Fans of prog (progressive) rock are already well acquainted with the stories of the most popular bands within the genre. They know all the current and former members, the instruments and equipment used, the stories behind the making of the albums. And there are have been books and documentaries featuring the all-stars of the field. Now there is a book that focuses more on the “underdogs” of Prog. On November 18,2014 Backbeat Books will release Prog Rock FAQ- All That’s Left to Know About Rock’s Most Progressive Music by Will Romano.
The author himself states that his goal in writing this book was to present an alternative history of the genre and to shine light on some of the underappreciated artists. Romano takes readers on a journey through the last 50 or so years- through the rise, decline and resurgence of this music that has somewhat been on the fringe in the popular music world.
The author devotes an entire chapter to a piece of musical equipment that is central to many compositions in the genre- the Mellotron, which some consider to be the world’s first sampler. He includes an in-depth explanation of how it works with the assistance of John Bradley who continues to make, restore and service Mellotron’s today. And we know that concept albums are quite common in prog rock land, but Romano takes us through a list of what he considers to be record that have been incorrectly labeled as concept records.
There are several Q and A’s with artists including, but not limited to David Jackson of Van Der Graaf Generator, Mick Abrahams, formerly of Jethro Tull and former members of Genesis and Asia. Also included are two chapters devoted entirely the amazing album cover art that has become as synonymous with prog as the music itself. Oh, and just in case you weren’t aware that prog songs tend to be on the long side, Romano also lists some of the longest compositions out there.
Also included is a chapter full of quotes in the media-negative reactions, making it clear that the genre has been misunderstood for year, but has continued to persevere even throught the rise of punk music, which sent prog into a tailspin for a little while. As well as the featuring many of the pioneers in the field, Romano doesn’t forget to include the new kids on the prog block, including District 97, Scale the Summit, and Simon Collins, son of Phil Collins.
This book is not geared towards prog rock newbies. If you are looking for an introductory lesson, there are most likely other places to look to get you started on your journey. However, pick up a copy of this book to have on hand after you have thoroughly immersed yourself in the basics and are ready to dig deeper. To fans that have already been inducted into the advanced courses at Prog Rock University, this is a must have “textbook.”