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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.
It was mainly an industry initiative, for whom the label "progressive rock" resonated nicely with the radical rhetoric of the era. CBS promoted some of its rock acts as "The Revolutionaries," and there was their famous "The Man Can't Bust Our Music" ad campaign. Warner released a compilation LP called "The People's Album," its cover art and lettering leaving little doubt as to its political intent:



Critics in the rock press were increasingly linking the music to the countercultural politics of the moment.

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.
Yes, I recall the same, and increasingly commonly beginning in roughly late '66 [e.g., Cream]. The first Caravan LP [late '68] is often cited as the first use of the term specifically in relation to the music that would ultimately assume the label "Progressive rock," what we now call "Prog."
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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Prog as with many leading lights in popular music over the last 60 years burst out of Sarf Landin & the Garden of England… some with a penchant for the mythology surrounding the Great Leap Forward…
Poster Publication Hat Art Illustration
 

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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.
I agree with you on this.

I was never a fan, with a few exceptions, of prog bands doing classical pieces. Here's a couple:

ELP - Barbarian (Bartok)
King Crimson - The Devil's Triangle (Holst)

There are more, but give me originals, with tightly integrated classical influences, the vast majority of the time.

I always thought, the subgenre of prog that does this the best, is the avant-prog (also known as RIO) subgenre. The classical music that this subgenre is most influenced by, is music from post 1950.

Something that becomes noticeable with these bands, is that a very high percentage of them have members that are grads from classical music conservatories, so they are coming from a classical world.

Just as one example, the Belgian band, Aranis, is lead by a grad from Royal Flemish Conservatoire. Violinist, Liesbeth Lambrecht studied at the Conservatory in Antwerp, pianist Ward De Vleeschhouwer studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Ghent, flautist Ana Arns also studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Ghent.

But they are not unusual in this subgenre.

Prog Archives describes this subgenre like this:

Avant-prog is generally considered to be more extreme and 'difficult' than other forms of progressive rock, though these terms are naturally subjective and open to interpretation. Common elements that may or may not be displayed by specific avant-prog artists include:

  • Regular use of dissonance and atonality.
  • Extremely complex and unpredictable song arrangements.
  • Free or experimental improvisation.
  • Fusion of disparate musical genres.
  • Polyrhythms and highly complex time signatures.

Most avant-prog artists are highly unique and eclectic in sound and consequently tend to resist easy comparisons. However, Frank Zappa is often cited as a major influence on many avant-prog artists due to his early adoption of avant-garde and experimental attitudes within a predominantly rock/jazz context.
 
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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
Does Centipede count?
 

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I was never a fan, with a few exceptions, of prog bands doing classical pieces. ...
To an extent this is always my problem with "classical" (ProgArchives calls it "Symphonic") prog - my favorite stuff was always the stuff grounded in a rock context, particularly the mid-70s Crimson albums.

That, and most anything German. Philosophically prog, I think, was at its best when it was using a rock idiom to push music forward, rather than what I sometimes saw as attempting to fit rock into classical trappings because that was the "serious art music".
 
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