10 Prog Songs by Non-Prog Bands

10 Prog Songs by Non-Prog Bands

We all know by now that there are thousands Prog bands out there who defined the genre in its early years, and who continue to develop it further. But, in the past there were many non-Prog bands that went out of their way and did one or more Prog-ish songs. I have compiled a list of Prog songs by non-Prog bands below, so make sure to check it out. Feel free to leave a comment with your favourite Prog songs by non-Prog bands.

Led Zeppelin – No Quarter (Houses of the Holy, 1973)

“No Quarter” is one of the dearest songs from the Led Zep’s catalog. It was recorded in 1972 at the Island Studios in London, and appears on the band’s 1973 album Houses of the Holy as the seventh song clocking at seven minutes—it is the longest track on the record. Ever since its release, the song has been a big part in the band’s live repertoire. The album version actually evolved from a faster version of the song that was previously recorded at Headley Grange. Jimmy Page applied a variable speed pitch control in order to give it a more intense vibe. In addition to this pitch change, the version that made it on Houses of the Holy also includes a highly-compressed guitar track. Although the original version of the song clocks at seven minutes, at live performances the song length varied, leaving space for improvisation at concerts.

Black Sabbath – Megalomania (Sabotage, 1975)

“Megalomania” is the fourth song from Black Sabbath’s 1975 album Sabotage. Being the lengthiest song on the album, it gave the band plenty of space to experiment with different moods. Although doom, heavy sound is what the band was known for, at ten minutes long, “Megalomania” is a step above most hard rock in terms of its sophistication, fitting in crunchy guitars with piano and eerie soft spots.

Billy Joel – Prelude/Angry Young Man (Turnstiles, 1976)

In 1976, Billy Joel released his fourth studio album Turnstiles. Although those were the times when Progressive Rock was at its peak and also influenced a wide spectre of artists, Billy Joel’s music was more of a mixture of at the time Classic Rock, Folk and Pop. However, the sixth song on the album “Prelude/Angry Young Man” is possibly the groggiest number the musician ever recorded. As the title of the song suggests, the song is divided in two parts: one serving as a prologue, and “Angry Young Man” which paints a slightly sardonic picture of youthful, militant rebellion that is unflagging, trying to fight life’s ills despite constant failure.

Midnight Oil – Scream in Blue (10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1982)

“Scream in Blue” is a song from Australian rock act Midnight Blue from their 1982 album 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. It’s over two minutes long Progressive Rock-influenced intro features extremely esoteric and intense instrumentation of the band. Afterwards, the song becomes piano-driven, allowing singer Peter Garrett to become dominant.

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988)

Maiden’s flirting with Prog had never been a question, and I’m a firm believer that starting from their 1983 album Piece of Mind (which was the first record I heard from them), the British Heavy Metal band has been channeling the Prog influences through their songs. It’s arguably not until 1988 and the release of their seventh album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son that the band didn’t go for a full-Prog sound. The album marks their first to include keyboards, and due to that fact, it could be said that Maiden expanded their sonic horizons. The title song in particular is full of twists and atmospherics that die-hard Prog fans easily can be acquainted with.

Metallica – To Live is to Die (…And Justice for All, 1988)

With a few longer songs, Metallica’s 1988 album …And Justice for All hinted that the band went for a bit experimental sound. “To Live is to Die” is the longest song on the record, and for the most part it’s instrumental, apart from the spoken-word part at the end of the song. “To Live is to Die” is a tribute to Metallica’s late bassist Cliff Burton, and it features a lyric the bassist wrote, making this song the last song that featured Burton’s contribution. The song combines its interweaving guitar harmonies with multiple dynamic contrasts (mainly in the middle section in which Kirk’s guitar sound resembles two harmonizing violins) to get its point across. James Hetfield recites a poem near the end, symbolizing the loss of Burton and their mourning for him.

Jane’s Addiction – Three Days (Ritual de lo Habitual, 1990)

“Three Days” is the longest song off Jane’s Addiction’s 1990 album Ritual de lo Habitual. The tune feels as sort of a mantra mediating on death and rebirth. It features a repetitive patterns of the band’s rhythm section and a great Dave Navarro’s guitar solo—the song often changes its pace, accentuating the dynamic throughout its almost 11 minutes.

Megadeth – Holy Wars… The Punishment Due (Rust In Peace, 1990)

Many will agree that Megadeth’s line-up between 1989 and 1992 is the band’s best, and looking at the two albums that were produced in these years, 1990’s Rust In Peace and 1992’s Countdown to Extinction, that seems to be spot-on. “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due” from Rust In Peace opens the album, and is the song that was inspired by the Northern Ireland conflict. It features quite a few changes in dynamic, it builds from the band’s characteristic Thrash Metal-inflected opening over an acoustic bridge by Marty Friedman to more melodic, Heavy Metal-inspired second part of the song.

Death Cab for Cutie – I Will Possess Your Heart (Narrow Stairs, 2008)

Bellingham, Washington-based alternative rockers Death Cab for Cutie released their sixth studio album in May 2008, and “I Will Possess Your Heart” was a lead single which debuted two months prior the album release. Stylistically, the tune is dominated by a repetitive bass riff and singer Ben Gibbard’s vocals. Filled with reverberated guitar tones and the distant echoes of a childlike “dah dah dah” phrase, the song gradually builds to an unsettling climax.

Daft Punk – Contact (Random Access Memories, 2013)

“Contact” is off Daft Punk’s most recent studio album, 2013’s Random Access Memories, and it was confirmed already that with this release the band pays tribute to the late 1970s and early 1980s music. “Contact” closes the album, and it also credits members of the Australian rock band The Sherbs, as it includes a sample of their song “We Ride Tonight.” The song is Prog-layered; it features drummer Omar Hakim and bassist James Genus, with modular synths arranged by Daft Punk.

What are your favorite Prog bands by non-Prog bands? Let us know in the comments below.

4 Comments

  1. Donald T Collier

    April 24, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    The Foreplay part on Boston’s first album of Foreplay/Long Time is fairly proggy, always enjoyed that. Styx had several proggy sections to their songs back in the day. Lords of the Ring, Pieces of Eight, Come Sail Away, stuff like that.

  2. cygnus8595

    April 24, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band is very proggy, especially since it’s a remake of a typically jammy Springsteen tune. Then of course there’s side two of The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

  3. mcjunePat

    April 25, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    Radiohead – Paranoid Android guys!!!!!!!!! Queen – Bohemian Rapsody?

  4. Anthony Abdoella

    April 25, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    I’d say that “The Rain Song” is even more prog than “No quarter”. Heck, there’s even a mellotron on it.

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