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Thread: Question? Who were the beginners of Prog?

  1. #1

    Question? Who were the beginners of Prog?

    Hello, a newbie here. I have been warned by several good folks about posting here. Please don't crush me on this...

    You guys are apparently total estorica. But I wanted to get your expert opinions on this central question. Who did the break-through work in Prog Rock?

    I thought I would venture out my humble opinion on this difficult subject. I am considering those bands that shaped the music going forward. They may be either considered as points of nexus or points of boundary, but whatever, so here goes:

    1) Procol Harum: I am listening to "In Held Twas In I" right now (150th time). Very interesting band, Trower was not the only hero here. The guy who wrote the words was a true hero (hold on, reading the liner notes: Keith Reid). And I have yet to hear the vocals of Gary Brooker - ever!

    2) Van Der Graf Generator: hard to listen to - takes at least 3-6 times before you can digest. But way before their time. They were on the outer boundary for sure.

    3) Gentle Giant: those 3,4,5 brothers sure brought the English/Celtic "river song" into the Prog Rock hemisphere - Jethro Tull followed. Especially "Songs From The Wood" (but Tull's "Benefit" should be mentioned, to wit: "Teacher").

    4) Focus: this power trio were WAY BEFORE their time. Thijs & Jan created the greatest gift in "Eruption" off of 'Moving Waves'. Steve Howe actually copied Focus in his guitar licks. Keith Emerson copied the synth movements as well. It takes no expert to realize this...

    5) Hawkwind (???): "Hall Of the Mountain Grill" - space rock idiots, but this one is early and worthwhile.... I thought it was defining...

    6) Pink Floyd: "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" - their early stuff (up to "Meddle") was ground-breaking. Liked the middle stuff too (Dark Side, Wish You Were Here).

    7) Kraftwerk: 2 Germans who have been involved in electronics for too dang long - album is: "Ralf und Florian". I guess they started their own genre: Electronica??, Techno-Rock?? Dunno. Their influence on electronics can't be ignored.

    8) Atomic Rooster: I find myself asking when will Vincent stop playing? Palmer was superb - then went to ELP. Smart dude.

    9) King Crimson: "Court of..." Fripp went nuts, probably the 2nd original generation of "RIO" (Procol was 1st). Very original.

    10) Last, but not least: Renaissance - but wait a sec? Apparently that is the featured album! Never heard of it. Oh well. These guys brought classical music into Prog. Awesome! "Ashes Are Burning" & "Novella" are superb contributions to Prog Rock. I feel so bad for Annie Haslam. It never occurred to me that singing was such a stress on the vocal cords. Crap! Now I am not so hard on Jon Anderson when he couldn't make the gigs after 2004. She had to be the BEST 5-octave singer in the 20th century - NO DOUBT! Take good care Annie (I would marry you in a heart beat!)

    Now this interesting. My favorite 3 bands aren't even on the list: YES, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, or UK

    Alan White's effort on Topographical Oceans "The Revealing Science of God", as well as "The Gates of Delirium" was stunning. But- he was just standing on the shoulders of giants (Gentle ones - pun intended). Rick kicked some major butt on the former, Patrick did the same on the latter - dear lord! There is a long story involved with me getting UK's 1st album, I better save it for later.

    When you have the time, can you well established gentlemen put your 2 cents in? I would be very interested in all the stuff I have missed. Thank-you.

    Plse don't kill the messenger...


  2. #2
    Parrots ripped my flesh Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iluvatar View Post

    When you have the time, can you well established gentlemen put your 2 cents in?
    Well, that rules me out.

  3. #3
    ALL ACCESS Gruno's Avatar
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    I'm out.

  4. #4
    Stand back folks. I'll handle this one.

    In the Court of the Crimson King is widely considered to be the first fully-fledged 'Prog' album.

    However, this didn't occur in a vacuum. Several foundations were already in place:

    Piper at the Gates of Dawn brought in the psychedelic element.

    The lush, orchestral symph sound was already a part of the Moody Blues repertoire from Day of Future Passed.

    Zappa was already doing... Zappa.

    Any number of modern composers were working with ambient, minimalist, electronic soundscapes and the like.

    And, last but not least, Miles Davis was pulling jazz in a new direction.

    Gradually all of these merged into what most now refer to as 'Prog".
    Last edited by Teddy Vengeance; 04-20-2021 at 05:12 AM.

  5. #5
    Member thedunno's Avatar
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    I think Frank Zappa with Lumpy Gravy is the first.

  6. #6
    A lot of the key groups have already been stated. I would certainly have on the list Zappa, Moody Blues, Procol Harum and King Crimson. To a lesser extent there would be Pink Floyd but also the Beatles (like Floyd, a lot of studio experimentation) and Deep Purple (classical overtones and even playing with an orchestra) and I suppose the Nice although I don't know much about their music. Two complete wild cards to throw in are the Grateful Dead (not prog but check out St Stephen > The Eleven, it has plenty of prog elements) and the Beach Boys (Pet Sounds).

  7. #7
    Member Piskie's Avatar
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    A Very Cellular Song by the Incredible String Band deserves an honourable mention, but to my mind the doors were bust opened on Sgt Pepper.

  8. #8
    Member Munster's Avatar
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    My thinking is that what we NOW see as “progressive” music developed incrementally, and it is only in retrospect that we can see which albums NOW conform with what we NOW define (loosely) as progressive music. Take the Harvest label, which was launched by EMI in July 1969 as a subsidiary label to address demand for the new style of “progressive” rock music. The first band on the Harvest label was Deep Purple, and they were accompanied by the Edgar Broughton Band and Chris Spedding (for example), which would not NOW be described as progressive bands. But, back then, the definition of progressive music was obviously different from what it is today. So what we NOW hear and define as progressive music can perhaps (as Teddy Vengeance says) be first heard on “In The Court of the Crimson King”. But the dawn of progressive music was not on October 10, 1969 (the release date of “In the Court of the Crimson King”). Perhaps, as thedunno says, “Lumpy Gravy” was the first prog album. But the dawn of progressive music was not on August 7, 1967 (the initial release date of “Lumpy Gravy”). Prog music’s growth was an incremental process, only gaining shape when viewed from today’s vantage point. Hope that makes sense.
    'There are no certain answers and no time to understand / The goal's a changing paradise, a moment out of date'

  9. #9
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    1966 Beatles - Revolver ?

  10. #10
    Another reckoned as an early influence - The Graham Bond Organisation. Classical riffs on a Hammond, one of the first to use a Mellotron.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeuhlmate View Post
    1966 Beatles - Revolver ?
    TNK's for sure..

  12. #12
    Member moecurlythanu's Avatar
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    Manikin were definitely beginners.

  13. #13
    I'm here for the moosic NogbadTheBad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iluvatar View Post

    9) King Crimson: "Court of..." Fripp went nuts, probably the 2nd original generation of "RIO" (Procol was 1st). Very original.
    Nice post, others have covered most of the bases needed, not jumping down your throat just a point of clarification.

    Procol & Crimson were never "RIO", the Rock In Opposition movement was formed in '78 by Henry Cow when they invited 4 European band to join them in opposition to a music industry that didn't appreciate or support them. The original RIO bands are Henry Cow, Univers Zero, Samla Mammas Manna, Etron Fou Leloublan, & Stormy Six.

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  14. #14
    Member Steve F.'s Avatar
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    small note to OP:

    The break through work with prog, at least as I think most of us define breath through, ≠ the beginnings of prog.
    Steve F.

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Any time any one speaks to me about any musical project, the one absolute given is "it will not make big money". [tip of the hat to HK]

    "Death to false 'support the scene' prog!"

    please add 'imo' wherever you like, to avoid offending those easily offended.

  15. #15
    Break through is different from progenitor. For early music that led to prog, I consider Touch a classic.

    After that, Yes and King Crimson, with ITCOTCK the breakthrough.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  16. #16
    Member Top Cat's Avatar
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    I think this is more an intellectual exercise than one that can be pinned down to a certain moment in time, or a certain group or song.
    We can probably find elements of prog in early jazz, with odd timing, poly-rhythms,etc. Or folk, bluegrass, early rock which lyrically departed from the boy meets girl, broken heart, I just wanna dance format, and wrote of deeper things.
    It's often been said, whether true or not I can't say, the very term progressive rock came about as record stores needed a section to place the bands albums that fit that genre. Not sure, but it sounds likely.
    Perhaps someone with greater knowledge than myself can clear that up, but much like using the term Bob Moog instead of Bob Mogue, it may forever be burned into my brain as the record store story. lol

    Also, I find it a bit sad that several persons warned the OP of posting in our site. Not sure I understand that one, since the time I've been reading Progressive Ears and as a member, I've found most discussions and members to be polite and respectful, with a whole bunch of accrued knowledge that is willingly shared without confrontation.

    Btw, Illuvatar, welcome to the forum and for bringing an interesting question with your first post.
    Soundcloud page: Richard Hermans, musical meanderings Bandcamp: https://richardhermans.bandcamp.comYouTube:

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by moecurlythanu View Post
    Manikin were definitely beginners.
    There was never anything like Manikin. Before or since.

  18. #18
    Man of repute progmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy Vengeance View Post
    In the Court of the Crimson King is widely considered to be the first fully-fledged 'Prog' album.
    And one can't mention that album without also mentioning Greg Lake, who soon after would team up with Emerson and Palmer.
    "Well my son, life is like a beanstalk, isn't it?"--Dalai Lama

  19. #19
    There are several artists who merged different kinds of music, like The Nice, Swingle singers Jaques Loussier.

  20. #20
    Member Zeuhlmate's Avatar
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    "I Can't Explain" & "My Generation" (1965) ?

  21. #21
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick L. View Post
    There was never anything like Manikin. Before or since.
    Or Citadel.

    In all seriousness, though, definitions are a source of continual argument here. Even after more books have been published on the subject than ever. So by some definitions you could put "Telstar" by the Tornadoes on the list. Or the Brubeck Quartet's "Take Five". Those would be more controversial than some bands so far not on anyone's lists, like Soft Machine or The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away."
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  22. #22
    Member Mythos's Avatar
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    If we could first decide on a definition of Prog rock, we could figure out when it started...

  23. #23
    Wow! That is some pretty good stuff. I got an inkling of the Beatles @ the 18:00 minute mark. But? At the end of the day? I just can't see how listening to "Sgt Pepper's" influenced them to produce this - that's amazing. That is one heck of a crossover! Btw, never heard of these guys before. Did some research. Found `em here:

    This is an icredible Progressive Rock album that was released before this was an everyday term
    Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2019
    Verified Purchase
    Ever wonder what happened to the '60s band, "Don & the Goodtimes"? Don Gallucci and his band were direct competition to the Kingsmen, Paul Revere & The Raiders and other Pacific NW bands that toured up and down the West Coast. But as Don said in an interview, "we heard "Sgt Pepper" and realized that we had to change to be relevant." This is the result. I originally bought this LP when it came out in 1969 because I liked anything unusual and finding an album that opened from the front and had an orange obi-like paper band around it fit the ticket. The music inside though blew me away, because I had never heard or knew what "progressive rock" was until I put the needle on. Each song on this LP is different - from hard rock, to night club crooning, to music that Zappa could put his name on to just plain rock'n rool. All were expertly crafted and recorded and of course supervised by Mr. Gallucci who later went on to make his name as a producer. I now have a rather beat-up copy of the LP, and now the extended CD which is sonically perfect. Try this. Just remember that this was very ahead-of-it's-time when released in 1969.

    Hey! It's only $90 used. Man, that's stiff - better check my music budget out (crap...).

    2 questions? Usage of terms: break through and progenitor. How do you view the differences between the two. I kinda think a successful break through becomes a (future) progenitor. I view YES as a progenitor - after all consider these 2 bands: Iluvatar and Marillion.

    Other question: I don't do social media stuff, how in the world did you get that YouTube video to post up with a picture link? I was thinking of posting a YouTube of Focus since no one seemed to consider them "break through" (although the progenitor aspect shows up in YES (Steve Howe) and ELP (Emerson)).

    Thanks for posting this. I really like what these guys are doing! Big change from the Kingsmen, don't you think?

  24. #24
    Dana5140: How come the reply to you does not show up as a sub-box to your post?

  25. #25
    Well it looks like sub-boxes don't work here, darn it!
    I was reticent at mentioning the Moody Blues. Heck! I just listened to "Every Good Boy..." & "Seventh Sojourn" last week. It had been WAY too long since I had listened to them. Quite enjoyable. I love these guys!

    Now the issue with Zappa (dang! I hate genre discussions - a topic upon which I am utterly clueless). But here goes. By coincidence, I recently bought up a block of Zappa at the insistence of a good friend. Totally loved it! He and the Mothers were very, very hot. But after to listening to 6 CDs of his, I came away with a non-English word for the Mothers: "integrationist". Holy cow! Frank was a master integrator - I would say the BEST EVER. He blended jazz, rock, and blues pretty much seamlessly. But? At the end of the day? I would not have classified his music as "prog rock" (whatever the heck that NOW means or MEANT). He threaded 3 different forms of music in an ingenious manner. Is Zappa's music considered to "prog rock" on this web site? If so, well then, I think he should go on the list! Go figure. Looks like I got a lot to learn.

    Now wait a sec. I may be misunderstanding what you are saying here. Is Miles Davis classified as "prog rock" now as well? Holy cow! I consider him to be jazz (post BeBop era). However, "Bitches Brew" was a seminal effort in that it created the bridge between the Jazz genre of the `60's and Jazz Fusion of the `70's. That is just my imho. What a stellar piece of work! And? Guess who is playing on it? Chic Corea and Lenny White. Looks to me like Return to Forever had a gosh-durned head start in the Jazz Fusion regime. BUT! If you are gonna mention Miles, then why not John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk as well. Those hep-cats were generating some serious bodacious music as well, "prog" or "jazz".

    I will be honest with you. When I try to understand genres by visiting the Prog Archives site, my eyes cross or I get dizzy at the 4:17 mark. On that site, it seems like everything is "prog". And the sub-genres? Holy cow - I venture not into that territory anymore - too confusing. Wanna here an anecdote? I asked a guy how to tell the difference between Rap and Hip-Hop. Answer? An amorphous collection of gobbly-gook. To this day, I can not tell the difference between Rap and Hip-Hop. I also don't care - I don't care for the music. But you see the dilemma with genres that I have. I ONLY get classic rock, grunge (`90's), jazz fusion, and "prog". I just don't get anything else. Let's just chalk this puppy up as a lost cause...


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