eventseekr Shuffle: The Golden Age of the Prog Rock “Epic”

BY NATHAN CRANFORD

The years 1971-1973 encapsulate what many feel to be the “golden age” of prog rock. Aside from the sprawling “epics” we’ll be discussing in this article, several other progressive rock albums were released during these years and are considered by many to be hallmarks of the genre. However, despite the huge advancements in recording technology and musical complexity that resulted from the ingenuity of progressive rock musicians throughout the 1970s, one of the more controversial experiments of the era was the introduction of the epic “record filling” prog song.

“Tarkus” – Emerson, Lake and Palmer (1971)

(A very short snippet from a 1972 live performance in Tokyo)

ELP begins this list simply because I feel their work marks the rise in popularity of the progressive rock “epic” during the early 1970s. The band’s sophomore album, Tarkus, is widely considered to be the first truly great album to highlight a rock song that ran for over 20 minutes–quite outlandishly taking up the whole first side of the record.

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