Top 5 Prog Bands That Released Two or More Albums in Single Year

Prog Bands with Multiple Albums in Year

Years (decades) ago music groups used to record and release more than one album in a single year. Today that’s something that sounds like a fairytale, where we have bands that barely release an album in 3 years or more (Tool!).

But back then, those were different times. Bands mostly relied on radio promotion and touring; they did not have emails, no social media, no streaming services, no technology, no bedroom studios, no fancy guitars, but instead they had time. Time to write songs continuously, time to create album after album, if you will.

Nowadays, not so many bands dare to take on that challenge of writing multiple records in a single year, or let’s blame it on labels and say that no label will invest money in releasing two or more albums by a single band. Of course, there are exceptions, and some bands/labels do release so called double albums today as well (take for example Periphery‘s Juggernaut records), but that definitely doesn’t happen too often.

We have compiled a list of 5 Prog bands that released two or more albums in a single calendar year. See it below.

King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black & Red (1974)

In 1974 King Crimson released Starless and Bible Black in March and Red in October. Outside of Rush, it’s uncommon to see a trio playing prog rock, but listening to Red, it usually sounds like Fripp, Wetton and Bruford actually benefited from having less cooks in the kitchen. If anything feels out of place or less impressive, the finger should be pointed at Wetton‘s vocals.

Yes – The Yes Album & Fragile (1971)

In February 1971, Yes put out their third studio album, The Yes Album. Seven months later, they released Fragile which is still one of the most looked records in the genre.

With The Yes Album, there’s no denying that Yes owed a large part of their stronger style and success to Steve Howe, replacing Peter Banks as the band’s new guitarist. In retrospect, it’s difficult to think of Yes without the rich, twangy and lively fingerstyle Howe brought to the table. “Yours Is No Disgrace” introduces Howe‘s style wonderfully; a lead played overtop the intro marries a clean electric rock tone with a brand of rapidfire fingerpicking you would sooner find in bluegrass of all things. “The Clap” (retitled in a few painfully politically correct reissues merely as “Clap”) is a total showcase of his brilliance as an acoustic player as well. Howe’s classical guitar influence isn’t as evident here as it would be on future albums, but he made a bold and adventurous introduction with the band here. It’s not often a recently added musician goes to such lengths to influence a band’s sound, but Howe’s addition only ever worked to the band’s favour.

Fragile marked the first album with Rick Wakeman onboard, and while many fans will attest that they hit their mark with The Yes Album, I’ll stand by this record as the moment where Yes finally unlocked their own slice of heaven. It can be too easy to get complacent as a listener when getting into a classic like this; after all, the verdict’s already been made up, they’re albums we’re supposed to find depth and inspiration in. Listening to Fragile over four decades since its release however, and I’m still finding myself taken aback by the creativity and sophistication Yes brought to the table with this one. Surprisingly enough, Yes would ascend to an even higher plane of ambition with Close to the Edge and Tales from Topographic Oceans. Even if Fragile doesn’t represent the artistic pinnacle for Yes as an act, it retains the distinctive quality of a classic album, with a unique personality the band sadly never sought to explore further.

Rush – Fly By Night & Caress of Steel (1975)

Rush released Fly By Night, their first of two 1975 albums, in February. Caress of Steel, their third studio album, was put out in September.

Fly By Night is a total mixed bag. Unlike the self-titled (which I think benefited from a revisit) my thoughts on Rush‘s second album haven’t changed much over the years. There are a few immortal tunes, some ‘meh’, and a couple I’m bored stiff by. In any case, there’s a lot to be said for any band that tries this hard to see what they’re capable of. Emerging from the shadow of their influences was no doubt a scary step to make, but judging from the streak of legendary records they would make soon after this, I think their leap of faith paid off fairly well; don’t you?

Caress of Steel marks the first album where it truly sounds like Rush are getting truly comfortable with themselves. Fly By Night experimented with prog (see: “By-Tor & the Snow Dog”) but never surrendered itself to the possibility that the band’s future might lie in that approach. Caress of Steel still has some of the pop-oriented rock numbers that defined the first pair of albums, but they’re dwarfed in significance by “The Necromancer” and “The Fountain of Lamneth”, both of which rank among my favourite early Rush tracks. For the first time in their career (though far from the last), they had crafted a record with no weak links. Even the least impressive offering here, undoubtedly “I Think I’m Going Bald”, serves an important role alongside “Lakeside Park” as an upbeat poppy contrast to the harrowing prog rock later on.

Genesis – A Trick of the Tail & Wind & Wuthering (1976)

In the span of ten months in 1976, Genesis released A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering. The former is the first album to feature Phil Collins as a singer of the band, after Peter Gabriel‘s departure in 1975.

The band answered this challenge with two records that are among finest in their catalog. Wind & Wuthering‘s experimental nature and different approach was a risky move at the time, but the album remains as one of the representatives of the genre’s golden era.

Frank Zappa – Multiple albums over several years

When it comes to the amount of released albums in a single year, Frank Zappa is definitely THE king. Starting from 1967 until the end of 1972, Zappa released 13 studio albums (one of them being a soundtrack for a film) as a solo musicians or with Mothers of Invention. In 1975, he released One Size Fits All and Bongo Fury. Then in 1979, he put out Sleep Dirt (January), Sheik Yerbouti (March), Orchestral Favorites (May), Joe’s Garage – Act I (September), and Joe’s Garage – Acts II & III (November).

In the following years, Zappa continued his trend of releasing multiple albums in a single year, making him definitely one of the most prolific musicians ever.

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