The First Prog Rock Album I Bought


In the mid to late 1970’s I began to listen to local rock radio stations. One of the huge benefits of growing up in the south Bay Area was that we had to iconic rock stations, KOME and KSJO that just played kick-ass music.

I was a total n00b, not knowing ANYTHING about music, but I know that there was one song that when I heard it, I loved it.

Why? Well with a lyric like:

Welcome back, my friends
To the show that never ends.
We’re so glad you could attend!
Come inside! Come inside!
There behind a glass
Stands a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass.
Move along! Move along!
(and much more)

– Lyrics by ELP

The problem was I didn’t know who performed it, so I kept listening and one day it was noted that it was a band named “Emerson, Lake and Palmer”.

Armed with that knowledge, I ventured into the Kmart music section with my hard earned allowance money, and found the triple live album “Welcome Back My Friends to the Show that Never Ends” by the supergroup ELP.

My allowance money wasn’t quite enough, but my mom took pity on me, and sported me the few bucks I needed to complete the acquisition.

The first album I ever bought for myself.

All because of that enchanting lyric I heard on the radio that I needed to hear again.

Needless to say, I was completely blown away. The entire album was audible bliss, an assault on my ears by some of the most amazing sounds. Keith’s wild, synth laden lines and licks, Greg Lake’s enchanting vocals, and the percussion of Carl Palmer.

I must have listened to the album 20 times the first weekend. I found the 27 minutes of Tarkus enthralling (full album side), and the complete 35 minutes of Karn Evil 9 – the source of that enchanting lyric that captured my attention – mesmerizing from the opening keyboard riff to the crescendo of the synth pattern that it ends in, all 35 minutes and two album sides.

Just gobsmacked all the way.

Yes, that was the birth of my passion for progressive rock.

About the author


Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.

By gander


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