Much to my shame, I have listened little to the latest offerings from the eclectic world of prog. I am currently working on changing this bad habit of mine, but I confess it has been difficult, as I still have many obscure gems to unearth (and I will continue my list soon – I promise!). Anyway, in no particular order, here are my top ten obscure prog artists (out of an ongoing list currently standing at thirty-four):
- Cathedral – Stained Glass Stories: the first album review I ever wrote for Progarchy just so happened to concern one of the better obscure gems I have discovered thus far, a symphonic masterpiece evocative of Yes or Genesis.
- Universe – Universe: psychedelia mixed with a dash of Christianity makes for a rare but beautiful bird of an album in the rich world of 1970s music.
- Alloy Now – Twin Sister of the Milky Way: space prog at its finest. Major Tom would have been better off if he had this album on his final journey through the heavens.
- Jan Dukes de Grey – Mice and Rats in the Loft: Nursery Cryme‘s obscure cousin, an album both comical and horrifying at the same time. Also, Derek Noy shreds on twelve-string guitar. Shreds.
- Island – Pictures: a cover designed by Giger and music blending the darkness of Van der Graaf Generator with the dexterity of Gentle Giant? These chaps certainly offer one of the more complex obscurities out there.
- Hands – Hands: America’s answer to Gentle Giant. But these chaps are no copy cats: they are top notch musicians who gave to the world their own idiosyncratic sound.
- Lift – Caverns of Your Brain: a superb effort by a group of young American musicians. Aficionados of symphonic and space prog will love this gem.
- Fruupp – The Prince of Heaven’s Eyes: as a chap of Irish descent, I suppose I have a soft spot for young Mud Flanagan and his adventures. And if this band were talented enough to open for Queen and King Crimson back in the day, they’re probably worth a listen or two.
- Touch – Touch: one of those groups that could have been a contender: Jimi Hendrix and Mick Jagger were fans. Alas, it was not to be. But thanks to YouTube, you can listen for free to some incredible vocals and even more impressive work on the keyboards.
- Circus – Circus: Mel Collins in the days before he was cool (I joke of course; Mel Collins has always been cool). But it is Mel Collins in the days before King Crimson – and his band, although not entirely original, was really good.
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