selected by John
The definitive progressive rock album of all time...so much imagination
tapping the essence of rock-jazz-classical-r&b blended into
an incredible new musical experience. "Roundabout" single
handedly made the world a better musical place to live.
"Five Percent for Nothing"
English art rockers Yes released Fragile in January of 1972.
This was the band's fourth album and their first not only to crack
the US Top 10 and go Gold(eventually Platinum) but it also marked
the debut of new Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman whom is undoubtedly
one of the best keyboardists ever. The album was recorded in late
1971 at Advision Studios in London with producer Eddy Offord(whom
first came to prominence engineering the first four ELP discs) and
features four Yes tracks and each member of the band had their own
solo piece. Fragile opens with the 8 and a half minute classic rock
radio staple Roundabout which features excellent keyboard work from
Rick and superb guitar work from Steve Howe and an excellent Jon
Anderson vocal. Next is Cans and Brahms which is Rick's take on
a classical work using synthesizers, organs and piano. Jon's We
Have Heaven follows and demonstrates his superb vocal range. Next,
we return to the band with South Side of the Sky which features
superb musicianship from all the members especially Bill Bruford's
drumming. Bill's solo spot Five Per Cent For nothing is a drum pattern
which he plays along to the group is very short but catchy. Next,
back to the full band for Long Distance Runaround which is a classic
rock radio staple today and is a great song(the shortest of the
group songs). Chris' bass solo with a little help from Bill Bruford
on drums The Fish follows and shows why Chris is undoubtedly one
of rock's best bassists. He also sings the Schindeleria Primataureaus
chant on the track. Steve is the last to do a solo spot with his
Mood For a Day classical guitar solo which is great. The album originally
ends with Heart of the Sunrise which is a great classic at over
ten minutes. Then, just when you think the disc ends, a door opens
and the We Have Heaven reprise closes the album. On this remaster,
you get two bonus tracks. Yes' take of the Simon and Garfunkel nugget
America which Yes revamped and made their own and an early take
of Roundabout. --Terence Joseph Reardon
Lake & Palmer
Pure musical, athletic genius that blows me away everytime
I hear the 20 minute title track! Even the lyrics are symphonic.
Tarkus is a brilliant album. But you either love it
or you will hate it. The Tarkus suite is mind-bending. Let's first
face the facts: Keith Emerson was having to CREATE his own sounds
in 1971. They were not programmed into his synthesizer as they are
today. Every sound had to be tweaked through twenty or thirty knobs
just to get the right sound. If you have seen the Pictures at an Exhibition
movie, you will notice him missing the sound he wanted on many of
the intros because it was an art. Given this, what ELP produced was
incredible for their day. Tarkus is an album where ELP seemed to have
left their short history for a period. Nothing else sounds like it.
Toccata might be close, but this was their work, not something they
borrowed as in the case of Toccata. It also showcases Carl Palmer's
amazing drumming, and Greg lake's voice almost sounds childlike. I
highly recommend this album because it exposes early 70s prog music
at its best, which was experimental in nature. Listen to it. Force
yourself to play it in your car for a week. It will suddenly hit you,
that you really will appreciate ELP on this album. BTW: "Are You Ready,
Eddy" is a comical song dedicated to Eddy Offord, who produced many
of ELP's albums and many of Yes'es. After you have listened to this
album, go out and buy "Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never
Ends." It is the best album ELP ever did, bar none. And Tarkus live
is incredible. -- Charles Cribbs, Jr.
progressive live music with HUGE energy and heart.
Seconds Out is one of the most amazing live albums I've ever heard.
And this "Definitive Edition Remaster" edition makes it even better.
This album is, in all respects, perfect. It's equal cannot be found
anywhere. Musically, these guys are at the top of their craft. (Particularly
with the addition of drummers Chester Thompson and King Crimson/Yes
beatmaster Bill Bruford.) Lyrically, this album -- although it borrows
heavily from Trick of the Tail -- runs the gamut, going back all the
way to "The Musical Box" from Nursery Cryme. And, glory be!, it features
the entire 25-minute epic "Supper's Ready" from Foxtrot. This version,
even though Phil Collins is singing it instead of Peter Gabriel, is
dramatic, powerful and guaranteed to give you goosebumps. Speaking
of Phil Collins, this live album sounds so much like Peter Gabriel
in parts that you'd swear he was still in the band. So, the good news
is this 1977-released 2-CD set is a perfect representation of Genesis
at their peak. The recording is flawless. The song selection is impeccable.
-- Bill Murphy
No one can sound as confident, fresh and immense as King Crimson does
after playing for so many years. Although classic Crimson is amazing
with "21st Century Schizoid Man" and "Red," this
album blows away prior work with a bevy of master musicianship paving
the adventurous rock way of the future.
This time around, King Crimson's avatars comprise a double trio, featuring
Robert Fripp (guitar, mellotron), Adrian Belew (vocals, guitar), Tony
Levin (bass, stick), Trey Gunn (Warr guitar), with Bill Bruford and
Pat Mastelotto on percussion. They have created a daunting work, both
inhumanly complex and frighteningly harsh, with guitar distortion
that sounds like metal being torn apart by machines, and clamorous
drumming. "Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream" is catchy as it moves around
spiky grooves and shrapnel hurricanes of dense noise. "Dinosaur" is
heavy, evil rock. "VROOM" in all its variations is heavy instrumental
intricacy, seemingly chaotic but elaborately constructed. "People"
is a mechanized funk with ringing metallic snares and guitar lines
sharper than an assassin's blade. "B'Boom" reveals King Crimson's
matchless ability to create tension in music. On an array of minimalist
percussion, ghostly guitar strokes create a hair-raising expectancy.
The percussion drops out, leaving only a machine gun snare roll. Then
the song kicks into all out war-mode, with heaving battle rhythms.
The transition from here into "THRAK" is sudden and jarring. This
nightmare inducing title track makes Meshuggah sound like a bunch
of teddy bears. (And if you haven't had the extremely devastating
pleasure -- or pain, depending on the person -- of listening to Meshuggah,
just take for granted that they are sick.) The bestial guitar solo
sounds like a demon matriarch giving birth. Yum.
An amazing human being and the only artist who can make brilliant
commercial music work with a progressive rock, soulful feel.
"So" is generally regarded as a peak in Peter Gabriel's
recording career, notable both for its solid set of songs and lush
production. For Gabriel, who'd been putting his music in theatrical
contexts ever since his days with Genesis , the modern sound of "So"
(coproduced with Daniel Lanois ) was a dramatic conceit that effectively
played off the organic roots of many of its songs. The album's big
hit was "Sledgehammer," the English rocker's somewhat stilted take
on the Stax/Volt style of rhythm & blues. Gabriel is much more powerful
on his own art-rock songs, such as "Red Rain," which evokes nuclear
ruin with its cascading rush of guitars and synthesizers. "Don't Give
Up" is perhaps Gabriel's best ballad, with Kate Bush 's heavenly second
vocal enough to give anybody encouragement. But the song that best
exploits So 's blend of technology and soul is "In Your Eyes," a beguiling
rhythmic tapestry in which Gabriel duets with Youssou N'Dour .--John
Wives of Henry the VIII
This album paved the way for progressive rock and permanently established
the synthesizer as a force to reckon with. Bruford, Howe and Squire
add great dimension to Rick's excellent compositions.
"Catherine of Aragorn" (real
Put simply, this album is THE album from Mr Wakeman. I love virtually
everything he has ever done, but his first three albums are still
his best three albums, and "6 Wives" is the best of them all. It has
not aged in nearly 30 years and can still be listened to almost as
if for the first time. When it was first released it broke barriers
of inventiveness and originality, both in terms of genre and of sound.
Rick's playing sounds good on any keyboard, but with this album you
are taken through the best of all the keyboards available back in
1973 (and, frankly, they are still the best). A masterpiece. -- Mark
A great, modern new prog-rock band from England. "In Absentia" is
also one of the best SOUNDING records in a long time; prog-rock recorded
at Avatar Studios in NYC!
"Blackest Eyes" (real
After a quarter-century of punk and postmodern excesses, it's always
something of a surprise to find young musicians who not only recall
a past era's musical indulgences, but also revel in them. This Lava
Records debut is the latest fruit of Porcupine Tree mainstay Steven
Wilson's obsession with prog, a mania that dates to the late '80s
when the "band" was little more than a fantasy, though one with a
remarkably imaginative--if entirely fictional--history and bio. But
that pipedream eventually became a real "alt prog" cult fave, with
these dozen ambitious songs finding a focus that occasionally eluded
the band on half-hour soundscapes like its underground hit, "Voyage
34." Tracks like "Gravity Eyelids" have a retro-psychedelic feel that
would have done the XTC alter ego Dukes of Stratosphear proud, with
Wilson's pure melodic tenor pushing it beyond the merely baroque.
But the collection is also a strong statement of another crucial Wilson/Porcupine
retro-sensibility: The album has unified musical statement. "Lips
of Ashes" and "Prodigal" serve up the sort of impressionistic, harmony-rich
musings that Pink Floyd has rarely managed since Wish You Were Here
, while "The Creator Has a Master Tape" punctuates the rich harmonies
of tracks like "Heart Attack in a Layby" with Crimson-esque metallic
thrash and processed vocals. While the band's instrumental prowess
sometimes slums its way into the free-form jazz noodling of past efforts,
the album remains one of the band's fullest achievements. --Jerry
Another progressive rock classic that approaches jazz-rock from a
defiantly, blues-rock direction...What a great combination of musicians
coupled with Beatles producer extraordinaire, George Martin.
"You Know What I Mean" (real
His guitar-slinging contributions to the Yardbirds having dwarfed
those of Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page, Mrs. Beck's bad boy spent the
next several years playing blues-rock (the Jeff Beck Group with Rod
Stewart), soul-rock (the second edition of that band), and leading
a power trio. Then, he made this all-instrumental album, which was
a huge 1975 success. Produced by George Martin, the nine-song session
finds Beck fronting a keyboards-bass-drums outfit, augmented by some
tastefully unobtrusive string arrangements. Call it a jazz-fusion
album at your own risk. While Beck's playing is less in-your-face
than his previous efforts, all the fierce attack, thick tone, microtonal
bends, distortion, feedback, vibrato, sustain, sonic hoodoo, and rhythmic
and harmonic creativity that the man's fans have come to know and
love can be heard here. "Freeway Jam" boasts the most memorable melody
and thus remains a Classic Rock staple to this day. "Cause We've Ended
As Lovers"--written by Stevie Wonder--is Beck's gorgeous tribute to
one of his own guitar-heroes, the now-deceased Roy Buchanan. --Don
The Dregs are kick-ass and this album, like every Dregs album, is
full of incredible music and energy. Also, check out "Dregs
of the Earth" and their debut album, "What If."
The name Dixie Dregs was misleading--it always made people assume
the band would sound like the Charlie Daniels Band or Molly Hatchett.
So for "Unsung Heroes" the name was changed to "The Dregs". The
music remained the same, instrumental rock played by five virtuoso
musicians in a dizzying array of styles, with music and arrangements
as intricate yet insanely catchy as anything either progressive
rock or fusion has ever produced. Solos are kept short, and at some
point during an album you're bound to hear every possible combination
of two instruments play in unison (listen for the violin and bass
on "Attila the Hun"). This is the Dregs' best studio album, with
a fantastic set of compositions by Steve Morse, the world's greatest
guitarist. By now, the formula for a Dregs album was pretty well
established: a couple of rockers ("Cruise Control" and "Rock & Roll
Park"), a couple of progressive rock tracks ("Divided We Stand"
and "Attila the Hun"), a ballad ("Day 444"), and some bluegrass
("I'll Just Pick"), funk ("Kat Food"), and baroque ("Go for Baroque").
"Divided We Stand", "Kat Food", "I'll Just Pick", and "Go for Baroque"
are the best songs the Dregs have done in each of their respective
genres. In fact, "Divided We Stand" is perhaps the Dregs' best track
ever, and unlike anything else you've ever heard. "Cruise Control",
which had previously appeared on the "Freefall" album, is reborn
in a stripped-down, harder rocking version. "Rock & Roll Park" gives
keyboardist T Lavitz a chance to show that he can also play soprano
sax. The climax of "I'll Just Pick" has Morse repeating an 8-bar
melody, as one by one, bassist Andy West, Lavitz, and violinist
Allen Sloan join in with counterpoint melodies. This was Sloan's
last album before leaving to become an anesthesiologist, and his
simple yet gorgeous solo on "Day 444" is the highlight of that song.
From Topographic Oceans
Stands out as a "one of a kind" masterpiece of adventurous
and highly creative music that defied all commercial boundaries in
This album is arguably the all time "whipping boy" of progressive
rock. Hardcore Yes fans tend to love it and others tend to hate it.
Tales From Topographic Oceans is not often seen among the great Yes
albums due to its inaccessibility, but it belongs at the top of the
list in my opinion. It was a natural progression from the long-form
pieces of Close To The Edge. Relayer, the album that follows this
one, distills all of the elements of this daunting work into what
I feel is the pinnacle of Yes' performance. Anyone with any attention
span at all can (and should) listen to Topographic Oceans. It is an
album of indiscribable beauty. Now, with this re-release, one has
no excuse but to buy it and enjoy the wonderful journey. The bonus
tracks are a real surprise, as they lend a bit of insight as to how
this intensely complex body of work was formed. They also help one
realise that Yes are actually terrestrial beings. :-) Buy this record!
It's worth it. --wurlyburd music fan
You Were Here
This is by far the best Pink Floyd album...yes, even better than "Dark
Side of the Moon."
"Shine On You Crazy Diamond" (real
Wish You Were Here is a song cycle dedicated to Pink Floyd's original
frontman, Syd Barrett , who'd flamed out years before: two grimly
funny songs about the evils of the music business ("By the way, which
one's Pink?"), and two long, touching ones about the band's vanished
friend. The real star of the show, though, is the production: sparkling,
convoluted, designed to sound deeply oh-wow under the influence--and
pretty great sober too, with David Gilmour getting lots of space for
his most lyrical guitar playing ever. And, though the album is big
and ambitious, even bombastic, it somehow dodges being pretentious--the
Barrett tributes are honest and heartfelt, beneath all the grand gestures
and stereophonic trickery. --Douglas Wolk
Out of Water
- Chris Squire
Amazing progressive rock compositions by the bassist of Yes with ingenious
orchestration played by veteran innovators.
"Lucky Seven" (real
Here you have Chris's distinctive pick-style playing backed up by
Bill Bruford on drums (I'd know that unique, crisp snare sound anywhere),
Patrick Moraz on keyboards, Mel Collins (King Crimson) on sax, and
Barry Rose (The League of Gentlemen) on church organ. There's even
a full orchestra on some tunes. His playing anchors the songs more
often than taking a spotlight role. Some reviewers seem truly surprised
by the quality of the vocals, though I'm not sure why. Chris provided
strong harmony vocals on many Yes classics like Close to the Edge,
Roundabout, and just give a close listen to the high-pitched chiming
vocals at the climax of Starship Troopers --- it's all Chris and it's
all bliss when I listen to that song. In fact, after hearing this
album, it will allow you to more easily pick Chris's vox out on your
old Yes albums from what you might have thought were just multi-tracked
Jon Anderson vox. Let's hope that he record's another solo album some
day, but in the mean time, just sit back and enjoy Fish Out of Water.