Roie Avin, editor of The Prog Report, announced yesterday that their website will be releasing a new book, titled Essential Modern Progressive Rock Albums. Unlike a lot of the current books on progressive rock that seem to stop in the mid-to-late 70s, this book will include influential and important albums that were released between 1990 and 2016. We asked Roie some questions about his new book.
First of all, tell us about The Prog Report.
Roie: The Prog Report started in 2013. I had been listening to some incredible music around that time, I believe it was Steven Wilson’s Raven album, Big Big Train, Sound of Contact, and a bunch of other ones all at one time, and it was amazing. It seemed like more good new albums than I had heard in a while. I was just telling anyone I knew about them, which is something I always did anyway. I then thought maybe there are another 100 or so people that might now know about these albums. So I made a blog so I could write some reviews. It just snowballed from there really quickly.
What made you decide to make this book?
Roie: On the Prog Report, like many sites, we make lists where we rank albums, songs, etc. Our readers always appreciate them, so the idea came to turn one of those into a book and expand on it. The idea eventually evolved into what this book is. I have always loved prog music, even all the classic bands, but I have also felt this generation of bands never get the respect they deserve. Their albums are just as good as anything that was made in the 70s. So the intention of the book was to shine a light on those albums that have been important to me and others that listen to this music today. I also hope any progressive music fans that think the music died 20 years ago will pick this up and discover some great new music.
Who determined which albums were on the list?
Roie: Over years of listening to this music and talking to people, you learn which are the ones that resonated the most. Even if something is not necessarily my favorite, but its immensely popular, I know it has to be recognized. This book took that approach. I also have a select group of writers and colleagues whose opinions I trust immensely. So you start with the obvious ones and then go through and figure out which ones really just can’t be excluded under any circumstances. That said, I know there is no way to please everyone and there probably will be some that disagree with the choices. Of course, we did not intend to slight any bands. A line had to be made somewhere or the book would never get done and be over 2000 pages.
No doubt. Did you use a specific set of criteria for the albums that made the list?
Roie: Well, really it was just to try and cover as broad a spectrum as we could, but also recognize that some bands have had more influence and successful albums than others. Just like Yes, Genesis, and those bands, dominate lists and books on 70s Prog, you can’t deny that artists like Dream Theater, Opeth, Steven Wilson, Marillion, and Neal Morse have had more weight on current Prog. That was taken into consideration. But it really is all subjective at the end of the day. For every 100 people that think Images and Words is Dream Theater’s best album, you will find 5 that think it is their worst. No way around that. There are also no newer albums by the classic bands, only because the point was to feature a new generation of bands.
Tell us about the book itself. What will it include?
Roie: The book features more than 50 albums from the last quarter century with each chapter dedicated to one album. It features full color images, live photos, press photos, and cover art. It’s a great easy read, and will also make a great coffee table book for those that want to display it.
When and where will the book be available?
Roie: The book will be available around October/November, through the Prog Report site for pre-sale, and then through Amazon and the other online retailers.
Read more about Roie Avin’s new book, Essentiual Modern Progressive Rock Albums, here.
The timeline of Avin’s book was a good decision, as well as the move not to include new albums by older, long-established groups. I grew up on the classic band period, both its prog, and its not-quite-prog. Far from insisting that yesteryear’s glories are where it’s at, I have to say that progressive rock in the early 70s, as a broad phenom, was just warming up. It’s gone crazy lately; there’s no let up; and that’s fine with me.
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