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Quatermass - Quatermass CD (album) cover

QUATERMASS

Quatermass

 

Heavy Prog

3.71 | 161 ratings

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jamesbaldwin
5 stars Who founded heavy prog? Difficult to say, but among the first stand out Quatermass, even if they are a trio without a guitar. Quatermass, formed by bassist John Gustafson (future Roxy Music), keyboardist (piano, Hammond, harpsichord, sinths and strings arrangement) Peter Robinson and percussionist Mick Underwood, three players from various backgrounds which tried a fusion between prog and hard rock. The name "Quatermass" was inspired by the famous television and film character of Professor Quatermass, protagonist of a successful saga.

Qautermass released only one album (Harvest, 1970), on which appears the "Laughin Tackle" suite (ten and a half minutes, composed by the factotum Peter Robinson), their maximum effort, accompanied by other masterpieces of 7-9 minutes. After an intro played by the organ, starts "Black Sheep In The Family" (written by Steve Hammond, who plays in two songs as session man), very good and powerful song (vote 8). "Post War Saturday Echo" (almost ten minutes, written by the whole group), is a mid-tempo ballad based on Robinson's great work on keyboards (organ, piano), and that has sudden accelerations that make it almost a suite. Excellent singing (Gustafson). Masterpiece (vote 8,5/9). The shorter "Good Lord Knows", orchestrated in Baroque style with a Strings ensemble (Paul Buckmaster on cello) and the harpsichord (Robinson), is a little jewel (vote 7,5/8). "Up On The Ground" (seven minutes, written by Gustafson), with the synth instead of the heavy guitar, is another remarkable song, very enthralling, with great work on drums by Mick Underwood (vote 8+).

Side B opens with "Gemini" (six minutes, written by Hammond, vote 7,5): this song in a certain sense blends Nice with Deep Purple, seen the initial classic rock, with pounding rhythm (Underwood), and the classical breaks on the keyboards. "Make Up Your Mind" (almost 9 minutes) begins with a coarse repetition strophe-refrain, then follows a long digression on the keyboards by Robinson, which challenges Emerson; at the end the singing returns (vote 7,5/8). The excellent instrumental suite "Laughing Tackle" (vote 8,5) starts with a bass solo, to which are added the keyboards and the drums in the background (played in jazz style); after four and a half minutes this impressionist instrumental beginning gives rise to a rock solo of Underwood, followed by the return of the bass; then arrives a part orchestrated with the Strings ensemble which climbs into an orchestral sound on the verge of dissonance, then dissolves slowly together with the bass, plus another 40 seconds of "Entropy". It could be compared to Valentyne Suite by Colosseum.

In my opinion, Quatermass is a masterpiece of the first progressive: it is sensational that in 1970 this record has such a progressive attitude, able to make a perfect synthesis of Keith Emerson's keyboardist rock (and overcome him in ability and talent) and the harpers of hard rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple). The pieces are all high class for composition and arrangement; the musicians are technically excellent. Difficult to expect much more from a 1970 album.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,07. Vote album: 9. Masterpiece. Rating: Five stars.

jamesbaldwin | 5/5 |

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