Subtitled A Journey Through The Landscape of Progressive Rock, and boasting an introduction by Steve Hackett, this coffee table style book, authored by rock journalist and prog fan Jerry Ewing, is an ambitious attempt to tell the story of progressive rock. Quite a project to undertake, but this is a very creditable effort. In roughly chronological order, Ewing traces the emergence of the genre from the ashes of psychedelia in the late sixties, through its seventies heyday and right up to the present day, where the music still thrives.
Along the way, he picks out twelve albums that define prog, covering the whole period covered by the book – a topic worthy of its own thread on here for sure! Many of the choices are hard to argue with, Close To The Edge, Selling England, DSOTM etc, but his eighties choices are interesting, and I find it hard to disagree as he’s chosen two of my own favourites, Misplaced Childhood and A Farewell To Kings. It’s only when he comes up to date that we differ – surely Dream Theatre’s Octavarium would be a better example than their When Dream and Day Unite, and I would have gone for maybe Porcupine Tree’s Deadwing over Opeth’s Blackwater Park, which I’ve never got on with.
These selections are strategically placed between informative chapters on a whole range of proggy topics such as US prog, Krautrock, the European prog scene (a bit of Magma anyone?), fusion and art rock to name just a few. There’s even a whole chapter devoted just to Steven Wilson!
The book is lavishly illustrated, and printed on top quality art paper (which is reflected in the price tag!), and is a good introduction to the whole prog scene for the beginner, and an interesting read even for a seasoned campaigner like me. It’s perhaps better suited to browsing, dipping in and out of the various sections that pretty much stand alone, rather than being read cover to cover, as there is some inevitable repetition between the various parts.
Nevertheless, this is a beautifully put together book, on which a lot of care and attention has obviously been lavished. Check it out prog lovers, or even those just wondering what the scene is all about.
Length of Read:Medium
Might appeal to people who enjoyed…
Prog in all its various forms over the years.
One thing you’ve learned
Prog is very much alive and well, constantly evolving without ever losing sight of its vital ingredients.