French journalist and music blogger Frédéric Delâge has already written two paperbacks on prog.
His previous book Chroniques du Rock Progressif: 1967-1979 was published in 2002 and focused on that defining decade-plus in music, whereas this follow-up also begins at the very beginnings of the emergence of prog in Britain in the late 60s, and comes right up to Opeth’s Pale Communion released in 2014. Provided your French is up to it, this well-written book is an essential read for anyone taking a beginner’s interest in the genre, and it’s a great guide to the 100 titles that any self-respecting prog fanatic should have in their collection. The book begins with a thorough introduction of the form to set the tone. Prog expert Delâge discusses the evolution of the genre, citing examples along the way. He explains the blend of rock, classical, folk and jazz influences that creates progressive music, and he goes on to name Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as the genre’s official precursor. Classic albums that you’ll know, such as In the Court Of The Crimson King, Trespass and Tubular Bells, are referenced to illustrate this musical history lesson. Delâge also cites the influence of international politics, the creation of post-prog and finally, 21st century schizoid prog as key musical moments. Following this in-depth analysis comes the author’s 100 recommended prog albums. From Pink Floyd to Yes, from Radiohead to Archive and The Mars Volta, this anthology gathers an indispensable musical compilation from prog’s pioneers to its modern successors.
If you needed evidence that prog artists have been pushing the rock frontiers relentlessly, then this is it. Prog 100 is a must-read for all Francophone prog enthusiasts, and if some wise publisher doesn’t see there’d be real sense in producing an English translation, then we’ll mange our chapeau.