Author: Jerry Ewing
Book Title: Wonderous Stories:
A journey Through the Landscape of Progressive Rock
Publisher: Flood Gallery Publishing (2018)
Rating: Excellent Prog Primer!
Who would have thought I’d live to see the day when a handsome coffee table book devoted to the Progressive Rock genre would get published? And yet, here we are. When I heard that Jerry Ewing was writing a book about Prog, I couldn’t think of a better person for the job. His devotion to the genre has been outstanding, going back to the mid-eighties with his personal hand-made fanzine Court Jester. Today Ewing is the editor of Prog magazine, a glossy monthly publication based in the UK and his passion for Prog shines throughout the book’s 168 pages. Divided into thirty-four short and succinct chapters the reader is treated to a comprehensive primer of Progressive Rock starting with concise chapters on the history and definition of the genre before going through the various sub-genres like Canterbury and Jazz-Fusion and so on. Along the way we’re treated to a goodly number of chapters spotlighting “albums that define prog” each with extensive “liner notes” explaining their reason for selection. Another nice touch was the inclusion of over five-hundred illustrations even if many of them are album cover reproductions. Wonderous Stories is tightly edited and is an easy read. In that regard Ewing’s chapters on sub-genre definitions are actually some of the best I’ve ever read. They are short and to the point with good descriptive examples. The last portion of the book includes chapters devoted to the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s once again putting the Prog genre into perspective and demonstrating clearly that it never went away. It’s worth noting, this is not some ponderous “text book” rather it is a book that offers a panoramic overview of the genre for the newbie and yet, even at that, still holds some interesting tid-bits for an old-timer like myself so for that and the many other reasons detailed here, I give high marks for Wonderous Stories. It’s the first book I’d lend my non-Prog friends. Some may view the book as too light on text but I think it’s just right for the type of book Ewing intended to create. A book that sits out in the open, on the coffee table in a place of prominence inviting guests to question – “what’s this all about?” Boom – conversation started! Recommended.