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    

Elias Hulk Unchained Original First Press Uk Mega Rare Prog Rock 1970Shape Of The Rain Riley Riley Wood & Waggett Rare Original Rca Neon Ne7 Prog LpJericho Jericho = A&m Amls 68079 Rare Original Vinyl Lp Prog Rock FusionRicotti & Albuquerque First Wind Lp Uk Pegasus 1971 Stereo 1st Press Jazz ProgStray Suicide Vinyl Lp Promo Photo Poster Textuted Sleeve Tra 233 Psych Prog LpSpooky Tooth - Spooky Two - Orig Uk Lp 1969 - Prog Rock Blues - Bullseye PinkNucleus We'll Talk About It Later Uk Vertigo `large` Swirl Jazz Prog Lp NmV Rare Mac Gayden : Mcgavock Gayden Lp Emi 1973 1st Prog Rock Awesome AlbumNite People - Love Love Love 7" Single Psych Prog Freakbeat Mod Page One Pof 149Johnny Winter The Progressive Blues Experiment '69 Liberty 1st Press Blue Label Joni Mitchell Orig Vinyllp Blue - Textured G/fold Sleeve K44128 A2/b1 - ProgQuiet World The Visitor/sam 7" Vinyl Demo 45 1971 Prog Steve Hackett Genesis Rare Clay Nr Mint Xian Prog Vinyl Lp In The Beginning In ShrinkwrapManfred Mann Chapter Three Volume Two 1970 Uk Vertigo Swirl Jazz/prog Rock NmArcadium Breathe Awhile/middle Earth Mdls 302/rare 1969 Uk Heavy Prog PsychKollektiv "s/t" Killer 1973 Kraut Prog Orig Green Brain Gimmix Lp! Plays Mint!20 Lp Prog Rock Record Collection Lot Yes Genesis Alan Parsons Project RundgrenMuseo Rosenbach / Zarathustra, Rare Japan Orig. Lp W/obi & Insert Prog Gf Nm!Harmonia "musik Von Harmonia" Orig 1974 Krautrock Prog Green Brain Lp! Rare!Pirana, Self-titled 1971 Australian Harvest 1st Press Oz Prog Psych LpCluster "cluster Ii" Experimental Prog Orig 1972 Green Brain Lp!Rare Uk Vinyl Lp Vg+ Audience Friends Friend Charisma 1st Scroll Prog Psych RockGrupa Nepocin Svijet Po Kojem Gazim " 70s Prog KillerHaizea Hontz Gaua Monster Rare Spanish Prog Psych Rock Folk Original 1979 Ex/exPicchio Dal Pozzo - S/t Lp - Grog Italy - Rare Prog Vg+Rush Hemispheres Prog Rock Picture Disc Ex+Lucifer's Friend S/t Debut Org Billingsgate Bg-1002 Mint Sealed Kraut Prog MetalAlan Parsons Project-pyramid-rare Original 1978 All Analog Prog Lp-arista-sealedGrasland Lp V.rare Private Prog Krautrock + Rare InsertEmbryo Steig Aus Lp Jazz Progressive German Pressing SealedFormula 3 / Sognando E Risognando, Rare Japan Orig. Lp W/obi & Insert Prog Nm!Lava Tears Are Goin' Home Lp Krautrock Progressive SealedPink Floyd's Iconic "the Wall" 2xlp Gatefold Columbia Pc2 36183 Prog Rock! L@@kMario Panseri Adolescenza Italian Prog Psych Rock OriginalBanco Del Mutuo Soccorso / Darwin!, Japan Orig. Lp W/obi & Insert Prog Gf Nm!Pink Floyd "the Endless River" Lp New Vinyl Sealed ProgVangelis Albedo 0.39 Org 1976 Rca Promo Lp Nm Plus Promo T-shirt Prog AvantOutskirts Of Infinity Lord Of The Dark Skies Nm Heavy Psych Prog Lp Bevis FrondSocrates "waiting" Heavy Guitar Prog Psych Lp Greece Pink Floyd Animals (original Us 1977) Vinyl Lp, 1977, Prog RockLots - 10 Vinyl Records -classical And Progressive Rock-early Press- V/g Black Widow 1970 Cbs Uk Prog Rock Vinyl The Rolling Stones Satanic Majesties Unreleased Acetate Ep Rare Promo Psych ProgSkin Alley To Pagham And Beyond Uk Cbs S 64140 A1/b1 Prog/rock Psych Vg+Lp Banco S/t Prog Elp Pfm Vg Con Manticore Emerson Lake Palmer Early Uk PressLot Of 11 Progressive Rock Vinyl Lps Vintage Nazareth Zz Top Aerosmith & MoreVan Der Graaf Generator Aerosol Grey Machine Lp German Pressing Prog PsychKing Crimson / Islands, Rare Japan Orig Lp W/obi & Full Insert Prog Art Rock Ex+Peter Ivers Band Knight Of The Blue Communion Lp Promo Stamp Orig Prog Epic NmLots - 10 Vinyl Records -classical And Progressive Rock-early Press- V/g Lots - 10 Vinyl Records -classical And Progressive Rock-early Press- V/g Juicy Lucy Get A Whiff A This Bronze Ilps 9157 71 Lp Uk Prog Blues Rock Rare!Hawkwind 'in Search Of Space' Ua Prog Acid Psych With Rare Log Book 1971 LemmyBuldozer - Pljuni Istini U Oci Lp - Alta Yugoslavia - Prog PsychGnidrolog 1972 Uk Progressive Rock Album Re Lady Lake Sealed New NrTriumvirat / Illusions...rare Japan Orig. Lp W/obi & Insert Kraut Prog Rock Nm!New Trolls / Concerto Grosso Per 1, Rare Japan Orig. Lp W/insert Italy Prog Nm!Van Der Graaf The Quiet Zone/the Pleasure Dome Lp Progressive Uk PressingRare Ed1 Terry Riley Persan Surgery Dervishes Progressive Shanti 83501/02 FranceNew Trolls / Atomic System, Japan Orig. Lp Tri-gatefold W/obi & Insert Prog Nm!