Playlist #4

~ I still remember the day I walked into my brother’s room and he had Liquid Tension Experiment blasting out of his computer’s speakers. I instantly forgot what reason I had come into his domain, what I was going to ask of him, if anything, and listened. It had me reeling. It was Acid Rain. And it changed everything.

L.T.E. (the 2nd album was what we were listening to at the time, which my brother had stumbled upon via internet happenstance) was the band that provided a gateway into prog rock. Strangely enough, it was from them that my brother and I found all the classics. The classics of progressive rock, as it were. Meaning rock n’ roll featuring more in-depth and complex instrumentation, absurd breakdowns and song lengths, and lyrics of high fantasy and the acid-laden half-dreams of superstar musicians within their prime. This wide-ranging genre was born in the 1960s and 1970s with bands like Yes, Jethro Tull, Genesis, Rush, and Pink Floyd and has continued into modernity with Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree.

This playlist features the highlights and cornerstones of my adolescent journey into the realms of prog. It started here; it didn’t end here. {It never will.}

Liquid Tension ExperimentAcid Rain ~ *absolutely immobilized unto attention by the insane instrumentation* A super group formed out of the members of King Crimson and Dream Theater, they are a cross-over of superpowered musicians just having fun. Which seems quite common among all these bands: The music tells a story all its own, and it could never be made from anything other than loving hands.

{*that guitar*} courtesy of John Petrucci

YesRoundabout ~ The bass-line slaps you into oblivion and you’ll never recover, ever. Not even after the song ends… Nothing will ever be the same for you. You are welcome.

I’ll be the round about
The words will make you out ‘n’ out

Jethro TullThick as a Brick ~ This song/album changed everything. A concept album. Perfect blend of lyricism and musicianship, blocked into coherent storytelling. I’ll never grow tired of that crawling, easy introductory guitar.

I may make you feel but I can’t make you think

GenesisDancing with the Moonlit Knight ~ More surprising sounds from a song that keeps changing, keeps shifting its tone from one of melancholy to bombastic

Time goes by, it’s “the time of your life”

Rush2112 ~ Another concept album. About an ancient alien race and the power of music to change the world. This is my favorite Rush song, and one of my favorite songs in general.

And the meek shall inherit the earth

Pink Floyd ~ Brain Damage ~ Few words can speak to this band or this album, The Dark Side of the Moon. It must be listened to in its entirety. Soundscapes for space, transcendent and eternal. I wish I could go back in time to ’73 and see this performed live. Floyd is for all-time.

There’s someone in my head but it’s not me

Porcupine TreeAnasthetize ~ PT was a foray into modern prog rock. Led by another Brit genius in Steven Wilson, they capture the melancholia of everyday existence with groovy, slow burns of blazing keys and ambient riffs. They don’t have any bad albums.

I simply am not here
No way I should appear happy

Dream TheaterOverture 1928 + Strange Deja Vu ~ Scenes from a Memory was the first CD that I ever uploaded to my iTunes, borrowed from a friend. DT would become one of my favorite bands, and this album showcases them at their best. Once again *that guitar*, and just like with L.T.E., once again it is John Petrucci.

What a pleasant nightmare
And I can’t wait to get there again