There are several albums that are widely perceived as genuine classics. Albums which haven’t faded with the passing of time, but instead only seemed to become richer. Sometimes you might feel as if you never need to hear these again due to their over familiarity, and yet, a chance encounter with Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; The Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’, or a favourite Beatles album only serves to remind you how good they still sound, and remind you of why you loved them in the first place.
1973 was something of a banner year for progressive rock. That year, Pink Floyd released their billion selling ‘Dark Side of The Moon’; Genesis released a career best with ‘Selling England By The Pound’; a double whammy from Gong – ‘Flying Teapot’ and ‘Angels Egg’ – cemented their place in the psych-prog underground; both King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer released albums that would go on to become fan favourites, and Mike Oldfield became an instant national treasure with his ‘Tubular Bells’, despite his Piltdown Man scaring the shite out of a generation of small children.
Picture the scene: it’s a very cold afternoon in Kent, the rain is absolutely lashing down, and a crowd covered in pac-a-macs has assembled in front of the Prog Stage at the first ever Ramblin’ Man Fair. Weird prog/fusion ensemble Knifeworld have already started to create a buzz online and for some hardened proggers, the band’s early set time has been reason enough to leave their hotel rooms before lunch and brave the near apocalyptic weather.
Formed in 2012, The Prog Collective purports to be the world’s biggest prog rock supergroup. The idea of “supergroup” suggests musicians taking a permanent role; for this band, the reality is somewhat different. Yes, there are a lot of different musicians involved, but many of the famous faces signed up for the Collective only ever play on one or two tracks each. In that respect, as has previously been pointed out, this is just another vehicle for the multi-talented Billy Sherwood to present material that doesn’t necessarily fit his day job as Yes bassist/arranger. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, of course – the likelihood of Steve Hillage, Richard Page and Dweezil Zappa ever being invited to a Yes recording session is less than zero, so Sherwood’s extra-curricular project is more than valid.
Although often billed as the world’s biggest prog rock supergroup, The Prog Collective is actually more of a revolving gang of musicians. Working with an incredibly fluid line up, it’s merely an umbrella name that allows multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood to call on various friends according to their appropriate talents. If this sounds like a similar set up to one of Sherwood’s many tribute albums, it’s with very good reason. The Prog Collective’s main difference – at least on their first two albums – came from the idea that the gathering of talent would record original material. It’s also clear that Sherwood believed, perhaps correctly, that the mystique of a “prog supergroup” would attract more listeners than one of his many solo projects.