Rowland, Kev - The Progressive Underground Vol. I (a book)

Artur Chachlowski

In the age of internet and electronic social media, the world is not as huge as it may seem, and people, especially when they share their passion and common interests, can communicate on the electronic highway in an instant.

It was not always like this. At the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century, just a few months after the defeat of the Berlin Wall (which in itself was a caesura separating two political ages), and a few years after charismatic frontman Fish left Marillion (which to progressive rock fans was actually more important), a shipment from Great Britain came to my hands. Its writer was Kev Rowland, who sent me one of the first issues of his own fanzine called Feedback devoted to progressive music. It was based on the RockSIG (Rock Special Interest Group) newsletter of the Mensa organization, and the first edition appeared in October 1988 and had 28 pages. The sixth number that landed in my mailbox already had 60 pages and it contained many interesting reviews of the latest prog rock albums. Today it is hard to imagine: fanzines, independent magazines, printing with a multiplier, mailing, gluing stamps on an envelope... Those were the days, and information about the scene was available and it could develop.

And there was something to write about. Contrary to popular belief, progressive rock had not disappeared from the world map with the emergence of punk rock, and despite the lack of interest in commercial media, the wave of creating new bands and the emergence of new music has not stopped. Although the genre fell out of the mainstream media, luckily, the demand for this type of music has never ended.

Rowland's Feedback fanzine quickly became one of the most well-known, popular and influential industry magazines. In total, more than 80 issues appeared and it survived practically until 2006, when Kev moved from his native England to New Zealand, where he lives to this day and does not think about musical retirement - to this day, he is one of the group of permanent reviewers of the MLWZ.PL portal.

The time in which Feedback functioned was unique in many respects, and when it seemed that it was gone forever, the renowned publishing house Gonzo Multimedia has published a book called "The Progressive Underground Vol. I", which contains all of Kev’s progressive reviews and interviews which were published in Feedback between 1991 and 2006. The subtitle "Volume 1" indicates that there will be more parts of this release (Volumes II and III will be released later this year), and this thick, 300-page book alphabetically includes artists from letter A to H (specifically from the A.C.T. group to Husband, Gary Husband).

The first volume of The Progressive Underground includes a foreword by Stuart Nicholson from Galahad and, on the back cover, comments by Greg Spawton (Big Big Train) and Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon). Inside there are a few hundred album reviews, some of which have survived into the history of the genre, others have been forgotten, and the vast majority of them have contributed to the fact that they are raising a second and even third generation of listeners. This book is best treated as a kind of guide to the neo-progressive guide. Thanks to this release, you can rediscover the wonderful albums of great bands and see that progressive rock has never really died, it just went from the mainstream to the underground.



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