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Welcome to the Tomas Howie Prog Page!

Prog. It means Progressive Rock.

You know, the stuff Rolling Stone and Creem Magazines love to hate. I think it's a fear thing, really - afraid of what they don't understand.

Prog was the most challenging and interesting Rock subgenre to emerge in the 70s. It's still alive and kicking today, although most newer prog bands are content to sit in the genre without pushing the limits.

This page is about the bands that pushed the limits.

The best place to start a topic on Progressive Rock is with the best Progressive Rock band: Yes. They were instrumental in defining the genre and in spelling out the creative possibilities inherant in rock and roll. Of course, most purveyors of rock didn't want to see these possibilities, but Yes showed that by taking rock as a foundation and mixing in a fair dash of classical, jazz, and world musical styles and forms one could come up with a limitless range of musical and artistic possibilities.

Now it seems everyone wants to get into the "genre mixing" act, but when it was done in the 70s there were no rules. Prog then was a new form, and Yes was showing the way. They were the darlings of the rock press, except in those corners where rock was worshipped as an icon - particularly in the American press, where it got right up the noses of some of the "protectors" of the rock culture that, not only was their form being trashed in this manner, but it was a British band that was doing it! Didn't we show them who's boss at the Tea Party?

But, Yes and other British bands of the 70s proved that it was only them who were capable of twisting the genre into new directions. The British don't worship musical styles the way Americans do, and it was precisely this reluctance on the part of the American music community to "tarnish" rock that pretty much left them out in the cold when Prog was riding its creative peak.

Yes were the vanguard, and it's a testament to the band's longevity that they are still a going commodity, although there are times when one would wonder. Yes' latest album is called THE LADDER and was released in September, 1999.

There are many fine Yes site on the Internet. Jump to the Music Links page to see a listing!

Yes

Gentle Giant Gentle Giant

Another British band, GG - as they're affectionately called by their fans - holds a certain esteem as being one of the finest bands of the 70s while simultaneously being one of the most obscure. They never made it into the popular culture, which in itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. This meant, however, that their music was never given its proper due.

GG was a phenomenally talented group of musicians that created some of rock's most challenging music. Drawing heavily on medievel influences, they weren't afraid of complex melodic and rhythmic structures. Many of their albums sound as fresh today as they did when they were released - an accolade much of 70s prog cannot claim.

They disbanded in 1980. Threats of a runion notwithstanding, their legion of fans continues to grow worldwide, as attested by the recent release of a number of concerts from the 70s. If you like challenging music, this is it!

Crimson has recently released an album of live music from their first incarnation called "Enigma". I can think of no better word to describe this band.

Created by rock's most reclusive sophist, King Crimson started out as a run-of-the-mill prog band (although they actively eschew the label). They quickly became a front-line organization for some of rock's most esoteric compositions. Bruford's arrival seemed to mark a turn towards an almost bitter instrumental examination.

While their music is dense, darkly harmonic, and relentlessly creative, the point in any given composition never seems to arrive. Even in the band's Golden Period, which comprised a series of albums in the early 80s beginning with "Discipline" - arguably the band's best work - their music is best described by a term the band came to see as autobiographical: "lurking". That sense of foreboding indicative of a resolution, but never arriving at that resolution.

For this reason - and its usually somber, dark ambiance - the band has never gained mass market popularity. Yet, its cadre of fans remains rabidly enthusiastic. Echoing the same psuedo-intellectualism that marks much of Crimson's output, this group of loyal listeners carries the conceptual torch, even as the band continues to release CDs that seem to rehash the same themes so brilliantly propounded in the 1980s.

Always musically challenging, but certainly not for everyone, this band is worth a listen. But give them time to sink in. Just don't take them too seriously!

King CrimsonKing Crimson

While the above three bands may be the best or the most notorious prog bands to emerge in the 70s, they certainly aren't the only ones! Prog itself seems to be chugging right along, although as a genre it has lost most of the creative impetus that accompanied its arrival.

For the most complete reference on the web of any band that even remotely calls itself "progressive", The Prog Archives is an indespensible tool. If you like prog, this is the place for you! Just be prepared to spend your whole month's allottment of online time here!


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