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]

317X

317X

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]

Mybeatles.net

Mybeatles.net

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    

Damin Eih A.l.k. & Brother Clark Never Mind Orig Us Prog Psych Pokora Acid FolkCzar Czar Uk Original Press Fontana 6309 009 1970 Psych Prog LpFraternity - Livestock - Oz Original Prog Psych Bon Scott NmRare & Top '73 "dawn" Uk Orig ~ Fruupp "seven Secrets" Hard Psych Prog GnidrologArea Arbeit Macht Frei Italian Prog 1st Cramps Issue 1973 Gatefold Lp W/ InnerWaterloo Lily By Caravan 1972 Vinyl Lp On Deram Sdl8 Progressive ClassicLed Zeppelin Ii 2 Two Lp Vinyl Record Album Uk Ex Plum 33rpm ProgressiveBeggars Opera - Pathfinder. Uk Prog Lp. Vertigo Swirl. Poster Sleeve. Orig 1972!Ozric Tentacles Jurassic Shift 1st Uk Pressing 1993 Dovetail Psych Prog RockWalrus S/t 1970 Orig Deram Jazz Prog Psych Rock Rare German ProgThe Soft Machine Self Titled 1968 Nude Cover Wheel Nm Prog/psych Lp In Shrink NrLot Of (40) 70's-80's Hard Rock/prog/pysch 12" Lps Vinyl Records Yes,hendrix,whoSoft Machine Third Lp Uk Cbs 1st Press A1b1c1d1 Matrix Endings Psych Prog JazzRoger Rodier Beyond Velveatur Lp Canadian Psych Prog With Booklet PokoraFrank Zappa Hot Rats Nm 1969 Bizarre Prog/psych Lp Nr!Clean 1972 Orig ~ Neu! ~ 1st ~ Krautrock Psych Prog Can Acid Hawkwind Kraut !Leaf Hound - Growers Of Mushroom. Reissue Vinyl Lp - Heavy Prog Psych Fuzz 60'sSkywhale ~ The World At Minds End ** 1977 Firebrand Lp Rare Mint Unplayed ProgPicchio Del Pozzo - Same Amazing Original Italian Prog That's Still Sealed!!!!John Dummer Band St Mercury 1969 Rare Uk Original Blues Psych Prog Rock Cardiacs On Land And In The Sea Lp Original + Insert Post Punk Prog1973 Hawkwind 2 X ‎lp Space Ritual United Artists Records Uad 60037/8 Prog RockCompany Caine "dr Chop" Original Aussie Pressing Prog/rock 1975 (mint)Nazareth - Pegasus 1st Uk Press Ex++ Vinyl "porky Pecko" Prog Uriah HeepAllan Taylor The Lady Rare Orig Uk 1971 Ua Lp Folk Rock Prog Fairport ConventionPromo = Usa Harvest Orig 1971 Pink Floyd ~ Meddle Space Acid Psych Prog Hawkwind1977 Pink Floyd ‎– Animals Lp Harvest ‎– Shvl 815 Gatefold Inner Prog RockExcellent 1974 Prog Rock Lp - Hawkwind "hall Of The Mountain Grill" Ua RecordsProg German Psych - Achim Reichel  ar5 "autovision" Orig German Zebra Lp, Promo!Sealed Orig 71 Space Rock Thriller = Hawkwind In Seach Of Space Acid Psych ProgPrivate Aor Prog Nwobhm Lp Canis MajorJimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold As Love Nm 1969 Prog/psych Lp Nr!King Crimson/ Yes/ Prog Rock/vg++/"lizards"/vinyl Lp/1971 AtlanticJohn Dummer's Famous Music Band Fontana 1970 Rare Uk Original Blues Psych Prog RTeddy Lasry Action Printing Synth Electro Prog / Sonimage Library Lp HearBrian Eno "another Green World" Island 9351 Us Lp Nm Prog 1975Zed Same Hard/prog/psych Lp (1979) *rare* Private Pressing Cervello - Melos Ori. '73 Itl Lp On Dischi Recordi Prog AvantgardeFairport Convention Self Titled 1970 Nm Prog/psych Lp In Shrink Nr!Gracious - Gracious! Lp Prog/psychBullet - The Hanged Man Lp Uk 1st Prog Psych Funk Breaks Alan Tew Archive Vinyl!Kraftwerk - The Man Machine Lp Uk 1st + Inner Electronica Prog Krautrock Superb!Deep Purple Burn Lp 1974 Uk 1st Press Stereo Tps 3505 Prog RockCorte Dei Miracoli - Same 70's Original Italian Prog Fantastic!Prog Lp Khan Space Shanty Original Deram Top Copy Nm-Blonde On Blonde - Reflections On A Life. Uk Ember Lp. Prog/psych 1971 1st100% Textured 1971 Orig ~ Pink Floyd ~ Relics ~ Acid Prog Psych Syd Barrett GemCem Karaca Dervisan Tamirci Ciragi Turkish Pscyh Prog Rock Moog 45Sweet Smoke Just A Poke Killer German Prog Psych Lp On Emi Fuzzy Rock Prog1970 Prog Psych Lp - Ferris Wheel W/ Linda Lewis - Uni Records Promo #73093Gong - Killer Prog Psych - Radio Gnome Invisible Part I Flying Teapot Uk V2002Journalist Collection - Famoudou Don Moye - Live Progressive Art Center -sealed Ultimate Spinach Behold & See Nm 1968 Prog/psych Lp Nr!Pink Floyd / The Wall Japan 2lp / Roger Waters, Prog Rock, ExTop Copy 1968 Uk Orig ~ The Nice ~ Ars Longa Vita Brevis ~ Prog Psych Acid ElpPink Floyd / Meddle Japan Lp / Roger Waters, Yes, Progressive Rock, ExTamam Shud "evolution" Rare 1969 Australian Only Surf Prog Oop Cbs Label Album70s Prog Rock Manfred Mann's Earth Band Nightingales 1975 Uk Vinyl Lp MintBudgie - Never Turn Your Back On A Friend - Rare 1973 Uk Mca 1st Pressing - ProgSantana Lotus V Rare 1977 Japanese Quadrophonic 3lp Set + Inserts Psych Prog