(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
The coming of Rhino's 1996 release of The Supernatural Fairy Tales: The Progressive Era, was an ambitious overture, as for it called for the release of a five CD box set, that was supposed to have a fair representation of the great and hidden gems of genre.
Many compilations that tried to capture the "effect" of progressive rock, but many if all failed, as for most compilations usually stick to the giants of progressive rock world, without focusing on the no so well know bands for one. Two, many of the greatest songs of these bands were usually compositions of such grand epics, that to fit just great songs from seven of the groups, would probably take two CD's themselves.
So therein lied one of the problems that plagued this box set: How were the producers of this boxset going to fairly represent these bands without running out of space on one song? Rhino did a half baked job on certain bands, for instance: Nektar, might have not been so prevalent these days, but during the Seventies, were amongst the major "Kraut Rock" bands of their time, proving to be just influential on the scene as a few bands that were also represent on the set Can, Faust and Ash Ra Temple to name a few, so instead of focusing on the band's psychedelic dissonance that would make fans of Hawkwind and Pink Floyd proud, Rhino missed the boat and put on a lovely (but non representing) ballad that seemed more decked for radio play then for inclusion to this set.
Other non representations of other bands, were Aphrodite's Child and the inclusion of "Babylon/The System". During the Eighties, the pop radio public found about Vangelis with his worlwide hit, "Chariots Of Fire", but during his tenure in Aphrodite's Child, Vangelis keyboard virtuosity rivaled Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, and to some might have bested them. So how is he and the band represented? The band released a prog classic in the apocalyptical themed "666", which the entire band shines throughout, but Rhino decided to put on the first two songs of the album "The System/Babylon", which does not showcase any of the skills keyboard whiz Vangelis is revered for. A word of advice, seach for the 666 cd.
The other problem, was because of copyright restrictions or just plain stupidity, Pink Floyd, Family, Jethro Tull, Camel, Barclay James Harvest, King Crimson, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Neu, The Soft Machine, early Queen, Uriah Heep, 10cc, Supertramp, Be Bop Deluxe, Hawkwind to name a few were not included. To produce a set of this magnitude and not have most of the bands mentioned and call this a progressive rock compilation and not have at least Pink Floyd, King Crimson and Tangerine Dream on it? This box set should have not have even existed at all if that was the case.
The next problem was careless track listing and personnel listing. There are so many on this set, that I might run out of room alone, but the biggest mistake was naming Yes' "And You And I" on the box set "Siberian Khatru" is just plain pathetic.
Last problem was that for some reason, Rhino Records felt that the American side, was not worthy of inclusion on this set, except for Frank Zappa. So that means that Kansas, Styx, Ambrosia, Happy The Man, Starcastle, Rush, City Boy, Crack The Sky, Saga, early Journey, Santana, Spirit, early Grateful Dead etc. were not worthy of inclusion on this set. Bad mistake, and that alone should turn off any prog fan.
Overall, this boxset acomplishes nothing for either the casual wannnabe prog fan and true followers know better than to patronize this crap except for the hidden gems that might be of some interest to the lazy, or fans that don't have the currency (or patience) to search for underground bands.
For anyone who would like to get a fair representative of progressive rock will better of looking at the band listing on "Supernatural Fairy Tales", and searching out the best albums by each band and compiling your OWN compilation set.
Avoid this set, unless you want to forever be haunted by the fact you wasted some hard earned cash on this crap......