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Titus Groan biography
Taking their name from Mervyn Peake's gothic fantasy novel, Titus Groan was a quartet lead by guitar/keyboardist and singer Stewart Cowell and wind player Tony Priestland. Their sound approaches the early UK prog (sometimes called proto-prog), all tracks being over 5 minutes long and often fronted by wind instruments is promising, but ultimately deceiving as the songs lack depth. Centred around the great 12-mins Hall Of Bright Carvings track (also a Peake theme), the album was released in early 1970 on the collectible Dawn label Titus Groan also release a three track single the same year, all three tracks appearing as bonus on the See For Miles label CD reissue, being named Titus Groan Plus.

:::: Bio written by Hugues Chantraine, Belgium ::::

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Titus GroanTitus Groan
Esoteric 2010
$35.97 (used)
Titus GroanTitus Groan
Music on Vinyl 2018
$21.77 (used)
Titus Groan (Shm/Mini Lp Jacket/Bonus Track/Remaster)Titus Groan (Shm/Mini Lp Jacket/Bonus Track/Remaster)
$39.69 (used)
Titus Groan Plus by Titus GroanTitus Groan Plus by Titus Groan
See for Miles
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TITUS GROAN discography

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

3.41 | 55 ratings
Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)

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

TITUS GROAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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

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

4.00 | 3 ratings
Open The Door Homer


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by TenYearsAfter

3 stars This English prog formation was rooted in the late Sixties, as the band Jon, they recorded two singles at EMI but both were ignored. Then Jon changed the name into Groan (derived from a Fourties fantasy book ) and the band succeeded to get attention from a record company during a festival. Titus Groan got the opportunity to release a maxi single in 1970, but again without success. The next year Titus Groan released an eponymous debut album, in 2010 reissued by Esoteric Records with the three maxi single tracks from 1970 as bonus tracks: Open The Door Homer, Woman Of The World and Liverpool, only the latter track can impress me, a kind of 'Santana jam'.

But Titus Groan its debut album from 1971 sounds to me as interesting, typical early Seventies progressive rock, blending rock, blues and jazz, with inventive compositions and strong interplay between guitar, brass and keyboards. We an enjoy variety and tasteful work on a wide range of instruments.

Swinging with powerful saxophone and lush organ in It Wasn't For You.

Again a swinging rhythm in Fuschia, now with flute and propulsive guitar riffs.

Dreamy with acoustic guitar, warm vocals and flute in I Can't Change.

A mellow atmosphere with wonderful interplay between Fender electric piano, saxophone and electric guitar in It's All Up With Us.

And lots of shifting moods and muscial ideas in the epic highlight Hall Of Bright Carvings (close to 12 minutes): outstanding work on the hobo (evoking early Roxy Music), flute and guitar (in the vein of 'former God' Eric Clapton), along exciting interplay, this is Titus Groan at its artistic pinnale!

After the release of their debut album Titus Groan went on tour, first shortly as support act for legendary Classic Prog trio ELP, and then in the province. Unfortunately halfway 1971 Titus Groan decided to call it a day. Because of a lack of attention, I think too much competition with all those emerging bands in the early Seventies. Keep in mind that even Genesis and Yes had to work very hard to earn money and to get gigs, along all those many interesting good bands from the Early British Progressive Rock Movement: from Gracious, Beggar's Opera and Spring to Rare Brid, Julian's Treatment and Bram Stoker, there was simply no room for Titus Groan.

If you like Colosseum and early Roxy Music or a fusion of rock and jazz, this CD reissue could be worth to discover.

My rating: 3,5 star.

This was my PA review # 1500.

 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by GruvanDahlman
Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

3 stars When my eyes for the first time took a glance at the odd cover of this album I just couldn't believe it. I just loved the cover and still do. In it's foul ugliness there are so much beuaty and in part the music within equals that of the exterior. The only album by Titus Groan has followed me around for the good part of 25 years now and it is still as dear to me now as when first discovered in that dusty old basement of record store in the fair university city of Lund, Sweden.

Taking it's name from Mervyn Peake's novel they do not disappoint since they include an epic based on the novel, The hall of bright carvings. I would say that this is the center piece of the entire album. Clocking in at around 12 minutes it is the most progressive of the tracks and easily the best. Consisting of several pieces of quite intense horn-laden prog with a strong blues and jazz bottom it really lets my cop floweth over. The harmony vocals are all very typical for the era. Very, very nice indeed. The guitar is of special interest to me. It has a doomsday feel to it, as if hell is about to break loose. This track is easily 5 stars in my book. The title, the content, the lyrics... But it doesn't start there. The opener, It wasn't for you, is really a magnificent way to start off the album. Frantic jazz-rock with good horns and terrific riffing. I love this track, the way it shifts from the frantic opening to the slowed down vocal part and heavy playing.

The album works for me, from star to finish. Liverpool is a great song with great playing and time changes. The ballad on the album, I can't change, is a lovely piece of early progressive rock with beautiful flute and evocative lyrics. "It's all up with us" is a nice track but not on par with those coming before it. "Fuschia" offers yet again frantic jazz-prog with flute and fuzzed out guitar.

I won't say that it sounds "dated", because obviously it does. It's dated due to being recorded in 1970 and thus is a product of it's time. "Dated" sounds, to me, negative. The music of Titus Groan is very much of the early 70's and that is one thing I love about it. The warmth on display grabs me everytime. It's a great album that I really do like to listen to. If you're into classic and/or early prog this might be for you. I wouldn't call this "classic", because it isn't a classic album but it's a good one.

 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by thenaturegurl

4 stars Actually this is a song review as I have not listened to the entire LP even though I own the original. I have a bad habit of only listening to the longest track on most any album. That said I will add that I've known the song "Hall of Bright Carvings" for years from listening to college radio in the middle of the night.

I listen to all kinds of music, not only rock & metal so I bring that perspective to the table. I am planning in short order on catching up on all my prog rock though. To get to the point "Hall of Bright Carvings" is a classic !! It has a very memorable melody and I love that oboe. Wish more rock groups used one.

 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by stefro
Prog Reviewer

3 stars There are several top-notch reissue labels at work today - Repertoire, Sundazed, Sunbeam, Revisited - all releasing wonderfully obscure material from a host of once-ignored progressive, psychedelic and jazz-rock groups from the late-1960's and early-1970's, but it is surely Mark Powell's Esoteric Recordings who have embraced the reissue market in the quintessentially true, hyper-enthusiastic fanboy style needed. Thanks to Esoteric's exhaustive efforts, great albums such as 'Space Shanty' by Khan, 'One Niter' by Eela Craig, National Health's 'Of Queue's And Cures' and 'Bundles' by Soft Machine have been re-branded and re-invigorated, complete with attentive sleeve notes, top-quality sound and a genuine respect for the material. And now it is the turn of Titus Groan, an obscure, jazz-hued British group who released their one-and-only self-titled debut in 1970, and, like so many before and after them, vanished into the big dark black hole of rock 'n roll. The group, before their premature split, was four-strong, featuring Stuart Cowell(keyboards, guitars, vocals), Jim Tooney(drums), Tony Priestland(sax, flute, oboe) and John Lee(bass). Their sound was a jazzier and much lighter variant on the Van Der Graaf Generator school of prog, just without the discordant rumblings and shrieking vocals, though elements of Egg, Nucleus, Chicago, Soft Machine and Gentle Giant are also evident. The jazz element is not all-pervasive however, and the album drifts from style-to-style, taking in country rock, bluesy breaks, King Crimson-style discordia and flecks of heavy psychedelia in an engaging, unfussy and highly melodic fashion. Fans of obscure British prog should feel right at home then, and there is much to admire on this fiercely eclectic album, but 'Titus Groan' was obscure for a reason - and despite the genuine musicianship on offer the album does mine a fairly workmanlike style that doesn't really deliver in terms of truly memorable tunes. Jazzy then, and nice, and full of good songs - but it's no classic. STEFAN TURNER, LONDON, 2010
 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by lukretio

3 stars Titus Groan is not a masterpiece (as sometimes advertised) but is not a bad album either. It has decent melodies, good dynamics and well arranged songs performed by skilful musicians. And it has loads of woodwind parts, which are actually the most distinctive and interesting aspect of the album. Tony Priestland's flute, saxophone and oboe feature prominently on all five songs on the album, and to great effect. In fact, his skilled use of the woodwinds is the most 'progressive' aspect of Titus Groan's music ? which would otherwise be better described as a sort of 'psychedelic hard rock' .

While the 11+ minutes long mostly instrumental "Hall Of Bright Carvings" might look like an obvious candidate for best song of the album, in my opinion Titus Groan's best moments are the first two pieces on side B: the dynamic "I can't change" and the mellower "It's all up with us". Stuart Cowell's rough but emotional singing is convincing in both songs, and Priestland does an excellent job with his flute in "I can't change" and with his sax in "It's all up with us". "Hall Of Bright Carvings" is also a good song, although it feels like it dragged a bit to me. But it has its moments too, with pleasant vocal harmonies and some nice oboe work. The other two songs on the album are "It Wasn't For You", which is a decent bluesy opener, and the disappointing and repetitive uptempo "Fuschia".

"Titus Groan ... plus" comes with three bonus tracks originally released as a single in 1970. These are rather standard psychedelic rock songs, which did not impress me a lot: "Liverpool" is an OK pscyh song with a decent instrumental section at the end, "Open The Door, Homer" is a Bob Dylan song which passes away quite unnoticed, while "Woman Of The World" is just a poor pop/rock song.

2.5 stars really, with another 0.5 for the woodwinds.

 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator Prog Folk Researcher

3 stars Here’s some fairly dated-sounding heavy prog from the UK made distinctive mostly thanks to the various wind instruments played by Tony Priestland. You won’t find a whole lot of prog albums that include an oboe, and especially not any where that instrument is featured prominently alongside Priestland’s saxophone and flute blowing as well. In fact, this may be one of the only records fitting that description.

I’ve read the overall impression of the music here described as neo-medieval, which despite being sort of an oxymoron is a pretty depiction. A lot of what leads to that impression is thanks to the flute and oboe playing, but bassist John Lee also contributes with an almost martial sound that isn’t very complex but gives the music a depth that serves to ground it in the sort of timeless setting that many of Jethro Tull’s albums also have. The harmonizing vocals are pure early seventies, particularly on the album’s longest song “Hall of Bright Carvings”. But despite it’s length of more than eleven minutes this isn’t a prog epic or anything; in fact, the band spends quite a bit of time just jamming in the middle and toward the end of the song and I’m left with the impression this was primarily meant as a crowd-pleasing live number.

The “heavy” part of the heavy prog here is due to Stuart Cowell’s intense electric guitar riffs, which along with his organ bleating on tracks like “I Can't Change” make for a hard-rocking sound that was quite popular at the time.

At times the harmonizing vocals serve to date the music even more definitively. “It's All Up With Us” is the best example of this, along with “Woman of the World”, which is one of the bonus tracks not on the original album but included on most of the CD reissues.

Same goes for “Open the Door Homer” (another CD bonus track), but this one is the closest the band would come to a commercially viable work thanks to an ear-friendly and accessible tempo and some BS&T-like saxophone. I don’t know if this one was released as a single, but in 1970 it probably would have charted had it been.

This album (and band) don’t do much for me personally, but their sound would have been quite acceptable at the time this record was released. The biggest knock is on the lyrics, which are sort of petty really and don’t do much to advance the music. A couple of extended instrumentals would have helped considering the fact that the three members of the band were all very decent musicians. I suppose the album deserves a bit more than a collectors-only label, if only because of the decent flute playing and unusual employment of a prominent oboe. So three stars it is, but recommended mostly to folks who have a fondness for pre-synthesizer era prog and don’t mind mediocre production.


 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by sco-bro

4 stars I first heard this band on a college radio program and was blown away. The thing that struck me was the vocals. Awesome! Strangely, the liner notes to the CD do not credit anyone for singing, and all of the tracks HAVE singing. Anyway, the first song, "It's All Up With Us", is IMO the best song. Second best is the mostly instrumental track, "Hall Of Bright Carvings". The only downer for me really, is the singing on "Woman Of The World", but it's still half decent. Too bad they only produced one album. Excellent. 4 stars.
 Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989) by TITUS GROAN album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.41 | 55 ratings

Titus Groan & ... Plus (1989)
Titus Groan Crossover Prog

Review by bristolstc

4 stars Not quite a "masterpiece," but almost. Titus Groan were an early (they formed sometime in 1969 and released their only album and single in 1970) art rock/ progressive band who sounded uncannilly like a cross between Czar without the mellotron and The Move circa Message From The Country with a bit of Jethro Tull thrown in for good measure. This means high energy melodic songs with lots of guitars. sax, vocal harmonies, and great percussion work/drumming. There's occaisonal organ and electric piano, but mainly a much earlier guitar battling with flute, sax, and oboe sound. The first song "It Wasn't For You" is very bluesy and grooves along with a restrained hard edge. The vocal sounds eerily like Ian Anderson and this is true for the lead vocals for the whole album. I have no idea which of the four band members took care of lead voice, but he has a great one and if you love Tull (I do) you'll love this. The guitar, which is strong and confident, also brings to mind that group, while the bass and percussion have a jazzier approach like Cream or King Crimson. The hard hitting attack balanced with good melodies always reminded me of Czar on this album, and that can only be good. Every song is excellent, and there is no problem with any of the words or music here. The only problem is a "rushed" quality that leaves me salivating for more. It sounds like Titus Groan were a confident band who hurried into a studio and gave it their very best and suceeded in making a fantastic album, why wasn't there a second one? My favourite tracks here are on Side Two, the dark and ominous turning into light and playful at the end epic "I Can't Change" and Czar soundalike "Fuschia." Play the two albums together and you'll see what I'm talking about. Hey, I prefer Titus Groan to Blodwyn Pig- this is prime period Jethro Tull and NOT the much inferior first album with Mick Abrahams. There's strong melodies here, and even at their most daringly progressive on "Hall Of Bright Carvings" these guys cook and are impressive singers and musicians. If you like early prog with lots of energy this album will knock you out. I don't know why Titus G. have always been slammed by critics and dealers, I think this is a great album, in fact I know it is. The single wasn't too good, though, so skip over that if you get the reissue with the 7 inch tracks. Same scenario as another band wonder who that is... Czar. Surprised? Well I'm not, like I said take out the mellotron and put in saxes and flutes, it's the same great solid sound.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition.

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