PROPHETS & SAGES (2011)
(An illustrated guide to underground and progressive rock 1967-1975)
Between 1967 and 1975, "progressive" album-oriented rock became internationally popular, making some of the musicians involved major stars in the process. Many of the acts from that golden era are still performing and their influence is still widely recognized and acknowledged by musicians of all generations.
Others, on the other hand, left behind records that never managed to receive the recognition they deserved. Here, legends such as the Moody Blues, Caravan, Hawkwind, Genesis, King Crimson, and Mike Oldfield sit comfortably alongside more obscure artists like Egg, Khan, Webb, and Bo Hansson. In-depth accounts of the makings of these artists' classic albums, illustrations, album artwork, and photographs provide a comprehensive history for fans of the genre.
It also features sub-section detailing "Thirty of the Greatest Progressive and Underground Rock Albums You May Never Have Heard" and a look at "Ten Great Progressive and Underground Rock singles," as well as cover art from esteemed music compiler, annotater, and designer Phil Smee, known for creating the Motorhead logo.
Published:01 Jun 2011
Publisher:Cherry Red Books
Dimensions:391 pages - 1.25 by 7.75 by 10.50 in
Wow, fantastic book with a slight 'fanzine' feel Now out of print this book is getting hard to find, so I bought mine from Amazon Marketplace (Momox-UK) whose 'Very Good' description turned out to be quite conservative; when it came it was nearly as new. Better still, at about 10" x 8" and a good inch thick, this is a chunky monkey with nearly 400 pages. Masses of photos and contemporary cuttings from the music press (and the good-but-not-great reproduction of these) give this book a slightly 'fanziney' feel which I like, meaning the emphasis is on content and not just the way it's presented. Some of the album choices are a little unusual, and personally I'm disappointed there's no room for Focus' 'Moving Waves', but as Mark Powell says in the intro, it's his personal choice. He also stresses that virtually every album by Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson etc could have been included, but he's sacrificed that to make room for the likes of Man, Hatfield and the North, VDGG, Gong etc (but no Henry Cow, another omission IMO). Still, it's a great book and I'm well chuffed.
Chris M. 5/5 18.03.2021 (Amazon)
An Excellent book about an excellent era An excellent reference book for anyone interested in this very productive and musically rich era.
Printed in black and white with a coloured section featuring the sleeve artwork of most of the albums reviewed within the book. The book is a real pleasure to read. Sectioned yearly and featuring a wealth of press cuttings / advertisements which were first published in the music press at the time. These I feel, add to the books appeal.
Each album featured is reviewed giving its original label and catalogue number accompanied by a bw pic of the original album cover, if it is currently available the current label and number is also given. Band personnel details and histories are given and each review has interesting information relating to the creation of each recording.
Each recording has been lovingly reasearched and the book covers well known acts such as Yes, King Crimson, Camel and Genesis alongside lesser known acts such as Khan, Rare Bird, Affinity and Beggars Opera.
The book has had me browsing YouTube to try and grab a listen to acts I havent heard and revisiting old favourites on several occasions.
J. Wray 5/5 16.01.2011 (Amazon)
Prophets & Sages: no fairytales I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I admit I already have lot's of books in these genres, but Mark Powell took a surprising point of view: from the groundbeaking albums of a progband reviewed. In deapth study of the groups past credentials and a good description of the album itself. He also chooses, to my humble opinion, the right bands from that period. Now on with Illustrated Guide to Folk, Blues, Psyche etc...
J. Jansen 4/5 12.09.2012 (Amazon)
Excellent service The book I received was in excellent condition and arrived promptly. I couldn't have asked for more! My expectations were more than met.
MR D LOWETH 5/5 09.09.2013 (Amazon)
Enjoyable reference book on psychedelic and progressive rock This is an enjoyable book describing some of the author's favourite progressive and psychedelic rock albums from the late 1960s/early 1970s.
The selection omits some of the era's "giant" albums on purpose, to allow the focus to alight on some other equally enjoyable, but often overlooked albums. So, for instance, Pink Floyd's "dark Side of the Moon" is omitted, but their "A Saucerful Full of Secrets" is included. Nevertheless, whilst the selection is clearly a personal one, there could be few progressive/psychedelic rock fans who would complain (discuss, yes, that's another matter!) about the selection.
Unless you're a real collector then the book will allow you to delve back into the period and - like me - find music that you'd not picked up on at the time (I was prompted to buy a Groundhogs album having read one of the entries in this book).
A thorough history of each band/artist is given with each entry, together with a description of the rock "scene" at the time and details about the recording of the album: this is all amply illustrated with copious photographs and reproductions of articles from rock music papers of the time - a real historical record in effect.
On the downside, I found it difficult to read "as a book", it being a description of the albums, so there isn't the continuity in the text that you might expect from a normal book - it is, in effect, a reference book, enhanced perhaps, but still a reference book.
If you're a fan of the music period and interested in its history, then this is a recommended purchase.
alextorres 4/5 24.01.2011 (Amazon)
IN-DEPTH, INFORMATIVE, INTERESTING LOOK INTO UNDERGROUND/PROG-ROCK DURING IT'S PRIME YEARS 373 pages of text and photos/graphics, 2 page Preface, 2 page Catalog of prog-rock from the Esoteric, Atomhenge, Reactive, and Manticore labels. The book is laid out chronologically, beginning with THE MOODY BLUES in 1967, and progressing (no pun intended) through to VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR in 1975. Included are a few pages of 10 great (according to Powell) progressive and underground singles, from the years 1967-1972, which is an interesting addition. There's also a chronological listing of 20 lesser known groups from the era. The vast majority of photos/graphics are in b&w, with 16 pages of color reproductions of album covers from the era. The book itself is a large size (7 3/4" by 10 1/4") soft cover edition.
This great book is obviously a labor of love for author Mark Powell, who has been in the record business a number of years, and has been (and is) a champion of both underground and prog-rock bands from the original era. These bands (both using various combinations of jazz, rock, European classical, psychedelic, blues, folk, and even electronic music) were searching for a new type of sound, away from basic American blues and rock 'n' roll. The amount of information, on both the music and the bands in this book, is staggering. The book covers progressive and underground rock through it's prime years, 1967-1975. The vast majority of artists covered here are British/European, simply because during these years, prog-rock, and the underground scene, was making big gains with both musicians and listeners in Britain. The book came about primarily because Powell was continually asked what his favorite prog-rock/underground albums were.
Because it's a personal selection, a number of bands' finest albums (PINK FLOYD, YES, GENESIS, etc.) you'd expect to see here are largely absent. If the bands are mentioned, it's because Powell wants to highlight a relatively lesser known album, or a point (or points) that might have been overlooked, especially if the album is a good example of prog/underground music that people may have overlooked. But so much has been written about the above (and other) groups' most popular recordings, and that information can easily be found, that simply rehashing the same information would be a waste of time and book space.
Instead there's overviews of groups like; CARAVAN, FAMILY, DEEP PURPLE, Jack Bruce, CAN, COLOSSEUM, JETHRO TULL, MAN, QUINTESSENCE, SPOOKY TOOTH, EGG, GROUNDHOGS, LOCOMOTIVE, LOVE SCULPTURE, T2, PINK FAIRIES, KHAN, STRAWBS, BADGER, PFM, BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST, CAMEL, GONG, GENTLE GIANT, NEKTAR, AMON DUUL II, AFFINITY, RARE BIRD, AUDIENCE, Roy Harper, and on and on. As with any book of this type, you may not find your favorite group (or groups) listed. It's not intended to be an encyclopedia of underground/progressive rock-but what's here is well worth reading-not only Powell's overviews of the groups, but the many period articles and other graphics, which give added flavor and depth to Powell's remarks. From this list, you can tell this book is not aimed only at prog-rock, but also incorporates bands with a straighter approach to rock-many who sometimes had strains of a progressive style in their music. Doing so gives the book added depth and adds even more interest.
This great book belongs in the library of anyone into progressive rock, the underground era, or music in general from Britain during this era. Powell's well thought out essays are interesting and informative. To my knowledge there's not been a book of this scope, written by an industry insider, who loves the music like Powell, before. This book can easily sit next to Charles Snider's "The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock" from a few years back. Hopefully this book will get a U.S. distributor so it will be easily available. One minor quibble-what were they thinking when they came up with the cover art? It's a combination of textbook/ugly, and PINK FLOYD floating colored balls with a light show backdrop. But that's okay, because what's between the covers is well worth your time, and will be something you'll find yourself coming back to time and time again. Prog lovers-get this book. Fans of underground bands will also find this book informative and interesting.
Stuart Jefferson 4/5 26.04.2011 (Amazon)
Amazing research, tons of facts Powell takes a look at more than 100 progressive rock albums, presenting in-depth essays on some of the genre's most famous and most overlooked works. If you're a fan, it's for the more obscure stuff that you'll want to track down this book. Powell includes detailed historical notes on more than a dozen overlooked classics that I guarantee you've never heard of. And some of his other picks are by second-level prog acts that are barely mentioned in other prog histories -- Hawkwind, Hatfield and the North, Nektar, Egg, etc. My only complaint is Powell needed a good proofreader -- his book is FULL of typographical errors in what seems to be becoming a progressive rock tradition. But he includes so much information you can't find anywhere else that I forgive him for the sloppiness.
Tracy Deaton 4/5 30.04.2014 (Amazon)
Excellent Book If you like progressive rock and the inventive and challenging spirit of rock of 1968-1975, this book is must for you!
It has very detail discussion of 101 well- and less-known albums of that period with A LOT of great photos, reprints of articles from music press, etc. I'm a fan of progressive music and have a dozen of book about it and sizable music collection, but I must confess I never ever heard of a few bands that albums discussed there.
The selection of those 101 albums are pure by the author's taste, so do not ask yourself why this or that album wasn't included there.
Very enjoyable reading! Buy it, you won't be disappointed!
Nessy NH 5/5 02.01.2013 (Amazon)
An Interesting Review of Prog Rock Mark Powell runs Cherry Red records, so if you read this book, you should now many of the albums he discusses have or are being reissued by his company. Powell includes commentary, articles about the bands, and other contemporaneous material that make this fascinating reading for an American fan, since many of the publications he gleams articles from never appeared in the US. These selections are Powell's own, so some Prog chestnuts don't appear, but there is now so much written about this maligned genre that even a junkie like myself can find relief in other books. If you love obscure Prog, then this book is for you.
Mark D. Burgh 4/5 09.07.2011 (Amazon)