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The Original Prog Era 1966-1979: A Forum


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Initial post: Oct 4, 2011 12:53:26 PM PDT
Rik K says:
I'm wondering if there's much interest in supporting an ongoing chat thread focussing on old school prog, and prog vinyl?

Although Progressive music is still very much alive & well, I have to confess that it's mainly the old school stuff that really moves and engages me. I was born in 1960, so the original prog era is definitely "my time". My ears are most attracted to the production feel and sensibilities of 1970s music, especially the panoramic stereo imaging and analogue audio warmth of that period.

There is WAY more to 1970s prog than the "big 10" pioneering British progrock bands. There's such a vast amount of little-heard 1970s prog from so many countries, that one can easily spend a lifetime trying to find it all and hear it. To me this quest is much more fascinating than trying to keep up with modern prog.

Your thoughts, contributions and favourites?

[NP - Lambertland by Tasavallan Presidentti (Finland)]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2011 1:12:40 PM PDT
clearcutter says:
Hi Rik,

I enjoy reading the dialog in Russell's Prog Room and occasionally get excited enough to listen to mp3 samples of some of the new bands that fire up our prog comrades. But of all the neo-prog I've sampled, I've ended up following up on fewer than a half a dozen. Even those bands I do like I find myself enjoying in a manner rather different than the 70's classics, and definitely not as deep. Musically, I'm afraid the 70s and first half of the 80s were "my time" too (I'm 1 year older than you).

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2011 1:27:20 PM PDT
Rik K says:
Hi,

Yeah, I would never say that that old school is "superior" to modern, it's just a matter of personal taste. I too greatly enjoy the discussion in Russell's Room (even if I seldom feel I have much to add there), but I feel that maybe another ongoing forum with an old school focus would compliment it nicely. I hope the regulars there will stop by here often too :)

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 4:56:51 PM PDT
Scottiemon says:
I agree. I have read every post on this board for the better part of 3-4 years at least. I chime in when I have something to add....which for the most part is very seldom. I too am an old school progger. 90% of the talk on Russell's thread...well...I have never heard of them. I don't have the time or budget at this time to expand.
Nothing against Russell's thread. I read and enjoy it. But again, seldom have anything I can chime in on.
Great idea for a new thread.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2011 6:03:41 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2011 6:14:14 PM PDT
Rik K says:
@ Scottie,

I found that when I first got into old School "global" prog, I'd never heard of many of the weird & wonderful foreign bands from many countries either. But I got a couple of books from my library about Prog that covered quite a few of these obscure bands, then bought a few more prog books (some are amazingly cheap from Amazon Used vendors). Also I visited websites like ProgArchives and especially ProgGnosis (which even lets you search bands by nation). For awhile I was also trading lots of CDRs by mail with overseas people I met on RateYourMusic, though that has kinda died out now that everybody seems to just want to download everything. Bottom line is that it didn't take me long to get educated about bands I'd gone for decades being ignorant of.

For many of these obscure foreign Old School bands, I was stunned that their quality & originality was just as good as the famous British proggers. In many countries, old school prog did not die out as early as it did in the UK either.

For me, I find that many of these Old School foreign bands are very rewarding to listen to; I get quite deeply into them like I did with the British bands in my youth. They have that 70s magic!

One of the most fascinating things about foreign old-school is that, before the internet, each region seemed to develop a very distinct sound in isolation. Nowadays that seems to be lost as every band can now be influenced by every other band in the world. It's led to a kind of homogenization in modern prog I think.

(Sorry I'm so long-winded but I've been keeping a lot of these thoughts to myself for awhile ;)

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 7:10:57 PM PDT
Yodathedog says:
Seems like I might be just a little older than some of you, having been born in the early 50s. I never got any musical influences from my home life, so I had to cultivate my musical tastes on my own. Obviously the first band I took up with was the Beatles, and my first vinyl purchase was Meet The Beatles. I still have it. I wasn't into much of any particular type of music (mostly what was on the radio) till I started high school, which around here started with the 8th grade. I picked up on what my friends were listening to, and also had a very cool small record store in the local shopping center that would let us try out music before we committed to buying. Needless to say I discovered bunches there, though not so much prog yet. I was turned onto Chicago, Free, Creedence, It's A Beautiful Day, Zappa and many others. I bought Yes' first album from a Woolworth's simply because I liked their name, and the liner notes that said after Led Zeppelin, they would be the next big thing. I didn't particularly like the first Yes album, but was totally hooked by the time The Yes Album hit the stores. I did listen to what I wanted to listen to and developed a liking for prog mostly because of the generally higher production values and the complexity of the music. I had friends who shared my musical tastes, so it made it easier to expand my horizons, and my 8 track collection. I'd had to listen to a lot of country music growing up and never developed a liking for it. Too basic for me I guess. I tried Classical music, but most of the time I just couldn't relate to it. I probably should've been listening to mid 60s jazz, but somehow that era past me by, probably since most of my friends didn't listen to it, so my exposure was pretty much nil. 9 years in the retail music biz helped cultivate my tastes, and the size of my collection grew by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, most of that music is long gone, having been disposed of against my better judgement, and my daily loathing. I do like much of the newer music, though some of it doesn't fit my tastes, I do try to listen when I can. I've made many new discoveries and have rejected just as many discoveries. My tastes tend to be pretty narrow as those of you who've seen my list of cds can attest to. The late 60s and early 70s was truly a magical time to be listening to prog as so much was going on at the same time. It was almost sensory overload sometimes, with incredible new releases coming out almost weekly. I was never into foreign bands that much (except obviously the British), and never was exposed to much foreign music. So I'm looking forward to getting recommendations of some of the many foreign bands I've missed over the years, and re-discovering bands I once listened to and may have forgotten about, two of which have been mentioned recently, namely Gentle Giant and PFM. I've heard of both but haven't paid much attention to them. I did buy a couple of GG discs recently, but really haven't given them much of a listen. I intend to rectify that problem soon, I hope. I have no problem with modern bands who emulate the big guys of the past, since that's the music I want to hear. And since many of the older bands no longer record, it gives continuity to the genre and continues to build on the foundations the earlier bands laid.

Jesus, I don't know what got into to me tonight, but the words started flowing and won't stop. I think this forum will be a welcome addition to the already established ones and will help expand on them. I'm ALL IN.

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 7:16:10 PM PDT
Yodathedog says:
Talk about long winded, huh?

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 7:36:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2011 9:18:09 PM PDT
Rik K says:
^ Hey, the best Prog is long-winded, so it's only appropriate that an unleashed Progger would be too eh?

I relate to how you discovered Prog. To me, the roots of it go back to 1966 Beatles & Zappa, along with some of the jazz like Coltrane and Miles, and some of the psych-raga like Byrds and Butterfield Band. (Then of course came the 1967 Brit proto-proggers Floyd/Nice/Procol/Moodies/Soft Machine, before the birth of Crimson/van der Graaf and true prog in late '68. But I digress.) And even though they weren't really prog, It's A Beautiful Day and early Chicago IMO would appeal to prog fans, along with certain Spirit and Airplane.

I was lucky enough to have a sister 12 years older than me, an arts major in university who introduced me to a lot of 60s-70s album rock while it was still current. Even when she moved away she'd still buy me cool stuff for xmas. But the main breakthroughs for me was hearing things on the radio like "Roundabout", "Lucky Man" and the goofy hit "Hocus Pocus" by Focus. The latter made me scrimp my allowance to buy Moving Waves and my life was literally never the same - I was hooked on that warm Continental Euro prog sound.

I too went through a period where I thought prog was dead (after all, that's what the music rags told us right?) and turned away from it in the 80s. Luckily I didn't get rid of many albums, but I sure wasted a lot of money on "trendy" 80s music that I tried to make myself like. Talk about disposable music.

NP - Kollektiv. Imagine early Fripp jamming with Gong on "Flute Salad"!

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 9:29:38 PM PDT
clearcutter says:
All right, Rik, since you are all in favor of this forum tackling foreign 70s-era prog, I'll start things off with a question I've had in mind for a long time: Is there anybody in the forum who is a fan of the classic German prog band NOVALIS?

These guys had several albums but I only ever heard their 1976 album "Somerabend." At the time, I rejected it due to what I considered inferior singing and unsubtle musical textures (note: the all-German lyrics didn't bother me; it was the vocal qualities per se I didn't like). However, I have recently sampled these guys again on progarchives.com and realize they are a truly prime example of that 70s prog magic. Besides, I adore Eloy and Triumvirat from the same period, so I am predisposed toward German prog.

My question is: Does anybody have any recommendations toward approaching Novalis' albums? Is Somerabend their best or the best place to start?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2011 10:13:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2011 10:16:35 PM PDT
Rik K says:
I've had "Somerabend" on my wishlist for awhile, but unfortunately I've heard very little of Novalis. If you go to RateYourMusic.com and enter Novalis in their search box, you'll get lots of fan reviews and recommendations on them. Generally, the first 3 albums seem to be the best liked (isn't that the case with so many of these bands?)

Funny you should mention Eloy! For the past week I've been riding around in the car with some of their stuff, and I'm finally warming to it after initially finding it a bit too cheesy. I'm especially impressed with the drummer on "Floating". And I just love Hammond - the guy from Eloy gets fantastic sounds out of it doesn't he?

I've been into Krautrock (as narrowly defined by Julian Cope) for awhile, but only recently getting into some old school German prog. My favourite band so far is Embryo, followed by Dzyan and Mythos. The bands Kollektiv and Dom are also very good, but I believe they only made 1 album each. My all-time favourite German band is Tangerine Dream, who admittedly only made 2 albums that were entirely Prog. The rest of their stuff is defined otherwise I think.

Posted on Oct 4, 2011 10:27:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2011 10:29:41 PM PDT
clearcutter says:
Well, I'm a HUGE fan of Eloy, but unlike some fans, I do not listen much to anything before the big personnel shake-up that left guitarist/vocalist Frank Bornemann as the sole original member with an all-new band to support him in the making of 1975's "Dawn". That's when the band really got going for me. But I agree the organ work on the earlier albums is very impressive.

I'm also a huge Tangerine Dream fan up through about Hyperborea or Quichotte (mid-80s). I'm having trouble pinning down which albums you might mean as being "entirely Prog." My guess is that you are talking about Cyclone and Force Majeur. Am I right?

p.s. thanks for the tip on following-up on Novalis. I'll check out that website.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2011 10:54:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 4, 2011 11:45:40 PM PDT
Rik K says:
Good guess on what I was alluding to with Cyclone & Force Majeur. For me it's the presence of a real drummer, and how he interacts on-the-fly with Froese & Franke (rather than being programmed for a change!) that's the key thing - along with some melodic crescendos and restated themes. I also agree that TD were pretty much done by the mid 80s; for me "Poland" is the last really worthwhile album although "Underwater Sunlight" had its moments. Generally I thought Schmoelling was their downfall, he made them too structured and predictable.

(And hey I clicked on your reviews - I'm gonna get the owl book for sure! I've reviewed a few things here myself that might interest you.)

Posted on Oct 5, 2011 7:41:34 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Oct 16, 2011 1:35:26 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2011 9:39:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 5, 2011 9:41:44 AM PDT
clearcutter says:
Rik,
Your comments on Tangerine Dream are very perceptive regarding the "real" drummer (Klaus Krieger) on Cyclone & Force Majeur. Never quite thought of it that way. If you are not familiar with Edgar Froese's solo album "Ages," Klaus Krieger plays on that album also, including a very intense workout on one song (Nights of Automatic Women) that is the hottest piece Froese or TD ever produced.

Personally, I disagree about Schmoelling-era TD. I feel they became a totally different band from what they were before, less special but in some ways more approachable. Although Zeit, Phaedra, and Rubicon are on an untouchable pedestal and immortal achievements, I listen more often to albums like Tangram, White Eagle, Logos, and Poland. Schmoelling did make the band less experimental, and more predictable, but also more listenable in a casual-listening way.

To me the downfall started with the arrival of Paul Haslinger. They became too new-agey for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2011 8:56:34 PM PDT
Rik K says:
@ Squire,

I have "Between Flesh and Divine" on CDR somewhere, but frustratingly I've misplaced it. I recall that I liked it. Gonna do a better search tomorrow because I'm missing a couple of other albums as well. Moving homes will do that.

There are two prog bands with that name. The one you mentioned was actually based in Paris but they had a couple of Turkish members. In the 90s there was a band called Asiaminor (all one word), and that one was based in Turkey.

Earlier this week I was listening to another old Turkish band called Bunalim. They sound a bit primitive like some Krautrock does, and are more psych than prog. Fun stuff anyway!

Posted on Oct 6, 2011 12:06:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2011 12:24:08 AM PDT
Rik K says:
Anyone clicking on my name here and looking at my "Listmania" section will see I have a collection of books on Prog. A couple of weeks ago I was in a local book shop and spotted a new one, Mountains Come Out of the Sky: The Illustrated History of Prog Rock. Ho-hum I thought, what's this thing gonna tell me that I haven't already heard 500 times? It does spend a lot of time on well-known British acts after all, along with a sprinkling of other stuff including a bit of modern prog.

As it turns out, it was worth it for the price ($16). What makes the book different is that the author had access to a lot of recording & stage people who closely worked with the prog greats, and these folks do reveal a lot of unusual details and fresh perspective on these well-documented artists. There's also a great many photos I've never seen before, and I've been reading about these bands for decades. The one of Gentle Giant sitting on a giant desk telephone is priceless.

'Mountains Come Out of the Sky' is the closest thing I've seen to a "prog coffee table book" since the Genesis hardcover tome 'I Know What I Like' of years ago. While not the most definitive or inclusive book on prog, it's worth getting if the price is right.

Posted on Nov 5, 2011 11:05:01 PM PDT
Rik - I agree there's a magic to the classic prog era. Partially it's just the sound of the time (I'm a big fan of the early metal, British folk-rock, and stuff like Wishbone Ash, also) - there was a lighter, kind of jazzy sense to the musicianship that lost out to rock solid, always loud, compressed sound in later decades. Remember the sensitive acoustic bits in stuff like Tull's "Thick As A Brick", where there was a big dynamic when the full band kicked in? (Not to mention King Crimson - if you turn up some of their quiet stuff to hear it in the car, like "The Letters", it's blaringly loud when it kicks in heavy). Modern music, you can hardly tell the difference between the acoustic and electric bits.

I've heard of the Big 6 of prog (Tull, Floyd, ELP, Crimson, Yes, Genesis) - who are the other four in the big 10?

I'm pretty much just familiar with the British bands, although lately I've been exploring some of those proggish bands from the exotic USA (and Canada) - Rush, Styx, and Kansas. I'd kind of always written them off as decent bands with a slight prog touch, but I've found Rush and Kansas actually have quite a bit of full-fledged prog on some of their early albums, although what I've heard by Styx is more of just a proggish flavoring than the real thing (though still kind of enjoyable).

Regarding Eloy - they're listed to play at the final Nearfest in Bethlehem, PA next June, as well as Van Der Graaf Generator and Renaissance (among others). Sadly for me, I moved from NJ to CO a few years ago, so it's now a bit further than an hour's drive to attend!

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 8:32:17 AM PST
The thing that makes the first generation of Progressive Rock so special is the diversity and creativity of it all. Nothing beats it and nothing ever will. The creative recording and sound techniques and Classical and Jazz influences restructured and recreated by Pink Floyd. King Crimson and Soft Machine walking a thin line between Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion. Folk/Classical Progressive Rock by Renassaince and Jethro Tull,Symphonic Rock by early Genesis and the Moody Blues,the heavy talents of Rush. You can make a list of hundreds of Progressive Rock bands from that era that sound nothing like each other. How does Van Der Graff Generator sound like Caravan? Yes like The Alan Parsons Project? They dont yet in the same genre? Progressive Rock bands after that era have been more in the neo-prog anyway and dont have that greatness past bands have had to say the least.

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 9:12:06 AM PST
Yodathedog says:
The thing is, everything back then was new. That's what was so fun about it all. Every week practically there was some new area of music being discovered and explored. It's kinda like all the people in the world in their own places developing their own languages and cultures sometimes isolated from the other musicians and not knowing all the time what was going on elsewhere. There wasn't as much history to build upon so everyone had to make up their stuff. These days there's so much background it's gotta be real hard for a band to come up with a sound or style that no one else has already thought of. Some do, but most try to build on the history already created. This year though has seen a lot more new good music created than probably the last 3 or 4 years combined. I'm excited about the future and trying not to live too much in the past.

Boy, I sound really intelligent today. )

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 9:36:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2011 3:09:19 PM PST
Rik K says:
Hi Yoda,

Interesting what you say about unique styles developing in isolation. You can really hear that in vintage global psych and global prog; in different countries bands were largely unaware of what everyone else was doing so they really developed some highly unique local ideas. I worry that the internet may be leading to a kind of musical homogenization because now everybody can easily and instantly hear everybody else, being influenced by "hot trends". (Or in the case of modern prog, a great many being influenced by the same Hackett-derived sound.)

For me, if I'm discovering new bands from the past it's exactly the same value as discovering new bands from the present. And there's such a huge number of bands from the past I've not heard yet, I'm getting all my needs for new music met from that vintage stuff. I could spend years just tracking down all the obscure vintage prog bands that came from South America alone. Not to mention Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. I'm grateful that I don't understand the languages, so to me the music isn't made stale by dated lyrics.

NP - Shark Move by Ghede Chokra's (Indonesia)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2011 11:17:38 AM PST
Yodathedog says:
Rik, it's unfotunately (or maybe not) inevitable that the internet will play a big part of the future of music as it will with everything else. So far though, I think we're doing alright. And it might not be a bad idea for a bit of musical "blending". Yes there will be some trash. Maybe a lot like most of the 80s, but in the long run I think we'll be OK.

No music today as I'm trying to catch up on all my DVRing. And I checked all the music I've acquired from this year and I'm gonna have to relisten to a WHOLE LOT of music before I can make a decent "top 10" list.

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 11:31:32 AM PST
Rik,,check out Sleepwalker Sun's "Stranger in the Mirror",a nice album by a prog band from Rio. Ghia Arroyo has a great voice!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2011 2:52:40 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 22, 2011 2:53:17 PM PST
Rik K says:
@ Yoda,

I didn't mean to imply that the internet was all bad, after all without it I'd never be able to access so much of this great old/new music I'm discovering. In fact without the net likely most of this obscure vintage stuff would never have made it back into print. I just feel that, like most anything else, the net is a double-edged sword and a pandora's box. One unwanted side-effect might be a homogenization of arts, music and culture. Too early to measure the longterm effects though.

NP - Zarathustra, by Museo Rosenbach (Italy)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2011 3:06:02 PM PST
Rik K says:
@ Russell,

Hey so glad to see you made it over here, and hope you'll be back with some cool suggestions in an old-school vein. Betcha got some stuff from years back you could dust off and reassess :)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 22, 2011 3:50:31 PM PST
Yodathedog says:
I think I'll hang around awhile and see what happens.
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Discussion in:  Progressive Rock forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  358
Initial post:  Oct 4, 2011
Latest post:  May 21, 2012

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