King Crimson (1969)
Sometimes with different genres, it’s hard to trace a clear, direct lineage and have one single progenitor (see: the decade-long nascence of punk). But in one case, a genre was practically started overnight. Progressive rock began in earnest with In the Court Of the Crimson King. Guitarist Robert Fripp had high aspirations, eschewing the strings and melodrama of the Moody Blues but instead taking more formal cues from classical music to invent a totally new style of music. This record, which typified the genre, contained long, complex suites; very proficient and acrobatic playing; intricate, bombastic melodies; impressionistic and allusive lyrics; and an overarching concept. The work was written to be allegorical and have numerous different meanings, while the music and words advanced the themes in a narrative way. Thus, progressive rock was codified. It catapulted the band into the national eye, but their later work was more esoteric and made them more of a niche concern. It would take another group, a few years later, to really bring prog into the mainstream.
Key track: “In the Court Of the Crimson King”