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Quatermass Quatermass album cover
3.74 | 204 ratings | 38 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. Entropy (1:10)
2. Black Sheep of the Family (3:36)
3. Post War Saturday Echo (9:42)
4. Good Lord Knows (2:54)
5. Up on the Ground (7:08)
6. Gemini (5:54)
7. Make Up Your Mind (8:44)
8. Laughing Tackle (10:35)
9. Entropy (0:40)

Total Time 50:23

Bonus tracks on 1990 & 2007 reissues:
10. One Blind Mice (3:15)
11. Punting (7:09)

Line-up / Musicians

- Peter Robinson / piano, Hammond A3, Hohner clavinet, harpsichord, synth, ring-modulator, string arrangements (4,8)
- John Gustafson / bass, vocals
- Mick Underwood / drums

- Steve Hammond / backing vocals (1), 12-string guitar (3)
- Strings ensemble / violins, violas, cellos & double basses (4,8)
- Paul Buckmaster / cello (leader)
- Tony Gilbert / violin (leader)

Releases information

Artwork: Storm Thorgerson/Hipgnosis

LP Harvest ‎- SHVL 775 (1970, UK)

CD Repertoire Records ‎- RR 4044-C (1990, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks
CD Repertoire Records ‎- REP5087 (2007, UK) As above

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to VianaProghead for the last updates
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QUATERMASS Quatermass ratings distribution

(204 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

QUATERMASS Quatermass reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars Sometimes people are out to build mountains when just a dune is needed and this one is only a hill .Still a minor gem though, but as I said somewhere else , I was never a big fan of those KB trios , always finding that something was lacking and not necessarily a guitarist .
Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars The very promising trio Quatermass was founded in '69 and included Mick Underwood on drums, Peter Robinson on keyboards and Johnny Gustafson on bass and vocals. At that moment they were all experienced musicians. Gustafson played in the Liverpool-era in local bands named Cass & The Casanovas, The Big Three and The Merseybeats before forming his own band Johnny Gus Set. Mick Underwood played with the very young Ritchie Blackmore in The Dominators and The Outlaws and in The Herd before Peter Frampton's arrival. Mick joined Peter Robinson in The James Royal Set. But finally all three met each other in a band called Episode Six. When their singer Ian Gillan and bass player Roger Clover joined Deep Purple their struggle to survive with Episode Six was in vain. They decided to form their own band to make progressive rock with the same heavy foundation as Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Quatermass toured through the whole UK and released their legendary album in May 1970 (backed by the single Black Sheep Of The Family). The band gained good reviews and set off on a tour through the USA, hoping to crack the lucrative American market. But lack of business support undermined their efforts and Quatermass broke up in April 1971. Mick Underwood joined Paul Rodgers in Peace and Pete Robinson became a member of Brand X, the jazzrock adventure of Phil Collins. But Johnny Gustafson turned out to be the most succesfull musician: he backed Chi Coltrane, Kevin Ayers, Ian Hunter, Bryan Ferry and Steve Hackett on their albums. He also joined Roxy Music on the 1976 world tour. The music on their eponymous debut album (originally nine tracks) is dynamic and inspired a blend of blues, rock, classic and symphonic (with hints from ELP and Deep Purple) delivering splendid, often very sumptuous Hammond organplay and lots of other nice keyboards. Don't expect very elaborate or complex progrock, just enjoy the enthousiastic music! In 1996 Repertoire Records re-released Quatermass and added two nice bonustracks (One Blind Mice and Punting).

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album reminds me on the good memories of the seventies when I was learning about rock music with bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Mahogany Rush, SNAFU, Ursa Major, Tea (Germany classic rock band), ELP, Trapeze, Golden Earring, Osibisa, El Chicano (hey, where is this band now? Any of you know it?), Greenslade. And, looking at the line-up, I though this band would sound like ELP but it's not. The music is basically a kind of hard rock with some proggy touch here and there.

Song like "Black sheep in the family" (3:36) is a hard rock stuff combined with pop music. While "Post war Saturday echo" (9:42) is a blues-based music combined with the soul of seventies classic rock style, using piano and organ as main rhythm section. "Good Lord knows" (2:54) is a mellow track with melodic style. "Up on the ground" (7:08) is a nice organ-drenched music with good singing style. "Gemini" (5:54) is a rocker with straight forward structure featuring good singing in the vein of Trapeze or Lucifer's Friend with nice breaks and excellent piano / organ work. "Make up your mind" (8:44) is like Deep Purple music especially the singing style of John Gustafson which is a resemblance of Ian Gillan. Peter Robinson's keyboards is similar with those used by Jon Lord. In the middle of the track the band explores their music into a more aggressive use of keyboards that makes the arrangement is more explorative in nature. It's a great prog touch here. I really enjoy it. "Laughing tackle" (10:35) is another great composition with soaring organ work that would satisfy those of you who love Hammond organ, like me. It's a great concluding track.

Overall, it's a very good album to add into your prog collection. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Quartermass is a keyboard-dominated trio of almost mythical proportions, and its sole studio album has many moments of great excitement without being consistent enough to be the long lost progressive rock masterpiece that I'd been led to believe it was. While I'm usually all for diversity, the eclecticism that informs this album comes off as truly haphazard instead of being a result of carefully thought out composition, and as such, is a weakness. Still, Peter Robinson is a player that all fans of organ-based hard rock need to hear ...

If every song was as powerful as the two longest tracks Make Up Your Mind and the instrumental Laughin' Tackle, then this would be a sure-fire winner. Make Up Your Mind is a swirling piece with some decent vocals, great energetic bass work, and after a dramatic break, some outstanding dynamic passages in which solo organ rambles are punctuated by rapid fire runs from the rhythm section before a neat occasionally discordant solo takes the piece clear away. Laughin' Tackle is another real highlight, propelled by some bubbly bass and topped off with a nice jazzy electric piano solo, potent, almost overbearing strings, and then great double tracking by Robinson on electric piano and Hammond organ (a real treat for someone like me). At some point during the song, a Mick Underwood drum solo ensues (this was 1971 after all!) and it's highlighted by some outstanding rolling.

Unfortunately those two tracks are tucked away on the latter half of the record, and it's very likely that some impatient listeners will be turned off by the uneven offerings that come before. Black Sheep Of The Family, for example, (yes, it's the same track was popularised on Rainbow's first album) is basically a pop-tinged hard rock tune, while Gemini is an incongrous mix of poppy verses and great organ playing (first a strange Gothic Procol Harum-influenced slow passage, then a lengthy high octane jam).

Another culprit is Post War, Saturday Echo which is bookended by some really enticing organ work (especially during the second stretch), but is generally a soul-sapping 9-minute blues crawl, with a nice lyrical jazzy piano solo providing respite from the tedium. I'm also not sold on Entropy (which appears twice) first as a minute-long churchy organ piece, and then an even more concise jazzy run. I don't really like the harpsichord with strings ballad Good Lord Knows either.

The Deep Purple (and Jon Lord in particular) influences are very strong on some of the organ songs and Up On The Ground is an agressive exciting piece with lots of superb organ-led excursions from Robinson (and a nice lil' bit of funk thrown in the middle) but sadly Gustafson's vocals have a rather strangled quality that prevents this from being Quartermass' definitive track.

As for the bonus tracks, One Blind Mice is a wicked rock song, with a scorching bassline, and bold organ (with a solo right out of the Lord handbook). Unfortunately, it's another cut on which Gustafson has that strangled bluesy voice and which simply doesn't work for the song. Thankfully Robinson sets things right with a solo straight out of the Lord handbook. Punting is a playful, funky jam that overstays its welcome (it's a 7 minute cut with just two segments that repeat ad nauseum!). It still manages to show that these boys had a great thing going, and could probably have done anything they wanted.

If like me, you're a sucker for hard rock dominated by organ (and bear in mind that Uriah Heep's Ken Hensley and Lord are two of my biggest heroes) then you will still definitely want to listen to this album. If you're not into the hallowed organ, you will not find this essential. ... 68% on the MPV scale

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The music on this peculiar album is quite unique, but not the most interesting in my opinion, standing the test of time when competing for listening possibilities during the decades. The line-up is the challenging keyboard-bass-drums trio with vocals, and though the Hammond sounds are quite cool, still the sound texture is quite minimal and easy to get bored with after the first charms. Also the compositions are based on quite simple blues rock elements, so this stuff can't be compared to Emerson, Lake and Palmer in richness of details nor ranges of stylistic elements. This isn't really bad album either, so I would recommend it for fans of both early 1970's hard rock music and keyboard trios.
Review by Guillermo
3 stars The first time that I saw the cover of this album was in the mid-seventies. It was included with others in a promotional inner-sleeve included in the old L.P. format of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA`s "ELO2" album. These and other albums were released by EMI in my country as part of the "Convivencia Sagrada" series, a series of very good Rock albums released by the label in those years. The cover design is very interesting. I think that it is one of the best that HIPGNOSIS designed then.

Apart from the cover design, another thing kept me interested in this album: it has the original version of the song called T"he Black Sheep of the Family" which the band RAINBOW recorded for their first album called "Ritchie Blackmore`s Rainbow" (1975).

Talking about this QUATERMASS`sole album as a whole, I think that it has some interesting compositions, some of them being very Progressive and others having a mix of several styles: Hard Rock, Blues, and sometimes some Jazz influences. The inclusion of some orchestral arrangements done by keyboard player Pete Robinson are also interesting. The album still has some good experimental moments, somewhat dark, and sometimes some things sound repetitive and boring. But it is a good album anyway. The original version of "The Black Sheep of the Family" included in this album (composed by S. Hammond. Who is him? He also appears as the songwriter of other songs!) is very good, but somewhat different to RAINBOW`S version, because it is based in the Hammond organ, not on guitars like in RAINBOW`s version. It has funny lyirics too! I don`t know if this song was released then as a single by QUATERMASS, but it is a very good song, better as a single than "One blind mice" (released as a Bonus Track in the CD version with its B- side, "Punting"), which was released as a single, and it was a strange choice in my opinion, because the song is not very melodical and accessible for a single release.

The general sound of this album is dominated by the keyboards, particularly by the Hammond organ, which is played with added distorted effects. The band didn`t use the syntesizers very much. As previous reviewers wrote, the members of this band were by that time veterans of the English Rock scene, with in the case of John Gustafson, who was playing in bands since the late fifties, and Mick Underwood, who also played in the band called OUTLAWS with Ritchie Blackmore in the mid sixties. Gustafson, Robinson and Underwood also played together in the band EPISODE SIX for a short time after Ian Gillan and Roger Glover left that band in mid 1969 to join DEEP PURPLE. In fact, Underwood recommended Ian Gillan to Blackmore to replace Rod Evans as lead singer in DEEP PURPLE. Gustafson also played in the mid seventies with IAN GILLAN`s BAND (as Peter Frame wrote in his book called "The Complete Rock Family Trees", published in the U.K. in 1993).

QUATERMASS`sound had the influence of several styles, so sometimes, in my opinion, they didn`t sound purely as a Prog band. I can hear some similiarities with URIAH HEEP, EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER and DEEP PURPLE`s music and style (but keeping in mind that URIAH HEEPand ELP had not yet released their first albums when this QUATEMASS`album was released in 1970!), but they were a good band anyway. Gustafson had a very good voice. Unfortunately, the band split due to financial reasons. Years later I was surprised to learn that Peter Robinson is the same musician who recorded and played with PHIL COLLINS in some of his solo albums and tours during the eighties!

I also know that in the nineties there was another band called QUATERMASS II with Mick Underwood as their only original member. I have not listened to their album yet.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3.5 stars actually...QUATERMASS is one of the finest examples of the early 70's UK progressive rock scene.Their debut album is very well balanced and moves from keyboard driven classic rock to keyboard dominated hard prog...The album beginns and ends with the two ''Entropies'',intro and outro,nothing important to be written about them,just two good short piano/keyboard pieces...In ''Black Sheep...'' we meet the classic rock side of the band,just an average rock track with DEEP PURPLE/URIAH HEEP hints...''Post war...'' is another heavy rock track byt with strong progressive tendencies.It sounds dark and bluesy with a great keyboard driven last section...''Good lord...'' is a nice short mellow track,almost symphonic,where BEGGAR'S OPERA come to mind...''Up to the ground'' is one more hard prog example by the band,nothing special not bad either,a sample of which is the favorite sound of the band...''Gemini'' is the weakest track of all,very DEEP PURPLE influenced,almost a copy,but that's not what I expect to hear from a band with strong prog leanings...

And we are heading for the two masterpieces of the disc...''Make up your mind'' starts off with another DEEP PURPLE influenced melody but very soon the track transforms into a prog rock epic...Great keyboard work with dark bass lines and a symphonic/jazz sound that brings early KING CRIMSON or even VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR to mind...As for the last track, ''Laughing tackle'', well, this is a 24-carat instrumental piece of music,believe me...The most symphonic track of the album with ELP and KING CRIMSON tendencies and some intricate,haunting string lines that make it one of the most dark and progressive tracks of the early 70's scene...

Conclusion: This album is very close to a must have,if you don't mind the intense DEEP PURPLE influence and looking for some early really progressive music...

Review by Gooner
5 stars This a very biased review from someone who is a Deep Purple fan. Now that that's out of the way, it means that I'm a sucker for heavy keyboards a la Jon Lord. Look no further, but QUATERMASS delivers - big time. As mentioned from other reviewers, this is primarily a heavy rock album with some prog. rock flourishes. You won't hear ELP here, but you might get a cross between FIELDS and LE ORME's _Collage_ LP. Of note is the gut-wrenching vocal delivery of one John Gustafson of Roxy Music-fame. The vocal delivery on the track _Post War Saturday Echo_ rivals that of Deep Purple's Ian Gillan on CHILD IN TIME. Not so much in the high decibel range, just the delivery in relation to the build up of the song and the emotion. The emotional despair must have left this man exhausted after it was recorded. _Black Sheep Of The Family_ was later covered by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Peter Robinson's keyboard sounds nothing like his work as a member of Brand X. His sound is strictly in the Atomic Rooster, Graham Field, Jon Lord and Ken Hensley school of prog. rock. Bottom-end heavy duty organ. In the heavy organ category, QUATERMASS is an undeniable masterpiece which has few rivals.
Review by kenethlevine
1 stars I picked up a the Harvest Collectors edition of the LP decades ago for the exorbitant price of $20, probably partly because I was already on a binge and not thinking rationally, but also this group, whom I had never heard of, was on the Harvest label. The cover even gave the look of a BARCLAY JAMES HARVEST compilation, and I thought it was cool that the group utilized string arrangements.

I was quite unprepared for the aural onslaught from this power trio, a bluesy, organ dominated, crunching attack. I can't even imagine how they would fit a guitar into this wall of sound. This group has little to do with other KB trios, and more in keeping with DEEP PURPLE, but utterly amateurish in almost every aspect, from the vocals that wail atonally to the intractiale instrumentation. It's like a live recording in the studio by a band getting together for, oh, maybe the 3rd time. Even the production is sadly muffled and static.

Quatermass would appear to have been a pretty early signing on the label, and at the forefront of this type of rock configuration, which nets them half a star, which I dock for the lack of actual songs here. Instead we find massed quarter songs desperately calling out to be cobbled together, smoothed out, and ultimately still dispensed with. Old vinyl copy in good condition, anyone?

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars We prog fans are so exacting. If it's too much this or not enough that, doesn't have the things we like or not in the right places, the lyrics wanting or the production doesn't meet our standards, it's usually goodbye Charlie. We don't have the time to further explore a record or artist deemed by us not good enough, we've got other things to obsessively seek out and lay waste to our lives, loved ones and bank accounts over.

Understandable, sacrifices must be made. But if you're one of the few who still have a taste for that old time keyboard prog, don't be too scared off by the grumblings and useless comparisons this trio tends to attract. The smoky goodness of Pete Robinson's keys, John Gustafson's soulful bass/vocal support, and Mick Underwood's seasoned drumming made for a completely hot and heavy art band whose spectacular 1970 debut inexplicably tanked. Okay, alright, sometimes they sound like any number of other English bands of the period - you've read the comparisons - but these guys were good. Really good. A group borne of the fabulously incestuous art scene in Britain, more inline with the progressive rave-up acts like Touch, Shuttah, or Cressida than ELP or Deep Purple. A fine production didn't hurt either and the 2007 Repertoire issue sounds just great.

An almost perfect infusion of blues rhythm, neoclassical power rock, and touches of electronicism, in certain ways the Quatermass album out-shone ELP's own brilliant debut the same year by taking greater risks. 'Tarkus' would trump everyone a year later but in '70, this was one strong leap in a very cool direction, science fiction thematics and all. Soft and contemplative 'Entropy' floats into 'Black Sheep of the Family', a Winwood-like soul/blues stomper. The full regalia of Robinson's Hammond organ opens 'Postwar Saturday Echo', slipping into a slowblues that initially drags but deepens into a composition that is utterly prog for the last half of this 10-minute opus. Dripping romance of 'Good Lord Knows' is revived by grinder 'Up on the Ground' where the Jon Lord associations are fair, Gustafson's yelling distracting but no more than a young Paul Williams or Rob Halford, sweetened by a nifty low-riding jam. Pop excursion 'Gemini' seems geared toward the charts, tailored and partly sabotaged but pulls together for a simmering vamp and showcases the unit's talent for merging the appealing with the intellectual. 'Make Up Your Mind' follows a similar path; starts innocently but soon becomes a prog demon full of surprises and beasties around every corner. Terrific piece at eight minutes and completely missed by those unluckies who dismissed this LP out of hand after just a few cuts. And it just gets better and better; 'Laughin Tackle' is jaw-droppingly good with Robinson's mix of quiet synths, piano and ice-rink organ, Underwood's jazz traps, Gustafson's steady bass and a perfectly recorded orchestra on heavy backup. When was this made? 1970? Absolutely marvelous and worth the price alone. It builds to a spine-tingling crescendo, the whole thing not unlike Herbie Hancock's avant garde adventures. Really, you don't know what you're missing. Two good extras from the 'One Blind Mice' single are included.

If patience is yours and you don't mind some black gospel fire in with your blue-eyed prog, I can't recommend this release enough. A revelation.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another of the many one-shot bands that seem to be found all over the 'golden years' of prog, Quatermass can be called a heavier version of ELP (which were no lightweights themselves) - a Hammond-based 'power trio' without a guitarist, and with a bassist who doubled up as a lead vocalist. Their music is the kind that usually elicits either love or hate, with long, keyboard-driven tracks and often over-the-top vocals, still recognisably influenced by the blues, but complex enough to garner the approval of a sizable number of prog fans. Less melodic than Uriah Heep, less dark than Atomic Rooster, noticeably influenced by the mother of all heavy prog bands, the mighty Deep Purple and their keyboard master, Jon Lord, Quatermass nevertheless managed to produce a single, self-titled album with enough individuality and ideas to make it a minor classic of its times.

Quite surprisingly for a band that is not a household name, the album cover (depicting a flock of pterodactyls in flight over a claustrophobic, futuristic background) is the work of Storm Thorgerson, the creator of so many Pink Floyd covers, a true rock icon. As interesting as the artwork is, I think it is somewhat at odds with the music inside, which, while undoubtedly excellent, is not particularly innovative or futuristic. However, this last statement should not be taken as a form of criticism: 'traditional' heavy prog is rarely about innovation, but rather more about the reinterpretation of sources such as blues, classic rock'n'roll, or even classical music. In Quatermass' single effort there is enough individuality, as well as enough excellent musicianship, to make us regret their early demise.

The album starts low-key with the brief instrumental Entropia, which introduces their best-known song, Black Sheep of the Family (covered by Rainbow on their debut album), a catchy number with a definite black soul influence. Bassist John Gustafson's vocals come right from the Ian Gillan/Glenn Hughes school of singing (incidentally, he would join the Ian Gillan Band in the mid-Seventies), though I must say he is not as effective as either of those greats, though always adequate. The following track, the almost 10-minute Postwar Saturday Echo, is one of the highlights of the album, with a stellar performance by keyboardist Peter Robinson (later with Brand X) on Hammond and piano. It is basically a slow-burning blues soulfully interpreted by Gustafson, but those keys do lift it out of the ordinary.

As often happens with prog albums, the longer tracks offer the most interest. While the poppy Gemini and the rather nondescript Good Lord Knows somewhat smack of filler, Up on the Ground, but especially Make Up Your Mind and the instrumental Laughing Tackle hold a whole lot of interest even for the more discerning prog fans. The latter track, slow and atmospheric, is richly enhanced by the presence of a string section, and quite indicative of what the band would have been capable, had they stayed together to record at least another album. Make Up Your Mind , bookended by some energetic, catchy singing parts, is made up (pun unintended) of several sections in which the three band members show off their respective chops - a powerful, swirling, dramatic piece and music. On the other hand, the two bonus tracks (the hard rocker One Blind Mice and the instrumental Punting) present on the 1990 Repertoire Records remaster, while perfectly decent, are not what I would call essential.

When the album flopped, and Quatermass consequently disbanded, the three members went on with their respective careers - drummer Mick Underwood would join the second incarnation of the Ian Gillan Band (simply called Gillan), Gustafson ended up in Roxy Music, and Peter Robinson became a member of Brand X. Even though Rainbow's cover of Black Sheep of the Family kept the band's name from sinking into complete obscurity, nowadays Quatermass are little more than a cult item, however highly regarded by some.

Anyway, this album is definitely worthy of exploration, especially if you are a fan of the mighty roar of the Hammond organ. As regards the rating, even if Quatermass cannot certainly be called a masterpiece, it is undeniably one of the most representative examples of early heavy prog, and as such, in my opinion, deserves more than a paltry three stars. Unless you are really averse to blues-tinged, hard-edged prog, you could do worse than add this album to your collection.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I just love the sound this trio produces but it wasn't always like this. Originally I found this album very average and generally sounding like a mix of ELP and Deep Purple but eventually I realized the charm of this early progressive rock record!

Each composition brings something new and exciting to the mix starting with the rocker Black Sheep In The Family, which later will be covered by Rainbow on their debut album, and all the way to the avant-garde sounding symphonic prog of Laughing Tackle. The only real down-side that I can think of is the length of some of these compositions, but considering that this is a 1970-album the band did a phenomenal job!

This music is progressive and don't let anyone tell you any different. Besides if you require any proof of that then, by all means, listen to the wonderful sample of Laughin' Tackle available here on Prog Archives!

Although Quatermass is nowhere near one of my favorite albums it's still dear to me because of personal reasons and I love to revisit this album on regular basis.

***** star songs: Black Sheep In The Family (3:36) Laughing Tackle (10:35)

**** star songs: Entropy (1:10) Post War Saturday Echo (9:42) Good Lord Knows (2:54) Up On The Ground (7:08) Gemini (5:54) Make Up Your Mind (8:44) Entropy (0:40)

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars I like this more than I thought I would. I've always had trouble with Proto-Prog albums and while this is listed under Heavy-Prog it is one of the early ones as it was released in 1970. QUATERMASS were a trio with the focus on the Hammond organ. No guitar here but bass and drums round out the sound. These three guys were previously in a band called EPISODE SIX with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover who would of course go on to join DEEP PURPLE. It was actually right after these two guys left that they changed their name to QUATERMASS.

"Entropy" is an organ filled intro track. "Black Sheep In The Family" is a catchy tune with the organ and vocals standing out. Not a fan of this one. "Post War Saturday Echo" opens with drums and organ before these Blues styled vocals take over with bass after a minute. It kicks in before 3 1/2 minutes. Piano a minute later as it settles. It kicks back in after 5 1/2 minutes as the tempo continues to change. "Good Lord Knows" builds and then settles when the vocals come in. Lots of strings in this one. Very majestic, I like it.

"Up On The Ground" features some nasty organ early. Best part of the album. Vocals a minute in. It settles after 3 minutes with more killer organ. A top three track for me. "Gemni" is catchy with piano, vocals and drums standing out. Not a fan. It settles with organ then it kicks in again as contrasts continue. Lots of organ after 3 1/2 minutes. Not a fan when the vocals return. "Make Up Your Mind" is better. Just a great sounding tune really. Even the vocals sound much better. A top three for sure. "Laughing Tackle" features a string orchestra and is one of the highlights as well. It blends into the short final piece called "Entropy".

3.5 stars. It's very much a mixed bag for me, but this is at times quite impressive. Good album.

Review by Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is why I come to the archives. Discovering bands and albums that passed me by growing up that I'm now discovering via this website. Yeah, some of the performers I've heard were best left forgotten, but more often I'm hearing some killer groups from back in the day for the first time and they impress the hell out of me. Quatermass, the band, the album, and the remnants of a group that had previously lost Ian Gillian and Roger Glover to Deep Purple, is one of those cool discoveries.

This is another of those bands that earns its prog-cred by being hard rockers without guitars. Hammond led, Peter has to go ape on his keyboards to compensate, and the results musically are something not dissimilar to Atomic Rooster's first album, although I find this effort more adventurous and generally better. The vocals, in particular, are noteworthy due to John Gustafson's impassioned delivery. He's not at Ian Gillian's range or at Steve Winwood's "soul" level, but he has elements of both singers and throws in a raw emotional performance that can be captivating at times.

The 9:42 minute "Post war Saturday echo" starts off like some lost track from ELP's first album before settling into this slow blues jam that's almost reminiscent of Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Lovin' You" but even dirgier. Then a little after the three minute mark, this song soars like pterodactyls through a futuristic grid into the sky with an absolute bomb of a chorus. John puts his heart, soul, and groin on the table here, singing like he's ready to explode. It's awesome, and makes the previous couple of minutes more than worthwhile. Later in the song there's even a full on prog rock break that keeps things unpredictable. I dig this song tremendously and owe the Archives for finding it.

There are plenty of other goodies as well. "Black sheep in the family" is catchy and has a "Deep Purple without guitars" vibe (this song was later covered by Rainbow, Ritchie deduced that tune deserved some six-string wailing), and "Gemini" has a driving rhythm and fun lyrics. Proginess is ensured by the last two long tunes, especially the jazzy instrumental "Laughing tackle" that even boasts a drum solo that's thankfully not too long. I'm discovering that a lot of bands felt the need to have a drum solo in their studio efforts in 1970 releases. The orchestra in a couple of tunes is a nice touch, adding some atmosphere to the trippy "Good Lord knows".

Too bad that this band didn't quite make it and folded soon after, as they had something good going on here. Quatermass fits perfectly in the 1970 realm of exploring some variations of progressive rock to find a signature sound. As that strange year in rock music sandwiched between two iconic years, 1970 has its fair share of gems, as this album proves.

Review by stefro
3 stars Briefly hailed as the next Led Zeppelin-sized thing, British power-prog trio Quatermass would unfortunately stall at the first attempt with this ambitious self-titled effort from 1970. Featuring striking cover art in the form of three pterodactyls gliding between two futuristic, glass-and-metal skyscraper-style structures(courtesy of Hipgnosis' Storm Thorgerson) and a bruising, proto-metallic sound undercut with jagged hammond organs and grazing bass riffs, for whatever reason it just wasn't meant to be for the trio, despite producing a memorable album whose reputation lives on right to this day. Featuring the same lead guitar-free set-up as Charisma acts Rare Bird and Van Der Graaf Generator, Quatermass' sound was all about the dynamic keyboards of Peter Robinson and the gruff vocals and throbbing bass-lines of future Roxy Music member John Gustafson, the duo all the while backed by the driving percussion skills of Mick Underwood. The group's sound falls somewhere between the bouncy noodling of ELP and the bluesy rock of the aforementioned Led Zeppelin, though with an experimental and highly progressive edge that sometimes fudges the more rock-orientated moments, the threesome instead content to furrow complex sonic passages that showcase a much more eclectic sound that one might initially expect. Highlights include the album's best-known piece 'Black Sheep Of The Family', a thumping, aggressive rocker that would be covered later on by Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, whilst the elegiac 'Good Lord Knows' exhibits Quatermass's softer, more classically-orientated side. However, the group seem to perform best when thrashing out meaty rockers such as the excellent, deep-grooved seven- minute mini-epic 'Up On The Ground', a jazz-tinged piece which finds Robinson dealing out swirls of lightning- fast hammond breaks over Gustafson's rolling bass. The duo also combine effortlessly on the lengthy 'Laughin' Tackle', whilst album finisher 'Punting' adds more jagged blues riffs and strange sound effects to the mix. We might never know the exact reasons for the commercial failure of Quatermass, yet fail they did despite producing an energetic slice of hard-edged progressive rock that should have been ripe for the age. Those who like the more eclectic side of hard early-seventies rock are urged to immediately investigate. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by Warthur
4 stars This debut album by Quatermass epitomises the raw, dirty roots of progressive rock, where the linkages to the underground psychedelic scene were still visible. Emerging before symphonic prog became the dominant mode in progressive rock, the band may have an ELP like drums- bass-keyboards power trio lineup but Peter Robinson is interested less in classical showboating and more in dirty, heavy organ lines which threaten to invade Atomic Rooster territory. Not the most technically flashy of early prog albums, it's still a highly enjoyable album which will give fans of the heavier end of prog - especially the heavy prog practised in the dawn of the genre - plenty to smile about.
Review by GruvanDahlman
4 stars The marriage between hammond organ and progressive rock is a match made in heaven. There is something celestial about it. The versatile organ is able to produce a noise that is terrifying, a sweet caress that is soothing and a full blown assault on your being. All in one go, at that.

There were quite a few groups centered around organ, bass and drums in the very early years of the 70's. Sometimes the result was great (ELP, for instance) and sometimes less so (Aardvark, is one). Quatermass was exactly a group such as that. Organ, bass and drums plus vocals from John Gustafsson (and what a voice!). How do Quatermass fare? Pretty darn good, if you ask me. Unlike Aardvark you get a full sound, great music (including a couple of covers) and a furious delivery. True, there are some ELP-ish moments (perhaps quite a few) but it does not mean that they are clones. Quatermass is an entity of their own. "What was that?" could easily have been on any of the first three ELP albums but there is plenty of sounds that's their own.

The opener "One blind mice" is such a track, as is the great and majestic "Post war saturday echo". I would generally say that Quatermass holds back on the classical influences, unlike ELP, and goes straight for a more hardrock noise (the organ solo makes me shiver and smile like a loon), as in "Up on the ground", and/or adding a slight melodic (pop-ish, if you like) element at times. Such is the case in the cover "Black sheep of the family" or "Gemini". Now, those are pop or rock songs from the beginning but very melodic. The pop/rock elements are, however, played with such fury and energy that it is sometimes breathtaking. One short but amazing track is "Make up your mind". It's 1 minute and 44 seconds of pure delight.

Quatermass indeed play a heavy kind of prog and put forth a staggering amount of brilliant noise. I love it and everytime I put it on it fills me with joy. A great album from a great band. I wish they had made another back in the day but on the other hand one certified album of brilliance is the better deal. And the cover, it is so iconic. That's how you mend a shed. Or however the saying goes.

Review by jamesbaldwin
5 stars Who founded heavy prog? Difficult to say, but among the first stand out Quatermass, even if they are a trio without a guitar. Quatermass, formed by bassist John Gustafson (future Roxy Music), keyboardist (piano, Hammond, harpsichord, sinths and strings arrangement) Peter Robinson and percussionist Mick Underwood, three players from various backgrounds which tried a fusion between prog and hard rock. The name "Quatermass" was inspired by the famous television and film character of Professor Quatermass, protagonist of a successful saga.

Qautermass released only one album (Harvest, 1970), on which appears the "Laughin Tackle" suite (ten and a half minutes, composed by the factotum Peter Robinson), their maximum effort, accompanied by other masterpieces of 7-9 minutes. After an intro played by the organ, starts "Black Sheep In The Family" (written by Steve Hammond, who plays in two songs as session man), very good and powerful song (vote 8). "Post War Saturday Echo" (almost ten minutes, written by the whole group), is a mid-tempo ballad based on Robinson's great work on keyboards (organ, piano), and that has sudden accelerations that make it almost a suite. Excellent singing (Gustafson). Masterpiece (vote 8,5/9). The shorter "Good Lord Knows", orchestrated in Baroque style with a Strings ensemble (Paul Buckmaster on cello) and the harpsichord (Robinson), is a little jewel (vote 7,5/8). "Up On The Ground" (seven minutes, written by Gustafson), with the synth instead of the heavy guitar, is another remarkable song, very enthralling, with great work on drums by Mick Underwood (vote 8+).

Side B opens with "Gemini" (six minutes, written by Hammond, vote 7,5): this song in a certain sense blends Nice with Deep Purple, seen the initial classic rock, with pounding rhythm (Underwood), and the classical breaks on the keyboards. "Make Up Your Mind" (almost 9 minutes) begins with a coarse repetition strophe-refrain, then follows a long digression on the keyboards by Robinson, which challenges Emerson; at the end the singing returns (vote 7,5/8). The excellent instrumental suite "Laughing Tackle" (vote 8,5) starts with a bass solo, to which are added the keyboards and the drums in the background (played in jazz style); after four and a half minutes this impressionist instrumental beginning gives rise to a rock solo of Underwood, followed by the return of the bass; then arrives a part orchestrated with the Strings ensemble which climbs into an orchestral sound on the verge of dissonance, then dissolves slowly together with the bass, plus another 40 seconds of "Entropy". It could be compared to Valentyne Suite by Colosseum.

In my opinion, Quatermass is a masterpiece of the first progressive: it is sensational that in 1970 this record has such a progressive attitude, able to make a perfect synthesis of Keith Emerson's keyboardist rock (and overcome him in ability and talent) and the harpers of hard rock (Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple). The pieces are all high class for composition and arrangement; the musicians are technically excellent. Difficult to expect much more from a 1970 album.

Medium quality of the songs: 8,07. Vote album: 9. Masterpiece. Rating: Five stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars QUATERMASS was one of many one-shot progressive rock artists who stuck around long enough to record and release a sole album and then quickly disband and disappear. While many such bands are destined to be completely forgotten, some like this London based band actually has become somewhat of a cult legend for having crafted a brilliant album that simply failed to garner any attention upon its time of release. Named after the fictional scientist Professor Bernard Quatermass who was a pioneer of a British Space Program on BBC Television, the band adopted a sci-fi image as evidenced of the rather bizarre cover art with two pterodactyls flying between two skyscrapers presumably. The album featured alternative cover art when reissued in 1975 once Ritchie Blackmore covered "Black Sheep Of The Family" on the first Rainbow album which was when the interest in QUATERMASS was renewed and the album started to finally catch on.

For a heavy prog band which formed in 1969, QUATERMASS was somewhat unusual in that it only featured three members John Gustafson (bass, vocals), J. Peter Robinson (keyboards) and ex-Episode Six drummer Mick Underwood. Noticeably missing was a guitarist which is quite surprisingly since Underwood previously played with Blackmore in the Outlaws. QUATERMASS has and still does evoke a similarity to Deep Purple mainly because of the stellar prog keyboard performances in the vein of Jon Lord but QUATERMASS was a bit more experimental even though the nine tracks on its only album generally revolve around tight-knit melodic hooks and groovy bass riffs augmented by energetic rock drumming performances and virtuosic Hammond organ gymnastics which covered a lot of ground and made the band sound like a larger act than a mere power trio. Robinson also played piano, clarinet, harpsichord, synthesizers, a ring-modulator and crafted intricate string arrangements. Four guest musicians also added sounds of violins, violas, double basses and a cello. A 12-string guitar made a brief appearance on the near 10-minute track "Post War Saturday Echo."

For only having cranked out one album in its two year run, QUATERMASS did an exemplary job of making it count. The self-titled powerhouse featured an excellent and diverse collection of bluesy heavy rock that were taken over the top with Gustafson's strong and perfectly pitched rock styled vocals, very much in league with Robert Plant, Ian Gillan or any of the up and coming hard rock and proto-metal bands of the era. Add to that the compositions were of a very high caliber with not only excellent melodic hooks but a firm command of dynamics and a sense of bravado. The classical underpinning shined through but the focus on exuberant harder rock were fully realized and once again completely without the expected role of an electric guitar. With the keyboards picking up the slack, Robinson's genius was in how he crafted contrapuntal keyboard parts that delivered all the flamboyant lightning and thunder required for a hard rock band of 1970.

While keyboard dominated prog rock bands were nothing out of the ordinary with The Nice and Emerson Lake & Palmer finding great success, QUATERMASS stood out as utterly unique in how it crafted instantly catchy melodically driven tunes with technically advanced twists and turns that even some fifty years down the road make this one-shot band a captivating listening experience. Just familiar sounding enough to instantly relate to bands like Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep or even Argent but clever enough to completely stand out with unexpected side stepping into wild experimental passages and a dynamic use of tones, textures and timbres primarily through the means of various keyboards however the Hammond organ is the star here and QUATERMASS has been described as "a keyboard dominated chunk of heavy progressive rock." Starting off with the rather Steppenwolf sounding "Black Sheep In The Family," the album drifts to the lysergic psychedelic soundscapes that incorporate modern classical and even Krautrock lysergia as the album ends.

When it comes to the roots of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple are the clear godfathers of the movement but when looking for the roots of progressive metal then you clearly have to look beyond the obvious and dig a bit deeper where you'll find QUATERMASS as one of those early dabblers in all things progressive in a heavier than usual style alongside with Uriah Heep, T2, Lucifer's Friend, Atomic Rooster and Wishbone Ash. The band's cult status has only grown over the decades since this gem was released. Due to the renewed interest in the prog revival scene of the 1990s, Mick Underwood formed Quatermass II to try to cash in on the band's past glory but the album didn't live up to the magic that was present on this 1970 paragon of ingenuity. Personally i would actually prefer if there were some guitar parts as there are times when the mere presence of a guitarless trio leaves a bit of vacuous space however given what QUATERMASS was and how they presented themselves, this is indeed a unique specimen of excellence that has thankfully been redeemed over time.

Latest members reviews

3 stars 70's Heavy Prog in the purist sense Full Disclosure : I was 12 years old when this 1970 album was released. It was a time when I was just being introduced to the likes of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Iron Butterfly, Grand Funk Railroad, The Moody Blues, ELP and King Crimson. But many artist from a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2521814) | Posted by JD | Sunday, March 7, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars QUATERMASS were a British Hammond organ-driven power trio, specialising in the kind of reckless keyboard abandon heard from such prominent bands as Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Nice - bands who were just as well-known for their frantic stage antics as their music. The line-up consisted of bas ... (read more)

Report this review (#2286891) | Posted by Psychedelic Paul | Thursday, December 12, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of the best progressive rock albums of the seventies. There are moments of intricate keyboard work, a solid rhythm section which is never boring, as well as great vocals. Some may wonder at that last contention. Gustafson is not a glamorous singer, but he was motivated here, and sings ... (read more)

Report this review (#758780) | Posted by Tableau | Friday, May 25, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When some say something is missing (or lacking) here, I find it difficult to find out what it may be unless it is time or luck -to have had a longer career and musical evolution and growth. The musicianship is here. The inspiration for writing or for covering is, too. The ability to rock and to sol ... (read more)

Report this review (#620043) | Posted by ibnacio | Thursday, January 26, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Robinson, Lake & Purple. If we wanted to find the sources from which this work is inspired we need to think of two groups well known to the fans of classic 70's rock: Deep Purple and ELP. In fact' the style of Quatermass is the middle ground between these two giants of rock music. The group ... (read more)

Report this review (#369617) | Posted by Dark Nazgul | Saturday, January 1, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Along with my other reviews of obscure, under-rated gems, i could not leave out Quatermass. I never even knew of this group until 1987, when i bought their self-titled debut. Even though i was not much acquainted with progressive music at the time i discovered it, i knew that this had to be one o ... (read more)

Report this review (#263466) | Posted by presdoug | Friday, January 29, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Quatermass is one of the myth of the seventies subterrean scene, even because at the time they sold very little and so they couldn't bring out another albums after their self-titled debut. It was a pity, because they certainly had talent and not receiving a prize for their efforts must have been ... (read more)

Report this review (#161343) | Posted by Charterhouser | Saturday, February 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Both then and now, QUATERMASS stands as one of the great and truly progressive rock albums. When this album came out in 1970 and for a good long while after, there would be parties where our local prog lovers and musicians us would get together just to listen to this album; it was an event. And ... (read more)

Report this review (#156914) | Posted by jonsilence | Friday, December 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have slightly surprised by modest description in QUATERMASS biography, and whereas this is most impressive group of the genre, although they managed to release just a one album. This is 100% progressive (symphonic) rock - very powerful and complex one, it's featuring virtuoso keyboard wizard ... (read more)

Report this review (#117814) | Posted by alekra | Tuesday, April 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Quatermass has been often compared with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, but this comparison is not precise. Yes, it had three members (bass, drums, keyboards) and yes, the band produced some heavy sound, but... This album is more heavy rock with some prog elements (improvisations, a litlle bit of ... (read more)

Report this review (#115787) | Posted by Hejkal | Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Here one of the better album of progressive rock of the '70s!! Between the heroes of the classic pop period the organ Hammond occupies a place of relief. Its sound, majestic and malleable to the same time, in a position of to give back a lot the solemn atmosphere of the liturgies in cathedra ... (read more)

Report this review (#76757) | Posted by ANDREW | Sunday, April 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Quatermass is, IMHO, one of the most well rounded albums ever. It's technical, but swings. It's catchy without being commercial. I love the way it flows from mid-tempo rockers to avant-garde instrumentals to bluesy soundscapes. At times reminding me of Arzachel, The Nice, the '71-'73 Proto-Kaw ... (read more)

Report this review (#76192) | Posted by Clark Ashton | Tuesday, April 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars There are no need of having a guitarplayer with a distorted instrument in a rock and roll group! Quatermass is a proof of this,the line up works very well and the music is a delight for at least us who where youngsters back in the early 70`s.It sounds like a mix of beggars opera,deep purple,ti ... (read more)

Report this review (#50184) | Posted by | Wednesday, October 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have mixed feelings about this album. FIRST: I love Quatermass's music; brilliantly played, good compositions, nice arrangements, this all make this album a great listen. SECOND: I also love Deep Purple, and Rithcie Blackmore left Purple because he wanted to re-record "Black Sheep of the Fam ... (read more)

Report this review (#38827) | Posted by M. B. Zapelini | Friday, July 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I bought this cd because it was recommended, and reviews mentioned ELP and KING CRIMSON. Well, I have to say I am very disappointed. This is nothing like the grandiose prog rock of ELP or the darkly beautiful symphonic music of early CRIMSON. QUATERMASS has some psych/prog tendencies, but the cou ... (read more)

Report this review (#25794) | Posted by | Wednesday, April 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Destined to remain a cult classic Quatermass's debut has much to offer. A trio based around organ, bass, drums, this behemoth of an LP from 1970 is a quintessential English prog LP, and a varied one at that. Starting with the otherwordly effects of "Entropy" - all moogs and hammond nuances, it ... (read more)

Report this review (#25791) | Posted by mandrake2 | Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Listening again after 34 years, it's as exciting as yesterday. It could have been recorded today. In modern music it's quite impossible to find such a refinement of arrangements. The pleasing listening forces us to go to the end without any pause. A real milestone! ... (read more)

Report this review (#25789) | Posted by | Wednesday, October 6, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The maniac keyboard playing and singing/bassplaying of John Gustafsson are worthwile of your attention. Hammond sound is smashing, pretty soloing and melodies. This album rocks! and deserves much more attention than it recieved. A must have for any Prog rock fan! ... (read more)

Report this review (#25782) | Posted by fredfontes | Tuesday, January 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It is without doubt, one of the most quintesential albums to belong in every progressive and classic rock vinyl collector. Strongly urge those who collect vinyl to find the beautiful hipgnosis cover artwork in its fullness and to blend in with the dark and powerful tones of this trio that would infl ... (read more)

Report this review (#25781) | Posted by Quatermass76 | Wednesday, January 7, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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