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Capability Brown

Crossover Prog

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Capability Brown Voice album cover
3.85 | 60 ratings | 10 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. I Am and So Are You (4:09)
2. Sad Am I (3:33)
3. Midnight Cruiser (3:59)
4. Keep Death Off the Road (Drive on the Pavement) (6:41)
5. Circumstances (In Love, Past, Present, Future Meet) (21:05)

Total Time 39:27

Line-up / Musicians

- Tony Ferguson / vocals, guitar, bass
- Dave Nevin / keyboards, guitar, vocals, bass
- Kenny Rowe / bass, vocals, percussion
- Grahame White / vocals, guitar, bass
- Joe Williams / vocals, percussion
- Roger Willis / vocals, drums, keyboards

Releases information

1974 LP Passport 98004

Thanks to zafreth for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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CAPABILITY BROWN Voice ratings distribution

(60 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (33%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Finaly i see this band here on PA after many discussions Capability Brown is here where it belongs in the archives of progressive music. One of the classic albums of the '70's. Great band who only released two studio albums in the early '70's and than broke up suddenly. The second one Voice from 1973 is the best from them and why not among the best from the old school of prog with som rock leanings. All pieces are good but the last track and the longest Circumstances is mindblowing, with fine arrangements, grandoius choruses and smooth atmospehere. Something to mention is that Brian May and even Freddy Mercury were big fans of Capability Brown in the early years of Queen. In some of Queen pieces are clear influences from Capability Brown, specialy at the choruses and arangements. So 4 star for this treasure, still underrated by many, and for sure needs attention.
Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars This band reminds me some nice souvenirs and it is with a lot of nostalgia that I write this 1,900th review. I remember having seen them on a live broadcast of the Belgian TV. Pop Shop was the name of the programme.

Lots of great bands did appear on this programme and one of the only early Genesis footage available came from it. It has been widely spread over the Internet by now.

This Voice album is truly a dual work.

On the A-side of the vinyl, the four songs available aren't really brilliant. The only one which I could call as a good song is the rocking Keep Death Off The Road.

The B-side is exclusively dedicated to a magnificent symphonic prog epic. Almost twenty-one minutes of pure happiness, magnificent keyboards and superb emotions. The instrumental introduction is really fascinating.

In their debut, the band showed very strong vocal capabilities (all members having vocal duties). We'll finally get these as well on this great track. It opens on some sort of polyphony dear to GG, but with a Yes style (are you following me?). The acoustic part that follows holds pastoral and folk attributes with fine and light fluting. It is so much better than what's available on the first side of this album!

The pace is also catching up, but not for too long. So far, this epic is on the quite and very melodic mood. It is really a beautiful song: full of sweetness, tact, subtleness. Somewhat mellow, I agree, but still so pleasant to listen to.

Some bombastic mellotron moments are also worth the detour my prog friends (maybe just too short though). Circumstances is an extraordinary song. The vocal harmonies are simply brilliant. Some vocal section were certainly a source of inspiration for Queen in their early days.

It is a bit sad that the band didn't release more albums. Three of its members (Fergusson, Willis and Whyte) joined the pop group Christie (who released the smash hit single Yellow River). This marked the end of the Capability Brown story.

Five stars for the epic and two stars for side one. I emotionally upgrade this work to the four stars rating.

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This one deserves a little 'wow'. From anyone's lips.

Great album, although almost absolutely divided between sides - A side consists of bunch of pop rock tunes with some light prog overtones, mostly in vocal department, and in some guitar melodies. Even if not the highest desire for a prog rock enthusiast, they're pleasurable to say the least: I can't say a single bad thing about these songs - they're attractive, well played, catchy, great in technique and even original in lyrics department. The only complaint I'm addressing to this bunch of the songs is the fact they're almost pale in comparison with a sidelong suite on B side, unforgettable 'Circumstances'.

Because, this is one of the best songs written in history of progressive rock. A multi-part composition, structurally it dares to travel paths GENTLE GIANT were exploring, but it never gets tedious or overbearing. The multiple vocal harmonies are the most beautiful heard in rock: they can stand arm should by shoulder with QUEEN's finest moments. Everything else is here: harpsichords, recorders, acoustic guitars processed with a Leslie rotary speaker, unexpected shifts and turns, furious guitar parts, even a bits of majestic Mellotron thrown in just to spice up things for a while. And, the most important, this is the piece of ultimate songwriting, not forced or stretched for a single second. If there ever was a song that can bring a tear on your eye just for the sake of its greatness, there's one. This is a monument to the joy of life, fulfilling and incredible.

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars This is quite an interesting album in a couple of respects. First, I’m just a tad bit surprised the cover wasn’t subjected to any more scrutiny or disapproval than it was, considering the growing prudish backlash toward rock music in conservative circles during this post- Woodstock era. And second, the record is a rather rare example of what’s basically a pop rock band attempting to leverage progressive music to enhance their legitimacy and appeal. In other words – this isn’t a progressive rock band; instead they are a mostly competent group of rock musicians who emulate prog at times combined with heavy doses of cover tunes to create a brief and decent discography, but one that survives mostly because of occasional interest in the band’s cover tunes.

Guitarist Tony Ferguson and bassist Kenny Rowe hailed from the late sixties pop-psych group Harmony Grass and guitarist Grahame White had recently left Fuzzy Duck. Harmony Grass were known for their male vocal harmonies and Fuzzy Duck for driving ‘heavy prog’ and Hammond organ; traces of both groups can be found in Capability Brown’s sound. The thing that bothers me a bit about this band is that for a group of guys who were such good musicians, they certainly didn’t seem to have a knack for strong songwriting. A third of the tracks they recorded on their two studio albums were covers, and even the one song that garnered them the ‘prog’ label in some circles (“Circumstances”) is clearly very, very heavily influenced by Yes circa ‘Close to the Edge’. I seriously doubt the band would have even been able to write that song had Yes not recorded “And You and I” a year prior.

As for the covers they’re decent but not exceptional. In particular Steely Dan’s “Midnight Cruiser” does not benefit from this group’s treatment. I’ve read reviews from folks who feel Capability Brown doesn’t do justice to the song and I think that’s a bit harsh and unfair, but by the same token they also don’t bring anything new to their interpretation. The offering is pretty much what you’d expect from a decent, professional touring band, but one that you’d also generally expect to be an opening act and not the main course.

The other cover here is a bit more obscure with Affinity’s “I Am and So Are You”, another band that was known as much for their cover tunes as for their original material. That one was of course originally sung by a female (Linda Hoyle), so at least with this cover Capability offer a different perspective. Affinity were more of a jazz-influenced band as well, and this rendition is decidedly more rocking with keyboards and guitars replacing the brass sections of the original. Of the two covers on the album I prefer this one, but frankly that’s sort of like saying I prefer bologna given a choice of that or Spam. I nice filet would always be preferable.

The main course here is the 20-minute “Circumstances”, a faux prog number that has all the requisite tempo shifts, indulgent solos and extended keyboard passages prog fans had come to demand of their music by 1973. The problem is that I’m not convinced at all. Like I said earlier, there’s a strong sense that these guys listened to a few Yes and ELP albums and figured they’d better get some of that into their music if they wanted to sell a few records. Keeping in mind this was 1973 I suppose that was still a pretty astute strategy, although in retrospect the grandiose and overblown pomp of the style of prog those bands played was already in decline, and Capability Brown would fold just a few months after recording this themselves due to waning interest in the band, lack of promotion and a paucity of concert engagements.

Drummer Roger Willis, Ferguson and White formed Krazy Kat following Ferguson and Willis’s stint on a South American tour backing a Jeff Christie-led group that ended up including some Capability material in their repertoire. I’m not sure what happened to keyboardist Dave Nevin, percussionist Joe Williams or Rowe.

This is an okay album but not anything great or even memorable. Technically I suppose it should be considered for collectors only, but I can’t quite bring myself to go there simply because these are decent musicians and their multipart vocal harmonies are quite good on this as well as their debut album. So I’ll say this is a three star record, but will also point out you aren’t going to here anything groundbreaking or awe-inspiring here; just pretty good music that well fits the time period in which it was recorded.


Review by Wicket
4 stars Ah, the satisfaction of finding a diamond in the rough.

Now I will come out saying that Capability Brown was more of a funky R&B type group than a traditional prog outfit, but nevertheless, each and every track on here is fun to listen to, no matter the genre.

"I Am And So Are You" is the most proggy of the first four tracks. It's a very catchy song, and the groove is "Sad Am I" is their version of the typical love song (I'm guessing that's what it's about) while "Midnight Cruiser" is another 70's hit in the making (even though it wasn't) and finally "Keep Death Off The Road" is a blusey, funk rock track that probably has one of the weirdest sung chorus' in history.

Then, of course, there's the end of the album. So, we meet again, "20-or-so-minute long f***ing awesome prog epic". We meet again.

"Circumstances" is an unusual track simply because it's constructed in a progressive rock fashion, even though the four other tracks in the album could've been radio hits. This was not a prog band, but this is a prog song. Of course, it's what most of the current reviews here are about. Hell, the one song alone is worth the purchase of this album. It's even longer than the four other tracks on this album....combined.

In all, if you're able to find this album, get it. You will not be disappointed, especially if you're into those barber shop quartets. Yeah, there's a section like that in "Circumstances".

Latest members reviews

3 stars Capability Brown released their second album in 1973. This offering has an original set of songs with creative ideas behind. The strongest weapon by the band are their mature vocals which decorate all songs. The first three songs are ordinary song covers that you like hearing once and that's en ... (read more)

Report this review (#2454419) | Posted by sgtpepper | Tuesday, October 6, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A friend of my father once wanted to get rid of his vinyl collection. So my father got home with a crate full of records, mostly progressive and jazz. This is one of the album that immediately got my attention due to it's strange cover; the zipped lips. I remember hearing this album for the first ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#2444363) | Posted by Kelder | Thursday, September 3, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars CAPABILITY BROWN (named after England's greatest landscape gardener) were a short-lived two-album British band which uniquely featured six vocalists and multi-instrumentalists in the line-up. Their first capable album "From Scratch" (1972) failed to make much of an impression, but their second a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2310117) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Tuesday, January 28, 2020 | Review Permanlink

3 stars An average album from an original band. This is their best work and the production was so phantastic. The first side of this album have a very touchable Pop influence. "I Am And So Are You" have a very fresh sound and "Sad Am I" is, with security, the best track on the album: A very urgent song ... (read more)

Report this review (#680249) | Posted by KhanKhaled | Saturday, March 24, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A brilliant album, very well Voiced, very poorly heard *angry Voice is a terrific album, one of the better albums of the 70's featuring excellent covers of songs by Affinity and Steely Dan, yet including the masterpiece Circumstances. The album starts with an excellently performed cover of ... (read more)

Report this review (#229704) | Posted by The Runaway | Monday, August 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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