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Atomic Rooster

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Atomic Rooster Atomic Roooster album cover
3.59 | 250 ratings | 23 reviews | 17% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Friday The Thirteenth (3:33)
2. And So To Bed (4:13)
3. Broken Wings (5:48)
4. Before Tomorrow (instrumental) (5:53)
5. Banstead (3:36)
6. S.L.Y. (4:39)
7. Winter (7:01)
8. Decline And Fall (5:50)

Total Time: 40:37

Bonus track on 1991 CD release:
9. Play The Game (1971 Single B-side) (4:48)

Bonus tracks on 2016 CD remaster:
9. Friday 13th (Overdubbed version) (3:28)
10. Before Tomorrow (Overdubbed version) (5:47)
11. S.L.Y. (Overdubbed version) (4:53)

Line-up / Musicians

- Vincent Crane / Hammond organ, piano (1,2,7), brass (3) & cello (5,7) arrangements
- Nick Graham / bass, acoustic guitar (6), flute (4,7), lead vocals
- Carl Palmer / drums, congas (4,8), glockenspiel (7)

- John Du Cann / guitar & vocals (Overdubbed after 1st LP pressing)

Releases information

Artwork: Adrian George

LP B&C Records - CAS 1010 (1970, UK) 1st pressing with the original keyboard-only mix
LP Music On Vinyl ‎- MOVLP1756 (2016, Europe)

CD Repertoire Records ‎- RR 4135-WZ (1991, Germany) With a bonus track
CD Belle Antique ‎- BELLE-162588 (2016, Japan) Remastered with 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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ATOMIC ROOSTER Atomic Roooster ratings distribution

(250 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(17%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

ATOMIC ROOSTER Atomic Roooster reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by loserboy
4 stars "Atomic Rooster" was the first album that started it all off for the ROOST and marks IMHO their best. Based on the mantle of Rhythm and blues , this album took blues based prog rock in a new direction with psychedelic and Canterbury leanings. The line up for this debut album was Nick Graham (bass, guitar, flute and vocals), Vincent Crane (organ) and a very young Carl Palmer (percussion)... (Crane and Palmer were first paired together during their tenure in ARTHUR BROWN'S CRAZY WORLD). Musically this album fits really no specific categorization but I guess you would call this Psych-Canterbury" school and is really a mix of the work of bands like "EGG", "CARAVAN" , "GRAVY TRAIN" , "VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR" , "PINK FLOYD" and even "COLOSSEUM".

"Atomic Rooster" contains orchestration , cello, strings as well as a heavy doze of acid laced guitar and Hammond pounding with the sophisticated drumming of Palmer (who would after this album exit for a long standing career with ELP). Clearly one of my personal favs from the ROOST and another essential album from a historic progressive perspective.

Review by richardh
4 stars Excellent Hammond lead prog with Vincent Crane being undoubtedly one of the masters of the instrument along with Keith Emerson and Brian Auger.Carl Palmer gives great support on the drums prior to him taking the drumstool in ELP.The songs are somewhat bleak and oppressive but this is prog rock with heart and soul.An important early album of the genre IMO.
Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Most progheads will tend to look at this one first, as Carl Palmer was their drummer. He and Vincent Crane came from The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Crane was responsible for the extraordinary FIRE (I am the god of Hellfire) with this incredible sonic orgasm reached through the Hammond-ildo orga(sm)n. This album is full of hard-driven hard rock (mainly KB) and many cool arrangements that made AR so much more than a proto HM band that they are so often remembered as. This album has a few tracks where there are killer brass section interventions, which add a little prog charm to it. The mood of the music is in the dark region and follows well the Fire single. For me the highlight of this album is Broken Wings, but all numbers are quite good (no duds, Dude;o))). A good introduction but hardly their better album.
Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars From the ashes of the unique and spectacular group THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN keyboardplayer Vincent Crane (author from the hit "Fire") and drummer Carl Palmer (later ELP) formed in '69 ATOMIC ROOSTER. Nick Graham (bass, guitar and flute) completed the band and a year later they released a very promising debut album Atomic Ro-O-oster. It features captivating compositions with tendencies to jazz, rock and psychedelia. Surely ELP fans have to check out this album: Carl Palmer his drumming is excellent and Vincent Crane moving organplay is very alternating: furi¬ous runs in "Friday The Thirteenth" bluesy in "Broken Wings", psyche¬delic in "Before Tomorrow" (great guitarplay from Nick Graham) and sumptuous like Keith Emerson in "Decline And Fall" (including a powerful and propulsive drumsolo by Carl Palmer)¬¬. An intersting album for those who didn't know that Carl Palmer once was a member of ATOMIC ROOSTER.
Review by Philrod
4 stars Atomic Rooster. First album is known for one thing: Carl Palmer being on it. But, really what do we know about the music? Why did it never got off the earth? First, this is not really a prog album, but mostly a hard rock one. A hard rock album with a killer drummer... what went wrong? Mostly, nothing. Hard rock lovers were just waiting fot the big solos à la Led Zeppelin! This is a hammond-led album!

From a musical point of view, this album does a great job of mixing jazzy improvisations with the psychedelia taken from the ashes of Crazyy World of Arthur Brown, and a hard rock attack. There are also glimpses of folk on Winter, and a bluesy side to BrokenWings.

Still it has its flaws, as mostly any first album is supposed to have. It shows where the band would go, and if Palmer and lead singer Nick Graham had stayed in the band, what were the possibilities. Vincent Crane is no Keith Emerson, much more like a Jon Lord(Deep Purple) in the Machine Head days, but with more drive to his sound. Quality-wise, there are mostly no filler, but no track stands out either.

All in all, a good first album from the roost.

Review by Tom Ozric
5 stars The first 'real' music I've heard all day..... This, Atomic Rooster's debut album, is a totally classic adventure into the 'progressive hard- rock' realm of music's development. Loaded with sinister lyrics (read between the lines...), but with some fantastic music to go with it all ; I've got to say that Carl Palmer is sounding great here, and no wonder why Emerson and Lake poached him from this band ; Greg (Lake) approached Carl and, quote, "It was Lake's unabashed enthusiasm and intensity that won Palmer over - "If you don't join this band, you're not only damaging yourself, but damaging me as well " says Lake, end quote. Vincent Crane is incredible as usual on the Hammond Organ, and their bassist/vocalist at this stage, Nick Graham, who eventually ended up in the great band, 'SKIN ALLEY", provides some appropriate Bass guitar, and a little lead guitar and vocals to the proceedings. I do not wish to ramble on for ages about each track on this record - all songs are strong, and I've not heard such a focused release produced with as much passion as this one, so I can only say that any prog-head MUST OWN this release. 5 star without question, even if a bit 'underground'. I really do stand by what I say...
Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars A goood start

Atomic Rooster's almost eponymous first album (the extra "o" in Roooster is deliberate), was released in 1970. The band evolved from The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, with both Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer leaving that band together to form the new group. The line up was completed by bassist/vocalist Nick Graham. Graham, who joined the band as a result of auditioning, would turn out to be the band's only bassist in their entire career, Crane using his keyboards to fill that role after the first album.

The first album is rather different to what was to follow, and it largely reflects Crane's mental state at the time. Indeed, the track "Banstead" refers to the mental institution Crane found himself in after a nervous breakdown while touring with Arthur Brown. Graham's fine flute work on tracks such as the beautifully melancholy "Winter" is similar to Peter Gabriel's early playing with Genesis, while his vocals are more reminiscent of early Barclay James Harvest.

"Broken wings" is the first Rooster track to feature a brass arrangement, the band giving this blues number a radical overall. The contrast in the vocal style between this song and "Winter" is interesting, perhaps indicating an ongoing search for a direction. There are surprisingly few truly upbeat songs, the opening "Friday 13th" being one of the notable exceptions. The song is very much of its time, now sounding decidedly rough around the edges. Crane adds some excellent Hammond organ though. "Decline and fall" is Palmer's opportunity to take centre stage, even including an unnecessary drum solo.

Overall, this is a credible first album, although in reality every album was pretty much a first album, such was the turmoil in the line up. Those who are seeking the band which made "In hearing of" and "Death walks behind you" though should be a little wary. This album is quite different.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars YOU DON´T WANT ME, YOU DON´T NEED ME, ALL YOU NEED IS SEX WITH FAME. ( From the chorus of And so to Bed)

Atomic Rooster´s debut album is a hard rock album in the vein of Deep Purple, which means hard rock with lots of hammond organ and an accomplished lead singer.

The music is well played and Carl Palmer ( Later of ELP) gets to show of his incredible drum skills in the two instrumentals Before Tomorrrow and Decline and Fall. The other two musicians also shine in these songs. Overall there is no flaws in the playing. The flaws show when you look at the composition though. This is pretty imature hard rock. The lyrics are really silly and simplistic which is best shown by reading the start of the review ( try also to listen to the lyrics in the song S.L.Y). Allthough the album is mostly blues based hard rock, there are an almost Joe Cocker like soulful song in Broken Wings ( This song is not to my taste) the aforementioned instrumentals which show prog tendencies and the most prog song on the album the exciting Winter.

This is only for the fans. I wouldn´t recommend this to anyone else really. A few good songs and lots of boasting crap. I should give one more star for the laugh I got when I heard And so to Bed but a 2 star rating will do.

Review by Neu!mann
3 stars Breaking up after only one album was the best thing to happen to this Proto-Prog outfit. Honestly, would anyone outside of a small cult of loyal fans even remember the band today if their young virtuoso drummer hadn't left in 1970 to join a certain Keith Emerson and Greg Lake? Let's face it: the success of ELP probably benefited this album in retrospect more than the music it actually contained.

All right, so that might not be entirely fair. It's true that the album today has all the indelible earmarks of a late '60s period piece. But a lot of it holds together surprisingly well, especially the lyrics, which reveal more cynicism than was fashionable at the tail end of the Flower Power era. "No one in the world will want you / need you / love you / miss you" repeats the acerbic chorus of "Friday the 13th". (It was on a Friday the 13th, in 1969, that Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer abandoned THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN to form their own band: hence the bitterness of the lyrics?)

And then there's the distinctly unromantic accusation in "And So to Bed": "You don't want me / you don't need me / all you want is sex with fame." How about another example: "What is the point of going on?" asks a world-weary Nick Graham in "Winter", an atypically beautiful ballad enriched by a homeopathic dose of horns and strings, with some attractive quasi-TULL flute thrown in as well.

Elsewhere the album revolves around Vincent Crane's hard-rocking Hammond organ and the soulful shriek of Nick Graham's vocals, although the obvious star of the trio was the astonishing 19-year old percussionist Carl Palmer. The kid was even allowed an energetic drum solo (always a risky proposition in a studio recording, divorced from the synergy of a live concert environment) during the song "Decline and Fall", which easily outclasses his similar turn a few short months later on ELP's debut album.

It's hard to believe music this quaint (at least when heard today) was once considered really "heavy". And while the trio certainly put a lot of sweat and muscle into their performances it must have been clear to Palmer even before his untimely defection that the limited musical range of the group probably wouldn't challenge him too much. Compare, for example, the sometimes overwrought jamming on the climactic track "Before Tomorrow" to what Emerson and Lake were at the same time accomplishing with THE NICE and KING CRIMSON.

Crane would later regroup (more than once) and continue making (reportedly) better albums, but the band's volatile line-up never allowed it a chance to gain any commercial momentum, and today their debut remains little more than a fascinating museum artifact for students of early Prog in general, and ELP completists in particular.

(Consumer's postscript: the 2004 Castle Records re-issue includes over 25 minutes of bonus material, mostly alternate takes of various album songs. The US versions, three of which are included here, kick the butts of their British counterparts.)

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Going with the Fowl...

A cohesive and competent collection of 1970s style rock - almost definitive, you might say. The only sticking issue really is the tuning or lack thereof, particularly of the bass, which is nearly a quarter of a tone flat throughout, and makes this a somewhat uncomfortable listen for anyone with either perfect pitch, or at least, a reasonable sense of pitch.

Friday the 13th kicks the album off with an energetic start, a driving riff, topped compellingly with Hammond drives this piece through a couple of dramatic stops and starts to a satisfying ending - but it's a bit wallpapery really, not a memorable song - and that's really what makes this a second division album.

The performances show energy and dramatic attention to detail - each player performing his part of the song producing a foot-tapping whole. This is particularly showcased in And So To Bed, where some of the Jimmy Smith-alike Hammond is quite grin-inducing without being utterly cheesey.

Nick Graham puts in a suitably hard-edged vocal performance, Crane providing atmospheric backing vox, and Carl Palmer's drumming has a thunderous roar that keeps the piece only just under control as he puts in the unconventional beats.

The brass intro to Broken Wings carries a melancholy that Graham finds the perfect blues counterpart to, and here we get the feeling of a progressive piece for the first time, verging into early Camel territory - although, sadly, without Latimer. Fortunately, Crane's Smith-inspired Hammond is well up to the task of providing instrumental interest, as is swoops, snarls and glides, feeling the mood of the piece with perfection in this piece of progressive blues. For the first time, the music comes out of the background to take centre stage - albeit a little tentatively under the spotlight.

We are treated to more of Palmer's aggressive battery of the kit in the elaborate intro to Before Tomorrow - and indeed, throughout the rest of the song, where he really manages to shine under Crane's Hammond attack. Sadly, the guitarist is not credited, so we don't know who's to blame - but my guess is that it's Nigel Tufnell. The amphetamine-ridden blufferama that squeaks and spews all over the magnificent drumming and keyboard work is truly awful at the best of times, and laughable at worst, turning what could have been a very interesting piece indeed into a comedy number.

Next up is a plodding number called Banstead, with an impassioned performance which is rather wasted on such a banal and forgettable song. The instrumental break, as one might expect, does manage to make up for it, Palmer making it, Crane decorating it with simple blobs of sound. Trouble is, I was really hoping for something a bit more Emerson like. This is Crane's fault, as he hints at The Nice (I'm reminded of their outrageous interpretation of America by the rhythmic motifs).

The guitar appears to be back for S.L.Y., in which Graham manages a passable imitation of Chris Farlowe (the latter who was to join the Roosters in person later in their carreer). Again, the song itself is nothing remarkable, but the Northern Soul/Hard Rock fusion retains its compelling vibe. When the guitarist shuts up and plays rhythm, the additional texture is very welcome - and the instrumental break down from 2:13-2:53 is a dark and intense trip similar to some of the more spacey early Floyd. Sadly, the song returns, and the guitar with it, to make a real hash of the ending.

A flute appears to introduce the next piece, which deviates from the 70s hard rock vibe for the first time, bringing a pastoral mood to the proceedings, and a real progressive feel. The overall texture is changed completely, with Crane on piano duties, and Palmer creating percussive ambience of great sensitivity. This rather masterful piece is crowned by somewhat defeatist lyrics, and proceeds through the instrumental break to show Jethro Tull influences - but overall, producing an original magic of its own. As the piece progresses, different instruments are introduced, giving a continual ebb and flow to the sonic textures, painting a wide canvas from an almost dazzling array of aural colours.

This is the piece to own this album for, with its gripping feeling of spontaneity, and a band at work, each member playing their own unique part in the overall ensemble to create music that's greater than the sum of the parts. It's no co-incidence that this is also the longest piece on the album - it needs to be at least 7 minutes in order to express the ideas fully.

Put this one on repeat before forming an opinion ;o)

Decline and Fall returns us to the 1970s hard rock sound, with nudges and winks to The Nice and Saucerful-era Floyd, but with Palmer's continuing and somewhat overbearing onslaught making me yearn for the end a bit.

Play The Game doesn't really add anything to the album - it's just another song in a similar vein. Collectors and fans might lap it up, but for the authentic album experience, you're better off listening to this piece another time. There's more of that guitarist on here - another reason to stay well away.

In short, an enjoyable 1970s hard rock album, with flavours of other genres, moments of progressive interest, and one essential Prog Rock number in Winter. This album is worth buying for that track alone, in my humble opinion.

I give it 3 stars because generally, the material is not strong enough to sit in a proper Prog Rock collection - but if you're big on this style of rock, then go on, give it a 4.

Review by ZowieZiggy

Crane and Palmer came form the incredible "Arthur Brown's" adventure. Being as old as I am, I have the advantage to have seen this band on the TV set at the time ("Fire" of course). I can tell you that it was quite an experience!

Needless to say that to fully appreciate this album, you need a strong dose of love for the early days of hard-rock music with an inch of blues (like Purple, right?). To be honest, the bluesy aspects here were not the ones I liked the most (I have never been into this, actually). No wonder that "Broken Wings" nor "S.L.Y." could never please me.

On the contrary, several songs on the rockier side are just great. "Before Tomorrow" for instance will pave the way to lots of great heavy bands (Heep for instance). You just need to experience the fantastic intro to acknowledge. My fave here: wild, distorted, chaotic, jam-oriented (not far from the master Hendrix at times if it wasn' t for the keys). A monster track. Fully instrumental. Not prog. Just great. THE highlight.

Carl's work is of course fabulous. Just listen to the wild parts of "Banstead". The great Moon (Keith of course) is not far away.He IS the highlight in this song; just like during "Decline And Fall" during which his drum solo is just incredible. In those days, a drum solo on a studio album was not really frequent. This one is just superb. Like the whole number actually.

As if the band wanted to show another profile, they released the delicate "Winter". Introduced with some fluting and delicate piano, this song is an exception on this rather heavy album. The band is really showing another side of their music. Again, Carl is wonderful and the smooth flute playing is so charming (but you might know that I am rather biased). A true and profound prog song. Another highlight.

I am rating this album on the high range. Just because I am a dep lover of this lost era. Four stars.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
3 stars Atomic Ro-o-oster is the first album for Atomic Rooster and is very experimental and bluesy in places, mixed with a heavy barrage of guitars and Hammond. The band feature some great riffs - guitar solos and grinding Hammond throughout - their signature sound on all albums.

There are some classic tracks on here that have become legendary among AR fans: 'Friday 13th', 'Winter', 'Banstead', 'S.L.Y.' and the blues-driven 'Broken Wings' are wonderful and it is little wonder that they have featured on best of compilations for years. My favourite is Banstead with its repeated plea, "please take me out of this place" - it is based on a mental hospital; perhaps a prophecy of the decline of Vincent's sanity that would ultimately destroy him. The track features some excellent Hammond and an off-kilter time signature that is pure prog. The hypnotic riff of S.L.Y is compelling and feels a little like blues mixed with a heavy guitar and organ trade off.

Overall the album is a terrific debut for the band. It is worth picking up the remastered Cd with bonus tracks that include excellent U.S. renditions of Friday b13th, Before Tomorrow and S.L.Y that are quite different to the original versions. There are also 2 solid BBC Radio session versions of Friday 13th and Seven Lonely Streets. The booklet has some interesting info and introduces the band competently. A great CD package but the best was yet to come for Atomic Rooster.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars The crazy world of Vincent Crane

This debut album by Atomic Rooster is something special. Coming out of the ashes of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane took drummer extraordinaire Carl Palmer with him to form Atomic Rooster. The sound of Atomic Rooster is heavy, progressive, bluesy and also soulful. They can perhaps be vaguely compared to Deep Purple, ELP, Beggar's Opera and a handful of other heavy, keyboard driven bands of the very early 70's.

Vincent Crane was something of a genius and, like many geniuses he was also a bit crazy! His lyrics are obsessed with death, like in the beautiful Winter which contains the lyric "what is the point of going on and on and on...?" There is some lovely Ian Anderson like flute in this song.

As I have already said, the sound of Atomic Rooster is heavily keyboard driven. The keyboards are mainly Hammond and piano. The other main instruments are bass, drums and very little guitar. The drum solo in Decline And Fall is so obviously Carl Palmer - he already had his distinctive style at this point. However, I'm not too fond of drum solos on studio albums. But it is short enough not to distract too much.

The material is strong and the lyrics are thoughtful and existential even if more than a bit bleak. My personal opinion is that this debut album is, together with Death Walks Behind You, Atomic Rooster's best album.

Very underrated and essential for anyone interested in the history of (Heavy) Prog

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars Welcome to late 60's, even it's 1970 release. Well, accidents happen. Surprisingly interesting this album is, every song in different thing. For me, it's good, because I met AR only because of this site, so I didn't know them for all my life (like Pink Floyd for example). It works for me and I'm very glad, but what actually works here ?

To understand this music, you have to be aware of situation and be tolerant about it a little bit. It's still not classic prog, it's "just" prototype of progressive music. And it can't be compared to for example SEBtP, it's completely different. Not everyone was so prophetic, as ItCotCK. For me, my feelings are most important thing and I feel good when listening this. Maybe little bit late for this kind of music (year or two), but still not so late to be retrogressive.

4(-) enjoyable one guys.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars UK heavy rock act featuring the great Carl Palmer on the drum-kit. While Atomic Rooster's heavy rock is quite different from ELP, the drum style is really recognizable and shows the great impact Carl Palmer must have had on the ELP sound. The album is a sort of mandatory step when going through Prog's history, but despite its attractions, it's not that strong overall.

Friday 13th is a nice heavy blues rock tune with wild Hammond organ and Palmer's signature drumming. I'm a huge fan of the powerful vocals from Nick Graham. They may be quite typical for that era but I really can't resist the heavy blues.

With Palmer's drums and Crane's swirling organ, And So To Bed begins like an ELP classic. The song is a bit old-fashioned but quite catchy still. Winter is a typical heavy blues ballad, fired by Hammond and rampant vocals. Not bad but rather cliché of course.

Decline and Fall is better, an instrumental piece serving as a showcase for the soloing talent in the band. Especially Palmer stands out, even though some of his drum parts are an exact copy from what he did on the Barbarian. Well, it's the other way round of course.

Bamstead and the connected SLY feature more Hammond driven power blues, again with good performances but unremarkable as songs. It's a major complaint with the entire album really. If I'm in the mood for this kind of stuff I'll always pick up an early Deep Purple or the Nice's debut, not Atomic Rooster.

Broken Wings takes a softer and dreamier turn. It's a nice soothing song, reminding me of some early Hammill ballads. With Before Tomorrow it all ends with another organ heavy piece, drum solo and everything, even some Santana percussion influences. It's rather unremarkable again but it suggests this band must have been quite an attractive live unit. On the album the creativity remains all a bit too stiff really.

Review by Warthur
3 stars The first Atomic Rooster album sees the Graham/Crane/Palmer lineup as a band in search of an identity. No longer content to be the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, the band don't quite manage to stake out their own territory, producing an album with a sound much like any other Hammond-heavy power trio at the start of the 1970s. Friday the 13th is a perfectly dramatic and exciting opener, but after that the songs all tend to blend together for me and lose their identity. Graham's vocals are also simply not up to belting out the material either, and are something of a weak point on the album. Altogether, a three star debut.
Review by Prog Sothoth
3 stars The rooster with the hooters in the cube. There's so much meaning to this that I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just stick to reviewing the contents of the music itself. It's proggish, often driving rock with the Hammond as the main melodic instrument and very little guitar playing, occasionally poking its neck out here and there, but mostly dormant. The songs have a nice range of styles to them, with the opener coming across like a keyboard drenched Communication Breakdown, to the depressed ballad entitled "Winter".

Released in 1970, this debut is the first of two efforts released by the band that year, and makes for an interesting example of what a strange transitional time for rock music 1970 was. Here, the earlier incarnation of Atomic Rooster leans a bit towards the late 60s with an almost whimsical vibe concerning some of the music, especially "And So To Bed", which is also one of the more memorable tracks with its groovy time signatures, strong musicianship and funky lyrics ("all you need is sex with fame". I can live with that). The lack of guitars gives the songs a bit of incomplete feel for me personally at times (lack atomic- ness I guess) that dates the music a bit. Without guitar wailings getting in the way, Carl gets to really strut his stuff throughout every song, including a busy snare-happy drum solo in "Decline And Fall". The vocal histrionics suit the bluesier tunes, with Nick acting all wide- eyed at times, tossing in a rare flute solo when needed. Vincent's playing is sort of an Emerson/Jon Lord hybrid, with emphasis towards Lord in style and attitude. Honestly, this band really needed a loud guitar to complete the picture, in which the US release versions found on the recent CD reissue shows. I prefer those versions to the originals.

If the music leans a bit towards the late 60s in overall attitude, the lyrics are more firmly planted in 1970. A bleak and uncertain outlook, combined with a raunchy demeanor that foreshadows 70s hard rock gives the album a bit of uniqueness in addition to the constant drum barrages.

By the end of this odd pivotal year, the band would sound much different than they do here, with their next album having one foot firmly planted in 1971, the year hard rock (and prog to an extent) became a monolith industry.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars The birth pangs of ATOMIC ROOSTER can actually be traced back all the way to the whacky 60s UK phenomenon The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown where two of the members: Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer jumped ship to have a go at their own musical visions. In the beginning they were only a trio after they recruited a third member, Nick Graham to handle bass, lead vocals, flute and additional guitars. Crane would handle organ and keyboards while Palmer cranked out the percussive drive necessary to add the harder rockin' edge. Whereas the Arthur Brown project set out to conquer the flashy entertainment world of psychedelic rock and even had a huge hit with their 1968 single "Fire," the direction of ATOMIC ROOSTER was to take a more soulful approach and desired to take the funk and soul approach of James Brown and Stevie Wonder and marry it with the dynamic instrumental workouts of British progressive rock that was its infancy big bang phase at the time.

The trio didn't waste any time releasing their first album titled ATOMIC ROOOSTER (not eponymous, has 3 o's and also spelled RO-O- OSTER on later CD reissues) in 1970 with that famous ridiculous cover of a green eagle with a rooster head with voluptuous female milkers drooping down in the midst of a cube with a purple shadow next to a chair. The cover art ranks high on my WTF list! Soon after this was released, Nick Graham whose vocals grace this album would jump ship and John Du Cann would replace him and then overdub three tracks for a slightly different US release (bonus tracks on the expanded CD version and quite well done). ATOMIC ROOOSTER, the album kicks things off with the hard rockin' "Friday The Thirteenth" which joins the ranks of a number of harder rockin' bands marry some heaviness with the keyboard rich proto-prog that was oozing out of the late 60s music scene.

While not totally unlike bands like Deep Purple, it is apparent that the ROOSTER was cock-a-doodling some funk and soul in its mix and focuses on heavy grooves, more soulful vocals as well as the Hammond rich organ runs and hard percussive drumming drive that Carl Palmer was delivering quite skillfully even at this stage of his career. Many of the tracks on this album follow suit with the same exact formula that deftly mixes the soulful grooves with the harder edged prog elements which was Crane's main style of songwriting who was the main songwriter for this album. The one track "Broken Wing's" which is a John Mayall cover sounds rather out of place in comparison despite Palmer's best efforts to give it a percussive backbone clearly demonstrating Crane's different approach to songwriting.

Despite the efforts of fusing British prog with American soul and funk, this debut release still sounds a little devoid of a completely successfully fusion of the disparate styles and feels much more firmly rooted in the late 60s psychedelic scene than the progressive 70s. The keyboard rich rhythms are a dead giveaway and make this release sound a bit dated in not only its style but its delivery which has hints of Procol Harum, Deep Purple and of course, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Graham's vocal abilities are a point of contention for me as well. While he successfully gets the job done by hitting the correct notes and emphasizes dramatic phrases that serve to heighten the musical tension, my main problem is that his range is a little limited and the music would have been more animated with a slightly more gifted vox box. While ATOMIC ROOSTER yielded some decent fruit on their freshman effort, it would be eclipsed by the lineup change and release of their second album "Death Walks Behind You." Album number is chock full of nice pleasant late 60s sounding chops, rhythms and keyboard fantasies but doesn't quite make the highly essential list for me.

If you're going get this one you should really be sure to get the 2004 Castle Music CD reissue that contains the three overdubbed versions of "Friday The 13th," "Before Tomorrow" and "S.L.Y." with Du Cann on guitar and vocals. The comparison between the originals and redubs are astounding as it was fortuitous that Graham moved on to let a more talented vocalist take the reins. Also included are two equally better live versions at the BBC Radio Session in 1970. The bonus tracks make this a much better album than it would be otherwise but of course my rating is for the original release.

3.5 rounded down like those mammories on the cover :P

Latest members reviews

4 stars Cock Rock If the extra vowel in Roooster was deliberate, can the same be said for the (green) cockerel endowed with a couple of fulsome bouncy teats? Such gender fluidity created moral panic among Australian retailers sufficient to have them place stickers over the offending nipples. Thank God ... (read more)

Report this review (#2153638) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Saturday, March 9, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Great album but not yet all that great. Somehow I will never be a great fan of Carl's sloppy drumming. That aside the vocals, the bassguitars, the hammond are all really great. Raw, pure and energetic. The songwriting is sometimes really good (Winter, Broken Wings, Friday 13th) but sometimes the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1772122) | Posted by Kingsnake | Thursday, August 17, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Not my preferred Rooster album but with my preferred Rooster song: 'Winter'. In my opinion 'Atomic Ro-o-ster' is not a perfect album. Also if it is true that the songs are great and that the drummer of Carl Palmer is good, that Vincent Crane is extremely good and that Nick Graham is good. Bu ... (read more)

Report this review (#221417) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The first work released in 1970 "Atomic Rooster". Famous work by which Carl Palmer that participates in ELP back takes charge of drum. It is a hard, classical hard rock. The style that values the dash feeling is near the second stage DEEP PURPLE. It is a good board that makes to the debut work ... (read more)

Report this review (#60547) | Posted by braindamage | Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Is it possible to make a heavy metal album without any use of electric guitars at all? Before I heard this album I thought the answer to that was no. But it really is!! This album is a great debut from a great band. Filled with heavy hammond organ and piano, great drumming from Carl Palmer and ... (read more)

Report this review (#39352) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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