Various Artists

Maximum Prog: 16 Rare Gems from the Golden Age of British Progressive Rock

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With 16 slabs of vintage British prog rock rarities recorded between 1969 and 1975, this set shifts time signatures more often than a flock of sparrows over a snowy field in the wind. Track after track bounces off in complex directions, rock at its most assured and bombastic. Not much is subtle. It works as a playlist, though -- maybe because the scenery changes so fast. Among the highlights are keyboard whiz Don Shinn’s tribute to Grieg, “A-Minor Explosion,” Abacus’ ever-shifting and rising “Cappuccino,” and Rock Workshop’s (led by jazz rock guitarist Ray Russell) “Wade in the Water,” a punk-paced prog reshaping of the old gospel-folk tune into a desperate, skittering plea for, well, who knows. It’s easy to get lost. It’s also a lot of fun.

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