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ATOMIC ROOSTER

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Atomic Rooster biography
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN having disintegrated after their sole album and their worldwide hit Fire (I am the god of hellfire) Vincent Crane (responsible for the music of that album) and Carl Palmer founded ATOMIC ROOSTER with Nick Graham on bass and vocals. This line-up soon disintegrated (Palmer abandoning them to join ELP), Crane contacted guitarist John DuCann formerly of psych bands THE ATTACK and ANDROMEDA and Paul Hammond on drums to make a seminal early Heavy Metal masterpiece "Death Walks Behind You" and then they hired Pete French, the incredible voice to make their finest album "In Hearing Of...". Most people would agree that this was the better line-up of ROOSTER but the mood was always stormy between Crane and DuCann so they disbanded at the release of the third album. Vincent Crane, always prone to depressions, had to start from scratch again and hired superb vocalist Chris Farlowe (ex-COLOSSEUM) and other men to make another fine album "Made In England" and finally "Nice and Greasy". Those last album are often over-looked by progheads being categorized as funk but this is hardly the case even if the superb use of a horn section on a third of the tracks add a lot of depth to their music. Their most popular hits (they did not spit at the singles market made often reference to the devil or Satan but the general mood was not Satanist as they have been so often categorized along with BLACK SABBATH and BLACK WIDOW. Crane would re-form his band along the years when his health permitted it until his death in 89.

ATOMIC ROOSTER is highly recommended to everyone looking for Hammond organ-driven rock of the early 70's but to anyone looking for high-energy prog. It is responsible for some of the all-time best hard-rock albums and should figure in all collection (you should hide a copy of "In Hearing Of ...." in your grandma's collection just for kicks.

: : : Hugues Chantraine, BELGIUM : : :

This discography list is not easy to verify! If you have the correct information please send a message to the webmaster:

: : : DISCOGRAPHY : : :
1970 - Atomic Rooster (B&C 1970)
1970 - Death Walks Behind You (B&C 1970)
1971 - In Hearing Of (Pegasus 1971)
1972 - Made In England 'Space Cowboy' (Dawn 1972)
1973 - Nice 'n' Greasy 'IV' (Dawn 1973)
1974 - Assortment (comp.) (B&C 1974)
1977 - Home To Roost (comp.) (Mooncrest 1977)
1977 - This Is Atomic Rooster (comp.)
1980 - Atomic Rooster (EMI 1980)
1983 - Head...
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In Hearing Of - Atomic RoosterIn Hearing Of - Atomic Rooster
Extra tracks · Import · Remastered
SANCTUARY 2015
Audio CD$5.55
$5.51 (used)
Death Walks Behind You - Atomic RoosterDeath Walks Behind You - Atomic Rooster
Import
SANCTUARY 2015
Audio CD$16.92
$19.96 (used)
The First 10 Explosive YearsThe First 10 Explosive Years
Import
ANGEL AIR 2009
Audio CD$9.57
$7.53 (used)
AnthologyAnthology
Import
ANGEL AIR 2009
Audio CD$11.23
$11.22 (used)
Atomic RoosterAtomic Rooster
Import
Imports 2016
Vinyl$18.59
$24.30 (used)
Devils AnswerDevils Answer
Import
Gonzo Distribution 2017
Audio CD$13.99
Nice N GreasyNice N Greasy
Import · Remastered
Sanctuary UK 2008
Audio CD$8.60
$11.99 (used)
PerformancePerformance
Four Worlds Media 2012
Audio CD$4.50
$2.75 (used)
The Devil Hits BackThe Devil Hits Back
Abstract Sounds 2008
Audio CD$0.01
$5.54 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
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ATOMIC ROOSTER has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

ATOMIC ROOSTER discography


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

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

3.56 | 185 ratings
Atomic Roooster
1970
3.83 | 261 ratings
Death Walks Behind You
1970
3.74 | 176 ratings
In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
1971
3.65 | 110 ratings
Made In England
1972
2.76 | 81 ratings
Nice 'n' Greasy
1973
3.13 | 46 ratings
Atomic Rooster '80
1980
2.94 | 45 ratings
Headline News
1983

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

3.88 | 10 ratings
BBC Radio 1 in Concert
1993
3.00 | 3 ratings
Devil's Answer
1998
3.00 | 8 ratings
Live And Raw 1970 & 71
2000
3.00 | 3 ratings
Live In Germany '83
2000
3.00 | 2 ratings
Live At The Marquee 1980
2002

ATOMIC ROOSTER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.49 | 5 ratings
Atomic Rooster
2003
3.00 | 4 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
4.00 | 4 ratings
Lost Broadcasts
2011

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

3.00 | 4 ratings
Assortment
1974
3.35 | 6 ratings
Home to Roost
1977
1.00 | 1 ratings
This Is Atomic Rooster
1977
2.05 | 3 ratings
Lose Your Mind
1980
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Best Of Atomic Rooster
1987
3.36 | 5 ratings
The Devil Hits Back
1989
3.28 | 9 ratings
The Best & The Rest Of Atomic Rooster
1989
1.91 | 2 ratings
Space Cowboy
1991
3.50 | 4 ratings
The First 10 Explosive Years
1999
2.33 | 3 ratings
Best of Atomic Rooster, Vol. 1-2
1999
3.04 | 5 ratings
Rarities
2000
3.00 | 2 ratings
First 10 Explosive Years, Vol. 2
2001
2.00 | 1 ratings
The Ultimate Chicken Meltdown
2002
3.69 | 7 ratings
Heavy Soul: Anthology
2002
4.50 | 2 ratings
Resurrection
2002
3.48 | 4 ratings
The Best Of Atomic Rooster
2003
3.83 | 3 ratings
The Devil's Answer
2003
0.00 | 0 ratings
Rebel With A Clause ("The First 10 Explosive Years"/ "Headline News" remastered
2005
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Essential Atomic Rooster
2006
5.00 | 1 ratings
Devil's Answer - The Singles Collection
2006
2.80 | 5 ratings
Homework
2008
3.50 | 2 ratings
Anthology 1969-81
2009

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

2.95 | 3 ratings
Tomorrow Night
1970
2.91 | 3 ratings
Friday The 13th
1970
2.95 | 2 ratings
Devil's Answer
1971
2.00 | 1 ratings
Stand By Me
1972
2.00 | 1 ratings
Tell Your Story (Sing Your Song) b/w O.D. 7 single
1974
2.00 | 2 ratings
Do You Know Who's Looking For You ?
1980
2.92 | 5 ratings
Play It Again 12''
1981
4.73 | 2 ratings
End Of The Day (12")
1982
2.00 | 1 ratings
Land Of Freedom
1983
2.00 | 1 ratings
Little Live Rooster
1989

ATOMIC ROOSTER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Atomic Roooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 185 ratings

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Atomic Roooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

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

 Nice 'n' Greasy  by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1973
2.76 | 81 ratings

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Nice 'n' Greasy
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by poito

3 stars In this late album by AR, they root further in funky rock. Listening to all AR albums in a row is a curious experience. You can see a bunch of adaptable beasts, moving at every album so fast that you can hardly classify them. Contrary to fans of early AR, I don't see much Prog in any epoch. AR and Crane always was a Funky Rock based band that wandered and stepped on different musical gardens, although timidly. This Nice'n Greasy that dresses such an awful cover contains a bunch of more than decent tracks worth the listening and well suited for the lovers of instrumental Funky-Rock. Take one to Toke and Ear in the Snow are gems of the style. Who said this is not AR? I think this was their essence always. If anything it was in the Death Walks Behind You and In Hearing Of that they step out for a while, but not far away, and they were late and did not contribute anything new in those two of the most creative and innovative years for the music of all times. The attempts were not very successful. Actually, they were rather naif. This one is genuine funky rock, and very good indeed.
 Made In England by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.65 | 110 ratings

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Made In England
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by poito

3 stars One more turn to the wheel. No doubt, AR is a fast evolving band, in just 3 years they released five different albums, and each means a break with predecessors. Evolution? Lack of coherence? If you think about it, it is difficult to imagine a bunch of guys playing different stuff every six months. This MIE includes a marked funky style in some tracks, while others adventure with new melodies as in Little Bit of Inner Air, Never To Loose, and Space Cowboys. The music thus becomes much more complex than the monotonic style of the former In Hearing Of. Riffs and solos are back and the band tries to move people's legs instead of hypnotizing them. There is little Prog here though. The opening Time Take My Life goes back to two albums before and has some curious mix of Rock, Funk and orchestra instruments at the end. Another interesting track is Breathless where they also explore with blends of styles and the instrumental parts and solos appear built not jam. And of course check the unforgettable Close Your Eyes, an all-time gem of Rock. The Japanese version contains the BBC sessions recordings that shown one more face of the band playing life, indeed much powerful than in the studio releases.
 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.74 | 176 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by poito

2 stars This third release by AR means another complete break with their predecessor blues-oriented rock heavily dominated by jammy instrumental duets and solos. Here the music has become extremely simple, Rock remains behind some tracks, but they were exploring new paths. Themes are built on monochord lines or arpeggios with some piano or keyboard arrangements; solos and riffs are nearly gone, all is left to catchy repetitive rhythms, some may hook on you, but definitely, the music is too simplistic, even naif for the time. One may think they have moved back to late sixties, the In A Gadda Da Vida times. The lyrics kind of reproduce the same pattern as the music, with clichés like "I must run away out of here", "I have to find my way back home" and things like that. The experiment was not very successful in my view.
 Death Walks Behind You by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 261 ratings

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Death Walks Behind You
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by poito

3 stars The second release of AR marks a completely different style from the debut. Crane takes more risks here, probably by the contribution of new members. Although still using the hard-rock verse and solo scheme, the guitar by John Cann is much more daring and gives the band a different and more complex air. There are plenty of guitar and hammond duets plus the standard hammond and drum solos that were so common at the time, but they sound less jammy and more experimental than before. The music has transcended beyond blues and rock but not much though, they remain faithful to the early 70's rock. My favorite tracks are Sleeping For Years with an excellent guitar work, an instrumental called VGU, and the album cover, a somewhat disturbing meat-man on his four legs, scared and scary.
 Atomic Roooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.56 | 185 ratings

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Atomic Roooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by poito

2 stars This AR will follow in alphabetical order of music libraries to their predecessor and father Arthur Brown, a genial musician that founded a Crazy World in which keyboardist Vincent Crane dwell for a while before founding AR. This first album is rock history, well on the mainstream of the epoch, but far from the subsequent releases. Not much new, just simple well-crafted early 70's rock. I would only spare the track Before Tomorrow, an instrumental with a nice Hammond work dueting with Graham's guitar in the typical jamming style. The singing in the album is a bit too much of the epoch, a style that has not grown well with the years, although it hit the streets back then.
 BBC Radio 1 in Concert by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Live, 1993
3.88 | 10 ratings

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BBC Radio 1 in Concert
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Being a big Atomic Rooster fan, I was naturally very excited to find out about this album. BBC Radio 1 in Concert perfectly presents the live energy that the band had. With a new guitarist, Steve Bolton, and a new vocalist, Chirs Farlowe (previously of Colosseum), Atomic Rooster were ready to conquer new territories. This is actually my favorite period of the band's career - just after In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster, but with Chris Farlowe onboard. Most of the material comes from the previously mentioned album, but one or two songs are from their proto-metal album, Death Walks Behind You. A really great album and highly recommended for any fan of heavy prog! However, if you would wish to get a real feel for Atomic Rooster's live performance, I would recommend their Beat Club recordings from the same year.
 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.74 | 176 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by ALotOfBottle
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Atomic Rooster always remained a second league act. However, the band has many personel's links to other progressive rock outfits due to various line-up changes. In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster is the group's most representative album at their peek. The organ-driven, bass-less quartet seems to estrange the heavy proto-metal methods of their previous work Death Walks Behind You. Instead, Atomic Rooster incorporates a funkier and jazzier feel to their material.

The album opener "Breakthrough" is in my book one of the best from the band. What I like is that the main keyboard riff is not used as an opener. Inteligently, the band uses it in the middle of the song as a sort of musical climax, therefore letting the song to build up. Compared to their previous release, John Cann's guitar tone is much mellower and not so heavy. The guitarist's playing seems to be a lot "tastier", even though he doesn't get as many solo parts. "A Spoonful Of Bromide Helps The Pulse Rate Go Down" is another favorite of mine. It's nothing more than a psychedelic vamp on one or two chords, but it has a really interesting and elegant mood to it. "Black Snake" is a slow progressive blues rock number, if you will, which again showcases Vincent Crane's phenomenal virtuosity. Pete French has a fantastic voice and writes great lyrics. Paul Hammond skillfully puts great rhythm foundation for the band with his drumming.

All in all, In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster is an essential heavy prog album and in my opinion Atomic Rooster's strongest effort. Needless to say, In Hearind belongs in every Atomic Rooster fan's collection and is a great way to get into the band's music. Perhaps not a five-star album itself, but I feel like four stars would be a tad too low and a bit inadequate, as it is the best work of the band, which was a great band. Nontheless, highly recommended!

 In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.74 | 176 ratings

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In Hearing Of Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by PoolmanProgger

4 stars Re-Posting of a review I published as CheapPurple on Sputnik Music, slightly edited:

Review Summary: Atomic Rooster's last great album, the band tapers their sound quite a bit, but still manages to pack a punch and make a dent in the emerging heavy prog scene of the early-70s.

After the success of Death Walks Behind You, an appearance on Top of the Pops, a successful tour, and the following non-album single "Devil's Answer", which charted at #4 in the UK, it was time for emerging stars Atomic Rooster to record their third album. Although guitarist John Du Cann sang vocals on Death Walks Behind You, band leader Vincent Crane was unsatisfied with Du Cann's singing chops, and wanted to hire a singer who could "project" to the audience. After the recording of all the other instruments had taken place and were to Crane's satisfaction, Crane asked Leaf Hound vocalist Pete French to re-record the vocals. At that point, it is unclear whether Du Cann left or Crane fired him, but Crane and Du Cann were already at wit's end with each other over how the previous album was mixed and the resulting infighting during their tour of that album; while Crane wanted the band to lean toward a more progressive sound, Du Cann wanted to create a sound based around aggressive guitar playing. In either case, Du Cann had recruited drummer Paul Hammond to his side, and the two left Atomic Rooster to form the band that would later be known as Hard Stuff. Now with only two members, Crane had complete control of what the new album would sound like. Consequently, he toned John Du Cann's guitar down - way down - and the result is an album which is much more inclined toward funk and soul than John Du Cann ever would have tolerated. Atomic Rooster's third album, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster was released in August of 1971, and the album peaked at #18 in the UK. Vincent Crane, with his new hand-picked group of Pete French on vocals, Steve Bolton on guitar and Ric Parnell on drums, then launched into an extensive international tour.

The first track on In Hearing of Atomic Rooster is Breakthrough, a nice track that starts with a thumping bass line and adds a gentle piano with a textured guitar, which makes for a good sound. Right off the bat, the listener can hear two major departures. First of all, the guitar is very mellow, much unlike the aggressive guitar playing heard on the group's previous album. Second, and probably for the better of your ear drums, Vincent Crane's organ is very subdued. We also hear Pete French's vocals for the first time on this track. While John Du Cann's vocals were very haunting, French's are much more soulful, and more fitting to the softer sound of this album. While "Breakthrough" is a good song, it lacks the spontaneity of the previous album, and that's a trend that is found on most of the album's songs. "Breakthrough"'s lyrics deal with feelings of entrapment and a wanting to break free, and it seems like this track wants to do the same. Alas, it never does.

On the next track, Break the Ice, we finally hear John Du Cann's guitar break out of its shell, if only briefly. Crane's organ also plays a bigger role on this song, but it doesn't dominate the other instruments as it had a tendency to do on the previous album, which is a good thing. The guitar, drums and organ play very well together on this song, and the music is paired with excellent vocals from Mr. French. The guitar solo at the end is a great touch, but the effects of Vincent Crane's meddling with the guitar mix can be heard as this track slowly fades out. The next track, Decision/Indecision is a lovely piano driven ballad with soulful crooning from Mr. French and excellent drumming. If Elton John sang this, it probably would have been a charting single. But there's one thing missing; do you know what it is? John Du Cann's guitar, of course! It seems to me that a great guitar track would have added a little more texture to this otherwise great ballad, and perhaps there was one at one point, only to be axed by Vincent Crane. If there was, we'll never know; dead men tell no tales.

The organ festival that is A Spoonful of Bromide Helps the Pulse Rate Go Down rounds out Side 1, and what a track! The track opens with a drum solo by Paul Hammond, followed by organ and guitar. Unlike the instrumentals on the previous album, the guitar and organ complement each other quite nicely on this track, playing nice instead of going at each other's throats. No wanky drum solos by Mr. Hammond this time around, his drumming is all business and makes for a more consistent instrumental. However, things never get out of control, which is what you always hope for on an instrumental, so this instrumental lacks the excitement of the instrumentals on the previous album. If there's one thing you can take from this track though, it's that your heart rate will definitely not go down!

Side 2 opens with Black Snake, the longest song of the side, and probably the most boring. Driven by a slow drum beat and organ, "Black Snake" never picks up the pace and slows down the album considerably. Vincent Crane himself lends vocals to this one, and his vocal style isn't half bad. It actually adds to the song rather than detracting from it. If you were bored to death with that song, not to worry! The next track, Head in the Sky, is easily the best on the album. Compared with the tightness and lack of spontaneity on most of the album's tracks, "Head in the Sky" really stands out as a fresh breath of creativity. The thumping bass and guitar pair nicely with the excellent drums and Crane's organ solo in the middle of the song. The guitar solo in this song is an album highlight. The most straight-forward rocker on the album, "Head in the Sky" is definitely the gem of this album and one of Atomic Rooster's career highlights.

Although the band's funk influences wouldn't completely creep in until Atomic Rooster's next album, Made In England, they can first be heard on the second instrumental of the album, The Rock. "The Rock" opens with a funky blend of bass, drums and horns - James Brown would be proud. While this funky track is interesting, you realize that it's not what you signed up for, and just when you're about ready to skip - Wham! - you get hit with a guitar solo that breathes life into the song, and then Vincent Crane's organ takes over. An organ solo ensues, but one that's slow and fits the track's funky rhythm, a huge contrast from the 100-mph organ solos of the previous album. This funky track is a precursor to the Rooster's future albums, and the band veered away from its signature heavy prog sound. The album closes out with The Price, a Gentle Giant sounding track with fast drumming and underlying organ work. The lyrics and sound are very dark, as In Hearing of Atomic Rooster ends much like Death Walks Behind You began, and puts a fitting bow on the high point of Atomic Rooster's career.

After the quintessential heavy prog masterpiece of Death Walks Behind You, Atomic Rooster looked to be on the verge of stardom as heavy metal pioneers. However, infighting between Vincent Crane and John Du Cann led to a drastic change in the band's sound, as songs with aggressive guitar and organ playing made way for the more soulful and funky approach that Vincent Crane had always wanted. Although not up to the 'classic' status that its predecessor attained, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster is a very enjoyable album for both prog and hard rock fans, and probably the last Atomic Rooster album to make an impact on the emerging heavy prog scene; up-and-coming bands like Uriah Heep, Hawkwind and Gentle Giant would soon command more attention. However, the influence of In Hearing Of can be heard in those band's music, as well as millenial bands such as Wolfmother. Atomic Rooster will always have a place in the development of heavy metal.

 Death Walks Behind You by ATOMIC ROOSTER album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.83 | 261 ratings

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Death Walks Behind You
Atomic Rooster Heavy Prog

Review by PoolmanProgger

5 stars A re-posting of a review I published as "CheapPurple" on Sputnik Music, slightly edited:

Review Summary: In one's search for the beginnings of prog and heavy metal, your quest will inevitably lead you here.

In 1969, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was at the peak of its international popularity, largely due to the controversial antics of the group's said front man, Arthur Brown. The attention Brown was getting caused grumblings among the other group members, who felt they weren't receiving enough attention for their musical abilities. Thus, the group splintered, and in late-'69, ex-Arthur Brown bandmates Vincent Crane, Carl Palmer (of later Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame) and Nick Graham formed Atomic Rooster. The group released their first record in February of 1970, but due to Nick Graham's departure soon after it's UK release, guitarist and vocalist John Du Cann was brought in to overdub the album; thus, there wasn't enough room in the budget to release the album in the US. Following the ensuing tour in support of their debut album, Carl Palmer also left the band. The band recruited Paul Hammond as their drummer, and in August of 1970, Atomic Rooster went into the studio to record their second album, and their US debut.

Personnel Vincent Crane: Hammond organ, piano, backing vocals John Du Cann: Guitars, Vocals Paul Hammond: Drums, percussion

Death Walks Behind You opens up with the galloping title track, a spooky track you do not want to be listening to on a cold, rainy night. In 1970, doom metal was in its infancy, and "Death Walks Behind You" was an early classic in the genre, a freakish thing of beauty and a hint that Atomic Rooster was on the verge of creating something dazzling. Although the rest of the album would not match the heaviness and eeriness of the title track, the album would be heavy enough as a whole to inspire future groups who'd become giants of the heavy metal genre, such as Iron Maiden and Megadeth. Though the album is more progressive rock in nature - I mean, come on, that organ is deafening at times - the album's beauty lies in its heaviness. Along with Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster became pioneers in heavy prog with the release of this album, forever changing the prog-rock landscape.

The lone single from the album, "Tomorrow Night", got enough recognition to achieve Top 20 radio airplay in the group's native UK, but the album was largely ignored in the US. Another early heavy prog classic, "Tomorrow Night" was one of the scariest love songs unleashed on the British charts at the time, with an extended ending that descends into chaos, a terrifying yet fantastic bridge into "7 Streets", a track which is equally chaotic with Du Cann's blazing guitar competing with Vincent Crane's organ for attention. In fact, Du Cann and Crane seem to be competing throughout the whole album, as also evidenced on "Sleeping For Years" as well as the two instrumental pieces, "Vug" and "Gershatzer". In these two pieces, especially in the latter, drummer Paul Hammond, who does a fantastic job pounding the skins on this album, despite being the third wheel, finally gets his spotlight, and does a passable job, although the organ/percussion duet on "Gershatzer" gets a little painful toward the end, but hey, it's 1970, when annoying drum and organ solos came standard. Other than the final two-and-a-half minutes of "Gershatzer" there is no low point on this album.

If you can't hear the bass on this album, that's because Vincent Crane played all the bass parts on his organ, much like Ray Manzarek. While the bass is pretty mute on this album, probably the song where it plays the biggest role is "I Can't Take No More", a groovy rocker that is probably the least prog-influenced track on the record. "I Can't Take No More" is followed by the fantastic "Nobody Else", which begins with weird irritating chanting, but then introduces a jazzy and relaxed piano theme. The only song on the album that can be called a ballad, "Nobody Else" is a great mood piece that slows down the record, and is definitely the highlight of Side 2 of the record. However, midway through the track, the drums and guitar pick up the pace significantly, creating a powerful rock passage that very nicely picks up the pace of the remainder of the album. In actuality, "Nobody Else" is two songs in one - part relaxing ballad, part uptempo prog-rocker, and a real treat to anybody who listens to it, one of the gems of this fantastic album.

While Death Walks Behind You will not blow you away with its elite musicianship or fairy-tale lyrics, the record definitely holds a place in the prog-rock masterpiece catalog, as well as one of the early pillars of the heavy metal genre. With their unique approach to progressive rock, Atomic Rooster was able to create a satisfying record that truly sounded unique compared to the sounds of their peers. For fans of dark, pessimistic music, as well as fans of raw, vintage organs (trust me, there's a LOT of that on this album), this is a must-have album, as well as a must-listen for those who are interested in the development of heavy prog and heavy metal.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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