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Created in the late 60s, fashionable in the early 70s, hated in the late 70s, and ridiculed in the 80s, the rise, fall and rise again of Progressive Rock is a colourful and eventful story. However, many of the genre’s main protagonists – Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and ELP – remain as popular today as ever, while lesser-known names like Camel, Caravan, Renaissance, Van Der Graaf Generator and Gentle Giant still retain cult status.
“Prog” expert Stephen Lambe guides the reader through the early years as the music developed out of the late 60s British Progressive Music boom into its own genre, and reached full maturity with classic albums like Yes’s “Close to the Edge” and Genesis’ “Selling England By the Pound” in the early 70s. He also discusses how the music was received and adapted outside the UK, particularly in the USA, Italy and Scandinavia.
Received wisdom has it that Punk swept Progressive Rock away in the late 70s, yet the genre never died. An early 80s revival, spearheaded by major label signings Marillion, IQ and Pallas, burned brightly but fell away sharply later in the decade. However, in the early 90s the movement began to reestablish itself, largely below the radar, led by Swedes The Flower Kings and Americans Spock’s Beard. The rise of the internet and the decline of the worldwide pop industry allowed niche music – as Progressive Rock had now become - to flourish again.
Now a healthy and vibrant Progressive Rock industry exists once more, built around a network of international festivals, retailers and distributors. With the launch of high street magazine “Classic Rock Presents Prog” in 2009, the revival of bands like Yes and ELP and the chart success of Porcupine Tree, it appears that the genre is once again entering the mainstream. Long Live Prog!