For Christmas 1971 , my 11 year old brother received a present from me of a record album , on the surface not the least remarkable … except that it was Meddle by Pink Floyd, containing the 18 minute long opus , “Echoes”. Not your standard fare for fifth grade “show and tell “. I mention this only to illustrate how seriously many of the post-British Invasion bands were approaching the rock idiom , and by 1972 this “progressive “ rock movement had matured with spectacular results both artistically and commercially .
As early as the Moody Blues’ 1968 Days of Future Passed, which was the result of a combination of new technology ( the Mellotron , which crudely emulated choral and orchestral sounds ) and desperation , an increasing number of British and European bands expanded rock’s canvas musically and lyrically without the slightest consideration to the pop hit mainstream . King Crimson’s stunning debut in 1969 , In the Court of the Crimson King , inspired others such as fellow Londoners YES to release Close to the Edge less than a year after their breakthrough album Fragile . While not normally considered a prog-rock band , Traffic nevertheless had their biggest seller in 1972 , The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys , built around the 11 minute hypnotic title song which featured electronically synthesized saxophone , while Trilogy from Emerson , Lake , and Palmer and Foxtrot from the Peter Gabriel-led Genesis had critics raving and cash registers ringing . Of course , all of this would culminate in Spring 1973 with the incomparable Pink Floyd album The Dark Side of the Moon , an iconic masterpiece which long ago threw off any binds imparted by categorization as progressive rock , but not before both Jethro Tull’s Thick As a Brick and the Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn would each rack up #1 international sales in 1972 . To recognize this 40th anniversary year of Progressive Rock’s high watermark , you will find exclusive interviews about these albums , by these bands , now and throughout this year here by clicking the tab “Audio Archive ” . – Redbeard