fragile.yesYeah, another Rolling Stone list, this time of “progressive rock” albums that I own. I’m not sure what the term “prog rock” means, precisely, but I hope, now that Rush has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, that Emerson, Lake & Palmer; King Crimson; and especially Yes get in one of these years.

17. Mike Oldfield, ‘Tubular Bells’ (1973): 45 weeks on the charts, getting to #3

I never actually SAW the movie The Exorcist, yet I associate the album with the film’s foreboding theme. There’s so much more to the album.

My favorite part is that weird section “where ‘master of ceremonies’ Vivian Stanshall mock-pretentiously introduces an array of instruments — ‘glockenspiel!’ and ‘two slightly. . .distorted guitars’ — à la the Bonzo Dog Band,” which I think is a hoot. And Oldfield wasn’t even 20 yet!

LISTEN to Tubular Bells intro.

12. Emerson, Lake and Palmer, ‘Brain Salad Surgery’ (1973): 47 weeks on the charts, getting to #11

That first ELP album, the one with Lucky Man, whose synthesizer I could replicate, I listened to A LOT in college. I haven’t heard this album in a while, though, as I have it on vinyl. For years, my secret fantasy was to have ELP play ‘Jerusalem’ at my former church, which has a fine organ.

LISTEN to Jerusalem and
Still You Turn Me On.

10. Yes, ‘Fragile’ (1971): 46 weeks on the charts, getting to #4

I also listened to this album A LOT at college, probably once a week during my freshman year. It was/is hypnotic. I didn’t know, or particularly care, what the lyrics were.

LISTEN to Roundabout and
Long Distance Runaround.

7. Jethro Tull, ‘Thick as a Brick’ (1972), 46 weeks on the charts, getting to #1 for two weeks

This album I didn’t play very often, though I love that introductory narrative. Not nearly my favorite Tull album, as I preferred Aqualung and especially Songs from the Wood.

LISTEN to Thick As A Brick intro.

5. Yes, ‘Close to the Edge’ (1972), 32 weeks on the charts, getting to #3

Actually, I much prefer ‘Fragile’. This album consists of only three very long songs that were so exhausting to record that “when recording for the album finished, drummer Bill Bruford had grown tired of the band’s style and song writing methods and left to join King Crimson.”

LISTEN to Close To The Edge, which took up all of Side 1 on the LP.

2. King Crimson, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ (1969), 25 weeks on the charts, getting to #28

Now THIS album I played a great deal in high school AND college, preferably very loudly. I especially loved the first song, and and the title track, the two songs my friend put on a six-CD set of 1960s music.

I also related to the sentence in another song, “Confusion will be my epitaph.”

A few years ago, around Christmas, I heard Power by Kayne West, which samples the vocal from “Schizoid Man”; I thought was DREADFUL. The original version, incidentally, was dedicated to Spiro Agnew, Vice President of the US under President Richard Nixon.

LISTEN to Side one of the album In the Court of the Crimson King: 21st Century Schizoid Man, I Talk to the Wind and Epitaph (including March for No Reason and Tomorrow and Tomorrow)

1. Pink Floyd, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ (1973): 741 weeks on the charts!, only 1 week at #1

The group’s eighth LP was one of the best-selling albums worldwide, ever, with an estimated 50 million copies sold. It was on the Billboard charts from 1973 to 1988. It’s often considered one of the greatest albums of all time.

But I didn’t buy it right away. In fact, I may have purchased The Wall in 1980 or 1981 before finally picking up Dark Side. I liked the single Money (#13 in 1973), but was turned off by the album’s seemingly cultish admiration. But I DO like it.

As Rolling Stone noted:
“From its sync-up with The Wizard of Oz (press play after the lion’s third roar) to the Flaming Lips and friends’ track-for-track covers project to Krusty the Clown’s lost Dark Side of the Moonpie to the endless hawking of the prism-and-rainbow logo, the album has endured as a pop culture touchstone since its release.”

LISTEN to the whole album HERE or HERE or HERE.

I own albums by FM, Electric Light Orchestra, Kansas, Renaissance, Supertramp, Genesis, and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, but not the ones listed.

4 Responses to “50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time”

  • I haven’t followed the link yet, because I was stopped by: “I never actually SAW the movie The Exorcist”—say what?! Even I saw that—and when I was a Christian!! Still, about that: I had a friend who had Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”, but I was afraid to listen to it (though I didn’t say so at the time) because of all the “devil” stuff in the movie.

    I don’t have most of the albums you talk about (you’re just enough older than me that it matters for this…), BUT the ones you list at the very end of this post, I want to know more about your connection to those. That’s because I had something by most of the bands you list, but you’re the only one I know who’s ever listed Renaissance (I have two of their albums on vinyl and chose to bring them with me from America when I had to leave so many other things behind).

  • Roger says:

    I never saw an R rated film between The Godfather/Clockwork Orange/Catch 22 in the early 1970s – I d seen them all in a short period – and The Shining (1980).

  • CGHill says:

    I own a few titles at the far end of that list, perhaps least explicably Illusions on a Double Dimple by Triumvirat, with two full-side tracks. Does it sound like a German ELP? Well, yeah, a little.

  • I’ve since had time to follow the link and saw there were a lot I’d never heard of. Which made me wonder, Roger: How many of those, if any, had YOU not heard of?

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