Michael Giles was King Crimson’s original drummer, playing on the band’s extraordinary 1969 debut album and revealing himself to be both subtle and musical in his playing. Like many musicians since, he quickly tired of Robert Fripp’s unique personality traits and left the band after that first album, though did return to play on the second album as a session player.
Together with fellow Crimson refusenik, Ian McDonald, Giles produced an eponymous album in 1970 which adopted a slightly jazzier format but also echoed many of Crimson’s long-format pieces. The album, with eminent guests like Steve Winwood, drew justified acclaim, but the duo failed to follow up on its promise. Giles spent the rest of the 70’s playing sessions, before recording ‘Progress’ in 1978. For whatever reason(s) though, the album wasn’t released until 2003.
‘Progress’ is a series of (largely instrumental) pieces that often flow into one another and apparently aim to depict a journey that starts at dawn and continues until evening – a metaphor for life, maybe – who knows? The album is in quite a jazzy vein and features collaborations from veteran British players like Jimmy Hastings and Ray Warleigh as well as significant input from Geoff Richardson & John G. Perry (then of Caravan). Dave McRae from Matching Mole features heavily on keyboards. Without wishing to damn ‘Progress’ with faint praise, I think you would have to say that, whilst recognisably a Michael Giles album and pleasant to listen to, it’s not really at the cutting edge of any particular genre. This may explain why it took him 25 years to get round to releasing it.