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Progressive Rock

Sometimes called prog rock, the type of rock n roll music known as progressive rock was born in the late 1960s but achieved its greatest popularity during the 70s.

An off-shoot of the psychedelic rock genre of the 60s, experts describe it as a largely British movement that later spread to the U.S. and other parts of the world.

It is said to have pushed the compositional boundaries of standard rock, hence its name, and did so by incorporating elements from other kinds of music, namely jazz, classical, and world music.

The use of long instrumental solos was commonplace and came to be expected in this genre.

Music historians also describe progressive rock subject matter as rather esoteric, relating to just a small group of individuals.

In this vein, many of the best known progressive rock bands introduced so-called concept albums. These were albums that were unified by a particular theme rather than consisting of a series of unconnected singles.

Progressive Rock Bands

Many of progressive rock’s earliest bands did indeed get their start in the 1960s. Most have names that are easily recognized.

They are pioneers in the realm of UK and US prog rock and include Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, Genesis, Yes, Jethro Tull, Supertramp, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer.

By the mid 70s, these bands and others of the progressive rock genre were regularly topping the charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom as well as in other countries throughout Europe.

More and more progressive rock bands were now coming out of the US and many would go on to have at least one platinum album.

These included Kansas and Styx. The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), a British group, achieved much more fame in the U.S. than in their native country.  

Concept Albums

Progressive rock and concept albums went hand in hand and some of these concept albums are what truly launched the amazing careers of these well-known prog rock bands.

One of the first concept albums to hit the 70s charts was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and, later, The Wall.

The British prog rock group Yes, which was also quite popular in the United States, released a number of concept albums.

These included their top-selling Tales from Topographic Oceans. Genesis 1974 concept album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,the story of Rael the street punk, also gave a huge boost to the progressive rock genre.

Another British group, The Alan Parsons Project, released only concept albums and nothing else, gaining plenty of fans for their efforts.

David Bowie was also known for progressive rock concept albums of the 70s.