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C O U R S E 
History of Rock, 1970-Present
John Covach, University of Rochester
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Era of Progressive Rock
Notes taken on January 24, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Progressive Rock
the style that develops in the 70s that is most consistent with the values of the hippy aesthetic
importantly happened in Britain
some progressive rock happened in the States but it was mostly an echo of the progressive rock going on in Britain
an obsession with concept albums
the important thing
the big idea
the album
the artwork
not so much romance or sexuality
addressed philosophical issues such as god and the state and the universe
critics saw this as amateur philosophy, lyrics that were more vague than meaningful
music should "be a trip"
made a self-conscious use of classical music, Jazz
the songs were long
lots of virtuosic display
groups who anticipated progressive rock
Procol Harum
"A Whiter Shade of Pale" (1967)
"A Salty Dog" (1969)
very expressive
The Moody Blues
Album "Days of Future Past" (1967)
brings them together with an orchestra
The Nice
"Hang on to a Dream" (1969)
later turned into Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
The Who
not a progressive rock band but many of their features are consistent with the values of progressive rock
Tommy (1969)
called the first rock opera
tells a conceptual story from beginning to end
Who's Next (1971)
based on a conceptual project called "Life House"
Quadrophenia (1974)
another concept album
King Crimson
In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
blended dissonant 20th century with consonant 19th century classical music with a pop and folk influence
created a template for what was going to follow in most progressive rock music after it
Emerson, Lake and Palmer
Emerson: keyboard player
1967-1970 The Nice
took classical music and made a rock version of it
Lake: the pop guy, had all the songs
Palmer: drums
1971 "Pictures at an Exhibition"
Jethro Tull
started as a blues based group and morphed into a more progressive group
led by multi-talented Ian Anderson
focused on issues of religion and spirituality with a kind of biting social critique
Aqualung album (1971)
later albums didn't even separate songs out
just ran across the whole record
Thick as a Brick (1972)
most elaborate packaging
a newspaper based on a newspaper from a small British village
A Passion Play (1973)
the premier progressive rock band of the era
Rick Wakeman on keyboards
high lead vocals of Jon Anderson
explorations of spirituality
vague and non-denominational
album: Close to the Edge (1972)
most accomplished
based in part on Hermann Hesse's novel Siddhartha
important novelist to the counter-culture movement
in 1984 became a pop band with songs like "Owner of a Lonely Heart"
Peter Gabriel (vocals)
Phil Collins (drums)
later Phil Collins as lead singer
focused on lengthy, carefully worked out arrangements with bizarre tales often crafted by Peter Gabriel involving elaborate costumes in order to act out these pieces, and stories in between the songs that Gabriel would develop that were very fantastic and surreal, full of imagery and cultural critique.
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
those performances were probably some of the most elaborated staged performances of their era
unfortunately not much film of them remains of them
for its time it was a high water mark for what you could do with rock theater
Pink Floyd
it is generally undecided if Pink Floyd counts as Progressive Rock
what's missing is were the overt references to classical music and overt virtuosity
David Gilmour is a fantastic guitar player, the musicianship of his playing is superb
but he's not a flashy player
not someone who flaunts his virtuosity
but their music is conceptually within the tradition of Progressive Rock
mostly led by bassist Roger Waters
wrote a lot of the material after the departure of Syd Barrett
Syd Barrett had a mental breakdown and left the group
was only with the group for the first album and a couple of singles
not very well known in America until Dark Side of the Moon in 1973
a complete classic
never had top of the chart success
but it stuck around forever
was on the Billboard's top 200 charts longer than any album in the history of that chart
topics: isolation, insanity, horror of WWII
1979 The Wall
the most elaborately staged rock show you could go and see
Kiss or Alice Cooper show might be comparable
the was the end of the hippie aesthetic because it marked the end of the last big concept album
shows were like Broadway shows
everyone had marks where they needed to be at particular times