Last week, Ayreon released their epic (is there any other kind with the band?) new record, “‘Electric Castle Live And Other Tales.” A record that MV’s Bernard was looking forward to so much that he got the pre-order, signed if you don’t mind!
And, if what they do defies any genre, then there is certainly a prog feel to their work. It seemed like a good time to sit down with main man Arjen Lucassen to discuss his favourite prog albums.
And there are some cracking ones here too.
Rush – Permanent Waves
I’ve been a huge fan of Rush ever since I heard their concept album 2112 back in 1976, which was a huge influence for me. This was also the time that live albums sounded more exciting than studio albums, and All the World’s a Stage was no exception. As a prog head I also really like Hemispheres as well, and of course Moving Pictures. I nevertheless pick Permanent Waves. Simply because for me it has the best songs with the most memorable melodies, and it stood the test of time. It was made just on the edge before the cold, digitalized 80’s set in. The melodies, lyrics and production are amazing.
Track: Freewill – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7bbdIU95zM
Pink Floyd – Wish you were here
For me, the holy trinity of bands is The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. I know members of Floyd don’t consider themselves to be a prog band, and yes… they are definitely an entirely different band than for instance the more complex Yes and Genesis. Wish you were Here is the perfect album for me, it has no weak moments. I mainly like it because of David Gilmour’s warm voice and melodic guitar, and also definitely because of the highly underrated Rick Wright with his tasteful keyboard playing and timeless analog sounds. I wish I could make an album like that, all atmospheric and interesting till the end.
Track: Shine on you Crazy Diamond – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE2GZ2Vpqjo
Jethro Tull – Thick as a Brick
I’ve loved Jethro Tull ever since I first heard Benefit in 1970. But When Thick as a Brick came out in 1972 I was completely hooked! Mainly because of the great lyrics, vocals and flute playing of Ian Anderson. It was such an adventurous album, also with a lot of humor. And the amazing newspaper sleeve with the lyrics and lots of ‘pythonesque’ jokes topped it all off! The whole album consisted of just one long complicated track of over 40 minutes with lots of strange time signatures and mood changes… what more can a proggie like me wish for?
Track… obviously… Thick as a Brick. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9bk2MrMGaA
Camel – Moonmadness
I discovered Camel with their 2nd album Mirage back in 1974. I remember I picked it up at the record store, just because I liked the sleeve with the camel cigarette logo. It features some great classic tracks, Lady Fantasy being the absolute highlight. Yet I pick Moonmadness which came out later in 1976, because I think it’s a more consistent album without any weak moments. I mainly like Camel because of the beautiful flute and guitar melodies of the amazing Andy Latimer. I’ve also always loved voices with weird effects on them, like for instance through a Leslie speaker. The beautiful hand-drawn artwork topped it all off.
Track: Song within a Song – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYyLbZrKvTA
Hawkwind – Hallo of the Mountain Grill
I became aware of Hawkwind in 1971 when they released In Search of Space. Being a big sci-fi lover I picked up the album because of its spacey album cover. I was totally hooked on their live album Space Ritual. I love the groovy rhythms, swirling synth sounds, spacey concepts and the voice of Dave Brock, with whom I’ve had the pleasure to closely work with years later. As a favorite album however I pick Hall of the Mountain Grill because (together with Warrior on the Edge of Time) it features the most memorable tracks. And of course the inimitable Lemmy was still on board the eternal space ship!
Track: Psychedelic Warlords – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BZxVecwtPo
You can buy the new Ayreon album here: