Okay, so my top pick for 2012 is Big Big Train’s English Electric (Part One). I’m the old-timer who’s not drinking from the fire hose, so there’s not a full list coming. Sorry. I’m still working slowly with early to middle Spock’s Beard, sipping and savoring. I’ll get back to you on that.
But since I don’t have a list (and since the world did not end yesterday), here’s a quick reminder of what kind of year was coming to a close at this time forty years ago. THE prog album of 1972 was, of course, Close to the Edge (Yes). But I thought it might be interesting to some of you to remember what else came out during the year of Watergate.
Having jogged my memory with some careful research (i.e., a few minutes on Wikipedia) here’s my list (alphabetical by artist) of favored prog and (arguably) prog-related albums from that heady year, excluding Yes’ aforementioned masterpiece (this sentence didn’t have enough parenthetical comments, so here’s one more):
- David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
- Edgar Winter Group, They Only Come Out at Night (if only for “Frankenstein”)
- Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Trilogy
- Genesis, Foxtrot (Ok, I’d definitely put this at number 2)
- Gentle Giant, Three Friends AND Octopus
- Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick AND Living in the Past
- King Crimson, Earthbound
- Pink Floyd, Obscured by Clouds
- Lou Reed, Transformer
- Roxy Music, Roxy Music
- Strawbs, Grave New World
- Uriah Heep, Demons and Wizards AND The Magician’s Birthday
- Wishbone Ash, Argus (yes, this falls under the “arguably prog-related,” IMHO)
To put some broader perspective on it, that was about when pop radio was dominated by Summer Breeze (Seals and Crofts). Frank Zappa was moving from the quasi-prog of the early Mothers closer to jazz with Waka/Jawaka and The Grand Wazoo. Todd Rundgren scored big with Something/Anything? (his bend toward prog was coming soon). Bebop Deluxe, Captain Beyond, Devo, Oingo Boingo, Pavlov’s Dog, Steely Dan, and Styx were all formed that year. If, like me, you recall early “Jesus rock,” that was also the year that Petra was born. Other non-prog landmarks from 1972 include Paul Simon’s amazing eponymous album, ditto from the Eagles, Exile on Main Street (Stones), Harvest (Neil Young), Honky Chateau (Elton John) and Sail Away (Randy Newman).
If this has whetted your appetite for more of a history review, and you prefer having a link to doing your own search, here’s the link. Otherwise, having an especially soft spot for 70’s Wishbone Ash, I recommend you go back and give a listen to Argus again.
Now, back to our regularly-scheduled transition from 2012 to 2013. Watch for BBT’s English Electric (Part Two), coming in March!