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The Birth of Progressive Rock

This column should be started, of course, with the birth of Progressive Rock. Indeed, 1966 with the "Revolver" of The Beatles can be regarded only as an embrionic period. The year was a turning point for the band, when, so tired of the Beatlomania, they gave up the concerts, and the studio works have showed their gigantic growth in comparison with the semi-pop period in the first half of of the '70s. All right, the merits of the Beatles should not be underestimated, for it was them who opened the door to a more complex music. In the second half of the decade the Beatles' style can be marked as an excellent Hard'n'Art, for sure, quite real Proto-progressive, but exactly the true Progressive Rock, two years earlier before the appearance of that genre as a separate flow in Rock Music, was performed by Pink Floyd. How much Syd Barrett, a drug addict, has paid for the creation of the new music, you know well. But it has happened. What was it - the will of Heaven? At all, this musician must have a 'serious' Karma, though maybe this just is what his "earthly" design for? At any rate, it's a pity that Barrett's role in the genesis of Prog Rock is paid almost no attention to.

Within the atmosphere of the albums of that time most of "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" looks like an alien body, so unusual is the music on the album. The "Planetary Mistycizm" intended by Barrett, or confided in him carried in itself something unearthly, mysterious, enigmatic. Up to now I listen to this disc with a great pleasure, and as time goes by it doesn't lose its attractive power. The readers must excuse me, but I personally take "The Dark Side of the Moon" - "the Prog Rock album of all times" for a rather simplified symphonic space rock album where the psychedelia typical of the band's first two albums is mostly redused to a skillful usage of the sound effects, but it is not so inhered in the construction of compositions. Strictly speaking, a psychedelia as it is has disappeared after the "A Sauserful of Secrets" album, mostly composed by Roger Waters under a strong influence of the debut album, and partially of Barret's ideas. The psychodelia looks partially through again on "Animals", although overall, this is the most progressive album by Pink Floyd.

I don't insist, but merely advise, suggest: turn your look back, listen to the first two albums once more. Such things as Interstellar Overdrive (1967) and the titletrack of "A Sauserful of Secrets" will just strike your imagination. And who else from the surrouding performers have approached then such a subtle composition? "Animals" and both the first albums by Pink Floyd still remain the band's most valuable works, although I would not to dispute a powerful impact of the beautyful albums of 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975 and 1979 years, and find them to be almost masterpieces. Each of them sounds simphonic yet very different from a previous one, with those the band has opened up a new horizons for Prog, as well as the new facets of its talents. Last year Prog turned 30... Now it's a grown-up and clever man, that experienced his hard transitional period in the '80s, now standing on his strong feet.

VM (Vitaly Menshikov): October 1998