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Bram Stoker Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] album cover
3.83 | 59 ratings | 6 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Born to be free (3:43)
2. Ants (3:48)
3. Fast decay (3:49)
4. Blitz (5:33)
5. Idiot (4:28)
6. Fingal's cave (7:42)
7. Extensive corrosion (4:19)
8. Poltergeist (4:35)

Total Time: 37:57

Bonus tracks on 2015 CD reissue:
9. Collusion Illusion (4:51)
10. Scarborough Fair (3:13)
11. Queen Of Sheba (Live) (2:41)
12. Faith Healer (Live) (1:47)

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Ballam / guitar
- Anthony Bronsdon / Hammond organ, keyboards
- John Bavin / bass, vocals
- Rob Haines / drums

Releases information

LP Windmill ‎- WMD 117 (1972, UK)
LP Talking Elephant Records ‎- TELP302 (2016, UK)

CD Audio Archives ‎- AACD 023 (1997, UK) Re-titled "Schizo-Poltergeist" and a different cover
CD Digimix Records - GMX113 (2007, UK) Remaster w/ 2 bonus tracks (see Compilations)
CD Talking Elephant Records ‎- TECD302 (2015, Europe) With 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to Todd for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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Buy BRAM STOKER Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] Music

BRAM STOKER Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] ratings distribution

(59 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(61%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

BRAM STOKER Heavy Rock Spectacular [Aka: Schizo-Poltergeist] reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by erik neuteboom
4 stars Here is a gem from the Early British Progressive Rock Movement, unfortunately it was both a painstaking as a hardly impossible task to find information from this elusive band. Bram Stoker was a one shot band that released their album in 1972 under the title Heavy Rock Spectacular. In 1999 the label Audio Archive released the album with the same tracks but a different cover (to be seen along with this review) as a reissue CD, a year later the label Black Widow released it with the original artwork and in 2003 the label Akarma released it as CD reissue in a mini LP gatefold sleeve.

The eight melodic and dynamic compositions are Hammond organ drenched, the electric guitar is often distorted (fuzz) delivering some fiery soli but in general it is on the background. Bram Stoker their sound has elements from Atomic Rooster (Born to be free), ELP (Fast decay) and often Beggar's Opera, mainly due to the classical organ sound (for example Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga in Fast Decay and the long Fingal's Cave) and the pleasant vocals. The track Blitz has some Spanish flavored guitar undertones and sounds a bit dark. The final, horror-like song Poltergeist features floods of classical inspired organ.


Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Extensive corrosion, of body and mind...!"

What a terrific lyric to start off this review! The sole Bram Stoker album `Schizo-Poltergeist' (at least that's what it's called on my version) is a wonderful heavy-prog stunner with endless waves of dazzling Hammond organ, fuzzy guitar and a good mix of instrumental virtuosity and varied melodic vocal tracks. The easiest similarity I could offer is along the lines of Atomic Rooster (and like the above quoted line, many of the lyrics have a slightly sinister tone with vague occult references), but with more classical influences like The Nice worked in as well. But anyone who enjoys similar early prog albums from Bodkin, Rare Bird and Beggars Opera will likely find much to enjoy here.

Like the spooky gothic mansion depicted on the front cover, the identity of the players who performed on this album is shrouded in mystery, which just adds to the slight unease of the music. More research on the net offers the player details as Tony Bronsdon - Organ, Pete Ballam - Guitar, Rob Haines - Drums and John Bavin - Bass. Going by the strength of this album, all the players should be immensely proud of what they achieved here, as they have something of an obscure and underground near-classic with this work. So much potential, so it's a shame we only received this one sole release.

Of the vocal tracks, the stomping opener `Born To Be Free' kicks the album off in pure winning Atomic Rooster style, a fuzzy guitar/humming Hammond organ rocker about a girl `born on the wrong side of town, her every word was spit and bile'! With a killer chorus, the track is insanely catchy and gloriously upbeat, which contrasts strangely with the downbeat lyrics - something that Rooster did frequently themselves!

`Blitz' is the most serious and striking of the vocal pieces, a rather somber and unsettling tale that asks `Does anyone know about Mary, does anyone know where Mary is, she went to rescue the children...'. Throughout there's some moody plodding bass that highlights the kind of creeping loneliness and reflective tone of the words, with some dark murky Spanish guitar worked in to stirring effect later on.

`Idiot' has a slightly cheesy chorus, but fans of the first Beggars Opera album `Act One' will enjoy this one, as it shares that same kind of maniacal circus-like loopy energy and charm. The finale `Poltergeist' is all bombastic Hammer-horror drama, but the booming and kitschy repeated chorus is a little lazy.

`Ants' gets the first of three instrumental pieces off to a grand start, with classical ELP/Trace/Nice- style dazzling organ work, by way of a ghost story/horror house setting, plus some nice rapid fire drumming too. `Fast Decay' carries on the same way, while incorporating sections of Bach's Toccata In D-Fuga (sure to either dazzle or infuriate some listeners!), but the relentless bass galloping away throughout is a real highlight. `Fingals Cave', apparently another classical interpretation, works wonderfully too, all spiraling organ, commanding drumming and searing electric guitar runs. There's a lovely jazzy lightness to parts of it as well.

So you've got eight tracks, three superb instrumental pieces overloaded with pure Hammond fire, and five vocal tracks, three of which are terrific, and two that are a little daggy but still very enjoyable. As the album is beautifully produced too, taking all of these things into consideration you have a wonderful LP that is well worth tracking down. Any fans of the above mentioned bands will greatly enjoy this one, and it can proudly be placed alongside those same artists/albums to complement them perfectly.

An easy four stars, please try and track down a copy!

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Cult British Prog band from the early-70's.There seems to be a confusion about its members, sure thing is their leader was keyboardist Tony Bronsdon and guitarist/bassist Tony Lowe was among the original members.Bram Stoker were found in 1969 and were a live beast of the era, being a regular visitor of legendary live scenes as The Roundhouse, The Marquee, The Greyhound-Croydon and The Speakeasy, they even were supported by Queen once, while they also played quite often in small pubs.By the time of the ''Heavy Rock Spectacular'' album in 1972 Bronsdon was apparently surrounded by a different line-up, including John Bavin on bass, Pete Ballam on guitar and Rob Haines on drums.The album was released originally on the London-based 70's label Windmill.

Heavy Rock it is at some degree, really spectacular it is not, because the music by Bram Stoker was already performed by acts such as ATOMIC ROOSTER, QUATERMASS and E.L.P. with nods also to the style of DEEP PURPLE and THE NICE.But the album is also very far from being uninteresting.Powerful, organ-based Heavy/Psych with some excellent organic jams and lots of energy to capture the listener's attention.The music is typical of the British Psych/Proto-Prog style with impressive influences from Classical sources and endless psychedelic textures in long, non-refined instrumental masturbations.Vocals are also very good, well-fit to the musical content and the rhythm section is extremely solid.Guitar contribution comes at a few moments, but these are also the ones with the more dramatic and progressive sound.''Extensive corrosion'' is possibly the most progressive of all pieces with its organ changing paces and the music being split in different variations, while the outro of ''Poltergeist'' belongs definitely among the most haunting tracks of British organ-led Psychedelic Music.

Standard example of the early-70's British Psych/Prog scene.Loads of dense Hammond organ and raw compositions full of extended, instrumental abnormalities.The album has been re-issued several times by a number of labels and it's pretty easy to be found.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by Progfan97402
4 stars I first became aware of Bram Stoker around 2000 through a website called Tommy's Forest of Progressive Rock, which later simply became Vintage Prog, which is still online, but hasn't been updated since 2008. That website was awfully useful before the arrival of Prog Archives, along with several other (mostly now defunct) websites like Unger's Wonderful World of Progressive Rock, Frazz Recommends (which focused on Italian prog, Frazz being named after Semiramis' Dedicato a Frazz), The Giant Progweed, and Ground & Sky.

Bram Stoker was long thought of as a mystery band. Many even speculated that employees of Woolworth's were involved in the making of the album (the album was released on Windmill, which was ran by the UK branch of the Woolworth's chain store). That's just plain silly, what would Woolworth's employees know anything about prog rock, even back in 1972 when it was at its peak? As it turns out they were a band lead by keyboardist Tony Bronsdon with Peter Ballum on guitar, John Bavin on bass and drums, and Rob Haines on drums. I own the original Windmill LP and it's clear what an awful label it was. Wooldworth's treated the album like an exploitation album, hence the artwork and title. Plus zero mention of who was in the band. Even more hilarious is Paul Henry (I assumed the band's manager) notice to Windmill Records, which it hilariously starts off, "Dear Sir, As you are in the business of making groups famous". Really? Not a single artist on Windmill got famous! I realize there were Frank Sinatra and various easy listening compilations put out by the label, but they were obviously long famous, thanks to help from reputable labels, many already having decades of fame. It's a safe bet that a good portion of the Windmill discography are now UK charity shop staples. Except for this one.

It's because Bram Stoker was actually very good, wonderful guitar and organ-driven early prog. In fact it still has psychedelic elements as if this was dated 1970, not 1972 (the original LP clearly gives a 1972 copyright on the label). Comparisons to The Nice, Atomic Rooster, and even a bit of ELP are totally valid. "Born to be Free" shows a bit of a bluesy side of the band, but it's Bronsdon's organ playing that gives it it's prog edge. "Fast Decay" includes quotes from classical music so comparisons to The Nice and Act One-era Beggars Opera are validated. "Blitz" has a rather eerie vibe to it, while "Idiot" is more or less like "Born to Be Free". "Poltergeist" is another eerie number, I'm sure the lyrics have a supernatural theme to it. I only wished the LP came with printed lyrics, but given this is Windmill we're talking about, you have to settle with very basic packaging. It's very much a safe bet that this is easily the best thing on the Windmill label. This album comes highly recommended to those who enjoy early guitar and organ-driven prog.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Mischievous Invisible Sprite Spectacularly Lifts Heavy Rock I have to confess that I was not overly optimistic about this one due in no small measure to the very tacky artwork and the appalling title. Dire premonitions of 'Franck Pourcell plays the music of Black Sabbath' are mercifully unfou ... (read more)

Report this review (#169586) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The obvious reference points are ELP and the Nice, with a bit of Deep Purple heavyness and Atomic Rooster/Black Sabbath demonic doom thrown in. As befits a band with their enigmatic name and style not much is known about them. A bit of Googling found that the T Bronsdon credited with the mater ... (read more)

Report this review (#64161) | Posted by | Wednesday, January 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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