Nine complex and intriguing prog rock albums from 1969

These nine prog rock classics were the best albums released in that genre from the final year of the 1960s.
The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues / Chris Walter/GettyImages
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4. On The Threshold of a Dream – The Moody Blues

The Moody Blues’ first album of 1969 was an extension of the group’s prior albums, the legendary Days of Future Passed and its follow-up In Search of the Lost Chord. Both are tremendous albums, and the Birmingham, England five-piece continues that hot streak with this top-flight prog album.

Notable highlight tracks are featured, though the Justin Hayward-penned “Never Comes the Day,” and “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” might be among his best-ever compositions (which is saying a lot). Flautist and founding member Ray Thomas provides two classics in the form of the jazzy confessional “Dear Diary” and the bouncy, sunshiny “Lazy Day.”

However, the album’s centerpiece is likely the closing suite of “Have You Heard (Pt.1),” “The Voyage,” and “Have You Heard (Pt. 2),” all written by keyboardist Mike Pinder. Bursting with brilliant Mellotron licks and astounding musical ideas, this stunning triptych of sound must be heard to be believed.

3. Live/Dead­ – Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead’s first live album serves as a perfect representation of the group’s performances from this era and is a tremendous jumping-off point for anyone looking to explore the group’s monumental live discography. Notably, this 1969 marked the first appearance of the group’s seminal track “Dark Star.”

This ever-shifting and volcanic live masterpiece often hits at least 25 minutes in length (it’s just over 23 minutes on this album), though it isn't unusual for the Dead to spread it out even further and hit the half-hour threshold on this one-track alone. Pretty impressive for a song with an album version that lasted less than three minutes!

Jerry Garcia and co. are in fine form, as his searing guitar lines dominate proceedings throughout this album. This album was an early indicator of where the Dead’s fecund future would lead, and this exploratory live release serves as a great place to start for Grateful Dead neophytes. Essential.