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Arc Bell + Arc album cover
3.17 | 16 ratings | 1 reviews | 19% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1971

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. High Priest of Memphis (3:30)
2. Let Your Love Run Free (6:00)
3. Keep a Wise Mind (3:19)
4. So Long Marianne (3:44)
5. She Belongs to Me (4:29)
6. Yat Rock (6:08)
7. Dawn (3:00)
8. Children of the North Prison (4:15)
9. Everyday (3:53)

Total Time 38:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Graham Bell / vocals, harmonica, acoustic guitar
- Tom Duffy / bass
- Michael Gallagher / piano, organ
- Rob Tait / drums
- John Turnbull / guitars
- Ken Craddock / guitars, piano, organ
- Alan White / drums & percussion, vibes

- Steve Gregory / tenor brass
- Buddy Beadle / baritone brass
- Jeff Condon / bass brass
- John Woods / percussion

Releases information

LP 1971 Charisma records CAS1053

Thanks to easy livin for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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ARC Bell + Arc ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(19%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (19%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

ARC Bell + Arc reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Missing identity

Following their critically acclaimed debut "Arc at this", Arc joined forces with Graham Bell, formerly of Heavy Jelly and Skip Bifferty to form the curiously named Bell + Arc (not Bell and Arc). They release just this self titled album together before the band folded completely a year later, with John Turnbull and Michael Gallagher going on to join Ian Dury and the Blockheads.

The album "Bell + Arc" did not fare nearly as well as had been hoped in terms of chart success, and copious quantities of the album quickly found their way into the bargain bins of British record shops. Nowadays though, the album has gained belated recognition, and is highly sought after in LP format.

Bell's white soul style vocals are somewhere between Joe Cocker and Paul Rodgers, the opening "High priest of Memphis" giving him an early chance to stamp his authority on the band's sound. The slightly echoed voice, female backing vocals, and rhythmic piano all contribute to the gospel tinged sound.

During the recording of the album, drummer Rob Tait, who had already replaced the band's founding drummer, was himself replaced by Alan White (later of Yes). White's first appearance here is on the second track "Let your love run free", a blues/funk number with a rock and roll rhythm. The track features a Chicago like brass section who drive the repetitive beat forward. "Keep a wise mind" ventures towards country rock, the simplistic structure and catchy chorus offering little in the way of a challenge.

Side one of the album closes with covers of songs by Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. For both tracks, Ken Craddock moves to organ for the first time on the album, immediately changing the whole atmosphere. Cohen's "So long Marianne" becomes a soulful ballad emphasising again Bell's proximity style wise to Joe Cocker. Dylan's "She belongs to me" (from "Self portrait") was covered somewhat more radically by the Nice, the version here being a mid-paced blues.

"Yat rock" is the longest track on the album at a shade over 6 minutes. The title is somewhat misleading, the first part of the song being a melancholy blues of little consequence. Things transform midway as the band ups the pace and bursts into a piano driven jam.

Bell softens things right down for his solo spot "Dawn", where his delicate vocal is accompanied only by acoustic guitar. "Children of the north prison" continues the downbeat mood, acoustic guitar giving way to another orthodox piano based blues. The album closes with "Everyday" (no relation to other similarly titled songs, this is a Bell + Arc composition), which reverts to the lighter country tinged pop rock style.

Those who were there will recall that 1971 was a wonderful time for music, and especially for prog. If you were going to make it then you not only had to be good, you had to have your own identity. That is where Bell + Arc falls short. While Graeme Bell undoubtedly has a fine voice, the overall sound of the band is undistinguished. The songs and their arrangements simply lack that special ingredient which might have set them apart from their peers. Not a bad album though.

Note that the cover shown here is the original LP cover. The CD re-release uses photos from inside the LP's gatefold sleeve instead.

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