"It blurred all the boundaries of my musical vocabulary." - John Wetton on Surf's Up

John Wetton
(Image credit: Press)

In issue 48 of Prog Magazine, back in the swirling mist of time that was 2014, we asked Prog readers to vote for their favourite prog albums of all time. As well as the readers, we also polled a few notable prog musicians as to which was their favourite prog album. Some gave answers that man would exepct. Some offered albums that pushed the bounadries a bit more.

John Wetton was, at that point, fronting a reunion of the original Asia line-up alongside Geoff Downes, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe (although by 2014 Howe had been replaced by youngster Sam Carlson), which had begun in 2009 with Phoenix and had spawned three more albums; Omega (2010), XXX (2012) and Gravitas (2014).

When asked for his favourite prog album, as befitting of a musician who had broken so many sonic boundaries with King Crimson yet hit such successful songwriting highs with Asia, Wetton opted for an album that combined skilled songwriting and continued to advance the sound of the band in question. The Beach Boys 1971 album Surf's Up.

“The summer of ’71 had so many musical milestones; Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Miles Davis’ Jack Johnson, but Surf’s Up was a revelation," Wetton told us. "I was in Family, a major player in the first wave of British progressive bands, but this collection from the iconic California surf-pop band shifted my parameters, blurring all the boundaries of my musical vocabulary. I marvelled at Van Dyke Parks’ mind-expanding poetry of the title track, wallowing in the glorious harmonies. Both composition and production absolutely floored me. The whole experience was my nirvana. And the cover? Mega prog!”