In this updated edition of his 2007 book, an idea of the kind of depth Charles Snider goes into can be gleaned from the revised artwork, an electron-microscope image of the grooves of Minstrel In The Gallery, catalogue number CHR 1082.
Snider takes prog very seriously and for the last 20-plus years has dedicated blood, sweat and tears (if not the actual band) to documenting the archeology of the scene. Aided by a spectrum of insiders – John Wetton to Jonathan Schang, Pye Hastings to Steve Hillage, Ciro Perrino to Michael Rother – this Chicagoan delivers verdicts on 476 albums created during 1967 and 1982, plus a final muso section called ‘The Portraits’. It’s a heck of a project, and his dedication and breadth of choice is to be applauded. But before we even hit the chronology, Snider uses notes and graphs to outline his cause when the absence of more engaging visuals is notable; no band shots, album sleeves, or illustrations to take us from year to year. Snider’s summaries are intensely fact-packed but academic, his straightforward critique lacking a storyteller’s flair. In the final section, the ‘Portraits’ are a rag-tag of running quotes and Q&As in need of some pithy editing. It doesn’t spoil the work, though – this is an still an enthusiast’s mothership.