Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great first albums in prog rock

It is often said that it takes a band several albums to really hit their stride and create a great work of art. For many bands, their "classic" release is their third or fourth album...possibly their second...but not usually their first. And that makes sense to a great is definitely pretty unusual to have your sound and style together on the first try. But I can think of a lot of progressive rock bands that came right out of the gate with a brilliant first release:
  • King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King ... Not my absolute favorite of theirs, but obviously very, very strong.
  • Premiata Forneria Marconi - Storia di un Minuto ... This is in fact my favorite PFM album, with Per un Amico a close second.
  • Emerson, Lake and Palmer (self-titled) ... I probably prefer Tarkus or Pictures at an Exhibition to this, but still, what a debut!
  • Triumvirat - Mediterranean Tales (Across the Waters) ... Though this goes against 'conventional wisdom,' I much prefer this one to their later albums, even Illusions on a Double Dimple.
  • Area - Arbeit Macht Frei ... Once again, this is my personal favorite even though a lot of folks prefer Caution: Radiation Area or Crac!
  • Supertramp (self-titled) ... Seriously, if you haven't heard this, PLEASE check it is an incredibly beautiful record, and in my opinion much stronger that anything else they released. This is one of my favorite records of all time. And it is more "prog" than any of their other releases, whatever that means... ;-)
  • Yes (self-titled) ... Well, of course! I love everything they ever did. Some people think the first couple of albums are weak, but I think they are both gems.

On the Silent Wings of Freedom

One of my favorite songs from my favorite band-- YES. This is a great video clip, which I think was actually aired on MTV at one time (back when they actually showed music videos, remember that?). It's interesting not only because it shows the band in the studio, but because the version of the song here is different from the one released on Tormato. Towards the end of the clip Chris Squire stops the tune because he doesn't like the feel or the bass sound or's not quite clear. But they discuss it for a bit, then try again and finish the tune. Pretty cool stuff.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Progressive Rock Links

There is so much information about progressive rock on the web that it is absolutely staggering. Here are just a few of my favorite sites that I continue to visit to expand my own knowledge of the genre...

Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock

Italian Progressive Rock



Welcome to The Prog Blog / Atomic Rooster

I'll be blogging here about some of my progressive rock faves. My interest in prog really comes from being a huge fan of Yes, ELP, Genesis, King Crimson, and Marillion as a kid. The internet has introduced me to lots of other bands since that time...some things that have blown my mind and others that are not my cup of tea. But you won't see a lot of griping and criticizing of bands I don't like here...I'd rather go down the first road and talk about the music I love. I'll leave the negative press for other people to waste their time with.

Lately I've been listening to some Atomic Rooster and really digging it. In Hearing Of and Made in England. That first one in particular is brilliant. The track "Breakthrough" has got to be one of the greatest of this genre...killer keyboard work on this one, and I can't get it out of my head. Vincent Crane is a major force on the keys. Browsing online, I notice that England tends to get lesser reviews from folks, mostly due to the addition of vocalist Chris Farlowe. This I don't understand, personally...I think Farlowe sounds genius. Definitely an acquired taste as his voice is quite affected, but man there is some soul in that throat. Great stuff. Actually there's a YouTube video of Rooster performing "Breakthrough" with Farlowe (Pete French was the vocalist for the original version on Hearing) and I really like it. Check it out here.