Monday, April 11, 2005

Craig's Ten Essential prog rock albums

I was honored recently to be asked by The Shuffle Brothers to write a series of guest columns. They wanted to know what my Ten Essential Prog Rock albums were. I was happy to share, and will share them with you as well. In fact, I shall reveal the #1 here a few hours before it will appear at The Shuffle Brothers. Be sure to hang around their site and learn all about the Shuffle Brothers rules for living - don't question their wisdom, just assimilate their message and live your life.

Without further ado, Prog Rock Craig gives you Prog Rock's Ten Essential Albums (click to learn about each):

One of Robert Fripp’s many great choices was to bring a little respect to this interesting group of musicians who had previously been flailing about just a bit. VDGG had a hard time sticking together and putting out good albums. Earlier noble efforts include Aerosol Grey Machine and H to He Who am The Only One (huh?). But on Pawn Hearts, Fripp agreed to lend his talents. The creative inspiration that he provided to this energetic and oddball group of musicians helped to congeal their ideas into a masterpiece.

Let’s run down the prog rock checklist I've already outlined above: A poor attempt at an artsy cover, a thematic album, sci-fi or fantasy imagery in the lyrics, excessive song length, roman-numeraled subtitles, unusual instrumentation, classical elements, self-indulgent, weird, kicks ass? Check. Pawn Hearts was also #1 in Italy for 12 weeks. Only on Pawn Hearts do you get a band that can kick out the jams while singing operatically about Lemmings and Lighthouse Keepers. It’s a rather heavy sound with organ, mellotron, and Frippertronics, and a great use of distorted sax; plus it’s obscure enough to impress/disgust all of your friends.

There’s one last facet of these prog picks that prog rock Malcolm and I agree on, and I’ve saved it until now because it fits best here with Van Der Graaf Generator. These albums can clear a dance floor like nobody’s business. Kraftwerk? Can? Not prog – too groovy. There can’t be any sustained passage that anyone would want to dance to, whether it be pogo, freak-out, shag, or even the all-purpose hippy dance. I dare you to try to dance to Pawn Hearts. Better yet, the next time you’re hosting a party where people are enjoying a cold beer, exchanging quips, meeting each other and generally having a good time, I dare you to put the needle down on “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers - part G: The Clot Thickens.” You might as well just scrape a needle across a record or dropkick a puppy from the stairway. How can this album do that to a crowd and yet still sound so good and rock so hard? Don’t try to explain it - it’s the work of genius.


  • "dropkick a puppy from the stairway"

    By Blogger david, at 6:51 AM  

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