Over The Edge 1st Impression 1967 – 1971
1967 – 1969
01 PINK FLOYD / Astronomy Domine / Piper At The Gates Of Dawn August 1967
02 PROCUL HARUM / Cerdes (Outside The Gates Of) / Procul Harum September 1967
03 MOODY BLUES / Tuesday Afternoon / Days Of Future Passed November 1967
04 THE NICE / The Cry Of Eugene / Thoughts Of Emerlist Davjack December 1967
05 THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN / Come And Buy / Crazy World Of Arthur Brown June 1968
06 PINK FLOYD / Let There Be More Light / Saucerful of Secrets June 1968
07 CARAVAN / A Place Of My Own / Caravan October 1968
08 SOFT MACHINE / Why Are We Sleeping? / Soft Machine December 1968
09 MOODY BLUES The Dream / Have You Heard Pt 1 / On The Threshold Of A Dream April 1969
10 SOFT MACHINE / Dedicated To You But You Weren’t Listening / Volume Two April 1968
11 AMON DUUL II / Kanaan / Phallus Del June 1969
12 PINK FLOYD / Cirrus Minor / More July 1969
13 YES / Beyond And Before / Yes August 1969
14 JETHRO TULL / We Used To Know / Stand Up July 1969
15 KING CRIMSON / The Court Of The Crimson King / In The Court Of The Crimson King October 1969
16 COLOSSEUM / Valentyne Suite / Valentyne Suite November 1969
1969 – 1971
01 RARE BIRD / Sympathy / Rare Bird November 1969
02 RENAISSANCE / Kings And Queens / Renaissance December 1969
03 VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR / Refugees / The Least We Can Do Is Wave February 1970
04 JETHRO TULL / Sossity / You’re A Woman Benefit April 1970
05 TRAFFIC / John Barleycorn Must Die / John Barleycorn Must Die July 1970
06 GENESIS / Stagnation / Trespass October 1970
07 CARAVAN / As I Feel I Die / If I Could Do It All Over Again October 1970
08 EMERSON LAKE AND PALMER / The Barbarian / Emerson Lake And Palmer November 1970
09 VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR / Pioneers Over C / H To He Who Am The Only One
10 ATOMIC ROOSTER / Seven / Lonely Streets Death Walks Behind You January 1971
11 BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST / Mockingbird Once Again / February 1971
So then, my extraordinary journey finally leads to the land that time forgot, that known as progressive rock. It’s a place only the brave few have entered, packed with strange, other worldly concepts: 20 minute song suites, pretentiously titled sub sections, musical virtuosity, capes and robes, wizards, fairies, English country gardens, Lord of the Rings and inflatable pigs. The utter silliness of it all is the overriding memory but long, long ago, before progressive rock, prog rock, space rock, art rock, call it what you will…the word was simply underground and it was cool as fuck. The first stirrings can easily be traced back to the distended Summer of Love and the height of psychedelia. The conceptual Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band broke the mould but was never more than acid tinged pop. Closer to the progressive ethos was Syd Barrett’s only album with Pink Floyd, Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, recorded in Abbey Road at the same time as The Beatles magnum opus. The Floyd and Soft Machine were bands favouring improvisation, feel and eventually technique and were nurtured by the London underground’s subterranean clubs like UFO and Middle Earth, effectively acting as the centre of the burgeoning counter culture.
The freedom of expression and lack of self consciousness engendered by every conceivable aspect of the psychedelic experience led to a challenging of the norm. Clearly music could be far more than pop chart fodder or fake copies of American soul or R&B. The phrase ‘progressive pop’ entered the minds of the music weeklies attempting to describe a more ambitious, cerebral, experimental approach. Pop slowly became rock, and rock became art. As the sixties ground to a halt, progressive rock was born. This was music that transcended any vulgar and trivial aspects, aspiring to the giddy aesthetic heights of the opera and the symphony, the improvisational virtuosity of jazz and lyrically to the complexity of poetry and legend. Thus its no surprise that prog in its purest form was peculiarly English, in part reflecting the eccentricity and mythology of this once pleasant land.
In the two years following their immaculate debut and with Syd now absent orbiting inner space, Pink Floyd finally moved out of the underground to take the first steps on a tortuous long haul march up a twisting spiral involving blissed out film scores, Roman amphitheatre love ins and far out technology, all of which would turn them into the dictionary definition of a progressive rock band. The psychedelically jazz tinged Soft Machine had also been darlings of the London underground and together with the wistful, melodic Caravan, originated from a fraternal collective clustered around the cathedral city of Canterbury.
Procul Harum and the Moody Blues broke from their mid sixties R&B roots to a more ambitious hybrid of churchy, orchestral neo classicism. Not quite progressive rock, nonetheless they were an important influence on the future main players. Others with a similar background like Colosseum, Traffic, ex Yardbird Keith Relf’s Renaissance and soul girl supreme P.P. Arnold’s backing group The Nice, were also important prototypes for what was to come, mixing the classical, folk or jazz potions into new magic spells. Jethro Tull came via a similar route before focusing on the voice and flute of Ian Anderson and developing their own medieval minstrel style.
Yes had received so many prestigious opening slots they were once referred to as ‘the Albert Hall house band’. And yet, despite applying elaborate arrangements to Beatles and Byrds songs on their sales deficient debut album, it was only when they inherited guitarist Steve Howe that they fully hit their stride and found their distinctive, symphonic sound. Then there was King Crimson who released the highly acclaimed In The Court Of The Crimson King. That rode the gamut of musical emotion; throwing convoluted jazz riffs, post Hendrix weirdo guitar and poetic lyrics into the mix. Then Genesis, public schoolboys creating their own strand of classically tinged rock, front man Peter Gabriel raiding the dressing up box with more zest than anyone since Arthur Brown, whose pantomime demon persona had provided some memorable psychedelic moments before his Crazy World backing group morphed into Atomic Rooster.
A lesser light were Rare Bird, scoring one of the first (and only) true prog chart hits. Barclay James Harvest were another never quite throwing off the ‘poor man’s Moody Blues’ tag. Meanwhile the first stirrings in Europe arrived via the avante garde space rock of Germany’s much-ignored Amon Duul II. Also ignored, were Van Der Graaf Generator. They inhabited a very dark space indeed, all madness and myth. If Yes were Tolkien and Genesis were Lewis Carroll, then Van Der Graaf Generator were Edgar Allen Poe. And finally there was Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the first progressive super group featuring ex Nice keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson with King Crimson’s bass/vocalist and Atomic Rooster’s drummer. Truly mighty new music was about to be made the triviality of pop and the coarseness of hard rock banished to the outer darkness.