Welcome to my Blog which combines the unlikely topics of supply teaching with progressive rock. Here you will find my ongoing 'Diary of a Surviving Supply Teacher' and a variety of lists/ timelines/ articles on progressive rock.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Progressive Rock's Hit Singles

rogressive rock hit singles are not easy to find. Usually created as a marketing tool, often dissimilar from the rest of the album from which they were taken, a few became surprise successes. Some were the result of ‘radio’ edits and re-appeared much later as bonus tracks on CD albums. Here is a short, random list of thirty:

1.       Carpet Crawlers by Genesis. The track is from the 1974 concept album The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. In the midst of the story, the central character, Rael, decides to head back to the womb in the company of the carpet crawlers – who may or may not have been babies in disguise.

2.       Living In The Past by Jethro Tull.

3.       Sweet Dream by Jethro Tull. The follow-up to Living In The Past, reached No.7 in the British singles chart in autumn 1969.

4.       Syliva by Focus. Features guitarist Jan Akkerman and plenty of choirboy vocalising.

5.       Backstreet Luv by Curved Air. The band fronted by Sonja Kristina with a song that reached No.4 in 1971. Kristina had performed in the London production of Hair so it was only natural that she should pose scantily clad for Curved Air publicity photos.

6.       Joybringer/ Can’t Eat Meat by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was released as a single without featuring on the band’s 1973 album Solar Fire.

7.       A Whiter Shade Of Pale by Procol Harum. Procol Harum featured the twin keyboards of Gary Brooker and Matthew Fisher with guitarist Robin Trower.
8.       Sympathy by Rare Bird. Signed to the Charisma label, Rare Bird had two keyboard players combined with the soulful vocals of Graham Gould. Sympathy was the band’s only hit, reaching No.27 and spending eight weeks in the chart in 1970.

9.       Northern Lights by Renaissance. The original band was founded by two ex-members of The Yardbirds, Keith Relf and Jim McCarty. However the Northern Lights was released by a distinctly different Mk II version of Renaissance, with singer Annie Haslam. Taken from the 1978 album Song For All Seasons this track gave Renaissance their only hit single, reaching No.10 in July of that year.

10.   Burlesque by Family. Burlesque is the opening track of the 1972 album Bandstand. As well as Roger Chapman’s gravelly voice, the song features guitar work from Charlie Whitney.

11.   Forgotten Sons by Marillion. Forgotten Sons is from the Aylesbury band’s 1983 debut album Script For A Jester’s Tear. The single was a massive success, reaching No.7 in the chart and repaying the faith of their label, EMI, who had recently signed them.

12.   Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Taken from Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s self-titled 1970 debut album, Lucky Man is almost a Greg Lake solo track. The ex-King Crimson bassist/vocalist apparently wrote this evocative ballad when he was just 12 years old. ELP added it belatedly to their record when they discovered they didn’t have enough material, and Keith Emerson’s Moog solo at the end was added as an afterthought. The song reached the Top 50 in the US and started their career in north America.

13.   The Spirit Of Radio by Rush. Rush began as a Canadian Led Zeppelin copyists, but once drummer Neil Peart joined (replacing John Rutsey) fantasy took over. The Spirit of Radio is from 1980’s Permanent Waves album, when the trio were trying to create shorter, more commercial tracks aimed at the American market.

14.   (Don’t Fear) The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult is taken from the New York band’s 1976 album Agents Of Fortune, on which they were attempting to be more accessible. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper remains the band’s biggest hit and most recognisable song.

15.   Hole in My Shoe by Traffic. A psychedelic track, written by Dave Mason, at the start of which a child’s voice tells us, ‘I climbed on the back of a giant albatross/Which flew through a crack in the cloud/To a place where happiness reigned all year round/Where music played ever so loudly.’

16.   Hold Your Head Up/ Closer to Heaven by Argent. The band was created as a combination of the songwriting expertise of guitarist Russ Ballard and the keyboard talents of Rod Argent (ex-Zombies). It was not until they released their third album in 1972, All Together Now, that they had their first hit single (top five in Britain and the US).

17.   God Gave Rock And Roll To You by Argent. The follow-up hit to Hold Your Head Up.

18.   Tomorrow Night by Atomic Rooster. One of two hit singles for the band in 1971, the other being the follow-up Devil’s Answer. The band were founded by keyboard player Vincent Crane (ex-Crazy World of Arthur Brown), but he was plagued by mental illness and committed suicide in 1989 after a long battle with depression.

19.   Devil’s Answer by Atomic Rooster. The equally successful follow-up to Tomorrow Night.

20.   Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues. Short of money, they sold the copyright of their biggest hit to skiffle star Lonnie Donegan.

21.   The Snow Goose/ Freefall by Camel. The Snow Goose album is well-known, but the single is obscure and failed to chart in 1975.

22.   In Dulci Jubilo/ On Horseback by Mike Oldfield. Taken from the Ommadawn album in 1975 and reached Number 4 on the British singles chart.

23.   Portsmouth by Mike Oldfield. Oldfield followed the success of In Dulci Jubilo a year later by reaching an even better Number 3 in the same chart.

24.   Autobahn/ Morgenspaziergang by Kraftwerk. In 1975, Kraftwerk were still known as a Krautrock progressive band, but this single was an international chart success.

25.   Carry On Wayward Son/ Questions of My Childhood by Kansas. In 1976 there were not many American progressive rock bands. However, Carry On Wayward Son reached Number 11 in the US and Number 7 in Canada.

26.   Point of Know Return by Kansas. Reached Number 28 in the US a year after COWS.

27.   Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Enters the US charts a year after Point of Know Return.

28.   Wonderous Stories/ Parallels by Yes. 1977 was the year of punk rock, hence the deliberate mis-spelling, but Yes managed to enjoy a Number 5 hit single in the UK chart in September of that year.

29.   Fanfare for the Common Man/ Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. An interesting combination of commercial instrumental and hitherto non-album track in 1977. Amazingly Fanfare for the Common Man reached Number 2 in Britain in 1977. It features Keith Emerson on the polyphonic Yamaha GX-1 synthesizer.

30.   Roundabout/ Long Distance Runaround by Yes, a shorter, edited version taken from the Fragile album in 1972, became a surprise hit in North America. It reached Number 13 in the US and Number 5 in Canada. Famously, it introduced the US market to British progressive rock, but failed to match the overseas sales in the UK.

Originally posted on Thursday 20th January 2011

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