The wonderful sound of Progressive Rock has been around since the psychedelic period in 1966, and its music still influence today’s younger generation. Critics and the so-called mainstream music scenery tried to kill it with darts and a shot gun, but they have failed miserably as it traces their patterns in them and makes it a difficult genre to draw a line in the sand whether you love or loathe it. Done by the good people at EMI, Inside Out, Superball Music, and Classic Rock Presents Prog and compiled by prog maestro’s editor-in-chief, Jerry Ewing, Prog Rocks is one of the best compilations that the three labels have done and the magazine itself.
Here, this is one of the most journeys from 1968 to 2011 as we go on a journey from a magic carpet ride throughout the 2-CD set track by track will have people enjoy, scratch their heads, and decide what bands should be considered prog and who shouldn’t be in the genre. Now if you would have a nice seat have a nice cup of tea, strawberry toast, scrambled eggs, and some pancakes, there’s an adventure waiting for you to take you to the ultimate dimension and beyond the stars. Since prog lovers are familiar with the sounds of Yes, Genesis, ELP, and Camel to name a few, what Ewing does is to let you know is that there is a huge step beyond the four bands and seeing where prog got its sound from.
On Prog Rocks, it goes through Point A to Point B and through the golden era of the artists in today who have been influenced by these bands, taking them from massive success to the obscure and bizarre territory that admired them. Starting the first CD off is Jethro Tull’s disturbing character Aqualung searching to become a pedophile in the booming disturbing classic, Cross-Eyed Mary, which is probably a twisted song, but really kicks the album off like dynamites going off out of nowhere. Meanwhile, Van Der Graaf Generator’s Darkness (11/11) and Rare Bird’s anti-war single, Sympathy, show the obscure and darker territories for more nightmares and views of hell that you’ve never expected.
As for Deep Purple’s psychedelic hard funk of Bird Has Flown show a different take of Purple’s music with Blackmore’s signature guitar riff intro as The Nice’s Country Pie and Barclay James Harvest’s Mockingbird are symphonic trademarks that would have made them the early kings of Symphonic Rock and make it worth emotional and teary-eyed that is lush and beautiful at the same time while the rockabilly turned prog touch of Crimson of Glam on Roxy Music and dooming views of isolation with the early days of ELO, make it a touch of power. However, it’s the obscurity that counts with a little help from Eloy, Gong, Hawkwind, and the Canterbury jazz scene from Hatfield and the North, lets the listener know that the genre isn’t a four letter word as the first side closes with Gentle Giant’s time changing experience with On Reflection.
The second CD is where we are introduced to the new wave of British Prog and the new bands who are now carrying the torch as they take the carpet out into space with Tangerine Dream and Kevin Ayers as it goes down for a nice Garden Party from Marillion, but then it goes into a massive haywire of letting the dogs out screaming for vengeance with Pallas’ Dance through the Fire, The Flower Kings Monkey Business, and the 10-minute journey into another world with Frost’s Black Light Machine.
And while The Tangent, Ayreon, IQ, and Sweet Billy Pilgrim, shows the progressive movement has still going into fresh green tomatoes for musicians and bands to take over, it’s the Texas Punk-Prog band And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, closing the album off with mellow turned hard rock attitude and showing how the future is growing and giving Prog a wonderful revival and a fresh start.