The Most Important Progressive Rock Albums of All Time

Progressive rock music is about pushing the envelope. That was sometimes the primary concern with progressive rock artists, with perhaps acid rock and or art rock being other monikers to describe the music in the late 1960’s.

The most important progressive rock albums of all time are:

King Crimson: A good place to start

Honestly, you could just go out and buy the entire discography of King Crimson and have a pretty good start. I am biased, in that I think that King Crimson is the best of the early progressive rock bands.

Colosseum: The Valentyne suite

Colosseum’s Valentyne Suite was one of the first albums from the genre outside of King Crimson that turned me on my ass.

That Hammond organ sound on the title track is insanely cool. John Hiseman’s drumming is magnificent, he’s one of the best drummers in rock history and most people don’t even know who he is. SHAME on them!

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here

It’s hard to explain the emotion that the unbelievably simple ringing notes around the 4:00 minute mark brings into the mind:

Those notes conjure up in my mind a feeling of isolation, perhaps a feeling of hopelessness? It is ironic that “Crazy Diamond” is a tribute to former founding member and singer Syd Barrett, who was one of the real heroes of proto-prog music.

Caravan Land of the Grey and Pink

Caravan was the quintessential Canterbury Scene band, Soft Machine and possibly Camel the other most notable on the scene.

Caravan is a band that took some time for me to warm to, their sound isn’t as hard-edged as King Crimson for instance, and it took some time for me to get that first love of thrash metal out of system from my youth.

Barclay James Harvest: Once Again

Barclay James Harvest’s Once Again is one of the most gorgeous symphonic prog albums I have ever heard.

I don’t say that lightly either. The album is easily one of the lost classics of the genre, right up there with the Moody Blues best.

What makes Once Again so special?

The full orchestra doesn’t hurt, much like the Moody Blues, they use the Orchestra and keyboards to great effect, really creating a very much classical music vibe.

Much like that newer band Big Big Train, Barclay James Harvest knew how to milk a melody. No question this ability sets apart the men from the boys in folksy symphonic prog.

Yes: Relayer

Oddly enough, Relayer is my favorite Yes album, even considering Rick Wakeman is replaced on keyboards by Patrick Moraz.

Most people always go for the Fragile, Close to the Edge cliché’, those are great albums of course, but Relayer is not inferior at all, and I think “Gates of Delirium” is the best track they ever had. The 20 plus minute Gates of Delirium is worth the price alone, some serious hard-driving progressive music here.

Van Der Graaf Generator: Pawn Hearts

Depending on what mood I am in, I could interchange any of these as my favorite, but I do seem to really enjoy this bloated, overlong, pompous, and completely tasteless masterpiece called Pawn Hearts… That was a compliment.

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