A bit of Prog devant la lettre I discovered tardily as my first introduction to Marillion was the later Punch and Judy. I soon delved into their back catalogue. This was track two on their first album Script for a Jester’s Tear and had given the band a no 35 hit in the UK in 1983. I like the way the last lines of the verses are different but rhyme with each other (as well as the “poison in your head.”)
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Not a single but Procol Harum were one of the forebears of Prog Rock. As this track, among many others, evinces.
So Demis Roussos has gone. He was only 66. Strange that in the 70s he seemed quite old.
He first came to my attention in the 60s as lead singer of Aphrodite’s Child, another of whose members was Vangelis.
I posted their song It’s Five O’Clock here. It was out of songs and groups like this that Prog Rock developed.
I’ll skip over Roussos’s 70s solo number 1 For Ever and Ever and instead feature a live version of Aphrodite’s Child’s only UK hit, a number 29 no less, Rain and Tears.
Artemios “Demis” Ventouris-Roussos: 15/6/1946 – 25/1/2015. So it goes.
A small hit in the UK (no 36) but a no 8 in Germany. The track has echoes of The Troggs and The Who of I’m a Boy and prefigures the Roy Wood era Electric Light Orchestra. The video features “guitarist” Eddie Phillips playing his instrument with a violin bow – reputedly the first to do so – a major contributor to the record’s sound. Another antecedent of Prog Rock?
Phillips had also used this technique on their previous single, Making Time.
Tuesday Afternoon was followed as a single by Voices in the Sky (with its flute flourishes and distinctive vocal from Justin Hayward) which, like its follow-up, the hard-driving perennial favourite Ride My See-Saw, featured on the next LP, the even more pretentious concept album, In Search of the Lost Chord. That was the first Moody Blues LP I bought – possibly my first ever and there’s barely a dud on it – with the possible exception of the spoken passages and the final track Om. Its standout is the Ray Thomas song Legend of a Mind embedded within the House of Four Doors sequence with its classical pretensions placing the group’s output firmly in Prog territory.
By this time the Moodies were firmly established as my favourite band.
Then we had this song – later to feature on On The Threshold of a Dream – which I remember in its review of the single the NME referred to as “beautifully constructed.” Here the group plays it live.
I didn’t buy the Moodies’ next single, Tuesday Afternoon, a song which – like Nights In White Satin – appeared also on the LP Days of Future Passed but I remember hearing it on the radio and thinking it was almost as good. It seems the single version was edited down to a ludicrous 2 minutes 16 seconds – missing out the repeat of the opening riff and “Tuesday Afternoon” chorus.
This is how it appeared on the LP and so contains the orchestral afterpiece tagged on by conductor Peter Knight. Knight’s “classical music” interludes linked all the songs on the LP – supposedly to demonstrate the record label Deram’s new “Deramic Sound System.” The story that the band were asked to record an album based on Dvorak’s New World symphony but instead recorded their own songs without the label’s knowledge has been disputed.
Edited (7/6/14) to add:- Those orchestral interludes and the fact that it was a concept album probably make Days of Future Passed one of the first prog rock albums.
The Strawbs were the favourite band of another of my schoolfriends. Only somewhat proggy, they were on the folkish end of the prog rock spectrum.
This is a rockier track though.
I’ve not had some prog rock for a while so here’s a track from King Crimson’s first album In the Court of the Crimson King.
There’s some great portentous guitar and nice heavy mellotron on this.
King Crimson: Epitaph (including “March for No Reason” and “Tomorrow and Tomorrow”)
The place The Troggs had for me in the 60s and Sweet in the early 70s was taken by Marillion in the early 80s.
Marillion have been forever tagged with the Prog Rock label and while their first songs – especially the 17 minute long Grendel and most of the debut album Script For a Jester’s Tear – fit that bill (which was why I got into them in the first place) by the time of Fugazi they had mainly moved on to a more guitar based rock sound.
Their initial success, though, shows that Prog wasn’t as moribund a genre as its detractors would have had it.
I think I first saw them on television on The Oxford Road Show (who remembers that!) when this was one of the songs they played. Despite it being from Fugazi there is still a hint of Prog and echoes of Genesis.
This clip, though, is from Top of the Pops. Check out Fish – with hair!