Classic Rock – The 50 Albums That Built Prog Rock (July 2010)

This was originally published as a wall poster in the July 2010 issue of the U.K.’s Classic Rock magazine. Included is a welcome variety of approaches to prog from the classic era, as well as a representative selection of recent albums which demonstrate how well prog aesthetics mix with metal. “Classic Rock consulted the ‘progniscenti'” for this list, “everyone from Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson, ELP’s Carl Palmer, Fairport’s Dave Pegg, Ihsahn, members of Marillion, Magenta, Pallas, Mastodon, Mostly Autumn and Dream Theater to long-term prog fans like Alice Cooper.” Alice Cooper?! The things you learn.

Though prog rock as a style is well known for 20-minute suites and noodling, I prefer to think of it as the presentation of musical complexity as something that is beautiful and desirable. Of course, this road can lead to some crap. But can’t all aesthetic roads lead to crap? So why not give this one a try? Plenty to listen to here, for sure. But if you need to skip one, make it the Moody Blues. The orchestrations on that one really are crap.

  • The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out! (1966)
  • The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds (1966)
  • The Beatles, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
  • Procol Harum, Procol Harum (1967)
  • Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
  • Moody Blues, Days of Future Past (1967)
  • The Nice, The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack (1967)
  • King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
  • Fairport Convention, Liege & Lief (1969)
  • The Soft Machine, Volume Two (1969)
  • Curved Air, Air Conditioning (1970)
  • Van Der Graaf Generator, The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other (1970)
  • Magma, Magma (1970)
  • Barclay James Harvest, Once Again (1971)
  • Jethro Tull, Aqualung (1971)
  • Caravan, In the Land of Grey and Pink (1971)
  • Emerson Lake & Palmer, Tarkus (1971)
  • Focus, Moving Waves (1971)
  • Yes, Fragile (1971)
  • Genesis, Foxtrot (1972)
  • Gentle Giant, Octopus (1972)
  • Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
  • Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells (1973)
  • Mahavishnu Orchestra, Birds of Fire (1973)
  • Genesis, Selling England by the Pound (1973)
  • Emerson Lake and Palmer, Brain Salad Surgery (1973)
  • Gong, Angels Egg (1973)
  • Rick Wakeman, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974)
  • Supertramp, Crime of the Century (1974)
  • Electric Light Orchestra, Eldorado – A Symphony by… (1974)
  • Kraftwerk, Autobahn (1974)
  • Hawkwind, Warrior on the Edge of Time (1975)
  • Renaissance, Scheherazade (1975)
  • Camel, Moonmadness (1976)
  • The Alan Parsons Project, Tales of Mystery and Imagination (1976)
  • Kansas, Leftoverture (1976)
  • Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (1978)
  • Rush, A Farewell to Kings (1977)
  • Kate Bush, The Kick Inside (1978)
  • Asia, Asia (1982)
  • Marillion, Misplaced Childhood (1985)
  • Yes, 90125 (1983)
  • Queensrÿche, Operation: Mindcrime (1988)
  • Dream Theater, When Dream and Day Unite (1989)
  • Radiohead, OK Computer (1997)
  • Opeth, Blackwater Park (2001)
  • The Mars Volta, Deloused in the Comatorium (2003)
  • Porcupine Tree, Deadwing (2005)
  • Muse, Black Holes and Revelations (2006)
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye (2009)

Per usual, I did not edit this list–any inaccuracies in the dates or titles are in the original. However, the poster switches the band name and album title of ELO’s Eldorado, and I could not let that one go. Every man has standards.

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