Top 10 Prog Rock Bands Of All Time

Rolling Stone asked their readers to name their favorite prog rock bands of all time.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
0

Rolling Stone asked their readers to name their favorite prog rock bands of all time.

The results were collected in a top ten list, and we've rounded them up below. There's plenty of amazing groups in there, and every artist has pressed music forward in their own way - just as prog rock should.

But we know UG readers are more knowledgable than other music fans, and think you could do better.

Have Rolling Stone readers got their priorities wrong? Have they missed an obvious contented? Or maybe you love the ranking presented here. If you do, defend it!

Let's see if UG readers think they've pulled it off. Ladies and gentlemen, the top 10 prog rock bands of all time.

10. Dream Theater

2011 for Dream Theater might be an endless drama of "Oh I wish I still drummed for them," and "Oh you did drum for us but you left but we wanted you back," and "Oh I'll join again then," and "Oh sorry we're found someone who isn't such a showoff." Yes, founding member Mike Portnoy might have left the band that made his name, but the legacy he shares with Dream Theater does not go underrated. Their new album is about to land, and once again guitarists will fawn over guitar hero John Petrucci - and rightly so.

YouTube preview picture

9. Mars Volta

Punk-rock had a jolt to the heart when At The Drive-In released their swansong 'Relationship Of Command'. But the post-hardcore group collapsed under their own success in 2001. It could have been a tragic end to a stunning discography, but guitarist Omar Rodriquez-Lopez and singer Cedric Bixler moved on to indulge in their second teenage music affair: prog rock. The result was 'De-Loused In The Comatorium', an impressivly timeless display of prog for a new generation.

YouTube preview picture

8. Tool

Perhaps more prog-metal than rock, and great believers in 'less-is-more' having released only four albums across their two-decade career together. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan keeps busy fronting A Perfect Circle and Puscifer while the band devote time and mathematics to their next album, as established in this fan video which deconstructs the lyrics to 'Lateralus' and its relationship to the Fibonacci sequence. When Maynard sings about how we can contemplate divinity, even as a mere human, you can't help but be warmed.

YouTube preview picture

7. Emerson, Lake and Palmer

This is where the list starts feeling its traditional roots. The title 'Emerson, Lake and Palmer' might sound more like a law firm than a rock band, but don't be fooled. They emerged as a 1970s supergroup, pulling members from Nice, King Crimson and Atomic Rooster, blending classical music with prog in a way that hadn't quite been previously conceived.

YouTube preview picture

6. Yes

Yes have been many bands, when you consider their ever-evolving lineup. The only consistent member has been bassist Chris Squire, but every musician entering the gates to their rehearsal room has been of a remarkable standard, as their discography shows. Then again, you might dispute that point. Some say the group have never been the same since 1983's 'Owner Of A Lonely Heart', and that itself was a comeback of sorts from the 70s heyday. Regardless, Yes were pivotal in not only prog rock, but metal too.

YouTube preview picture

5. King Crimson

Another example of an ever-changing line-up held together by one consistent member - in this case, Robert Fripp. Their 1969 debut 'In the Court Of The Crimson King' was a key moment in prog rock, in some ways planting a boot firmly in the next decade while summers of love wrapped up for the 60s.

Sadly, Fripp seems to have lost interest in maintaining King Crimson in recent years. "Today, there are greater necessities for me than pulling new KC music from the air & touring the world to present it to ears that would rather hear an older repertoire," he wrote in a 2010 online diary. "A younger Fripp would have dealt with it, and suffered. An older Fripp chooses his suffering more carefully."

See if you can spot the sample used in a recent pop hit from this track.

YouTube preview picture

4. Jethro Tull

Who beat Metallica and '..And Justice For All' to the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental in 1987? Why, Jethro Tull and their album 'Crest of a Knave'. The band constantly pump out albums and tours, bringing flute music and a bed of prog-rock to the fore. Again and again.

YouTube preview picture

3. Genesis

Let's get the timeline straight: Genesis were fronted by Peter Gabriel while they built a solid prog rock credibility, then the drummer Phil Collins took over singing duties in the 1980s and brought them a whole new era of classic music. Then Phil left after their 1992 tour, and the band lost their way with new singer Ray Wilson. Sorted then.

YouTube preview picture

2. Pink Floyd

They were going to rank highly, weren't they? There's no point reiterating the impact of this band, but the video below almost never existed. It is their classic line-up reunion for the 2008 Live 8 performance in London, arranged by Bob Geldof. The 'best of Pink Floyd' line up hadn't played together for 24 years, but after some hard work, Geldof brought them to the stage for a glorious four-song set. Keyboardist Richard Wright has since died, so it's a good thing they reformed before it was too late.

YouTube preview picture

1. Rush

Rolling Stone say Rush won their poll by a landslide. The Canadian group will have won thanks to their enthusiastic fan community, one of whom asked for a Rush song to be broadcast into space while he was working as an astronaut on the space shuttle Endeavour. Respect is due because, unlike most of the top 10, the same line-up have stuck together throughout their career. And who could forget the stunning drummer Neal Peart, who also ranked on our Top 10 Drummers Of All Time.

YouTube preview picture

It's a great list from Rolling Stone, but as ever, UG readers can do better. Share your comments below.

470 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Sladey
    I'm gonna sum up half of the comments soon to come: My favourite band aren't number one therefore something must be profoundly wrong with the list because my opinion is the only one that matters.
    nbacchus
    They at least got #1 correct. I don't think Mars Volta should be above DT. I have to agree with CJMusics regarding Pink Floyd. It's nice to see Tool on the list.
    trivium_4_eva
    Xomar wrote: Dream Theater is Prog Metal, not Prog Rock. So yes...they will not rank high on the prog rock list as they are not prog rock
    Don't think I'd agree here. Sure, they've done plenty of heavy stuff, particularly in recent years, but they've also done a truckload that is not "metal" by any stretch. If you've only heard Train of Thought, I understand. If that's the case, I recommend Images and Words.
    Petruccishreds!
    HAHAHA really? Ive personally seen all those bands you just mentioned, and none of them hold a candle to dream theater, technically, musically, or live. To say that Dream Theater is not Progressive would be like saying that Mayonaise isnt Mayonaise. Its not just time signature changes, I agree with that, its the over all versatility, and depth of vocabulary each of the musicians have and display in their writing, What other way would you describe a song like disappear or blind faith, being on the same CD as Glass prison, and Six degrees, a 42 minute epic? You are just too funny.
    i_am_metalhead wrote: Dream Theater are hardly progressive. Just because you can switch time signatures in the middle of a song doesn't make you a progressive band. Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, Porcupine Tree, Protest the Hero, Coheed and Cambria, Dillinger Escape Plan, etc. would have all been much better choices than DT.
    seniormeld
    DrakeTheOne wrote: Tool and The Mars Volta are the only ones on here that I actually consider as prog rock( or metal.
    Then you really really need to learn what prog rock is.
    WheredMyRockGo?
    DrakeTheOne wrote: Tool and The Mars Volta are the only ones on here that I actually consider as prog rock( or metal.
    Hahaha, Rush is clearly the number 1! They've been doing it for the last 40 years with the same 3 guys so yeah they win.
    SynesterSeX
    stndrdprcdre wrote: Sladey wrote: I'm gonna sum up half of the comments soon to come: My favourite band aren't number one therefore something must be profoundly wrong with the list because my opinion is the only one that matters. Close. It's more like... "Let me google the most obscure prog band that hardly anybody knows about and then complain about them not making the list so I can look like I know music."
    You are my hero. +1
    nailsarecruel
    valoratsight wrote: Where is Metallica?
    They used to be in the prog lists until they were permanently one-upped by their rivals Jethro Tull.
    Blargaha
    And no, after Sid Barrett Pink Floyd became more of a progressive rock band
    Gunpowder
    CJMusics wrote: Pink floyd are psychedelic rock aren't they? But anyways.
    Only on their first album or two, really. Their later stuff is very much prog.
    Petruccishreds!
    Petruccishreds! wrote: HAHAHA really? Ive personally seen all those bands you just mentioned, and none of them hold a candle to dream theater, technically, musically, or live. To say that Dream Theater is not Progressive would be like saying that Mayonaise isnt Mayonaise. Its not just time signature changes, I agree with that, its the over all versatility, and depth of vocabulary each of the musicians have and display in their writing, What other way would you describe a song like disappear or blind faith, being on the same CD as Glass prison, and Six degrees, a 42 minute epic? You are just too funny. i_am_metalhead wrote: Dream Theater are hardly progressive. Just because you can switch time signatures in the middle of a song doesn't make you a progressive band. Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, Porcupine Tree, Protest the Hero, Coheed and Cambria, Dillinger Escape Plan, etc. would have all been much better choices than DT.
    Well BTBAM is damn close, but lack the same versatility.
    Joe-Floyd-lover
    PINK FLOYD IS PROGRESSIVE ROCK Yeah, maybe early "Barrett era" songs likeAstronomy Dominee or See Emily Play would be Psychedelic Rock, but albums like Animals and Wish You Were Here are DEFINITELY PROG ROCK! Personally, Pink Floyd is a number 1 for me, but Rush easily deserves a spot on this list! Thanks to UG for including some of the more niche Prog Rock bands (ELP, King Crimson, Yes) on their list too, because they are commonly snubbed on lists like these! THANKS FOR THE LIST!
    korinaflyingv
    rush, pink floyd, jethro tull and genesis being higher on the list than crimson is an insult imo.
    Loki_37
    Dream Theater is better than Mars Volta, probably, but only about half of DT's songs could even be classified as prog rock. And with them in there, I'd have to put Opeth in as well. I think Tool should have been higher, probably 3 or 4...They pretty much created their own genre, and spawned an entire era of hard rock bands. All in all it was one of the better lists I've ever seen. Yes you could argue, but everyone there is definitely top 15-20.
    benf199105
    from the usual quality of these top 10 lists on UG i was expecting Rush to not even feature, and for somehow Bob Marley to come #1, such is the bullshit they put on here. I was happy i was wrong. RUSH FUCK YEAH
    raoooos
    qrEE wrote: Wow, I had no clue that Rush would be number 1! That's sarcasm. Rush is so overrated it's ridiculous. This list needs Buckethead, Opeth, and Devin Townsend. Devin Townsend's "Deconstruction" is the greatest prog album ever made.
    DERP. No.
    Motorhed95
    Annoys me how people are saying DT and Opeth etc should be higher/on the list. They're nothing compared to Floyd. Floyd should be number 1 . . .
    DoubleS.0312
    If Progressive rock developed from Psychedelic Rock, the WHERE THE HELL ARE THE BEATLES!!! Especially if on the Rolling Stones Top 500 Albums of All Time Sgt. Peppers was number one with a few other Beatle albums in the top 10, but it was said the Sgt. Peppers was one of the earliest rumblings of progressive and art rock... WTF!!!
    edgeyyz
    My only complaint with this list is that Porcupine Tree isn't on it. Having DT, Pink Floyd and Rush on there (in any positions really) sounds good to me.
    kinslayerSOA
    Porcupine Tree, Coheed and Cambria, and Protest The Hero all deserve a place on the list.
    DoubleS.0312
    If Progressive rock developed from Psychedelic Rock, the WHERE THE HELL ARE THE BEATLES !!! Especially if on the Rolling Stones Top 500 Albums of All Time Sgt. Peppers was number one with a few other Beatle albums in the top 10, but it was said the Sgt. Peppers was one of the earliest rumblings of progressive and art rock... WTF!!!
    badfish2829
    Where the hell is "Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters"?! Best prog rock out there.
    AlterEdge
    Rush definitely deserve #1. Probably the hardest working band in the world and they have inspired so many people.
    JJJOEY
    I wanna say Dream Theater number 1 but I think a berrter order would be Rush 1 Dream Theater 2
    the hirsh
    I think Kansas should be there instead of Dream Theater, although I do like DT.
    Calhoun Tubbs
    D13g0C wrote: iscreamicecream wrote: I think early Metallica was progressive until Bob Rock came in. Metallica is Thrash and Heavy Metal... Who beat Metallica and '..And Justice For All' to the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental in 1987? ...And Justice For All came out in 1988.
    Metallica can be linked to prog just as easily as some of these random suggestions in here. Maybe not Black album or anything, but definetely songs like ...And justice for all, To Live is To Die, and Frayed Ends of Sanity. Sure, progressive thrash. why not?
    Its the Kyle
    Xomar wrote: Dream Theater is Prog Metal, not Prog Rock. So yes...they will not rank high on the prog rock list as they are not prog rock
    Dream Theater are not prog metal, a lot of their recent songs and some early songs have metal attributes but Images and Words is VERY Rock, same era as Hardline and a lot of other good hard rock bands.
    DoubleS.0312
    If Progressive rock developed from Psychedelic Rock, the WHERE THE HELL ARE THE BEATLES!!! Especially if on the Rolling Stones Top 500 Albums of All Time Sgt. Peppers was number one with a few other Beatle albums in the top 10, but it was said the Sgt. Peppers was one of the earliest rumblings of progressive and art rock... WTF!!! THE BEATLES SHOULD BE NUMBER 1
    CronoMagus
    Metallichemical wrote: Not too bad. You are never gonna be able to satisfy everyone though. Each person has their own taste unique to them. So everybody please just STOP BITCHING AND MOANING that your PERSONAL favorite(s) didn't make it on the list. In my opinion, all of the bands on this list are great, thugh I don't listen to all of them. My personal favorites would have to be (in no particular order) Rush, Dream Theater, Coheed and Cambria, Tool, Protest the Hero, Mastodon, Yes, Genesis, The Mars Volta, Radiohead, Mudvayne, August Burns Red, etc... And what is the recent pop song that sample the King Crimson track?
    Power by Kanye West was what sampled King Crimson.
    PorcupineThief
    nbacchus wrote: They at least got #1 correct. I don't think Mars Volta should be above DT. I have to agree with CJMusics regarding Pink Floyd. It's nice to see Tool on the list.
    benonbass1 wrote: Not a bad list. I agree that DT are probs better than the Volta, as much as I love them. I could have guessed Rush would be at the top, but it's not like they don't deserve it.
    ScottAN wrote: Mars Volta above DREAM THEATER? The HELL?!
    And etc. on those kind of comments. Whoa whoa whoa. I'll give it to you that Dream Theater has been along for much longer and has probably had a lot more influence with that headstart on time, but listen to The Mars Volta. When I compare Metropolis to Day of the Baphomets, there's no competition. Day of the Baphomets all the way. Dream Theater has their talent, but they're lucky to be on the list, in my opinion. Inevitably I had to offer a few choices I felt should be on the list: Porcupine Tree Radiohead Sigur Ros (at least, Agaetis Byrjun Sigur Ros)
    mitchy86
    i_am_metalhead wrote: Dream Theater are hardly progressive. Just because you can switch time signatures in the middle of a song doesn't make you a progressive band. Mastodon, Between the Buried and Me, Porcupine Tree, Protest the Hero, Coheed and Cambria, Dillinger Escape Plan, etc. would have all been much better choices than DT.
    Well even if that's true, on top of time signiture changes their songs are very lengthy. and on top of that most albums follow a concept. do the math.
    DIAFTroll
    Interesting list. Just throwing this out there...Children of Bodom? My two cents.
    nonjonron
    I would move Yes to Number 3 and Dream Theater to Number 4. They got Number 1 right.
    IN54N1TY
    Seeing as Dream Theater and Tool are classed as prog metal, I'm gonna propose Opeth. Best band ever in my opinion.
    Slivarito
    When I saw the title, "Top 10 prog rock bands of all time," I instantly knew what the comment section would look like... Also, no Dredg, Dear Hunter, or Porcupine Tree? OK And if you want to hit metal; no Cynic, BTBAM, The Human Abstract, AAL, Scale The Summit, or Meshuggah? Meh.