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Old 05-31-2009, 09:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
Juicious Maximus III
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ABC&T's 10 Recommended Albums For Beginners

"So where's the gods-darned beginners list of albums?" you wonder, probing at feelings of anticipation and excitement. Calm down, we can't just give you a list of 10 albums - or we could, but we thought we'd give it a little more substance. Instead of just posting a list, we've added a little description for each album so that you can figure out which ones sound the most interesting and which have the most appeal to you personally. We've also written up some personal comments for each album.

The list is as follows :
  1. Yes - Close to the Edge (1972)
  2. Genesis - Selling England By The Pound (1973)
  3. Gentle Giant - Octopus (1972)
  4. Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973)
  5. Camel - Mirage (1974)
  6. Wishbone Ash - Argus (1972)
  7. Rush - Moving Pictures (1981)
  8. Pink Floyd - Animals (1977)
  9. Comus - First Utterance (1971)
  10. Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick (1972)

And here are our descriptions and comments!

PS! I've now added links for easy sampling under each album art picture. Last.FM links take you to a page where you can listen to 30 secs samples of some or all of the songs on the album. Spotify links are even more ideal and give limitless full-length access to everything on that album at 160 kbps mp3 quality for free, all nice and legal. Clicking a Spotify link will open the album in your spotify program.

Yes - Close to the Edge (1972)

Listen to it on : Spotify

On Site Reviews :

Yes is an english prog band who formed in London in 1968. They're one of the biggest and most renowned bands from the early prog movement and their album "Close to the Edge" (their fifth) is generally regarded as their finest record. It touches on heavy philosophical themes like life, rebirth and renewal with confidence and ease and is an album full of vibrant dynamics and beauty. Thematic shifts, melodies building up and unravelling, fast passages opening up to gentler parts with floating harmonics - everything is done with expert skill for maximum effect without being over the top. Close to the Edge is widely regarded as one of the best prog albums - if not the best - out there today. An essential must-have for all music enthusiasts!

Our Comments :
Anteater : Nobody really knew what a progressive rock masterpiece was until Close to the Edge hit shelves, and few things equal it even after 30+ years. As close to perfect as it gets!
Boo Boo : The band's magnum opus, the title track alone has enough hooks, twists and turns that if you were to chop it up into 12 different songs they would all still be just as good on their own. One of my top 10 albums of all time.
Comus : This album is a must have for me, there's always something new, especially the epic title track. Maybe not for beginners, but there is enough crossover appeal that should make this a good listen for anyone.
toretorden : This essential album is so dynamic, beautiful and full of life. If I get to listen to one album just before I die, I want this to be it.

Genesis - Selling England by the Pound (1973)

Listen to it on : Spotify / Last.FM

On Site Reviews :

Those who don't know prog probably knows Genesis as the rock band fronted by Phil Collins and they've certainly gained a bad rep over the years. However, there was a time when Genesis was one of the most exciting acts of the prog movement. Their songs rather than their skills as musicians took center stage and their musicality and songwriting skills coupled with then frontman Peter Gabriel's over the top on-stage theatrics earned them a following which has lasted and gained them fans to this day. Their efforts then now sit comfortably as some of the biggest influences on the genre. Their fifth album "Selling England by the Pound" is widely regarded as their top album and mixes progressive rock with pop accessibility for a powerful result. It is one of the most essential prog albums you can get your hands on.

Our Comments :
Anteater : I may not be English, but that doesn't change the fact that Selling England... is a majestic piece of work from start to finish.
Boo Boo : This is indeed their best work. The Cinema Show is their most beautiful song, the acoustic guitar harmonies alone could hook you, but the way they could pile on one goregeous melody after another is just astonishing.
Comus : Along with Foxtrot this is one of the best examples of what progressive rock is all about. Highly recommended.
toretorden : Not one of my highest ranking prog records, but damn fine album all the same. Peter Gabriel is a weirdo.

Gentle Giant - Octopus (1972)

Listen to it on : Spotify / Last.FM

On Site Reviews : / /

Gentle Giant is one of the more eclectic bands on our list. The original lineup featured 5 multi-instrumentalists and one drummer, 3 of which were the Shulman brothers Phil, Derek and Ray. The band is known for their unique, peculiar sound, broad musical skills, vast creativity and musical complexity - even for prog! They were quite consistent with the quality of their recordings as well and have no less than 7 albums (7 first) generally regarded as gems that litter various best of lists over prog albums. Their weird and often slightly whimsical sound kept them in the background compared to acts like Yes, Jethro Tull and King Crimson, but their influence among proggers is widely celebrated. Just which of their 7 greats is the best is disputed, but we put on the list an album which we all love, their fourth album Octopus - a musical journey full of strange and unique delights.

Our Comments :
Anteater : Eclectic weirdness at it's most rambunctious and pop-friendly best.
Boo Boo : One of progs most weird and eclectic bands, this is certainly the album to start with. If Lewis Carroll had a rock band, it would probably sound like this.
Comus : Vocal hooks, melodic hooks, great solos, great quirks and more fun than bullseyeing swamp rats in your T-16.
toretorden : As I've mentioned before, this album has more twists and turns than a bucket of eels and more hooks than hellraiser. One of my favourites!

Caravan - For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night (1973)

On Site Reviews :

The lighthearted and easygoing Caravan is an early prog band from Canterbury and was conceived by former members of the band "The Wilde Flowers" sometime after it disbanded in 1967, an event which also gave birth to their much celebrated contemporaries Soft Machine. Both bands became key figures in what is now known as the Canterbury scene, but while Soft Machine eventually traveled down the route of improvisational prog-jazz, Caravan headed in an arguably more accessible pop/rock direction with folk and jazz influences. Their third album "In the Land of Grey and Pink" from 1971 is regarded a staple Canterbury album, but perhaps just as good is their fifth and criminally underrated album "For Girls Who Grow Plump in the Night" from 1973, one of prog's more accessible albums. Playful songs about themes like sunshine, love and even some sex makes it a catchy, unique and thrilling feelgood experience from start to finish.

Our Comments :
Anteater : The hardest-rocking of all Canterbury albums by far, and among the most fun to listen to as well.
Boo Boo : Finally, Caravan decide to rock out. And boy they can really jam. This is certainly one of the dirtiest prog albums you'll ever hear.
Comus : This proves that Canterbury can hold it's own against pretty much all the other prog movements, and probably surpass it too. Criminally underrated.
toretorden : This is the first canterbury album to thoroughly seduce me and make me fall in love with it. I still want to have it's children. It's oh so feelgood and confidently balances the perfect equilibrium between pop and prog.
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