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Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom

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Red biography
RED was an obscure jazz rock group consisting of Dennis FITZGIBBONS, Jerry SOFFE, Mark AMBLER, David HOLMES, Frank HOCKNEY and Phil BASTOW. While some of the musicians would continue their careers beyond this group, ranging from playing in post-punk to pop bands, most of the members allegedly only have the groups' only album under their name. Their only record is an unique progressive expression in early 80's featuring both fusion sensibilities along with heavy KING CRIMSON like guitar passages.

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3.49 | 7 ratings

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RED Reviews

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 Red by RED album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.49 | 7 ratings

Red Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars I think I would call this Jazz flavoured Progressive Rock. RED released their sole album back in 1983 and they are from the UK. It's all instrumental and very much guitar led. Now I love me some guitar but the abrasive sound that is often featured just isn't my thing at all. It's cool the way his leads soar briefly as he does that style a few times. I mean the guy can play and when he plays clean like after 4 minutes on the longest number "Cool And Unapproachable" I'm smiling but then it's back to the abrasive sound followed by a drum solo. The guitar does seem relentless at times like on "Self-Indulgent Noises" although the guitar turns light at one point. We do get keyboards on this record too as in synths usually but no horns. This is very much a guitar album with competent drums and bass. It's just not scratching that itch.
 Red by RED album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.49 | 7 ratings

Red Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic

4 stars Amongst one of the true obscurities in the world of progressive rock has to be from this UK band simply titled RED that went against the grain in the early 80s. Instead of riding the new wave of neo-prog that was emerging with bands like Twelfth Night, IQ or Marillion, RED was defiantly into the no nonsense jazz-fusion sounds of the 70s however they were equally intrigued with a heavy rock bombast rarely heard in this style of music. The band seems to have formed in the early 80s and spent the year 1982 recording this one and only self-titled album but had an understandably difficult time finding a record contract due to the changing times and the band's anachronistic stylistic approach that was a good six to seven years too late.

RED was the quintet of Dennis Fitzgibbons (guitar), Jerry Soffe (bass), Mark Ambler (keyboards), David Holmes (percussion) and'Frank Hockney (drums) and by the time the band found a home on Jigsaw Records for this debut they had split up and moved on to other projects. After the album was released they had a short reunion with Phil Bastow replacing Ambler on keyboards in the hopes of recording a second album but after an endless series of delays, the band threw in the towel once again never to be heard from again. Needless to say with the current trends of new wave, post-punk and heavy metal fully en vogue that RED never had a chance and the album fell into obscurity as quickly as it emerged. The album has only been released just once on its original vinyl eagerly awaiting a proper reissuing in the 21st century.

Musically, RED pledged allegiance to the complex progressive rock era of the decade prior with a tight-woven heavy rock brand of jazz-fusion with moments of dreamy space rock intermissions and some funky grooves as a side dish. RED was somewhat unusual in that it donned hard rock clothing but had a total jazz-fusion underbelly. While the funk and fusion elements usually carried out by keyboards of the 70s were fully present, they were expressed with heavy guitar riffs and sizzling solos as if John McLaughlin had joined Herbie Hancock's 'Headhunters' era lineup and inserted a little of the heavy rock elements of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The album alternates between highly complex and angular avant-jazz workouts to more just good ole get down and dirty funk laced simplicity.

The album is completely instrumental with some hefty bass grooves, frenetic jazz guitar workouts and heavy drumming. Keyboards are present but for a jazz-fusion band of the era they are quite subdued and provide more of an accompanying atmospheric ambience rather than take the lead but every once in a while such as in the middle of 'Turbo Tortoise' overcome their shyness and take the front seat. If i had to compare RED's stylistic approach to any of the 70s acts i guess the earliest Brand X albums are the best comparisons which makes sense considering the band's UK origins. So little info about this band exists that it's not even known from which part of the UK the band was from or anything about its history.

While i doubt RED will ever dethrone the legendary great works of Miles Davis, Return To Forever, Herbie Hancock or the Mahavishnus as best fusion album of the era, this is by no means just a curiosity. RED delivered some serious chops on this one and the album is quite unique in its approach and in dire need of some 21st century rediscovering. The uniqueness of the incessant jazz- fusion approach augmented with a contrasting heavy rock bombast may very well have been the influence behind more modern bands like Tribal Tech and others who dish out some serious guitar chops with their fusion. Whatever the case, RED proves that not all obscurities are throwaway albums and that there is a never-ending treasure drove of gems out there awaiting their proper day.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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