Progressive rock, a genre to love or hate. It originated in the late sixties thanks to heavy psychedelic rock influences and was pioneered by bands that wanted to go beyond the standard verse-chorus based song structures. As a result, often complex instrumental songs were bundled on concept albums with epic pretensions. It’s well possible that you once caught yourself asking what the hell one of these bands was trying to tell you while listening to one of their albums. The answers are provided here, in Prog Albums Explained. All you need is the album, a comfortable couch and some good headphones.
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Genre: Progressive Rock
Preceded by: Selling England by the Pound (1973)
Followed by: A Trick of the Tail (1976)
Related to: Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Side 3: (continued from Side 2)
Track 1: Lillywhite Lilith + Track 2: The Waiting Room
Another case of two songs merging into each other, with the second one being another instrumental. Rael is still in the middle of this chaos, when he suddenly hears a blind lady (Lilywhite Lilith) asking him to help her out of the crowd. In return she will lead him out of this place. So Rael follows her but instead of escaping he’s left behind disillusioned in the darkness: Then she sat me down on a cold stone, carved in jade. A bizarre noise is approaching now while he stays in ‘the waiting room’. Those sounds originate from unused compositions of the band from 1969, resembling the experimental parts from Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother.
Track 3: Anyway
This seems to be some kind of stream-of-consciousness experience from Rael in which he’s confronted with his death. Death seems to come much faster than Rael expected (Anyway, they say she comes on a pale horse, but I’m sure I hear a train) and when the piano-driven song is at its highest orchestrated point, Rael looks Death right into the eyes…
Track 4: The Supernatural Anaesthetist
Death is impersonated by the supernatural anaesthetist. He approaches Rael, but it appears that he didn’t come to claim his soul and as such he disappears again. This is the reason there are few lyrics in this song, which is mainly driven by Hackett’s guitar playing, including a beautiful outro. However, the anaesthetist left a charming impression on Rael: he’s such a fine dancer.
Track 5: The Lamia (+Track 6: Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats)
This track is really reigned by Tony Banks’ keys. Rael is tired of having this schizophrenic flashes in the middle of the rubble, so when he suddenly smells a strange scent, he decides to follow it to see where it comes from. It leads him to a hole in the wall and he succeeds to crawl through it. Now he witnesses the strangest thing: a pool filled with snakes all having female heads and breasts. The entities are seducing him to join them in the pool. Has this something to do with Rael’s criminal record? However, Rael stands astonished doubting his sight, struck by beauty, gripped in fright. Rael enters the pool and the Lamia start to devour Rael’s body but they end up dying because of his poisonous blood! The track flows over to ‘Silent Sorrow in Empty Boats’, a very calm interlude with a zooming mellotron, a sinister warning of what’s to come on side 4…
-Continue to Side 4–