There’s a fun article in Pop Matters called Ten Songs From 1967 That Shaped Prog-Rock. Writer Sean Murphy knocks out his reasons for songs you might not expect to have any bearing on Progressive Rock, like The Beach Boys’ “Heroes & Villains,” which he put at number one. I agree with his choice, although he didn’t give much rational for his decision, instead concentrating on Brian Wilson’s struggles to get it done. But the Gothic theme, renaissance vocal polyphony, and multiple segments, mixed with Beach Boys surf modes, were brilliant. Murphy intentionally leaves out the obvious choice of any tunes from The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, but makes a lot of other great selections like Love, Procol Harum and The Moody Blues. Their are many other selections he could’ve made. Here’s a few:
The Bee Gees’ “Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You” from The Bee Gees 1st. Mellotrons, Gregorian chants, poignant harmonies, what else do you want? A Prog Mini-masterpiece before its time. What went wrong with them?
United States of America “Garden of Earthly Delights” from United States of America. Lightning rhythm shifts, screaming electric violin, electronics before synths. The lost link to Prog.
Jimi Hendrix “Third Stone from the Sun” from Are You Experienced? Do I need to say anything? Jazz changes, multiple sections, Star Trek allusions, tripped out spoken word segments make this a prog blueprint. This is the Hendrix song that is also the most quoted in guitar solos.
The Rolling Stones “2000 Light Years from Home” from Their Satanic Majesty’s Request. The Stones trippiest song that was listenable. Even this live performance video from their 1989 tour shows them playing this sci-fi rumination straight, if a bit amped up, from it’s musique concrète open to it’s 2001: A Space Odyssey imagery.
There’s a few more songs that shaped progressive rock from 1967, a seminal year by any standards. There’s a lot more out there I suspect.
~John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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