Progressive rock, or prog rock as it is more commonly called, evolved primarily in England from the late 1960s through the late 1970s. In some respects, the genre was a symphony-suffused offshoot of psych rock, but prog rock also included elements of jazz and musical theater, with long guitar and keyboard instrumentals that routinely broke the short-form molds of top-40 radio, and albums that often revolved around themes and concepts.

Collectors of prog rock gravitate to the original vinyl for numerous reasons. In some cases, it’s the album’s cover art that’s the draw, but in many more cases it’s the opportunity to get one’s hands on this extraordinary music. Some of the most collectible titles can only be found in its original LP format, while many albums have not been remastered properly in the conversion from analog LP to digital CD.

One of the earliest progenitors of the form was The Who, whose mini-rock opera from 1966, "A Quick One, While He’s Away," suggests the direction the band was heading in on its way to its 1969 classic, Tommy.

A Los Angeles band was also influential. Freak Out! by the Mothers of Invention (1966) is widely considered to be the first concept album, which is a format that numerous prog-rockers would whole-heartedly embrace. By 1969, head Mother Frank Zappa would leave behind tunes about the fictional Suzy Creamcheeses of the world to record the jazzy, proto-prog-rock masterpiece Hot Rats.

Back in England, 1969 was shaping up to be quite a year for prog rock. King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King introduced the world to "21st Century Schizoid Man." The Moody Blues, who were shaking off some of their early psychedelic sound in favor of music that was more thematic and orchestral, released On the Threshold of a Dream in the spring, followed by To Our Children's Children's Children in the late fall. The Soft Machine released its second album, titled Volume Two, and, as has already been mentioned, 1969 was, above all else, the year of Tommy.

1970 saw the release of Egg’s self-titled debut as well as Van Der Graaf Generator’s much collected The Least We Can Do Is Wave To Each Other—a CD version was released in 1991, but the sound quality is considered far inferior to the original vinyl, making this one of many prog-rock albums from this period that have not been successfully updated. The French psych-prog-rock band Gong released Camembert Electrique in 1971, one of three albums they recorded that year.

Yes was not quite that productive, but its place in rock history has been more lasting. In 1971, Yes recorded and released both The Yes Album and Fragile, followed, in 1972, by the incomparable Close to the Edge...

If 1967 was the key year for psych rock, 1972 was certainly one of the most productive years for prog. In addition to Close to the Edge, prog-rock classics from 1972 include Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick, Triumvirat’s Mediterranean Tales (Across The Water), Gentle Giant’s Octopus, and 666: The Apocalypse Of Saint John by Aphrodite's Child, a Greek group that featured Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (better known as the composer Vangelis) on keyboards.

But the biggest prog-rock stars of 1972 were Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who came out with the synthesizer-saturated Trilogy in 1972 and followed that up with Brain Salad Surgery in 1973. This supergroup featured Keith Emerson on keyboards—when Emerson was with The Nice, he played on 1967’s The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack, which some consider the first true prog-rock album. Bassist Greg Lake’s resume included time as a member of King Crimson. And drummer Carl Palmer had survived a few intense years with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster.

As the 1970s lumbered along, pre-pop Genesis gave the world Selling England by the Pound (1973) and The Lamb Lies Dead on Broadway (1974). Mike Oldfield had a difficult time convincing anyone in the music industry to distribute his all-instrumental, heavily overdubbed Tubular Bells until he met Richard Branson, who released it as Virgin’s first album in 1973—to date the record has sold more than 15 million copies.

In 1974, a pair of German groups added electronica and synthpop sounds to prog rock, although Kraftwerk’s Autobahn was more pop oriented than Tangerine Dream’s ambient Phaedra. The next year, Pink Floyd followed up on their enormous hit Dark Side of the Moon (1973) with the prog-rock treasure, Wish You Were Here.

As the decade waned, two bands from North America tried to lay claim to the prog-rock crown. Canada’s Rush released two albums in 1975, but Caress of Kings is the one most collected by prog-rock fans—2112, from 1976, is also considered a classic. In the States, Kansas also released of pair of albums in 1975, but Leftoverture (1976) is the one to get, if you don’t already own it.

Fittingly, the English had the last word when prog-rock reached its apex in 1977. That’s the year The Alan Parsons Project came out with I, Robot, an album that seemed to pull together all the various elements of prog rock in one perfectly produced package. The album was a smash, but for prog-rock collectors, a self-titled LP by a Canterbury, England group called National Health is probably more collectible.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas

Vinyl Divas pays homage to international female opera singers of the LP era. Chronicling more than 800 singers, the… [read review or visit site]



Despite its mysterious title, 317X is plain and simple—an online gallery of vintage LPs, with a 1950s vintage fee… [read review or visit site]

Jesse Barron's collection of Beatles 45s, picture sleeves, magazines, books, and memorabilia. Browse singles and al… [read review or visit site]

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors

This great site, from the Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors, offers detailed background information an… [read review or visit site]

The Remington Site

The Remington Site

Since 1999, the Remington Site has offered classical music collectors a glimpse into Remington Records, an independ… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Azimuth 1975 Som Livre Original Lp Brazil Killer Psych Funk Groove Prog Breaks Zior:"zior".1971 Nepentha Label+1y/2y Matrixes+gatefold.mega-rare Prog.rock Lp!!Caravan Nektar Jane Gentile Giant Deep Purple Prog Hard Rock Kraut Lp Lot PsychVery Rare 1970 Prog Monster Lp! T2 It'll All Work Out In Boomland Decca Skl5050 Poobah "u.s. Rock" -rare Original Press- 1976 Aei A-lp-1 Stereo Psych/prog RockCan Soon Over Babaluma Og 1975 Ua Pressing Kraut Kraftwerk Neu Prog PsychBump Original 1970 Detroit Prog Psych Pop Lp In Shrink Prioneer Prsd 2150 RecordMaster's Apprentices Lp - 1971 Regal Zonophone, Emi Slrz. 1016 Lp - Prog RockEmbryo/ Opal /omm 556.003/ 1970 Holy Grail Prog. / Nm / Nm / Balloon Intact Bloque "same" (1978) Lp : Rare / Spanish Prog! / Ex Cond.Rare Lp - The Armada Rainbow Theatre Clear Light Of Jupiter Australian 70s ProgMegaton:"megaton".1971 German Decca+laminated Cover.superb,rare Prog.rock Lp!!Tritium "heroes" Rare Private 1985 Hard Rock Prog Lp On Mark-shrink Nm W/insertFlute & Voice Krautrock Rare Japan Orig 1971 Basf Press Psych Prog N. Mint Pilz Mighty Baby -s/t Rare 1969 Orig Us Orig Uk West Coast Psych Prog Hard Rock Lp!Emerald Web~dragon Wings & Wizard Tales~electronic/prog~insert~nm~lpJoblot Of Prog Lps Pink Floyd Babe Ruth Mountain Island Atom Heart Dark Side Elp♬ guelewar Maddening Afro Psych Prog Fuzz Funk Jazz Fusion Manding = OtherwordlyRamases Space Hymns 12" Vinyl Album Lp Roger Dean Yes Prog Jethro Tull Stand Up Lp Orig, Uk Press Pop-up Jacket Vg++ Vinyl Prog Sm914Moody Blues Days Future Passed Mono Brown Deram Album 1967 Vinyl Lp Psych ProgGryphon "red Queen To Gryphon Three" (1974) Lp : Rare Test Pressing! / Prog / ExWiz Kidz Familiar Stranger Hawaii Prog Rock Private Jyg Records 1984 LpHeldon Third It’s Always Rock’n’roll Urus Records 1975 Orig French Psych Prog NmScarce 1968 Orig ~ The Silver Apples ~ Acid Prog Psych = Outer Space Teen Scene!Between The Buried And Me "parallax Ii" 2xlp Purple Vinyl Prog Metal 300 CopiesLot Of 6 Uk Private Press Psych Prog Rock Acid Folk Vinyl Lps Heldon - Interface 1977 France Cobra Gatefold Prog Psych Electronic SynthGentle Giant - Acquiring The Taste 1971 Prog Vertigo Swirl Gatefold (lp)Sealed 1976 White Wing Lp On Asi • Private Prog-psychRare Jazz 10" Lp Record Al Cohn Quintet Progressive #3004 Vg+ L@@k!King Crimson In The Court Of The Crimson King Rare 1969 Uk Prog Lp Ex / Ex+King Crimson Lp / In The Court Of The Crimson King / Prog Monster ! / Their 1stBanchee Rare Heavy Progressive Psych Lp - Thinkin'November 6:e November Rare & Original 1972 Swedish Heavy Prog Sonet [slp 2530]1973 M- Gold Embossed ~ Queen ~ 1 - Hard Rock Prog Murcury May Top Copy OriginalBabe Ruth "stealin' Home" (1975) Lp : Prog / Mint / SealedOrange Tower ~ Pink Floyd ~ Saucer Secrets ~ '68 Acid Syd Prog Psych Freakbeat Vg+/ex Blonde On Blonde "contrasts Orig Us Janus Records 1969 Prog Psych Folk LpYes - 3 X Original Vinyl Lp Bundle - Prog Rock - Special PriceThe Zombies Odessey & Oracle Date Tes 4013 Stereo Prog Psych Rock Lp Vg+ Vg++Clean 1973 Orig Lp + Posters "dark Side Of The Moon" Pink Floyd Prog Psych Gem! The Soft Machine Volume Two 2lp 1969 Us 1st Gatefold Psych Prog Masterpiece !!Wally "same" (1974) Lp : Prog / Mint / SealedColosseum "live" (1971) 2lp : '79 German Reissue / Prog / Ex!Lot Of 6 Pokora Spain Israel Asia 1st Issue Prog Psych Folk Acid Vinyl LpsLot (45) 1970's-80's Rock/prog/psych 12"/33rpm Vinyl Record Zeppelin/sabbath/eloEx-/ex- Autumn People Soundtech Records 1st Pr Rock Prog Private Gatefold CoverMagna Carta 'lord Of The Ages Vertigo Swirl '73 Folk Prog Top Copy!70s Prog Rock Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here 70s Uk Vinyl Lp ExPink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon – Progressive Rock Vinyl Lp Almendra S/t 1st Album ** Orig. Argentina 1969 Vik Lz-1160 Prog/psych W/ InsertThe Who My Generation 1st Press Decca Dl 74664 Stereo Prog Psych Rock Lp Vg Vg++Robert John Godfrey - Fall Of Hyperion Uk Charisma Cas 1084 1974 Enid ProgRoxy Music Avalon Lp Nm Vinyl Uk Bryan Ferry Prog 1982 Jack Bruce - Harmony Row Lp Uk 1st Tri-gate Slv Cream Psych Prog Nucleus Lovely!Yes "relayer" (1974) Lp : Prog / Vg+ ConditionSplit-enz "mental Notes" (1975) Lp : Prog / Aussie Mushroom / Nm / In Shrink!Rush The Trees Promo 12" Single Vinyl Album Lp Very Rare Hemispheres ProgUriah Heep - Very Eavy Very Umble Uk Bronze Lp Near Mint Progressive Rock