It’s Progressive Rock All Over Again

Gentle GiantThis weekend I’ll be guesting on Highs in the 70s: Progressive Rock on WXPN in Philadelphia It’s among a series of irregularly scheduled retro shows they run.  It’s going to be an 8-hour marathon, from 10AM til 6PM on Saturday, January 3. I’ll be in for the first half, Chuck Van Zyl from Star’s End will be on in the second half and the whole thing is being run by WXPN’s Dan Reed and his cohort, Biff Kennedy.

These progressive rock retroscursions are always an interesting exercise for me. I was a progressive rock zealot in the 1970s and that music informs much of what I listen to today and play on Echoes. It keeps coming up in unusual situations with musicians you might never suspect citing progressive rock acts from the 1970s as influences. Ulrich Schnauss can name Tangerine Dream tracks just from the opening applause. Toby Marks of Banco De Gaia lifts mellotron samples inspired by Genesis.  Steve Roach had a poster of Yes‘s Tales from Topographic Oceans in his studio.   The Album Leaf references Neu!, The Dandy Warhols pay homage to Can and everyone bows at the altar of Pink Floyd.

Selling England by the Pound It’s been about 30 years since I last spun Progressive Rock on WXPN’s Diaspar show and I don’t go back and listen to a lot of this music now. Certain artists, like Steve Tibbetts, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno remain in my music life, while others like Genesis, Nektar, and Tangerine Dream have diminished in relevance.  I still enjoy it when I hear it. I just don’t feel compelled to hear it. Rubycon

But I’ll be inundated with it for a few hours this Saturday. Outside of the odd fundraising retro-special on PBS, this may be the widest exposure that Progressive rock has had in the US in about 25 years.  At least, I’m not aware of any major market radio station with an audience of over 300,000 dedicating a lot of time to progressive rock.  I don’t know what music I’ll actually get to, but I’ll have a bag with recordings from Hawkwind, Mike Oldfield, Vangelis, Steve Hillage, Can and many more.

So if you want to take a trip to the fantasyland of prog, tune in to WXPN at 88.5 FM or on-line at

John Diliberto  (((echoes)))

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3 Responses to “It’s Progressive Rock All Over Again”

  1. Mark G.E. Says:

    In the 70’s I was listening to art rock which lead me to punk and new wave. Somehow I avoided much of it until the 90’s. When I did listen, it came after following Miles Davis’ output which lead me to Mahavishnu and then back to the pieces I had missed. From the punk perspective, much of that music was forbidden.

    We definately view ourselves as inspired by prog rock like The Floyd, Neu! and Tangerine Dream. Our last disc, Our Wizards of Earth was our homage to these influences. New Skin was a direct influence from Neu! Fantastic Dream came after really digging Floyd’s Childhood’s End. And of course, we have been guilty of using the sonar beep in numerous pieces.

    I’ve noticed a number of current electronic artists have been looking backwards at prog. It is sort of a retro progressive trend, which in essence defeats the original concept of “progressive” music. I’m interested in finding who is progressive today… Stars of the Lid perhaps?

    We look forward to listening in on XPN. Wishing you a wonderful New Year!

    -Mark GE

  2. Dave M Says:

    I don’t listen to prog rock that much either, new or old, but for me that stuff stands up perfectly well. In fact I’d say the best of it is as good as anything there is. I didn’t get to hear much of the show, but the playlist looks great: Brand X, Can, Weidorje, John Martyn, not to mention my single favorite Floyd and Oldfield tracks! Really takes me back. Thanks!

  3. Mike Visaggio Says:

    Prog is alive and well, and although the mainstream media ignores it, thousands of people show up for prog festivals all over the world and listen to it on internet radio stations like,, and many others. I was amazed to find, when I launched my music project in 2006, just how much incredible prog and fusion is out there vibrantly producing incredible product.
    Please check us out at and get in touch with us. We have been on 17 prog stations, two FM public radio stations, and opened up for several big prog acts. (Big as far as you can be big as a prog band LOL)
    Mike Visaggio
    Keyboards, Kinetic Element

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