December 13, 2017

Progressive Rock

What is Progressive Rock?

Progressive rock, also known as prog rock, prog-rock or simply prog, is a rock music subgenre which originated in the United Kingdom, with further developments in the United States, Germany and Italy, throughout the mid to late 1960s and 1970s. Developing from psychedelic rock, progressive rock originated, similarly to art rock, as a "British attempt" to give greater artistic weight and credibility to rock music. Progressive rock intended to break the boundaries of traditional rock music by bringing in a greater and more eclectic range of influences, including free-form and experimental compositional methods, as well as new technological innovations.

Progressive rock saw a high level of popularity throughout the 1970s, especially in the mid-part of the decade, with bands such as Pink Floyd, Moody Blues, Genesis, King Crimson, Yes, Camel, Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Progressive rock started to fade in popularity by the latter part of the decade, with the rawer and more minimalistic punk rock growing in popularity; and also with genres such as the rise of disco, funk, hard rock/roots rock, and the gradual emergence of hip - hop. Nevertheless, progressive rock bands were able to achieve commercial success well into the 1980s. By the turn of the 21st century, progressive rock witnessed a revival, often known as neo-progressive, and has, ever since, enjoyed a cult following. The genre has influenced several other styles, ranging from Krautrock to neo-classical metal; it has also fused with several other forms of rock music to create subgenres, including progressive metal.


How important was Prog influence in Italian pop music?

The Italian progressive rock scene was born in the early 70s, mostly inspired by the progressive movement in Britain, but with certain features of its own that makes some sources mention it as a separate musical genre.

In the early-to-mid-70s, Italy was one of the European countries most interested in this genre; many English bands such as Genesis, Van der Graaf Generator and Gentle Giant were discovered by the Italian public before they had consolidated a fan base in their home country. Consequently, progressive Italian groups were prolific. Some received worldwide attention, such as Le Orme, Premiata Forneria Marconi, Area and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso. Most of the bands, however, were mainly known inside Italy.

As CD reissues started appearing and the Internet made information flow easier during the 1990s, the Italian bands were discovered and rediscovered by a number of progressive rock fans internationally. Reissues proved so successful that several recordings which were never released at the time received their first pressings on CD in the 1990s and 2000s. The "discovery" of Italian progressive rock by foreign fans also led to bands such as Celeste being re-evaluated as core bands, despite the fact that they were virtually unknown in Italy at the time.

The 1990s also saw a resurgence in bands performing progressive rock. The first of the well known bands to do so was Ezra Winston, but other groups such as Finisterre, Deus Ex Machina, Delirio Sonoro and Moongarden soon established themselves as well respected progressive rock acts. More recently La Torre dell'Alchimista and La Maschera di Cera have carried on the Italian progressive rock tradition, sporting a very 1970's style.


What is the suggested Prog discography for a neophyte?

A short discography, based on our own tastes, that we can suggest to someone approaching Prog Rock is:

International Prog:

  • King Crimson: In the court of the Crimson King (1969)
  • Genesis: Nursery crime (1971)
  • Emerson Lake & Palmer: Tarkus (1971)
  • Yes: Fragile (1972)
  • Gentle Giant: Octopus (1972)
  • Jethro Tull: Aqualung (1971)
  • Dream Theater: Images and Words (1992)
  • Flower Kings: Retropolis (1996)

Italian Prog:

  • Pfm: Storia di un minuto (1972)
  • Banco del mutuo soccorso: Darwin (1972)
  • Orme: Felona e Sorona (1973)
  • Giganti: Terra in bocca (1971)
  • Area: Gli dei se ne vanno gli arrabbiati restano! (1978)


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