved strange titles) years later. Not bad as are the next two tracks "DCBA-25" and "How Do You Feel", the latter showing a relaxed Caribbean feel to it that would later also show on their live version of "Fat Angel".

"Embryonic Journey" is a Kaukonen driven short instrumental and is the best track other than "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit" on the album.

Then comes the innovative and haunting "White Rabbit" with Grace again bringing this from her old band and making it an Airplane classic. Wonderful atmosphere created by Kaukonen and Cassidy allowing Slick's vocie to dominate an unusual tune - great stuff.

Balin's "Plastic Fantastic Lover" concludes the album solidly.

The instrumental side of the band was definitely more prominent than on their debut and the presence of 2 early Airplane classics makes this a good album to have but I feel the term "Not Bad" applies to too many items on it for it to be better than 3 stars.

The Airplane were to make better albums than this.

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Proto-Prog bands/artists list

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

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