Ten Most Underrated Prog Rock Albums

Categories: Lists

Mahavishnu Orchestra - Birds of Fire
Ed Matus notes on this matter: "Born from Miles Davis' Bitches Brew sessions, Mahavishnu Orchestra was led by guitarist John McLaughlin and featured a who's who of jazz fusion lineup, including drummer Billy Cobham and keyboardist Jan Hammer. While considered a fusion jazz outfit, the band had a huge influence on the prog rock world."

Roxy Music - Stranded
Though Brian Eno had left the band at this point, Roxy Music made up for the loss by bringing in former Curved Air electric violinist/keybaordist Eddie Jobson. Eno's contributions were often incongruent to the music, self-aware, and called attention to their own weirdness. It had its charms, but it was nice to hear supplemental instruments play a more supportive role to the grander scheme of an album.

Jobson added the right amount of flavor to the band's most cohesive album to date without taking away the muscle of the band's two previous releases. It allowed for more quiet moments that showcased frontman Bryan Ferry's romantic vibrato. But the band is also allowed to rock out, as it does for the opening title track and the intro to the epic "Mother of Pearl," which builds dense layers of melody between repetitive, sparkling guitar lines, ambling piano, humming organs, skittering drums, and some grooving bass. It's augmented with all sorts of sonic flourishes from horns, castanets, whispers, marimbas, and possibly a theremin, which, after six-and-half minutes, gives way to Ferry's fluttering a cappella refrain: "Oh, mother of pearl, I wouldn't trade you for another girl."

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