Great Prog bands who weren't one of "the Big Five"

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Tristero, Aug 10, 2017.

  1. Tristero

    Tristero A muted trumpeter swan Thread Starter

    For a brief window in the early 70s, prog exerted a powerful influence on the rock music scene while winning over a healthy, enthusiastic audience. Most fans now identify the top progressive bands as such: Yes, Genesis, ELP & King Crimson. In the fifth spot, I usually see either Pink Floyd (who some claim weren't really prog at all) or Jethro Tull (who were sometimes prog, sometimes not as much).

    Leaving aside these leading lights, who were your favorite lesser known progressive artists? Which bands delivered a significant body of work that helped to shape the progressive sound, even though they may not have been as broadly accessible? What is it about these bands that makes them worthy of more consideration in your eyes?

    For my money, Gentle Giant embodied the best of the progressive spirit but though they earned a healthy cult following, they were a little too esoteric for mass consumption. They delivered outstanding musicianship that always served the songs without getting overly showy just for the sake of it. They developed their own distinctive sound, melding rock with jazz, classical, folk and medieval influences in a fresh way. They didn't typically indulge extended (some might say padded out) epics like Yes, keeping their compositions tightly focused yet still elaborate and adventurous. And they delivered an impressive string of solid albums right up through Interview, in my estimation, one of the best track records I can think of.

    We can go with a pretty broad definition of prog here, but let's try not to go too far afield. I tend to emphasize the classic 70s era, but you can certainly feel free to recognize newer bands if you feel that they're delivering something special.
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  2. delmonaco

    delmonaco Forum Resident

    Sofia, Bulgaria
  3. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident

    Of the UK/US bands, Gentle Giant would certainly be right up there with the ones who get forgotten but deserved to be as popular as the others.

    I'd also vote for PFM (Premiata Forneria Marconi) and Banco del Mutuo Soccorso from Italy. Both bands managed to get some LPs released in the UK and the States, but I'm guessing their thick Italian accents coupled with dumb English lyrics (in PFM's case, no thanks to Peter Sinfield) kept them from being embraced by even some big prog fans. To me, each band's catalog is very much like Yes and Genesis - you get some absolutely brilliant, even perfect, albums, followed by some lesser more mainstream sounds and eventually they put out a bunch of poppy horse pucky.
  4. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    For my taste, the so-called Canterbury bands (Soft Machine, Hatfield and the North, National Health and, on the fringes of the scene, Henry Cow) were right up there with the bands the OP mentioned, and at times better.

    I agree about Gentle Giant.
  5. stax o' wax

    stax o' wax Forum Resident

    The West
    This is easy.

  6. ponkine

    ponkine Forum Resident


    Once called 'Britain's brightest hope' is generally overlooked/underrated

    All the albums with the classic line up are nothing but beautiful masterpieces.
    Even the wonderful 'A Live Record' is rarely named among the greatest live albums, and indeed it is!

    Why on earth they haven't been picked up yet and remixed in stereo and 5.1 by Steven Wilson?

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  7. major_works

    major_works This is my Custom Title

    Ramsey, NJ, USA
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    KASHMIR Forum Resident

    Charleston, SC
    Atomic Rooster
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  9. four sticks

    four sticks Senior Member

    Camel, Gentle Giant, Nektar and Caravan.
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  10. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    Barclay James Harvest.
    Wishbone Ash.
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  11. Duke Fame

    Duke Fame Forum Resident

    Tampa, FL
    This genre is not exactly my wheelhouse, but Ambrosia? :hide:
  12. dkmonroe

    dkmonroe A completely self-taught idiot

    Gong and/or Steve Hillage.
  13. Javier Santivanez

    Javier Santivanez Well-Known Member

    New York
    Love the subject as Prog Rock has been one of my favorite genres since I was a teenager. I completely agree of the "Big five" assessment.
    Added to that, I would say that the "Other Big Five" (in the sense of mostly consistent careers and , for the most part, "near commercial" appeal) would be:
    -Van Der Graaf

    Then, in another pocket I would mention the "international big five", meaning bands that did not come from either the US or UK and had some recognition outside of their home countries:

    - Triumvirat (granted, an ELP clone, but they were so good)
    - PFM
    - Le Orme
    - Banco
    - Kaipa
  14. California Couple

    California Couple Forum Dependent

    Newport Beach
  15. California Couple

    California Couple Forum Dependent

    Newport Beach
    how about one last encore for this great band

  16. The Bishop

    The Bishop Forum Resident

    For their first three albums, Curved Air...although really, it's all about the spectacular debut, Airconditioning.
  17. Xabby

    Xabby Forum Resident

    Galicia (Spain)
    Brand X
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  18. Rufus rag

    Rufus rag Forum Resident

    Camel, Focus & Utopia
  19. Hardy Melville

    Hardy Melville Forum Resident

    Ftr I get why some say Pink Floyd is prog rock, but it's never been a persuasive argument to me.

    Conversely since I do not think it essential to meet the definition of a prog rock band that it have keyboards, I would put Rush in that category (not that I am a fan - count me as one put off too much by Geddy Lee's weird voice).
  20. My top 4 choices as well.
  21. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢

    Greater Vancouver
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  22. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Lawrenceville, NJ
    Kansas would be the next one for me. And really #5 as I don't consider Floyd prog.
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  23. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    No mention of Rush yet?
  24. Dave

    Dave Esoteric Audio Research Specialistâ„¢

    Greater Vancouver

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