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STILL LIFE

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Still Life biography
This English foursome can be traced as far back as 68 with a single that sank almost without a trace, but their only album appeared in 71 on the legendary Vertigo label with the Swirl design and a 6360 catalogue number, which makes it very collectible and now fetches small fortunes. This album got a Cd release in the early 90's on the German label Repertoire (as most Vertigo releases did). They often toured with The Edgar Broughton Band and were a bit their protégé band.

Musically speaking STILL LIFE is your standard prog quartet that also toured with TITUS GROAN and ARTHUR BROWN's KINGDOM COME and their sound is organ-dominated early British prog with a good bass thread so typical of that era, that can now be considered proto-prog. With odd lyrics, and a rather strange gatefold artworksleeve of a flowered skull (that could easily fitted a GRATEFULL DEAD album), STILL LIFE is a curiosity and enjoyable, but by no means an essential record and little is known of the future adventures (if any) of their members after having disbanded in the following years.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

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Still LifeStill Life
Limited Edition · Remastered
Repertoire 2006
$9.51
$12.69 (used)
El Cucui Esta Aqui, Broken Boy, Book On You, Perdoneme MadreEl Cucui Esta Aqui, Broken Boy, Book On You, Perdoneme Madre
Sunflower
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Still Life by Still Life (2005-10-02)Still Life by Still Life (2005-10-02)
Akarma
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Post Marked Stamps #2 7Post Marked Stamps #2 7"
Tree Records
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STILL LIFE discography


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3.55 | 70 ratings
Still Life
1971

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STILL LIFE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by Ozymandias

5 stars The year was 1979, I was a high school lad then and was visiting my cousin, whom I got along with very well and visited more than just the odd occasion. It just so happens that his future brother-in-law was visiting his sister, my niece and before long the subject turned to music, which it always did in those days. He wanted to know if I wanted a few records to listen to and being young and still exploring the many musical avenues, gladly responded in the positive and later went home with 3 albums which artists I didn't know.   One of these records and the first one I spinned on the turntable was Still Life. I guess I was intrigued by the album cover. The skull with the flowers reminded me of a graveyard setting and the music, at first, suited the part...   "People in Black, wander 'round in the night, so that they can't be seen" .... So started my journey and love of this album right until today. I was keen to learn the drums way back then, and after a few listens to the album took my sticks to the living room couch and happily banged away, oblivious to what was going on around me and purely enjoying every moment of this superb album.   It does take you through an epic journey and being guitar-less, I guess, made it so much more interesting, although I actually didn't realize at first that we were without guitars. The organs are very dominant and and if you enjoy the sound, well then, you've come to the right place and who doesn't like the sound of 70's Hammond organ-driven music?   All the songs featured on this Vertigo release each has it's tale and mood and also are all wonderfully intricate. From the start to the last track, TIME, are all superb and I'll always keep a special place for this album. I bought the CD version many years later.   I never returned the album to its owner mind you and I'm sure if he really wanted it back, he would've made a plan to get it, or would he? Lucky me or shame on me?   I rate this album very high in terms of my Prog collection and I guess I spinned that vinyl enough times to start wearing it through. A definite 5 for me...

 

 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Still Life's one-and-only studio album emerged in 1971 on the famous Vertgo Label and pretty much sunk without trace before those good old folks at Germany's reissue specialists Repertoire Records re-released the album in deluxe, mini-vinyl-replica format at the front-end of the 21st century. An organ-dominated slice of straight-ahead symphonic prog, 'Still Life' is an enjoyable yet hardly essential album, featuring some terrific artwork(a human skull amidst a flurry of pink rose petals) and at least one excellent track in the shape of the slightly hysterical 'October Witches', which showcases lead-singer Martin Cure's powerful vocals. That aside, it's fairly un-memorable stuff, but by no means dreadful. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars This is an album I’d love to give four or five stars to just because of its infamous reputation and relative scarcity (although it has also been issued at least twice on CD). Well, sorry to anyone who spent a gross amount of money for one of the impossible-to-find Vertigo vinyl copies, but it’s just not that good. I mean, its okay, just not sell-your-house-and-take-out-a-vinyl-album-mortgage good.

I just love musical trivia, and this record has its fair share. But the most interesting one to me is that Rainbows (no, not Rainbow) the band that spawned this one included Roye Albrighton, who for some reasons decided living in Germany as part of Nektar was more important than returning to Coventry and being part of a forgotten, obscure heavy rock band. Go figure. From the little information that’s available on this band he appears to be the only one dating back to that Rainbows bunch that made a full-time career out of music.

The other trivia bit is a little less clear. According to several web sites and vintage music magazines these guys basically existed to be touring support for the Edgar Broughton Band. Except that there is a 2002 interview with former member vocalist Martin Cure who says Still Life never played with that band. Who knows or cares – good chance they did and the members of both bands spent the entire tour too stoned to remember. This was 1970 after all.

Anyway – Hammond, Hammond and more Hammond. Lots of organ on this thing. Decent drums and bass too, but it is a little odd to hear a keyboard-driven heavy rock band without guitars to lead the way. Cure has an unexceptional voice but he isn’t a distraction so I guess that’s a positive note. There have been comparisons to Mk1 Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Paladin, and all of them are valid. I would add Writing on the Wall (except for the lack of guitars), Mountain and possibly Bakerloo as well, although to be clear this is not another blues-based whiskey-lovin’ early seventies band. The arrangements are clearly classically and jazz-inspired with very little blues-leaning.

The opening “People in Black” is an eight-minute plus heavy and dark rocker that sets the tone for the whole album. Nothing that comes after varies too far from this mold, although “Don't Go” has some borderline Motown backing vocals. Again – this isn’t blues-based music, it’s only the vocals that make this sound closer to a Neil Diamond song than a progressive one.

But the rest of the album is true-to-form. “October Witches” is kind of hard to distinguish from the opening track except that there are more flourishes on the Hammond. “Love Song No. 6” sounds like the band took what they liked most from the first two songs and combined them to make this, and “Dreams” is basically the same song without the Motown backing. And “Time” is just an organ orgy (…that sounded weird…), and may be the best song on the album.

So this is a three star effort, and if you are one of those people thinking about shelling out thousands for an original Vertigo pressing then all I can say is I hope you don’t expect to get thousands of dollars worth of enjoyment from the music. It’s decent, but just not that good.

peace

 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by ozzy_tom
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Still Life - "Still Life" - 5 Stars

This album started to be one of my favorite just after first listening. I can definitely recommend it to all early 70' art rock fans, especially to Hammond organ aficionados. This usually unknown band made really fascinating album with incredible solos and memorable melodies. It can be shown as one of the most representative record of these great times for good and more ambitious than nowadays music. So let's start describe all of these songs:

1. "People in black" - it begins with mellow flute section and quite soft singing but suddenly Howells starts to play his organ, at first slow and tender but after a while it changes to real Hammond orgy. This keyboardist shows us that he is a real master of this instrument. We can hear memorable melodies here, but first of all a lot of aggressive, spectacular and expressive solos.

2. "Don't go" - this is the shortest and I think that the weakest track (only in comparison to the other songs on this album of course!). In fact this is very soft song, "chorus" parts can be even called "sweet". In general it's almost radio-friendly, but again I have to remark that organ-playing here is very "smart" and interesting, too.

3. "October witches" - another great track comparable to "People in black" but here we don't have any doubts who is the main person in this band 'cause Howells electric organ plays the leading role from beginning till the end. He makes many incredible things with this instrument (for example makin' a lot of "slides" effects when he touches all of the keys with one short move).

4. "Love song no. 6 (I'll never love you girl)" - it starts a little surprising with acoustic guitar, soft vocals and after a while piano playin'. But from second minute Howells starts to use his Hammond in really fury way. His solo is breathtaking and its main part includes repeated "sliding" like in some psychedelic madness attack. Another interesting moment is outro where keyboardist plays almost classic music. Of course I can't pass over Cure's vocals 'cause he sings his "I'll never love you girls, You'll never love me" in really impressive & passionate way.

5. "Dreams" - first of all it has really stunning intro - some melorecitation which after a while changes to some dramatic almost hysteric screaming (in the type of '60 psychedelic rock a la Jim Morrison or Arthur Brown). Along with crescendo organ sound makes really great atmosphere here. But this is only a beginning! In the middle of the song we can listen to couple of another Hammond solos with all of these murmurings, roars, growls and squeakiness effects which you surely expect and await for J. But prog-song couldn't be fully progressive without some more lyricism...and Still Life don't forget 'bout it 'cause in the ending part of the song they changed their music to some softer and more poetical singin' (in chorus type) and pathetic organ playin'.

6. "Time" - another gem from "Still Life". It starts with pompous organ along with choir-like singing: "aaaaa..." and after few seconds Hammond begins riffing some insane, breaking "melody". When this intro is over and Curve starts singin' music tends to be almost conventional but after a while we can notice that organ become more and more important & omnipresent here. Near to the 5th minute of "Time" Howells starts something which can't be even called Hammond solo 'cause it's a real, psychy madness played by lunatic in insane "delirium tremens" fury with more and more slowest & immelodic rhythm...great ending for this song and all impressive album.

Conclusion: this is "a must see" for all progressive rock fans, especially these who admire Hammond organ-driven type of this music with some psychedelic flavor. If you are kin of Still Life, you will probably like The Nice, Aardvark, Bram Stoker, Beggar's Opera, Quatermass, Odin, Rare Bird, 2066 & Then, Ache and Frumpy, too.

 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by OpethGuitarist
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Organ Power.

The first of the many name clones who would use this distinguished album title. The absence of the guitar on most of the tracks is not a bad thing per se, as the upbeat drums and multifaceted organ lines carry the rest of the music well. There's also a choir like presence in one of the tracks, but most of the songs range from a hard rock sound to a laid back presence with the organ overtones.

While not exactly being distinguished or noticeably captivating, Still Life is still a pleasant little record. Some of the lyrics are a bit on the yawner side, but throughout the organ always provides a nice contrast. The comparisons others have made to other well known bands are apt, but this band/album appears to have influenced others more than might be expected at first glance. Not near as good as other albums bearing the same name, but still quite good and very much enjoyable.

 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Sell it..and buy a house with the cash!

Still Life were a one album band whose only recordings are contained on this self titled release. There have been suggestions of other unreleased tracks by the band, but according to vocalist Martin Cure, these are spurious. The band arose from the ashes of Coventry outfitThe PEEPS, who became the RAINBOWS. Included in the line up of both those bands was Roy Albrighton, who left before they become STILL LIFE. At the time Albrighton left, the RAINBOWS were playing some dates in Hamburg. He remained behind there, going on to form NEKTAR.

The line up of the band, while not stated on the sleeve consists of bass, drums, vocals and keyboards (organ). This gives the band something of a one dimensional sound, similar to EGG. It should be said however that this is where the similarities with EGG end, as the musical direction is decidedly different. In terms of the music, the band bears comparison with DEEP PURPLE's Jon Lord led offerings, BEGGAR's OPERA's earlier work, and PALADIN. In all cases, this is essentially due to the dominant Hammond organ.

The tracks vary from reasonable heavy rock, to softer ballad passages. The opening to "Don't go" for example has distinct overtones of PROCOL HARUM's "A whiter shade of pale". There are plenty of uncredited additions to the sound, such as the female vocal backing, and what appears to be flute on "People in Black". This 8 minute opening track is driven by the up front bass, but is effectively some brief verses and plenty of virtuoso organ playing. "Love song no. 6" features what appears to be acoustic guitar, although this soon gives way to the ubiquitous Hammond.

"Dreams" has some eerie spoken word along the lines of BLACK WIDOW or ARTHUR BROWN, while the closing "Time" opens with a URIAH HEEP like ah-ah over climbing organ.

It is easy to forget when listening to the album that it dates from 1971, and thus precedes a number of the bands and albums it bears comparison to. While now very much of its time, and perhaps slightly deficient in the song-writing department, this is nonetheless something of a lost gem.

The LP's gatefold sleeve opens vertically, instead of the usual horizontally. This reveals the apparently tasteful array of flowers on the front to be a toupee for a skull!

As for the band members, sadly bassist Graham Amos died in 2003. Terry Howells and Alan Savage (see update below) are no longer involved in the music business. After Still Life, vocalist Martin Cure joined the commercially successful Cupid's Inspiration ("Yesterday has gone"), with whom he still performs from time to time today.

Original "Still life" LP records now change hands for grossly inflated amounts due to the fact that there are not that many of them, and also because it was issued on the legendary Vertigo "swirl" label.

2009 update - I am delighted to correct my review following contact from Alan Savage. He is still a professional drummer involved with many different styles of music; performing and teaching. NB. Not to be confused with the Alan Savage (drummer) who lives in London.

 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by braindamage

4 stars The only album released in 1970 "STILL LIFE". It is a typical organ rock that a nostalgic sound of the Hammond organ carries out the whole volume. It is settled and a sound that listens easily. The highlight of the album is "Love Song No.6", and "October Witches" and "Time" are also wonderful.
 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by Muzikman
Prog Reviewer

2 stars The band Still Life was born due to the fragmentation of Rainbows (a late 60s band from Coventry, UK). This LP is a good example of when a group of fine musicians are doing their utmost best yet end up sounding very similar to another band, namely Uriah Heep. They were so similar that I felt they lacked in originality, which is a shame because they were talented. I am sure there were many others like them though. On the other hand, I could be dead wrong about all of this as UH released their first album only one year prior to this so it could be pure coincidence that the two bands sound so similar. In any event, I did enjoy this LP regardless of my perceptions.

The whirling organ and driving guitar are all part of the mix, the mark of early progressive rock atmospheres. They fall short with the vocals; both the lead and harmony are off key at times and not quite smooth enough to fit the music's tempo. The musicianship made up for the inconsistencies.

The eye catching cover art is a bonus and the album comes housed in gatefold sleeves with a grainy black and white shot of the band on the inside with credits and track listings.

Rating: 2.5/5

 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

BUY
Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars I think my friend James must be mistaken this album for another album as this holds also no guitars as well as having very few in common with VDGG (see the review below). Well after thirty second , yes, one thinks that Hammill is the singer in this band but after three or four minutes , this is quickly dispelled. This is a really typical Hammond organ-driven early 70's British prog ( Hugh Banton of VDGG had a Farsifa organ - the same than Manzarek of the Doors) with some strong songs but also some weaker ones two of them approaching Motown music. Not that this is bad but somehow their sound ( guitar-less Uriah Heep) is not too adapted for that type of music. The singer also makes you think of D. Byron of Heep but the music is not far away from MkI Purple also. Worth a spin but alsolutely not indispensable.
 Still Life by STILL LIFE album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.55 | 70 ratings

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Still Life
Still Life Heavy Prog

Review by The Thin Man

4 stars Oh, were they influenced by VdGG??? Hell no! Van der Graaf's "Still Life" was released in 1976, whilst this one in 1971. The lead singer has nothing to do with Hammill's style. Overall, it's a very good album, strong melodic lines, good musicianship.. The Hammond reminds of Uriah Heep & Deep Purple, though :) Still, a very catchy & interesting album, but again: no VdGG influence!
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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