Feb 01, 2023, 05:27 PM Last Edit: Apr 25, 2023, 05:01 AM by Trollheart
Not according to me, according to ProgArchives.  I'm going to take the Progarchives' top 10 albums for each year, going back 50 (from last year, obviously) and review them here. But so as not to make it too boring for those not into, say, modern prog or vice versa, I'll begin with 1972 and do the number 10 album on their list from that year, then I'll go for the number 9 from 1973, 8 from 1974 and so on. Over the course, then, of this project, I'll get through a total of 500 albums, many of which - being all in the top ten of each year - you'll know and I'll know, but some I won't.

By the way, I'm not going to do my usual lengthy exploration and explanation of who the artist is or was; these are all top ten albums for each year so you should know them, and if you don't, then go look them up. I've half a thousand albums to get through, so you'll forgive me if I don't put my normal amount of research into these. Also I'm not doing track listings, for the same reason.

Note: Gold Rated tracks is probably obvious - best ones on the album; Silver Rated are good or great but just not standouts while Wood are absolute dross. Anything not shown in any of the three is considered all right but just not good enough to be Silver or Gold and not bad enough to be Wood.

Familiarity index (artist)
1 = Never heard of them or heard anything from them
2 = Heard of them but never heard anything by them
3 = Know of them, have heard one or two of their albums or songs
4 = Know them quite well, have heard some of their albums or songs
5 = Know them very well, have heard many of their albums
6 = Know them extremely well, have heard all or most of their albums

Familiarity index (album)

1 = Never heard of it
2 = Heard of it but have never heard it
3 = Heard it maybe once before
4 = Heard it many times
5 = One of my favourite albums

Next up...


Khan - Space Shanty (1972)
Le Orme - Felona e Sorona (1973)
Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom (1974)
Mike Oldfield - Ommadawn (1975)
Rush - 2112 (1976)
Eloy - Ocean (1977)
Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings (1979)
Peter Gabriel - Peter Gabriel 3/Melt (1980)
Rush - Moving Pictures (1981)
Kenso - Kenso II (1982)

Eskaton - Fiction (1983)
Brian Eno and Harold Budd - The Pearl (1984)
Art Zoyd - Le marriage du ciel et de l'enfer (1985)
Fates Warning Awaken the Guardian (1986)
Voivod - Killing Technology (1987)
Talk Talk - Spirit of Eden (1988)
Fates Warning - Perfect Symmetry (1989)
Psychotic Waltz - A Social Grace (1990)
Death - Human (1991)

#1 Feb 01, 2023, 05:34 PM Last Edit: Feb 12, 2023, 10:19 PM by Trollheart
Right then, let's go. Shimmery visual effects and warped music as we travel all the way back to 1972...

Album title: Space Shanty
Artist: Khan
Nationality: English
Sub-genre: Canterbury Scene
Year: 1972
Position on list for that year: 10
Chronology: 1 of 1
Familiarity with artist: 2
Familiarity with album: 2
Gold Rated track(s): Stranded, Driving to Amsterdam, Hollow Stone
Silver Rated track(s): Stargazers
Wooden Rated track(s): None
Comments: This album looks familiar. I didn't get to 1972 yet in my History of Prog journal, but I think I may be about to get there, and have seen it in the list of albums released that year. Actually, it looks like I'm still mired in 1971 but I'm sure I've seen this album. I can tell you that Gong legend Steve Hillage was in Khan, along with some other Canterbury folk (sorry) and that this was their one and only album. It's relatively short, which may be a good thing for me - just over the three-quarters-of-an-hour mark, with a total of six tracks, some of them obviously quite long. Now, those of you who know me will already know that the Canterbury Scene is not, well, my scene. I've listened to Caravan, Soft Machine, Gong and others and I really did not like what I heard. Goes back to the hippy/psychedelic thing I guess; Hawkwind once wrote that if you want to get into it, you gotta get out of it, and I've never been out of it in my life. In fact, I think it might be hard to find someone who is more consistently in, so trippy albums don't have the same effect on me that they might have on, for example, you. Doesn't mean I'll pan it, but my expectations are a little lower than were I going to review, say, a prog folk or a progressive metal or neo-prog album (no, not in 1972, I know, smartass!) so I'm sort of ready for the worst.

Let's see how bad it is.

It's certainly a product of the seventies, with that staggered guitar that comes through so much in hard rock and early metal, and of course psych; the main vocal melody reminds me of something but I can't place it. Uriah Heep maybe? Not sure. Nice slow organ run is pretty cool and this is of course the opener and title track (with an additional "includes the Cobalt Sequence and the March of the Sine Squadrons") and runs for nine minutes. It's pretty okay actually when the vocals drop out; instrumental work is indeed quite progressive in tone. I have to say, of the Canterbury albums I've listened to (and there have not been that many, but a few certainly) this is far and away the best. "Stranded" is really nice with a sprinkly piano and - oh, it's just broke out into hard guitar and warbling organ. Picking up speed but still nice. Even the vocal doesn't bother me on this. I see Hillage and Nick Greenwood seem to share vocal duties, so maybe I'm listening to a different singer? Anyway it's good and the instrumental passages are glorious. Much better than I had expected. That piano from Dave Stewart really makes the song.

That guitar bit there presages the big hit for the Alan Parsons Project, "Eye in the Sky", or to be more accurate, its instrumental intro, "Sirius". Wonder if Parsons listened to this album, or maybe David Paton did? "Mixed Up Man of the Mountains" has an odd kind of tra-la-la vocal with some truly exceptional guitar, and really, other than the somewhat stuttering start this album has not put a foot wrong since. That sounds like some Cat Stevens in there too, in the guitar riff? Some pretty rocky stuff going on now, as the track acquires teeth whereas up to now it's just been more or less lazily chewing the cud. To carry the analogy, such as it is, further, the song has been up to now cows in a field, until a bull charges in and takes control of the herd. It's heavier, is what I'm saying. And really good. One of the longer tracks, "Driving to Amsterdam" has a quite jazzy peppy uptempo organ running the melody, very breezy with some fine guitar from Hillage, and the vocal is lovely and relaxed, again reminding me of something, or I guess as whatever that something is, it comes well after '72, I should say that something reminds me of this. Well, you know what I mean.

Yeah I know what it is: ELO's "The Whale" and also parts of "Echoes", which in the case of the latter is in fact before this album, if only by a year. Certainly enjoying this. "Stargazers" has a very Van der Graaf Generator vibe to it, could imagine Hammill singing on this one, then the closer is another nine-minuter, with "Hollow Stone (Including Escape of the Space Pirates)" having a very stately kind of marching, almost triumphant feel to it, a low-key vocal and a sonorous organ arrangement. It's no surprise this album is in the top ten, the only surprise really being that it's that low. But then, when you look at the others in that list - Genesis, Tull, Yes - two Bancos? - quite a lot of RPI in fact, like four albums or something - maybe it's not that it's not good enough to get higher, just that other, better-known albums are preventing it from doing so by being voted for more. Does deserve to be a few places up though.

Personal Rating: 10

#2 Feb 01, 2023, 09:21 PM Last Edit: Feb 01, 2023, 10:51 PM by Guybrush
Space Shanty is a fine album even if I don't personally rank it as high as Caravan's finest or the Hatfield and the North albums or Of Queues And Cures by National Health.

It DOES have something of a follow-up as I believe the Steve Hillage album Fish Rising contains music intended for Khan's second release. It is also quite well liked. I have the T-shirt :)

Happiness is a warm manatee

I'm not familiar with this band but I really like the album art!

This is what you want. This is what you get.

#4 Feb 01, 2023, 10:47 PM Last Edit: Feb 01, 2023, 10:50 PM by Guybrush
Dave Stewart who plays the keys here (not the guy from Eurythmics btw) is probably my biggest Canterbury hero :D

I love his stuff. He composed things like this miraculous tune (knowing fully well most may not immediately appreciate it):

.. Including many more wonderful things. He's also been a writer for at least one music magazine and still write for Sound on Sound, I believe. I've read some of his reviews for things I got for my studio.

Also he's published a couple of books on music composition and writing. Of course I had to have them. And he answered on DMs when I bugged him about the inspiration for the track posted above, so was very grateful for that. Overall he just seems like such a smashing guy. <3

Happiness is a warm manatee

Quote from: Guybrush on Feb 01, 2023, 09:21 PMSpace Shanty is a fine album even if I don't personally rank it as high as Caravan's finest or the Hatfield and the North albums or Of Queues And Cures by National Health.

It DOES have something of a follow-up as I believe the Steve Hillage album Fish Rising contains music intended for Khan's second release. It is also quite well liked. I have the T-shirt :)

I'm a big fan of Steve Hillage. If you like ambient electronic stuff his 1979 Rainbow Dome Music album is an absolute treat.

"stressed" is just "desserts" spelled backwards

#6 Feb 03, 2023, 04:40 PM Last Edit: Feb 03, 2023, 09:25 PM by Trollheart
And so we travel a year forward in time, to the heady year of 1973, when Pink Floyd released their seminal Dark Side of the Moon, but at number 9 on the list for this year we find this, our first RPI album, but surely not our last.

Album title: Felona E Sorona
Artist: Le Orme
Nationality: Italian
Sub-genre: Rock Progressivo Italiano
Year: 1973
Position on list for that year: 9
Chronology: 4 of 20 (or 21, see below)
Familiarity with artist: 3
Familiarity with album: 1
Gold Rated track(s): Felona, The Plan, Return to Naught
Silver Rated track(s): None
Wooden Rated track(s): Sorona
Comments: This album appears to have been released both in Italian and English versions, though oddly enough, none of their other twenty albums have been. I don't know if it was just that it was so successful, some sort of breakout album, that it had to be re-recorded for the English-speaking market, or what, but in the same year there are two versions. Truth to tell, there are three versions of this album, another one put out in 2016, which looks like it might be a two-disc version of both Italian and English releases. Guess it must have been really popular. Obviously, for my own sake, I'm going to try to get the English language version if I can. And I can't. Okay, despite YouTube giving me an option to search for the English version the only one that comes up is the Italian one, so I guess for now I'm stuck with that.

This is even shorter than the Khan album, clocking in at just over a half-hour, with the longest track on it being the opener, at nearly nine minutes, but the rest of them are really quite short. An interesting thing, I would think, for an RPI band to decide to do. I guess you can see how Genesis became so popular in Italy, when this kind of thing was going on all over the country. I mean, I'm not sure if RPI came about as a result of, at the same time as, or before Peter and the boys, but there's very definitely an early Genesis feel to this opener, though I do also hear a lot of classical in it, mostly Bach's "Toccata and Fugue". Is it all instrumental I wonder? With a nine-minute opener you'd have to imagine no, but then, some bands have done that. This Winter Machine even have a ten-minute one - but no. There are the vocals now, and though I've no idea what's being sung, the voice is very clear and serene, at least on this track.

Tubular bells I think opening the second track which has, if anything, a very Spanish feel to it, with acoustic (Spanish?) guitar in a sort of singalong rhythm, almost nursery rhyme in its way (Nursery Cryme? All right, TH: enough with the damned comments in brackets! What brackets? Don't play dumb: you know the ones I mean. Oh, those brackets! Yes, those ones) - uh, where was I? Oh yeah. Some flute coming in and a VERY Alan Parsons sound (yes yes I know) with rippling piano and some really nice vocals on "Felona" (which I can't help thinking of felony but I'm sure it's a name or something - the English language version doesn't translate it so that's why I imagine it's a name). Ramping things up for "The Maker", the other "long" track - just shy of six minutes - with a galloping bass line and sort of shots on the keyboard, very dramatic. And then a piece that sounds ripped out of Genesis's "Fountain of Salmacis", though since both albums came out in the same year I don't know who copied who, if anyone, or if it's just coincidence.

Great sort of boogie piano then running along to take us into "Web of Time", a slow, melancholy ballad with another recognisable melody or motif in it, right it's from one of the SKY tracks, the album recorded ten years later, so again, one or the other. Either SKY copied this bit or heard it or, which is more likely, just one of those things. Sounds like a motorbike revving now - guess it's guitar effects - as "Sorona" comes in, and this one is short too, just shy of three minutes. Can't say I particularly like this one honestly. That constant revving sound is very very annoying and it doesn't stop, runs right through the entire track. Maybe it has something to do with the song; don't know and don't care. Next up is "The Plan", coming in on a shimmery descending keyboard line with possibly warped guitar or something and maybe (though I doubt it) something like a theremin? Very spooky and weird, then "The Balance" has again that kind of breezy Spanish or Latin feel, with acoustic guitar and a few blasts on the organ, and a low-key vocal, and we end with "Return to Naught" which seems to be a kind of reprise of the "Toccata" that opened the album.

Overall I'd say this is a decent RPI album, but like with many of them - and not just due, I think, to the language barrier - I find it a little hard to engage fully with it. On repeated listenings I feel it would probably click more with me, but I've 498 albums to go and I don't have the time for repeated listenings. I reckon it probably deserves its place on the list, though I feel there may be better RPI albums out there. Still, Le Orme are one of the giants of the scene, so it would not be fair to ignore that. Be interesting to see if we encounter them again in any future year lists. I'm sure we will.

Personal Rating: 8

QuoteI'm a big fan of Steve Hillage. If you like ambient electronic stuff his 1979 Rainbow Dome Music album is an absolute treat.

i like that one a lot!!! jftr he spells music with a ck musick which i think gives it a cool witchy vibe imo

trolls i wish you would also rank the album 1-10 or 1 to 5 stars or something

reading it - the entire time i thinking well should i listen to it or not

Quote from: TheNonSexual OccultHawk on Feb 03, 2023, 04:59 PM
QuoteI'm a big fan of Steve Hillage. If you like ambient electronic stuff his 1979 Rainbow Dome Music album is an absolute treat.

i like that one a lot!!! jftr he spells music with a ck musick which i think gives it a cool witchy vibe imo

Ah yes, you're right. I like that spelling too, it does give a very mystical energy to it.

"stressed" is just "desserts" spelled backwards

Quote from: TheNonSexual OccultHawk on Feb 03, 2023, 05:04 PMtrolls i wish you would also rank the album 1-10 or 1 to 5 stars or something

reading it - the entire time i thinking well should i listen to it or not

There's no point in my ranking them. Progarchives have already done that. If you want to know if they consider it good or not, check "Position on the list for that year". As you probably know, I'm going backwards so the first album was no. 10 on their list for 1972, then the RPI one is 9 for that year, and so on. Whether they should be higher (or lower) largely, I think, depends on what's above them. You can always check out the list on PA and see what they have to say about each album. I'm just giving my impressions, but given that so many people have already ranked and scored them, I don't think it makes sense for me to do so.

In the case of the two so far, if you need them, I would rank Khan as a 10 and Le Orme at maybe 8. I'd listen to both, but if you have to choose one, choose Khan.

QuoteIn the case of the two so far, if you need them, I would rank Khan as a 10 and Le Orme at maybe 8

that wasn't so hard was it? thanks 💜

All right sod it. I'll do that in future. You can also check the Gold Tracks to see how many, or few, there are, which would be a reasonable metric as to what I think of the album. Grumble grumble... have to add another category.. mutter... cuss...

Interesting criteria considering a majority of the top 250 on PA are from the 70s. That being said it allows for a more interesting exploration of the more unknown 80's and onward albums.

In the age of ignorance, being informed is a choice.

#14 Feb 05, 2023, 08:19 PM Last Edit: Feb 20, 2023, 02:50 AM by Trollheart
That's not how it works. I choose the top ten album from 1972, top nine album from 1973, top eight album from 1974 and so on. Right now I've reached 1990. Once I get to 2022 I'll be going back to 1972 for the top nine album but that means we don't see a seventies album again once we exit 1979 until we've gone all the way to last year.

Anyway, on we go.

With a 70s album.  :)  8)

And so to 1974, where I'm somewhat depressed to find this at number 8.

Album title: Rock Bottom
Artist: Robert Wyatt
Nationality: English
Sub-genre: Canterbury Scene
Year: 1974
Position on list for that year: 8
Chronology: 2 of 11
Familiarity with artist: 3
Familiarity with album: 2
Gold Rated track(s): Alifib
Silver Rated track(s): None
Wooden Rated track(s): Sea Song, Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road, Alife, Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road
Comments: I've heard, in the course of my History of Prog journal, two of Wyatt's albums. I do not recall enjoying either. Given that he's one of the leading lights behind Soft Machine, and my opinion of their first four or five albums, that's not entirely surprising. It's a bit off-putting that I'm faced with another CS album so soon, but then, this is the list and it's not like other projects where I randomly choose and can - if I wish (ssshh!) - cheat. Here, there is nowhere to hide, and what's on the list is what I have to listen to and review. And so, by that measure, I have to listen to and review this.

But I don't have to like it.

And I doubt I will.

Nice slow little Beatles-like opener anyway, very lazy and sort of swaying along, then the piano gets a bit discordant and the vocal when it comes in is a little weak at first, but then gets stronger and reminds me of early Divine Comedy yes I know. Well there are only six tracks on this, and none are epics so maybe it won't be so bad. Another forty-minute album: don't these people know what prog is? Well anyway this is called "Sea Song" and it soon gets really annoying with all the atonal stuff and some sort of clarinet or something going in the background, or maybe it's flute. The choral vocals (probably a Prophet; were they around in 1974?) adds something to the song, but it's not one I can say I like, not at all. The title track is a little better but I just don't like the guy's style at all. I don't know what it is about him; maybe it's the way the music keeps going sort of out of tune, which I'm sure is intentional but certainly is annoying to me, or maybe it's his habit of vocalise all the time, like scat singing. I mean, can he not sing lyrics?

We get all free jazz and improvisational then (how I hate that) in "Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road", and sadly Mr. Wyatt did not follow her example; there's another track almost titled the same, and if it's like this I'll be banging my head against the wall. And it runs for like seven minutes. Mostly it appears to be instrumental, in fact it may be so all the way through: I'm on about minute three and there's only been that vocalise so far, and little of that (though not little enough) and as for the taped speech/masking/whatever the hell it is: enough, really now. Enough. And next up is "Alifib", whatever that means: Wyatt seems to enjoy a fair bit of the old wordplay, as evidenced by the two albums that bookend this, his debut End of an Ear and the next one, Ruth is Stranger Than Richard. Yeah, very clever, but clever titles don't make great albums, and for me, this is not a great album. Not so far anyway.

At least this track is more restrained, a nice smooth guitar line against some synthy keyboard giving quite a relaxed feel, just the thing after the last freeform-fest. Melody sounds very similar, as if it's some folk or traditional song or something. Maybe it's just me. Miles better than anything on this album so far anyway. Runs directly into "Alife" (which I had incorrectly read as "Alfie") as we get a squeaky sound against a spectral, haunting keyboard line and some sort of basic vocal almost spoken rather than sung. Back to the poor quality, at least for me, we go. Sigh. Oh well. Only one more track to go and I'll be done with this. Oh that squeaky sound is a clarinet I think, though it sounds as if he's having a conversation with a very irate goose or hen. I know how it feels. Clarinets played by the hilariously-appropriately-named Gary Windo!

Oh look! Album is produced by Nick Mason. I wonder is that the Nick Mason? Surely it is. And this track is sung (!) by another guy, not Wyatt. I still don't care. I hate this. Okay I don't hate it, that's not fair. But I really dislike and have no interest in it. And here's the other song like "Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road", though this time it's, um, "Little Red Robin Hood Hit the Road". Right. Seems a bit better musically, not that that would be hard. Yeah but then it goes into feedback and some sort of repeated line in the vocal which just grates and grates till I want to turn this FUCKING ALBUM OFF! Even the great Mike Oldfield lending a hand on guitar here can't pull this out of the mire it's stuck in. Oh, and now there's someone speaking in what sounds like an exaggerated Scottish accent against what might be accordion or bassoon or some damn thing. Hey, I was right: I didn't like it.

Personal Rating: 3