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    

Comus - First Utterance. Prog Lp In Great ConditionSpooky Tooth It's All About 1st Press Uk Lp Pink Island 'eye' Rare Prog PsychStray S/t 1st Press Uk Lp Transatlantic Die Cut Sleeve Rare Prog Psych -1e -1eEast Of Eden Snafu 1st Uk Press Lp Deram Label Mega Psych Prog *stunning*Chris Harwood - Nice To Meet Miss Christine - Prog Folk Classic 1970Junco Partners Very Rare 1970 Uk Orig Philips Prog/psych/blues Lp Procol HarumGenesis - Spot The Pigeon Rare Irish Press 7" Charisma Label Prog Rock 45May Blitz - May Blitz,orig.uk Hard Prog Psych Rock,vertigo Swirl 1970Leong Lau Dragon Man Ultra Rare Oz Progressive Rock Private Pressing With PosterRare - Pirana Lp Signed Promo Copy - Harvest Shvl-603 Oz Prog Psych Classic RockLot Of 24 Progressive Psychedelic Lps Alrune Rod Hawkwind Neon Zombies CaravanRush Not Fade Away 45 Moon Records Label Canadian Prog 1st EdiitionFarmyard - Nz Progressive Rock Lp 1970 Insert And Bag Rare Psych Prog Polydor 1978 French Prog Exp. Rock Lp "gwendolyne" Heratius Flvm Insert FaustOrig Us Harvest Press Mantle-piece The Battered Ornaments Prog Psych Drum BreaksFields Fields Lp 1971 Cbs `rare Mellotron Killer Prog` 1st Press A1/b1 M-Mega Rare ! '70s Promo Package + Lp David Bowie "heroes" Eno Crimson Prog PsychFood Brain Japan Orig Press Heavy Psych Prog Pokora Shinki Chen Hiro Yanagida ExProg Psych Lp - Ibis - Sun Supreme - Italy 1974 - Polydor Rare Original PressLot Of (48) 1970's-80's Rock/prog/psych 12"/33 Vinyl Record Hendrix/tull/priestLos Jaivas Cancion Del Sur 1977 Chile Folk Prog Psych Lp French Press Vg+Le Orme Lp Collage Philips Rec '71 Italy A+++ Never Opened Italian Prog PsychG.mazza - Musiche Di Immagini Lp 1976 Magma Spacey & Cosmic Italian Synth Prog. Elp /emerson,lake And Palmer +6 Vinyls Lot + Nm + Classic Prog. Rock+Epitaph "the Quincy Conserve" 1971 New Zealand Original Regal Lp Prog Psych RareGentle Giant Lp Lot Of 10: Three/free/taste/interview/live/power/steps -uk Prog25 Collectable Rock Albums Progressive Rock & Heavy Metal 12" Lp Records20 Collectable Albums Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Classic Rock DCentipede Septober Energy 2xlp 1971 Uk 1st Tippett Wyatt Patto Fripp Prog Jazz Id "where Are We Going" Rare 1976 Original Aura Lp Usa Top Mint- Psych Fuzz ProgWishbone Ash 'argus' Orig Uk Prog G/f Sleeve '71 Blue Hexagon Label Great Copy!Vanessa Black And White Original 1976 Norweigian Prog Lp Fusion TasavallanMinty '76 "brain" Krautrock ~ Jane ~ Fire Water Earth Air ~ Pink Floyd Prog Epic1974 ~ King Crimson ~ Red ~ Half Speed Master ~ Lp ~ Orig ~ Prog ~ Fripp ~ CleanGentle Giant-three Friends-import Gatefold-prog/psych-near MintFruupp - Modern Masquerades 1975 Uk Lp Dawn 1st Prog/psych/acid Folk Rare Rare & Clean 1970 Orig = The Golden Earring ~ Wall Of Dolls = Hard Prog Psych A+Fields Self Titled Rare Uk Orange Cbs Prog Psych Lp Gatefold 69009 Yes "time And A Word"-1970 Atlantic Records #sd8273-sealed Prog"yes" Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman-1969 Atlantic Records #sd8243-sealed ProgWay-out Sounds! 1972 "wintrup" Kraan ~ Krautrock Psych Hawkwind Floyd Area ProgMaybug Sneaking In Lp (kraut Psych Folk Prog, German Private Press) NmOscar Benton Blues Band Feel So Good Lp Original Dutch Psych Prog Blues Rock LpYes 'relayer' Orig Uk Prog '74 Withdrawn Cvr Uk 1st Press Top Archive Copy!Elo New World Record Sealed With Hype Sticker Prog Ua-la679-g Electric Light1982 ~ Nm ~ Still Sealed ~ King Crimson ~ Beat ~ Lp ~ Orig ~ Mint ~ Prog ~ FrippMastodon Emperor Of Sand Dbl Lp Reprise Sealed Progressive Sludge Thrash MetalHawkwind Lp Quark Strangeness And Charm Sire Srk-6047 Prog RockTempest - '73 Wb Lbl Uk Group Prog Lp - Flip-top Cover - Nm Vinyl - 1a/1bQuatermass S/t Emi Harvest Gatefold Album Lp Record Vinyl Skao-314 '70 Prog RockAztecs. Live! At Sunbury Havoc Hst4003/04 New Zealand Press 1972 2lps Prog RockPopol Ace~stolen From Time~norway Prog 1975 1st German Press Polydor Rare 1973 ~ Uk Pressing ~ Gentle Giant ~ In A Glass House~ Lp ~ Prog ~ Wwa ~ Scarce1973 ~ Promo ~ Magma ~ Mekanik Destruktiw Kommandoh ~ Lp ~ Orig ~ Prog ~ CleanNm 1972 Japanese Prog Rock East Capitol Records Promo Shrink Wrap Sticker SleeveCrazy Epic Soulful Uk Prog Lp Ill Hip-hop Samples Dark Piano Loops Breaks Hear!Wishbone Ash ◈ Ex/nm '70 Decca Killer Twin-guitar Debut Masterwork Uk Prog PsychQuintessence - S / T - Pink Big I Near Mint - Prog - Vinyl Lp & Foldout CoverDeep Purple Fireball Uk Lp Record Fame Prog Rock ! Lots More In My Shop!If ◈ 1970 Pink Island Uk Polydor Press Foil Cover Jazz Prog Morrissey Quincy