Masterpiece Compositions
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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

 

Allman Brothers BandRush 2112

Masterpiece Compositions

Steppin' Out With The Grateful DeadPink Floyd Animals

 
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Masterpiece Compositions

This page layout began as a way to showcase progressive artists and their suites, like Yes with "Close To The Edge," and Genesis with "Supper's Ready," etc. Basically songs that are several sections and generally fifteen minutes or longer. However, progressive rock fans likely would already have all the suggestions. As a result, I stretched the territory to complement the progressive music with other bands in different genres. I added bands like Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers Band with long improvisational  rock and blues, the Grateful Dead with their open-ended exporatory masterpiece "Dark Star," and the jazz great John Coltrane with the incredibly melodious "My Favorite Things." 

Just a sampling, but all top shelf. 

Allman Brothers Band 
John Coltrane
Genesis
Grateful Dead
Jethro Tull
Led Zeppelin
Pink Floyd
Rush
Yes

More to add == stop back.

Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Allman Brothers Band - Live at the Fillmore East

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Since the bands start in the late 1960's, The Allman Brothers Band are still going strong as of this writing in the year 2005. 

The Allman Brothers Band blend many different styles with an emphasis on blues and rock. 

Their third album is a live masterpiece that was recorded live in 1971. It includes several extended compositions or jams: 
In Memory of Elizabeth Reed 
You Don't Love Me 
Whipping Post 
Mountain Jam 

The Allman Brother Fillmore Concerts have been issued several times. 
Live At The Fillmore East - 1 disc, 7 songs-'97
Live At The Fillmore East SACD 2 discs-7 songs '04
The Fillmore Concerts  - 2 discs, 12 songs-'91
At Fillmore East - 2 discs, 13 songs -'03

Visit our Allman Brothers Band section.

At Fillmore East
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

John Coltrane - My Favorite Things

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
John Coltrane's My Favorite Things title track is one of the most melodious tracks in any music genre. You've likely have heard it in the classic film The Sound of Music

This is one of the shorter referenced songs in this section, but it is such a good piece of music that we included it. Who's better on this track Coltrane or pianist McCoy Tyner? 

The four tracks on the original 1961 release are all covers of well-known tunes.

My Favorite Things
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Genesis - Foxtrot

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Genesis album Foxtrot is one of their better ones from the Peter Gabriel era. It is highlighted by the ambitious sidelong epic "Supper's Ready" that comprises of seven linked subsections. 

"Supper's Ready" begins on multiple 12-string acoustic guitars, and ends big with the gloomy "Apocalypse in 9/8," with Tony Banks playing a 4/4 organ solo while the rest of the band repeats a 9/8 riff. With lots of good stuff in-between.

An inferior version of "Supper's Ready" appears on their live album Seconds Out

 

 

Foxtrot
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Grateful Dead - Steppin' Out With ....

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
The Grateful Dead are known for their long jams. Their best known jamming vehicle is "Dark Star," a track perfectly suited for improvisation. The song took different structures through the years. We reference a 1972 version here and its structure is:

DS theme & jam > 
additional jams > 
return to DS theme jam & 1st vocals > space > 
additional jams > 
Tiger > 
more jamming > 
transition > ... the next song.

The four-disc release, Steppin' Out..., also features other musical masterpieces including "The Other One," "Playing in the Band," and a "Goin' Down the Road" > Not Fade Away" medley, and more.

If you like Garcia's playing check out his side band's interpretation of "Don't Let Go." It is their most exploratory number.

Visit our Grateful Dead section.

Visit our Jerry Garcia Band section.

Steppin' Out With The Grateful Dead
Don't Let Go 
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Jethro Tull are not a strict progressive rock band, though they do venture to that arena from time to time. Though, their album Thick As a Brick was revolutionary in that realm. It is basically one song. 

"Thick as a Brick" achieves its greatness through a combination of exquisite composition and arranging, supplemented with top-notch musical passages.  

Anderson’s demonstrates his versatility with a host of instruments including flute, violin, trumpet and sax. Guitarist Barre’s shines throughout with both guitar leads and riffs bringing the song to its harder side. 

Thick as a Brick is an essential album for progressive rock fans.

Thick As a Brick
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Led Zeppelin - How the West Was Won

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Led Zeppelin extended many of their songs live with lengthy solos. Two tracks in particular became centerpieces of their concert performances that were generally over twenty minutes. They are "Dazed and Confused" and "Whole Lotta Love." 

Led Zeppelin has three live albums and a DVD to consider. Our strongest suggestions is the three-disc CD How the West Was Won that was recorded in June 1972, and their incredible DVD. The links will take you to full reviews of the releases. 

Visit our Led Zeppelin section.

How The West Was Won
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Pink Floyd - Animals

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

The follow up to Pink Floyds classic album Wish You Were Here is Animals. It is academically not their best album, that would be Dark Side of the Moon; however, we enjoy this one just as much. From a purely guitar perspective this is the best Pink Floyd album.

An important distinction between Animals and their previous two is that it does not have any stand alone songs that make for frequent radio play resulting in an even seamless flowing album. The theme of the album comes from George Orwell's book Animal Farm. The album begins and ends with short acoustic guitar tracks that have the same chord sequence, but different lyrics. Between are three lengthy tracks that have great cohesion to their structure, and all have great musical passages. The song "Sheep" is the best song on the album; it includes one of David Gilmour finest constructed guitar solos leading up the lyrics. "Dogs" is another wonderful listening experience, beginning with the keyboard/guitar intro, leading to Waters' powerful vocals, and just as significant is another scorching Gilmour guitar solo.

Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals is a perfect flowing forty plus minutes of one of a kind sonic creations.

Visit our Pink Floyd section.

Animals
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Rush - 2112

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Rush took progressive rock to the hard rock genre with their classic and still talked about album 2112.  The title track is the centerpiece which at the time of its release was an album side.

2112
I. Overture
II. The Temples of Syrinx
III. Discovery
IV. Presentation
V. Oracle: The Dream
VI. Soliloquy
VII. Grand Finale

The complete track is included in live format on Different Stages: Live; a great value - 3 discs for the price of two. The first two discs consists primarily of 1997 material promoting Test For Echo, along with a few songs from 1994's Counterparts tour. Enclosed in a separate case is an archive disc of a 1978 London performance. Be aware that shorter renditions of "2112" and medley do appear on some of their other live album and compilations.

2112
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

Yes ~ Close To The Edge

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Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Yes has more lengthy suite compositions than any artist that I follow. We consider Close to the Edge to be their best featuring excellent musical passages and awesome dynamics. structured into four sections of captivating music: 
I. The Solid Time of Change
II. Total Mass Retain
III. I Get Up I Get Down
IV. Seasons of Man

The other two tracks on this album, "And You and I" (four sections), and "Siberian Khatru" are masterpieces unto themselves. 

Excellent live versions of "Close to the Edge" are available such as on Yessongs and Keys to Ascension 2. It is included in their compilations or box sets, Yesyears, Yesstory, and In a Word.

Close to the Edge
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations
Hard Rock Album Reviews and recommendations

 

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