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ISOTOPE

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Isotope biography
ISOTOPE are Jazz-Rock British based quartet formed in 1973 by guitarist, Gary Boyle with Nigel Morris (drummer), bass player Jeff Clyne (bass) (Jeff previously was a member of Ian Carr's Jazz-Rock group: NUCLEUS) and Brian Miller (keyboards). The band soon signed with Gull Records in England and Motown in the USA, and started touring colleges and clubs around Britain, as well as touring on the continent such as: France, Germany and Scandinavia.

In 1974, they release their debut album, which is self-titled in 1974 & become quite critically acclaimed & fortunately, the band gained equal acclaim for their live performances. Even guitarist Gary Boyle was voted top 3 guitarist in Britain during the time due to a poll in Melody Maker magazine. In the same poll ISOTOPE picked up fourth place in both LP of the year. Due to their success, it seemed that Brian Miller & Jeff Clyne were unable to handle the success, so they left in March of 1974. They were replaced by Laurence Scott, a semi-pro keyboard player, and Hugh Hopper (formerly of SOFT MACHINE), whom Boyle had met while working with STOMU YAMASH'TA (Japanesse fusion band). The new line-up embarked on a UK tour in June and July, followed by dates in Germany and the Netherlands in August. They then entered the studio, with Poli Palmer (ex-ECLECTION and FAMILY) producing, to record "Illusion". The writing was now shared equally between Boyle, Scott and Hopper.

Intensive touring in Britain followed, and a US tour was undertaken in March and April 1975. Percussionist Aureo DeSouza was then added to the line-up for a European tour, and drummer Jeff Seopardie also reinforced the band for British dates later that year. In December 1975, Scott left and was replaced by Frank Roberts. At that point, management problems resulted in a very difficult financial situation and Hugh Hopper decided to leave. In March 1976, a third album, "Deep End", was recorded (production duties were handled by BRAND X's Robin Lumley), with Hopper playing on only his own composition "Fonebone". Bassist Dan K. Brown and second keyboardist Zoe Kronberger were added at that point, but gigs became sparser. There was one last line-up change in 1977, with only Boyle surviving from previous personifications, alongside Geoff Downes on keyboards (later in YES and ASIA), Steve Shone on bass and Colin Wilkinson on drums, but this new ISOTOPE never went beyond the rehearsal stage, only recording a couple of radio sessions. The band split a...
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Buy ISOTOPE Music


Deep EndDeep End
Import
Esoteric 2011
Audio CD$10.89
$9.39 (used)
IllusionIllusion
Import
Esoteric 2014
Audio CD$27.99
Isotope / Illusion [2 on 1]Isotope / Illusion [2 on 1]
Import
See for Miles Records (UK) 1995
Audio CD$338.69
$18.94 (used)
Golden SectionGolden Section
Cuneiform 2008
Audio CD$10.20
$9.99 (used)
IsotopeIsotope
Import
Esoteric 2011
Audio CD$11.38
$9.23 (used)
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ISOTOPE shows & tickets


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ISOTOPE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

ISOTOPE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.79 | 20 ratings
Isotope
1974
4.05 | 36 ratings
Illusion
1974
3.45 | 18 ratings
Deep End
1975

ISOTOPE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 4 ratings
Live At The BBC
1994

ISOTOPE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

ISOTOPE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.50 | 2 ratings
Isotope / Illusion
1995
3.88 | 5 ratings
Golden Section
2000
4.09 | 4 ratings
Deep End ... Plus
2001

ISOTOPE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

ISOTOPE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Illusion by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.05 | 36 ratings

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Illusion
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ariel666

5 stars This is an excellent but overlooked album that will appeal to those who like Quiet Sun or Mahavishnu Orchestra. How anyone interested in heavy fusion, who has listened to this particular album more than ten times, can not but consider it one of the greatest albums of what is a relatively small genre, is beyond me. It deserves 5 stars, the only Isotope album that does so. Like all truly great albums, it yields it's greatness slowly. Fully appreciating it is a learning curve. The more you play it, the better it becomes, though for many prog fans, especial those who like their music relatively pretty, it's a difficult album at first as it has a dark, cold edge that is consistent from track to track. In that sense, it is comparable to Starless and Bible Black. Don't worry, it will get warmer and brighter. Boyle and company have something to prove, notwithstanding the frustration they must have felt having comparably little commercial success, and prove it they do. To suggest that Boyle's guitar imitates John McLaughlin suggests a lack of intimacy with both artists. Much more rock than jazz, Isotope's Illusion is a unique gem that sparkles darkly on it's own merits.

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 Illusion by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.05 | 36 ratings

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Illusion
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Isotope back in their day must have been radioactive, because their nucleus was decidedly unstable and prone to split - with only Gary Boyle and Nigel Morris returning from their debut album, Isotope found their sound highly dependent on the individuals they brought in to replace them. In particular, Hugh Hopper - who had recently jumped ship from Soft Machine - swings by to provide his distinctive, crunchy bass sound which, along with Laurence Scott's keyboards, often dominate the sound, though Gary's guitar contributions are decent in a sort of Allan Holdsworthy way. Far from top-tier Canterbury or jazz fusion material, but it's a fun listen if you like those subgenres.

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 Deep End by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.45 | 18 ratings

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Deep End
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars This is the third and final Isotope installment, not as strong overall as their unique "Illusion" album which thrilled prog mostly due to the presence of the amazing Hugh Hopper from the Soft Machine. There is something inherently charming about Isotope's music, a unique style that does not necessarily leap out at the listener but leaves quite a positive impression. Besides the Soft comparison, there are also some strident similarities to Brand X or its suburban cousin Wilding-Bonus, playing a very British form of jazz-rock, slightly funky, quirky and humorous, proven by the presence of Robin Lumley at the control board.

The sheer technical prowess of Irish master guitarist Gary Boyle (easily among the leaders in the most underrated musician category) rivals the pedigree of such illustrious players as John MacLaughlin or Allan Holdsworth while drummer Nigel Morris is in the same drummer class as other Brit luminaries Jon Hiseman or John Marshall.. Previous keyboardist /dentist Laurie Scott is replaced by the groovier duo of Zoe Kronenberg and Frank Roberts, thus emitting a cooler style to the proceedings. Lots of groovy Fender Rhodes electric piano (a glorious instrument severely lacking in today's scene!) of which I am an unashamed addict, some occasional clavinet and some chirpy synthesizers are strewn throughout the disc to complement the swirling and ultra-busy Boyle fretboard . Some may complain that this music seems outdated by today's muddled standards but may I remind you all that prog (as well as good jazz, Beethoven, Mozart and Bartok!) is essentially timeless while being a symbol of its times. All the tracks are of interest such as the choppy "Pipe Dream", the suave "Black Sand" , the rumbling "Mr.M's Picture", the "Crunch Cake" funk ride, the lovely "Another Side" with loads of Spanish guitar, the Asian-tinged "Attila" , the Hopper penned and played "Fonebone" and the sultry title track, an 8 minute+ sonic ride that enthralls completely . 4 of these tracks have a 2001 remix version that only increases the pleasure. Admittedly this is not for everyone but if you like massive doses of e-piano, fabulous guitar and prolific drumming, this is definitely for you. I adore my 3 Isotope albums, precious additions that simply transcend the prog norm.

4.5 Rhodes

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 Deep End ... Plus by ISOTOPE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2001
4.09 | 4 ratings

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Deep End ... Plus
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Rivertree
Special Collaborator Psych/Space Team & Band Submissions

4 stars Way back in the 70s I was really fascinated by Gary Boyle's guitar playing ... pretty much like Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin or Larry Coryell. No, don't want to compare them from a stylistical point of view, I only like to highlight an extraordinary spirit which units them all. This album has been part of my vinyl collection ... until I decided to sell (nearly) all my LP's to an enthusiastic collector. Some time ago I came back to this by accident and noticed that a modified version exists in the meanwhile released on See For Miles. This means the album title as well as the track order have been changed and some remixes were included too.

I'm sure you feel the same sometimes? Someone mentions a band or artist and then you immediately associate this with a special song? When it comes to Gary Boyle respectively ISOTOPE it's Deep End - my absolute favourite. And so first of all it's some spacey flavour which attracts attention. I mean the intro before the machines begin to proceed really. Here were have a proper proportion of improvisation, however interweaved with a tricky arrangement. Speaking of a groovy fundament which is interrupted by some wonderful relaxed interludes with subsequent piano and guitar solo excursions. I love this song! Gary Boyle at his best, no doubt! But to make it clear, he's far away from a dominance.

Due to the fact that we have two keyboarder equivalently acting here, Zoe Kronberger and Frank Roberts, I'm not able to say which part they play. Sometimes it sounds close to Jan Hammer. I like the groovy dynamic on Crunch Cake where some other songs are coming more from a popular jazz rock territory like Fonebone or Pip Dream which partially is close to Joe Sample's Crusaders. Sliding Dogs Lion Sandwhich is a nice bonus surprise, especially dedicated to this release ... and fantastic on top of it! Well, an improv track with some avant touch. Probably a leftover from the original recording sessions and simply considered to be too weird?

And now to this remixes ... there is nothing new to state practically ... to be honest, it took some time to make friends. Nothing new concerning the compositions - but for one or two it might be interesting to notice the brilliance as for the updated sound quality and the presence of keyboards and guitar especially. Nowadays, with an interval of more than 30 years (and while also demanding an higher standard probably) I'm still positive about the album's spirit - 'Deep End ... Plus' is essential, a fine recommendable jazz rock/fusion effort.

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 Illusion by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.05 | 36 ratings

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Illusion
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by steelyhead

3 stars I really enjoyed listening to this recording. The musicians here are absolutely fabulous and do amazing things with their respective instruments. I have no doubt this was a good group to watch live. But You know what? I don“t like this kind of music, It has no effect on me whatsoever. I feel in ta hotel lobby with a Mint Julep in hand and moving rythmically my head and my feet. It tends to get boring as hell. I just don't dig this kind of music. Anyway if You are fond of Jazz Rock/Fusion this is a one CD to look for. Sorry, the rating is for how this music makes me feel not about the music.

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 Illusion by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.05 | 36 ratings

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Illusion
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Joćo Paulo

4 stars A very good album of Jazz Rock Fusion. A band with a musician (Hugh Hopper), that play with another fusion bands (Soft Machine is one of then). It“s a album with some psichedelic parts but with guitar improvisations that made a realystic context to music. The psichedelic bass word that Hopper likes very much, it's accompanied with guitar and sax jazz context and result in a quite unique music dimension and made a extraordinary work. A very good drum's work and in some parts a keiboard improvisations made some different music worlds in same album. It's a great album for those that like Jazz Rock Fusion but it's not in Soft Machine vein but it's some new stuff for fusion listeners. Highly recomended and i give 4 stars

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 Deep End by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1975
3.45 | 18 ratings

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Deep End
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Joćo Paulo

4 stars Nice album of this Englisn band. A sound of seventies in a instrumental work with quality and not comercial music. We can found some space and psichedelic parts but most of this album is a shinphonic with some fusion parts. Only instrumental, with very good players, some good improvisations in guitar but keiboards are the pricipal music instrument. Good bass and drums work. We can find some differents tracks with different music contexts and give a unusual music treatment in this work. Good sound of seventies decade. A band that most of people don't now but a good band that deserve one listen by the progressive lovers. I like this album with a fresh sound and i give 4 stars

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 Illusion by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.05 | 36 ratings

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Illusion
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Second album of very competent UK jazz-rock band. Founder -guitarist Gary Boyle has excellent guitar playing technique, and the only criticism there could come from him openly imitating McLaughlin guitar sound . But he does it with great musicianship level.

First Isotope album with ex-Soft Machine Hugh Hopper on bass, great improvement as well. Even if Isotope's sound never was Canterbury-like , Hopper added some psychedelic-rock scent to album's music.

Total sound is atmospheric, almost minimalistic in arrangements, but very complex and professional. Keyboardist is influenced by Chick Corea for sure. Possibly, album's music is a bit lightweight comparing with Canterbury scene, but they recorded there one of the greatest UK jazz fusion album of its time.

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 Isotope by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
2.79 | 20 ratings

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Isotope
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars Let's jam someone's face with this album full of jam, shall we ? Because that's what you get when listening this one. But hell, by my opinion, 1-2 star is just too harsh, because my rating system is constructed little bit differently. This is music, which you can easily listen. Yeah, it's nothing special, wonderful and amazing, but it's nothing unpleasant and ugly. I mean, I rate under 3 only music which I don't like and I can't say that I hate this one. I just can't don't see a message in here.

Jam sessions are good thing, but releasing it as full time album, well, that's brave. Because in this case, album like this will be evaluated in same way as other 40 minutes jazz works of these times. The best thing to do here is maybe don't expect too much. Just enjoy nice jamming session, rate it lower, because this is not as good as other thing deserving better rating and, it's over. Big, empty passages were never my favourite in songs, I like full music. But from time to time, things like these can be good.

3(-) for jamming session, which is good thing, but not so proggy.

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 Illusion by ISOTOPE album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.05 | 36 ratings

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Illusion
Isotope Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars ISOTOPE were another major name of the UK jazz-rock scene,led by guitarist Gary Boyle.Some say they were formed in 1972,others in 1973...one thing is for sure,ISOTOPE debuted with their eponymous first album in 1974,an album full of endless jamming and energy,but with a sound closer to jazz and rock than prog.Important changes to the band's line-up were rapid as original members Jeff Clyne and Brian Miller (who was also a main composer of the band)left to be replaced by Lawrence Scott on keys and superb bassist Hugh Cooper (ex-Soft Machine).This drastic changes had the same drastic impact on the band's sound,as it can be heard on the sophomore release ''Illusion'' from the same year.

The frenetic jams gave their place to a very elabarated,well-arranged and executed jazz/fusion progressive rock,characterized by the fantastic guitar work of Boyle,greatly inspired by JOHN MCLAUGHLIN and featuring some magnificent solos,changing climates and even some ethnic orientations.Hugh Cooper is there to fill the sound with his awesome bass lines,which contain a very psychedelic feeling and Lawrence Scoote proofs to be a very distinctive yet talented keyboardist with a number of excellent electric piano parts,not unlike what is heard by Chick Corea on RETURN TO FOREVER's albums.All compostions sound intense,rich,complicated and even melodic to my ears,covering a wide range of tempos and atmospheres...Another nice jazz-oriented release of the 70's,which undoubtfully deserves some of your time.

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