No one is going to walk into a progressive rock album and expect to hear songs that are going to play all over the radio. From the birth of the genre, it was the kind of music that was supposed to not even hit the charts, seeking to move rock and roll into the same realm as something like classical music or jazz. Things were definitely moving beyond the Chuck Berry days, and these bands weren’t shy about being more ambitious.
Throughout each of these songs, you’re not going to find the traditional verse chorus structure anytime soon. Building their songs almost like architecture, each of these tracks feels much larger, bringing together the traditional rock and roll ensemble with everything from orchestras to choral arrangements, all to create songs that are far grander than anything. elsewhere in the genre.
While these songs aren’t necessarily for the impatient, they’re not really meant to grab you from the first second you hear them. These are songs that are meant to spread out, creating some of the most intricate plays in the world of rock and carving together rock and roll masterpieces. The party was over, and now we had songs that were meant to take you on a trip through your headphones.
While rock and roll was taking its first steps in the 60s, progressive rock still didn’t really have a name. King Crimson were still working on what they wanted their project to be, and even the first iteration of Genesis was more along the lines of baroque pop than anything progressive. The track had yet to be charted and Pete Townshend actually dabbled in something outside of mainstream rock on A Quick One.
While this whole album was supposed to have a kind of Democratic quality to the songwriting, Townshend managed to squeeze some of the best hooks of his career into this single song, and took his time doing it too. Spanning 9 minutes, this closer album is 4 songs for the price of one, moving from one to the next in quick succession. Each of them may have worked alone as a big choir, but they work so much better together, giving the track an almost lyrical quality that wouldn’t see its full potential until Tommy’s release a few years later.
There’s even a bit of ironic humor in it all, like when they couldn’t afford a string section at the end and decide to sing the word “cello” instead just to complete the sound of the final movement. Are forgiven. Rock was definitely progressing, but Townshend managed to give it an extra boost with this album. The first record had set the standard for punk, and that’s when we started to see what the power of rock and roll could really do.