10 Greatest Progressive Rock Bands of All Time

Rock and roll has never been known as the most complicated genre. When things started in the early 50s, all you needed was a basic understanding of 12-bar blues to get by in any decent rock band. Once the 60s started to unravel, it was time for bands to start disrupting the structure of what rock and roll was.

Rather than sticking with your traditional rock basics, these are the artists who bucked the trends and opted for much more complex songs that no one had ever heard before. That meant songs that spanned much longer lengths, jaw-dropping solos from everyone involved, and a whole mess of different time signatures to work with. As technical as some of these songs may sound, the prog doesn’t really get enough credit for how much it opened the floodgates for the rest of us.

Of course, not all of us are planning on doing another 9 part sequel and making an album that would blow the heads of a plebs. Again, the seeds that were planted by these bands gave the rest of the rock scene free rein to try whatever they wanted when the time demanded it. It might be a little hard to understand at first, but it’s the kind of music where it’s worth doing your homework as a musician.

Any band that even thinks about going the progressive route must have some level of confidence in their instrument. While it can be fun to string together a few song ideas and call it a sequel, you still need to be pretty good behind your instrument to keep it going. And as the progressive rock revolution began, Yes was practically the rock and roll answer to classical music.

In the age of the vinyl record, flipping through albums like Going for the One or Close to the Edge is more like listening experiences to a classic track, with expansive sections that sometimes exceeded the 10-minute mark. It takes a lot to make a track this long interesting, and Steve Howe has found a way by bringing together some of the most offbeat guitar parts and fitting them under one roof.

That’s not to downplay the rest of the band either, with Chris Squire’s incredible bass playing catchy songs like Roundabout and Jon Anderson’s searing vocals sitting like a sonic bed above it all. Yeah, they don’t get the credit they deserve for bridging the gap with next-gen either, opting for the ’80s update to their sound on tracks like Owner of a Lonely Heart. When other bands tried to chase trends, the more technical bands never really went out of fashion.

Virginia F. Goins