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The Greatest Show On Earth

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The Greatest Show On Earth Horizons album cover
4.10 | 90 ratings | 10 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sunflower Morning (5:00)
2. Angelina (4:10)
3. Skylight Man (4:33)
4. Day Of The Lady (4:12)
5. Real Cool World (4:52)
6. I Fought For Love (4:26)
7. Horizons (14:02)
8. Again & Again (4:02)

Total Time : 44:37

Line-up / Musicians

- Colin Jennings / vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
- Garth Watt-Roy / vocals, electric & acoustic guitars
- Mick Deacon / organ, harpsichord
- Dick Hanson / trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion
- Tex Phillpotts / alto & tenor saxophones, percussion
- Ian Aitchison / tenor sax, percussion
- Norman Watt-Roy / bass
- Ron Prudence / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Hipgnosis

LP Harvest - SHVL 769 (1970, UK)

CD Repertoire Records - REP 4484-WP (1994, Germany)
CD Esoteric Recordings ‎- ECLEC 2362 (2012, Europe)

Thanks to ANDREW for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH Horizons ratings distribution

(90 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
5 stars The Greatest Show on Earth were originally formed in 1968 by guitarist Garth Watt-Roy and his bass-playing brother Norman. Garth would later form write and record the famous sole "Fuzzy Duck" album which I also love. "The Greatest Show On Earth's" unique mixture of Rock R&B, soul, jazz and prog-rock got them signed to EMI's progressive label Harvest Records in 1970. The folks at Repertoire have done a masterful job in re-mastering this glorious album which offers excellent speaker separation and great dynamic tones. In addition to the guitar, bass, drum standards, this band added Harpsichord, flugle horns, trumpets and saxes. The music on this album is amazing and I love the psychedelic-like structures and progressive punches these guys play. Talk about a great album that needs to be discovered by all. Essentially this album is organ/guitar driven with excellent bass, percussion support and clever vocalizations. Best way to describve this music might be to blend Canterbury's Caravan's early albums with Pink Floyd and traces of Procol Harum. Go get this album !
Review by Sean Trane
3 stars When thinking of English brass rock, one usually thinks directly of If in the role of the Chicago Transit Authority, but if you want to think of BS&T, you'd have to look at The Greatest Show On Earth; which was probably not a good idea for a name especially when it isn't. That should be it for the hits below the belts, especially when the protagonist probably didn't have any to put up on the charts. Oops!! But seriously their brand of brassy RnB mi Ex with some of prog's traits does remind the ultra-commercial US combo. This octet - the usual prog quartet (including founding pair of Watt-Roy brothers plus a three-man brass/horns/wings section (you choose) and bandleader singer/flauter Colin Horton- Jennings - released two albums the same year on the adventurous EMI-label called Harvest and disappeared quickly from the scene.

The debut has a striking Hipgnosis Eye gatefold artwork, but one can only be a tad unimpressed as the pair of eyes staring at you back its inside gatefold artwork and the standard track format, bar the showpiece. Indeed after a very promising Hammond- drenched Sunflower Morning (which might have inspired a certain July Morning, until its chorus anyway), it turns out that TGSOE fails right away to confirm (or keep the pace) with commercial stinker Angelina (the track, not the girl, unless it's the one from Golden Earring ;-), the uneventful Fought For Love and the light hearted Skylight Man. But with Day Of The Lady (with its dumb bar roll-out-the-barrel intro and slightly Gabriel/Brooker vocal delivery) and the semi-classic Real Cool World (a hit in some Continental countries) where the band shows a great potential, they managed to pull it through the net of discerning fans of Brass-rock.

Coming to the title track, it is a bit of clumsy affair, that starts out well enough with classical hints, but sinks into the almost-obligatory drum solo (one of the era's unfortunate flaws) but when the track dies pick-up again the prog elements are stronger, the W-R brothers fuzz guitar and bass giving them a very exhilarating string attack over an Hensley organ. This was certainly meant to be the track where the musicians could unleash in their concerts, but it is only half convincing in its studio version. Closing off the album was the single's B-side Again And Again, which another strong track that would resurface on a different single much later in the decade.

One of their distinctive traits is that the horn section did contribute to all kinds of percussion during the lengthy breaks, but failed to really be adventurous in that department, at best making them sound like a poor man's Santana. One of the problems is that outside the lenghty title track, the album is made of standard verse chorus track that allowed too few interplay and just sounded a bit too formulaic. TGSOE 's debut shows some promise, but unfortunately it was riding the closing years of the genre's peak period and they certainly did not have their US counterpart's talents in songwriting or were "prog" enough to match the nationals of If.

Review by ClemofNazareth
4 stars On one hand any band that has the stones to name themselves “The Greatest Show on Earth” is bound to be a disappointment unless they can jump motorcycles over flaming trenches and skydive into shark- infested waters unharmed in addition to playing music. That would be a great show by the way, but I’m guessing these guys never featured anything like that in their live acts.

But on the flip side a group of eight young but talented musicians with roots in sixties psychedelia getting together on the fledgling Harvest label could hardly have helped but to create a memorable and eclectic sound. And that they did on this, their debut album.

Other reviews of this album have made references to Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears and these are valid considering the three prominent horn players and earthy, communal lyrical themes. This is not the sort of heavy prog that band founder Garth Watt-Roy would go on to produce with Fuzzy Duck, although future Juicy Lucy keyboardist Mike Deacon lays down some pretty heavy organ tracks on most of the songs on this album. Like Chicago and BST though, this is a band that is infused with more of a soul sound than psych or blues, and that in itself makes them stand out just a bit from some of their contemporaries.

On a few tracks like “Angelina” and “Day of the Lady” though the band takes on a little bit of the west- coast California psych sound of the latter sixties, music they undoubtedly grew up on and were influenced by.

Other than a slightly gratuitous drum solo on “I Fought for Love” this is a pretty solid album, with none of the tracks standing out especially but all of them full of plenty of rich sounds thanks to the various horns, congas, flute and funky bass, and Deacon’s hard organ providing a strong foundation (you just can’t add adjectives to the word ‘organ’ without unfortunate results).

The title track surely became the band’s “Freebird” at whatever live shows they managed to book during their brief existence, or if it not it should have been. The fourteen minute organ, saxophone and flute heavy dirge is unlike anything you’ve likely ever heard before. The music here isn’t original by any means, but the blend of instruments the band employs is rather innovative. This is another one of those highly unusual and unique bands that would never have gotten a recording contract after about 1974 thanks to the more cookie-cutter commercial marketing music approach most labels were taking by then.

This isn’t “The Greatest Show on Earth” (despite their name), but it is a pretty decent album. Four stars because I find the sound ear-pleasing and because it reminds me of a sound that is long gone yet doesn’t resort to sounding particularly dated (except for that closing track). The members of the band that stayed in the music business would go on to other projects that reflected more of the heavy organ parts of this music than the soul stuff, but that in part was probably more a product of the seventies musical tastes and record industry than it was the individual member’s actual musical preferences. Recommended to eclectic and heavy prog fans alike.


Review by Progfan97402
4 stars When I go hunting records in Eugene, Oregon, I often come up with my share of surprises. In Eugene, the few record stores still remaining might not be overflowing with rare and obscure prog, but over the years I've came across a few treasures, some of them I never seen in the flesh before. Original LPs of Curved Air's Airconditioning (the picture disc), Celeste (Italian Grog pressing), Embryo's Father Son & Holy Ghosts, Latte e Miele's Papillon, Satin Whale's Desert Places are a few huge shockers I've seen in Eugene. Grant it, it's usually one or two of these type of LPs showing up in Eugene at any given time, not just tons, and I frequently come empty-handed (the more common prog I've long got years ago). Eugene record stores, in general, despite what I've found, isn't exactly prog heaven. And every time I thought was ready to give up, another one shows up, and that's The Greatest Show on Earth's Horizons.

Now I can understand why this wasn't a priority one band for me, feeling I'd probably be more interested in buying if I saw a copy in the flesh than ordering it online. Which happened. I realize this is not particularly easy to find. But it's still a very good album, but didn't quite blow me away, hence it wasn't high priority. I've long realized it was EMI, or at least Harvest Records' idea of having a British equivalent to American horn rock groups of the time like Chicago and Blood, Sweat & Tears, which is true. The vocalist sound undeniably like David Clayton-Thomas, but the music lacked the more commercial pop-edge that Chicago succeeded big time in, and BS&T did for a few years before vanishing into obscurity. Some of the music has a psychedelic edge like "I Fought For Love" and "Skylight Man". The latter seems to have a bit of a 1967//'68 vibe, making me think this was probably one of the first things the band wrote when they formed in '68. The title track is a bit different, an extended jam, with a drum solo, as well as letting the horn players jam later on, and even a psychedelic guitar solo. "Day of the Lady" really starts off lame, what on Earth were they thinking starting it off like some slow-paced polka? Luckily that part is short, and they get into something a bit more folk-oriented, something that would be foreign on a Chicago or BS&T album. The rest is more of that horn rock, British style that other such similar groups like IF, Web, Brainchild, Warm Dust has done. Maybe a couple of ideas I didn't quite go for, so I can't give this album five stars, but at least the music is inspired and energetic and deserving of four stars.

Review by ALotOfBottle
4 stars Might this be The Greatest Show On Earth?

I'm always in for records from around 1970, which was a milestone for rock music and one of the first years of true progressive rock. So, I was naturally quite inquisitive to hear what was the deal with The Greatest Show On Earth - a group of which I had heard many times before, but had never heard any music of. I set my expectations high (no, not because of the band's name) after reading many positive reviews by other members. So, I had to have a listen.

The sound of "Horizons", Greatest Show's debut release brings many bands to mind. Brass rock influences, very much in vein of Blood, Sweat & Tears or If strike immediately. Colosseum-esque jazz rock parts are also present. Elements of so-called proto-prog appear from time to time. Most notably on a track "Horizons", where a theme from Bach's "Fugue in D Minor" resolves into song's main progression. Despite all that, this album is kept in a rather psychedelic fashion. Numerous folk hints, somewhat reminiscent of The Incredible String Band as well as screaming fuzzed-out guitar - these are all a legacy of a psychedelic generation.

Mick Deacon, Greatest Show's keyboardist gives the group a very interesting feel. Clearly inspired by soul and jazz organ methods as well as many of his contemporaries - Ken Hensley, Jon Lord or Dave Greenslade. Norman Watt-Roy, the bass player lays down some superb grooves, while his brother Garth and Colin Horton-Jennings (both being guitarists) provide very pleasing harmony vocals.

The pieces on this work are quite diverse. One might be a folk ballad, while the next will be an up-beat tempo, organ-driven jazz-rocker. The diversity of the album is its real atribute. Songs can go from gentle folk ballads to organ-driven jazz-rockers one after another. Regardless of the style, they are all equally entartaining, seldom exposing band's weaknesses. The best track on the album I consider to be "Horizons", the title track. A 14-minute piece goes through most enjoyable elements of the album the album - a stellar flute solo, wild fuzzed-out guitar, great organ playing and an equally entartaining bass-line. It even features a brief drum solo! This is generally the most "progressive" track of this release.

Overall, The Greatest Show On Earth presents an original style with great musicianship and a wide plethora of influences. "Horizons" will make a great addition to a collection of every prog rock fan, especially a proto prog or even a heavy prog enthusiast. Perhaps not The Greatest Show On Earth, but definitely a very good one and well worth your listen.

Latest members reviews

5 stars THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH were a short-lived, eight-piece Jazz-Rock band from Great Britain who released two albums in 1970 on the specialist Prog-Rock label, Harvest Records, a branch of EMI. The band consisted of two singers/guitarists, a keyboard player, a bassist and drummer, and a three-p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2285358) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Wednesday, December 4, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have got this album (the 2 on 1 CD.. coupled with their 2nd album) Having never heard the album version of "Horizons" (My version is editted, as one of the folk call it "the horrible version".) The single version as its called sounds great.. This album as a whole is just pure real music! ... (read more)

Report this review (#103934) | Posted by Frippertron | Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of my favourite bands of all time. Have owned this LP for many years and its been played to death. The great thing about the GSOE is the wide variety of instruments used. Being an 8 piece outfit, this is inevitable I suppose. Featuring a the usual guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, the line i ... (read more)

Report this review (#103931) | Posted by kingdhansak | Thursday, December 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars well this lp isnīt a good work, itīs a master pice so i really consider this lp like a most beautiful work to the progresive rock, but the history was a bad judge for the group. But if you really like the progresive rock and phsicodelic rock this album is for you muy friend. ... (read more)

Report this review (#81999) | Posted by NECROMANDUS | Sunday, June 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is one of the most pleasant albums that I hear. It's something between Blood Sweat and Tears and some classic rock (E,L&P). Best songs are Day of the lady, Horizons and Real cool world. The last one has some great hammond parts and great atmosphere (especially chorus). I also like the voi ... (read more)

Report this review (#72926) | Posted by Hejkal | Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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