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I have a confession

I like progressive rock……Part ONE

Despite once narrating my belief that it was created by purely by the powers of darkness, no matter what age I seem to reach, I still get a pleasant comfort from it.

Now obviously, this kind of confession may be seen as on a par with having a schoolgirl fetish or talking at the theatre, but there are some things that deep in your heart you know that you benefit from to such a consistent extent that it remains blissfully cathartic to admit to.

The first time I heard it is lost in the heady days of my youth, but I feel certain was probably down the Radio Caroline, whose itinerant broadcasts originated off the coast a bit from where I was brought up and which we would listen to whenever me and my family were out in the car.

I have wondered many times over my life why listening to it still makes me feel  good, despite the obvious connection to my youth, and I think that the most poignant reason is my love of stories, and if prog rock is anything, it’s a narrative.  Fair enough I voice my opinion based purely on the fact that I fell in love with Sergeant Pepper and more so with The Small Faces Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, which is epoch making…..listen to it!!!!

Prog rock in the 70’s was a weird and wonderful ocean of musical techniques and brave new sounds as well as the only musical genre of the time to take full advantage of the LP album sleeve making masterpieces of art and design possible.

Like an ocean, all the usual inhabitants were present. YES, the ever more ridiculous Clown fish. Genesis the electric- eel and the huge ponderous bulk of Pink Floyd of whale like dimensions, cruising comfortably along and watching smaller fish scuttle out of the way.  The fantastical deep sea leviathan of Hawkwind, a bizarre creature from a region so deep that they are grotesque and unworldly, while ever present, the huge manta ray of Emerson Lake and Palmer winging its way to God only knows where!

It wasn’t just a potentially scary place for visitors, but was as if not more so for the actual inhabitants, with the ever worrying chance that a fin might at any moment break the surface and the shake-like shadow of King Crimson might glide into view, mesmerizing the smaller fish and making them lunch.

The era gave birth to some of the greatest albums of, in my opinion, all time. No!

Not just albums….they created musical sagas more like the trade of the minstrel from medieval times. Singing stories and fables to his audience. They also created the opportunity for the likes of Roger Dean to create idyllic images to accompany the sounds.

The ironic Thick as a Brick, heralded as the greatest prog rock album, but in fact was them taking the piss.

The ultimate feast of sound play and tinkly pinkily noises from Foxtrot, the fourth studio creation by Genesis, back when Peter Gabriel was still haunting the stage and blowing us all away.

Fragile by YES, a great chance to listen to the band before they totally lost the plot.

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy by Elton John goes to show that long, unbrushed hair and a beard wasn’t always a requisite to get involved.

Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Rick Wakeman.

Argus by Wishbone Ash.

Renaissance with the beautiful Scheherazade and Other Stories.

And not forgetting Lord of the Rings an instrumental progressive rock album by Swedish musician Bo Hansson, which is a must for anyone interested in the whole Tolkien thing.

On the Threshold of a Dream and so many other 70’s albums by The Moody Blues, the list is endless.

And anyone from that era, whether they turned in the end to disco, folk or Punk, have some fond recollections of.

Today, as I note, it’s a problem to own up to indulging in such pretentious frippery. It’s a throwback to either Punk and the backlash against such overindulgent posh stuff and showing off, or pure denial.

Remember, The Dark Side of the Moon came out in March 1973, and let’s face it, if you don’t appreciate that albumin some way; you’re some form of pond slime, so far down the evolutionary path that you make coal look smart.

While the 60’s had all the shallow optimism and creative indulgence, it really was the 70’s where a revolution was going on, as the psychedelic anthems became their own thing and a multitude of styles and approaches to music were really born.

The 60’s might have had Sergeant Pepper and Nutgones, it was the 70’s when artists could declare to the world a that they were their own things…..listen and enjoy ……or not!

Let’s be honest.

If you think of the 70’s…your mind might drift in very different ways to recollect music of the time.




Folk rock?

Prog rock?

Shit, how many genres can you get into a single decade?

If the 60’s was the fuse, the 70’s was the explosion!


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