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Janus Gravedigger album cover
3.73 | 46 ratings | 5 reviews | 22% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Red Sun (8:55)
2. Bubbles (3:50)
3. Watcha Trying To Do? (3:53)
4. I Wanna Scream (2:43)
5. Gravedigger (20:48)

Total time 40:09

Bonus tracks on 1992 reissue:
6. Red Sun (5:31)
7. Napalm (Sticks To Kids) / Watergarden (Bruno Lord Solo 1984) (6:56)
8. War Machines (Single 1990) (3:53)
9. Yesterday Has Turned To Shapeless Life (4:34)
10. Yesterday Has Turned To Shapeless Life (instrumental version) (5:35)

Bonus tracks on 2013 remaster:
6. I'm Moving On (Single) (3:12)
7. I Don't Believe You (Single) (3:16)

Bonus CD from 2013 remaster - Remix:
1. Red Sun (8:55)
2. Bubbles (3:51)
3. Watcha Trying To Do? (3:50)
4. I Wanna Scream (2:49)
5. Suma Manatilly (3:40) *
6. Sinful Sally (2:52) *
7. Gravedigger (20:50)

* Previously unreleased bonus tracks

Total time 46:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Bruno Lord / lead vocals
- Derek Hyatt / lead vocals
- Colin Orr / guitar, keyboards
- Roy Yates / classical guitar
- Mick Pederby / bass, backing vocals
- Keith Bonthrone / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Rainer Pietsch / arrangements (3,5), producer
- Horst Dieter Krohn / string arrangements (2.7)
- Thea Hanson-Orr / backing vocals (2.5)
- Rikki Hanson-Orr / backing vocals (2.5)
- Ben Stafford / backing vocals (2.5)
- Hans Jürgen Fritz / keyboards (2.6)

Releases information

Artwork: Electrola Art Studio

LP Harvest ‎- 1 C 0629 433 (1972, Germany)

CD SPM Records ‎- CDF 670362 (1989, Germany)
CD World Wide Records ‎- SPM-WWR-CD-0035 (1992, Germany) With 5 bonus tracks
2xCD Harvest ‎- 5099997545521 (2013, Germany) Remastered with 2 bonus tracks and Bonus CD including remixed versions plus 2 extra unreleased tracks

Thanks to Philippe Blache for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JANUS Gravedigger ratings distribution

(46 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(22%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (30%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

JANUS Gravedigger reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Warthur
3 stars Gravedigger by Janus finds the band playing in a psyche-tinged style of early progressive rock still entangled in the genre's roots in the 1960s underground - and emerged just as that style of prog was going out of fashion in favour of more polished and complex material, to the band's misfortune. It's an enjoyable enough album if you like the early prog style - dramatic opener Red Sun is particularly enjoyable - though I wouldn't say it's solid all the way through; in particular, the brash introduction to Watcha Trying to Do?, aside from being irritating, is also tonally inconsistent with the rest of the album, as is the rest of the song itself - it feels like someone else's song parachuted into the middle of the running order. In fact, with such a weak first side and a side two epic that doesn't really stand up next to the sort of material their peers in Van der Graaf Generator or Genesis was producing, the album isn't so much a neglected classic as it is a second-tier release which got about as much attention as it deserved.
Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The debut album in 1972 from British band Janus is an occasionally successful fusion of hard rock with heavy psych, classical and blues elements. It has plenty in common with many proto-prog bands from the same period that were slowly finding their feet developing new sounds that would later resemble proper progressive related styles. `Gradigger' consisted of four shorter pieces on its first side ranging between two and nine minutes, sometimes along the lines of Black Sabbath, Amon Duul 2, heavy metal and blues. Better yet was the lengthy 21 minute floating title track on the reverse, yet it has to be said that the two sides sound like entirely different bands! Perhaps this inconsistency hinders the album and certainly shows a band unsure of their own identity yet, but musical skills were certainly already on display, as well as a gutsy rocking sound with a nice contrast between hard and soft passages.

Chugging opener `Red Sun' plods along trying to capture a Black Sabbath feel, but the slightly forced vocals aren't nearly as good as Ozzy. The middle section is thankfully stronger, when a repetitive Krautrock passage full of Colin Orr's panning feedback drenched electric guitar droning and Mick Peberdy's sludgy bass that brings a nice sleazy dangerous sound. Seeing as the band were operating out of Germany at the time, it's no wonder that hypnotic Krauty sound infiltrated their music a little! `Bubbles' could almost be a cross between the Doors on the verses (plus a dash of psych-pop) with the scuzzy riffing and ranting deranged vocals from an Amon Duul 2 album elsewhere. The stop/start `Watcha' Trying To Do' twists bluesy guitar mangling grooves back and forth. Sadly `I Wanna Scream' is a rubbish heavy metal rocker, but thankfully it's barely over two minutes in length. The album sleeve states that it's actually been re-recorded here due to the master tapes not surviving, but although it still sounds just like it would have from the time, the track is so throwaway that the band may as well have saved the time and not included it at all.

Fortunately it's the second side that offers the most exciting moments. The drifting almost 21 minute `Gravedigger' is highlighted by gentle chiming acoustic guitar and nimble solo runs, sighing wordless harmonies, sweeping orchestral passages and the lightest of Mellotron veils that cover the piece instantly call to mind the Moody Blues. Spanish and classical themes weave throughout the arrangement, a somber lead vocal, delicate piano and very subdued light Hammond organ. It's perhaps a bit overlong and repeats a little too much, but it sure it is a lovely dreamy mellow if melancholic come-down, and if the band were to survive in the 70's from this album, expanding on this direction would have been very advisable, as it's more distinctive and memorable than the hard rock first side of the album.

`Gravedigger' has now been reissued in a lavish double CD set that includes various bonus unreleased tracks, remixes and singles. According the Colin Orr's own admission in the booklet, the studio album sounded very different to how the band sounded live, with most of the the members being unhappy with the finished results. He also mentions that despite coming across like it on the album, the band live were `loud and aggressive, classical, angry and mournful, but never psychedelic." As far as I'm concerned, perhaps this was producer Rainer Pietsch simply trying to do what he could to make the material more imaginative. The band shouldn't be so hard on themselves, it's a decent little album that has developed a nice cult following since its release.

It would take 28 years before Janus recorded a follow-up album, so it's a shame that they didn't really get a chance in their heydey to build on their yet to be fully realised potential. Undemanding heavy rock fans will likely find something to interest them here, as well as forgiving heavy psych fans, but there are so many endless other solid rock albums along these lines from the same period that should be easily recommended over most of what is on offer here.

Three stars.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Achtung! JANUS were another British band based in Germany (just like Nektar), so they could almost be considered a Krautrock band, especially in regard to their spaced-out psychedelic music. Janus were formed in the German town of Krefeld way back in 1969 by guitarist and keyboard player Colin O ... (read more)

Report this review (#2432591) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Monday, July 27, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A Progrock Time Capsule It is even as if this obscure relic from 1972 was destined to become ressurected. Crucified from the beginning by short-sighted record execs who dubbed the band with the tonque-in-cheek name Janus, after the mythical Roman God of beginnings and endings who is usually repr ... (read more)

Report this review (#269164) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Monday, March 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm stunned that no one has critiqued this album ahead of me. Wow..... I know several people who have it, and it's a cherished item among all of us. The band hails from the U.K., but did their recording in Germany. Hmmmm.....that's a common point with another Brit band who had to leave the U.K. ... (read more)

Report this review (#184639) | Posted by beebs | Friday, October 3, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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