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WARHORSE

Warhorse

Heavy Prog


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Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars The group was formed around Nicky Simper unfairly dismissed from Deep Purple, and he got some help from record executives. And unfortunately this dismissal will hover over the group's short recording career. Holt, who will go on as the singer on Wakeman 80's albums, provides solid vocals is the main asset for the band although Wilson's sometimes double KB attack (piano-organ) on Solitude is clearly a plus also.

An excellent Hammond-driven hard rock sometimes reminiscent of Vanilla Fudge, but never far away from Purple either, their dynamic but derivative songwriting is both a strength and a weakness in that they will never really manage their own sound. See the second track No Chance and Ritual (a rip-off of Wring That Neck but as if done by the Mk II line-up of Purple) for the all-too-obvious Purple influences. They will obviously try out for commercial success with St Louis cover (actually it sold fairly well as a single) , but the highlight of the album is the closing Woman of The Devil with the Hammond wailing in the pure Mark Stein (Vanilla Fudge) style, before Holt taking over a funky bass then a Lord-Blackmore exchange again reminiscent of you-know-who!

Representative of the average hard rock developed at the time, this first album is definitely not essential but should be in most 70's prog fan's shelves!

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#30238)
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Originally released on Vertigo Records, the self-titled LP Warhorse comes housed in beautiful gatefold sleeves pressed on 180-Gram virgin vinyl. Akarma Records, a subsidiary of Comet Records, is the label responsible for this fine reproduction of this sleeper pre- progressive album. Once you hear it you will realize it sounds like today's prog-metal in some ways.

Nick Simper, formerly of Deep Purple, broke away from the rock legends and started a band of his own. I have to be honest; I am probably like many folks I am sure in that I had never heard of this spin-off group, and it came as a real revelation after giving the records a spin how good they were. It came as no surprise, however, that their sound is similar to the group that Simper had just left, although the subject matter is much darker.

I liked the way Ashley Holt was pushed right out in front of their sound, kind of sitting on the very edge of Ged Peck's crunching guitar parts, not unlike Ian Gillan was for DP, and he sounds a bit like him as well. Frank Wilson plays the Hammond with enthusiasm to give their overall sound a bluesy funky progressive flair that I found very appealing as well.

This is very good music, surprisingly so because of the fact that many spin-off groups fail miserably, and then again others make musical history, albeit very few. I do not think their impact was realized fully when this was recorded. This two LP set is a real keeper; it maintains a firm uniformity that stays with and makes you want to listen to it again wondering what you could have missed the first time around.

For collectors this makes for a real treasure trove of goodies that is hard to resist, the added bonus and live tracks give you another two sides of music that was previously unavailable.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#30239)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
lesbaker999@y
4 stars I was lucky enough to see this band many years back and recently obtained their album which I had early lost. They were very good, and quite possibly one of the best bands of their day. Their set consisted of highly complex arrangements, but the sheer raw power of the playing was not lost.

But the guy that really struck me as truly great was the guitarist, Ged Peck. He could do things that I've never seen anyone else do. He was fast beyond belief, although he never pranced about like others. He was the basis of that band and when he left, they clearly lost direction.

As for the album, I really feel that although it's very good, it only gives a small indication of the talent of this group.

Perhaps - as a budding guitarist myself in these days - I'm just a slight bit biased, but there were many others like me who used to stand in awe in front of that guy trying to learn how he did it. He was the finest, without doubt, and it's a shame that few people have heard of him.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#48412)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wanna know the truth? I just bought this album last week! Pity me . I heard the band since it was late seventies (if I'm not mistaken) but I never felt attracted to purchase the album and only recently when I visited the studio of our new local classic rock radio: The Jakarta Alternative Station (why they call it alternative? Because it's the only classic rock radio down here!) I was amazed with the fact that this band produced very good music when this radio owner (Ilham) showed me the CD he copied from collection of 10,000 LPs!. So the next day after I visited the station, I went to CD store and found this album that cost me USD 18 - which is too expensive for me. Oh . what a price! But never mind - it must justify the investment. Right there in the store I opened the digipak (remastered edition) and asked the storekeeper to play this CD. Boom! "Vulture Blood" rocked the store man .!! People who were visiting the store quite surprised with this radical (and unexpected) change from what was played before which was Britney Spears or Mariah Carey . or whoever I don't know, it doesn't matter. What matters most is WARHORSE rocked the CD store!!! Yeah man .. Kip on rokin' .

What surprised me was the fact when I opened the CD inlay and found this name printed: Ashley Holt. Wow! What a great surprise for. I had been wondering for long about who is this gentleman when I was amazed with his contribution to early Rick Wakeman's albums. He sang wonderfully "You shall hang said the judge ." in "The Prisoner" from No Earthly Connection - Rick's masterpiece! Now .. I gotcha man .!! Finally. So, by knowing this, my USD 18 investment is really justified and I actually should have bought this album long time ago. The only information that I got about Warhorse had always been: a band by Deep Purple's former bassist Nick Simpler. That's it. No one mentioned that Ashley Holt was there. And now I understand why Rick Wakeman asked him to contribute to Rick's early albums.

The music of this album is really nuansamatik - that is a music that truly represents the era of rock music in the seventies. The recording quality is very analog and it creates great value for me personally. As the era was characterized by the use of Hammond organ so is the case with this album. The Hammond organ sound by Frank Wilson is really killing me even from the opening track "Vulture Blood". I would not deny that the music is pretty close with early albums of Deep Purple. The other characteristic is the guitar-playing style which is very bluesy and a bit funk but it merges wonderfully with the rock elements. Nick Simpler's inventive bass guitar playing style is very obvious here.

The album kicks off with a church organ sound that opens "Vulture Blood" (6:13) followed with dynamic drum and guitar work that remarks the rock part of the music. Ashley Holt sings wonderfully with organ as key rhythm section augmented with guitar work by Ged Peck. It's so classic and it's so rewarding .. Especially the organ solo . followed with guitar in alternate uh man .. it's killing me. If you are listening to this album with headphone, you will find great bass guitar playing. "No Chance" (6:22) is a bit melancholic with great organ work at background and melodic singing part. This is true seventies! This is one of my favorite tracks. "Burning" (6:17) brings the music upbeat with still maintaining soaring organ and stunning guitar work. The organ playing style reminds me to Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep. "Ritual" guitar work at opening part reminds me to Deep Purple's music. "Solitude" (8:48) is another excellent track exploring acoustic guitar and organ with vocal power. The chords and notes used are somewhat very progressive. "Woman of the Devil" (7:16) sees the combination of Emerson's The Nice and Deep Purple music. Excellent.

This album is highly recommended. If you can appreciate classic rock / prog music in the seventies, this album is a must. I never regret to purchase this CD that is actually expensive for me. I still want to purchase the second album which featured a song that became a national hit at that time. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#48436)
Posted Sunday, September 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars After this record Deep Purple should be dead. Why? Because their fans shoul change into Warhorse fans. What an album this is! Strong rock tracks like Vulture Blood, great epic ballad Solitude and very catchy tracks like Ritual (you should definilty find the live version from Beat Club). Rock as it best. No dull moments here. Deep Purple Mk II fans - this is your favourite album (even if you don't know it yet). If there is something like hard rock (oh, how much I don't like this two words...), it's definitely Warhorse. An essential; for every music lover.

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Send comments to Deepslumber (BETA) | Report this review (#109160)
Posted Saturday, January 27, 2007 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In the same way that I was interested into "Captain Beyond" because of Rod Evans, I was quite keen on listening to "Warhorse" and Nick Simper. And I was not disappointed.

What came to my mind while I was listening the opening number was a great feeling of satisfaction: superb Hammond organ, wild beat. A great hard-rock moment. BUT what I could absolutely not stand were the shouts of their lead singer (Ashley Holt). He kind of ruined my opinion about this otherwise great track.

Things are getting much better on his side during "No Chance". He is effectively singing here (and not shouting) and the band keeps on their impeccable duty on all of the instruments. It is one of my favourite songs from this album (but there are plenty).

When "Burning" starts, the Purple feeling is inevitable. The rhythmic section is doing a fine performance (Nick is really outstanding here). This song features all the elements a hard-rock fan is keen on listening: great beat, fine vocals and a sublime organ work. Frank Wilson is an excellent keys player. He is really pumping magnificent sounds out of his organ. I guess that the best references to mention are Lord, Hensley and Crane. This album is a real good dynamite one. The frenetic "St. Louis" (a cover from the "Easybeats") is a formidable rock and pop anthem. This album doesn't leave you breathe for a second (well, only the blanks between the songs I guess).

The same musical skills can be noticed in "Ritual". This time, it is the occasion for Ged Peck to offer a gorgeous guitar solo. Needless to say that the beat is quite sustained as well. Dynamite, I just told you.

Some production problem are noticeable with the vocal parts during the magnificent "Solitude". It is another fantastic song which starts almost tranquil and develops in a fabulous crescendo. Fully prog key parts, crying guitar and languish, passionate vocals. My goodness! This album is quite a ride! Highlights after highlights. "Solitude" is a BEAUTIFUL track.

The closing number has a similar struture as "Solitude". It opens on a fantastic keys section which started slowly and accelerates like hell. Mark I is pretty close. Even the funky orientation of "Woman Of The Devil" can't prevent me to like it. Heavy psychedelia, crazy beat, destroying guitar riffs coupled with a killer solo. This is great music.

This album really rocks from start to finish. It is a pity that this release was almost unexposed at the time of recording. This is a great hard-rock album IMHHO.

The CD edition is completed with several live tracks as well as a demo song ("Miss Jane"). While the unreleased studio track is avoidable, it is needless to say that the rendition of "Ritual" is not shy of the studio counterpart. It is a pity that "Solitude" has been emasclated by half while played "live" and ends quite abruptly. I put "live" into bracket because these songs are live in the studio actually. Still, they remain excellent and it is a shame that no official "Warhorse" live recordings are available.

These versions should be rather consider as demos as well. Both "Woman..." and "Burning" are again on par with the studio release. Which means VERY GOOD as the whole album.

I can't think of a lower rating than four stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#186290)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There's probably an underlying story beneath the crack of this album; almost like a tale of two bands made by ex-Deep Purple men. More attention has been given to Captain Beyond, singer Rod Evans's project (along with Bobby Caldwell and Iron Butterfly castoffs), but I felt I needed to give big sister Warhorse a chance (bassist Nick Simper's doing). Simper's band came out before Evans's did, and it really sounds like it.

Warhorse pretty much sounds just like a 60's Deep Purple offshoot, or a sound-alike to Uriah Heep. Heavy rock cluttered with Hammond organs squeezing in a couple of ballad/epic (on this album, the words are interchangeable) things pretty much is this album. I wouldn't call it unique by any stretch of the imagination, and that's what hurts WARHORSE; it sounds too much like ''insert-70's-Hammond-organ-rock-band-here''. The playing and riffing are far from terrible, singer Ashley Holt is only partially annoying (I really wish he didn't aim for the high notes) and there are a few catchy songs here even without a definitive highlight.

Believe it or not, the least prog track ''St. Louis'' is my personal favourite track (there's hometown bias, but still...). ''Woman of the Devil'' has a Captain Beyond-like beginning (time-sig wise), and both ''Burning'' and ''Ritual'' have great riffing foundations. The ballady epics ''No Chance'' and ''Solitude'' drive me nuts no thanks to the vocals that sound as if Holt just read the words straight from a piece of paper and sang just to hit the notes right. My idea of singing (having stage experience) is not to sing but to tell a story or communicate beit an album or stage, and about 90% of rock, pop and otherwise singers don't have that ability. It bothers me when the piece aims to emote, but none of the performers (instrumentalists included) really make the emotion credible.

Unlike the Captain Beyond debut, WARHORSE isn't that long lost classic. The points where the energy really translates well is counter-balanced by yawner monotonies. Aside from that, WARHORSE is in no way unique or special musically, and I consider the project fringe prog; I'm fine with them belonging in Heavy Prog, but it's still a stretch. If it didn't sound like a proggy REO TWO or it had that IT factor that made it stand out amongst the crowd of 70's rock bands, I might have liked WARHORSE more.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#557207)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars The liner notes credit Warhorse with talent and innovation, saying they were among the Heavy Rock bands of the early seventies and worthy of credit. When the first album was released under the Vertigo label, the band found themselves being compared to Black Sabbath, also on Vertigo. Heavy guitar aside, however, Warhorse sound nothing like Black Sabbath; Warhorse had a Hammond organ. In fact, if you want comparisons to contemporary heavy bands of the early seventies I would say look no further than Uriah Heep. There are several instances on this album the Warhorse sound very similar to the Heep, and during one track I couldn't help but think of Vanilla Fudge's album "Renaissance".

Two main differences, however, would be guitarist Ged Peck's playing style, which sounds very much as though he graduated from the Ritchie Blackmore School Of Guitar (with a C+). The resemblance to Blackmore's style and sound is notable on at least three tracks, especially on "Ritual", which has a guitar solo and rhythm quite similar to Deep Purple's "Wring That Neck" (almost a direct rip-off in one part). It should come as no surprise then to find DP's original bass player, Nick Simper, as the leader of the Warhorse group. Perhaps he just had to have a Blackmore-esque guitarist along with a Hammond organ and he may have loved playing "Wring That Neck" so much that he had to have a close facsimile to that song on his band's album.

The other distinguishable sound of Warhorse is the vocal effort of Ashley Holt. A guy who can scream out notes when he wants to, Ashley Holt has a distinct voice, though not always in a favourable way. On "No Chance" he sounds more like he's half reading, half singing in a bored tone. The lyrics sound equally boring. Ashley Holt generally does not have an exciting voice in my opinion, though when he gets going, as in "St. Louise", he can let it rip. I would like to add a favourable comment that goes to Frank Wilson's organ playing. Perhaps he is the most skilled musician in the band, though without the degree of precision and style of Jon Lord.

The album starts off a bit slow, meaning it doesn't seem to do anything exciting or interesting until the third track, "Burning", and then does alright for the next three tracks. My personal favourite is the final track "Woman of the Devil", which actually does sound a little like Sabbath near the beginning.This song takes its time to build and has some decent bass parts. Ashly Holt's screams are full of raw power but the mix on the album puts an echo on them as if to make him sound more like Ian Gillan than he is capable of doing on his own. Was Simper trying to compete with the Mark II lineup of his former band?

The liner notes suggest the band's lack of success can be blamed on poor timing with record deals and internal problems but to me they just don't sound as exciting as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or Uriah Heep. I have gone back to listen to a few songs again recently, hoping my opinion would be more favourable this time round but sadly I still find most of the songs here only semi-inspired hard rock tunes that come across as vainly hoping to capture a slice of the Deep Purple market. It sounds derisive but that's my impression. Sorry Nicky.

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Send comments to FragileKings (BETA) | Report this review (#836765)
Posted Thursday, October 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

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