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4.1 out of 5 stars16
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 26 December 2010
All in all a good effort to extract the essence of progressive rock, from the golden era och the 70's until today. Die hard fans of Yes, Genesis, ELP, Dream Theater etc will probaly not find anything they don't already know about their favorite bands, but perhaps they will make new acquaintances, since there are chapters also about more obscure parts of prog rock like the german kraut rock scene and the italian scene. The book is intelligently written in a biographical style and there's plenty of photographs to lighten up the layout. The title and the cover of the book is perhpas a bit misleading; the title is indeed a quote from a Yes song - Roundabout - but it really associates more to psychedelia than to progressive rock and the Roger Dean-like typeface underlines that assoiciation. Now, prog and psychedelia did indeed to a certain extent go hand in hand back in the days, the prog rock kind of built on tha map drawn by the late 60's freeform rock music for pot-smokers and trippers that said a song could be 20 minutes long instead of 3 and didnt have to follow the pop-radio formula of verse, chorus, bridge etc, it didn't even have to be vocal music. But personally I don't regard ambient psychedelia like Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun from Pink Floyd Umma Gumma as progressive rock, to me prog rock is more equivalent to more elaborate, symphonic rock and technically accomplished composing and playing, like the Karn Evil 9 Suite by ELP or Thick as a Brick by Jethro Tull. But this may not be the definition of others. In this book you don'thave to choose, you get it all, from far out kraut-rockers and Pink Floyd to technical show-offs like Rush and Dream Theater. I recommend it. It's not the ultimate encyclopedia of progressive rock, but a nice compilation to capture the essence of the genre.
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on 25 January 2011
This book is a large format full colour size guide to prog rock past and present. Most of the bands featured in the book the diehard prog afficionado will know and love but there are sections on Kraut Rock, The Canterbury Scene, Italian Prog and Prog folk.

The book is well written and has a wealth of information on all bands included. Each bands history and recorded output is discussed and reviewed. As well as an interesting piece on the roots and beginings of the genre.

There is a section on American bands Kansas and Styx which I personally consider to be AOR rather than prog. This being said both bands have produced some good music. The same applies to a section on Rush who I think have become a really good all round rock band (rather than a prog band).

Genesis, King Crimson and Pink Floyd each have two sections Gabriel & post Gabriel, Waters and post Waters and the 70s Crimson and the 80/90sCrimson. These I feel could have been discussed in a single section and space given to other bands.

There are a few errors in the naming of album covers which are shown at the foot of each page. In one section Porcupine Tree's albums are named but Pink Floyds album artwork is shown. In the second article on Genesis, albums are incorrectly named and Voyage of the Acolyte by Steve Hackett is named Invisible Touch (confusing to a newcomer to prog ? not arf).

These errors aside the book is well worth a read, the quality of the pictures is good, articles on IQ, Gentle Giant and The Alan Parsons Project are most welcome but why no Van der Graaf Generator ?
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on 23 February 2012
Progressive rock has always divided opinion, so no wonder that this book seems to do the same. If you already know about Prog this book won't tell you very much that you don't know, although that's not to say that it doesn't offer some interesting takes on bands and albums. It takes a range of bands (mainly the ones you would expect to find) in something approximating to chronological order and gives a short history of each, providing a very readable account of their evolution, and in most cases their self-destruction. What it doesn't do is to provide a chronology that covers the unfurling of the genre as a whole. There is little cross-referencing that is not purely factual. So it is not a critical evaluation of the music or the context within which it arose (for that, see Rocking the Classics). And it misses the less commercially successful but sometimes influential bands, particularly as you get into the post 1990 period. It is more coffee table book than an academic text and a bit disappointingly the author also missed the chance to speculate about where it all goes next. Perhaps he was wise not to do so. As another reviewer has said, the pictures are largely publicity shots and album covers, but they do the required job pretty well.

All in all that may not sound like a 4 star book, but that is what it deserves. What the author does rather well is to offer the reader an overview that takes in UK, European and North American bands, it offers some necessary but unflattering perspectives on aspects of the music and the bands and yet manages to do without resorting to the sort of prog-bashing polemic that those of us who enjoy prog simply don't need to read again. At times one suspects he overindulges his own taste rather than remaining neutral, but I would rather sense that interest and passion, and disagree with it, than feel that the author didn't share my enthusiasm for the music. I recognise the soundtrack described here and sometimes it's good to get confirmation that what you enjoyed personally was valuable more widely. This book does that without wallowing in nostalgia.
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on 15 May 2015
From the very outset of this review I need to point out that I have not yet read this book completely; I am about 2/3 through it and it's becoming a bit of a chore. Maybe that's because I'm English (or British, whatever the pedants want to call me) and the Americanisms in this book are really grinding my gears now! I'm fed-up of reading the oft-used phrase "their sophomore effort" and the incorrectly used word "Mach" when the author actually needs the word "Mark" as in King Crimson Mk (Mark) 3 et alia. And yes, there ARE issues with incorrect album titles ascribed to images throughout the book and also incorrectly named tracks.
It's easy to scoff and pick faults until one tries to write oneself (I know - I've done it) and so perhaps I need to balance this a bit by adding that some if the interviews are quite interesting and I have learned some entertaining facts. The coverage of appropriate bands seems to be generally OK, although I fail to see how classic cult prog band The Enid escapes mention other than in a throwaway line accompanying a photo in the BJH section. Again, it's probably because it's basically an American production. I would also have liked a little more info on the 'major' photos, e.g. Who is the band pictured at the start of the Rock Progressivo Italiano section? I don't think it's PFM, but who knows?
As I said earlier, it seems churlish to be negative and criticise, so ultimately I'm going to come down on the 4-stars award for this book. It's a nice addition to my library and has stimulated me to fish out some CDs that haven't had an airing for a year or two, so it can't be all that bad!
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on 7 February 2011
The world did not need this book, ... but if you were taken close to the edge for some karnevil in the seventies and you felt you had a saucerful of secrets when your supper was ready, you want it!!! Like you wanted that Minimoog instead of your first own car back then. The book looks and feels good, colourful and informative (hey, you knew all the facts and stories already, did you!? But nice to see it wrapped this nice way again), and when you flip and read through it, it confirms what you knew anyway all those past 40 years: that life holds more than a 3:15 pop song, but can be a full-fledged 360-degree-quadrophonic-70mm-technicolour-supermarionation-120track-sensurround-flight over topographic oceans, yep! Satisfying, good fun for the money, ... and were and how often do you really get this these days ??? ;-)
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on 7 August 2014
A well written and nicely illustrated book, but some of the album cover images given were wrong in the edition I bought.
The book is BIG, just under A4 size, and well produced using quality paper with a sturdy cardboard cover.

It covers the history of the bands very well, but for my taste it doesn't discuss the music itself quite enough.
I discovered some excellent bands by reading this, such as IQ, Porcupine Tree, Spock's Beard and Renaissance.

In particular the albums V by Spock's Beard, Stupid Dream by Porcupine Tree and Frequency by IQ were mentioned in the book and they are among my all time favourites now.
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on 13 November 2013
PROGRESSIVE ROCK MUISC. You like it or not. But books about the music is sometimes. arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!.
But "Mountains Come Out Of The Sky" is well written. Ok if you are into prog you will not find out anything new. Within its pages. If you wish to find out what the poeple whom like the music. Is all about. Then read it. If you are a Progressive Rock Freak than buy an enjoy. This is by a fellow geekfreak.
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on 19 February 2015
It's a book befitting the genre, and colourful and well set out, though not as comprehensive as I would have liked. True roots of the history missing here, nothing about Clouds/1-2-3 (check out the CD for THAT info!), but then, you can't have everything in one volume.
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on 6 February 2011
Taken in by the image of Rick Wakemen, the Roger Dean style title and the promise of an "Ultimate History" of prog rock I foolishly bought this book in Waterstone for more than the Amazon price. The reason the book gets 2 stars from me is because I really enjoyed the sections on bands I liked but did not know a lot about. The information on King Crimson and Yes were very interesting and the stuff on Pink Floyd was quite fun (despite it being one long whinge about how they all hate each other). The problem came when I got to the section on my favourite band Genesis. This section was pitiful. The names of several songs and solo albums of the members are completely wrong. The Trespass album song "Visions of Angels" is named "Visions of Heaven" and Steve Hacketts solo album "Bay of Kings" is named "Bay of Pigs" to name just a couple of errors. The layout is confusing with solo albums thrown into the main Genesis discography and with poor quality pictures thrown in at random. In despair I turned to the section "Throwing it all Away" (see what he did there Genesis fans?) to find that it was full of criticisms of Phil Collins era Genesis and ended with the apparant revelation that P.C era Genesis never did a good album. Having read the stuff on Genesis, I don't know if I can trust the rest of the book which has been poorly edited and researched and in some places there are still notes to the non-existent editing team which have somehow made it to publishing.
The discographies of many other bands are confused as well. The entire Porcupine Tree discography is accompanied by the album covers of Pink Floyd.
The final moan I have about this book is that the author presents his personal speculations about songs as undisputed fact. He shamelessly states that "Suppers Ready" is a retelling of the entire bible. "Walking across the sitting room, I turn the television off", "Dad Diddly office, Dad diddly office", "He's a supersonic scientist": Any of this sounding biblical to you? As a genesis fan and a christian I found this comparison lazy and offensive to both sides. Even worse is the fact that "Battle of Epping forest" which is mis-named "Battle for Epping Forest" is described as a metaphor for the struggle between the forces of light and darkness. If you have ever read a book on Genesis or even listened to the song you would know that, as the band themselves have said, it is a song about a gang brawl.

I urge Genesis fans (or any other prog fans) not to buy it, and if you own it already, I strongly suggest that you throw it all away.

Apologies for the length of this review.
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on 13 June 2013
A superb book with lots of highly interesting facts about prog rock !! A must for all music fans !! Great photographs and brilliant reading !!
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