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THE GUN

Proto-Prog • United Kingdom


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The Gun biography
Founded in London, UK in 1967 - Disbanded in 1970

Before the hard and psychedelic rock band THE GUN, and then just GUN, came into existence in 1967 (it disbanded in 1970), the act was known as THE KNACK (1965 to 1967). GUN released two studio albums in the late 60s: Gun (1968) and Gun Sight (1969), plus an archival album was released called Reloaded in 2007.

GUN (and the pre-GUN THE KNACK) was formed by guitarist/vocalist Paul Gurvitz (professionally known as Paul Curtis at the time). He and his brother who was also a founding member (Adrian Gurvitz aka Adrian Curtis) were children of the KINK's road manager Sam Curtis. Paul and Adrian Curtis/Gurvitz were joined by Louie Farrell (drums and also with THE KNACK), Gearie Kenworthy on bass guitar, Tim Mycroft on organ and temporarily with Jon Anderson who would later be in the band YES, who was lead singer when they played several gigs, but was not kept on and so was not on their debut or the subsequent studio album release.

THE GUN had performed at the UFO Club, and there has supported acts such as PINK FLOYD, ARTHUR BROWN and TOMORROW. As a quartet they recorded the single Lights on the Wall, but it was not released at the time. THE GUN quartet became a trio for the debut studio album that was released in 1968 with Paul and Adrian Curtis (Gurvitz) plus Louie Farrell which was produced by CBS Records. The opening track Race with the Devil was a hit song that was released as a single and the cover art of the eponymous album is reputedly the first album cover art by Roger Dean.

GUN followed up the eponymous album with Gun Sight in 1969. After disestablishing GUN, Adrian and Paul Gurvitz formed THREE MAN ARMY. After several albums they then teamed up with Ginger Baker to form THE BAKER GURVITZ ARMY.

GUN has been included in Proto-Prog because of the Proto-Prog music qualities, because of the time-frame, and because related projects have entries in Prog categories. The Gurvitz brothers' projects Three Man Army is in Crossover and Baker Gurvitz Army is in Heavy Prog.

See also: WiKi

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4.72 | 19 ratings
Gun
1968
3.21 | 9 ratings
Gunsight
1969

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THE GUN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gun by GUN, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.72 | 19 ratings

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Gun
The Gun Proto-Prog

Review by Psychedelic Paul

5 stars THE GUN were an English Hard Rock band consisting of Mr Smith & Mr Wesson, otherwise known as Paul & Adrian Gurvitz, with Louie Farrell providing covering fire on percussion. Gun were previously known as The Knack, with no relation to the band who later had a hit with "My Sharona". Gun were one of the most powerful bands in the land at the time, with a proto- metal sound that could blow your hat clean off. Gun are perhaps best-known for their hit song "Race with the Devil", which went racing like a bullet up the U.K singles chart to No. 8 in November 1968. The high calibre locked and loaded sound of Gun were a Magnum Force to reckon with, opening fire with two Sudden Impact albums in a row:- "Gun" (1968) and "Gunsight" (1969). Brothers Paul & Adrian Gurvitz later went on to deliver another storming Gurvitz Blitz in the early 1970's with their platoon of Three Man Army, which subsequently became the Baker Gurvitz Army, featuring Ginger Baker of Cream. Gun's fired-up debut album has the distinction of being the first album cover designed by album art supremo Roger Dean. Gun will really make your day, but in all the excitement, it's hard to remember whether they fired off seven or eight chambered rounds (or songs) on their debut, or eleven or twelve songs with CD bonus tracks added from The Dead Pool of unused songs. Do you feel lucky?

You're very lucky indeed if you're the proud owner of the original vinyl Gun album, and what better way to open the album than with "Race with the Devil". It's a devilishly good song featuring a killer riff which is arguably one of the best-known speed riffs in the world of Rock. There's no mistaking the dual guitar blitzkrieg of the Gurvitz brothers on "Race with the Devil" and the song also features some marvellously over-the-top manic vocals. It's one of those timeless Rock classics: once heard, never forgotten. The sonic power and speed of the music hits the listener straight between the eyes when combined with the stunning simplicity of the lyrics:- "You better run from the devil's gun, He'll seek you here, He'll seek you there, The devil will seek you everywhere" ...... "Race with the Devil" was a hit song here, there and virtually everywhere. Jimi Hendrix paid tribute to it on his song "Machine Gun" at the Isle of Wight festival in 1970, and it was later famously covered by Heavy Metal band Girlschool on their 1980 "Demolition" debut. Now that we're all fired up from the storming opener, it's time for "The Sad Saga of the Boy and the Bee". You can put the Kleenex tissues away though, because this is a tremendously uplifting song and not remotely sad at all. It's a psychedelic phantasmagorical delight, featuring a grand orchestral opening, the familiar thunderous sound of the Gurvitz brothers twin blitzing guitar attacks, and not forgetting drummer Louie Farrell pounding away ferociously in the background at a frenzied pace. This magnificent epic even includes a wild and demonic version of Rimsky- Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumble Bee" for good measure too. Our third piece of music "Rupert's Travels" takes us on a brief semi-classical instrumental journey of flamenco guitars and full orchestra, which has obvious parallels with Mason Williams "Classical Gas", released in the same flower-power year of 1968. If your eardrums haven't yet been pounded into submission, then try "Yellow Cab Man". Get ready to be taken on a wild psychedelic taxi ride from hell with blood-crazed psychopath Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), in a song that's all about a Taxi Driver struggling to make a living in the Mean Streets of The Big Apple (circa 1968). "You talking to me!??" ...... "Yellow Cab Man" murderously rampages its way through a Purple Haze of four unrelenting minutes of freaky acid guitar licks and pummelling percussion. The music is just as wild and fuzzy as the Gurvitz brothers frizzy 1960's afro-hairdos. Having blazed a trail through four romping, stomping songs, we now arrive at one of the most bizarre songs on the album: "It Won't Be Long (Heartbeat)". This song is as barmy as an army of weirdy-beardy vegetarians working at a meat-packing plant. The song opens to a cacophony of discordant sounds before emerging into a typical plodding blues riff, sounding like the heartbeat of the title. It's the echoing off-kilter vocals which really sets this freaky song apart though, and listen out for the very strange ending when the "heartbeat" slows..right...down....to.....a......crawl.......and........then.........comes..........to..........a...........complete............Stop.

The Gurvitz power trio are gunning for glory with the opening number on Side Two, so Pop the champagne cork and get ready to celebrate with the Beatle-esque sound of "Sunshine" - a warm and radiant burst of glorious Sunshine Pop. This bright and bubbly fizzy Pop concoction is overflowing with triumphant hope and optimism, and features a rousing chorus that's positively bursting with joy and love:- "Sun shines brightly every day, Let it shine, Let it shine." ..... It's a song which inevitably brings to mind the equally joyous sound of "Sunshine of Your Love" by Cream. It's Poptastic! We're entering moody and magnificent territory now with the stupendous sound of "Rat Race" - a celestial song which has all of the anthemic majesty and splendour of "Nights in White Satin", complete with lush strings and heavenly harmonies to die for. It's an epic ballad which proudly displays its pompous prog colours in a richly orchestrated symphonic soundscape. And now for something completely different as we arrive at the eighth and final song on the album: "Take Off!" This is where Gun really get to fly high and trip the light fantastic by throwing caution to the wind in an 11-minute long psychedelic freak out. The storming closing number is a booming and bombastic show of force where the band are going out with all guns blazing in this supersonic blast from the past.

Gun's stunning debut has all the unstoppable power and force of Dirty Harry's Smith & Wesson fifty calibre Magnum revolver. Gun is one of the highest rated albums on ProgArchives, and deservedly so too. The album comes pre-loaded with eight high calibre, full metal jacketed songs, with extra ammo provided on the CD reissue. Go out and buy the album from your local Gun dealer. It'll make your day!

 Gunsight by GUN, THE album cover Studio Album, 1969
3.21 | 9 ratings

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Gunsight
The Gun Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

3 stars GUN had constructed one of the most prescient rock albums of the year 1968 as they found an early conjunct of the disparate styles of rock that were evolving past the status quo of the earlier part of the decade. Having crafted an angsty album that was an equal mix of early heavy metal, progressive rock and psychedelia with excellent compositions that were decked out with orchestrations, GUN surprisingly generated a UK top ten hit with their track "Race With The Devil," a feat they would never repeat again and although their self-titled debut album failed to become the commercial smash that the lead single had, the band had been a staple of the famous UFO Club in London having performed with bands like Pink Floyd, Tomorrow and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Despite having crafted an excellent debut album, it mostly went unnoticed but found enough interest that CBS Records was willing to gamble with a sophomore album.

GUNSIGHT came out in 1969, the year after the debut and found the band changing their formula around a bit. Still a power trio with the same exact line up of Paul (vocals, bass, arrangements) and Adrian Curtis (guitar) nee Gurvitz and Louis Farrell on drums, the band slung out another ten tracks but unfortunately with mostly stripped down production and less compelling material, GUNSIGHT was a major step down in quality. It immediately goes sour from the very first track "Head In The Clouds," which tries to imitate the style on "Race With The Devil" with a busy guitar cranked up and hefty bass and drum bombast but the songwriting style had become noticeably generic. That invisible magic mojo that had made the debut work so brilliantly had just taken off never to come back.

As the album continues it shows a more simple blues approach "Drown Yourself In The River" and a touch of saccharine with "Angeline," a slow ballad that found the symphonic touches in the mix once again. This one sounds like it could've been on the Led Zeppelin debut album except it lacks any conviction until the ending finds some of the most experimental touches as the symphonic background leads the melody while the backmasking of a guitar riff provides a cool experimental touch however the completely instrumental segment is fairly brief. "Dreams And Screams" probably sounds the most like the debut with a pummeling bass and drum groove and stellar bluesy guitar parts. This is by far the noisiest and most aggressive track where Farrell's drum playing is tantamount to an early form of blastbeats as he incessantly abuses his percussive instruments. Nice vocals too. One of the better songs on board.

"Situation Vacant" is another track where Hawkwind would find future inspiration as it clearly provided a blueprint for their "Sea Of Holes" on "Warrior On The Edge Of Time." In fact, many aspects of GUN's two albums were adopted by Hawkwind which they perfected them but there is no doubt that the hypnotic repetitive groove here with lots of psychedelic bliss flittering around are the seeds of what would become Hawkwind's signature sound. "Hobo" jumps into a Grateful Dead sounding style of country rock with a bluegrass type of drive and plenty of slide guitar. Sounds like a completely different band actually. Even the vocals sound more like Crosby, Stills and Nash than other GUN tracks.

"Lady Link Part One" is a near minute long instrumental that finds Adrian performing some stellar flamenco guitar. Although awkward and unrelated musically, this short track is a mere intro for "Oh Lady You" which is a rather insipid ballad in the beginning but begins to pick up by connecting to the intro with flamenco guitars. Probably one of the worst GUN tracks period as the song drags on and never really goes anywhere. It is followed by another near minute long instrumental outro "Lady Link Part Two" which is another flamenco guitar track. Ironically the two instrumental bookends are quite energetic while the middle track itself lollygags into tedium. They should've spiced it up a bit and it would've been much better. The closer "Long Haired Wildman" is a much better track as it provides some heavy rock heft, a nice melodic hook with bluesy guitar but once again is missing that extra edge that made the debut so special.

While GUNSIGHT is by no means a bad album, it is a major disappointment after the excellent debut. While the tracks here are decent and passable, the album doesn't have the same flow and nothing on this one is better than the debut. Literally everything is a step down from the debut including the horrible album cover however once again this is all in comparison to the excellent debut. It occurs to me that GUNSIGHT sounds like a less developed album that should have preceded the debut. While the debut was ahead of its time, GUNSIGHT sounds like it has stagnated and feels dated especially given the leap of musical fortitude from the 68 to 69 timeline. That one year made all the difference in music history. This would be the end of the road for GUN. The sophomore album was a major flop and the band was booted from its label. The Curits (Gurvitz) brothers would continue on in a band called Three Man Army without Louis Farrell and that band would showcase various drummers.

The brothers would also work on projects with Cream drummer Ginger Baker and drummer Graeme Edge of the Moody Blues but as far the GUN project was concerned, this was the end of the line and if this dip in quality was a sign of things to come, a wise decision indeed. Like a pistol fired in a crowded nightclub, GUN had their quick flash of notoriety but as quickly as a bullet is fired, so too does it lose its momentum when it makes impact. Despite this rather generic sounding sophomore followup GUN has become more recognized as one of the early innovators of fusing the crossroads of early proto-metal with elements of psychedelic and progressive rock. Despite trying to fit in with a more standard sounding set of tracks on GUNSIGHT, the band simply couldn't break through the momentum by all the artists who were receiving more support from the record companies. A true shame because GUN had as much potential as the best of them. Another case of lost opportunities. At least we got one stellar album from these guys in the form of their innovative eponymously titled debut.

3.5 rounded down

 Gun by GUN, THE album cover Studio Album, 1968
4.72 | 19 ratings

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Gun
The Gun Proto-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams

5 stars The light-hearted rock that was popular in the 60s and catapulted by the phenomenal success of The Beatles slowly but surely grew more angsty as the decade progressed with new bands upping the heaviness, unleashing the psychedelia and weaving a tapestry of new sophistication. By 1968 The Jimi Hendrix Experience had developed a new flavor of high arts rock and roll that mixed the qualities of blues, rock, jazz and psychedelia and bands like The Mothers Of Invention were exploring highly experimental avenues that would lead to progressive rock. While a few of these bands are household names, others who were paramount in the scene of the era somehow faded into obscurity and have only been resurrected and re-examined in the modern era as the internet allows a more complete picture of the entirety of the musical world of yore.

One of these bands that was instrumental in finding a crossroads between the standard blues oriented rock, early heavy metal and the more progressive aspects of rock that would expand greatly after King Crimson's debut "In The Court Of The Crimson King," was the London based GUN also known as THE GUN. This power trio was led by two brothers who ironically went by two names. While born Adrian (guitarist) and Paul Curtis (bassist, vocalist, arranger) with their father's last name, they would change instead to their mother's maiden name and became Adrian and Paul Gurvitz and the band also did some name changing of its own. After forming as The Knack in 1965, they would get a little edgier in 1966 by becoming (THE) GUN. Louie Farrell would also join in on drums just before the name change and the power trio became one of the premier psychedelic acts at London's famous UFO Club where they opened up for bands such as Pink Floyd, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and Tomorrow.

Their prominence caught the eye of CBS Records who immediately signed them and in 1968 their eponymously titled album was released and surprisingly immediately spawned a UK top 10 with the opener "Race With The Devil," a feisty heavy rocker that in retrospect provided one of the earliest templates for the heavy metal rock scene that would erupt with bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath just a few years later. "Race With The Devil" is a dirty boogie rock stomper with hyperactive guitar riffs and a heavy bombastic bass and drums. The melodic charge is utterly addictive and the overall feel is more similar to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal that would emerge ten years down the road than anything from the 60s, however despite the lack of credits, GUN added symphonic and brass elements on top of their bizarre mix of heavy rock and psychedelia that also offered freaky solos and eclectic percussive. "Race With The Devil" is truly one of the heaviest songs that i've experienced from this early year. Heavier than Cream, Hendrix or even Iron Butterly, mostly because of the speedy delivery. Also notable is that the cover art was the very first of Roger Dean's long and fruitful career.

Beyond the spirited opener, GUN shifts gears and tackles a variety of different styles to create one of the most diverse sounding albums of the year as well. "The Sad Saga Of The Boy And The Bee" creates a sonorous mix of jittery percussive drive, bluesy rock shuffle and highly melodic vocal delivery which adds the surprising ending of a synthesized keyboard run on speed but in a perfect mix with the melodic march that keeps the track hopping. While the all instrumental "Rupert's Travels" takes an interesting side step with a mix of flamenco sounding guitar chords and orchestrated fluffiness, "Yellow Cab Man" delivers another whopping mix of heavy rock guitar, squealing solos, vocal melodies and pummeling percussion which laments the life of a cab driver struggling to make a living showing GUN was as much about the lyrical content as they were about the top notch musicianship that oozed out of every note and cadence. This one also cranks out some serious heavy psych blues licks that put Eric Clapton's to shame.

"It Won't Be Long (Heartbeat)" is quite the idiosyncratic piece as it displays a wide variety of highly energetic percussive madness and caffeinated guitar feedback and cacophonous uproar before calming down into a rather quirky track where the instruments and vocals are slightly dissonant from each other. The drumming simulates a heartbeat while the bizarre guitar riffs and slightly off vocals conspire to make the strangest sounding track on the album. Not only were GUN the heaviest band in town but they also crafted some highly experimental sounds as well. From experimental to more mainstream, "Sunshine" is the poppiest track on the album and sounds like it was designed to be a chart seeker. Perhaps the weakest track in terms of creativity but still a brilliant slice of sunshine pop with a pleasant melody, Beatles inspired vocal harmonies of all the members, a rich orchestrated backdrop and a nice bluesy touch of the guitars. After the penultimate closer "Rat Race" slowly drifts in with a piano driven melody and background vocals, the mid-tempo ballad begins to remind me of the Heartland rock that Bob Seger would come up with in about a decade but better. The other slower track suitable for single status.

The big treat comes with the album's closer "Take Off," the eleven minute heavy metal psychedelic prog highlight. It starts off with a countdown that counts backwards from ten with every number uttered in a different language. It is simultaneously psychedelic, progressive and heavy. On the psychedelic side it reminds me a lot of Hawkwind's future antics with speedy groove laden hooks that hypnotically propel into repetitive riffs while spacey effects swish and swirl all over the place. On the heavy end of the spectrum, the tempo is turned way up and the guitars are set to maximum decibelage, feedback fuzz and heaviness. The vocals are distributed harmonically as well and set back a bit under the pummeling instrumental overdrive. On the progressive side of the equation, the track drifts into a psychedelic haze that allows the guitar to meander independently while the bombastic bass and drum pummel away. The track becomes more freeform in the middle reminding a bit of Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" and then a drum solo erupts before regaining full psychedelic form and going out in a bang.

Out of all the albums that are considered proto-prog and proto-metal, this debut by GUN is probably my absolute favorite as it finds the perfect confluence of many 60s styles but yet had the foresight to predict many forks in the road that would lead to the future. On the opening and closing tracks, it's so easy to hear how the template would be exaggerated to create modern day metal whereas the experimental and psychedelic elements paint a picture of several strains of more progressive forms within the rock universe. In this album's near forty minute run, so many ideas were ahead of their time but not only was GUN prescient in so many ways, they utterly rock the house with infectious melodies that are not only instantly contagious but implement the perfect instrumental interplay to guarantee the optimal heavy psych musical journey. The band would never repeat the success of their huge hit "Race With The Devil," but they would release one more album "Gun Sight" the following year before disbanding. This one is not to be missed! One of the best rock albums of the entire 60s.

Thanks to Logan for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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