Join us on this latest CDs from the Vault podcast episode as Wellington City Librarians Patrick, Sam & Neil dive into the illustrious history of progressive rock. From its rise to popularity in the early 1970’s through various evolutions and iterations in subsequent decades, progressive rock is an enigmatic and varied musical genre that continues to capture the hearts and minds of many music lovers globally. In this episode, we focus on three classic albums from different time periods to showcase how it has developed over time.
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These albums (along with tens of thousands of others) are currently available to be borrowed for free by reserving them from our catalogue to be sent from our Te Pātaka storage space to a Wellington City Libraries branch of your choice.
Close to the edge / Yes
Released on the 13th of September 1972, Close to the Edge, Yes’s fifth studio album, is widely regarded as one of the seminal albums of the progressive rock genre. The band at that time were experiencing a significant tailwind in the form of the success of 1971’s Fragile which featured their biggest hit to date, ‘Roundabout’. Lead singer Jon Anderson had for some time been envisioning a ‘long-form’ approach to composition which was previously hinted at. His song writing partnership with guitarist Steve Howe was now beginning to blossom and together they were sowing the seeds of a fully realised ‘concept album’ – which would take the listener on a journey from start to finish. It has all the hallmarks of the golden age of progressive rock – characteristics which have been lauded and lambasted by critics ever since.
Discipline [40th anniversary ed.] / King Crimson
Having disbanded several years earlier, King Crimson returned with Discipline in 1981 with a new line-up and radically updated sound. With prior members Robert Fripp and Bill Bruford being joined by newcomers Adrian Belew and Tony Levin, the second wave of progressive rock was arguably born with this album. Utilising elements of new-wave, post-punk, funk and world music along with the use of cutting-edge technology and production techniques, Discipline rejected many classic prog-rock tropes in favour of a truly forward-thinking musical approach. Effectively redefining what prog-rock could be, the album shattered cliched definitions and perceptions, in turn laying the foundations for numerous innovative and iconic artists in the years to come.
De-loused in the comatorium / Mars Volta
Forming out of the ashes of legendary post-hardcore act At the Drive-In, The Mars Volta burst onto the scene in 2003 with Deloused in the Comatorium. Combining the instrumental and compositional prowess of classic ‘70s prog rock with the sensibilities and ferocity of modern hardcore and punk music, this album ushered in a new era of progressive rock for the 21st century with a sense of energy and vitality not seen within the genre since its earlier heyday. The songs are complex, but they are infectious as well. It is this balance that helped a project of such high-stakes ambitions in a musical climate that was at that point unreceptive to such progressive tendencies to land such a level of popular success. Deloused in the Comatorium is a true lightning-in-a-bottle statement.