Progressive Rock Guide

Some prog rock recommendations. Perhaps something to get the n00b started, or a page for all prog rock geeks to find some hidden (?) gems. I am far from an expert, and I don't listen to as much "traditional" progressive music as I used to (though I do listen to a lot of stuff I would consider to be progressive...the word does have more than one or two meanings when it comes to music).

Dream Theater - Scenes From a Memory

It wouldn't be fair not to mention the album that opened my eyes to progressive rock/metal. I blame it all on this great concept album from 1999. Oh, and I blame my friend Jonas for recommending me to listen to it.

Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

Most (young?) people today probably associate Elton John with some cheesy pop/rock music. But once upon a time, he actually played prog rock. Check out Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) — a hit parade, originally a double album (we're talking about LPs...), now on one CD. It even has the original version of Candle in the Wind. A must-have in all album collections.

Marillion - Misplaced Childhood

One of my all-time favorites — does this album have one bad moment? The keyboard strings in the intro Pseudo Silk Kimono gives me goosebumps, Kayleigh is just an awesome hit song, the short-but-beautiful Lavender, the awesome guitar in Heart of Lothian...the list goes on. The music is rock solid. Give this album a fair chance — listening actively definitely helps :-) (even though it is from 1985 it doesn't have to be bad, y'know)

Neal Morse - Testimony

I doubt this man has ever produced something which can actually be considered bad. With that said, everything he does isn't absolutely amazing and wonderful, either, but he is the master of epic songs with lots of keyboards. This double album from 2003 tells the story of (parts of) his life — from the dark days, until he discovered God. Yes, it does have a religious message, but you don't have to agree with everything he says in order to understand and be gripped by all the emotions — from a sad song like Wasted Life to the wonderful and happy Sing It High. Features Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy on drums.

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals...

It seems a lot of people consider Dark Side of the Moon (1973) their best album. Sure, it's great, but IMHO Wish You Were Here (1975) is better. Shine on You Crazy Diamond is just a great song, and the other three (Welcome to the Machine, Have a Cigar, Wish You Were Here) are almost as good. Animals (1977) gets way too little recognition — it is definitely up there among Floyd's best.

The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium, Frances the Mute

The Mars Volta is "the new shit". They have thrown together the best parts of Led Zeppelin, psychedelic Pink Floyd, King Crimson, At the Drive-In, added some salsa, psychedelica, and other stuff, and come out with a totally awesome mix. At the moment I would say that De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003) and Frances the Mute (2005) are just about equally good. Put them on repeat and let them grow on you — that's an order!

The Moody Blues - Days of Future Passed

I wonder how many musicians this album inspired when it was first released in 1967. I don't know a whole lot, but I would say that this is a milestone in (rock) music history.

Yes - Fragile, Close to the Edge, Relayer...

Yes did have their best moments in the 70s. A good start would be to check out their two albums from 1972 — Fragile and Close to the Edge, as well as the 1974 gem Relayer. If you're into harder, more chaotic stuff, you might want to give Relayer a shot first. That's what I did... Other recommended albums are The Yes Album (1971), Going for the One (1977), 90125 (1983) and Magnification (2001). 90125 is their best selling album and it has another sound than the 70s albums. Magnification features a symphonic orchestra which actually interacts with the music — as opposed to i.e. Metallica's S&M, where the symphonic parts were added to already existing songs, the music was actually written with an orchestra in mind. If you like long songs, you can find some great moments on the 4*20 minutes Tales From Topographic Oceans. Whatever you do when you purchase Yes music, make sure you get the 2003/2004 remasters of their studio albums up to, and including, 90125. The remasters sound a lot better IMHO.

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