Eleven great prog tracks about space

Space Prog
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Today is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. A momentous moment in the history of mankind. A giant leap for mankind , even...

Progressive rock has long had a fascination with space and beyond. Understandable when one considers it is largely music that is intent on pushing beyond the norm. The music's been around for just over 50 years as well...

So to celebrate we dug into the prog vaults to bring you eleven classic slices of space-themed prog. Enjoy...

PINK FLOYD - INTERSTELLAR OVERDRIVE (1967)

From the band's classic 1967 debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, the title really says it all. One of the very epic psychedelic instrumentals, it was built out of an improvisation after Syd Barrett heard then manager Peter Jenner humming a tune. Certainly one of the band's most mind-expanding pieces of music.

GENESIS - WATCHER OF THE SKIES (1972)

Not the only song to make our list that was inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End novel, it was written by Peter Gabriel and Mike Rutherford after they'd surveyed the airfield where they were rehearsing and mulled over what an alien might think, looking at a deserted Earth. It inspired Gabriel's bat-winged alien costume.

HAWKWIND - SPACE IS DEEP (1972)

You can't have a space prog list and not have something from the space rock overlords themsleves. There's plenty to choose from, but we've opted for this, from Doremi Sofar Latido, which was inspired by Michael Moorcock's Black Corridor poem. "Space is dark, it is so endless..." Indeed.

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR - CHILDLIKE FAITH IN CHILDHOOD'S END (1976)

Another song inspired by the Arthur C Clarke novel Childhood's End. This song, from the band's 1976 album Still Life deals with space travel, the future of the human race and the very nature of immortality itself.

KLAATU- CALLING OCCUPANTS OF INTERPLANETERY CRAFT (1976)

The Canadian band who caused a stir when they first appeared because people thought they were The Beatles. From their 1976 debut album 3:47 EST, this song was later made popular by The Carpenters. it was inspired by a story in The Flying Saucer Reader about the International Flying Saucer Bureau's World Contact Day, in which they would send a telepathic message to potential alien visitors. It began with the message "Calling occupants of interplanetary craft...". Right you are.

RUSH - CYGNUS X-1 (1977)

It's a song about journeying into a black hole. How much more space can you get? Part one surfaced on Rush's 1977 album A Farewell To Kings, while the band concluded the space epic with Part two, which opens 1978's Hemispheres album. Part one is all about the journey into the black hole. Part two is, well, a little more bonkers...

BRIAN ENO - UNDER STARS (1983)

From his album Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, which Eno recorded with his brother Roger and Daniel Lanois, which was originally recorded for an Apollo film project that was eventually called For All Mankind (1989). The music's since been heard in films like Traffic and 24 Days Later, as well as being used in the 2012 Olympics. A newly expanded edition has just been released.

RADIOHEAD - SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK ALIEN (1997)

From the band's groundbreaking OK Computer album saw Radiohead musing over being abducted by extraterrestrials, only to have everyone mock him upon his return to Earth. An early inspiration was a school project of singer Thom Yorke where he was asked to write a piece of 'Martian poetry'. Musically it's the sound of the band trying to emulate Miles Davis' Bitches Brew.

MUSE - EXO-POLITIOCS (2006)

You'd think with a title like Supermassive Black Hole we'd have opted for that track from 2006's Black Holes And Revelations album. But that song's actually about the dangerous lure of the music industry. No we've gone for Ex-Politics, which is all about an alien invasion.

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING - GO (2015)

The bizarre London-based trio (and one-time Prog Award winners) love their concept albums and 2015's The Race For Space did exactly what it said on the tin. We could have dipped in anywhere in the album, but Go, all about Apollo 11 itself, which seems to fit the bill.

LONELY ROBOT - ICARUS (2019)

Kino and Arena man John Mitchell began his own space trilogy with 2015's Lonely Robot album and has since dipped back in with 2017's The Big Dream and concluded everything with this year's Under Stars. You could dip into any of the albums - they;re all excellent, but we've opted for Icarus from Under Stars, a song inspired by Mitchell's love of sci-fi cinema and Danny Boyle's 2007  film Sunshine.