Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Top 50 Progressive Rock Albums

Progressive Rock:

The Top 50 Albums

Progressive rock is one of the most beloved and ridiculed of rock music’s sub genres. As a hilarious piece at says, it is “categorized by a sacking of traditional song structure, complex rhythms, odd time signatures,” and insane song lengths betraying the creators’ lack of awareness of when to stop a song.

The players tend to be average singers and extremely skilled musicians, often working with wacky instruments. As the piece amusingly states, it is “the only rock genre in which the term ‘flute solo’ has any meaning.”

Also prevalent are a propensity toward concept albums built on half-baked themes and philosophy. There tends to be plenty of drug inspiration and “a sense of inherent superiority over other rock genres.”

All kidding aside, it is a difficult genre to absorb. The stereotypes detailed at lean toward the truth more often than not, but prog rock is largely defined by not being definable. It is an experimental form which doesn’t play by the rules.

Depending on where you fall on the spectrum of loving or hating prog rock, you can use this list either as a guide to what should be in your collection or what to avoid at all costs. Either way, here’s hoping you get something out of the list. Note: this list was created by compiling more than 25 prog-rock lists (see links at bottom of page) into one aggregate.

Check out other best-of-genre/category lists here.

1. Yes Close to the Edge (1972)
2. King Crimson In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
3. Jethro Tull
Thick As a Brick (1972)
4. Genesis Selling England by the Pound (1973)
5. Rush 2112 (1976)
6. Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1974)
7. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
8. Yes Fragile (1971)
9. Jethro Tull Aqualung (1971)
10. Emerson, Lake & Palmer Brain Salad Surgery (1973)

11. Van Der Graaf Generator Pawn Hearts (1971)
12. Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here (1975)
13. Pink Floyd The Wall (1979)
14. Genesis Foxtrot (1972)
15. Yes The Yes Album (1971)
16. Kansas Leftoverture (1976)
17. King Crimson Red (1974)
18. King Crimson Larks’ Tongues in Aspic (1973)
19. Marillion Misplaced Childhood (1985)
20. Rush Moving Pictures (1981)

21. Mike Oldfield Tubular Bells (1973)
22. Yes Relayer (1974)
23. Rush A Farewell to Kings (1977)
24. Gentle Giant Octopus (1972)
25. Camel Mirage (1974)
26. Pink Floyd Animals (1977)
27. Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention We’re Only in It for the Money (1968)
28. Emerson, Lake & Palmer Emerson, Lake & Palmer (1970)
29. The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed (1967)
30. Caravan In the Land of Gray and Pink (1971)

31. Rush Permanent Waves (1980)
32. Rush Hemispheres (1978)
33. Gentle Giant In a Glass House (1973)
34. Queensrÿche Operation: Mindcrime (1988)
35. Dream Theater Scenes from a Memory (Metropolis Part 2) (1999)
36. Pink Floyd Meddle (1971)
37. Tangerine Dream Phaedra (1974)
38. Porcupine Tree In Abstentia (2002)
39. Kraftwerk Autobahn (1974)
40. Dream Theater Images and Words (1992)

41. Marillion Script for a Jester’s Tear (1983)
42. Gong You (Radio Gnome Invisible Pt. 3) (1974)
43. Tool Ænima (1996)
44. Supertramp Crime of the Century (1974)
45. Peter Gabriel So (1986)
46. Radiohead OK Computer (1997)
47. Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel 3 (aka “Melt”) (1980)
48. Frank Zappa Hot Rats (1969)
49. Queensrÿche Empire (1990)
50. Camel The Snow Goose (1973)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 7/2/2011; last updated 1/25/2024.

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