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    

Magic Carpet 1972 Original Lp Psych Prog FolkHuman Instinct Snatmin Cuthin? 1972 Nm Nz Prog. Killer Jerusalem Lp~ Ian Gillan Deram 1972 Uk Orig Rock Prog Monster Penny Start Nr !Rare-mighty Baby-same-uk-lp-orig-1st Press-head-hdls.6002-gate Fold-prog/psychHorse By Horse 1970 Uk Orig Prog Rock Monster Rare Zior / Same, Rare 1st Press Uk Original Nepentha 6437 005 Lp, Prog Psych Ex!Forest / Same, Rare 1st Press Uk Original Harvest Lp, Shvl 760 Prog PsychAsh Ra Tempel Schwingungen Vinyl Lp Krautrock Progressive Luv Machine ~ Rock Prog Lp Monster ~ Uk 1971 Original Penny Start No Reserve !Lp Emily Bindiger Orig French 1971 Obscure Acid Folk Psych Prog Pokora Singer UsCosmic Eye~dream Sequence Uk Original Lp Jazz Prog Monster Rarity Penny St NoresTudor Lodge Vertigo Uk '71 Original Monster Folk Psych Prog LpPink Floyd Wish You Were Here Half-speed Mastered Rock Prog Columbia Hc33453 LpHannibal / Same, Rare 1st Press Uk Original B&c Lp, Cas 1022 Prog Nice Copy! Masters Apprentices S/t V Rare Orig 1971 Australian Columbia Lp Prog PsychQuiet World / The Road, Rare 1st Press Uk Original Dawn Lp, Dnls 3007 Prog PsychAgitation Free 2nd Lp Krautrock Progressive Please Read Description FullyTangerine Dream - Electronic Meditation Ambient Kraut Prog Rock Ohr German Orig.Yes Yes V Rare Orig Uk 1969 1st Press Plum & Orange Atlantic A1 B1 Prog Psych LpKak Rare Yellow Epic Label Vinyl Lp Record Bn26429 Psych Prog Garage Self TitledLp Foehn Faeria Rare France Jazz Funk Prog Private French Pink Floyd - More Ost Lp Promo Striped Label Prog Rock Psych Tower UltrasonicLarge ,rare Prog ,rock Vinyl Lp Record Collection,tull,camel,genesis, Ect,joblotIl Balletto Di Bronzo / Ys, Rare Japan Orig. Lp W/obi & Insert Nm! Italian ProgKing Crimson Court Of Crimson King Lp Ex Vinyl Prog Gatefold Robert FrippMicah:i'm Only One Man Lp Super Rare Original Prog Psyche Sterling Award RecordsShrink 1968 Orig ~ The Silver Apples ~ Acid Prog Psych = Outer Space Teen Scene!A Euphonious Wail S/t Lp Rare Psych Prog Rock Kapp Promo 1973 Ultrasonic Cleaned" Progressive Youth. " Peter Broggs. Shashamane Uk Orig L.p. 1982.Rare Uk Psych Prog Rock Lp May Blitz Same Original Uk Vertigo Swirl Vo On BackQuatermass / Same, Rare German 1st Press Orig. Harvest 1970 Lp Ex, Prog RockMuseo Rosenbach - Zarathustra Italy Lp / Italian ProgHouse, Trance, Prog House, Techno 12" Vinyl Record Dj Collection Job Lot X 55 Fbc Band ""worth A Fortune" Super Rare Private Prog/hard Rock Lp *minty*Sealed 1971 Orig Mcdonald & Giles King Crimson Prog Psych Beatles Steve WinwoodSamantha Promotions Uk Monster Psych Prog Freakbeat Orig Lp '68 Private PressYes Time & A Word V Rare Orig Uk 1st Press Plum & Orange Atlantic Prog Psych LpAndwella : World's End...scarce Original 1970 Uk Reflection...prog/folk Vinyl LpEmbryo Opal Vinyl Lp Krautrock Progressive Please Read Description FullyFrancis Monkman - Energism Lp Cosmic Electronic Synth Prog Bruton Library Vg++Jade Warrior - Last Autumn's Dream Lp Prog Rock On Vertigo Gatefold 1972Hannibal - Hannibal **original Uk First 1970 B&c Records ‎cas 1022 Prog Lp**1969 Orig ~ Brainbox ~ Hard Prog Psych ~ Pre Focus ~ Amazing Guitar Jan AkermanPink Floyd - Animals - 1977 Lp ProgRare Psych Prog Rock Lp Megaton Same Original German Press On Decca 1971Clean, Vintage ~ King Crimson ~ Court Of ~ 1969 Mellotron Drenched Prog PsychClouds - Watercolour Days Lp Uk 1971 Chrysalis/island A1/b1 Uk ProgWarpig St 1970 Rare Original Canadian Pressing Progressive Psych Hard Rock LpTangerine Dream - Atem Lp Electronic Ambient Kraut Prog Rock Ohr German OriginalRare Prog. / Embryo / Rache / 1971 German United Artists / 1st Press A1/b1 / Vg+Second Hand 1972 Uk Mushroom Lp Death May Be Your Santa Claus Prog Rock/ Psych.Biglietto Per L'inferno Original Tri 1005 Italian Prog Vinyl LpLocanda Delle Fate - Forse Le Lucciole Non Si Amano Piu Japan Lp / Prog PsychCondello "phase 1" Rare Original 1966 Scepter Lp Prog Psych *near Mint*Lucifer's Friend Self-titled Kraut Prog Psych 1973 Billingsgate 1002 Mint SealedQuella Vecchia Locanda / Il Tempo - Japan G/f W/obi Italian Progressive RockHigh Tide Sea Shanties Zoo Mercury Titanic Eagle Rock Rare Orig Psych Prog LotTouch S/t Lp Prog Psych Rock On Coliseum Gimmick Cover Acid ArchivesTrapeze - Medusa Lp Prog Psych Hard Rock On Threshold Gatefold OriginalWriting On The Wall - Child On A Crossing/lucifer Corpus - Prog - Psych - Rare