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Below the radar - the rest of English prog in the 1970s

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In this essay I want to look at differences in musical decision-making between English progressive bands who worked successfully throughout the 1970s and those who didn’t. The question, fundamentally, is one of style. Is it possible to point to stylistic elements, crudities perhaps, among the less successful bands which might help to explain their marginality? I envisage looking at bands across three stages. First, there are musicians ‘on the cusp’ of the progressive era, but who didn’t continue into what we might call a mature stage. I have in mind here, Clouds, Curved Air, Argent and Atomic Rooster as representative. Second, there are musicians whose recordings come from the period after those peak years of 1969-71, when it seems that stylistic formation are already comewhwat secure. I have in mind here bands like Aardvark, Steamhammer, Gracious, Greenslade, Gnidrolog, Gryphon. Finally, I want to look at bands who didn’t begin to record until after prog’s initial heyday, when competition from punk in particular was clear. Representative here would seem to be Genre, Gilgamesh and Druid. I do not propose to answer why so many of these bands chose names beginning with the letter ‘G’!

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