Cecil Alexander

Various artists

By 1973, Yes, ELP, and Jethro Tull were scoring gold albums in the style we now call progressive rock. Overnight, dozens of U.K. bands got the message and shifted course – they dropped the politics of the ’60s and began recording portentous music with Mellotrons, spacey guitar, and murky, Tolkienesque lyrics.

Many of the British guitarists on this 1973 compilation are obscure, but excellent. You’ve probably never heard of Tony Bourge, of Budgie, but he takes a fat, soulful lead on “Parents.” Manfred Mann – long past “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” – offers “Father of Day, Father of Night,” featuring Mick Rogers’ elegant axe. Camel’s “Never Let Go” shows off the über-melodic Andy Latimer (though admittedly, his guitar is slightly out of tune).

Better-known practitioners include Jeff Lynne of ELO (“In Old England Town”) and Steve Howe of Yes, trading solos with Moog monster Rick Wakeman on “Starship Trooper.” On acoustic, Al Stewart, bolstered by sideman Tim Renwick, strums DADGAD for his epic “Nostradamus.” With “Silver Song,” stage-shy Anthony Phillips reminds us he was an architect of the early Genesis sound.

In all, Winds of Change is a fine history lesson – and brimming with clever progressive guitar.

This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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