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NEO-PROG

A Progressive Rock Sub-genre


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Neo-Prog definition

Neo-Progressive rock (more commonly "Neo-Prog") is a subgenre of Progressive Rock that originally was used to describe artists strongly influenced by the classic symphonic prog bands that flourished during the 1970s. At the beginning of the neo-prog movement, the primary influence was early to mid-70's Genesis. Debate over when Neo-Prog actually came into being often takes place, with some asserting it began with Marillion's Script for a Jester's Tear in 1983. Others contend it began with Twelfth Night at the dawn of the 80s, while some even suggest the popular symphonic prog band Genesis gave rise to Neo-Prog with their 1976 album, A Trick of the Tail.

If one analyses the progressive movement just before 1980, then some albums which heavily influenced the Neo-Prog movement easily come to mind: Steve Hackett - Spectral Mornings, Genesis - Wind & Wuthering, Genesis - And Then There Were Three, Genesis - Seconds Out, Saga - Saga, all the Camel albums between Breathless and The Single Factor included, and some Eloy's albums, especially Silent Cries And Mighty Echoes.

This new form of progressive rock originated in the UK, and is most strongly associated with bands such as Marillion, Pendragon and IQ; and while theatrical stage antics were a part of the live performances of many artists exploring this subset of the progressive rock genre it's the musical elements that are key to the genre; typified by the use of atmospheric guitar and synth soloing with symphonic leanings, with a tendency towards floating synth layers and dreamy soloing. An additional trait is the use of modern synths rather than vintage analogue synths and keyboards. The main reasons for Neo-Progressive artists to be separated from the ones exploring Symphonic Prog in the first place are the above, as well as a heavier emphasis on song-form and melody than some of their earlier symphonic counterparts.

As time went by other artists appeared that also deviated from the norms created by the classic wave of progressive rock artists in the 70's. The late 70's had given the world punk music; the 80's gave the world new wave; and the 90's grunge. These, as well as other forms, had a tremendous amount of influence outside of the progressive rock realm. The advent of the modern synth also inspired artists like Tomita, Vangelis and Kitaro to explore dreamier musical works.

These and other forms of more or less newly made musical genres influenced artists exploring progressive rock as well. Although many artists did so within the framework of 70's progressive rock, more and more artists developed a sound and style so heavily influenced by these more recent musical developments that categorizing them within the existing subgenres of progressive rock became increasingly difficult.

While the Neo-Progressive genre initially consisted of artists exploring a modernized version of Symphonic Prog, these days artists coined as Neo-Progressive cover a multitude of musical expressions, where the common denominator is the inclusion - within a progressive rock framework - of musical elements developed just prior to and after 1980. The Neo-Progressive genre in it's refined form thus covers a vast musical territory, to some extent covering all existing subsets of progressive rock and also searching out towards genres as different as new age on one side and punk and metal on the other.

Opening paragraphs written by Stonebeard, Cygnus X-2, Greenback

Revised, edited and refined April 2009 by windhawk, The Doctor and E-Dub



The neo-prog team has also decided on 5 representative albums of neo-prog that encapsulate the essence of the genre. They are as follows:


Marillion-Script for a Jester's Tear
Collage-Moonshine
Satellite-A Street Between Sunrise and Sunset
Sylvan-Posthumous Silence
Frost-Milliontown


Current Neo-Prog Team members
as at 10/07/2016

Roger (Roj)
Keishiro (DamoXt7942)
Cristi
Tony (Hercules)

Neo-Prog Top Albums


Showing only studios | Based on members ratings & PA algorithm* | Show Top 100 Neo-Prog | More Top Prog lists and filters

4.23 | 1959 ratings
MISPLACED CHILDHOOD
Marillion
4.25 | 1084 ratings
THE ROAD OF BONES
IQ
4.22 | 1856 ratings
SCRIPT FOR A JESTER'S TEAR
Marillion
4.14 | 1221 ratings
CLUTCHING AT STRAWS
Marillion
4.16 | 594 ratings
CONTAGION
Arena
4.16 | 436 ratings
POSTHUMOUS SILENCE
Sylvan
4.10 | 838 ratings
FREQUENCY
IQ
4.08 | 1012 ratings
MARBLES
Marillion
4.12 | 443 ratings
A TOWER OF SILENCE
Anubis
4.05 | 627 ratings
THE VISITOR
Arena
4.03 | 859 ratings
DARK MATTER
IQ
4.05 | 597 ratings
EVER
IQ
4.07 | 390 ratings
EMPIRES NEVER LAST
Galahad
4.09 | 308 ratings
SEVEN
Magenta
4.04 | 470 ratings
FANFARE & FANTASY
Comedy Of Errors
4.03 | 444 ratings
ALL RIGHTS REMOVED
Airbag
4.00 | 604 ratings
THE SEVENTH HOUSE
IQ
3.97 | 1244 ratings
FUGAZI
Marillion
3.97 | 963 ratings
BRAVE
Marillion
4.03 | 324 ratings
MOONSHINE
Collage

Neo-Prog overlooked and obscure gems albums new


Random 4 (reload page for new list) | As selected by the Neo-Prog experts team

VOICES
T
HUNTING THE FOX
Ines
TALES FROM THE DAM
Healing Road, The
SONGS FROM PENNSYLVANIA
Ezra

Latest Neo-Prog Music Reviews


 Plastic Soup by PBII album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.83 | 46 ratings

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Plastic Soup
PBII Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars Dutch symphonic rock formation Plackband made wonderful early Genesis inspired symphonic rock in the late Seventies and early Eighties. After they had disbanded in 1982, Plackband decided to reunite in 2000 and released the CD's The Lost Tapes (2000) and After The Battle (2002). But in 2008 the band changed their musical formula and their name, into PBII, brilliant simplicity. In 2010 PBII released their debut album entitled Plastic Soup, a year before I had seen PBII their try-out in the Musicon (The Hague) and quickly realised that PBII was not founded to play music in the vein of Plackband. PBII were searching for a new challenge, a new musical adventure.

Listening to PBII their debut-CD entitled Plastic Soup, I got more and more impressed, what an interesting and often captivating and exciting blend of symphonic rock, rock and progressive pop. And it all sounds so well balanced and elaborate. It's obvious that original Plackband members Ronald Brautigam (guitars), Michel van Wassem (keyboards and vocals) and Tom van der Meulen (drums) have turned into experienced and skilled musicians. They present a very strong musical formula that will appeal to a wide range of progrock lovers, without sounding too smooth or too mainstream. The first composition is the mid-long and alternating Book Of Changes (3 parts), what a splendid and exciting music: a strong tension between the exciting bombastic interludes, the compelling climates and the more mellow parts (evoking 67-77 Genesis), Ronald delivers varied guitar work (from propulsive riffs to howling leads) and Michel treats us on a wonderful and lush keyboard sound (from warm piano runs to majestic Mellotron eruptions and fat synthesizer flights). This is backed by a powerful rhythm-section in which newcomer Harry den Hartog gets room to show his awesome skills on the bass guitar. In fact PBII makes very strong modern progressive rock!

The next track In The Arms Of A Gemeni clearly showcases the more accessible side of PBII. But you can enjoy a tasteful colouring: a propulsive guitar riff in the true R&R tradition, a 'brassy' keyboard sound and beautiful twanging acoustic guitars. In general the rhythm is catchy and the atmosphere sounds modern.

The following eight songs also alternate between these styles, the trademark of PBII on this album.

A sound towards 24-carat symphonic rock with frequent shifting moods, accelerations and breaks in Loneliness (from exciting bombastic climates with a propulsive rhythm-section and sensational synthesizer runs to more dreamy with a moving guitar solo and delicate work on the church organ).

The varied The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (wonderful guitar play with strong hints of Steve Hackett because of the use of the volume pedal and 'hammering down').

And the splendid final composition Cradle To Cradle: awesome keyboards, blistering guitar work (by guest John Mitchell) and an impressive final part with choir-Mellotron and a flashy synthesizer solo, all members in its full splendour!

A more progressive pop atmosphere can be traced in songs like Criticize The Critics (a tight beat with a propulsive bass and heavy guitar) and Living By The Dice that halfway changes into compelling symphonic rock again featuring the mighty choir-Mellotron sound.

And finally PBII delivers tracks that are tastefully arranged with each its own climate: soaring keyboards with inventive bass work in the instrumental Ladrillo, the ballad It's Your Life (from a dreamy start with piano and emotional female vocals to a conclusion with sumptuous keyboards) and a sultry bass (by guest John Jowitt, from IQ fame) and intense guitar play in the Eastern oriented Fata Morgana.

The additional DVD contains a wonderful live rendition of It's Your Life in which singer Heidi Jo Hines shines. And an impression of Michel and his musical adventure in a local church, including shots of his play on the church organ, short but very pleasant to watch.

In my opinion PBII made an excellent debut CD that will please many progheads. And a big hand for PBII to let us be aware of the devastating effect of plastic, almost 10 years after Plastic Soup the situation has only become worse and worse!

 Realm Of Shadows by KNIGHT AREA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.82 | 124 ratings

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Realm Of Shadows
Knight Area Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars Dutch progrock band Knight Area their debut CD The Sun Also Rises from 2004 sold more than 8000 copies, an incredible amount for a Dutch progressive rock band. And on stage the band impressed me very much, especially by their frontman Mark Smit (ex Queen cover band Miracle) and bass player Gijs Koopman (ex-Cliffhanger) on his mighty Rickenbacker bass. Last year Knight Area released their fifth studio effort entitled Heaven And Beyond, this album has more heavy prog and prog metal overtones than their previous four releases. I would like to go back to 2009, when Knight Area presented their third album, my favourite one.

The nine alternating and pleasant compositions (between 2 and 12 minutes) again sound very accessible and melodic. And again we can enjoy a blend of 24-carat symphonic rock (in the vein of 76-77 Genesis), neo-prog (like early IQ and Pallas) and more song oriented progrock. The climates shift from dreamy (with tender piano and passionate vocals) to powerful mid-tempo rhythms (with fiery guitar runs and fat synthesizer flights) and bombastic (with lush keyboards and Moog Taurus bass pedals). In many songs the focus is on excellent guitar work (from sensitive to biting), often supported by the distinctive sound of the Hammond organ and the unsurpassed Mellotron. Knight Area is at their artistic pinnacle in the track Momentum: from a swinging bass with violin-Mellotron to a Vinage Keyboard Heaven, featuring swirling Moog and impressive choir-Mellotron, goose bumps! Also the long final composition Occlusion showcases the huge potential of Knight Area, what a cascade of shifting moods, breaks and exciting solos. And what a breathtaking grand finale, including Moog Taurus bass pedals and choir-Mellotron, I am in Vintage Progheaven! Knight Area their progrock is a fine balance between showing skills and melody, this third album is a very strong example.

 Scattered Shards by CRYSTAL PALACE album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.00 | 6 ratings

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Scattered Shards
Crystal Palace Neo-Prog

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Metal / Heavy / RPI / Symph Prog Team

4 stars The album starts with a peaceful and melodic ballad ending with an ambient passage. The second song starts with the same ending of the first song and in the same mood, before an explosion of guitars in the progressive metal style, and it all comes down with a delicate touch of piano and some acoustic guitar. The vocals of Yenz Strurz are familiar and enjoyable, you will surely find a reference with many singers in the Neo-Prog world. The keyboards of Frank Kohler doesn't deceive with some beautiful melodies. The music seems to mix the Prog Rock with the Metal including many breaks and acoustic parts a bit like a more melodic version of Haken. "The Logic of Fear" is very well developed with some electronic effects and some impressive guitar riffs in a melody that is slowly getting some momentum." Outside the Box" close the album like the album started with a ballad who is really a continuation of the first song. The songs are very solid from start to finish with a big production and show how far can go the Neo-Prog bands with so much Prog Metal influences in their songs. I am sure that this band has succeeded in this direction where a band like Knight Area has failed.
 Sisyfos by RIVENDEL album cover Studio Album, 2018
4.92 | 4 ratings

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Sisyfos
Rivendel Neo-Prog

Review by St_V

5 stars This Spanish band published two strong albums some twenty years ago. It seems that they reformed a few years ago. It's the same people on board but now their music has become bold and matured a lot. "Sisyfos" is a conceptual album based on the Sisyphus greek myth, the man who thought that he was smarter than the gods. He was finally punished to carry a rock up a mountain for the whole eternity. The beautiful artwork shows Sisyfos carrying his rock up the mountain. The first track "Charon crossing the Styx" last more than 12 minutes and it's like an overture to the story. It places the listener together to Charon paddling his boat through the greek underworld. Is very atmospheric in the early Pink Floyd way but it's also full of great melodies and dramatic mood changes. A fantastic entry to the album. "Sisyphus and Merope I" is a very short track. Charming guitar with mellotron arrangements. Clean and superb! "The Istmian Games" is a very different approach. Complex organ progressions, wild guitar, crimsoniam bass... Sisyphus started defying the gods! The short "Sisyphus and Merope II" is the same music as part I but subtle details have changed. There is some disturbance threatening instead of the peaceful part I. "Greek Salad" is very difficult to describe. It's a rythmic, pulsating music. Very avantgardish, every change is unexpected. Can't think who could write music like this! Next song, "Sisyphus in Styx", is a return to the stygian atmosphere of track 1 but this time Sisyphus is there, so the threat is always present! What a great piece of music, distraughted sounds from hell in a weird landscape. "The Anger of Zeus" is another unexpected twist. Rivendel plays three minutes of ashtounding hard rock / avantgarde craziness. This drummer can play! The last track "Sisyphus and the Rock" is the other long track of the album. The hopelessness of Sisyphus carrying the rock up the mountain is perfectly described. The song has multiple parts but they fit together smoothly. At the very end the music dilutes into frightening noises and I can truly feel Sisyphus despair and madness. A great story. Very varied songs. Skillfully crafted. Rivendel at their top! 5 points.
 Kayleigh by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1985
3.31 | 53 ratings

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Kayleigh
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars "Neo-prog 'guilty pleasure'?"

1. Kayleigh (03:33)

Between the albums Fugazi (1984) and Misplaced Childhood (1985) EMI and Marillion negociated about the music: the band wanted to make a concept album, EMI was OK but on the condition that Marillion delivered a commercial song, for a hit single. Well, we know the result, that commercial song became Kayleigh: it reached the #2 position in the UK (in The Netherlands #12, in Germany #7 and in the USA #74) and it remained 14 weeks in the charts, then Marillion got the headline spot on the Milton Keynes festival and all concerts at the Wembley Arena were sold out, incredible for a progressive rock rooted band!

About the title Fish said: "I'd wanted to write a song about a girlfriend I'd split up with, whose name was Kay (in 2012 she passed away). Which of course we couldn't do. So we added her middle name, Lee, and it became Kayleigh instead. "But it wasn't just about Kay, it was inspired by three or four different people in my life."

The song starts with a fragile guitar riff that carry you away to a climate that alternates between romantic and melancholic, perfectly blended with Fish his tender vocals. The refrain features a soft outburst in which Fish sounds more powerful, to emphazise his deep feelings about the broken relationships. Halfway Rothery delivers a splendid guitar solo, very moving and powerful, as a long and desperate cry how it all went wrong. In the final phrase "Maybe it will prove that we were right. Or ever prove that I was wrong" Fish strongly sings the word "wrong" and the music fades away.

This timeless composition made many fans happy and lots of daughters were named Kayleigh. But listening to Kayleigh I still have strong mixed feelings after all those years, is this a brilliant ballad or a tedious tearjerker? Well, from now on it's my 'guilty pleasure'.

2. Lady Nina (03:41)

Fish said: "I was going through a very Bohemian element, you know. I remember hanging about this place called 'Rasputins', which was one of the famous German brothels, and I used to go along and just write there at night with the girls, and talk to the girls, sitting in the red light of the bar. Lady Nina was written there."

Typical early Marillion neo-prog song featuring strong guitarwork, propulsive drum beats, an important role for the vocals and lyrics from Fish ("I know you'll never act with me, I know that you're in love with me. So how do I compare to the sailors of the ships of the night? Was I all right? Did you come tonight, lady Nina?" and in the final part pleasant synthesizer flights.

 Punch and Judy by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.85 | 38 ratings

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Punch and Judy
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars 1. Punch and Judy (3:18) :

Punch And Judy was the first song I ever witnessed live from Marillion, on the annual Dutch Pinkpop festival, in 1984 (60.000 visitors). With a few hundred Marillion freaks we had gathered in front of the stage and when Marillion arrived , they were welcomed as 'neo-prog heroes'. Soon after the band had started the concert with Punch And Judy, I was in the middle of a jumping, yelling, roaring, swinging, singing and clapping crowd. And everybody joined Fish his animated gestures ('Punch, Punch, Punch'), wow, welcome to the realm of Neo-Prog. This song-oriented and melodic new genre appealed to many young people, and for the first time in my life I noticed a lot of women between the audience! On one hand they wanted to swing, sing and clap with Neo Prog, on the other hand they wanted to be mesmerized by an Old School Progrock frontman, with a painted face.

A strong point in Punch And Judy are the lyrics: a cynical lookback at a marriage that started romantic ('Whatever happened to lover's lane. Whatever happened to passion games. Sunday walks in the pouring rain.') but gradually the husband got bored ('Now I vegetate with a colour TV') and finally wanted to get rid of his wife (World war three, suburbanshee. Just slip her these pills and I'll be free. No more Judy, Judy, Judy no more. Goodbye Judy.'). Briljant cynical lines, in my opinion inspired by his own difficulties with relationships (part of his borderline personality-like behaviour).

Musically this is a strong, typically neo-prog composition, the subtle slowdown and accellaration moments are fuelled by a dynamic rhythm-section (inluding the outstanding new drummer Ian Mosley) and the colouring by guitar and keyboards is tasteful, but also functional to the vocals and lyrics.

The cover art is also great, showing the marriage in its final state, hilarious but with a dark Roald Dahl-like undertone.

2. Market Square Heroes (4:48) : A splendid rock song with powerful vocals and pleasant work on guitar and keyboards, a perfect crowd pleaser!

3. Three Boats Down From The Candy (4:02) : Another very good rock song featuring Fish his distinctive vocals.

My rating: 3,5 star

 Assassing by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
3.61 | 54 ratings

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Assassing
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Side 1 :

Assassing - full version (7:01) :

On my 12" version of the Assassing single by Marillion everything matches: the intricate Mark Wilkinson cover, the dynamic neo-prog, the passionate vocals, the venemous lyrics and, last but not least, the outstanding drums by new member Ian Mosley.

About the sultry intro Steve Rothery told: "The germ of the idea came while we were writing at Mountain studios in Wales in the summer of '83. I'd just got my Roland guitar synthesizer and was experimenting with it and Fish had been driving us all mad by playing Islamic records he'd got from Peter Hammill, at great volume all the time".

Then a catchy beat and dynamic music, focussing on Fish his vocals and lyrics, pretty emotional and personal. I read that Fish his sarcastic lines point at his former friend and ex-Marillion drummer Mike Pointer, Fish was very disappointed about him and felt bitterly hurt. This generated wonderful poetical words with a bitter undertone: "I am the assassin, with tongue forged in eloquence. I am the assassin, providing your nemesis." To emphasize his anger he repeated the words "My friend" several times, spoken with a lot of venom!

We can also enjoy a powerful guitar solo, Mark Kelly his distinctive synthesizer flights and Ian Mosley his fluent drumwork. But Fish shines with his vocals and creative lyrics, loaded with references, like: "The scarf with the fugi knot" (Fugi is a corruption of Thuggee, worshipers of Kali who would strangle their victims in the name of religion. The method of strangulation was by a yellow scarf into which a one rupee had been knotted.) and "Non-com observer" (this refers to non-combatant, not non-commissioned, in this case. It was a term used especially in Vietnam and Korea meaning film crews, journalists, photographers and the like who were involved in the documenting of events, and were not required to take part in any military action."). The dynamic and melodic atmosphere on Assassing (typical neo-prog) appealed to the fans,. And it became a popular composition during the concerts, also due to Fish his mesmerizing stage antics.

Side 2 :

Cinderella Search - full version (5:24) : Originally this is a not a Fugazi album track. The atmosphere is mellow featuring the sentimental side of Fish ( wonderful poetry with a strong Freudian undertone, about sex, addictions and fear for rejection) and sensitive electric guitar runs. Halfway a short break, then a compelling accelaration with powerful drums, melancholical vocals and fiery electric guitarplay, slowly fading away. Simply beautiful.

Assassing - edited version = not on UK version (3.38)

The single reached the #22 position in the UK charts in May 1984, supported by a smooth video featuring Fish like a kind of New Wave singer. But on stage Fish was way more captivating, with a new outfit for Assassing during the Real To Reel tour (late 1984), see my avatar.

My rating: 3,5 star.

 Garden Party by MARILLION album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1983
3.93 | 43 ratings

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Garden Party
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars Between 1980 and 1982 Marillion had worked on a strong live reputation, and earned a large and fanatic cult following. In the end it was EMI that recognized their huge potential, culminating in the debut album Script For A Jester's Tear (1983) and a serie of singles since Market Square Heroes (1982). The collaboration with Mark Wilkinson and his mindblowing artwork contributed to the magic of early Marillion. I was lucky to find my first regular job in 1982 so I could purchase all those (pretty expensive) early Marillion singles and t-shirts, embellished with the highly imaginative Mark Wilkinson artwork.

One of my favourite Marillion singles is Garden Party. In an interview on the Internet Fish explains the content: "Garden Party is a cynical outlook, the microcosm of Cambridge where the upper class is used to uphold a plastic facade rather than a reality and it becomes and act that rather a lot of people feel the need to maintain at Cambridge (where Fish lived with his girldfriend, EN). I objected especially to a guy who told me all about the troubles in Palestine when he'd never ever been there because Palestine was a very hip thing to discuss at wine and cheese parties, you know? I reacted very, very aggressively to that situation." And about the subtitle The Great Cucumber Massacre: "Two of the most common delicacies at garden parties are cucumber sandwiches and egg sandwiches. In Britain the construction of a sandwich is much simpler than here in the US - it is: slice of bread, butter, filling, butter, slice of bread. At the `best' garden parties such sandwiches will have had the crusts removed and be cut into little triangles. Many hundreds of these will be consumed hence 'The Great Cucumber Massacre' sub-title."

I own the 12" Version (and the t-shirt, it still fits after 35 years, haha!).

Side A :

Garden Party - full version (7:11) This song became a stage favourite, in fact Garden Party is more rock than prog. But Marillion their fresh new progressive rock (labelled as neo-prog) appealed to many young people and also many women, they loved the melodic and welcoming approach in the music and on stage. Here on Garden Party 'it's neo-prog party time', and no huge and clinical distance, like between the Seventies progrock dinosaurs and their audience. So enjoy the catchy beat, the cheerful synthesizer flights, the rocky guitar and, last but not least, Fish his strong and distinctive venomous vocals and sarcastic lyrics. One part of the lyrics was very popular during the concerts: 'I'm punting, I'm beagling, I'm wining, reclining, I'm rucking, I'm f xxx ing'! This final word (on PA I had to censore it) was loudly screamed by the fans, they felt one with their neo-prog messiah Fish! And the Scottish giant loved these provocative language, I presume inspired by Jim Morrison.

Charting the Single - live version, London Hammersmith Odeon 18 April 1983 (6:30).

Pleasant neo-prog featuring a very inspired Fish and a tasteful colouring by powerful guitar and varied keyboards, a typical song that comes more to live on stage, as you can hear.

Side B :

Margaret - live version, Edinburgh Playhouse, 7 April 1983 (12:17).

A homegame for Fish in this excellent live track entitled Margaret (an old van?) that starts with a Scottish folk tune, featuring Fish and Steve Rothery, then a keyboard that sounds like a Scottish bagpipe, what a great live atmosphere! The song turns into a catchy beat with powerful vocals and strong work on guitar and keyboards, fuelled by a dynamic rhythm-section. To emphasize that great live atmosphere, Fish introduces all band members who play a short solo on their instruments, there is even some Peer Gynt Suite from Grieg (the bridge between classical and neo-prog) and finally a huge crowd participation, and lots of clapping and yelling, the fans loved it!

My rating: 3,5 star

 Early Stages : The Highlights by MARILLION album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2013
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Early Stages : The Highlights
Marillion Neo-Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

4 stars My first 'Marillion early stage experience' was June 1984, at the annual Dutch Pinkpop festival concert during the Fugazi tour, and it turned out to be my most magical one! We arrived the evening before the concert, slept in our car, the next morning we joined the hundreds of Marillion fans (with Marillion t-shirts, banners and some dressed like a jester), and in an euphoric mood we all gathered in front of the stage. The Pinkpop Marillion gig was an unforgettable experience: an inspired band and the charismatic frontman Fish delivering his funny song introductions and theatrical stage antics. From that moment I wanted to experience 'the early stage Marillion' everyday and bought one bootleg after another. I have always cherished these bootlegs, also because I was very disappointed about The Thieving Magpie live double album. Because that was not the great live atmosphere I knew from the exciting Marillion gigs. In 2013 EMI released Early Stages : The Highlights (a compilation of the 6-CD collector's box' Early Stages : The Official Bootlegs 1982-1988) featuring most of the bootleg recordings I was so exited about, and as a bonus the previously unreleased Fife Aid 1988 version of Market Square Heroes.

Disc 1: Early Marillion was an exciting live band: from their first gig in 1980 and they build an excellent live reputation, earning a huge cult-following. There was always a very pleasant interaction between the band and the fans, and we could enjoy 'the Fish talks' (with that Scottish accent). And often more powerful and slighty extended versions than the studio tracks. Songs also developped, just listen to She Chameleon: an other keyboard sound (more subdued) and a more rocky guitar, a pretty embryonal sound. The Mayfair and Marquee concerts also deliver a cosy 'pub-atmosphere', the advantage of a small venue. Musically I notice that Mark Kelly often uses a Farfisa organ in the very early days, on She Chameleon, Chelsea Monday and Forgotten Sons. And I am not pleased with Mick Pointer his frequent and irritating hi-hat hitting. The drums skills are way better on the other tracks after 1982, with Andy Ward and later Ian Mosley. A nice surprise is the Mellotron violin sound in the intro of Script For A Jester's Tear (yes, Marillion had a Mellotron M400 on stage!), it's not on the later album version. Another nice surprise is the synthesizer improvisation halfway Forgotten Sons (also not on the later album version). These are the extra's you are waiting for on releases like this!

The Reading Rock festival in 1983 was a kind of home game for Marillion, all those many Marillion fans generated an euphoric atmosphere. I love the Grendel version with a very strong grand finale, featuring howling electric guitar and majestic Mellotron choirs, neo-prog goose bumps! In Charting the single you can hear a freaky intro with the Minimoog synthesizer, also not on the studio version.

Disc 2 : The Hammersmith Odeon gig in 1984 was the Fugazi tour, the album that showcased Marillion their own musical formula (no more a pastiche of Gabriel-era Genesis), the band was an experienced and tight unit. We can enjoy a very good atmosphere and sound, this is early Marillion at its creative peak: excellent versions of Assasing (Ian Mosley was such an asset), Punch And Judy (huge crowd participation) and the absolute highlight Fugazi (great spirit and Fish singing "the world is totally Fugazi", wearing that Vietnam outfit, how compelling). Halfway the concert Fish told the crowd about Marillion and "the new direction", as a prelude to the new songs, from the forthcoming new album Misplaced Childhood. You can hear the difference with the Fugazi tracks, Fish became more dominant with his vocals and lyrics and there is less chemistry,in my opinion. But the crowd loved it, especially the sentimental Kayleigh.

In 1987 Marillion had become a 'biggie': the smash hit Kayleigh became #2 in the UK with 200.000 sold copies, and Misplaced Childhood even reached the #1 ranking in the UK with 300.000 sold copies (both in 1985). So in 1987 Marillion had earned the status to play in the huge Wembley Arena, during the Clutching At Straws tour. Again the atmosphere and sound are very good, Fish does his funny song introductions and the crowd participation is fine . But personally I found the tracks close to boring, Fish had taken total control, and it was no surprise that this was the final album from Marillion with Fish.

Fife Aid, St. Andrews 1988 : A two day festival that also featured Rick Wakeman, Jack Bruce, Phil Manzanera, and Osibisa! It was Fish his final performance with Marillion, so Fish singing "I found smog at the end of my rainbow, I found my thoughts shift slowly into phase. Declared the constitution of the walkway, I realise it's time to plan the day" was pretty ironical! I like this version of Market Square Heroes (the previously unreleased bonus track), with strong drumming and a surprising break featuring parts of My Generation (The Who) and Let's Twist Again (Chubby Checker) with an inspired Fish, "you are the heroes" he tells the public in the end, goodbey.

This is another obvious attempt from EMI to plunder the wealthy wallets of the longing progheads! But on the other hand it's also a very good introduction to the magical early Marillion live, if you don't own that 6-CD box, like me.

 Fetish by SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.95 | 240 ratings

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Fetish
Seven Steps To The Green Door Neo-Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Crossover Prog Team

5 stars The fourth album from SSTTGD didn't come out until 2015, and by now there had been some changes in the line-up. Andreas had left to be replaced by Martin Schnella, who on the album was providing both guitar and bassist, with Heiko Rehm now only forming part of the live band. This is another concept album, which is about the features of the human psyche with all of its relation to lust, addiction and consuming of media. Marek also wrote some lyrics with Guy Manning (who undertakes the same role with Cyril, one of Marek's bands), while Melanie Mau is one of the eight additional singers. Melanie records with Martin outside of SSTTGD, and two of the song lyrics were written by Melanie, Marek and Martin. Ulf and Marek wrote all the music, apart from three songs where Martin is listed as a co-writer so he was already have a major impact on the band. It is also the first album where Ronny Gruber wasn't involved at all, but there are certainly enough singers!

Of the four albums so far, to my ears this is the strongest as they have stretched the diversity, yet somehow made everything commercially accessible and enjoyable while never compromising any musical ideals. There are times when there are multiple vocal harmonies, yet Marek is still the person holding it all together with his beautiful piano. Martin has easily stepped into the role vacated by Andreas, and although his soloing in particular is quite different, it feels measured and totally in keeping with everything that is going on musically. There is a confidence and feeling of assuredness that was somewhat missing from the previous album, and the feeling that here is a band that just can't do any wrong. The layered vocals on songs such as "Still Searching" are immaculate, with wonderful choral elements, and the diversity throughout this album makes it a crossover (in its very truest sense) progressive rock album that is truly essential.

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Neo-Prog bands/artists list

Bands/Artists Country
25 YARD SCREAMER United Kingdom
ABACAB France
ABEL GANZ United Kingdom
ABRAXAS Poland
ACCEPT Japan
AD INFINITUM United States
ADN France
AELIAN Italy
AETHELLIS United States
AFTERGLOW France
AGENESS Finland
AGENTS OF MERCY Sweden
AHMSHERE Netherlands
AIRBAG Norway
AIRBRIDGE United Kingdom
AISLES Chile
ALBION Poland
ALKOZAUR France
ALMA SIDERIS Italy
ALSO EDEN United Kingdom
ALTAVIA Italy
AMANDA Belgium
AMON RA Germany
ANAMOR Poland
ANANKE Poland
ANDROID Hungary
ANIMATOR United States
ANNALIST Poland
ANUBIS Australia
APPLE PIE Russia
ARAGON Australia
THE ARC LIGHT SESSIONS Canada
ARCADELT Italy
ARCANSIEL Italy
ARCHANGEL Italy
ARENA United Kingdom
ARENAL Chile
ARGOS Germany
FINN ARILD Norway
ARK United Kingdom
ARKUS Netherlands
ARLEKIN Ukraine
ARLON Poland
ARRAKEEN France
ARVE Germany
ASGARD Italy
ASSAL Poland
ASTRALIS Chile
ASTURIAS Japan
ATEMPO Argentina
ATRIA France
ATRIUM Portugal
AUDITE Germany
AUFKLARUNG Italy
AVALON USA United States
SIMON AYRES United Kingdom
BACKYARDS France
BALLOON ASTRONOMY United States
BAROCK PROJECT Italy
NICK BARRETT & CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
KEVIN BARTLETT United States
SAULO BATTESINI Brazil
BEING & TIME Japan
BEL AIR Germany
BELIEVE Poland
STEWART BELL United Kingdom
BELLAPHON Japan
BEYOND THE BLUE Germany
BIG PICTURE United States
BIJOU Spain
BLACK PAGE Japan
BLIND EGO Germany
BLIND OWL United States
BLUE MAMMOTH Brazil
BOLUS Canada
FABRICE BONY France
XAVIER BOSCHER France
BRAIN CONNECT Poland
BRASSÉ Netherlands
BREEZE Germany
DEC BURKE United Kingdom
TIM BURNESS United Kingdom
CAAMORA United Kingdom
CARPTREE Sweden
ALAN CASE Netherlands
RICH CASEY United States
CASINO United Kingdom
CASTANARC United Kingdom
CATAFALCHI DEL CYBER Italy
CATHEDRAL United States
CATWEAZLE Sweden
MARC CECCOTTI France
CENTAUR RODEO United States
CHANDELIER Germany
CHANETON Argentina
CHEST ROCKWELL United States
CHILDREN OF NOVA United States
CHRIS Netherlands
CINDERELLA SEARCH Japan
CIRKEL Netherlands
CIRRUS BAY United States
CLEPSYDRA Switzerland
CLIFFHANGER Netherlands
COALITION United Kingdom
COLD FAIRYLAND China
COLLAGE Poland
COMBINATION HEAD United Kingdom
COMEDY OF ERRORS United Kingdom
CONTEMPORARY DEAD FINNISH MUSIC ENSEMBLE Finland
COSMIC DANGER United States
COSMOGRAF United Kingdom
COSMOS Switzerland
CRAYON PHASE Germany
CREDO United Kingdom
CRIMSON SKY United Kingdom
CRISÁLIDA Chile
CROMWELL Germany
CRUZ DE HIERRO Mexico
CRYSTAL MAZE Germany
CRYSTAL PALACE Germany
CYAN United Kingdom
THE D PROJECT Canada
THE DAME Netherlands
DARIUS Germany
DARWIN'S RADIO United Kingdom
DATURA France
DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW United States
DEAD HEROES CLUB Ireland
DEAD LETTER CIRCUS Australia
DEEP THOUGHT Switzerland
DELTA CYPHEI PROJECT Germany
DEYSS Switzerland
DIAL Netherlands
DIFFERENCES Netherlands
DIFFERENT STRINGS Malta
DIRECTION Canada
DISTANT DREAM United States
DOCKER'S GUILD Italy
TROY DONOCKLEY United Kingdom
DR. NO Spain
DRACMA Spain
DRAMA Uruguay
DREAM ARIA Canada
DRIFTING SUN Multi-National
DUSTER United States
EARTHSTONE United Kingdom
EAST Hungary
ECHO US United States
EDEN SHADOW United Kingdom
EDHELS Monaco
EDISON'S CHILDREN Multi-National
EDITH Italy
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EGOBAND Italy
ELEGANT SIMPLICITY United Kingdom
ELEMENTS Netherlands
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ELIXIR France
ELLEVEN Germany
EMERALD Netherlands
THE EMERALD DAWN United Kingdom
ENDLICH ALLEIN Italy
EPILOGUE United Kingdom
EQUINOX Panama
ERASMUS United Kingdom
ESKAPE Germany
ESTHETIC PALE Germany
ETERNAL WANDERERS Russia
EUREKA Germany
EURHYBIA France
EVERSHIP United States
EVERY WAKING HOUR United States
EVOLUTION United Kingdom
EVOLUTIVE France
EXHIBIT A United Kingdom
EXOUSTIA United States
EYE 2 EYE France
EYESBERG Germany
EYESTRINGS United States
EZRA United Kingdom
FACTORY OF DREAMS Portugal
FANCYFLUID Italy
THE FAR MEADOW United Kingdom
FAUN Germany
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FISH United Kingdom
FIVE-O-ONE AM Netherlands
FJIERI Italy
FLAMBOROUGH HEAD Netherlands
FLAMMARION Portugal
FLUTTR EFFECT United States
FOR ABSENT FRIENDS Netherlands
FOR YOUR PLEASURE Germany
JACK FOSTER III United States
FRACTAL United States
FRAMAURO Poland
FRAMES Germany
FRAMEWORK United Kingdom
SALLY FRENCH United Kingdom
FROST* United Kingdom
FRUITCAKE Norway
THE FYREWORKS United Kingdom
GAILLION United States
GALADRIEL Spain
GALAHAD United Kingdom
GALLANT FARM Italy
GALLEON Sweden
GAMBIT France
GANDALF'S FIST United Kingdom
DANIEL GAUTHIER Canada
PETER GEE United Kingdom
GEPETTO France
GERARD Japan
GHIRIBIZZI Belgium
IL GIARDINO DEI VIZI CONTINUI Italy
JIM GILMOUR Canada
GLACIER United Kingdom
GOOD AUTHORITY Netherlands
ANDREW GORCZYCA United States
IAN GORDON United Kingdom
GPS United States
GRACE United Kingdom
LE GRAND BATON Guadeloupe
GRAND TOUR United Kingdom
GREEN SPACE France
JEFF GREEN Ireland
GRENDEL Poland
GREY LADY DOWN United Kingdom
HANGOVER PARADISE Netherlands
HARNAKIS Spain
HARVEST Spain
HAZE United Kingdom
THE HEALING ROAD Germany
HELLO MADNESS Mexico
HIDDEN LANDS Sweden
HIGH SPY United Kingdom
HIGHER CIRCLES United States
TRACY HITCHINGS United Kingdom
LALO HUBER Argentina
STEVE HUGHES United Kingdom
HUIS Canada
HYBRID United Kingdom
I AND THOU United States
ICE Netherlands
THE ID Multi-National
ILLUMION Netherlands
ILUVATAR United States
IN NOMINE Spain
INDISCIPLINED LUCY Sweden
INES Germany
INFRINGEMENT Norway
INIOR Italy
THE INSTITUTE OF MODERN LOVE United Kingdom
INTROITUS Sweden
INVERTIGO Germany
INVISIGOTH United States
IQ United Kingdom
IRIS France
IT United Kingdom
VELISLAV IVANOV Bulgaria
IXION Netherlands
JADIS United Kingdom
JANISON EDGE United Kingdom
JESETER Czech Republic
JOLLY United States
JUMP United Kingdom
K2 United States
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THE LAST PLACID DAYS OF PLENTY Canada
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MASQUE Sweden
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NIALL MATHEWSON United Kingdom
MAYBE France
MICHAEL MAYER & DEAN ROUCH United States
MEDICINE MAN United Kingdom
MENAYERI Puerto Rico
MENTAUR United Kingdom
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MERCY TRAIN United Kingdom
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METAPHOR United States
MILLENIUM Poland
MINDGAMES Belgium
MINOR GIANT Netherlands
MK II United Kingdom
MODERN-ROCK ENSEMBLE Ukraine
MONARCH TRAIL Canada
MONTECRISTO Indonesia
MOONRISE Poland
MORIA FALLS United Kingdom
MORPHELIA Germany
MOTHS United Kingdom
MR. GIL Poland
MR. SO & SO United Kingdom
MUDWAY Italy
MULTI-STORY United Kingdom
MUTE ALBINO Belgium
MUTINY IN JONESTOWN United States
MYSTERKAH France
MYSTERY Canada
BADER NANA Kuwait
NAOS France
NAVIGATOR United States
NEGUA Spain
NEMEZIS Poland
NEO-PROPHET Belgium
NEON LEAVES United Kingdom
NEPENTHE United States
NEW EDEN ORCHESTRA United States
NIADEM'S GHOST United Kingdom
THE NIGHT WATCH Italy
NINE SKIES France
NINE STONES CLOSE Netherlands
NO NAME / THE NO NAME EXPERIENCE Luxembourg
NO RESTRAINTS United States
NOLAN & WAKEMAN United Kingdom
CLIVE NOLAN United Kingdom
ERIK NORLANDER United States
NORTH STAR United States
NOSTALGIA Italy
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NOVOX Netherlands
NOW Belgium
NTH ASCENSION United Kingdom
NUANCE France
NUMEN Spain
NURKOSTAM Finland
NYL Russia
OCEAN Norway
ONZA Spain
OORT France
OPUS EST Sweden
MARTIN ORFORD United Kingdom
ORPHEUS Japan
OSIRIS Bahrain
THE OTHER SIDE United States
OUTSIDE France
OVERDRIVE Italy
OVERLOAD Pakistan
OVNI El Salvador
PALLAS United Kingdom
PANDORAS.BOX Germany
PANGAEA United States
PANTOKRAATOR Estonia
MATTHEW PARMENTER United States
PARZIVALS EYE Multi-National
JAKE PASHKIN Russia
INDREK PATTE Estonia
PAX ROMANA Finland
PBII Netherlands
PENDRAGON United Kingdom
PETER PAN Poland
PHAESIS France
PHENOM India
PHOENIX AGAIN Italy
PHREEWORLD United States
PI XPRNC Venezuela
PICKLELEGAZ Netherlands
PICTURES Italy
PILGRYM United Kingdom
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PRELUDE Belgium
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PRODUCT United States
PROFUNA OCEAN Netherlands
PROTEO Italy
PROTOS United Kingdom
PROVIDENCE Japan
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THE PSYCHEDELIC ENSEMBLE United States
PTS Netherlands
Q Chile
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RADAVIQUE Netherlands
RAEL Argentina
RED SAND Canada
REVELATION United Kingdom
RICOCHER Netherlands
RIVENDEL Spain
RIVERSEA United Kingdom
RIVERYMAN Finland
RIZENGARD Mexico
ROADS TO DAMASCUS United Kingdom
ROMANZA-BEKKAN Japan
STEVE ROTHERY United Kingdom
RPWL Germany
SAENS France
SAGITTARIAN Japan
MOTOI SAKURABA Japan
SALEM HILL United States
SANGUINE HUM United Kingdom
SAQQARAH France
SARIS Germany
SATELLITE Poland
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SCHEHERAZADE Japan
SEA VINE Poland
SEASONS OF TIME Germany
SECRET CINEMA Italy
SETI Chile
SEVEN DAY HUNT Netherlands
SEVEN STEPS TO THE GREEN DOOR Germany
P.J. SHADOWHAWK United States
SHADOWLAND United Kingdom
SHAKARY Switzerland
SHAMALL Germany
SILENT AGREEMENT Netherlands
SILHOUETTE Netherlands
SILVER KEY Italy
SINISTER STREET Netherlands
SINUS Poland
SIX ELEMENTS United States
SJS Australia
SKEEM France
SKYFOX 8 Brazil
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SLYCHOSIS United States
MARK SMOOT United States
SNOWDONIA Spain
SOLIS Brazil
SOLSTICE United Kingdom
SONIC SIGHT Norway
SONIC TAPESTRY United Kingdom
SPEKTRUM Sweden
SPLINTER Netherlands
STARQUAKE Germany
STEALING THE FIRE United Kingdom
STEP AHEAD France
STRANGEFISH United Kingdom
STRANGERS ON A TRAIN United Kingdom
SUBSIGNAL Germany
SUBTERRA Chile
SUPERDRAMA Germany
SUPPER'S READY Luxembourg
ROBERT SVILPA United States
SYLVAN Germany
SYRIAK Venezuela
T Germany
TALE Multi-National
TALE Italy
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TALIESYN Germany
TAMARISK United Kingdom
STEVE TASSLER United States
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TEA IN THE SAHARA Germany
TEE (THE EARTH EXPLORER) Japan
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THALASSA France
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THIS WINTER MACHINE United Kingdom
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TIME AND TIDE United States
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TIME HORIZON United States
TIMELOCK Netherlands
TMP (TOON MARTENS PROJECT) Belgium
TOP LEFT CORNER Italy
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LA TULIPE NOIRE Greece
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TWIN AGE Sweden
ULTIME ATOME France
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US Netherlands
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YLECLIPSE Italy
DAVID YOUNGER United Kingdom
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ZENIT Switzerland
ZENOBIA Germany
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ZJEDNOCZONE SIłY NATURY MECH Poland
ZONK MONK Japan
TOMMY ZVONCHECK United States

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