The Vinyl Issue: Side-long Songs

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Redefining the phrase ‘long-player’, these classics feature a song spread across a whole side - or in some cases, two sides…

IRON BUTTERFLY

In A Gadda-Da-Vida from In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (ATCO, 1968)

A bridge between psychedelic etchings and heavy corrosion. It was recorded during a soundcheck as the band messed around, but a tape was rolling to capture the spontaneity. Vinyl space restrictions meant it couldn’t meander and magic prevailed.

CANNED HEAT

Refried Boogie Parts I And II from Living The Blues (LIBERTY, 1968)

Split into two parts, Refried Boogie stretched over two sides of this double album. Recorded live, the blues workout didn’t suffer because of the break between sides. A fade-out, fade-in motif added to the effect.

PENTANGLE

Jack Orion from Cruel Sister (TRANSATLANTIC, 1970)

A variation and extension of the traditional ballad Glasgerion, this version allowed the tragedy inherent in a tale of murder, rape and madness to come to fruition. The use of varied instrumentation and rhythms added to the uneasy, prodding atmosphere.

CAN

Halleluhwah and Aumgn from Tago Mago (UNITED ARTISTS, 1971)

The high-water mark of the new German expressionism of the early 70s, double LP_ Tago Mago_ contained two songs that each swallow an entire side of vinyl. Halleluhwah is rhythmic trance in excelsis, while Aumgn is weird ambient abstraction. Catnip for headphones.

CARAVAN

Nine Feet Underground from In The Land Of Grey And Pink (DERAM, 1971)

One of the pivotal and best albums of 70s prog, from the Canterbury scene’s de facto heads of state. The whimsy of Golf Girl and the sublime Winter Wine are Caravan signatures, while the multi-faceted, side-long Nine Feet Underground is in a class of its own.

**PINK FLOYD **

Echoes from Meddle (HARVEST, 1971)

Floyd’s most avant-garde 23 minutes were patched from existing compositions with myriad textures, reverse effects and a screaming seagull. This Rick Wright-led exposition crept across Meddle’s flipside like moss on a cliff seep, signposting the direction that would lead to Dark Side Of The Moon.

VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR

A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers from Pawn Hearts (CHARISMA, 1971)

The mighty Generator upped the ante for the entire prog-rock genre with Pawn Hearts’ climactic, 23-minute centrepiece, A Plague Of Lighthouse Keepers. A mesmerising splurge of smart ideas from the minds of then 22-year-old Peter Hammill and his comrades, it’s still one of prog’s wildest rides.

**YES **

Close To The Edge from Close To The Edge (ATLANTIC, 1972)

LP. Long Play. Never were those two words more appropriate than for this exuberantly poetic prog vista. Or what Jon Anderson called “a beautiful ocean of energy”. The ideal way to travel through it? With headphones and dimmed lights, man.

**RUSH **

2112 from 2112 (ANTHEM, 1976)

For sci-fi-loving teenage nerds, it felt like gazing into a mirror that made us cooler and smarter. Sure, the music rocked, but the thrill was in thinking about big ideas – freedom, art, integrity and conviction.

THE DAMNED

Curtain Call from The Black Album (CHISWICK, 1980)

The Damned were an increasingly ambitious bunch as the 80s unfurled. The third side of the band’s fourth album climaxed with the 17-minute Curtain Call, a sprawling, ultra-gothic epic. If punk had killed prog, it had a funny way of showing it.