A Bit of Prog

While I don’t listen to nearly as much progressive rock as I once did, I certainly do enjoy it from time to time. Herewith a few prog tunes for (one hopes) your enjoyment. 

A while back I wrote about the Manfred Mann (pictured above) album Solar Fire. As I relate there, Mann were part of the original so-called British Invasion but somewhere along the way shifted over into prog rock. If you get a chance, check out that post and album.

Manfred Mann during their second peak years became much more well known for covering Bruce Springsteen songs and it’s entirely possible that their version of “Blinded By the Light” is the more popular.

In fact, their Springsteen cover comes from an album they put out a few years later (1978) called The Roaring Silence. Maybe “Blinded” was their realization that the marketplace was moving forward and perhaps prog wasn’t quite as much the thing as it used to be. But they very much still dabbled in it and I here give you song whose title Pink Floyd somehow overlooked, “Waiter, There’s a Yawn in My Ear:”

Spotify link

Have you ever heard of the Messthetics? I hadn’t either but they toured through these parts recently. I didn’t go see them but I got intrigued by their story and their sound.

Wikipedia lists this Washington, D.C.-based band as “Experimental Rock” which is close enough for me. The band consists of former Fugazi members bassist Joe Lally and drummer Brendan Canty with guitarist Anthony Pirog Their music has been described as “jazz-punk jam.

“Serpent Tongue” should serve as potent enough introduction for ya:

Spotify link

I wrote about Gentle Giant a while back. They are one of the relatively few bands from back in the day that you can look up and find out that yes, they had the good sense to break up when the creative juices dried up rather than hang on forever.

No less a person than the estimable Steven Wilson has seen fit to remaster their catalog. I rarely (if ever) do “encores” but I like their song “Peel the Paint” so much I’ll do it again. And some of you may have missed it last time.

Spotify link

Now that all the dust has settled, Yes is still my favorite prog band and I’m happy to see that they got into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame a while back. I haven’t seen this band since the very early days and someday I’m going to get around to seeing one incarnation of the band or another.

in 1983 they released an album called 90125 which was more commercial but still sounded pretty damn good to me. This album includes the great “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” But I’m going to here go with “Leave It.” Sounds to me like another of those “life on the road” songs:

Spotify link

From Soft Machine’s website: “Their work, from their earliest performances as a psychedelic band who were contemporaries of, and shared stages with, Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, all the way to being one of Europe’s best known ‘fusion’ groups, has influenced several generations of bands, and continues to be name-checked by today’s hip experimentalists.

Whilst the line-up of Soft Machine may have changed many times since the heady days of the late 1960s, the band’s spirit of musical adventure, and the ease with which it freely avoids being pigeon holed and can move from powerful progressive jazz fusion to atmospheric psychedelia to free improvised jazz-rock to ambient loop music continues to make it both unique and totally contemporary.”

This tune, “Hazard Profile Part 1,” is from a later version of Soft Machine which included guitarist Allan Holdsworth who, oddly enough, I just featured as part of Tony Williams Lifetime post.

Spotify link


16 thoughts on “A Bit of Prog

  1. Really like the Messthetics cut. Works for me.I can still listen to that stuff. Soft Machine i know pretty well and have dabbled in Gentle Giant (like what I hear). Both you and Vinyl beat their drum. I’m just wrapping up a ‘Close to the Edge’ take. love that band.


    1. I thoughtyou might like Messthetics. I have to spend more time with them. And we agree on Yes. I would like to see one version of them or another next time they pass through town. Can’t keep track of who’s in which band but their website shows Steve Howe and Alan White as members with Jon Anderson being one of the ‘alumni.’

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s always going to be solid Doc. Even though I’m a huge Bruford guy, White to me was never a poor cousin. Maybe you and i can have one of those pretend sit downs with Anderson and ask him “What the hell are you singing about?”. I also know you are a huge Howe guy. Those early Yes records he stood out.


        1. My guess is Anderson was one those stream-of-consciousness guys. And then when asked what his songs mean, comes up with some bullshit like, “I leave it to each listener’s interpretation.” Meanwhile he has no fucking clue.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Except for Pink Floyd, as well as some Yes, Manfred Mann’s Earthband and Genesis, I haven’t listened much to prog rock.

    A while ago, a good friend and music connaisseur encouraged me to check out Gentle Giant and Caravan. I started doing that a bit, but then got distracted by something else.

    I don’t dislike prog rock, but for some reason, I never got into it more deeply.

    I actually have that Yes album on vinyl – got it at the time it came out because of “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.” While I still like that tune, these days I prefer their early stuff (Yes Album).

    When comes to Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, I used to listen to “Watch” quite frequently – still like that album.

    I had never heard of The Messthetics. The tune you highlighted certainly rocks. BTW, looks like they got a new album slated for September 6.


    1. Those four are pretty good right there. As to your lack of enthusiasm for prog, my sense is you’re more of a song guy than a long improv/prog guy. Which is fine. I’m nowhere near as much into prog as I used to be, just a sometime thing.

      Messthetics I stumbled on due to a review when they were coming to town. Just the description made them sound interesting. So I checked them out. A happenstance find.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you’re probably right about being more of a song guy. On the other hand, one of my all-time favorite Floyd tracks is Echoes!

        For some reason, I oftentimes find prog rock harder to access, so it becomes more of an acquired taste. But I’m actually glad you brought it back on my radar screen.

        It’s good to mix things up instead of listening to the same old, same old all the time.


        1. Yeah, it’s easy to fall into our comfort zones. I like to keep shaking it up as much as possible. But sometimes the time I might use to listen to new stuff gets spent on the old. Today, driving around, I was digging listening to some old Chicago.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. BTW, there’s a band called Leonid and Friends in town tonight playing up at the beach. They’re a Russian tribute band to Chicago. It’s a nice summer night and I thought I might take a drive up. How could that even be sold out? And it was! Standing Room Only remaining. Hell, I wouldn’t do SRO for the real band!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never considered Manfred Mann to be “progressive rock,” but I will have to listen further to The Roaring Silence, which received a lot of airplay in Pittsburgh when it came out (1977?). Soft Machine are legendary, especially the early lineups with Daevid Allen and Kevin Ayers. (Later Softs were less playful, more cerebral-fusion). And someone above mentioned Caravan, brother band to the Softs. A fantastic group. Their first four or five albums are essential prog. That whole Canterbury Scene (Softs, Caravan, Gong, Ayers, Wyatt, Egg, Steve Hillage, Hatfield and the North etc.) is a treasure trove still undiscovered by many folks.


    1. You’re correct that the original Manfred Mann was not prog. But they re-named themselves Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and that’s where they kinda went prog. If you look them up on Wikipedia, they treat them separately in that respect. I’d urge you to give “Solar Fire” a listen. That one was big in Philly in ’73, ’74. It’s a bit ponderous at times but hey, isn’t all prog-rock ponderous to some extent?

      Soft Machine I know, Caravan less so. I’ll give them a spin.

      Liked by 1 person

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