Psychedelic albums and performances saw a shift towards new genre in early 70s that combined presentations of music, lyrics, and visuals. Tired of dancing and head banging, audience found more meaning in progressive rock. The lyrics followed a deeper meaning, psychological phenomenon, philosophies, literature and even epic themes. Away from nihilism, violence, sex, and rebellion, prog rock absorbed classical literature, folklore, and intellectual topics such as psychological theories. For example, Pink Floyd’s Animals was inspired from George Orwell’s Animal Farm; Pound’s Genesis’ Selling England was based on T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land; and Rush’s “2112” was influenced by Ayn Rand’s Anthem. Banco del Mutuo Soccorso gave Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution a touch of rock. To rank the best, here is the list of top 10 progressive rock bands.
10. Emerson, Lake and Palmer:
ELP stands out for their blending of classical music with prog. Punk rock fans might find ELP like some 70s law firm than a rock band. But, in view of the fact that punk style had influenced the prog rock, it’s impossible not to put the band among the top 10. Their best works including Karn Evil 9, Lucky Man, and Fanfare For The Common Man.
After its formation in 2001, Riverside became one of the most critically acclaimed prog bands. Their fame heightened with 2004’s ‘Out Of Myself’ and 2005’s ‘Second Life Syndrome,’ for which the band won several awards including the award for best debut album from ‘MetalHammer’ for ‘Out Of Myself’. Riverside songs are born out of experimenting with atmospheric rock and metal elements. That’s why, the band shares similarity in style to Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, The Mars Volta, Dream Theater, and even with Tool. That sounds like a remix of multiple popular bands, but Riverside has successfully maintained their separate identity, which has earned them a place in this list.
8. The Mars Volta:
Some of you might argue that the Mars Volta isn’t a strictly prog rock band, but you can’t deny that the band has been extremely popular in drawing huge crowds to all their live performances. Formed in 2001, the band has been named as the ‘Best prog-Rock Band’ and also won a Grammy award for the Best Hard Rock Performance for their song Wax Simulacra.
7. King Crimson:
With its debut album released in 1969, ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’ made the band popular from the very first day. This is why King Crimson is considered as the foundational progressive rock band. Their compositions derive influences from diverse musical genres including folk music, jazz, psychedelic, classical, and experimental hard rock and heavy metal. In addition to The Court Of The Crimson King, other remarkable album collections includes Red, Larks’ Tongues In Aspic, and In The Wake Of Poseidon.
6. Porcupine Tree:
While listening to Porcupine Tree, you’ll sense a great resemblance of their musical compositions to that of Pink Floyd and Marillion. ‘In Absentia’ was the album that marked the band’s journey as a progressive rock band. Previous to this, songs like ‘Stupid Dream and ‘Lightbulb Sunes,’ too carried a hint of the genre, even though not truly progressive. The band started with psychedelic rock, but later saw a shifted to prog rock.
Perhaps, the center of attraction of Yes is their bassist Chris Squire. Without any doubt, the group’s early 70s performance stands out and the group has recorded some of the greatest moments in progressive rock history. Close To The Edge, Fragile, and their comeback album, Owner Of A Lonely Heart in 1983, are the best pieces from their repertoire.
Critics still argue over the ranking of Rush among popular prog rock bands. However, if you have listened to them, you know that this Canadian trio has got an intense and enthusiastic fan following. The band has maintained the same line-up since 1975. Drummer, Neil Peart, is the choice of people as the greatest drummer on the planet. The band is still working on more ammo to get to the top.
3. Jethro Tull:
Jethro Tull’s musical consistency listed the band among the best progressive rock bands of all times. They reached fame with albums like Thick As a Brick, A Passion Play, Ministrel in the Gallery, Songs From the Woods. The soul of the band is Ian Anderson, a music genius, skilled in playing several instruments, a writer, and performer on the stage. Jethro Tull’s Aqualung gave birth to flute-driven prog rock on the commercial stage. With 23 albums under their belt, the band tours the world passionately. In 1987, they beat Metallica and their album, ‘Crest of a Knave’, bagged the Grammy Award for the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental.
Prog rock was pushed to another level with new generation of artists. Tool defiantly defines 1990s prog. These guys have been together for the past two decades and have composed masterpieces that have earned them a prominent place in the history of prog rock. The band has also garnered huge critical acclaim for several albums including the Lateralus and 10,000 days.
1. Pink Floyd:
Pink Floyd still stands at the top of the list. Some of the best prog albums came from the pioneers of progressive rock: Pink Floyd. No other band could deliver what this fabulous band did with its massively popular albums like Animals, Dark Side of the Moon, and The Wall, and Shine on You Crazy Diamond. The exploration of abstract was well received by people, and even today, the younger generations find their music inspirational and unmatched.