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Best Prog Rock Band

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I'm not a big Steve Wilson fan but I bought a copy of In Absentia by Porcupine Tree. Also bought Visions by Haken. I like both a lot. Haken's newer stuff is too metal for my taste.
 

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Proper Prog, with a classical twinge…
Eh, I really don't see what the point of tracks like this are. It's basically a cover of a classical work in a proggy style. I hear this no different than I do metal/shred covers of classical. I think far more interesting are the prog bands/albums/songs, like a lot of King Crimson or Zappa, that took influence from classical but never sought to just cover classical or sound like classical, especially older classical Even Gentle Giant, with their postmodern juxtapositions of Renaissance polyphony and hard rock/blues, are more interesting and what I'd call "proper prog," because that's finding ways to genuinely blend classical and rock.
 

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OK, I keep forgetting, between Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater, which one is which. One of them I don't care for much, as they're on the Metal side of Prog.

But I pretty don't listen to either of them because I can't remember which is the one I like, and which is the one I don't care for much.
DT are on the metal side of prog, at least some of their material is (as I said above, DT are quite diverse, but they definitely have a lot of very metal-influenced material); PT are more influenced by classic and neo-prog (especially Marillion, who hasn't been mentioned much in this thread). PT does have some more metal-ish tracks, especially in their newer material, especially much of Deadwing and on tracks like Anaesthetize. Steven Wilson's material is basically a "solo" version of Porcupine Tree, though he's ventured into more pop on his last coupe of albums, not to great results IMO. Wilson became good friends with Mikael Akerfeldt from Opeth and they had some mutual influence on each other, with Wilson influencing Akerfeldt/Opeth to incorporate more classic prog influences and Mikael influencing Wilson to explore more metal styles.
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Eh, I really don't see what the point of tracks like this are. It's basically a cover of a classical work in a proggy style. I hear this no different than I do metal/shred covers of classical. I think far more interesting are the prog bands/albums/songs, like a lot of King Crimson or Zappa, that took influence from classical but never sought to just cover classical or sound like classical, especially older classical Even Gentle Giant, with their postmodern juxtapositions of Renaissance polyphony and hard rock/blues, are more interesting and what I'd call "proper prog," because that's finding ways to genuinely blend classical and rock.
Agreed…
 

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Gentle Giant is one band I feel I'd never tire of. Despite the paucity of material (11 albums amounting to ~6 hours of music, and only about half of that was really prog) every song they wrote was like a rich, complex, finely crafted gem with so many interesting layers. Even their least-good prog songs are never worse than extremely interesting. I love consistently revisiting their discography (at least the first 8 albums) and finding myself attracted to new songs that just washed by me on previous listens. I think during my last trip I came to admire just how beautifully atmospheric a track like this is:
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Gentle Giant is one band I feel I'd never tire of. Despite the paucity of material (11 albums amounting to ~6 hours of music, and only about half of that was really prog) every song they wrote was like a rich, complex, finely crafted gem with so many interesting layers. Even their least-good prog songs are never worse than extremely interesting. I love consistently revisiting their discography (at least the first 8 albums) and finding myself attracted to new songs that just washed by me on previous listens. I think during my last trip I came to admire just how beautifully atmospheric a track like this is:
GG in general and that song in particular were a big influence on Mark E. Smith - note the time signature changes…
 

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As far as classic Prog goes, one cannot do better than Mahavishnu, Zappa, GG, Soft Machine, R. Wyatt, ELP, Henry Cow, and Rush. An unbeatable octad.

Let's not bother arguing that Mahavishnu, Zappa, Soft Machine and the Cow aren't prog because they actually embody the very meaning of the term.
 

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In my extensive mp3/m4a/flac/CD/vinyl collection, I have classified Frank Zappa as genre: Zappa. I don't think he fits into any other category.📂

I started with the Mothers of Invention in '67 and I followed him to the end in December '93. Oh yeah, I have another genre called Zappa Tribute. It's a mix of prog/rock/classical tribute bands. I also classify Zappa in my Classical genre as Zappa, Frank as I believe it should be.

We're gonna discuss Miles Davis from exactly the same point of view sometime. That also works for me! Single labels don't work for multi-genre capable musicians. (y)
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Lil Ludi’s Top 7 Prog bands & offshoots

N.B. the qualifying criteria: English groups only (1967 - 1980)

Nothing else constitutes Prog in the true sense of the word…

1. Soft Machine/Nucleus
2. King Crimson/UK/Bruford
3. Gentle Giant
4. Caravan/Egg/Hatfield and the North/Gilgamesh/National Health
5. Henry Cow/Slapp Happy/Art Bears
6. The Web/Samurai
7. Second Hand/Chillum
 

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Mike Keneally deserves to be mentioned in this discussion. I've been following him since his debut album Hat in 1992 and he's been nothing but brilliant ever since.
 

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My first rule of thumb on what qualifies as prog rock would be: If they played on "Bitches Brew," they're not prog rock. ;) Mahavishnu, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever, etc., are not prog rock. They're jazz one and all with whatever qualifiers one wants. Ludwig Schon, I think, is on the right track and in tune with the academic critical literature* except for being too restrictive. Can't exclude much of Yes, Genesis, Tull, ELP and the time frame is too narrow. Zappa is literally progressive music but it feels wrong to try to stuff him into the category.

*Covach & Boone: Understanding Rock; Macon: Rocking the Classics; Holm-Hudson: Progressive Rock Reconsidered
 

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He's also highly competent as a musician. He toured and held his own with both Steve Vai and Joe Satriani.
Well, yeah. He plays phenomenal guitar and keyboards on all his own albums and his music is more challenging than Satriani's stuff.
 

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the academic critical literature
Speaking of which, Allan Moore's piece on Gentle Giant renders this entire thread moot in so far as he argues against "Prog-as-genre" altogether; I don't necessarily agree.

Zappa is literally progressive music but it feels wrong to try to stuff him into the category
Yeah, progressive but not Prog. It's like calling Ellington "swing." Both are sui generis, though I tend to locate Zappa closer to the jazz-rock end of the spectrum.
 

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Speaking of which, Allan Moore's piece on Gentle Giant renders this entire thread moot in so far as he argues against "Prog-as-genre" altogether; I don't necessarily agree.



Yeah, progressive but not Prog. It's like calling Ellington "swing." Both are sui generis, though I tend to locate Zappa closer to the jazz-rock end of the spectrum.
Zappa also crosses into another subgenre: Novelty
 

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I don't consider any of Zappa's music as novelty with the exception of maybe, Cruisin With Reuben and the Jets. His one excursion into 50s nostalgia.

These days I'm pursuing new music. I've heard enough of the old 70s stuff.
 

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This is getting into the entire, "what is prog (Prog)" argument.

An argument can be made, that upper case 'Prog' is a style of music, maybe best defined by Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Hatfield and the North, etc from the 70's

But, for me, small case 'prog' is much more a description of the structure of the music itself, and therefore, is almost style agnostic.

For me, bands that have a core of a somewhat standard rock band (drums, guitar, bass, and usually keys, but other instruments are welcome) and have the following attributes, are small case prog: very high level of musicianship, complexity (time signatures, chord progressions, etc) non-standard arrangements, tend to avoid verse>chorus>bridge>repeat song format, deep and broad range of emotional and/or intellectual content, creative improvisations.

For me, it doesn't matter which country they came from, the year they existed and recorded, or the surface 'style' they play in, if it has all or most of the above attributes, they are a prog band. And as far as I'm concerned, they more of those attributes they have, and the better they are at them, the more prog they are.

For example, Italian bands from the 70's: PFM, Banco, Area, Arti e Mestieri, Museo Rosenbach, and others, are no less (lower case) prog, than Yes or King Crimson, due to the attributes I mentioned above. Nor are more recent prog bands: Anglagard, Deus Ex Machina, NeBeLNeST, Setna, Thinking Plague, ZOPP, Ghost Rhythms, Forgas Band Phenomena, and many more, just because they originated in the last few decades. Nor, for that matter, are prog-metal bands.
 

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This is getting into the entire, "what is prog (Prog)" argument.

An argument can be made, that upper case 'Prog' is a style of music, maybe best defined by Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Hatfield and the North, etc from the 70's

But, for me, small case 'prog' is much more a description of the structure of the music itself, and therefore, is almost style agnostic.

For me, bands that have a core of a somewhat standard rock band (drums, guitar, bass, and usually keys, but other instruments are welcome) and have the following attributes, are small case prog: very high level of musicianship, complexity (time signatures, chord progressions, etc) non-standard arrangements, tend to avoid verse>chorus>bridge>repeat song format, deep and broad range of emotional and/or intellectual content, creative improvisations.

For me, it doesn't matter which country they came from, the year they existed and recorded, or the surface 'style' they play in, if it has all or most of the above attributes, they are a prog band. And as far as I'm concerned, they more of those attributes they have, and the better they are at them, the more prog they are.

For example, Italian bands from the 70's: PFM, Banco, Area, Arti e Mestieri, Museo Rosenbach, and others, are no less (lower case) prog, than Yes or King Crimson, due to the attributes I mentioned above. Nor are more recent prog bands: Anglagard, Deus Ex Machina, NeBeLNeST, Setna, Thinking Plague, ZOPP, Ghost Rhythms, Forgas Band Phenomena, and many more, just because they originated in the last few decades. Nor, for that matter, are prog-metal bands.
Well, now you've done it.

"Prog" vs. "prog" vs. "progressive rock" vs. "Prog Rock" vs. "progressive".

I've seen this before debate before, and on this site it makes me chuckle, as the term "Classical" has its own vagaries.

Funny though, when one attempts to make distinctions between these different labels, one is still faced with the same problems of defining the terms.
 

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In the late 60s the term "progressive" rock was an adjective used to describe a host of stylistically-differentiated bands that had in common a desire to move beyond the constraints of Top-40 song stylings. The music press linked the term to the progressive politics of the counterculture; CBS records used it as a marketing term in their famous "The 'Man' Can't Steal Our Music" ad campaign. The music known today as "Prog" was called "Art rock," just one of multiple "progressive" approaches.

By the mid-70s the term "Art rock" had been replaced by "Progressive" rock, now a noun naming a genre centered around bands such as King Crimson, Yes, ELP, and Genesis, which themselves would come to be sub-categorized as "symphonic" rock or "symph" for short; other sub-categories are now commonly recognized and collected under the diminutive "Prog," which emerged, to my knowledge, in the 90s as the over-arching categorical genre term.
 

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In the late 60s the term "progressive" rock was an adjective used to describe a host of stylistically-differentiated bands that had in common a desire to move beyond the constraints of Top-40 song stylings. The music press linked the term to the progressive politics of the counterculture; CBS records used it as a marketing term in their famous "The 'Man' Can't Steal Our Music" ad campaign. The music known today as "Prog" was called "Art rock," just one of multiple "progressive" approaches.

By the mid-70s the term "Art rock" had been replaced by "Progressive" rock, now a noun naming a genre centered around bands such as King Crimson, Yes, ELP, and Genesis, which themselves would come to be sub-categorized as "symphonic" rock or "symph" for short; other sub-categories are now commonly recognized and collected under the diminutive "Prog," which emerged, to my knowledge, in the 90s as the over-arching categorical genre term.
I am not quite sure about your political association with the term progressive rock. I have been a fan of the various subgenres now associated with the type of music now known as progressive rock, years before the term had been codified as it is used now. But I never remember this political association being mentioned.

I distinctly remember reading, quite a few years ago, that the first print use of the term 'progressive rock' to describe a band, was in the late 60's English music press, and it was used to describe Cream, John Mayall and some others. I can't remember the exact source for this, but it seemed pretty legit.

I actually kind of like the term Steve Hackett came up with in an early 2000's interview; 'permissive rock', since it 'permitted' the use of disparate types of music (folk, classical, jazz, etc) to be used in a rock band context.
 
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