Readers' Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time

Selections include ‘Close to the Edge,’ ‘2112’ and ‘Selling England By the Pound’

Peter Gabriel

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We knew there would be a huge response this week when we asked readers to vote for their favorite prog rock album of all time (as there was when we asked for your favorite prog band a while back), but we didn't think it would be quite this big. We received thousands of votes, partially fueled by the fact that one band encouraged fans to vote by posting the link on their homepage. We won't name names, so let's just call them D. Theater. No, that's too obvious. Let's go with Dream T. Anyway, there's nothing wrong with the actions of Dream T. – but it did skew the results. Faced with the difficult decision of scrubbing out all their votes or having six of the 10 spots taken up by Dream T, we opted to lump them all in at number one (though one particular album the group released in 1999 did get the vast majority of their votes). We'll explain more in the entry, but without further ado, here are your picks for the top 10 prog rock albums of all time. To put it another way, prepare to enter the court of the Crimson King. 

By Andy Greene

3. Yes, "Close to the Edge"


3. Yes – ‘Close to the Edge’

The songs on Yes' 1972 LP are so long they only managed to squeeze three of them onto the thing. Thankfully, they are three of the very best Yes songs. The title track is an 18:43 album-length song divided into four parts. "And You and I" clocks in at a mere 10:08, while the closer, "Siberian Khatru," is one of the proggiest songs ever, both in name and musical content. This masterpiece marked the end of Bill Bruford's initial tenure in Yes, and despite the great work that followed, they never quite recaptured the magic of this period. The band is now going through a pretty bad period, changing lead singers and keyboardists with alarming regularity. 

2. Rush, "2112"


2. Rush – ‘2112’

It may not seem like it now, but Rush's 1976 LP 2112 was an extremely brave move for the band. Two years earlier the group got the attention of Mercury Records with their Led Zeppelin-esque song "Working Man," but once they got signed they shifted gears with new drummer Neil Peart into proggier territory. The resulting albums, Fly By Night and Caress of Steel, didn't exactly set the world on fire, and the label wanted more commercial material for their next disc. The band took things in a different direction, risking it all on a grandiose concept record about a dystopian future in the year 2112. Radio didn't touch it, but the album found a rabid fan base that's never let go of the music. Some of the big rock groups of the day now play county fairs, while Rush are still packing arenas worldwide. 

1. Dream Theater, "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory"


1. Dream Theater – ‘Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory’

Dream Theater posted this poll on their website (again, a totally kosher move), but it resulted in a ridiculous amount of votes for Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. If we had kept in all the Dream Theater albums, Images and Words would be number two, and Awake, Octavarium and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence would also be listed here. Lumping them all into this top spot was the only way to handle the flood of Dream Theater votes; feel free to label it whatever you want in the comments section. Dream Theater are one of the few prog groups to start after the Seventies and gain a massive global following. Unlike the rest of the groups here, they are a progressive metal group. Like most great prog albums, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory is a concept album. It's about a guy named Nicholas and his discovery that he lived a past life. The whole album is actually a sequel to a song from the group's 1992 disc Images and Words, which in and of itself is a wonderfully proggy move. Dream Theater continue to tour and record at a relentless pace, though beloved drummer Mike Portnoy left the band in 2010. 

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