Awhile back, I looked at progarchives.com's list of the Top 100 progressive rock albums as chosen by their readers, and some things about their list jump right out at me.
One thing is how many of those top 100 albums just aren't prog.
While their list includes many of the Usual Suspects you'd expect (sometimes in some odd places), a good portion of the list is taken up by stuff that ... probably shouldn't be there. Of course, I think any definition of "prog" is better too-open than not-open-enough. But still....
I haven't heard everything on the list -- but I've heard more than a third of the albums mentioned, and I know most of the rest either by bits-and-pieces listening or by reputation. And....
Almost a dozen albums on the list are clearly jazz-rock fusion -- prog-related, similar approach, spacey enough, but not prog. One album is just jazz -- Miles Davis's KIND OF BLUE. But that's from 1959, and though it may have been progressive for jazz listeners then, it sure ain't rock.
About 10 of the selections are that "extreme prog-metal" stuff, which means I'll never hear them. There's a scattering of Italian artists like PFM, Banco and Le Orme. I'll probably never hear those either.
Two albums are by Santana. Three are by Frank Zappa -- one of those isn't even jazzy.
It's an interesting list. Progarchives' readers have clearly listened a lot. To be counted in the list, albums had to receive enough ratings by readers to be "statistically meaningful" -- in this case, at least 250 ratings. Some albums have over 3,000 votes.
Even the top of the list has some oddities: Four Genesis albums in the Top 40 -- three in the top 12. Four Yes albums in the top 41 -- three in the top 11. Van der Graaf Generator makes the Top 10, and has four albums in the top 52.
Pink Floyd has three titles in the Top 10, four in the top 32. THE WALL doesn't make the Top 100. One of many instances, I think, where fans either "love it or hate it."
King Crimson has two albums in the Top 10, and another in the Top 20. Rush has three albums in the Top 30, and another at Number 43.
Camel has two albums in the Top 20, and THE SNOW GOOSE only made it to Number 47. Gentle Giant has four albums in the top 56 -- none higher than IN A GLASS HOUSE at Number 23.
There are lots of surprises here -- one is THE WALL not making the list, after high ratings for other Floyd albums in the same period. The Floyd's PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN isn't here -- in fact, there's no psychedelia at all. SGT. PEPPER isn't here, either. Maybe that explains why there's also no Moody Blues albums.
The only ELP album mentioned is their first -- which sneaks in at Number 67. I thought BRAIN SALAD SURGERY was a big fave -- but again, likely a victim of "love it or hate it."
Though Caravan is listed twice, there's a shortage of Canterbury-style stuff. No Soft Machine. Robert Wyatt's ROCK BOTTOM snuck in at 54. Hatfield and the North's first makes the 100 -- but the slightly-less-weird ROTTER'S CLUB isn't mentioned.
No Can. No TUBULAR BELLS -- though Mike Oldfield's OMMADAWN is here, bit of a surprise. No Alan Parsons? No middle-period Al Stewart? Hey, he was progressive enough....
Maybe the biggest surprise to me is that Khan's SPACE SHANTY -- with Steve Hillage on guitar and Dave Stewart on keybs -- is here at Number 68. Might have to track that one down. There's one Gong album listed -- YOU -- but no other Hillage works. And though the Hatfields' first is listed, there's no other albums with Stewart -- nothing by National Health or Egg or Bruford. This may guide me in future buying decisions.
Again, it's an interesting list. It's an interesting website, with some well-thought-out reviews of prog albums. It's true that their Top 100 doesn't reflect my experience with prog, but as they say in the commercials, "Your mileage may vary."
I just think there's more to prog than this.
Their list has also forced me to come up with my own list of the Top 100 prog albums I've managed to get all the way through over the years. That list will be coming soon....